Friday, March 30, 2007

It's all "Happening" for Wahlberg

Just how many lives does M. Night Shyamalan get?

First his "Lady in the Water" (my personal vote for the worst movie of 2006) tanks hard, and then he can't find a buyer for his new script, "The Green Effect." Now, however, his movie's got a new name ("The Happening"), a big studio behind it in 20th Century Fox, and now Marky Mark.

Mark Wahlberg, who I liked more in "Shooter" than most folks who sounded off here, will star in the flick, which is set to shoot in August in Philadelphia (of course) and be released Friday, June 13, 2008.

Though M. Night has rejected any comparisons to "War of the Worlds," its influence can't be denied, according to a lucky spy at who got an early look at the script. In the flick, the Earth finally turns against us for abusing it for so long and releases a toxin that causes people to kill themselves. Wahlberg will be the essential man-on-the-run-with-his-family at the middle of all this. It all sounds awfully familiar, but if Marky Mark's on board, I am too.

Get ready to "Chow" down again

No one, except maybe Edgar Wright, seems to have more fun making movies than Stephen Chow. And man do I have fun watching the crazy stuff he comes up with.

Now, Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia has acquired world rights outside China to "A Hope," a new comedy written, directed by and starring Chow. He plays a poor Chinese laborer who is made to learn some of life's important lessons when his son gets a strange new pet.

I don't know about you, but I got a smile just from reading that. After seeing what he did with special effects for "Kung Fu Hustle" and "Shaolin Soccer" I know at least one thing: This new one might not be high art, but it will be high entertainment. No release date has been set, but definitely keep your eyes on this one.

Lurie remaking "Straw Dogs"

Remember, I'm only the messenger. It seems that Rod Lurie, who delivered a solid political drama in "The Contender," has now completely lost his mind and signed on to direct a remake of Sam Peckinpah's "Straw Dogs."

Believe it or not, the news gets even worse. In case anyone has forgotten about or missed the original, it starred Dustin Hoffman and Susan George as a young American and his English wife who move to rural England and face increasingly vicious local harassment. It was, for its time, a tremendously violent movie, and not one that you forget easily.

Unaware of any of this, however, Lurie and his co-conspirators have decided to move this to America, and, I can only assume, to the South. Where else do you go when you need to have deranged locals who are prone to ultraviolence? Sheesh. This all just makes me so mad that I'd better just stop now and move on.

David O. Russell goes "chick lit"?

Well, not quite, but pretty close. Fresh off the leak of his meltdown on the set of "I heart huckabees," Russell is apparently now set to direct "Sammy's Hill," based on the novel by Kristin Gore.

And yes, she is the daughter of that Gore. The novel centers on a young woman who tries to balance a job as a congressional aide on Capitol Hill while searching for the right guy. OK, I can buy that. I worked as an intern for Barbara Mikulski for a short spell (and once saw her throw a telephone receiver at a coworker's head), so I know Capitol Hill can be a crazy place, whether or not you're looking for love. A comment from producer Doug Wick, however, gives me cause for concern.

"It will do for Washington, D.C., what 'Talladega Nights' did for race car driving," Wick said. Huh? Way to set those sights high.

Even so, I have full faith in Russell. "Three Kings," "Flirting with Disaster," "Spanking the Monkey" and "I heart huckabees" are all first-rate in my book, so I'm just glad to hear he's working again at all.

"Grindhouse" tidbit of the day

Whew! It's been a long post today, so anyone who's made it this far certainly deserves a reward. Here, courtesy of Film Ick, are what purport to be two shots from Edgar Wright's "Don't," one of the trailers that will be sandwiched in between the Rodriguez and Tarantino flicks that will make up "Grindhouse," finally set to hit theaters April 6. Enjoy!


jeremy said...

Before we deride Lurie for the remake, let's not forget that Straw Dogs is in itself a remake of Virgin Spring (or at least Peckinpah's homage to VS).

Reel Fanatic said...

Very true, Jeremy, but I still have to say I find the idea of yet another one to be fairly ludicrous

Sheamus the... said...

I think Night is an amazing filmmaker. As Robert Rodriguez once said in his book "Rebel Without a Crew", "We are going to make bad movies such just get'em over with."
I didn't like Lady in the Water but I didn't think it was the worst movie of the year.
AHHHH SWEET! Thanks for the heads up on Edgar's trailer. I had been wondering what it was going to be. I just saw him, Pegg, and Frost at a screening for Hot Fuzz in Atlanta. They are pretty saweet.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm jealous that you got to see that already, Sheamus ... It's definitely among the flicks I'm most looking forward to for this year .. As to "Lady in the Water," I realize it wasn't objectively the worst movie of 2006, just my personal least favorite ... I loved M. Night through Unbreakable, but think he's been on a downward spiral since then .. I am, however, hoping he can make a big comeback

Divinity said...

I'm a big Wahlberg fan ever since The Big Hit which still is one of my favourite parody/satire - style movies. Unfortunately, some of the people sitting in front of me at the theatre the second time I saw it were expecting a serious hitman movie. You'd think they would've caught on once that medicine cabinet full of Maalox was revealed...

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm definitely with you on that one, Divinity, one of the funnier parodies I've seen ... For someone who started out as Marky Mark, he certainly has come a long way

James said...

One must ask, did M. Night truly have his "15 minutes" already? No one can deny that his flicks weren't made with the "masses" in mind. Maybe we're all expecting lightning to strike twice. Maybe his backers should consider splitting up the $100+ million per movie into financing projects from new(er) film makers. Just a thought. I'm still hopeful, though, for M.'s next one.

Reel Fanatic said...

I think you could well be right, Skip ... But, since he did manage to make one of my favorite movies in Unbreakable, I'm indeed in that camp of people who are hoping he can find his mojo again

Anne Rettenberg LCSW said...

"Don't" basically sums up how I feel about Quentin Tarantino movies.

"Earth finally turns against us for abusing it for so long"-- that doesn't sound like fiction, it sounds warming.

Have you seen "The Lives of Others" yet? It's really good.

Reel Fanatic said...

I definitely want to, Elizabeth, but out here in my remote corner of the world that means waiting for DVD ... As for Tarantino, I only think he's misfired so far with the first half, and that wasn't too far off the mark, so I'm definitely still with him ... If Grindhouse just adds to two-plus hours of fun, that will be good enough for me

* (asterisk) said...

I think Shyamalan is a very good director, but I think his writing is low-grade and shoddy. He will only really be taken seriously once he starts making movies from decent scripts/stories, I feel.

As for Straw Dogs, I've still never seen the original, but the uncut version was banned in the 1980s and was unavailable in the UK until only five years ago. But you probably knew that already.

Reel Fanatic said...

I didn't know that, Mr. * ... Even by today's standards, with gore every which way you look, this one still stands out as a shocking movie, but a great one nonetheless

Anne Rettenberg LCSW said...

I never saw "Straw Dogs"...I only saw a clip of it in a feminist documentary; the filmmaker noted that in "Straw Dogs" a woman gets raped and supposedly enjoys it.

Reel Fanatic said...

That is the most controversial aspect of Straw Dogs, Elizabeth, but to view it without context does the movie a real injustice ... Whether or not she enjoys it is a permanent matter of controversy, but I'm surprised it it viewed in a classroom context without viewing the entire movie

Anne Rettenberg LCSW said...

Since I'm not a film studies professor or film critic, why would I spend two hours of my life on a film that will probably only nauseate me?

Ms☆Go said...

I still maintain that Shyamalan still has it in him to deliver a great film.

I can't deny the greatness of The Sixth Sense amd Unbreakable as far as I'm concerned is one of the best comic origin stories ever put on film.

If anyone doesn't deserve anymore chances, it's Uwe Boll. I'd ask why he keeps getting funded, before M. Night.

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