Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Among the many things I'd enjoy watching Ellen Page do ...

... taking to the rink for a little roller derby action is definitely one of them, even if it is in a movie directed by Drew Barrymore (a cheap shot, I concede, since as far as I know this would be Ms. Barrymore's first directing gig. Perhaps she's the next Akira Kurosawa, but ... well, I'll just drop that and move on.)

Young Ms. Page, sure to be an Oscar nominee for "Juno" when the nominations are announced next Tuesday, will lace up her skates to play yet another spunky teen in Barrymore's "Whip It," the story of a girl named "Bliss" who turns her back on a life of beauty pageants in Texas to join a female roller derby team.

Sound like it's cut directly from the "Juno" formula? Well, there are plenty of more connections. Mandate, the studio that bankrolled Jason Reitman's flick, is also putting up the money for this one. And, just as "Juno" had the somewhat unique (yes, I know something can't be "somewhat unique," but bear with me) cache of being written by former stripper Diablo Cody, this one has a script penned by an actual former roller derby star, Shauna Cross, a k a Maggie Mayhem.

Even if it does sound more than a bit familiar, and now-20-year-old Ms. Page will at some point have to stop playing teenagers, it's hard to argue with the enthusiasm she expressed for all this silliness: "I can't wait to kick ass on wheels!"

If you're gonna make a porno ...

Well, even if Joel Siegel might try to tell you otherwise, Kevin Smith doesn't actually make pornographic movies, but he now has at least one former porn star for his next flick, "Zack and Mirni Make a Porno," and one "The Office" star as well. (Wow is that a lot of times for some variety of the word "porn" to appear in one sentence. If anyone finds this site while looking for actual pornography, please accept my apologies and move on.)

Smith had already announced Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks (double huzzah!) would be playing the leads in his next flick, set to begin production today, and now Craig Robinson (Darryl on "The Office"), former porn star Traci Lords, Ricky Mabe, Jeff Anderson (a k a Anderson regular Randal Graves) and Katie Morgan (HBO's "Katie Morgan: A Porn Star Revealed") have been announced to round out the cast.

I realize a lot of people are just tired of Kevin Smith (my brother calls him a "tool"), but I still find him almost always very funny, and that's good enough for me.


R.I.P. Brad Renfro

No matter how this story eventually unfolds, it can really be nothing but sad.

Actor Brad Renfro, who starred in "The Client" when he was just 10 years old, was found dead in his Los Angeles home early Tuesday at the none-too-old age of 25. I'm not exactly Sherlock Holmes, but I suspect drugs had more than a little bit to do with this.

In his short and rather troubled life, Mr. Renfro did manage to star in at least two movies I really like, Bryan Singer's "Apt Pupil" (when he was still just a kid) and "Ghost World" (even if by then he already did have a rather dead look as the convenience store clerk and boy toy of Enid and Rebecca.) He also was the main star of my favorite Larry Clark movie, the rather criminally underappreciated "Bully."

He had recently completed shooting something called "The Informers" with Winona Ryder and Billy Bob Thornton. R.I.P. Mr. Renfro.

A serious Oscar dis for "Persepolis"

Any chances that "Ratatouille" would somehow sneak into the final five for Best Picture (which I would wholeheartedly endorse) when the Oscar nominations are announced Tuesday seem even bleaker now that the other truly great animated movie I saw this year, the French flick "Persepolis," has failed to make the cut down to nine in the Best Foreign Language Film category. (Maconites, however, take note: When I mentioned this as a possible selection for the Macon Film Guild later this year, Camp Bacon confirmed that it is indeed already on their radar, so stay tuned.)

Also surprisingly slighted was "The Orphanage," Spain's entry and the very stylish and mostly enjoyable horror flick directed by J.A. Bayona (I guess "Guillermo del Toro presents" just didn't have quite the pull that marketers had hoped for.) I'd recommend catching this one in theaters while you still can.

And here are the nine that did make the cut: "The Counterfeiters" (Austria); "The Year My Parents Went on Vacation" (Brazil); "Days of Darkness" (Canada); "Beaufort" (Israel); "The Unknown" (Italy); "Mongol" (Kazakhstan); "Katyn" (Poland); "12" (Russia); and "The Trap" (Serbia).

It pains me to admit that I have seen exactly none of these, so if you have, please let me know if they're worth adding to my DVD viewing list. Peace out.

17 comments:

Bob said...

Don't worry, I haven't seen any of those movies either. To be honest I'd never heard of any of them. Not a single one has even been slated for release up here yet. That's typical though. "Joyeux Noel" and "The Lives of Others" didn't appear in Seattle until after the Oscars so I'm not exactly surprised.

Reel Fanatic said...

Joyeux Noel is one that I just added to the Netflix list, Bob, and I'm really looking forward to it

Fletch said...

Sound like it's cut directly from the "Juno" formula?

Um, no. Not really.

Agreed on the RIP. It's been pretty obvious that Renfro was in serious trouble since he was, oh, 15 or so, but it's still sad to see him go. Apt Pupil is a pretty great film that went largely unseen.

As for the Foreign Film choices - WTF? I too have not heard of a single one. I'd like to know why and how neither Persepolis nor The Orphange made the cut. The films listed must be just fanf*ckingtastic. Or, there's politics involved that we don't hear about...

Divinity said...

Ah, the politics... I've given up consciously hoping to ever understand the awards committees and just savour the occasional victory of sanity when it occurs.

Chalupa said...

Brad Renfro dead??!? I'm also a huge fan of Ghost World and Apt Pupil. People usually get freaked out when I show them Apt Pupil. It's just so good though.

It's nice to see Ellen Page getting more work. I thought she was amazing in Hard Candy. Wonder how long she'll keep playing the teenage though.

Last but not least, I've been looking forward to Kevin Smith's new film for a while. I know he's had some issues here and there getting it started. Hopefully things go off without a hitch. I've enjoyed everything he's ever done - even Jersey Girl. If I hadn't seen that film, I would have had no idea what Sweeney Todd was about before I saw it over Christmas.

Fletch said...

That's two people talking about the 20 year old Page playing a teenager! Do the names Ian Ziering or Gabrielle Carteris not ring any bells? They were in (or near) their 30s when they played high schoolers.

As far as I'm concerned, Page and Michael Cera have a free pass to play teenagers until they're 40.

* (asterisk) said...

Weird that Brad Renfro died the day after you mentioned "Ghost World" on your blog...

Marina said...

Even stranger is that "4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days", the Palm D'Or winner at Cannes didn't even make the cut.

Chalupa said...

I know older people do play teenagers fletch, but usually it's really obvious they're kinda old for the part.

Reel Fanatic said...

It was indeed a bit creepy to read about Brad Renfro dying one day after I name-checked "Ghost World," Mr. *, and what makes it even odder is that, if I have the info right, his body may well have been discovered right about the same time I was typing that piece ... And I've decided to now add each movie recommended by the fine folks who bother to visit here regularly immediately to my Netflix queue, so thanks for the suggestion of "4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days," Marina ... And you're certainly right, Fletch, that Ellen Page and uberfunnyman Michael Cera still look very much like teenagers, so I could stick with them in that role a while longer too (but Mr. Cera playing the supposedly 14-year-old lead in C.D. Payne's "Youth in Revolt," if that indeed ever gets made, will be a real stretch, methinks

Mercurie said...

It is very sad to say, but I was not all the surprised Brad Renfro died. He seemed to be headed in that direction. It is so very sad, especially given his talent.

Sachin G. said...

I have seen "The Counterfeiters". I enjoyed it but didn't think it was that great. Still worth a look but only after you have gone through your first choice queue films :)

Sachin G. said...

I should add that I really want to see The Year My Parents Went on Vacation (Brazil). It is set against the backdrop of the 1970 World Cup, which some people think had the best ever Brazilian soccer team. I do try to watch as many films with any sort of soccer angle. In this case, that angle is mostly confined to tv sets in the background while the characters go about their life in the front. Still...

Reel Fanatic said...

I also see every single soccer movie I can get my hands on, Sachin, so I'll definitely be seeing that one whenever I can .. Thanks for the head's up!

Anna said...

I saw 'The Trap'. It was ok, but not nearly as good as '4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days'.

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