MAY - JUNE NEWS 2011:

06.14.11

button_box.gif (205 bytes)Yesterday Stellan reached a milestone - his 60th birthday! Here's the photo used by Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet to mark the date. There was a very brief interview with the standard responses from Stellan, such as his choice in signing onto a film - "One for money, one for art." When asked about his role in THOR, he said, "Who would turn down a film with Kenneth Branagh and Natalie Portman?" He's got a point there.

button_box.gif (205 bytes)An international poster has been released for THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO and, as you can guess, this poster will not be seen at your local Regal Cinema, but perhaps at some of the arthouse theatres.

No news yet on a DVD release of FRANKIE & ALICE. The film opened in LA and NY in January and apparently Halle Berry's Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress failed to ignite interest in a wide theatrical release. Inspired by real events, the film portrays Berry's Frankie Murdoch as a popular and smart go-go dancer in early seventies Los Angeles whose life is disrupted by unexplained episodes of psychological fracture. Stellan plays her doctor. As the film's producer, Ms. Berry spent 12 years attempting to bring the story to the screen, but reviews were not positive though her performance was deemed as riveting. Critics concurred that the film felt too much like a Lifetime movie and, in the hands of director Geoffrey Sax and an assortment of too many screenwriters, it did not offer a fresh look at the multiple-personality disorder, previously seen in "Sybil" and "The Three Faces of Eve." The DVD seen above was distributed in the Netherlands.

05.20.11

A storm of publicity engulfed the premiere of MELANCHOLIA at Cannes this week when the film's director made some disturbing remarks. During the now infamous press conference on Wednesday, Lars Von Trier was asked about his interest in the Nazi aesthetic and his German roots. He responded in a rambling speech with "I understand Hitler. I think he did some wrong things, yes absolutely, but I can see him sitting in his bunker in the end. I'm just saying that I think I understand the man. He's not what you would call a good guy, but, yeah, I understand much about him, and I sympathise with him a little bit, yes. But, come on, I'm not for the Second World War. And I'm not against Jews." The film's cast, which included Kristen Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, John Hurt and Stellan, sat stiff and stony-faced through most of their director's comments.

The following day the Cannes Board of Directors declared Von Trier a persona non grata at the festival and released the following statement: ďThe Festival de Cannes provides artists from around the world with an exceptional forum to present their works and defend freedom of expression and creation. The Festivalís Board of Directors, which held an extraordinary meeting this Thursday 19 May 2011, profoundly regrets that this forum has been used by Lars Von Trier to express comments that are unacceptable, intolerable, and contrary to the ideals of humanity and generosity that preside over the very existence of the Festival." The film will remain in competition but Von Trier will not be allowed to attend Sunday's closing ceremony or receive his prize, should the film win the Palme d'Or. Von Trier later admitted his attempt at humor went awry and responded with, "If I have hurt someone by the words I said at the press conference, I sincerely apologize. I am not anti-Semitic or racially prejudiced in any way, nor am I a Nazi."

If you've followed Stellan's career, you know that at times he has made controversial statements so it wasn't surprising when he told the press, "I know most of the journalists in the room took it for what it was: irony, but when it's in print, most of that tone is lost. There's a lot of people who love to get upset about this, to jump on the train. Everybody knows that Lars is not a Nazi, is not anti-Semitic. He was a Jew until he was 33 [when he found out his real lineage]. It's absolutely silly, all the emotions that have been set into motion. I don't understand it. It's ridiculous." He further explained, "If there's a special code of subjects you can't joke about at film festivals, then there should be a list. The language we have with Lars on set is very rude. And any word you're not allowed to say is used. Because it's not the word Ė it's the intention behind the word that counts. Irony and double entendres might be difficult for some people. Danish people are very ironic, and express themselves very rudely, and take pleasure in that. I do, too." On Thursday, Stellan told Associated Press Television News, "Everybody knows heís not a Nazi. So what are they punishing him for? Lying? Saying he was a Nazi? Joking? Itís a storm in a teacup, and itís absolutely silly. And that the festival doesnít have more spine than stand against all those upset feelings that have no ground, that is ridiculous, and itís unworthy of the festival to do something like that."

For the red carpet premiere, Stellan and his lovely wife Megan made an elegant couple. Check out the Cannes 2011 Image Page for more photos.

There are only a handful of reviews at the moment and most of them are very positive. Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly praised the film with "Von Trier provides a breathtaking prelude to the coming temporal and psychological apocalypse, set to the grand romanticism of Wagnerís famous 'Prelude' from Tristan and Isolde. The lush music blends so completely with the swooning, dreamscape cinematography of Manuel Albert Claro that sight and sound truly melt into one. (Von Trier has said that Antonioni, Bergman, and Tarkovsky are among his influences). The result is a movie acutely attuned to feelings of despair that nevertheless leaves the viewer in a state of ecstasy." And Stephanie Zacharek of Movieline wrote, "These are somber, glorious images: They incite both dread and shivery anticipation ó the effect is that of gazing deep into the sugar Easter Egg of doom. What, exactly, is von Trier trying to say here? Antichrist was a scream of pain; Melancholia is more like a heavy sigh, a gasp at the horrible wonder of it all. It isnít nearly as somber as its title would lead you to believe, and itís so beautiful to look at that it feels decadent, almost luxurious. Itís also, for all its weirdness, reasonably accessible, as if von Trier had decided ó tentatively ó that once in a while it might feel good to be part of the human race instead of just railing against it. If itís true that misery loves company, maybe this is von Trierís way of reaching out. Melancholia may be as close as heíll ever come to wrapping us in a bear hug." The film will have a theatrical release in Denmark next week but it won't arrive in the US until November 4th.

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For those of you with a Netflix membership, you will be happy to know that A SOMEWHAT GENTLE MAN is now available via their Instant Play format. I watched it last night and was deeply impressed with Stellan's performance. The team of Hans Petter Moland and Stellan is a match made in heaven. When I saw Gard Eidsvold as Ulrik's friend Rolf, it made me want to dig out my ZERO KELVIN DVD for another viewing. Love that film!

05.02.11

Last night THOR held its US premiere at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. Stellan was not in attendance. Its world premiere took place on April 17th in Sydney and since then, it has opened in several countries. This past weekend it took the top spot with $83 million in 56 markets - the year's biggest box office opening so far. It debuted in first place in the UK, Ireland, France, South Korea, Italy, Spain, Taiwan, Singapore, the Philippines and other markets. It will open in the US this Friday and on July 1 in Japan. With a present count of 62 reviews, the Tomatometer is showing an impressive 92%!