From Toronto to Hogsmeade, Metropolis, and the vid store

Colin Firth and Matthew Goode in "A Single Man"

Wake up. It’s been a busy day in movie world.

* Plenty of festival happenings up are in the offing up in Toronto, the most high profile of which is the famously award-savvy Weinstein Company’s pick, for a reported $1-2 million, of “A Single Man.” This is a sort of film that would be strictly art-house fare, and low profile art-house fare at that, if it weren’t also potential Oscar fare. From fashion designer-turned director Tom Ford, it’s a drama about a college professor (Colin Firth) dealing with the death of his lover over the course of a single day in 1960s Los Angeles. The film also stars Julianne Moore and Matthew Goode (Adrian Veidt in “Watchmen“) and is based on a novel by Christopher Isherwood, the openly gay mid-century English-born writer whose stories about Wiemar-era Berlin eventually became “I Am a Camera” by playwright John van Druten, which eventually became the movie and stage musicals, “Cabaret.” Variety has the details along with more about the activity surrounding a number of other new movies.

The most interesting of these to me is “Harry Brown,” which stars Michael Caine in a film that’s going to be plugged, probably inaccurately, as the Brit “Gran Torino.” I’ve always liked Caine’s movie work, but he became something of a personal hero of mine while I was researching a Bullz-Eye look back at his career not so long ago. If you’ve never seen the original version of “Get Carter,” it’s important to know Caine is capable of being at least twice as tough as Mr. Eastwood or just about anyone else this side of Lee Marvin. That’s largely because he’s an extremely disciplined film actor and also probably partly because his pre-stardom life was, really and truly, no picnic. The man’s known grinding poverty, serious action in the Korean War, and the down and dirty truth of crime in his native London. His acting only gets better as such relatively recent films as “The Quiet American” and “Children of Men” proves. This one really has my attention.

Alan Rickman exerts his control over Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint* The new head of DC Entertainment, Diane Nelson, made her rep partly as the manager of the Harry Potter “brand” for Warner Brothers. No word on whether and/or how much she was involved, but Warners is annoucing a deal with the Universal Orlando Resort for a Harry Potter theme park. Nikki Finke has the press release and videos showing the basic layout (it’s essentially Hogsmeade, the town adjacent to Hogwarts from the books and movies), as well as plugs from Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson.

Sounds fun, but there’s something weird about placing a world where it’s seemingly always sweater weather (well, jumper weather, because they’re English) in hot and sweaty Orlando. I don’t know about you, but, even assuming the whole place is indoors, there’s something a little off about tourists in shorts and tank tops being greeted by actors in thick coats. And where do you set the air conditioning when your employees all have soggy weather gear and your most formally dressed customers are wearing summer dresses or Hawaiian shirts? Somebody‘s going to be uncomfortable, probably the actors. I realize there’s no room in San Francisco for a theme park, but that would have been the spot for it, climate wise.

* Speaking of Diane Nelson and DC, it’s starting to look like there really won’t be a new Superman movie for awhile, says Screenrant’s Kofi Outlaw. And Brandon Routh seems like such a nice guy. <Sigh>

* Hollywood studios have a funny way of hitting the same theme at the same time. Out of nowhere you’ll get three or four movies about parents and kids switching bodies or two movies about early 20th century stage magicians or volcanoes or meteors or penguins coming out withing a few weeks of each other. Back in 1939 and 1940, studios Fox and RKO (my personal favorite) were smart enough to separate “Young Mr. Lincoln” from “Abe Lincoln in Illinois” by an entire nine months.

Let’s hope that, after waiting seventy years for a new Lincoln movie, the movies in the next Lincoln wave won’t be released within three weeks of each other. Okay, right now only one of them is really a Lincoln movie per se. (“The Conspirator” is about the plot to kill him.) Still, it’s only a matter of time before a second and maybe a third Lincoln biopic goes into the pipelines. I can remember when Hollywood felt the need to randomly release two adaptions of Les Liaisons Dangereuse — one by Stephen Frears (the good one) and one by Milos Forman (not so¬† great) — within a few weeks of each other because 1988 was the year for a tale of sexual revenge set among 18th century French nobility.

* I’m no fan of Blockbuster for numerous reasons, including their hand in making the NC-17 rating the equivalent of a scarlet X some years back. I much prefer that people either patronize mom-and-pop stores or, if they want a selection including classic era, foreign films, cult items, etc., Netflix.

Also, Blockbuster is known for aggressively drug testing all its employees, because, you know, what they do is as life or death as bus drivers or airline pilots. Think of all the lives that have been ruined by reefer-addled employees of vid stores giving customers “The Bourne Identity” instead of “The Bourne Supremacy.” Contact MASS — Mothers Against Stoned Sorting — today!

Even so, it doesn’t make me happy to see in Variety that 960 stores, 22 percent, of the rental chain’s stores may soon be closing. Those people need their crappy jobs. Well, maybe the lucky ones here in California will find gigs at legal medical marijuana dispensaries.

  

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