Saturday, 30 April 2011

Truth and fiction (Film News - 30/04/11)

It started off quite slow this week, with very few stories capturing my imagination and when one did come along I wasn't too sure whether it was true in the first place. Oddly though that element of whether the story was real or fiction actually struck me more than the story itself. This links to an interesting discussion on the Slash Film podcast a couple of weeks ago about the development of internet news. Essentially the crux of the argument was that the range and breadth of film news sites, and the growth of 24 hour news culture means that there's a desperate need to be the first with the stories and commentary has a habit of being treated as fact without the due journalistic veracity. The team cited several internet rumours that ended up being treated as true before any fact-checking had taken place. The full discussion can be heard here. By the way if you're not a regular listener then I suggest you do start getting it, I don't always agree with the guys and their preference for blockbusters and exploitation cinema (at least in the films they discuss) can be a little wearing but it's usually worth a listen for their insightful commentary.

As a nod towards that idea of most stories coming to nothing, whilst being perfectly aware that only between 30-40% of the movie projects I mention actually get made, and as a tribute to 50 years of the UK betting shop I'm going to give my own odds for each of the news stories that caught my eye of ever making it to a cinema near you. Starting with the story that began it all:

Secret Door

Last weekend a tweet, reportedly from American Zoetrope (the production company set up by Francis Ford Coppola), announced Sofia Coppola and Kirsten Dunst would be teaming up for their 3rd collaboration. 10 pages from the script, which indicated it was set in 1940's Paris and concerned three depressed and existential characters, were also released. Within hours the story was viral, appearing on many reputable news sites including empireonline and The Playlist.

By the end of the week this turned out to be complete rubbish - there's no word on who created this story or why (seriously who is aching for Dunst to play a suicidal French woman enough to pen a script and fake a twitter account?) - but all of the major players have said it's not true.

Both of Sofia Coppola and Kirsten Dunst's previous collaborations, The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette (above) have been fascinated movies so I will confess I was hoping this story had some truth in it.

Odds of getting made: 200-1. It's possible the hoax is a hoax, the whole project is real, and Sofia just wants a little privacy in putting it together. More likely the entire internet was over-excited about nothing.

Read on for paranoid elves, inadequate serial killers, strippers, scams and a chance to go back and make thongs right. As well as the latest in UK release date news.


Ron Howard and regular producing partner Brian Grazer have optioned the Max Landis script which is described as a mix between Lord of the Rings and The Bourne trilogy. Landis is, of course, the son of John and is clearly building a reputation as a script writer of genre fare (horror pic Chronicle is currently in pre-production) although is has to be said this particular high concept seems to big to really work.

Odds of getting made: 50-1. Ron Howard's a bit of a sink-hole for new projects, buying up scripts then burying them in development woes. The subject matter also seems far too far fetched to actually work.

The Hive

Camp master Joel Schumacher, of Batman sequel fame, is putting together a quickie thriller pitting an emergency services operator against a killer from her past to save a young girl's life. Clearly the killer hasn't been that successful in the past either. Generally Schumacher does better with these low-key thrillers than with bigger films - see Phone Booth for example - so this might have the sort of dark effective aesthetic to keep us on the edge of our seats. That said it's being written by Rich D'Ovidio whose past credits include Thirteen Ghosts and Exit Wounds so I might be being over optimistic. Also I'm not sure how the plot relates to a hive, but for the sake of keeping the post colourful I have included a picture of the inside of a beehive to the left.

Odds of getting made: 2-3. Tragically this is the most likely of this weeks stories to be made. Easy to make, script finished, director willing to make any old crap.

Magic Mike

Great news this week for teenage girls and creepy older guys in dirty macs, Channing Tatum will return to his stripper past (see below for the evidence) for a movie that is partly based on his experiences. The story will revolve around an older stripper (Tatum) passing on his accumulated wisdom and patented baby oil secrets to a new kid on the block, with the idea that the movie will expose the sleazy and gritty elements of the Chippendale industry. Tatum's Haywire director Steven Soderbergh will be directing the project, and therefore holding off his impending retirement for just a little while longer.

Odds of getting made: 5-1. Soderbergh usually makes the films he says he's going to make, although it can often take a while. The idea of a movie involving Channing Tatum stripping should also get the punters in so everyone's happy.

Ponzi's Scheme

Ponzi Schemes are a little bit difficult to explain, but ultimately they work by using the money from new investors to pay back old investors but without any real organisational activity, you then borrow from one investor to pay another. Providing you are getting new investors then the older investors (and the creator) will profit but once the investors dry up the whole process collapses in on itself. Invented by Italian immigrant to America Charles Ponzi at the turn of the 20th century these schemes have been operating pretty consistently over the last 100 years. So it's no surprise that a film of his life is being planned.

At this point Milos Forman, the oscar winning director of Amadeus and The People vs. Larry Flynt, is attached to work from a script by Mitchell Zuckoff. This sort of flawed hero is exactly the kind of guy Forman gravitates to however his rate of working has never been quick, barely hitting 3 films a decade, and he's an old man now, so don't expect this one any time soon.

Odds of getting made: 66-1. Whilst interesting this isn't really a story that is absolutely begging to be told, and Forman probably isn't in a rush at 80 to make another movie.


The time travel comedy, about a 40 something who gets the chance to give his younger self some great advice thereby improving his own life, was first mentioned here in connection to Ben Affleck's post Town directorial options however he's chosen Argo so it's moved on to Robert Zemeckis, who has form in time travel movies. Whether the story ends up being as fun as Back to the Future (below) or, as I previously suggested, feels like a knock off of 17 Again remains to be seen.

Odds of getting made: 3-1. It's the sort of story that does reasonably well at the box office, but don't be surprised if there's another director change before it gets made.

Release Schedules

Even the release schedules, which should give us plenty to think about over a five week month, have remained depressingly static, with just a couple of new movies hitting the forthcoming schedules.

The Skin I live In - I've heard slightly conflicting accounts of the plot in Pedro Almodovar's long awaited team-up with Antonio Banderas. Will this be a revenge fantasy, or a study of a man obsessed, or maybe both. We'll soon know from Cannes, but still a couple of months before most of us mortals will catch it. Develop new medical technologies on 26 August 2011.

Melancholia - Another movie, set to debut at the Cannes festival in a couple of weeks, is Lars von Trier end of the world movie as seen through the point of view of two sisters, now coming in the early autumn. Let planets collide on 30 September 2011.

The Descendants - It's not the first film to stake out a release date in the middle of the Oscar season, but I think it's fair to say Alexander Payne's Sideways follow-up is probably a strong contender in next years field. Re-connect with your children on 20 January 2012.

Frankenweenie - The March release date always seemed a little bit optimistic for Tim Burton's latest foray into stop motion animation, so it's not surprise to see this shift where it's currently the furthest ahead (over 520 days) I'm looking at any films release. Resurrect your pet on 05 October 2012.

Perhaps more interesting than these changes has been the DVD releases over the last few weeks, essentially the month of the long, straight to DVD, knives. Unsurprisingly, given the even smaller name recognition on this side of the pond, wrestling flop The Chaperone starring Triple H hasn't made it to cinemas. Nor has Wes Craven's other return to the slasher flick My Soul to Take which was due to be released in January then just disappeared. Most surprisingly of all is the straight to video release of Love Ranch the brothel drama that saw Helen Mirren collaborating with hubby Taylor Hackford, and was in my most anticipated movies list in 2009 and 2010. It's a real shame.

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