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I don't have a problem with Bradley Cooper signing on to play The Crow because of any special feelings I have about The Crow. It's more because it sounds like an amazing bit of career suicide just as things are heating up for Cooper. For one thing, no matter who plays the part, they're going to be compared to Brandon Lee, and that's a sucker's game. Lee's work in the Alex Proyas original is the very definition of a star-making performance, and there's not a lot of character to the character. It's a make-up job, a sulk, and some violence. I hope this is just an early round of the casting guessing game, and not something Cooper's really close to actually doing. But when Borys Kit uses terms like "in early negotiations," that's very specific, and frankly, in this case, sort of terrifying. Relativity, which just had a surprise hit with Cooper's movie "Limitless," seems determined to move quickly on this one, and with this casting news, it sounds like they're off to a really weird start.
So, uh, they appear to have discovered a new elementary particle, which cold possibly change our understanding of the properties of matter. Nothing major.
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It is interesting enough to simply report that it looks like Tom Cruise is going to star for Joseph Kosinski in the big-budget PG-13 science-fiction action film "Horizons" for Universal.
But when you look at the decisions surrounding this decision, it's downright fascinating, and very revealing in terms of studio politics and the overall agendas for what is or isn't getting made right now.
"Horizons" was originally titled "Oblivion," and it was set-up while Kosinski was still in production on "TRON: Legacy." At the time, the buzz was high on Kosinski and his sequel to the 1982 cult hit, and he went around town with his Radical Comics presentation and, in the end, Disney decided that they wanted to be in the Kosinski business in a big way. That appears to be a decision they have since reversed, but I think it says less about Kosinski than it does about Disney right now, and in a sort of off-handed way, I think it says a lot about what we can expect from "John Carter Of Mars".
After all, when Disney says that they're letting "Horizons" go in turn-around because they weren't comfortable making a PG-13 action film, I don't think that's untrue. They seem to be focused on making their films skew younger and younger right now, and while they're certainly comfortable with adventure films like the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies, those walk a fine line in how rough they're willing to play. And while "TRON: Legacy" did eventually break $400 million at the worldwide box-office, it was a preposterously expensive film for Disney, and I'm guessing that if the Disney team was asked to make that decision again now, knowing what they know, they wouldn't do it again. I've been hearing for a while that "John Carter" is being played much younger, more as an adventure, toning down many of the more extreme elements of the Burroughs series.
Your reaction to "Scream 4" will depend largely on your reaction to the "Scream" series as a whole.
When the original "Scream" came out, I was not among the people who went nuts for it. I don't hate the film or anything, but it doesn't do much for me. As a horror film, I think it's flat, and as a mystery, I don't think it plays fair. I'm not the sort of person who enjoys being nudged in the ribs by references to other movies and pop culture, and much of the charge the film enjoyed came from the way it riffed on the rules of horror films.
What I've come to realize in the years since the film's release is that it was an important gateway drug for an entire generation of people who had never seen a horror film of any sort. And for those people, the last ten years has probably seemed like a very long time to wait between movies. For them, I think the wait will end up being worth it, because "Scream 4" feels to me like the most direct sequel to the first film, both thematically and stylistically, and I think it's one of the most confident films in Wes Craven's filmography.
That brings me to my next point, and I want to tread lightly here. Wes Craven's got a big reputation, and I'm not sure I understand why. I quite like the original "Nightmare On Elm Street," and I'm pretty fond of "The Serpent And The Rainbow," but aside from that, I am sort of mystified by Craven overall. He is, at best, a wildly uneven filmmaker. It's almost unfathomable to me to that same person who directed last year's "My Soul To Take" was also the director of this film. It doesn't even seem technically possible. Then again, "Scream" is only half-Craven. The other half is Kevin Williamson, and while there was some work done by Ehren Kruger on the script, you can feel Williamson's fingerprints all over it.
"Cloud Atlas" is one of those films that I forget is inching its way towards production until I see mention of it go by, and then I'm struck anew by just how odd the entire endeavor appears to be.
Now Tom Hanks is onboard to star in the film, which Andy and Lana Wachowski are working with Tom Tykwer to write and direct the film, and just that configuration of talent alone makes it sound like one of the strangest things in development anywhere right now.
Previously, we've heard names like Halle Berry and James McAvoy and Natalie Portman attached to this project, and it's been in development for so long that we've seen cast members come and go. Now, though, it sounds like it's finally going to happen in September, and it sounds like Focus Films has come onboard to help finance the movie.
It's a good week for long-suffering films that are finally stumbling towards production. I'm excited to see what happens with "World War Z," which Bleeding Cool claims has hired Robert Richardson as cinematographer. Allegedly, he's in London scouting locations now and gearing up for a shoot that will start soon. God, I hope that's true. It was just recently that we heard the entire film was in peril, but now it looks like Marc Forster's adaptation of the exceptional Max Brooks novel could be in production almost immediately.
When IMAX began to change their reputation, working hard to brand themselves as a special way to see Hollywood blockbusters, they did so by moving away from their image as a company that specialized in nature documentaries at museums and other similar venues.
The truth is, though, they're still in that business as well, and they still do a very good job of it. I got the chance to take the boys to a screening at the IMAX headquarters in Santa Monica, and it was my three-year-old's first 3D movie of any sort. I showed him the trailer a few times and talked to him about the admittedly heavy themes of the film before we went, though, because the movie could easily have been too depressing or upsetting for young kids based on the subject matter.
"Born To Be Wild" tells the story of what happens when animals are orphaned in the wild and raised by humans before being released back into their natural habitat on their own. We started the conversation with Allen when Warner Bros. sent out a little stuffed elephant toy a few weeks ago. When I gave it to him, I told him that the elephant needed a name because his mommy and his daddy got lost, and he needed someone to take care of him. I asked Allen if he was willing to do it, and he told me the elephant could sleep with him and his stuffed dogs from now on. He also named the elephant Allen, and he told me that the elephant now had a "mommy and a daddy and a Toshi," just like him.
When John Carpenter set out to make 1982's "The Thing," working from a script by Bill Lancaster, what made it exciting was the way he went back to the John Campbell short story that inspired the '50s film and created something very, very different. I have trouble even calling his movie a remake, because it doesn't bear much resemblance at all to the Christian Nyby film "The Thing From Another World," no matter how much it served as a precursor.
I mention this to try to set some context for the news that Matt Reeves, director of "Cloverfield" and "Let Me In," has signed to adapt the short story, "8 O'Clock In The Morning," as a new and at-the-moment untitled film. The story has been adapted before, and I find it fitting that it was John Carpenter who adapted it as "They Live." When Strike Entertainment first started talking about a remake of "They Live," it was easy to imagine that they'd do something that looked very much like Carpenter's movie. In that film, he created a great device, sunglasses that would allow the wearer to see the truth about aliens living among us, and he played the film as a broad social satire. It's pretty great in its own right, but is it the definitive version of the story?
Well, we'll see. Evidently Matt Reeves has decided that he's got a take on it, and Strike Entertainment's explanation of why his take is exciting is, I must admit, fairly persuasive.
Blue Sky Studios has been a reliable producer of family content for 20th Century Fox, but I can't say I love their movies the way I love, yes, Pixar.Â And while that may seem an unfair comparison to make, they're certainly all playing in the same sandbox, and they're competing for the same family dollars.
Every studio wants to have a company they can turn to for this story of movie, and it's an important part of the business model for a modern movie studio.Â With Blue Sky, they've built their brand on the back of their very successful "Ice Age" series, and having one go-to franchise that does almost unbelievable business each time out allows them to try different things.Â I think "Robots" has some major story problems, but I like the way they designed that world.Â In adapting "Horton Hears A Who," they did a nice job of creating a Dr. Seuss world on film.Â They work within the general "family film" genre, but they've tried several different visual styles and they don't seem to just tell the same story every time out.
With "Rio," their latest movie, they've told a very simple story against a backdrop that allowed them to make some big exciting choices with the soundtrack, and they've included just enough sophistication about the setting of their story that I feel like it nudges a simple film into the "better than expected" category.Â Rio is a thrilling place to set a story because it is a world of haves and have nots, and it is a dangerous and beautiful city.Â For a film aimed at a family audience to even acknowledge the existence of the favelas seems sort of brave, but to actually set much of the movie there and to try to capture some of the diversity of the city in a movie like thisâ€¦ that's surprising.Â And admirable.
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In the comments section for the article I ran last week, the great Vern asked the question, "Has there ever been a good movie directed by an effects artist?"
Well, yes. I can name at least one. Douglas Trumbull's "Brainstorm" is, in my opinion, a remarkable little film, and while there are some big FX moments in the movie, what makes it great is the emphasis on simple human ideas and emotions. Trumbull, who is known for his work on "2001," "Close Encounters," and "Star Trek: The Motion Picture," has been a larger than life figure for most of my life, and I still remember his big push to move into ShowScan, a sort of IMAX-esque super format that shot at 60 frames per second. He's a fascinating guy, and in addition to "Brainstorm," he's also the director of the intriguing "Silent Running," and I wish I'd been at the NAB Show over the weekend to hear him speak at the Digital Cinema Summit in Vegas. That's where he announced that he'll be directing a new feature, which is exciting news. I'm not surprised at all that he's on the cutting edge of the push to use higher frame rates in filmmaking, which is about to become the new pet cause of James Cameron. He spent much of his time at CinemaCon, talking about an industry shift to a standard of 48 fps or even 60 fps. And unlike 3D, this is something that I don't think would be a gimmick at all. It's simply a shift in clarity and resolution of image, and the tests I've seen over the years for shooting at higher frame rates are incredibly persuasive. And while he's talking tech up front, looking at the features Trumbull has made in the past convinces me that him returning to the director's chair is great news, indeed. I can't wait to hear more details about whatever it is that he's working on.
I am glad that Sidney Lumet, unlike many directors who are still working well into their 80s, got to exit the stage on a high note, with the critically acclaimed "Before The Devil Knows You're Dead". A few years before that, he was given an honorary Academy Award for his entire career, but I would like to think that Lumet was well aware that with or without Oscars for his mantle, he left behind a filmography studded with genuine classics, cultural landmarks that helped define great cinema decade after decade, and that his films will be watched and rewatched and studied for as long as we are still sharing movies.
First, if you have any ambition towards becoming a filmmaker yourself, you must immediately find a copy of Lumet's remarkable book, Making Movies, and read it cover to cover. Read it several times. Read it until it starts to sink into you, become part of the way you think. Lumet's philosophy on filmmaker was as unadorned and no-nonsense as his actual films, and when you look at his full body of work, you can see his approach in the amazing performances people gave for him, and in the quietly powerful visual approach he took to material. He was an actor first, working on Broadway and off for many years before he started working in television in the early 1950's. He always maintained certain habits from the theater, whether working in television or in film, giving his actors room and time to rehearse together as a group, insisting on it because of the difference it made in every performance, not just the starring roles.
Let's talk about "Deadpool."
The question was broached a few times to Ryan Reynolds at the recent "Green Lantern" panel at WonderCon in San Francisco, in a few different ways, all boiling down to one main concern: will you still be playing the role of Deadpool?
If so, it's strange territory for Reynolds. One Marvel hero, one DC hero, two different studios. True, it's weirder for Chris Evans, who plays two characters in the Marvel Universe, but it's still a lot to ask for the mainstream audience to accept you as not one but two distinct superheroes in two very different franchises. I guess these days, the genre is so ubiquitous that it's no different than Burt Reynolds playing two different rednecks with fast cars.
The difference between Green Lantern and Deadpool as characters, though, is night and day. Green Lantern is a big broad adventure hero, and the "Star Wars" styled world of that film is designed to appeal to kids and across the board. Based on early drafts of the script by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and comments made by Reynolds last weekend (when he said "it would have to be a hard-R"), it's safe to say that Deadpool is being played much closer to the character that has a dedicated cult audience in print. Deadpool is a motor-mouthed mercenary, a killer who regularly breaks the fourth wall to make wisecracks to the audience, and the script that they're working with is kinetic and crazy and ridiculous in some really interesting ways.