Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The return of "Lawman" Oliphant and a first look at "Mad Men" season three

Before I get into the really pretty good TV news out there today, there are some movie tidbits that have to start off with more on the craziest of all, Zhang Yimou's (unnecessary?) remake of the Coens' "Blood Simple."

I know I should be against this from the outset, but I have to admit it sounds intriguing. In Zhang's vision of the movie, which will apparently be distributed by Sony Pictures Classics, the noir story will move from the Texas bar to a Chinese noodle shop in a desert where "the owner of the noodle shop's seemingly simple plan to murder his adulterous wife and her lover quickly spins out of control after the introduction of a gun into the lives of characters more accustomed to knives and swords."

"Tampopo" meets "Blood Simple"? I think I'm in. My only real reservation is that this is described as a different angle because it's a "thriller-comedy," but the Coens' flick is - of course - in its own way a very funny movie already.

In two other short notes, there should be another movie based on Christopher Buckley's works coming to theaters, and that can only be a good thing. As many will know, among Buckley's many satirical D.C. novels is "Thank You For Smoking," converted into the sharp movie by Jason Reitman.

And now it seems that Charlize Theron's company has adopted another of Buckley's novels for herself to star in (well, that's one good way to get work.) "Florence of Arabia" is about a State Dept. employee (to be played by Theron) who, after watching her friend marry the prince of a Middle East country and subsequently get executed, fights for equal rights for the women of that country.

Doesn't sound quite as funny as the other Buckley books I've read, but I'm sure there's more to it than that. And in slightly older but odd Buckley news, Whit Stillman, who directed one of my favorite flicks, "Metropolitan", and two others before disappearing for many years, is still listed as the director of another Buckley movie, based on his novel "Little Green Men," which I did read. Don't hold your breath for that one.

And finally, before I get to the news that will have to be considered great for any fans of "Deadwood," there will be another Dr. Seuss movie coming soon in the form of "The Lorax."

Given my current distaste for 3-D animation, which everything seemingly has to be by now and so this will be, I should probably dismiss this outright, but it's a classic tale, and until that ridiculous song at the end, "Horton Hears a Who" was actually a really good Dr. Seuss flick, so who knows? Besides, that image of the poor Lorax standing among the fallen Truffula trees just gets me every time.

OK, now on the really good stuff. It seems that FX has picked up something called “The Lawman,” based on a character introduced in the Elmore Leonard novella “Fire In The Hole,” to begin airing early next year.

And much better, Seth Bullock himself, Timothy Oliphant, will return from video-game-movie hell to play "Stetson-sporting contemporary U.S. marshal Raylan Givens, who finds himself punished with a permanent assignment to Kentucky, where he was reared." I doubt there will be any characters as colorful as Ian McShane's Al Swearsallthetime, but I like everything I've read from Leonard, so Sheriff Bullock walking a modern beat sounds great to me.

Don't forget that FX also has two of my current favorites coming back very soon. The second season of the motorcycle gang drama "Sons of Anarchy," which just got better and better last year, begins Tuesday, Sept. 8. Even better in terms of real anarchy, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" finally returns for its fifth season Thursday, Sept. 17. Friggin fantastic.

In one bit of other networks news that also only be called good, USA Network has picked up "Burn Notice" for a fourth season next summer, along with the freshman show that follows it, "Royal Pains."

As with another spy show I like even more, "Chuck," I was slow to pick up on the easy charm of "Burn Notice," but as the third season wraps up I'm now hooked. It hasn't been quite as good as season two, but it's still just about the best thing on TV now until the return of "Mad Men" (more on that below.) I've yet to even tune in for any of "Royal Pains" because, well, the idea of a show about a doctor to residents of the Hamptons just doesn't sound all that appealing to me. If I'm somehow wrong about this (after all, the show does now outdraw "Burn Notice," 7.3 million viewers to 7.1 million) please let me know.

And anyone who actually made it this far certainly deserves a reward, so here goes. Hitfix has put up a full gallery of "Mad Men" shots from the third season, which still seems like an eternity away at Aug. 16. Moving this back from its regular July return, though probably for some reason necessary, has just been agonizing, and I can't wait for it to finally begin anew. You can view the full gallery here, but I've included my two favorites, one of Robert Morse and John Slattery and another of the great January Jones as Bertie Draper. Enjoy, and have a perfectly passable Wednesday. Peace out.


Mercurie said...

I generally oppose remakes of classic films, but I have to agree with you on Zhang Yimou's remake of Blood Simple. It does sound interesting. And Zhang is one of the filmmakers I trust--for me at least, he has had only a few misfires over the years.

And thanks for providing that link to Hifix and the pix of Mad Men's third season. I think my two favourite photos are of January Jones--the one with her looking in the mirror and the one of her at the store front with her reflection in the mirror. Never mind that January is lovely, those shots just seem to sum up Betty entirely.

Nell Minow said...

Have you seen the Fox trailer? I like it a lot.

And I also like Rebecca Hall -- "Starter for 10" was wonderful and she was also terrific in "Frost/Nixon."

Reel Fanatic said...

I just managed to see it, Nell, and it certainly looks promising ... Even though it's clearly a different style, it reminded me a lot of the Aardman stuff