Saturday, 27 August 2011

Seeing the film news from Space (Film News - 27/08/11)

I'm feeling a little smug right now, mainly because of the first news story. I won't go into it just yet but it proves a theory I put forth several months ago and justifies some expenditure I have made over the last few weeks - in spite of the gentle ribbing I received from my friends. Away from that there have been some nice little stories hanging around under the headlines, and thriller fans will be keen on a couple of the upcoming films. Until then time to stay smug.

The Great Wall

Back in April I wrote about the growing movie market in China and how we should expect to see more collaborations between Hollywood and the Chinese film Industry. Indeed at the time the Yang Guifei movie was cited as a specific example.

Now we've moved and Ed Zwick who has local form with The Last Samurai and will now be heading to Northern China to document the history of the world's most famous piece of masonry.

The oldest sections of The Wall was originally built around the 5th Century BC although it's the Ming dynasty's work in the 14th century AD that is most recognizable. Like most walls it's purpose is mainly defensive, keeping the Monguls from conquering vast swathes of the Northern Provinces. The exact period the film will cover has yet to be decided but expect the Ming Dynasty when the majority of work was done to be the central topic.

The most interesting part of the story though is that this is the first film from Legendary East, the historic spin-off company from Legendary Films, spearheaded by Thomas Tull, that will produce and finance films made in China and Hong Kong with international investors. As I said before this year is marking a major change in the worldwide dominance of Hollywood, and it will take this sort of thinking to keep the studios on top.

If you've lived under a rock your entire life here's a picture of the Great Wall of China.

Read on for FBI love affairs, mysterious cargo, soul singers and a trip to Germany, as well as the latest in casting news and a rundown on the changes to UK release dates over the last month.

Above Suspicion

Our first thriller of the week is this appallingly titled project which sees an FBI agent falling for an informer and getting framed for a murder. Sounds awfully unoriginal but Philip Noyce (left) is potentially behind the camera for this one and with his form on other silly cop films like last years Salt and The Bone Collector it could still end up being a lot of fun.

Line of Sight

Perhaps boasting a more bizarre plot will make this second genre pic look more intriguing, however it's title is just as bland and uninteresting as the the above. Ben Affleck is considering this tale of "an elite commando squad transporting cargo whilst dealing with a global threat". Which has just enough undefined nouns to make the by-line meaningless. So it the cargo a nuclear bomb of a truck of stuffed toys, is the threat neo-fascist terrorists or childhood obesity rates. We'll just have to wait and see!

Untitled Aretha Franklin Biopic

Aretha Franklin (69, right) has been talking up the possibility of her biopic getting made (which frankly smacks of being a touch self-centred to me) including the suggestion that Halle Berry would be the best person to take the role. I'm not going to make disparaging personal comments (feel free to make them in the comments) but Franklin and Berry are hardly similar in body shape are they?

Untitled Woody Allen picture

We don't have much on Woody Allen's next European postcard, other than early indications are he's moving on to Munich for his next picture. Munich's most famous cultural event is of course Oktoberfest (the beer festival) which will hopefully get a cameo in Allen's film, although I suspect it will spend more time in the upper middle class pastimes of looking at the delightful neoclassical architecture.

The last time I can remember Oktoberfest in cinema!

Casting News

Two stories directly relating to cast lists this week, the easier one is the revelation that Chazz Palminteri has signed on to play Paul Castellano in Mafia family drama Gotti: In the Shadow of my Father, oddly though this isn't the first time he's played Castellano having taken the role in TNT's TV movie Boss of Bosses 10 years ago. Perhaps more exciting is Christian Bale's (looking thoughtful in the picture below) upcoming slate, this week it was revealed he has five wildly divergent projects vying for his signature after the next Batman movie. The options include Scott Cooper's Out of the Furnace (Formerly Known as The Low Dweller), Gold, Noah, Oldboy and - most bizarrely - A Star is Born. Mind you when you look at this list there's still a trend of highly driven and obsessive characters which goes to prove even t this level there's type-casting.

Release Schedules

Machine Gun Preacher - The biker cum missionary biopic has shifted it's release date another couple of weeks, each time coming forward which obviously indicates the films at least ready and the producers want it to be seen early in the awards season, so I guess I'll have to do that. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition on 04 November 2011.

J. Edgar - Talking of biopics one of the most anticipated in that much maligned genre is Clint Eastwoods look at the infamous head of the FBI - with Dustin Lance Black scripting it's going to be fascinating how the film balances old and new Hollywood attitudes to Hoover's sexuality. Get obsessed with communists on 20 January 2012.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Hollywood still remains surprisingly coy about directly addressing 9/11, and the few that have looked at the aftermath have come across as maudlin, so maybe this Stephen Daldry directed drama from a child's eye perspective may buck the trend. Notice the event but struggle with it's meaning on 03 February 2012.

Odd Life of Timothy Green - Over the last month we've seen the trailer, poster and, at Disney's recent convention, and the buzz has been as strange as the concept with the family friendly fantasy being lambasted for it's weird vibe. Bury your wishes in the garden on 17 August 2012.

World War Z - The zombie apocalypse will be coming soon, by the end of next year we'll be recovering with Brad Pitt talking to the survivors finding out what really happened in those dark days. Begin the fight back against the shuffling hordes on 04 January 2013.

Bad news though for some other films I had high hopes for. Release dates for both The Dark Tower and The Lone Ranger has both come and gone, just another step for both of those projects on the road to complete abandonment. The football rom-com Playing the Field might be looking at a similar fate with it's March release being pulled, however at least the Gerard Butler vehicle has been made. That's something that Nikita Mikhalkov must be content with too with the knowledge his Burnt by The Sun 2 (sequel to the 1994 Oscar winner) has gone straight to DVD in the UK - perhaps avoiding the wrath of critics who've been queueing up to vent their vitriol.

In spite of how rubbish the films reception seems to have been there's no denying the retro look of this poster really works.

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