Archive | November, 2011

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Cleese Strikes Deal With MGM For FISH CALLED WANDA Musical

Posted on 25 November 2011 by Rich Drees

Last year, we told you that John Cleese was developing the movie he wrote A Fish Called Wanda into a stage musical. Unfortunately, the project soon afterwards found itself stuck in limbo due to the studio’s financial crisis. But now that the studio has emerged from bankruptcy and is back in business, Cleese has struck a deal with them for the rights to put on the show.

As Cleese told the British newspaper The Guardian

MGM was in a terrible mess… Now a couple of people have bought it who are apparently, according to my spies, extremely decent and reasonable human beings. As a result of that, a deal has been done.

In the original film, Cleese plays an uptight British lawyer who falls for Jamie Lee Curtis, a member of a team of jewel thieves with Kevin Klien and Michael Palin who are constantly trying to double cross each other.

Cleese was writing the stage show with his daughter Camilla and collaborating on the songs with British comic Bill Bailey, probably best known to US British comedy fans as Manny from Black Books and comic book shop owner Bilbo on Spaced.

Right now, Cleese is looking for a director to help get the production in front of the footlights. Don’t count on tickets being on sale anytime soon, though. The show undoubtedly has a long way to go with finding backers and polishing the script and songs through a number of workshops before it will be ready for audiences. As Cleese acknowledges –

Musicals take an enormously long time to put together,” he said. “It’s like the gestation period of an elephant. Someone told me the average is about eight years, so I’m being patient.”

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STAR TREK 2 Gets A Definite Release Date

Posted on 25 November 2011 by Rich Drees

Star Trek fans will want to mark May 17, 2013 on their calendar, as that’s the date that director J J Abrams’ sequel to his wildly popular franchise reboot will be hitting theaters. As part of the announcement of its release date, Paramount also stated that the film will be in 3D.

This date fits nicely in with the the fact that shooting on the film is set to start in January. That will give Abrams almost a year to move through post-production with what will undoubtedly be a very visual effects heavy film. As we have noted before, pre-production on the film is well underway with some sets being constructed, locations being scouted and even some preliminary visual effects work being started up.

The entire crew of the Enterprise should be back for this second installment with Chris Pine once again as James T. Kirk, Zachary Quinto and Spock, Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy, John Cho as Sulu, Simon Pegg as Scotty, Zoe Saldana as Uhura and Anton Ulchin as Checkov. Also returning for the film will be composer Michael Giacchino to once again score the film.

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New JOHN CARTER Photo Illustrates The Perils Of Mars

Posted on 23 November 2011 by Rich Drees

Edgar Rice Burrough’s pulp hero John Carter of Mars might not be as well known by the general public as the author’s other great creation Tarzan, but Disney is going to do their best to correct that over the next several months leading up to the release of John Carter next March. As the publicity blitz starts to gear up, we see the studio releasing a photo to Entertainment Tonight that shows us some of the great pulpy adventure the film has in store. Granted, some people will look at this and jump to the conclusion that this scene of Carter squaring off against a martian Great White Ape is ripping off the Star Wars films. But let’s face it, Lucas and a host of others have been lifting from Burroughs for decades now.

John Carter stars Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, Daryl Sabara, Polly Walker, Bryan Cranston, Thomas Hayden Church, and Willem Dafoe and opens on March 9th.

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New Releases: November 23

Posted on 23 November 2011 by Rich Drees

1. The Muppets (Buena Vista, 3440 screens, 120 minutes, Rated PG): Perhaps the most anticipated major release this holiday weekend, at least around the Film Buff Online offices, is the return of the Muppets to the big screen after far too long an absence. The advance word on this is really strong and this could be their best film since the passing of the creator Jim Henson back in 1990.

Jason Segal stars as Gary who journeys to Hollywood with his muppet brother Walter and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) to visit the old studio that the Muppets used to perform their popular TV show only to discover that a greedy businessman (Chris Cooper) has plans to demolish the studio to get at a big reserve supposedly buried underneath. The three set out to reunite the Muppets in order to save the studio.

With Segal being the guy who did full frontal nudity inn Saving Sarah Marshall, he may seem as an usual pick to star in and co-write the return of the family franchise to the big screen. But in every interview I’ve seen Segal has exuded a love of the characters that makes me think that the things are in good hands.

2. Arthur Christmas (Sony Pictures, 3376 Screens, 97 Minutes, Rated  PG ): From the folks at Aardman Animations, the brains behind the wonderful Wallace And Grommit stop-motion animated films, comes this story of Santa’s son Arthur Christmas who lives in the shadow of his famous father and his older brother Steve who is looking to take over the family business. When an undelivered present is discovered, Arthur sets out to get it under its assigned tree while Steve and Santa squabble.

While the story sounds like a lot of fun, it unfortunately is going up against two other family features with better name-brand recognition and I don’t think that even a big name voice cast with the likes of James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Night and Jim Broadbent will get butts into seats for this one. They might be better off hoping that they get the run off of people who couldn’t get into showings of The Muppets or Hugo.

3. Hugo (Paramount, 1277 screens,  127 minutes, Rated PG):

When a long time filmmaker like Martin Scorsese states that he wants to work in 3D, one has to wonder what he wants to bring to the process. We’ll get that answer with his adaption of Brian Selznick’s novel The Invention Of Hugo Cabaret.

Asa Butterfield stars as a young orphan who is living withing the walls of a Paris train station in the 1930s who discovers a broken automaton in a disused store room.

As the story contains early film technology pioneer George Melies (played by Sir Ben Kingsley in the film) as a character, it is easy to understand how a film historian like Scorsese became interested in the project. And there is a certain metatextual symmetry to him making the film with one of the newest filmmaking technologies.

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Ken Watanabe Offered Role Of AKIRA’s Colonel

Posted on 23 November 2011 by Rich Drees

While Warner Brothers may have been talking with Gary Oldman about playing the role of The Colonel in their upcoming live action adaption of the classic anime Akira, the studio has decided to offer the part to Ken Watanabe. Warners hasn’t commented on the offer and Watanabe has yet to accept.

The Colonel is the head of a futuristic secret military project that kidnaps a motorcycle gang member in order to turn him into a weapon by enhancing his latent psychic powers, unaware that the experiment will lead to disastrous results. It remains to be seen if this move will silence those critics of the project upset that over their perceptions that the Japanese story was being cast with all Caucasian actors. Personally, I don’t care so much about an actor’s race as long as it doesn’t have a bearing on the character they happen to be playing. That said, I think Watanabe is a great choice for the part an is one of the first things about the film that has really sparked my interest.

It is not known if Helena Bonham Carter, who was said to be in consideration for the role of Lady Miyako in the same report that mentioned Oldman, is has had an offer extended to her.

Currently Garret Hedlund is in talks with the studio for the role of Kaneda and Kristen Stewart is in negotiations for the part of Kei. The studio and director Jaume Collet-Serra hope to have the film in production by next spring.

Via Collider.

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Sorkin ‘Strongly Considering’ Writing Sony’s Steve Jobs Biopic

Posted on 23 November 2011 by Rich Drees

Last month it was reported that Sony Pictures had reportedly approached writer Aaron Sorkin about writing a biopic about Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. And we talked about why Sorkin, who knew Jobs, might not necessarily want to take on the assignment.

But in a new interview with the E! Online, Sorkin, who won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Social Network, his film about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, stated –

Sony has asked me to write the movie and it’s something I’m strongly considering. Right now I’m just in the thinking-about-it stages. It’s a really big movie and it’s going to be a great movie no matter who writes it.

He was a great entrepreneur, he was a great artist, a great thinker. He’s probably inspired [my 11-year-old daughter] Roxy more than he’s inspired me… she plays with all his toys.

Sony is developing the film having paid a reported $1 million for the rights to Walter Isaacson’s best selling biography of the late technology innovator. Sorkin stated that while he hasn’t made a decision about the job he has been reading Isaacson’s book as research. And while I previously thought that Sorkin’s acquaintance with Sorkin could possibly pass on the project, it does sound as if he may take it on after all.

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TOMB RAIDER Reboot Will Be “Character Oriented”

Posted on 22 November 2011 by Rich Drees

Without talking about her looks, how would you describe Lara Croft’s character? If you’re having trouble doing so beyond a synonym or two for “adventurous” than you’re probably not alone. The producer of the in development reboot of the film franchise based on the popular Tomb Raider video games also thinks that the lead character doesn’t have much depth to her and is looking to change that.

In an interview with Coming Soon, Tomb Raider reboot producer Graham King stated –

Listen, the box office, they weren’t disasters but I find it interesting that the story that we’re telling is really the story before she became Lara Croft, so it is a character piece. It does have a lot of really great characters, but it’s a lot of action and a lot of fun, and for me, it’s something very different. I’ve not really done a movie like that before, but I really gravitated to rebooting this franchise and we’re going to give it a shot.

It sounds like King is looking to attack one of my main bones of contention with video game adaptions – their lack of characterization. Video game movies, by their nature, are pretty-much plot driven. The characters have a goal and a series of obstacles they must navigate around in order to reach that goal. But there’s never really any deep examination of what drives these characters or how the incidences of the plot change them as people.

Don’t think that a concentration on characterization will necessarily exclude plenty of action and thrills, though. Raiders Of The Lost Ark is perhaps the perfect adventure film, but when it comes to characterization, its first two sequel Temple Of Doom and The Last Crusade have strong character arcs for Indiana Jones without sacrificing any of the action. More recently, the James Bond franchise was rebooted with Casino Royale, which arguably had the strongest characterization for the British super spy since 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

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Diablo Cody Updates On EVIL DEAD Remake And SWEET VALLEY HIGH

Posted on 21 November 2011 by Rich Drees

Screenwriter Cody Diablo has a pair of projects that have two very different groups of fans waiting to see how they will turn out – the remake of the horror classic The Evil Dead and an adaption of the teen novel series Sweet Valley High. In two separate interviews, she discussed each project and described one as “unbelievably violent” and the other as being “to the ’80s what American Graffiti was to the [early] ’60s.”

But which will be which? I think you can probably figure that out, but read on.

Cody’s work on The Evil Dead has had fans of the original film raising eyebrows, unsure if her stylized dialogue will be a good fit with the film’s full-tilt horror story. The writer acknowledges both the fans and their concerns in an interview with Collider –

I wouldn’t have even gotten involved if Sam [Raimi] and Bruce Campbell hadn’t been involved as well, they’re producing it, and so of course I was like “Alright I have to do this” because I’m such a fan of the original, and the whole original series in fact. But I was nervous to take the job because I thought “Ugh, I’m gonna get shit for this. People are not gonna like this, because all people know of me is like Juno and they think I’m gonna pollute Evil Dead with like wacky dialogue and cute stuff and folk music, and it’s like “No, look I understand what this is. I’m interested in storytelling here and making it scary and good and true to the original.”

Well, I’ll admit that I am one of those who threw some shit her way. And honestly, I still haven’t seen anything from her that convinces me that she is up to the job. Will her enthusiasm carry the day? We can at least hope so. If it makes any difference, Cody does say that she didn’t inject too much into the draft she was assigned, staying away from many of the big set pieces that director Fede Alvarez already had in the script. Instead, she insists that with her rewrite she “did not do like the standard dialogue people associate with me at all. I did very naturalistic dialogue that I felt would serve the story.”

Cody sounds as if she’ll be trying to break people’s perceptions of her with her Sweet Valley High script as well. Speaking to The Playlist, she stated that she hoped her screenplay adapting the 1980s series of novels aimed at teen girls would be

[W]onderfully nostalgic. I want it to be to the ’80s what American Graffiti was to the [early] ’60s. I want it to be looking back on a really cool time and enjoying yourself and I want it to be glamorous and colorful and bubblegum and a feast for the senses. That’s my plan.

In order to fulfill that though, the whole film will have to be played not ironically but sincerely and without the hipster disdain that can be found in Juno.

And while the film was announced a few years back, Cody states that Sweet Valley High may be finally moving forward.

I need to talk to the producers and see how much I can say about it. It’s closer to reality than ever but I can’t freely talk about it.

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ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT Takes A Step Closer To Being A Movie

Posted on 20 November 2011 by Rich Drees

After years of talk, it looks like the Arrested Development movie finally has moved just a bit closer to becoming a reality.

Last month, the show’s creator Mitchell Hurwitz stated that he had an idea for an Arrested Development film but first wanted to make a short series of television episodes that would take the characters from where they were last seen when the show went off the air in 2006 to where he needs them for the start of the proposed film.

Friday, it was announced that online streaming provider Netflix has closed a deal to be the outlet for those pre-film episodes. Details as to how many episodes there will be and which characters they will feature are still absent, but the fact remains that this is the first concrete step towards the much mooted film actually heading towards cinemas.

As part of the announcement, the show’s producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard released the following statement –

Of all the projects we’ve been involved with over the years, we probably get more questions about Mitch Hurtwitz’s brilliant Arrested Development than any other– everyone, ourselves included, seems to feel like the Bluths left the party a bit too soon. Bringing a series back from cancellation almost never happens, but then, Arrested always was about as unconventional as they get, so it seems totally appropriate that this show that broke the mold is smashing it to pieces once again.

It’s not surprising that Netflix is the one bringing the series back. The service has already been making some tentative steps to generating their own original content and backing the return of Arrested Development would certainly generate interest in that endeavor. And let’s face it, Netflix could use some could use some good PR right about now.

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Omissions More Than Inclusions Highlight Documentary Oscar Shortlist

Posted on 19 November 2011 by Rich Drees

Late yesterday the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released their list of 15 documentaries that are in contention for the five nomination slots for this year’s Academy Awards. The Academy narrowed down their list to 15 possible nominees from 124 pictures that met the Best Documentary category’s eligibility rules. While you can see the complete list of films named below, there are a few that you may be surprised to note that aren’t on the list.

Chief among the omissions is Hoop Dreams director Steve James’ The Interrupters. His film about former Chicago gang members who now work to stop violence on the streets earned an impressive 99% approval at Rotten Tomatoes. This is not the first time that James has been overlooked by the Academy. Hoop Dreams had earned nearly the same level of praise with a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and perhaps even more of a level of commercial success but it too was bypassed for a nomination.

German director Werner Herzog was overlooked by the Academy for the second year in a row – this year for his examination of two men found guilty for a murder but who received different sentences, Into The Abyss, and last year for Cave Of Forgotten Dreams about the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave in southern France which contains the earliest known cave paintings. The Academy did put on the documentary shortlist fellow German director Wim Wenders’ Pina even though it is already Germany’s official entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

Bigger name documentarians such as Morgan Spurlock and Errol Morris are also absent from the list. While Spurlock’s Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold may not be the best work from the director, it may be the fact that the film takes a look at something the Hollywood establishment would rather you not see, i.e., the process of product placement in films, that has kept it off this year’s list. Morris’s Tabloid didn’t make the cut, even though with a 92% rating at Rotten Tomatoes it still placed higher than five other docs that did earn a spot on the shortlist – Pina (88%), Buck (87%), If A Tree Falls (87%), Battle For Brooklyn (75%) and Jane’s Journey (45%).

The final five nominees will be announce on January 24, 2012 with the Oscars being presented on February 26, 2012.

The complete list of film’s eligible for the five nominations are –

  • Battle for Brooklyn
  • Bill Cunningham New York
  • Buck
  • Hell and Back Again
  • If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
  • Jane’s Journey
  • The Loving Story
  • Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
  • Pina
  • Project Nim
  • Semper Fi: Always Faithful
  • Sing Your Song
  • Undefeated
  • Under Fire: Journalists in Combat
  • We Were Here

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