Charles Dickens is now afflicted with Sherlock Holmes syndrome. That’s the new, action-oriented Holmes from Warner Bros. and Guy Ritchie — not any of the other versions that have existed over the years.

When a creator tells stories with universal appeal they invariably become subject to contexts and varied re-tellings that never would have occurred to the originator. By and large that’s a good thing, but occasionally it means that a silly idea gets traction. And so be prepared for Dodge and Twist, which will re-tell Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist in the context of a period film with modern action thrills, just like we’ve seen in the two Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes films. Read More »

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There are a handful of classic tales that seem to get reinterpreted for the screen every few years, and among them is Charles DickensGreat Expectations. The most recent theatrical version you probably recall is Alfonso Cuarón’s 1998 modernized version featuring Gwyneth Paltrow, Anne Bancroft, and Ethan Hawke, and since then there have been at least two other adaptations for TV.

Now the latest director to tackle the Victorian coming-of-age tale is Mike Newell, who brings the story back to its original 19th century setting. Jeremy Irvine (War Horse) stars as Pip, a poor orphan boy whose life takes an unexpected twist when a mysterious benefactor arranges for him to become a gentleman. Up-and-comer Holliday Grainger stars as the unattainable object of his affections, Estella, while Helena Bonham Carter tackles the iconic role of spiteful shut-in Miss Havisham. Watch the first international trailer after the jump.

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Press interviews with the cast and crew of The Dark Knight Rises began in earnest this past weekend, and one of the first things to emerge from the junket rounds is a connection between Christopher Nolan‘s final Batman film and a classic piece of literature that most of us read in high school.

The link between The Dark Knight Rises and the novel in question isn’t particularly obscure. The social and economic strife that we’ve seen in photos and footage from the film really suggest that Gotham City is about to crumble in the same way that Paris was in the days before the Revolution, as chronicled by Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities. That connection was quite intentional, as the director and his brother discussed over the weekend. Read More »

It seems like years ago that parkour was the next big thing — hell, Bond movies often lag a couple years behind trends in action, and it was Casino Royale in 2006 that brought the free-running urban sport to that franchise. But we just heard about Tracers, a bike messenger/parkour project selling at Cannes with Taylor Lautner in the lead. And now there is another movie that will feature stunt men climbing walls and running roofs.

This one, however, sounds a bit more weird. How so? Check it out: Twist is an indie 3D action version of Oliver Twist, the Charles Dickens novel. Funding the project is Red Bull which, as ad viewers know, gives you wings — wings enough to leap onto buildings, it seems. Read More »

If you ask me, Helena Bonham Carter playing bitter Miss Havisham in Mike Newell‘s Great Expectations has sounded like ideal casting from the very start. But if you had any doubt in your mind whatsoever as to Bonham Carter’s suitability, let these new photos put those worries to rest. Two new stills from the film have been released, showing Bonham Carter looking right at home as the shut-in of Charles Dickens‘ classic tale. After getting ditched at the altar, the character wastes away in her decaying wedding dress for the rest of her life.

Also starring in Newell’s adaptation are Ralph Fiennes, Holliday Grainger, Robbie Coltrane, Jason Flemyng, Sally Hawkins, and War Horse actor Jeremy Irvine as protagonist Pip. Check out the images after the jump.

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The theme of this Casting Bits seems to be “rising stars,” as All My Children‘s Ambyr Childers stakes out a spot in an all-star cast, War Horse star Jeremy Irvine leads a movie starring Britain’s finest, and Thor actress Jaimie Alexander signs on to co-star with the Governator himself. Read more after the jump.

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Whitney Houston is set to return to the big screen for the first time in 15 years for Sparkle, a remake of the 1976 drama based on the real-life tale of Diana Ross and The Supremes (yes, kind of like Dreamgirls, only Sparkle came first). The story follows the rise and fall of fictional girl group Sister & the Sisters, the members of which find their personal lives falling apart even as their act reaches ever higher levels of fame and success.

Houston, who’s also set to executive produce, will play the “not-so-encouraging” mother of the girls in the band. Houston has actually been attached to the project since back when it was supposed to star Aaliyah, who passed away in 2001. Also in the cast are Jordin Sparks making her cinematic debut in the title role, and Mike Epps in the part of destructive comedian Satin. Salim Akil (Jumping the Broom) is set to direct the feature from a script by his wife Mara Brock Akil. [Movieline]

After the jump: Dustin Hoffman snags some fine British talent (including two notable Harry Potter actors) for his directorial debut, and Twilight star Ashley Greene signs on for a weird, “ultra-modern” version of a Charles Dickens classic.

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Oliver Stone is quickly locking down the cast for Savages, the adaptation of Don Winslow‘s novel about two pot dealers (Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch) whose mutual girlfriend (Blake Lively) is kidnapped by a drug cartel (Salma Hayek and Benicio del Toro) in an effort to coerce the guys into bowing to the cartel’s will. John Travolta and Uma Thurman also signed on, with that casting announced just hours ago.

Now Emile Hirsch, the great young(ish) actor who seems to do a spate of films then drop off the radar for a while, is in the film playing a role that is yet to be announced. That makes quite a cast so far — while it is difficult to get excited about John Travolta of late, the collection of people is a pretty serious lineup. Is this going to be the movie where Oliver Stone really roars back to life? [Variety]

After the break, while Ralph Fiennes remains a possible addition to the next James Bond film, he’s also in line for a part in Mike Newell’s new version of Great Expectations. Read More »

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