Saturday, 30 July 2011

Flying through the headlines (Film News - 30/08/11)

We're getting back to normal in the news front, with three stories actually making me raise my eyebrows this week, as well as a couple of casting breakthroughs that make a lot of sense when put into context. We also heard about the deaths of two directors who, whilst minor players in Hollywood, both made iconic movies starring Alan Bates, scroll down to the end of the post to see clips of those collaborations.

Mr. Vertigo

Oh, this sounds good, an adaptation of Paul Auster's novel about levitation being worked on by Terry Gilliam. Just from that brief sentence I'm hooked to the delicious concept. The bad news is Gilliam has declared "And I’m actually working on a script of it at the moment. Doesn’t mean it will be a film; but I’m working on a script." which means that whilst we could be excited there's still a long long way to go and it may never end up being filmed, that said I'm still poised on the edge of my seat trying to find out more.

Auster's novel (cover, pictured below) is written as a first person, by our eponymous hero, [an] account of middle America in the 1920's taking in the upheavals in technology and class structure, the slow death of the carnival circuit and a few momentous historical events. It sounds like a mix of Little Big Man and this years Water for Elephants only with more levitating and with discussions of the complex relationship between art and entertainment.

But I must remember it may never get made. Gilliam's an interesting fish who struggles to get projects off the ground and finally into the can so it could be a long time before he even picks his next film let alone makes it. Patience, my friend, good things always come to those who wait.

Read on for the latest casting titbits, a full update on UK releases and a brief obituary to two well loved film directors.

Here there be Monsters

We haven't heard anything about this Brian Helgeland scripted action adventure for a while but it does appear to be moving closer to being made. Clearly influenced by the continued success of the Pirates movies and the Battleship synopsis the film sees disgraced Royal Naval officer John Paul Jones and his hunt and strategic long running battle against a giant sea serpent. Sounds delicious. Hang on, I'm British and have experience of sailing square riggers, must find out who's casting this.

Storming Las Vegas

Here's another project that literally does what it says on the tin. A Cuban born Soviet trained Commando criminal goes on a 16 month crime spree in Las Vegas in which he steals millions of dollars and is chased by LA veteran cop Lt John Alamshaw who made it his business to stop this man from tarnishing the building reputation of Las Vegas as a family friendly tourist trap. If that sounds far fetched stand by because the whole story is true, based on the book by Miami Herald columnist John Huddy the potential film will also explore the Casino's reluctance to let the crime spree get reported during the 90's boom. Currently Antoine Fuqua is attached to direct - although he's a very busy man so expect at least one of his potential films to get dropped.

Fuqua considers which of the 7 projects he's currently attached to that he's shooting.

Casting News

Nick Nolte is set to increase the wrinkle factor on Robert Redford's journalistic integrity project The Company you Keep, the role hasn't been fully announced but I wouldn't be surprised if he isn't Shia LaBeouf's bullish editor. Meanwhile the Bourne universe is solidifying with the news that Joan Allen and Albert Finney will be reprising their roles from the previous trilogy firmly establishing a connection with the rest of the franchise.

Joan, as Pamela Landy, squares off against Damon's Bourne.

Release Schedules

It's been the most frantic month for changing release schedules in a long time, with 8 new dates set from October this year right through until next December. Among them several films that made it to my top 20 for 2011 so I'm very excited to be announcing that:

Midnight in Paris - The buzz on Woody Allen's latest movie, which is currently storming along in the US box office raking in his best ever take, has been so good we're actually going to get it in the UK on the same year as American audiences. Find out why Paris is the city of romance on 07 October 2011.

Straw Dogs - Depending on your view of Sam Pakinpah's original the release date for this remake will either excite you or appal you, that said it's definitely on it's way to cinemas now. Defend your wife's honour on 04 November 2011.

Machine Gun Preacher - I'm not sure what the moving forward of two months means to this reformed biker biopic starring Gerard Butler, but with it's appearances at Toronto it could well be positioning itself as a major awards player. Fight for child soldiers on 18 November 2011.

Moneyball - Baseball movies are always a tough sell, especially outside of the States, so it's no surprise to see this mix of geeky calculus and man's rounders shifting to a weekend without any high brow competition. Hit a home run on 25 November 2011.

Haywire - Based on the conflicting Soderbergh trailers released this week you would assume Contagion is the serious movie whereas this genre exercise is just a bit of fun, but you never know with Steven's exercises. Don't be a target on 20 January 2012.

Young Adult - So far we know that the second collaboration between director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody, after Juno in 2007, is missing the festival circuit and we've heard it may be tough viewing full of unlikeable characters, oddly that makes me want to see it more. Seduce you're old school friends on 10 February 2012.

Playing the Field - It's Gerard Butler again, this time playing a soccer Lothario sleeping his way through the Moms supporting the team he coaches, the tone could go either way on this. Get right into the penalty zone on 09 March 2012.

Dark Shadows - With two movies coming out in 2012, this and the stop motion animation of Frankenweenie it's hard to know which of Tim Burton's releases seems more interesting, you know though that the combination of Johnny Depp and high camp will propel this to the top of the box office. Go vampire hunting on 11 May 2012.

Anna Karenina - The first prestige costume drama of 2012 out of the gate will be Joe Wright's adaptation of Tolstoy's doorstop novel. Whilst the story speaks to everyone it's muddled and very Russian narrative has resisted classic film status in the past but hopefully this will be the adaptation that bucks the trend. Fall for someone totally inappropriate on 10 August 2012.

Savages - Oliver Stone's hippy revenge movie seems like a curious mix of his influences, potentially a stoner action movie that rips all the cliches apart I know I'll be there. Have a smoke on 28 September 2012.

Life of Pi - Ang Lee's existential kids movie - I know that sounds bizarre - is making the inevitable change to ensure it isn't competing against, and almost certainly getting lost in the mix by The Hobbit. Talk to the animals on 21 December 2012.

Django Unchained - Quentin Tarantino has obviously got the movie making bug back, after having completed Inglorious Basterds in less than a year he's giving himself only a little big longer to make his Southern. Free your wife from bondage on 28 December 2012.

Michael Cacoyannis/Silvio Narizzano

We were saddened this week to learn of the passing of two directors whose impact on cinematic history will probably be forgotten in time but who still managed to craft great moments that remain indelibly on our minds.

Fist up was Michael Cacoyannis who died on Monday aged 89. Following a brief stint as a Law student Cacoyannis instead found himself in love with the stage, his first film was the critical success Stella in 1955 and he ended his career in 1999 with the Chekhov adaptation The Cherry Orchard starring Charlotte Rampling, Alan Bates and Gerard Butler. The highlight of his career was 1964's Zorba the Greek, watch Bates (again) learn to dance in this clip that highlights the exuberance in the face of diversity that the film exhibits.

Silvio Narizano (died on Tuesday, aged 84) career is much harder to define, a TV director who only made a few films directly for cinemas, and oddly he's most fondly remembered for a BBC adaptation of Miss Marple's Body in the Library starring Joan Hickson. Still going with a theme here's a clip from Georgy Girl with the Oscar nominated Lynn Redgrave being told she's loved by Alan Bates in 1966.


TomS said...

Loads of good stuff here...
In brief:
Cacoyannis and Narizzano....I am heartbroken. "Zorba" and "Georgy"...two essential films of the '60's, and as different as can be, despite the presence of Bates.
I can fathom only one reason to remake Straw Dogs, and that is to increase the violence factor, whose original intensity was shcocking even in 1971, the year of A Clockwork Orange. There's nothing else there...
I am SO excited anout Life of Pi....

Runs Like A Gay said...

I suppose we're seeing that generation of film makers on their way out, sad but inevitable I suppose.

I'm not so sure that the Straw Dogs remake is about the violence, it's being made by Rod Lurie the director behind The Contender and The Last Castle, it seems to me it's an exercise about returning to the book and trying something different - maybe even turning the violence down a notch. Of course I may be wrong.

I want to see Life of Pi but I'm really worried it will disappoint.