Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Welcome back, Hughes brothers

I would have started off today's segment with the news that Robert Rodriguez, rather than making a "Sin City 2," is instead going to do a remake of "Barbarella," but it just depressed me too much.

Instead, I'd like to welcome back two of my favorite directors, dudes who could easily have made yesterday's list if it had had 30 names rather than just 10.

For years now, Allen and Albert Hughes have been coasting by directing TV commercials and the like, and surely padding their pockets well, but now it seems they're finally ready to make another movie (their first since "From Hell," in fact.) The bros have signed up with Warner Brothers to direct the post-apocalyptic drama "Book of Eli."

Scripted by Gary Whitta, the drama revolves around a lone hero who fights his way across the wasteland of post-apocalyptic America. He's the protector of a sacred book that may hold the key to saving humanity. Sounds right up their alley.

Actually, the Hughes bros are about to break their inactivity streak in a big way. Presumably after "Book of Eli," they're also attached to direct "The Ice Man," a film about Richard Kuklinski, a serial killer who found his calling as a Mafia hitman. They're also, at some point, going to direct a big-screen version of the TV series "Kung Fu," one of the few remakes I can solidly get behind.

For anyone who may have forgotten, and frankly I wouldn't blame you if you did, the Hughes bros managed to direct three tremendously entertaining flicks in the '90s, "American Pimp," "Menace 2 Society" and "Dead Presidents." (As an aside, one of the guys who pulled off the real bank heist on which the dead prez flick was based was arrested on the Eastern Shore of Maryland when I was living there in the late 90s. He had been the food service director for the University of Maryland Eastern Shore for many years. Very funny stuff, at least to me.)

McQuarrie set for WWI

Like many people nowadays, Chris McQuarrie seems to have war on his brain. And that's good thing.

After co-writing the WWII drama "Valkyrie" as a vehicle for Tom Cruise, he'll turn to writing the WWI drama "No Man's Land." The battlefield drama will use three fictional characters to illustrate the complex reasons why the various European powers chose sides to fight WWI, and how the use of machine guns, tanks and other technology led to unimaginable carnage.

The drama will focus on three characters: an American ambulance driver in France who joins the French Foreign Legion and eventually fights for the Americans when the U.S. enters the war; a British soldier wrongly accused of cowardice; and a German soldier mired in the trenches. Sounds like three plum roles to me

"The First World War has been effectively depicted, but I've never seen it adequately explained," McQuarrie told Daily Variety. "WWII and every war since then are simply aftershocks of that Great War."

Among the conflicts depicted will be the Battle of the Somme in 1916. British troops fired 1 million rounds and then charged, only to discover the Germans lying in wait in tunnels; 19,000 British troops were killed by German machine gun fire.

Sounds like a genuine WWI epic like we haven't seen in a great long while, to which I can only say bring it on.

And a casting update that proves you might not be able to believe everything you read in this space, though I really hope you can. I earlier reported, from the Froggy film site Cinempire.com, that "Valkyrie" was compiling perhaps the greatest cast ever, with Bill Nighy (huzzah!), Tom Wilkinson, Kenneth Branagh, Stephen Fry and Patrick Wilson (star of "Little Children" and "Hard Candy.") Well, not so fast, apparently.

Variety has confirmed that Branagh will indeed join the cast as a German general who mentors Cruise's character and hatches a plan to assassinate Hitler, but its report made no mention of the other cast members, who are apparently still in negotiations. It still sounds like it will come together, but if not, accept a hearty mea culpa from me if it comes to that.

An "Y Tu Mama Tambien" reunion?

I missed the news last week that Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu, Rodrigo Garcia and Carlos Cuaron are joining forces for Cha Cha Cha, a $100 million, five-feature production partnership with financing, distribution and international sales handled by Universal Pictures and Focus Features International.

The real news out of all this, at least to me, is what the new unit's first flick will be. There will, of course, eventually be flicks from the big three, but first will come "Rudo Y Corsi," a soccer comedy/drama set to reunite Gale Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, the stars of "Y Tu Mama Tambien." Carlos Cuaron also co-wrote that flick with brother Alfonso, so this one definitely falls in the category of flicks I'm psyched about.

And for that matter, the world can never have enough soccer movies. Peace out.


Marina said...

I was racking my brain trying to figure out where I'd heard the name Hughes brothers and now I don't have to look it up! I think this could be great for a number of reasons and hopefully the fact that great directors sign on for a post apocalyptic view of the future....that's enough for me.

Chalupa said...

I too had heard of the Hughes brothers but didn't know why. Everything they've directed has been pretty good so far in my opinion. If they did a film version of Kung Fu I'd be all over that.

Reel Fanatic said...

I've definitely missed them, Chalupa ... Dead Presidents is just a sensational movie, and American Pimp might just be even better in my book

Damian said...

I didn't see Menace to Society and although I didn't care at all for Dead Presidents I thought From Hell was brilliant, so I'm willing to welcome nack the Hughes Brothers with you, RF.

Anonymous said...

Do you know who the casting director is for "Eli"?