Looking to Direct ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Gus Van Sant Has Shot a Test Sex Scene With Alex Pettyfer

In the same way I used to suggest that David Lynch direct the final installment of the Twilight franchise, perhaps it’s not the worst thing in the world that a director like Gus Van Sant is throwing his hat in the ring to direct the cinematic adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey. My arguement was that since everyone and, quite literally, their mother, is going to see this Hollywood drivel, they might as well be exposed to something that’s not only filled with cheap goodness but actual good filmmaking. Even if the material is a shlocky mess, in the right hands, anything has the possibility of greatness, right? Maybe. Probably not, but maybe.

And last year, after Universal aquired th rights to EL James’ erotic novel, Kelly Marcel signed on to penn the S&M-heavy script with producers Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti, yet the film has yet to find its cast or director to lead the picture. Many a director has been tapped to bring their vision to the hot and heavy project, but apparently the latest one to do so is Mr. Gus Van Sant. So although no one has been officially established as titular, kinky Christian Grey, apparently Magic Mike star Alex Pettyfer is vying for the role, because according to The Playlist, Van Sant has shot a test sex scene with the young actor in a "bid to prove he’s the man to make ‘Grey’ happen."

No stranger to controversial material or sexuality in cinema, Van Sant has given us such wonderful classic films as Mala Noche, My Own Private Idaho, Good Will Hunting, Drugstore Cowboy, and Elephant. However, his last few features, Restless and Promised Land didn’t seem to do much for critics and audiences a like. So hopefully he hasn’t completely lost his senses and this is just a passing fancy or something that won’t stick. But in the event that Van Sant does end up taking on the steamy middle-age wet dream, well then perhaps he could actually turn this into something poignant rather than just something porny. Yet, as insane as he is, with this caliber of material and this subject matter, I’m still wishing Bret Easton Ellis hadn’t been passed over.

Checking Into the Heartbreak Hotel: What’s Happening This Week on Hulu

Speaking to his work as a filmmaker and his own emotional sensibility, John Cassavetes once said, "That’s all I’m interested in—love. And the lack of it. When it stops. And the pain that’s caused by loss of things that are taken away from us that we really need." His films exposed the painful struggles of love and turmoil loving another causes on the human heart. And in its most overwhelming and passionate form, love is rarely healthy, perhaps no more than an illness from which you’ll never fully recover. And according to the Criterion Collection’s Amour Fou section of films, love is apparently all I am interested in as well. Featuring some of my favorite features from Terrence Malick’s dangerous love story Badlands to Nicolas Roeg’s obsessive psychodrama Bad Timing, to Cassavetes’ soul-crushing A Woman Under the Influence and Liliana Cavani’s darkly erotic The Night Porter, these are films best enjoyed with a glass of whiskey on standby. 

But this week, Criterion and Hulu are showcasing rare films of bad romance that delve into the misguided, corrosive, and often violent nature of love. Ranging from Gus van Sant’s first feature Mala Noche to Keisuke Kinoshita’s rarely seen Snow Flurry, these intense dramas penetrate the soul and illuminate the hardships of love. Get acquianted with these rare and stunning films and decide whom you’d like to break your heart tonight. Enjoy.

Miss Julie

"Swedish filmmaker Alf Sjöberg’s visually innovative, Cannes Grand Prix-winning adaptation of August Strindberg’s renowned 1888 play brings to scalding life the excoriating words of the stage’s preeminent surveyor of all things rotten in the state of male-female relations. Miss Julie vividly depicts the battle of the sexes and classes that ensues when a wealthy businessman’s daughter (Anita Björk, in a fiercely emotional performance) falls for her father’s bitter servant. Celebrated for its unique cinematic style (and censored upon its first release in the United States for its adult content), Sjöberg’s film was an important turning point in Scandinavian cinema."

Mala Noche

"With its low budget and lush black-and-white imagery, Gus Van Sant’s debut feature Mala Noche heralded an idiosyncratic, provocative new voice in American independent film. Set in Van Sant’s hometown of Portland, Oregon, the film evokes a world of transient workers, dead-end day-shifters, and bars and seedy apartments bathed in a profound nighttime, as it follows a romantic deadbeat with a wayward crush on a handsome Mexican immigrant. Mala Noche was an important prelude to the New Queer Cinema of the nineties and is a fascinating capsule from a time and place that continues to haunt its director’s work."

Snow Flurry

"A generation-spanning drama from 1959 that partly concerns the fallout from a couple’s failed suicide pact, shot in wonderfully expressive widescreen and color."

Double Suicide

"Many films have drawn from classic Japanese theatrical forms, but none with such shocking cinematic effect as director Masahiro Shinoda’s Double Suicide. In this striking adaptation of a Bunraku puppet play (featuring the music of famed composer Toru Takemitsu), a paper merchant sacrifices family, fortune, and ultimately life for his erotic obsession with a prostitute. Criterion is proud to present Double Suicide in a stunning digital transfer, with a new and improved English subtitle translation."

Pale Flower

"In this cool, seductive jewel of the Japanese New Wave, a yakuza, fresh out of prison, becomes entangled with a beautiful and enigmatic gambling addict; what at first seems a redemptive relationship ends up leading him further down the criminal path. Bewitchingly shot and edited, and laced with a fever-dream-like score by Toru Takemitsu, this gangster romance was a breakthrough for the idiosyncratic Masahiro Shinoda. The pitch-black Pale Flower (Kawaita hana) is an unforgettable excursion into the underworld."


"This lush, Technicolor tragic romance from Luchino Visconti stars Alida Valli as a nineteenth-century Italian countess who, during the Austrian occupation of her country, puts her marriage and political principles on the line by engaging in a torrid affair with a dashing Austrian lieutenant, played by Farley Granger. Gilded with ornate costumes and sets and a rich classical soundtrack, and featuring fearless performances, this operatic melodrama is an extraordinary evocation of reckless emotions and deranged lust, from one of the cinema’s great sensualists."


"Julien Duvivier’s film, starring Merle Oberon as a woman looking back on a life of doomed affairs."

Get an Extensive First Look at Xavier Dolan’s ‘Laurence Anyways’

Xavier Dolan doesn’t care what you think. And frankly, he shouldn’t have to. At the age of 23, the French-Canadian wunderkind has directed and written three feature-length films that have received standing ovations at Cannes, with multiple projects already in post. The former child star turned aesthetically-minded director with an affinitty for issues of sexuality and identity as well as the psychologically challenging effects of love, has unveiled an official U.S. trailer for his latest feature, Laurence Anyways.

After premiering to a warm reception at Cannes last spring, the film is finally making its way overseas—just in time for Dolan’s next feature to hit the South of France again in just a few months. Spanning an entire decade, Dolan’s lengthy but beautiful Laurence Anyways receives a trailer that’s just as protracted as the film is said to be, but appropriate. In a way, it seems Dolan is almost suggesting, if you don’t fall in love with this trailer, this is not for you. The story is a transgender epic between Fred, a woman, and Laurence, a man who reveals his inner desire to become his true self: a woman. Spanning through the late 1980s into the early 1990s, the story chronicles their doomed love affair.

With Gus van Sant acting as executive producer, the film gets the iconic director’s stamp of approval for Dolan who told me two years ago that, "I don’t want to force people to love me or love my films. I don’t have any kind of attention or love dysfunction. There are haters, they are lovers, whatever works. I just want to do my films and get better. Ideally, I would become more and more interesting and not the opposite way." The official synopsis for the film reads:

In the 90s, Laurence tells his girlfriend Fred that he wants to become a woman. In spite of the odds, in spite of each other, they confront the prejudices of their friends, ignore the council of their families, and brave the phobias of the society they offend. For 10 years, they try to live through this transition, and embark on an epic journey which, unbeknownst to them, may cost Fred and Laurence themselves and each other.

In speaking to Dolan for the release of his second feature Heartbeats, he also went on to say, "I don’t really give a shit about who’s down to earth or pretentious or not, who’s humble and who’s vain – whatever. I wouldn’t be ashamed of myself if I said something pretentious. Being self-conscious is not that bad. What’s badis being a bad artist, and not having the talent ever to compensate pretension. So the problem is when you reach a moment in your career where you just start listening to yourself writing, and you love what you direct, and you love your shots, and you’re very content and satisfied with yourself, and you don’t have judgment or perspective anymore. I’m very proud of certain things in my films, but I mostly hate them."

So yeah, I certainly love him and will be counting down until Laurence Anyways hits theaters this June. See the trailer and posters for the film below.




Walter Salles Evokes The Spirit Of Jack Kerouac In ‘On The Road’

“I’m prayIng that you buy On the Road and make a movie of it,” implored Jack Kerouac in a letter to Marlon Brando in 1957. The actor never responded, and it’s been more than half a century since, but the beat author’s seminal meditation on the youthful hunger for sex, kicks, and enlightenment has finally made it to the big screen.

Kerouac infamously wrote On the Road—his stream of consciousness tale about the search for identity as played out by Kerouac and co-conspirator Neal Cassady’s alter egos Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty— on a single, 120-foot scroll of taped-together tracing paper in just three weeks. But it’s taken more than 30 years since Francis Ford Coppola first bought the film rights to the novel in 1979 for a cinematic adaptation to be brought to life, courtesy of Puerto Rican screenwriter José Rivera and Brazilian director Walter Salles. Salles’ work has a simpatico relationship with Keroauc’s writing—an affinity for the open road as both an adventure and a new frontier for the mind. “When I first read On the Road, I was eighteen and had just entered university,” says Salles. “The book was so relevant to us because it had the magic of something we could not do in our country.”

“Here’s a generation that believed that in order to expand your understanding of the world, you had to live through the experiences that would heighten all your senses,” says Salles. “This was about living all these experiences in the flesh and not vicariously.”

Bringing the novel from page to screen has proven to be a challenge for writers and directors from Barry Gifford and Gus Van Sant to Joel Schumacher and Coppola himself—their attempts all thwarted before completing the transformation. When adapting such breathless prose for the screen, Salles recognized that, “like jazz, where the instrument is an extension of the muscian,” Kerouac had a writing style in which the typewriter was an extension of himself. In order to bring that vitality and energy to life, the film had to have an “impressionistic quality,” keeping the camera close to the actor’s body, aiming to connect the audience with the character’s experience. Salles says he only strayed from the novel in order to stay faithful to Kerouac’s sense of urgency. “We were all conscious that we needed to find something fresh and new every single day in order to be in sync with Kerouac,” he says.

Although Salles’ On the Road pays respect to the novel and captures the essence of Kerouac’s vision, there’s a gnawing dissonance between reading the author’s words and hearing them recited in a film. Reading On the Road is an intimate and thrilling experience, but an inevitable amount of magic is lost in the translation as it plays out onscreen. Despite the fact that the long and winding road to the novel’s cinematic debut satisfies our visual curiosities of the text, it raises the question: are some parts of the road better left unpaved?

Check Out the Hour-Long Writers Interview Featuring Michael Haneke, John Krasinski, and More

The Oscars may still be months away, but award season buzz has been in the air for months. One of the perks of the season is always getting to watch some of the year’s best talent sit down together and talk cinema. These good ol chats bring together the most unlikely of folks, giving us a truly unqiue conversation that we perhaps would never see otherwise. For example, Jim from The Office and Michael Haneke just hanging out talking about Schindler’s List. Now obviously John Krasinski is more than just Jim—he’s a fantastic writer, actor, and director—but it’s still funny to think about. Brought together by The Hollywood Reporter for this year’s discussion, John and Haneke are joined by four other writers who have penned some of 2012’s most celebrated films.

Krasinski’s had a big year, between starring in Ry Russo Young’s Nobody Walks and, most notably, penning Gus van Sant’s new film Promised Land with Matt Damon. Michael Haneke’s emotionally devastating Amour took home the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year and has been praised by critics and audiences alike since. The other writers include: Judd Apatow who penned the much-anticipated sort-of-sequel comedy This Is 40, Hurt Locker writer Mark Boal for the enigmatic upcoming thriller Zero Dark Thirty, Chris Terrio for the Ben Affleck-directed Argo, and David Magee for his Life of Pi adaptation. Yes, this is a group of men whose films have stood out for the year, but these type of year-end round tables tend to always be very male-centric, continuing to beg the question: why aren’t any female writers involved?

Check out the hour-long full uncensored video below:


Morning Links: Lady Gaga Wants a Word With Obama, Justin Bieber & Selena Gomez Play Brangelina

● “I want to create a boy band,” Beyoncé says, looking wistfully ahead. Maybe she’s having twins? [Yahoo/AP] ● James Franco watched all the outtakes from Gus Van Sant’s My Private Idaho and then re-cut the film “as if Gus had made it today.” [Paris Review] ● Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez posed for a picture with six infants and fancied themselves Brangelina 2.0. Little fast, guys? [NYDN]

● The first single off Rihanna’s still untitled sixth album was produced by the much loved Scottish electropop producer Calvin Harris and will probably be huge this winter. [Rap-Up] ● The Jonah Hill directed, West Side Story inspired Sara Bareilles video is finally here. Sara wears leather, snaps a lot, and pushes over a bunch of people, but she can’t quite muster tough. [JustJared] ● Upset by recent fatal bouts of bullying, Lady Gaga has decided to take her concerns straight to the President. Sort of. She plans to crash a Democratic fundraiser in hopes of getting a word in with Barry. “I am meeting with our President. I will not stop fighting. This must end,” she tweeted. [NYP]

Lindsay’s Freedom & the Sundance Festival Kick Off January’s Key Events

January 3—Lindsay Lohan is released from rehab, no joke. (Because aren’t Lindsay jokes played out by now?) 5—Cirque Du Soleil hopes to un-stiffen those upper lips when its limber show, Totem, premieres at London’s Royal Albert Hall. 10—Although we wouldn’t really call Matt LeBlanc an actor, he plays one on TV! Showtime’s Episodes premieres tonight, in which Joey portrays a version of himself.

11—The Salvador Dali Museum gets a $35-million new home in St. Petersburg, Florida, where the sun is so hot it could melt a clock. 12—Baltimore MC Rye Rye, apparently the queen of redundancies, celebrates her debut album, Go! Pop! Bang!, released yesterday. 14— Michel Gondry and Seth Rogen release The Green Hornet, a movie about a superhero who erases the memories of chicks in an effort to bang them. 16—At the 68th annual Golden Globe Awards, Robert De Niro receives the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award for his distinguished work in The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, that film with Eddie Murphy, and the other one about the cabbie. 19—The Los Angeles Art Show and London Art Fair both kick off today. They’re essentially the same thing, except Ed Hardy only sponsors one of them. 20—The Sundance Film Festival begins. It’s the only film festival with more snow on the streets than in the bathrooms. 21—Baltimore Restaurant Week begins. It’s like NYC Restaurant Week—without all the great restaurants! 28—Gus Van Sant releases Restless, a documentary about how audiences felt watching Gerry. 29—Sorry, supper fans: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal opens at London’s Mandarin Oriental.

Gus Van Sant & Bret Easton Ellis for Ironic Posthumous Biopic

If you haven’t heard already (cuz by now, it’s like, day-old news), Bret Easton Ellis and Gus Van Sant are teaming up to write a screen adaptation of “The Golden Suicides,” a Vanity Fair article by Nancy Jo Sales that details the eponymous felos-de-se of artists Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake. The couple had had some successes in both the New York and California art scenes (she designed video games, he did Beck’s Sea Change album cover), but gradually self-destructed as they became increasingly convinced that sinister forces (viz. — Scientologists) were conspiring against them. No one seems to appreciate the irony of trying to make this film.

As David Amsden reported in a thorough New York magazine article about them, Duncan was an aspiring filmmaker herself. It was her inability to bring a pet project titled Alice Underground to the big screen that, by many accounts, was the episode that kicked off the paranoid speculation that consumed her. It’s incredibly sad/typical/absurd that only now does she finally look poised to get a greenlit project.