Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Robert Rodriguez wants to wrack your nerves

Although he can make some seriously fun movies, Robert Rodriguez is also just a maddeningly uneven director in my book.

After making the purely entertaining "El Mariachi" and "Spy Kids" he felt the need to follow each flick up with a pair of thoroughly unnecessary and just increasingly bad sequels. "Desperado" - really just a useless continuation of "El Mariachi" - was just particularly irritating.

He also, however, channelled the spirit of Frank Miller's work perfectly with "Sin City" and made the easily more disgusting but still just insanely good half of "Grindhouse" with "Planet Terror" (I even found "The Faculty," certainly a lesser title in his filmography, to just be a lot of fun.) And now, after what seems like a very long break from working on movies of any kind, he's getting back in gear with something that could be as entertaining as any of those.

He will write and direct the "futuristic thriller" "Nervewrackers," and since the flick already has a release date of April 16, 2010, it seems very likely he will actually follow through on this one. Set in 2085, the story (according to Variety) centers on "a character named Joe Tezca who is part of an elite unit dispatched to quell a crime wave in a theoretically perfect future society."

Even if that does seem like a rather blatant ripoff of "Blade Runner," I suppose there are worse sources of inspiration, so for now I can only say welcome back, Mr. Rodriguez.

What's up with Ang Lee

I recently got around to watching Mr. Lee's "Lust/Caution" on DVD, and I have to say it made a surprisingly entertaining little spy flick. And he's just wrapped "Taking Woodstock," which as the title implies is a biopic of sorts of the life of Elliot Tiber, who was instrumental in the creation of the titular hippie fest.

That flick will be released in August by Focus Features, and Mr. Lee has now set his sights firmly on "The Life of Pi," which already has a script penned by "Amelie" director Jean Pierre Jeunet (who was originally slated to direct this too.)

I have to admit that the novel by Yann Martel, which won the Booker Prize and plenty of other acclaim, just left me a little cold, but I do think it has a lot of potential for an at least visually appealing film in these capable hands. The odd coming-of-age tale tells the story of Piscine "Pi" Molitor Patel, an Indian youth who survives the sinking of a freighter and ends up sharing a life boat with a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan and a Bengal tiger.

Plenty of people have fallen in love with the novel by Martel, so don't let my misgivings keep you away from this one.

Remember Agnieszka Holland?

I had almost forgotten all about the Polish director of "Europa Europa" and one of my favorite children's flicks, "The Secret Garden" (and - rather amazingly - three episodes of "The Wire" too), but this morning her name came up again on the French film site Cinempire, a daily stop for me.

It seems Holland is getting back in the game in a big way with an upcoming biopic about Polish super spy Krystyna Skarbek, also famous as Ian Fleming's mistress and allegedly the inspiration for the character of Vesper Lynd.

Skarbek, who took the nom de guerre Christine Granville, became a spy for the British and was celebrated for her sabotage efforts in Nazi-occupied Poland and France during World War II.

Interestingly enough, The Daily Mail reports that Eva Green, Vesper Lynd herself, is in the running for the lead role in this flick, which will be rather oddly titled "Christine: War My Love" and should start shooting in June.

Nothing but cool there, but now I have to unfortunately get ready for work. Sometime tomorrow or Friday, feel free to come back for a video presentation about the Oscars I'm cooking up with fellow Telegraph blogger Phillip Ramati (a k a The TV Guy). We pretty much agree about all the categories this year, but hopefully it will still be a bit of fun to watch (I'm even getting a hair cut for the occasion, somewhat of a rarity for me.)

And, even though it wasn't from an episode directed by Holland, I'll leave you with one of my favorite clips from "The Wire," in which Stringer Bell learns about and then imparts to his disciples the principles of macroeconomics. Peace out.

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