Saturday, March 27, 2010

At the Movies may be dead, but Roger Ebert's plotting TV comeback

Actually, before I get into any of that, there's at least one bit of actual movie news out there that just made me smile.

If there's one sequel I could get completely behind, it would certainly be an "Eastern Promises 2," especially since all the key components will be there for the second go-round.

Indeed, Deadline Hollywood is reporting it will be a reunion of star Viggo Mortensen, director David Cronenberg and scribe Steven Knight, who wrote the script for the engaging original. The only things missing so far are Naomi Watts and any mention of just what direction this new gangster tale from London's extremely seedy underbelly will take.

And in the meantime, Cronenberg and Mortensen are about to team up once again for "The Talking Cure," which will examine the intense relationship between Sigmund Freud (Mortensen) and Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender), and how their treatment effected one particular patient played by Keira Knightley (and no, as far as I know, it's not a treatment for anorexia.)

The world is certainly a better place with David Cronenberg working steadily in it, so having this set to begin filming in May and hopefully an Eastern Promises sequel to begin shortly after is nothing but good news.

But beyond that, the very best news out there today is that Roger Ebert has announced on his always entertaining blog that he plans a return to reviewing movies on TV. When it was announced this week that "At the Movies" would be dying after this season, I kind of just shrugged, because admittedly I've tuned in only intermittently at best ever since Gene Siskel died (I just can't stand that damn Richard Roeper!) But a new show starring Ebert again is one I'll actively seek out every week once this comes together, no matter where it gets buried in the syndication schedule (my money's on fairly early Sunday morning or late Saturday night.)

Ebert said he's deep into negotiations for a show that would be called "Roger Ebert Presents at the Movies," the thumbs would (of course) return, and that he's held video tests with several potential hosts and knows who will fill the role (I'd certainly be more than willing to audition!) Unfortunately, given what cancer has done to his voice, I can't imagine Ebert will be a regular co-host himself, but he promised to have an active role, with "great movies segments or wrapups from Cannes or Toronto."

And, in the spirit for which I've always loved his writing, Ebert embraced the new endeavor with his usual enthusiasm:

We'll also go New Cinema. Not just the One Weekend Wonders, although you gotta have 'em, but indie films, foreign films, documentaries, restored classics, the new Herzog, the new Bahrani, the new Almodovar. What's new on Instant Streaming. What great movies should everyone see? Hey, Paramount just announced $1 million for ten $100,000 movies. Those kinds of films. What kind of a real movie lover cares who has the "exclusive" first trailer in the newest extrusion of the "Transformer" franchise? It's time to smarten up.

Stay tuned for details about just what shape this will take. I can still remember the moment I fell in love with Siskel and Ebert. It was when they - Ebert especially - so eagerly embraced "Hoop Dreams" at a time when I was just first starting to figure out for myself that it takes all kinds of movies to make the world a fun place. Amazingly, thanks to the power of YouTube, we can watch that again today. I'll leave you with a portion of that, and I'm off to go see "Hot Tub Time Machine" instead of "How to Train Your Dragon" because I'm so angry about them raising 3-D prices that I've decided to give those crooks as little of my money as I can manage to. Peace out.


Nell Minow said...

I am very excited about Ebert's new program -- and looking forward to his Ebertfest in Illinois next month. I wish you would come! I also recommend you pay the $4.99 annual fee to join Ebert's new club!

Reel Fanatic said...

I think I will, Nell ... and I certainly wish I could be there .. In related news, I am going to the very much homegrown Atlanta Film Festival in April .. Last year they had Tyson, Moon, That Evening Sun and Mississippi Damned, all among my favorites for the year, so I'm psyched for this year too

Ashok said...

Bring on "Eastern Promises' sequels Cronenberg !!! Great news about that. It is sad that Michael Phillips and A.O.Scott depart because they are definitely good.

I am still thinking about going to Ebert Fest. I did not go last year but went for two years before that.

Reel Fanatic said...

I used to think A.O. Scott was an elitist snob, Ashok, but that's among the many thing I'm very happy to be proven wrong about ... His passionate plea for people to watch "Where the Wild Things Are" in about 10 articles just solidified him as one of the very best in my book

Chalupa said...

For starters, Eastern Promises was AWESOME. The tattoos were fascinating and that knife fight was pretty intense.

Secondly - Roeper sucks. He sucks a lot.

Thirdly - You totally need to audition to be Ebert's sidekick.

Reel Fanatic said...

If I were somehow even able to do one show, Chalupa, that would be enough for me ... And just in case you or anyone else check back here, go see "A Prophet" if you can ... too long, but amazing