Thursday, 12 July 2012

On the trail of the Story (Coming Soon - July 2012)

I didn't see anything this weekend - mainly because I'm not going to travel all the way to London for a foreign language short anthology with decidedly mixed reviews - so I thought why not resurrect my news features. Back before my 2011 hiatus I was regurgitating news on a weekly basis, relaying the lovely readers with the odd casting gossip and production release that nudged my fancy. When I came back it was quietly shelved due to the enormous work involved - however I really miss scanning the web for the latest script options to see what might be coming up in 4 years time so it's back back back. Only now I'll only be doing it once a month and will in essence be waiting for the films that really interest me to go into pre-production on IMDb. So here we are, the first edition of the new monthly column "Coming Soon" dedicated to the best the movies to look forward to.

Skinny and Cat

Luckily we're starting with a headline grabbing return to directorial duties for Barbra Streisand following a 16 year gap since The Mirror has Two Faces was critically mauled. Furthermore it's a significant departure from her previous gigs - not only because she doesn't appear to be the star but also because the film will document the marriage of photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White and novelist Erskine Caldwell (presumably he's skinny, she's cat) between 1939 and 1943.

It's potentially a fascinating piece of modern history, Bourke White (pictured) remains one of the most influential figures in 20th century photography, the only Western journo in Moscow during the German invasion and also known for her Buchenwald pictures she met Caldwell in the mid 30's and collaborated on a number of projects highlighting the socio-economic effects of Dust-bowl Oklahoma.

I don't know what causes the breakdown in their marriage, but given it's two successful, arty and politically active figures in the turbulent 1940's I expect the narrative to be bursting with showy moments for the two leads, Colin Firth and Cate Blanchett and don't be surprised if one or both of them turn up at the Academy in 2015.

Read on for dancing penguins, disgraced politicians and the only news stories that really matter (to me, anyway).

American Bullshit

It's no surprise to see the 2010 blacklist script by Eric Singer making it into production, documenting the infamous FBI sting operation Abscam that took down Senator Harrison Williams (left) and 5 Representatives on corruption charges in the late 1970's radically changed the way America viewed it's politicians and ultimately clarified the way the FBI could handle corruption cases and the entrapment rules they must follow. Using a fake Sheikh (similar to more recent tabloid tactics) vast brides were paid through a holding company to purchase asylum in the US for the undercover agents.

There's a bit of a trend towards wacky Government shenanigans in the 70's that started with The Men who Stare at Goats and continues with Argo later this year so there's a proven audience for this sort of satirical patriotism. David O'Russell will direct with Christian Bale, Amy Adams and possibly Bradley Cooper starring.

Great Wall

I have mentioned Ed Zwick's semi-history of the only man-made object visible from space, so I won't go into it too much. Only to say I am a touch concerned by the early casting of Hanry Cavill and Benjamin Walker, both of whom have points deducted against them for faltering starts to their blockbuster careers - The Immortals and Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter respectively and both are noticeably not Chinese, and whilst I appreciate the addition of Ziyi Zhang to the headlining cast surely the story should focus on the generations of Warriors, Emperor's and Peasant's who were instrumental in the building of the wall.

Murder Mystery

Everyone likes a whodunnit, don't they? Admittedly most of us prefer to relax in front of the TV on a Sunday afternoon rather than head to the cinema but then again how often will you see Charlize Theron as one half of an American couple heading to a isolated European hotel (hopefully as cliched as the picture to the right) only to stumble upon the corpse of another guest. We don't yet know the tone, or the vital husband part of the casting, so there's limited reason for excitement, however if they go for a campy Agatha Christie feel I'm sure I'll be persuaded to see it.

Saving Mr. Banks

In spite of it's reputation as one of the greatest Children's films of all time Australian writer P.L. Travers was extremely reluctant to allow anyone to adapt her Mary Poppins series of books and was notoriously bitter about the final film, feeling it missed the tone of her writing and hating the animated sequences ordering Walt Disney to remove them - you probably know he ignored her request.

This sounds like a delicious blend of two headstrong figures butting heads over a cinematic collaboration so expect audiences and critics to love it. So far Tom Hanks is in to play Disney and Emma Thompson Travers with Colin Farrell as her father. If that sounds odd it's probably worth noting he died when the author was just 8, a demoted banker much like the Mr. Banks character brought to life by David Tomlinson, and no doubt the similarities between the father character in the book and Travers' own life will be highlighted.

Splinter Cell

Mark this down as a project I am vaguely curious about at this stage, but certainly won't be making any promises about actually seeing it. Based on the computer game (left) which in turn was based on an concept by best-selling author Tom Clancy... The game is virtually unique in that it positively encourages stealth and non-lethal tactics, in many ways emulating the blacks ops background that it's hero Sam Fisher possesses. There has never been a successful game to screen adaptation so plenty of healthy scepticism is required but with the right director and cast on board this does have potnetial to be a taut thriller.

Three Nights

Baseball is probably the most filmed sport outside of boxing, probably because it's relatively easy to understand the rules, is instantly connected to the American cultural experience and combines an element of team responsibility and individual attainment, so the sport has played host to a gamut of genre's from inspirational biopic (Pride of the Yankee's) to social realism (Sugar) to classic good vs. evil triumphalism (The Natural). Yet few of these films are actually about Baseball. So who knows if this latest Edward Burns and Billy Bob Thornton starer will actually be about the on-pitch activities in a play-off or about the diverse strategies employed by the coaches. My money's on Ed Burns' side winning either way.

You Belong to Me

Rob Reiner may be more known for his slight sentimental output of the last ten years but it's worth remembering that at one stage his was one of the most reliable directors in Hollywood, bouncing from glorious comedy (The Princess Bride) to iconic coming of age drama (Stand by Me) to disturbing thriller (Misery) with deft professionalism. Hopefully his next project will be a return to form in the later genre as his psychiatrist hero accidently mentions enough of his personal life to send his psychotic patient into a Cape Fear like attack on the good doctor. At the moment it's still to be cast but Reiner has a lot of friends in Hollywood so expect a A-list family unit to boost the ticket sales soon.

The last time Reiner had a unbalanced protagonist there was no scrimping on either the tension or the genuinely terrifying violence - hopefully he'll still have the same nerve.


Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

This ends up being something of a random aside, but when I think of Cavill I think of his work on THE TUDORS and then the excellent work he and Jonathan Rhys Myers put in and then the woeful fact that none of them seems to be doing anything with their careers now, which is a shame - and it's odd how so many good male actors in that bracket are wanting for good parts. (And, yup, I'm speaking specifically of Ben Whishaw, because the wound is still sore.)

Runs Like A Gay said...

Whishaw has plenty to look forward to with Cloud Atlas and Bond, and maybe a couple of high profile box office movies will remind everyone of how good he is.

I share your pain on Rhys Meyers, though.