Tuesday, March 31, 2009

R.I.P. Andy Hallett, a bit of news, and the DVD pick of the week

Now this is just amazingly sad. When I saw this name, I have to confess it didn't mean anything to me at first, but if you watched "Angel" during it's five-season run, you're certainly familiar with Andy Hallett.

Hallett played Krevlornswath of the Deathwok Clan, a k a Lorne, "The Host" who specialized in reading people's auras as he induced them to sing karaoke (yes, I know that sounds incredibly silly, but awfully entertaining too.) Hallett, who had apparently been battling heart disease pretty much since the show ended in 2004, died Monday night of heart failure at only age 33. Just amazingly sad.

In much better news, any doubts that Sacha Baron Cohen was going to push the envelope as far as possible in "Bruno" have been removed as the MPAA has given the flick an NC-17 rating in its first pass.

I have little doubt that Cohen and crew will be able to tame it down enough to get this one into theaters even in my rather safe little corner of the world, but - not having seen it, of course - it does make you wonder how much of that rating comes from the fact that it deals with a touchy issue, homophobia, rather than from any truly offensive content (though I'm willing to bet there's plenty of that too.) How much violence is allowed into movies rated PG-13 and below while the smallest whiff of sex - gay, straight or otherwise - just sets censors crazy is grist for a whole post in itself, but not one I have the time or energy to get into this morning.

Bottom line: "Bruno" should be a heck of a lot of fun in theaters, and way better on DVD.

There's a lot of good stuff out there this morning - the day after "Friday Night Lights" got renewed for two more seasons, huzzah! - so if you'll bear with me, I'm just gonna plow right through it.

David Cronenberg, who has until now balked at sequels of any kind, is seriously considering making an exception to that rule to continue the "Eastern Promises" saga, which I have to say would only be a good thing.

As you may remember from the end of the movie (AND IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN IT, FOR GOD'S SAKE, PLEASE JUST SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH), the big twist is that Viggo Mortensen's Russian gangster is actually a British intelligence agent. In the right hands, a k a those of Cronenberg, screenwriter Steven Knight and Mortensen, all of whom are in talks to return, this could not only make another great flick but perhaps even a series, if they're so inclined. Here's what Cronenberg had to say about the project to the surprisingly informative MTV Movies Blog:

“We are going to have a meeting very soon between me, Steve Knight and Paul Webster to discuss what the script would be. I have some very strong ideas about what I would like to see, but I would like to hear what they have to say as well. And then after that, if all goes well, Steve goes away and writes a great script. If we all like it, we make it.”

Here's hoping, and in other casting news for flicks I'd certainly like to see, "Watchmen" director Zack Snyder has lost one waif and quickly picked up another to play the lead in his next flick, "Sucker Punch."

Amanda Seyfried was forced to drop out because HBO wouldn't let her out of her "Big Love" contract, so Aussie Emily Browning has stepped into the lead role. Though she starred this year in "The Uninvited" (which, rather amazingly, was still playing in one multiplex in my hood as recently as last week), you'll probably best remember her as Violet in "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events."

Seems like a lateral move to me, but Browning should be a lot of fun in the lead role of a young woman forced into an insane asylum by her stepfather, who then uses the power of her imagination and the help of her fellow inmates (most likely Evan Rachel Wood, Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish and Emma Stone) to escape.

No matter how this all works out, however, the best thing is that Snyder is finally cooking up something from his own mind instead of making another comic book flick.

And speaking of HBO, I'm rather psyched for the second season of "True Blood," which may even be enough to induce me to pay for the channel when the vampire series returns for season 2 on June 14.

I spent a good portion of my recent trip through the Southeast reading the source material for the second installment, Charlaine Harris' "Living Dead in Dallas," and can happily report that it has plenty of crazy stuff in store for the series (not exactly high art, I know, but it was just the perfect book to read while getting too much sun lazing on the beach in Gulf Shores, Ala.) Not to spoil too much, but the novel starts with the death of Lafayette (which ended season one of the show) and somehow ends up at an orgy.

The photo below, featuring Macon native Carrie Preston (left) as the Merlotte's waitress Arlene, and plenty more are on display at HitFix, and you can view them all here.

DVD pick of the week:

The big name this week is certainly Oscar winner "Slumdog Millionaire," and that one indeed did nothing but make me smile from start to finish each of the two times I've seen it already. But my pick this week is one of the only other movies I bothered to see twice in theaters in 2008 (along with "The Dark Knight"), the French thriller "Tell No One."

Not surprisingly at all given just how maddeningly entertaining it is, this mindbender based on a Harlan Coben novel is already being remade for American audiences, but please believe me that you should see it in its original French form from director Guillaume Canet. What he's cooked up here combines the best elements of the French psychological thriller genre with a genuine potboiler mystery tale, and put it all together with tons of style. I also promise that the "reveal," easily my favorite movie scene from last year, will stick with you for a long time. Rent it already.

And on that note I'll close with this rather awesome poster for Sam Raimi's "Drag Me to Hell," set to hit theaters May 29. We've all had days like this, if not quite as bad as poor Alison Lohman's, so enjoy and have a perfectly passable Tuesday. Peace out.


jeremy said...

Oh wow, that is just terrible about Andy Hallett. Plucked out of obscurity by Joss and then given a larger and larger role. Lorne gave that show heart.
I'm still following along in the comics, and Lorne's still in it. I'm sure there will be an In Memoriam at the end of the next issue.
(P.S. pick up the trade paperbacks of Buffy for your next trip though the south--another fine vamp read)

Reel Fanatic said...

I certainly will do that, Jeremy ... I really thought Harris' books would be just too trashy for me, but I thoroughly enjoy being proven wrong

Vance said...

I read the news this morning too and it took me a second but when I realized who Andy Hallett was, and that he was so young, I was shocked. So sad. Lorne was such an awesome character and I had heard Joss Whedon created it after meeting Hallett.

Jess said...

So sad about Andy - he was so great.

Mercurie said...

I heard about Andy Hallett from my friend Kylie. And it has really saddened me. I loved the show Angel and Hallett was one of the best things about the show. Sad to think he's gone.

And while I have mixed feelings about the movie Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Emily Browning wasn't one of them. I thought she did quite well as Violet, so I think she'll do well in Sucker Punch as well.

And the poster for Drag Me to Hell just makes me want to see it more.