London Theater Review: Nicholas Hytner’s Politically Charged ‘Julius Caesar’

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Laurels are so last year. Today’s Caesars come crowned with combovers. In Central Park last year, the Public Theater’s Oskar Eustis caused controversy by drawing too definite a line between Rome’s first de facto emperor and America’s 45th President. Now, in London, former National Theatre director Nicholas Hytner might stop short of the full blond […]

‘Paddington 2’ Review: Hugh Grant Steals The Show As World’s Most Polite Bear Returns In A Family Charmer

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When Paddington was released in 2014, it became one of the most successful children’s films ever, a hit around the world that inevitably would call for a sequel or perhaps several. Paddington 2 fills the bill and even tops the first one for sheer delight.
In this one from director Paul King, the lovable and very polite marmalade sandwich-eating bear is a full-fledged member of the community after moving in with the Brown family who had rescued him from Paddington Station…

Dexter Fletcher Replaces Bryan Singer as Director of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

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Dexter Fletcher has been hired to replace Bryan Singer as the director of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” 20th Century Fox announced on Wednesday. Fletcher’s credits include “Eddie the Eagle” and ‘Wild Bill.”

Production on the Freddie Mercury biopic will resume next week in the U.K.

Fletcher was originally attached to direct the film, with Ben Whishaw (“Skyfall”) in the role of legendary rocker Mercury. The director left the project in March 2014 over creative differences, and eventually Singer came on board with star Rami Malek.

Also Read: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Director Bryan Singer: Fox Fired Me Over Sick Parent

News of Singer’s firing from the mostly-finished film hit on Monday, when TheWrap reported on tensions between the director and studio over what numerous insiders called a “pattern” of unprofessional behavior — mostly prolonged absence and lateness, as well as conflicts with Malek.

Singer denied any misdoings and issued a lengthy response to his firing through a lawyer — saying an ailing parent pulled his focus from the project and had compromised his own health.

“I wanted nothing more than to be able to finish this project and help honor the legacy of Freddie Mercury and Queen, but Fox would not permit me to do so because I needed to temporarily put my health, and the health of my loved ones, first,” Singer said in his statement.

“I asked Fox for some time off so I could return to the U.S. to deal with pressing health matters concerning one of my parents. This was a very taxing experience, which ultimately took a serious toll on my own health. Unfortunately, the studio was unwilling to accommodate me and terminated my services,” he said.

Also Read: Matt Lauer Will Not Get Severance Pay From NBC

Singer’s production company, Bad Hat Harry, has since vacated the Fox lot in West Los Angeles.

“Rhapsody” costars Mike Myers, “Game of Thrones” star Aidan Gillen and “Sing Street’s” Lucy Boynton. It remains scheduled for December 2018 release.

A London native, Fletcher began his career as a child actor in “The Long Good Friday,” “The Elephant Man” and “The Bounty,” along with hit TV series “Press Gang.” He went on to appear in a number of cult British films such as “The Rachel Papers,” “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Layer Cake.”

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Bryan Singer Offices at Fox Closed After Director Fired From ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Director Bryan Singer: Fox Fired Me Over Sick Parent

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‘Bohemian Rhapsody:’ A History of Making the Freddie Mercury Biopic (Photos)

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Mamma Mia Figaro! We’ve been anticipating a movie about the life of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury for the last seven years, when it looked like Borat himself, Sacha Baron Cohen, might play the flamboyant singer. And at long last, we got images from the film “Bohemian Rhapsody” signaling it would finally come to pass. Now director Bryan Singer has been fired from the film, but there’s still hope it will be released by December of 2018. Here’s a brief history of the long road the film has taken to hopefully get made.

September 2010

Sacha Baron Cohen, a spitting image of Mercury and with just the right amount of flamboyance, is locked in to play Freddie Mercury in the untitled film written by “Frost/Nixon” scribe Peter Morgan, with Graham King, Tim Headington, Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal all attached to produce. Supposedly the film would not focus on Mercury’s battle with AIDS and would culminate in Queen’s 1985 appearance at Live Aid, six years before he died. The producers had also secured the rights to many of Queen’s hits, including “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You,” “We Are the Champions” and “Another One Bites the Dust.”

May 2012

Stephen Frears is reported as the frontrunner for the directing job on the still untitled biopic, but other directors names are still in the mix.

Frears would later address his brief involvement on the film, telling The Wrap that he had met with Baron Cohen and expected to hear more, but then read that Baron Cohen had a falling out with Queen’s Brian May.

July 2013

Sacha Baron Cohen exits the project over creative differences, in which Cohen wanted a warts-and-all portrayal of Mercury’s life, while the band members wanted a more reverential portrait of themselves, even going as far as to refuse “A King’s Speech” director Tom Hooper for the job.

September 2013

Writer Peter Morgan then told the BBC that the project was “probably not going to happen,” but that was quickly disputed when the producers said it was “still very much alive.”

December 2013

Queen’s first choice for Mercury circa 2014 was Ben Whishaw, who had recently played Q in the Daniel Craig James Bond films, pairing him with director Dexter Fletcher, who directed the musical “Sunshine on Leith.” Queen also weighed in on why they felt Baron Cohen wasn’t ultimately right for the part. “we thought there has to be no distraction in the Freddie movie. You have to really suspend that disbelief – the man who plays Freddie, you have to really believe is Freddie. And we didn’t that could really happen with Sacha.”

“Harry Potter” star Daniel Radcliffe also shot down “ridiculous” rumors that he would be playing Mercury in the film, following a Daily Mail report.

March 2014

Another one bites the dust. Fletcher also departs the project over creative differences, again tied to a difference in opinion over whether to make the film R-rated or a more sanitized portrait of the band.

November 2015

“The Theory of Everything” scribe Anthony McCarten is hired to rewrite Morgan’s initial script, and the studio starts toying with the idea of “Bohemian Rhapsody” as the film’s official title. While Whishaw’s name is still at the top of the list to play Mercury, he doesn’t have a deal in place.

March 2016

Speaking with Howard Stern, Sacha Baron Cohen revealed he “should’ve listened to the warning bells” when the band envisioned Mercury dying midway through the movie and then carrying on to see the band overcome that adversity.

April 2016

Queen’s Brian May fired back at Baron Cohen’s Howard Stern interview, telling the Daily Mail “Sacha became an a***,” even disputing Cohen’s take that they wanted to make a more PG biopic. ‘Why would he go away and say that we didn’t want to make a gritty film?’ demands May angrily.

‘Are we the kind of people who have ever ducked from the truth? I don’t think so.

November 2016

It’s reported “Mr. Robot’s” Rami Malek is in talks for the role of Freddie Mercury and that Singer would direct.

September 2017

We finally get the first look at Malek as Mercury, and he looks stunning, a spitting image of him at Queen’s 1985 Live Aid concert. Malek also revealed that he would be singing in the film with a mix of Mercury’s own voice and was recording in Abbey Road studios.

Aidan Gillen and Tom Hollander join the cast.

October 2017

Singer posts another killer photo of Malek from the film on Instagram,

December 2017

It’s revealed that production had halted on “Bohemian Rhapsody” due to Singer’s “unexpected unavailability,” which he said regarded a personal health matter. Days later, Fox fired Singer from the film just weeks away from wrapping production, and it’s still slated for release in December of 2018. Fox additionally closed Singer’s offices on their lot, and Singer claims he was fired because Fox wouldn’t give him time to care for a sick parent.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Bryan Singer Fired From Freddie Mercury Biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’: Rami Malek Stuns as Freddie Mercury in New On-Set Photo

Freddie Mercury’s Vocal Range Was ‘Not More, Not Less’ Than Normal, Scientists Say

‘Paddington 2’ Film Review: Get Ready for More Teddy in This Delightful Romp

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Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear stories are endearingly small in scale, so it was quite a gamble when David Heyman, the producer of the “Harry Potter” series, decided that they should be the basis of an action-packed, megabudget franchise. It turned out, though, that he knew what he was doing: “Paddington” was a beloved hit in 2015, and the superior sequel is bound to be even more lucrative.

Once again directed by Paul King, and co-written by King and Simon Farnaby, “Paddington 2” is a sure-footed, sweet-natured family comedy which isn’t set at Christmas, but which glows with so much warmth and fun that it might well be a staple of festive television for years to come. (The film has just opened in the United Kingdom; the North American rights are currently held by The Weinstein Company, but Heyman is looking for another distributor.)

One obvious way that it improves on its predecessor is in its choice of villain. The first film introduced an ursine hero who was pretty close to the one in Bond’s books. Endearingly voiced by Ben Whishaw and exquisitely computer-generated, he was a mild-mannered, duffle-coated innocent, who had no superpowers or special abilities except his withering hard stare. And yet he was up against a murderous taxidermist (Nicole Kidman), who was intent on putting his skin on display in a museum. She seemed to have strutted in from a different film altogether. Fortunately, “Paddington 2” is less likely to give young viewers nightmares.

Also Read: Michael Bond, Creator of Paddington Bear, Dies at 91

Its antagonist is a vain, past-it thespian, Phoenix Buchanan, played with delightfully self-parodying foppishness by Hugh Grant. Buchanan dreams of staging a one-man show in the West End, and his complicated fund-raising plans — which would have been at home in an Ealing comedy — involve stealing a vintage pop-up book from the antique shop owned by Paddington’s friend Mr. Gruber (Jim Broadbent).

Alas, thanks to a bad case of mistaken identity, it is Paddington who is led away in handcuffs (or rather, paw-cuffs), and sentenced to 10 years in prison. And while that may sound like cruel and unusual punishment, the screenplay provides a witty reason for the judge’s harshness.

From here on, King’s perfectly paced, joke-filled caper cuts back and forth between two parallel plots. One strand puts Paddington’s adoptive family, the Browns (Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, et al), on the trail of Buchanan, a master of disguise who is spotted around London in a tramp’s rags, a nun’s habit and a suit of armour. Behind bars, meanwhile, Paddington has to win over a fearsome fellow inmate, Knuckles McGinty (Brendan Gleeson), with his marmalade sandwiches and his naive politeness.

Watch Video: ‘Paddington’ Review: A Charming Bear Overcomes the Odds, and So Does His Movie

It’s this unwavering courtesy which gives the film its central theme. Paddington is presented as the furry offspring of Amélie and Forrest Gump, someone so habitually decent that he makes the world a better place simply by being in it. Before he is arrested, the film establishes that his neighbors (played by Sanjeev Bhaskar, Jessica Hynes, Ben Miller and others) would be as lost without his small acts of kindness as the townsfolk in “It’s a Wonderful Life” would be without James Stewart’s George Bailey.

Children will rightly chortle at Paddington’s clumsiness: when he works as a hairdresser and as a window cleaner, his elaborate mishaps are worthy of Laurel and Hardy. But adults may well shed a tear at the film’s sincere celebration of selflessness and community. Only the grumpy Mr. Curry (Peter Capaldi) holds out against Paddington’s benevolence, and he’s quite the explicit caricature of an anti-immigration Brexit voter.

Also Read: Weinstein Co Talking to 22 Buyers, $300 Million Expected Price, Bob Weinstein Must Exit

Not that King sticks with real-world politics for long. Both of his “Paddington” films are proudly artificial in a manner reminiscent of Michel Gondry, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Wes Anderson, so that even when our hero is in trouble, we’re never far from the transporting comfort of a gorgeous fantasy sequence, an upbeat musical interlude or an array of pastel colors. Production designer Gary Williamson (“Submarine”) and animation director Pablo Grillo (“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”) are crucial to the film’s magical feel.

Purists may quibble that this magical feel doesn’t have much to do with Bond’s original stories. Bond, who died in July at the age of 91, set them in a recognizable contemporary London, with much of the humor arose from the clash between something as exotic as a talking bear and something as ordinary as a department-store security guard. In contrast, King’s big-screen London is a quaint fantasy city, twinkling with fairy lights and dotted with steam trains and ancient printing presses.

Considering that “Paddington 2” is so beguiling, it may seem churlish to object to these embellishments. But it’s a slight shame that King didn’t become a bankable director a decade or so earlier. That way, he could have made a Harry Potter film and adapted a British children’s book that was better suited to his own whimsical, retro sensibilities.

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Film Review: ‘Paddington 2’

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“Bears always fall on their feet.” So goes a running punchline in Michael Bond’s series of “Paddington” books, and so it proves in the second big-screen outing for one of Britain’s two most beloved literary bears — the one that subsides on marmalade rather than honey. Having already aced a challenging cinematic transition in his […]

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’: Rami Malek Stuns as Freddie Mercury in New On-Set Photo

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“Bohemian Rhapsody” director Bryan Singer shared a new photo of Rami Malek in action as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury.

“Couldn’t help myself and had to post this iPhone pic,” Singer posted on Monday night, accompanying a photo that was taken mid-performance during filming.

The new sneak-peek comes one month after the first photo of Malek as Mercury was revealed.

See Photo: Rami Malek Looks Exactly Like Freddie Mercury in First ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Shot

The movie will follow Queen from the band’s inception in 1970, when Mercury teamed with Brian May and Roger Taylor, until that famous 1985 Live Aid performance.

Malek joined the long-gestating project from producer Graham King of GK Films last November, following Sacha Baron Cohen and Ben Whishaw, who had both previously been attached to play Mercury. He is joined by Aidan Gillen, Tom Hollander, Ben Hardy, Gwilym Lee, Joe Mazzello and Lucy Boynton.

Also Read: ‘Game of Thrones’ Star Aidan Gillen Joins ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ as Queen’s Manager

Justin Haythe (“Red Sparrow”) penned the script with King, Beach and Singer producing. Denis O’Sullivan, Arnon Milchan, and Jane
Rosenthal are executive producers.

See the photo below.

Couldn’t help myself and had to post this iPhone pic

A post shared by Bryan Singer (@bryanjaysinger) on

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Rami Malek in Talks to Star as Freddie Mercury in Queen Movie