Thursday, June 07, 2007

Spike going to war on a grand scale

"I met a black veteran who fought at Iwo Jima, and he told me how disappointed he was that there was not even one Afro-American (soldier) in Clint Eastwood's two films,"
Spike Lee

I had the same thought after watching Eastwood's two movies (the second being vastly superior to the first), but then quickly went on with my day. I guess that's the first (of many) differences between me and Spike Lee.

What did Spike do? He finally managed to finagle the financing to direct a grand war epic, the kind that a director of his stature should be able to land with ease. In his case, however, it meant looking outside the U.S.

Now, I realize that Spike has managed to make one big-budget genre flick, the unsatisfying (to me at least) "Inside Man," but it's sad that he had to turn to Italian producers Luigi Musini and Roberto Cicutto to get started with the World War II flick "Miracle at St. Anna."

The movie, based on the book by American author James McBride, will tell the true story of four members of the U.S. Army's 92nd Division of all-black soldiers, who in 1944 became trapped in a Tuscan village, as they contended with their racist, incompetent commanders and the Nazis.

The possibilities for this one just set my mind spinning. Spike Lee shooting in Tuscany (and yes, the film will be shot there starting next year) with all the money he needs to just run wild. I'd imagine there's gonna be another kind of war just to get cast in this flick.

And just because it's in my nature to never be able to just take good news as, well, good news, it's worth noting that Spike should have a shelf full of Academy Awards by now, much less nominations. "Malcolm X" and "Do the Right Thing" were certainly among the five best movies in their respective years of release, and his documentaries "4 Little Girls" and "When the Levees Broke" are true works of art.

But enough of that. As Mars might say about a Spike Lee war epic, "Please baby, please baby, please baby baby baby please!"

Damon, Greengrass and the new war

With Bryan Singer also at work now on Christopher McQuarrie's WWII flick, "Valkyrie," about a plot to assassinate Hitler, it seems we may be in for a new golden age of war epics. And, I have to confess, I definitely find it easier to watch these movies than the footage of what's going on in Iraq now.

Luckily, Paul Greengrass is paying attention, and will soon put his own stamp on it. Matt Damon will play a composite character in "Imperial Life in the Emerald City," Greengrass' take on the book about the Iraq war by Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran.

Men in drag and fat suits alert

OK, on to less serious subjects from here on out, I promise. I tuned in for the first episode of Tyler Perry's sitcom "House of Payne" last night on TBS, and it was pretty damn awful. The critics all told me so, but most of them don't like Perry's movies, which I do.

This time, however, they were dead right. Bad jokes, poorly drawn characters and a truly atrocious laugh track. I'll give it a couple more tries before disowning it completely, but definitely a poor start.

But, in better news for fans of men in drag and fat suits, Perry will once again become Madea for the upcoming "Meet the Browns," based on one of his stage plays and set to begin shooting this summer in Atlanta. The story is about a single mother (naturally) who rediscovers the joys of family and the possibility of second chances when meeting the fun-loving family of her father, whom she never knew.

Now, I know they're not for everyone, but I really like Perry's movies. "Daddy's Little Girls" was his best yet, but much of the reason I liked it was there was no Madea. She (he?) is just an annoying character.

Perry does, however, fare much, much better in the guise of a fat woman than John Travolta. If you've seen the trailer for "Hairspray," it has a surprising amount of energy to it, and then about 3/4 of the way through, Travolta appears and just saps it all out. He looks like a burn victim and talks like a six-year-old. Pathetic.

And finally, some gratuitous gunplay

I had heard rumblings about "Shoot 'Em Up" for a while, but the trailer looks even funner than I could have guessed. Paul Giamatti as a hitman whose target is Monica Bellucci (who just happens to be toting a tot around.) In steps Clive Owen, a random stranger who just happens to be a former black ops soldier and who now is determined to foil the assassination. Silly? Hell yeah. But you can tell from the trailer that writer/director Michael Davis knows this and simply doesn't care. The movie comes out in September, but for now here's the trailer. Enjoy!


Divinity said...

My brother's only reaction to John Travolta's casting in Hairspray was,"Why, God, WHY?!?" He has yet to find a good reason why they didn't get Harvey Fierstein. Well, not good enough for him anyways. I still think it might be fun.

Reel Fanatic said...

I was very dubious of the idea, Divinity, but I'm starting to warm to it a little bit .. I own the John Waters movie and have seen the musical on Broadway, and they're each just fantastic in their own way ... I still dont see any need for another movie, but except for Travolta, every one else looks right for their parts and like they really had a blast making it, so I'm thinking I'll give it a chance

Bob said...

Travolta in the fat suit...really Travolta in ANYTHING post "Face/Off" (if memory serves that was in fact his last good movie)...eeeechh!
As for "Shoot 'Em Up." Oh man. That could end up being this year's "Crank," which I am all for!

Chalupa said...

A Spike Lee war movie sounds pretty interesting. I'll have to keep my eyes open for it in the future.

As far as Travolta in the fat suit I just cringe every time I see the trailer on TV or at a movie. Just like you said, it looks like a decent movie until Travolta's face hits the screen. Then I just want to make like a monkey and throw crap at the screen. Or, in my case try to change the channel as quickly as possible.

Shorty said...

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(added you to the blogroll)