Friday, July 10, 2009

Aaron Sorkin steps to the plate to revive a baseball flick

Some guy in Idaho just tweeted that I’ve ruined cinema. Already? Had no idea I was so hugely influential. Suck it, Truffaut!

I'm not a tweeter or a tweet follower, and I'm 100 percent certain I can make it through the rest of my life just fine that way, but I saw that post from Diablo Cody yesterday and just thought it was very funny.

And with that, let's get right into what's a pretty full day of good news, capped off by visits from Craig Robinson and Megan Fox, because he's very funny and she's .. well, you know.

First up is what is quickly becoming the best ensemble cast of 2010 in director David Gordon Green's "Your Highness." Though "Observe and Report" was just a muddled mess, I'm still convinced that Green, Jody Hill, Ben Best and Danny McBride are leading a real Southern comedy resurgence (and on a side note, fellow cubicle slave Randy Waters told me yesterday that he bought "Eastbound and Down" but really couldn't get into it at all, so he's gonna give it to me for free ... good times!)

Best and McBride have written the script for "Your Highness," which stars McBride as a lazy prince who must complete a heroic quest to save his father's kingdom, and in a "Pineapple Express" reunion of sorts, James Franco plays his more heroic brother. Natalie Portman is already on board as McBride's love interest, a warrior princess, and just announced is Zooey Deschanel, who plays Belladonna, Franco's character's virginal bride.

I think you'll agree that's just a whale of a good cast. It's all being filmed in Northern Ireland beginning later this month, so you can definitely count this as one 2010 flick I'm thoroughly jazzed for.

In other, especially good, news for fans of "Let the Right One In" (and if you're not, rent it today and I guarantee you will be), Tomas Alfredson, the director of that fantastic coming-of-age horror flick, has set his sights on a great choice for his next movie.

If you haven't seen the '70s miniseries "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," which starred Alec Guinness and also the late, great Ian Richardson, certainly see it if you can, and be happy that Alfredson is now set to turn it into a feature film. Peter Morgan will write the script for the cold-war thriller about a spy-hunt in the British Secret Intelligence Service.

Though I have no time at all for the English language version of "Let the Right One In" being cooked up by "Cloverfield" mastermind Matt Reeves, Alfredson breaking into the Hollywood big time is only great news, so definitely keep your eyes on this one.

And, in the last tidbit before we get to what was supposed to be the main course, "The Hangover" director Todd Phillips has set his next two flicks, and they're both set to star veryfunnyman Zach Galifianakis. Though the plot wasn't nearly as salacious or inventive as it thought it was, I still almost thoroughly enjoyed "The Hangover," and it's certainly a reason to cheer when an at least fairly intelligent R-rated comedy makes such a yachtload of cash at the box office. (As an aside, at $210 million domestic and still counting, "The Hangover" has surpassed "Wedding Crashers" to become the second-highest grossing R-rated comedy of all time - the original "Beverly Hills Cop" is still No. 1 in that subcategory at north of $234 million.)

For their next collaboration, Phillips and Galifianakis will make a road-trip comedy (sense a pattern here?) titled "Due Date" in which an expectant dad and his unlikely travel companion (Galifianakis, natch) race cross country to make it home for the birth of the rugrat. After that, there will be, by sheer force of nature, a "Hangover 2."

Sounds like more than a little bit of a rut to me, but I have to admit, as long as they keep making comedies that are both reliably crude and clever enough, they'll keep getting my money.

But when I started out today, this was supposed to be about the resuscitation of a flick that had been pretty much left for dead. And since it's a baseball flick, that's certainly noteworthy news.

For anyone unfamiliar with the saga so far, director Steven Soderbergh had been plotting a movie based on Michael Lewis' book "Moneyball," about Oakland A's bean counter and big brain Billy Beane, who would be played by Brad Pitt.

All well and good, right? Well, not exactly. Just days before the movie was set to start shooting, Sony pulled the plug because it wasn't impressed with a script retooling Soderbergh had done to a previous version by Steven Zaillian.

In a bit of hyperbole that nonetheless touched on the truth, this prompted the New York Times to opine that this may be a broader danger sign for "tricky but appealing" movies, in a piece you can read here. Even if that's a bit of an exaggeration, the death of a potentially good baseball flick is reason enough to be blue for me.

But now, thanks to Aaron Sorkin, and I'd imagine the pull of Brad Pitt, the project is back on.

Soderbergh is out, but Sony has Sorkin in to do a draft of the script, starting with what Zaillian finished, for Pitt to still star in. Great news all around there for just about everyone except Mr. Soderbergh, I'd say. Everyone knows Sorkin's track record with "The West Wing" and the much-too-brief "Sports Night," but for a recent example of his work to prove he's still got a lot of wit left to work with, I'd strongly recommend renting "Charlie Wilson's War," which would be a great bit of satire if it weren't all based on the even crazier truth.

And though I still can't find a DVD release date for it yet, the single best movie I've seen so far in 2009 (mid-season report card coming after Judd Apatow's "Funny People" drops July 31) just happens to be a baseball movie of sorts, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck's "Sugar." See that one as soon as you can.

And anyone who's made it this far certainly deserves a reward, and I've got three of what I think qualify.

First is one of eight teasers (in French, malheuresement) for Jean Pierre Jeunet's next crazy flick, "Micmacs à tire-larigot." Like I said, they're pretty aurally useless for those who don't speak French (and I only barely do at this point), but you can still see from the look of this that the tale of a man and his friends who come up with an intricate and original plan to destroy two big weapons manufacturers will have all the spirit of his best work, "Amelie" and "Delicatessen." You can count this, along with Spike Jonze's "Where the Wild Things Are," as the two flicks I'm most looking forward to for the rest of this year, and you can watch seven more of these brief character teasers courtesy of Twitch Film here. Enjoy.

And, next-to-finally, this Funny or Die clip, though it's a little to slow to get going and way too crude to be enjoyed at work without headphones, shows why Craig Robinson is the most underappreciated member of both "The Office" and Apatow's crew. My inner 8-year-old will always appreciate songs about where to post naked pictures of your girlfriend, so in that spirit, enjoy.

And really finally, in something I'm certain Mr. Robinson would enjoy, here's a certain someone known as Megan Fox in the first teaser poster for the Diablo Cody horror-comedy "Jennifer's Body." Enjoy, and have a great weekend. Peace out.


The Mad Hatter said...

I must admit, I'm curious about MONEYBALL.

I haven't read the book, but like any baseball fan I'm familiar enough with the strategies the book lays out ('course, it's never helped my beloved Blue Jays, helmed by Moneyball apostle J.P. Riccardi).

I just wonder how such a book is going to adapt into a movie...Brad Pitt or no Brad Pitt. I mean, I know I'll be interested in seeing it...but how much of an audience is a love letter to the OBP gonna draw?

Reel Fanatic said...

I have a feeling that what you described, Mad Hatter, is just about exactly what Soderbergh had in mind, and that's why Sony pulled the plug .. I have no idea how Sorkin is gonna make it any more interesting to people who don't love baseball, but like you I'm definitely curious to find out

Anonymous said...

SUGAR DVD/BLU-RAY drop dates:
U.S. Sept. 1, U.K. Sept. 28
DVD (PG-13), BLU-RAY (R)

I got emails from & for pre-orders.

Scott said...

"I haven't read the book, but like any baseball fan I'm familiar enough with the strategies the book lays out ('course, it's never helped my beloved Blue Jays, helmed by Moneyball apostle J.P. Riccardi)."

Hasn't really worked out all that well for the A's either, has it? Billie Beane can make fun of Kenny William all he wants, but which one of them has a World Series ring. Not only that, but the theories that book lays out are not even the reason the A's were semi-successful in the early part of the decade. OBP had nothing to do with Zito-Mulder-Hudson-Harden rotation. That wins, and that's why Billie Beane can get all the OBP guys he wants, he's still not going to win again for a long, long time.

Reel Fanatic said...

I think you're right, Scott, that that amazing rotation had at least as much to do with the A's past success as did Beane's ecumen.

And thanks for the tip, anonymous one .. I'll certainly be picking up my copy of "Sugar" on DVD in September

J. Marquis said...

I thought "The Hangover" was a bit overrated but I really enjoyed Zach a lot. Have you ever seen that music video he did with Fiona Apple?

Reel Fanatic said...

I haven't, but it should be a quick find on YouTube .. I'm gonna check now, so thanks!

deals said...

I Think you are curious about baseball