House Logo
Explore categories +

Penelope Cruz (#110 of 19)

Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express, Starring Johnny Depp and Daisy Ridley, Gets First Trailer

Comments Comments (...)

Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express, Starring Johnny Depp and Daisy Ridley, Gets First Trailer

20th Century Fox

Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express, Starring Johnny Depp and Daisy Ridley, Gets First Trailer

Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express is among the English writer’s most acclaimed novels. Published in 1934, it sees master detective Hercule Poirot traveling to London, after a pit stop in Istanbul (by way of Aleppo no less), on the Simplon-Orient Express, where he meets Mr. Samuel Ratchett, a malevolent American who fears for his life. A day later and the train is caught in the snow, and when one of the passengers is discovered murdered, it’s up to Poirot to solve the crime.

Box Office Rap The Counselor and the Prestige-Film Fallacy

Comments Comments (...)

Box Office Rap: The Counselor and the Prestige-Film Fallacy
Box Office Rap: The Counselor and the Prestige-Film Fallacy

This Friday sees the release of The Counselor, a film that, by all conventional accounts, should be a lock for a $20-million opening at the box office this weekend, and yet the film is unlikely to crack double digits, even with a mega-wide 3,000 theater release. Certainly, as many have been doing, we could point to Gravity as a reason why The Counselor is likely to stumble; earning over $30 million in its third frame last weekend, I’m inclined to think it will finish on top yet again, besting primo contender Bad Grandpa by a few million, and making it the first film since The Hunger Games in April 2012 to top the box office for four consecutive weekends. However, its highly impressive run cannot fully explain why The Counselor is going to fail. Rather, we would be better served to examine how Fox has been marketing the film and, beyond that, question precisely why Ridley Scott’s production company, Scott Free, and Fox believed this to be a financially viable project to begin with.

The entirety of the marketing for The Counselor suffers from what I’m calling “prestige-film fallacy” (PFF). The PFF relies on the prior prestige of those involved, rather than ingenuity, to convince prospective viewers of the new film’s worth. Everything about a PFF campaign reeks of derivative, outmoded notions of “quality” cinema and often hitches its wagon to the premise that sexy, rich characters played by sexy, rich stars equal big bucks. The Counselor is an epitome of these tendencies and, for those attuned to these developments, will serve to test our fundamental question: Can you sell a film based purely on prior pedigree?

Poster Lab: The Worst Movie Posters of 2012

Comments Comments (...)

Poster Lab: The Worst Movie Posters of 2012
Poster Lab: The Worst Movie Posters of 2012

Dishonorable Mention

The Sessions: The flagship poster for The Sessions is just your latest example of a marketing brainfart: How does one sell a dramedy about a polio survivor looking to lose his virginity? The answer, sadly, is the old, square, film-still-collage standby, whose slanted positioning doesn’t make it any less banal. The ad may be preferable to its illustrated counterpart, which walks a dangerous line between the inspired and the vulgar, but it still fails to do the movie justice, its design appearing unfinished and its lone pullquote a cheap ploy for Oscar love. [Poster]

Save the Date: Never mind the whole bottom-heavy layout here, which opts to crush a pair of stills with a needless mountain of whitespace. The real problem is what’s conveyed in the stills themselves: an aesthetic defined by boring over-the-shoulder shots. Is it a metaphor for the male characters’ lack of emotional presence? Is it underscoring the prominence of the females of the film? Not really—it’s just bad design. And rather than providing quirky adornment as intended, the pencil-drawn faces merely appear tacked-on, somehow making this minimalistic-in-all-the-wrong-ways fiasco look busy.[Poster]

The Giant Mechanical Man: A wonderful gem that never quite found an audience, The Giant Mechanical Man deserved much better than this tossed-together one-sheet, which basically slaps a still on a blue background and scrawls in some text. None of the film’s infectious, magical-realist nature is expressed, only the fact that Jenna Fischer and Chris Messina go for coffee. The lone cloud and subtle heart might suggest that love is in the air for these drifters, but none of it succeeds in piquing interest. [Poster]

San Sebastián International Film Festival 2012: Twice Born, The Dead and the Living, The Attack, & More

Comments Comments (...)

San Sebastián International Film Festival 2012: Twice Born, The Dead and the Living, The Attack, & More
San Sebastián International Film Festival 2012: Twice Born, The Dead and the Living, The Attack, & More

Spain is in economic meltdown. Austerity is hitting most of the population very hard. There are strikes and huge anti-government demonstrations throughout the country. Yet those attending the 60th San Sebastián International Film Festival were barely aware of it. Cafés and restaurants were as bustling as usual, and the cinemas were packed. Film critics being film critics talked movies; no mention was made of the real world outside, apart from the “inconvenience” of the one-day general strike in the Basque country that interrupted the festival. However, some of the films in competition attempted to remind the cushioned critics of reality. But did we really want to see another film about the war in Bosnia, the Holocaust, and the Israel-Palestine conflict? Not if they’re served as suspect and ersatz entertainments.

Poster Lab: To Rome with Love

Comments Comments (...)

Poster Lab: <em>To Rome with Love</em>
Poster Lab: <em>To Rome with Love</em>

You never know what you’re going to get with a Woody Allen poster. Sometimes, it’s a great beauty like the one-sheet for Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which slices its lead trio’s faces in half, leaving each with an eye that’s free to wander. Sometimes, as with the poster for Midnight in Paris, it’s an inspired merger of film still and relevant masterpiece. Other times, it’s a hasty design without a plan, as has been the case with both posters for Allen’s latest, To Rome with Love.

Continuing the director’s love affair with European hotspots, this cryptically described romantic jaunt has all the signs of an Allen misfire, seemingly tossed together from casting to marketing. The initial poster was an odd mix of cells, swoony backdrops, and awkward clipping paths, which allowed the title to be flanked by clownish cutouts of Roberto Benigni and Allen himself, back on screen for the first time since Scoop. The second poster can’t even earn points for tasteful minimalism, so lazy and generic is its whitewashed approach. Both ads don’t just imply that no one knows how to sell this thing, but that no one particularly cares about putting in the effort.

Oscar 2010 Winner Predictions Supporting Actress

Comments Comments (...)

Oscar 2010 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actress
Oscar 2010 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actress

If you haven’t already, set 10 minutes aside to savor Pictures at a Revolution author Mark Harris’s latest unfailingly insightful demythologizing of the Oscar game. The conclusion he eventually reaches is that, though the Oscar season has recently been shortened (at least in years which don’t also boast Winter Olympics), precursor events and Best Picture slots alike continue to proliferate to the point that they’re just about stacked one atop the other. Which is why just about the only thing guiding its participants through the torrential rain of trophies and plaques are those same “narratives” that Peggy Noonan infamously declared would no longer work for the RNC.

Zero Would Be More Like It: Notes on Nine and Broken Embraces

Comments Comments (...)

Zero Would Be More Like It: Notes on Nine and Broken Embraces
Zero Would Be More Like It: Notes on Nine and Broken Embraces

What makes Rob Marshall’s Nine so peculiarly bad is its sheer self-congratulation. We’re incessantly told how important, how fascinating the director Guido Contini must be, and we as viewers are expected to take this on faith, but never once does Guido (Daniel Day-Lewis) do or say anything even remotely intriguing. The movie has no real subject; it’s proudly about nothing. Not the arid nothingness of a Van Sant movie, but a boring sort of Condé Nast nothingness. If the real-life Federico Fellini had been as dull and as mopey as his fictional counterpart Contini, no one would have ever staged a Broadway musical [loosely] inspired by the autobiographical in the first place, which means we could have been spared this present debacle that masquerades as entertainment.

Day-Lewis gamely tries to personify a song-and-dance man, yet his integrity as a performer works against him in a Rob Marshall movie. When Day-Lewis, in his first solo number, climbs the spiraling soundstage staircase that rises into the dark, it ought to be an iconic moment, but there’s magic neither in Marshall’s airless staging nor in his unimaginative camera work.

But back to that nothingness:

“If you say so, dear.”

Comments Comments (...)

“If you say so, dear.”
“If you say so, dear.”

The New Yorker used to be in the habit of sending someone to screenings along with their movie critics for the purposes of fact checking. Anthony Lane’s latest piece of cocktail chat—it’s Pedro Almodóvar’s Broken Embraces he’s discussing between sips of his martini this week—suggests that tough times at Condé Nast may have led to an abandonment of the practice. How else to account for the falsification in Lane’s review?

Here’s Lane:

”[Penélope] Cruz is certainly more worshipped than ever by [Almodóvar’s] camera, and you have to laugh when, fresh from intercourse, with mussed hair, she stares at the bathroom mirror, as bare as a baby, and declares, “I look awful.” If you say so, dear.”

What Lane doesn’t bother to tell you is that, just before saying that line, Cruz’s character has vomited. The reason?