Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Thursday report just chock full of good movie news

There really is just a ton of news out there this morning about filmmakers and actors I like, so let's just jump right into it.

First up, in perhaps the biggest and best of it all, Kathryn Bigelow is set to reunite with "The Hurt Locker" scribe Mark Boal for "Triple Frontier," which is described as a "Traffic"-like drug parable set in the notorious border zone between Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil, and Bigelow says the film will use the same "raw and visceral visual style" as "The Hurt Locker."

Except for the "Traffic" reference (I can really think of very few movies that are more overrated than that one), that all sounds great to me. It's a perfectly gritty subject for her, and if I were still a betting man, I think there's been a groundswell of activity behind "The Hurt Locker" that just might bring it the big Oscar prize on March 7, which would be just fine with me (though, of course, I'm still standing behind Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds," which I've seen four times now.)

And in a related note, Jeremy Renner, also an Oscar nominee for his performance in "The Hurt Locker," has set up his next project, and being a devoted fan of all things Baltimore, it certainly sounds intriguing to me. To be directed by James McTeigue of "V for Vendetta" and star Renner and Ewan McGregor, "Raven" is sort of based on Edgar Allen Poe's poem, but set in 1850's Baltimore with a serial killer's crimes mirroring Poe's work (and it damn well better be shot in 2010 Baltimore, too.) Renner probably won't win on Oscar night, but as far as male performers go, he and Christoph Waltz (who we'll hear about in just a few paragraphs) certainly had the "breakthrough" performances of 2009, and he's definitely got my attention.

Duncan Jones garnering stellar cast for next flick

I've somehow managed to once again con my way into a press pass to the upcoming Atlanta Film Festival 365, and if they screen even one movie as good as Duncan Jones' debut "Moon," which I squeezed into there last year, it will be well worth the trip.

So it's certainly good news that Jeffrey Wright has now signed for Jones' next flick, "Source Code," joining the already-announced Jake Gyllenhaal, Vera Farmiga and Michelle Monaghan.

Best as I can tell, the flick is a sci-fi thriller involving time continuums in some way. Gyllenhaal is, of course, the main star, who's investigating a train bombing and finds himself in the body of one of the victims, reliving the incident until he can find out who's behind it. Farmiga will play Gyllenhaal's handler, and Monaghan a woman on the train with whom the man he becomes is romantically involved. All I know about Wright's involvement is that he plays a helicopter pilot of some kind, but I do know that with this director and cast, this is one I'll definitely be keeping my eyes on.

Cobain biopic in the works

Just about the last thing the world needs is another musician biopic, but I think I'd certainly at least turn out for one about Kurt Cobain. In fact, I can't believe this hasn't been done already.

Oren Moverman, director of "The Messenger" (which I haven't seen yet, but everyone tells me I should), is about to sign on to direct and rewrite David Benoiff's script for the project, using as at least a partial source Charles R. Cross' 2001 biography, "Heavier than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain."

No word yet on who would play Cobain, but I'd have to say Jared Leto, assuming he isn't just way too strung out by now, would be a natural, or maybe Billy Crudup. And as to why I'd want to see this, well, Cobain's certainly a fascinating subject, and I can still remember when my roomie at the time, Cory, told me what had happened to him. We had just seen the Breeders open for Nirvana about six months earlier at Atlanta's now-defunct Omni. A real bummer, but this seems to be in the right hands, and could make for a really compelling flick.

Waltz sets next project as another mean bastard

I've been hearing talk lately that Christopher Plummer, nominated for "The Last Station," just might pull the upset on Oscar night and nab the Best Supporting Actor award that everyone has been assuming would go to Christoph Waltz for his work as the Jew hunter Hans Landa in "Inglourious Basterds."

If that's the case, it would be a genuine travesty, because anyone who's seen QT's flick (and if you somehow haven't, why the heck not?) knows, he just takes over every scene he's in, and you can't take your eyes off him.

We'll just have to wait and see how that all turns out, but in the meantime comes word that he's in talks to star in "Water for Elephants" with Reese Witherspoon and a certain vampire dude you may have heard of named Robert Pattinson.

Based on the novel by Sara Gruen and to be directed by Francis Lawrence of "I am Legend," the story is about a Depression-era love triangle between a veterinary student (Pattinson) who joins a travelling circus and falls for the star performer (Witherspoon). Waltz would play the third angle, Witherspoon's husband, described as "a dangerous paranoid schizophrenic animal trainer who is as mean to his wife as he is to the circus creatures."

I'll watch Mr. Waltz in just about anything at this point - he's in Michel Gondry's upcoming "Green Hornet" with Seth Rogen, too, but I'd put my money on this flick being finished first - and especially in something that sounds this intriguing.

Carla Gugino set to run "Faster" with the Rock

You know, I really have no beef whatsoever with Dwayne Johnson. I'm sure he's a perfectly nice guy, but I'm not sure I've ever seen one of his movies. That said, putting the simply stunning (and just as talented) Carla Gugino in one of his flicks just might be enough to get me to buy a ticket.

She's come aboard the revenge thriller "Faster," being directed by George Tillman Jr., who made the mostly entertaining Biggie biopic "Notorious", and also starring The Rock, Billy Bob Thornton, Maggie Grace and Moon Bloodgood.

So, what's it about? Well, apparently, The Rock is an ex-con bent on avenging the death of his brother, murdered 10 years earlier when the two were double-crossed during a heist. Gugino will play the detective in charge of the investigation of the killing.

On second thought, I really can't see any way I will go see this, but I just really like Carla Gugino, so I'm just passing the news along 'Nuff said on that.

Whedon and Spurlock to harass poor Comic Con-goers
I'm not sure why, but I just can't stand to even look at, much less listen to, Morgan Spurlock. I think it's because I also can't stand documentaries in which the filmmaker feels the need to make himself the star - exactly the wrong approach in my book - and no one except for maybe Michael Moore does this more than Spurlock. And, for that matter, Moore is just a much better filmmaker.

Now, however, it seems that Spurlock and Joss Whedon (because, with "Dollhouse" canceled I guess he just has nothing better to do) are teaming up to make a documentary about Comic Con, which I'd love to attend some day.

The duo will apparently follow their poor victims for three months leading up to this year's mega-geekfest in San Diego. I can't imagine anything good coming from any of this, but I've been wrong at least once before (and probably already today), so maybe I am about this too.

Whew. That certainly went on a lot longer than I intended when I woke up this morning, so anyone who actually made it this far deserves a reward. I'm not sure that the latest weekly installment of "Alice In Wonderland" featurettes really qualifies, but they've at least managed to keep them all entertaining, and there just something soothing about watching Helena Bonham Carter with the Red Queen's enormous head calling for a pig to rest her feet on. Enjoy, and have a perfectly enjoyable Thursday. Peace out.


Anonymous said...

You wrote "I can really think of very few movies that are more overrated than [Traffic]"

One in particular comes to mind: "Hurt Locker"

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm afraid I can't agree with you anonymous one ... In terms of combining great action set pieces, exceptional acting and just a first-rate story, you'll find few better flicks in my books than Bigelow's

Anonymous said...

There was a story in Hurt Locker?

Did you watch Generation Kill? Hurt Locker was just about completely pointless and boring after GK.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'll watch anything David Simon does, and I'll agree with you that "Generation Kill" was indeed great ... but in its own way, by focusing on three specific soldiers, "The Hurt Locker" did have a story to tell, and I thought a compelling one at that

gurit@israel said...

waltz really deserve what he got, he is true genious. what is more amazing-i saw interview with him and it seems he did not really act. this is the wat he talks and moves in life! amazingly charming. inglorious baserds is one of the most discussed movies in israel, though i am sure tarantino does not care about history or feelings of jews- its his wiered sence of humor

Reel Fanatic said...

Actually, I'd imagine he does care, Gurit ... Luckily, though, if he were ever to talk about or make a movie about Israel, it would indeed be with the twisted humor he used to approach every thing else in the world