Actor, filmmaker, artist, icon and iconoclast Dennis Hopper has passed away today at the age of 74.
Best known for writing and directing "Easy Rider," Hopper's career spanned five decades with roles as varied and unique as the man himself. While the baby-boomer set might remember his cult classic with Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson, his work included roles that provided entry points into his career for different generations of fans with memorable turns in a diverse array of films, including Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now," David Lynch's "Blue Velvet" and Jan De Bont's "Speed." Hopper's career might not have been the same had it not been for working alongside James Dean in "Rebel Without A Cause" and "Giant," with the actor taking Hopper under his wing and mentoring him. Hopper was recognized by the Academy twice, nominated for writing "Easy Rider" and his turn opposite Gene Hackman in "Hoosiers."
Hopper was also known for his artwork which spanned photography, painting and sculpture; he even created the cover art for Ike & Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High." In April it was announced that a Julian Schnabel-curated exhibit of Hopper's works would be part of the inaugural show by Jeffrey Deitch at the Museum Of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.
Hopper had been ill with prostate cancer for much of the past year but continued to work as much as he could. He received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this last March and is survived by his four children.
Actor, filmmaker, artist, icon and iconoclast Dennis Hopper has passed away today at the age of 74.
Dust off your “will not die” puns now as the "Final Destination" franchise, despite being supposed to have been hit by that bus/decapitated by that ceiling fan/impaled on that large shard of plate glass, lives again. The fifth entry in the series has been announced by New Line for an August 2011 3D release. Currently in the mix potential-director-wise are three first-timers: Steve Quale, Bradley Parker and Charles Gibson, who each have a background in visual effects.
It’s true that New Line marketed number 4, “The Final Destination” as the last one, hence the bold move of putting the definite article right there in the title. And when the film opened to the worst reviews the franchise had yet received, it seemed that, yes, the movie would make a small profit for them and then limp off stage left, where it would get entangled in the the curtain rope and quietly asphyxiate. But then the damn thing went and made $200 million dollars worldwide and New Line were basically honour-bound by the industry creed (follow the money) to go again. What’s funny here is the honest bafflement displayed by New Line execs about the fourth film’s success, with one of them admitting, “It’s the worst film of the franchise. And that’s not my opinion; that’s everyone’s opinion.”
Vulture explores and then dismisses 3D as the reason for the bigger-than-expected returns: it doesn’t account for the massive overseas profits where 3D screens are far less common (No. 4 has made $115 million non-domestically so far, and in certain territories, like Italy, it’s only just opening). Instead, they cite producer Craig Perry’s assessment that it was all about distribution. For the fourth film, New Line handed international duties to a subsidiary of Warner Bros., and so it benefited from WB’s enormous overseas clout. As an ‘overseas’ type myself, this writer can vouch for the fact that “The Final Destination” did have a much higher profile than any of the others, maybe since the first one (which was also popular, but still took $55 million less than the fourth internationally).
You can't keep a muddy, dirty, sweat-drenched filmmaker down. John Hillcoat, fresh off the collapse of his Prohibition-era crime drama "The Promised Land," says his next film will possibly be the previously-reported frontier western actioner "The Revenant." In an interview with New York Magazine regarding the short film he directed for the video game "Red Dead Redemption" that airs on Fox tonight (trailer below), he doesn't mention the name of the project, but he says about his next offering, "I’ve got another potential western, though it’s more of an action frontier film, going back in time in the early 1800s when a third of America was even unmapped and unexplored terrain."
"The Revenant," based on the novel by Michael Punke, was adapted by Mark L. Smith into, oddly enough, a star vehicle for Samuel L. Jackson. It made the Black List of 2007, with "Oldboy" director Park Chan-wook circling, but it hasn't gotten any heat until this predictably morose combo package of Hillcoat and po-faced Christian Bale climbed aboard. "The Revenant" tells the story of an 1820s frontiersman, Hugh Glass, on a path of vengeance against those who left him for dead after a bear mauling. That gagging sound you hear is Bale already preparing his diet for the ridiculous amount of weight he's sure to lose for the role. The basic idea sounds ripe, and Hillcoat has experience with the theme of bleak, bleak revenge, but hasn't this movie been done before? Hm, perhaps in "Man In The Wilderness" starring Richard Harris, about a 19th century frontiersmen who pursues the friends that left him for dead after a bear attack? That movie, for the record, is currently available on Netflix's "Watch It Now" feature.
Hillcoat also mentions a "contemporary....crime thriller, set in Hong Kong and Macao" that is on his plate of potential projects (update: we now know what this is).. He also throws his hat into the ring for a science fiction film, saying simply "I would love to do a sci-fi" but the interviewer doesn't press him for details so it's unknown if he has any particular project(s) in mind. This adds to his growing list of potential projects, including an adaptation of Nick Cave's novel "The Death Of Bunny Munro" with UK TV in development, a film about the legendary NY cop Joe Petrosino with Benicio Del Toro attached and Pete Dexter writing, and a similar sounding titled "Mob Cops" with 'Sopranos' writer Terrence Winter in the works. On top of that, Hillcoat was also in talks to remake 1973 French heist film "La Bonne Année" with 'Road' scribe Joe Penhall and actor Daniel Craig. The status of these projects is unknown, and could very well switch things up at any moment.
Ok, honestly, we were hoping for a bigger actor in the role (the part kept screaming Jim Sturgess to us for some reason, and you can see we nailed the type), but either way the final central piece of casting for Sarah Polley's upcoming dramedy, "Take This Waltz," has been finalized.
The picture, which shoots this July in Toronto, is a romantic triangle of sorts and centers on a relatively happy couple whose lives are thrown into disarray when a new romantic entanglement enters the female half's life. And we were right about who was playing who. The couple is played by Seth Rogen as Lou, the lovable schlubby male half of the relationship, and Michelle Williams as his needy and neurotic wife Margot. While Sarah Silverman has been cast as Rogen's recovering-alcoholic older sister, the last piece of casting was Seth, the mysterious, arty and tall, dark and handsome character that essentially knocks the married Margot off her feet. That role has now gone to Canadian actor Luke Kirby known for roles on "Cra$h & Burn," "Law and Order: Criminal Intent," and "Halloween: Resurrection." We might not be very familiar with the actor, but he certainly looks the part.
IOnCinema also has the official synopsis and a promo poster for the film which we re-cropped and posted below. We read the script earlier this year and called it an "honest and unflinching study of 30-somethings that is emotionally heavy in tone but also charming and unexpectedly very funny." This writer read it too and couldn't agree more. Polley, who wrote the script herself and is also directing does a wonderful job of balancing painful moods and tones, and it's a really interesting look at the nature of love from a female perspective, but still one that's very universal. It's very high on our Most Anticipated 2011 Film List (or will be when we write that at the end of this year), and based on the script, we have very high hopes of the picture being a very sad/funny, moving and mature work. Here's the synopsis:
When 28-year-old Margot (Williams) meets Daniel (Kirby), their chemistry is intense and immediate. But Margot suppresses her sudden attraction: she is happily married to Lou (Seth Rogen), a celebrated cookbook writer. When Margot learns that Daniel lives across the street from them, the certainty about her domestic life shatters. She and Daniel steal moments throughout the steaming Toronto summer, their eroticism heightened by their restraint. Margot finally gives in to desire and in doing so, discovers some unsettling truths about herself. Swelteringly hot, bright and colorful like a bowl of fruit, Take This Waltz leads us, laughing, through the familiar but uncharted question of what long-term relationships do to love, sex, and our images of ourselves.Polley's pretty rad; a smart, funny and sharp female voice who's probably just as aghast at "Sex & The City 2" as the rest of us (the sort of females we like to have writing for this site and the ones we like to keep company with).
And she's a unique talent that we hope has a long and storied career in filmmaking. Did you see her wonderfully mannered and carefully observed directorial debut, "Away from Her," which earned Julie Christie a fourth Best Actress Oscar nomination for her amazing turn as a elderly woman falling into the abyss of Alzheimer's? Seriously, if you didn't dig that picture, we contend you just really don't know and appreciate movies. Onwards and upwards Sarah Polley, we can't wait for "Take This Waltz" (named after a great Leonard Cohen song so less, girl has taste).
'Cyrus' Says "Don't F**k My Mom"; 'Three Musketeers' vs. 'Scream 4' On April 15, 2011; 'Inception' Scares 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' & More
The marketing campaign for the Duplass brothers' upcoming comedy "Cyrus" has been kick started with an amusing t-shirt emblazoned with a phrase that pretty much sums up the film's theme: "Seriously, Don't F**k My Mom." You can pick up the shirt over at Fox Searchlight's online shop. As for the film, we caught it at SXSW, calling it a funny/sad, dark, endearing picture that can't be missed. Check it out when it opens on June 18th.
Paul W.S. Anderson's 3D "The Three Musketeers" has been given an April 15, 2011 release date by Summit opposite Wes Craven's "Scream 4." The picture boasts a pretty interesting cast, including Matthew Macfadyen as Athos, Luke Evans as Aramis, Ray Stevenson as Porthos and Logan Lerman as D'Artagnan, with Christoph Waltz to portray Cardinal Richelieu, Mads Mikkelsen as Rochefort, Milla Jovovich as Milady de Winter and Orlando Bloom as the Duke of Buckingham. This now puts pressure on Warner Bros. and director Doug Liman who have their own gestating "Three Musketeers" film that is also considering the 3D treatment. Anderson's film will start shooting this summer.
Speaking of release dates, the Nicolas Cage fantasy film "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" has moved ahead two days to July 14th, probably to get out of the fucking way of Christopher Nolan's "Inception" which is the only other studio film opening on July 16th. Sidenote: we had no idea Alfred Molina, who pretty much stole every scene in "Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time," and Monica Bellucci were in 'Apprentice." Huh. We guess we now have two reasons to watch it. Sidenote 2: whatever happened to "Season Of The Witch"?
Jess Walters' National Book Award nominated novel and post 9/11 satire "The Zero" has been picked up by indie producers LLeju Productions. Snagged from Warner Bros. who put the project in turnaround, the film would follow "a policeman named Brian Remy who, suffering from head trauma in the wake of 9/11, leads tours of ground zero while also beginning a Kafkaesque search for a mysterious character named March Selios." Brandon Boyce ("Apt Pupil," "Wicker Man") will be writing the script and if approved, production will start later this year.
Finally, the second installment of "Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows" features lesbians?
Um, cowabunga? It looks like those pizza lovin' heroes in a half shell are set to make a big screen comeback thanks to Paramount Pictures and Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes production company.
Deadline reports that the company that has largely been behind horror reboots like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "A Nightmare On Elm Street" and "Friday The 13th" has been tapped to bring the mutant reptiles back to the big screen. The franchise is a lucrative one spawning the very successful 1990s live action trilogy and numerous animated incarnations on both the small and big screen. Given Platinum Dunes' pedigree, it's safe to say that the turtles will be pumped up for a more contemporary feel. But the kitsch factor was always the best element of the franchise, so we do hope that feel is retained.
The project will be sent out to writers shortly and will become a tentpole in Paramount's slate of upcoming films.
Up-and-comer Thomas Dekker, probably best known for his roles on "Heroes" and "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles," and who recently starred in the "A Nightmare On Elm Street" reboot and is in the forthcoming "Kaboom" by Gregg Araki, is apparently eyeing a starring role in another revamp of a 1980s film.
The LA Times reports that with Chace Crawford moving on from the project, the hunt is on the for the next Ren McCormack and Dekker is leading the list of candidates for "Footloose." In case you haven't seen the movie that provided a breakout role for Kevin Bacon, the film follows a guy who shakes up a small town where dancing has been banned with his fancy footwork.
The movie is set to be directed by Craig Brewer ("Hustle & Flow," "Black Snake Moan") and was originally slated to go in front of cameras this past spring. No word yet on the other candidates on the list, but given how Hollywood operates these days, we wouldn't be surprised if we start hearing more names pushed by PR reps with sinister motives. As far as we know, Dekker's waist size is not an issue for the role.
While his track record throughout the 2000s has been a bit spotty ("Breakfast On Pluto," "The Brave One") we loved his latest, "Ondine" (which begins a limited rollout next week), and his 2002 film "The Good Thief" is an underrated and surprisingly solid on-the-money remake of the classic Jean-Pierre Melville-helmed French noir "Bob Le Flambeur." And it looks like Jordan is set to continue in the vein of the fantastical, as he's now lined up to tackle Neil Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book" next.
Deadline reports that Jordan will write and direct the live action adaptation of the unusual coming-of-age book about a baby who escapes the clutches of a murderer who slaughters his family. The baby comes under the care of the undead citizens of a graveyard who raise and protect the child from the murderer who is still on the hunt. Here is the Booklist synopsis of the novel:
While a highly motivated killer murders his family, a baby, ignorant of the horrific goings-on but bent on independence, pulls himself out of his crib and toddles out of the house and into the night. This is most unfortunate for the killer, since the baby was his prime target. Finding his way through the barred fence of an ancient graveyard, the baby is discovered by Mr. and Mrs. Owens, a stable and caring couple with no children of their own—and who just happen to be dead. After much debate with the graveyard’s rather opinionated denizens, it is decided that the Owenses will take in the child. Under their care and the sponsorship of the mysterious Silas, the baby is named “Nobody” and raised among the dead to protect him from the killer, who relentlessly pursues him. This is an utterly captivating tale that is cleverly told through an entertaining cast of ghostly characters. There is plenty of darkness, but the novel’s ultimate message is strong and life affirming.Jordan is a director that we always sort of take for granted, despite his solid career and interesting choices. As he proved with films like "Ondine," "The Butcher Boy" and even "Interview With A Vampire" he has an assured hand managing fantasy elements while keeping them very much grounded in reality. We think he is a smart choice here for Gaiman's book and we're definitely curious to see how this one will shape up.
The project currently has financing through Chris Columbus' 1492 Pictures and South Korea based CJ Entertainment, but no production timeline has yet been announced.
Looking up info for another story on the Nu Image/Millenium Films website, we stumbled across what appears to be a new poster and title for Spencer Susser's formerly (?) titled drama "Hesher," starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Natalie Portman and Rainn Wilson.
Now seemingly (and boringly) titled "Rebel," the film was acquired out of Sundance by Newmarket Films who have a habit of picking up leftovers that no one else wants. Their recent slate which has included films such as "The Nines," "Agora," "Death Of A President," and this year's awful "Creation" speaks for itself, and while we love the talent involved in "Rebel," the mixed reviews it received at Sundance and the minor distributor it has lined up doesn't fill us with great confidence.
To refresh your memory, "Rebel" tackles the story about a young kid (Devin Brochu) trying to deal with a loss and the anarchist Hesher (Gordon-Levitt) who helps him and his family on their journey. Wilson plays Brochu's pill-popping father, while Portman plays the girl who tries to save the kid from the burnout Hesher. There is no word yet on when the film will be hitting theaters.
Update: ChaseTheWhale spoke to the director Spencer Susser and he said, nope, the name change is only happening internationally.
Ok, non-story? We'll let you decide. Either way, Guillermo del Toro told reporters on a conference call last night to not get their hopes up for a start date on "The Hobbit."
"There cannot be any start date until the MGM situation gets resolved because they hold [a] considerable portion of the rights," del Toro said in his broken English. "It's impossible to make a unilateral decision to give the greenlight to proceed. We really believe that the date will be known after they fact of MGM's fate. Whether they stay or get supported or get some of the rights."
Rights issues seem to be causing some further problems as well and this could prove even stickier, especially since they haven't been sorted and the film was supposed to start shooting sometime this year. MGM and Warner Bros. both own partial rights; MGM who have been ailing financially all year, could potentially fold this year which would potentially cause a mess. MGM already received five extensions on a $3.7 billion debt they owe creditors, and currently the studio is not controlled by management but by the debt holders playing catch up on learning the ins and outs of a business they really know nothing about. The studio's instability forced EON Productions to
shut down delay "Bond 23", one of MGM's most lucrative franchises. It remains to be seen if the debt holders now running the show will take a chance on pouring more money into a project that they might not see a return on for years, sell the studio (though, they are currently ignoring a two-month-old offer from Time Warner to buy them out) or slowly build it back up into a profitable entity. Another possibility is partnering with another studio on the film, but again, MGM's shaky ground could make it a very difficult proposition.
"We have been caught in a very tangled negotiation," he said. "Now I have been on the project for nearly two years. We have designed all the creatures, the sets, the wardrobe, animatics and planned action sequences and we are very, very prepared for when it is finally triggered. We don't know anything until [the] MGM [situation] is [re]solved."
This mostly makes us LOL at MarketSaw who published yet another fail when they "exclusively" reported yesterday that the film had an official green light for November. MarketSaw also says 3D is locked, but del Toro says its only been discussed once so far. "Is there a chance it will become 3-D in the future? Right now it's not being planned as such." Nice try, MarketSaw.
Our interest in "Kane & Lynch" has been pretty much nil, but now that Wayne Kramer is rumored to be in talks to direct the picture we're just gonna go ahead and take a pass on this one.
Currently set to star Bruce Willis and Jamie Foxx, the video game adaptation will see Willis playing a mercenary who gets framed, and then is broken out of prison by his former mates, who've kidnapped his wife and daughter, and give him 72 hours to recover a doomsday device. Foxx will play his partner, a ticking time bomb of a guy prone to violent rages. We're sure the body count in this one is high. Wayne Kramer sort of made a name for himself with indie drama "The Cooler" which earned some good reviews at the time, and even an Oscar nomination for Alec Baldwin, but hasn't aged that well. He then went on to direct the terrible and overrated "Running Scared" (how this film is highly regarded in some circles is beyond us) and the "Crash"-esque drama "Crossing Over."
The film was originally slated to mark the directorial debut of longtime second unit director and stunt coordinator Simon Crane but he has apparently bumped heads with the studio. An offer was then put out to F. Gary Gray ("Law Abiding Citizen," "The Italian Job"), who declined.
No word yet on when the production will start, but you can probably save yourself the $12 bucks and watch the NSFW excerpt of video game play below which is likely more or less how the movie will end up looking.
The weather has been warming up coast to coast and this Memorial Day weekend is perfect for lounging about in the sun, as "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" and "Sex in the City 2" don't exactly get us excited to sit in a dark theater. "Sex" opened Thursday, giving it a head-start on the long weekend, so it should easily sashay to the #1 spot at the box-office over the weekend. "Prince" opened overseas last week to mediocre returns. Luckily there are some great options this week at the art-house. Jean-Pierre Jeunet's fans in NYC have reason to celebrate, as the "Amelie" auteur's latest, "Micmacs," opens on a few screens today. Otherwise, George Romero's latest zombie flick "Survival of the Dead" and a "Breathless" re-release should keep film lovers busy over the holiday. Enjoy!
In Wide Release: Jerry Bruckheimer substitutes video games for theme-park rides, hoping to turn "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" into a "Pirates of the Caribbean"-style Hollywood blockbuster. Jake Gyllenhaal finally gets his action-hero makeover as Dastan, a rogue prince battling against evil forces trying to get hold of an ancient dagger that can give its owner the ability to control time. The film opened overseas last week to a poor critical reception and poor box office, so Gyllenhaal probably doesn't need to head back to the gym too soon in preparation for a sequel. We reviewed the film earlier this week, finding it a cluttered, boring mess utterly devoid of the charm and humor necessary to pull off this kind of material. Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina also star in the Mike Newell ("Donnie Brasco," "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire") directed picture. Rotten Tomatoes: 41%, Metacritic: 48.
"Sex in the City 2" transports the great glittery gang to Abu Dhabi, where their New York City bacchanalian lifestyle becomes a little lost in translation. The cluttered sequel also has to contend with the humdrum married life of Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her paramour Mr. Big (Chris Noth). With a running time of two and a half hours and dialogue about as fresh as a week old cosmo, the series is starting to feel very irrelevant. Check out our review here for the lowdown, but if you're going to see this one over the weekend, you've probably already made up your mind and we can't do much to convince you otherwise. RT: 14%, Metacritic: 27.
'Killers' Isn't Screening For Critics But Ashton Kutcher Is Going Pirate The First 10 Minutes & Post It Online
With Lionsgate deciding -- perhaps wisely -- to keep the upcoming and terrible looking assassin comedy "Killers" from screening for critics, it turns out there is still going to be a way for critics and general audiences to see some of the film in advance of its June 4th release date.
Ashton Kutcher has hit Twitter to announce that he is going to "pirate" the first ten minutes of the film when it has its splashy red carpet premiere on Tuesday. Before anyone celebrates the actor's ballsiness, rest assured this is probably a honed publicity stunt that has been cleared by executives up and down the film's production. So, will we really get a shaky phone cam version of the film's first ten minutes or are we gonna be "punk'd" with actual HD quality footage from all the usual Apple/Yahoo sources? Our guess is the latter.
We're not sure what the point is of having an A-list
actor celebrity pretend that he's going to pirate a movie as promotion for a film, especially when Hollywood studios spend so much time and money trying to put a lid on piracy. It's frankly one of the dumber (and more transparent) PR moves we've seen in recent memory. But perhaps the most telling indicator about the anticipation for the forthcoming film: did anyone actually get excited or care when Kutcher tweeted that he was going to spill the first ten minutes online? Yeah, didn't think so.
By now you must have seen the alarmingly freakish photos of Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson who radically transformed his body by losing 54 lbs for a role in the upcoming film, "Things Fall Apart," a picture he actually co-wrote with Brian A. Miller about a football player with cancer. Mario Van Peebles is directing and co-starring along with Ray Liotta.
Emaciated and looking like an extra from "The Road," or a sleep-deprived Christian Bale from "The Machinist," Cent apparently lost the weight by simply starving himself, subsisting off a liquid diet, and employing three-hour-a-day treadmill walks for nine weeks. The images have pretty much pervaded all forms of media from Us Weekly to The Washington Post.
So is 50 going for an Oscar? Or more importantly is the weight loss already all for naught? Jackson's last couple of vanity project films have pretty much gone straight to DVD and/or have had small off-the-radar releases that only his core audience has viewed (other than co-starring efforts in poor films like "Righteous Kill") and frankly, this sounds only marginally more high-profile then his straight-to-video directorial effort, "Before I Self Destruct."
So while the weight loss will get him noticed for now, don't be surprised if the picture comes and goes and you see it at the bottom of a B-movie Blockbuster shelf a year from now (if that brick and mortar still exists by then).
Jackson's career did start out auspiciously; Jim Sheridan made the puzzling decision to essentially redo, "8 Mile," only with 50 instead of Emimen. The picture, "Get Rich or Die Tryin'," was one of his least regarded pictures ever (and it made $46 million worldwide, but the budget was $40 without counting P&A costs). Jackson then appeared alongside Jessica Biel in the post-Iraq War film, "Home Of The Brave," which grossed a paltry $4,874 domestically.
All that said, we're kind of impressed that a guy with that much money — a lot of it from being a commercial shill for Glacéau, a Vitamin Water he co-founded and then was bought by Coca Cola — would go this far for a movie no one is likely to ever see, because really, when was the last time you saw a Mario Van Peebles film open wide, let alone, open at all.
Well, this is pretty much the best news we've had all month. British auteur Terence Davies is one of the country's finest filmmakers, but is still terminally underrated -- his semi-autobiographical works "Distant Voices, Still Lives" and "The Long Day Closes" number among some of the best British movies of the 20th century, while his "The Neon Bible" is deeply undervalued.
His most recent film, the wonderful Liverpool travelogue/memoir "Of Time And The City" premiered at Cannes two years ago, but Davies continues to have problems raising funds for his projects. Nevertheless, Baz Bamigboye at the Daily Mail brings news of a potential new project from the director.
Apparently, Davies is working on an adaptation of Terence Rattigan's 1952 play "The Deep Blue Sea." The drama, a classic of post-war British theatre, follows Hester Collyer, the wife of a High Court Judge, caught in a self-destructive affair with an R.A.F. pilot. The project was filmed before -- in 1955, starring Vivien Leigh in the central role -- to mixed results, but it seems perfectly suited for Davies' sensibility. There's no word on how far along the project is, or where it's set up, but we'll pay for the damn thing ourselves if we have to.
Posted by Oli Lyttelton at 10:32 AM
While nothing quite beats the big screen for us, there's no denying that we're living in a golden age of television: from "Treme" and "Breaking Bad" to "Modern Family" and "Parks and Recreation," it feels like there's more good TV on than ever before, and more and more big names, including Martin Scorsese, Michael Mann and Todd Haynes, who are all making inroads into the format.
One of our most anticipated shows for later this year is Shane Meadows' "This Is England '86," a four-part sequel to his 2007 masterpiece "This Is England." The project, co-written with Playlist favorite Jack Thorne, picks up the characters from that film three years later, to the background of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
Baz Bamigboye at the Daily Mail has the first image from the series, showing the gang with natty new mod wear. Producer Mark Herbert tells him that "Three years on and it's less a rites of passage of one character -- it's an ensemble piece." Meadows seems keen on TV -- when we spoke to him last September, he told us that "My life and everything that happened around "This Is England," the stuff that happened afterwards, you can't fit it all in. So the idea is very attractive to me of making four films, four hours."
So much so that there may be a further continuation -- Bamigboye reveals that there may be another series, set in 1990. Meadows is directing two of the episodes, with Tom Harper, who was behind the wonderful "Scouting Book For Boys," directing the other two. It should air on Britain's Channel 4 in the autumn, although there's no word of if and when it'll be seen in the States.
Say what you like about Marvel Studios' output so far (and really, only "Iron Man" has been an out-and-out victory, creatively and commercially), but they're not shy about making brave choices. While we still live in fear of Joe Johnston's appointment to directorial duties on "Captain America: The First Avenger," their other directorial picks, of Jon Favreau, Kenneth Branagh and Joss Whedon, have been ballsy, and the movies have been impeccably cast.
This looks to continue with what might be their first movie outside of the build up to "The Avengers" -- an adaptation of Brian K Vaughan's "Runaways." Joss Whedon, who also wrote for the series -- following the teen children of supervillains in L.A. who discover their parents' true identities and go on the run -- was in the running to direct the picture before he signed on to "The Avengers," so Peter Sollett ("Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist") took the helm instead.
While we weren't big fans of 'Nick and Norah,' we adored Sollett's debut "Raising Victor Vargas" (the guy's wonderful with young actors), and the project now has a writer with at least as much leftfield promise. Drew Pearce, the creator of British superhero sitcom "No Heroics," has, according to Deadline, landed the hotly contested job of writing the script for the picture. Original creator Brian K Vaughan had written a feature script at some point, but it's unclear whether Pearce is rewriting that, or starting from scratch.
The original comic series is pretty wonderful, at least in its early days, and Pearce is a great hire; "No Heroics," while not seen by many, was a smart and funny take on the genre, and one teeming over with a love for it. You can have a look at a clip from the series below, as well as a brilliant short film co-written and directed by Pearce featuring rising British comedy duo Ginger and Black that will hopefully give you a taste of where he's coming from.
First Listen: Rose Byrne's Jackie Q With Russell Brand's Aldous Snow Singing "Supertight" From 'Get Him To The Greek'
Here's a first listen of Rose Byrne's pop-princess character Jackie Q's single "Supertight" featuring Russell Brand's Aldous Snow in Nicholas Stoller's upcoming "Get Him To The Greek."
Obviously a play on the slate of sexualized but "religious-minded" pop-artists, Jackie Q is described as an artist "who has released a sexy streak of hits that rival the early work of her musical influences, Madonna and Freddie Mercury. The former model-turned pop star's bold combination of house beats, high couture and raw sexuality paved the way for a new wave of multimedia artists like Lady Gaga, who cites Jackie as her biggest inspiration."
Music in the film is, of course, written by the likes of Jarvis Cocker, Carl Barat (of The Libertines) and Jason Segel, as well as "Walk Hard" songwriters Dan Bern and Mike Viola. Take a listen to the song after the jump:
Bryan Singer's 'Jack The Giant Killer' Delayed As Casting Gets Underway; Aaron Johnson & Andrew Garfield Considered For Roles
Compared to the dismal pickings of the summer months this year, next summer is already stacked with big movies: the superhero face-off between "Captain America," "Thor," "X-Men: First Class" and "Green Lantern," as well as other juggernauts like "Pirates of the Caribbean 4," "The Hangover 2," "Rise of the Apes," "Transformers 3," "Cars 2," "Cowboys & Aliens" and the final 'Harry Potter.'
Fortunately for all concerned, they just got a little more breathing room, with the news that Bryan Singer's fairytale adventure "Jack The Giant Killer," which was also set for release around that time, has had its production delayed.
Pre-production had been underway for a start in London this summer, but the film now won't go before cameras until February 2011. Heat Vision report that the delay is at least partly due the film's complex visual effects: with a plot involving the titular hero traveling to a land of giants to rescue a princess, Singer is still working out exactly how to carry out the size difference. His current plans are to use a process that enables him to see the giants in-camera.
Casting is still underway and Heat Vision report that Singer's met with Aaron Johnson ("Kick-Ass") and Andrew Garfield (David Fincher's upcoming "The Social Network"). Garfield's also on the list of potential Spider-Men, so he's clearly in demand, but the site stresses that nothing's progressed beyond meetings at this point. The casting process on this one is pretty huge and expansive, and at least Singer's got a little more time to make his mind up.
It's unclear when the film will be released at this point. It's possible, although unlikely, that it could be ready for Christmas 2011, putting it up against the first part of "Twilight: Breaking Dawn," "Sherlock Holmes 2," "Mission Impossible 4" and "Tintin," but a release in the equally crowded summer of 2012 seems far more realistic at this point.
Looks like Ang Lee has hit a stumbling block in his adaptation of Yann Martel's popular fantasy adventure novel "Life Of Pi."
The project is being developed from a script by David Magee over at Fox 2000 and had reportedly been eyeing an August start date with a $70 million dollar budget upon approval from the studio.
However, Fox 2000 are now evidently reluctant to throw that amount of money into the adaptation with progress immediately halted until filmmakers can "reconfigure the budget." Lee's probably just now realizing why M. Night Shyamalan, Alfonso Cuaron and Jean-Pierre Jeunet failed with their own adaptations of Martel's novel before him but the fact that Fox honcho Elizabeth Gabler is apparently keen on an adaptation hopefully bodes well for the production.
The novel follows the story of the son of an Indian zookeeper named Pi who is shipwrecked in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and shares his lifeboat with a 450-pound Bengal tiger. The film would definitely require an ambitious and high tech undertaking and Lee had previously revealed plans to use CGI for the animals, while eschewing name actors for the lead role.
Most recently, it also emerged that Lee plans to shoot the whole thing in 3D. We're kind of excited to see what Lee can do with this ocean-set tale. Hopefully it can overcome these financial hurdles but, if not, Lee always has the "tragically, suicidally depressing" script from usual collaborator James Schamus ready to go.
Another day, another red-hot buzzed-about short film in Hollywood: this time it’s “Azureus Rising” written and directed by California-based one-time ILM employee David Weinstein. The clip is below, but for those of you who can’t be bothered watching anything longer than a trailer but shorter than a feature (most of the time this writer is the same), let us provide you with a summary:
A blue-haired robot/cyborg/metalman with a gas-mask face does some running, jumping and slo-mo cracking of the ground while being fired at by big mounted dystopian-futuristic guns. The guns cannot deal with Azureus’ (we guess that’s his name because his hair is blue) mad jumping and running skillz, and he escapes over a wall. But no! Now he’s surrounded by some other robots with guns. Luckily he has a shiny ball thing that explodes and somehow enables him to kill them all with his shiny sword. Then he has to run away from a dystopian-futuristic aircraft which is also shooting at him. He jumps off the edge of an unfinished skyway or something and falls for a long time, sliding down skyscrapers and amazingly suffering no ill effects when he lands. But wait! He senses something watching from the shadows and pulls a gun, but boy, is it a puny gun compared to the huge robot scorpion thing that uncoils from the shadows (scorpions are really having a moment, aren’t they? And not, unfortunately, the awesome German band variety). Anyway, blah blah, climactic battle, Azureus, using his quick wits and aforementioned running, jumping and slicing skills, prevails. But wait again! - the film may be short but there’s still time for an or-does-he?/to-be-continued-style ending! And not a single word uttered. Well, I never. What a non-stop thrill ride that wasn’t.
Ok, now we’re just being mean. But we don’t get it. Sure, as a portfolio piece for an ambitious animator this would really be something, but are we being asked to look at Weinstein as writer/director material -- that is, someone with an ear for story and an eye for an arresting visual? Because if so, we ain’t buying -- visually it’s Japanimation meets "Tron Legacy" meets "300," all soaked in the trendy teal-and-orange palette that has this blogger so amusingly angry; and story-wise, well, there isn’t one.
Short films are, like scorpions, totally happening right now: we have “The Gift” director Carl Rinsch helming the “Logan’s Run” remake; Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison company is picking up the excellent “Pixels” with a view to featurising it somehow; and Gary Shore recently successfully pulled off the old Sam Raimi trick of shooting a trailer for his unmade film (“Cup of Tears”) only to have it snapped up by Universal and Working Title for development into a feature. In principle we are in favor of any route that can bring new talent to the attention of the big hitters, but David Weinstein’s effort is just such a goshdarned blatant calling card that we can’t get behind it. Even the “Cup of Tears” trailer hinted at some sort of story that wanted to be told, but “Azureus Rising” is nothing more than a bunch of cliches glossily animated. Yet, chillingly and rather immodestly, the film's website suggests that the short is really to be viewed as a "proof of concept test" for a feature film trilogy. A trilogy.
Even so, this would probably all be ho-hum-who-cares? except for the fact that we, like everyone else, have only a limited amount of time in our lives to give to short films, and as long as this thing is getting the buzz there’s some heartfelt, interesting, innovative short that isn’t.
But wait! Actually we've just realised what would make 3 x 2 hours of this glossy nonsense bearable: if it was somehow shot in such a way that there was, say, an extra dimension. Like, a third one. Hollywood, are you listening?
Posted by Jessica Kiang at 8:32 AM
George A. Romero is the godfather of zombies. Since his immortal 1968 debut feature "Night of the Living Dead," which was the first film to portray the living dead as something other than a voodoo hex (instantly making it way less racist than any zombie movie that came before it), the filmmaker been chronicling the undead. He made a series of direct sequels (including "Dawn of the Dead," arguably the greatest zombie shocker) and then decided to start over. A new era needs new zombies, or at least new social injustices that the zombies can metaphorically stand in for.
The result of this undead reboot was 2007's "Diary of the Dead," a jumpy, low budget you-are-there chronicle of a new zombie outbreak, as chronicled by a bunch of film school students that out-scared similar home movie horrors like "Cloverfield" and proved that the aging director (he's 70 this year - still a decade younger than Clint) still has what it takes you give you goosebumps. It even ended up on the cover of Film Comment magazine, the highbrow egghead journal of the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
And now Romero's back with a pseudo-sequel.
In "Diary of the Dead," our heroes were briefly menaced by a bunch of untoward military folk. This time around, one of those military goons (really a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard) with the rugged name Sarge "Nicotine" Crocket (Alan Van Sprang) takes center stage. Well, maybe not center stage. But he is our surrogate as we enter Plum Island, a small landmass off the coast of Delaware, where two families of Irish hotheads, the Muldoons (led by Richard Fitzpatrick) and the O'Flynns (headed by Kenneth Welsh), have been feuding for years. The recent introduction of the walking undead to their relatively peaceful island certainly doesn't help matters, either. Crocket and his small, multi-culti band of Guardsmen travel to the island looking for refuge from the zombie apocalypse. Instead, they get these pissed off white guys. And zombies. Refuge my ass.
The rest of the story isn't particularly sophisticated, and while you understand that there's some social commentary going on because, well, you're watching a George Romero movie, you're not sure exactly what he's saying, besides some vague lefty notions of understanding and pacifism. (In a bizarre subplot, some of the island inhabitants are trying to teach the zombies to crave horse flesh instead of human goo.)
"Survival of the Dead" is a more straightforward pop entertainment than 'Diary.' This is a good thing. Gone is that film's "found footage" conceit and with it the occasionally shaky "hey look, Grandpa discovered what YouTube is" feel. It's been replaced by more surefooted storytelling that rises above the film's noticeable low budget. Still, Romero gives it all he's got and while it may lack the sizzle of something like "Zombieland," he's got the power of ideas on his side and can occasionally eek out a truly breathtaking shot or sequence, like the one that closes the film, which brings to mind a Tex Avery cartoon, a William Faulkner novel, and a German cuckoo clock, all at once. It's snappy too. Romero may be a septuagenarian but he directs 'Survival' with more verve and vigor than the young music video pups that followed in his footsteps. And don't worry, he doesn't skimp on the red stuff either. There are some eye-popping moments here, sometimes quite literally.
In the pantheon of his zombie films, nobody's going to mistake this entry for a classic. It's a minor film, for sure. But if you're in the right mood (and maybe slightly drunk), then "Survival of the Dead" is an absolute blast. It's typically ambitious, even on its micro-budget, and when it's on, it's hard to find a better time at the movie theater (or at home, where the film is available On Demand). If crummy sequels and remakes like "Nightmare on Elm Street" have tested your faith in the horror genre, it's time you take a stroll around this zombie-filled island but like all of Romero's watch out -- the humans are just as nasty as the ghouls. [B+]
We did say 20th Century Fox were in a hurry and wanted to cast this one quick, did we not?
And it's true. Scottish actor James McAvoy ("Wanted," "Atonement," "The Last King Of Scotland," in the descending order of films you've seen) has been cast as Professor X, or Charles Xavier if you like, in Matthew Vaughn's "X-Men: First Class," which is already set for a June 3, 2011 release date (hence the rush, they have to shoot soon).
McAvoy will be stepping into the role made fanboy-iconic by actor Patrick Stewart; the crippled and glabrous wheel-chair bound teacher of his own School for Gifted Youngsters (mutants). Does this mean the the fantasy dreams we've heard of Michael Fassbender playing Magneto could come true?
Dare to dream, no? We honestly figured they might go after Marc Strong for the role of Xavier, but apparently they are casting much younger which means Cyclops, Beast, Angel, Iceman and Jean Grey — the young version of the "X-Men" screen characters you know — will likely have to be played by actors in the actual realm of teenagedom (and, not the "Spider-Man" 3D idea of a teenager; McAvoy next to 26-year-old Andrew Garfield certainly wouldn't work).
A few short weeks ago, Vaughn was off and on the "X-Men" young reboot, but eventually signed on after some back and forth haggling.
However, the biggest surprise of "X-Men: First Class" is that it sounds slightly closer to the era of the "Magneto" film that was once bandied about. Check what THR gets from Fox:
“[The film] chart the epic beginning of the X-Men saga. Before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Before they were archenemies, they were the closest of friends, working together, with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to stop the greatest threat the world has ever known. In the process, a rift between them opened, which began the eternal war between Magneto's Brotherhood and Professor X's X-Men.”There's not even a mention of the young X-Men teens. Whatever the case, we should expect to hear more casting news asap, the film is readying a summer shoot in London. The script passed through the hands of Josh Schwartz ("The O.C."), writing team Zack Stentz and Ashley Edward Miller ("Thor") and most recently, what sounds like a newer version by Jamie Moss ("Street Kings") underneath the supervision of Bryan Singer (who is now one of the producers; sounds like he'll direct another Mutant film a few years down the line, now that they've kissed and made up), but received a recent touch-up by Jane Goldman, co-writer of Vaughn's "Kick-Ass" and "Stardust."
'Flash' Film Apparently Near Green Light; 'Aquaman' Film Also Going Into Development; 'Superman' Film Eyeing A December 2012 Release
Tucked away at the bottom of the same article that announces the December 2011 release date for "Sherlock Holmes 2," is a small bit of info on some D.C. Comic book properties that have been kicking around in development for for a couple years now that has already excited comic book movie fans.
Not much is revelatory frankly, but some of it is slightly new and interesting. Warner Bros. chairman and CEO Barry Meyer told his shareholders during a presentation THR attended that the long-developing "Flash" is near a green light and that D.C. Comics hero "Aquaman" is also going into development.
The other major development is they hope to have the Christopher Nolan-mentored "Superman" film in theaters for December 2012 (they're gonna have to hurry that development as Nolan has the third "Batman" film coming out in June of that year, but with growing rights/legal issues at hand, they want to get it kick-started asap).
The rumors we've heard of late are that Greg Berlanti, who was said to be writing and directing, was off this project, which might be the reason why he was so cagey in recent interviews (does he read confident to you here?).
He may have been one of the three writers credited for penning "Green Lantern," but considering the trailer for
"Knocked Up 2 ," sorry, "The Broken Hearts Club," he doesn't exactly strike us as the right man for the director's chair here. As a writer, sure, possibly. Warners have been talking about "The Flash" forever and ever (as recently as March of this year and it stalled back in 2009; Ryan Reynolds was once attached as well, but obviously now he's "Green Lantern.")
Meyer also notes that development on "Wonder Woman" and some "Mad Magazine" characters will also start soon, but they've been saying that about the Amazonian superheroine for years now. We think they should listen to Nicolas Winding Refn ("Bronson") who wants the gig. Also, it's pretty ironic that Joel Silver, who once was working the Wonder Woman reboot, didn't jive with Joss Whedon's take on the material -- which started in 2005 and he left in 2007-- and now he's Marvel's golden boy choice to direct "The Avengers."
"Aquaman" is real news, outside of the James Cameron/Vinny Chase fictional storyline on "Entourage," and good luck developing that one as you probably will need Cameron and "Avatar"-sized dollars to make a comic-book movie that should be at least 50 percent underwater (what a directing nightmare that would be unless they faked it with super expensive effects, hello WETA or Cameron's folks). Don't expect to see that one anytime soon.
But also, just in general don't get too excited. In the last few years, WB/D.C. has announced some development plans on other D.C. Comics properties every few months -- all the aforementioned heroes -- and not a lot has happened. We'd expect a "Flash" announcement sometime this summer, but won't be surprised if we don't hear much of anything else for another six months or so. Writers could get hired this year, but the development of all these projects could take years.
If you haven't seen the YouTube video of RV salesman Jack Rebney flubbing endless takes while shooting an ad, do yourself a favor and watch the clip below. If you have seen it, you've undoubtedly forwarded the clip to friends or had it sent to your inbox (multiple times). It's a pretty amazing clip of guy who loses his shit on film in a way Christian Bale or David O. Russell could only dream of.
While we all laughed and then watched the clip again, filmmaker Ben Steinbauer decided to try and find out who the man behind the video was, resulting in the documentary "Winnebago Man." We haven't really kept track of this one, but it looks like a surprisingly intriguing story behind the man who is best known to America for putting together expletives like no other.
The film will hit theaters in July 9th via Kino in what we guess will be a limited platform release. More details should be coming soon and the trailer is below.
Posted by Kevin Jagernauth at 5:33 PM