Any word on FRIDA?

Vickie_M

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I've heard September and October release dates, and I have no idea which, if either, is correct. Does anyone know?
I've been looking forward to this film for so long. I really, REALLY want it to be good. I've been a fan of Frida Kahlo's art for a couple of decades, and I knew that her story would make for an amazing film. The idea of a movie was bounced around for quite a few years, among lots of different people (including Madonna, who is a major Kahlo collector), and I was always getting my hopes up then having them dashed down when a project would fall through.
I was happy to hear that it was FINALLY being made, although I'm not the biggest fan of Salma Hayek. I think Jennifer Lopez had wanted to do a Kahlo picture, and she's a much better actress, IMHO. I'm hoping Salma has the talent to make Frida come alive on film, without making her out to be either a saint or a bitch. Above all else, Frida was a woman in PAIN. Literally, excruciating, physical pain, every minute of every hour of every day. Yet she did all these amazing paintings (mainly self-portraits), and she loved and laughed and had a fascinating life through it all. Salma had a pretty big weight to carry by playing Frida.
I AM VERY HAPPY that it was co-written by Gregory Nava (El Norte, Mi Familia) and Rodrigo García (Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her), and it's directed by Julie Taymor (Titus). I have very high hopes for this film. Even if the movie doesn't work, damn, it'll sound and LOOK amazing!
Now if it would just come out already! I'm so impatient for films I want to see.
 

Rich Malloy

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I'd heard that there were some big dustups between the studio and Taymor, but I dunno if that's true or just standard-issue studio bullshit. When a film's not focus-grouping well (which is certainly possible in this instance given the director and subject matter), the studios tend to start scapegoating and making excuses for not getting behind it (distribution, advertising, etc.).

Though I think its idiotic to cast either of Hollywood's two most scrumptious babes in the role of Kahlo, I think Hayak could be made to more closely resemble her. One wonders if the boneheads who greenlight these productions thought they were getting some Lopez/Hayak glamour vehicle with ridiculous gowns, vapors, and endless pining about "suffering for my art... and Diego".

I'd love to see it - and Taymor and Nava's attachment is very interesting - but you just gotta wonder whether a Hollywood studio production can do this story justice. I'd be more excited if it was a low-budget, Mexican production (say, directed by Alfonso Cuarón!).
 

Vickie_M

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I just read that Frida is being shown at the Venice Film Festival. As far as I know, it will be the first public showing.
The Hours is being shown in Venice too. I wish I were there.
 

Mark Pfeiffer

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In the morning I'll check the release schedule I have at work. Off the top of my head, the date that comes to mind is October 11, but I would take that with a grain of salt.

There was quite the squabble in print about the editing process and studio exec interference. Three guesses which studio is releasing it. (You're right if you said Miramax.)
 

Ted Todorov

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I just read that Frida is being shown at the Venice Film Festival. As far as I know, it will be the first public showing.
A friend of mine saw it in New York (at the Guggenheim??) a couple of months ago, so it definitely has had at least one public showing already.

I am neutral on Hayek's acting -- this will certainly be a test, with a top flight director like Julie Taymor at the helm. But in terms of her appearance, I think that she could quite easily resemble Kahlo (far more than J. Lo for instance). Sure she's conventionally beautiful, but if Dustin Hoffman played a convincing 100 year old man in 1973 (Little Big Man), Hayek can be a dead ringer for Frida Kahlo.

Ted
 

Guy Martin

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Today's Hollywood Reporter says that the US release date is October 25 in LA and NY, presumably opening elsewhere in the following weeks.

- Guy
 

John Berggren

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Titus was an extraordinary surprise for me when I got the DVD. It made me an instant fan of Julie Taymor. I do hope she returns to Shakespeare again, but I definitely want to see Frida.

Since I live in NC, I'm sure I won't see this one until DVD either though.
 

Mark Pfeiffer

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The list I was sent Monday still has the October 11 date, but it appears to be incorrect now. (Solaris has been bumped up, for instance.)
 

Vickie_M

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Oh, I'm VERY HAPPY! Frida opened the Venice Film Festival and got a standing ovation, according to Yahoo News.
The only review I've read so far is at AICN, and it's a goodie (and particularly wonderful to me because he also positively reviews another movie I've been dying to see, The Magdalene Sisters).
Wheee!
 

Vlad D

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Hayek can be a dead ringer for Frida Kahlo
I saw a picture of Selma as Frida in the Spanish edition of People Magazine, and she really was a dead ringer. If I find a copy of it online I'll post it.
 

teapot2001

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Does anyone know why Ed Norton isn't credited as a writer? I saw Salma Hayek on Charlie Rose, and she said that he was the most important writer for the movie, having wrote 7 drafts and being the only to collaborate with Julie Taymor.

~T
 

Michael Reuben

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I believe that was the decision of a Writer's Guild arbitration, but I can't remember where I read this.

M.
 

Quentin

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Some answers and opinions....

I don't think Hayek is a dead ringer for Kahlo. She's far more attractive, especially topless. That's one problem for a film with a few.

Another BIG problem is that Hayek doesn't have the command of the screen (except for sexually) or anywhere close to the acting range necessary for this role. I like her. I'm hot for her. I applaud her for getting this film made and for trying hard to pull off the part. But, I don't think she succeeds.

Ed Norton didn't get credit because he lost an arbitration, that by all things I hear, he probably should have lost.

Mollina is great.

The movie is alright, but will soon be forgotten...unless they stage a BIG Oscar campaign for Hayek. It's a competitive year for Best Actress, so I imagine she'll be left out.
 

Jason Seaver

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Saw it last night. Someone really should make a movie about Frida Kahlo.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but mostly because Julie Taymor is really good with the eye candy - Frida looks just as amazing as Titus did, and Taymor integrates Ms. Kahlo's art into the visuals in various clever ways, even enlisting the Brothers Quay for one instance. Alfred Molina is so good that you could argue that the movie should properly be titled Frida And Diego. And despite a few gratuitous cameos (Antonio Banderas, Edward Norton), the acting is strong throughout. Just one problem.

Frida doesn't do anything. Things just seem to happen around her. It also doesn't help that we are told she's a cripple, but she seems fairly able-bodied through msot of the movie. But the big problem is that Frida is overpowered by the other characters in the movie; I'm not sure whether that's the fault of Hayek or the script, but it's a huge issue that nearly sinks the movie.
 

Michael Reuben

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My short review is here with several other quick takes.
Shorter version: What Jason Seaver said (with a stress on "nearly sinks the movie" -- because the movie doesn't sink; the audience I saw it with broke out in spontaneous applause).
M.
 

Craig S

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I saw Frida yesterday and I'm pretty much with Jason on it. I really liked the movie, but there's something missing. I don't even know what that 'something' is, but to use a recent example - whatever it is that Pollack had that so completely communicated the essence of his art is not there in Frida.
Jason touched on the biggest problem - for the whole middle section of the film there is no sense of Frida being in physical pain or even being a cripple. Only minutes after she makes that painful walk across the courtyard to her parents, we see her dancing the tango with Ashley Judd. Since pain was one of the primary drivers of her art the lack of attention to it for over an hour of screen time seems odd.
Alfred Molina is a force of nature in this film. He seems a lock for an Oscar nomination. Indeed, if I were voting today (admittedly with a lot of contenders unseen) I'd give the statue to him. He's that good. And there's the film's other big problem - he overpowers Hayek at every turn. Jason suggests the film should have been called Frida And Diego. I agree, except I'd call it Diego And Frida.
Despite this, I can easily recommend Frida. It's an exciting film to watch - the 2 hours go by quickly. Julie Taymor proves once again that she is a brilliant visual stylist, using Kahlo's art to great effect. The soundtrack is fantastic - I just loved all of the music and it really worked well with the film. Any film-lover should find Frida worth their while.
 

Edwin Pereyra

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Looks like the Mexican backlash is just now coming in:

'Frida' Film Criticized in Mexico as Too Hollywood

Sun Nov 10, 2:30 PM ET

By Elizabeth Fullerton

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Frida Kahlo "would have walked out," Mexico's most famous society commentator said in a damning review of Hollywood's take on the cult Mexican painter, to be released in her homeland this month.

Mexican actress Salma Hayek (news), who has the title role and also produced "Frida," has come home to promote the film before it opens nationally in Mexico on Nov. 20.

But she may have a tough job winning over her compatriots, who are ambivalent about the United States at the best of times.

The few local critics who have seen the Miramax film have bristled at what they termed superficial portrayals of some of Mexico's most revered artists by foreigners speaking accented English.

Hayek, who lives in Los Angeles, depicts Kahlo's tortured life -- her crippling street car accident, stormy 1929 marriage to the celebrated muralist Diego Rivera, affair with exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, and death in 1954 at 47.

Spanish-born Alfred Molina (news) stars as Rivera and Spanish Hollywood heartthrob Antonio Banderas (news) plays Rivera's Stalinist contemporary, muralist David Alfaro Siquieros.

"What (Frida) would have loathed with all her soul is to have heard herself speaking in English, not in Spanish," wrote society columnist Guadalupe Loaeza in Reforma daily.

"Frida Kahlo hated gringos (Americans) and all that had to do with 'gringolandia,"' she added, using a pejorative that Mexicans use to evoke U.S. capitalist excess.

Hayek, whose films include "Desperado" and "Wild Wild West," says "Frida" could not have been made in Spanish.

"The money the film was made with is American. To be able to recoup that, the film had to be in English ... but Frida's art is for everyone. It's a language that transcends divisions and the film is very visual," Hayek said at a news conference in which she became visibly annoyed by criticism of the film.

Director Julie Taymor (news) agreed: "This is an international film. It is a love letter to Mexico from everyone in it."

PREMIERE FOR ELITE

The film's gala Mexican premiere last Friday -- attended by a who's who of artists, intellectuals and politicians -- might well have offended Kahlo's communist sensibilities.

Few can argue with the Mexicanness of "Frida": Hayek spends much of the film swigging Tequila, mariachis croon in bars, the actors eat enchiladas and mole, stroll through colorful street markets and visit the Aztec pyramids.

But critics here complain the film focuses too heavily on Rivera's womanizing and Kahlo's lesbian affairs, failing to convey the depth of their communist convictions and Kahlo's passion for Mexican folklore.

Artist Guillermo Monroy, 78, one of four "Fridos" who studied painting under Kahlo, saw the film at a press screening and said it was beautifully shot and well acted but lacked spirituality.

"They exalted the parties, the drinking, the affairs to an exaggerated extent ... but the film lacks soul and spiritual essence to be a great work of art," he told Reuters.

"I don't think the political climate was well portrayed. They should have shown Frida and Diego as communist social activists, but it was more a collage," he added.

In the film, Hayek wears the colorful Indian peasant dress the artist adopted and her eyebrows meet in the middle, as did Kahlo's. But she does not have Kahlo's mustache or the limp left by childhood polio (news - web sites) and aggravated by her street car accident.

Taymor said she wanted to convey Kahlo's spirit and did not want to distract the audience with the mustache.

"People want to see a biography but you can't show a biography in two hours," said Hayek. "It's a story of unconditional love between two people. There are many people who don't have the capacity to understand the film."

"Frida" was released in the United States on Oct. 25.
 

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