There is something darkly meditative about Jane Campion‘s (Bright Star) work Top of the Lake, which was the first television series ever to be screened at Sundance, and definitely deserves the distinction. The premise is reminiscent of works like The Killing or even Twin Peaks, where a special investigator begins unraveling a disturbing central mystery that is ripping a small, remote town apart. In this case it’s Mad Men‘s Elizabeth Moss as Robin, who is home in New Zealand visiting her cancer-stricken mother when a 12 year old girl, Tui (Jacqueline Joe), the daughter of a local drug lord, is found to be five months pregnant. The father? “No one,” Tui writes down. Soon she disappears completely, and what follows is a dark and twisted journey that uncovers the moral decay of what appears to be a pristine paradise. For more on the series, hit the jump.
The first trailer for the family drama Won’t Back Down (formerly Still I Rise) has gone online. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis star as two mothers from different backgrounds who join forces to take on the failing public school system. It’s a nice idea for a film (apparently based on true events), and the trailer has its moments, but I fear the full feature will be trite examination of a complex issue with a “nice” ending that wraps things up with a smile. The education system is in dire need of reform and taking a Blind Side approach to the issue is unworthy of the attention it deserves. That said, Gyllenhaal and Davis are fantastic actresses and Gyllenhaal has certainly been outspoken about social issues in the past, so hopefully Won’t Back Down tackles the issue with intellect and candidness and provides/stirs some thoughtful discussion on the topic.
Hit the jump to watch the trailer. Directed by Daniel Barnz (Beastly), the film also stars Holly Hunter and Oscar Isaac. Won’t Back Down opens on September 28th.
Holly Hunter has signed on to co-star in Diablo Cody‘s untitled directorial debut. Foremerly titled Lamb of God, the movie centers on a young woman (Julianne Hough) who loses her faith after a plane crash and decides to go to Las Vegas to experience the wild side of life. Russell Brand will play “an unlikely companion (Brand) who inadvertently helps her find her true self” while The Help‘s Octavia Spencer has been cast as “a card dealer at the casino where Brand’s character works.” According to Deadline, Hunter will play Hough’s “conservative and overprotective mother.”
Hunter recently wrapped filming on the Walden Media drama Won’t Back Down and playing the title character Antoinette Beumer’s indie flick Jackie. She’ll also be reuniting with her The Piano director Jane Campion for the BBC/Sundance Channel miniseries Top of the Lake. Filming on Cody’s movie begins in the spring.
Just last week word came that Mad Men star Elisabeth Moss would lead the BBC miniseries Top of the Lake from writer Jane Campion, director Garth David and The King’s Speech producers Emile Sherman and Iain Canning. Now Deadline has word that Holly Hunter (who worked with Campion on The Piano), David Wenham (Faramir from Lord of the Rings) and Peter Mullan (War Horse) have joined the production telling the story of Robin Griffin (Moss), a detective investigating the disappearance of a 12-year-old pregnant girl, who is the daughter of a local drug lord. Mullan will play Matt Mitcham, the missing pregnant woman’s father and local drug lord while Hunter will play G.J., a guru at a local women’s camp. Wenham’s role has not yet been revealed, but it’d be nice to see him in a villainous role this time around just to mix things up a bit. Also, as was speculated in our initial report, Sundance Channel has closed a deal to distribute the miniseries here in the United States, so if all goes well when the shoot begins in New Zealand in February, we should see some Emmy love for the miniseries when the time comes.
Holly Hunter has signed a deal to star in Still I Rise, a look at the public education crisis in America. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis star as “two frustrated mothers who team up to transform an inner-city public school.” Isaac recently joined the cast as a “sexy, ukulele-playing teacher” who romances and inspires Gyllenhaal’s character. Hunter will play the head of the teacher’s union. Director Daniel Barnz (Beastly) is now polishing a rewrite of the original Brin Hill screenplay. Production on the Walden Media/Fox collaboration begins next week in Pittsburgh.
Likewise, Hunter is likewise in negotiations to join the cast of a new Romeo and Juliet movie. True Grit star Hailee Steinfeld is attached to play Juliet — at 14 years of age, Steinfeld hews closer to the 13-year-old girl Shakespeare described. Italian director Carlo Carlie (Flight of the Innocent) will direct from a screenplay by Julian Fellowes (The Tourist). The $15 million production is expected to begin filming soon in Italy. Deadline doesn’t specify, but my guess is Hunter is in talks to play either Lady Capulet (Juliet’s mother) or Lady Montague (Romeo’s mother).
Still I Rise will be Hunter’s first feature film since 2005, following a brief detour in to television with Saving Grace.
Pixar likes to take chances, and for them one of the biggest was hiring outside of their staple. Since John Lasseter directed the first Toy Story, the filmmakers have all been with Pixar from the beginning so bringing in Brad Bird was somewhat risky. After all, Bird’s last film was the 1999 bomb The Iron Giant. The film might be a masterpiece, but it was nowhere near successful. But Bird’s The Incredibles worked, and was another in a long line of hits for the studio. It also did things the company hadn’t done before. And now it’s on Blu-ray and looks better than ever. Hit the jump for my review of The Incredibles on Blu-ray.
Watching Broadcast News twenty years after release it’s interesting to note that the film hasn’t been vaulted into the category of films like Network or A Face in the Crowd for being a prophetic film about what’s happened to journalism. Perhaps because it cuts deeper to the bone. And though it may not be the go-to for the state of journalism, it’s just as on-point as any satire of TV journalism. Holly Hunter stars as Jane Craig, a segment producer for network television’s evening news. She’s good friends and colleagues with Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks), who’s nursed a crush on her so long that it is a habit of their friendship, and their platonic bond is disrupted when Tom Grunick (William Hurt) enters the pictures. He’s the handsome but vacuous new talent, who knows he’s out of his depth but also knows how to anchor. My review of the Blu-ray Criterion edition of Broadcast News follows after the jump.