Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A world without movies? Perish the thought

You know, I can really live without a Golden Globes ceremony, but did anyone out there think this writers' strike (which I wholeheartedly support, by the way) would still be going on?

I just assumed it would be settled by Christmas, but I've been wrong at least once before (I also believed the Media that last night was going to be a coronation for Barack Obama, which would have been just fine with me.) I've fared fairly well through the strike as far as finding entertainment options. After all, "The Wire" is back, there are five more consecutive new episodes of "Friday Night Lights" starting Friday, and the readers of this blog have kindly helped me restock my depleted Netflix queue.

In reading about the possible cancellation of the Feb. 24 Oscars ceremony (which I still don't think will happen), it finally hit me that the directors are set to follow the writers as soon as early June. Now, I would have to assume that would mean the end to virtually all movie production, or would at least render any scab movies that still get made unwatchable. Sheesh.

But enough of that. I have to hope that would never happen, and even if the writers' strike means there's not a ton of movie news around, there are some juicy tidbits about directors who I really like, so here goes:

Noyce and Queen Scarlett?

If I'm pressed to name a favorite director, you might get five to 10 different answers if you ask 10 times, but at least one of those will be Aussie Phillip Noyce. I was hoping he was hard at work on his adaptation of Phillip Roth's "American Pastoral," a simply fantastic novel, but it seems that's on the back burner for now to make room for Queen Scarlett.

After watching the often painful "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," which was only even watchable when Cate and Clive were pitching woo, I think just about the last thing the world needs now is another royal biopic, but at least Noyce has picked an interesting queen for his turn.

With filming set to start in April, Scarlett Johansson (wtf?) is set to play "Mary Queen of Scots" in the tale of the woman who became Scotland's queen at 9 months in 1542 and, later, a rival to the English throne. Mary would go on to plot the murder of Elizabeth I, who would have her beheaded for the bother. Juicy stuff, at least, from a director who almost always makes winners.

Gondry has kings of a different kind

These next three entries are translated from the French, from the great froggy film site Cinempire (and, since I hadn't checked the trades for a long while before this morning, possibly a bit old), so please bear with me.

The most likely savour for what looks like a bleak January (I can't help but keep being suspicious of "Cloverfield") will be Michel Gondry's "Be Kind Rewind," which will hopefully open very wide Jan. 28.

After that potentially sublime does of silliness with Jack Black and Mos Def, and if I indeed have this translation right, he will soon begin work on something called "The Return of the Ice Kings."

Here, in case my French is bad as I fear, is the one-sentence plot summary offered by Cinempire: Intitulé The return of the Ice kings, l'histoire est celle de plusieurs jeunes gens qui inventent une eau spéciale, générant de la musique en la buvant. Now, if anyone can do better than me, please do, but best as I can tell that means the story is about a group of dudes who discover a new kind of water that somehow makes music. Crazy? Yes, but as more details about this madness emerge, I'm sure it will be pure Gondry, which is always OK by me.

A Russ Meyer biopic?

In the right hands, of course, this could be tons of fun. However ...

Cinempire, which hails Russ Meyer as "the Sacré roi du nudie movie avec les kitchissimes" (the king of kitchy nudie pics, essentially), has the unfortunate news that this potentially fun project has been put in the hands of Rob Cohen.

Now, I have made it this far in life without seeing "XXX," and "The Fast and the Furious" certainly had a few primal charms, but couldn't we do any better than this? Anyways, the movie is set, and I'm not making this up, to be called "King of the Nudies: The Russ Meyer Story" (and I promise, the word nudie has now officially henceforth been banned from this space.) It will be based on the Meyer biography "Big Bosoms and Square Jaws" by Jimmy McDonough.

Here's hoping this somehow turns out to be a lot better than I'm fearing.

What Spielberg wants ...

Whew .. all this French stuff is kinda giving me a headache, since I haven't spoken or read it regularly for almost 20 years now.

For a movie that isn't even listed yet in the free portion of the IMDB, "The Trial of the Chicago Seven" is certainly attracting an impressive cast. Though nothing's apparently on paper yet, Steven Spielberg will hopefully be directing this after "Indy 4," with a script from Aaron Sorkin, who made a fantastic post-"Studio 60" rebound this year with "Charlie Wilson's War."

Sacha Baron Cohen has already been announced as Abbie Hoffman, if this movie ever happens, and now in even better news, Philip Seymour Hoffman will apparently play William Kunstler, the "radical lawyer" who defended the notorious titular seven. Also apparently in negotiations to join the cast are Will Smith, Kevin Spacey, Adam Arkin and Taye Diggs. After all, what Spielberg wants ...

And that's enough French translation for today. Enjoy, as much as is humanly possible, your Wednesday. To help in that endeavor, here's a picture of Cate Blanchett in her "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" garb from the latest issue of Vanity Fair. Peace out.


Vasta said...

An excerpt from Gondry's interview, translated by MTV:

I’m writing a story about kids who invent a water that makes you hear music when you drink it. It’s going to be a scientific story, but completely unrealistic. At one point, they see the end of time in the movie. So, we’ll have to shoot it somewhere that looks like the end of time.

Reel Fanatic said...

Ah .... Thanks for the clarification, Vasta .. As silly as that all sounds, it still could be really wild and cool

Eric said...

I fully expect the strike to go on for at least another 2 months. The pipeline must be cleared out before the studios start feeling the pinch. TV is a different story as that is really a writers medium and since they have no writers they will go to thier cash cows the Game shows and Reality TV.
It was the same back in he 80s during the last writers strike.
After that SAG will likely strike and then the Trades. Then we will be good for another 20 years.

Looking forward to Be Kind. Have been since last summer.

Eric said...

Oh yeah,
Any writer who sells to a signatory during the strike will be black listed, so only a fool will scab.
But this might free up some dollars for Non Signatory indies. I would expect to see a few non studio Gems and a lot of drek in about a year.

Reel Fanatic said...

As you noted, eric, the reality surge is unfortunately well under way already ... I wish I could say I've never watched a reality show, but I do have to confess to having, in my weaker moments, tuned in to at least a few episodes of "The Real World"

Mercurie said...

Well, I thought that the strike could last quite a while. The '88 strike lasted around 22 weeks--from March to August of that year. Based on that, I thought this strike would last a while.

Chris said...

Be Kind Rewind is slated for a February 22 release date. If you haven't seen the trailer, find it: it's good stuff.

Reel Fanatic said...

Ah .. thanks for the correction, Chris, even if that is bad news .. I guess I was just so excited I lost all track of time

Divinity said...

I'm trying to look forward to Charlie Bartlett (it has a February release now)and catching up on December releases I never made it to see before leaving for Europe.

I have no strong feelings about Ms. Johanssen but really think the casting for Mary, Queen of Scots, was short a few bricks.

Oh, the newest issue of the UK's entertainment mag Empire had a really beautiful teaser poster of Indy 4 included and a point-by-point analysis of it compared to its three predecessors. I wonder what a job like that pays... :P

Divinity said...

psst... what's the word on The Subtle Knife? has a 2009 release date.

Reel Fanatic said...

I have to say I'm still skeptical that "The Subtle Knife" will ever get made, even if it does have an IMDB listing, Divinity ... It still doesn't have any director or cast listed, and until I see those things, I'm gonna have to think that New Line is still having second thoughts about proceeding with the trilogy

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