Thursday, May 25, 2006

Whither Whit, take two, plus Craig Brewer

Apparently the DVD release earlier this year of "Metropolitan" reminded someone other than me that Whit Stillman was once a very, very funny filmmaker.

After an eight-year hiatus, Stillman is making a return to movie directing with a big-screen adaptation of the Christopher Buckley novel "Little Green Men," easily my favorite of Buckley's D.C. satires.

The novel, an X-files-inspired spoof of conspiracy theories, introduces us to Majestic Twelve, a very, very covert government project. Since "that golden Cold War summer of 1947," MJ-12 has had a single mission - to convince taxpayers that space invaders are constantly lurking below what's left of the ozone layer, so we will be willing to pay for all kinds of crazy weapons systems. My description doesn't really do justice to all the crazy stuff Buckley cooks up here, but believe me, it's all very fun.

Though he had a steady decline through "Barcelona" and "The Last Days of Disco," Stillman's "Metropolitan" remains a singular accomplishment. It's probably the wittiest, dialogue-driven first feature I've seen, and it renders the odd world of New York's young upper class in the late '80s in sharp colors. Just watch it already.

Now that he's teaming up with Buckley, whose "Thank You for Smoking" was turned into the funniest movie of 2006 thus far, he should be back in a big way.

Craig Brewer's new gig

Of all the things Craig Brewer has accomplished, the best might be transforming John Singleton from a dreadful filmmaker into simply a moneyman for Brewer's projects.

With Singleton's backing, like he had for "Hustle and Flow," Brewer has just wrapped up work on one I'm really looking forward to, an oddity titled "Black Snake Moan."

In it, Christina Ricci plays a nymphomaniac who tries to get "cured" by a Delta bluesman played by Samuel L. Jackson. Just let that sentence settle in for a minute before continuing.

Brewer clearly loves to press people's buttons, and to insert himself into worlds where he doesn't naturally fit in. We'll have to wait and see about "Black Snake," but what made "Hustle & Flow" so great was that Brewer clearly had an intimate knowledge of the Memphis hip-hop scene, and made it drip from every frame (and an Oscar-worthy turn from Terrence Howard certainly didn't hurt.) If he's able to bring the blues to life in this one, it should be great.

After "Black Snake," Brewer will change his tune to country for "Maggie Lynn," a story he's writing and directing, again with John Singleton's cash.

"Maggie Lynn" follows a woman who gets her heart broken and achieves a sense of self-worth by returning home to Tennessee, where she teams with her older brother to play country music in honkytonks.

I love movies that comprehend the power of music, and Craig Brewer clearly does. Bring it on.


EL said...

Yea! A new Whit Stillman film! I thought I'd never see it happen.

I agree completely on Metropolitan. I loved all three of the sort of trilogy, but that was the real beauty. I've never thought of Mansfield Park again without thinking of it.

As far as Black Snake Moan - I think Samuel L. Jackson would be a good cure to anyone's nymphomaniac. Whoops, that was mean. Anyway, I'm very suspicious of it. I think I'll let you see it first and read what you think. :)

Reel Fanatic said...

It does sound like a shaky premise, I agree ... I'll gladly make the sacrifice and report back!

Chase McInerney said...

That is exciting to see Stillman returning to the big screen. And I'm glad that there is still a loyal "Metropolitan" following out there.