Friday, January 21, 2011

Clint Eastwood + Beyonce = .....

You may have already heard this, but Warner Brothers is currently developing a remake of A Star is Born, the seminal story of an aging actor who helps a young actress find fame and fortune. This would be the fourth time this film has been made, following a 1937 version starring Janet Gaynor, a 1954 version with Judy Garland, and perhaps the most famous version coming in 1976, starring Barbara Streisand. The story itself is a classic Hollywood mode, being done a million times, the most recent variation on this theme coming in the form of Burlesque.
However, this version is striking for several reasons. Beyonce is on board to star as the struggling wannabe actress who's destined to become a star, which is...interesting news to say the least. I am by all means a fan of Beyonce, but the problem I have with this is the same problem that I have with all of these kinds of films. Beyonce, Barbara Streisand, Judy Garland...all of these women are beautiful, and certainly have some talent as actress and could make convincing hopefuls waiting for their big breaks (yes, I do think Beyonce has some talent as an actress: she was terrific in Dreamgirls, and totally sold the campiness of Obsessed and Lady Gaga's "Telephone" video). But they're also established singers with stunning voices that can shake the rafters; in terms of the story, how could someone not have noticed them as soon as they arrived? The title of the film is A Star is Born, so why not cast an unknown, struggling singer/actress and actually create a brand-new star? But no, what matters to studio honchos is the names on the marquee, and the big bucks that are to be made by movie stars. *sigh*
The other, surprising news about this A Star is Born is that Clint Eastwood is directing.
Yes, that Clint Eastwood. Its not that Eastwood doesn't have experience with musicals; he starred in the near-universally derided Paint Your Wagon! back in 1969, directed music-related films Play Misty for Me, Honkytonk Man, and Bird, and now often composes the music for all of his films, on top of being a jazz aficionado and one-time prospective music theory major. But he's never directed a traditional musical, which nowadays is a job usually reserved for Bill Condon (too busy with Twilight: Breaking Dawn), Rob Marshall (probably doing more Pirates of the Caribbean movies as we speak), or Adam Shankman (who's working on Rock of Ages and potentially a Wicked movie). Of course, I take this news with cautious intrigue. Eastwood is famous for his stick-to-telling-the-story style, which is kind of the antithesis of the defining characteristics of a musical, and doesn't really have any flashy, stylistic techniques that would indicate he's a good fit for a musical. But I do enjoy the surprising variety of material he's been tackling lately: he's made a supernatural drama with some great special effects sequences (Hereafter), currently filming a biopic of FBI founder J. Edgar Hoover starring Leonardo DiCaprio that focuses on Hoover's relationship with Clyde Tolson (played by The Social Network's MVP Armie Hammer) and his cross-dressing secret life, and now a musical. I think its great to see the Hollywood legend exploring new material this late in his career.
As for the male lead, there are a lot of names being bandied about, most notably Eddie Murphy, Will Smith, Sean "Diddy" Combs (?!?), Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter (aka Mr. Beyonce), Robert Downey Jr., and Jon Hamm. Out of these, I would love to see Murphy get another chance to prove his dramatic chops, and that, Norbit be damned, he deserved the Best Supporting Actor Oscar back in 2006 for his brilliant work in Dreamgirls. I don't know why Combs is showing up on this list, and I assume Hova is on the list because of his marriage to Beyonce and its just wishful thinking (but wouldn't it be interesting if he was cast?).
What do you guys think about his? A masterpiece-in-waiting? A recipe for disaster? Meh? Let me know in the comments.


Walter L. Hollmann said...

I just want to know more, more, more! Fingers crossed for Eddie Murphy or Jon Hamm. Only that will shoot it into ANTICIPATED. For now, I approach it with caution.

Jason H. said...

I'm definitely rooting for Murphy. Hamm, though...he's certainly got that classic-movie-star-who-would-have-a-drinking-problem thing going on, so I could see that.