Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Steven, Benicio and Che

Few filmmakers frustrate me more than Steven Soderbergh. Capable of greatness ("Out of Sight," "King of the Hill"), he too often gets distracted by form over substance ("Bubble") or pure popcorn (did the world really need three "Ocean's Eleven" remakes?)

Now, however, it seems he's back in a big way. Coming soon will be the World War II flick "The Good German" with George Clooney and Cate Blanchett, and according to Daily Variety this morning, he's finally ready to take on Che Guevara with the help of Benicio Del Toro.

Come to think of it, it's been quite a while since Benicio's done anything of note either, so this is doubly good news. Benicio, of course, will play Che, and he may be joined in a great cast by Javier Bardem, Franka Potente and Benjamin Bratt.

Che's story is so grand, in fact, that Soderbergh will be making two movies, shot back-to-back in Mexico and other locations.

The first movie, "The Argentine," begins as Che and a band of Cuban exiles (led by Fidel Castro) reach the Cuban shore from Mexico in 1956. Within two years, they mobilized popular support and an army and toppled the U.S.-friendly regime of dictator Fulgencio Batista.

The second film, "Guerrilla," begins with Che's trip to New York, where he spoke at the United Nations in 1964 and was celebrated in society circles.

Soderbergh has already shot that opening footage with Del Toro and Julia Ormond, who plays TV journalist Lisa Howard, who acted as an informal intermediary between the Kennedy White House and Cuba.

Soderbergh definitely has the skills for an epic biopic (or two). I'm just glad he's finally decided to use them.

"Rescue Dawn" trailer

It pains me to admit that until I saw his great "Grizzly Man," Werner Herzog was nothing but a name to me.

That documentary, however, has quickly become one of my favorite flicks, and now Herzog is back with something called "Rescue Dawn."

The utterly familiar-sounding "true" story is apparently about a U.S. fighter pilot who gets shot down behind enemy lines during the Vietnam war, and organizes an amazing escape. It stars Christian Bale, Steve Zahn and Jeremy Davies.

This doesn't sound terribly promising, but from watching the trailer, which I think I've managed to imbed here, I think it will be done with enough passion and style to be entertaining. As usual, feel free to tell me what you think, and have at least a bearable day.

Rescue Dawn (2006) - Trailer


Vasta said...

Nothing but good reviews from everyone I know that saw Rescue Dawn at the festival. Then again, it's hard to say anything but good stuff about Herzog, he's really that awesome.

Del Toro playing Che will surely be interesting to watch. Thanks for the heads up on that one. And along with Casino Royale, The Good Shepherd is definitely one of my most anticipated movies of the year.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm definitely with you on "The Good Shepherd," Vasta .. Clooney sometimes annoys me, but this one should just be great

wcdixon said...

Herzog just a name? Has it inspired you to go back and watch any of his classics (docs or features)?

Reel Fanatic said...

It hasn't yet, wcdixon, but mostly because of a lack of free time .. it is certainly on my list of things to do to hit Netflix up for a bunch of his movies and correct this serious flaw in my movie knowledge

pdemko said...

Strangely "Rescue Dawn" is a fictional remake of a phenomenal Herzog documentary, "Little Dieter Needs to Fly." I have no idea why he feels compelled to remake it. There was a phenomenal New yorker profile of Herzog earlier this year that recounted the shooting of "Rescue Dawn", which was a debacle. But all herzog shoots are apparently debacles. The guy's a nut. It doesn't seem to be available online unfortunately.

pdemko said...

Actually here's The New Yorker piece: http://thewernerhrzogarchive.blogspot.com/2006/05/ecstatic-truth-werner-herzogs-quest.html

Reel Fanatic said...

Ah ... an informative comment from my own brother, who no doubt clearly knows more about Werner Herzog than I do!

Erik Loomis said...

I definitely recommend watching Little Dieter Needs to Fly before the new film. It'll be an interesting comparison to both Grizzly Man and Rescue Dawn.

Ultimately though, you really need to check out Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo.

Lori said...

I'm so with you on Soderbergh. I can't say that his upcoming flicks sound that appealing to me. I mean, I think the guy's definitely talented, but it just seems (well, to me, anyway) like he's just WAY too impressed with himself. I can only imagine how pretentious all of those flicks he's got in the pipeline are going to be...ugh. No thanks. If he'd make more flicks like 'The Limey' I'd probably like him a lot more.

Reel Fanatic said...

Thanks for the recommendations, Mr. Loomis ... I'm making a list of the Herzog flicks I've missed out on, and hopefully will get to them soon

J. Marquis said...

Ocean's 11 was fun but 12 was really irritating. I've never seen such a blatant example of "we're so cool we don't need a script" filmmaking.

I wasn't all that impressed with Christian Bale at first but I've gradually become a fan. He was very good in "The Machinist" and "The Prestige".

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I agree with the Major about Ocean's 12. I have never been quite able to find words to describe why, but he pretty much summed it up.

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Reel Fanatic said...

It's been a long time since I've heard anyone mention the criminally underrated "Serial Mom," snave .. It's rare to see Kathleen Turner have so much fun in a movie, and I consider that to be one John Waters' best flicks