SIX NEW MOVIES ABOUT THE PRIVATE LIVES OF FAMOUS PEOPLE: WILL THEY TELL THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH?
Daniel Day-Lewis, shown above, is arguably the most disciplined and forceful actor of his generation, a man who rarely takes a false step. But that's exactly what he did when he signed on for "Nine," the calamitous song-and-dance desecration of Fellini's "8 1/2." Obviously, he could use a strong shot of career repair at this point, which is probably what he’ll get from Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln," an ambitious, in-depth portrait of the driven, conflicted president through the end of the Civil War up to the moment of his assassination. Day-Lewis is supported by an A-class cast that includes Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader and—in the Oscar-tailored role of the alternately fragile and fierce Mary Todd Lincoln—Sally Field. Opens December 2012
If you weren’t around in the fifties and sixties, it may be impossible for you to imagine the shrieking, swooning adulation heaped upon bigger (and gaudier)-than-life pianist and showman Liberace by his millions of frenzied fans. He could not have received a warmer reception had he been a cross between Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. In the photo above, he is wearing one of his more conservative outfits. The dude dressed like a chauffeur was in fact his chauffeur, bodyguard and long-time lover. His name is Scott Thorson, and after Liberace’s death from AIDS in 1987, he published a book about their relationship, highlighted by an account of the palimony suit Thorson brought against Liberace when their romance turned sour. And now that book, “Behind the Candelabra: My Life With Liberace,” is scheduled for filming by HBO. Under the direction of Steven Soderbergh, Michael Douglas and Matt Damon will portray Liberace and Thorson. That’s right, I said Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.
Is Ashton Kutcher qualified for the job of playing Steve Jobs, the late, great King of the Apple? We’ll know the answer to that question when we see “Jobs,” an indie which goes into production in May, during a break in the shooting of Kutcher’s “Two and a Half Men” sitcom. It’s true that photos of Jobs taken when he was a hippie-like rock & roll enthusiast in his twenties do show a surprising resemblance to the Ashton of 2012. Also, while Jobs did enjoy an intimate relationship when he was 27 with the then 41-year-old folk singer Joan Baez, the rumor that Demi Moore, the 49-year-old estranged mate of 34-year-old Kutcher, is up for the role of Baez in “Jobs” has yet to be confirmed. Stay tuned.
The whole world seemed to sob in unison on the evening of August 31, 1997 when reporters interrupted run-of-the-mill TV shows to announce that Diana, Princess of Wales, had perished in Paris, along with her lover, Dodi Fayed, in a blood-splattered car crash caused by a drunken chauffeur. The young, beautiful and emotionally vulnerable Diana had traveled a twisting path from her over-the-top storybook wedding to Prince Charles, a man whose true mate was an older, tough-fibered woman, to her humiliating divorce in 1995, and her triumphant comeback as a stylish, ceaselessly empathetic humanitarian. It’s no wonder someone wanted to make a movie about Diana. That someone turned out to be Oliver Hirschbiegel, the German director of "Downfall," a striking 2004 Oscar-nominated drama about the final days of Adolf Hitler. The new movie, called “Caught in Flight,” stars Naomi Watts and its primary focus will be on Diana’s two-year, post-divorce affair with Hasnat Khan, a Pakistani heart surgeon she christened “Mister Wonderful.” She sometimes called his London flat home, and he did the same for her digs in Kensington Palace. But in the end, this devout Muslim, deciding that their odd-couple relationship was unworkable, politely dumped his princess. According to close friends, Diana was shattered. Shortly thereafter, the fatal flight with Dodi took place.
Before the whole world sobbed for Princess Diana, it wept profusely over the tragic death of Princess Grace of Monaco on September 14, 1982, one day after she suffered a stroke and turned her car off a narrow, winding road and down a mountainside. In attendance at her funeral were James Stewart and Cary Grant, buddies from her Hollywood reign as elegant, sophisticated superstar Grace Kelly. And, representing the British royal family, up popped Diana, Princess of Wales. But don’t expect to see footage of those celebrities shedding tears for Princess Grace. According to published reports, “Grace of Monaco,” written by Arash Amel and directed by Olivier Dahan--the man who guided Marion Cotillard to an Oscar for her spirited performance as Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose”—will star a strikingly blonde Nicole Kidman as an inexperienced but savvy royal newbie who manages to torpedo a secret plan for a coup by traitorous enemies of the tiny city-state of Monaco. Go figure.
Although she starred in three films directed by the indisputable master of suspense—“Dial M for Murder,” “Rear Window” and “To Catch a Thief”—Grace Kelly will not be featured in the plot of Fox Searchlight’s “Hitchcock.” This adaptation of Stephen Rebello’s “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho” has a screenplay by Rebello and John J. McLaughlin and is being directed by Sacha Gervasi. Major emphasis will be placed on the enduring connection between director Hitchcock and Alma Reville, his wife and most treasured screenwriter. And there is no greater proof of their high-power teamwork than their successful scheme to sell Hollywood prudes on the artistic and commercial potential of the bizarre tale of a certifiable weirdo, his hideous mummy/mommy, and an on-the-run blonde embezzler who stops off at their gloomy motel for some shut-eye and a shower. Gervasi’s colorful cast, topped by Anthony Hopkins (shown above) and Helen Mirren as Hitch and Alma, also boasts Jessica Biel, Danny Huston, Ralph Macchio and Toni Collette. England’s James D’Arcy plays Anthony Perkins, the actor who immortalized the creep responsible for keeping things running on an unsteady keel in the 1960 classic. In the role of actress Janet Leigh, who played Marion Crane, the woman who learns the tragic truth about shower power, we’ll be blessed with Scarlett Johansson. I’m a fan of both Leigh and Johansson; still, I keep wondering how Hitchcock’s favorite blonde, Grace Kelly, would have fared at the Bates Motel.
Click here for my New York Times interview with Alfred Hitchcock.--Guy Flatley