Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

(Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

It takes someone special to fill Meryl Streep‘s shoes — or to plausibly play someone in whose shoes Queen Meryl will follow, eventually — but Lily James managed to charm audiences as Young Donna in the Certified Fresh summer hit Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

A decade after the film adaptation of the jukebox musical, Streep, Amanda Seyfried, and co. returned to the fictional Greek island of Kalokairi — Skopelos, Greece doubled for Kalokairi in the first movie but filming moved to Croatia in the second — for a film that ended up being both prequel and sequel to the original.

Here We Go Again tells the origin story of how Young Donna (James) met the three suitors who, in one summer of love, could’ve potentially fathered her daughter, Sophie (Seyfried). Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, and Stellan Skarsgård reprised their roles as Sophie’s potential hot dads, with Hugh Skinner, Jeremy Irvine, and Josh Dylan as their younger selves.

James, who grew up going to musicals with her family, never thought she’d star in one, let alone be featured on an international chart-topping album with Cher. (The Here We Go Again soundtrack hit No. 1 in eight countries, and No. 3 in the U.S.) Her next project is not a musical, per se, but is a music-influenced film from Richard Curtis.

When the actress caught up with Rotten Tomatoes ahead of the film’s home entertainment release — it’s available on streaming and Blu-ray now — she almost went with a list of her five favorite movie musicals. Instead, she discussed her Five Favorite Films of all time, her next projects, and the importance of feel-good movies.


Badlands (1973) 97%

Terrence Malick, Sissy Spacek — she’s out of this world and I just think that film’s so beautiful. I like the relationship and the whole visual world of it. I love that film. I can watch it again and again and again.

Titanic (1997) 89%

I love Titanic. It’s one of the first films I remember really being taken aback by. Any time I’m at home and if I see that film, whatever point it’s at, I have to watch it ’til the end. I got nodules on my voice and I realized I could do the ‘Jack. Jack. Jack. I’ll never let go, Jack.’ And I realized I could do it cause I’ve ruined my vocal chords and I could gain that talent, so there we go.

Grease (1978) 76%

I love musicals. I could just do my five favorite musicals, actually. Grease I had on cassette tape and I used to pause and rewind and write down the lyrics of the songs. Like “Hopelessly Devoted” — I’d pause it and then I’d write it down and then I’d play it and then I’d pause it and I’d write down the words so I could sing along. I used to write in my diary and spray perfume on it like Rizzo does when she sprays the perfume on the thing. I just, I knew every word. John Travolta is just — oh my God, doesn’t get any better.

Pretty Woman (1990) 65%

Julia Roberts is just everything. My mum was obsessed with Richard Gere, like literally obsessed. My mom introduced me to that film really early and I’m so glad she did. I love when [Roberts] goes into the shop and is like, “Big mistake. Huge. Huge.” I guess, in a way, now you think, “Oh, it’s like the Cinderella story and they probably wouldn’t even make that movie anymore; it’s not a strong message,” or whatever. But I think that’s just nonsense. It’s such an amazing film, and I think Richard Gere and Julia Roberts had this electric chemistry, and Julia Roberts is a goddess. I love the bit where she goes, “But when does it ever work for anyone? I mean, when? When?” Like, a man saving you from your destitute life. And Laura San Giacomo thinks about it and she goes, “You know, Cinde-f—ing-rella.”

The Deer Hunter (1978) 91%

That opening section at the wedding, it takes its time. Those movies at that time, I think, are some of the best movies in the world. I think it was the caliber of actors that existed then. Those actors, I think, are some of the greatest, and the type of filmmaking that happened then was something so special. It’s so character-based and story-led. None of the big blockbuster crap. Not that blockbusters are crap! But you know what I mean.


Rotten Tomatoes: You were debating between Pretty Woman and Notting Hill, and you wanted to give Notting Hill a shout-out.

I just worked with Richard Curtis and he is one of my favorite people on the planet. I think that he is a genius, and I thank god that he exists because he’s given us so much. I think that’s why I wanted to act, just to be a part of those kind of films, to be honest — those ones that are so heart-lifting and the joy and the comedy and the quirkiness of those movies.

RT: The Richard Curtis movie is a musical, right?

It’s actually not a musical. You’d think it would be ’cause it’s the music of the Beatles, but it’s not a musical. At all. I don’t even know what it is. It’s sort of its own genre. But I suppose it’s like a comedy-drama vibe. Hamish Patel is just out of this world. He sings a lot of Beatles but he’s pretty much the only one.

RT: Would you do more musicals? Clearly you grew up appreciating them.

It’s so funny. I kind of lost my love for them because I was so focused on acting, and I went to drama school and I realized that’s what I wanted to do. But then I think back on it, it’s so obvious. The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Cabaret, Grease — all these films were the films I literally grew up on and knew every word to. So, it’s obvious that is actually something in me that is my total passion and I kind of neglected it. Well, not neglected it — I just sort of forgot. And then doing it just feels so right.

And The Wizard of Oz and even, like, I know they’re not musicals, but the old Marilyn Monroe films where they sing, like Some Like it Hot. There’s something, I guess, in me. I would love to do Cabaret on stage.

RT: I think that one reason people loved Mamma Mia is because it’s nice to be reminded of the joy in life. Musicals are the embodiment of that.

Yeah. It’s abandon. It’s a sort of freedom of spirit. It’s a sense of humor. I think that’s why people love karaoke, right? Because most people, maybe they have to be drunk, but they like it because you get up, and suddenly you’re singing to a load of drunk people and you don’t care and you let your hair down. And I think musicals are like that, you know? It’s people going, “I’m gonna sing because words aren’t enough, because I’m that committed.” There’s an escapism, and it’s infectious.

RT: Did you ever think that you would be on an album with Cher?

The other person my mum was obsessed with was Cher. If I think of two people that my mum spoke about on a daily basis, it’s Richard Gere and Cher. So to be in a film on a soundtrack with Cher is just — I still can’t get my head ’round it. Cher gave each of us a necklace that says, like, “Dear Lily, Love Cher.” And Mamma Mia 2 on the back. It will be my most prized possession for the rest of my life. That’s my family heirloom, done.

RT: Have you just had ABBA songs stuck in your head for the past two years?

Yeah, pretty much. But that’s pretty much been my life anyway. My present since I was a kid and could only sit on my dad’s lap, he used to take me to the ballet. And he used to have to put, like, three pillows on my seat in the theater. I’d sit and I’d watch and I’d be in a pretty frock. That evolved into going to musicals, and every year we’d get on the train to London with my brothers who’d be like, “Ugh, for god’s sake.” They wouldn’t tell me where I was going, and my present was to go and see a musical, and I saw Mamma Mia.

RT: What do you think about the reception of the film this summer? People seemed to really embrace it.

I feel so proud. I love the film. There’s a lot of things about it that are really beautiful. It’s a film about loss and grief. I think it’s a film about mother-daughter friendship. There’s a lot in it that cuts deep, as well as just being a total laugh. It was cool, the reaction. I was traveling around Italy for a month and I met a girl on a train with a backpack and she said to me that it had really inspired her to go traveling. She was, like, 20. And people that say, “I’ve seen it three times.” “I saw it with my daughter.” It makes you feel good. I really love that.


Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! is available to watch on DVD, Blu-ray and streaming.

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Photo by Araya Diaz/WireImage/Getty Images

Filmmaker Jeff Nichols has a whole slew of Certified Fresh films to his name, starting with his 2007 debut Shotgun Stories and onward through Take Shelter, Mud, Midnight Special, and his latest, Loving, which is currently in theaters in limited release. That’s quite a track record, and so we we jumped at the opportunity to ask him about his own Five Favorite Films, three of which star Paul Newman. Here’s what the man has to say:

Badlands (1973) 97%

The first one — I would say Badlands. I caught Badlands in college for the first time. They actually had a film screening of it at my film school. I’d just never seen a film like that before. I’ve never seen a film that was paced that way, that was structured that way, that felt that honest. But also at the same time kind of dreamy and transportive. I remember immediately going home to my dorm room and I called my older brother — who’s kind of my bellwether for cool interesting things — [and asked], “Have you seen this film?” I tried to explain a theme to him, which was nearly impossible of [Martin] Sheen‘s character giving his comb away to the National Guard soldiers at the end of the film. My brother: “I don’t understand what you’re talking about.” You realize that’s kind of how that movie is — you can definitely revel in it and share with it when other people have seen it. But it’s such a beautiful anomaly that when you try and tell people about it that haven’t seen it it’s kind of impossible to categorize or just explain. Badlands — it touched upon a stylized truthfulness that I wanted to do in my film.

Cool Hand Luke (1967) 100%

Now we’ll start with the Paul Newman ones. The three Paul Newman ones. I guess I’ll start with Cool Hand Luke. I think it’s the first time I ever started to recognize metaphor. Or I guess allegory, because it’s a bit of a Christ allegory, I think. After he eats those 50 eggs and he’s laid out on that table it’s the same way that he’s laid out at the end after he’s shot. His legs are crossed, and his arms are out. I didn’t know when I first saw that film that that’s what was going on, or I didn’t know how that affected the rest of the story, but I recognized it, I know that. Because Cool Hand Luke is a strange film where I grew up with it on TV every weekend. It was just one of those films that always played on cable on the weekends growing up. It’s just always there, so you never really consider it. My dad loves that film. Then you go back and sit and watch it when you’re older and you realize that in the background of your life there was this amazing piece of artwork playing. Obviously its depiction of the south and the character behavior in it is just so rich and the cast amazing.

Also I’m really drawn to this idea of a square peg in a round hole. That’s what Cool Hand Luke was. Luke was this guy, he wasn’t a bad person but he just didn’t fit in the world around him and he was persecuted as a result. Yeah, he was responsible, he was cutting the heads off parking meters. He was always culpable in the things that he did. But it was more a result that he probably just never belonged anywhere and he was restless as a result, unsettled. What that says to me: it’s not like that’s the way I felt in my life — quite the opposite actually. What I recognized in that is that is an archetype of a man, that person exists. To be able to take a personality type like that and make it so realistic, make it not cliché, make it not generic, but at the same time represent this type of person — I’m really impressed by that. It’s kind of what you strive for in ultimate storytelling in my mind. Both specificity and universality all at the same time.

The Hustler (1961) 96%

Then the next Paul Newman film has to be The Hustler — that’s as much about directing as anything else. I know that director [Robert Rossen] didn’t do a ton of stuff but that’s the first time I really started thinking about the frame. That’s not true; I thought about the frame before I even knew I was thinking about the frame when I saw Lawrence of Arabia. I saw The Hustler again on a film print in college. I’d seen it many times before, I actually owned it on video in high school. What high school student owns a video cassette of The Hustler? But I did. I just thought it was so beautiful — that black and white photography. The framing in that film — I think it’s cinema scope. I know it’s 235, so super wide frames.

The way they would stack foreground-background action in that — that was a real lesson because I had done this thing in my first video project in film school. I was looking at the camera and I was looking at the shot and it was a video camera that they had on a little pee-wee dolly that had a hydraulic boom arm on it. I was just sitting there looking at this video and wondering, “This is in my infancy as a person thinking about visual storytelling.” I was messing with this hydraulic boom lift and looking at the monitor and all of a sudden I lowered the camera to the point to where this table that was right in front of the camera fell into the foreground. Then I had this thing in the foreground and this carriage in the background. And all of a sudden, it just got vastly more interesting to me. I know that might seem so remedial to people that take photographs and other things. This was a big breakthrough for me.

When I went back and looked at The Hustler you see all of this complex foreground-background framing going on. Spielberg‘s the best at it too. Spielberg does it all the time. If you look at scenes in Indiana Jones where they’re sitting across the table the more he puts the camera — it’s awesome. But there’s an elegance to the camera placement and the camera movement in The Hustler that’s pretty undeniable.

Not to mention, there’s a reason I’m talking about Paul Newman movies: there’s a behavior emerging in these films from the sixties that I really identified with. I almost felt like they valued it more than people in other decades, because they were so directly breaking free from the structures of studio films of the fifties and that acting style, more importantly. That it seemed like, “Now we’re going to take some seriously flawed characters for a run, for a test drive.” It’s when you start getting, I think, some of the best writing in film history — and character writing specifically. Stories that turn on character more than plot. What an odd plot for The Hustler. What an odd trajectory, but totally compelling. When I guess they’re going to the derby or whatever and that’s when his girlfriend — what an odd structure. That’s really something I strive for in my stuff. Structures that aren’t just a continual execution of plot, but are really driven by characters and their flaws.

Hud (1963) 83%

This one — they’re just kissing cousins, really — but the last Paul Newman film I’ll talk about is Hud — just the greatest introduction to a character maybe ever on screen. You’ve got this goofy kid walking around town and he walks past the bar, and there’s glass on the sidewalk and the bar owner’s sweeping it up. And the kid goes, “Did you have trouble in here last night?” “I had Hud in here last night.” Such an awesome way to introduce the main character of this film. When you first meet him, he’s walking out of this married woman’s house putting his boots on and the husband pulls up, and he immediately blames his nephew.

It’s this really incredible thing. I was lucky enough to work on a college professor’s documentary called The Rough South of Larry Brown. Which is about the writer Larry Brown out of Oxford, Mississippi. In that documentary Larry Brown talks about his writing, he says, “Yeah, you read my stuff and you read a little bit and you might think it’s pretty funny. And then you read a little bit more and you realize, it’s not funny worth a damn.” And that’s Hud. You start it off and you’re like, “Gosh, look at this rapscallion, this character,” and then you realize, “Wow, that’s not funny; there is some deep stuff inside that man that is hurt and angry, but is manifesting itself in very evil ways.” The complexity of that — it’s different than Newman’s character in The Hustler. In The Hustler, he’s doing pride, but there’s something deep going on in Hud that’s darker. It’s more about family and legacy and things that I think, because it’s attached to the family, I relate to very much. I had to deal with familial relationships that are complex.

Akira Kurosawa's Dreams (1990) 65%

Let’s tall about Kurosawa‘s Dreams. When Bravo first came on television, they were figuring out who they were as a cable network and would just play random foreign films. This was before the travesty of reality television permeated their station. I was at home alone in high school, I think I was a junior in high school and Dreams comes on by Kurosawa. I could not separate myself from it. I didn’t know who Kurosawa was — I didn’t care. I was just a kid absorbing things that flashed on the screen in front of him. I was immediately captivated by this thing that was at once beautiful — obviously surreal — but at the same time palpable enough to actually hit home emotionally. I think not many people would probably describe scenes in my movies as surreal, but there are some. Kind of this magical realism that exists in that film.

Also it feels ancient; it feels like when this boy comes home having witnessed the wedding of foxes and his mother’s there and says he can’t enter the home because he spied on the foxes and then presents a dagger to him and says, “They want you to kill yourself. Run. Run and ask for forgiveness.” It feels like an ancient story, it feels like something — I’m not sure what. It feels like something that kind of bubbled up from our beginning. I was fascinated by that.

Just go watch it. It’s all skits, it’s basically short films strewn together. Get’s real weird by the end, but the first three are three of the greatest films I’ve ever seen.


Loving is now open in limited release.

Three of this week’s new releases on home video were recognized by the Academy with Oscar nominations this year, so that’s already a pretty good start. The other three selections include two comedies that earned mixed reactions and one French import featuring some impressive performances, and those are followed by a number of notable rereleases. See below for the full list!



The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

64%

After the success of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings adaptations, it was impossible not to approach his interpretation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit with high anticipation. When Jackson announced that The Hobbit — a single volume much shorter than the LOTR saga — would also be stretched into a trilogy, however, some fans expressed a bit of concern, and Jackson’s use of the higher frame rate was also met with mixed reactions. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey chronicles the first portion of the tale of young Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), who is swept up in a journey alongside thirteen dwarves to recapture their kingdom, which has been usurped by a fearsome dragon named Smaug. With Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen, reprising his role from the Rings series) in tow, their quest leads them into perilous encounters with all sorts of creatures, including Gollum (Andy Serkis), whose fate is intimately tied to Bilbo’s. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was an “event movie,” if ever there was one, and while most critics found it both visually spectacular and evident of Jackson’s earnest affection, some also found that its pace was too deliberate and that it ultimately failed to meet the same standard for majesty and wonder that was set so high in Jackson’s previous trilogy. At 65% on the Tomatometer, this is probably still a trip worth taking.



Zero Dark Thirty

91%

Kathryn Bigelow took home a few Oscars for 2008’s The Hurt Locker, and she’s always had a knack for action flicks (“The FBI’s going to pay me to learn to surf?”), so it’s not entirely surprising that her gritty action/procedural about the search for Osama bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty, garnered five Oscar nods (including Best Picture and Best Actress) of its own. The story follows fledgling CIA operative Maya (Jessica Chastain) over the course of her entire career — which is dedicated to the capture of Osama bin Laden — as she collects intelligence, pursues leads, participates in classified interrogations, and ultimately oversees the mission to raid bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. There was some controversy over the kinds of access that Bigelow and writer Mark Boal (who also wrote The Hurt Locker) were allegedly given to classified records, as well as some grumbling over whether or not the film condoned torture, but the vast majority of critics simply saw a gripping, intelligently crafted film with an eye for detail. Certified Fresh at 93%, it was one of last year’s highest rated wide releases, so if you’re looking for a solid thriller, this one comes highly recommended.



Les Misérables

70%

Victor Hugo’s classic novel of redemption has been adapted several times before on both stage and screen, so it’s tempting to ask, “Is this a story worth revisiting again?” Most critics say yes, as did the Academy when it honored the film with eight Oscar nominations (it won three of them). Anyone who’s taken high school English will be familiar with the tale: Ex-convict Frenchman Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is released from prison in 1815 at the end of a 19-year sentence, and after benefiting from an act of kindness by a local bishop, he vows to live an honest life. Thus begins a sprawling historical narrative that follows several characters in Valjean’s life and culminates in the June Rebellion of France in 1832. Directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), Les Misérables received some attention for its actors singing live on set (some better than others), and though its story was familiar, its accomplished cast (including Best Supporting Actress winner Anne Hathaway) helped to elevate the film.



This Is 40

51%

Judd Apatow’s been wearing his Producer hat more often lately, but he decided to jump back behind the camera again for This Is 40, the “sort-of sequel to Knocked Up,” as its poster so proudly proclaims. Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann (Apatow’s wife) reprise their roles from that previous film as upper-middle-class married couple Pete and Debbie, who both celebrate their 40th birthdays. In the week between Debbie’s actual birthday and Pete’s party, audiences bear witness to the conversations, the arguments, the intimate moments, the public meltdowns, and everything in between that the couple experience with each other and their children (played by Maude and Iris Apatow, they of Judd and Leslie’s loins). Unfortunately, there were a lot of critics who just didn’t find This Is 40 to be a winning effort; while many conceded the film successfully made light of some hard truths, most also felt the story was unfocused and muddled, and that it appealed to too specific an audience.



Rust and Bone

82%

We last heard from French filmmaker Jacques Audiard back in 2010, when his acclaimed film A Prophet was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. Though his latest effort, Rust and Bone, failed to make it onto the Oscar list this year, it’s received a number of accolades, particularly for its acting. The film stars Matthias Schoenaerts as unemployed single father and aspiring kickboxer Alain, who moves to Antibes to live with his sister and look for work. After securing a job as a bouncer at a night club, Alain meets Stephanie (Marion Cotillard), a whale trainer at the local marine park who forms a close relationship with Alain when she suffers a tragic accident that results in the amputation of her lower legs. A handful of critics felt Rust and Bone‘s third act could have been a little stronger, but most agreed that both Schoenaerts and Cotillard put in powerful performances here, and that Audiard’s script succeeds in being sensitive without veering into melodrama. Certified Fresh at 81%, it’s an unconventional love story that may move you if you give it a chance.



Bachelorette

57%

Much to the chagrin of its producers, Bachelorette was just about to start shooting when Bridesmaids hit theaters back in 2011, thereby snatching up the “female answer to The Hangover” crown. When it finally opened back in September of last year, however, its makers decided to take a chance and release it on Video On Demand a month ahead of time. The story centers around a group of friends who reunite when one of them (Rebel Wilson) announces she’s getting married. What ensues is a series of mishaps as the bridesmaids (Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, and Isla Fisher) accidentally ruin the wedding dress and attempt to fix the situation, all after having insulted the bride and ingested copious amounts of booze and drugs. Critics were relatively split on Bachelorette; some thought it was funny and well-written by Leslye Headland (who also directed), but others felt the film’s leads were a bit too unlikeable to fully earn the sentimental ending. It might be a risk at 55%, but the cast — which includes Adam Scott, James Marsden, and Ann Dowd — may win you over.

Also available this week:

  • Two choices from the Criterion Collection: Terence Malick’s Badlands (98%) and Powell and Pressburger’s The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (95%), now both available on DVD and Blu-ray.
  • The HBO original film The Girl, which explores Alfred Hitchcock’s relationship with Tippi Hedren.
  • The 1981 cult favorite sex comedy Porky’s (30%) on Blu-ray.

Multi-talented New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi established himself on the local comedy circuit and scored an Academy Award nomination for his 2004 short, Two Cars, One Night, though chances are you’ll be most familiar with his behind-the-scenes work on TV’s Flight of the Conchords, where he collaborated with friends Jemaine Clement, James Bobin and recently-minted Oscar winner Bret McKenzie. Waititi’s first feature, Eagle vs Shark, earned cult notices, but it’s with his follow-up, Boy, that the director really comes into his own.

Set in suburban New Zealand in 1984, it’s a keenly-observed story about an 11-year-old boy called, well, Boy, whose heroes are pop star Michael Jackson, and his mostly absent, tall-tale spinning dad (played with mythic weirdness by Waititi himself). Capturing that all-too elusive tone in such films — where genuine comedy and drama mingle with the just the right hint of nostalgia — Boy is arguably among the best films about growing up to emerge in recent years. Local audiences seemed to agree, too: the movie became the highest-grossing New Zealand production ever when it was released there in 2010.

With the movie opening in the US this week, we sat down for a conversation with Waititi about making Boy, his experiences with Hollywood (he appeared in last year’s Green Lantern), and his plans with Jemaine Clement to make a vampire comedy. But first, here are his five favorite films.

Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, 1964; 100% Tomatometer)


Dr. Strangelove. I think purely because of Peter Sellers. I love his characters; he’s just having so much fun. And that kind of subversion of very serious things going on is right up my alley; I really like that. I love Kubrick’s films, but that for me is also a very different Kubrick film. People either get it or they don’t. I love that film.

The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967; 87% Tomatometer)



The Graduate is always a good one to have on my list. It’s hilarious, but also has that element of treading between comedy and drama and doing it so well, and actually being about something. It’s probably the best version of those films about rich people and their boring problems, you know, that anyone’s ever made. People have tried to do that since — that film has totally inspired generations of filmmakers. For me it’s just fresh. There’s also the energy of the actors: Hoffman, just young and going for it; he hasn’t become jaded. That film could come out today in a fresh print and still be incredible; everyone would think “Oh, Wes Anderson made a new film,” or “Sofia Coppola made a new film.” I’ve always loved that film.

Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979; 100% Tomatometer)



Stalker. I went through a big phase, a Tarkovsky phase, when I was in my mid-20s, and that film always stuck with me. For me, I think visually there’s something about that film that manages to get inside your head and touch you on your emotional synapses or something; it somehow just gets in there. And visually: for instance just the shot of this dog, this black dog that’s always wandering around by itself, that… I mean Tarvovsky was a master of symbolism and just knowing, for example, that a candle in a certain place would trigger in most audiences’ minds something to do with memory. And working on an amazing sensory level, with the composition of shots; these big, long shots that just go on forever. And it doesn’t always matter what people are saying — because the film’s full of dialogue, full of poetry and stuff, but that’s what I love about that film, and also The Mirror. It just washes over you, and you can watch it again and again and take more and more in each time. Mirror is also one of my favorites but it’s a baffling, baffling film.

It’s the same as in painting, you know: people have to go back and study the old masters to see how they did shit. They’re called masters because they’re still the best that ever were. It’s the same with Kurosawa and Ozu and Tarkovsky: if you look at their films and what they were doing, you kind of feel safe watching those films. With Tarkovsky’s stuff I have to keep going back to it to remind myself that there’s an alternative to the 90-minute American film, you know where it’s all fucking three acts and information, boom-boom-boom, and just to go, “Hey, you know what — there’s a way of communicating that’s different and there’s nothing wrong with that. Don’t be scared to appreciate that stuff.”

Coming Home (Hal Ashby, 1978; 81% Tomatometer)



Another one’s Coming Home, by Hal Ashby. I mean, I love all of his films — if there’s any filmmaker I would love to be, it would be him. It’s just an amazing film. You think about something like Harold and Maude, which is to me one of the most flawless films there is. There’s always the great films, like Harold and Maude, sure; but then there’s ones that people kind of forget about, you know, or they sort of get swept to the side a little — and I think Coming Home is one of those films. Even The Last Detail is one of those films. But Coming Home: amazing performances, it’s about something, amazing emotional stuff, and it’s just about people — people trying to connect. There’s a simplicity to it, but it’s really engaging the entire time. Waldo Salt wrote the script. I saw a documentary on him. I think just knowing how a film’s made makes me love it as well. He wrote a 200-, 300-page script for this thing, and went and talked to vets and recorded them for like a year. Jon Voight went and lived with paraplegics and war vets who had been injured and stayed in his wheelchair the entire time. It was just a good commitment to making a film, you know, whereas these days it’s like, “I’ll get my double to do it.” I feel like that was made at a time when people still had passion.

Badlands (Terrence Malick, 1973; 98% Tomatometer)

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (Martin Scorsese, 1974; 95% Tomatometer)

 

 

I’m sort of torn on my last film between Badlands and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. I’m on the fence — I love both of those films. Badlands, for me, is a very important film because I feel like a lot of the time it’s the kind of film I would love to make, if I could just make one. It’s so small, but really perfect. I think another great example of a film, which is like a second film, that people don’t think about, is Days of Heaven, which is again another flawless film. His use of voice over is the best out of any filmmaker. Linda Manz, her voiceover, nothing can beat it, you know. I always think that if there’s a voiceover in a film, it’s gotta be like that, where it?s not telling you what’s happening, it’s talking about completely different things. It’s incredible.

Did you see The Tree of Life? There are passages in there that are uncannily of a piece with Badlands.

Yeah. Especially in the street, when they’re out in the street in those opening scenes [in Badlands] when he first meets Sissy Spacek, all that stuff with the trees and the old ’50s feel. I fucking love Sissy Spacek. She’s incredible in that film, as is Martin Sheen. Just those two together, and the way that those shots just drift along, and the casual nature of their conversation. It’s so perfect. That character, actually — that character of Kit — in a very sort of subtle way I based a little of the father character in Boy on him. Just the way he was sort of distracted by the world and daydreaming and off somewhere else. I think I rip off a lot of films, but that specifically…

Ripping off the best, as the saying goes.

Yeah. Well, the beginning of Boy, with the cutting and stuff, was based a lot on the opening of Jules and Jim, which a lot of people have done now, but I just love that film so much. And Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore — one of the greatest performances of a woman, and that kid as well, that little boy; those two together. And again, it’s just something about a film about normal people just trying to follow their dreams. It’s those films that haven’t got a really complex narrative or complex structure that are literally just, “We’re gonna leave town and drive.” That’s again a great mixture of drama and comedy, like when Harvey Keitel threatens to kill her and breaks up the motel room, and then a hard cut to one of the most hilarious scenes in the film where they’re trying to pack up and get out of the room, and the kid’s trying to tell that joke to the mother and she’s fucking going out of her mind. So Ellen Burstyn’s like a goddess in that film. I really love strong female characters, and for my next film I’ve actually written a mother character who borrows a lot from Alice in that film. I feel like a mother character should be that interesting.

Next, Waititi talks about his latest film, Boy, the experience of working in Hollywood, and what he and Conchords Jemaine Clement have planned next.

 

A lot of those films mix drama and comedy perfectly, which seems like a rarer thing to find in contemporary stuff.

Taika Waititi: Yeah. I feel so surprised when I see billboards for films and I’m like, “Really! That’s what you came up with?” — where it’s a really obvious broad comedy or farce or a really obvious drama, like a “This is gonna depress you” film; a real lack of a sense of adventure about trying to mix some shit up, you know.

It’s not easy to successfully mix genres. Which is the thing you notice about Boy — it does moves between comedy and drama so well, without feeling contrived in doing so. How do you make a “coming of age” film, so to speak, without falling into the trap of cheap nostalgia? Is it hard to balance the tones?

I think a lot of it is coming from somewhere like New Zealand or Australia, where we’re so far removed from the rules on how to make films. I think even if we tried it’d be like a weird New Zealand version of those films, and I think that’s what most of our New Zealand cinema is — weird versions of popular genres. And I’ve always — just because of my comedy background — I’ve always wanted to do mixtures of things because I’m also into things that feel more real, or more human, and things that emotionally aren’t just saying “Just laugh.” Audiences are so savvy now. They know the structures of these genres. If you tell an audience they’re going to a romantic comedy, they’re gonna know exactly what’s gonna happen. Audiences know what they’re getting when they go to those movies, so why not trick them? Why not mix it up? Try to keep audiences on their toes and keep them engaged. It’s just telling the same stories, delivering the same messages, life messages or whatever, but trying to package it differently. I think you have a duty as a storyteller to make that story interesting. We come from an oral background. Maori is traditionally an oral culture: we never wrote anything down and all information and history was spoken, told by story. You had to be good at telling stories, and if you weren’t, someone else would get the job. If you told the same story again and again, it gets boring. And that’s where myth comes from — you’re adding little bits all the time. It’s like, “Oh, I forgot to tell you — also, he could speak to the trees.” [Laughs] You’re making shit up, you know. That’s the evolution of story, I guess. Truth will eventually become myth.

Did that notion of myth feed into the character of Boy’s father, and how his stories are always slightly different and increasingly outlandish?

Yeah, yeah. His stories are changing all the time.

It’s great when he’s bragging to the kids about how many times he’s seen E.T.. It’s such a child-like thing to do.

[Laughs] It’s such a thing for a kid to say, but for an adult to be competitive with a kid, you know: “I’ve seen it 10 times. I was one of the first.” When we were kids, when Return of the Jedi came out, we were always like, you had to be the first person to see it so you could hold that over every one else — “I saw it before you,” you know. [Laughs]

Going back to the beginnings of Boy, is it based, or partially based, on your own childhood?

Not really. It’s a mixture of memories, and things were changed to protect the innocent. [Laughs]

So you weren’t actually playing your own father, just to make that clear.

I was actually playing a character made up of parts of myself, my father, a lot of uncles, people I’ve met. Basically he’s just a version of a lot of different men I’ve known, either as a child or as an adult; a mixture of people who either hadn’t grown up or were living outside of what was going on — they were living in their head and wanting to be somewhere else. The real autobiographical part of it is just where it was shot. For instance, we shot in the house I grew up in, my grandmother’s house. I grew up in a house like that, with the grandmother and all these kids. Parents and adults would come in and out of our world, but essentially our stable world was kids and the grandmother. All of that was authentic to the ’80s. I needed to make it feel authentic somehow, so I thought that I may as well do it authentic to my memories. It was like recreating a real place but then telling a made-up story within that place.

You were already work-shopping this movie before you went amd made your first film, Eagle vs Shark?

Yeah. I took it to the Sundance lab in January 2005.

Was it always the same story?

It was. It was a lot more dramatic when I first did it. There was still humor in it but the dad didn’t arrive ’til half way through the movie; it was more about the kids trying to survive in that world. So I took it the lab and they said “Why don’t you come back to the June filmmaker’s lab where you get to shoot scenes and stuff?” I didn’t want to come back to Utah with kids from New Zealand and have to look after them, so I said, “Okay how ’bout I not submit that and I’ll submit another script, which is this comedy about this girl who loves this idiot?” I hadn’t actually written it at that point but I was trying to stall for time.

“This girl who loves this idiot” — I don’t think I’ve heard such a succinct log line for that movie.

[Laughs] Yeah. So I wrote it, and made that film and Boy just took a backseat. I came back to it in mid-2008 and wrote more drafts and we shot at the beginning of 2009.

 

Given that Boy is obsessed with Michael Jackson, how did Michael’s death affect the production? What stage were you at when the news broke?

We were at the end of editing. It was really sad. When we started the film I thought, “Well, this is going to be a sort of ironic thing where everyone loves Michael Jackson and we’re gonna show this at a time where everyone hates Michael Jackson — he’s been on trial, he’s going through all this shit, he’s bankrupt, and he’s a loser, you know.” I mean, I never considered him a loser but the world kind of considered him this old hack at the time. So I thought this is kind of interesting in a “What becomes of our heroes?” way, and it sort of ties in with the father, who’s Boy’s hero — and Michael Jackson was such a hero to the world in the ’80s and now it’s like, “What’s become of your hero?” So when he died it was just a real bummer. It sucked. It didn’t take anything away from the film; the film was fine with him being alive, or whatever — I just thought it was a bummer for the world to lose this dude. And also a weird bummer that everyone started loving him again once he was dead. It was great that he became more popular, but it sucks that he had to die.

Did you find that it changed audiences’ reaction to the film?

Not really. Now and then some people think that film was made after he died, which again is a bummer ’cause I wouldn’t want people to think it was made as a reaction to him dying, like “Oh I’m gonna make a film about somebody that likes Michael Jackson,” you know, to try and cash in on his death or something. When he died we had actually budgeted to put some of his music in the film; a lot of it was quite affordable. And before he died, we were watching it and we had some of his songs in it, and it just didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel right having a small, intimate film suddenly kick in with “Beat It” or something. I felt like people would be wondering “How’d you guys afford this?” or it would take you out of the moment.

You always had “Poi E” in the film, though?

Yeah, oh yeah.

At least you still got to mix that in with “Thriller.”

Well we used to do that when we were young. We used to mix Maori Haka with other sorts of songs. “Poi E” was such a huge hit in New Zealand. It was this mixture of traditional Maori dance with synthesizers and drum machines, so I was trying to kind of capture that as well.

 

How was your experience with Boy in the US? Did the distributors leave it alone?

They have, because we already had a lot of the prints. Which is great. They can’t change it or cut stuff out of the film.

They can’t dub over the accents…

Yeah. That was always a question, you know: Do we cut the accents? Do we put subtitles on them? But then I thought, “Fuck it,” you know? It’s like, open your ears. [Laughs] It’s English. Isn’t it a nice experience to hear how other people speak?

And how has the the response been to the film?

It’s been mostly positive. It’s good to be affirmed and have people say, “Yeah we get it, and this is good.” A big thing for me, as well, is the kind of stuff I make I want to be able to show it to my friends and get their approval, you know — I don’t wanna be at a party with my friends and for them to say, “Uggghhh! You made What Happens in Vegas.” I’d be too embarrassed. I feel like it’s quite good coming from a place like New Zealand where you have all those friends to tell you that shit, you know. I’d rather do small films that a small audience loves, which could grow, in a style that I’m proud of, rather than a couple of shitty big films that everyone will go and see.

Have you been approached to do bigger films by the studios?

I’ve read some scripts that I’ve turned down.

Did they offer you a certain kind of film?

Definitely after Eagle vs Shark, for sure. They’d send me all the “quirky” ones and the romantic comedies. It’s not even a romantic comedy. It’s a depressing romantic movie, with uncomfortable comedy. They started sending me broad shit and I was like, “That’s not me.” [Laughs]

 

What was it like going from a small movie to doing something like Green Lantern?

Oh, incomparable.

How did you end up in that?

Well, Boy played at Sundance, and the casting director from Warners happened to see it and at the time I guess was looking to fill that role. So I came back to LA and did an audition, then a follow-up audition, and a “chemistry read” with Ryan [Reynolds], and then it just sort of worked out. I was pretty happy with doing it, with getting that chance to do it, but then I don’t know, I feel like that time down in New Orleans kind of disappeared; it was like, “What happened to that three months?”

What are you doing for your next film?

I’ve got two. One of them is one I’m doing by myself, which I’ve written, which is gonna shoot in Europe — and that’s a World War II comedy. And then Jemaine [Clement] and I are writing a vampire movie that we’re both in with a bunch of our friends, and that will be shot in New Zealand. So that’s the New Zealand film and that’s a hard one to get up and running because there’s a lot of effects.

Is it a comedy?

It’s a comedy, yeah. We actually came up with the idea in, like, 2005, when no-one was making vampire films and the only films that were coming out was something like Blade, or Underworld. We were like, “Man, vampires are fucking lame, no-one’s into vampire movies — let’s make a vampire movie.” And it took us five years to write a script and get our shit together… and now vampires are lame again. So it’s kind of cool to come in at the end of the reign of the vampire stuff.

Are you directing?

We’re both gonna direct and be in it together. It’s just hard to make, really. We just wanna do stuff outside of studio control. Not that we’re big studio-involved people, but just me having been in a movie like [Green Lantern] and having worked with studios on a lot of things, and Jemaine’s done a lot of work in the studio system now… we just would like a lot of freedom with this film, and we wanna make it cheap. Ultimately our attitude is just that we wanna do it like how we would make something in New Zealand in the ’90s — by ourselves, with our friends, and just being left alone to do our own stuff and then showing people at the end without contracts and things going on and lots of people giving comments and stuff like that.


Boy opens in select theaters in the US this week.

Juno Temple’s star is definitely on the rise. The daughter of punk filmmaker Julien Temple, the 22-year-old English-born actress began her career with supporting roles in movies like Notes on a Scandal, Atonement, and St. Trinian’s — and later delivered a lead performance in Jordan Scott’s excellent, unfairly maligned boarding school drama, Cracks. She’ll soon headline several films including William Friedkin’s Killer Joe, Jonas Akerlund’s Small Apartments and the long-percolating lesbian werewolf project Jack and Diane, in addition to starring as a “street smart Gotham girl” in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises — a role that has fans speculating could be anything from Selina Kyle’s sidekick Holly Robinson to Harley Quinn to a female Robin.

In the meantime, Temple appears in this week’s Dirty Girl, an autobiographical comedy-drama from debut director Abe Sylvia. Set in the strange world of Oklahoma in 1987, the film follows the unlikely adventure of two misfit high schoolers — Temple’s trashy, promiscuous Danielle and Jeremy Dozier’s overweight, closeted Clarke — as they bust out of town and head for the Californian coast, a posse of angry and/or confused parents desperately on their trail. Which means Temple gets to wear anachronistic hot pants, flip the bird to religious zealots and strip to Sheena Easton’s “Strut” — things we’re pretty sure won’t be called upon for her employment in Gotham City. We caught up with Temple recently to chat about Dirty Girl, but first, she took a few moments to run through her all-time five favorite films.

 


Badlands (Terrence Malick, 1973; 98% Tomatometer)


Badlands, I think is one of the best love stories of all time. I think it’s beautifully shot and I think Sissy Spacek’s flawless in it. I watched that movie and — you know when your hair stands up on your body and you can’t control it? — that movie really affected me quite deeply, and I cried at the end. I based a character that I did last year in this movie called Killer Joe on Sissy Spacek in that movie. It’s a big inspiration for me. I think it’s a flawless movie.

True Romance (Tony Scott, 1993; 91% Tomatometer)



True Romance, again… a romance at heart, a young couple on the run doing crazy stuff. I think Alabama is one of the coolest characters of all time. I love the script — I think it’s so dynamic.

Heathers (Michael Lehmann, 1988; 95% Tomatometer)



Heathers — again, a kind of weird romance story and a dark tale. I love the dialogue in that movie. I probably shouldn’t quote it.

Please do.

“F–k me gently with a chainsaw.” [Laughs] But my favorite is, “You’re such a pillow case.” It’s so good — it’s like the worst insult ever but so funny. It’s just so funny and so gritty and I love the performances in it, and I think it has one of the best endings of all time.

Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten (Julien Temple, 2007; 89% Tomatometer)



Because I think it’s one of my dad’s masterpieces, and Joe Strummer was someone who was a big part of my upbringing and was one of my dad’s best friends. I have such great memories of hanging out with the two of them. It’s something that means a lot to me. I really think my dad put his heart and soul into that film and that’s the kind of film-making I wanna do. No, I don’t wanna direct. I wanna act.

Did you learn from your dad, growing up around sets?

Yeah. I did. I mean, I learned a lot. He helped me with a lot of tough decisions at times and, you know, he’s helped me with a lot of auditions, too. I really hope I get to do a movie with him one day, and he gets to direct me in a film. I would love that beyond words.

I’d love to see him do another narrative feature. Absolute Beginners is kind of great.

I agree. Earth Girls Are Easy is probably my number six on this list. [Laughs]

Beauty and the Beast (La belle et la bête) (Jean Cocteau, 1946; 95% Tomatometer)



La belle et la bête by Jean Cocteau. It’s the movie that made me want to be an actress. I was four-years-old and my dad had it on laser disc. I was being annoying and bratty or whatever, I was a child, and my dad said, “Hey, watch this movie.” This is when we lived in LA and we had this great giant striped couch and I was wearing — I remember this so well — this corduroy dress with red trim, and I lay there and started watching it. I had a really vivid imagination as a child but I had never seen anything like this in my life. Do you remember the scene where she faints and the Beast carries her and he has that incredible cloak that looks like it is actually the night sky? It’s insane. And he carries her and all the arms — we had these arms in our house, these giant arms that hold the candles — all the arms move and he’s carrying her and walks into her bedroom, and as he goes through the door with her, her clothes go from rags to riches. I remember that being the specific scene where I was like, “I wanna do that. How does that happen? I wanna be a part of that.” That was the day I knew I wanted to be an actress. Also, the way that the Beast smokes, when he looks at her and his skin smokes; and when he takes off the glove and his hand’s just smoking. The whole ending… it’s this weird, twisted ending.

Next, Temple chats about her role in this week’s Dirty Girl, and how an English private school girl gets into character as a mid-West American teen.

 

RT: It’s a curious character, this one. How did you end up being cast for the movie?

Juno Temple: I got sent the script by my agent and I read it and of course I wanted to audition for it — I wanted the part immediately. I arrived at my audition and I was wearing cut-off denim hot pants, biker boots, ripped band t-shirt, a biker jacket that I’d sliced the sleeves off of, had a nose piercing and my dreadlocked hair that I hadn’t brushed in three weeks and I had a sh-tload of jewelry.

This was all for character?

No, it’s kind of the way I dress. I’m a big fan of ’90s grunge — the grungier the better. So I went in and did my thing, then got a phone call from my agent saying “They loved your audition, but they want you to come back in and take out the nose ring and brush your hair.” So I went back in looking slightly tidier.

Begrudgingly so?

[Laughs] I remember I was furious ’cause I had a 45-minute audition and I came out and my nose had closed. My ex boyfriend had to re-pierce my nose on the way home, and my nose was bleeding. [Laughs] It got re-pierced and it was back in for a while. Then I got a call back to come in and chemistry read with Jeremy [Dozier] and it was like an instant click. We just got on immediately in a way that was quite overwhelming.

The film immediately establishes that your character’s in control — at least in the sexual sense. Was that something that appealed to you?

Yeah, what attracted me was the journey she goes on, what she goes through — because she has this crazy arc. I liked the fiery, outrageous personality that she has in the beginning. She has attitude and she doesn’t care what people think. She’s gonna speak her mind and sometimes it pisses people off. But she’s very misunderstood, too — she’s misunderstood by her family, by her school; boys use her for sex and that’s all they care about. She doesn’t have any friends. Then Clarke comes into her life and I think fate brings them together. I’m a strong believer in that fate is real, but it only gets you so far — then you have to make the choice to do something. And so they do: they continue this incredible friendship and they really bring each other out of their shells. They really open each others’ eyes. I think that’s a great example of a true friendship, when you see the world through somebody else’s eyes and you like looking at the world that way. They do that for one another. I think the moral of the story is don’t judge a book by its cover, which I think is great when you look at all the sh-t that’s going on in schools — with the bullying and stuff. You know, what better than to say, “Some people aren’t gonna like you or take you for what you are, but some people will — and they’re gonna change your life.” They’re the people you should be hanging out with.

I’m guessing high school in Oklahoma is not the way you grew up–

[Laughs] Oh, I went to an English boarding school!

So how do you become this teenager in the mid West in 1987?

I talked to the director a lot about the kids in his school — ’cause it’s his story and nobody knows it better than him. We talked a lot about it and figured out how she’s gonna be. She’s an ’80s character but she also looks very ’70s, so she doesn’t quite fit into the world — she’s got hand-me-downs from her mom, because they can’t afford new clothes. So that makes her even more of a misfit. I love that she’s this kind of Cherie Currie character in this uptight Oklahoma high school — she really looks like she sticks out like a sore thumb. I loved that, the make-up and everything and the Farrah Fawcett bangs. I thought that was cool having her different to everyone else, because everyone notices her and are like, “Who the f–k is that?” So that was another thing, the costumes. And getting into the music — because like I said, I’m a ’90s grunge fan, so that really wasn’t my music scene, but once you listen to it and get into the idea of playing that character, it was brilliant.

So now you’re a fan of Melissa Manchester?

She’s extraordinary.

How was it singing her song while she played behind you on piano?

I’ve never been so nervous in my entire life. Singing A cappella with her playing piano behind me. I was so nervous. I’m shaking [Laughs] You can totally see it. She was so kind afterwards. She was so lovely to me and Jeremy. It was pretty cool to be singing Melissa Manchester’s power ballad that just blew a bunch of peoples’ minds in the ’80s and she’s there playing piano while you do it… it was a trip.

Last question. I’m sure nobody’s asked you about this–

The Dark Knight? Oh no, you’re not gonna ask about it. Okay. Because everyone’s been asking and I’m not allowed to talk about it.

I just have one question: Is it true that you’re playing The Penguin?

Obviously! I mean — look at me. [Laughs]


Dirty Girl is in select theaters this week.


So the big movies out this week are Vin Diesel-powered Babylon A.D., yet another Judd Apatow-produced comedy about immature losers – Step Brothers with Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly – and the 90s coming-of-age teen drama The Wackness, starring a bong-chugging, Olsen twin-snogging knight of the realm, Sir Ben Kingsley. What did the UK critics have to say?

Denounced by its director, the Vin Diesel sci-fi action flick Babylon A.D. flops into the cinema with UK critics mirroring the US critics’ response, pretty much universally denouncing it for its indecipherable plot, tacked on action sequences, and wholesale shameless plundering of sci-fi flicks Children of Men and Blade Runner. With the Tomatometer tallying the UK response, Babylon A.D. has shot from a pathetic 0% to a measly 7%. When one of the only positive review reads, “It’s utter codswallop, yet enjoyable if you unplug your brain.” (The Times), you know you’ve got a stinker on your hands.

Will Ferrell teams up with John C. Reilly again, and with their last effort Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby garnering a respectable 73% on the Tomatometer, the standards are set high, but can they repeat their success with Step Brothers? It’s had a mixed response from the UK scribes, with the general consensus being that if you like the relentless, absurd and puerile shtick peddled by Farrell and Reilly in Anchorman, Talledega Nights and Semi-Pro, then you’ll fall for Step Brothers too. On the other hand, if the sight of two grown men behaving like 12-year-olds, and sporting prosthetic testicles, seems a bit infantile to you, then steer well clear. Step Brothers is currently the black sheep of the family at 53% on the Tomatometer.

Is 1994 too recent to be considered a period piece? The critics didn’t think so with most UK critics rating The Wackness fresh, mainly for the ever-versatile Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of the bong-smoking, long haired, last hippy on the block, Dr Squires, but also for its touching and quirky story of adolescence and love in mid-90s New York. The performances save the movie from its meandering, and at times soppy, sauntering pace, and at 67% on the Tomatometer, it has just enough Dopeness to stop it truly being The Wackness.

Also worth checking out…
Badlands. Terrence Malick’s 1973 debut gets a limited re-release. This masterpiece is worth seeking out. Currently 100% on the Tomatometer.

Times and Winds. Lilting and meditative, Reha Erdem’s story of three adolescents in rural Turkey captivates with intimate details and long takes of the endless countryside. 83% on the Tomatometer.

Quote of the Week
“A sci-fi actioner that sees bald hero Vin Diesel back, stomping around the future like a small, gun-toting penis.”
Babylon A.D. – Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro.

JoBlo is kind enough to point us towards an all-new trailer for Fox’s impending Omen remake. Click here to visit a slow-loading Russian website that has the trailer we’ll all get to see in a few days on Apple QT.

As we all know by now, The Omen (2006) is a remake of The Omen (1976), and is directed by Flight of the Phoenix helmer John Moore, scripted by first-timer Dan McDermott, and starring Liev Schreiber, Julia Stiles, David Thewlis, and Mia Farrow.

And yes, it opens on 6/6/06. Nifty.

This week at the movies brings us three culture clashes: Native Americans and Europeans ("The New World"), the Waodani people of Ecuador and a group of missionaries ("End of the Spear"), and, uh, werewolves and vampires ("Underworld: Evolution"). What will the critics say?

Ever since the huge success of "The Passion of the Christ," Hollywood has been looking for movies for religious folks that will cross over to the non-devout as well. "End of the Spear" tells the tale of an Ecuadorian warrior who, by tribal tradition, adopts the family of a missionary he has killed. While some critics have praised the film’s visuals and redemptive message, others say the message is a little too ham-fisted. It’s currently at 58 percent on the Tomatometer.

Like the return of Halley’s Comet, director Terrence Malick‘s films are so rarely in theaters that it’s cause for celebration when they appear. With a career that began with the brilliant "Badlands," Malick is a master, but a reclusive one. His latest is "The New World," a meditative, evocative take on the Pocahontas/John Smith tale. The critics are pretty divided on this film; for some, it’s lyrical, visionary, and poetic, but for others it’s a slow, pretentious bore. At 58 percent on the Tomatometer, it’s well below Malick’s 79 percent career rating.

One of the main principles of Darwin’s theory is survival of the fittest. It appears the studio didn’t think "Underworld: Evolution" was all that fit, since it wasn’t screened for critics. (Or maybe it wasn’t a work of intelligent design, either. Just covering all the bases.)

Recent Colin Farrell Movies:
———————————-
71% — Intermission (2004)
14% — Alexander (2004)
49% — A Home at the End of the World (2004)
72% — Phone Booth (2003)
44% — The Recruit (2003)

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