Saturday, 21 May 2011

Do the Can(nes)-Can('t) (Film News - 21/05/11)

Cannes continues, for everyone except Lars von Trier that is. And yes I'm going to briefly mention that elephant in the room before moving onto the real film news. Seriously what do the Cannes bigwigs think they're doing and what they're going to achieve. Lars von Trier has always been a joker, with every film he makes you know he's courting for controversy, desperate to chase the headlines from the festival. The critics seemed to like Melancholia and not find it headline grabbing other than it's quality so of course they had to bait him in the press conference and of course he positively glowed when he started on the Nazi comments, knowing the effect that would have. The Committee should have just told him off whilst ensuring they are aware it was poor taste humour not a real political diatribe. Why not watch it here and let me know what you think:

And now onto the real news...


Vampires remain inexplicably popular right now, largely due to the Twilight franchise, although that doesn't seem to explain why so many non-teenage projects are getting the green light and basically picking up middling box office receipts. Never mind because the latest project coming out of the blocks will a mother/daughter vampire tale starring Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton (they're both fine actresses and worth the ticket price but surely the age difference isn't enough, although the synopsis includes the suggestion they sometimes pretend to be sisters). The script, an original piece by Moira Buffini (Jane Eyre), has caught the attention of experience vampire filmmaker Neil Jordan (remember the faintly unsettling Interview with the Vampire) and producer Stephen Wooley. With that group of talent involved it's hard to resist even when the genre is so overdone.

Here is Kirsten Dunst in Neil Jordan's last foray into the world of Vampires, which is lovely as it links nicely to Lars above, and if Jordan can get performances as good as he gets from Kiki that Byzantium will definitely be one to watch.

Read on for Martial Arts competitions, fairy tale private eyes, evil step mothers, treks from Egypt, Court intrigues, Cold war meetings, school buses and Audrey Tatou as well as a minor casting story.


Certainly the most bizarre story to come out of Hollywood this week is the proposed remake of the 1988 Jean-Claude van Damme martial arts vehicle (left). Essentially a disaster on release the win or death knockout adventure gained a whole new lease of life on DVD, emerging as a cult favourite for the van Damme nuts out there. It's hard to imagine this sort of bruiser hero taking the box office lead today either, even after The Expendables proved there's still a market for pumped up leads. That said I am fascinated by whoever will want this potential albatross around the neck of their career.

The Defective Detective

Can Terry Gilliam catch a break in the fickle world of film financing? With The Man who Killed Don Quixote spiralling once more into the history of abandoned projects there's been little news from the former Python. Never one to let it get him down Terry's hinted that he may return to a Richard LaGravenese script they worked on around The Fisher King and 12 Monkeys and which never gathered the necessary funding. The story is curiously close to the Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus following a detective on the hunt for a missing girl in a fantasy world. If it has the same manic energy and resourceful plotting as those other films from that period then I will certainly be booking a ticket should it ever gets made!


This week saw the high profile departure of Tim Burton from Disney's live action origin story for Melficent, the evil step-mother from Sleeping Beauty (right), which is set to star Angelina Jolie. There doesn't seem to be a big fight with blame and recrimination about the tone or content or directorial vision just a run of the mill scheduling issue. It's partly a shame because I'd love to see Burton handling a villain front and centre, although maybe the studio would constrain him too much and keeping it firmly in the PG wheelhouse. So the potential replacements are being discussed on the net with David Yates (Harry Potter) currently the favourite, but Darren Aronofsky also being linked by Badass Digest - I suspect it's bunkum, if we consider Burton as being held back in his relationship with Disney then surely Aronofsky would be ever more so. They also say Warner Bros. are interested in recruiting him for the upcoming Exodus picture which might be more interesting form an audience point of view but isn't he more concerned with the earlier Biblical story, that of Noah and his Ark?

Music and Silence

Danish director Lone Scherfig will be returning to her roots with the latest literary adaptation she's taking on. Set in the 17th Century Danish court the story charts an illicit romance between two servants, one of whom works for the noble King Christian IV, the other for his philandering wife. The script is being written by Martin Sherman, based on Rose Tremain novel, with BBC films stumping up the cash.


Every once in a while a high profile director known for big cast, big budget movies takes on an unlikely character pieces. Ron Howard did it a couple of years ago with the powerful Frost/Nixon and now, jumping a few Presidents into the future, Ridley Scott will be helming a reconstruction of the head to head between Reagan and Gorbachev that paved the way for the end of the cold war - that's them on the left but I'm not sure of the location. Ridley has already got a massively overcrowded slate but this could be a quickie to be filmed in between the more complex productions he's currently working on including the single film adaptation of the excellent Red Riding trilogy that he's been mentioned with again this week.

The We and The I/Untitled Michel Gondry/Audrey Tatou collaboration

Visionary director Michel Gondry is currently serving on the short film Jury in Cannes and has been chatting to the New York Times about all the projects hanging around on his plate. Next up is The We and the I which appears to to be inspired by his previous Be Kind Rewind and features a child only cast on a school bus, seems slight but it could be interesting. On the new film front he's been courting Audrey Tatou - for a French language picture - by making short films and animations or her. Obviously I'm holding back the vomit as I type, but at least the combo of Tatou and Gondry seems like it could be worth a look.

Casting News

I'm always fascinated when additional cast members, especially quite famous ones, appear in the press releases after the camera has started rolling - have there been drop outs, were their agents not ballsy enough to force a comment on their casting? - who knows. Anyway Stanley Tucci and Cloris Leachman have both been added to the cast of the Coen brothers scripted Gambit. Just when you thought Christopher Nolan's third Batman film The Dark Knight Rises couldn't possibly pick up more characters stand by for Matthew Modine, Tom Conti and Joey King joining in - so at least we now know Modine is still alive.

Obviously I couldn't mention The Dark Knight Rises without having the first publicity shot released, showing Tom Hardy in full Bane look. One picture down, 14 months to go:

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