Hanks is set to play Walt Disney in the story behind one of his best films
I love "Mary Poppins."
Later this year, we're going to be tackling the film as part of Film Nerd 2.0, and I look forward to sharing it with the kids for the first time. When they're a little older, I'll introduce them to the books by P.L. Travers, which I think are wonderful in their own right, although very different.
Presumably at some point after that, I'll share the film "Saving Mr. Banks" with them and we can talk about the way the two Mary Poppins that they'll know, from the films and the books, are very different characters in important ways, and how it's a case of Hollywood making the film they wanted to make, despite the author's wishes. I would not want the P.L Travers approved "Mary Poppins" if it meant I couldn't also have the Julie Andrews version.
I say that as someone who was raised with that film as part of their vocabulary, though, and I would imagine I might have felt different if I was the author. The film "Saving Mr. Banks" is set to tell the story of how Walt Disney personally spent 14 years trying to get Travers to give him the rights so he could make the film, and according to Variety, both Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson are onboard as Disney and Travers.
Which bad guy will the Oscar-winner play?
Shane Black begins shooting on "Iron Man 3" next month.
Really, that's the thing that excites me most. I am such a fan of "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" that even if you told me Shane Black and Robert Downey Jr. were collaborating on a film called "Drew McWeeny Is A Big Fat Jerk," I'd still be excited.
Since the film is in the final stages of prep, it makes sense that we're going to start hearing casting decisions in the weeks ahead, and today's news, via Variety, is that Ben Kingsley is in final talks now to play a villain in the film.
No word on if this is "the" villain in the film, but I would imagine Kingsley isn't going to sign on to stand around in the background. Latino Review broke the story in March, and since then, I've heard the same rumors that other people are reporting about this film loosely building off of the Extremis storyline that ran in the comics, but if this is "adapted" the way the other Marvel movies have been, you'll recognize elements but in a radically refigured way.
Are audiences ready for a 'Wicked' take on the 'Sleeping Beauty' story?
So the main message I get from Disney's announcement today about the March 14, 2014 release date of "Maleficent" is that they really, really, really, really want this to be as big as "Alice In Wonderland."
After all, they mention the film no less than three times in one paragraph, and that's because many of the key creative people on this film were involved with that film. I'm sure Disney would love for this to earn them another billion dollars, like "Alice" did, and claiming a release date this far out seems to be a clear indicator that they expect this one to be a monster.
There's a big difference between Angelina Jolie working with a first-time director making the jump from production design and Tim Burton collaborating with Johnny Depp, though, and I'm still not sold on the idea that the general public is rabid about getting tons of new fairy tale movies. "Mirror Mirror" hardly set the world on fire, and two years is a long time to expect a trend like this to sustain heat.
Two studios go to-to-toe and then... co-operate?
If I were a betting man, I'd bet that Gary Ross does end up making the second film in the "Hunger Games" series.
Whoever ends up directing the film, it's going to have to shoot this fall, and that means the heat is on for Simon Beaufoy, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of "Slumdog Millionaire," to get the script in shape. If Ross does return, he and Suzanne Collins are going to take a crack at it again as well, and that's going to take a little time. They've got to be working at a gallop right now.
And now that the schedule is set for "Catching Fire," Fox is able to claim a January start date for a sequel to "X-Men: First Class," once again directed by Mathew Vaughn. And just like that, Jennifer Lawrence is sort of officially a movie star.
A new column helps you cut through the clutter and make the most of your weekend
You've got a lot of options for what to watch and how, and we want to help you plan your weekend with a new column where we'll highlight three things you can see in theaters, three things you'll find streaming, and three titles new to home video. Appropriately enough, we call this The Weekend Watch.
IN THEATERS NOW
There are certainly new movies to see this weekend. I'm not sure I'd really recommend "American Reunion," but I have a feeling you know already if it's something you'd enjoy or not. It is, in every way, an "American Pie" film. I did not make it to an early screening of Whit Stillman's "Damsels In Distress," but I'll be catching up with it ASAP. I've also got "We Have A Pope" here in the house, and I'll be seeing that this weekend at some point. Morgan Spurlock's "Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope," a documentary about geek culture and what draws people to San Diego in record numbers every year now, also opens in limited release, and it's worth seeing. For my money, though, these are the three films in theaters this weekend most worth your attention:
A short chat with one of the film's directors
Peter Farrelly caught me at home making lunch for my kids. I'd been expecting his call, had the recorder set up by the speaker phone, which was charged. Good to go. And of course, when he called, I was right in the middle of lunch. There's something appropriate about the chaos of the conversation we ended up having for the next half-hour, because as long as I've known the Farrellys, they've been at the center of some storm or the other.
This time around, the storm is of their own making. Specifically, they've stepped out onto holy ground for many film fans, and they've made a Three Stooges movie. It's not a biography. It's not a behind-the-scenes story. It's just a movie starring The Three Stooges. The characters, not the people.
And since the Three Stooges were really people (a whole lot more than three of them over the years, to be fair), there are film fans who feel that no one else has the right to play them. That's certainly a fair position to take. I have no idea what I'll make of the film itself, which I'll see soon. But in the thirteen years since I first met Peter and Bobby Farrelly, there are a few things they've always been passionate about. Family. These are big family guys from Rhode Island, and as set in their family roots as possible. Big silly comedy. And a few titles in particular. "The Heartbreak Kid" and The Three Stooges.
The company's expansion continues to another new city
New York's getting an Alamo Drafthouse before Los Angeles? That's enough incentive for me to start a bloody East Coast/West Coast feud, because I am filled with envy for anyone who gets to go to what used to be the Metro Theater on the Upper West Side.
Little by little, the expansion is underway, and it's exciting. As long as I've been a fan of the Alamo Drafthouse, I've wanted them in more cities than just Austin. I am more than happy to go to Austin several times a year to get my Drafthouse fix, but the notion of having one locally, being able to choose that environment for my movie-going… that's heavenly.
Not only did they announce that there will be a NYC Drafthouse today, but they also put up a page where you can apply to work there. If you're in New York and you're a film nerd looking for work, do this. I cannot stress this strongly enough. Work for the Alamo. They are a great organization, and this is going to be an exciting venue.
Could this be a return to form for Oliver Stone?
- Critic's Rating B+
- Readers' Rating B+
Yes, please. And right now.
Don Winslow is the real deal, as great a crime writer as we have working, and his books are a rich vein of material that Hollywood seems to be slowly but surely developing. "Savages," directed by Oliver Stone, looks to be the highest profile Winslow adaptation to make it to the screen so far, and based on this morning's trailer, I think Winslow's about to get a whooooole lot hotter.
Ben and Chon, played by Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch, are in the drug business, and they make a spectacular living at it. Ben's the expert, the guy who can grow the very best marijuana, and Chon is the guy who will destroy anyone who messes with Ben. They get rich fast, and they seem to have the perfect set-up. They even share their girlfriend, the uber-lovely O (Blake Lively), and it looks like the recipe for a perfect, happy life.
The trouble is that any time you're that successful, you're going to draw attention from people who want some piece of that success. You might catch the attention of a corrupt federal agent (John Travolta), or you might catch the attention of a Mexican drug cartel headed by a ruthless killer (Salma Heyek), and once you do, those people aren't just going to step back out of your life because that's what you want.
An art instillation illuminates one of the greatest thrillers of all time
I've seen this pop up in several places over the last few days, and it was actually one of my followers on Twitter who first referred me to it, so I can't claim any special curatorship over this. Even so, I am fascinated by this, and it's worth some discussion.
There are any number of ways people express their fandom and their admiration of things online, and for the most part, it's about telling other fans how much they love something and it's about reaching out to those fans to try to create some sort of community. On rare occasion, though, people come up with a way to make you take a step back from a work of art that you know well and see it in a new way.
That's exactly what Jeff Desom's done to one of my very favorite Alfred Hitchcock films, and watching this repeatedly, I'm really impressed by just how this one works. Desome basically exploded the film into individual pieces, then reassembled in such a way that you can look at the entire film at the same time, a remarkable way of stepping into the movie.
One of the most unexpected franchises of today bows out with a bit of grace
- Critic's Rating C+
- Readers' Rating B-
The "American Pie" films are an unlikely franchise, and I'm surprised to actually see us reach this place with it 13 years down the road, a moment when "American Reunion" actually earns some emotional resonance because of the real passage of time it signifies.
The first film in the series was a charming little teen sex comedy, distinguished by an eager puppy-dog glee about how dirty it was. It was to "Porky's" what "Scream" was to "Halloween," an introduction to one of the mainstay genres of the '80s, dressed up and freshly scrubbed. The young cast was appealing, well-chosen, and they embraced the material whole-heartedly. In addition, the adult cast like Jennifer Coolidge and Eugene Levy were such exceptionally smart and funny performers that they helped set a tone that the younger cast absolutely embraced.