Friday, June 24, 2011

A Friday report with "Wargames" madness, Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin

Something that perfect really shouldn't need any words from me, but just in case you somehow can't tell, that's Martin Freeman in his Bilbo Baggins costume for Peter Jackson's upcoming movie of "The Hobbit," making it pretty much pure bliss. 'Nuff said.

And in other movie news this morning, I've really lost all my zeal to complain about the need to remake every single thing that came out of the '80s, especially since it's so clear there's nothing I or anyone else can do to stop them.

When they keep claiming the careers of promising directors, however, it just keeps getting more and more distressing. First this week came the inexplicably bad/tame first trailer for "Hustle & Flow" director Craig Brewer's take on "Footloose," and now comes word that the '80s remake machine has claimed another victim in Seth Gordon.

Gordon, who made the sensational documentary "King of Kong" and in a few weeks will have "Horrible Bosses" starring Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day in theaters, has now signed on to direct a remake of "WarGames."

Think about that for a second. While "WarGames" was a perfectly fun little flick, was there an '80s movie that was more specifically of its time? I really can't see how you would recreate that ridiculously entertaining scenario in this even more threatening world, and there's another attempt to resurrect something similar that should serve as a cautionary tale, "Red Dawn."

Making a remake of that even sillier '80s minor treasure wouldn't really seem on the surface to be too difficult, but for the filmmakers it's turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. After all major filming for the movie starring Thor's Chris Hemsworth had been completed, whatever studio is behind this madness decided that China could no longer be the big bad because its potential audience is too large, so they had to make a last-minute change to North Korea, where for all I know they don't get many Hollywood movies at all.

And I tell you all that to simply say this: The "Red Dawn" remake still has no release date and may well just disappear straight to DVD, as hopefully this "WarGames" chicanery will too, if it happens at all.

OK, after that diatribe, there's two other bits of news out there that caught my eye this morning, starting with an "X-Men: First Class"-related casting shift for Danny Boyle's next movie.

"Trance," which the director will unfortunately most likely not make until after he directs the opening ceremonies for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, sounds like its right in the vein of his earlier work such as "Shallow Grave" (still my favorite Boyle flick) and "Trainspotting."

The flick is about an employee at an arthouse who teams with a group of criminals to steal a valuable piece. Though the heist succeeds, a blow to the head gives him amnesia and he is unable to remember where the art is hidden. Suspecting foul play, his co-conspirators hire a hypnotist to try and pull the secret from his mind.

Sounds like nothing but potentially great to me, and though Michael Fassbender was originally set to play the lead, it has now apparently been passed on to James McAvoy. Not really trading up or down there, but a lateral move, I'd say, so stay tuned for more on this project as soon as I can find it.

And finally today, it seems that when HBO gets is hands on talented directors/writers, it really doesn't want to let them go.

Aaron Sorkin already has a series going to pilot on the network this fall, "More as the Story Develops," which sounds eerily like "Sports Night" simply redone with a cable news show instead of a cable sports show (not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that.)

And now comes word that he's teaming up with "The Office" star John Kraskinski, who will produce and probably star, for a mini-series of eight episodes or so that springs from the book "Life at the Marmont" by Raymond R. Sarlot.

Given the Sunset Strip hotel's juicy history, it should give Sorkin plenty to work with. It's where the corpse of John Belushi was discovered in 1982, and among the personalities who lave lodged there since the 1930s are Hunter S. Thompson, Greta Garbo, Errol Flynn, Judy Garland and Lindsay Lohan.

Sounds like a whole lot of fun to me, and the casting alone should be a hoot. And if you'll excuse me now, I'm off to do some swimming before I take a chance on Jake Kasdan's "Bad Teacher," which I'm hoping against hope will deliver some pretty solid laughs. Peace out.

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