Friday, September 3, 2010

For the Weekend: Hulu Your Holiday

Yes!  Three-day weekend!  Love these type weekends!  Do you have huge plans for your days off, or are you like most people I know and just staying home to relax?  If you going with the second option, then get out your computers and take advantage of this weekend.  They have added some great films recently, and below are a few recommendations that you shouldn't miss.

First up - "Wonder Boys" from 2000.  It's a great film starring Michael Douglas (to who I hope we are all sending out our well-wishes), Frances McDormand, Robert Downey Jr, Tobey MacGuire, and Katie Holmes.  Filmed entirely in sequence in and around Pittsburgh, it tells the tale of a college professor whose life seems to be falling apart all at once during a weekend writing festival at the college.  Adapted by Steve Kloves from Michael Chabon's 1995 novel of the same name and directed by Curtis Hanson (whose previous film was "L.A. Confidential"), it's a wonderful story that a lot of people missed in the theaters.  Unfortunately, the marketing campaign for its February 2000 release by Paramount Studios was no done well, and so the film did poorly at the box office.  The studio quickly pulled it from the theaters, but Hanson managed somehow to convince the studio to re-release it in November 2000, closer to Oscar season.  The marketing focused that time on the entire cast instead of just Douglas.  Even though it still didn't do well the second time around, "Wonder Boys" did garner four Golden Globe nominations and three Academy Award nominations, winning for Best Original Song ("Things Have Changed" by Bob Dylan) in both.  You can catch this on both Hulu and Netflix right now.

Next, hop back in time to the 60s with Oliver Stone's biopic "The Doors" (1991). The film focuses on Jim Morrison, the leader singer of the famous band, and stars Val Kilmer as the infamous rocker.  To prepare for the film, Kilmer spent almost the entire year leading up to the production living as Morrison, like wearing his clothes and visiting his old haunts.  He even memorized all the lyrics to Morrison's songs just for the audition.  The film took a long time to get to this stage in production and during that time, many other mainstream actors were considered for the role of Morrison, including Tom Cruise, Richard Gere, Johnny Depp, and John Travolta.  When Travolta was the favorite, the remaining members of The Doors will still all involved in the film.  They all liked Travolta so much that they considered going on a reunion tour with Travolta as lead singer.  They eventually scrapped the idea because they all felt Travolta was too nice a guy to stand in for Morrison.  The remaining band members also eventually left the film production, dissatisfied with the way their history was being portrayed.  You can watch "The Doors" on Hulu until the end of this month, so don't miss out.

Finally, don't miss out on "The Professional" (1994).  Also known as "Léon" in the international world, the movie stars Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, and a very young Natalie Portman in her feature film debut.  It's the story of a young girl (Portman) who is taken in by a professional hit man (Reno) after her entire family is murdered by a corrupt cop (Oldman).  Written and directed by Luc Besson, this was actually just a filler project for him while pre-production for "The Fifth Element" (1997) dragged on.  He managed to write the script in 30 days and film it in 90, in both Paris (for some interior shots) and New York.  Now, Portman originally wasn't a favorite for the role of Matilda because the casting director thought she was just too young (only 11 years old at the time).  But after she came back and performed the scene where she talks about her little brother, Besson loved the depth she was able to get to and hired her.  Her parents had some reservations about the script though.  Not the violence and cursing necessarily, but the smoking.  They then stuck a deal, stating that there would only be five scenes of Portman smoking, and you would never see her inhale or exhale, and she would have to quit halfway through the film.  And the followed that to a T.  "The Professional" (the American version, not the international one) is available on Hulu until November 1.

So I hope you all have a wonderful, long weekend.  Enjoy the outdoors some, but don't forget to explore the fun stuff you can find online too, especially at  Until the next favorite film of mine.  Later, gators!

(Post-tidbit:  Luc Besson originally came up with the story idea for "The Professional" after thinking more about Jean Reno's character in his 1990 film "La Femme Nikita."  Reno played a "cleaner" named Victor.)

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