Review: Lions for Lambs (dir. Robert Redford, 2007)

Imagine that you are Tom Cruise, and that your career and reputation have begun to falter a wee bit, and so you decide to launch a new phase in your career by, say, taking charge of an entire studio. Imagine that the first film released under your leadership — a film that, not incidentally, features you as one of its stars — is about to come out. Now imagine that the only publicity you intend to do for this movie is a single, private, hour-long, one-on-one interview with a reporter who works for a TV network but brings no recording devices whatsoever with her, let alone anything resembling a camera crew. No photos, no televised interviews, no beaming face on television screens everywhere; instead, nothing but your words, as scribbled down in shorthand by a reporter who, incidentally, doesn’t like your movies very much.

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Winona Ryder is going to play Spock’s mother?

Variety reports that Winona Ryder is going to play “the Vulcan mother of a young Spock (Zachary Quinto)” in Star Trek XI. One slight problem: Spock’s mother is human. It’s kind of essential to Spock’s character that he be the product of a mixed-species relationship. Let’s hope the Variety reporter simply got his facts wrong.

Amanda Grayson was played in the TV series (1966-1969) and in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) by Jane Wyatt, who was 57 when she created the character during the TV show’s second season. Ryder is 36 — and Quinto, the actor who will apparently be playing her son, is 30.

“What’s left of Pullman’s story is a string of disconnected proclamations that obscure not just his original point, but any point at all.”

So says the Atlantic Monthly in a story on the controversy surrounding The Golden Compass and its transition from anti-religious novel to not-quite-so-anti-religious movie. In addition to getting some revealing quotes from author Philip Pullman and writer-director Chris Weitz, reporter Hanna Rosin spoke to me and at least one other Christian commentator for this story, but since it is accessible only to Atlantic Monthly subscribers, I have no idea whether it quotes us. At any rate, a summary of the story is available at the fan site

At last, a Canadian is cast in Star Trek XI!

The casting for Star Trek XI continues!

Now that most of the basic bridge crew have been assigned, the Hollywood Reporter says Bruce Greenwood — the Atom Egoyan regular who played John F. Kennedy in Thirteen Days (2000; my review) — has been cast as Christopher Pike, who was captain of the Enterprise before James T. Kirk came along.

Pike was played by Jeffrey “I Was a Teenage Jesus” Hunter in the original unaired pilot episode which was shot in 1964 and edited into the two-part episode ‘The Menagerie’ in 1966. ‘The Menagerie’, incidentally, is the episode that will be shown in theatres across the continent three times next week.

Hunter was 38 when he played Pike, and the pilot episode in which he appeared took place 11 years before Kirk assumed command of the Enterprise; Greenwood is 51.

Incidentally, the Reporter claims that Pike was “the Starship Enterprise’s first captain”, but as all Trekkies know, that honour actually goes to Robert April.

Russell Crowe is getting baptized.

I try not to get bogged down in celebrity gossip here, but I do like funny coincidences. So I cannot help but note that, last week, I posted an old video in which Russell Crowe played a guy who thinks about becoming a Seventh-Day Adventist minister, and today, the Associated Press reports that Crowe intends to get baptized soon — though in what denomination is not clear:

“I’d like to do it this year,” the Oscar-winning actor tells Men’s Journal. “My mom and dad decided to let my brother and me make our own decisions about God when we got to the right age. I started thinking recently, `If I believe it is important to baptize my kids, why not me?’”

Crowe says the baptism will take place in the Byzantine chapel he built at his country ranch in Australia for his wedding to Danielle Spencer in 2003. The couple have two sons, 3-year-old Charlie and 1-year-old Tennyson.

“It is consecrated and everything,” Crowe says in the magazine’s December issue, now on newsstands. “Charlie was baptized there. And when Tennyson gets baptized there, I will, too.”

The word “Byzantine” makes me think of the Orthodox church, of course, but it could just as easily be a Catholic chapel.

Beowulf — another marketing oddity

The move to our new apartment is not quite finished it, but it’s getting there. In the meantime, yesterday we received the first pieces of mail that were sent directly to our new address — one of which contained a pair of passes to an Imax 3-D preview screening of Beowulf.

Now, normally, when the studios host a preview screening, they send out a single pass that “admits two” — the assumption presumably being that the person who gets the pass will want to bring a date or a friend. But every now and then, they send out a pair of passes, each of which only “admits one” — and nearly every time they do this, it is for a film that targets the family audience. I have never actually asked why they distinguish between the “admit two” and “admit one” movies, but I assume it is because families come in different sizes, and having a single pass for each person makes it easier to invite the “right” number of people, or something like that.

So I was intrigued to see that the passes for Beowulf were of the “admit one” variety, rather than the “admit two” variety. The film is rated PG-13 in the U.S. for “intense sequences of violence including disturbing images, some sexual material and nudity”, and it is rated 14-A in Ontario for “violence” and “gory scenes”, and it has been promoted online through restricted trailers … but it seems like the preview screenings are getting the “family” treatment, at least in this one rather minor respect.

Is this simply because the film is computer-animated? Is the marketing team behind this film making the mistake of assuming that “animated film” automatically equals “family film”? And if so, is this mistake reflected anywhere else in the movie’s marketing?