Para­mount Teases Martin Scors­ese’s ‘Si­lence,’ ‘Ghost in the Shell’

Kuwait Times - - WEEKENDER -

Para­mount is back! At least that was the mes­sage stu­dio chief Brad Grey tried to con­vey Thurs­day night at a slate pre­view for mem­bers of the me­dia at Vi­a­com’s cor­po­rate head­quar­ters in New York. It was a night that boasted sneak peeks at up­com­ing re­leases such as Den­zel Wash­ing­ton’s “Fences,” Martin Scors­ese’s “Si­lence,” and Robert Ze­meckis’ “Al­lied”-films that are likely to fac­tor into this year’s Os­car race.

The pre­sen­ta­tion came af­ter a pun­ish­ing pe­riod for the film stu­dio. Not only has Para­mount suf­fered through a string of flops such as “Teenage Mu­tant Ninja Tur­tles:

Out of the Shad­ows,” “Zoolan­der 2,” and “Ben-Hur,” but it has also be­come en­tan­gled in a bit­ter feud for con­trol of its par­ent com­pany, Vi­a­com. That fight, be­tween the Red­stone fam­ily and for­mer Vi­a­com chair­man Philippe Dau­man, may have un­folded in a se­ries of le­gal bat­tles, but it sent shock­waves across the com­pany’s var­i­ous di­vi­sions. It ended last month with Dau­man’s ouster. Now, the Red­stones and the Vi­a­com board are mov­ing for­ward with a plan to merge the com­pany with CBS, an­other me­dia com­pany that the fam­ily con­trols.

“I know our com­pany has been in the news quite a bit re­cently and not for the movies,” Grey said, shortly be­fore the footage rolled. “But I am ex­cited for the changes be­ing made here at Vi­a­com, and I am re­ally ex­cited for what they mean for the next chap­ter of Para­mount.” It may be too early to de­clare a re­vival un­der­way at Para­mount. The prob­lems the stu­dio faces are deep and the com­pe­ti­tion in the movie space is fierce. How­ever, the up­com­ing re­leases did look promis­ing. “Al­lied,” a World War II spy thriller with Brad Pitt and Mar­ion Cotil­lard, had a glossy, erotic glow. The pre­sen­ta­tion in­cluded a scene be­tween Pitt and Cotil­lard, who play hus­band and wife spies who may be dou­ble-cross­ing each other, that crack­led with ten­sion.

In his open­ing re­marks, Grey said “Si­lence,” a look at monks in feu­dal Ja­pan, was “sem­i­nal Scors­ese.” The direc­tor is still toil­ing away in the edit­ing room, but the footage screened on Thurs­day had a hal­lu­ci­na­tory qual­ity. There were shots of a gaunt Liam Nee­son drop­ping to his knees in prayer, im­ages of Ja­panese men be­ing hung on crosses, and cloud-flecked vis­tas of stun­ning moun­tain­ous coun­try­side. It’s a film, Grey said, that Scors­ese has been try­ing to make for 28 years.

“Fences” in­cluded a pow­er­ful mono­logue de­liv­ered by a drunk Wash­ing­ton, in which he re­lays a fight with his fa­ther that caused him to strike out on his own. The pic­ture is ex­pected to com­pete in sev­eral Os­car cat­e­gories, in­clud­ing for Wash­ing­ton’s act­ing and di­rect­ing, as well as Vi­ola Davis’ sup­port­ing turn as his long -suf­fer­ing wife.

But the evening wasn’t just about Os­car bait. There was also a first-ever look at “The Ghost in the Shell,” an anime adap­ta­tion fea­tur­ing Scar­lett Jo­hans­son as a cy­borg po­lice­woman, who shoots up crim­i­nal gath­er­ings while wear­ing a skintight jump­suit. The footage fea­tured ki­netic ac­tion se­quences with Jo­hans­son in full-”Lucy” mode, mow­ing down armies of bad guys. There was also a look at “xXx: The Re­turn of Xan­der Cage” com­plete with Vin Diesel skat­ing on the side of a bus.

The Para­mount pre­sen­ta­tion closed with a rapid se­ries of clips of up­com­ing ti­tles such as Dar­ren Aronof­sky’s “Mother!” with Jen­nifer Lawrence, Alexan­der Payne’s “Down­siz­ing” with Matt Da­mon, and Ge­orge Clooney’s “Subur­bicon.” Para­mount, it seems, is bet­ting on film­mak­ers to push it out of its re­cent dol­drums. — Reuters

Martin Scors­ese

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