Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Oliver Stone finally heads back to Vietnam

Although I was really hoping he would jump into the middle of the hunt for Osama bin laden, Oliver Stone has apparently changed course and is now heading back to familiar territory. And that could surely be a good thing.

He is apparently closing a deal with United Artists to finance "Pinkville," a drama about the investigation of the 1968 My Lai massacre that he would direct. Bruce Willis and Channing Tatum will star.

This would be Stone's fourth foray into Vietnam (well, fifth, of course, if you count his actual war service.) Of the the three he's already made, I'd rank "Heaven & Earth" as the best, with "Platoon" a close second and "Born on the Fourth of July" trailing rather badly.

In the new flick, Willis will play Army Gen. William R. Peers, who supervised the investigation into the massacre by U.S. soldiers of as many as 500 My Lai villagers, most of them unarmed women, children and elderly. It's good to hear that, unlike Sly Stallone, Mr. Willis may finally be starting to act his age and not taking to the battlefield.

Tatum will play Hugh Thompson, a helicopter pilot who, upon realizing what was happening below, put a stop to the killing by placing his craft between gunmen and the few villagers who were left, and telling his two shipmates to fire on the soldiers if they shot any more people. They airlifted the survivors and reported the carnage to superiors.

Although they really need to work on that title ("Pinkville" is apparently the description on a military map for the region where My Lai is, but so what?), this could be a welcome return to meaty material for Stone. I enjoyed "World Trade Center" enough as an ode to heroism, but it's been way too long since Oliver Stone challenged anyone or anything on screen, so I can only hope he jumps rights into "the shit," as Max Fischer put it so well, with this one.

Lucas to make two good movies?

OK, that may be a bit harsh, but I'm counting on the Lucas-produced "Indy 4" being fantastic, and this news about a World War II flick sounds almost as good. When's the last time you could really associate George Lucas with two good movies?

The latest, "Red Tails," is a World War II movie he apparently came up with the story for some time ago. The flick, which will center on the Tuskegee Airmen and be produced through Lucasfilm, will be scripted by John Ridley, who is definitely on a roll of late.

Ridley has already written the very funny but underappreciated "Undercover Brother" and the story for "Three Kings," among other flicks, and he came to Lucas' attention after the producer read his script for a movie about the L.A. riots, which Spike Lee will hopefully someday soon finally get around to making instead of toying with more "Inside Man" nonsense.

I really hope Lucas is finally committed to this. What may finally make him follow through with it could be ego. Lord knows what Peter Jackson will do after he wraps "The Lovely Bones," but if it's his long-rumored World War II aviation flick "Dambusters" a fun race to the finish could be on between these two titans.

Paul Giamatti channeling Karl Rove?

The marketing for "Shoot 'Em Up," which has never once shied away from the fact that this movie will be nothing more than an unapologeticly silly hail of bullets, has been just about brilliant.

The latest installment I found was a column by director Michael Davis at MTV Movie News in which, among other amusing things, he reveals the inspiration for Paul Giamatti's hitman in the upcoming flick:

He (Giamatti) says he'd like his character to be based on Karl Rove — a seemingly bookish guy who exercises power behind the scenes. I like it. His character turns out to be way more flamboyant than Rove ... but I like how our free-flowing conversation started making the character better than what is on the page.

If you didn't know it was written by a promising new director, you might think he was just an extremely eager fanboy as he describes meeting Giamatti, Clive Owen and the ravishing Monica Bellucci for the first time, but it's genuinely entertaining reading. And coupled next week with the "3:10 to Yuma" remake, his flick will hopefully blast us right out of the movie-muck that has flowed forth after "Superbad."

TV tidbits

Though I spent probably too much time yesterday fantasizing about the return of Eliza Dushku as Faith the vampire slayer, it seems Tim Minear has other plans in mind for his next TV project. Minear, who was a co-creator of "Angel" and had a big role in the creation of "Firefly," will reteam with his "Wonderfalls" partner Tim Holland for "Miracle Man." It centers on a disgraced former televangelist, a man of no faith, who finds that God is using him to perform real miracles and change lives, starting with his own.

"It's about losing everything and starting over and finding that there is a higher purpose in life," Minear said. "It's about a man who says, 'I don't know how to be good, but I'll try to be better.' "

The premise, frankly, doesn't sound terribly promising, but after the disastrous treatment of "Drive," Mr. Minear needs and deserves a winner, so I'll at least give it a chance.

And, apparently it pays off big to draw extremely crude and smart cartoons. Assuring we will get "South Park" until at least 2011 (huzzah!), Trey Parker and Matt Stone have signed a new $75 million deal with Comedy Central.

The unique deal gives them a 50-50 split on any digital ad revenue. In my fairly many years on this planet I've yet to see anything approaching $75 million, and I really can't even imagine what it might look like, but these guys definitely deserve it. Fifteen years of "South Park"? Bring it on.

OK, it's a long post today, but I'm almost finished, so bear with me. In the mail a few weeks back I got the DVD for the final "Prime Suspect," which I will dutifully review before its Sept. 11 release (but, having already seen it on TV, I can tell you now that it's as good as any entry in the series, and therefore better than at least 90 percent of what passes for entertainment on TV now.)

But "Prime Suspect" does indeed appear to be over, and creator Linda LaPlante is moving on too. She's signed with NBC to pen "Mafia Wives," which revolves around mob wives who take over the business in their husbands' absence. Sounds fairly promising, and it's definitely in the right hands.

And anyone who actually made it this far deserves a reward. Here's the latest trailer for "American Gangster," Ridley Scott's take on the saga of Harlem drug kingpin Frank Lucas. Peace out.


Chalupa said...

The new Stone flick sounds pretty interesting. I've been aware of the upcoming Lucas films, but I just don't know what to think. He's delivered sub-par work, in my opinion, for so long I don't want to get my hopes up.

I just saw the trailer for Shoot em up recently and it looks pretty awesome. I'm always willing to give Paul Giamatti a chance.

Reel Fanatic said...

It's gonna be extremely silly, Chalupa, but it also looks very funny and very stylistically done ... from a movie that doesn't aspire to much more than late summer fun, I don't ask for any more than that

Marina said...

I agree on all counts regarding "Shoot 'Em Up". Guns, carrots, a baby and sex...yeah, mindless goodness.

It's nice to see Stone get back to Vietnam as these are, arguably, the best films he's made to date. But again I agree, the title is really bad.

Mercurie said...

Oh wow. It looks like there is some good stuff coming up. It will be interesting to see what Stone comes up with in this return to Vietnam. And, of course, I am looking forward to Indy 4 (provided it ever gets made). But what really caught my eye was Red Tails. There haven't been too many World War II flyboy pics (the Army and the Navy seem to get all the glory) and I have always been fascinated by the Tuskegee Airmen. Do you remember that HBO film from a few years back? It was simpy titled The Tuskegee Airmen.

Reel Fanatic said...

I did indeed get to see that HBO flick, Mercurie, and it was pretty entertaining ... I had been holding on to HBO, but I think I'm gonna have to let it go until if and when they finally launch the fifth season of "The Wire"