Archive for the ‘2009’ Category

New York, I Love You: Plenty of self-love to go around

Friday, November 27th, 2009

New York, I Love You

(3 in half of 4)

Starring Natalie Portman, Orlando Bloom, Julie Christie, Shia LaBeouf, Robin Wright Penn, John Hurt, Chris Cooper and Bradley Cooper. Various directors. 110 minutes. At the Cumberland. 14A

Only a city as narcissistic as New York, punch-drunk in love with its own image, could hope to pull off the conceit of New York, I Love You, a series of short films in search of a feature theme.

The fact that the idea only partially succeeds is proof of the difficulty of giving an urban environment top romantic billing in a film that’s really about spontaneous human interactions.

Part of a planned franchise known as “Cities of Love,” which began with the much more satisfying Paris, je t’aime, the film rises and falls by its premise of giving a dozen or so international directors and a brace of actors a chance to make short-and-snappy comments on life in the Big Apple.

The “up” ones hold our interest and pique our curiosity. Mira Nair directs Natalie Portman as an orthodox Jew torn by religious convention and by her own romantic leanings when a business deal with a diamond merchant (Irrfan Khan) shows unexpected sparkle.

Yvan Attal’s segment is split into two fast-moving segments: Ethan Hawke’s comically horny hustler tries to pick up Maggie Q’s streetwise siren, while Chris Cooper and Robin Wright Penn make their own negotiations regarding appearances and intentions.

The “down” segments include Allen Hughes’ sad mini-essay on romantic regret, as a disconsolate Drea De Matteo struggles to fathom her one-nighter with a younger partner (Bradley Cooper).

Sadder and definitely stranger is the episode helmed by Shekhar Kapur, who took over for the late Anthony Minghella (to whom the movie is dedicated). Julie Christie is an opera singer who arrives at a chic Manhattan hotel with the evident intent to kill herself. A limping bellboy, played by a very game Shia LaBeouf, somehow connects with a character played by John Hurt to turn this suicide plan into a surreal memory trip.

While many of the segments amuse, and rarely wear out their welcome (the average running time is eight minutes apiece), it rapidly becomes apparent that each of them has some kind of twist, like an O Henry short story.

The result becomes less romantic and more Pavlovian, as we watch the set-up and then wait for its inevitable overturning. The gimmick reaches its groan-worthy limit in Brett Ratner’s episode about a prom night beau (Anton Yelchin) who finds that his wheelchair-bound date (Olivia Thirlby) is full of surprises.

New York, I Love You originally screened at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival, where it included a short directed by Scarlett Johansson that has since been excised, reportedly because it didn’t suit the flow of the film.

The whole enchilada was billed at TIFF as a work in progress, and that designation still suits the finished effort, which is at once as maddening and as enthralling as New York City itself.

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Plenty to see in ‘New York, I Love You’

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Like the weather in much of Canada, if you find yourself not liking the indie anthology New York, I Love You, wait a few minutes. It’ll change.

A patchwork quilt sewn by the motliest crew of filmmakers, this American spinoff of the art-house anthology Paris Je T’aime (by the same producers), ranges in mood from ponderous, to cute, to enigmatic to enjoyably shticky to utterly confusing depending on which of the 11 short films on the Big Apple theme you’re watching.

Unlike, say, New York Stories — with its handful of tales from oh-so-New-Yorkers such as Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen — New York, I Love You is a paean to the city from people you often don’t necessarily associate with it.

Case in point: Chinese director Jiang Wen, whose tale of a young pickpocket (Hayden Christensen) and an older one (Andy Garcia), who spar at sleight-of-hand over the attentions of the old pro’s mistress (Rachel Bilson), could have been a Scorsese throwaway.

Or Mira Nair, who offers up a characteristically multiculturally themed story about a young Hassidic woman (Natalie Portman) who has ritually shaved her head in preparation for marriage, and her playful sympatico with a Jain jewelry dealer (Slumdog Millionaire’s Irrfan Khan).

To her credit, Portman’s own feel-good (if unmemorable) directorial effort, about a father-and-daughter in Central Park, is the only one to feature a black character. In New York.

Even Brett Ratner (Rush Hour) plays against type. There is not an explosion to be found in his quirky, hormone-drenched story of a nebbish high school kid (Anton Yelchin) facing the prom dateless, who is set up on a blind date with the handicapped daughter (Olivia Thirlby) of a curmudgeonly Italian shopkeeper (James Caan). There’s very little to be said about this episode without coming dangerously close to revealing the surprise end.

Caan’s character is one of a couple of repeat characters. But the true threadline character is Zoe (Emilie Ohana), an artist keeping a New York video diary, whose lens captures bits and pieces of each of the 11 stories. The result varies. But like a deli menu, there’s something for nearly every taste in New York, I Love You.

My favourite is an is-it-real playlet directed by Shekhar Kapur and set in a stately Plaza-like hotel, where an aging opera star (Julie Christie) contemplates suicide, while being catered to by a doting and solicitous crippled young bellman (Shia LaBeouf). Memories pile on memories, phantoms of lives past appear, all in a few minutes of sad drama.

At times, the barrage of mini-plays comes off like short-attention-span theatre. There is an almost co-op egalitarianism to the timing of the material, with some segments leaving the viewer wanting more and others wearing out their welcome somewhat in a short time.

But with the names and talents involved (others not previously mentioned here include Ethan Hawke, Orlando Bloom, Christina Ricci, Cloris Leachman, Chris Cooper and Eli Wallach), you know that nobody was going to get short shrift in the editing room.

If nothing else, the sheer volume of stories in New York, I Love You gives you plenty to talk about after.

(This film is rated 14-A)

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‘New York, I Love You’: Canadian Connections

Friday, November 27th, 2009

The upcoming movie ‘New York, I Love You’ features about, I dunno, a zillion high-profile Hollywood actors. Orlando Bloom? Check. Cloris Leachman? Check. Bradley Cooper, Ethan Hawke, James Caan, Natalie Portman? Check, check, check, check. Even teen queens Blake Lively and Rachel Bilson make appearances, not to mention Susan Sarandon’s daughter Eva Amurri and The Beef himself, Shia LaBeouf.

The film is a collection of intersecting vignettes that take place all over, you guessed it, New York. As a patriotic Canadian, I couldn’t help but wonder about Canada’s role in this parade of Hollywood stars acting in an American production about New York. I do believe that, much like Kevin Bacon, everything can be traced back to Canada.

Sure, there’s the obvious – Canadian Hayden Christensen is in it. But there must be more. And there is. So, without further ado, here’s a breakdown of all of the Canadian connections to this film’s impressive star roster I can think of.

1. Rachel Bilson. The former ‘The O.C.’ star is engaged to Hayden Christensen, who was born in Vancouver and raised in a Toronto suburb.

2. Ethan Hawke. He delivered guest lectures at Montreal’s McGill University in 2003. More salaciously, he allegedly had an affair with a 22-year-old Canadian student while filming a movie in Montreal while he was still married to Uma Thurman.

3. Bradley Cooper. ‘The Hangover’ alum is currently filming ‘The A-Team’ in Vancouver.

4. Justin Bartha. Mr. Olsen Twin co-starred in ‘The Hangover’ with Zach Galifianakis, who, according to GQ Magazine, is dating a Canadian lady. (Apparently the secretive Galifianakis wouldn’t let GQ publish her name, so she remains mysterious. And possibly made-up. Regardless, Canada was mentioned, so the Canadian connection – though rather weak – still stands.)

5. Natalie Portman. The high-profile Canadian musician k-os released the single “I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman” earlier this year, featuring fellow Canuck Nelly Furtado. Sample lyrics: “I’ve been on the run/ shadow weighs a ton/ I know I found a recipe, for me/ but I can’t really make you love me.”

6. Eva Amurri. Ms. Sarandon’s daughter is in Season 3 of ‘Californication’. Californication stars David Duchovny, who spent five years filming ‘The X-Files’ in Vancouver before it was moved to the States. (A move that was widely attributed to Duchovny’s complaints about Vancouver’s weather and being too far away from his wife, Téa Leoni.) He recently did a commercial voiceover for Canadian grocery giant Metro. But enough about Duchovny, he’s not even in this movie!

7. Drea de Matteo. ‘The Sopranos’ actress co-starred in the 2007 Canadian flick ‘The Good Life’, which was filmed in Winnipeg and Argyle, Manitoba.

8. Robin Wright (Penn). ‘The Princess Bride’ star was married to Sean Penn, who became the public target of the Ontario Minister of Health Promotion’s ire after smoking a cigarette at a press conference at Toronto’s Sutton Place Hotel in 2006. The gov fined the hotel $600 for not enforcing the Smoke-Free Ontario Act. Tsk, tsk, Mr. Penn. Apparently he didn’t get the memo re: smoking is no longer cool.

9. Cloris Leachman. ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ alum co-starred in one of the best movies ever, ‘Beerfest’, as Great Gam Gam. Gam Gam’s husband, Johann von Wolfhaus, was played by Canadian legend Donald Sutherland.

10. Olivia Thirlby. The actress co-starred in ‘Juno’, which was filmed in Vancouver, directed by Canadian Jason Reitman and starred Canuck wunderkind Ellen Page.

11. Shia LaBeouf. The Beef used to live with his parents at their home in La Canada, California, before moving to La Bachelor Pad. OK, this doesn’t have much to do with Canada, la country. So sue me.

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Review: New York, I Love You

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Following producer Emmanuel Benbihy’s concept behind the other city plus love film Paris, je t’aime (Paris, I Love You) in 2006, New York, I Love You is a collection of vignettes by notable filmmakers and actors based around the subject of falling in love in the city that never sleeps. It also touches on love for the city itself in some of the segments.

While most of the stories work and are interesting, some feel out of place and go nowhere. Brett Ratner’s tale of a teenage romp-with-a-twist starring James Caan and Anton Yelchin is cute and quirky. Bradley Cooper and Drea de Matteo hooking up after a drunken night at a bar in Allen Hughes’s cool feature is fun, and Ethan Hawke gives a great performance as an egotistical writer hitting on the wrong woman (Maggie Q) while sharing a smoke outside a restaurant. But Shekhar Kapur’s contribution about an aging singer (Julie Christie) reflecting in a hotel suite with a bellboy (Shia LaBeouf) is dry and drags on longer than it should. And Natalie Portman’s mixed-religion fantasy has its moments but leaves the audience wanting more.

Other intriguing moments include a thief (Hayden Christensen) being outsmarted by an older man (Andy Garcia) yet still getting the girl (Rachel Bilson), a young musician (Orlando Bloom) who needs a muse (Christina Ricci) to help him focus on finishing the score he’s working on, and a cute older couple (Cloris Leachman and Eli Wallach) celebrating their anniversary.

What I found most interesting about New York, I Love You is who’s absent from the film, notably Woody Allen. Allen has made a career out of inspired love stories set in NYC (Annie Hall and Manhattan for example) and I’m sure fitting in a narrative by him would have rounded out the collection nicely. Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese would have been great additions too.

If you’re a fan of New York and romance is your genre, you’ll probably enjoy New York, I Love You a lot. One thing’s for sure — it will make you want to pay the town a visit.

*** out of 5 stars

Rated R
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Natalie Portman, Orlando Bloom, Hayden Christensen, Robin Wright Penn
Directed by: Yvan Attal, Natalie Portman, Brett Ratner, Mira Nair

brian.mckechnie@citynews.rogers.com


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Local dog becomes movie star, meets “Darth Vader”

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Whether or not you agree with the tax-credit program that sparked it, the burgeoning movie industry is creating all kinds of quirky and interesting situations we otherwise wouldn’t be seeing around here.
Bunny (3).JPG
Here’s one: Mary Dixon, who runs the local company Mup Mups Animal Actors, has a tale of a Saline poodle’s brush with the big time.

On the evening of November 8th, Bunny found her self on a darkened street, in Darth Vader’s arms…

In October and early November, my Ann Arbor company, Mup Mups Animal Actors, was hired to work on the film “The Vanishing on 7th Street” in Detroit.

“Vanishing” is directed by Brad Anderson (of the TV show “Fringe”) and stars Hayden Christensen (the young Darth Vader in the recent “Star Wars” sagas), John Leguizamo (Henri-Toulouse Latrec in “Moulin Rouge”) and Thandie Newton (Makemba “Kem” Likasu in the TV show “ER”) as survivors in a world where shadowy figures appear and human beings disappear.

The plot is so hush-hush, even I was not given a script (which we usually have so that we can break down the animal action as required). We had to train on-set for both animals, which can be a real challenge, no matter how simple the action seems (to the director or crew) or how good a trainer you are!

For the October days, I hired a real police horse, whose owner, a sergeant, came as his primary handler. Which was good, since we were shooting in a not-so-nice area of Detroit! The production company closed down I-75 for 8 hours for one of the police horse shoots, which I believe is the biggest stunt a film company has pulled off since the Michigan Film Incentive (MFI) was started in April 2008.

The other animal I was asked to find for the film was a white standard poodle.

I’ve been involved in the dog show scene for 15 years as an obedience and conformation exhibitor and as a vendor of my handmade porcelain dog breed jewelry. So I knew it would be difficult at this time of year to find the extreme show-groomed poodles, with the balls and flourishes. They are all on the road, being shown for those last-minute 2009 AKC standings, most with professional dog handlers.

But, luckily for us, Bunny and a few other young ones were available. Of those, he picked Bunny.

Bunny is a young white standard poodle bred and owned by longtime show exhibitor and Southeast Michigan Poodle Club president Patricia Jason of Saline. She was cast as a fancy dog wandering alone to fend for herself on the streets of the deserted city. We shot on a back street between the Compuware building and Greektown, just under the People Mover.

The script called for her to walk around from one mark to another, seemingly easy stuff. But when I, Pat and her daughter Danielle Sugai got there, we were asked to add a few other behaviors to make the scene more realistic.

This happens nearly every time I get to set with one of my animal actors! So I am always ready with my cooked garlic chicken (which I raise myself on my little farm next to the Pittsfield Preserve in Pittsfield Township).

So…on the one hand, Bunny is only 1.5 years old and prone to bouts of random silliness. On the other hand, poodles are one of the smartest breeds.

We were pretty sure she could do it.

Bunny had other ideas…

When the prop guys finished readying the set, we were allowed to work with her right there, where she would be (rummaging through broken-open grocery bags with cans and boxes spilled out on the ground and shoes and clothing scattered around- because the people had vanished).

Bunny seemed to be channeling Marilyn Monroe, who had a penchant for doing things her own way, much to the consternation of her directors.

Despite our efforts and the yummy bait, she went around, saying “Hi” to the crew, sniffing the props, eating some of the chicken and generally being a goofball.

At one point, a crew member, wearing a hoodie over his head and a variety of unusual-looking flashlight devices on the front of his clothing, came over to meet her and ask her name.

He knelt down, hugged and pet her for quite a while.

“Why all the lights?” Pat asked.

He smiled and said, “Oh, I just like flashlights.”

I said, “You look like a Star Wars character!”

A few minutes later, in better lighting, I took a good look at Bunny’s biggest fan, who was still doting on her.

“Are you Hayden?” I asked him.

“Yes, I am!” he said.

” Well,” I said, “I was kind of just kidding before but I guess you really were, like, the coolest Star Wars character- ever! ” (besides Han Solo).

It was nearly impossible to recognize him with his hoodie and makeup, which I’d say is true for most actors I’ve worked with, including Hllary Swank.

The cameras were set up. “ROLLING!” Brad yelled.

Pat released Bunny from stage right (the left side of the frame). Dragging her leash, Bunny went all the way into the set, to the bags, rummaged.

Showed her good side.

Did it right.

For a whole minute that seemed to last forever. I silently counted the seconds from the sidelines.

Danielle, standing next to me, at stage left (the right side of the frame) and I were cued via Walkie Talkie to call the dog.

We yelled, “BUNNY!”

Up shot her head. Exactly what they wanted.

Bunny looked around. Exactly what they wanted!

What was going on?! She was perfect!

Then we called “Bunny…baby, come!” and she sauntered off in our direction. Hayden runs into the scene, rummaging through the bags himself. Perfection.

Another take. Perfect again. No mistakes.

“CUT!” Brad yelled. “Moving on!” which meant, basically, that the dog was “wrapped!”

Ah, yes, the Force was strong in Bunny that night. I felt something, or someone was helping us.

It really was amazing that Bunny did the job so perfectly after all of those silly rehearsals. Pat and I had said Bunny’s performance could be in honor of Pat’s mother, who had sadly passed away just two days before.

Later, I was talking with the Humane Association representative and she said she’d ‘felt a presence’ on set helping us. I told her I did, too.

So, later, I thanked grandma, on the way home, for helping us with Bunny!
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Hayden Christensen talks about farm work and love

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Hayden Christensen talks about farm work and love

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Since Hayden Christensen played the smart Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars”, you can’t think of the young star brigade without him. Now, on top of that, a perfume was dedicated to the Canadian, who is engaged to “OC“ Star Rachel Bilson. With a sexy unbuttoned polo shirt the 28 year old is advertising the new male fragrance from Lacoste “Challenge“:

Instyle: On the campaign picture there is not one chest hair in sight. Are you waxing?
Hayden Christensen: (laughs) God, no, I never did that. It would hurt to bad. It wouldn’t really pay off, because haven’t got a lot of chest hair.

Instyle: People Magazine voted you one of the sexiest man in Hollywood. Do you like that?
Hayden Christensen: It’s flattering, but i get embarrassed, when someone asks me about it. I’m not really paying attention to my looks. It only takes me 15 minutes in the bathroom.

Instyle: Do you like the new Lacoste Challenge fragrance?
Hayden Christensen: The fresh scent of Lemon and orange and the heavy scent of ginger and dark wood, is reminding me of my fathers smell.

Instyle: What was your biggest challenge?
Hayden Christensen: My brother Tove, my sister Heijsa and I participated in the “Eco- Challenge” in Figi, when I was 21. It was a TV-adventure show, a 500 km race with 50 teams, who have to go threw the jungle on their own. There’s still a You Tube video.

Instyle: What do you like to do in your free time? Something adventures?
Hayden Christensen: I try to win tennis matches, and played against Mats Wilander in a Lacoste tournament for example. And I have a farm near Toronto with chickens and horses. That’s a good balance to Hollywood. We grow bio-vegetables and get our own power from solar-cells. I love to work on the farm and plow the land with my tractor.

Instyle: And your fiance is walking around in rain boots threw the mud?
Hayden Christensen: (laughs) We like to walk threw the woods. But I thinks she prefers to go shopping in Beverly Hills than farm work.

Instyle: Is she giving you styling tips?
Hayden Christensen: She sometimes buys shirts for me. But my favourite one, brought my grandma from Jamaica. It is a Hard-Rock-Cafe shirt.


From the November ‘09, German issue of Instyle magazine

Hayden Christensen: Real dude, this guy!

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

Hayden Christensen is the face of the Lacoste fragrance “Challenge” - but beauty treatments are not for him. Since he prefers driving to his farm!

Since he has played Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars”, is Hayden Christensen, 28, as one of Hollywood’s hottest newcomer. His good fortune that he has decided at 17 to an acting career. Up to that time they said the Canadian, who is now engaged with “OC” star Rachel Bilson, 27, also requires a career as a tennis star. Since it was a plus that Lacoste - the main sponsor of Roland Garros - he was elected as a testimonial for the new fragrance for men “Challenge”. In Paris, hit OK! the sympathetic Star to talk about vanity, challenges, and his wedding …

Truthfully: in the morning… how long do you need in the bathroom?
Well, Rachel definitely takes more time than I do. As soon as I get out of the shower, I’m ready.

Aren’t you ambitious when it comes to your looks?
I kind of don’t care about that. I believe beauty comes from within. That’s why it’s important for me that I’m clean, when I step out of the shower. I pay attention that I eat healthy and that my body stays fit. I was at a beautician once or twice, but facials just hurt too much.

That sounds so healthy. Don’t you have any vices?
I did smoke. Until I decided, that I don’t want that in my life anymore. You have to want it. Otherwise quitting won’t work.

You’re the face of “Challenge”- which fragrance did your fiancee give you lately?
None. She rather gives me something to wear.

Because she thinks you need a stylist?
No (laughs). I suppose, because she loves shopping. And she thinks, that I don’t press ( ? belabor?) her so much, if she comes back not only with lots of stuff for her, but with a nice shirt for me, too.

What was your biggest challenge?
To stay as you are in showbiz, even if other people try to tell you how to be. That’s a challenge. That’s why most of the time I ignore, what I hear about myself. Fame can be bizarre and I try to avoid Hollywood, whenever it is possible. I work there, but I don’t attend parties, because I’m not the type who wants to be photographed all the time.

Where do you escape?
I like traveling very much, because I love to discover new places. Plus, I own a house on the Bahamas and a farm near Toronto.

A real farm with animals and land?
Well, we don’t cultivate stuff that has to be sold. But we make our own hay. And right now, I built a barn for horses, so I can keep horses too – not only pigs, chickens and pheasants. Of course someone takes care of the farm, when I’m not there. But I love it there.

Your fiancee is a shopping girl. How does Rachel like life in the countryside?
(Laughs) She’s born in L.A. and grew up there. And imagining her wearing rubber-boots in the dirt is pretty impressing. But honestly: she thinks it’s great at the farm, but she also likes going back to Los Angeles for some shopping.

How far are plans for your wedding?
We haven’t set a date, yet. And we haven’t start family planning, yet. One day we’ll have kids and then we’ll decide where to live. But that’s nothing for the near future.

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The citizenry suddenly vanishes in a new Hayden Christensen thriller being shot in Detroit

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Wide open spaces
The citizenry suddenly vanishes in a new Hayden Christensen thriller being shot in Detroit


Click both to enlarge

Hayden Christensen plays a TV reporter in the film




Cars appear to have been abandoned on a portion of I-75 in Detroit, a setting for “Vanishing on 7th Street,” a psychological thriller/horror movie that is filming locally.

A neon sign for a bar called Sonny’s glows in the night at an intersection in southwest Detroit. The cars in the street are parked haphazardly. The sidewalks are scattered with pieces of clothing, oddly enough.

Suddenly, a man and a woman run tentatively away from the bar. “Keep up,” says Hayden Christensen, who’s best-known for playing Anakin Skywalker in two “Star Wars” prequels. He’s talking to Thandie Newton, star of “Crash” and “Mission Impossible II.”

The actors are working on a scene for “Vanishing on 7th Street,” an independent movie that has aspects of a psychological thriller and a horror film.

The story involves a blackout and the mysterious disappearance of a city’s population. Five remaining people must try to figure out what they’re up against.

Detroit will play itself in the film. For this scene, the crew has turned an existing building on Junction Street into the exterior of a tavern.

The movie, which has a budget of around $10 million, needed a setting that would evoke the right look and feel for the subject matter. After considering locations in Iowa, Washington, New York and Canada, the filmmakers chose metro Detroit for creative reasons and for Michigan’s generous tax breaks for filmmaking.

“The city is such a character in the way we’re shooting the movie,” says producer Celine Rattray. “The city looks a combination of beautiful and, at times, haunting. We hope that it portrays Detroit in a beautiful light.”

The “Vanishing” team has been impressed by the architecture and friendliness of local communities as it’s gone about its scary-making business.

And in practical terms, when you’re shooting an eerie scene like the street exterior on this particular night, it’s easier to shut down locations and create an empty landscape in Detroit than it would be in a more crowded urban area.

Executive producer Kelly McCormick, who grew up near East Lansing, has been struck by the fact that “there’s beauty and there’s brilliance juxtaposed to extreme destitution and emptiness.”

Says McCormick, “What’s been amazing is that you’ll find empty streets without any trouble here. You’ll find empty buildings that are either still together or partly dismantled or ruined in some way, shape or form that show that people have sort of already vanished. And that’s really fascinating.”

The director is Brad Anderson, whose credits include the 2004 film “The Machinist” with Christian Bale, and several episodes of the Fox series “Fringe.” John Leguizamo also stars.

The cast and crew have filmed at several locations, including a portion of I-75, the movie theaters at Dearborn’s Fairlane Town Center and Detroit churches and bars.

Scenes were shot at WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) studios in Southfield, a handy setting because Christensen plays a TV reporter. Weekend anchor Dave LewAllen and traffic reporter Erin Nicole landed small parts.

Filming is supposed to be completed next week on the roughly five-week shoot. The movie is expected to be released next year.

McCormick finds hope in the fact that projects like this are discovering Detroit’s visual potential.

“It’s like, take advantage of what this landscape is,” she says. “In a sense, then we can rebuild or we can find something interesting in it or something valuable in it still, which, for us, is this awesome landscape that makes our movie look bigger than we ever thought it was going to look.”


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New York, I Love You Review

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Love is in the air a second time. How does it smell in the big apple?

Hayden Christensen: Ben
Andy Garcia: Garry
Rachel Bilson: Molly
Bradley Cooper: Gus
Natalie Portman: Rifka
Irrfan Khan: Mansuhkhbai
Orlando Bloom: David
Christina Ricci: Camille
Anton Yelchin: Boy in the Park
Olivia Thirlby: Girl in the wheelchair
James Caan: Mr. Riccoli
Ethan Hawke: Writer
Maggie Q: Woman on the Street
Julie Christie: Isabelle
John Hurt: Waiter
Shia LaBeouf: Jacob
Eli Wallach: Abe
Cloris Leachman: Mitzie
Drea de Matteo: Lydia
Chris Cooper: Alex
Robin Wright Penn: Anna
Director of Transitions: Randall Balsmeyer
Concept By: Emmanuel Benbihy
Premise By: Tristan Carne
Release Date: October 16, 2021
Running Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes

Rated R for language and sexual content.

New York, I Love You is the second installment of Emmanuel Benbihy’s global explorations of love. I still remember fondly watching Paris, Je T’aime on the big screen, being enthralled by how truly special each short was. Following that lead would be tough for anyone, but Benbihy and his writers have moved the concept to New York City, where viewers can be introduced to an assortment of eccentric people and neighborhoods. The result is not as masterful and refreshing as Paris, Je T’aime , but the vast array of styles and ideas still offers imaginative tales and an overall worthwhile film.

Paris, Je T’aime found the right balance between the quality of the directors and the quality of the casts. Nevertheless, it was the filmmakers time to shine, and they triumphed beautifully. New York, I Love You makes some changes to the format we fell in love with previously. First is that the star caliber is higher, while the directors are more unknown in many cases. This is fine, as it allows green filmmakers the chance to prove their talents, while still throwing in the intermittent famous director to have fun with a short. The most notable faces at the helm this time are Natalie Portman, Brett Ratner, and Mira Nair. The line-up is a jarring transition from the Coens, Gus Van Sant, Wes Craven, and Alfonso Cuaron, among others.

New York, I Love You was shot over a period of 36 days. The 10 filmmakers were given three guidelines: They had only 24-48 hours to shoot, a week to edit, and they needed to give a sense of a particular neighborhood. The shorts are around 10-12 minutes in length each, give or take a minute. In my mind it is misleading to summarize a few and leave the rest out, so here are my brief thoughts on all of them. Noticeable as well are the absences of titles. This time, the name of the director acts as the title for each segment, but more on that later. His or her name will appear in bold italics.

Jiang Wen - This strange short has a young man named Ben meeting a girl in a bar. He has a cell phone she left behind, and starts a conversation that is interrupted by her boyfriend. Wen instills a rather slick methodology here that I dug, and Garcia and Christensen have a solid chemistry as foes.

(more…)

Hayden Christensen in the D!

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

The Hayden Christensen film “Vanishing on Seventh Street” will be shooting in and around Detroit through Nov. 17, the Michigan Film Office confirmed with the Free Press on Tuesday.

Directed by Brad Anderson, the film is set in “a once-thriving city where shadowy forms cause residents to inexplicably disappear,” IMDB.com says. Also starring in the thriller are Thandie Newton and John Leguizamo.

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Behind-the-scenes look at Vanishing on 7th Street

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Broadcast House ‘Goes Hollywood’
We have your front row seat to a big movie shoot right here at Channel 7. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at Vanishing on 7th Street, starring Hayden Christensen and WXYZ-TV!

Good morning, Hollywood! This is Action News like you’ve never seen it.

At 4:30 a.m. Sunday, a crew of 75 took over Broadcast House with trucks, high-tech cameras, cables, lights, fog machines, and one famous face.

The star of the movie is Hayden Christensen, best known for his role as Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars movies. Now he’s a reporter in the movie Vanishing on 7th Street.

The film is being shot in Detroit, and all the newsroom scenes are at Channel 7.

“It’s a bit of a dark paranoid thriller,” said Brad Anderson, the movie’s director. “One night all the lights go out and there’s a big blackout in a big American city, and when the lights come on moments later 99 percent of the people have simply vanished.”

The shoot at Channel 7 is the first day of the production. The crew moves quickly to set up each scene in the building. While some crew members are from California, others are from the Detroit area, and they’re taking full advantage of Michigan’s Hollywood boom.

Sara Goller is one such “local.” She’s from Ferndale and is coordinating the locations.

“We essentially deal with logistics in filmaking, basecamps. Where are we going to park cars? Do we need security?” said Goller.

Sarah moved back to Ferndale from Los Angeles because of the film tax incentives and she now has a lot of work.

“Once you can get a job on a film as a production assistant and then you do a good job, people will recognize that and that’s what gets you rehired,” she says. “Just being a nice person and working hard are really the two main keys to success.”

The work is long. Crews set up the studio for a shot with Hayden, and then it’s on to the newsroom, which is transformed into a cold, deserted space.

Next, all the gear has to be dismantled and taken upstairs to the control room.

As Hayden gets his direction, you can see some familiar faces in the monitors. Carolyn Clifford and Stephen Clark shot their scenes as TV anchors a few days earlier, along with Erin Nicole as a weathercaster. Hayden reacts to seeing his “Action News team” disappear.

And, a mere 18 hours after it began, its a “wrap” on day one.

Vanishing on 7th Street will be shooting here for the next five weeks. Be sure to look for Action News in a supporting role when the film comes out next year.
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Movie Features Hayden & Action News

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Action News is getting a taste of Hollywood right here in our own Broadcast House! The Producers of “Vanishing on 7th Street” chose Channel 7 as a key location in the movie. Some of our colleagues even have roles in the upcoming film that stars Hayden Christensen.

Christensen plays a young reporter on the Action News Team. You’ll remember the actor from his starring role as Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars 2 and 3.

In the film “Vanishing on 7th Street,” there’s a good chance you’ll see Dave LewAllen, Erin Nicole, Stephen Clark, Carolyn Clifford and Tom Leyden in the movie.

Erin Nicole plays a meteorologist and Hayden’s girlfriend.

Dave LewAllen is a reporter who reports on the mysterious disappearance of everybody.

Stay with WXYZ.com for details on when the movie will be set for release.


You can also see a slideshow, but the pictures are what is already uploaded.


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Hayden Christensen bonds with WXYZ Detroit news staff on set of ‘Vanishing on 7th Street’

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

A new horror film starring Hayden Christensen and Thandie Newton is filming in Detroit — and incorporating a Detroit TV station into the film.

The newsroom of WXYZ is being used as the set for some scenes in the film “Vanishing on 7th Street.”

The movie is about the strange disappearance of nearly an entire city’s population. Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars: Episode II” and “Episode III”) plays a news reporter covering the story.

Several staff members from channel 7 news will also have small roles in the movie.

Weekend anchor Dave LewAllen will play the role of another reporter. Traffic reporter Erin Nicole plays a meteorologist and Christensen’s character’s girlfriend.

Stephen Clark, Carolyn Clifford and Tom Leyden are also expected to have roles in the film.


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Takers Mention

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Ealy next appears in Screen Gems’ “Takers,” opposite Matt Dillon, Paul Walker, Idris Elba, Jay Hernandez, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Chris Brown and Hayden Christensen.

Due Feb. 19, 2010, the plot follows a notorious group of criminals (Elba, Walker, T.I., Brown, Christensen and Ealy) who continue to baffle police by pulling off perfectly executed bank robberies. They are in and out like clockwork, leaving no evidence behind and laying low in between heists. But when they attempt to pull off one last job with more money at stake than ever before, the crew may find their plans interrupted by a hardened detective (Dillon) who is hell-bent on solving the case.


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Voice-over actors give life to Cartoon Network’s ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’

Monday, October 5th, 2009

They are the most unrecognizable actors in a galaxy far, far away.

Audiences generally associate Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor in the roles of the famously iconic Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. But, the truth is, other actors have inhabited those roles in far more performances, yet you’ll never know what they look like.

They are voice-over actors, men and women who bring these Jedi Knights to life each week in the computer-animated series, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.”

And that’s just the way they like it.


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Canada’s Rising Stars

Friday, October 2nd, 2009
Canadian actors have never been strangers to the bright lights of Hollywood. And a new crop of Generation Y actors are continuing the trend. CTV.ca counts down the top ten Canadian Generation Y actors who are stealing hearts –- and parts –- in Hollywood.

Rising star:
Hayden Christensen

Age:
28

Hometown:
Thornhill, Ont.

Small start:
A role on the soap opera ‘Family Passions’ at the age of 12.

Big break:
Landing the role of Anakin Skywalker for the new ‘Star Wars’ franchise.

What’s next:
Christensen is set to star in at least three 2010 films, including ‘Takers,’ ‘Quantum Quest’ and ‘Vanishing on Seventh Street.’



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What’s Hot, Green, And Ripped All Over?

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

2. Hayden Christensen: Organic Vegetable Gardener
Hayden Christensen, otherwise known as Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader) in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, and one of People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People, isn’t just an actor: His modeling days date back to Louis Vuitton’s Spring/Summer 2005 ad campaign. When Hayden’s not posing or acting, he’s working away on his 200-acre farm–outside Toronto in his native Canada–growing organic produce. Christensen also ran a public service announcement for Do Something, a non profit youth organization that inspires young people to change the world. The organization has initiatives for the environment, disaster relief, poverty, and more.



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Takers… who’s with me?

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

I’m sorry, but sign me up for this one. Takers will be released in February, and I dunno why, but this trailer has me sold for seeing it in theaters. Who knew Paul Walker and Hayden Christensen were two different people? Who knew the husband from Obsessed was British? Who knew Chris Brown could jump through a square-foot-sized window? (Besides the LAPD) Who knew T.I.‘s first name was “Tip?” This movie looks like a thick slice of popcorn action, and pulpy fun. I have a feeling that after the cold onslaught of the Sundance Film Festival in late January, Takers will be exactly what the doctor orders.



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Vanishing on 7th Street Mention

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

LewAllen on His New Movie Role


What a thrill! I got word following an audition yesterday that I was being cast in a major motion picture to be shot this month in Detroit.

The film is “Vanishing on Seventh Street,” directed by Brad Anderson, whose previous credits include “Session 9,” “The Machinist,” and “Transsiberian.”

The story is set in a once-thriving city where shadowy forms cause residents to inexplicably disappear. Five survivors fight to stay alive while grappling with the meaning of existence.

Hayden Christensen has signed to star, along with John Leguizamo and Thandie Newton. I was selected to play (of all things) a TV news reporter. This is an exciting first for me; hopefully my few lines don’t wind up on the cutting room floor! My Action News colleague, Diana Lewis, gained a measure of fame with her role in the first “Rocky,” and Bill Bonds appeared in the “Escape from the Planet of the Apes,” from 1971.

Shooting for “Vanishing on Seventh Street” is set to begin mid-October in Detroit.



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16 Movie Clips from NEW YORK, I LOVE YOU

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

With the short film anthology “New York, I Love You” (a sort of sequel to “Paris, je t’aime”) set for release October 16th, Vivendi Entertainment has released a ton of clips and I’ve posted all of them after the jump. While most film’s get four to eight clips released for promotional purposes, due to how large the cast is and how each person needs a clip when promoting the movie on a talk show, the studio has released a whopping 16 clips and it’s about sixteen minutes of the movie.

So if you’ve been waiting for the film, you can see a lot of it right now. If you’re not familiar with “New York, I Love You”, the film’s got a huge cast and eleven directors telling stories about New York City and love.

View the clips by clicking on the link below.

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