Saturday, September 30, 2006
A long overdue honor for a true national treasure;A new channel devoted to talking about films kicks off; And the super heroes of Summer '06 find a place on your TV dial...
Studio Briefing/World Entertainment News Network lead things off:
Andrews To Be Honored at Screen Actors Guild Awards
Mary Poppins star Dame Julie Andrews will be honored with a Life Achievement Award at next year's Screen Actors Guild Awards. The beloved stage, film, television and recording star and author, will receive the Guild's most prestigious tribute in January.
Screen Actors Guild President Alan Rosenberg insists Andrews is the perfect choice for the top award: "Julie Andrews is a woman of great generosity, creativity, courage, elegance and wit. She embodies and transcends the memorable roles she has created.
Julie has been a positive presence in my life and continues to inspire multiple generations. I believe it is exceptionally significant to be recognized by people who do the same work you do. Julie seems genuinely touched and thrilled to be receiving an award from her fellow actors. I have assured her the honor is ours."
The Screen Actors Guild made a great choice for their 2007 honoree. Andrews is truly an icon that has entertained countless generations during her distinguished career.
New Channel To Be Devoted To Talk About Movies
While there are numerous cable channels that show movies, a new channel that [had it's] launch [this past Wednesday] will talk about them.
ReelzChannel's centerpiece is Dailies, hosted by Mike Richards, which the channel says is "designed as the go-to show for news and information about movies."
Critic Leonard Maltin will host another regular show titled The Secret's Out that will identify overlooked praiseworthy movies being carried on cable and satellite outlets. Another show, The Big Tease, will be devoted to trailers for upcoming movies.
A good idea for sure but I wonder if it will have enough of a varied line-up to stay afloat...? I hope so.
X-3 And The Man Of Steel's Find A Home On The Small Screen
Bob Gough of ComicBookMovie.Com reported via Variety:
Fox spin off TV network FX bought the rights to premiere X-Men: The Last Stand on the small screen.
The price tag was about $90 million for that film and eight others, the trade said. The network also got the rights for Superman Returns as part of the deal.
I'm not at all surprised that X-Men 3 will be making its broadcast debut on the FX Network. The channel has been showing the first two films in the X series for years...I am a little surprised that Superman Returns will fly to the net though--I would have expected The CW Television Network to be its TV home--since its co-owner, Warner Bros., holds the copyright to the character of Supes... Touting one of their own as a new channel and all that.
Incidentally, X-Men: The Last Stand makes its bow on DVD this Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006.
That's all the stew for today. Can somebody please pass me a napkin?
Friday, September 29, 2006
Ben Fritz and Michael Fleming of Variety have the details:
Marking his first lead role in a big-budget action movie, Robert Downey Jr. will be putting on the "Iron Man" suit for Marvel Studios.
Pic, set for release by Paramount in May 2008, will be the first to be self-financed by Marvel. Jon Favreau directs.
"It's right along the lines of our other films, where we cast people who can become the characters," said Marvel production [president] Kevin Feige, pointing to the selection of Tobey Maguire, who'd never before starred in an action pic, as Spider-Man and the mostly low-profile cast of the "X-Men" movies.
Downey will play Iron Man and his alter ego Tony Stark, a wealthy industrialist who invents a high-tech suit of body armor giving him superpowers when he is kidnapped.
In the comics, Stark was an alcoholic, a trait that will undoubtedly draw public comparisons with Downey's own struggles with substance abuse. However, Feige said the first pic won't deal with Stark's alcohol problems, though it would likely come up in potential sequels.
Downey's comeback has been bolstered by some recent high-profile work in "A Scanner Darkly," "Good Night, and Good Luck," the Shane Black pic "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" and the upcoming Nicole Kidman starrer "Fur," in which he has a leading role.
First film will deal with Stark's invention of the Iron Man suit and his conflicted past as a weapons inventor.
Under its financing agreement with Merrill Lynch, Marvel is allowed to spend up to $165 million on each of its films.
Principal photography on "Iron Man" is set to begin in February.
Feige is producing along with former Marvel Studios topper Avi Arad.
I think Robert Downey Jr. makes for an inspired choice. He certainly isn't the first person I would think of for a leading role in a comic book flick. That said, I think he's a very talented actor and can pull it off, as long as the movie has a strong script. Seems like director Jon Favreau--going against type has gotten off to a solid start.
The comedy School For Scoundrels (reviews), starring the great Jon Heder and Billy Bob Thornton also debuts today. It's from the guy behind 2003's highly overrated Old School...
Ian Mohr of Variety gives us a look at how the weekend shapes up:
There's something for everyone at the box office this weekend, as three new wide rollouts compete for vastly different aud[ience]s.
Disney's "The Guardian" (3,241 playdates) will be battling Sony's "Open Season" (3,833) and MGM/Weinstein Co.'s "School for Scoundrels" (3,004).
Laffer "School for Scoundrels," starring Billy Bob Thornton and Jon Heder, will ring the bell for younger males.
All three will have to contend with the second frame of "Jackass: Number Two," which won last week's derby with $29 million.
Coast Guard drama "Guardian," starring Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher, has been tracking well with female auds thanks to its stars, as well as with older males.
"Season," meanwhile, has the family market to itself, though this year has seen a glut of CG product hit theaters with mixed results; most recent was Fox and IDT's "Everyone's Hero," which bowed Sept. 15 to just $6 million.
Pic features the voices of Martin Lawrence, Kutcher, Gary Sinise and Debra Messing...
The complete Variety article can be found here.
Meanwhile, over at Entertainment Weekly, Joshua Rich predicts: Cartoon "Season" will open No. 1
Lastly, the drama, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (reviews) opens in limited release as well.
A 2-time winner at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival--The film boasts a fine cast and looks like it's worth seeking out...
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Michael Fleming of Variety writes
Wes Craven has made a deal with Rogue Pictures to write and direct his first horror project in 12 years. He's also formed Midnight Pictures, a Rogue-based shingle that will scare up fright films with budgets under $15 million.
Craven has hired Marianne Maddalena, who's produced many of Craven's films, to run Midnight Pictures. Plans call for the duo to produce Midnight Pictures fare and to also make films separately, with Maddalena developing her own slate.
He made both deals after pitching the project to Rogue's Andrew Rona, who as Dimension co-president worked on many of Craven's films when the director had an overall Miramax pact.
"It is rooted in the supernatural with a 16-year old central character, but it's more 'Sixth Sense' than a slasher film," Craven said. "It's appalling to me that you have to go back to 1994 to find an original that I wrote and directed, so this is very important to me."
New project will be released by Rogue, but not under the Midnight Pictures banner. Craven hopes to shoot next spring.
The first film under the Midnight Pictures banner will be the remake of his 1972 debut "The Last House on the Left," which Rogue co-presidents Andrew Karpen and Rona bought last month (story).
Read More Here...
I can't believe that New Nightmare was the last time he pulled double duty. I'm glad to see that he hasn't lost the drive to write. Someone who has had the career that he has had, might be content to slow down at this point...
Speaking of going back to his roots, Craven's landmark 1984 horror film, A Nightmare on Elm Street, was reissued on DVD earlier this week--A Nightmare on Elm Street (Two-Disc Infinifilm Special Edition)--It's worth the upgrade for devotees.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Steven Zeitchik in today's Variety reports on the event:
Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon made the trek to Gotham to promote 'The Departed.
The big movie that no one -- practically no one -- has seen had its blowout Gotham preem Tuesday night, and the stars turned out in force. Warners' "The Departed" has been something of a mystery film, since there have been no formal advance screenings and the film has been on and off screening lists of Oscar contenders...
Click Here For More...
I know I have said this before, but, I'm really looking forward to seeing this flick. As for the limited advance screenings--(Roger Friedman of Fox News.com was lucky enough to attend an early screening last week.) My guess is that the parties involved just wanted to make the official premiere of the movie all the more "event-worthy". I don't think they were hiding it from anyone...Or are worried that the film isn't any good.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Director Christopher Nolan is talking about his notions for The Dark Knight script and why he hired his brother to write it:
Filmmaker Christopher Nolan says the reason was "more circumstances than anything else" for why his writer brother Jonathan "Jonah" Nolan was tapped to write the screenplay for The Dark Knight, the sequel to Batman Begins. Jonah served in a consulting capacity on the 2005 film.
"When [Batman Begins co-screenwriter] David Goyer and I sat down about a year ago to hammer out the story treatment for another Batman, he was going off to direct a film [The Invisible] and I was going off to direct a film [The Prestige]," Chris Nolan recalls in the Sept./Oct. issue of Creative Screenwriting magazine.
He continued, "Jonah seemed the most obvious choice for someone to crack on the script and see if our story held any water. You sit there with your cue cards [note cards], but till you have to write a screenplay you never actually know what you've got. So we pulled the pin and tossed the grenade."
Jonah credits Chris with turning him onto Batman in the first place after buying him Frank Miller's graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns for his 14th birthday. "I have loved and cherished that character from that point, but through the lens of Frank Miller: Batman: Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One."
Jonah also draws comparisons between Batman and the magician protagonists in The Prestige.
"What's cool about Bruce Wayne and these magicians is that they are a stand-in for the filmmaker. They recognize that it's a normal world, and so they build a more interesting one."
Hey, Nolan can hire his entire family to work on the film, if he wants. As long as its as good as the first one is...
Meanwhile, actor Michael Caine, is giving us his thoughts on the Batman sequel as well
In related news, Michael Caine says on his official site "that in March I reprise my Butler roll [as Alfred] in the second Batman again directed by Christopher Nola and starring Christian Bale. This one is 'The Joker' and the Joker is Heath Ledger. Great casting."
The latest on which team is doing the special effects and some confirmed casting news on Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer:
Weta Digital, the Oscar-winning, New Zealand-based visual effects house behind the Lord of the Rings trilogy, has been selected by 20th Century Fox to work on the studio's sequel, The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
Doug Jones (Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth) has also been confirmed as the Silver Surfer. Much like Andy Serkis did for Gollum and King Kong, Jones will, according to The Hollywood Reporter, "provide performance and movement references for Weta."
The trade adds, "Weta has developed an advanced computer-generated animation process that employs motion-capture techniques updated to add further dimensionality to the liquid-metal hero."
The voice of the Silver Surfer has not yet been cast. For Hellboy, Jones played the role of Abe Sapien on-set while David Hyde Pierce provided the voice of the character.
IGN has [also] learned that Julian McMahon is indeed reprising his role as Dr. Doom for the sequel, balancing his Nip/Tuck schedule so that he can do his role as Dr. Doom for the sequel, so that he can do his TV series as well as the Fantastic Four follow-up, which is now shooting in Vancouver.
Weta Digital Ltd has done fine work in the past. I just hope that the effects for FF 2 are given a proper budget.
Doug Jones will do good work--too bad it all goes largely unnoticed.
Julian McMahon's talents were under-used in the first film in an underwritten part. I love him on Nip/Tuck. Hopefully his role in the follow-up will be worth the headache of dividing his time.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Over at Box Office Mojo Brandon Gray says:
Exceeding expectations, 'Jackass: Number Two' cranked out an estimated $28.1 million, while 'Jet Li's Fearless ' was solid [at #2 with $10.5 million] and 'Flyboys' [took in just $6.0] and 'All The King's Men' [at #7 with a slim $3.8] bombed
Click here to take a look at his complete report
Ian Mohr of Variety says Jackass gave the box office a much needed goosing
Pranksters pump frame; 'King's' a lame duck...
And finally, Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly offers his own weekend wrap-up...
In other cineplex news: Critical darling Little Miss Sunshine is still hanging around the top 10--after two months in release.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
The 8 disc set breaks down this way:
Subtitles: English, Français & Español (feature film only
2001 expanded edition movie with commentary by director Richard Donner and creative consultant Tom Mankiewicz
Music-only audio track
Subtitles: English, Français, Español & Português (feature film only)
Three documentaries: Taking Flight: The Development of Superman, Making Superman: Filming the Legend, The Magic Behind the Cape
Audio-only bonus: additional music cues
1951 Movie Superman and the Mole-Men, starring George Reeves
Nine Fleischer Studios Superman cartoons mastered from superior vault elements: Oscar nominee Superman, The Mechanical Monsters, Billion Dollar Limited, The Arctic Giant, The Bulleteers, The Magnetic Telescope, Electric Earthquake, Volcano, Terror on the Midway
Soundtrack in Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages: English & Français
Subtitles: English, Français & Español (feature film only)
New featurette First Flight: The Fleischer Superman Series
Eight Famous Studios Superman cartoons mastered from superior vault elements: Japoteurs, Showdown, Eleventh Hour, Destruction, Inc., The Mummy Strikes, Jungle Drums, The Underground World, Secret Agent
The Superman III Deluxe Edition will include:
Commentary by executive producer Ilya Salkind and producer Pierre Spengler
Vintage TV special The Making of Superman III
Languages: English & Français
Subtitles: English, Français & Español (feature film only)
A Deluxe Edition of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace will offer the following specs:
Commentary by screenwriter Mark Rosenthal
Languages: English & Français
Subtitles: English, Français & Español (feature film only)
A couple of quick observations: The cover art for all 4 films is really awful. Yuck!! Why is Richard Pryor not featured on the front cover for the third film? I wish Lester had decided to participate for his version of Supes II...and Supes III His insights on his contributions to the film series and the whole Donner controversy will be sorely missed.
Sold separately is Superman II - The Richard Donner Cut which includes the following specs:
All new introduction by director Richard Donner
Commentary by director Richard Donner and creative consultant Tom Mankiewicz
New featurette Superman II: Restoring the Vision
Subtitles: English, Français & Español (feature film only)
What is it with Warner Bros. and DVD cover art that sucks?...I would have rather seen them use this look for the Donner Cut
I'm probably going to break down and buy the 14 disc set--which at the moment has a SRP of $99.92 (Online retailers will be selling the mega set for less) It includes all of the discs listed above as well as:
Theatrical cut Dolby Digital 5.1
Disc 11-Requiem for Krypton: Making Superman Returns. 3hr documentary. Deleted Scenes
Disc 12-You'll believe: Making of a Saga
All-new six-part documentary about the original theatrical franchise.
Forging the Man of Steel - Superman in the media, and the challenges the Salkinds faced
Creating the Vision - creating the right script, choosing the right director and casting the right actors
Believe - the production and launch of a new kind of fantasy film
Crisis - complications and conflicts between the creative forces behind Superman II
Downfall - criticisms and burnout of Superman III and Superman IV
Legacy - filmmakers, writers and artists reflect Bonus New Documentaries (The Mythology of Superman, The Science of Superman, Remembering Christopher Reeve)
Disc 13 Look, Up in the Sky - The Amazing Story of Superman. Kevin Burns documentary-The history of the character.
Disc 14 Bryan Singer's video blogs disc for SR All the web blogs plus two that have never been seen before.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
The casting of a rising young star is finally confirmed for a high profile sequel--The co writer of a high profile sequel/remake is gonna direct a film for the first time--While another recent sequel hits a very special milestone--and if your feeling a bit perplexed by which of the new DVD formats you should choose--have no fear. A solution may have arrived..
Justin Long has been set to co-star with Bruce Willis in "Live Free or Die Hard," the fourth installment in the John McClane franchise. Maggie Q is also in negotiations to join the film, which begins shooting this month. Fox will release the film in June.
Long plays a computer-savvy accomplice who helps McClane take on a terrorist organization around the July Fourth holiday.
Len Wiseman is directing a script by Mark Bomback.
Go here for more on the story...
Long's casting for DH 4 is no surprise--but it sure took 'em awhile to make it official
Dougherty Helming Trick 'R Treat
Writer Mike Dougherty (Superman Returns) will make his feature-film directorial debut with Trick 'r Treat, a horror movie he wrote that will be produced by his Superman Returns director Bryan Singer, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Legendary Pictures and Warner Brothers Pictures are teaming to co-finance, with Legendary's Thomas Tull and John Jashni on board as producers. Warners will distribute, the trade paper reported.
Trick 'r Treat is four interwoven stories that take place on Halloween with such characters as a staid high-school principal who is a Halloween serial killer, a college-age virgin seeking that special guy, a woman who hates dressing up for Halloween and whose husband is obsessed with the holiday and a group of young teens who pull a cruel prank.
Filmmaker deals are still being finalized and no cast is in place. The movie has a tentative release date of Oct. 5, 2007. A fall shoot in Vancouver is being eyed.
Since you are a first time director, I offer you the following advice:
Watch out for "bloated screenplays" Mr. Dougherty. Oh, and don't be afraid to edit your film and you'll be fine...
Pirates 2 Third Biggest Film Ever Nuff Said...
A Solution for the High-Definition DVD Dilemma?
In what could serve as a method to surmount consumers' reluctance to purchase high-definition DVD players, three engineers have patented an application for a DVD disc that can hold three different formats -- Sony's Blu-ray, Toshiba's HD DVD, and conventional DVD.
According to Home Video Retailing magazine, the Blu-ray data would be embedded 0.1 mm onto the disc; the HD DVD date would lie 0.5 mm below that. The standard DVD data would be recorded on the opposite side of the disc.
Two of the engineers who patented the disc format work for Warner Bros., the magazine said.
According to numerous recent reports, consumers have been loath to purchase the expensive high-definition DVD players, not knowing which format will prevail.
What a great idea!!! I would definitely go for something like that....
Friday, September 22, 2006
Ian Mohr of Variety sizes up the weekend for us:
Fall may be widely viewed as the time of year for highfalutin fare, but Paramount's sequel to gross-out pic "Jackass" should bring in droves of young males to take the No. 1 spot at the box office this weekend.
Pic bows in 3,059 engagements and is the frame's widest new release.
Universal genre division Rogue, meanwhile, will aim for the same demo with "Jet Li's Fearless" on 1,806 screens. Neither should beat Dimension Films' new limited-release horror film "Feast."
Sony, meanwhile, will roll out Steven Zaillian's star-studded "All the King's Men," aiming for an older [crowd] via 1,514 engagements.
Frame's other new wide release is MGM's "Flyboys," helmer Tony Bill's fighter-pilot period piece.
MGM is releasing the film on 2,033 playdates as part of a service deal for Dean Devlin's Electric Entertainment banner, which raised the $60 million budget as well as the pic's marketing fund.
"Jackass Number Two" marks the start of a spate of lowbrow pics rolling out in coming weeks to vie for young male[s]...
With that pic likely to lead the field--possibly reaching into the high $20 millions -- the chart's following slots could be well off that pace.
Either way, pic should boost biz overall after two limp frames in a row.
"All the King's Men," a bigscreen adaptation of Robert Penn Warren's 1946 novel, stars Sean Penn, Jude Law, Anthony Hopkins, Kate Winslet and Mark Ruffalo.
Sony also has last week's No. 1, "Gridiron Gang" holding over.
With a hunky cast that includes James Franco, "Flyboys" will try to serve as the frame's option for female [movie-goers]...
Read the entire article here...
Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly thinks "Jackass: Number Two" will be No. 1, adding Knoxville and Co. will gross the most
As for the rest of the pack--Flyboys (reviews) may have plenty of beefcake for the ladies, but from the looks of things, that won't do anything to soften what looks to be a very hard landing. Feast (reviews) is a horror film, born out of the now defunct Project Greenlight--It's only getting a three week theatrical run, in favor of a quick DVD debut... Finally, there's Fearless (reviews), Jet Li's "last martial arts film"--looking to take him away from the genre in fine style.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
It boasts a fabulous cast of performers including the likes of Gene Hackman, the late great John Cazale, Frederic Forrest, Cindy Williams, in her pre-sit-com days, and a young Harrison Ford--Taking its theme, in part, from government scandal, such as Watergate---the movie is a study in paranoia. It's thrilling to see Hackman put through his paces as Harry Caul
Josef Adalian of Variety tells us all about the creative forces behind the show ans what role Coppola will play behind the scenes. I was fascinated to learn that this isn't the first time the film's premise was going to be adapted for television...
Producer Tony Krantz ("24") is teaming with scribes Christopher McQuarrie ("The Usual Suspects") and Erik Jendresen ("Band of Brothers") to turn Francis Ford Coppola's "The Conversation" into a weekly series for ABC.
Coppola is aboard as an exec producer, Krantz said, with Alphabet sibling Touchstone Television close to a deal to serve as the project's studio, along with Krantz's Flame Ventures.
ABC has given "The Conversation" a put pilot commitment, with a rich penalty attached, two people familiar with the deal said.
Released in 1974, between Coppola's first two "Godfather" pics, "The Conversation" is a sparse thriller featuring Gene Hackman as master of electronic surveillance Harry Caul.
McQuarrie and Jendresen plan to set the TV version in the present day, with Caul now equally adept at digital spying and traditional audio surveillance.
[The series] will feature close-ended stories, with Caul reluctantly taking on cases in order to help people deserving of assistance. But they'll also be an ongoing storyline since, as in the movie, Caul will be a man under constant observation by various government agencies due to a secret conversation he's recorded.
"The absolute simplicity and elegance of the movie lends itself quite nicely to an ongoing series," McQuarrie told Daily Variety.
"The challenge for us was staying true to the original movie and yet evolving the work (Caul) was doing at the end of the movie" for a series.
One solution: Caul will work with a group of four other experts he's assembled, none of whom ever know what the others are up to. And much as the movie reflected the Watergate era, the TV take will draw on the post-9/11 mood of the country.
"It's relevant to our times," Krantz said, with Jendresen noting the skein will examine themes of "paranoia and fear" as well as "the individuals relationship with the establishment."
Krantz has been trying to get "The Conversation" made into a series for more than a decade.
As an agent, he help set up a Ronald Bass-scripted take on the film in 1995. NBC shot a pilot but didn't order the series.
Two other attempts by Krantz failed, but the current project came together surprisingly quickly, with Krantz initially talking to Jendresen about the idea as they worked together on "Sublime," the Jendresen-penned pic that marks Krantz's tyro turn as a helmer.
Jendresen and McQuarrie knew each other via teaching gigs at the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, and their initial conversation about "The Conversation" was brief.
"I called Chris and said, ' "The Conversation." Television series,' " Jendresen recalled. "And he said, 'Done.' It was about that simple."
Pitch process for the show also was abbreviated, with ABC Entertainment [president] Steve McPherson making a preemptive bid to snatch up the project -- packaged by Endeavor and Paradigm -- before other nets even heard the full idea.
"He felt it could be his real big procedural," Krantz said.
Extent of Coppola's involvement in the adaptation isn't finalized.
"The four of us are equal partners. We want him to do as much as he wants," Krantz said.
McQuarrie and Jendresen will write the pilot, exec producing with Krantz and Coppola.
Krantz, former head of Imagine Television, was an original exec producer on "24" and also helped put together or produced "ER," "Sports Night" and "Felicity." Jendresen wrote three installments of "Band of Brothers," winning an Emmy for his work on the HBO mini [series].
A TV Series Is In The Works
There are some great "TV people" on the project. Casting and direction are gonna be key to its success. I look forward to seeing where this goes
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
The latest from the "mill" is a doozey and I couldn't resist. The Internet is all abuzz about a story from This Is London, that has Brad Pitt replacing Tom Cruise in the 4th Mission Impossible flick...
Garth Franklin of Dark Horizons picks up the story from there:
The British tabloids...have...a report that Brad Pitt has been lined up to replace Tom Cruise in the next "Mission Impossible" film in a move that will make Pitt the highest-paid actor in Hollywood history.
An insider told This Is London that: "MI:IV will not include Cruise's character, agent Ethan Hunt. They're considering a brief mention, saying Hunt retired to live a safe life with his new wife.
They're set on Brad taking over as a gutsy new head operative who puts together his own unique team of specialists."
Paramount Pictures, the company behind the franchise, ended their long-running partnership with Cruise the other month, whilst a few months earlier negotiated a deal to produce projects with Pitt's Plan B production company...
This rumor could actually turn out be a good thing. I bet you, if Pitt did star in the next one--it would bring all of those folks who skipped out on the last one, back to the multiplex. Myself included. I hope rumor turns into reality.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Based on a 2002 film from Hong Kong, called "Wu Jian Dao" or Infernal Affairs, Scorsese has assembled a great cast for this crime thriller. From all indications, the movie should garner its fair share of attention from Oscar, come early next year. Whether or not it means that Scorsese will actually win an award--is anybody's guess.
Roger Friedman, of Fox News.Com, got a chance to see the film at a screening last Friday night. He has posted his musings about the film, which appeared yesterday in his daily Fox 411 column:
Jack Nicholson in a Martin Scorsese film? With Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Alec Baldwin and Mark Wahlberg in the cast as well? Are you kidding?
No, I am not.
"The Departed," which I saw on Friday night, is a rocking comedy-of-a-gangster-shoot-out stuffed with great performances both big and small by all these guys, and Scorsese — who returns to his favorite genre — is the puppeteer pulling the strings.
Actually, he's not pulling all the strings. Nicholson is completely "out there" and over the edge in a performance that will either win him kudos or tomatoes (I vote for the former) as a psychopathic killer who has no personal boundaries and works, shall we say, outside the margins of even recognized behavior for organized crime.
In one scene, Nicholson pulls out a sex toy and surprises Damon in a movie theater. In another, he wears sunglasses all the way through despite, I'm told, Scorsese's wishes that he didn't.
But you can see that Nicholson took to his work with relish, and — as he did with The Joker in "Batman" — he makes sure no one forgets him.
Still, "The Departed" is Scorsese's film. From the first strains of The Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter," he's telling us we are back in the land of "Goodfellas" after his last two films, best picture nominees "Gangs of New York" and "The Aviator."
And while "Gangs" had its share of crazy, unpredictable, graphic violence, really nothing prepares you for the bloodletting in "The Departed." It's at once maniacal and casual, and would make Tony Soprano and his gang run for the hills.
"The Departed" constitutes a couple of ideas mashed together. It's partly an American remake of the Hong Kong classic "Infernal Affairs." Then again, the story has been moved to Boston and turned into the saga of Whitey Bulger, an FBI informant whose gang runs wild while the feds clean up the mafia.
Nicholson is the Bulger character (he's named here for New York mobster Frank Costello).
Damon is the bad cop who's in Costello's pocket; DiCaprio is the police mole in Costello's gang, sent in by Martin Sheen and an unusually good Wahlberg.
In many ways, the story set up in "The Departed" is reminiscent of Michael Mann's "Heat" as DiCaprio and Damon spend most of the movie as each other's doppelgangers. Their paths only meet toward the end, when the plot is clearly laid out and resolution for every one of these corrupted characters is close at hand.
There are some good little performances, too, from Alec Baldwin (in an especially funny improvised scene), Anthony Anderson and newcomer (after a decade of work) Vera Farmiga as the girl caught between Damon and DiCaprio.
There are a lot of great things about "The Departed," but I would say the greatest might be Thelma Schoonmaker's effortless editing. She finally won an Oscar last year for "The Aviator," but I think what she has done here, especially in the first act, is amazing.
She and Scorsese really are a team. Scorsese and cinematographer Michael Ballhaus get the performances and the spectacular shots. Then Schoonmaker adds the timing and pace. In "The Departed," she's got scenes within scenes, and the action moving back and forth almost at the same time, and it all works. You might even call this film "The Deceptive" because the work is so good.
Scorsese remains our greatest director, surpassed by no one. He is also part of a dying breed of grand auteurs that includes Robert Altman, Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood, Sidney Lumet, Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola. The rest of them now have one thing Scorsese doesn't: an Oscar.
This is a sore point for the Academy. If Scorsese isn't nominated for one this year, I think it's time he got a Lifetime Achievement Award. "The Departed" is so far above what we see in theaters these days. But standards are so low now, I'm just worried new audiences won't appreciate it.
I agree with Friedman wholeheartedly. Scorsese is loooong overdue for some sort of recognition from the Academy. Fingers crossed.
Meanwhile, IESB/The Movie Reporter has posted Twelve Film Clips From The Departed--courtesy of Warner Bros. As much As much as I hate this tactic--I call it "the clip dump"--I still couldn't resist checking out a few of 'em anyway...On the surface the movie looks awesome!
The Departed opens on October 6th
Monday, September 18, 2006
Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo writes in his weekend wrap-up:
'Gridiron Gang' scored an estimated $15 million to top a tepid weekend, while 'The Black Dahlia' [in 2nd place with $10.4 million] disappointed and 'The Last Kiss' [coming in 4th place with a mere $4.7 million in tix sold] was at a dribble...
Click here read his complete report...
Ian Mohr, over at Variety says The Rock's Rolling:
Sony's feel-good football drama "Gridiron Gang" landed in the No. 1 spot this weekend, scoring $15 million at the B.O. Perf handily bested that of Universal's Hollywood Babylon tale "The Black Dahlia," which finished with $10.4 million. "Gridiron" played 3,504 engagements to "Dahlia's" 2,228.
Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly had this to say about the weekend numbers...
Since Hollywood is all about the ca-ching, I wonder how the weekend results will impact the careers of both Brian De Palma and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson? De Palma needed a hit to revive a stalled career. I doubt a $10 million opening will be enough of a jolt. While "Gang" may prove that audiences can accept "The Rock" in a non action guy role.
For me, the biggest surprise of the weekend though, is the fact that the critically challenged horror flick, The Covenant [4.7 million] managed to tie The Last Kiss for fourth place.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
For the September 15th, 2006 issue, the editors and staff of Entertainment Weekly have gone Back to School, for their latest "best of" movie list. Offering up The 50 best high school movies ever made-- Here's why "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "Dazed and Confused," and other beloved flicks about the traumatic teen years made our dean's list
After the issue hit newstands, readers had a lot to say about the high school list--in Best high school movies: You tell us what we forgot
As a bonus, here's the EW cover story from June 15th 2006:
The 25 most controversial movies ever
Why they enraged audiences, divided critics, and actually got people killed...
You can debate and bicker these lists amongst yourself, if ya like...
Meanwhile, Today's Big Game Question:
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Ed Steenbeck, of the Superman Cinema, has written an excellent article that may explain how Michael Thau and his team put the film together and what it could look like Of course, it's all speculation at this point, but I'll bet ya, it's pretty darn close...Steenbeck has done his homework.
Warner Home Video has released a trailer for the Christopher Reeve Superman DVD Collection (also due on 11/28) The advertisement also includes info about Donner's cut of Supes II...
Here are two more pics from Donner's cut of the film--Courtesy Caped Wonder:
Superman (Christopher Reeve) As Both Hero...
I'll have more to say on this topic as that release date draws near...
Friday, September 15, 2006
In one corner...Ian Mohr of Variety writes in his article, B.O. in for noir war:
After specialty arm Focus Features sent out the noir pic "Hollywoodland" last weekend to gain pole position in fall's derby for more serious films, parent studio Universal is rolling out its own Hollywood Babylon tale, "The Black Dahlia," on 2,228 screens.
Two pics about mysterious Hollywood crime cases may seem like a hurdle for "Dahlia," but the film is said to be tracking quite well, particularly with women and with males over 25. That demo could conceivably give "Dahlia" a shot at a No. 1 finish with a tally in the mid teens...
And in the other corner... Entertainment Weekly's Joshua Rich believes the football drama Gridiron Gang (reviews) will win the weekend.
Needless to say, I'm very curious to see Monday's final numbers.
Who knows? It may be that one of these other new releases will end up in first place--when all the receipts are counted.
The Last Kiss (reviews) is another chance for actor Zach Braff to shine on the big screen. The film boasts a screenplay from Oscar winner Paul Haggis...Shock Jock Howard Stern's pal hits the screen in the comedy Artie Lange's Beer League (reviews)...and finally, there's Everyone's Hero (reviews). An animated feature co directed by the late Christopher Reeve and featuring an all star cast of voices. The beloved actors' late wife Dana Reeve and the couple's young son Will Reeve can be heard in the film as well...A fitting way to celebrate the Reeve legacy...
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Michael Fleming of Variety has the details:
Jim Carrey is returning to Who-ville.
Carrey will voice the title character in "Horton Hears A Who," 20th Century Fox's CGI animated adaptation of the Dr. Seuss book. Steve Carell will voice the Mayor of Who-ville.
The film, which is being produced by "Ice Age" makers Blue Sky, will be released March 14, 2008, by Fox.
That gives Fox Animation back-to-back summer tentpoles, with "The Simpsons Movie" set for a July 27 release.
"Horton" was scripted by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio. Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino will direct. Theodor Geisel's widow Audrey Geisel, Chris Wedge and Chris Meledandri are exec producing, with 20th Animation production exec Bob Gordon producing.
Carrey, who previously played the title character in the live-action "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," this time plays the elephant who hears a cry of help from a floating dust speck, and strives to protect it from neighbors who think he's nuts.
Twentieth Animation president Chris Meledandri, who courted Geisel for the right to make "Horton" and its sequel "Horton Hatches an Egg," said she felt strongly about the choices of Carrey and Carell. Each is pacted for a single film.
"Audrey Geisel has been included in all our principal casting choices," Meledandri said. "Jim was our first choice and from the moment I mentioned it to her, she was 100% determined it would happen."
It is the second team-up for Carrey and Carell, who were rivals in "Bruce Almighty." Carell took over the franchise when Carrey bowed out; the $140 million Tom Shadyac-directed "Evan Almighty" will be released by Universal next July.
I wasn't too keen on the big screen version of The Grinch from 2000, and The Cat in the Hat film was absolutely awful, hopefully teaming Jim Carrey and Steve Carell will mean the Horton film will turn out better... At least the CGI looks great...
Director Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia opens in theaters tomorrow...
De Palma took a few minutes to sit down and talk about this project to IESB's Robert Sanchez in a video interview. With the right material to work with--he is a master filmmaker. Be sure to watch the interview, especially, if you plan to see this flick.
Paul Davidson of Filmforce tells us that a third Mummy film may just gottten another big boost a few days ago.
Hot on the heels of news that Brander Fraser has signed on for The Mummy III comes word that Rachel Weisz, Fraser's co-star in the first two films, also wants on board. French film news site Écran Large caught up with the starlet at the 32nd Deauville American Film Festival.
"I would definitely like to take part," declared Weisz, revealing that she knew about the new script but hadn't had a chance to read it yet. She added that nothing about the flick was definite quite yet. Her involvement with the third Mummy film could also depend on production being scheduled for next summer.
Weisz can next be seen on the big screen opposite Hugh Jackman in Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain....
I think the powers that be will find a way for Weisz to do the film. She is very important to the mix and the film won't be the same without her...
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Woodward also adds:
Each will carry a 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, along with an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track...the single-disc will be featureless...
... the two-disc edition will include:
Requiem for Krypton:Making Superman Returns - a comprehensive 3-hour documentary that takes you behind the scenes onto the set of Superman Returns.
I don't care for the cover art on either DVD edition at all. I would have much rather seen the studio stick with the theatrical art.
A three hour documentary is nice...but what about audio commentaries? Brandon Routh's audition tape? Trailers and TV Spots?
I think it's a safe bet that a more comprehensive DVD for SR will come along just before the sequel arrives...or sooner.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
"Big" plans are under way to put the troubles of the studio in the past.
Will these plans bring Peter Jackson back to Middle Earth?
Will Arnold Schwarzenegger be back for another run as The Terminator---despite being the Governor of California?
Stax of IGN-Filmforce, with help from Variety, tries to sort out the particulars:
After years of ups-and-downs, MGM is getting back into the studio big leagues by planning a number of $150+ million tentpole films to be released over the next few years, including The Hobbit and Terminator 4.
MGM is also said to want Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings helmer Peter Jackson to direct The Hobbit, according to Variety. A report earlier this month at TheOneRing.net claimed The Hobbit was on New Line's schedule for a July 2007 start date. (New Line released the LOTR films.) But the Variety piece says The Hobbit is an MGM production. Are the studios teaming for the project?
Possibly. As Variety states, "(MGM's) goal is to release two or three tentpoles a year, all of which will be made with financial partners, including Wall Street money or other studios."
So if MGM is wooing Jackson, and is working with New Line on the film, does that mean Jackson has finally settled his lawsuit against New Line over profits from the LOTR trilogy? And how did such a settlement escape the notice of the media? IGN attempted to investigate these matters a few weeks ago but was met with stony silence from various parties.
Jackson did an interview today with Aint-it-Cool.com, which reports that "(Jackson's) never once talked to any studio, be it New Line or MGM, about doing The Hobbit. So, as of today Jackson has not talked to anybody about doing the movie, but he did say he'd like to do it, even though his schedule gets more crowded every passing week."
You can read the original Variety article by Jill Goldsmith and Nicole LaPorte by clicking here...
As the Summer of '06 proved, Blockbusting is a tough game to play...I wish 'em luck.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo says in his Weekend Report:
On the lowest grossing weekend in years, 'The Covenant' was tops with an estimated $9 million...:
Here's the full report...
Ian Mohr, in an article for Variety, writes
Renny Harlin's teen supernatural thriller "The Covenant," from Sony's Screen Gems genre label, grabbed the No. 1 spot at a soft box office over the weekend, conjuring up an estimated $9 million from 2,681 screens....
Meanwhile, Michelle Kung of Entertainment Weekly penned the mag's online wrap-up said: The supernatural horror flick has very little competition, even with Ben Affleck in the running...
Hollywoodland, with Ben Affleck, landed in 2nd place--with $6 million. While The Protector kicked its way to the number 4 spot with $5 million--just behind Invincible.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Despite my proximity to the city of Philadelphia, my regular readers already know, I'm not a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles...Much to the dismay of my family...That said, I was still looking forward to seeing the film.
Invincible follows a typical, "inspirational sports movie" formula: down and out athlete(s) fight back incredible obstacles to be a winner on and off the field. What makes it work though are fine performances and solid direction.
In 1975--the Eagles were the laughing stock of the league...During the off season team owner, Leonard Tose (Michael Nouri) hires college football coach Dick Vermeil (Greg Kinnear) to take over. Almost immediately Vermeil announces open tryouts--an unheard of move--for the public at large. Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg)--a 30 year-old, working class substitute teacher and part-time bartender decides to take his buddies advice and go for it. Knowing in his heart, he hasn't got a chance, he manages to make quite an impression. Ultimately making the roster and living every fan's fantasy--as a professional football player.
I am just old enough to remember this period in Eagles history. The filmmakers, led by Ericson Core, (in his directorial debut) succeed in transporting viewers back to the mid-70's. It has that feel in both the way it was shot (by Cole as well) and in the script by Brad Gann. The film wisely devotes many scenes to Vermeil's plight as a new coach, while not taking anything from the Papale story--never an easy feat.
Wahlberg gives off a good solid performance as Papale--proving once again that the artist formally known as Marky Mark--can act. Elizabeth Banks as Janet lights up the screen and boasts good chemistry with Wahlberg. Kinnear as Vermeil does good thing as well...
The film is very good at giving football fans an inside look at what training camp must be like but surprisingly spends little time on the field itself--I wish there were more if that stuff. I also wish that there were a few more scenes of Papale's interactions with players like Bill Bergey.
My late mother loved watching the Eagles play...and I could not help but think of her as I sat in the theater watching Invincible. Despite a formulaic constraint, the film rates an 8 (out of 10)...
Later this afternoon, it's my team the Chicago Bears VS. the Green Bay Packers. in one of the sport's oldest rivalries.....Go Bears!!
Saturday, September 09, 2006
The folks at IGN/Filmforce attended the L.A. premiere of Hollywoodland on Thursday night, and caught up with British actor Bob Hoskins. (IESB.net has the video). The assembled press took the chance to ask Hoskins about the repeated rumors that he's in the running to play the Penguin in The Dark Knight:
When asked if the rumors were true, a sincerely surprised Hoskins replied, "Where did you hear that?" Hoskins was told it was in magazines and online. IGN then asked the Long Good Friday and Mrs. Henderson Presents actor if he would accept the Penguin role if offered to which he responded, "Yeah, of course!"
When asked if he'd like to work with director Christopher Nolan, Hoskins replied simply, "Yeah, love to," before being escorted away from reporters.
Hoskins wou;d make a good choice n the role with that gravely voice of his...
In a related news story, Batman On Film had this:
...actor Heath Ledger who is cast as The Joker in The Dark Knight, spoke with the Toronto Star about the role.
"I wouldn't have thought of me, either. But it's obviously not going to be what Jack Nicholson did. It's going to be more nuanced and dark and more along the lines of A Clockwork Orange kind of feel. Which is, I think, what the comic book was after: less about his laugh and more about his eyes.
While we're on the subject of sequels:
Stax of Filmforce reports that a third Mummy flick seems likely...
Fraser Set For Mummy 3?
Series star reportedly back for sequel.
Brendan Fraser is reportedly set to reprise his role as Rick O'Connell in The Mummy 3. Joe Johnston (Jurassic Park III) has been offered the director's chair.
The script has been penned by Smallville and Shanghai Noon vets Alfred Gough and Miles Millar. Plot details for the movie were not divulged. Stephen Sommers, who wrote and directed the first two installments, is apparently not involved with this sequel. No word yet on whether Oscar winner Rachel Weisz or Oded Fehr will also return for the third film.
Universal is lining up The Mummy 3 to film early next year, according to ProductionWeekly.com.
Fraser will first shoot Inkheart for director Iain Softley. The family fantasy pic is an adaptation of Cornelia Funke's book. Inkheart is slated for a November start in the U.K.
I thought The Mummy (1999) was a fun action adventure romp...but The Mummy Returns (2001) was a real disappointment. The third one could go either way. For it to work the story had better be really really good--I hope Alfred Gough and Miles Millar are reading this!
Topping off our stew...something close to home.
From yesterday's World Entertainment News Network column:
Rocky Statue Returns to Museum of Art Steps
A larger-than-life statue of Sylvester Stallone as movie boxer Rocky Balboa is to stand proudly near the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Pennsylvania.
The site featured in the first Rocky film and has become a tourist attraction ever since as film fans clamber up the steps with the Rocky theme ringing in their ears and salute the heavens at the top of the flight.
Despite objections from snooty museum bosses, who insisted the statue wasn't artistic enough to stand before the building, the city's Art Commission approved a plan on Wednesday to place the bronzed Rocky there. The statue, donated to the city by Stallone in 1982, has been stored in a warehouse for years after it was removed from the museum steps - its first home. For a time it stood proudly in front of the Spectrum Sports Arena in South Philadelphia. And city officials aren't wasting time in returning the statue to its first home - a dedication ceremony [already happened last night]
For more on the story click here...