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Mid-holiday week movie news report (updated)

Somewhat to my surprise, given how slow Monday and Tuesday was, we have some movie news to report. Sadly, the first item is a bummer.

* Our very sincere condolences to the friends, family, and avid readers of writer and horror/gore maven Chas Balun, who died of cancer on December 18th. Probably mostly because of my phobia of the kind of movies he championed, Balun’s name wasn’t immediately familiar to me before this, but clearly the author and longtime contributor to Fangoria and Gorezone was a writer whose work meant a great deal to genre fans as well as a very sincere film geek/cinephile, and for that he has my respect. The Fangoria blog has a very good obituary.

* Sony has not been including a screener DVD for Duncan Jones’ highly regarded science fiction film, “Moon,” in its pre-Oscar promotional package. The result: “Twitter storm“!

Moon

* It’s now Sir Peter Jackson to you.  Considering the positive impact his LOTR tour de force must have had on the New Zealand economy, they might have considered making him king. Okay, New Zealand doesn’t have one. Also, I gather it’s more of a British Commonwealthy kind of a thing.

* Netflix recently expanded its list of “Play Instantly” films recently via a deal with Starz. This has made the studios a bit antsy, though Netflix content chief Richard Sarandos is a valued customer. This BusinessWeek article is worth a look if you’re interested in the future of home movie viewing which, like it or not, is how most of us — even a purist like me — see most of our movies now.

* The process DisneyPixar is using for it’s next princess movie, “Rapunzel,” sounds like a blending of CGI/3-D and with more of a 2-D hand-drawn look, if that’s possible and I’m sure if anyone can make it possible, it’s these folks. Anyhow, I’m convinced that ordinary Pixar-style animation won’t work for this kind of story, so I’ll be very interested to see how it turns out. The art /film has is quite pretty, however.

Penelope Cruz in * Following it’s fairly lame box office performance over last weekend, Nine” is being yanked out of about five hundred theaters, with 890 screens remaining. [UPDATE: The key word in the report I linked to was, it turns out, "likely" as in "not certain". Here's the updated news.]  Earlier this year, the Weinstein Company enjoyed a break with the solid success of “Inglourious Basterds,” which was something of a surprise at the time, given the mixed response the first cut of the film had at Cannes and the fact that a large percentage of the dialogue-heavy movie is subtitled. This surprise lack of success (less surprising if you look at the reviews and the vague marketing), however, is not good news for the brothers Weinstein and their employees, I’m guessing.

* The numbers aren’t as astronomical as for the Hollywood, but Bollywood and China’s studios are doing well right at the moment. Topping it off for South Asia is the comedy-musical-melodrama hit, “Three Idiots.” Coincidentally, Anne Thompson has seen the film and liked it quite a bit. I haven’t seen a Bollywood film I’ve liked much since 2002′s hugely fun “Lagaan,” but this one sounds promising to me. I mean, how can I not have at least some affection for a national film industry where musicals are actually the default format?

* The annual ritual in which the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry picks 25 significant films to be given special status regarding preservation has occurred. It’s not a “best of” list but a “most culturally important” grouping, though there’s obviously some crossover there. For many of us, I’m sure, the most obviously overdo title is Sergio Leone’s 1968 masterpiece, “Once Upon a Time in the West,” which was homaged very directly in the opening sequence of “Inglourious Basterds,”

once-upon-a-time-in-the-west-07

The great cinephile blogger, the Self-Styled Siren, notably did not care for that film but, as if the to compensate her, a Siren favorite was added, William Wyler’s 1938 “Jezebel.” Also included was Sidney Lumet’s 1975 “Dog Day Afternoon”; Rouben Mamoulian’s 1940 swashbuckler, “The Mark of Zorro” (a personal favorite of mine since childhood, and not only because it’ s the only period sword-fight movie set entirely in L.A., though long before freeways and the Chinese Theater); “Mrs. Miniver,” a classic piece of soapy, entertaining World War II Hollywood propaganda from, once again, the great and greatly underrated William Wyler; 1979′s wonderful “The Muppet Movie”; “Pillow Talk” the Doris Day/Rock Hudson sex comedy that started a whole cycle of giggly innuendo-fests; the well-regarded 1957 sci-fi hit written by Richard Matheson, “The Incredible Shrinking Man,” and the John Landis-directed 1983 Michael Jackson video, “Thriller,” which certainly was culturally significant, no getting around that. You can see the complete details on the official press release. H/t Cinematical.

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