Julia Ormond

3.3756585879913 (1898)
Posted by kaori 04/29/2009 @ 02:12

Tags : julia ormond, actors and actresses, entertainment

News headlines
Clips: Bill Pullman And Julia Ormond In Surveillance - Cinema Blend
By Josh Tyler: 2009-06-11 20:13:10 We have four clips from the upcoming Bill Pullman/Julia Ormond movie Surveillance. In it they play two Feds trying to sort out the truth behind the different testimonies of three witnesses. “One zealot cop, a strung...
Recasting Season Claims Its Latest Victim: Julia Ormond - New York Magazine
And if you think this only happens to unrecognizable no-names, well, you'd be wrong: this fate was just suffered by none other than Julia Ormond. According to The Hollywood Reporter, CBS is going back to the drawing board with their new medical drama...
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: Autobots vs. Decepticons ... - Los Angeles Times
With Julia Ormond, Bill Pullman, Pell James, Ryan Simpkins, Cheri Oteri, Michael Ironside and French Stewart. Written by Jennifer Lynch and Kent Harper. Directed by Lynch. (1:38) R. Under Our Skin An investigative look at the science and politics of...
CBS recasts 'Three Rivers,' but not Alex O'Loughlin - Zap2it.com
His job on CBS' medical drama "Three Rivers" is safe, although Julia Ormond is saying good-bye. Yup, it's the "recasting season," when the networks tweak the casts of the pilots they picked up, according to The Hollywood Reporter....
Three Rivers making changes - TV Squad
However, they recently dumped the leading lady, Julia Ormond, too. To me this says that Three Rivers is shifting focus, and I don't mean by filming in a Pittsburgh hospital set that they're building in Los Angeles instead of the real thing in...
DreamWorks to attend 'Boo U' - TheCelebrityCafe.com
Netter was the executive producer on the 1995 Sean Connery/Richard Gere/Julia Ormond film "First Knight" and was also the executive producer of Julia Roberts's hit 1997 romantic comedy "My Best Friend's Wedding," Pledger was the executive producer of...
trailer break: 'Surveillance' - Flick Filosopher
Also, just about everyone appearing in this movie -- definitely French Stewart, Julia Ormond, and Bill Pullman -- also have that gene. I wish more people who make movies did, or didn't hide it. It's not a genetic defect, people....
June movie trailers | Transformers Revenge of the Fallen premieres ... - Examiner.com
Eddie Murphy, Denzel Washington, John Travolta, Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Michelle Pfeiffer, Larry David, Cameron Diaz, Julia Ormond and Bull Pullman have films opening this month. I will see any film with Julia Ormond. Smilla's Sense of Snow is...
See Parasomnia and Surveillance at USC - Dread Central
When Federal Officers Elizabeth Anderson (Julia Ormond) and Sam Hallaway (Bill Pullman) arrive at Captain Billing's office, they have three sets of stories to figure out and a string of vicious murders to consider. It's open to the public and 100% free...
Benicio del Toro excels as Che in biopic followup - Buenos Aires Herald
But they have cleverly used Che's interview with actress-turned-journalist Lisa Howard - worthy of a biopic herself, and smartly played by Julia Ormond - to articulate the philosophy and pragmatism of the Cuban Revolution, with the translator's English...

Julia Ormond


Julia Karin Ormond (born 4 January 1965) is a British actress who has appeared in film and television and on stage.

Ormond was born in Epsom, Surrey, England, the daughter of Josephine, a laboratory technician, and John Ormond, a computer software designer who became a millionaire by age thirty. Ormond's father left his wife and children when Julia was still young. She attended Guildford High School and Cranleigh School (both of which are independent schools), and then studied acting in London at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, from which she graduated in 1988.

Ormond's stage credits include The Rehearsal, Wuthering Heights, The Crucible, Christopher Hampton's Faith, Hope and Charity, for which she won the London Drama Critics' Award for Best Newcomer, and David Hare's My Zinc Bed, for which she won an Olivier Award nomination.

Her film credits include Jerry Zucker's First Knight, Captives with Tim Roth, Legends of the Fall with Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins and Aidan Quinn, Sydney Pollack's Sabrina with Harrison Ford, "Resistance" and Smilla's Sense of Snow. She also had a major role in the controversial Peter Greenaway film The Baby of Mâcon with Ralph Fiennes.

Her TV credits include HBO's Stalin and Iron-Jawed Angels, the drama series Traffik, Varian's War and Animal Farm. She also has an independent production company, Indican Productions, based in New York City, and she executive produced the Cinemax Reel Life documentary Calling the Ghosts: A Story of Rape, War and Women, which won a CableACE Award and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and was an official selection of the Toronto and Berlin Film Festivals. Ormond also appears as a guest star during the 2008-09 season of the CBS police procedural series, CSI:NY.

In the 2000s, Ormond has worked in various projects, albeit in more supporting roles. She appeared in David Lynch's 2006 film Inland Empire and in 2007's I Know Who Killed Me alongside Lindsay Lohan.

She starred in four projects released in 2008. She was reunited with Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and also appeared with Benicio del Toro in Che, with Abigail Breslin in Kit Kittredge: An American Girl Mystery, and with Bill Pullman in Surveillance, working with acclaimed directors such as David Fincher and Steven Soderbergh in two of the these projects.

She has been quoted, "My sense is that Hollywood is something in the past. I've escaped it".

Ormond has produced film projects through her Indican Productions company located in New York City.

Ormond married Rory Edwards, an actor she had met while performing in a production of Wuthering Heights. The marriage ended in 1994. She was romantically linked to actor Gabriel Byrne during the filming of Smilla’s Sense of Snow in 1996. In 1999 she married political activist Jon Rubin. The couple's first child, daughter Sophie, was born in the autumn of 2004.

Ormond has been an activist engaged with fighting human trafficking since the mid-1990s, and has recently partnered with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. She is also an advocate for Transatlantic Partners Against Aids, which attempts to raise awareness about Aids in Russia and Ukraine, and is founding co-chairman of FilmAid International.

On 2 December 2005, Ormond was appointed as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador. Her focus has been on anti human-trafficking initiatives, raising awareness about this modern form of slavery and promoting efforts to combat it. In her capacity as ambassador, Ormond has appeared as council to the United States House of Representatives, Committee on International Relations, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations, and has travelled the world as an ambassador.

To the top

Gabriel Byrne


Gabriel James Byrne (Irish: Gabriel Séamas Ó Broin ; born May 12, 1950) is an Irish actor, film director, film producer, and writer, as well as an audiobook narrator. His acting career began in the Focus Theatre before he joined London’s Royal Court Theatre in 1979. Byrne's screen début came in the Irish soap opera The Riordans and the spin-off show Bracken. The actor has now starred in over thirty-five feature films, such as The Usual Suspects, Miller's Crossing and Stigmata, in addition to writing two. Byrne's producing credits include the Academy Award-nominated In the Name of the Father. Currently, he is receiving much critical acclaim for his role as the troubled Dr. Paul Weston in HBO's drama about psychotherapy, In Treatment.

Byrne, the first of six children, was born in Dublin, Ireland, the son of a cooper and soldier, Dan, and a hospital nurse from Galway, Eileen (née Gannon). His siblings are Donal, Thomas, Breda, Margaret, and Marian, who had passed away at a young age. Byrne was raised Catholic and educated by the Irish Christian Brothers. Despite spending five years of his childhood in a seminary training to be a priest, he said in an interview, "I spent five years in the seminary and I suppose it was assumed that you had a vocation. I have realised subsequently that I didn't have one at all. I don't believe in God. But I did believe at the time in this notion that you were being called." He attended University College Dublin, where he studied archaeology and linguistics, becoming proficient in Irish. He played football in Dublin with the famous Stella Maris Football Club in Drumcondra and has fond memories of his time spent there.

Byrne worked in archaeology when he left UCD but maintained his love of his language, writing the first drama in Irish, Draíocht, on Ireland's national Irish language television station, TG4, when it began broadcasting in 1996.

He discovered his passion for acting later in his life. Before becoming an actor, Byrne had many jobs, including: archaeologist, cook, bullfighter, and Spanish schoolteacher. He finally found acting at age 29 and began his career on stage with the Focus Theatre and the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. He later joined the Royal Court Theatre and the Royal National Theatre in London.

The actor came to prominence on the final season of the Irish television show The Riordans, subsequently starring in his own spin-off series, Bracken. He made his film début in 1981 as Lord Uther in John Boorman's classic King Arthur epic, Excalibur.

Byrne currently stars as therapist Dr. Paul Weston in the new, critically acclaimed HBO primetime weeknight series In Treatment. He was named as TV's "latest Dr. McDreamy" by the New York Times for this role, and won the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series- Drama in 2008. He also received his first Emmy Award nomination (Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series) for the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards (Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad won.) that same year.

Upon his return to theatre in 2008, he appeared as King Arthur in Lerner and Loewe's Camelot with the New York Philharmonic from May 7 to May 10, following the footsteps of veteran actors Richard Burton and Richard Harris.

The actor did not set foot in America until he was 37. He now holds both Irish and US citizenship.

In 1988, Byrne married actress Ellen Barkin with whom he has two children, John "Jack" Daniel (born 1989) and Romy Marion (born 1992). The couple separated amicably in 1993 and divorced in 1999.

Byrne currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, and is a fan of Chelsea FC.

The actor is also actively involved in various charities, in addition to being a human rights activist. In 2004, Byrne was appointed a UNICEF Ireland Ambassador. He became a patron of Croi (The West of Ireland Cardiology Foundation) in 1997 in response to the superb care given to his mother while she was a patient in a Galway hospital, and has worked tirelessly for the Foundation since.

At the 5th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival in 2007, Byrne was presented with the first of the newly created Volta awards, for lifetime achievement in acting. He also received the Honorary Patronage of the University Philosophical Society, of Trinity College, Dublin on February 20, 2007. In November of that same year, he was awarded an honorary degree by the National University of Ireland, Galway; the president of the University, Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, said that this award is in recognition of the actor's "outstanding contribution to Irish and international film".

As of 2008, he is dating actress Anna George. In the past, Byrne has been romantically linked with actress Julia Ormond (his co-star in Smilla's Sense of Snow) and model Naomi Campbell.

Although the actor is noted as a fiercely private person, he released a documentary for the 20th Galway Film Fleadh in the summer of 2008 called Stories from Home; an intimate portrait about his life.

Byrne mentioned in interviews and his 1995 autobiography, Pictures In My Head that he hates being called brooding. He has been listed by People as one of the "Sexiest Men Alive". Entertainment Weekly has also recently dubbed Byrne as one of the hottest celebrities over the age of 50.

To the top

Che (film)


Che is a two-part 2008 biopic about Marxist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Benicio del Toro as the title character. Taking a cinéma vérité stylistic approach, the pictorial diptych comprises two merged films entitled The Argentine and Guerrilla. Each part is intentionally illustrated with differing approaches to narrative linearity, camerawork, and aspect ratios; with such duality intended to be reflective of the two military campaigns' divergent outcomes. The first part, The Argentine, focuses on the Cuban revolution from when Fidel Castro, Guevara and other revolutionaries landed on the Caribbean island to when they successfully toppled the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista two years later. The second part, Guerilla, meanwhile focuses on Che's futile attempt to bring revolution to Bolivia along with his ill-fated demise.

Filmmaker Terrence Malick originally worked on a screenplay to only depict Guevara's attempts to start a revolution in Bolivia, but when financing fell through, Malick went on to another project and Soderbergh agreed to direct. He realized that there was no context for Guevara's actions in Bolivia and decided that his participation in the Cuban revolution and his appearance at the United Nations in 1964 should also be depicted in the film. Peter Buchman was hired to write the screenplay and result was so long that Soderbergh decided to divide the film into two parts: one chronicling Cuba and other depicting Bolivia. Filmmakers decided to shoot the film almost entirely in Spanish to give it credibility, but the decision also made it difficult to finance with Hollywood studios. Soderberg's project was ultimately financed with foreign money. Soderbergh shot the films back-to-back in the beginning of July 2007 with Guerrilla shot first in Spain for 39 days and The Argentine shot in Puerto Rico and Mexico for 39 days.

Che was screened as a single film at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. There, it received mixed reviews, and Del Toro won the Best Actor Award. IFC Films, which holds all North American rights to Che, initially released the combined film for one week on December 12, 2008 in New York City and Los Angeles in order to qualify for the year's Academy Awards. Strong box office performance led to the "special roadshow edition" being extended in New York and Los Angeles and later expanded into additional markets. The films were released in 25 markets beginning January 16 and 22 both as a single film and as two separate films, titled Che Part 1: The Argentine and Che Part 2: Guerrilla, and distribution expanded further after that. IFC released the films via video on demand on January 21 through all major U.S. cable and satellite providers in both standard and high definition versions.

The project was originally conceived as a much more conventional film after the publication of Jon Lee Anderson's 1997 biography Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life. Actor Benicio del Toro and producer Laura Bickford optioned the film rights to Anderson's book, but two years later they had not found a writer, and the rights lapsed. During this time Del Toro and Bickford researched the events depicted in Guerrilla with the idea of exploring Che's attempts to start a revolution in Bolivia. Del Toro confessed he had previously only thought of Guevara as a "bad guy" since he was a child. For his role, Del Toro spent seven years "obsessively researching" Guevara's life, which made him feel like he "earned his stripes" to interpret the character. Preparation also included looking at Guevara's photographs and reading his personal writings. Additionally Del Toro read Don Quixote, one of Guevara's favorites, and the first book published and given out free after the Cuban Revolution. Del Toro then personally met with people from different stages of Guevara's life, including Guevara's younger brother and childhood friends in Argentina. In his encounters with people ranging from fellow guerrillas to Che's driver, Del Toro described the reaction as "always the same", stating that he was "blown away" by the "bucketful(s) of love" they still harbored for Guevara. In an interview, Del Toro described Guevara as "a weird combination of an intellectual and an action figure, Gregory Peck and Steve McQueen, wrapped in one".

Research also included traveling to Cuba where Del Toro met Che's widow, family, and "tons of people that loved this man". The visit also included a five-minute encounter at a book fair with Fidel Castro, who expressed that he was happy for the "serious" research being undertaken. Such research also included collaborating with the three surviving guerrillas from Guevara's ill-fated Bolivian campaign, and with several guerrillas who fought alongside him in Cuba. While researching for both films, Soderbergh made a documentary of his interviews with many who had fought alongside Che in both Cuba and Bolivia. After the film's production concluded, Del Toro professed that "when you tell the story of Che, you're telling a story of the history of a country, so you have to be very careful".

During their preliminary research, Del Toro and Bickford discovered that filmmaker Terrence Malick had been in Bolivia as a journalist in 1966 working on a story about Che and thus asked him to write a screenplay. After a year-and-a-half, the financing had not come together entirely and Malick left to make The New World, a film about Jamestown, Virginia. Afraid that their multi-territory deals would fall apart, Bickford and Del Toro asked Steven Soderbergh to direct. The filmmaker was drawn to the contrast of "engagement versus disengagement. Do we want to participate or observe? Once Che made the decision to engage, he engaged fully. Often people attribute that to a higher power, but as an atheist, he didn't have that. I found that very interesting". Furthermore, he remarked that Che was "great movie material" and "had one of the most fascinating lives" that he could "imagine in the last century". Bickford and Del Toro realized that there was no context for what made Che decide to go to Bolivia. They began looking for someone to write the screenplay and Peter Buchman was recommended to them because he had a good reputation for writing about historical figures based on a script he worked about Alexander the Great. He spent a year reading every available book on Che in preparation for writing the script. The project was put on hold when Bickford and Del Toro made Traffic with Soderbergh.

Soderbergh wanted to incorporate Che's experiences in Cuba and at the United Nations in 1964. Buchman helped with the structure of the script, which he gave three storylines: Che's life and the Cuban revolution; his demise in Bolivia; and his trip to New York to speak at the U.N. Buchman found that the problem with containing all of these stories in one film was that he had to condense time and this distorted history. Soderbergh found the draft Buchman submitted to him "unreadable" and after two weeks decided to split the script into two separate films. Buchman went back and with Del Toro expanded the Cuban story for The Argentine. Additional research included reading Che's diaries and declassified documents from the U.S. State Department about his trip to New York and memos from the time he was in Bolivia.

Soderbergh found the task of researching such a popular historical figure as Che a daunting one: "If you go to any bookstore, you'll find an entire wall of Che-related material. We tried to go through all of it, we were overwhelmed with information. He means something different to everyone. At a certain point we had to decide for ourselves who Che was". The original source material for these scripts was Che's diary from the Cuban revolution, Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War, and from his time in Bolivia, Bolivian Diary. From there, he drew on interviews with people who knew Che from both of those time periods and read every book available that pertained to both Cuba and Bolivia. Bickford and Del Toro also met with Harry "Pombo" Villegas, Urbano and Benigno - three men Che met during the Cuban revolution, followed him to Bolivia, and survived. They interviewed them individually and then Pombo and Benigno together about their experiences in Cuba and Bolivia. Urbano was an adviser while they were filming in Spain and the actors often consulted with him and the others about specific details, like how to hold their guns in a certain situation, and very specific tactical information.

In December 2008, Ocean Press, in cooperation with the Che Guevara Publishing Project, released Che: The Diaries of Ernesto Che Guevara, with a movie tie in cover. The book's aim was to compile all of the original letters, diary excerpts, speeches, and maps, which Soderbergh relied on for the film. The text is also interspersed with remarks by Benicio del Toro and Steven Soderbergh.

Initially, Che was going to be made in English and a strong interest in financing it was met; however, when the decision was made to make it in Spanish and break it up into two films, the studios' pay-TV deals, which were for English-language product only, "disappeared", according to Bickford, "and, at that point, nobody wanted to step up". The director defended his decision to shoot almost all of the film in Spanish in an interview: "You can't make a film with any level of credibility in this case unless it's in Spanish. I hope we're reaching a time where you go make a movie in another culture, that you shoot in the language of that culture. I'm hoping the days of that sort of specific brand of cultural imperialism have ended". Both films were financed without any American money or distribution deal and Soderbergh remarked, "It was very frustrating to know that this is a zeitgeist movie and that some of the very people who told me how much they now regret passing on Traffic passed on this one too". Foreign pre-sales covered $54 million of the $58 million budget. Wild Bunch, a French production, distribution and foreign sales company put up 75% of the budget for the two films, tapping into a production and acquisition fund from financing and investment company Continental Entertainment Capitol, a subsidiary of the U.S.-based Citigroup. Spain's Telecinco/Moreno Films supplying the rest of the budget.

In 2006, shortly before the UN Headquarters underwent major renovations, Del Toro and Soderbergh shot the scenes of Che speaking to the United Nations General Assembly in 1964. The director wanted to shoot the first part of The Argentine in Cuba but was unable to because an embargo by the United States government prevented them from traveling there. Doubling Santa Clara proved to be difficult because it was a certain size and had a certain look. Soderbergh spent four to five months scouting for a suitable replacement, looking at towns in Veracruz/Yucatan before settling on Campeche, which had the elements they needed.

The original intention was for Guerrilla to be shot using anamorphic 16 mm film because, according to the director, it needed "a bit of Bruckheimer but scruffier". He kept to his plan of shooting the first film anamorphically, and The Argentine with spherical lenses. Soderbergh wanted to use the new RED One rather than 16 mm film because of its ability replicate film stock digitally but initially it was not going to be available on time. However, their Spanish work papers and visas were late and Del Toro and Soderbergh were grounded in Los Angeles for a week. The director was meanwhile informed that the prototype cameras were ready.

The film is a tribute to the Marxist notion of advancement through two conflicting ideas or dialectics with its division into halves, with two tempos, two color schemes, two aspect ratios and two approaches to chronology. Each half focuses on a different revolution, both fundamentally the same in theory but vastly different in outcome. Soderbergh wanted the two parts of the film to mimic the voice of the two diaries they were based on; the Cuban diaries were written after the fact and, according to the director, "with a certain hindsight and perspective and a tone that comes from being victorious", while the Bolivia diaries were "contemporaneous, and they're very isolated and have no perspective, at all. It's a much more tense read, because the outcome is totally unclear".

Soderbergh shot the films back-to-back in the beginning of July 2007 with Guerrilla shot first in Spain for 39 days and The Argentine shot in Puerto Rico and Mexico for 39 days. The director conceived The Argentine as "a Hollywood movie" shot in widescreen 'scope aspect ratio, with the camera either fixed or moving on a dolly or a Steadicam. Guerrilla was shot, according to Soderbergh, "in Super-16, 1.85:1. No dollies, no cranes, it's all either handheld or tripods. I want it to look nice but simple. We'll work with a very small group: basically me, the producer Gregory Jacobs and the unit production manager". According to the director, the portion set in Cuba was written from the perspective of the victor and as a result he adopted a more traditional look with classical compositions, vibrant color and a warm palette. With Guerrilla, he wanted a sense of foreboding with hand-held camerawork and a muted color palette. Soderbergh told his production design Antxon Gomez that the first part would have green with a lot of yellow in it and the second part would have green with a lot of blue in it.

At the end of The Argentine, Soderbergh depicts Che's derailing of a freight train during the Battle of Santa Clara. In filming the sequence, Soderbergh balked at the digital effects solution and managed to reallocate $500,000 from the overall $58 million budget to build a real train and track powered by two V-8 car engines. To film the scene, they had six rehearsals, and could only shoot the scene once.

Many aspects of Che's personality and beliefs affected the filming process. For instance, close-ups of Del Toro were avoided due to Che's believe in collectivism, with Soderbergh remarking, "You can't make a movie about a guy who has these hard-core sort of egalitarian socialist principles and then isolate him with close-ups." According to Edgar Ramirez, who portrays Ciro Redondo, the cast "were improvising a lot" while making The Argentine, and he describes the project as a "very contemplative movie", shot chronologically. While filming outdoors, Soderbergh used natural light as much as possible. Del Toro, who speaks Puerto Rican Spanish, tried to speak the best Spanish he could without sounding "stiff". Prior to shooting the final scenes of the film that depict Guevara's time in Bolivia at the end of his life, Del Toro shed 35 pounds to show how ill Guevara had gotten at that point in his life. The actor also shaved the top of his head rather than wear a bald cap for the scenes depicting Guevara's arrival in Bolivia in disguise.

Soderbergh decided to omit the post-revolution execution sentences of "suspected war criminals, traitors and informants" that Che reviewed at La Cabana Fortress because "there is no amount of accumulated barbarity that would have satisfied the people who hate him". Soderbergh addressed the criticism for this omission in a post release interview where he stated: "I don't think anybody now, even in Cuba, is going to sit with a straight face and defend the events. La Cabana was really turned into a Roman circus, where I think even the people in power look back on that as excessive. However, every regime, in order to retain power when it feels threatened, acts excessively ... This is what people do when they feel they need to act in an extreme way to secure themselves." The filmmaker noted as well that, "with a character this complicated, you’re going to have a very polarized reaction." Furthermore, he was not interested in depicting Che's life as "a bureaucrat", stating that he was making a diptych about two military campaigns, declaring the pictures "war films". Soderbergh said, "I'm sure some people will say, 'That's convenient because that's when he was at his worst.' Yeah, maybe -- it just wasn't interesting to me. I was interested in making a procedural about guerrilla warfare".

Soderbergh described the Cuban revolution as "the last analog revolution. I loved that we shot a period film about a type of war that can't be fought anymore". Soderbergh has said that he is open to making another film about Che's experiences in the Congo but only if Che makes $100 million at the box office.

In Havana 1964, Che Guevara (Benicio del Toro) is interviewed by Lisa Howard (Julia Ormond) who asks him if reform throughout Latin America might not blunt the "message of the Cuban Revolution". In 1955, at a gathering Mexico City, Guevara first meets Fidel Castro (Demian Bichir). He listens to Castro's plans and signs on as a member of the July 26th Movement. There is a return to 1964 for Guevara's address before the United Nations General Assembly, where he makes an impassioned speech against American imperialism, and defends the executions his regime has committed declaring that "this is a battle to the death".

March 1957: Guevara deals with debilitating bouts of asthma as his group of revolutionaries meet up with Castro's group. Together, they attack an army barracks on May 28, 1957. On October 15, 1958, the guerrillas approach the town of Las Villas. The Battle of Santa Clara is depicted with Guevara demonstrating his tactical skill as the guerrillas engage in street-to-street fighting. Near the film's end they are victorious. With the Cuban Revolution now over, Guevara heads to Havana, remarking "we won the war, the revolution starts now".

Guevara arrives in Bolivia disguised as a middle-aged Uruguayan businessman and drives into the mountains to meet his men. On Day 26, there is solidarity among Guevara's men despite his status as foreigner. By Day 67, Guevara has been set up for betrayal. He tries to recruit some campesinos (peasants) only to be mistaken for a cocaine smuggler. On Day 100, there is a shortage of food and Guevara exercises discipline to resolve conflicts between his Cuban and Bolivian followers.

By Day 113, some of the guerrillas have deserted and the Bolivian army has discovered their base camp. Tamara "Tania" Bunke (Franka Potente), Guevara's revolutionary contact has botched elaborate preparations and given away their identity much to his chagrin. (She and several of Che's soldiers are massacred near Vado del Yeso on August 31, 1967.) On Day 141, the guerrillas capture some Bolivian soldiers who refuse to join the revolution and instead return to their villages. CIA advisors arrive to supervise anti-insurgent activity and training. On Day 169, Guevara's visiting friend, the French intellectual Regis Debray is captured. The Bolivian army launches an aerial attack on Day 219.

Guevara grows sick and by Day 280 can barely breathe as a result of his acute asthma. By Day 340, Guevara is trapped by the Bolivian army and while wounded is surrounded and captured. The next day, a helicopter lands and a Cuban-American CIA agent Félix Rodríguez emerges. Guevara says, "I don't talk to traitors." Rodriguez responds, "You executed my uncle". The Bolivian high command are then phoned and give approval for Guevara's execution. He is killed on October 9, 1967, and his corpse lashed to the landing skids of a helicopter and flown out.

Theatrical distribution rights were pre-sold to distributors in several major territories, including France, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Italy, and Japan (Nikkatsu); Twentieth Century Fox bought the Spanish theatrical and home video rights. IFC Films acquired all North American rights to Che after production had completed and released it on December 12, 2008 in New York City and Los Angeles in order to qualify for the Academy Awards. The "special roadshow edition" in Los Angeles and New York City was initially planned as a one-week special engagement—complete with intermission and including a full-color printed program—but strong box-office results led to its re-opening for two weeks on January 9, 2009 as two separate films, titled Che Part 1: The Argentine and Che Part 2: Guerrilla. Soderbergh said that the inspiration for the program came from the 70mm engagements for Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now. The film was expanded to additional markets on January 16 and 22 both as a single film and as two separate films. IFC made the films available through video on demand on January 21 on all major cable and satellite providers in both standard and high definition versions.

Che was screened on May 21 at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival reportedly running over four hours. After this screening, Soderbergh cut five to seven minutes from each half of the film. It was shown at the 46th New York Film Festival and was shown at the 33rd Toronto Film Festival as Che with a 15 minute intermission and as two separate films, The Argentine and Guerrilla, where it was considered the "must-see" film of the festival. Che made its sold-out Los Angeles premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on November 1, 2008 as part of the AFI Fest.

Che was screened in Guevara's homeland of Argentina in November 2008. To mark the occasion, the streets of Buenos Aires were decorated with large posters of Del Toro in his role as the guerrilla fighter, unprecedented in the city's history. When questioned by the press on Che's ideas and use of violence, Del Toro stated that if he had lived during the 1960s he would have agreed with Che, and that although he did not support violent revolution now, in the sixties he may "have been another person and in agreement with armed war".

Del Toro and Soderbergh both attended the French premiere in late November 2008, where they took questions from the press. Del Toro remarked that the "legendary rebel" was still pertinent because "the things that he fought for in the late 1950s and mid 1960s are still relevant today", adding that "he did not hide behind curtains ... he stood up for the forgotten ones". When asked why he made the film, Soderbergh stated, "I needed to make the film, and that is a different feeling. I felt like, if I am worth anything, I have to say yes. I can't say no". The following day, the Dubai International Film Festival would describe Soderbergh's narrative as a "magisterial ... compelling experience", with Del Toro's performance as "blue-chip".

Che opened in single theaters in New York and Los Angeles where it made $60,100 with sellouts of both venues. Based on this success, IFC Films executives added two weekends of exclusive runs for the roadshow version, starting December 24 in New York and December 26 in Los Angeles. This successful run prompted IFC Films to show this version in nine additional markets on January 16th. Che will be shown in its entirety, commercial and trailer free with an intermission and limited edition program book at every screening. Soderbergh has said that the roadshow version of the film will not be released on DVD but released in two parts with the animated map that opens the roadshow's second half missing from part II, as well as the overture and intermission music.

As of January 30, 2009, Che was doing poorly in the US theatrical market. According to Variety, it had grossed $164,142 in one weekend, at 35 locations in North America and $20 million from a half-dozen major markets around the world, led by Spain at $9.7 million.

Early reviews of Che were mixed, although there were several critics who spoke glowingly of the project. Cinematical's James Rocchi described the biopic as "expressive, innovative, striking, and exciting" as well as "bold, beautiful, bleak and brilliant". Rocchi went on to brand it "a work of art" that's "not just the story of a revolutionary" but "a revolution in and of itself". Columnist and critic Jeffrey Wells proclaimed the film "brilliant", "utterly believable", and "the most exciting and far-reaching film of the Cannes Film Festival". In further praise, Wells referred to the film as "politically vibrant and searing" while labeling it a "perfect dream movie".

Todd McCarthy was more mixed in his reaction to the film in its present form, describing it as "too big a roll of the dice to pass off as an experiment, as it's got to meet high standards both commercially and artistically. The demanding running time also forces comparison to such rare works as Lawrence of Arabia, Reds and other biohistorical epics. Unfortunately, Che doesn’t feel epic - just long". Anne Thompson wrote that Benicio del Toro "gives a great performance", but predicted that "it will not be released as it was seen here". Glenn Kenny wrote, "Che benefits greatly from certain Soderberghian qualities that don't always serve his other films well, e.g., detachment, formalism, and intellectual curiosity".

Peter Bradshaw, in his review for The Guardian, wrote, "Perhaps it will even come to be seen as this director's flawed masterpiece: enthralling but structurally fractured - the second half is much clearer and more sure-footed than the first - and at times frustratingly reticent, unwilling to attempt any insight into Che's interior world". In his less favorable review for Esquire, Stephen Garrett criticized the film for failing to show Che's negative aspects, "the absence of darker, more contradictory revelations of his nature leaves Che bereft of complexity. All that remains is a South American superman: uncomplex, pure of heart, defiantly pious and boring". Richard Corliss had problems with Del Toro's portrayal of Che: "Del Toro — whose acting style often starts over the top and soars from there, like a hang-glider leaping from a skyscraper roof — is muted, yielding few emotional revelations, seemingly sedated here ... Che is defined less by his rigorous fighting skills and seductive intellect than by his asthma". In his review for Salon.com, Andrew O'Hehir praised Soderbergh for making "something that people will be eager to see and eager to talk about all over the world, something that feels strangely urgent, something messy and unfinished and amazing. I'd be surprised if Che doesn't win the Palme d'Or ... but be that as it may, nobody who saw it here will ever forget it".

Soderbergh replied to the criticism that he made an unconventional film: "I find it hilarious that most of the stuff being written about movies is how conventional they are, and then you have people ... upset that something's not conventional. The bottom line is we're just trying to give you a sense of what it was like to hang out around this person. That's really it. And the scenes were chosen strictly on the basis of, 'Yeah, what does that tell us about his character?'".

After Cannes, Soderbergh made a few minor adjustments to the film. This included adding a moment of Guevara and Fidel Castro shaking hands, tweaking a few transitions, and tacking on an overture and entr’acte to the "road show" version that will play in major cities. Moreover, he removed the trial of guerrilla Lalo Sardiñas, which Chicago film critic Ben Kenigsberg found "regrettable", stating that it was "not only one of the film's most haunting scenes but a key hint at the darker side of Che's ideology".

In her review for the New York Times, based on a screening at the New York Film Festival, Manohla Dargis observes that "throughout the movie Mr. Soderbergh mixes the wild beauty of his landscapes with images of Che heroically engaged in battle, thoughtfully scribbling and reading, and tending to ailing peasants and soldiers". According to Dargis, "Che wins, Che loses, but Che remains the same in what plays like a procedural about a charismatic leader, impossible missions and the pleasures of work and camaraderie", referring to the "historical epic" as "Ocean's Eleven with better cigars". However, Dargis also notes that "Mr. Soderbergh cagily evades Che's ugly side, notably his increasing commitment to violence and seemingly endless war, but the movie is without question political — even if it emphasizes romantic adventure over realpolitik — because, like all films, it is predicated on getting, spending and making money".

Film critic Glenn Kenny wrote, "Che seems to me almost the polar opposite of agitprop. It flat out does not ask for the kind of emotional engagement that more conventional epic biopics do, and that's a good thing". In his review for UGO, Keith Uhlich wrote, "The best to say about Del Toro's Cannes-honored performance is that it's exhausting - all exterior, no soul, like watching an android run a gauntlet (one that includes grueling physical exertions, tendentious political speechifying, and risible Matt Damon cameos)". Slant magazine gave Che two-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote, "The problem is that, despite his desire to sidestep Hollywood bio-hooey, the director is unable to turn his chilly stance into an ideological perspective, like Roberto Rossellini did in his demythologized portraits of Louis XIV, Garibaldi and Pascal".

In his review for Salon magazine, Andrew O'Hehir wrote, "What Soderbergh has sought to capture here is a grand process of birth and extinguishment, one that produced a complicated legacy in which John McCain, Barack Obama and Raúl Castro are still enmeshed. There will be plenty of time to argue about the film's (or films') political relevance or lack thereof, to call Soderbergh names for this or that historical omission, for this or that ideological error. He's made something that people will be eager to see and eager to talk about all over the world, something that feels strangely urgent, something messy and unfinished and amazing".

On December 4, 2008, Che premiered in Miami Beach at the Byron Carlyle Theatre, as part of the Art Basel Festival. Taking place only a few miles from Little Havana, which is home to the largest Cuban-American community in the United States, the invitation-only screening was met with angry demonstrators. The organization Vigilia Mambisa, led by Miguel Saavedra, amassed an estimated 100 demonstrators to decry what they believed would be a favorable depiction of Guevara. Saavedra told reporters from the El Nuevo Herald that "you can not offend the sensitivities of the people", while describing the film as "a disgrace". A supporter of the demonstration, Miami Beach's mayor Matti Herrera Bower, lamented that the film was shown, while declaring "we must not allow dissemination of this movie". When asked days later about the incident, Del Toro remarked that the ability to speak out was "part of what makes America great" while adding "I find it a little weird that they were protesting without having seen the film, but that's another matter". For his part, Soderbergh later stated that "you have to separate the Cuban nationalist lobby that is centered in Miami from the rest of the country".

On December 7, 2008, Che premiered at Havana's 5,000 + person Karl Marx Theater as part of the Latin American Film Festival. Benicio Del Toro, who was in attendance, referred to the film as "Cuban history", while remarking that "there's an audience in there ... that could be the most knowledgeable critics of the historical accuracy of the film". The official state paper Granma gave Del Toro a glowing review, professing that he "personifies Che" in both his physical appearance and his "masterly interpretation". After unveiling Che in Havana's Yara Cinema, Del Toro was treated to a 10-minute standing ovation from the 2,000 + strong audience, many of whom were involved in the revolution.

On December 12, 2008, Che was screened at the sold out 1,100 person Ziegfeld Theater in New York City. Upon seeing the first image on the screen (a silhouette of Cuba), the crowd erupted into a raucous cry of "¡Viva, Cuba!" Following the film, and the standing ovation it received, Soderbergh appeared for a post program Q&A. During the sometimes contentious conversation with the audience, in which Soderbergh alternated between defensiveness and modesty, the director categorized Che as "a hard ass", to which one audience member yelled out, "Bullshit, he was as murderer!" The filmmaker settled down the crowd and explained, "It doesn't matter whether I agree with him or not -- I was interested in Che as a warrior, Che as a guy who had an ideology, who picked up a gun and this was the result. He died the way you would have him die. He was executed the way you would say he executed other people". Soderbergh ended the 1 am Q&A session by noting that he was "agnostic" on Che's standing, but "loyal to the facts", which he insisted were all rigorously sourced.

On March 3, 2009, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, himself an avowed socialist and admirer of Che Guevara, greeted Del Toro and co star Bichir at the Presidential Palace in Caracas. The day prior Del Toro attended a screening of the film at a bull-fighting ring-turned cultural center, where he was "mobbed by adoring fans". Del Toro then visited the state-run Cinema Town, a film production facility President Chávez launched to help Venezuela produce its own movies as an alternative to what Chávez calls Hollywood's "cultural imperialism." Del Toro described Che as "a totally Latin American movie" and stated that he had "a good meeting with the President".

Scott Foundas of the LA Weekly proclaimed Che "nothing if not the movie of the year". In his review for the Village Voice, J. Hoberman wrote, "At its best, Che is both action film and ongoing argument. Each new camera setup seeks to introduce a specific idea—about Che or his situation—and every choreographed battle sequence is a sort of algorithm where the camera attempts to inscribe the event that is being enacted". Hoberman compared Soderbergh's directing style and "non-personalized" historical approach on the film to Otto Preminger's observational use of the moving camera, or one of Roberto Rossellini's "serene" documentaries. Armond White, in his review for the New York Press, wrote, "Out-perversing Gus Van Sant's Milk, Soderbergh makes a four-hour-plus biopic about a historical figure without providing a glimmer of charm or narrative coherence". In his review for the New York Times, A.O. Scott writes, "Mr. Soderbergh once again offers a master class in filmmaking. As history, though, Che is finally not epic but romance. It takes great care to be true to the factual record, but it is, nonetheless, a fairy tale". Sheri Linden, in her review for the Los Angeles Times, wrote, "in this flawed work of austere beauty, the logistics of war and the language of revolution give way to something greater, a struggle that may be defined by politics but can't be contained by it". In her review for the Washington Post, Ann Hornaday wrote, "The best way to encounter Che, is to let go of words like 'film' and 'movie', words that somehow seem inadequate to the task of describing such a mesmerizing, fully immersive cinematic experience. By the end of Che, viewers will likely emerge as if from a trance, with indelibly vivid, if not more ambivalent feelings about Guevara, than the bumper-sticker image they walked in with".

Entertainment Weekly gave a "B+" rating to the first half of the film and a "C-" rating to the second half, and Owen Gleiberman wrote, "As political theater, Che moves from faith to impotence, which is certainly a valid reading of Communism in the 20th century. Yet as drama, that makes the second half of the film borderline deadly ... Che is twice as long as it needs to be, but it is also only half the movie it should have been". James Verniere of The Boston Herald gave the film a B-, describing the work as a new genre of "arthouse guerrilla nostalgia", while lamenting Che as the film version of Alberto Korda’s iconic 1960 photograph Guerrillero Heroico. In Verniere's view, so much information was missing, that he recommended one first see The Motorcycle Diaries to fill in the background. In her review for USA Today, Claudia Puig wrote, "With its lyrical beauty and strong performances, the film can be riveting. Its excessive length and rambling scenes also make it maddening. It is worth seeing for its attention to visual detail and ambitious filmmaking, but as a psychological portrait of a compelling historical figure, it is oddly bland and unrevealing". Anthony Lane, in his review for The New Yorker, wrote, "for all the movie’s narrative momentum, Che retains the air of a study exercise—of an interest brilliantly explored. How else to explain one’s total flatness of feeling at the climax of each movie?" Taking a more positive stance, film critic Chris Barsanti compared Che to a "guerrilla take on Patton", calling it "an exceptionally good" war film, which rivaled The Battle of Algiers in its "you-are-there sensibility". Roger Ebert awarded the film 3.5 our of 4 stars and addressed the film's length: "You may wonder if the film is too long. I think there's a good reason for its length. Guevara's experience in Cuba and especially Bolivia was not a series of events and anecdotes, but a trial of endurance that might almost be called mad". Che has a 61% rating at Rotten Tomatoes and a 64 metascore at Metacritic.

Film Comment ranked Che as the 22nd best film of 2008 in their "Best Films of 2008" poll. Film critics Roger Ebert, and James Rocchi went further, naming Che one of the best films of 2008. The film appeared on several critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2008.

Benicio Del Toro was awarded the Prix d'interpretation masculine (or Best Actor Award) for his performance in Che and in his acceptance speech dedicated his award "to the man himself, Che Guevara and I want to share this with Steven Soderbergh. He was there pushing it even when there and pushing all of us". Che's widow Aleida March, who is president of the Che Guevara Studies Center, sent a congratulatory note to Del Toro upon hearing the news of his award. Del Toro was also awarded a 2009 Goya Award as the best Spanish Lead Actor for his depiction of Che. Actor Sean Penn, who won an Oscar for his role in Milk, remarked that he was surprised and disappointed that Che and Del Toro were not also up for any Academy Award nominations. During his acceptance speech for the Best Actor's trophy at the Screen Actors Guild Awards Penn expressed his dismay stating, "The fact that there aren't crowns on Soderbergh's and Del Toro's heads right now, I don't understand ... that is such a sensational movie, Che." In reference to what Penn deemed a snub, he added "Maybe because it's in Spanish, maybe the length, maybe the politics".

To the top

Surveillance (2008 film)

Surveillance is an independent thriller set in the Santa Fe desert directed by Jennifer Lynch and starring Julia Ormond, Bill Pullman, Michael Ironside, and French Stewart. The film premiered out of competition and at a midnight slot at 2008 Cannes Film Festival. It is Jennifer Lynch's second feature film after a 15 year break following her debut Boxing Helena.

Two FBI agents, Elizabeth Anderson (Julia Ormond) and Sam Hallaway (Bill Pullman), arrive at a local police station in the Santa Fe desert to investigate a series of murders and a missing woman. They interrogate three eyewitnesses: Police officer Jack Bennet, the meth-addict Bobby, and Stephanie, an eight-year-old girl, whose family was murdered by two figures dressed in jumpsuits and latex masks.

As the story is advanced, it is clear that Bennet and his partner are corrupt cops, who enjoy shooting out tires of passing cars, then playing nasty games with the drivers and passengers. Bobby and her boyfriend saw another druggie overdose, and robbed him of all the drugs they could carry. Stephanie's family are victims of the corrupt cops. As the stepfather is changing tires, a van slams into them, killing Bobby's boyfriend and Stephanie's stepfather. The murderers in the mask are behind this, and orchestrate for one cop to shoot his partner, thinking he's the villain.

During the interrogation there is a call received at the station stating that three bodies have been found at a motel not too far away, Elizabeth decides to investigate along with two of the interviewing cops.

It becomes clear that the little girl knows something about the FBI agents. They turn out to be not agents at all, but a couple of lovers who are serial murderers and sexual sadists. Elizabeth shoots the two cops in the head, whilst Sam speaks to Bobby, the police captain and Jack. He presses Jack to admit to shooting his partner. When he refuses, Sam reveals to the trio that he was one of the killers. The police captain tries to shoot Sam, but is killed. Sam then knocks out Jack and talks to Bobby. She says that she was impressed by the killers and tries to flatter and bargain her way to freedom. Elizabeth returns to the station, and we see that Sam has also killed a woman who works there. Sam and Elizabeth then begin kissing and Elizabeth kisses Bobby while Sam stands behind her. As she kisses Bobby, Elizabeth puts a belt around her neck which Sam pulls tight. As Bobby suffocates, Elizabeth kisses her. Jack wakes up and fires at the couple, wounding Elizabeth in the arm. Sam shoots back, killing Jack. The couple then leave the station and pass Stephanie alone on the road. Sam says that he has let her go free because she worked out who they were.

The end sequence shows a voice mail being left at the station from the coroner who is at the scene of the motel murders. He reveals that one of the bodies is that of the missing woman, and that FBI badges have been found on the other two.

Jennifer Lynch said that the original screenplay had been written by Kent Harper who had started off from an idea about witches. The title comes from surveillance cameras, and "how people change their stories based on what we see and what it is we assume about each other." The young girl character was inspired from Lynch's own daughter, Sydney. Different film stocks were processed in different ways to provide the varying states of minds and perspectives the characters in the film hold: the two local cops' POV is sepia toned to reflect their power, over-saturation for the drug addicts and "super sharp and super clear" for the young girl.

To the top

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (film)

Benjamin Button poster.jpg

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a 2008 American fantasy drama film, inspired by the 1921 short story of the same name written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The film was directed by David Fincher, written by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord, and stars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. The film was released in the United States on December 25, 2008.

The film received thirteen Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Pitt, and Best Supporting Actress for Taraji P. Henson. It won three Oscars for Art Direction, Makeup, and Visual Effects, and has tied the record for the most nominated film not to win the Academy Award for Best Picture with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Mary Poppins and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.

The elderly Daisy (Cate Blanchett) is on her deathbed with her daughter Caroline (Julia Ormond) in a New Orleans hospital as Hurricane Katrina approaches in August 2005. Daisy tells Caroline the story of a blind clockmaker named Gateau (Elias Koteas), who was commissioned to create a clock to hang in the New Orleans train station. After receiving news of his son's death in World War I, he continued work on his clock, but intentionally designed it to run backward, in the hope that it would bring back those who died in the war. After her story, Daisy asks Caroline to read aloud from a diary containing photographs and postcards written by Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt). Caroline begins to read as the story transitions to Benjamin's narration.

On November 11, 1918, just as the people of New Orleans are celebrating the end of World War I, a baby boy is born with the appearance and physical maladies of an elderly man. The mother of the baby dies shortly after giving birth, and the father, Thomas Button (Jason Flemyng), takes the baby and abandons him on the porch of a nursing home. Queenie (Taraji P. Henson) and Tizzy (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), a couple who work at the nursing home, find the baby. Queenie, who is unable to conceive, decides to take the baby in as her own, against Tizzy's wishes. She names the baby Benjamin.

Over the course of the story, Benjamin begins to biologically grow younger. In 1930, while still appearing to be in his seventies, Benjamin meets a young girl named Daisy (Elle Fanning), whose grandmother lives in the nursing home. The children play together and listen to Daisy's grandmother read from a storybook. A few years later, Benjamin goes to work on a tugboat on the docks of New Orleans for Captain Mike (Jared Harris). In their free time, the captain takes him to brothels and bars. For the first time, Benjamin meets Thomas Button, who does not reveal that he is Benjamin's father. Later, Benjamin leaves New Orleans with the tugboat crew for a long-term work engagement; Daisy asks him to send her postcards from his travels, which Benjamin does.

During a stay in Russia, at Murmansk, Benjamin meets a British woman named Elizabeth Abbott (Tilda Swinton) and falls in love with her; Daisy is visibly hurt to receive this news via postcard. Elizabeth is already married, but she has an affair with Benjamin. The fling ends the day after the Pearl Harbor attack, when Elizabeth abruptly departs. Benjamin gets caught up in World War II when Captain Mike's boat and crew are enlisted by the United States Navy. After engaging a German U-boat in battle, Captain Mike and most of the sailors perish. After this, Benjamin again meets Thomas Button, who is dying. Thomas reveals to Benjamin that he is his father and bequeaths all of his assets to Benjamin, including the house and the family button-making business. Benjamin eventually makes peace with his father before the elder Button dies.

In 1945, Benjamin returns to New Orleans, and learns that Daisy has become a successful dancer in New York City. When he travels there to meet Daisy at a performance, he finds Daisy has fallen in love with a fellow dancer, and tries to accept that their lives have separated. Daisy's dance career is ended several years later by an accident in Paris, when a car breaks her leg in five places. When Benjamin goes to see her, Daisy is amazed at his youthful appearance, but frustrated at her own injuries, she turns him away by telling Benjamin to stay out of her life. In 1962, Daisy returns to New Orleans and meets Benjamin again. Now the same physical age, they fall in love and move in together. They experience the 1960s together, in large part blissfully but increasingly aware of Benjamin growing younger while Daisy grows older. Daisy gives birth to a girl, Caroline. Benjamin, believing he cannot be a father to his daughter due to his reverse aging, and not wanting to burden Daisy with having to raise two children, sells his belongings, and leaves the proceeds to Daisy and Caroline. He leaves them both and travels the world.

Reading this account in the hospital room of 2005, Caroline learns that Benjamin is her father. She is upset that Daisy took such a long time to inform her of this, but finds that Benjamin sent her a postcard from everywhere for each of her birthdays expressing his love for his daughter.

In 1980, Benjamin, now looking like a young man, returns to meet Daisy in her dance studio. The aging Daisy is now married to Robert Williams, a kind man who supports her well, to Benjamin's relief. Daisy introduces Benjamin to Robert and the 12-year-old Caroline as a long-time family friend. Daisy and Benjamin then meet privately in Benjamin's hotel where they share their passion for each other, but they mutually realize that Daisy has become too old for Benjamin. Benjamin departs again and continues to grow younger. One day Daisy receives a phone call from social workers. They inform her that they found Benjamin - now a young pre-teen just hitting puberty - living in a condemned building, and that they called her because they saw her name all over his diary. The social workers believe that he has dementia as he sometimes forgets that he had just eaten and cannot remember Daisy or much of his past. Daisy moves into the nursing home where Benjamin grew up and takes care of him as he becomes a confused 5-year-old boy with a growing temper.

In 2002, Mr.Gateau's old clock is removed from the train station. Shortly afterward, in the spring of 2003, the now-physically infant, 85-year-old Benjamin dies in Daisy's arms. At the moment before Benjamin dies, Daisy claims to have seen in his eyes that he still remembered her.

In the 2005 hospital room, the hurricane raging outside downs the electrical system. As Caroline briefly leaves the room, Daisy passes away, her wish of seeing Benjamin again seemingly answered by a hummingbird hovering outside the storm-drenched windows. Against the sounds of the city's emergency sirens and reports of breached levees, the backwards clock is shown in a basement, still working, as floodwaters envelope the storage room where it is kept.

As early as summer 1994, Maryland Film Office chief Jack Gerbes was approached with the possibility of a film adaptation of the 1921 short story "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which takes place in Baltimore. In October 1998, screenwriter Robin Swicord wrote for director Ron Howard an adapted screenplay of the short story, a project which would potentially star actor John Travolta. In May 2000, Paramount Pictures hired screenwriter Jim Taylor to adapt a screenplay from the short story. The studio also attached director Spike Jonze to helm the project. Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman had also written a draft of the adapted screenplay at one point. In June 2003, director Gary Ross entered final negotiations to helm the project based on a new draft penned by screenwriter Eric Roth. In May 2004, Warner Bros. Pictures and Paramount Pictures joined to co-finance the project, with Paramount Pictures marketing the film in foreign territories and Warner Bros. handling domestic distribution (those were eventually switched). In the same month, director David Fincher entered negotiations to replace Ross in directing the film. In July 2005, Fincher negotiated a deal with the studios to direct Benjamin Button and Zodiac back-to-back, with Zodiac being produced first.

In May 2005, actors Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett entered negotiations to star in the film as Benjamin Button and Daisy, respectively. In September 2006, actors Tilda Swinton, Jason Flemyng, and Taraji P. Henson entered negotiations to be cast into the film. The following October, with production yet to begin, actress Julia Ormond was cast as Daisy's daughter, to whom Blanchett's character tells the story of her love affair with Benjamin Button.

Brad Pitt had previously starred in other films with four of the other actors in this film. He co-starred in Legends of the Fall with Julia Ormond, Snatch with Jason Flemying , Babel with Cate Blanchett and Burn After Reading with Tilda Swinton.

For Benjamin Button, New Orleans, Louisiana and the surrounding area was chosen as the filming location for the story to take advantage of the state's production incentives, and shooting was slated to begin in October 2006. Filming of Benjamin Button began on November 6, 2006 in New Orleans. In January 2007, Blanchett joined the shoot. Fincher praised the ease of accessibility to rural and urban sets in New Orleans and said that the recovery from Hurricane Katrina did not serve as an atypical hindrance to production. In March 2007, filming moved to Los Angeles for two more months of filming. Principal photography was targeted to last a total of 150 days. Additional time was needed in post-production to create the visual effects for the metamorphosis of Brad Pitt's character to the infant stage. The director used a camera system called Contour, developed by Steve Perlman, to capture facial deformation data from live action performances. Overall production was finished in September 2007. The movie props were donated to the victims of Hurricane Katrina in the 9th Ward of New Orleans.

The score to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was written by French composer Alexandre Desplat, who recorded his score with an 87-piece ensemble of the Hollywood Studio Symphony at the Sony Scoring Stage. The film's first trailer featured the "Aquarium" movement of Camille Saint-Saëns' The Carnival of the Animals (previously adapted by WB for a television special starring two of that studio's most popular cartoon characters, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck). The choir singing in the trailer is Libera, a group of boys from South London. The international trailer contains the song "A Moment of Greatness" by Immediate Music. One of the TV spots contains the song "My Body is a Cage" by Arcade Fire. Some TV spots use the song "The Return", which is part of APM Music's Liquid Cinema Collection "Cinematic Emotions & Drama". There are also songs in the film shared with O Brother, Where Art Thou?, including "Didn't Leave Nobody But the Baby" and "I'll Fly Away", from a different recording. The piano piece that Benjamin learns and which is reprised at the end of the film is Bethena: A Concert Waltz by Scott Joplin.

Benjamin and Daisy watch The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show singing "Twist and Shout".

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was originally slated for theatrical release in May 2008, but it was pushed back to November 26, 2008. The release date was moved again to December 25, 2008 in the United States, January 16, 2009, in Mexico, February 5, 2009, in the United Kingdom, February 13, 2009, in Italy and February 27, 2009 in South Africa.

On its opening day, the film opened in the number two position behind Marley & Me, in North America with $11,871,831 in 2,988 theaters with a $3,973 average. However, during its opening weekend, the film dropped to the third position behind Marley & Me and Bedtime Stories with $26,853,816 in 2,988 theaters with an $8,987 average. As of March 21, 2009 the film has grossed $125,386,000 at the domestic box office, foreign box office stands at $177,000,000 with a total gross of $329,809,326.

The film has received generally positive reviews. As of January 24, 2009, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 72% of critics gave the film positive reviews based on 169 reviews, with 77% of selected "Top Critics" giving the film positive reviews. According to Metacritic, the film received an average score of 70 based on 36 reviews. Yahoo! Movies reported the film received a B+ average score from critical consensus.

Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian called it "166 minutes of twee tedium", giving it one star out of a possible five.

Ashley Scrace from the Sheffield Star noted: "It is a good film, but one of contradictions, some of which are far beyond the story of young versus old. It is surprising yet clichéd; sad yet hollow; visually impressive yet ordinary." He goes on to add, "I just hope this year’s Oscars do not follow a tired formula: biggest budget, plus biggest stars, equals biggest awards." The film was rated at three stars out of a possible five.

The film appeared on many critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2008. According to Movie City News, the film has appeared on 79 different top ten lists out of 286 different critics lists surveyed, the 6th most mentioned on a top ten list of the films released in 2008. According to CriticsTop10, the film appeared on over 136 film critics top ten lists, with 12 number one mentions, and was also ranked 6th of the year in terms of appearances on critics' top ten lists.

In January 2009, an Italian writer named Adriana Pichini filed legal papers contending that the film appeared to have been based on a story that she wrote in 1994, entitled "Il ritorno di Arthur all'innocenza" (Arthur's Return to Innocence). The case will be examined by an Italian judge to see whether or not the situation merits further inquiry.

The film will be released on May 5, 2009. It will be released in a single-disc DVD package by Paramount. The Criterion Collection plans to release the film in a two-disc package on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats. The Criterion release will include over three hours of special features, and a documentary about the making of the film.

To the top

I Know Who Killed Me

I Know Who Killed Me cover

I Know Who Killed Me is a thriller-mystery film by Chris Sivertson; starring Lindsay Lohan, released in 2007.

In 2008, the film won eight Golden Raspberry Awards, a new record (beating both Showgirls and Battlefield Earth) including Worst Film, Worst Actress and the first ever award in a new category, Worst Excuse For A Horror Movie. It is rated R by the MPAA for grisly violence including torture and disturbing gory images, and for sexuality, nudity and language.

The quiet suburb of New Salem is being terrorized by a brutal serial killer who abducts and tortures young women, holding them captive for weeks before murdering them. Aubrey Fleming (Lindsay Lohan) (whose clothes, possessions, and room, as well as the killer's gloves and weapons, are all signified in shades of blue), a talented pianist and aspiring writer, appears to be his latest victim when she disappears without a trace during a night out with her friends. As the days tick by, the special FBI Task Force convened to track the killer begins to lose hope of finding her before it’s too late.

Then, late one night, a driver discovers a young woman by the side of a deserted road, disheveled and critically injured. The girl is rushed to the hospital, where Aubrey’s distraught parents, Susan (Julia Ormond) and Daniel (Neal McDonough), wait by her side as she slips in and out of consciousness. When she is finally able to speak, she shocks everyone by claiming to be a down-on-her luck stripper named Dakota Moss (whose clothes and possessions are all signified in shades of red to keep confusion from Aubrey at bay) who has never heard of Aubrey Fleming. Convinced Aubrey is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, her doctors, parents and law enforcement officials can only wait for rest and therapy to restore her memory. But after returning to her parents’ suburban home, she continues to insist she is not who they think she is, despite bearing bizarre wounds identical to those of the serial killer’s previous victims.

The FBI agents are further mystified when they search Aubrey’s computer and discover a short story about a girl with an alter ego named Dakota. When Dakota begins to suspect she may be Aubrey’s identical twin sister, Susan shows her a video of her pregnancy ultrasound clearly revealing there was only one fetus in her womb. Confused and terrified, Dakota starts seeing visions of a menacing figure slowly butchering his captive. Convinced time is running out both for Aubrey and herself, Dakota confronts Daniel with a shocking truth that leads them on a frantic hunt for the killer.

Aubrey and Dakota are twins, born to Virginia Sue Moss, a crack addict. Moss gave birth to them the same time the Flemings had their own child, who died in the incubator. Daniel Fleming quietly raises one as his own daughter, paying Virginia over the years by mail. Dakota finds the envelopes and attempts to find her parents, when she suffers sympathetic resonance from her twin's wounds, and is found by the highway. It turns out they two are stigmatic twins, with a strange mental connection that lets them share pain, communicate, and even share experiences, which explains some of Aubrey's stories.

After investigating the grave of Aubrey's recently murdered friend, Jennifer Toland, Dakota finds a blue ribbon from a piano competition, with a message from Jennifer's (and Aubrey's) piano teacher; Douglas Norquist (Thomas Tofel). Dakota realizes Norquist, the teacher, murdered Jennifer and abducted Aubrey after they expressed intentions to quit their piano training, taking off their fingers, arm, and a leg in a twisted retribution. Dakota and Daniel confront the killer, Norquist. Daniel dies in the process, but Dakota manages to cut off Norquist's hand and stab Norquist in his gut and neck with one of his own blades. She then finds Aubrey where Norquist buried her alive and frees her. The movie ends with the two lying together on the ground, looking out into the night.

The film's opening weekend North American box office gross was $3.5 million, making it the 9th top grossing film that weekend. It went on to gross a total of $7,498,716 in the U.S. The film's budget was around $12 million, and the film went on to gross $9,595,945 at the box office worldwide. By January 13, 2008 it had grossed $11.99 million on DVD rentals in the United States making a total of $21.4 million. Lindsay Lohan's July 24, 2007 DUI arrest prevented her from being able to promote the movie, which was released days later.

I Know Who Killed Me received mostly negative reviews. RottenTomatoes.com shows an 8% approval rating from critics with the consensus: "Distasteful and ludicrously plotted". It currently holds a 16% rating on Metacritic, which indicates "extreme dislike or disgust". Richard Roeper ranked it number one on his "Worst movies of 2007" list. The film received nine Razzie nominations, the most of any film in 2007. It won eight of them, including two awards for Worst Actress (Lindsay Lohan playing twins), Worst Director (Chris Sivertson), Worst Screenplay (Jeff Hammond), Worst Screen Couple (Lohan and Lohan) and a new category, Worst Excuse for a Horror Film. The only award it lost was Worst Supporting Actress (Julia Ormond), who lost to Eddie Murphy for his role in drag in Norbit. The movie set a record for the most Razzie wins ever, previously beating the tie held by Battlefield Earth and Showgirls with seven wins each. The Razzies compared the movie to Hostel, Saw, and The Patty Duke Show.

Despite this the film did garner a few positive reviews. Fangoria praises the film's imaginative use of colour: "the director and his visual team bathe the film in deep blues and reds, a welcome departure from the dirty green, sodium-lit palette of similarly themed horror fare, and the end result is simply a beautiful, eye-popping visual treat, so stylized that one can’t help recalling Argento’s approach to Suspiria." And according to "The Movie Boy": "Lohan's stripteases and pole-swinging theatrics at the gentleman's club are notable for being genuinely steamy, sleekly shot and choreographed".

The DVD and Blu-ray Disc were released in November 27, 2007. The art cover of the DVD shows Lohan, in blue, pole-dancing, with the faces of her alter egos Aubrey Fleming and Dakota Moss on either side.Amongst the extras are alternate opening and ending scenes with the latter showing that the entire plot was actually written by Aubrey. However, the test audiences thought this ending was too expected, so it was cut from the film. Other extras include an extended version of Lohan's strip dance at the club and bloopers. By January, the DVD had grossed $11.99 million. The Region 2 DVD was released January 28, 2008 with different cover art showing a close-up of Lohan, in red, doing her pole-dance at the strip club.

The score for I Know Who Killed Me, composed by Joel McNeely, was released on July 24, 2007.

To the top

Young Catherine

Young Catherine is a 1991 American TV miniseries based on the early life of Catherine II of Russia. It stars Julia Ormond as Catherine and Vanessa Redgrave as Empress Elizabeth.

The miniseries is known as Intrigues impériales in France and Die Junge Katharina in Germany.

A German princess is chosen to marry the heir to the Russian Throne, but faces plots and intrigues against her.

Both a 150-minute version and a 180-minute Turner Network Television version were released on VHS on May 29, 1991, and both are currently out of print. A 187-minute Russian language version was at one time available on DVD.

To the top

Source : Wikipedia