Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Don't blame the messenger: No "Mad Men" this year

Actually, before and after anything that depressing, why not some really good movie news to make it all go down sweeter?

First up, the certifiable funniest man on the planet (Bill Murray if you didn't know) has signed on to play Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a movie based on a real oddity, a radio play written in 2009 by someone named Richard Nelson (bully for still making those.)

"Hyde Park on the Hudson" tells the story of a true-to-life affair Roosevelt had with a distant cousin, and its set during a 1939 visit from King George VI, the first time in history that a British monarch had traveled to the U.S. Sounds like nothing but juicy fun there, so bring it on.

OK, an end to the good news for now, but I promise more of it, about two movies I really want to see, is coming. But before that, "Mad Men," already delayed until at least fall, now won't be coming on this year at all, and in case you can't tell yet, that makes this one man just mad as hell.

According to Deadline, show mastermind Matthew Weiner is holding out on three issues that, if this were a lesser show, I'd certainly deem worth fighting for. Per Deadline, those are: integrating product placement into the series, cutting two minutes from each episode's running time in favor of more commercials and eliminating/reducing two regular cast members to save money.

Again, all noble goals, but so is compromise. Though I'm obviously not in the room for this, if I were, of those three I'd think that cutting two minutes would be a lot less onerous than the other two demands, particularly the product placement, which would likely just be an awkward mess.

And there's of course a higher goal here, new episodes of "Mad Men"! No good word on that yet obviously, but as soon as I hear anything like that, you will too.

OK, enough of that gloomy stuff, so how about the opposite in two movie projects that could have been doomed to DVD getting at least a small release window?

First up is "The Rum Diary," which I had almost forgotten about because it's been on the shelf so long. Now, however, it's been picked up by FilmDistrict and even given a release date of Oct. 11 THIS YEAR, and with one Johnny Depp as the star, hopefully that means wide enough to even reach my little corner of the world.

The movie comes from "Withnail and I" director Bruce Robinson, definitely one of my personal favorites, and stars Depp as an American reporter who heads down to Puerto Rico, where he gets involved in a love triangle involving a married woman (Amber Heard) and her shady businessman husband (Aaron Eckhart). The film's been long finished, so bring it on already.

And for anyone who's never seen "Withnail and I," here's a taste of exactly why you should as soon as possible (and I believe it's streaming on Netflix).

And perhaps even less likely than a new movie from Bruce Robinson is one from Whit Stillman, who it's easy to forget managed to direct three very smart comedies in "Metropolitan" (a definite favorite around here), "Barcelona" and "The Last Days of Disco" before pretty much disappearing from the face of the planet around 1998. Well, now, he's finally back with something called "Violet Wister's Damsels in Distress," and even better, it's been picked up by Sony Pictures Classics, with a release date still to be determined.

So, what's it about? The story, which sounds perfect for Stillman's wit, is about a group of young women who come up with a code of conduct for a grungy east coast university. It's probably a whole lot better than I'm making it sound here, so here's hoping the flick starring Greta Gerwig and Adam Brody gets some kind fairly wide release soon.

OK, after that, a few tidbits from Pixar, and then something so silly for the finish that you really just have to give in and embrace it.

Up next for Pixar this summer is something I really can't manage to get excited about at all, "Cars 2." It's bad enough that the studio is now seemingly solidly in the sequel business, but everything I've seen from this particular one just looks like the height of banality.

After that, however, things should get interesting again. In Entertainment Weekly, Pixar has released concept art and the story for its 2012 fairy tale, now called "Brave" and formerly titled "The Bear and the Bow." And the best news of all about it is that it features the voice of Kelly Macdonald of "Trainspotting," "No Country for Old Men" and, most recently, "Boardwalk Empire" fame. Bully.

So, what's it about? Per EW, it involves Princess Merida (Macdonald) who one day breaks a sacred custom of her kingdom, led by King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), that brings disorder to the land. To try to rectify the situation, Merida seeks out a Wise Woman (Julie Walters), who grants her a wish that turns out to have unlucky consequences.

Along with this being Pixar's first female heroine, it will also be the first Pixar movie to be directed by a woman, Brenda Chapman, director of "The Prince of Egypt." Definitely keep your eyes on this one. Here below is the best of the concept art featured in EW, which presumably features Macdonald's character:

Unfortunately, for 2013, Pixar is jumping right back into the sequel game, but at least this time it's for one of the studios funnest movies. "Monsters University" will again feature the voices of John Goodman and Billy Crystal as Sully and Mike, and will presumably be about their education. That could I suppose be fun, but I'll close today with one sequel that thankfully will go no further than the blissfully Funny or Die parody below. Tara Reid was rightfully mocked last year when she claimed, with no proof at all, that a sequel to "The Big Lebowski" was in the works, but you definitely have to give her credit for being able to make so much fun of herself in this video. Enjoy, and have a perfectly passable Wednesday. Peace out.


Bob said...

This "Mad Men" situation is, well frankly it's balls. It's just not going to be summer if it's not on. At least "Psych" will be back in July so there's something to look forward to.
Great to hear that "The Rum Diary" finally has a release date. And bless you for putting up that "Withnail" clip. You truly are a prince among men, sir. :)
Two more days 'til Buck and the boys start layin' the smack down!

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm a season behind on Psych ... I'm hoping that last season will be streaming before the new one starts, but even if not, I'm gonna start watching it live anyway, because I doubt anything happened that will leave me all that confused even if i skip a season, and Psych is pretty close to the funniest thing on right now

Bob said...

I know, right?! As I've said before James Roday is the closest thing we have to the young wiseass Bill Murray. He's just the funniest person on TV right now for my money. And Dule Hill just gets more brilliant all the time. This past season was really great but being "Psych" there won't be much that's essential to know for when the new episodes start.

Reel Fanatic said...

Cool ... I'm in as soon as they return!