It looks like The Weinstein Company and Columbia are on track for that Christmas Day opening for "Django Unchained" after all.
I would not have been shocked to learn that they were moving it until 2013. After all, production ran much longer than expected, and Tarantino was constantly tweaking and adjusting the script during production. I'm sure that's a good thing, and everything I've heard from people on the film is that it's coming together really well. But sometimes it takes longer to get a film right than is originally planned, and this looked like one of those cases.
In addition, this is the first time Tarantino has made a film without his editor, Sally Menke, and she was a pretty important part of his process. Fred Raskin, who is cutting the film, served under Menke on a few films, and he's been an assistant editor on a number of films like "Boogie Nights" and "Insomnia" and "Punch-Drunk Love." He's also been sole editor on the last three "Fast and Furious" movies as well as Justin Lin's "Annapolis," and my guess is Tarantino wanted some sense of continuity, and Raskin was around during the "Kill Bill" films, so there's already a certain level of comfort.
Yep... that's a Quentin Tarantino movie all right
It looks like The Weinstein Company and Columbia are on track for that Christmas Day opening for "Django Unchained" after all.
Will Electro be the bad guy this time?
Shailene Woodley's work in "The Descendants" was a revelation, and a major announcement for her as a talent to watch. Since then, she has not been in overkill media hype mode, which is nice. She went back to the TV show she stars in and she has, no doubt, been reading and meeting people and looking for the next thing she'd do.
Playing Mary Jane Watson in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" sounds like a pretty good gig.
Variety is reporting that Woodley is in early talks to play the part, and she would be joining returning stars Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, no doubt complicating the easy chemistry they displayed in the first film. Woodley seems much younger than Garfield, but I'm sure they've put them together at this point if they're getting close to hiring her, and returning director Marc Webb must be happy with what he's seen.
A huge interview with the trio of filmmakers behind the most ambitious film of the fall
I feel like a guy who has been hunting Bigfoot for a decade who finally, absolutely, completely has proven the existence of Bigfoot, and beyond that, was shocked to realize that Bigfoot is pretty much just a smart, funny couple of science-fiction nerds from Chicago.
After all, at the start of 2012, Andy and Lana Wachowski were a complete mystery to me. They are currently more high-profile and front and center than ever before as they prepare to try to open their most invigorating gamble so far, "Cloud Atlas," which they co-directed, co-wrote, and co-edited with "Run Lola Run" director Tom Tykwer. They raised the money independently and are releasing the film through Warner Bros. on October 26th in the US following a premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in early September and a secret screening at Fantastic Fest at the end of the month.
So right now, that mystery is not nearly as much of a mystery as it used to be, and in the course of that happening, I've gotten a chance to talk about the new film, their previous work, and even what we can expect from "Jupiter Ascending," their next science-fiction film. I have, in essence, come face to face with Bigfoot and gotten every answer I might have wanted and then some.
People should listen when these guys are excited about something they've made. I think "The Matrix" remains one of the great pure pop movies ever, a huge punch landed dead center, and I respect the way they built out the world they created in games, sequels, and animation. I've written about those movies and about "Speed Racer" and "V For Vendetta," and during all of that, they managed to stay fairly low-profile. The work speaks for itself, and the Wachowskis were just names on the screen to the vast majority of their audience.
Like anyone who is familiar with their work, I knew certain things about them. Obviously, there are the films which I've seen, and I've read many of their unproduced screenplays like "Carnivore" and "Plastic Man" and "Assassins," which was radically different on the page than it was onscreen, and even before they had one of their scripts produced, I just plain liked their writing. I read a lot of screenplays, and they've always been entertaining as a read, no matter what the subject. It's a case of voice being more important than the story being told.
On the personal side, I knew that they were intensely private and notoriously press-shy, and I had to guess that at least part of that was because of Lana Wachowski's gender transition over the last decade. Looking at how some of the press has handled any and every mention of the two of them during this process, I understood why they would make the decision to simply avoid doing press of any kind, and at the same time, furious that the actions of the worst of the press kept other people from just being able to have a conversation with the filmmakers about the work itself.
When I was at the Cannes festival this past May, I caught wind of some buyers-only screenings of "Cloud Atlas," and I did everything I could short of fist-fighting a security guard to get in to see the movie early. While I had to leave France disappointed, my efforts were not unnoticed, and in June, I was asked to come see "Cloud Atlas," which was pretty much locked as a cut, although not mixed at that point.
At that point, after seeing what they'd done, I redoubled my efforts and I sent a long, impassioned e-mail to the studio making my case. This is a big film, full of big ideas and big performances, and I felt like there was a real conversation to be had here if they were at all open to it. I didn't hear anything for months, and I was starting to suspect it would be business as usual this time around.
Then at the start of the festival, just after I touched down in Toronto, I got the official word. A general time and a specific place.
Finally. Bigfoot would pose for a photo, and all I had to do was show up with my camera.
The film's creator makes a case for it and we share the opening scene as well
There are times where I sound a bit like a broken record regarding a new film that's coming out, and that's because I want certain movies to do well. I am far more interested in the art of movies than in the business, but one of the ugly truths about being a film fan is that if you want to see more films like the things you enjoy, those things do well enough that more things like them are produced. It's that basic. And so if I need to, I will occasionally beat the drum repeatedly because I love something.
For example, I sincerely hope Martin McDonagh has a monster hit with "Seven Psychopaths," his new comedy starring Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko, and Tom freakin' Waits. I love the film, and so today I've got two different things for you.
First, we've got my final interview from the batch of "Seven Psychopaths" conversations I had during the Toronto Film Festival, and this last one is McDonagh himself, joined by Colin Farrell. Obviously, the two of them worked together previously on "In Bruges," which has built a healthy cult following over the years since it was released, and there is a natural easy chemistry between them that is obvious from the second you sit down to talk to them.
Bret Easton Ellis and Paul Schrader seem to have found rock bottom
When I posted the story earlier today about Kelly Marcel being hired to write Universal's upcoming adaptation of "Fifty Shades Of Grey," the last thing I imagined would be that Marcel would end up as the controversial part of the story.
Within a half-hour, though, some woman on Twitter was happy to tell me why I am wrong about Marcel as a writer to the point where she eventually started calling me names because I dared to like Marcel's work, and no less than Bret Easton Ellis weighed in on his Twitter feed, which has proven to be reliably insane ever since he signed on. He was obsessed with "Fifty Shades Of Grey," and he basically used Twitter to pitch his approach to the adaptation for what seemed like months on end. I guess we shouldn't be surprised, then, that he is outraged and infuriated that he is not the man doing the job. Here's what he had to say.
"Kelly Marcel?!? KELLY MARCEL?!? Kelly Marcel is WRITING the script for 'Fifty Shades Of Grey'?!? THIS is the movie they want to make? ARGH."
He followed that about ten minutes later with this one:
"Kelly Marcel: the creator of (gulp) 'Terra Nova' and a Mary Poppins bio-pic has been blessed by EL James and no one can stop her. Dear God."
First, I'd like to point out that it is incredibly poor form for any writer to crap all over another writer when they got the job that you wanted. Ellis doesn't seem to understand even the basics of professional decorum, though. His tantrum would maybe carry a bit more weight if he had not also just posted the first trailer for "The Canyons," the movie that he wrote for Paul Schrader to direct with Lindsay Lohan and James Deen starring.
The 'mommy porn' sensation gets a great screenwriter
Well, it looks like Universal is serious about a "50 Shades Of Grey" movie.
Obviously, when they spent the money to buy the books for film, they were serious, but I have trouble taking the material seriously. Whenever I go to Costco and see a table with about 10,000 copies of this thing, I guess that means people are buying it, but I've tried three times now to read it, and I keep running into the brick wall of how painful the writing is.
Still, it's connecting with someone. I'm amazed how often I see people reading it without any sense that it might not be appropriate in a public place. Every time I see one of the moms at baseball practice reading it, I wonder what they'd do if I broke out a Hustler and gave it a once-over. I had trouble imagining a classy version of this film, and was ready to tune it out as one of those things that just isn't for me.
Then they announced that Kelly Marcel will be writing the script.
Two columns, one film, and a very special milestone for father and sons
A quick note before we get started.
This one's going to be a little different for the simple reason that two of my semi-regular columns are going to collide in this one article, something that I don't think has ever happened before. It just so happens that this year, I'm counting down to the release of "Skyfall" on November 9th with a look back at the James Bond movies, and as a result, I found myself talking about the films with my sons, who are of course the subject of Film Nerd 2.0, my ongoing series about the way we share media with our kids.
I was seven years old when I saw my first Bond film. It was in the theater, and it was one of the first times I remember my father taking me to see a movie by himself. By that point, I was aware of the character thanks to his omnipresence on the ABC Sunday Night Movie as well as the books that my dad always had around the house. I knew it was something he liked, but I didn't really know anything else about it, and when he decided to take me to see "The Spy Who Loved Me" in the theater, I considered it a very special moment. I remember tactile details about that day. I remember the "Sinbad and the Eye Of The Tiger" poster they had in the lobby. I remember going to lunch and having hamburgers before the movie. More than anything, though, I remember that it was just us. Just the guys. No mom or little sister allowed. And I think that bond was the first part of what made me a Bond fan, the idea that I was connected somehow to the world of men because of this thing he was sharing with me.
Daniel Craig seems to be closer to the classic Bond than ever before
I can think of no better way to kick off Global James Bond Day than with the first official clip from "Skyfall."
The buzz on this film is building now, and it makes sense. We are, after all, only a month out from the release. I've talked to at least one person who saw a rough cut of the film, and their reaction to it was unbridled enthusiasm. It sounds like Sam Mendes didn't just make a good Bond film, but actually nailed the idea that this has to serve as a celebration of the 50 years that Bond has been a presence in the world of international cinema. That's a huge legacy to try to encapsulate in a single film, but the word I'm hearing is that he did it, and that fans of the series are going to be positively flattened by the movie.
I find it amazing that there are still people who seem unhappy about Daniel Craig playing James Bond. He's about as perfect for the role as anyone I could imagine, and I think the choices he makes in the role are exciting. It's important to me that on some level Bond has to be scary. That's the biggest problem I have with Roger Moore as I rematch the movies right now. I just don't think he's intimidating at all, and one of the things that defines James Bond is his license to kill. Craig's Bond has proven himself capable of killing pretty much anyone he gets his hands on, and there's something kind of glorious about what a cultured ape he is.
Two of cinema's great eccentrics at once? Interview heaven.
Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell in one room together promises to be a whole lot of energy to try to manage during an interview.
Of course, neither of these men is easily summed up by their onscreen personas, and Rockwell in particular is a guy who I think comes across very different in a face-to-face situation than he does onscreen. He is one of our great oddballs on film, and it is one of cinema's unbreakable rules that any film where Rockwell dances is automatically better because he dances.
Walken is also a remarkable dancer, of course, as any fan of "Pennies From Heaven" or the Fatboy Slim "Weapon Of Choice" video can attest, but he's also a tremendous actor who has managed to become a larger-than-life figure. Some films trade openly on that idea and cast him to play "Christopher Walken," and some films cast him for his considerable chops and his ability to create memorable characters. "Seven Psychopaths" is a little bit of both. While there is dialogue that absolutely sounds like it was crafted to trip off his tongue with his trademark pauses to punctuate things, he's also enormously touching in the way he gives life to what could have been a cartoon in lesser hands.
Liam Neeson still kicks ass with aplomb but the thrill is gone
At this point, it's safe to say "True Lies 2" is never going to happen, no matter how much Tom Arnold wishes it would.
The sad thing about that is there was a perfectly natural sequel built into the DNA of the first film, and even better, they cast is just right by accident. When Eliza Dushku played the daughter of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis in the first film, that was before "Buffy The Vampire Slayer," and Dushku was still very young. In the years since, she's grown into a credible action lead, thanks in large part to her years of working with Joss Whedon as the morally compromised Faith. The first film dealt with the way spouses keep secrets within a marriage and how much stronger you are as a duo when you're able to finally see each other clearly without any lies to separate you. The sequel could easily have been about that moment when a child finally starts to see their parents as people instead of just "parents," and how that adjustment can be difficult. Putting Dushku in the middle of a spy caper with her parents could have paid off beautifully and actually expanded on the original's ideas thematically.