Saturday, 24 September 2011

Do what with the Police? (Film News - 24/09/11)

Last week I bemoanded the lack of film news, crying out for the studios to release something vaguely interesting. They haven't exactly listened. We've had a cornucopia of casting misssives but not much else, although the two biggest stories this week have certainly caught my interest. I've also have an update of UK release dates which spreads out until December 2013 (no prizes for guessing the film) so with no further ado lets get on with the headlines.

Straight Outta Compton

I am not a fan of the seminal Gangsta rap pioneers N.W.A, I confess to being much more middle of the road with my musical tastes, however it's hard to ignore the impact of the Californian group that brought us Ice Cube and Dr. Dre. Their highly rated debut album "Straight Outta Compton" (which will be used as the title for an upcoming biopic) went double platinum and is largely considered one of the influential and ground-breaking musical works of the 1980's, at least in part due to the success being in spite of widespread criticism of the violent lyrics and US radio stations ignoring the phenomena.

The 20th anniversary album cover.

N.W.A members were poets, crying out against police brutality and racial inequality in the crime ridden streets they grew up in, angry and filled with rhetoric it's hard to argue against the aural and political demands of their work. Although retrospect is a hard thing, over the years Gangsta rap has become distorted it's pleas for equality have been replaced by bling worship and violent misogyny. Indeed the recent London riots have, in part, been blamed on the culture of greed and entitlement that has been spawned by N.W.A's antecedents.

Surely then it's time to go back to the beginning, to look at their story in it's own historical context and to dissect what it meant for the group to come from Compton. Of course rumours of this particular biopic have been circulating for years but the intensity of the talk has increased recently with Boyz in the Hood and Abduction director John Singleton recently telling the press he was working with Ice Cube on a script, a comment that the rights-owning studio New Line were quick to scotch (at least with regards to Singleton's involvement). I do hope we see some movement on this soon though.

Read on for superhero stories, some casting breakdowns and the latest release date changes.

Thor 2

I'm facing a dilemma right now. I liked Thor, I enjoyed what Kenneth Branagh brought to the superhero story and was amazed by the films design elements. But I didn't suspect for a second that I would go and see the sequel, I'm not even interested in seeing The Avengers, a movie that seems - even more than most comic book franchises - designed purely to make money. Now though comes the revelation that Marvel are in talks with Monster director Patty Jenkins about taking the helm. Let's just consider this. Branagh may have been a brave choice but his experience with Shakespearean themes and dialogue and the epic canvas he brought to Frankenstein at least backed up the productions decision. Jenkins has none of this, since steering Charlize Theron to an oscar for her murderous prostitute she's been largely drawn to TV - frankly it's so bizarre I can only be excited about the possibilities. Especially as it will be one of the largest movies to ever be directed by a woman.

Now I just have to find out whether I will understand the next instalment of Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth intergalatical love story with tuning into The Avengers.

Casting News

Brad Pitt, who's getting some very nice notices for his subtle work in Moneyball continues to be added to interesting and varied upcoming projects, including the news this weeks that David O Russell is hoping to recruit him for The Mission, the film about a six year hunt for US hostages in Columbia - no news on whether Pitt will be a hostage or part of the seal team out to rescue them. Of course any DOR related news must be taken with a pinch of salt because he's juggling so many projects in the air you never know which one will end up being made. Following last weeks rather young list of potential actors for the Man from U.N.C.L.E there's been at least two more sets of possibilities leaked from memos across the production teams, each more unlikely than the last - I mean do DiCaprio, Bale or Crowe really need this job let alone Robert Pattinson!!! Jackie Earle Haley is the latest to join Spielberg's Lincoln as the pro-slavery Senator Alexander Stephens - notably Steven also confirmed the movie will just look at a short period of Lincoln's life, will not be politically motivated and will be a conventional biographical set-up. Finally some great news for Robert Zemeckis's Flight in which Denzel Washington with accidently save the lives of hundreds of people - Don Cheadle has joined the cast. The last time these two appeared together was 1995's Devil in a Blue Dress, the superb noir tinted drama that saw both of them at the top of their game - hopefully working together again they can recapture that magic.

Denzel and Don together, in one hell of a good movie.

Release Schedules

The floodgates have opened on 2013 with several big ticket releases confirming the UK dates this month. There's also a few guilty pleasure genre pieces and some Oscar contenders on their way too so sit back and relax at all these upcoming movies.

Dream House - Early buzz of Jim Sheridan's haunted house movie is not good, first there was the overeggy trailer and now it's not getting screened to critics in the States, can Daniel Craig's career recover from this and Cowboys? Remember your murdered family on 25 November 2011.

Trespass - And if the previous film seems like a turkey just imagine the whiff from this Joel Schumacher directed actioner which got utterly plastered at Toronto, looking like a low-rent Funny Games I won't be surprised if this date slips direct to DVD like Joel's last 2 movies. Get kidnapped in your own front room on 16 December 2012.

The Descendants - Following it's superb reception on the festival circuit - currently a bookies favourite to pick up a best film nomination if not the award - there's been a slight shift to a less busy week at the end of January. Reconnect with your kids on 27 January 2012.

Carnage - The cracking cast for Polanski's adaptation of Yasmina Reza's award winning short play make this one of the must sees of the season. Bitterly dissect your relationships on 03 February 2012.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - As I type this I've been listening to an interview with Tom Wilkinson where he talks briefly about this upcoming India-set retirement home dramedy, he's a very humble interviewee so he's not selling it but it does look fun. Celebrate the best and worst of Britons abroad on 09 March 2012.

Big Year - So the set up is strange - Owen Wilson, Steve Martin and Jack Black spend a year birdspotting - yet there's still something lovable about such a crazy premise about obsession, although this delay in the release does not look good. Get twitching on 23 March 2012.

Great Hope Springs - Coming in 10 months later is David Frankel's next directorial gig, this Meryl Streep/Tommy Lee Jones comedy about marriage counselling - look out for an unlikely Oscar campaign if The Iron Lady fails . Start talking about the niggles on 04 January 2013.

One Thousand A.E. - Let's face it M. Night Shyamalan's career couldn't possibly get any lower rated than at present, however Will Smith - who's got a brilliant track record - is starring and producing so there must be something about the script. Commemorate the end of Earth on 07 June 2013.

Robopocalypse - Spielberg's next but one movie has already got a release date both here and in the States, no cast, no script, just the demise of mankind at the hands of sential robots- it's not going to be a cheerful summer next year. Run from your toaster on 03 July 2013.

Thor 2 - Yeah, it doesn't have a director yet and the little we know about it involves the continuation of the central quartet of relationships, but Marvel do like to plan ahead. Maintain relationships on two planets on 26 July 2013.

The Hobbit: There and Back Again - The second of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings prequels is by far the most dangerous prospect, An Unexpected Journey will cover most of Toilkein's story and this will attempt to bridge the gap and complete the history of the ring, nevertheless it is incredibly anticipated so much so we have a release date 810 days in the future. Sit around with the precious on 13 December 2013.

All this talk of Thor's release date, and the director choice has reminded me of Chris Hemsworth wandering around with no shirt. Thanks Marvel.


TomS said...

Thanks, as always, Ben, for the wealth of movie news! (And special thanks for your pic of Hemsworth!)

I am very anxious to see "The Descendants"; and "Marigold Hotel"
has intrigued me for some time.

On the other hand, in spite of an intriguing cast and the deft hand of Roman Polanski, I was so dismayed by the play "Gods of Carnage" that I think I will skip the film version...

I might have a review of "Moneyball" by next weekend.

Runs Like A Gay said...

Sometimes I can't help myself.

There's some really great looking movies coming up, shame you have to wade through some pretty low-grade stuff in the meantime.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Moneyball.