Rami Malek lined up as Bond villain
Fresh from his Academy Award win for Bohemian Rhapsody, Rami Malek is set to sign up as the lead villain in Bond 25, the much-delayed new 007 film that is due to be Daniel Craig’s last outing in the role. Collider reports that Malek is in final negotiations for the part, with his newly enhanced status as an Oscar-winner a factor. Malek had been under consideration for some time, but Variety had reported in December that his work schedule on the final season of Mr Robot, the TV series in which he plays a computer hacker with an anxiety disorder, meant he was unable to do both. Now, however, it appears he will be accommodated.
Producers are also reported to be attempting to persuade another Oscar winner, Lupita Nyong’o, to join the film. The delays that have hit the troubled production may have worked in Malek’s favour, as the studio shoot is now set to begin in April, under the working title Shatterhand. The film’s release date has been pushed back to April 2020 amid reports of extensive script rewrites. Bourne Ultimatum writer Scott Z Burns has been hired to rework the screenplay. Original director Danny Boyle dropped out in August 2018 after “creative differences” with the producers, and there have since been script drafts by Paul Haggis and the series’ writing team Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.
Few details have emerged about the villain role, but French-Moroccan actor Saïd Taghmaoui said in 2018 he had been approached to play it, though the ethnic identity of the character had not been established at that stage.
China to cut LGBT scenes from film
The Freddie Mercury and Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody will have all overt LGBT scenes removed for its release in China, it has been reported. According to the Hollywood Reporter, at least a minute will be cut from the film in order to secure permission for it to be screened in Chinese cinemas, including scenes where Mercury (played by Rami Malek) kisses other male characters. Scenes of drug use will also be removed.
China’s reluctance to allow LGBT-themed films to reach cinema audiences was underlined when a domestic TV streaming service, Mango TV, was reported to have censored Malek’s acceptance speech for the best actor Oscar on February 24 , replacing the phrase “gay man” with “special group” in its subtitles.
Although a major commercial success all over the globe, Bohemian Rhapsody is likely to secure only a small-scale release in China — unlike Oscar-winners Moonlight and Call Me By Your Name, which failed to be released there at all. However, the live-action film Beauty and the Beast, with its brief “gay moment”, was given a significant release in 2017, earning a reported $85m. Bohemian Rhapsody has already attracted considerable criticism for perceived “straightwashing” in its originally released form, with suggestions that it glossed over Mercury’s real-life hedonist persona. However, LGBT activist Gary Nunn argued in the Guardian that the film was “inspiring” and a “job well done”.
Rejected painting worth £100m?
Sellers of a painting that they insist is a lost Caravaggio and worth in excess of £100m have announced it will be sold this summer without a reserve. The large painting of Judith beheading Holofornes was found by accident in a Toulouse attic in 2014. It has been pored over by art history experts and scientifically analysed and a highly convincing case has been made that
it is from around 1607 and by Caravaggio. But it is a compelling case rather than a categorical one and that presents a dilemma. “The poor buyer of this picture will not enjoy it,” said Eric Turquin, a Paris-based expert in the Old Masters. “He will have to have a special mailbox for all the e-mails.” Turquin was in London, accompanied by the painting, to make the case for it being a genuine Caravaggio as it went on display in London. It was discovered by the auctioneer Marc Labarbe in 2014 during a clearout of an attic in a large house in Toulouse. The painting was kept a secret for two years, with Turquin hanging it in his bedroom despite whom he described as “my poor wife”.