Thursday, October 18, 2007

A fairly cool music biopic, but why not the Stax story?

Though I enjoy a well-constructed music biopic, I think a major fault with most of them is the subjects too often are titans we already (or at least think we) know everything about.

There are plenty of stories to be told from the world of music if you look beyond Ray Charles or Johnny Cash. "Control," the story of Joy Division's Ian Curtis, is one I'm certainly eager to see, but I'll probably have to wait for DVD (or maybe New York at the end of the year.)

What I really like, though, and we don't see nearly enough of, are movies about the often seedy business of making and promoting music. Now, however, there's one such flick just starting to take shape that definitely has me intrigued.

Matt Dillon has signed on to play Leonard Chess, who founded Chess Records and first recorded many of America's greatest blues singers. And now, in even better news, Jeffrey Wright has signed on to play bluesman Muddy Waters in the flick, titled either "Cadillac Man" or "Cadillac Records," depending on who you ask (the title refers to Chess' habit of selling records from the back of his Caddie while scouring the South for new talent to sign.)

If I were to put together a list of the 20 or so actresses/actors the world simply can't continue without (not a bad idea, actually), Mr. Wright would have to be near the top. And If I had to pick one role I've liked him in more than any other, it would have to his riffing with Bill Murray as Winston the would-be mystery writer in Jim Jarmusch's "Broken Flowers."

But as cool as this flick, being directed by Darnell Martin and filming in January in New Jersey and Chicago, sounds, there's one other that would really get me jazzed: A Stax Records movie.

Now, there have already been several documentaries made about this great little soul label, including one just out on DVD titled "Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story." But what I'm talking about is a grand biopic about the label that launched Otis Redding, The Staple Singers, Sam and Dave and many other great acts.

In case anyone has a little cash lying around and wants to run with this idea, I've even got what I think is a can't-miss casting tip for you. In the right light, Wesley Snipes (who surely needs the work) could easily be a doppelganger for the late great Big O. There, I've got you started.

And, at the end of this post (if you make it that far}, I've included a clip of my favorite Stax act, Mavis and the Staple Singers, singing "Reach Out, Touch a Hand, Make a Friend" at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1981.

Sci Fi plots a "Revolution"

Any glimmer of original sci-fi, and I'm not talking about rehashing old ideas like "The Bionic Woman" here, is reason to cheer, and the Sci-Fi Channel might just have its hands on a real winner.

The channel has just greenlighted "Revolution," a two-hour futuristic action-drama pilot from writers Ed Redlich and John Bellucci, with Simon West in negotiations to direct.

Redlich described the project to the Hollywood Reporter as "re-envisioning the American Revolution 200 years in the future." Cool enough. It's set in New America, a distant colony on an Earth-like planet struggling for its independence from an increasingly hostile homeland, the United State.

"It centers on two multigenerational families related by marriage - a loyalist family and a family that is leaning toward rebellion - and how the impending revolution impacts their lives," said Redlich.

The pilot is slated to begin production in January. If it is picked up to series, Sci Fi is eyeing a summer debut. This is definitely one worth keeping an eye on.

"The Office": The funniest (U.S.) show ever?

I'm not sure I'm ready to go there just yet, but Andy's pitching woo to Angela with "Take a Chance on Me" in three-part harmony has pushed it right to the brink in my book. The hour-long episodes, unfortunately, end after tonight's, but we have at least three more new episodes coming in a row. Here are the descriptions from NBC:

Tonight: “Money”
As Jan (Melora Hardin) renovates the condo, Michael (Steve Carell) confronts his growing debt every way he can, which includes pressuring his employees for a loan. Pam and Jim spend a night out on Dwight’s (Rainn Wilson) family farm, now a bed and breakfast (I'm laughing already just reading that.)

Oct. 25: “Local ad”
When the Scranton branch is asked to participate in a Dunder Mifflin ad, Michael seizes his chance to exhibit his creativity. Meanwhile, Dwight explores the online world of Second Life.

Nov. 1: “Branch Wars”
When Karen (guest star Rashida Jones) tries to woo Stanley (Leslie David Baker) away from Scranton, Michael fights back, dragging her ex, Jim, into his war. Meanwhile, the existence of a “Finer Things Club” further disturbs Dunder Mifflin’s calm.

Nov. 8: “Survivor Man”
After Ryan (B.J. Novak) excludes Michael from a corporate wilderness retreat, Michael heads into the woods for his own survival adventure with nothing but the suit on his back. Back at work, Jim tries to revolutionize the office birthday party.

Visual proof that Sly should just hang it up

The fine folks at the great Froggy film site have posted the entire press kit of photos for Sylvester Stallone's "John Rambo," but I'll spare you the full blow and just post this one.

In it, you'll see a look that's way too familiar. Bass players seem to get it, especially if they play in jam bands. It is, to be as crude as possible, "dump face," and it certainly doesn't look too good on a 61-year-old (yes, really) man trying to act way younger than his age. To be fair, I thought "Rocky Balboa" was fantastic, but there's just no way you'll be able to drag me to this one. Here's the pic (and remember, I warned you):

And, finally, if that hasn't caused you to lose your lunch, wash it down with this promised clip of the fabulous Staple Singers and have an entirely suckfree Thursday.


Bob said...

Wow! That was a lot of news. I am massively excited for "Control." Seattle gets it next Friday so I'm bursting. That Matt Dillon-Jeffrey Wright movie sounds cool. In fact it would sound cool even if I knew nothing about it. And "Revolution" sounds real good. Like way better than anything the Sci-Fi channel has come up with in a really long time.
I'm excited for "The Office" tonight too. I'm still more excited for "Scrubs" to finally come back next week. I've been missing Dr. Cox, Janitor, and the Todd. Have a great Thursday. "High five!"

Reel Fanatic said...

I'll certainly be happy to see the return of "scrubs" too, Bob, even if it is bittersweet with this already being announced as the final season ... Really, though, most shows shouldn't really have much more than a seven-year-run anyway, in my opinion

Marina said...

"Control" is well worth seeing on the big screen. Beautiful.

As for Stallone, aren't very good but have you checked out the new poster for Rambo? It's pretty spiffy.

Neel Mehta said...

The hour-long episodes, unfortunately, end after tonight's

Wow, I couldn't disagree more. These past few weeks have shown why The Office is much stronger as a 30-minute show. The show works because you see each character for exactly the right amount of screen time. They've figured it out: severely restrict Creed and the annex people; moderately restrict Angela, Michael, and Andy; include Phyllis, Oscar, Kevin, and Stanley as often as possible, but in the background; and use Dwight, Pam, and Jim as much as needed.

(This isn't a personal preference thing. Creed is my favorite character, but only because he's used so sparingly.)

The NBC-enforced hourlongs disrupt the balance by giving more for Michael to do just to fill up the second half hour. Carbo-loading the fun run? Driving the car into a lake? Kidnapping the delivery boy? None of this is bad, but it's Season 1 stuff, before they hit upon the right tone.

Bob said...

This is unrelated but I was gonna ask, were you able to make it to "Raiders: The Adaptation" a few weeks ago?

Reel Fanatic said...

I guess we'll have to agree do disagree, civilly of course, about the hour-longs, Neel ... The only thing I don't like about them is it means we have to wait longer to see one of my other NBC favorites, "Scrubs" ... I particularly liked the delivery-boy-held-hostage riff from this season

And Bob, I did indeed get up to Athens to see the "Raiders" flick, and it was even more fun than I could have imagined ... I hope they get some kind of budget to make another flick, and that someone is smart to jump on the script that Daniel Clowes has apparently already written about their adventures

bill said...

Stax kicks Motown's ass every day of the week. With the horn section tied behind its back.

Enough with the giant biopics, wow about just a talented guy just making a living. I think it'd be interesting to see a biopic of someone like Billy Zoom. Professional musician throughout most of the existence of rock and roll, played with everyone, formed one of the greatest rock bands - X, then quit to sell amplifiers.

George Clinton and the p-funk story would also be good.

Whoa, just remembered one of my first ever blogposts was of Billy Zoom claiming Jesse Jackson destroyed Stax. I need to pick up the book he mentions.

"The Office": The funniest (U.S.) show ever? No, though it will be hard for anyone to beat the 3 minutes of "Take a Chance on Me." Currently, "30 Rock" beats it. Maybe "Earl." And it's not a better show, but I laugh more during "Two and a Half Men."

Reel Fanatic said...

I think you're on to something there about working musicians, and I'd definitely pay to see a pic about Billy Zoom, Bill ... I have to assume you've probably already seen the X doco "The Unheard Music," but if not I can't recommend it highly enough ... and, to close, X just kicks royal ass in my book

Kimberly Nichols said...

The Office makes me so happy. My stomach hurts from laughing every Thursday night. (Earl, Office, 30 Rock.) This is indeed Must See TV. Who cares about those annoying Friends?

Give me Dwight, Kenneth, and Joy any day.

ReggieH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ReggieH said...

Now I want to see that Stax film! Oh to be independently'd have the money for it today!:)