Archive | May, 2011

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Are You Ready For Dueling Vivaldi Bio-Pics?

Posted on 27 May 2011 by Rich Drees

These past couple of weeks has seen lots of news about the dueling pair of Snow White films that are racing to theaters next year. But they’re not the only pair of competing similarly-themed projects we might be seeing in theaters next year, as there are currently two different bio-pics focusing on the life of Baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi in pre-production with directors Boris Damast and Patrica Riggen racing to get there first.

A Roman Catholic priest as well as a composer, Vivaldi is perhaps best remembered for his series of violin concertos collectively known as “The Four Seasons.”

Set to start shooting in September, Damast’s film will focus on how the composer organized a group of illegitimate daughters of courtesans into an orchestra that would eventually play for the pope. Damast co-wrote the screenplay with Jeffrey Freedman and Claire Foy (Season Of The Witch) and Max Irons (Red Riding Hood) attached to star while Neve Campbell, Jacqueline Bisset, Elle Fanning, Tom Wilkinson, Alfred Molina and Sebastian Koch are in negotiations for various roles. Photography will take place on locations in Venice, Hungary, Germany and Bruges.

Riggen’ version of the composer’s life is reported to focus more on Vivaldi being torn betweenhis priestly vows and devotion to music and the woman he loves. It isn’t as far along as Damast’s project although it has secured approximately $3 million in production subsidies from assorted German regional funds. It also has lined up as possible cast members Jessica Biel, Ben Kingsley, Luke Evans and violinist David Garret. There is no projected start date for the project however.

Via The Hollywood Reporter.

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Posted on 27 May 2011 by William Gatevackes

The Hangover, Part II has been criticized for being a carbon copy of the original The Hangover, There’s a reason for that. It’s because it is.

Okay, maybe carbon copy is a bit harsh. It’s not exactly like the first one. But it’s close enough that you get the indication that the new writing team of Craig Mazin, Scot Armstrong, and Todd Phillips simply took a Sharpie to the first film’s script, making changes here and there.

There is a wedding amongst a group of friends, although now it’s Stu (Ed Helms) instead of Doug (Justin Bartha). Stu, Doug and fellow groomsman Phil (Bradley Cooper) are essentially forced into inviting the awkward Alan (Zach Galifinakis) along on the festivities.

There is a wild night in an exotic location, but Bangkok instead of Las Vegas, and the next morning they wake in a stupor to find one of the wedding party missing, although this time it is neither Stu nor Doug but Teddy (Mason Lee), the favored son of Stu’s father-in-law to be.

Then the film becomes a search for Teddy and a reconstructing of the night before, just like the first movie. There is a case of mistaken identity involving the missing person, much like in the first film. Stu has a dalliance with a stripper, like he did in the first movie. There is high pressure hostage exchange, just like the first film. There is an inappropriate mock sexual act performed in public, just like in the first film.

All of these plot points have a twist–a big, noisy,lurid or expensive twist–that makes them slightly different that the original. But the plot structure and the series and order of events are almost exactly silver. The big revelation at the end happens the same way as the first film, with the same characters doing the same actions and the same result coming from it.

Now, some might say not messing with a successful formula is a good thing. So what if the plots are almost identical? That’s a good thing because the first one was funny, right?

While there are some funny moments (Mike Tyson’s cameo is especially hilarious), the sameness make the viewer less willing to suspend disbelief. And the viewer is asked to suspend disbelief a lot in this movie.  Slights big and small are forgiven far to easily. A person who can provide all the answers to the night before dies suddenly before he can tell what happened yet returns to life when he’s needed for the plot. The boys face no legal ramifications for any of their accidents, even though there’s really no way why really shouldn’t.

The result is a why bother kind of film. Why bother paying $10 or more to go to a theater and see this film when you can rent the far superior original for less?

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Warners Looking To Take Flight With DC Comic’s HAWKMAN

Posted on 27 May 2011 by Rich Drees

Warner Brothers has been doing a lot to develop the great catalog of comic book characters they own through publisher DC Entertainment. In just a few weeks, their big budget adaption of Green Lantern will be hitting screens after a year’s worth of growing hype and anticipation. Christopher Nolan is currently in the midst of shooting the final installment of his Batman trilogy whilst simultaneously overseeing Zack Snyder’s development of a new Superman film. And while the recent pilot for a Wonder Woman television series didn’t get picked up, plans still continue to bring the Amazon princess to the big screen along with several other of her four-color compatriots such as the Flash and Green Arrow.

Joining that list of superheroes in contention for cinematic treatment is Hawkman. According to the tracking board It’s On The Grid, Warner Brothers is looking for writers to pitch them their take on bringing the hero to the big screen.

Now Hawkman is probably considered a second-tier character, but that doesn’t seem to be as much the impediment as it used to be. Iron Man and Thor have been considered second-tier characters over at DC rival Marvel Comics and their films have done well at the box office. Green Lantern was also not too well known outside of fandom circles until the advertising push for the movie recently began. If anyone outside of comic book circles recognizes the character it would probably be from his sporadic appearances on the last two seasons of the Superman-prequel series Smallville, where he was played by Michael Shanks. He has also popped up in various animated series based on DC’s characters.

For the uninitiated, there are two similar, yet distinct, versions of the character that producers can choose from. The more traditional version of the character was created in 1940 and is Carter Hall, an archaeologist who discovers that he and his wife Shiera are actually the reincarnations of the Egyptian prince Khufu and his lover who have been doomed to a cycle of reincarnation by the evil Egyptian priest Hath-Set. After discovering something called nth metal, which has anti-gravity powers, Carter fashioned himself a set of wings and using the archaic weaponry in the museum he works for began to fight crime as Hawkman. Later, Shiera would join him as Hawkgirl.

The second version of the character was born in the 1960s and cast the hero as a police officer from the planet Thanagar named Katar Hol who had come to Earth with his wife and disguised themselves with the names Carter and Shiera Hall.

My guess is that with the Green Lantern movie coming out next month playing up the interstellar police officer angle Warners will want to shy away from doing something similar with Hawkman, so we’ll probably get Carter hall, the reincarnated Egyptian. Adding weight to the probability of seeing the Carter Hall version of the character is the fact that DC Entertainment’s Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns is the writer who finally made some sense out of the two conflicting versions of the character that were floating around in the then-current continuity, leaving Carter Hall as the hero.

Of course, that is if a Hawkman script even manages to make its way through the development process and in front of the cameras, and that’s a journey even some superheroes have had difficulty in making.

Via Badass Digest.

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Posted on 27 May 2011 by Rich Drees

Bridesmaids is looking to be the surprise hit of the summer, with strong reviews and continual good box office. And if you want a little more of the raunchy comedy check out the video released on Funny Or Die featuring a number of outtakes from the film. Not surprisingly, it is a bit Not Safe For Work, so proceed at your own risk if you’re on the clock.

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Zach Braff In Talks For OZ: THE GREAT AND POWERFUL Role

Posted on 27 May 2011 by Rich Drees

Zach Braff is in talks to appear in Sam Raimi’s Oz: The Great And Powerful. According to Deadline, he’ll be playing Frank, “the loyal but under-appreciated assistant to Oz (James Franco), a charismatic circus magician who is treated as a powerful wizard after his balloon blows off course into Oz and the townsfolk want him to eradicate a Wicked Witch and bring peace.”

Best known for his work on the comedy series Scrubs, Braff’s filmography has been mostly in the indie world, most famously writing, directing and starring in 2004’s Garden State. To be honest, I’m not much of a Braff fan. Scrubs never struck me as all that funny and I didn’t flip for Garden State as much as others. Hopefully, Raimi and company have seen something in him for the role that will be worthwhile.

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So Who Will Direct THE WOLVERINE?

Posted on 26 May 2011 by Rich Drees

Ever since Darren Aronofsky walked away from the director’s chair for the X-Men franchise installment The Wolverine in March, there’s been much speculation, but not a lot of actual news, as to who would take over the job.

Variety has been on the case, however, and has compiled a list of eight candidates it feels that the studio is looking at for the gig. They are –

  • Antoine Fuqua (Training Day)
  • Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity)
  • Justin Lin (Fast Five)
  • James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma)
  • Gavin O’Connor (Miracle)
  • Jose Padilha (Elite Squad, the RoboCop reboot)
  • Mark Romanek (Never Let Me Go)
  • Gary Shore (commercial director)

For the most part, this is a very interesting list. Most of the names here are ones you wouldn’t automatically associate with a movie like this, but then again neither was Aronofsky. However, knowing Fox, the hiring might just come down to one important factor – availability.

With X-Men: First Class opening next weekend, Fox will want to move quickly to get a new X-Men project in motion if First Class does the good box office it is expected to do.The long mooted Deadpool film is a long shot for going into production quickly mostly due to the fact that attached star Ryan Reynolds has a pretty busy schedule at the moment. While they do have a fourth film in the original X-Men franchise in development, Fox has a script that is reportedly ready to be shot with The Wolverine. I would not be surprised if we saw some real activity on this in the next month or two.

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Relativity’s SNOW WHITE Casts Its Dawrfs

Posted on 26 May 2011 by Rich Drees

When Lily Collins runs into the woods to escape the evil queen Julia Roberts in Relativity’s upcoming untitled Snow White film, she’ll encounter what the seven men who will help her regain her usurped kingdom.

And as production gets underway for the Tarsem Singh-directed project, Relativity has announced who will play those seven rebels – Mark Povinelli (Water for Elephants), Jordan Prentice (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle), Danny Woodburn (Watchmen), Sebastian Saraceno (Bedtime Stories), Ronald Lee Clark (Epic Movie), Martin Klebba (Hancock) and Joey Gnoffo (Pirates of the Caribbean).

Additionally, the studio also announced two other cast additions – Mare Winningham (Brothers) as Baker Margaret and Michael Lerner (Elf) as Baron, whomever those two characters are.

Relativity is racing towards its March 16, 2012 release date to place it three months before before Universal’s similar Snow White And The Huntsman.

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New Releases: May 26

Posted on 25 May 2011 by William Gatevackes

1. Kung Fu Panda 2 (Paramount, 3,925 Theaters, 90 Minutes, Rated PG): I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with the first Kung Fu Panda. It was a funny story within the martial arts genre without ever mocking the style, the characters were a step above just being carbon copies of the voice actors, and message behind the film–have faith in yourself and you can to great things–was a nice one to portray.

Whether or not it needed a sequel is another thing entirely. The story can lend itself to a number of sequels–there are always bad guys for martial arts masters to fight. But if they try to recapture the “underdog makes good through determination” thing again, it will seem like backsliding.


2. The Hangover, Part II (Warner Brothers, 3,615 Theaters, 102 Minutes, Rated R): Speaking of backsliding…

So, The Hangover was a surprise success that built its grosses on the buzz it created. That was kind of like catching lightning in a bottle, but since it was a money maker for all parties involved, it is only natural that they would try to recapture that lightning once again.

The plot is essentially the same. Three groomsmen must look for a missing member after a bachelor party gone wrong. Only this time it’s Ed Helms character getting married, the bachelor party is in Bangkok, and it’s the bride’s brother who is missing.

Raising the stakes might be a good thing, but sticking with essentially the same formula might not be. It be interesting to see if more than just the location is fresh and new this time around.

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Who Really Authored RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK’s Swordsman Gag?

Posted on 25 May 2011 by Rich Drees

It is the scene in Raiders Of The Lost Ark that gets the biggest laugh. As Indiana Jones is chasing after the Nazi agents who have kidnapped Marion through the marketplace in Cairo, he is beset by numerous turbaned adversaries. After dispatching them in hand to hand combat, he is confronted with a hulking thug armed with a rather menacing sword.After the swordsman does some impressive posturing with his lethal looking scimitar, Indy just rolls his eyes, pulls out his pistol and casual shoots his opponent.

And for years, we have been told that that humorous moment came at the suggestion of Harrison Ford. During the film’s month long shoot in Tunsia, which was doubling for Egypt, nearly the entire crew came down with dysentery and on the day they were shooting the fight scenes, Ford was feeling particularly under the weather. Rather than go through with the arduous task of shooting yet another fight scene, Ford reportedly grumbled to director Steven Spielberg, “Why don’t we just shoot him?” Spielberg liked the idea, shot it that way and a classic film moment was born.

But Vic Armstrong, legendary stuntman and who doubled Ford on Raiders, remembers a different way as to how that moment came about. In his new book The True Adventures of the World’s Greatest Stuntman: My Life as Indiana Jones, James Bond, Superman and Other Movie Heroesexcerpted over at the LA TimesHero Blog, Armstrong relates a different set of events that lead to the creation of that moment –

In “Raiders” there’s that famous scene where Indy meets this hulking great Arab swordsman and simply shoots him dead. Originally there was an elaborate fight sequence planned and a stunt team went up to the coast for two weeks working it out. They really drew the easy ticket – we heard all this talk about fabulous beaches and topless tourists, and there we were stuck down in bloody Nefta with the dysentery mob. When the main crew finished with us they flew up to the coast to join Peter Diamond, who showed Steven the fight routine. Big Terry Richards played the Arab and he swished his sword about and then the fight carried on through the whole of the Casbah.

Steven watched and said, “Look, I’m going to shoot whatever I can until three o’clock because then I’m getting out of here.” Peter Diamond was dumbstruck: “You can’t do that, it’s gonna take four days to film this fight. It’s a huge fight and the guys have been rehearsing it for weeks.’ Steven said, ‘I’ve got a plane coming at three, I’m out of here, I’ve got enough, I don’t need any more here.’ Tomblin butted in, ‘For Christ’s sake Steven, you’ve got to do this.’ But Steven was standing firm, “No, I’m out at three.” Tomblin said, “Well, it’s stupid doing this whole routine, you might as well just shoot the guy with a gun.” “Don’t be facetious Dave.” Then Steven paused. “I’ll tell you what, let’s try that. Yes, let’s try just shooting him.” And the rest is history.

So, whose version do you believe? Granted, Ford has gotten a lot of mileage out of the version that casts him as the author of the gag. And admittedly it does make a good talk show anecdote. But I have to think that maybe Armstrong’s version might be closer to the truth. Granted, it doesn’t cast Spielberg in a particularly flattering light, but that may be why the other version has been circulated for years.

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Lawsuit Over Tattoo Won’t Stop HANGOVER PART II Release

Posted on 24 May 2011 by Rich Drees

A tattoo artist’s request to have the release of The Hangover Part II delayed while he sues studio Warner Brothers for copyright infringement of the famous face tattoo he created for boxer Mike Tyson has been denied by a St. Louis federal judge today.

S. Victor Whitmill was hoping that a federal judge would order a halt to the film’s release which is scheduled for this Thursday. Warner Brothers lawyers argued during a four hour session yesterday that doing so would cause irreparable financial harm after spending some $80 million to advertise the film. They also argued that Tyson appeared in the first Hangover film in 2009 sporting the same tattoo without any objection from Williams.

In a statement released after the judge’s ruling, the studio stated –

We are very gratified by the Court’s decision which will allow the highly anticipated film ‘The Hangover Part II’ to be released on schedule this week around the world. Plaintiff’s failed attempt to enjoin the film in order to try and extract a massive settlement payment from Warner Bros. was highly inappropriate and unwarranted.

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