Genius choice. Seriously.
Last week, while writing about the reasons that Kenny Ortega left the upcoming remake of "Footloose" for Paramount, The Hollywood Reporter sort of buried the lede, casually dropping in a reference to the possibility that Craig Brewer would be taking over as director on the project.
Like I said... genius choice.
Brewer took some lumps over "Black Snake Moan," but I'm not really sure why. Sure, it was a box-office bust, but if you're a fan of his breakthrough film "Hustle & Flow," then there was a lot of the same style and wit on display in the trickier "Black Snake Moan." And even if the gender and race politics of the thing bothered you, it was obvious once again that Brewer understands the use of music in film innately. This is a guy who absolutely can be trusted to make the music and the drama equally important.
The thing about "Footloose" is that it's not a typical musical. This isn't a film where people burst into song, but rather a film where people play music and then dance as an expression of freedom. The music in the original film was all "source" music, or laid in over montages. None of it was supposed to represent a break from reality as it does in most movie musicals.
So unless this new film version is going to change the rules and play things more conventional, I think Brewer might be the exact right choice. According to the article in the Reporter, Brewer's just one possibility, and Paramount's interested but hasn't made a deal with him.
Here's hoping the mere rumor of him being the guy generates enough good press to convince the studio that Brewer's got a fanbase, and that his skill set is perfectly suited to give this movie a credibility that I'm almost not even sure it deserves. We are, after all, talking about "Footloose," a perfectly acceptable teen angst movie that benefits from some strong performances and a soundtrack that sold 10 jillion copies in the '80s. New Regency still says that Brewer's making "Mother Trucker" for them in 2010, too, but if I were them, I'd want him to go make a commercial juggernaut like "Footloose" first so he's following up a hit with his new original picture. Just makes sense.
There are some filmmakers who just plain know how to shoot music, and it's not a skill that everyone takes to automatically. I think it's one of the things that makes John Landis special... you watch "The Blues Brothers" or "Coming To America" or his Michael Jackson videos, and it's apparent that he has a huge affinity for shooting a musical sequence. The same is true of Alan Parker, one of the few working filmmakers who has made more than one big-screen musical that's worked. I worry about the announcement that Lee Daniels is directing "Miss Saigon" because so far, even in his work that I like, I don't see a strong sense of rhythm in how he cuts sequences, and I don't get the feeling that his films are heavily designed. I think you have to be very careful picking a director for these movies, and I think Craig Brewer is poised to take his place on the short list of guys you can call in a situation like this.
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