Gus Van Sant may sign his name to the American remake of 'Death Note'
Credit: Nippon Television

Gus Van Sant may sign his name to the American remake of 'Death Note'

Shane Black's got a 'Predator' to kill, evidently

"Death Note" would have been a very strange Shane Black movie.

That alone seems like a reason to have been excited about the possibility of seeing it, but in the grand scheme of things, it seems like a better fit for Shane Black to move on to a new "Predator" movie.

Besides, the notion of seeing Gus Van Sant direct a new take on this highly-acclaimed and very strange title is fairly provocative in a different way, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited to see what he does with it.

The original manga series was by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, and it tells the story of a high school student who finds a notebook that grants whoever owns it the ability to kill anyone simply by writing their name in the notebook. By using it, he draws the attention of the Shinigami, a disturbing race of inter-dimensional death gods.

The student, named Light in the original version, decides to use the notebook to kill bad people and create a perfect world, but that ends up bringing him to the attention of a detective who is determined to catch whoever is behind this wave of strange supernatural deaths. It's a simple set-up, but an incredibly complicated series that spans several years in the manga. There was an anime adaptation in 2006, and that was followed by a two hour film, then a number of other other specials, and then a series of live-action fins, including one directed by Hideo Nakata.

Warner Bros. initially hired Charley and Vlas Parlapanides to adapt the property, and their script wasn't bad. I thought the Shane Black drafts by Anthony Bagarozzi and Charles Mondry were also very close to getting it right, but Black evidently butted heads with the studio over what parts of the complicated mythology they were going to use in the film.

Van Sant has dabbled with the dark side in projects like his infamous "Psycho" remake, "To Die For," and "Paranoid Park," and his film "Restless" exhibited a very gentle approach to the supernatural. I think Van Sant is most interesting here because he's not a guy who you would automatically attach to this. Whatever his approach to the material is going to be, it won't be what we expect, and that automatically makes it interesting.

No word yet when they plan to make or release the film, but we'll keep you posted. In exchange, please don't write "HitFix" in any cursed notebooks. Thanks.

Weta's digital guru discusses 'Avatar' sequels and Snyder's 'Batman v Superman' plans
Credit: HitFix

Weta's digital guru discusses 'Avatar' sequels and Snyder's 'Batman v Superman' plans

This was James Cameron's plan all along, he says

The last time I spoke to Joe Letteri, it was hot on the heels of the release of James Cameron's "Avatar," and we covered a lot of ground.  It was a two-part interview, and I had a great time talking to him. He's a brilliant guy, and he's able to explain the landmark work he's been doing with the rest of the amazing team at Weta Digital in a way that feels like it's easy to grasp.

At the recent press day at Crissy Field in San Francisco for the new film "Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, I talked to Letteri along with the equally-brilliant Dan Lemmon, and I could have spent hours talking to them about the progress they've made in terms of performance capture and simply making their digital creations fit seamlessly into a physical world.

It seemed particularly fitting that the view of the Golden Gate Bridge behind us looked like something that Weta Digital would have done as a matte painting. Gorgeous, wrapped in fog, as iconic as it gets.

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James Gunn says caring about 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' was terrifying for him
Credit: Marvel Studios

James Gunn says caring about 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' was terrifying for him

How this Troma graduate made the jump to this monster Marvel movie

LONDON -- If we're being perfectly honest, I feel guilty interviewing any director on any set.

Directors may not be doing manual labor like breaking rocks or carrying pianos all day, but especially on giant mega-budget studio movies, they are pretty much on call 24 hours a day for three years, and I feel bad about taking any of the limited energy they have to spend during their day. I remember going to the editing room near the end of production on "Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End," and Gore Verbinski looked at me like he had just gotten back from three tours in 'Nam. Disney wasn't even letting him drive anymore. He was that tired.

Maybe that's why James Gunn's intense level of energy on the set of "Guardians Of The Galaxy" felt sort of shocking. I've met Gunn several times over the years, and that's him. He's always got this really big energy about him, and he's wicked sharp, and I guess I expected the process to dull some of that just because that's how it works.

Nope.

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Zoe Saldana on her 'Guardians' killer character: 'She needs to be pretty'
Credit: Marvel Studios

Zoe Saldana on her 'Guardians' killer character: 'She needs to be pretty'

Are the Guardians really the 'Rolling Stones' of the Marvel movie universe?

LONDON - Standing in the costume department for Marvel's wild new science-fiction action-comedy adventure space opera whatever you want to call it, "Guardians Of The Galaxy," I was struck by just how singular the designs were for the wardrobe worn by Gamora, a dangerous new character played by Zoe Saldana.

There was a decidedly punk edge to the drawings, but they were also gorgeous, like something you'd see for a runway show. Saldana is stunning in person, ethereal and delicate and yet with this sort of lacerating edge that she seems perfectly capable of laying down verbally. You get the sense she chews on her words and really thinks about what she's saying to you during an interview. I don't think she takes it lightly, and part of what she considers is how her physical appearance is part of the brand she's built as an actress.

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A visit to the otherworldly set of Marvel's massive 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'
Credit: Marvel Studios

A visit to the otherworldly set of Marvel's massive 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'

We get a glimpse at the ambition behind Marvel's riskiest movie so far

LONDON -- At this point, I've come to think of the Shepperton lot in England as Marvel's home away from home.

Not long after the presentation that Marvel made at Comic-Con for "Guardians Of The Galaxy," a group of journalists were invited to visit the sets for the film and to talk to the filmmakers and the cast. As part of that group, I found myself somewhat blown away by what we saw and by the conversations we had. That is not always the case, and while I've had plenty of set visits where I walked away feeling optimistic, I've had very few that knocked me out to this degree.

Why? What is it that convinced me that this is a departure for the studio and a very special version of what we know right now as the big action blockbuster?

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Sylvester Stallone in 'Reach Me' looks like an overstuffed all-star crowdfunded nightmare
Credit: Millennium Films

Sylvester Stallone in 'Reach Me' looks like an overstuffed all-star crowdfunded nightmare

Thomas Jane and Kyra Sedgwick also star in the 'Crash' of self-help books

"You're a finger painting! Be a masterpiece!"

Stranger words have never been mush-mouthed by Sylvester Stallone. I am genuinely baffled by the trailer for "Reach Me," a strange new film with an eclectic cast and a preposterous premise. It looks like "Crash" for the self-help industry, an idea that makes my skin full-on crawl.

UPDATED: The trailer that was originally attached to this story was not, technically speaking, a trailer. While we were not the first to post it, when we were contacted by the film's producers, we took down our copy. It turns out that this was a sales reel cut solely to help raise money during production. In our original version of this story, we mentioned that this is a Millennium Films release, and while that's true, they did not produce it. Our opinion of the sales reel remains, but until there is an actual finished trailer available, it's not fair to the production to leave it posted.

Writer/director John Herzfeld is also behind the films "15 Minutes" and "2 Days In The Valley," and while it flew completely under my radar, this is yet another example of crowdfunding being used on something that stars some very familiar faces. Evidently, Herzfeld's been trying to make this film for over a dozen years, and he was mid-shoot when money dried up. That's a little surprising since I see the Millennium Films logo on the front of the trailer, and I thought they had bags of money they had to launder… er, invest.

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'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' Gary Oldman prefers to drop the exposition, thank you
Credit: HitFix

'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' Gary Oldman prefers to drop the exposition, thank you

And co-stars Keri Russell and Jason Clarke seem to agree

When I sat down to talk with Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, and Jason Clarke, it was a few days after Oldman's appearance on Jimmy Kimmel's show to try to put to rest the controversy over comments he made during his recent Playboy interview.

I'm glad it had already fizzled out. I've met Oldman before, in a very odd circumstance involving a film directed by a mutual friend, and I really enjoyed chatting with him then. He's a smart guy with a very specific background during an era of British independent film that I find wildly interesting. I could spend hours talking to him about his early work and the filmmakers he's worked with if he'd indulge me, and it would never occur to me to delve into politically correct language.

When discussing "Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes," the exceptional new film by Matt Reeves, one of the things I found interesting is just how spare the film is in terms of typical exposition. The film works with an efficiency that's very similar to the storytelling in the last film Reeves made, "Let Me In," and it's one of the many things that makes "Dawn" feel special among typical summer movie blockbusters.

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Exclusive: David Fincher teases with a new piece of evidence from 'Gone Girl'
Credit: 20th Century Fox

Exclusive: David Fincher teases with a new piece of evidence from 'Gone Girl'

And there's a new trailer on the way on Monday

Because I see almost everything at a press screening, it's rare that I see trailers in the theater, and I sometimes forget just how different it is to see something on the bigscreen as opposed to at home on my computer.

Case in point: the "Gone Girl" trailer. At home, I thought it was good, but in the theater, I found it much more powerful and effective. Trent Reznor's comments that Fincher made "a nasty movie" have me very curious to see what he's done with Gillian Flynn's already substantially wicked book. There is a brutal cynicism about love at the heart of this one, and while Fincher wasn't immediately the obvious choice for this movie, it feels like he may end up being the perfect choice.

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Scott Derrickson has already found a perfect Doctor Strange, but is Marvel ready?
Credit: Screen Gems

Scott Derrickson has already found a perfect Doctor Strange, but is Marvel ready?

It's time to introduce a little more color to the Marvel movie universe

Short version: let's see Marvel add some different shades to the Marvel movie universe.

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Review: 'Deliver Us From Evil' offers up a grimy real-world take on supernatural horror
Credit: Screen Gems

Review: 'Deliver Us From Evil' offers up a grimy real-world take on supernatural horror

HitFix
B-
Readers
n/a
Strong sense of mood balances a familiar script nicely

So, basically, it's "CSI: 666."

Makes sense. Jerry Bruckheimer doesn't really do horror films. When you look back at his long and storied career as a producer, you see several recurring things, but horror seems like it's never really been part of his cinematic diet. I guess you could argue that some of the "Pirates" movies have some creepy elements, but those films are ultimately family adventure movies with a healthy dose of comedy thrown in.

So what attracted him to the story of Detective Ralph Sarchie, a real-life NYC officer who gets involved in a case that subjects him to some insane supernatural attention? Hard to tell, but the finished film, directed by Scott Derrickson and adapted from Sarchie's non-fiction book by Derrickson and Paul Harris Boardman, plays like a police procedural first and foremost. It's a dark and grimy film, and while I think it's juggling a whole lot of cliches, there is something genuinely admirable about the way it tells this story and the way it handles the supernatural onscreen.

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