Monday, August 13, 2007

Peter Jackson and The Hobbit: New hope?

This story is probably very old by now, but I don't get paid enough (or, for that matter, at all) to work on this on the weekends, so here goes. Besides, to me at least, there are few things in the world of movies that could be better than Peter Jackson returning to the New Line fold to make "The Hobbit."

For a long while, it certainly seemed extremely unlikely. With the two sides mired in a very nasty fight over the profits from the "Rings" movies, New Line co-Chairman Bob Shaye in particular had been raising the bile level with his public statements.

Here's what Shaye had to say in January: "It (Peter Jackson directing "The Hobbit") will never happen during my watch." Sounds pretty firm, right? Well, not so fast.

Now, according to Yahoo!, Shaye is back in talks with Jackson to bring him home to New Line - and "The Hobbit." Shaye's quote this time: "Notwithstanding our personal quarrels, I really respect and admire Peter and would love for him to be creatively involved in some way in The Hobbit."

So, what happened in the last eight months to change his mind so completely? I'd guess one of two things: They either shopped this around to several different directors but couldn't find one with both the skill and the will to do this right, or he was told by the New Line money men that his "watch" might not last too much longer without Jackson in the fold.

My money would be on some version of the former, especially since Jackson still has all the "Rings" sets on hand to use in New Zealand. Plus, I'm sure Shaye's been gorging on all that gorgeous "Golden Compass" footage and realizing just how lucrative Jackson's "Hobbit" will be.

But why is "The Hobbit" so important to me? Well, I loved the "Rings" stories and movies, but I just hold "The Hobbit" in even higher esteem. I think it's a combination of several factors: "The Hobbit" is a simpler story, more oriented to kids, and more magical than its companions. Plus, I learned to play the piano to those silly songs from the Rankin/Bass animated movie, so even in that cheesy form "The Hobbit" has always just been extremely close to my heart.

So, knowing all this, I'd have to bet on the breach being mended very soon, and Jackon soon announcing he will begin work on "The Hobbit" after he wraps "The Lovely Bones."

Updates on two of my favorites

In it's promo work for the upcoming bloodbath "Shoot 'Em Up" (mark your calendars for Sept. 7), has interviews with Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti about their future plans, and it features plenty of cool stuff.

There have been several attempts recently to revive Raymond Chandler's Phillip Marlowe, some much better than others. Thankfully, it seems the idea of a TV series "loosely" based on the Marlowe character, in other words taking only the shred of Chandler's original concept and just running in all kinds of directions with it, is seemingly dead.

Still going strong, though, is a big-screen version to star Clive Owen and, get this, actually based on one of Chandler's stories. There are very few dudes in movies today badder than Mr. Owen (watch "Croupier" before you even try to dispute that), so I can definitely get behind him filling the shoes of Marlowe. Here's what he had to say to Comingsoon.

"We got the rights and we're developing the script, and there's an area that's very daunting because the greats have played him: Mitchum and Bogart. I won't be going in there trying to do so something I think that relates to them. You go in there with a fresh approach, so I never really worry about the history of a project, like I wouldn't do 'The Big Sleep' but you go in and I'll do my interpretation of Marlowe and hope it comes even with the same radar as Bogart's."

Later this year, Mr. Owen will star with Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush in "The Golden Age," about as close to an Oscar lock (along with "American Gangster" and "Charlie Wilson's War") as there will be this year. Owen, as Sir Walter Raleigh, will be pitching woo to Blanchett's Queen Elizabeth I, and Samantha Morton (huzzah!) will be around as well as Mary Queen of Scots. Here's what Mr. Owen had to say about that one, due out Oct 12:

"There's a whole element of it that centers on the love triangle between Elizabeth, Raleigh and Bess, the lady-in-waiting. They were known to have a very, very close relationship and this is about setting up a situation where maybe in another time, another place, the whole thing could have become different. It's really about Elizabeth and her destiny and heading to become the immortal virgin Queen and struggling with that really."

And, even better, he talked about his next flick, Thomas Twyker's "The International": "It's like a big international, political thriller with a guy trying to expose and bring down a big bank, and every time he gets close, people are backing off, and strange things are happening with people being murdered, and he's obsessively trying to bring them down. It's like a throwback '70s very political thriller with some amazing bursts of action in there as well."

Even if I'm in the vast minority of people who just had very little time for his last bank-heist flick, Spike's "Inside Man," to that I can only say bring it on. And, finally, Mr. Owens' nemesis in "Shoot 'Em Up," Paul Giamatti, got shortshrift from Comingsoon, but did have a few tidbits about the possibility of playing Philip K. Dick in a biopic:

"His daughters are probably going to help produce it, and there's a guy writing it right now as far as I know. I'd love to do it, if they still want me to do it when it comes around and it's all done, I'd absolutely love to do it. Definitely. We'll see what the guy comes up with."

And I know I'd love to watch it, so I can only hope it happens.

Meirelles and the Brazilian bunch

When pressed to name a favorite director, I usually punt a little bit and offer up two names: Fernando Meirelles and Phillip Noyce.

And now it seems that Mr. Meirelles is following in the footsteps of the trio of Cuaron, Inarritu and del Toro (I simply refuse to call them "amigos") and flexing his muscle on behalf of his friends.

Under the name of his O2 Filmes shingle, Meirelles is bringing new flicks from Brazilian directors Cao Hamburger and Nando Olival to Universal.

Hamburger's pic "Xingu," the more promising of the two, turns on two young brothers discovering Brazil's Amazonian forest, known as Xingu National Park, in the 1960s.

Olival's "Round Trip" takes on tourism in Brazil. A commercials director, Olival teamed with Meirelles in 2001 to direct "Maids," centering on Sao Paulo's domestic servants.

And Mr. Meirelles himself, of course, will be back in March with Mark Ruffalo, Julianne Moore and Gael Garcia Bernal (triple huzzah!) in "Blindness," about an epidemic of, well, blindness that strikes a modern city.

"What does it mean to be "Superbad"?

It's been at least a week since I've pimped for Jonah Hill and Michael Cera's "Superbad," so why not close out a Monday with this very funny clip (even if it has been making the rounds for a week or so already.)

The phony meltdown bit may have been copped from Cera's stunt on the set of "Knocked Up," but Mr. Hill's staged encounter with "Hot Fuzz" director Edgar Wright is still very funny, especially the explanation that he's "on Atkins." Peace out.


Vasta said...

The Golden Age opens at the Toronto International Film Festival this year, so I'll be sure to check it out and let you know what I think.

Oh, and I have a friend that's playing a small (very small, she's not a huge star) role in Blindness, and she says that we should be expecting an absolutely stunning film.

Reel Fanatic said...

Please do let me know if it lives up to your expectations, Vasta ... With that cast, I can't see how it would possibly disappoint, but I guess there's always a chance ... And I will be extremely disappointed if Blindness doesn't indeed turn out to be "stunning"

Mercurie said...

I have to agree with you about Shaye. I am willing to be that they couldn't find a director who could do it as well as Jackson. Too, I think the money men at New Line may have had a pretty stern talk with him. At any rate, it is good news. I think another director could direct The Hobbit and do it justice, but they wouldn't do it as well as Jackson.

Good to hear that revisionist Marlowe TV series is dead. And good to hear a more loyal version may be headed to the big screen. I do think Clive Owen is perfect for the part. Croupier is one of my favourite movies in the past several years.

Reel Fanatic said...

There was a long time when "Croupier" wasn't available on DVD, Mercurie, which frustrated me to no end .. A couple of years ago they cleared up the mess with the Shooting Gallery folks, so that I and everyone else who wanted to could finall buy it

Marina said...

I'm very excited about both "Soot 'Em Up" and "The Golden Age". Neither of these can come soon enough for me.

Jonathan said...

Croupier is simply an awesome film; I don't know any other word to describe it, and it brought Mike Hodges (original Get Carter and Pulp) back to the limelight which is never a bad thing. I personally don't think Clive Owen has matched his performance in that film, although he has done some fine work in movies like Children of Men and yes I did like Inside Man as well.

I'm one of those few that just didn't really care for the "LOTR" trilogy when all was said and done; they were definately big and exciting but did little else for me. I kind of felt the same way about King Kong. I kind of like the Heavenly Creatures version of Jackson over the epics, and that makes me look forward to hopefully a more intimate story with Lovely Bones.

Reel Fanatic said...

I have to say I'm with you there, Jonathan, because my favorite Peter Jackson to date is definitely "Heavenly Creatures" .. It's partyly because that was the first Jackson movie that really caught my eye, but also because it's one of the best movies ever at expressing the incredible power of imagination

Chalupa said...

Thanks for continuing to feed my need for Superbad with clips here and there. I so wish it were Friday already so I could go see it after work.