The Movie Overdose’s newest, and essentially lone writer Chris Inman outlines his most anticipated movies of the coming year. Listen to Sam, Tom and John’s choices on Episode Number 48.
The Rum Diary
Why the buzz? : Johnny Depp has been a little disappointing of late, starring in major films where he seems to play a caricature of himself, so a return to a more intimate character-driven role will hopefully see a return to form. His performance in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas shows that he is able to ply his trade in supposed ‘unfilmable’ Hunter S Thompson adaptations. Giovanni Ribisi and Aaron Eckhart also star in this story of a freelance journalist writing for a paper in the Caribbean who develops a fixation for rum and a businessman’s fiancée.
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.
“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.
Christopher Nolan’s Inception, the sci-fi action movie involving itself with ‘the architecture of the mind’, has added yet more stars to its cast.
MOD favourite Tom Hardy, so brilliant in his role in Bronson earlier this year, is to join the cast along with Ken Watanabe. The latter worked with Nolan previously in Batman Begins and has also been excellent in Letters from Iwo Jima and The Last Samurai in the past.
Good to see yet more work coming Hardy’s way in the wake of his breakout performance in Bronson and a brightspot turn in Guy Ritchie’s wretched RocknRolla. He’s been an interesting acting presence for some time and, for those interested in more on him, he gives an amazing performance in Stuart: A Life Backwards, a BBC drama from a couple of years back.
Inception continues to be kept heavily under wraps as far as any sort of plot details go but it’s cast is now looking mighty impressive. Along with the two announced today, they’ve also secured the services of the likes of Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Cillian Murphy and Michael Caine.
I’d have to guess that, by this point, Nolan has pretty much carte blanche to do whatever he likes with the film given both the critical and commercial reception for The Dark Knight. Add to that an already acclaimed career and Memento’s place among the best-loved films of the past twenty years, I think you’ve got a director with some serious credit to burn.
The Anime News Network has reported, via Dark Horizons for us, that Leonardo DiCaprio is currently holding talks regarding casting the Japanese pop group SMAP in the live action adaptation of Ninja Scroll, the anime feature from 1993.
The article quotes the Nikkan Sports newspaper as stating that DiCaprio has expressed his intention to “cast with Japanese people” with the casting process reportedly underway.
I literally know nothing about Ninja Scroll and have no idea how people will react to this, but it is nice to see that DiCaprio apparently has no interest in over-westernising the project in a manner which would, let’s be honest, be quite insulting to a great deal of Asian film lovers, and people generally, in the world.
Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Inception has been shrouded in relative mystery since being announced. We’ve had some casting news with Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy, Marion Cottillard and Leonardo DiCaprio taking roles, but thus far the only hint we’ve had on the story is that it is a sci-fi action movie set within the ‘architecture of the mind’.
Well, the inquiring souls over at /Film have decided to try and work out some potential ideas as to how this may end up taking shape. They cite some theorising by reader Gregory W who suggests it could be based on The Architecture of the Mind by Peter Carruthers. To explain:
The book defends “massive modularity”, a theory that many cognitive scientists and some philosophers now accept. The theory is that the human mind is modular. The book, claims the architecture or overall structure of the mind plays a key role in explanations of “virtually every fundamental feature of human existence–from our capacity for science and creativity, to practical reasoning and morality.”
Any other theories are more than welcome but this theorising adds an air of astounding strangeness to proceedings and, while not even remotely true, whets the appetite for further people smarter than I to theorise on what is going through the mind of Nolan.
Kevin Smith is to launch outside of his comfort zone (no View Askew, no Scott Mosier producing) to direct A Couple of Cops, a buddy movie to star Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan. Could provide an interesting view on how Smith is developing as a director and possibly give the world another really good buddy movie which, on premise, seems closely in the vein of late-80s Shane Black-style stuff.
Zack Snyder is forming an all-girl cast for Sucker Punch, about girls in a mental asylum who fantasises about escaping with all her inmates. Likely to star the likes of Amanda Seyfried, Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish, Evan Rachel Wood and Emma Stone. Doesn’t specifically make me too excited but I would be interested to see what Snyder does next because he handled the entire Watchmen saga, the build-up and movie, with aplomb.
Megan Fox has begun to take up some new offers which are likely to offer very little new to her current persona. Fox has reportedly joined the cast of Jonah Hex alongside Josh Brolin and will star in Fathom, an adaptation of the comic series. Cinematical reports that Fox has been a fan of the comic series for some time and is helping to bring it to the screen, likely making her the dream girl for many, many JoBlo readers around the world. Maybe however she should get a little praise for understanding that she has limits and using her talents in the most lucrative way possible. Hats off to Ms Fox.
Leonardo DiCaprio is to team with Christopher Nolan on the latter’s post-Dark Knight project, Inception. the film has been described as a science fiction piece ‘set in the architecture of the mind’ and was also written by Nolan. You’d have to suggest that this won’t garner anything near the level of business Dark Knight did but it’s good to see Nolan is nourishing his filmmaking skills elsewhere, something that would have been advisable to Sam Raimi back in the day and would most likely have provided the world with better Spiderman sequels.
Talk is rife on what the next Danny Boyle movie will be. Reports emerged early in the week, very speculative, that he could direct the next James Bond. Later however, it seems he is closing in on doing a remake of My Fair Lady, putting of another project called Hanna, about a teenage assassin.
Also in the news: Jim Jarmusch’s Limits of Control has a trailer; Mickey Rourke, Vince Cassell and Alice Braga will star in an adaptation of Paulo Coehlo’s 11 Minutes; A viewpoint from Slate on how a Tarantino Watchmen would look; Barry Sonnenfeld will direct an adaptation of Korean film Scandal Makers; Keira Knightley is to star in Never Let Me Go, an adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s amazing novel, which you should probably read instead now Knightley has signed up; A three minute clip of The Boat that Rocked has turned up; Ed Zwick is to direct In the Heart of the Sea by Nathan Philbrick; Ridley Scott has talked a little more about his Monopoly movie.
Starring: Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kathy Bates, Michael Shannon, Dylan Baker, Richard Easton, David Harbour
Writer: Justin Haythe
Director: Sam Mendes
Adapting truly great novels onto film has always been, will always be, a near impossible task. The best novels, no matter their genre, tend to use the form in a way which proves beyond translation into another medium. Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road is one of the finest novels ever written, a breathtakingly sad viewpoint on the modern world which resonates as clearly today as it did when first published in 1961. It captured the hollowness of the American suburban dream, the arrogance of its people and the country at large. More than that, it rendered a neo-realist story of marital strife as a parable for middle class existence and page-turning, compelling read. Adapting his work into cinema would always prove difficult given that he so beautifully uses the space allowed in books for character development to create interesting and at-least partly-relatable people, something which is so rarely allowed in the shorter-form world of movie-making, especially within a Hollywood system.
That’s not to suggest that Mendes’ film coheres to any sort of Tinseltown stereotypes in watering down its subject matter. This is a very depressing, very claustrophobic and quite hopeless thematic piece. Where American Beauty at least ended on a note which, while depressing, indicated a certain fulfilment in its lead character than transcended his existence, this has nothing of the sort. Where Lester in American Beauty exhibited a hopefulness as to what life can offer, Frank and April seems only ever to toy with the idea of actual hope, rather managing to just play along with a delusion they both understand but cannot help to be seduced by. At the film’s close, any sense that the Wheelers, or any other young family in their situation, could manage to escape the suffocating march to death that the lifeless conformity of suburbia offers seems slim.
The film, and Yates to a lesser degree, certainly manages to find no sympathy for American suburbia. The only character able to truly see through the sheen is John, played brilliantly by Michael Shannon, whose insanity seems to have allowed him to escape its confines and therefore gives him an outsider’s perspective on the dreams of the Wheelers and the lives of those living around them. April and Frank never quite manage to see through their own pretension and illusions. They believe themselves to be better than those around them when in fact they are simply unable to accept the basic human rites of passage of understanding that you are not destined for great things and at some point, you have to accept that the flighty ambitions of youth need to be placed on the wayside. The entire premise of the film is the hopelessness of life which transforms it into a slow march towards death’s door. The concept is carried over from the novel but there is seems to have so much more emotional resonance. In the film, it’s just depressing.
Part of the problem is the script by Justin Haythe which manages to take all the key events that occur in the book but doesn’t manage to either bring across the cutting dialogue or the resonance of what happens. The dialogue throughout is stagey and uninspiring. It’s delivered with gusto but even with the actors working hard, it can’t shift outside of being stilted.
The issue then is that Mendes is unable to bring anything to the film to try and express the resonance that should be there. The cinematography from Roger Deakins is uniformly brilliant, managing to enhance the entire film without every bring attention to itself, as is the lighting which could be given in credit to the DP but, given the brilliant of the lighting in all of Mendes’ work, I would suggest he deserves some credit there. But outside of that, there isn’t much he can do to get the film to rise above its script. He can rely on Winslet, yet again proving herself probably the finest actress of her generation, but DiCaprio seems a little lost. He has proven himself a sterling performer in the past few years but he still hasn’t managed to be able to work within roles which require an older, more beaten performance. He is fine in the film but he can’t keep up with Winslet who constantly manages to disappear into her roles and convinces the audience of any actions or emotions she runs to during the film. Her final moments in the movie are desperately sad, easily the best synergy achieved between the acting and filmmaking in the whole picture. Michael Shannon too is outstanding, taking a role which could so easily have been overplayed and keeping it contained and impactful through refusing to let himself of the leash.
The film just can’t ever rise to meet the source material. Where it should be resonant and maybe a little scathing in its critique, it ends up a depressing and somewhat hollow experience. Breaking down the American dream is being done better in Mad Men and was done better by Mendes himself in American Beauty. Winslet and Shannon deserve the plaudits, but otherwise this is a curious and lifeless portrait of something which should have had such meaning.