Thursday, February 28, 2008

Did Joss Whedon cause the writers' strike?

Just kidding with that, of course, but it did seem more than a little coincidental that the rather tremendous news last October that Joss Whedon was coming back to television came just days before the writers officially took to the picket lines.

And, after all, Whedon has had his share of TV bad luck. We all remember "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel," of course (fondly, I would hope), but there was also the just tremendously shoddy treatment given to "Firefly" by Fox, which managed to only show 11 of the 14 episodes produced - and out of order, at that - before cancelling the whole thing. (It would live on, though, with the space Western flick "Serenity," which, if you somehow haven't seen, do so immediately.)

So when it was announced that Whedon would indeed give TV another try with something called "Dollhouse," on Fox no less, it only seemed natural that the strike and maybe other difficulties would get in the way. Now, however, through only one sentence buried in a Variety article about CBS picking up three drama pilots, comes word that it's not only back on but becoming a big "Angel" family reunion.

But, since it's been so long since I've mentioned it, a word about just what "Dollhouse" is might be in order. "Buffy" fans will be happy to know it stars fellow vampire slayer Eliza Dushku, who apparently wooed Whedon back to TV at a lunch where they hatched the idea. Here, as far as I can tell, is the plot summary:

"Dollhouse" follows a top-secret world of people programmed with different personalities, abilities and memories depending on their mission. After each assignment - which can be physical, romantic or even illegal - the characters have their memories wiped clean, and are sent back to a lab (dubbed the "Dollhouse"). Show centers on Dushku's character, Echo, as she slowly begins to develop some self-awareness, which impacts her missions.

Sounds more than a little familiar, but still ripe with possibilities. And, even better, it's got "Angel" mastermind Tim Minear (late of the very short-lived "Drive," another Fox catastrophe) on board, and now the writing team of Sarah Fain and Elizabeth Craft, who served as executive story editors for "Angel" and co-wrote eight episodes.

I realize this is more than a bit of info (and gushing) about a show that's only received a 7-episode pickup and won't be seen until autumn (at the earliest), but Joss Whedon and TV are just the perfect combo to me.

Viva Mexico, once again?

Remember when Mexican directors seemed to rule the world (it was only a year or so ago, so I certainly hope so.) After the big three - Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu - received so much simultaneous acclaim, they formed a production company called Cha Cha Cha, which is finally bearing some fruit.

But before I get into that, what are they each up to? Cuaron, my favorite of the three, is listed at the IMDB as being in preproduction of an "Untitled Alfonso Cuaron Project" described as "a drama about a family set in 1971 in Mexico." Cool enough.

Del Toro has "Hellboy II" set to come out July 11 and then most likely will turn his attention to not one but two "Hobbit" movies, which he's been christened to direct for producer Peter Jackson.

Inarritu is simply listed as also having an "Untitled" project in the works, with no plot details available but with shooting tentatively set to begin in May. I'll be curious to see what he comes up with after breaking with writing partner Guillermo Arriaga, who's moved on and is now filming a drama titled "The Burning Plain" and starring Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger.

But what brought all this to mind was something Variety had about three interesting Mexican films now in the pipeline. The first, and by far the most interesting to me, indeed will be the first flick put out by Cha Cha Cha. Here are the details about the three, all listed as being in post-production:

"Rudo y Cursi"
Carlos Cuaron, brother of Alfonso, is directing this flick which reunites "Y Tu Mama Tambien" (one of my favorite flicks) stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna as two brother who play for competing Mexican soccer teams. Sounds uber-cool to me.

"Los Bastardos"
This second flick from writer-director Amat Escalante follows Mexican immigrant workers in a U.S. city who are hired by an American to kill his wife.

"Insignificant Things" ("Cosas insignificantes")
In writer-director Andrea Martinez's first feature, secrets unfold from the ordinary treasures an adolescent girl guards in a box.

They all sound like potential winners to me, and even if I only get to watch most Mexican movies on DVD, I can only say bring it on. Peace out.


Mercurie said...

I have to admit I am eagerly awaiting Dollhouse. It'll be good to have Whedon's work back on television. And to see Eliza Dushku on the tube again too (I can see how she wooed Whedon back to television...I'd probably do anything she asked of me...).

Reel Fanatic said...

I do have to agree that, as piggish as it might be, I'd do just about anything she asked me to too, Mercurie

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