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BOP 25 of Fall 2006: 5-1

By BOP Staff

September 8, 2006

Sadly, by Hollywood standards, Dunst is considered a low maintenance star. 5) Marie Antoinette

With The Virgin Suicides and BOP favorite Lost in Translation under her belt, Sofia Coppola has established herself as a directorial talent worthy of attention. Her work is both stylish and sensitive, and she has shown a propensity to bring out the very best from the actors who populate her films. When the news came out that Coppola would once again work with her Suicides star, Kirsten Dunst, we took notice. The project is unlike anything Coppola has done before - it's a biography of the feisty young French queen Marie Antoinette. It's far from a conventional biopic, though, as Coppola inserts modern music and ideas into the story.

Reaction to the film, which premiered at Cannes, has been decidedly divisive. Given that the main characters are iconic in French history, this isn't entirely surprising, especially knowing style is the star here rather than substantive history lessons. Much like Virgin Suicides, the movie explores the fancy and flightiness of youth. Dunst is a marvelous choice for the lead role, and she is surrounded with such terrific talent as Jason Schwartzman, Rip Torn, Judy Davis and Steve Coogan. Marie Antoinette looks to be an incredibly creative, frenetic production and we can't wait. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
Both men debate whether they're willing to have the bad kind of threesome. 4) All the King's Men

If ever a film had a difficult path to follow, All the King's Men is it. The popular Robert Penn Warren novel has been translated to the big screen before, with the results being absolutely stellar. The 1949 Robert Rossen film won the Academy Award for Best Picture (among others), and while it might not have a place amongst the pantheon of frequently mentioned classics, it's still a tough act to follow. Add to that the fact that the soon-to-be-released Steven Zaillian production has already been delayed from the awards-friendly date of December 2005 to its current September spot on the schedule, and people begin to wonder if the project can overcome its many obstacles.

Nonetheless, we can't wait to see this movie, which highlights the life of the fictional Southern politician Willie Stark, a character who was loosely based on Louisiana Governor Huey Long. The always-marvelous Sean Penn stars as Stark, and he is surrounded by an almost too-good-to-be-true cast. These names include Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Patricia Clarkson, James Gandolfini, Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Hopkins. Director/writer Zaillian is no slouch, either, having penned the Academy Award-winning screenplay for Schindler's List and receiving nominations for two others. We eagerly anticipate seeing the end result of combining all this talent, and are keeping our fingers crossed that our lofty expectations are fulfilled. (Kim Hollis/BOP)




The murder of prima donna actors? I'll drink to that! 3) Hollywoodland

TV's Superman Kills Self. This was the headline of a major newspaper on June 16th, 1959. While the idea might not sound so dramatic now that Brandon Routh has mucked up the role, there was a time when any actor in a Superman costume was presumed to be the embodiment of virtue. For one as beloved as George Reeves to die by means of either suicide or murder seemed impossible at the time. In the half century that has followed, any number of investigations into the events leading up to his death have obfuscated the facts. How could the actor's death be ruled a suicide if other bullet holes were found in the room's walls? Why would he kill himself if he had finally found some stability in his life? Shouldn't Reeves have acted suspiciously during the evening's well-attended party if he planned to put a gun in his mouth later that evening? If the man not behaved erratically, what could have changed in the hours afterward to make him suicidal?

None of these questions will ever have an answer, but the speculation continues to create intrigue. A stellar cast frontlined by Adrien Brody, Ben Affleck, Diane Lane, and Bob Hoskins promises to re-create the events in a manner that will only enhance the mystique of this non-murder mystery. For further information about the project, read BOP staff member Calvin Trager's interview with Hollywoodland writer Paul Bernbaum. (David Mumpower/BOP)
Jack, can you not do that in your trailer? 2) The Departed

Anyone who has watched an episode of Alias knows that the life of a double agent is complicated. Loyalties grow divided as a spy's chief responsibility is to attain the trust of people (s)he will later betray. The moral ambiguity that develops in such a lifestyle subtly modifies the spy's personality, turning them into something unrecognizable to the lay person. The end result is a creature of deceit, one whom no one who has never performed these deeds of treachery could understand. Perhaps the only people who truly understand the mind of a double agent are other double agents.

This premise is the genius behind the Andrew Lau classic, Infernal Affairs, a Chinese production that received a limited release in the United States. With The Departed, a jaw-dropping cast best described as the greatest Who's Who of A-List actors this side of the Ocean franchise will adapt the same underlying concept forn American audience. Legendary auteur Martin Scorsese will attempt to even the Academy Awards score with 36 Mafia with his direction of this modern day Godfather piece about the symbiotic relationship between organized crime and the police.

Leonardo DiCaprio portrays a headstrong cop faking his way up the latter in order to befriend a local Tony Soprano wannabe named Costello (Jack Nicholson). Simultaneously, Matt Damon takes on the role of a connected hood who enrolls in a law enforcement program in order to become the ultimate mole for his boss. Eventually, the police as well as the mafia suss out the fact that one of their own is not who he seems, and the search is on to find the traitor before it's too late.

This convoluted tale has only one potential downfall. With such a talented cast and sublime subject matter, expectations might be unrealistic. After all, it's being compared to The Godfather in this very description. Buzz has been decidedly mixed thus far, but out of all the early Fall releases, The Departed is best positioned of any movie save arguably Flags of Our Fathers and the film ranked above it to be a major end-of-year awards factor. (David Mumpower/BOP)
Scarlett loves Josh despite the suspenders and butt cut. 1) The Black Dahlia

Mysterious Hollywood deaths are in this Fall. The BOP 25 confirms this fact, as two of our top three selections are predicated upon this gruesome subject matter. While Hollywoodland's victim, George Reeves, had his death (perhaps incorrectly) ruled a suicide, The Black Dahlia's demise was incontrovertibly a murder. This crime has captivated Los Angeles residents for 60 years now with over 50 people confessing to the crime, including at least two who were not even born when it occurred. Clearly, this mystery grabs people, yet oddly this will be the first theatrical re-telling of the particulars of The Black Dahlia's murder.

Massachusetts native Elizabeth Short was not quite the cliche girl who moved to Los Angeles to be in pictures. In fact, Short joined her father there at his request but had a run-in with the law that required her to return to the east coast. A wanderer by nature, she spent some time in Florida and it was there that she met a military man who was smitten with her. Their romance was short-lived as they became betrothed but the officer died in a plane crash during the latter stages of World War II.

Broken-hearted, Short returned to California in the summer of 1946 in hopes of renewing a prior relationship with another soldier. She was apparently a sucker for a man in uniform. The next six months of her life, presumably the body of the movie's setting, are the subject of some conjecture. The vagabond somehow managed to live in several different apartments and homes in the period between June of '46 and her death in January of '47. Whatever lifestyle she had that might justify such a nomadic existence is up to speculation. There is little by way of actual proof of how she spent her days and nights. She was simply another girl who moved to the big city and got lost in the mass of humanity. At least, she would have been had she not been brutally slain.

On January 15, 1947, Short's body was recovered. It had been divided at the torso, and her face had been cut in a manner Nip/Tuck fans might recognize. Police investigators were faced with a whodunit for the ages. They had two pieces of a mutilated corpse along with only hearsay about the woman's identity. Who was she and why had someone disfigured her body thusly? The search to find out who had committed such a heinous crime became all-enveloping for LA police. It became the most exhaustive investigation in the state's history with thousands of man hours spent deducing how the murder had unfolded. Re-tracing the steps of her last months of life, police narrowed (?) the list of potential suspects to 22, but no formal charges were ever made against any of them.

The identity of the Black Dahlia's killer will simply never be known, but that has not stopped novelist James Ellroy from speculating. His 1987 novel is considered to be the work that put him on the map as a writer. Over the past two decades, there have been several rumored adaptations of this project, but they had all fallen apart until now. Once the pieces all came together, however, an impressive compilation of talent was assembled. BOP faves Scarlett Johansson and Josh Hartnett anchor a cast that also includes two-time Best Actress winner Hilary Swank and Thank You for Smoking star Aaron Eckhart. The titular role, however, went to a relative unknown, Mia Kershner. The actress was the flavor of the month in 1994 when Exotica was released, but she has largely been reduced to supporting television work on 24 as well as a starring role on Showtime's The L Word. With The Black Dahlia, she is poised to reclaim the promise her eerily sexy work in Exotica foreshadowed.

The Black Dahlia offers the perfect combination of pedigree, intrigue and talent, making it our clear cut choice for Most Anticipated Movie of the Fall. It had the most number one votes as well as 40% more total votes than anything else on our list. (David Mumpower/BOP)


     


 
 

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