EURO BEAT: Fake Casting in Rome, Plus James Bond Would Like to Sell You Beer

Brian Clark, European Editor



Maybe someone should send a few copies of Takashi Miike's Audition to Rome. According to a report released Friday by La Repubblica, fake casting agencies have become an extremely  lucrative market over the past few years, with the entire casting industry responsible for around ten million euros each year of revenue.

And actually, most of the agencies don't even go to the trouble of having phony auditions. They have acting hopefuls pay an up-front fee of somewhere around one or two hundred euros to join the agency and then... don't do much of anything. Some internet-based agencies actually charge a fee to "give clients maximum exposure," then ask their clients to upload their own CV, photos and videos. Those wondering how so many people could be desperate enough to fall for this ploy should check out Eric Gandini's excellent documentary about Italy's obsession with the state-run media, Videocracy.

On the other hand, the entertainment industry in the UK is still making money the old fashion way; that is, through product placement and milking franchises for all they're worth. First up comes news that James Bond will apparently replace his Martinis and assorted mixed drinks with Heineken now that the Dutch beer company has reportedly paid $45 million dollars to get their product featured in Sam Mendes' upcoming Bond entry Skyfall.

In addition to beer (and the inevitable gadgets and cars), Bond will also be promoting The Olympics. Following a request from Queen Elizabeth herself, Daniel Craig has agreed to star in a short film directed by Danny Boyle to introduce the 2012 Olympic Games. In this film, James Bond receives a mission to launch the Opening Ceremony for the games. Seriously.

Also, everyone who is still mourning the end of the Harry Potter movie franchise can now tour the sets of the film at the Making of Harry Potter behind-the-scenes tour at the Warner Bros. studios in England where, for £28, fans can tour Diagon Alley, The Great Hall, the Ministry of Magic and more.

But enough money-making schemes! Several great European directors have announced new projects this week. First off is Werner Herzog, who of course isn't going to announce just one measly project like other directors. Nope, now that he's finished co-starring with Tom Cruise in the upcoming thriller One Shot, the director announced three new films, all of which sound amazing. The line-up consists of a documentary about the king of erotic photography Helmut Newton, a "stylized documentary" about volcanoes, and a narrative with Naomi Watts based on the life of Gertrude Bell, a "British explorer, Arabist, archaeologist, diplomat, administrator, and spy who with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire following World War I helped lay the foundations for modern Iraq."

Meanwhile, Michel Gondry is about to start shooting Mood of Indigo, an adaptation of Boris Vian's 1947 novel about a honeymoon gone strangely wrong. Filming will take place in Paris with Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris. Also, Ken Loach is prepping a documentary titled The Spirit of '45, which will focus on Britain in 1945 as it emerged from World War 2.

The Hunger Games ruled the European box office for the most part this week, but a few domestic releases managed to challenge it's reign. Most notable is the Danish WW2 film Hvidsten Gruppen (which now seems to be using This Life as the official translation), which actually had more entries than The Hunger Games in its fourth week of release. And yet, The Hunger Games still made more money. Apparently Danish cinemas charge higher ticket prices for longer movies. In Portugal, Florbella, a biopic about Poetess Florbella Espanca found great success, becoming the most seen Portuguese film of the year after just two weeks in release. But watch out! Miguel Gomes's knockout, Tabu, opens next week!

In France, Florent-Emilio Siri's biopic of 70's French singer Claude François, Clocio, is holding surprisingly strong, having pulled in $11 million total and still sitting pretty in third place. Spain, which did not get The Hunger Games instead gave their money to the French darling The Intouchables. This is the third country that the odd-couple comedy has conquered, following record-breaking runs in France and Germany. Naturally, there is now an American remake of The Intouchables in the works. At the moment, Colin Firth is in talks to play the quadriplegic aristocrat and Paul Feig is considering directing.

Finally, Mubi has posted a excellent essay by French Actor/Director Luc Moullet about the films of Michelangelo Antonioni that might make you feel a little less ashamed of those two or three times you fell asleep while trying to watch L'Aventura. To wit: "A drama that puts us to sleep is undeniably an unsuccessful film, especially when I notice that I'm not the only one asleep..." Highly Recommended.
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