Friday, February 26, 2010

For Friday, a ton of fun movie news

There's indeed a whole lot of fun stuff out there today, but the best and oddest of all just might be that there's a horror remake opening this weekend that I'm gonna take a chance on seeing.

"The Crazies" is at least slightly intriguing because it was shot about 20 minutes from my house, but that's really not enough to snag me. Two good reviews from sources I trust, however - Collider and HitFix - are, so I'll be there Saturday afternoon, 'cause I just love smart horror.

OK, in news that might just impact somebody besides me, easily the best of all is that Angelina Jolie has bailed on a "Wanted 2" (did the world really need that?) and instead signed on for something much, much better - an Alfonso Cuaron sci-fi movie (huzzah!)

"Gravity" will be about a woman (Jolie, natch) who is the sole survivor of a space mission, desperately trying to get home to Earth and her daughter. Sounds a bit like Duncan Jones' "Moon" (for which Sam Rockwell certainly should have gotten an Oscar nomination), but anyone who's seen Cuaron's "Children of Men" knows he can work wonders with good sci-fi, so definitely keep your eyes on this on.

Before that, however, I seem to remember reading something about Cuaron making an odd road movie of sorts starring Daniel Auteil and Charlotte Gainsbourg (a definite crush around here.) Indeed, IMDB lists him also working on that flick, "A Boy and His Shoe," but with only a vague 2012 release date so far.

Will there really be a funny Farrelly brothers movie?

I certainly have my doubts about that, but there's no question that they've somehow assembled a first-rate cast for "Hall Pass," which is shooting this week in Atlanta, if I'm not mistaken.

Starting with a base of Owen Wilson and someone named Jason Sudeikis, they've this week or so added HBO vets Stephen Merchant and J.B. Smoove, and even more recently Alyssa Milano and Christina Applegate. The latter two certainly need no introduction, but comedy fans will know Merchant as Ricky Gervais' comedic partner in crime, and Smoove played Larry David's brother-in-law, Leon Black, on "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

But what in the world is this all about? Well, Wilson and Sudeikis play two lucky dudes whose wives (Milano and Applegate, perhaps) give them passes to engage in extramarital shenanigans. Merchant and Smoove will play two of their buddies.

Not the most promising of premises, but with that cast I'm relatively optimistic about a winner here.

Farina joins Mann pilot at HBO

Although I'm most excited about the return of "The Wire" creator David Simon (with the N'Awlins series "Treme," coming in April, when I'll return to HBO too), what Michael Mann and David Milch ("Deadwood") have cooking up for the station sounds like an awful lot of fun too.

Dennis Farina has now signed on to star in "Luck," which Mann is directing at least the pilot of from a script by Milch. The show centers on a man who, after just getting released from prison, teams with his longtime chauffeur and muscle (Farina) to craft a complex plan with a crooked jockey (John Ortiz) to fix races at a racetrack.

I love the ponies, and Mann has a real talent for developing a seamy sense of place, so I'll definitely be tuning in for whatever comes of all of this.

Demme to head back to Haiti

Though Jonathan Demme makes usually-great movies of all kinds, I think his documentaries are the best of all. And since the single best of those is "The Agronomist," about slain Haitian activist Jean Dominique, it only makes sense that he would turn his thoughts and camera to the country at this troubled time.

Actually, his route back to the country this time intersects with one of his other documentary passions, music. Demme had been planning a documentary about Arcade Fire (new album coming very soon, huzzah!), whose founding member Regine Chassagne is Haitian. He and the band were set to head to Haiti to shoot something music-driven the very morning the quake struck, which of course changed his plans entirely. Here's what Demme had to say about his new course of action.

"My personal feeling was, those who go down two months or three months from now, with a specific mission in mind, will be valuable in their own way, as the people that are going now. So I'm gonna go. I'm gonna go within the next six months, but I haven't been yet."

He's certainly right, there. Though the people of Haiti needs just about everything, what they'll need months from now is continued attention from the rest of the world, so here's hoping Demme follows through on this and even makes a movie about it too.

And a bit closer to home, Demme is apparently now working on the documentary "Right to Return: New Home Movies from the Lower Ninth Ward," about the most devastated neighborhood in New Orleans after Katrina.

Broken Lizard signs Universal deal

Though the juvenile antics of the Broken Lizard comedy troupe certainly aren't for everyone (Nell Minow knocked me, perhaps correctly, for including "Super Troopers" in my list of the 100 best movies of the '00s), they just make me laugh almost every time they put something out.

Their latest flick, "Slammin' Salmon," didn't manage to play anywhere near me, so I'll have to just watch it on DVD, but now comes word that the guys have signed on for two movies that will hopefully play a lot wider with the help of Universal.

The studio has picked up "Rogue Scholars," a college comedy revolving around five unruly professors played by the members of the troupe, plus an additional as-yet-untitled Broken Lizard flick to follow. Like I said, I'm a devoted fan of "Super Troopers" - for which they are still promising a sequel someday - so I'll follow these guys just about anywhere.

A new flick for Ed Helms

Though he's surrounded by plenty of very funny people. Ed Helms has slowly and steadily developed into the best character on "The Office" with the Nard Dog, so any word of him appearing on the big screen is welcome in this little corner of the world.

He'll next be seen hopefully everywhere as an insurance salesman in Miguel Arteta's "Cedar Rapids," due out this year. And now comes word that he's signed on to star in something called "Central Intelligence" for director Dean Parisot (who, yes, really did direct "Galaxy Quest" back in the day.)

The flick is about an accountant (Helms) who reconnects with an old friend via Facebook and finds himself sucked into a world of espionage (I always knew that Facebook was nothing but evil, but yes, I'm on it.)

That sounds like nothing but funny to me, so definitely stay tuned to this one.

And finally, what in the world is "Harold and the Purple Crayon"?

Though I had never heard of it until about a year or so ago, it's apparently a fairly classic children's tale by Crockett Johnson, and has already been made into a movie and short TV series.

The first I had heard of it, however, was in a New York Times magazine profile of Spike Jonze in which he revealed he was at work on another movie version of this when he thankfully got sidetracked by "Where the Wild Things Are" (I still say the single biggest Oscar snub this year is that even in the field of 10, that didn't get a Best Picture nomination. Criminal.)

Now comes word that the book is coming to movie life again, this time with the help of "Where the Wild Things Are" author and national treasure Maurice Sendak as a producer.

The story apparently follow our hero Harold as he uses his magic purple crayon to retreat into his own fantasy world, but soon realizes that he’s been selfish with his crayon and so uses it to help his parents and others, and even go on a mission to Mars.

This will be a CG-animated affair, with no director attached yet, but why not Mr. Jonze himself? Sounds like it would be world of fun for him, and I know for sure he'd love to work with Maurice Sendak again.

OK, this has certainly gone on long enough today, so I'll just wrap it up with a couple of clips. The first is for a flick called "The Good Heart," set to come out in at least some urban portions of the world on April 30. It caught my eye because it stars Reel Fanatic favorites Brian Cox and Paul Dano. The flick tells the story of Lucas (Dano), who attempts suicide and meets bar-owner Jacques (Cox) while in the hospital. The two quickly form a friendship and Lucas starts to work in Jacques' bar. Enjoy the trailer.

The Good Heart trailer from zik zak on Vimeo.

Actually, make that only one clip, because although there's a new international trailer out there for the "Karate Kid" remake starring Jackie Chan and Will Smith's offspring, I've decided to just ignore that monstrosity from here on out. Peace out.


jeremy said...

You may remember Jason Sudeikis as Liz Lemon's boyfriend Floyd on 30 Rock. He extolled the virtues of "The Cleve."
Also, looking forward to your take on "The September Issue". I was not surprised that it was made (these people love themselves), but was surprised it found a distributor.

Reel Fanatic said...

I should have figured that out, Jeremy (and even an ounce of "research" on my part would have revealed it) ... He was a hoot on "30 Rock," so this should be great ... I remember liking that "Unzipped" flick about Isaac Mizrahi quite a bit way back when, so here's hoping I can find "The September Issue" at least bearable!