We've been hearing about Martin Scorsese's George Harrison documentary since September 2007 when it was first announced.
While it's birth has been a long one, amassing a portrait of such a figure is no small undertaking and Scorsese has been shooting interviews with key figures in Harrison's life while making films like, "Shutter Island," and often at the same time.
The good news is now the film has actually finished shooting, has a title, "Living in the Material World: George Harrison" -- named after Harrison's 1973 album -- and is currently being shopped around in Cannes towards a 2011 release date.
Made in conjunction with Harrison's widow Olivia, Scorsese (or a surrogate, Bob Dylan's manager Jeff Rosen conducted all the interviews with Zimmy for "No Direction Home") interviewed an impressive assemblage of talent for the documentary, including Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Eric Idle, Tom Petty, Yoko Ono and Phil Spector (the latter of which produced Harrison's seminal 1970 triple album All Things Must Pass). As you'd imagine the doc will contain lots of never before seen footage and according to Variety, Olivia Harrison, "spent countless hours pouring through her husband's notes, cassette tapes and photos," that the public has obviously never seen.
Scorsese has an affinity for rock documentaries, having already directed films about The Band ("The Last Waltz"), the aforementioned Bob Dylan doc (one that we put at the top of our Best Music Documentaries of The Aughts), the Rolling Stones ("Shine a Light") and of course this current Harrison portrait. But the filmmaker just seems to love documentaries period and is currently at work on at least two others including a look at writer and acidic social commentator Fran Lebowitz and one created with longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker about the history of British Film (Schoonmaker was married to to British auteur Michael Powell, who co-created "The Red Shoes," a magnificently sumptuous 1948 drama about ballet that Scorsese has helped restore and bring back to screens in the last year).
The doc will concentrate heavily on Harrison's spiritual side (see the title), but will apparently span his time with The Beatles up to his death in 2001.
"No Direction Home" was an incredibly immersive and absorbing documentary that also took Scorsese several years to complete. The idea of the filmmaker delivering another deep dive into the life of another iconic musician -- and one amassed by the same editor, David Tedeschi -- is one that leaves us salivating like Pavlov's dog.
We've been hearing about Martin Scorsese's George Harrison documentary since September 2007 when it was first announced.
'Pi' Writer Sean Gullette To Make Directorial Debut With The Darren Aronofsky-Produced Conspiracy Thriller 'Tangier'; Emile Hirsch Circling Lead
Sean Gullette is set to helm the Darren Aronofsky-produced conspiracy thriller "Tangier" with actor Emile Hirsch circling the film's lead role.
Gullette is probably best known for co-writing and starring as reclusive mathematics genius Max Cohen in Aronofsky's debut feature "π" ("Pi"), but has also acted in and written an eclectic bunch of less prominent projects since then. He'll soon follow in the footsteps of Aronofksy and make his own directorial debut with "Tangiers."
The titular city is actually Gullette's place of residence — where he is also the co-founder of the 212 Society, a U.S. non-profit organization in the Moroccan city offering support to cultural and educational projects — but whether this will play into the film remains to be seen, as there are zero story details revealed so far other than "conspiracy thriller." Taking it's title from the city where he calls home, one would assume they'll be a deep seeded passion and personal investment running through the project. The same argument, though, was probably made for Baz Luhrman's disappointing work in "Australia" before its release.
"Tangiers" is currently being offered at the film market in Cannes and is apparently attracting a lot of interest, despite this being Gullette's first film. But under the watchful eye of Aronofsky and his Protozoa Pictures shingle and with Hirsch already circling a role, it's not hard to imagine why.
Cameron Crowe Confirmed For 'We Bought A Zoo? Ben Stiller And Matt Damon Offered Roles; Film Locked For Dec 2011 Release
As previously reported, Cameron Crowe now seems to be confirmed to direct the adaptation of Benjamin Mee's autobiographical "We Bought A Zoo" with offers out to Ben Stiller and Matt Damon, according to the latest issue of Production Weekly (the issue itself is not online) which has all kinds of little tidbits on the film.
Update: PWeekly was correct, Crow is officially directing this film. He's also rewriting the script to suit his style.
In what will be Crowe's first film since 2005's "Elizabethtown," Mee's story follows the English author as he uproots his family into the countryside on a property complete with a dwindling zoo, home to over 200 exotic animals. There, however, the family is struck with the tragic cancer battle of the wife and mother, whose unfortunate passing goes onto inspire the family to rebuild the zoo. Their relationship to the animals grows, ultimately healing the family's wounds and allowing them to move forward.
Stiller was previously linked to "We Bought A Zoo," but had seemingly dropped it for Noah Baumbach's similarly themed "Mr. Popper's Penguins." With the recent exit of the "Greenberg" director's participation -- it would seem the actor, who is also attached to direct and star in "Help Me Spread Goodness" (possibly this summer), may very well end up in Crowe's latest.
No word on what roles either actor would play, but Stiller was presumed to be joining as the lead in earlier reports. It's possible that Damon has been offered the same role in case the incredibly busy Stiller bails for one of his own projects. There's no guarantee either will take it, but the film has already been given a December 23, 2011 release date by 20th Century Fox and a tentative September starting date, so it appears that things will be moving shortly. More details to come, we're sure.
Regular Crowe production designer Clay Griffith has also joined the project in what was an early sign of Crowe's commitment to 'Zoo.' Mark Gordon ("Saving Private Ryan") is producing alongside Julie Yorn ("Unstoppable," "The Girl with the Red Riding Hood") under Gordon's eponymous company.
The story is being adapted for the screen by "The Devil Wears Prada" scribe Aline Brosh McKenna and a Christmas release is seemingly perfect for this emotional story with family intimacy at its core, certain to capture audiences' hearts especially during the festive season. Don't forget the successful, "Marley & Me," had the same release date in 2008. With a potential September start date being eyed we should hear some official word shortly.
European film producers Pan Europeenne are making quite a name for themselves at Cannes, announcing a slew of projects, the most prominent of them a $37 million-budgeted Jacques Cousteau film to be shot in 3D. The film is set to be a standard biopic, but they also claim it will be an "adventure film featuring many underwater scenes." So we can expect Cousteau to be joined by a cast of vengeful sharks, scheming jellyfish and whipsmart, wisecracking dolphins?
The project is being adapted from the book "Capitaine de la Calypso," written by fellow sea explorer Albert Falco, with Jerome Salles directing. This will be an international co-production, so we're guessing a healthy amount of the film will be in English -- leaving the role of lead jellyfish wide open for Jack Black.
Pan Europeenne is also working on a number of other projects at Cannes, including a badass-sounding movie from actor-director Tomer Sisley called "The Champion." Based on a true story, the film follows Tunisian Jew Victor Young Perez, a boxing champion sent to a concentration camp during the Holocaust, who then went on to box his German commandants. Whoa. Shooting starts in March 2011, though we have to say, we want that one now.
The financial crisis drama (tragedy? comedy?) "Margin Call" is beginning to take shape, just in time to capitalize on the 2008 financial crisis. Wait, what? That was two years ago? Oh, man, we are fucked. Way to tip us off, Hollywood. Kevin Spacey and Zachary Quinto were already announced as part of the cast, and now comes word that Carla Gugino (who we love, but isn't that great an actress, really) and Stanley Tucci (Sometimes ditto?) have jumped aboard.
Princeton defines a "margin call" as "a demand by a broker that a customer deposit enough to bring his margin up to the minimum requirement," so we'll guess there's some drama involved. The ensemble piece, directed by first-timer J.C. (Jesus?) Chandor details a 24 hour period when the financial crisis started to hit - very timely?
Enjoy the Carla Gugino picture. Happy Saturday!
As it turns out, Sony hasn't completely closed up shop on the old "Spider-Man" series. While the Raimis, Tobey Maguire and, we presume, composer Danny Elfman were jettisoned in favor of a cheaper franchise reboot, they'll be re-employing veteran screenwriter Alvin Sargent, their punch-up go-to guy for the previous three films. Sargent did uncredited work on the first film, but was credited on the second and third installments; his work evidently strong enough for the studio to bring him back again.
Sony must have Sargent on speed-dial, because he was already hired to polish the now-defunct "Spider-Man IV" concept. We're guessing Sargent, an old studio hand responsible for films like the Michael Caine-starrer "Gambit" and the Oscar-winner "Ordinary People," is more of an in-house guy for Sony than a writer-for-hire. His only actual credits in the last eight years were the last two "Spider-Man" films, but we wouldn't be surprised if Sargent's (unofficial) fingerprints have been on all sorts of Sony releases over the years.
Sargent is re-writing a draft already penned by James Vanderbilt, who previously brought us the screenplay for "Zodiac," but seems to have made his name in the action genre with "The Losers," "The Rundown" and one of the eight thousand drafts for "Wolverine." We're thinking upgrade. Sony wants to have the production ball rolling on "Spider-Man Re-Spidey'd" 3D by the end of the year, so we're guessing Sargent is well into one of many drafts.
David Fincher In Negotiations To Direct '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea'; Bourne' Writer Scott Z. Burns Penning Script
It feels like the world of cinema is an angry sea right now, lashing out and practically spitting news on the shores, as if in protest of the alleged "bad film climate" that suggests its more and more difficult for films to get made.
We swear we haven't seen a busier news week in years and it almost feels like there's a collective and optimistic "fuck you" attitude in Cannes right now against the economic forces out there. Sales at film festivals were extremely sluggish last year, but the news pouring out of Cannes this week suggests buyers, filmmakers and studios are all keen on moving above the hurdles.
And while it still might be difficult for a small, mid-sized drama to get off the ground, it's not difficult for high-concept projects with a likely high return on investment (the idea of course being: sink in millions, make even more millions back).
Case in point, this breaking news: David Fincher is now in negotiations to direct "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea," as written by Scott Z. Burns ("The Bourne Ultimatum," "The Informant" and Steven Sodbergh's just mentioned virus thriller, "Contagion") according to THR.
A project that McG was circling last year, but was then dramatically deep-sixed, it now has life again at Disney since Fincher pitched them a new take on the material. Disney & Fincher? Gee, we'd love to see how that one works, but apparently Fincher is eager to take on a tentpole picture and change pace.
While details are under wraps, the film's aim will be to dazzle visually and they're even throwing around comparisons to "The Empire Strikes Back," which is ironic because McG's dark take on the material was what led Disney to cancel the project, but they were also under new management at the time and have probably settled a little more with confidence in where they are going.
That's the other end of this equation. Intelligent modern auteurs can all see the change going on in film and several of them are realizing it's better to go high-concept for now, rather than trying to push Sisyphean smaller projects up studio mountains. Soderbergh has "Contagion" in 3D, Scorsese has "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" in 3D, Paul Greengrass potentially might make, "Fantastic Voyage" in 3D, Joe Wright went for an action thriller in "Hannah," and Sam Mendes traded chamber dramas to either make "Bond 23" or the 3D "Wizard of Oz" prequel. Expect this trend -- auteurs going big -- to continue, at least for the meantime.
Burns will start writing the script immediately. We're told Fincher's "The Social Network" is basically finished which is why the director has already started location shooting and holding auditions for his next likely project, "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," and will likely shoot in the fall. There are offers out to Brad Pitt and seemingly every leading lady in Hollywood is interested in the female role. However, this is a weird project in that Fincher is going full steam ahead with it and writer Steve Zaillian has yet to deliver his first draft. THR suggests, that '20,000 Leagues' could go first. Right now, it's too early to tell, but an October date for 'Dragon Tattoo' was almost settled on last we heard.
Here's this evening's potential story that will cause, "wtf??" reactions.
Steven Soderbergh's virus infection thriller written by Scott Z. Burns and starring a cluster of today's top A-list talent — Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard and Laurence Fishburne — is going 3D.
No really. And late last night Warner Bros. sent out a swarm of release dates for their 2011 schedule, so "Contagion" is now set for an October 21, 2011 bow in theaters which is obviously right in the heart of Oscar season.
The news will likely blindside some, and it is a questionable decision, especially as the film, while being marketed as an "action thriller," is more of a dramatic thriller in the vein of Soderbergh's Academy Award-winning 2000 film, "Traffic" (or at least it was in the taut draft we read earlier this year; we were told rewrites after that would bring more emotion to the characters, but that doesn't mean eye-popping 3D sequences).
But, here's the thing, the decision does make total sense, at least if you've followed Soderbergh closely over the last few years. Having shot "Che" on dripping-wet new RED cameras that may not have worked when he got to set (it was a leap of faith), and obviously omnivorous in his eclectic film taste and oeuvre so far, the filmmaker is clearly adventurous, inquisitive and willing to try every new thing.
Soderbergh is also good friends with James Cameron. Cameron produced "Solaris," handpicked the director to helm the film and also let Soderbergh take a very early peek at "Avatar" (remember this film was a few years in the making) which he was wowed by. And yes, the maneuver might feel like it's jumping on the recent 3D trend, but Soderbergh announced the musical "Cleo" in 3D in October of 2008, which is obviously more than a year and a half before studios started lazily re-upping every film into 3D to make a buck.
Also, we were recently told that "Cleo" looks like it may not be going to happen at this point — unless serious funding comes the crazy, ambitious picture's way — and Ray Winstone echoed these sentiments recently in an interview with Digital Spy where he was unsure if the film would happen or not (also Soderbergh has still been talking retirement - "Liberace" could be his last picture).
So with "Cleo" potentially dormant for now, perhaps the filmmaker still wants to explore the medium and only has what he feels are only a few options left to do so ("Knockout" is supposed to hit later this summer, "Contagion" is scheduled to shoot this fall, and "Liberace" would ostensibly be next). We might sound like apologists for the decision, but to the contrary, we'll admit, 3D for "Contagion" seems unnecessary and almost unsound. But you can't say the filmmaker hasn't been genuinely interested in the medium for quite some time now, so at least he's got that going for him.
Update: and interesting news out of Cannes. When we spoke to our sources last, "Liberace," would shoot in January of 2011. Evidently that's been pushed. Brad Brevet from Rope of Silicon tweets, "Michael Douglas tells me production starts on Soderbergh's 'Liberace' around this time in 2011." So shooting begins May 2011, great. Sounds like finances and everything are finally coming into place.
Last we heard Soderbergh's next picture, "Knockout," starring Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum and Michael Douglas (among others) was set to arrive in theaters this August and while the speedy, multi-tasking director can probably have the film done in time, Lionsgate has made no mention of its release since its initial announcement last year.
Also of note, release date-wise, is David Gordon Green's comedy, "The Sitter," starring Jonah Hill. The picture — reminiscent of "Adventures in Babysitting" but with a B12 shot of hilarious Apatowian hijinx injected into it — shoots this fall and is now set for a July 15, 2011 opening. WB issued a massive assembly of release dates yesterday which you can see here, but the only really other notable picture is Catherine Hardwicke's "Red Riding Hood," now slated for an April 22, 2011 date with Amanda Seyfried and Max Irons as the leads.
We don’t know how closely you’ve been following the "Superman" copyright litigation story, but here’s a brief recap for those not quite up to speed.
Lawyer Marc Toberoff, who seems to specialize in wrestling the creative rights for various fictional characters away from studios and restoring them to the families of their original creators, most recently set his sights on Warner Bros, representing the Shuster and Siegel families in the battle over the extremely lucrative Superman rights. WB, already facing a previous court ruling stating that at least a portion of those rights will be lost to them come 2013, and naturally anxious to fight back against the man considered by many to be a studio’s nemesis in such disputes, hired a bulldog lawyer of their own, Daniel Petrocelli, to go on the offensive and prevent any further loss of ground.
And offensive is certainly the right word, with Petrocelli just today filing a suit against Toberoff directly, claiming Toberoff has a financial interest in the issue outside of his capacity as a lawyer for the families, and therefore a conflict of interest should prevent him from repping the Shusters and the Siegels. Even more juicily, the suit is based on evidence that was allegedly stolen from Toberoff’s office, and, according to WB, was"‘mysteriously" left on its doorstep by a "whistleblower."
Talking to Deadline today, Toberoff has lashed out at what he calls WB’s/Petrocelli’s “gutter tactics” and claims:
“Even before filing this lawsuit, Warner Bros launched a well-coordinated media campaign to defame me. Warner Brothers and Mr. Petrocelli are well aware that their frivolous allegations in the complaint will never prevail. However, that’s not the purpose of the lawsuit against me. The purpose is to defame me or potentially conflict me out of the case and thereby pressure my clients to sell back the Superman and Superboy copyrights they've recaptured at a distress sales price.”
It’s an interesting point he makes — seemingly the very existence of such a lawsuit, whether or not it is of any legal merit, may itself constitute a conflict of interest and therefore force Toberoff to resign as attorney to the Siegels and the Shusters.
But before we get all misty-eyed about poor Toberoff and the nasty big studio that’s trying to stiff the creators’ families, and bearing in mind that as yet we have no direct response to Toberoff’s comments from Petrocelli or WB or DC, it’s worth remembering that back in September 2009, The Hollywood Reporter mentioned Toberoff’s other major project — a production company he set up called Intellectual Properties Worldwide (which has the forthcoming "Piranha 3D" listed on its IMDB page). The 2009 THR article concludes with:
“Toberoff has always stressed to us that he separates his legal work from his business ventures, but he's admitted that he'd be pleased if his clients — after reclaiming rights — came to him to explore their next steps.”
This is of interest because of the claim, according to Deadline, in today’s lawsuit that “Toberoff caused the Shuster and Siegel families to repudiate their agreements and relations with DC, enter into a web of new agreements with his companies, and terminate and seek to recapture DC’s Superman copyright interests” and that this was done “to position Toberoff and his companies to secure a controlling financial interest in the families' collective claims — leaving him as the largest financial stakeholder (47.5%), while relegating the Siegel heirs (27.5%) and Shuster heirs (25%) to minority status.”
Now, we’re a bit fuzzy on the legal minutiae involved, but however much credence you give to WB's claims, Toberoff is a man who, in his capacity as attorney for Jack Kirby’s family has put plans in motion to secure the rights to "X-Men," "The Hulk," "The Fantastic Four," and other properties for the Kirby family in the future, in addition to the work he’s now doing for the Siegels and the Shusters. If he succeeds in any of these cases, his relationships with the new rights owners certainly would see him in a uniquely privileged position when it comes to the future development of any of those massive franchises.
Obviously, this is all highly speculative (don’t sue), and for the moment what is really at issue is the immediate future of the Man of Steel. As Toberoff has pointed out to WB, come 2013 "... neither DC Comics nor Warner Bros will be able to exploit any new Superman works without a license from the Siegels and Shusters." Not only this, but if production doesn’t start on a Superman sequel or reboot in 2011 at the latest, the families could sue for the rights at that point, since the franchise would have lain dormant for more than an acceptable time.
The full complaint touches on a whole raft of issues — from Siegel and Shuster’s own relationships with DC to the allegations of Toberoff’s undue financial involvement in the Superman outcome. But no matter what, it seems the fans are going to be pro-the Shusters and the Siegels (and therefore probably pro-Toberoff) in the dispute, with Petrocelli's seemingly underhanded tactics doing WB no favours in this regard. We safely predict this story is only going to get more involved and most probably more bitter as time goes on — in fact, when the dust settles, we can see the whole palaver being made into a movie. If they can just work out who owns the rights.
Right now Christopher Nolan and David Goyer — the overseer and writer of the next "Superman" film respectively — are probably groaning over this news and then saying to each other, "fuck it, let's keep moving forward." Or at least, that's what we do in times of potential crisis.
Plenty of goodies have been released for Mathieu Amalric's Cannes entry "Tournee" ("On Tour)" as Rope of Silicon recently shared the poster, trailer, and various pictures of the film.
David Gritten, briefly writing the one positive mini-review for Telegraph, notes "Tournee is funny, intelligent, sad-eyed — just like Amalric himself."
The rest of the reviews are not so positive.
Rope of Silicon's Brad Brevet grades the film a B-, saying "Much of Tournee feels abstract... he does a solid job developing the characters and giving the audience necessary information as to where they come from and where they're going — if anywhere. However, the abrupt introduction and where the film ends up never makes it feel like a complete picture... the film doesn't create enough sustainable layers to justify a nearly two hour runtime..."
David Bourgeois of Movieline says "The New Burlesque performers in the film are the real deal... and as such their acting is at best grating and at worst embarrassing. Amalric...seemingly never quite knows where he wants to take the film. We know little of his character, and the burlesque performers never come across as anything more than not-too-bright objets d’art."
Time Out's Dave Calhoun gives 2 stars to the film, mentioning that "the writing and (Amalric's) acting are never convincing enough to make you believe his predicament as a man torn between his past and present and increasingly ill at ease with his place in life." He mentions that the best scenes are of "the burlesque girls themselves... doing amazing things with giant balloons and nipple tassles and bantering among themselves on trains and in dressing rooms" but claims the rest of the film is "forced and (has) less credible histrionics."
Uhh, ok, we're not sure what's going on here exactly, but it sounds like the Wachowski Brothers — Larry (or Lana if you like) and Andy — have a new project in the works and it sounds infinitely better than their 2008 eyeball-searing spectacle, "Speed Racer" (misunderstood, my ass).
And really, it actually potentially sounds like their best. movie. ever, and dear god, we want this movie to happen so badly. The brothers best movie actually is their sophomore 1996 pulpy lesbian noir, "Bound," and this new project sounds like a return to that territory.
Their new script, which they are currently shopping around at Cannes is — no joke — a Gay, hard-R Iraq War picture about an homosexual American solider who falls in love with an Iraqi. God, that sort of sounds pretty fucking amazing.
According to Deadline it's a "cinema verite-style treatment that begins in the near future and then spans back over years that include the current war in Iraq." So is this the "secret futuristic war movie" that /Film has been poking around about that includes appearances by Arianna Huffington and Jesse Ventura?
Sure sounds like it, though we have to admit, the futuristic element of the film is far less appealing to us and we'd sort of love America to confront a here-and-now gay Iraq war film. That's all the details so far. Maybe they're merging those fetishistic sequences in the 3rd "Matrix" films — bondage gear and all — with the more blatant sexual proclivities of "Bound"?
Hey, if it titillates and potentially outrages the middle of the country, and is nothing like the last two "Matrix" films (oof, they were akin to Lucas' "Star Wars" prequels in their myth-killing) and "Speed Racer," we'll be down with that. Now, will some major studio actually have the balls to fund this? Stay tuned for more.
Umm, ok. We don't think that Joseph Gordon-Levitt looks anything like a young, handsome Bruce Willis, but Deadline says Rian Johnson seems to disagree.
And fine, we'll take that leap of faith... for now.
Willis is set to play an older version of Gordon-Levitt in Johnson's upcoming sci-fi pic "Looper." As we reported recently, the film's premise is based around time travel, with crime syndicate hitmen and their victims going back in time, thus leaving no body or evidence of the killer's victim. Other than that little piece of info, we don't know too much about the plot just yet and though the premise is simple, time travel film elements can easily get convoluted - ever see "Primer"? Let's just hope that Johnson — who has penned some wickedly taut and sharp films in his short, auspicious career so far — will avoid those pitfalls.
The inclusion of Willis's character does give us a few small hints as to the plot to the film, however. It's all speculation, but if Willis and Gordon-Levitt are the two big names in the cast, then maybe they're meant to meet and clash with one another - as it's being billed as a "sci-fi thriller" we can presumably expect some sort of tension between the two and a brisk pace - "Solaris" this is not. Incidentally "Men In Black 3" is using a similar conceit with Josh Brolin playing a younger Tommy Lee Jones, and let's just say right now that in that context it sounds horrible.
Ah, Danny Huston — we don’t know why we love him but we do. Or at least this writer does...
For every great movie he’s chosen to grace with his considerable presence (“Children of Men,” “The Proposition”) there’s a complete stinker (“Wolverine," “The Number 23”), though kind-of-okay performances in films that should have been better ("The Aviator," 30 Days of Night," "Marie Antoinette," "Birth") are really his stock in trade. But our foolish hearts are loyal nonetheless, and are gladdened at the news that after his one-line performance in "Clash of the Titans" (and it wasn’t even the “Release the Kraken” line), and a brief turn as Richard the Lionheart in “Robin Hood” (which was pretty laughable), Huston has been cast in what appears to be a meaty and controversial leading role, even if the film itself seems destined to be little-seen.
The film is “Playoff” to be directed by Israeli director Eran Riklis, among whose previous works “Lemon Tree” and “The Syrian Bride” both deal, to a more or less metaphorical degree, with the thorny issues surrounding his home country’s international relations. It’s territory that “Playoff” will also cover, though this time through the prism of Max Stoller (based on real life’s Ralph Klein), an Israeli basketball coach and Holocaust survivor who brings his Tel Aviv team to victory in the European Championships, only to court massive outrage when he accepts an invitation to coach the German team thereafter. If this all sounds a little politics-heavy, well, it probably is, though apparently the film also focuses on Holler’s resurfacing memories as he returns to Frankfurt.
"I have to speak German and Hebrew and even play a bit of basketball, so it'll be a challenge," Huston said in interview, "but the film is really about childhood and how the stories and memories of your past are often lies."
Shooting starts on June 29th in Frankfurt, and while this writer's not particularly well-educated about the director’s former work [ed. "Lemon Tree" is a solid piece of work], if we get 90 plus minutes of Huston in even fair-to-middling form, we’ll make the effort to search this one out. We assume some effort may be needed as it’s unlikely “Playoff” will be dominating multiplexes any time soon, you know, because they’ve made the idiotic decision not to shoot it in 3D.
Julie Taymor Wants To Shoot Musical 'Transposed Heads' Next, Has To Finish Broadway 'Spiderman' First
Things seem to be looking up a bit for Julie Taymor. Her highly anticipated big-screen take on "The Tempest" starring Helen Mirren, Chris Cooper, Felicity Jones, David Strathairn, Djimon Hounsou, Reeve Carney, Alan Cumming, Alfred Molina, Ben Whishaw and Russell Brand, has found its way out of post-Miramax hell and will finally be released by Touchstone Pictures in December. And her oft-delayed and troubled stage production of "Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark," -- even though it's now minus two leads in Evan Rachel Wood and Alan Cumming -- does seem to be on its way to hit Broadway this fall. With that in mind, Taymor is looking to the future.
The director wants to tackle a film adaptation of the musical "Transposed Heads" for her next project. Taymor originally produced the musical back in 1986, which, based on the retelling of an Indian fable by Thomas Mann, tells the story of Shirdaman and Nantha, who behead themselves, find their heads, return on each other's respective bodies and meet Kali. For the project, Taymor is rounding up old friends: Glenn Berger ("Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark") is penning the screenplay and Elliot Goldenthal, who did the music for Taymor's original stage production will take on those duties again here (Goldenthal also worked on Taymor's "Frida" and "Across The Universe"). She wants to shoot the film in India and New York.
If this happens, it might be a while off. Of course, Taymor needs to finish her work on 'Spiderman" before even starting on "Transposed Heads," but with Taymor's last outing, "Across The Universe," fizzling at the box office, we would imagine financing might be difficult to pull together. That said, given the subject matter, it wouldn't surprise us if Taymor found deep pockets from Eastern investors. Either way, any time Taymor is involved in a new project, we're interested. She's hands-down one of the most visually arresting and interesting filmmakers currently working and her audacious vision is always worth checking out, so we're curious to see what's next in store.
Long in the works, and previously set up late last year with Mickey Rourke and Forest Whitaker in the leads, Walter Hill's "St. Vincent" has found new life, and a new cast.
Pierce Brosnan, Billy Bob Thornton, Maria Bello and Giovanni Ribisi have joined the film that "follows a hitman (Brosnan) who goes undercover as a priest to get close to his target, a gangland traitor (Thornton). The hitman soon discovers that playing the good guy is more dangerous than being a mob killer." Last month Rourke said the film was "not happening" which many presumed to mean the project was dead, but it simply looks like its moving on without him.
We like the concept, and dare we say, we're more interested in it now with Rourke and Whitaker not in the cast. Brosnan as a calculating hitman and Thorton as a gangland snitch sounds promising and lord knows, both actors have been in more than a few projects beneath their talents lately. As for Hill, he's noted for directing "The Warriors" and "48 Hrs." but he hasn't helmed anything worth talking about in ages. Here's hoping this project finds everyone at the top of their game.
Jon Favreau's forthcoming sci-fi action movie is rounding up one helluva cast. Already onboard the graphic novel adaptation is Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell and Noah Ringer and now two more very interesting talents have been added.
Deadline reports that Paul Dano, Keith Carradine and Clancy Brown (mostly a voice actor by trade, but seems to have a flesh and bones part here) have joined the film. In Mike Fleming's rush to get the story up, he's cut out what role Dano is supposed to play, but Carradine will play the town sheriff and Brown one of the cowboys who'll team up against the aliens.
Yesterday, the full synopsis for the film hit the web but we'll give you the condensed version here. A stranger with no memory (Craig) comes across a desert town in the 1870s. The town lives in fear and under the rule of the sheriff and they don't take kindly to strangers. But when aliens start to arrive, the town bands together and the stranger in their midst slowly remembers who he is and more importantly, how he can save them.
Filming on the project starts next month in New Mexico, and film will hit theaters on July 29, 2011.
Normally these "alien invasion pictures" are pretty run of the mill, rote, predictable, etc.
However, "The Darkest Hour" has a pretty good cast already in Emile Hirsch and Olivia Thirlby; two twenty-something actors we're pretty convinced are going to go on to Oscar nominations later in their career.
Two other promising actors have just joined the cast. Aussie actress Rachael Taylor, one of the only tolerable elements of the original "Transformers," and Joel Kinnaman who we honestly don't know, but he's from "Snabba Cash." That Swedish film has turned director Daniel Espinosa in to a hot commodity (he was being considered for "X-Men: First Class" and has a bevy of projects at his choosing). The entire endeavor sounds at least a little bit off the beaten path which sits right with us.
It's produced by Russian filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov (ok, "Wanted" isn't our favorite, but still) and it's being directed by Chris Gorak ("Right At Your Door," plus he was the art director on "Fight Club," "Minority Report" and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" which could mean some awesome aesthetics) and written by Gorak and Josh Zetumer, who is a Black List favorite and once was one of the writers on board the now-dead "Bourne 4."
Also making it different is that the pic is set in Moscow and follows a group of Americans traveling in the city when an alien invasion occurs. OK, it could turn out to be something faceless like "The Faculty," with a bunch of good looking, up-and-coming stars, but hey, we're trying to be optimistic these days. Why not.
A.R. Rahman To Score Shekhar Kapur's Sci-Fi-Ish Loss Of Water On Planet Film, 'Paani,' Could Kristen Stewart Join?
Last summer we reported on a project from India's well-celebrated director Shekhar Kapur ("Elizabeth" and its sequel, "Elizabeth: The Golden Age") called, "Paani" ("Water")," that Danny Boyle was apparently so gung-ho to do he's trying to convince Kapur to delay another film.
Boyle and Kapur had talked about some sort of collaboration, but never really talked specifics. “We are looking at a potential collaboration,” Kapur said then. “We are at a creative stage right now and there is nothing concrete yet."
We imagined that might be some sort of producer/director collaboration? Who knows.
But Deadline just reported some additional news on this sci-fi-ish project about an era when water has run out (sounds sci-fi in the same vein as Fernando Meirelles' "Blindness" which is more like not-too-distant-future dystopian) and it appears that "Slumdog Millionaire" composer A.R. Rahman will score the picture.
No word on Danny Boyle's involvement at all from Deadline, but that doesn't mean he couldn't be some kind of executive producer giving the film some clout. Boyle is afterall an Academy Award winner and pretty much had his pick of the litter of projects after 'Slumdog' (he instead chose the intimate character study and true story piece, "127 Hours" about a hitchiker trapped under a boulder in the Colorado mountains).
Kapur's project has been gestating for over five years now. In a 2005 blog post he wrote:
"Today another dream was rekindled. Paani. A film that has lived in my consciousness for almost 5 years, when I watched 50 women and children standing in the hot sun in Mumbai. Each carrying a bucket waiting for a tap to start dripping with water. Paani means Water in Hindi. I had just come down from a friends place in Pali Hill, one of the more expensive residential areas in Mumbai. My friend had me waiting for half an hour while he showered. He lived on the 30th floor, and the slum where there was no water was just below his apartment building. This inequity in the most basic resource."While most are probably hoping for another "Children of Men," we're pretty sure Kapur will turn in something fairly different. Though in this film climate, it's probably good for the film director to attempt to put on something like this that could sound more appealing than, "drama in India where water has run out." To most studios (and hell film bloggers) that's meh, but throw the "sci-fi" tag and people pop out of holes like groundhogs. More power to them if they get funding and a green light.
Recent reports in India said that Kapur had approached Kristen Stewart for a role, but he quickly dismissed those that talk. However, he didn't rule it out either and it's sounds like the two had some very preliminary conversations. "Kristin Stewart is not aboard ‘Paani,’" Kapur said. "We have just had one conversation. She still needs to read the script. People are jumping to conclusions.” Yeah, it's called the Internet, people will do that (and some will argue we're doing just that, but we're just collating some facts. Make of them what you will...)
Update: You gotta wonder why we bother with Deadline sometimes and their pithy two sentence stories racing to get out there first at the expense of context. THR has more details. Here's the true synopsis.
The project is a love story set in a mega city in a future where precious H2O has all but run out and corporations go to war over its control. The city is divided into two conflicting halves, in which the upper city hoards all the water and drip feeds the slums of the lower city. A girl from the upper tier meets a water rat boy and falls in love against this backdrop.The film has a $30 million dollar budget, will hopefully shoot in November and Danny Boyle will get some kind of producing credit for pushing Kapur do this project now because he felt it was so relevant and timely.
Criterion Announces August Slate: Terry Zwigoff's 'Crumb,' Early Kurosawa, Von Sternberg Silents & More
Criterion has announced their August slate, and it's a doozy for classic film enthusiasts with only two "contemporary" titles in sight that just happen to be a couple of early efforts by Terry Zwigoff. This late summer schedule hearkens back to the label's early days mostly pre-occupied with cinematic history, so excuse us if we're feeling some slight deja vu.
Kicking things off, and first revealed in our interview with Criterion last year, cinematic master Josef Von Sternberg makes his debut in the collection with three silent and previously unavailable works. The simply titled set "Three Silent Classics by Josef Von Sternberg" the DVD set includes the director's influential gangster effort "Underworld," the historical epic "The Last Command" and the celebrated "Docks Of New York." The set will feature two different musical scores for each film, two visual essays, a 1968 Swedish television interview with Sternberg and a whopping 96-page booklet featuring essays, the original film treatment for "Underworld" and an excerpt from his autobiography.
Next are two films from cult filmmaker Terry Zwigoff. Making its debut on DVD is Zwigoff's first feature, the documentary "Louis Blouie." The film chronicles Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong a blues musician, visual artist and member of the last known black string band in America. The set features a commentary by Zwigoff and outtakes/deleted scenes. But the film that put Zwigoff on the map was his follow up, the brilliant "Crumb." The documentary is about the titular cartoonist Robert Crumb and is a must-see even if you're not familiar or a fan of his work. Arriving on DVD and BluRay, the set will feature two commentaries, one of which includes Roger Ebert, an early champion of the film as well as outtakes and deleted scenes.
French filmmaker Maurice Pialat returns to the collection as Criterion issues his debut feature on DVD "L'enface nue." The film chronicles the travails of a foster child with stark, clear-eyed realism. The DVD will include an early short from the director, "L'amour existe" as well as "Choses vue, autour de 'L'enfance nue'" a documentary about the film that was made shortly after its initial release. An essay and interviews round things out.
Jumping over the Eclipse line, Akira Kurosawa's early films get compiled in "The First Films Of Akira Kurosawa." These titles, previously only available in the massive AK: 100 anniversary box set are now available here and include "Sanshiro Sugata," "The Most Beautiful," "Sanshiro Sugata Part Two" and "The Men Who Tread On The Tiger's Tails." As per usual with Eclipse, there are no extras available.
Finally, Criterion re-issues Marcel Camus' "Black Orpheus" on BluRay. The disc will feature all the same extras as on the current DVD incarnation, but of course, will be in dazzling high definition.
A project in development for at least three years now, finally looks like its getting some forward momentum.
Elijah Wood is set to star in the indie noir "Black Wings Has My Angel," based on the celebrated but obscure pulp novel by journalist Elliott Chaze. In the film, Wood will play an ex-con who "stages a daring armored-car robbery in Colorado with the help of a call girl he picked up in a backwoods Mississippi motel."
According to an Amazon review, the lead character of Tim Sunblade is "a quintessential antihero and "an unrepentant bastard." This will definitely be a change of pace for Wood who is largely known for being a hobbit and still looks like he's twelve years old. That said, no one could have imagined his creepy turn in "Sin City" so we'll give the benefit of the doubt in being able to pull off the hard-boiled role.
The film will be written and directed by Alfonso "Poncho" Ulloa who is making his English language feature debut.
Something we reported on earlier this year. Buried in the bottom of the ScreenDaily article about Cate Shortland's new film, "Lore" is a tiny bit of post-shot casting news...
So-Yong Kim's "For Ellen" has added Jena Malone to the cast that already featured Paul Dano and Jon Heder (the initial announcement was only the two male leads). The film follows an aspiring young rock star (Dano) who, in the midst of a divorce, decides to become a bigger part of his six-year-old daughter’s life. Jen Gatien and Bradley Rust-Gray (the upcoming "Jack & Diane") are producing alongside Kim with delivery also set for spring 2011.
According to IMDB (which is probably correct in this instance since it's after the fact), Margarita Levieva "(Adventureland") and Dakota Johnson ("The Social Network" and Larry Clark's upcoming "Savage Innocents") also star.
Evidently it already shot and Dano recently spoke about it to the AV Club: "'For Ellen' is a really great, really beautiful script that So [Yong Kim] wrote and that’s a fantastic part and a part that I don’t think I’ve done. I get to play this selfish, sort of narcissistic prick who’s kind of a hard rocker: tattoos, jewelry, leather jacket—kind of a sexual part too. It’s something I haven’t done and I had to do it. I didn’t know if I could do it, but I knew something good would come out of it."
Sounds like a nice change of pace for Dano who's been falling into the trap of taciturn, pensive and sadsack roles of late (see "The Good Heart"). Mark this one down on your 2011 indie calendar. So-Yong Kim's celebrated 2009 picture, "Treeless Mountain," wasn't exactly our favorite of the year, but it did show promise. We're looking forward to more. Jenna Malone we like too, but she's only been acting sporadically in the last few year (small roles in, "Into The Wild," "The Messenger," "The Soloist") seemingly concentrating on her music career rather than full blown acting.
Cate Shortland will helm an adaptation of Rachel Seiffert's Booker Prize winning novel, "The Dark Room."
"Lore," as it's titled, follows the story of the 14-year-old titular character who is left alone in charge of her four young siblings after her Nazi parents are captured after the German front collapses. The siblings then embark on a 900 kilometer journey across the country to get to their grandmother’s house.
The film will be Shortland's long awaited follow up to 2004's poignant and vastly underrated coming-of-age tale "Somersault" which featured in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival that year and swept the Australian Film Institute's awards winning 13 out of 15 awards. Its leads, Sam Worthington and Abbie Cornish, who were a part of that awards-domination, have also since gone on to become certified stars in Hollywood after breaking out with James Cameron's "Avatar" and Jane Campion's "Bright Star." The film boasts some wonderfully expressive aesthetics too including a wonderfully somnambulant soundtrack by Aussie gauze-dreamers Decoder Ring and lensing right out of the Sofia Coppola/Lynne Ramsay school of visuals.
Backed by the likes of Rohfilm, Edge City Films, Porchlight Films and KGP, "Lore" is currently in pre-production with delivery to its newly-announced distributors, Memento Films International, set for the spring of 2011. While not perfect (it can be kinda melodramatic in spots), "Sommersault" was still an auspicious piece of work (it probably features Worthington's most non-wooden performance to date, with a mullet to boot!) and we look forward to more of Shortland's unique brand of cinema. Here's the "Sommersault" trailer if you missed the picture back in '04.
The easy-to-please crowd generally love it which makes it sounds like crowd-pleaser.
Update: Owen Gleiberman of EW writes positively "Like the original 'Wall Street,' it’s a darkly exciting steel-and-glass vision of piranhas in the water, of ruthlessly wealthy, nattily dressed men doing whatever it takes to make themselves wealthier. Stone, working from a screenplay by Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff, conjures that same breathless atmosphere of dramatic liquidity, of a plot that hurtles along at the speed of information."Update: Michael Phillips of The Chicago Tribune, in a confused state, writes: "Weirdly -- and this may hurt the film’s chances this fall -- 'Wall Street 2' goes soft on its main reason for existing. It would’ve been dull seeing the same old Gekko, to be sure. But his matchmaking duties this time out, however shadowy, defang the man. And wouldn’t this character at least betray a teensy bit of envy for all millions made by the hedge-fund wizards who came up after him? That’s the irony: So many legally sanctioned Wall Street gamblers made their hay after buying, wholesale, the glamorously unscrupulous image put forth by the original “Wall Street.”Update: David Gritten of the The Daily Telegraph lays it down: "The film’s emotional relationships feel awkward and forced. Carey Mulligan does her best in the role of Winnie, who is meant to be pivotal – the battleground between Gekko and Jacob. But she’s essentially a liberal cipher, and somewhat passive. (This is, of course, primarily a film for and about men.) LaBeouf is just about old enough to play a smart young trader, and does so efficiently, if not particularly interestingly. "
Variety has small issues, but overall seems to agree that it's surprisingly good. "'Money Never Sleeps' finds Stone at ease in a way he hasn't been in years, his camera moving assuredly from high-powered charity banquets to the Federal Reserve Board's inner chambers to de rigueur shots of the trading-room floor. Stone also seems well aware that the last thing most moviegoers want is a depressing dramatization or comprehensive overview of what has become a grim everyday reality. Thus, one tycoon's suicide by subway train notwithstanding, the overall mood is brisk, light, even playful."
Update: Todd McCarthy's review at IndieWire has finally arrived and he's not loving it. "The script feels like a pasted-together hodgepodge of elements that co-exist without credibly blending together, topped by a climax that feels particularly hokey in its effort to leave audiences comfortable rather than disturbed by what they’ve just seen. It’s surprising for Oliver Stone to propagate an air of complacency about the financial state of things, but that’s the effect of the outrageously false feel-good ending. There are moments that bare more teeth than 'W.' did, but they’re mostly in the first couple of reels."
THR is impressed out of the gate saying the picture "is that rare sequel that took its time -- 23 years -- so it not only advances a story but also has something new to say. The film overheats now and then but blame this on filmmaking passion. One senses a fully engaged filmmaker at the helm, driving the movie at a lightning pace as if in a hurry to get to the next scene or next aphorism that further illuminates this dark world."
The Guardian's Xan Davis gave the film a thumbs up with small caveats, "Even if this rather runs out of steam beyond the halfway mark, it remains a brashly entertaining yarn from the frontline of the financial crisis," mentioning that the film is very obvious but "no one ever looked to Oliver Stone for nuance and subtlety. The director is the maestro of the broad brushstroke, the bold (and sometimes garbled) polemic, and 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps' is a film that leaves no tub unthumped."
Anne Thompson from Indiewire was unimpressed. "The movie follows so many threads and characters that none of them is fully-fledged, somehow. I wanted more of LaBeouf and Mulligan and Douglas, who lost his father early in life and cares deeply about his old lion boss (Frank Langella) and seeks a relationship with Gekko, who manipulates him effectively. Stone throws distracting cameos into the movie, from himself wearing a diamond stud and Charlie Sheen, who encounters Gekko at a party, to Vanity fair’s Graydon Carter, Sylvia Miles as a real estate broker and New York press agent Peggy Siegal as part of a Metropolitan Museum fund-raiser packed with women loaded with heavy jewelry. The movie pops in and out of satirizing and referencing itself and trying to create an authentic drama. And yet it moves along entertainingly, even if the resolution seems Hollywood pat."
Critic Aaron Hills tweeted bluntly (though how many other ways can you tweet) and negatively, saying "2.5 hrs of bullet-point speeches about $$$. Mulligan cries, Langella hams, Sheen cameos, Shia lebeoufs."
Sasha Stone from Awards Daily makes a strong, early opinion, tweeting, "I know it's nucking futs but wall street 2 is my fave of the fest so far. And not just b/c my fave talking heads song closes it out."
Movieline is underwhelmed.
Total Film, the geeks who frankly love everything and are not much of any critical barometer, say that it was "absolutely brilliant" in a short video review. They laundry list: "The performances are all uniformly excellent. Michael Douglas still has that twinkle in his eye, Carey Mulligan shines, Shia is perfectly cast, the soundtrack is excellent, the script is fantastic, it's got lots of one liners and is funnier than you'd expect. I'd give it four cannes."There you have it "Wall Street 2," maybe a good slice of absorbing entertainment. Though as per usual, we recommend you wait to your hear it from your neighborhood friendly Playlist before you truly believe what's what. ;)
/Film's Peter Sciretta is the only geek writer who dissents tweeting, "Was left disappointed by Wall Street 2. Not a bad movie but just nowhere near as good as the first."