It does not remotely surprise me that Guillermo Del Toro is finally working with Paul Williams.
The idea of turning "Pan's Labyrinth" into a stage musical is intriguing. It's a lush dark fantasy world, and I would imagine it gives the production team some great opportunities to build a gorgeous world on the stage. It also deals with sweeping emotional arcs, and when you're creating a musical, I think the bigger the emotions, the better the piece.
Gustavo Santoallala is the composer of, among other scores, "The Motorcycle Diaries," one of my personal favorite scores of the last ten years. I've played that soundtrack hundreds and hundreds of times while working, and I think he's got a very fresh and interesting musical voice. His music with Williams writing lyrics sounds to me like an incredible marriage of talent. Williams, of course, is known for his work with the Carpenters, his songs for "The Muppet Movie," and the absolutely incredible score for Brian De Palma's "Phantom Of The Paradise."
It does not remotely surprise me that Guillermo Del Toro is finally working with Paul Williams.
Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg certainly did not need for a film adaptation of "Les Miserables" to happen to validate the work. After all, this is one of the most successful stage productions of all time, omnipresent for over over two decades, beloved and still relevant. There was a point in Hollywood history where any successful stage musical was automatically brought to the screen in the most lavish possible fashion, but that hasn't been true for many years now. Musicals, like Westerns, are increasingly rare, and Hollywood is no longer turning out performers who are automatically at home singing and dancing in front of the camera. For Tom Hooper, following up "The King's Speech" was going to be tough no matter what, and I'll give him credit for ambition. He called his shot and swung for a home run, and while he didn't knock it out of the park, the material itself is so strong, and the film's cast is so game, that it doesn't matter.
The script by Alain Boublil, Jean-Marc Natel, James Fenton and William Nicholson is very faithful to the original stage production, which plays almost as a highlights reel of Victor Hugo's novel. There is a sort of runaway train quality to the narrative, and the film maintains that same breakneck pace from the visually arresting opening moments to the final haunting moments. There is a feeling at times that things move so quickly and with such unrelenting pace that it's hard to catch your breath, hard to let yourself fully experience a beat emotionally, but that's the production itself. It's just inherent to how they've told the story. And while there are certainly things about the film that make full use of the difference between stage and screen, this still feels like a fairly intimately scaled story considering the time span it covers and the huge cast of characters involved.
It seems like the release of the blockbuster trailers has now become a two-stage process, because it generates twice the conversation on sites like ours and twice the opportunities for people to become aware of the upcoming film.
Tonight, Paramount is releasing an "announcement video" to tell you that on December 17th, there will be a teaser trailer for the film. That's exactly five months before the opening of the film, and seems like a perfect date to kick things off.
At least we're finally seeing footage. This coming week, I'll see the nine-minute presentation that will be in front of "The Hobbit," and I'm also doing some other press event stuff that should answer a whole lot of the questions I have about what this film will cover and who Benedict Cumberbatch plays and all sorts of things. But for now, this 60 seconds of "Star Trek Into Darkness" will be heavily scrutinized and discussed and debated, and Paramount will indeed get to dominate the conversation on Thursday even without putting out the full trailer.
UPDATE: I'm putting a short piece at the end of this based on the Japanese language version of the trailer which is also available today, and for those of you who are spoiler-adverse, please be warned. I don't know anything about the new film for sure, but there's an image there that is pretty hard to miss, and it's worth a little bit of discussion.
What is truly the biggest story for film fans in a week that has seen the first "Hobbit" reviews, building buzz on "Django Unchained" and "Zero Dark Thirty," news on "Justice League," "Star Trek," "Man Of Steel," "Man Of Steel," then "Man Of Steel" again, 48FPS and the hailing of Anne Hathaway as the one sure thing of the year? Easy. For me, there's nothing more exciting than the fifty-three seconds of film that were released to promote a film called "Upstream Color."
"Oooooh," I can imagine some of you saying. "Is this some secret something from someone like Chris Nolan or JJ Abrams or Guillermo Del Toro or the Wachowskis or the Coens or some other mainstay in the film nerd universe?" Nope.
It is one of many titles announced already for the Sundance Film Festival, and my first priority of the fest. I will skip a day of movies if it means I guarantee my seat at the first possible screening of the movie. Because while the guy who made it is not a household name, he is a name who should already be on the short list of talents to watch for anyone who saw "Primer," the stark, fascinating time travel exercise that was Shane Carruth's first and until now only film. Shane Carruth has been slowly but steadily putting together the pieces to make a new film to follow up that 2004 debut. For a first time filmmaker to take eight years between his debut and his follow up, that must have been a real test of Carruth's faith in film. His is not an obvious, mainstream talent, and that's exactly what I love about him.
The efforts to get "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" onto the bigscreen were well documented in the harrowing and ultimately heartbreaking documentary, "Lost In La Mancha," and it was a brutal reminder that no matter who you are and what your resume, filmmaking can kick the crap out of you at any point.
I would imagine that Terry Gilliam is somewhere today fuming about the idea that Johnny Depp just set up "a modern re-imagining of 'Don Quixote'" with Walt Disney, and Steve Pink & Jeff Morris will write the script. It's interesting that Depp's still circling the character, but not surprising. Don Quixote has a way of doing that to filmmakers, which was the whole point of "Lost In La Mancha." Orson Welles spent much of his career chasing the story, trying to figure it out, and in the end, it broke him just like it broke Gilliam. Depp was attached to star in the first version of Gilliam's film, and then ended up moving on, eventually replaced by Ewan McGregor when Gilliam tried to get the film off the ground a second time.
It's funny how someone who was born in 1980 can already have distinct movements in his career, but it's true of Charlie Hunnam. Like many young stars, when he first got cast, there was a sense that it was a tryout for real stardom. Certainly he made an impression in "Queer As Folk," and when he was given a shot at American TV, I liked the result. "Undeclared" isn't quite as great as "Freaks and Geeks," but what is? It was a lovely funny well-observed college show, and the cast was very strong and very young. Roles followed in "Cold Mountain" and "Children Of Men" in small parts and "Green Street Hooligans" in a co-starring role that, unfortunately, just didn't connect. The film has a lot of cool interesting things about it and is sort of a interesting miss, but certainly not the sort of thing that should stop a career cold.
Hunnam, though, disappeared until he showed up in "Sons Of Anarchy," and that's where he was born again hard. Since then, he did "The Ledge," followed quickly by "Frankie Go Boom," as well as "Deadfall," the movie I sat down with him to discuss in the first place. It's a small, confident neo noir story of two guys, a girl, a bag of money and some guns, and I'll also have chats with Olivia Wilde and Eric Bana for you this week.
Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey" is an above-average fantasy film, a dense piece of entertainment that packs more visual wonder into its two-and-three-quarter hour run than seems possible. It is a very good movie. I say that upfront because any discussion about what does or doesn't work about the movie is going make some people very angry since they've been waiting to see it since 2003. If a careful appraisal of the films flaws (and there are many) is upsetting to a fan who wants perfection from what they'll see in theaters later this month, then please just skim down and read the positive things I have to say, then go see it for yourself.
When I reviewed "Fellowship Of The Ring," it is safe to say that I lost my ever-lovin' mind for it.
I remain a huge fan of not only that film, but of every combination of footage consisting of "The 'Lord Of The Rings' Trilogy. The theatrical films, the extended editions, the DVD sets, the Blu-ray editions, an upgrade every time. I think it is a major accomplishment in the history of fantastic filmmaking, drawing on horror, science-fiction, fantasy, and even historical dramas in terms of how it was crafted and paced and designed and executed. Peter Jackson tried something that no one else had ever done on that scale, and he pulled it off with aplomb.
Guillermo Del Toro's building a haunted house, and I can't wait to move in.
One of the most fertile collaborations of Guillermo's entire career is the work he's done with Matthew Robbins as co-screenwriters. There is something perversely funny about the notion that "Mimic" is the one thing that they co-wrote that has made it to the screen so far, because that is the least of the work they've done as a team. They wrote a script called "Montecristo" that is a dark, wicked retelling of "The Count Of Monte Cristo" that floored me when I first read it, and their adaptation of "At The Mountains Of Madness" is a veritable master's class of how to create a sense of creeping dread on the page.
If you're unfamiliar with Robbins, he's been around for a while. He wrote with Hal Barwood for a while in the '70s on films like "The Sugarland Express" and "Close Encounters," and he wrote and directed "Corvette Summer," "The Legend Of Billie Jean," "*batteries not included," and his best film, "Dragonslayer." He and Guillermo have a great chemistry on the page, and anytime they set up a new project, it is an exciting prospect.
In this case, Legendary Pictures is picking up a project in turnaround from Universal, who may still end up co-funding the film, and it looks like "Crimson Peak" may well be the next film Guillermo directs, with hopes that they'll kick off production in early 2014. In the meantime, Lucinda Coxon is going to take a run at the script with input from Del Toro. I reached out to him today to ask for a little context, and here's what he said:
We wrote it "hush-hush" as a spec in and around 2006. Universal acquired it by a big spec sum. It was to be my "next" and then HELLBOY came through and then HOBBIT. I have been keeping it close to my heart and vest and, fortunately, the interwebs never quite spoke about it. But when I came out of Hobbit and said I was intending to resurrect a project of yore this and Montecristo were alongside with ATMOM the things I pushed for.
I hope that at some point, "Montecristo" ends up getting made, and of course I'm still praying someone gives them the money to make "At The Mountains Of Madness," but knowing that Guillermo plans to make a Gothic haunted house movie in the near future is more than enough to excite me. And the best thing about this entire story is that Guillermo is obviously having a great experience with Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, and the other fine folks at Legendary Pictures. I would love for this to finally be the deep-pocketed home he has needed his whole career.
In the meantime, of course, he's got "Pacific Rim" coming out next summer, and his animated take on "Pinocchio," also co-written with Robbins, is in production as well.
I'll say this for the new "Man Of Steel" poster… it's a very different image than I would expect to see on a Superman poster, and that's a good thing.
Zack Snyder recently said that the trailer that is arriving in theaters in front of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is going to be "crazy," and I believe him. More than anything, I want "Man Of Steel" to shake up the very idea of what a Superman film has been in the past.
Considering just how significant "Superman: The Movie" was to the history of superhero films, you have to acknowledge the bad influence it had as well as the good. Yes, there is a lovely lead performance by Reeve. Yes, the second one had very menacing villain characters. Yes, the John Williams score is one of the best of the genre. There are things Donner did right that are still being mimicked by directors now. But the campy tone with the villains, the nonsensical nature of the plots… those things are also still resonating through the new superhero films being made.
Boy, the Internet is gonna break today.
As if there weren't already a thousand breathless rants revving up on message boards everywhere about the "Justice League" rumor that broke a few hours ago, there's also a new "Star Trek Into Darkness" poster that reveals…
… well, I'm still not sure what it reveals.
The people who point out that the poster seems to mimic some of the imagery and layout of the posters for "The Dark Knight" are correct, and that's really no surprise. Marketing tends to have one truly new idea in film marketing every few years and then ten thousand echoes of that one new idea. Marketing is all about successfully selling something, so if there's a campaign that pushes a film to a billion-dollar worldwide gross, of course the marketing people are going to cannibalize that campaign for years afterwards, as often as they can until it doesn't work anymore.
The use of the Starfleet Delta emblem suggested by the shape of the destruction is a strong visual element… and definitely calls back those "Dark Knight" posters, which must be frustrating in a way. After all, if it works, and if that destruction plays a key, iconic part in the story that JJ Abrams and crew are telling in the new "Star Trek," then that's a good idea for the poster. But the comparison is going to dog them no matter what, and in the hour and a half since the poster arrived online, that's all I've seen.