Wednesday, March 07, 2007

M. Night's big comeback

I'm not sure which is better news for M. Night Shyamalan: That his new flick will get a new name or that it will be distributed by 20th Century Fox. If you ask him though, I'm sure he'd choose the latter.

After having his script for "The Green Effect" rejected by every studio he pitched it to, it now seems M. Night has taken the advice from this ordeal to heart. After retooling the script with suggestions from Fox honcho Tom Rothman and agreeing to change the name to "The Happening," he now finds himself with a big backer and a scheduled June 2008 release.

As best I can tell, his new flick will be part-"War of the Worlds" sans aliens and part-"Soylent Green" madness. In it, the Earth, fed up with how we've been treating it, finally fights back, unleashing some kind of agent that causes people to kill themselves. There is, of course, a family on the run at the center of this. Though it all sounds very familiar, it could still be a lot of fun. To read a rather thorough (and spoiler-laden) early script review from Latino Review, click here.

Though I'm in the rather large camp that thinks M. Night started a downward turn with "Signs" that just continued with "The Village" and, hopefully, bottomed out the simply execrable "Lady in the Water," I'm still cheering loudly for him to find his mojo again. After all, he did manage to make one of my favorite movies ever with "Unbreakable."

Many critics who have hammered him have asked what happened to the big reveal, the "gotcha" moment that managed to shock in "The Sixth Sense" and somewhat less so in "Unbreakable." Personally, I don't need it; all I ask of you, Mr. Shyamalan, is that you write a tight story that takes us somewhere, anywhere at all, and that you resist any urge to cast yourself in the role of a writer with ideas so dangerous they will change the world (even as I write that, I still can't believe you thought you could get away with that crap in "Lady in the Water"!)

For Fox, the gamble on M. Night's return to form is a pretty big one. So far, all they've got for summer 2008 is this and "Starship Dave," a sci-fi comedy starring Eddie Murphy (anyone remember "Pluto Nash"? I try not to.) I'm hoping at least M. Night's half yields a big return.

Cruz, Kingsley in Roth pic

Personally, I'm fairly certain I'd enjoy watching Penelope Cruz eat a bag of Fritos, but seeing her with Ben Kingsley in a flick based on a Philip Roth novella should be even better.

Cruz, Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson have signed on to star in a flick based on the novella "Dying Animal," which I haven't read.

Nicholas Meyer, who previously adapted Roth's "The Human Stain" into an extremely underrated flick, will pen the script. The story revolves around a student (Cruz, I assume) who engages in a torrid affair with her professor (Kingsley) and then returns years later with a revelation. Sounds juicy enough to me.

Even better, and from the same studio, Lakeshore, is that Phillip Noyce is at work on an adaptation of my favorite Roth novel, "American Pastoral." I still have serious doubts that he'll get any kind of distribution for a movie that's, in part, about an act of domestic terrorism (the blowing up of a post office to protest the Vietnam War) that tears a family apart. I sure hope he manages to pull it off.

Fanboys and girls rejoice!

If you think you can come up with a short film based on Sci-Fi's "Battlestar Galactica," the network apparently wants to see your work.

It has launched a videomaker tool kit through its Web site that allows fans of the show to create their own short-form content based on the show. The new video tool will provide users with more than 30 visual effects, 20 audio effects and cuts from the show's soundtrack to create their own four-minute short. Creators can post their content to the site, where "Galactica" executive producer David Eick will select his favorite and air it during a future broadcast episode.

If you wanna try your hand at this, click here. I love me some "Galactica," but I think I'll pass on this. If anyone actually does it, please let me know so I can check out your creations, and have an entirely bearable hump day.


jeremy said...

Not only do I love the Roth novella and Ben Kingsley, but I adore Patricia Clarkson. Her turns in High Art, Pieces of April, and The Station Agent were amazing. I'll watch anything she's in. As for Cruz, sure, she's easy on the eyes, but I'd rather hear her speaking Spanish.
And, as much as I love me some BSG, you won't be getting a short from me. This season has really left a bad taste in my mouth--with the exception of the two Jane Espenson eps.

Reel Fanatic said...

I think this season has been a bit of letdown, Jeremy, but only a bit ... I'm hoping it will pick up again soon and get back to its original strength

Anonymous said...

I'm really excited to see what comes of the BSG contest. Most of the fans that I know are fanatical and talented (what a mix!) and I can't wait to see what they have to offer!

Jim Marquis said...

I'm with you on M. Night...he fills an important niche in Hollywood (director who makes thrillers with heart). I have to say I'm not too wild about the new title (The Happening). Sounds kind of like a late Sixties Peter Sellers comedy.

Reel Fanatic said...

I think the title's still a work in progress, Mr. Marquis .. The Happening is at least an improvement on The Green Effect, and they have more than a year to come up with something even better

sanchapanzo said...

damn those aliens !
shyamalan should learn his lessons from 'signs' :-(

Reel Fanatic said...

You're probably right, Sanchapanzo ... I'm hoping he manages to make this one at least a little bit scary, whereas Signs was mostly just ridiculous