Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Remember Alexander Payne? He's "Downsizing"

Actually, the most predictable news out there today is that the Catholic League is pissed off about Ron Howard's upcoming flick "Angels & Demons," and is once again determined to tell the world all about it even though all they did last time was add to the hype machine for "The Da Vinci Code." I mean, I can certainly understand (and share) your anger about a story about the Illuminati developing something akin to a nuclear weapon to destroy Vatican City (at least I think that's what it's about, because I'll never take the time to find out), but a much wiser strategy (which will be employed by me with my tiny pull from here on out) would be to simply ignore it.

But, as the headline clearly states, it's all about the return of Alexander Payne here today, and a welcome one at that. Has it really been more than five years since "Sideways"? Hard to believe, but it has indeed been that long since Mr. Payne has written/directed a feature film.

Which sucks because, along with that sly charmer, he's also delivered just about my favorite black comedy in "Election" and to this date the only very funny abortion comedy I can think of, "Citizen Ruth." He also created one that just left me scratching my head with "About Schmidt," but that one has a lot of admirers too, so perhaps I'm just all wet about it.

And now he's about to get back in the game in a big way, with some old friends in tow. He is putting the finishing touches on a script with Jim Taylor called "Downsizing," about a group of people who decide that shrinking themselves is the only way to get ahead in our current world. Not sure how that would work, but when those people are "Sideways" star Paul Giamatti, "Election" star Reese Witherspoon and Sacha Baron Cohen (as, of course, a "pint-sized foreigner"), I'm definitely along for the ride.

He has a first-look deal with Fox Searchlight, but who knows how all that will turn out ... stay tuned.

Carl Franklin gets in bed with ... Wal-Mart?

Carl Franklin, another director whose work I just love, has been out of feature-film work even longer than Alexander Payne, but he's about to get busy again with the help of a very unlikely benefactor.

Well, not that unlikely I guess, since Wal-Mart already owns the rest of the world. Intent on taking over the business of movies as well, Wal-Mart heiress Christy Walton will finance and executive produce her first feature film, an adaptation of the Rudolfo Anaya novel "Bless Me, Ultima." The novel is, according to Variety, "the turbulent coming-of-age story of Antonio, a youth growing up in New Mexico during WWII. He develops a relationship with Ultima, an elderly medicine woman who helps the young man navigate the battle between good and evil that rages in his village."

That actually sounds surprisingly good, and it's much better news that she's already hired Mr. Franklin to write and direct it. Before he pretty much disappeared, he managed to direct two of my favorite movies in the fantastic film noir "One False Move," which introduced Billy Bob Thornton to the world a full four years before he became Karl Childers, and "Devil in a Blue Dress," a satisfying take on the Walter Mosley novel that did the same thing for Don Cheadle.

Welcome back, Mr. Franklin.

Two links, a must-read and an aural abomination

Though David Simon tried earnestly - and unfortunately, desperately - to indict the newspaper industry in the fifth and final season of "The Wire," he unfortunately missed the mark in my book. Dont get me wrong: It was still just about the best thing on television at that time, just not up to the very high standard he had set with the first four seasons.

For a much more cogent statement about what's wrong with the press and the Baltimore police, check out what he had to say here in Sunday's Washington Post. The issue that set him off this time is a new policy from the Baltimore Police Department saying it doesn't have to identify cops who shoot or even kill suspects or anyone else. Ludicrous, no? Mr. Simon, of course, thinks so, and makes an unsurprisingly strong case in the rather distressing diatribe.

The second link I found this morning, and please don't try to say I didn't warn you, is just what A.R. Rahman is up to now that he's a certified Hollywood big shot. I mean, I certainly don't begrudge the man the right to hobnob with celebrities, but did it really have to lead to this? Without any more stalling from me, here's a preview of the English language version of "Jai Ho" he has cooked up with (no, I can't make this stuff up) the Pussycat Dolls. Listen if you dare ...

Who watches the "Watchmen"? The L.A. Galaxy, of course

This very funny clip comes courtesy of mi hermano, who sent it to me, and the great soccer blog The Offside Rules, where he found it in the first place.

In it you'll find L.A. Galaxy players Cobi Jones, Julian Valentin and Leo Griffin trying their hands at movie reviewing with a look at "Watchmen." I don't think the guys will be giving up the pitch anytime soon to become full-time critics, but it's still very entertaining, particularly Jones' declaration that he would like to be "ageless." Enjoy, and have a perfectly pleasant Tuesday. Peace out.


jeremy said...

Another funny MadMed send up:
This one has Amy Sedaris

Reel Fanatic said...

That was great .. I especially liked the name "Sterling Kugel" ... thanks!

Mercurie said...

I can perfectly understand why the Catholic Church would be outraged by Angels & Demons, but like you I also think they would be better off ignoring it. The problem is that the more noise they make about it, the more people will go to see it, which I don't think is what they want!

Thisishollywood said...

Nice to talk about alexander. I don't think so. He has been revolutionary film make Payne's films revolve around adultery in marriage and relationships. He also tends to set his films in Omaha. He has scenes of historical landmarks and museums in his films, and tends to use actual people for minor roles.