Saturday, 12 November 2011

Rehearsing is for Frogs - (Film News - 12/11/11)

All eyes are on the Academy this week, from the moment Brett Ratner faux pas'd at a Tower Heist Q&A last Friday night the knives were out for the Oscar Producer. And probably for the best, whilst we can all appreciate the context of the comment and the vocabulary Ratner uses in interviews generally that his intention wasn't to denigrate gay men as a demographic, however the insensitivity of such an off-the-cuff remake is not in keeping of the man steering the gayest night of the Entertainment industry. As Ratner fell, so did his front man Eddie Murphy, in a career move that may be yet another turning point for the once reliable star. AMPAS then swung into damage limitation mode, quickly appointing Brian Grazer and Billy Crystal (ignoring the online campaign for the Muppets to host, hence the title) a reliable if safe choice. I suppose I should care for all this hoohar, but to be honest I don't watch the show. Of course I won't deny the Academy impacts my viewing habits, occasionally bringing a movie to my attention that I hadn't considered, but the night itself doesn't appeal. Time will tell what this will do to Ratner and Murphy's career however I suspect it will all blow over very quickly.

Moving on to the real news though.

Rule #1

At first, before reading the synopsis, I was really keen on the potential pairing of Frozen River director Courtney Hunt with Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon in a comedy, after all there aren't enough high profile films from women (of course part of that is my own inherent prejudice) and Reese is one of the best comedic performers of her generation.

Then the plot: According to THR, Witherspoon will play “34 -year old woman trying to cope with OCD, who takes in a young woman with ADD and her newborn baby in an effort to face her anxieties and ultimately get her estranged husband back. The resulting effort takes the woman’s already chaotic world spinning into the next level.”

So this is a comedy when OCD meets ADD. Whilst that does have slight thematic similarities to The Odd Couple however once the characters are labelled with mental health diagnoses it seems to be making the illness the butt of the joke rather than the interplay, of course that may change when Hunt revises the script and it ends up on screen, but I do have concerns.

Witherspoon gave one of the most hilarious and convincing comedic performances in the noughties for Legally Blonde and it would be great to see her back in the genre.

Read on for equal rights legislation, dating thrillers, a strip of pebbles and a non-comic comic book.

Airtight/Untitled Prop. 8 Movie

You should learn something new everyday, and this week its the turn of avuncular New Yorker Rob Reiner to reveal a facet of his character that surprised and taught me. You see Reiner is one of Hollywood's leading advocates of gay rights, founder of the American Foundation of Equal Rights he is a major supporter of the campaign against Proposition 8, so much so when the legal challenges eventually end in their logical conclusion (and as a gay man I pretty much have to say the plebiscite will be overturned, even if its by the Supreme Court) he plans to dramatize the fight. It's will no doubt be a worthy court-room drama in the vein of his 96 race crime elegy Ghosts of Mississippi and whilst I am in favour of bringing this story to the multiplexes I can't help but think there's a more interesting personal story to be told about how the vote illegitimised relationships and what effect that has on them and their close families.

By the way Airtight is a heist film he's also knocking around as a possible next project - purely because he has never done one before. No details yet, but we'll have to keep an eye on it.

The Double Hour

More remakes of European thriller, this time an Italian original (maybe the rights are being sold to save the economy) which started like a rom-com with a speed-dating leading to a one-night stand leading to a kidnapping and terrible secrets held by the cop and cleaner protagonists coming out to haunt them. Joshua Marston has been tapped to direct, which will make an odd English language change of pace for him.

On Chesil Beach

I know there are fans of Ian McEwans sparse internal novel, even though I personally wasn't engaged and think it's intensely un-cinematic, however I thought I'd pass on the news that the big-screen version hasn't died when proposed director Sam Mendes left for Bond, instead the baton has been passed to Mike Newell. Unfortunately whilst Newell's a nice guy with talent I think it's fair to say he's anonymous behind a camera and I suspect that McEwan's work needs someone flashier to bring out the tension.


Just a reiteration of Alexander Payne's desire to adapt Daniel (Ghost World) Clowes' graphic novel. I confess to not being a reader of these books, having a barely concealed prejudice against the format, but Clowes is considered as one of the greats, able to create a fully rounded story within a three panel format, so I'll certainly follow this to see how it works on screen.

Casting News

The latest bizarre casting rumour to hit the web attaches Colin Firth to Spike Lee's OldBoy remake, as the chief antagonist to Josh Brolins wrongfully imprisoned revenge seeker. Not that I doubt Firth's ability in the role, but it is pretty left field a suggestion you have to admit.

There's a small campaign (which will no doubt be crushed before the end of the year) for Colin in the Supporting Actor field for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy which conveniently brings us back to Oscar and the opening paragraph.

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