Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Demko's DVD shelf: The return of "W."

Actually, the best thing out there this morning was more about "The Rum Diary," which it looks more and more like will turn into an actual movie in 2010.

So far, we know that "Withnail and I" (watch that, already!) director Bruce Robinson is writing and directing the Hunter S. Thompson adaptation for Johnny Depp to star in as Thompson's alter ego at the time its set - Paul Kemp, a washed-up journalist in 1950s Puerto Rico. And now the movie is quickly assembling a first-rate supporting cast.

Just announced are Aaron Eckhart as a wealthy landowner competing with Depp for the affections of Amber Heard, and - even better- "The Visitor" star Richard Jenkins will play Depp's boss. Bring it on now!

Also out there is this morning is word that one of my favorite directors who I was fairly convinced might never work again is indeed staying in the game.

I think I was one of about seven people on the planet who really liked Noah Baumbach's "Margot at the Wedding." Dysfunctional and uncomfortable, sure, but to me at least also very entertaining.

Now it seems he's up to something along the same lines with another relationship dramedy titled "Greenberg," set to star Ben Stiller and now Greta Gerwig, an indie actress who I'd never heard of before. Details are scant so far except that it's set to begin shooting in March and be set in Los Angeles.

Even better, Baumbach might even soon direct a movie that won't make people want to hate just about everyone in it. He apparently reunited with Wes Anderson (remember him?) to co-write Anderson's animated take on Roald Dahl's "Fantastic Mr. Fox," now scheduled to come out in November. And he's also signed on to write and direct the "9/11 tale" "The Emperor's Children," based on the novel by Claire Messud.

But here today it was supposed to be all about DVDs, and from here on out it will be, because it's actually a week jam-packed with great stuff. Given the state of my economy and nearly everyone else's, I'm not recommending that anyone buy any of these, but they're (the three I've seen, anyway) well worth a rental.


I'm not sure anyone wants to see anymore of our recently past president, but Oliver Stone's flick is well worth checking out for both a fairly nuanced portrait of a man in over his head and a star-studded cast that pretty much completely shines. Josh Brolin makes W. a likable enough character while not shying away from his "cowboy" tendencies, and Elizabeth Banks, Stacy Keach, Jeffrey Wright and Richard Dreyfuss (as tricky Dick Cheney) in particular are great in supporting roles. The only weak link is Thandie Newton as Condoleezza Rice, who is just unwatchable (I'd like to give her a lifetime pass since "Flirting" still remains one of my all-time favorite movies, but she really is just truly horrible in this.)

"Miracle at St Anna"

If Spike Lee hadn't stepped in it so deep by getting in a verbal spat with Dirty Harry over the lack of black soldiers in Eastwood's World War II movies, he might have generated a bit more goodwill for his own flawed but still often fascinating effort. Like many of Spike's recent flicks, this tale of four Buffalo Soldiers who get trapped behind enemy lines in a Tuscan village is more than a bit of a sprawling mess, but it's beautifully shot in Italy and is full of little moments that make the flick still worth a rental.

"Soul Men"

Like most of the world I just snubbed the late Bernie Mac's final film - directed by Spike's cousin, Malcolm - during much of its theatrical run, and I'm still sorry I did. A silly movie in many ways, yes, but the tale of Mr. Mac and Sam the man Jackson as two aging soul stars reuniting for a comeback tour is also very funny, especially when the two of them really start to go at it. With "Undercover Brother," "Roll Bounce" and now this, the other Mr. Lee is starting to put together a small stable of movies that I really like.

OK, from here on out are movies I haven't seen, either because I never had the chance or simply missed my window of opportunity.

"Frozen River"

"Homicide" vet Melissa Leo has rather shockingly received a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her role in this drama about two women who get into the business of immigrant smuggling through an Indian reservation border crossing between New York and Quebec. This one was just ordered from Netflix and should be here when I get back from Ohio on Thursday, and I can't wait to see it.


Fernando Meirelles' "City of God" remains as easily one of my favorite films, so I'm rather ashamed I didn't jump on this one during the ONE WEEK it played in my little corner of the world. Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo star in this flick about a world struck by a mysterious case of the titular "Blindness," based on the Nobel prize-winning novel by Jose Saramago.

"My Name Is Bruce"

I can't see any way this can be anything but extremely funny. B-movie king Bruce Campbell stars as himself and takes on Guan-di, the Chinese protector, who has been awakened by teenagers (these kids today!) in the small mining town of Gold Lick.

And with that, I'm off to Ohio to watch the Americans stomp the Mexicans in a World Cup qualifier (honestly, I really have nothing against Mexicans off the pitch, but on it they can will hopefully just suffer a slow and very humiliating defeat.) On a much more civil note, I'll leave you with a rather nifty video showing how they created the Rorschach mask that Jackie Earle Haley will soon don for "Watchmen." Peace out.


J. Marquis said...

I really enjoyed "W". I thought Stone did a great job of exposing how much of recent national history was wrapped up in the Bush family dynamic.

Mercurie said...

Thanks for the video on the creation of Rorschach. Anyway, I have to admit I do want to see Miracle at St Anna, even though most every review I've read have pointed out the same flaws you have.

Bob said...

Oh, awesome news about "The Rum Diary"! This calls for breaking open the finest wines available to humanity.

Ashok said...

"Blindness" is something I began to hate in the first 45 minutes and grew greatly as it ended. A very tough film to watch but a film with an integrity to its subject (eventhough I did not read the book).

Reel Fanatic said...

I managed to make it through the book, Ashok, and I have to say it was extremely hard to get through because it was just so bleak .. I'd have to put it in the category of books I admire more than like, and I'm more than a little afraid the movie will end up there too (It was in my mailbox when I got back, so I'll soon find out)

Sachin said...

I was always looking forward to The Rum Diary film as the book was a very good read. So good to hear that it will be made into a movie in the near future.

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