‘The Host’ trailer
“The Earth is at peace. There are no wars. There’s no hunger,” intones Saoirse Ronan in The Host‘s teaser trailer (see below). “Honesty, courtesy and kindness are practiced by all. The world has never been more perfect. It is no longer your world.”
Indeed, it’s not. In my world there are wars and hunger. Dishonesty, rudeness, and viciousness are practiced by way too many.
So, what’s the problem with The Host‘s perfect world? Well, things are perfect for the same reason that things are kinda perfect in Don Siegel’s The Invasion of the Body Snatchers: human beings have been taken over by alien invaders known as Souls.
Written and directed by Andrew Niccol (In Time, Gattaca), The Host stars Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan (for Atonement) as Melanie, a young woman possessed by a Soul named Wanderer. The problem is that Melanie is a “wild one” – in that she manages to remain herself despite the invading Soul. Eventually, Melanie and Wanderer set out to find Jared (Max Irons), the very handsome man who is ever present in Melanie’s mind. Meanwhile, a Soul named Seeker (Inglourious Basterds’ Diane Kruger) decides both Melanie and Wanderer must be destroyed.
As the Host‘s – quite well-made – teaser trailer makes it clear, the film is based on a novel by Stephenie Meyer, “author of the Twilight Saga.” The teaser adds that “the battle for your world has ended. The battle for your future has begun. You will be one of us.” The last line sounds just like one of my favorite bits in Tod Browning’s Freaks. Here’s hoping The Host will be at least half as interesting.
Here’s also hoping that those aliens – for their own sake – arrive soon. Else, there’s a very good chance there won’t be a world for them to conquer or any human beings left for them to inhabit. Distributor Open Road Films, for its part, is surely hoping that The Host will turn out to be another box office phenomenon of (at least borderline) Twilight-ic proportions. Starring Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner, the Twilight movies have grossed more than $2.5 billion at the planetary box office.
The Host opens on March 29, 2013. Also in the cast: Kiss of the Spider Woman / A History of Violence‘s William Hurt, I Am Number Four / Good Girl‘s Jake Abel, The Roommate / A Single Woman‘s Frances Fisher, Repo Men / After Life‘s Chandler Canterbury, and Milk / Moving Takahashi‘s Boyd Holbrook.
Saoirse Ronan / Max Irons / The Host photo: Open Road Films.
Jane Fonda As Nancy Reagan?
Somewhat ironically, Jane Fonda, well known for her liberal politics, may end up playing Nancy Reagan, known for her marriage to a right-wing president, in Lee Daniels’ White House-set film project The Butler. According to Variety‘s Jeff Sneider, the Oscar-nominated Precious director has asked Fonda to join his all-star ensemble.
Oscar winner Forest Whitaker will likely play butler Eugene Allen, who served an array of U.S. presidents, from Harry Truman in 1952 to Ronald Reagan in 1986. Co-written by Daniels and Danny Strong, The Butler is based on Wil Haygood’s report for the Washington Post.
Among The Butler‘s other stellar possibilities are The Color Purple / Beloved‘s Oprah Winfrey as the butler’s wife (Winfrey was one of Precious’ credited executive producers), Rise of the Planet of the Apes / The Help‘s David Oyelowo as Allen’s son, Schindler’s List / Kinsey‘s Liam Neeson as Lyndon B. Johnson, and 2012 / The Grifters’ John Cusack as Richard Nixon.
The Butler, which may start shooting in the summer, has no attached distributor as yet.
A two-time Best Actress Academy Award winner, Jane Fonda will next be seen in Bruce Beresford’s Peace, Love & Misunderstanding, which opens on June 8. Also in the film’s cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Chace Crawford, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyle MacLachlan, Rosanna Arquette, and Catherine Keener. Fonda’s Oscar wins were for Alan J. Pakula’s Klute (1971), with Donald Sutherland, and Hal Ashby’s Coming Home (1978), with Jon Voight and Bruce Dern.
As Nancy Davis, Nancy Reagan was a minor leading lady in the 1950s. Among her credits are the horrendously hilarious The Next Voice You Hear (1950), in which God talks through the airwaves; Night into Morning (1951), with Ray Milland and John Hodiak; and Felix E. Feist’s minor classic sci-fier Donovan’s Brain (1953), with Lew Ayres and Gene Evans.
Jane Fonda / Peace, Love & Understanding photo: IFC Films.
Kartemquin Films vs. PBS: POV/Independent Lens
Kartemquin Films, the producing company of prestige documentaries such as Steve James’ award-winning The Interrupters and Hoop Dreams, has posted on its website a scathing open letter criticizing PBS – the United States’ Public Broadcasting Service – for moving documentary showcases Independent Lens and POV from its Tuesday line-up to the highly competitive Thursday evening slot.
Kartemquin states that it “encourage[s] all independent filmmakers and fans of public media to join us as signatories by commenting below, or emailing us at PBSNeedsIndies@kartemquin.com, or tweet #PBSNeedsIndies to us on Twitter. Kartemquin has a long history of supporting public broadcasting, and we feel we must again rise to the challenge in raising our concern, and hopefully awareness and action, over the issues below.” Below is the first segment of Kartemquin’s open letter.
As independent filmmakers, as participants in the evolution of public broadcasting, as viewers and as citizens, we protest PBS’ decision to move the two premier strands of independent documentaries, Independent Lens and POV, from their established home on Tuesday nights to Thursday, a night on which local stations program locally-selected material.
We saw the change in the programming to Thursday night and were concerned about the effect it would have on the ratings. As filmmakers, we are acutely aware of the importance of program placement in a broadcast schedule. With the publishing of the March 2012 article by Dru Sefton in Current magazine, we have now seen documented the dramatic effects of this shift, and that our fears were realized. We cannot wait any longer to signal our concern.
PBS’s programming decision has, effectively, moved these two award-winning series off the main schedule, by leaving it up to stations to program them on their own, on perhaps the most competitive night of the TV week. Both series have carved out a trusted relationship with audiences on Tuesday nights. PBS’ John Wilson has acknowledged that Thursday, a local-programming night, is a “no-fly zone” for PBS programs. Asking stations to drop programming among the most popular with their members is unreasonable.
Kartemquin Films website.