We had long hoped this day wouldn't come, but here we are - Universal is finally getting the pieces together on a movie version of "Wicked," the intolerable hit Broadway musical your faux-edgy little sister just looooooves. Producer Marc Platt, the musical's book writer Winnie Holzman and songwriter Stephen Schwartz have begun meeting with and/or seeing early interest from a list of potential directors which currently includes James Mangold, Rob Marshall, JJ Abrams and Ryan Murphy.
"Wicked," for those of you lucky enough to avoid this particular piece of pop art claptrap, is a musical spinoff from "The Wizard Of Oz," based on the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, that re-imagines the story of the Wicked Witch as a twee high school narrative where she's wrongly demonized by the popular girl, Glinda the Good Witch. The musical, a big-time Broadway grosser, is considered responsible for helping Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth break into the mainstream. Thanks for that, guys.
This project wouldn't work for ANY of these filmmakers, as it's an excruciating borderline-fan-fictiony waste of time, so if we had to choose, we'd pick Harold Pleasedon'tmakethismovie or Betty Burnthescriptwithtribalfire. But we're not making the decisions over at Universal. The contenders please!
Who Will Direct The Oz Musical 'Wicked'? Rob Marshall, Ryan Murphy, JJ Abrams & James Mangold Are Early Contenders
We had long hoped this day wouldn't come, but here we are - Universal is finally getting the pieces together on a movie version of "Wicked," the intolerable hit Broadway musical your faux-edgy little sister just looooooves. Producer Marc Platt, the musical's book writer Winnie Holzman and songwriter Stephen Schwartz have begun meeting with and/or seeing early interest from a list of potential directors which currently includes James Mangold, Rob Marshall, JJ Abrams and Ryan Murphy.
Update: Hitfix got official word, Norton is out. Bit of a shame. Oh well, the whole Marvel films thing isn't really panning out anyhow, though it did have an auspicious start.
By the time it rolls around in summer 2012, we won't have ever seen anything like "The Avengers." Marvel Studios have been working towards it since the summer 2008 release of "Iron Man," and between that, its sequel, "The Incredible Hulk," and next summer's "Thor" and "Captain America: The First Avenger," over half a billion dollars have gone into merely laying the seeds for Joss Whedon's team-up movie, an unprecedented level of path-laying.
For the most part, the stars of those films are locked in to "The Avengers;" Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and Samuel L. Jackson have all been assumed to be set, with the supporting players like Don Cheadle and Scarlett Johansson all likely to be on board, and Marvel newcomer Jeremy Renner joining as Hawkeye. One actor who now apparently won't be joining them? Edward Norton.
The actor's gone back and forth on the project ever since the release of "The Incredible Hulk," where by all accounts a rift formed between Norton and Marvel after some post-production interference. Most recently, Norton seemed to be keen on getting involved, but according to HitFix, the current plan is that Norton is out, and that the role of Bruce Banner/The Hulk will be recast, with "an unknown" taking the part.
The big problem seems to be one of money; Marvel have been famously stingy with their offers, and Drew McWeeny reports that there was a mutual enthusiasm between Norton and "Avengers" director Joss Whedon, so creative differences don't seem to be the issue, whereas several references are made in the story to money, and to the issue of someone being "more affordable."
Our feelings on this are decidedly mixed. On the one hand, Norton's a terrific actor, and "The Avengers" ensemble would clearly be lesser without him (unless Marvel somehow get Daniel Day-Lewis to take over...). Furthermore, the universe-building that Marvel have put so much effort into is somewhat thwarted if one of the actors is recast.
On the other hand, Louis Letterier's "The Incredible Hulk" is a bafflingly overrated piece of cinema, one in which Norton gave one of the lesser performances of his career. It's not really the actor's fault -- Bruce Banner, even more so than Bruce Wayne, is a total non-character, and there's only so much he could have done with it. While we're sure he would have been solid in "The Avengers," the vaguely bland, simmering rage of Banner is almost sure to be overshadowed next to the likes of Downey Jr and Renner, and we'd rather see Norton do something more like "Leaves of Grass" than play a walk-on role in a superhero ensemble.
It's possible that this is all a negotiating technique, and that come Comic-Con (where McWeeny seems certain an announcement on the project is likely to be made), Norton will be back in the stretchy purple pants. But our gut tells us that Norton's done with the superhero world, and we'll see another actor in the part. Hey, what's Eric Bana up to these days?...
According to Pajiba's Hollywood Cog, Eric Bana is the leading contender to play fictional SAS agent Nick Stone, star of the series of books written by Andy McNab.
The first book to be adapted, "Firewall," is actually the third in the series and will be retitled "Echelon," most likely to keep it from sounding like a lame internet hacker movie (or that Harrison Ford film). Author McNab brings some real-life experience to his books as he is a former SAS officer himself (and as a consequence, McNab is not his real name) and he was one of the most highly decorated British officers from the first Gulf War. He was also a weapons coordinator on Michael Mann's "Heat." Pajiba's thin logline for "Echelon" finds Stone attemping "to prevent a terrorist organization from accessing the world’s largest computer intelligence database." We hope it isn't as simple as that, and reading the Publisher's Weekly book synopsis, it certainly seems a bit more involved:
This is McNab's third Nick Stone novel, and when you factor in all the times that Stone is stalked, betrayed, mugged, drugged, beaten, frozen to within an inch of his life and nearly blown to bits, it's a wonder the stoic British ex-SAS (special forces) operative is still alive. In many ways, Stone is the perfect thriller hero: someone strong enough to absorb punishment, smart enough to game plan the details of the job and just enough of a line soldier not to ask too many questions about his assignment. Just to make sure, McNab (himself a former SAS agent) gives Stone the perfect reason not to be inquisitive: his ward, Kelly, is catatonic with post-traumatic stress disorder, and since her treatment is wildly expensive, Stone finds himself in the middle of a totally unprofessional kidnapping of Russian mafia kingpin Valentin Lebed in Helsinki. When it all goes violently wrong, Stone lets Lebed go for a price, and leaps at the chance to earn even more money when Lebed's attractive assistant, Liv, gives him another assignment: break into a Finnish safe house for a little software theft. It will come as no surprise that the theft puts Stone in the gunsights of the NSA and the Russian mob. Most of the novel is a record of Stone bouncing between a rock and a hard place, trying to complete his mission, avoid capture and stay alive, with McNab's real-life adventures the source for Stone's. In this genre, all plans are made to fail, except perhaps McNab's plan to take the thriller world by storm. As usual, this is very early in the film's stages but does have a script from producer John Connor. It remains to be seen if Bana will sign on, but we like the choice. The actor stars in Joe Wright's assassin thriller "Hanna" coming out next spring, and was most recently in talks to join "By Virtue Fall," the directorial debut by "Up In The Air" scribe Sheldon Turner.
Disney Unloads Miramax For $650 Million To Construction Magnate Ron Tutuor, David Bergstein (Thankfully) Will Not Be Involved
The long road to the sale of Miramax appears to finally be over. Disney has reached an agreement in principle to sell the name and 600+ title library (which still includes five unreleased films) to construction magnate Ron Tutor, investment firm Colony Capital and a number of smaller, minor investors.
The deal is not yet final as Tutor and co., who have committed approximately $300 million in equity, still need to raise about $200 million more and also, they now will be doing due diligence on Miramax's books for the rest of the month so things may change. However, in what must be rich irony for Harvey and Bob Weinstein who had their $575 million offer turned down earlier this year, the valuation of the company without their involvement is being questioned by potential banks and financiers.
But what about David Bergstein, the embattled producer/CEO/gambler of the now bankrupt Capitol Films? He has long been linked and rumored to the talks involving his good friend and neighbor Tutor, but outside of acting as a consultant on the deal, "he will not be part of the just-concluded deal and will not have any operational or executive role in the new company which the buyers plan to form after the deal closes." Thank God for that.
The Weinsteins have made no comment on the deal yet but are expected to bid again should the Tutor deal fall apart. Also, they still retain remake and consultation rights on several lucrative franchise including "Halloween," "Children of the Corn" and "Scream" ("Scream 4" is in production right now).
The Miramax catalog, from a film lover's perspective, contains a number of celebrated, award winning, groundbreaking films, and we are definitely wary of the library being controlled by people with no experience in the industry. Whatever you may think of the Weinsteins and their methods, it's undeniable that they can be the greatest champions of their films and as having lived and breathed the company and made it what it is, it seems a no-brainer that they would be best suited to take things over.
But that's the rose glasses version of things. For Disney, it's a business deal first and foremost, and for Tutor and co., it's something to add to their portfolio. Another day in Hollywood; we just hope it works out of for the best.
It was only a couple of weeks ago when a poster for "The Experiment," a remake of Oliver Hirschbiegel's acclaimed 2001 film "Das Experiment" starring Forest Whitaker, Cam Gigandet, Clifton Collins Jr. and Maggie Grace arrived lending some hope that the film was getting close to a theatrical release. But it's not to be.
MovieWeb reveals that the film will go straight to video store shelves on both DVD and BluRay on September 21st. Directed by Paul Scheuring, perhaps best known as a producer and writer for the TV series "Prison Break," the story is based on the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment about a group of 20 or so males who play prisoners/prison guards for research purposes, only to have the experiment go to some very dark and frightening places.
While we are still curious about this one, given how long it's been sitting around waiting for a release, we're not surprised the film won't be hitting multiplex screens. We'll probably will give it a spin at some point, but we're keeping our expectations on this one pretty low.
Following yesterday's news that Nicholas Hoult ("A Single Man," "Clash Of The Titans," the upcoming "Mad Max 4") had stepped into the role of Beast and Caleb Landry Jones (NBC's "Friday Night Lights"), had been officially cast as the Irish sonic-screaming mutant Banshee, yet another name is being batted around in the seemingly endless run or rumors and speculation surround Matthew Vaughn's "X-Men: First Class."
Deadline reports that Kevin Bacon has been made an offer and is in negotiations to join the film to play the as-yet-to-be revealed villain. We'll leave the speculation to what that villain may be to everyone else, but needless to say, if Bacon joins the film, Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon is going to get a lot easier for a younger generation who may not be familiar with "JFK."
James McAvoy (Xavier), Michael Fassbender (Magneto) and Alice Eve (Emma Frost) are confirmed while Lucas Till (Havoc) remains in negotiations. Casting is ramping up in anticipation of August shoot.
If Agent Mulder (David Duchovny) can move on to better things in his career, why can't Agent Scully?
Deadline reports that Gillian Anderson is inexplicably set to star opposite Rowan Atkinson in "Johnny English Reborn." The sequel to the hit 2003 film will find Atkinson reprising his role as the bumbling spy while we presume Anderson will be reduced to acting exasperated for ninety minutes.
Anderson actually is a good actress ("House Of Mirth" anyone?) who deserves to land some roles in films deserving of her talent. Her last few appearances in films like "Boogie Woogie," "How To Lose Friends & Alienate People" and uh, "Straightheads" (yeah, we didn't hear of this one either) might make her want to reconsider her representation.
Jason Segel Talks M. Night Shyamalan Link To 'Jeff Who Lives At Home'; 'Five Year Engagement' To (Hopefully) Shoot In Spring
Collider recently sat down with "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" star and writer Jason Segel in promotion for the CGI-animated villain movie "Despicable Me." More importantly, he laid down some new information on the Duplass Brothers' "Jeff Who Lives At Home" and his next collaboration with "Marshall" director Nicolas Stoller, "Five Year Engagement."
Around the time of "Cyrus," we tried to pry some "Jeff" information out of the Duplasses during a press junket, though they opted to stay zipped about it (understandably so, the film had wrapped a few days earlier). The film, starring Segel alongside Ed Helms, Susan Sarandon, and Judy Greer, is about two brothers who set out to spy on Greer, the wife of Helms. Originally reported as a "stoner-comedy," Segel sets the record straight. "It's comical but it's mostly a drama, which was very exciting for me." The Duplass duo tackled a similar tone with "Cyrus," which was bizarrely hilarious at times but hit unsettling emotional truths at others. He goes on to talk about his character, who happens to be obsessed with the M. Night Shyamalan film "Signs." Uh, what? "It's a guy that was obsessed with the idea that everything's happening for a reason, there must be some purpose to his life, especially why his father died." Pretty interesting.
When asked about his next Stoller collaboration, "Five Year Engagement," he mentioned that they're "writing it now and hoping to shoot it next spring." Segel originally explained that the idea would be sort of like "If Sarah Marshall and Jason's character had stayed together, this might be the sequel." The film will follow "a couple that gets engaged, very enthusiastically, and then follows them over five years of not getting married and just being engaged... break ups, cross country moves, meeting new people, basically about the fluidity of relationships in your 20s." "Marshall" was Segel's break-out role and was very enjoyable, so hopefully the next collaboration between the two will fix the slight hiccup Stoller had with "Get Him To The Greek," and the new project sounds personal and much more grounded.
Speaking of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," who can forget the hilarious musical bits that Segel wrote and sang himself? When it was discovered that he would be behind the next Muppet movie, it was unknown whether or not he would be doing the music for that film. "What we've done now is we handed the script to musicians we love and admire and asked them to submit songs to us and we've been getting some amazing things," Segel said, "so I may end up doing something but, knock on wood, I may not have to." While it'd be great if Segel would return to the mic, maybe it would be just a tad greater if he got favorite band Rush to sing a tune about the Muppets. It'll be interesting to see what bands they round up for the film, and we'll most likely found out some more details throughout the year.
Three hundred and fifty fucking million dollars. Or to put it another way: $350,000,000.
Deadline reports that James Cameron, the self-declared king of the world, is bringing home a royal ransom thanks to the "first dollar" gross deal he put together together when he signed on to direct. Also helping his bank account are the strong numbers posted by the DVD and BluRay release earlier this year. And Cameron's bank account is only set to get fatter thanks to a planned theatrical re-release in August, another home video release in the fall and more merchandise and crap hitting shelves later this year.
In case you were asking, yes, it is probably the new record for a single film haul by a director to date. With that kind of money, Cameron could probably fund 25 or 30 Steven Soderbergh films and still have enough scratch left to buy his own island (or two, or three).
Prolific and brilliant documentarian Frederick Wiseman is to receive a lifetime achievement award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' 31st News and Documentary Emmys. For those unfamiliar with Wiseman's style, he uses no narration, staging, or interviews; he strictly follows his subject(s) throughout the film without any breaks and is noted for his extreme realism. He's consistently brilliant and a great change of pace for those who are sick of cutesy pop-documentaries that get all the distribution. He's certainly not for everyone, and it's a wonder that these films even got made in the first place, something for which we can thank the Public Broadcast Service.
Most recently, Wiseman's "Boxing Gym" was in this year's Director's Fortnight, which Variety had a positive take on, saying: "Adhering to the auteur's trademark fly-on-the-wall style, the pic favors portraiture over narrative and thus faces familiar critical and commercial limitations. Yet for those in Wiseman's corner, "Boxing Gym" goes the distance." This writer is a big fan of Wiseman's first film "Titicut Follies," which is a chilling examination of a mental asylum and was banned for quite some time. Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to find Wiseman's films, and although his work is available on his website, the price tags for the DVDs are quite hefty.
It's great that the auteur is getting the respect that he deserves with the award, and hopefully the new award will raise some demand for the brilliant director's work. Below the jump is a trailer for "La Danse" and a clip from "Public Housing," and we can look forward to "Boxing Gym" in October thanks to IFC.
Yet More Comic-Con 2010: 'The Other Guys,' 'The Green Hornet,' 'Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark' & 'Piranha 3' Added To Comic-Con Line-Up
Comic-Con is just a couple more weeks away and while fans are finalizing travel plans and hotel rooms for one of the biggest geek events of the year (and for you thin-skinned out there, that's not a slight; it is what it is) studios are putting the finishing touches on what they plan to unveil.
Following yesterday's no-shit announcement that Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams will be in San Diego undoubtedly to discuss stuff like Marvel's "The Avengers," "Super 8," "Star Trek 2" and whatever else they have cooking, we have a few more films that are also no-brainers to show up.
The first and most obvious is Michel Gondry's "The Green Hornet." Sony will be anxious to quash the bad buzz surrounding the film which is undergoing a 3D conversion that everyone around the production is saying they had planned from day one. Attendees will get an early look at the film presented by Seth Rogen (in costume, no less), director Michel Gondry, writer Evan Goldberg, producer Neal Moritz, and actor Christoph Waltz.
Also getting a first look is the Guillermo Del Toro-produced thriller "Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark" starring Bailee Madison, Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes. Del Toro will present the film alongside director Troy Nixey.
Less comic book-y but totally in the wheelhouse of Comic Con fans, Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, and co-writer/director Adam McKay will be on hand to present an early peek at the buddy action cop movie "The Other Guys."
Finally, director/producer Alex Aja ("The Hills Have Eyes"), producer Mark Canton ("300"), producer Gregory Levasseur, and executive producer Alix Taylor will be joined by Elisabeth Shue, Jerry O'Connell, Jessica Szohr ("Gossip Girl"), Steven R. McQueen ("Vampire Diaries"), Kelly Brook, and Adam Scott as they hope to convince people that "Piranha 3D" isn't as idiotic as it looks.
These films join pretty much every moderately geek- or action-oriented movie in the next year making an appearance at Comic Con. Already confirmed for appearances in some form or another are: "Sucker Punch," "Green Lantern," "The Expendables," "Megamind," "Battle: Los Angeles," "Tron Legacy," "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World," "Paul," "Red," and "Drive Angry 3D." Expect more to be announced over the next couple of weeks too. And, oh yeah, here are two new images from " The Green Hornet."
Hina Abdullah Added To Cast Of '30 Minutes Or Less,' Werner Herzog's 'My Son, My Son' Hits DVD On September 14
Hina Abdullah has joined the cast of Ruben Fleisher's bank-heist comedy "30 Minutes or Less," presumably she plays the love interest in the film (Jesse Eisenberg's character hearts her) and the sister of Aziz Ansari's character.
If you haven't heard of her, don't get upset, she's a newcomer and will be also be seen in the troubled Kenneth Lonergan film "Margaret" starring Anna Paquin and Mark Ruffalo (who incidentally, recently spoke with Collider and insisted that the film should be out soon and is "finally untangling itself from all its legal woes"). Die-hard LAX fans probably already saw her in this. The film is shooting this month and is set for release in 2011, so there's still a wait to see Danny McBride and Aziz Ansari yelling at each other. [Variety]
Billy Crystal's long-gestating comedy "Us & Them" will finally get in front of cameras under the helm of auteur Andy Fickman, responsible for festival favorite "The Game Plan" and Palme d'Or winning "Race to Witch Mountain." Crystal will star as a grandpa that sits his daughter's kids for a week. He finds new-age parenting difficult and soon reverts to his old fashioned disciplinary ways. We bet hilarity ensues, especially seeing as the film was co-written by Joe Syracuse and Lisa Affario, responsible for "Surf's Up." [THR]
Because nobody saw it in theaters, Werner Herzog and David Lynch's "My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done" will hit DVD on September 14th thanks to Absurda, Industrial Entertainment and First Look Studios. We thought it was okay, but a bit of a mess, which is a shame considering the talent at hand here. Also included on the DVD is Rahman Bahrani's ("Goodbye Solo") film "Plastic Bag," a fun little film that follows the life of a plastic bag. Oh, did we mention the plastic bag's narration is done by Werner Herzog? [Coming Soon]
Updated: Told you this was bullshit.
The hit trolling is getting out of control of late. Somehow, people are giving credence to the always reliable Superhero homepage (who?) and they're claiming that Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures think Chris Columbus, who directed the first two "Harry Potter" films is considered "the right fit" for the Man of Steel.
The "Man of Steel" being written by David S. Goyer under the aegis of Christopher Nolan, is in its early stages. A draft might be written, but since the film doesn't have anything more than a Christmas 2012 date tentatively pencilled in, we're sure they're fine tuning and developing it still. We're sure it's far too early to name a director and probably many directors are being discussed, but it still feels way early. Maybe we should actually watch, "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief," Columbus' latest effort, but we're expecting someone much... edgier/less milquetoast... to be eventually announced in the not-so-distant future (maybe someone announced by end of year, maybe). Don't lose sleep over this, Internets.
"Typically it’s a well-oiled machine going in and then it’s disassembled bit by bit, whereas in this film, the machine is already in pieces, there was never a machine to start with. You have this crazy group of people who are probably quicker to kill one another than anything else," director Nimrod Antal said about his version of this template in this week's “Predators.” So, in honor of this week’s sci-fi film sequel (which thankfully forgets that "AVP" exists) which features its own disparate international bunch, we’ve run down some of our favorite sci-fi teams.
If you want to talk ragtag teams does it get any better than the eclectic bunch featured in James Cameron's action sequel to Ridley Scott's horror classic that arguably trumps that motley crew bunch? "Aliens," perhaps Cameron's true masterpiece -- none of this "Titanic," "Avatar" nonsense -- features Sigourney Weaver's Ripley suspended in animation years after the fact joining a group of hard-assed space marines on a mission to figure out why contact has been lost with an Earth colony on a foreign planet. The marines are all forms of classic, the comedy of the yammering Pvt. Hudson (a gloriously good Bill Paxton), the awesome badass tagteam duo of Pvt. Vasquez and Pvt. Drake (Jenette Goldstein and Mark Rolston), plus the handsome hero in Michael Biehn,the weasel company man in Paul Reiser and the inexperienced leader out of his element William Hope (Lt. Gorman). Oh and let's not forget the thunderous-voiced Sgt. Apone (Al Matthews) and the ship's synthetic android Bishop (Lance Henriksen). While the action, tension and intensity in "Aliens" is top-fucking-notch, it's the dynamic and interactions of all the characters (let's also give love to little newt), that is the reason we keep coming back to this film and the reason why we care. Daresay, we think this picture might be the new standard for the "Dirty Dozen" template, at least where the sci-fi genre is concerned.
As years go by, the few films of the '80s that featured the tightest, most precision-accurate action sequences have risen to the top, so while only irony-seekers recall “Commando,” those who understand the value of a concise, clear-eyed action narrative will always be steered to director John McTiernan’s horror-action blockbuster. There’s a creature out there hunting for sport, and he couldn’t have picked a more worthy opponent than these guys. While “Predators” features an unusual blend of wayward toughs and character actors, the '80s original featured wall-to-wall brute force, with some of the era’s brawniest pugilists (Ahnold, Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura, Bill Duke) taking on “one ugly motherfucker” while trading quips like, “I ain’t got time to bleed” and “If it bleeds, we can kill it.” Necessary viewing for anyone who’s ever regretted not growing chest hair.
"Starship Troopers" (1997)
Sure it’s Paul Verhoeven’s skill with kinetic action sequences and pitch black satire that powers the motor that is the eternally underestimated “Starship Troopers.” But we’d be failures if we didn’t acknowledge Rico’s Roughnecks, the colorful clan of Aryan soldiers from Buenos Aires, all bristling muscles and sexualized curves. Leader Johnny (Casper Van Dien) is the ideal frontman, all unironic speeches and voice-cracking pre-pubesence. But can he decide between pilot pinup Carmen (blow-up doll Denise Richards) or cagey, androgynous infantry member Dizzy (Dina Meyers)? Whatever the case, they’ve got some tidy assistance from goose-stepping telepath Carl (Neil Patrick Harris) and toothy wiseass Ace (Jake Busey), and together, they’ll keep fighting, and they’ll win! They’re doing their part! Are you?
Danny Boyle’s “Sunshine” is two thirds of the best sci-fi film of the decade. Its spellbinding first two acts (where light, and not darkness, is the threat) are sadly undermined by a disappointing third - the screenplay’s faith in the enigmatic Kubrick-ian/Tarkovsky-esque mood of the film falters near the end - but the cast, playing the spaceship’s personally mismatched but professionally organized crew, are uniformly excellent. Chris Evans is the standout surprise; Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Cliff Curtis, Benedict Wong and Michelle Yeoh are more predictably great, with the women, especially, making the most of rather underwritten roles. Ensemble stories can go one of two ways: either adversity makes them close ranks and become a stronger ‘family unit’, or it stresses interpersonal fractures until the group dynamic shatters. Sunshine follows the latter path and as the once-harmonious crew dissolves into a bunch of individuals with disparate motivations, the wonder is that the dire straits they’re in are all of their own doing yet none of them has ever been morally wrong, or bad, or monstrous. It’s a fascinating and moving conundrum, until the monster arrives and the whole thing goes tits up. Shame.
Yes, Montreal's excellent Fantasia Film Festival kicked off last night providing fans of all things to do with horror, fantasy, action, sci-fi and everything in between a place to celebrate the latest and greatest with nearly three weeks worth of programming. It's a massive slate of films, with many receiving their International, North American or Canadian premieres and we will be there for the next twenty days or so taking in as much as we can. The fest is just getting started, and there is lots of great stuff on the way so stay tuned for more reviews.
We kicked off our festival by taking in the low budget Chilean action film, "Mandrill," the third feature film teaming of writer/director Ernesto Diaz Espinoza and minor action/martial arts star Marko Zaror. We haven't seen their previous collaborations, but considering the production values this time around, we would imagine they've been playing to a very select audience. Watching "Mandrill" we sort of immediately got why Zaror has a bit of a following. Looking like a taller, leaner Chilean version of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, he's got charisma and presence to spare. And yes, he can kick some serious ass. It's just too bad that "Mandrill" never plays completely to his strengths resulting in a film that aims to be a campy parody/homage to exploitation films of the '70s but misses the mark as often as it hits it.
The film starts off with a prologue that finds the titular hero, an assassin for hire, carrying out his latest mission. This opening five to ten minute bit would be great short on its own, and pretty much marks the high point for the film in terms of nailing its tone of overwrought tough guy dialogue and comical over-the-top action scenes. But just as soon as Mandrill wraps up that job, he signs on for another one and that's where the film begins to bite off a bit more than it can chew.
Posted by Kevin Jagernauth at 11:50 AM
Christopher Nolan recently spoke about his love for James Bond films and in particular, 1969's "On Her Majesties Secret Service," a type of one-off Bond that starred George Lazenby, in a hiatus period for Sean Connery who went back to the series after Lazenby didn't really connect with audiences (it still did great, just not as well as its predecessor, "You Only Live Twice" -- Connery would return for 1971's "Diamonds Are Forever").
Of course everyone seems to have missed this and are all a flutter about the fact that Nolan has said "Inception" is influenced by Bond (which he already said). Making it worse, people have picked up on the fact that Nolan recently told the BBC, what he essentially told Empire months ago, "I’ve loved the Bond films since I was a kid. For me, they’re always about the expansiveness of cinema. The first Bond films set up infinite possibilities about the world they create. I’d love to do a Bond film.”
But we don't see it and we don't see it ever actually happening. Nolan has his own original projects and his own world, why would he need to be involved with the Broccoli producers who've only recently started treating the films as popcorn art. Tarantino wanted to make a Bond film too,but his ideas were basically way too out there for the Broccolis.
We think these quotes are more in the "I would love to direct a Bond movie... theoretically, if I were able to do exactly what I wanted to do with it" vein and that's probably not going to happen, not even for Christopher Nolan.
Look, it's fun to talk about. But we'd do see Nolan seriously pursuing it. It's Friday, chill out and don't get your hopes up too high. Clearly he's been reticent about his involvement in a franchise and has only returned to "Batman" when he had a clear idea of what he wanted to do (and each time he made a personal picture in the interim, once it was "The Prestige," now it's "Inception"). At ease Internet.
For those of you keeping track at home, this is our third piece on Lisa Cholodenko's indie comedy this week, after a solo interview with the filmmaker and a glowing review. And although it might seem like we're performing the journalistic equivalent of sexual favors on "The Kids Are All Right" for three straight days, trust us: the pleasure is all ours. Cholodenko's film is a solid, character-driven comedy that doesn't rely on wacky situations or bodily functions for its humor; instead it earns our laughs by what we know of its entirely human characters. We joined roundtable interviews with the film's cast, Cholodenko, and her co-writer Stuart Blumberg, and the discussion unsurprisingly focused on the people at the film's heart.
In "The Kids Are All Right," a modern family finds itself disrupted by a new arrival. Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) have raised their two children in a loving environment, filled with enough talk of feelings to please even the most ambitious of child psychologists. When Joni (Mia Wasikowska) hits 18 and is about to leave for college, her young brother Laser (Josh Hutcherson) urges her to contact their mutual sperm donor father. When Paul (Mark Ruffalo) appears on the scene, he interrupts a family dynamic that took years to develop.
The script itself underwent several evolutions in its five-year growth period. After jettisoning a plot about a river rafting trip, director and screenwriter Cholodenko says that the film's center changed. "We really just focused in on the characters and felt like the was the material that was going to make or break this film," she describes the script she co-wrote with Blumberg. "I don’t know that there was an enormous amount in the plot arena that changed, but it was just getting the characters right. Probably the biggest shift was the comedy — pushing that out front and center, more than it had been in earlier passes."
We've already heard rumblings that Christopher Nolan's "Batman 3" is shooting March 2011 and in a red-carpet "Inception" interview Michael Caine who plays Bruce Wayne's butler Alfred says "I think they're gonna do it in April."
Clearly the filmmakers have a time frame in mind and while writing the script (which Jonah Nolan is doing now, potentially with some help by David S. Goyer, surely he'll have some kind of credit either way), they're telling actors to tell their agents to keep the Spring of 2011 open. We hear this all the time and then as finetuning needs to be done, dates slide back a month or two ("X-Men: First Class" is shooting in August, but was scheduled for July a month or two ago, same with "Captain America"). So don't be entirely surprised when a May start date is announced or a June one. It won't be much of a delay and it won't be worth reporting every little bump, fyi. The Untitled third Batman film, placeholder titled "Batman 3," is scheduled to hit theaters July 20, 2012. Some may presume we'll hear more details about it at this year's ComicCon, but we wouldn't bet on it. [SuperheroHype]
If you're one of the many adults who didn't pay to see "Avatar:" The Last Airbender" (unless you have kids), you may not be aware of how the children's adventure fantasy picture ends (small spoiler ahead).
While it was probably obvious to most of the movie bloggers and avid readers following all along to the lead up of its release, to folks like us (generally not paying an ounce of attention beforehand) the fact that the film would end on a very chapter-like cliffhanger setting up two more films was a surprise up until the last 15-10 minutes of the film.
Making the recent press rounds for 'Airbender,' the much (and fairly)-maligned director M. Night Shyamalan, said he had the second installment of the trilogy all mapped out. For the uninitiated, the picture follows the adventures of Aang, a young successor to a long line of Avatars, who must put his childhood ways aside and stop the Fire Nation from enslaving the Water, Earth and Air nations -- yeah, it's a bit of that hokey mumbo jumbo fantasy sci-fi stuff.
"The third is more ambiguous, but the second one, I've written a draft that I'm really happy with and is darker and richer," he told MTV. "And it has a wonderful antagonist in it in Azula, who's kind of like our only real, pure antagonist in the series, so I'm excited about that."
That's nice and all, but will the picture actually be green lit? Shyamalan's eighth feature-length film did far better and respectable business at the box-office then expected (the NYTimes called it a "surprise"), as it was savagely excoriated by critics (it's one of the most poorly reviewed films of the year so far). However a recent LA Times article put the estimated cost of the picture at a whopping $280 million -- the production budget being twice the size of Shyamalan's previous pictures and the exorbitant marketing budget alone far exceeded $100 million.
So with that massive tally to contend with 'Airbender has a long way to go to just break even.
US theaters seem to collectively be taking a breath this week, in anticipation of bigger weeks to come, with just two new releases going wide, the animated 3D “Despicable Me” for the kids, and the live action, non 3D “Predators” for everyone else. Any other week we suspect the latter would be a smaller b- release and the former a pale Pixar me-too, but as it stands both should benefit from a relative lack of competition for their core audiences right now, with "Toy Story 3” having done the majority of its business after 3 weeks, “Knight and Day” tanking, and the box office domination of "Twilight: Eclipse" meaning teenage boys are feeling unusually underserved at their local multiplex. In indieland, expect “The Kids Are All Right” to do all right and hopefully get the kind of per-screen average that will justify the film’s expansion in later weeks to find a much broader audience.
In Wide Release:
Is it just us, or is “Despicable Me” a rather un-buzzed about animated release? Perhaps it’s just us, as the premise (a dastardly evil mastermind-type delights in destructive schemes until the arrival of three orphan girls who look on him as a father figure) and Apatovian voice cast (how else should one collectively describe Steve Carrell, Kristen Wiig, Ken Jeong, Will Arnett, Jason Segal and Russel Brand?) actually sound kinda fun. By and large, critics seem to agree that, while it may not escape Pixar’s long shadow, this Universal/Illumination Entertainment production has plenty of its own going on. RT 88%, Metacritic 74.
The trailer has arrived for the 2010 Sundance film "Welcome To The Rileys." Directed by Jake Scott (Ridley Scott's son), the picture centers on a damaged man (James Gandolfini), estranged from his wife (Melissa Leo) who seeks salvation a business trip to New Orleans by caring for a young teenage stripper (Kristen Stewart in a movie probably not meant for entitled "Twilight" fans).
We honestly don't remember what the reviews were like out of Sundance this year, but we don't recall anything blisteringly negative and that's good, because the trailer looks quite good and something we'd definitely like to see. Here's the official synopsis:
Trauma transforms us. Years after their teenage daughter’s death, Lois and Doug Riley, an upstanding Indiana couple, are frozen by estranging grief. She isolates herself in their immaculate suburban home. He philanders with a local waitress, anesthetizing pain with easy passion. When he loses his mistress to cancer, Doug, beset by further heartache, escapes to New Orleans on a business trip. Compelled by urgencies he doesn’t understand, he insinuates himself into the life of an underage hooker, becoming her platonic guardian. Meanwhile, Lois summons all of her remaining force to overcome agoraphobia and venture south to reclaim her marriage.
Exacting performances from three consummate actors (James Gandolfini, Melissa Leo, and Kristen Stewart) infuse this emotionally raw, gently humorous drama with penetrating humanity. Director Jake Scott’s uncompromising film refuses to flinch from difficult moments or tie neat bows around its characters. Instead, it reveals how taking risks and leaving our comfort zone can become a profound path to healing the human heart.
Mickey Rourke, Javier Bardem, Christopher Walken & Johnny Hallyday Join Tony Scott's 'Potsdamer Platz,' Filming Starts In January
French newspaper Le Parisien reports that the gestating Tony Scott crime family drama "Potsdamer Platz" has lined up Mickey Rourke, Javier Bardem, Christopher Walken and Johnny Hallyday and is preparing for a January shoot in Puerto Rico.
The project has been coming together over the last few months, with only Rourke's name being officially confirmed as part of the film. The now on board Bardem was circling the film earlier this year along with Jason Statham, while Scott was hoping to get Al Pacino and the now retired Gene Hackman to take on roles as well. No word yet if Statham, Pacino and Hackman are still being sought but there is plenty of time left before the film gets in front of cameras.
Not much is known about the film except that its a drama about two soldiers in a New Jersey-based crime family who try to expand internationally. The title is a placeholder for now, as it will change to match the location shift from Germany to Puerto Rico. The film is based on an the original script by Buddy Giovinazzo ("Life Is Hot In Cracktown") that has been re-written by the "Sexy Beast" team of David Scinto and Louis Mellis, so we're definitely curious about this one.
This isn't the only project Rourke and Scott have cooking. It was announced earlier in the year that the duo will team for an adaptation of Sonny Barger's autobiography titled "Hell's Angels." That project is still in early stages, but Scott Frank ("Minority Report," "The Lookout") is working on a rewrite of a script by Stephen Gaghan ("Traffic," "Syriana").
Watch: Stirring & Beautiful Trailer For 'Jack Goes Boating' Directed By & Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman
Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, "Jack Goes Boating," the directorial debut by Philip Seymour Hoffman co-starring the always excellent Amy Ryan, got some decent buzz coming out of Park City. The Hollywood Reporter said the film is a "small, slender yet fond slice of life", while the picture recalled "the warm 'little people' dramas of '50s" according to Variety and the trailer certainly bears that out.
"Jack Goes Boating" is a relationship dramedy about two people who find each other in New York City while the couple that set them up are facing problems in their marriage. While it's needless to say that Hoffman and Ryan look great in their roles, the true surprise for us in the trailer are the relatively unknown John Ortiz and Daphne Rubin-Vega who look they they are matching their co-stars every step of the way. And frankly, we'll be damned if our cold little hearts didn't warm when Fleet Foxes' "White Winter Hymnal" emerged in the final third of the trailer. And music fans take note, five or six Grizzly Bear songs will appear in the film as well.
Despite management woes, the film is set for a September 17th release via Overture and we hope it stays that way. Full synopsis and trailer after the jump:
One of the British films we're most excited about for later in 2010 is Richard Ayoade's "Submarine." Based on the successful coming-of-age novel by Joe Dunthorne, about an eccentric 15-year-old boy trying to save his parents' marriage while his pyromaniac girlfriend causes havoc, it's being executive produced by Ben Stiller and his Red Hour Films shingle, and has a strong cast, led by newcomer Craig Roberts, with Sally Hawkins, Noah Taylor and Paddy Considine also on board.
Ayoade started as a comedian and actor -- he's the lead in cult TV series "The IT Crowd" -- but moved into music videos in recent years, for bands such as Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Vampire Weekend, and, excitingly, it looks like he's recruited one of his regular collaborators for his debut feature, as Contact Music (via NME) are reporting that Alex Turner, frontman of hugely successful British band Arctic Monkeys, will write the score to "Submarine."
Ayoade directed videos for Arctic Monkeys tracks "Flourescent Adolescent," "Crying Lightning" and "Cornerstone," and their concert movie "Arctic Monkeys: At The Apollo" (which got a brief cinema release in the U.K.), as well as clips for Turner's side-project The Last Shadow Puppets, so there's definitely form there. The soundtrack marks Turner's first solo project, and is being produced by another regular collaborator, Simian Mobile Disco member James Ford, who produced Turner's last three albums (the most recent with Josh Homme), as well as records by Florence and the Machine and Klaxons.
There's no word if it'll be a straight-up instrumental score, or something closer to, say, Badly Drawn Boy's work on "About A Boy," but either way, we're excited; Turner's immensely talented, and from the observational charm of the first Arctic Monkeys record to Owen Pallett's lush orchestration on The Last Shadow Puppets album, there's always been something cinematic in his work, and we can't wait to hear what he comes up with for Ayoade. We've heard rumors that "Submarine" may be heading to Toronto and the London Film Festival, so we'll keep you posted on further developments. In the meantime, you can watch some of their previous collaborations after the jump.
Yesterday brought some new images from Disney's new 3D tentpole hope, "Tron: Legacy," as well as the news, from Empire Magazine's comprehensive new cover story on the movie, that director Joseph Kosinski, a protege of David Fincher, had been using his mentor as a sounding board for the movie. We've finally delved into the article ourselves, and we've found a few more intriguing details on the picture, more specifically, on Daft Punk's score to the movie.
Producer Sean Bailey reveals that the French electro duo actually approached the filmmakers about the project, saying "They heard we were making the sequel and called; 'Tron is hugely influential for us, could we talk to you about your movie?'" From there, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, who make up the band, have been involved in every aspect of production -- Kosinski says that "We've built them a studio, they come to dailies, script meetings and trailer edits. We've been editing to their temp scores. The music is fully integrated."
Cracking Teaser Poster For John Cameron Mitchell's 'Rabbit Hole' Starring Nicole Kidman & Aaron Eckhart
A literally and figuratively cracking teaser poster for John Cameron Mitchell's sure to be award-season friendly drama "Rabbit Hole" has been unveiled on the website of the film's foreign sales company, Affinity Intl.
The feature will mark the first opportunity Mitchell has had working with A-list level talent which should make for fascinating viewing in itself. The helmer quickly noted a difference describing his two leads in Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart as "virtuosic," the "Stradivarius" of acting talent and "a beautiful resonate instrument that can respond to gentle guidance."
Adapted for the screen by David Lindsay-Abaire from his own acclaimed play, "Rabbit Hole" centers on a couple's fraying relationship as they struggle to cope with the death of their young son. Here's a full synopsis:
Becca and Howie Corbett are a happily married couple whose perfect world is forever changed when their young son, Danny, is killed in an accident. Becca, an executive-turned-stay-at- home mom, tries to redefine her existence in a surreal landscape of well- meaning family and friends. Becca's experiences lead her to find solace in a mysterious relationship with a troubled young comic-book artist, Jason. Becca's fixation with Jason pulls her away from memories of Danny, while Howie immerses himself in the past, seeking refuge in outsiders who offer him something Becca is unable to give.Despite an ill-timed attempt by indie-favourite Owen Pallett, the film's score will eventually be composed by Abel Korzeniowskil of "A Single Man" fame though the film itself doesn't have a release as of yet. It should, however, feature at the latter season film festivals before an awards-season baiting release with Fox Searchlight still without a December release slate announced -- this, Alexander Payne's "The Descendants" and Danny Boyle's Aron Ralston story "127 Hours" are all potential suspects for the upcoming release schedule.
The Corbetts, both adrift, make surprising and dangerous choices as they choose the path that will determine their fate. Sundance-Award-winning and Golden-Globe-nominated director John Cameron Mitchell brings to the screen an emotionally taut adaptation of David Lindsay-Abaire's Pulitzer prize-winning drama "Rabbit Hole," an intimate, and often darkly humorous exploration of love tested by tragedy.
Making a documentary film is tough. Aside from the obvious tasks of finding an interesting subject, whittling down hundreds of hours of footage into 90 minutes, making sure it's not boring and getting people to see the damn thing, how do you go about making a film that is both of good, filmic quality and not exploitative?
Even rather incredible documentaries such as "Grizzly Man" and "Billy The Kid" dance on the line of exploitation, and it can be argued that the directors take advantage of their subjects and cross the line for the sake of having a good film. Recall the moment when Herzog, on camera, tells the ex-girlfriend of Timothy Treadwell that not only should she never listen to the audio recording of his death, but she should destroy it.
What was the point of having this intensely personal moment captured on film, other than for the sake of the narrative? It seems to be just part of the process: how can we attempt to capture reality with a camera and not have it be manipulation? The second the camera goes on, it is manipulation. That said, while documentary film-makers have admitted to partaking in manipulation (and to a certain extent, exploitation) and audiences accept the films no matter what the cost to the subjects, few filmmakers have really confronted the idea of exploitation within their film. In fact, never in a million years would anyone believe that one of the films to include in this is a documentary film focusing on the viral video of a Winnebago salesman cursing out loud for four minutes. "Winnebago Man" is not only a sad tale on accidental Internet celebrity, but it also confronts the passion to make a good film no matter what the cost, even if it makes you look like a scumbag in doing so.
"Winnebago Man" is essentially a documentary following filmmaker Ben Steinbauer on his quest to find the star of the famed RV salesman freak-out video, Jack Rebney, sometimes dubbed as the "world's angriest man" and a guy who's video ranked #2 on some stupid Vh1 show about all-time Internet memes. The man is a total character and freak in the video and he has a delicious way with words (his desperate, "do me a kindness" imploring to the boobs around him is particularly funny and has caught on in a big way). You might want to stop right here and watch the trailer to figure out what the hell we're talking about.
Posted by Christopher Bell at 10:21 PM