What he really loves to do is direct. Everyone associates Ben with clowning, when he actually has the ability to control tone and story and look to achieve something masterful. Comedy stars usually get only ten years to twinkle before they become a red giant Adam Sandler or a white dwarf Bill Murray or go supernova and vanish entirely Mike Myers. Stiller has already had fourteen.
That forecast would usually end the discussion. But Fox has made four big hits with Stiller, and expects to make other, more safely commercial properties with him in the future. Tom Rothman, the chairman and C. Probably better than he does. Studios exist to make money, but the people who run them also long to leave a mark. So what you need is originality. So we needed to make it happen, to take the big risk.
The film, which Fox will release next month, is an R-rated buddy movie, and the atmosphere on the set was loose, with the thirty-four-year-old director, Akiva Schaffer, blasting Kanye West between takes, and Vaughn and Hill improvising hilariously filthy sequences. For Stiller, this kind of work is a day job—albeit one he takes seriously—that allows him to pursue his grander aspirations. They did a take, firing a fusillade of blanks and quarter-loads at a stuntman in a lizard suit.
Standing over the supine alien, Stiller fired a last round, and then, after a beat, Vaughn fired a last round, and then Stiller fired, and Vaughn fired, and Stiller, after a long pause, fired a final last round. As the cameras reset, Stiller asked if I wanted to play Ping-Pong. It was one of those pretend-casual games, on a table by the warehouse entrance, with a bunch of crew members watching. Stiller bent closer and closer to the table, fretful about his errors, expressing pained admiration for my windmilling forehand and then smiling at my attempted nonchalance about it.
Not grossed out in a pussy way, but where you have fun with it? But he can also beckon you close with one hand even as the other halts you at the border. Stiller often starts with the premise that a joke or a character arc is inadequate, a form of pessimism that usually galvanizes his colleagues and sometimes paralyzes them.
There was a glorious era, way back five years ago, when Hollywood studios bestrode the earth. But even then domestic movie attendance was dropping; it has now fallen twenty per cent in the past decade. Factors that had nibbled at audience loyalty began to gnaw: gas prices; and digital piracy; and tweets and texts that killed films on opening night; and Redbox and Netflix; and the difficulty of reaching the most fervent moviegoers—seventeen-to-twenty-year-old men—with television ads; and, surely, the damp-squib films that the studios turned out in an increasingly anxious effort to retain their restless customers.
But movies that are really special are big risks, and big risks are the hardest ones to say yes to. Studios believe that to lure teen-agers—or their parents—off the couch a big-budget film must provide some combination of visual spectacle, gut-busting laughs, clutch-your-boyfriend scares, or strong emotions. Then you need a whiz-bang ending, one that sends audiences out of the theatres texting in rapture. Then you have to make that right turn toward a climax, which has to be more exciting than anything else in the movie, and suddenly the events are not dictated by the emotions but by getting the hero to the mountain, where the dynamite is about to explode—or you have to stop the movie to do the scenes where the hero comes to terms with his feelings and is honest with the woman he loves.
A star, to the rest of us, is the person our eyes are always drawn to onscreen. Stars come in two distinct varieties. A sirloin star like Brad Pitt is someone people long for, or long to be.
A hamburger star like Ben Stiller is someone whose struggles and triumphs give us vicarious satisfaction. The job description is changing, however, and the job itself is endangered. Studios have labored to make new stars, putting forward the likes of Orlando Bloom and Topher Grace and Josh Hartnett and Kate Hudson, but moviegoers have the ultimate say. They will anoint a star only if they warm to him or her in a series of films and then are dazzled by a crowning performance. Whenever a new face does emerge—a Ryan Reynolds or a Jeremy Renner—studios jockey to put him in a cape.
But a caped dynamo is a piston that powers the plot, rather than a repository of our inmost wishes. If you require stars less often, and your profits are sinking, then their income can seem objectionable. Such films are intended to surmount the idiosyncrasies of the global bazaar by serving as a kind of cinematic Esperanto. Yet stars continue to be vital to the small subset of movies that lack pre-awareness, many of which are comedies; Stiller is one of the last of this breed.
Marketing departments use stars as hieroglyphs that tell you—in the few seconds it takes to whiz by a billboard—what the film is about. And for that you go to what the audience likes and wants. Ben really told me how to do my job better! In , Samuel Goldwyn adapted the story into a hit film starring Danny Kaye, and the film has since almost been remade numerous times, beginning in , when Samuel Goldwyn, Jr. As twelve successive writers or writing teams tried to crack a more contemporary version of the story, the project went to Paramount and then to Fox, and was offered to Carrey again, as well as to Owen Wilson, Mike Myers, and Johnny Depp.
Stiller was offered the role in and turned it down. Still, it was a thorny situation.
When the movie star is the director, it gets very complicated. At one point, Paramount brought in another writer to replace Stiller, and wanted Brendan Fraser to play the male-model role that Stiller had dreamed up for himself.
When the shoot went six million dollars over budget, Stiller had to pay a seven-figure penalty before the studio would let him finish the film. God, do I regret that. Fox also had script issues. So ambiguity and darkness are tough. So he met with him in Hawaii, New York, and Los Angeles, for days at a time, and they devised a new progression of set-piece fantasies.
He became not an existential hero, washed to and fro, but a screen hero who took charge of his life, thereby making himself worthy of his love interest. Stiller gradually made the script less tone poem and more major-key symphony.
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Satisfying adventure stories in their own right, with a good helping of humour to ease and then emphasise the tension, these are also excellent introductions to the works of the great man himself. Put your detective skills to the test with this fun quiz! But there are two big problems in his life: no-one ever tells him anything, and his dad disappeared when Rory was three.
To find out why, he decides to become a detective — despite the derision of his big brother. The two, of course, get into all sorts of trouble, and to the surprise of everyone, unearth some real villains in the process. Words and illustrations are both very funny and surprisingly touching.
A great new series for young readers. The story will satisfy its readers thoroughly and Max looks set to give Dork diarist Nikki a run for her money. Finding out just what leads up to this is very funny indeed and readers will be pleased to hear that Rafe still returns home something of a hero. It's much more serious than that. From Hillsborough to Munich and the Heysel Stadium, Alan Gibbons examines the worst events in football in a way that enables young fans to understand what happened and why.
A fan himself, his book still celebrates the best of football too as a way to bring people together. Like Mowgli, he forms friendships with a bear and panther, and is attacked by a pack of vicious monkeys but comes up against poachers too. There are more adventures for Mak promised, good news for readers. March Book of the Month A touching and amusing story about belonging and the search for an heroic identity.
Adam has always known that he was adopted and it never seemed to matter. After all, he loves his mum and dad and even his sisters Minnie and Velvet. But when he overhears his mum talking about a secret he jumps to the wrong conclusion and begins to feel left out. Determined to take matters into his own hands Adam dreams of finding his real mother and of making himself more special by becoming a superhero.
And it is. To save them he and his twin sister Pandora team up with a couple of unscrupulous if well-equipped tomb robbers. After years of academic failure Jake can finally use his true talents, dodging explosions, outthinking the bad guys, even wrestling a giant snake. This is definitely one to recommend to fans of the Alex Rider books, and readers would also enjoy Defender of the Realm by Nick Ostler and Mark Huckerby. Fortunately for Arthur and his family Mr P is polite and friendly and his stay as a guest brings about all sorts of changes for the better.
This is all mixed up in a funny, often surreal story about the challenges of managing a polar bear at school, and with a sub-plot concerning a tense football match. Described as Metamorphosis for young readers, this story by Ted Hughes is indeed filled with a sense of transformation, visceral and almost terrifying in its vitality.
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There's nothing out of the ordinary about Fred, except that he seems to have a particularly acute relationship with the universe, super-aware of himself as a living being. While his ability to think himself into other heads helps at school, a tiger prowls through his dreams which become ever more real and frightening. Inventive, spare, tough and beautifully told, this demands to be read aloud. Striking illustrations by Joe McLaren add to its special appeal. This is a hilarious story of dead fish, gorillas with bananas in their ears, poetry, cunning plans and highly legal documents kind of.
Oh and iPads, iPhones and vlogging of course. Oh the horror, the indignity! The days when people would sit around the fire playing board games, take long walks and do jigsaw puzzles — all the time. Will Louis convince his parents that social media and technology are good things after all? Or will Louis have to find another way to make his voice heard? In an age where the issue of technology and social media addiction is becoming ever more topical and debated, How to Update Your Parents provides a fresh outlook on the subject and shows both sides of the argument in a thoroughly entertaining, non-judgmental, and hilarious way.
The juxtaposition of monsters and the mundane is very funny, and the action scenes everything they should be — monstrous fun! Fans of Artemis Fowl will enjoy visiting Darkmouth. In a nutshell: the agony and the ecstasy of the pre-teen The return of Arthur Bean, self-proclaimed creative genius and star of one already highly successful diary-based narrative is to be welcomed. It makes for varied, refreshing reading and feels both real and true. As well as the usual issues of friendships and first romances, Arthur is also mourning the loss of his mother, and this too is sensitively handled.