Michael Douglas says his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones had successfully hid her battle with bipolar II disorder until the National Enquirer "outed" her recently. Jones had spent five days in a mental health clinic dealing with depression. Douglas says he had enough drama going on in his life without dealing with his wife's ailment publicly, but now that the facts are out he hopes Catherine's high profile will encourage other people with the disorder to seek help. Bipolar II is a serious mental condition that sees those afflicted having to cope with high levels of anxiety and mood swings. Douglas says times have been very trying for the couple: his oldest son is in jail, his former wife is suing him and he's been fighting cancer. On the positive side, however, he says the cancer treatments are working and he is now cancer-free. For more click here
Here's Meryl Streep in a new photo from The Iron Lady, the biopic of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Looks like another shoo-in for an Oscar nomination for the oft-nominated Streep. Click here for more
Cinema Retro London columnist Adrian Smith will discuss the Hammer film Crescendo, the 1970 thriller starring Stefanie Powers,on this Sunday's B Movie Cast podcast with host Vince Rotolo. Click here for the podcast web site-- and while you're there, browse through their remarkable archive of previous podcasts about cult movies which can be played through ITunes..
As in days past, Playboy magazine can still instigate controversy when it comes to social issues. In its heyday, the magazine was as known for it's hard-edged interviews and articles about social issue as it was for its pictorial content. In the latest German edition, actress Sila Sahin, who stars in a German soap opera, has posed nude - the first Muslim woman to do so. The Turkish immigrant to Germany's decision has unleashed a firestorm of controversy for daring to so openly defy the strict rules of behavior for women that her religion mandates. Sahin says posing for the photos was an act of liberation that should encourage Muslim women to live their lives on their own terms. For more click here
Mohammed Fayed, the controversial tycoon who recently sold Harrods, has let it be known that he is strongly considering making a cash offer to gain control over Pinewood Shepperton, the group that owns England's most prominent film studios. Fayed's interest surprised finance types the world over but he has dabbled in film investing before. Fayed believes he can bring Pinewood back to its glory days. The studio, which is now owned by a company that specializes in property investment, has seen profits surge recently due to an abundance of high profile films being shot there. Additionally, the producers of the next James Bond movie intend to shoot at 007's long-time home when their new movie goes into production later this year. Nevertheless, it's perceived by some that the studio is now run by accountant-types with green eye shades who don't have a particular interest in cinematic history. Peel Holdings, the primary investor in the studio, has been trying for years to get rural land adjoining the studio developed in the style of faux European neighborhoods from great cities. Peel says this would be part of legitimate space used for movie production but the local council has turned them down. Critics of the plan say that many of the houses would be privately owned and that it is simply a scheme to make Peel landlords. The company is appealing the decision. Fayed is not without controversy himself. He continues to maintain that the death of his son and Princess Diana might be linked to a plot by the Royal family on the basis that they objected to the two having a romantic relationship. For more click here
Oscar-nominated actor Jeremy Renner has been chosen by Universal to star in The Bourne Legacy. However, Renner will not play the character of Jason Bourne, who was portrayed by Matt Damon in three films. Instead, he will play a new character and the series will evolve into a spin-off of the original movies. Click here for more
It was only a matter of time before the porn industry jumped onto the 3-D bandwagon. The first attempt to blend the genre with the technology is an Asian X-rated flick titled Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstacy. The movie opened in Hong Kong and has become a sensation, outgrossing Avatar in its initial engagements. What does porn look like in 3-D? We don't know, but we are reminded of that old joke about what Adam said to Eve: "You'd better stand back- I don't know how big this thing will get!" For more click here
Elvis Mitchell has had some pretty high profile gigs. In an era in which highly paid film critics are becoming as rare as leisure suits, Mitchell has landed some major positions including reviewer for the New York Times. Mitchell left that job in 2004 and has been attached to various other positions with different venues. In most cases, he left these positions under mysterious or strange circumstances. Last January, Mitchell was announced as the chief film critic for the web site Movieline.com. However, his recent negative review of the movie Source Code opened up a mystery that would rival the plot of the thriller. Mitchell, who had been sent an early script of the movie, made reference to the character played by Jeffrey Wright smoking a pipe. Mitchell was presumed to have based his review on the final cut of the film. In fact, the director, Duncan Jones, pointed out that the character never actually smokes in a pipe in the final version of the film. Mitchell's review actually makes a sarcastic remark about the pipe scene being unrealistic. Mitchell promised to give an explanation, but the implication among skeptics is that he may not have actually attended a screening of the final cut, despite having reviewed the movie. Movieline is not commenting other than to say his employment has been terminated. Click here for more
Fox has released the first trailer for Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the studio's latest attempt to revive the legendary film franchise. Although Tim Burton's remake of the original 1967 classic made a lot of loot at the box-office, the film was universally panned by Apes fans. The new film is not a remake. It presents an entirely new storyline that details how the abused simians ultimately triumphed over mankind, a plot device that formed the basis of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. Count me among the skeptics who thought this was just going to be another special-effects-laden, CGI-packed waste of time. However, the trailer presents a film that looks highly intelligent and very intriguing. If the feature itself has those qualities, this could mark an exciting new chapter for the franchise. Click here to view the trailer.
Sarah Lane was the ballet dancer hired to double for Natalie Portman in Black Swan. That's about the only point that Lane, Portman and the filmmakers agree upon. Lane says that the star has been trying to grab the credit for doing most of the dancing in the film. She claims that such a notion would be absurd because Portman only had limited training in ballet, while she has spent a lifetime peforming the art. The battle has now exploded into gossip columns. Lane claims most of the shots on screen are actually her, though in some cases Portman's face was superimposed on her body. The filmmakers acknowledge this was done, but in very limited instances and that most of the dance footage features Portman. Click here for more
Tim Hetherington, who was nominated for an Oscar for co-directing the documentary Restrepo earlier this year, has been killed covering the fighting in Libya. Chris Hendros, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated photojournalist, was also killed and two other prominent photographers were wounded. Heatherington and Hendros were covering the fighting in the city of Misrata, a rebel stronghold that has been ruthlessly bombarded by forces loyal to strongman Colonel Khadafy. In his last Tweet, Hetherington had reported that the city was being bombed indiscriminately and that there were no signs of NATO forces to help repel the attacks on the civilian population. Hetherington and Hendros were mortally wounded shortly thereafter. Hetherington's film Restrepo is a blistering look at a U.S. military platoon sent to guard a remote mountain outpost in Afghanistan. Named after a platoon medic who was killed in action, the Restrepo outpost is under constant siege from the Taliban. Hetherington and his co-director (and best-selling author) Sebastian Junger, won acclaim for their courageous filming of the platoon under fire and for personalizing the characteristics of each of the young soldiers.The film does not take a political position on the nature of the conflict, but regardless of where you stand on the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, it's easy to see the futility of sending under-armed and outnumbered platoons to defend remote outposts of dubious strategic value. The U.S. military has since concurred and announced a change in strategy, saying it will be abandoning these missions in favor of concentrating forces in more populated areas. Hetherington and Hendros are the third and fourth journalists known to have been killed since the fighting in Libya began. Despite air raids launched by the U.S., France and the UK, the Libyan rebels have thus far not been able to use the Allied support to drive Khadafy from power, though he has undeniably been weakened. For more on Hetherington's death, click here. To visit the Restrepo movie web site click here
This is the last photo taken on the last roll of Kodachrome film manufactured by Kodak. The photographer is Steve McCurry.
Back when Paul Simon had a chart-topping titled Kodachrome in 1973, few could foresee the day when the much-hailed film stock would someday become obsolete. Simon extolled its virtues by singing about its "nice bright colors" that gave us "the greens of summer" However, the format is officially now dead. Click here for a moving tribute.
Movie exhibitors learned the first time around that gimmicks like 3-D wear thin with audiences if the films themselves are not of high quality. The same pattern may be repeating itself today.
Film critic John Farr takes an insightful look at the state of the motion picture business in a year that finds box-office receipts having declined by 20%. His conclusion? Studios spend too much time and money creating spectacle rather than good movies. He predicts there will be a massive shakedown in the theater industry with only the strong surviving. Click here to read
Nicolas Cage, the man who used to be an acclaimed actor before becoming king of unspeakably bad action films, was arrested in New Orleans this morning. Cage was witnessed having a major blowup with his wife Alice. The public spectacle became so bad that the police were called. They found Cage to be allegedly very drunk and issued him a warning to go home. Not only did Cage refuse, but he twice dared cops to arrest him - which they promptly did. He has been charged with one count of domestic abuse (despite the fact that his wife refused to press charges) and one count of disturbing the peace. Cage was in the Big Easy to film what will likely be another forgettable action film, this one titled Medallion in which he plays a taxi driver looking to rescue his kidnapped daughter. (Think of a low-cal version of Taken). For more click here
Hammer Films might have a winner if the buzz lives up to expectations for The Woman in Black, an old-fashioned period ghost story that stars Daniel Radcliffe. The teaser poster is as bland as you can imagine (big picture of Radcliffe that gives no sense of what the film is about). However, there is a short, intriguing teaser trailer that has been released. It would be great to finally get a horror film that relies on tantalizing viewer's imaginations rather than providing stomach-turning special effects. Click here for more
The Hangover curse continues: both Liam Neeson and Mel Gibson bounced from the sequel.
The producers of The Hangover Part II must be regretting their decision to have a high-profile cameo. The sequel to the comedy hit originally had Mel Gibson slated for the part, but Gibson's scandals caused him to be dropped from the project. Liam Neeson then filmed a cameo but it was decided that additional shooting needed to be done. However, Neeson was already filming the sequel to Clash of the Titans and couldn't comply. Thus, his role has been cut and has been recast with Nick Cassavetes. For more click here
Would you pay $30 to see an Adam Sandler movie a couple of months ahead of its DVD release?
By Lee Pfeiffer
With box-office receipts down sharply from last year, movie studios are thinking outside the box when it comes to benefiting from any new source of revenue. The latest bright idea is to make recent theatrical releases available to consumers through an on-demand basis before they are released on DVD. Sounds good, doesn't it? But wait- the studios believe you will shell out $30 for the privilege. That's the hefty price tag it will cost you to benefit from the "window" between a film's theatrical exhibition and its debut on DVD. Perhaps no one in Hollywood knows it, but the nation is hurting economically - which is why box-office is down to begin with. Millions of Americans are not only out of work, but they have lost their health insurance along with their employment. This double-barreled crisis would hardly seem to leave much of a market for an audience that wants to pay $30 for the latest Adam Sandler film. The other problem are theater chains that are protesting and threatening not to exhibit movies that are part of this marketing plan. Click here to read the L.A. Times report
Redford photographed in Ireland by Cinema Retro's John Exshaw.
Robert Redford is quashing rumors that his acting days are over by returning to the screen to play Branch Ricky, the famed baseball figure who made history by signing Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers, thus putting a stake through the heart of segregation in major league baseball. The project has been a long-time goal of Redford's, who says he still has plenty of filmmaking ambitions including a desire to finally make a thriller. Click here for more
Our friends at the highly addictive retro web site Cinebeats have a fascinating article about a 1960s Gold Key comic book series called Space Family Robinson. The premise of the story very obviously served as the inspiration of Irwin Allen's Lost in Space TV series, which debuted in 1965. However, the quirky master sci-fi producer claimed rather unconvincingly that he had never even heard of the comic book prior to putting his show into production. Lawsuits followed and the entire bizarre story is related on the Cinebeats site. Click here to read.
The plans to remake Danny Kaye's 1947 film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty have been floating around Hollywood for so many years that you suspect early drafts of the script must have Charlie Chaplin's fingerprints on them. However, after Jim Carrey, Mike Myers and others dropped out of the project over the years, Ben Stiller appears to be finalizing plans to bring the story to the screen. The plot concerns a man obsessed with fantasizing about leading a life of action and adventure. Click here for more
Deadline Hollywood Daily reports that Universal has pulled out of plans of financing director Paul Greengrass' film Memphis, which centers on the final days of Martin Luther King, who was assassinated while in Memphis to support a strike by sanitation workers in 1968. No one is saying why Universal changed its mind, but Deadline Hollywood's sources say that the King family, which is known to exert tight control over King's image, objected to the script and threatened to go public with their complaints. The family is not without controversy, with some saying their activities over the years have actually put Dr. King's legacy in an unflattering light. These include demanding payment for use of his speeches and allowing the center that was opened in his memory in Atlanta to become the focal point of family in-fighting. Greengrass is now seeking new backers for his film. Click here for more
Even if you don't get to London regularly, Beatles fans can peruse a wealth of new and vintage collectibles from the famed London Beatles Store at 233 Baker Street, right next door to the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Click here to visit the website, where you can order goods worldwide.
Burt Reynolds seems to have recuperated fully from his by-pass operations from a couple of years ago. The Oscar-nominated star will appear opposite country singer LeeAnne Rimes in Reel Love. After completing the TV movie, he'll be seen in the comedy Not Another Not Another Movie. For more click here
Natalie Portman: not your grandfather's Snow White.
That strange sound you here is Walt Disney doing cartwheels in his grave. The movie studio that bears his name is going ahead with a re-imagining of his classic animated film Snow White and Seven Dwarfs. This live action picture will center on the heroine, Ms. White, who travels to Hong Kong where she befriends seven martial arts warriors. Not bizarre enough for you? Then consider the fact that the studio wants Natalie Portman and Jet Li to star. We suppose if it's a hit, we can next expect Snow White and the Magnificent Seven. On top of that, there are at least two other major live action screen versions of the classic story in the works. For more click here
Kirk Douglas in Spartacus: hasn't he earned the right to be called a Hollywood legend?
Writer Tom Alderman points out that Elizabeth Taylor was widely referred to as the last Hollywood legend. In fact, there are numerous others who are still alive and kicking, ranging from Maureen O'Hara and Mickey Rooney to Kirk Douglas. Alderman says the mass media engages in sloppy research, which is then emulated by numerous other outlets. Click here to read
"Nessie", the so-called Loch Ness Monster, has inspired numerous horror films, novels and documentaries. The Scottish legend has also been the subject of some of the world's most effective hoaxes. Click here to read about them, along with some of the other more creative hoaxes that some gullible people throughout the world still insist are genuine.
In a development that may delight or disgust fans of director Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner, Alcon Entertainment has announced it has acquired rights to sequels and prequels to the Harrison Ford starrer that bombed in its initial release. The film was re-edited by Scott and later gained critical acclaim as well as a loyal fan following. Alcon promises to do justice to the legacy of the film, but also indicates the company is exploring various "platforms" for the new versions beyond theatrical features. In Hollywood-speak that means everything from games to TV series. For more click here