Thursday, January 31, 2008

Is Jared Hess still a funny guy?

Although I haven't much at all liked anything Jon Heder has done since "Napoleon Dynamite" (except for maybe his voice work in "Monster House"), I think I'll always have time for creator Jared Hess.

I know he lost more than a few people with the super-silly "Nacho Libre," which is really a litmus test of just how much Jack Black you can stand, but I laughed my way through just about all of that one (even at those hairy little midget wrestlers, as wrong as that was.)

And now Mr. Hess is back with a story that, if not a little autobiographical, at least seems to be perfectly tailored to his natural geek sensibility. Sam Rockwell, Michael Angarano and Jemaine Clement (I can't say I've ever heard of the last two dudes) are set to star in "Gentlemen Broncos," which is about a high school outcast (natch!) who attends a fantasy writers' convention and gets his story ripped off by a legendary novelist (I'm kinda laughing at that already.)

Angarano plays the teen, while Clement is the author named Ronald Chevalier. Rockwell will play the fictional story's title character who appears in book-come-to-life sequences under two guises: one in the teen's story and one in the author's story.

Though he's doing it rather quietly, it's hard not to be impressed with what Hess and co-conspirator (and very funnyman) Mike White are doing here. Their comedies will never be as racy (or probably as funny) as the stuff coming from Camp Apatow, but I'm glad there's room in the world for directors who can make clean (Hess is a Mormon, in case anyone didn't know) but still solidly entertaining flicks without preaching to us about the filth that too often makes up the rest of our entertainment slate. 'Nuff said.

Can't the body get cold first?

I read the New York Times for many reasons, but it's never better than in its obituaries of complicated people, and the recent one for chessman extraordinaire Bobby Fischer was one of the best in many years.

As most everyone already knows, and as wrong as it is to speak ill of the dead, Fischer was both a genius and too often a right proper prick. Turning his back on the United States after his big victory over Boris Spassky in the World Championship in 1972, Fischer went into hiding and emerged from time to time to unleash increasingly virulent tirades about Jews (none of which I'd ever bother to reprint here.)

Sounds like a natural choice for the hero of a biopic right? Even so, Universal and Working Title have signed Kevin MacDonald of "Last King of Scotland" fame to direct "Bobby Fischer Goes to War," which will focus on Fischer's showdown with Spassky and hopefully a lot more. The flick is scripted by Shawn Slovo, son of the ANC activist and writer of the extremely underrated "Catch a Fire" (please watch this South African flick on DVD if it's somehow passed you by thus far.)

All this will have to come after MacDonald completes filming "State of Play" with Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck and Helen Mirren (hearty huzzah!), but once they finally get started, I certainly don't think you could do much better for a Fischer than Mark Ruffalo. Any other suggestions?

Sci-Fi seeks "Sanctuary"

Mostly because I'm a techno-phobe who clings to fading gadgets with ferocity (I still, for example, don't have a cell phone, and don't see any particular need for one), I have yet to watch one single TV program on the Web (unless you count the very funny stuff being made by Michael Cera and Clark Duke here.)

Which surely means I've missed out on some cool stuff. "Sanctuary," which is about to be ripped from the Web and brought to us old-fashioned folks via our TV boxes by the Sci Fi Channel, certainly fits that bill.

The show, which will be the first television series to use live-action actors against virtual sets in the style of "300" and "Sin City," hails from the creators of "Stargate SG-1" and is about an enigmatic doctor on a quest to track down, aid and protect strange creatures that walk the Earth (I often think I'm one of those, but I'll have to assume they mean something a bit more, well, extraterrestrial.)

Sci Fi has ordered a full 13-story arc, and it sounds like a lot of fun to me. And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to read through, spell-check and perhaps add photos to this before Blogger goes down in about T-12 minutes. Peace out.


Anonymous said...

It's worth pointing out that Fischer's anti-Semitism has been attributed by some to mental illness...

Justin said...

Jemaine Clement stars on the incredibly funny "Flight of the Conchords." You should check it out.

Eric said...

RE Cloverfield - Glad You liked it. It has been pretty contraversial. I Posted a copy of my review on it on my blog if your interested.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'll definitely check that out when I get time later today, Eric ... Even after the big dropoff from week one to two, they're still planning on a Cloverfield sequel .. and thanks for the tip, Justin .. I knew I had seen his face somewhere before, but I just couldn't place it

Bob said...

Michael Angarano played the young William in "Almost Famous." He's the one who so brilliantly shouted, "Eleven?!" It'll be good to see him with more screen time. I certainly hope Hess makes up for "Nacho Libre" which really did nothing for me. Casting Sam Rockwell is always a step in the right direction though. He does an amazing job as Charley Ford.

Reel Fanatic said...

I remember that kid well, Bob, and he was indeed very funny .. This movie is quickly sounding more and more like one that I'll really love

Fletch said...

Just dittoing Justin's sentiment. Clement is great; funny that he'll be in a movie by the creator of Napoleon, as his last stateside movie was compared to Napoleon A LOT (Eagle vs. Shark). Haven't seen it yet, but it certainly appeared that way from the trailer.

It was also critically lambasted, but that's neither here nor there. Flight of the Conchords is effing great.

Reel Fanatic said...

Eagle Vs. Shark is one I wanted to put on my DVD list but had forgotten all about it, Fletch, so thanks for the reminder ... I hadn't heard that it had gotten bad reviews, but I'm not gonna let that dissuate me whenever I get the chance

kat said...

For the Fischer biopic, the perfect person would have been James Urbaniak about ten years ago; he's a bit too old for that role now. (He was Simon Grim in "Henry Fool".) Other than that, I could see Ryan Gossling or, as a stretch, Peter Saargard in the role.

But I agree. For pete's sake, let the body cool!

Reel Fanatic said...

I do love that Henry Fool flick to death, Kat, but you're right that he would be too old by now ... And I'll watch just about anything with Peter Sarsgaard in it, so I can definitely second that

Mercurie said...

I think Fischer could make an interesting subject for a biopic, but I think it is a bit soon. I mean, I think someone should be dead for a bit before biopics start coming out.

Divinity said...

Upon Google Image searching "Bobby Fischer" I immediately thought of Mark Bazeley who portrayed Alastair Campbell, Blair's Director of Communications and Strategies in The Queen...

Nell Minow said...

The movie sounds great -- I am a big fan of Michael Angarano, who was terrific as Elliot in "Will and Grace" and starred in the underrated "Sky High." Look forward to your reaction to "Eagle vs. Shark," which I enjoyed.

I'm also looking forward to your reaction to "Be Kind Rewind," which I liked very much.

Reel Fanatic said...

I"m sure I'll like Be Kind Rewind a whole lot, Nell, with my only real fear being that I've seen so many clips of it in advance that there just might not be anything left to discover

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