Let’s start off this edition of the Weekend Read with a question – Are audiences becoming more prudish about sex scenes in movies? That’s what is explored in Nerve’s article The Demise of the Hollywood Sex Scene. Turns out that the answer probably lies more in the simultaneous rise of the home theater and unrestricted-by-network-censorship cable series like Californication and Game Of Thrones. Stimulating reading, nonetheless.
As movies move through development they often pass through the hands of a number of writers, each trying to contribute whatever the developing producer or director want in the screenplay. But not every writer who contributes something to a script gets their name on the final product. The process of determining who does get final screen credit (and the years’ worth of residuals that accompany a screen credit) is administered by the Writers Guild of America. As I discovered when researching something once, the WGA does not publicly comment on the arbitration process. But Die Hard 2 and Bad Boys writer Doug Richardson gives us a peek behind-the-scenes at the nasty fight over how the credits were determined for his 2005 Hostage, which he had adapted from a novel by Robert Crais, turned out to be. (And check out the rest of Richardson’s blog for more strange-but-true stories from the trenches of Hollywood.)
But not all stories involving novel writers and film adaptations of their work are as contentious. In fact, sometimes authors are thrilled with the final product, especially with whatever star is chosen to play their favorite character. The Atlantic talked to several big name novelists about the big screen adaptations they are most happy with.
One of the directors in the Atlantic article who delivered what a novelist thought was a faithful adaptation of his work despite a number of changes, was Quentin Tarantino with his translation of Elmore Leonard’s crime novel Rum Punch into Jackie Brown. It just so happens that this past week saw the iconic director’s 50th birthday, for which London’s The Guardian compiled this list of five reasons to be thankful for from the director’s career.
We end this week’s installment with an appreciation of the sometimes forgotten Marx Brother Zeppo, and how he sartorially influenced one young actor by the name of Archibald Leach, though you may know him as Cary Grant.
Director Quentin Tarantino will be making a cameo appearance in Italian director Enzo G. Castellari’s upcoming spaghetti western Badlands. The director has told Italian journalists (via Hollywood Reporter) that he has set aside a small role for Tarantino and Franco Nero, the actor who starred in the iconic 1966 spaghetti western Django.
Castellari stated that the role was a thank you for helping to revive interest in the spaghetti western genre with his recent blockbuster Django Unchained.
Nero previously starred in Castellari’s 1976 western Keoma.
Among the many films on Castellari’s resume is The Inglorious Bastards, the 1978 World War Two men-on-a-mission film that was one of the inspirations for Tarantino’s film of the same name.
Although he took a few acting roles in the first few years of fame after the release of Pulp Fiction, Tarantino has restricted his acting to appearances in hisonly a few movies, including 2007′s Sukiyaki Western Django, a spaghetti western filtered through the sensibilities of Japanese genre director Takashi Miike.
1. Django Unchained (Weinstein Company, @3,010 Theaters, 165 Minutes, Rated R): I, for one, admire Quentin Tarantino. He is one of the few directors who career developed right when I became interested in film, and I have been a fan from the very beginning. He is never afraid to wear his influences on his sleeve (and, his critics say, lift entire sequences from them to put in his films), and he weaves completely new works stitched together from genres and styles he likes.
This film is Tarantino’s take on the western, with a blaxploitation twisted added on to it. Jamie Foxx plays Django, a slave turned bounty hunter, who tries to rescue his wife from her owner, the vicious Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).
2. Les Miserables (Universal, @2,807 Theaters, 157 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Now, I have never read the book or seen the Broadway musical adapted from it, but from what I see of this film, it seems like the title is truth in advertising.
You have people starving. You have people thrown in jail. You have women selling their bodies to survive. You have corruption. You have revolution. You have turmoil. What you don’t have, at least in the ads I saw, is much happiness.
That’s just what you want to see over Christmas. Here’s something relentlessly bleak and gloomy! Happy holidays!
3. Parental Guidance (Fox, Wide Release, 104 Minutes, Rated PG): I have t0 say this. It might not be cool or hip, but I am a Billy Crystal fan, dating all the way back to his days as a stand-up comedian.
That being said, it is weird to see him in this role, his first starring role in a decade. I mean, Harry from When Harry Met Sally and Mitch from City Slickers in a wacky family comedy? Man, that really makes me feel old. It probably doesn’t make Crystal feel young either, as he is playing a grandfather in this.
The plot, well, it’s about grandparents watching their grandkids, and having their approach to parenting not jiving with their kids approach to parenting. I just hope Crystal can bring something more to the rather formulaic plot.
Quentin Tarantino likes to talk about projects he is considering, even though many of them never come to fruition, so it comes as somewhat of a surprise to hear about a potential film he was interested in making that had never been discussed before. Even more surprising is that film would have been a comic book adaptation.
In an interview with MTV while out flogging his new film Django Unchained, Tarantino reveals that he had been thinking about doing a film based on a popular Marvel Comics character and had even approached Lawrence Fishburne about starring in it.
After Reservoir Dogs, I had considered doing a Luke Cage, Hero For Hire movie. Ed Pressman owned the rights at that time, and we talked about it. I talked to Larry Fish about being Luke Cage, and he really liked that idea. Then I ended up writing Pulp Fiction.
Well, I guess what was Fishburne and comic book movie fans’ loss turned out to be John Travolta and indie film fans’ gain.
The idea of Tarantino directing a Luke Cage movie certainly sends the imagination reeling. The comic, created by writer Archie Goodwin and artist John Romita in 1972, was an attempt to create a superhero character in the mold of heroes in the then-popular Blaxploitation film craze and, as is very obvious, Tarantino is very much a fan of that genre. If there was ever a comics character suited for Tarantino’s film sensibilities it is Luke Cage.
More recently director John Singleton was developing a Luke Cage movie with Marvel Studios with a by screenwriter Ben Ramsey in 2004, but as there has been no news on the project in several years it has presumably died in development hell.
Yesterday we had a production video from The Hobbit showing how the crew was working frantically down to the last minute to ensure that the film was ready for its premier. Given that its first public screening was scheduled for today in New Zealand, I sure hope they made it.
Another film that is still being worked on with while its premier rapidly approaches is Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. According to In Contention’s Kris Tapley, the director is toiling away in an editing bay to bring the film into shape.
Two weeks ago Django was three hours and 12 minutes long. They’ve experimented with it since, re-ordering scenes, etc. Down to the wire.
Django Unchained is the first film that Tarantino finds himself without longtime collaborators editor Sally Menke and producer Lawrence Binder and he might be having a problem dealing with the loss of the two voices he has relied on in the past.
With Tarantino probably just days away from having to turn in the completed film, I will admit that this is a bit worrying. Is Tarantino trying to trim the film for time or has he had a last minute inspiration on how to better layout the film’s narrative?
Django Unchained is scheduled for theaters on Christmas Day.
There’s been lots of talk and speculation as to who may eventually wind up with the rather daunting gig of directing Star Wars: Episode VII. And while posts about alleged studio short lists and wish lists have certainly burned up much bandwidth, there are a few of those choices who have already pulled themselves out of consideration.
The biggest name of those who would pass at the chance of directing a Star Wars film is George Lucas’s longtime friend and collaborator on the Indiana Jones franchise – Steven Spielberg. Although scuttlebutt has it that the director is one of the few who should be getting a copy of Michael Arndt’s script crossing his desk sometime soon, he told Access Hollywood that he isn’t even considering the idea of treading into his friend’s territory -
No! No! It’s not my genre, it’s my best friend George’s genre.
J. J. Abrams has earned a lot of cred with movie fans for his reinvention of Paramount’s Star Trek franchise. But as he told the folks at Hollywood Life, it’s because of how he approached his work on the final frontier that he won’t be traveling to a galaxy far, far away –
“Look, Star Wars is one of my favorite movies of all time,” J.J. gushed. He added, “I frankly feel that – I almost feel that, in a weird way, the opportunity for whomever it is to direct that movie, it comes with the burden of being that kind of iconic movie and series. I was never a big Star Trek fan growing up, so for me, working on Star Trek didn’t have any of that, you know, almost fatal sacrilege, and so, I am looking forward more then anyone to the next iterations of Star Wars, but I believe I will be going as a paying moviegoer!”
EW caught up with Quentin Tarantino on the subject, and perhaps because of his long friendship with the Weinsteins who have had their own problems with the studio, he seems less than enthused about the idea of Disney-produced Star Wars films.
I could so care less…Especially if Disney’s going to do it. I’m not interested in the Simon West version of Star Wars.
For his part, 300 and Watchmen director Zack Snyder doesn’t envision himself tackling the new trilogy either. As he told the LA Times –
I don’t think I’d be interested in [directing it]… I’m a huge Star Wars fanatic. I just think doing episodes seven, eight and nine is just a slippery slope. It’s a whole other mythological experiment I’m excited to see, but it’s a lot of effort.
We’ve said before that the job would truly be a daunting task for anyone to undertake and I think it says something that big name directors such as these are all at least hesitant about the gig. This begss the question – What combination of courage and hubris will be needed to step up to the plate?
This fall is shaping into a good month for Quentin tarantino fans. On November 20th we have the arrival of the Tarantino XX: 8 Film Collection on blu-ray which celebrates the director’s two deacde career so far. Folloning that on Christmas we have the release of his latest film, the spaghetti-western/revenge film mashup Django Unchained. But if that’s not enough Tarantino for you, you will now be able to see two of his most seminal films in theaters for one night only each.
Miramax and Fathom are teaming up to present Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction in theaters on December 4th and 6th respectively. Now these will be presented digitally, probably with Fathom’s usual 1080i compressed picture, so the quality won’t be as good as the standard digital prints that most theaters project. Still, in addition to the films there will also be ”a special feature showcasing Tarantino’s 20-year career and a selection of hand-picked movie trailers from films that inspired him as a filmmaker.” I would guess that at least one or two of those trailers will be for movies that directly inspired Django Unchained.
You can find information on which theaters will be histing the screenings and ticket information at Fathom Events or Miramax’s website for the Tarantino XX blur-ray release.
There’s a new trailer out for Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and if it doesn’t have you anticipating this Christmas release, you might want to check your pulse. You may be dead.
The new two-and-a-half minute clip gives us a bit more overview of the story of freed slave Django (Jamie Foxx) teaming up with a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) to free his wife (Kerry Washington) from the evil clutches of plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). We also get our first look at Jonah Hill in the film.
Appropriately, this gift of a new film opens on Christmas Day.
In a multi-part series, Comic Book Film Editor William Gatevackes will be tracing the history of comic book movies from the earliest days of the film serials to today’s big blockbusters and beyond. Along with the history lesson, Bill will be covering some of the most prominent comic book films over the years and why they were so special. This time, we bring our four week “vacation” overseas to an end with the most notable comic film franchises Japan has to offer.
Before we start this final installment, a caveat—we won’t be covering every film franchise based on manga here. Due to the overwhelming popularity of the genre, and the prevalence of adapting manga into anime, there are a lot of series to cover if I wanted to cover them all. And since I want to end this History of the Comic Book film series before I die, choices needed to be made. I have decided to focus on live-action franchises that have had some effect on the West. This means no One Piece, no Yu-Gi-Oh!, no Naruto, no BLEACH, not even Dragon Ball and that one had a live action version to go along with its animated ones.
Our first entry is the Lone Wolf and Cub series. Created by writer Kazuo Koike and artist Goseki Kojimain 1970, the influential manga focuses on a disgraced 17th Century Japanese warrior by the name of Ogami Ittō who travels the land with his infant son, Ogami Daigorō, seeking to avenge his murdered wife and his lost honor. The 28-volume manga influenced American creators such as Frank Miller and Max Alan Collins, whose Road to Perdition was greatly influenced by the work (we’ll be talking about the Road to Perdition film in the future).
WARNING: The trailers will be in Japanese and not English. I thought seeing them will give you an idea of the look and the feel of the film but don’t expect to understand the dialogue (unless you speak Japanese). You are forewarned! No complaints!
The manga inspired seven live-action films: Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (1972), Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx (1972), Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades (1972), Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril (1972), Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (1973), Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell (1974), and Shogun Assassin (1980), although that last one was a recut version of the first two films. Tomisaburo Wakayama starred as Ogami Ittō in all the films.
If you have seen Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill series, you will get to understand his appreciation for Japanese films and culture. If you have read the Lady Snowblood manga or saw any of the films that it inspired, you will see how far Tarantino’s affection goes, as Kill Bill borrows numerous themes, characters, and even music from that particular work.
LadySnowblood first appeared in the pages of Weekly Playboy magazine in 1972, written by Kazuo Koike and illustrated by Kazuo Kamimura. The manga told the story of Lady Snowblood, a woman born for only one thing—vengeance. Oyuki was born in prison to a woman convicted of killing her rapist. The rapist was part of a larger gang of thieves that killed her father and brother. The rest of the gang escaped justice, so Oyuki’s mother seduced a male prison guard to impregnate her, hoping to give birth to a boy who would eventually avenge the death of her family. The mother died giving birth to a girl, Oyuki, and ensured that she would be trained to exact the vengeance she could never have. Once Oyuki came of age, she began working her way through the list of gang members her mother left for her, taking assassination jobs on the side until she was able to complete her mission.
The manga was adapted in 1973 as the film, Lady Snowblood. The film followed the plot of the manga with a few major changes. The vengeance exacted by Lady Snowblood was more vicious, the side assassination jobs lost, and her final fate far more grim that the comic. The film was followed by a sequel in which Lady Snowblood becomes an assassin hired by the government to steal a document from an “enemy of the state.” The film was also reimagined in 2001 as The Princess Blade, which relocated the story to a post-apocalyptic future.
Another manga featuring a young female assassin that was adapted for the big screen was Azumi. Like Lady Snowblood, Azumi was trained from a young age to be a warrior. Unlike, Lady Snowblood, vengeance wasn’t the motivation, but political assassination is. She is called upon to kill warlords and other warriors that threaten to upset the balance of power in Feudal Japan.
The manga was adapted to the screen in 2003 with Azumi, which received a limited U.S. release in 2006.The film was a loose adaptation, but still retained many of the darker elements of the manga (including the final part of her training where she had to kill her best friend in class in combat to “pass”). It was followed by Azumi 2 in 2005.
The final franchise we are going to talk about this week is Death Note. The manga, which was created by writer Tsugumi Ohba and artist Takeshi Obata, and ran in Shonen Jump from 2003 to 2006, focuses on a young man who comes across a supernatural notebook that can kill people if their names were written in it while the owner was thinking about what the victim looked like.
The manga inspired three films, Death Note (May 2006), its sequel Death Note: The Last Name (November 2006) and a spin-off L: Change the World (2008). Shane Black has been tapped as the director of an American version of the story.
Next time, we cover that American success story—the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
It is pretty obvious that Quentin Tarantino is somewhat of a comic book fan. There have been references to comic books in many of his films–a Silver Surfer poster on a wall in Reservoir Dogs, the lead in his script for True Romance working in a comic book store, the secret identity riff in Kill Bill: Vol 2. But Tarantino has been reticent to follow fellow comic book fan filmmakers such as Kevin Smith and Joss Whedon to write comics.
That is, until now. Maybe.
Quentin Tarantino, in typical Tarantino fashion, left the panel promoting his latest film, Django Unchained and made a beeline to the DC Comics panel promoting their Before Watchmen line, bursting in to announce that a five-issue Django Unchained miniseries featuring writing by Tarantino will appear from DC’s Vertigo imprint before the film hits theaters.
What form this writing will take is still up to debate. Steve Morris over at The Beat says that Tarantino will be writing the miniseries himself (but he also states that the film stars Jamie Fox and Christophe Waltz, not Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz, so, there you go) while Bleeding Cool‘s Brendon Connelly states it will only be Tarantino’s script for the film that will be adapted. If this is true, it might follow a format like how Dynamite Entertainment handled Kevin Smith’s unproduced scripts for his Green Hornet and Bionic Man films–they had other writers convert the scripts into comic book form.