Odeon/UCI back down in Alice in Wonderland dispute
The news that Odeon had refused to show Alice in Wonderland was discussed earlier this week, dependent on your viewpoint the good/bad newsis that the cinema chain announce today that they now WILL be showing the Tim Burton remake after an agreement was struck between the two parties. Full story here.
Cooper chooses another hangover over war
Bradley Cooper has pulled out of This Means War, a rom-com directed by McG and also featuring Reese Witherspoon. Initial reports suggest that Cooper pulled out because of scheduling conflicts between this and The Hangover 2, not because the plot of This Means War sounds pants.
New Nightmare on Elm Street Trailer
Looks pretty pointless and in parts looks like a shot for shot remake. Also features the most ridiculous villain voice since The Punisher.
A shortlist for Paranormal Activity 2 directors is announced….
…. and there is one definite surprise in Brian De Palma. While I would be interested to see what the Scarface director would come up with, my inclination is with Brad Anderson, the director of two fantastic films Session 9 and The Machinist (possibly Christian Bale’s best performance). Full shortlist here.
Marlon Wayans on playing Richard Pryor
This is something I am completely on board with. While he was in the Scary Movie series, White Chicks and Little Man, it’s easy to forget he was also fantastic in Requiem for a dream. I had him down on my list for “Actors We Could Make Great” and I think this could be the film to do it. In this article with the LA Times, Marlon defends some undefendable films, talks about getting the role ahead of Eddie Murphy and discusses why Pryor deserves a film about him. Note: White Chicks and Little Man grossed $215 million in total and a White Chicks 2 is on the way.
Zach Galifianakis is a miracle worker!
He must be, he carried everyone in The Hangover! Galifianakis is set to star in a supernatural buddy comedy (might sound like a made up subgenre, but check out the fantastic The Revenant when it finally manages to get released – makes Shaun of The Dead seem as funny as Epic Movie). Will be good to see ZaGa (it may catch on if I use it enough) shake his comedy muscles and no doubt I will be completely onboard by the time a director is announced.
In a column for the Guardian over the weekend, Joe Queenan used A Serious Man to stand in example of movies by directors which stand apart from the rest of their filmography. In the case of A Serious Man, Queenan writes:
A Serious Man falls into that category of films that, for whatever reason, do not have the same texture or mood as a director’s other films. It may be a decision the film-maker has made deliberately, or it may be entirely inadvertent, but these films stand apart from the other movies in a director’s body of work. It is as if the film-maker abruptly decided to take a holiday from his own personality and make a film in somebody else’s style.
He goes on to cite other examples of this theory for great directors. He notes Werner Herzog for Rescue Dawn (“…a well-crafted action picture. And nothing more.“), Spike Lee’s Inside Man (“…certainly doesn’t have the feel of any other Spike Lee film. It is work for hire.“) and Ang Lee with The Hulk (“…one of those catastrophes so bad that its sequel seems like the industry’s personal apology to the movie-going public for what has gone before.“)
He also cites a few examples of better one-offs, such as Scorsese’s Age of Innocence, Eastwood’s The Bridges of Madison County and, inexplicably, Peter Weir’s Green Card.
I’ll leave what he considers good or bad to the side (seriously though, Green Card?) and just comment on the mistake of characterising so many of these films as being far apart from the other work by directors.
There are certain films that you see announced, subsequently chronicled in their making and then given trailers prior to release that, when you actually see them, they are completely and totally what you had expected to see from start to finish. Public Enemies is, and note this is not wholly negative, exactly what you would expect a John Dillinger biopic directed by Michael Mann to be.
The film is extremely well made, professionally told in terms of story and character, contains a host of excellent performances, not least Johnny Depp in the lead role, and entirely hits all the markers you would expect that it would. While that means that any expectations you have had for the movie are likely to be met, it does mean that nothing is exceeded.
The film follows John Dillinger (Depp) from a blistering opening of his breaking cohorts out of prison through to his eventual demise outside the Biograph Theatre in Chicago. In between we witness his bankrobbing ways, see his Robin Hood qualities played to the extreme and experience him falling in love with Marion Cotillard’s Billie Frechette and finally seeing his time pass as other forms of criminal begin to usurp his place. This is all juxtaposed with a team of agents from the then-burgeoning FBI, led by Billy Crudup’s J Edgar Hoover at the top and Christian Bale’s Melvin Purvis on the ground, who are trying to catch Dillinger and his gang, along with the other loosely associated gangsters around during the era.
No doubt here that the two key players in the film, Depp playing Dillinger and Michael Mann behind the camera, are great at what they are doing. From interviews that Depp has given promoting the film, he seemed to identify with those Robin Hood qualities of Dillinger – robbing banks during a period when foreclosures and collapses were commonplace in the financial world – and the film does not skimp on portraying Dillinger not so much as anti-hero, but as purely a hero. The film does seem to lack a discernable villain, even if Crudup’s slimy take on Hoover comes close and Stephen Graham’s somewhat-garbled rat-a-tat accent as Baby Face Nelson provides the film with at least one unfeeling gangster.
The problem in portraying Dillinger in this way is that you don’t end up grasping the kind of depth that would be needed from a character like that. Depp plays him very much in hero mode, meaning that an uncomfortable feeling seems to dominate the majority of the film in which the audience is being urged to not only try and identify with this bank robber, but to like and support his actions. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this irresponsible on the part of the portrayers, but this seems to lose the film some traction in trying to get the audience to work harder to understand why he is so attractive to them. Depp plays him with almost too much charisma, too much likeability that you completely forgive any actions he takes – the most notable scene for this portrayal is during the first bank heist we see in which Dillinger takes captive a young female clerk and a manager from the bank. While they are awaiting their getaway, Dillinger gives the young girl his coat to keep her warm in the finest tradition of the gentleman robber. The problem is that we just don’t get any sense of weight in those bank robbery scenes that what he is doing is wrong and that we should question why we are behind him.
The other fault of the film is that it never strays from the traditional problems which hit biopics. Mann has managed to make a really good biopic in the past with Ali which, although certainly not a revolution in biographical filmmaking, made the wise choice to focus on only a small part of Ali’s life. This film does that to an extent, but it perhaps attempts to provide a little too much of Dillinger’s life and may have been a more focused and probing work had it been broken in two, giving Mann and the writers a chance to explore Dillinger’s character a bit more and give a portrayal of the man which doesn’t stray into cliche or basic biography channel fact-spotting.
None of this though is to suggest that the film is bad. It is expertly made and contains, during a shoot out in the woods towards its conclusion, at least one astounding scene. That scene plays to many of Mann’s action strengths, cutting out all other noise beyond the blast of the guns and, as was the case in Collateral and in Heat, the scene is rendered incredibly compelling. The cinematography style of the film, overseen by long-time Mann collaborator Dante Spinotti, mixes grained and washed colours with digital video. Many have felt it to be too much of a conscious decision, hurting the overall experience by drawing attention to itself. I would probably agree with that on principal, but it never prevented me from being visually drawn in.
There are a host of very good scenes surrounding this and some nicely-judged supporting performances, most notably from Jason Clarke as Red Hamilton and from Crudup’s Hoover in a smaller role. Cotillard doesn’t really get enough to do but she and Depp forge a strong relationship and chemistry on screen which means the relationship doesn’t just feel shoehorned in.
Christian Bale, whose star seemed unassailably on the rise, is pretty meaningless in this, giving perfectly passable turn as Purvis but, in fairness, trying to do quite a lot with very little. Purvis, who leads the Chicago office’s chase of Dillinger, was surely a much more interesting man that is portrayed here but that isn’t just not explored, it’s not really even hinted at. That lack of a tangible conflict between Dillinger and Purvis does mean the film suffers somewhat in its central battle. When the two meet following the first capture of Dillinger, its hardly like watching De Niro and Pacino in Heat.
Public Enemies seems, on paper anyway, to be a great conceit and match for its director. Yet this feels decidely hollow, a well-made but episodic depiction of a man whose life was surely much more interesting, multi-faceted and singular than this film ever indicates.
MOD RATING: Watchable but hollow, big on the basic elements of expert storytelling, lacking anything beyond pure technique.
So, it seems these Terminators from the future and all that aren’t quite as tough as they would have you believe. Indeed, Terminator Salvation was taught a pretty tough lesson over the weekend as Ben Stiller and friends trounced McG’s franchise effort.
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian essentially managed to get all the kids and families into its hollow web of fun to rack up $53.5m over the weekend, an unbelievable result when considering it was up against Terminator Salvation.
The Christian Bale-starring, McG-helmed fourth instalment took $43m, meaning Night at the Museum topped it by $10m, enough in 1984 to make the original Terminator and have significant change. That’s a meaningless fact but, still, that’s quite a big defeat for Terminator given its $200m budget and very high business expectations.
Star Trek managed to stay close to top spot with $21.9m, just pipping Angels & Demons in fourth with $21.4m. They were followed up in fifth by Dance Flick, the horrible-looking Wayans-run spoof, which made a horrifying $11.1m.
The top ten is rounded out by X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Obsessed, Monsters vs Aliens and 17 Again.
So I’ve been extremely busy with film-watching and outings all this week, so I have had no time to put together nice posts and news for you all to enjoy. Today though, sitting in bed and vegging like a pro, I will provide a round-up of all the interesting happenings from the past week in film.
It’s been confirmed that Jonathan Nolan will not be credited for writing Terminator Salvation. In laterally-related news, Christian Bale said he will commit to the next Batman movie, with or without the presence of Christopher Nolan.
Universal has confirmed plans to remake Drop Dead Fred, the cult classic early-90s movie starring Rik Mayall, with Russell Brand to take over the lead role. This will go alongside the previously announced remake of Dudley Moore-vehicle Arthur for our cheeky chappy.
An interview with Lauren Shuler Donner has seen her say that spin-off vehicles for both Gambit and Deadpool will come, if she has her way. Given the utterly awful Wolverine, that would be something of a result to have a movie which will provide us with easily the two most interesting characters from the film.
Todd McFarlane has entered talks over bringing Spawn back to the screen. It was made before to a very poor reception in 1997. During the interview, with IESB, he also talked a little about the David Fincher-helmed Torso, the adaptation of the Brian Michael Bendis graphic novel. That was dropped by Paramount but McFarlane believes another house will pick it up given the presence of Matt Damon in the lead and Rachel McAdams alongside him.
Some photos have emerged of Megan Fox in Jonah Hex, the adaptation of the John Albano-penned DC series. As you would imagine from a movie about a gonzo version of the Wild West, Fox has eschewed the demure look in favour of chicken house chic. Fox did experience a mild disappointment this week, beat to the FHM 100 Sexiest Women poll’s top spot by Girls Aloud’s Cheryl Cole.
Rainn Wilson, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Natalie Portman have joined the cast of Hesher, an indie dramedy to be directed by Spencer Susser. /Film has a host of extra information on this, including a really bewitching zombie short directed by Susser.
Here’s an odd one. The next movie coming from Zhang Yimou, the helmer of the astounding Hero and House of Flying Daggers, is reportedly a remake of the Coens’ Blood Simple.
McG and Michael Bay could well end up slapping ’em out on the table and bringing out the rulers, should the challenge put forth by the former to the latter become reality. Yes, McG has challenged Bay to a dick-measuring contest.
So apparently Oliver Stone, Michael Douglas and Shia LeBoeuf have signed up to take on a sequel to Wall Street, Stone’s visceral attack on the lack of ethics involved in big money trading. It seems a little late at this point but, praise be, no Charlie Sheen.
On the business side, the merger between agency giant William Morris and Endeavour has been approved. Relativity and Lionsgate have brokered a distribution agreement which will cover around five movies per year. Time Warner has announced a 14 per cent fall in profits in the first quarter, primarily owing to problems with AOL, which it is looking to spin-off imminently, and in Time Inc, the magazine side of the conglomerate.
Cinematical has a review of Departures, the Japanese foreign film Oscar winner from this year.
Francis Ford Coppola’s Tetro will open the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes.
Benicio del Toro is reportedly in talks to play Brett Easton Ellis in an adaptation of his Lunar Park.
Here’s a first look at Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man 2.
The Forgotten, the indie comic series by Evan Young and Jareth Grealish, has been optioned for a movie adaptation.
Bruce Willis is reportedly being courted to star in Red, an adaptation of the Warren Ellis-penned series.
The BBC has commissioned more The Thick of It from Armando Ianucci, coming on the back of the success of In the Loop.
Warner Bros has acquired the rights to Death Note, the manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba.
Mike Newell is in talks to direct a new version of The Lone Ranger.
Fox Searchlight has picked up Whip It, the directorial debut of Drew Barrymore starring Ellen Page.
Iran’s About Elly has won the jury prize at Tribeca.
Uber-busy Christian Bale has plumped his schedule yet further by signing up to star in The Fighter the upcoming movie starring Mark Wahlberg and due to be directed by… oh. Due to be directed not by Darren Aronofsky but by David O Russell.
So in addition to Bale’s joining the cast, Aronofsky has handed the directorial reins over to Russell, the director of Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees.
The story will follow ‘Irish’ Micky Ward (Wahlberg) and his rise to fame as a boxer, taken there through the tutelage of half-brother Dicky Eklund, to be played by Bale.
Aronofsky’s departure is a bummer but, if nothing else, the potential for a blow-up never experienced before on movies sets between the notoriously prickly Russell and, of course, Bale, makes this one to watch despite the loss of Aronofsky to the staff.