Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Remember glorious 2-D animation? Miyazaki does, and it looks amazing

Before we get into all that, when I first saw this news, I assumed it had to be a joke, but apparently not. And given how much David Fincher's been a hired hand in his directing career, I guess it kind of makes sense.

It seems that Fincher, who in my book is in need of a winner after the sappy swill that was "Benjamin Button," is in final negotiations to direct "The Social Network," Columbia Pictures' upcoming movie about the creation of Facebook. Take that in for a sec, because it does just indeed seem quite ludicrous.

But the idea of a Facebook flick has a little more merit when you dig into it. The already-written script is by Aaron Sorkin, who before he became infatuated with the religious right was capable of producing some seriously witty stuff. It's based on the book "The Accidental Billionaires" by Ben Mezrich, and will be set at Harvard, where then-sophomore Mark Zuckerberg and his friends set up the social networking monster (yes, I'm on it, and it does prove to be at least a mild diversion.)

While I can't help but think this will be horribly dated if and when it ever gets made, and I can't fathom what beyond a truckload of cash would draw Fincher to it, something still has me holding out hope that it could be a lot of fun.

In much, much crazier directing news, it seems that Zhang Yimou, who last choreographed that simply insane opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics and hasn't directed a feature flick since 2006's "Curse of the Golden Flower," is now shooting a Chinese remake of the Coen brothers' "Blood Simple."

No, I'm not making that up, and I'm not really sure I could. Called "San Qiang Pai An Jing Qi" - which roughly translates as "The Stunning Case of the Three Gun Shots" - the "thriller-comedy" is set to be released later this year.

Now, I normally rail against remakes as much or more than anyone, but something about a Chinese director actually bothering to take on the Coens' little film noir just makes me smile and laugh, and you can bet I'm gonna see it as soon as I can.

And finally, before we get to the Miyazaki goodness, if you think you're having a bad day at work, just be thankful your boss isn't this guy:

That, of course, is the great Ricky Gervais, and the picture comes from his blog, which you can read here. It's a shot from his upcoming movie, "Cemetery Junction," which will (huzzah!) see him working with Stephen Merchant once again and be about three young men who sell insurance in Reading in the 1970s. "The Office" meets "Mad Men"? I'm there.

But of course, before I got sidetracked, this was supposed to be all about the trailer for Hayao Miyazaki's "Ponyo," which just made its debut and in just a minute-and-a-half or so looks like a real stunner.

And man do we need it. I know I'm just an old curmudgeon standing in front of a thundering freight train, but I sorely miss the good old days of 2-D animation. It's gonna take a revolution to turn back the clock now, and with the voice talents of Tina Fey, Matt Damon, Liam Neeson and even a lesser Jonas and a lesser Cyrus, plus the power of Disney behind it, I'm hoping this shot from the master will play really wide when it opens Aug. 14 and gets things started.

Who really needs to see this, beyond me, of course, is Pixar's John Lasseter, who, before making the fool pronouncement that his company would from now on only make movies in 3-D, expressed a love and admiration for Miyazaki's work. Here's hoping he sees this flick and has at least a partial change of heart.

Anyways, as you can see from the trailer, this is Studio Ghibli animation at its best. That scene when Ponyo rides out of the sea on the backs of a school of fish is just fantastic, and has me thoroughly jazzed to see this as soon as possible. Enjoy, have a passable Wednesday, and if you have a chance, take a break to watch some of the U.S.A.-Spain Confederations Cup semifinal this afternoon on ESPN. Peace out.

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