Category Archives: News

Alice in Neverland?

Wow! Who saw this coming?!

Cinema chain Odeon & UCI Group, the largest cinema chain in the UK, has announced that it will not be showing Tim Burton’s take on Alice in Wonderland. This announcement is a reaction to Disney’s plan to cut the time between the cinema and DVD release to only 12 weeks, down from the standard 17. At writing, there are no plans by other cinema chains to follow suit.

This is a massive call by Odeon and they are sure to lose a lot of cinema takings down to this move. Maybe it is just a threat to try and get Disney to retract their plans for fear of harming the $150 million remake, but trying to call The Mouse’s bluff is a risky game. While Disney claims the plan to reduce the showing time is not the shape of things to come, Odeon obviously sees this as a threat to the future of the medium. Ironically, the premiere of the movie is still to go ahead in Odeon Leicester Square!

While the stakes are obviously high it will be exciting to see the takings for the movie (obviously with 3D premium to top it up) as somehow there is still demand for Tim Burton remakes after the offensively terrible Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, also starring Johnny Depp. Maybe the chain is hoping for higher returns for films such as Legion (due out the same day as Alice in Wonderland), Green Zone, Shutter Island et al to accommodate for the loss.

Disney has chosen this shorter window allegedly to boost DVD sales. The question remains on how well a 3D movie will look on the small screen and whether the 2D will be lacking from the 3D version. Secondly it reeks of desperation – surely a film that is good enough on it’s own merits will get people going to the cinema and then buy it on DVD when it is released.

So what do you think of Odeon’s decision? Is Odeon/UCI cutting off its nose to spite its face? Is it fighting a losing battle with Disney? Does it have a right to expect a return on its investment in 3D screens? Or, do you think Disney is the distributor and should call how long a cinema is allowed to show its movie?

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Sundance Buzz: The Killer Inside Me

What Antichrist was to Cannes last year, The Killer Inside Me appears to be for Sundance 2010. Michael Winterbottom, not a stranger to controversy following his art/porn examination 9 Songs in the past, directs Casey Affleck in an adaptation of Jim Thompson’s novel about a sociopathic deputy sheriff and the people he leaves in his wake.

The reaction has been ripped in two between those fascinated by the questions and challenges it poses and those repulsed by everything it appears to be positing. It’s already provoked CHUD’s Devin Faraci to write a column about how the film has sparked a debate once more about depicting violence in movies. New York Magazine’s Vulture blog has described it as ‘Antichrist meets Precious meets No Country for Old Men’. Even the Daily Mail has got its teeth stuck in.

The scene causing the most consternation involves the brutal beating of Jessica Alba with her face reduced to pulp.

Jay A Fernandez at The Hollywood Reporter’s description goes thus:

In Michael Winterbottom’s “The Killer Inside Me,” Jessica Alba is pulverized, fist to face, fist to face, fist to poor pretty face, by Casey Affleck for a good three minutes or so. Until her eyes are swollen shut and part of her face has been smashed away, exposing her jaw. What one character later describes as ‘hamburger,’ ‘stewed meat.’

Todd McCarthy at Variety says:

Winterbottom’s presentation of the violence is blunt, direct and vivid enough to inflict winces, if not actual pain, on the audience; some will no doubt look away.

Cinema Blend’s Katey Rich is less kind:

The film’s violence is what’s got everyone talking, and while it’s debatable whether the movie shares Lou’s own misogyny, the camera does take a certain delight in shocking us by showing repeated shots of Jessica Alba’s face being beaten to pulp. When men are killed in the film they’re shot cleanly or dispatched with offscreen, but the women suffer brutally– and you have to wonder if Lou is the only one enjoying it.

Reportedly, Alba herself left the screening half way through. Winterbottom himself has defended the violence, saying: “When you read the book, it’s incredibly shocking… But the violence is supposed to be horrible.”

But there have been some positive reactions. IFC’s Alison Willmore tweeted: “THE KILLER INSIDE ME: Oh, it’s completely off its rocker and I love it. Casey Affleck kills, kills and kills, noir style. And Texan style.”

Daemon Movies wrote:

All and all, The Killer Inside Me is a brilliant movie with strong and believable characters and a powerful story. It is certainly not a movie for everyone, especially if you tend to be squeamish around violence, however I would recommend that you see it if you want to see some fantastic acting and a brilliant story.

But the majority of the criticism appears to be expressing discomfort and a sense that the film is more provocative than successful. Fernandez muses:

Does the violence work in the context of a deeper exploration of a character’s psyche, or that of society as a whole? Or is it displayed in a vacuum without any redeeming context to provide meaning to a viewer other than an indictment of their being willing to sit through it in the first place?

McCarthy, too, is mostly lukewarm on the actual quality of the film:

…Winterbottom cogently unfurls the sordid narrative, although, at least at the screening caught, some of the dialogue was unintelligible, either due to some mumble or slurred dialogue and/or undue amplification. Still, when compared with the many films noir made during the period when the novel was written, this “Killer” lacks punch, dynamism and genuinely seedy atmosphere; at the same time, it falls short of the sort of the rich texture, moodiness and interconnectedness of production values that mark the best contemporary period crime films…

Sundance Buzz: The Runaways

The vast majority of the buzz surrounding this movie is split across the fact that Kristen Stewart is in it and that she and Dakota Fanning kiss in the film. I’m not wholly sure what the buzz is around the latter, but it should surely be more controversy that salaciousness given that Fanning is only fifteen.

Cinematical’s Kevin Kelly dug the movie, with a pretty significant amount of praise in his review devoted to the performances by Stewart, Fanning and Michael Shannon as Kim Fowley. He describes the performances from all three as “powerful“, but asserts that Shannon “takes this movie, straps it to his back, and walks away with it completely“. On the two female leads:

Kristen Stewart steps out of her normal angsty girl act and nails down the punk rock, hard as nails Jett, and Fanning is equally as good with her disconnected portrayal of Currie, who is dealing with the fact that she’s abandoning her alcoholic father and her twin sister Marie (played as fraternal in the movie, although they were identical in real life) to embrace a life of rock and roll.

Sam Adams for IFC was less taken by the movie itself, but is also praising of the Stewart and Fanning performances:

As much as for its characters, “The Runaways” is a rite of passage for its stars: Fanning, attempting to move beyond her preternaturally placid juvenile roles, and Kristen Stewart, whose volcanic Joan Jett runs hotter than the brooding teens she’s played in, well, everything.

Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir was again entertained, but felt that more was promised somewhere along the line: “[Director Floria] Sigismondi has made a straightforward rock ‘n’ roll biopic that’s fluid and exciting to watch, but clearly aspires to something more,” he says.

One dissenting voice comes from First Showing’s Alex Billington.

…I was completely unimpressed with Floria Sigismondi’s inability to handle the characters, the story, or the film at all. And despite having a good time watching concert scenes, I don’t have much else good to say about The Runaways. This was one of the first big let downs of Sundance for me and I was even looking forward to it.

So mostly love, especially for Fanning and Shannon, though Stewart also picks up quite a few plaudits. There seems a general agreement that it’s a little unfocused character-wise, but the performances do much to rectify these problems.

Sundance Buzz: Cyrus

The Duplass Brothers, Jay and Mark, shift out of the mumblecore movement and into studio-backed filmmaking with a pretty decent cast and a story of comedy potential. John C Reilly plays a guy just out of a break-up who hooks up with Marisa Tomei and then has to deal with her son, played by Jonah Hill, who remains living at home and enjoys something of an odd relationship with his mum.

Katey Rich, who is doing some great work in covering the festival for Cinema Blend, loved the film nearly unreservedly:

The Duplasses play brilliantly with the sense of comfort that comes in a romantic comedy, that secret assurance that we know how things will play out. Because the movie bears that mumblecore label of realism, there’s an actual suspense to this film’s particular will-they-or-won’t-they. By not changing the romantic comedy formula and instead bringing their own style to it, they create something wholly original, a skewed mirror on Hollywood that lovingly turns the old tropes around.

She adds that the film is “stellar and hilarious and by far one of the best things to come out of the festival so far“.

And Rich is far from alone in her praise for the film. HitFix’s Drew McWeeny was equally enchanted by the Duplass’ step up to the big(ger) leagues:

Shot with a simple, austere eye and elegantly constructed, Cyrus was a complete knockout, and Fox Searchlight will figure out how to sell this to the general public in a very big way. What’s great is that Mark and Jay Duplass seem to have proven that they can work for the studios in a way that makes them happy, that allows them to make their movies, and that will reward the faith of the studios with genuinely great commercial fare.

Add to those voices Scott at We Are Movie Geeks, who claims: “There isn’t much you can say that is negative about the film… its pretty much perfect.

The one major dissenter is Duane Byrge over at the Hollywood Reporter, who isn’t quite wholly scathing, but certainly didn’t find the same level of enjoyment.

A romance laced with psychological poison, “Cyrus” is a well-performed but superficial drama of emotional co-dependency that is unlikely to venture past the select-site/festival circuit.

Overall, “Cyrus” is more a clinical enactment than a complex human drama and ultimately just droops in predictability and easy outcomes.

So a potential breakthrough for the Duplass brothers, though it does sound as though it could struggle to find a major audience if they are so carefully integrating their mumblecore sensibilities with mainstream style.

Sundance Buzz: Howl

Having had its two stars, James Franco and Jon Hamm, compare the events surrounding Allen Ginsberg’s obscenity trial related to his poem of the same name of the film to the Proposition 8 battle in California, Howl arrives on the scene with a great deal of cache for the indie audience.

Neil Miller at Film School Rejects kicks off his review with what appears the central debate surrounding the film:

The interpretation of art is tricky. In fact, most great works of art are the trickiest because what makes them great is that they can mean different things to different people. This is something I’ve known, but was reinforced by Rob Epstein’s excellent film Howl, which is a commentary on interpretation set against the obscenity trial that catapulted Allen Ginsberg’s famous poem into the national spotlight. This is also something I realized in the peer conversations that followed my viewing of the film — if taken one way, Howl is a great film. If interpreted another, it loses all of its impact.

He goes on to argue that the film can be read either as an interpretation of the art itself or a meditation on interpretations of art. He also expresses great admiration for James Franco’s central performance, something echoed by MTV. Though this wasn’t something completely shared by Cinematical’s Kevin Kelly, who said that Franco “does a decent job in the role when he’s imitating Ginsberg via recordings, but veers off-track in fictionalized moments”.

Kelly also struggles to find as much enthusiasm as that expressed by Miller, arguing:

Interviews discussing the impact of HOWL, photos, recordings (a vintage recording of Ginsberg reading HOWL aloud was actually discovered in 2007), and more of a background would have been more interesting to watch than this unfortunately clumsy approach to adapting one of the quintessential American poems to film.

It’s scepticism is echoed by indieWire’s Eric Kohn, though he is perhaps even less kind:

Although Howl technically didn’t provide Sundance with its opening night film—it was one of two competition films screened on opening night—it reeks of the stigma associated with the aforementioned slot: Poorly executed, socially relevant counterculture fetishization executed with a few familiar faces. Ginsberg says he reached ‘complete control’ with his composition of Howl, but the movie version apparently has none.

At the moment, Howl looks like it could face a rocky road which may have to be driven by the buzz which seems to surround Franco’s performance. He’s getting praise, but the film itself is getting something of a muted response, with many noting that the two directors had originally envisioned the film as a documentary and have possibly become a little confused in their aims.

Link It!

Zooey Deschanel

John Malkovich has joined the cast of Randall Wallace’s Secretariat.

Darren Aronofsky is to make a film about the £53m Securitas van robbery which happened in Tonbridge in 2006.

Zooey Deschanel has married Ben Gibbard, the principal member of Death Cab for Cutie.

Columbia Pictures is to make a movie of the Enron story, just after the theatre show is to make its way to the West End.

FOX has ordered up a whole season of Glee.

Jon Hamm, Will Ferrell and Linda Cardellini are among those backing the cause of health insurance companies in the face of Obama reform policies.

Brad Pitt may play Moriarty in a second Sherlock Holmes.

Link It

Magneto

Looks like George Clooney could end up directing the Hamdan vs Rumsfeld project, with Matt Damon starring.

Precious is beginning its Oscar buzz season with a win in Toronto.

Apparently Gavin Hood wouldn’t mind making a shitty Magneto movie too.

Jack Kirby’s estate has begun delivering copyright termination notices to a whole bunch folks, including Marvel and Disney, relating to characters the late creator was responsible for.

Five movies which make Film School Rejects hungry.

Declaration of Independence: The Ten Principles of Hybrid Distribution from Indiewire.

Johnny Depp is reportedly less interested in another Pirates movie without Dick Cook at the helm of Walt Disney Studios.

MTV has an exclusive excerpt from Kevin Smith’s SModcast book.

Henry Rollins voicing a Batman character? Fuck, yeah!!

Twitch has an interview with Guy Maddin at TIFF about Night Mayor.

Venice Golden Lion winner Lebanon has been purchased by Sony Pictures Classics.

District 9 has made it over to Nigeria.

Vampire Killers. Nothing Else. Just Vampire Killers

Lesbian Vampire Killers

A row has broken out over the alleged censorship of DVD cases for Lesbian Vampire Killers, the ‘comedy’ and uber-terrible British comedy film starring James Corden and Matthew Horne.

A number of retailers, notably supermarkets including Tesco and Asda, have been stocking copies of the DVD with the majority of the word ‘Lesbian’ blocked out by a warning sticker. This comes in the wake of the recent advertisements for Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds in the UK, shown on Channel 4 pre-watershed with no mention of the world ‘Basterds’ (not, not actually a word due to spelling).

I’m sure this is no censorship conspiracy and, as the report on The Guardian notes, the retailers have defended the action by saying that distributor Momentum offered them two versions of the DVD. Momentum has though said that the retailers requested it so, it suppose, it falls into the category of PR shitstorm for both sides.

Saddest of all though, it has meant that Lesbian Vampire Killers, a piece of shit if ever there was one, has been given some extra, entirely undeserved press coverage.

Brewster’s Millions Remake

Brewsters Millions Poster

I’ve said before, I’m not one of those people who become immediately offended when remakes are announced. Will Smith’s family can’t come and take away all the copies of Karate Kid around the world, it’s still there for me. No matter how much they try to destroy our childhoods, they can never truly win.

The news today that Brewster’s Millions, the very fun mid-80s comedy starring Richard Pryor and John Candy, is being remade by Warner Bros should have been met with annoyance by me. But, taking off those rose-tinted specs for a moment, I realise that it’s not a perfect film. Nor is the direction by Walter Hill or the performances by Richard Pryor or John Candy. They’re all decent but not definitive in the canon of any of them.

So, it is with great pleasure that I declare this remake a not-entirely-devoid-of-thought-although-mostly-not-needed idea.

RIP John Hughes

John Hughes

John Hughes, the venerable and generating-defining director of a host of superb teen films in the 1980s, has died.

According to reports on TMZ, Hughes died while taking a morning walk in New York after suffering a heart attack.

He was best known for his work in the mid-1980s, most notably the triumphant trio of Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Weird Science. More though, his finest moment was the immortal Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends.

RIP John Hughes.

Trailer for The Lovely Bones

Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones

Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones

Outside of the painfully awkward intro from Peter Jackson at the top of this trailer, this looks to be a pretty solid effort. The trailer seems to try and fit in everything and the kitchen sink into its runtime. The story, about a young girl who is murdered and the aftermath of her death for her family and friends, seems to be nearly wholly included in the two-and-a-bit minutes of the clip.

Jackson has certainly not tried to shy away from tacking the puratory-representations which are likely to cause a very, very minor stir here and there, although on the small screen of the trailer it looks like a better attempt than achievement.

The worry originally for most would have been the replacement of Ryan Gosling as the father with Marky Mark Wahlberg. Argue for eternity, if you see fit, that he was good in Boogie Nights and The Departed (the latter most just shouting and the former primarily playing dumb), but Wahlberg just ain’t the actor Gosling is. However, the trailer puts him in quite a reasonable light and, given his own parenthood, could allow him to bring something to the role which Gosling would have had to create rather than draw upon.

The book is one of my co-host’s favourites from the past few years so I’ll be interested to gauge his opinion when he returns from his Spanish sojourn, but for now I’ll give some backing to this. The cast is strong and, although the trailer plays up the melodrama and latter thriller elements a little too much, this has solid stock and should prove a good bet.

Rob Marshall to Direct Pirates 4?

Jack Sparrow 2

Obviously, I haven’t seen Nine yet, but I can’t imagine it would help in generating any excitement for Rob Marshall being touted as helmer of the Pirates of the Caribbean series’ fourth instalment.

Having said that, the news of this brings to mind the fact that Gore Verbinski, overseer of the decreasingly good series for the first few goes around, was hardly coming into the series with much on his belt. The Ring remake is, in all fairness, probably the best of the Asian horror remakes we’ve had hoisted upon us but he did a mighty good job with the first two Pirates films.

Marshall hasn’t impressed me yet, although he certainly has an assured technical hand. Movies like Pirates though don’t enormously rely on that for their entertainment value. An assured technical hand will just act as part of a cog in a much bigger machine which is managing the effects and action. Where the film may falter under Marshall’s control is in the moments between characters and in the storytelling.

Memoirs of a Geisha was never a project for him, or even ripe for a film adaptation, but Chicago showed this exact split in his talents; good at the staging, bad at the characters. What this film will need is a decent script to be good. Although, all that written, the fact is it only really needs Depp, Bloom and Knightley along with some huge sea battles and monsters and, like the other, a healthy ten figures should roll in.

Spielberg Directing Harvey Remake?

Harvey Poster

I was recently rewatching the two-hour documentary on the Jaws DVD which gives a pretty comprehensive overview of the making of that film. The absolute key result of watching this documentary, from my end, is that Steven Spielberg is a complete filmmaking genius. Whether you think Jaws is glorified B-movie nonsense. Maybe you think he’s a commercial whore, a populist monster only really concerned with making money. You shouldn’t, but maybe you do. No matter any of that, you surely can’t deny the brilliance of his best work.

Those days are definitely behind him now and today’s news that the man is to direct a remake of Harvey, the James Stewart-starring whimsical alcoholism classic, must near bring tears to the eyes. I have often said on this site and on our podcast, that remakes are not all that bad. The problem is that remakes should only be undertaken when the original film went wrong. If that original has something great in its conceit, but the execution went array, then by all means, try again. But, although Harvey is not perfect, there is no place for a remake of this film.

But, it’s happening. So I’m going to try and embrace this. As Drew McWeeny writes in the HitFix article linked-to above, this is a vehicle for Tom Hanks if ever one has been created. So, let’s just look forward to a charming Hanks performance, grin and bear it.

Futurama Voice Cast Signed, A Good Idea To Bring It Back?

Futurama

We chatted, angrily and with utmost Fox-aimed contempt, on the podcast a few weeks back about the news that the studio were planning to replace the entire original voice cast of Futurama for its return to television screens. The fury with which the majority of the online world and Futurama-fanbase reacted to the news was primarily borne out of residual anger against Fox for its televisual mistakes of the past and, more perhaps, by such a blatant attempt to win a PR war they were entirely ill-equipped to succeed in.

I understand the executives at Fox are under pressure the majority of the time, given the problems they have faced in trying to match the box-office thump heralded by rivals Warner Bros and, to a lesser competitive extent, Disney. But they just don’t help themselves. The news at the end of last week that the cast of Futurama have now been signed on to work on the new TV series was entirely expected in the face of the furore which erupted in the wake of news they would not return. The question is, why would Fox seek to piss so many fans off at a time when their stock could hardly sink any lower?

The entire move appears to have been an attempt to drive down the salaries of the main players amid the recession. The studio should, and I emphasise SHOULD, understand that their tactics to achieve this goal – essentially involving threatening to fire these people should they refuse to take a pay cut – could, would and will never work within an internet era. The moment the news broke, fingers will have begun to slam onto keyboards across the world to criticise the entire concept that you could replace an entire voice cast. A few years ago, this may have been avoided through sheer fact that the social internet had yet to form into a worldwide community. Maybe it could have grown into an issue, but not in the instant that it will do nowadays.

On our podcast, my esteemed colleague Tom briefly noted the move by Family Guy to replace Lacey Chabert with Mila Kunis in voicing Meg, a move which prompted absolutely no reaction from anywhere. Why? Because one minor cast member is just about doable. You can replace a single voice cast member with a similar vocal actor because, outside of a few initial confusions and annoyances, everyone will get over that. You just cannot, ever, replace the entire voice cast of a show. Further to that, you absolutely cannot replace an entire voice cast on a show which is being brought back through sheer popularity. The only reason the show is to return is because of its popularity in the straight-to-DVD movie form. It’s like a record label signing a band which has just been dropped, only to insist that all members be replaced before they will put a record out. Ridiculous.

Will Fox learn? I sincerely doubt it. They have shown time (Arrested Development) and time (Firefly) and time (original Family Guy/The Tick/Undeclared/Wonderfalls/The Ben Stiller Show/Greg the Bunny/Andy Richter Controls the Universe) again that they have almost no ability to choose, exhibit or promote good quality television. Sure, 24 was great, if entirely in line with the ideological viewpoint of the Fox Network, and there are other good shows that they produce, but just consider some of the cancellations they have made over the years and you get to feeling like all TV folk are on a losing path from day one.

Another question to pose quickly though, will Futurama be any good coming back in this form? Family Guy’s first three season are immensely brilliant, but that show has descended into a quagmire of self-parody and creaking joke-writing. The creation of a Cleveland spin-off should be the final death knell. When these shows get cancelled, we often feel the pangs of pain that they are no longer with us. But really, if we consider it fully, do we need Futurama to come back?

NOTE: It was pointed out by HitFix that the company involved in the negotiations is 20th Century Fox. Given they, and the FOX Network, are both owned by News Corp and likely have a party line to follow, it seems only right to use the capitalised Fox as a catch all for the widespread idiocy within its television operation.

Comedy Heavies Added to Paul Cast

Seth Rogen

Comedy-tastic. Honestly, this is truly comedy-tastic news.

Seth Rogen, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader and the great Jane Lynch have all joined the cast of Paul, the upcoming sci-fi road trip comedy from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.

The Spaced pair wrote and will star in the film about two sci-fi nerds who embark on a road trip and encounter an alien, called Paul, who has escaped from Area 51.

The alien is to be voice by Rogen, fresh from his excellent voice-acting work in Monsters vs Aliens, with Superbad and Adventureland director Greg Mottola helming the project.

I’m a huge Pegg-Frost fan, so much so that their upcoming appearance in Spielberg’s Tin Tin film has got me excited for that project, long a ‘meh’ for me. Their work together in Spaced is of modern British comedy legend and while Hot Fuzz isn’t as consistent as one might hope, Shaun of the Dead is a bona fide slice of zom-com mastery.

This, with all of those other added, is now sounding like a saliva-worthy project.

Katee Sackhoff for Typhoid Mary?

Starbuck

The rumours about this were raging over the weekend but it’s starting to seem like a lot of smoke for there to be no fire in the end.

A blog entry on the page for Golden Apple comics said Katee Sackhoff entered the store in the past week to purchase a significant number of Typhoid Mary comics, apparently also saying she was hoping to win “a part for a Marvel movie”.

Those more knowledgeable than me in the world of comics have noted Typhoid Mary is involved in a few different Marvel story threads, meaning Sackhoff’s possible role could be, realistically in one of two movies.

The most likely is that she will be somehow involved in the Deadpool spin-off, being developed as a vehicle for Ryan Reynolds to prove his leading man action credentials and bring one of the better X-Men characters to life.

The other possibility is a reboot of Daredevil, the franchise hit hard by the disappointing Mark Steven Johnson-directed effort earlier his decade and, as if to rub salt into the wound, the birthing place of the terrible Elektra.

Either would be pretty cool should Tyhoid Mary be given a decent role and should Sackhoff be confirmed for the part. She’s best known for her amazing performance as Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica and would be pitch perfect for this role.

According to those aforementioned more knowledgeable sources, Typhoid Mary is a Marvel villain afflicted by multiple personalities, something Starbuck flirted with on a number of occasions during Battlestar.

Elisabeth Rappe, writing up the story for Cinematical, is absolutely right however in saying it needs to be a substantial role. Really cool female characters are pretty hard to come by in comics, even more so in comic book movies, and this could prove a real chance for a good character and talented actress to give some hope to the unofficial cause.

Buffy Reboot?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

In this burgeoning sub-genre of series reboots, I think the nadir was already reached with the Cliffhanger reboot idea. It can’t get any more ridiculous that that.

The most recent rumour, and it seems relatively strong, is that Fran Kuzui, the original director of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie and executive producer on the genius television series, is seeking to reboot the series.

According to the report on Twitch, Kuzui will work alongside producing partner and other half Kaz Kuzui, with Vertigo Entertainment’s Roy Lee and Doug Davison, to create some new feature films based in the Buffy universe.

The report suggests however this would be a true reboot of the franchise, eschewing all the original characters from the film and series to set the whole thing in a new world with a new slayer.

As Twitch points out, the fanbase for Buffy remains happy to gobble up any new stories and related franchise entries in the comics. However, I’m not sure the trust would be there without strong involvement from Joss Whedon, the true auteur mind behind the Buffy franchise.

I wouldn’t mind seeing new Buffy series entries, even if Buffy herself isn’t involved. But I’m a little sceptical that anyone but Whedon can really pull the character off.

Haneke Wins Palme d’Or

michael haneke

Michael Haneke has won the Palme d’Or for his acclaimed The White Ribbon (review by Peter Bradshaw at The Guardian). The film, described by IFC’s The Daily as “a two-and-a-half hour parable of political and social ideas set entirely in a north German village in 1913 and 1914”, marks the first Palme d’Or win for Haneke following a number of other awards successes for the German provocateur at the festival. He has in the past won prizes for Hidden, The Piano Teacher and Code Unknown, but this is his first win of the top prize.

Alain Resnais, an outside member of the Nouvelle Vague and creator of the time-warping masterpieces Last Year in Marienbad and Hiroshima, Mon Amour, was given the Special Jury Prize in honour of his Wild Grass (review by Daniel Kasman at The Auteur’s Notebook). The Grand Prix was given to Jacques Audiard’s The Prophet (review by Anthony Kaufman at indieWIRE). The director prize went to Brillante Mendoza for his violent drama Kinatay, already torn a new one by Roger Ebert. The eminent Chicago Sun-Times voice essentially opens his review with an apology to Vincent Gallo over his past assertion that The Brown Bunny was the worst film in the history of the festival.

Ebert goes on to say:

“After extensive recutting, the Gallo film was redeemed. I don’t think editing is going to do the trick for “Kinatay.” If Mendoza wants to please any viewer except for the most tortured theorist (one of those careerists who thinks movies are about arcane academic debates and not people) he’s going to have to remake his entire second half.”

Onwards with Cannes however, The Prix de Scenario for Best Screenplay was given to Feng Mei for the Lou Ye-directed Spring Fever (review by Sukhdev Sandhu at The Telegraph). That has itself been surrounded by controversy over the decision by Ye to screen the film in Cannes without the approval of the Chinese government.

The Camera d’Or for Best First Feature was given to Australian Warwick Thornton for Samson and Delilah (interview here and review, by The Telegraph’s Sandu, which indicates the love to have come for this film), his indigenous realist drama.

Very nicely, the Prix du Jury was given to Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank (review by The Guardian’s Bradshaw) and Park Chan-wook’s horror film Thirst (review by Twitch’s Todd Brown). Arnold, whose outstanding Red Road won the Jury Prize in 2006, had been tipped for a possible Palme d’Or this time round but will instead have to settle for outstanding reviews yet again.

The acting honours provide the most curious choices. Tarantino’s lukewarmly received Inglourious Basterds (review by Spout’s Karina Longworth) saw Christoph Waltz take home the Best Actor Prize while Charlotte Gainsbourg won Best Actress for her performance in Lars von Trier’s hugely controversial Antichrist.

Probably the most notably absentees from the possible prize winners are Jane Campion’s Bright Star, her story of the love affair between John Keats and Fanny Brawn, and Ken Loach’s fondly-tipped Looking for Eric. Bright Star was another beloved by critics in the UK while Looking for Eric didn’t quite live up to all expectations but was mostly liked too. Gaspar Noe’s Enter the Void, his follow-up to the equally loathed and admired Irreversible, seemed to spark little in the way of notice for those attending the festival, but did at least bring some searching analysis from those who did take notice.

Antichrist Picked Up by IFC

Antichrist

IFC has picked up US distribution rights to Antichrist, Lars von Trier’s tilt at horror movie immortality and easily the most talked-about film from this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Antichrist, in short, follows the story of a couple, hit hard by the death of their child, who retreat to a cabin in the woods in which a great deal of trippy/disturbing occurences befall them.

The film has been a divider at the festival, drawing completely differing viewpoints critics, primarily shocked rather than negative, and even prompted the hyperbole-addicted Jeff Wells to proclaim this a “career embarrassment” for all involved.

Whether it is or not, this kind of film will generate publicity and curiosity. People, myself included, will be anxious to understand the kind of divisive choices Von Trier, a consciously-provocative filmmakers in even his calmest moments, has made to elicit such intense opinion from those to have seen the movie.

Additionally, IFC picked up the rights for Looking for Eric, the new film from Ken Loach starring the genius, the King, Eric Cantona.

Jonathan Glazer to get Under the Skin

Michel Faber Under the Skin

Jonathan Glazer, the talented filmmaker behind the superb Sexy Beast and the very underrated Birth, is to make his return with an adaptation of Michel Faber’s Under the Skin (read the first chapter here).

The book concerns itself with aliens who kidnap hitchhikers in Scotland and then process them to be used as gourmet food on their own planets.

/Film points out pretty accurately that the book is a pretty heavy-handed satire of the meat products industry.

It does though lend itself to having someone like Glazer on board, a director who has a great ability to utilise visuals in strengthening the story he is telling. If you need further proof of his ability check out the music videos for Radiohead’s ‘Street Spirit’ and Massive Attack’s ‘Karmacoma’. You can also check out the best of his advertising work here.

I would like to see more from Glazer, whose first two films have shown great promise and who seems to have struggled to get back on the horse after the strange reaction given to Birth.

Parnassus Clip

Brief though it may be, here’s a very short little snippet from The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus, the new Terry Gilliam movie starring the late Heath Ledger.

Arterton and Westwick to go to Wuthering Heights

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The new adaptation of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights has managed to pick up Bond girl Gemma Arterton and Gossip Girl’s Chuck Bass, Ed Westwick. It’s to be directed by Peter Weber, of the Girl with the Pearl Earring.

/Film notes interesting that this casting does mean that the two leads will be roughly the same age as their characters, surely something close to unheard-of in Hollywood. It has gone through a number of casting changes over the past few years, including the likes of Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman and Abbie Cornish all being attached and latterly quitting.

It could undoubtedly prove a good choice. Arterton has proven herself a pretty charming screen presence, in other period dramas no less, while Westwick is the best thing about the ridiculously addictive Gossip Girl.

Who Will Play Captain America?

ST/CAPTAIN

The casting buzz for Captain America has been particularly out of the ordinary in comparison to his Marvel peers.

The most notable name being bandied around for the role was that of Will Smith, coming after a comment made last year by Derek Luke. Marvel and Smith both denied the suggestion that he was being looked at but now it’s come up again.

Channing Tatum, during an interview with MTV News on Monday, expressed his own interest in the project, but only if Smith passed.

Tatum said he had only “heard rumours” that Smith was being considered for the part but it does seem interesting that he is still be thought of. It’s not bad casting, Smith is undoubtedly among the definitive American stars of his day and definitely has the action chops to pull it off.

However, Tatum could well be a decent choice. He’s been a decent presence in a series of okay movies, including really good performances in A Guide to Recognising Your Saints and Stop-Loss, both imperfect films with good actors carrying it through.

He’s been searching for a big film to really launch him into households and, given GI Joe doesn’t look the film to do it, nor Fighting, so this may be a good fit.

Bellucci Joins Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Monica Bellucci

Monica Bellucci has joined the likes of Nicolas Cage and Jay Baruchel in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the story of a young man with job noted in the title who is left to look after a magic workshop when his master leaves him in charge. The apprentice, being played by Baruchel, will have a broom do the majority of his chores until this cushy arrangement is broken when the broom takes on a life of its own.

The Sorcerer will be played by Nicolas Cage, fresh of a run that no one would ever envy in the terrible likes of Knowing, Bangkok Dangerous and Ghost Rider. Adaptation a few years back showed he could be good still but he seems entirely determined to prove that film wrong. He does have the curious Bad Lieutenant reimagining with Werner Herzog to come though, and I’ve have high hopes for a truly ridiculous performance from him in that one.

Bellucci is to play his love interest in the film, a role which will surely require her to act to the fullest of her ability as Cage does his thing in scenes with her.

The story itself is reportedly based on a section of Fantasia, the surreal Disney musical from 1940, and the elements of that film which concerned Mickey Mouse. The film is due to come out next year on the same weekend as Christopher Nolan’s Inception, surely a chance for people to measure up the relative box-office draws of Nolan and Cage.

Rinko Kikuchi Joins Norwegian Wood Adaptation

Rinko Kikuchi

Oscar-nominated Babel star, and co-star of the upcoming Brothers Bloom, Rinko Kikuchi has signed on to star in an adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood. It’s to be directed by Tran Anh Hung, previous credits of whom include Cyclo and The Scent of Green Papaya.

The main character Toru is to be played by Kenichi Matsuyama while Kikuchi will take on Naoko, the love interest of Toru whose troubled existence provides many opportunities for existential examination and heartbreak for our lead.

The book is not my favourite of Murakami’s, it being somewhat straightforward and relatively predictable when compared to the astonishing magical, mystical realism of Kafka on the Shore and the superb Dance, Dance, Dance.

However, any adaptation of his should be welcomed with open arms and, of his more celebrated works, this is probably the most conducive to a film adaptation. The brilliance of Kafka on the Shore is undoubted, but the book is filled with strange scenes which would be difficult to pull off.

Count me among those thoroughly looking forward to this adaptation.

Ferrara Taking on Jekyll and Hyde Too

Abel Ferrara

Abel Ferrara, possibly still stinging from Werner Herzog putting him down after taking on Bad Lieutenant, has decided to launch his own version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Ferrara’s version will be called Jekyll and Hyde.

His reading will also feature Forest Whitaker and Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson at the lead characters.

I can’t quite imagine why he would want to do this but, given his interesting if not wholly-successful take on the Invasion of the Body Snatchers story in the past, he could at least bring something different to the table.

Separate to this, two other Jekyll and Hyde projects are in the works.

There is the terrible-sounding version with Keanu Reeves playing both lead roles, although possibly with Bronson’s Nicolas Winding Refn directing. That one would presently fall into the interesting category alongside the potential Ferrara version.

Alongside those is the most promising but, unfortunately, most unlikely to come in the short-term, from Guillermo del Toro. That one is only in the embryonic stages so little is known other than the character design will be amazing.

Scorsese To Tell Sinatra’s Story

Frank Sinatra

Martin Scorsese is to team with Universal and Mandalay Pictures on Sinatra, a biopic of the legendary singer which the great man will produce and direct. The script has been written by Philip Alden Robinson, the writer of the classic Field of Dreams.

Scorsese has long-considered undertaking a biopic of Sinatra, probably understandable given his place in the pantheon of heroes for Italian-Americans and his associations with gangsters and organised crime in his day.

No actor is yet attached by Variety strongly speculates that Leonardo DiCaprio is a primary candidate given his transition to become Scorsese’s acting muse over the past decade or so. The trade notes that it won’t be necessary to have an actor with singing chops (akin to Kevin Spacey’s take on Bobby Darin in Under the Sea) as all the songs included in the movie would be taken from past recordings.

Producer Cathy Shulman said the process of acquiring the rights to Sinatra’s life story provided “very complicated” and indicates that tapping Scorsese to head the project eventually swung the pendulum in their favour.

She says:

“Everyone knows that Marty Scorsese is a final-cut director. So there had to be a lot of trust that he would tell this story in a way that didn’t destroy (Sinatra’s) memory.”

She goes on to describe the project as an unconventional biopic which will examine all aspects of Sinatra’s somewhat colourful life.

Tina Sinatra, the daughter of the late star, said:

“My father had great admiration for the talent of the people he chose to work with, and the talented people who worked with my father had great admiration for him. It is personally pleasing to me that this paradigm continues with Marty Scorsese at the helm of the Sinatra film.”

Sounds like a perfect fit, although I would immediately worry about the pitfalls which can strike in telling biopic stories, especially with such a touchy subject in Sinatra. Could be very interesting to see where this one goes.

Kidman Runs Away from Woody Allen

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Nicole Kidman has departed from her role starring in the next, presently untitled, Woody Allen project.

She was due to star alongside Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Brolin, Naomi Watts and Freida Pinto with shooting reportedly due to commence in the summer in Allen’s most frequent new city muse, London.

Variety says nothing has yet been said as to who will replace Kidman in the role.

It seems like an interesting move for an actress who seems to be struggling somewhat to maintain any kind of box-office power. Australia was a complete flop and, prior to this, she was in the debacle that is The Golden Compass, the mean-spirited and somewhat irratating Margot at the Wedding and the truly terrible The Invasion.

Allen, on the other hand, seems in upward swing. Vicky Cristina Barcelona was his most universally liked work since Sweet and Lowdown and Whatever Works, starring Larry David and Evan Rachel Wood, looks an even stronger creation.

I suppose we’ll see if Kidman can manage to find something to suit her talents in the future, rather than continuing this stream of dreck.

Spacey for Casino Jack

Kevin Spacey

Kevin Spacey has signed up to stary as Jack Abramoff, the disgraced Washington power broker, in Casino Jack for director George Hickenlooper and writer Norman Snider.

Spacey will take the lead as a formerly high-powered lobbyist who eventually wound up in prison over his indulgence in bribery schemes and fraudulent dealings with Indian casinos.

Hickenlooper was actually a co-director on the legendary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, the documentary about the making of Apocalypse Now. He also directed the excellent Mayor of the Sunset Strip, about Rodney Bingenheimer, and the okay Edie Sedgwick bio Factory Girl.

Snider’s most notably credit is as a co-writer, alongside David Cronenberg, on Dead Ringers.

This sounds like an interesting project for Spacey. He does well playing smarmy, arrogant assholes and Abramoff is a prime candidate. You can read about his dealings here but, as a taster, he was accused of defruading Native American tribes out of $25m for lobbying activities.

Preacher Updates from Mendes

Preacher

Sam Mendes has given an interview to MTV News over the past weekend, primarily concerning his new film, Away We Go. In the process however, he gave some updates on how the film adaptation of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s fantastic graphic novel series Preacher is coming along.

Mendes said John August, the screenwriter, is “doing pretty well” and is around halfway through the writing. “There’s a long way to go yet, but I’m very, very hopeful,” he says. “I think it could be amazing.”

The only other piece of information from Mendes was that the film will be self-contained, although he said he could see a franchise being born.

Mendes said:

“You have to try and get one really good and then, if you’re lucky, you can make a second or a third. You can create something that going to run. But I think that there’s certainly more than enough for one good movie and plenty left over.”

The MTV piece also raises the question of casting for the film. At present, the best I’ve heard in the past was Billy Crudup for Jesse Custer. As for the rest of the character, I couldn’t tell you. But it’s certainly one for consideration.