More movie news and stuff

Cannes is in full swing and there’s plenty other stuff going on besides — way too much to cover completely. So, consider this just me hitting a very few of the highlights of the film world right this moment.

* The critical wars are going full strength at Cannes with the biggest love-it/hate-it proposition appearing to be Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Biutiful.” I haven’t seen the film, of course, but Iñárritu is most definitely my least favorite of “the three amigos” of Mexican/Spanish/U.S. cinema. (The other two being Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro) and not only because his name is the most impossible to type. I mostly liked “Amores Perros” but his “21 Grams” and “Babel” struck me as exercises in touchy-feely realism that was a lot less real than it seemed to fancy itself.

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Still, he’s working with different writers now and everyone seems to agree that the always great Javier Bardem is especially fine in it, so I suppose I should keep an open mind. Still, reading about the film, it’s hard not to side with the anti-faction when much of the commentary echoes my feelings about past films and when the pro-side is being taken by Jeffrey Welles, who really doesn’t seem to respond well when other people don’t love his favorite films. It’s a conspiracy, I tells ya!

In any case, David Hudson does his usual amazing job summarizing the critical reaction from a wide swath of the press; John Horn at the L.A. Times focuses on the reactions of big name critics.

* If there’s one project I personally would like to see made, it’s definitely a biopic about the founder of EC Comics and Mad, which started as an EC comic before becoming the magazine we still know today. Though there’s no mention of it in this short piece by Mike Fleming, Frank Jacobs’ biography of Gaines, The Mad World of William M. Gaines was something of a touchstone of my youth and contained fascinating information about the early and middle years of comics as well as the censorship madness of the fifties. It was a time when  reactionaries and left-liberals alike converged on the comic book field, deciding it was the font of all kinds of juvenile immorality.

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John Landis — who might be just right the right guy for it — is shepherding the project as he readies the release of his new black comedy about notorious grave robber-murderers from history, “Burke and Hare” with Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis. I hope it’s more effective than the similarly themed but certainly more fanciful, “I Sell the Dead.”

* Seven figures for a live-action “Cinderella” pitch from Disney for writer Aline Brosh McKenna, and I can’t think of a decent Good Fairy joke.

* I missed the very important story last week covering the court order that documentarian Joe Berlinger received for six hundred hours of raw footage he made while shooting the oil industry expose, “Crude.” Anyhow, the Writer’s Guild is supporting his appeal of the decision.

* Terrence Howard seems primed to get back into the superhero movie business and I’m sure he’d be great as the bad guy in a Luke Cage movie. Still, for me, the man to play the Black Panther is clearly Chiwetel Ejiorfor, though I’m sure Howard could pull it off in a pinch. He’s also playing non-super hero, Nelson Mandela, in the upcoming biography of Winnie Mandella starring Jennifer Hudson. To my mind, the ex-wife of Mandela, who aligned herself with the most violent and radical factions of the ANC and was ultimately sent to jail on a case of kidnapping leading to murder and later on charges of fraud, is more villain than hero, but we’ll see, I guess.

* With “MacGruber” coming out this week, it’s not exactly a news flash that most SNL-derived movies aren’t the greatest, but they’ve often got their saving graces and they’re always fun to read about. Still, I don’t understand the acclaim “The Blues Brothers” gets in a lot of places. For me, it’s pretty much a mess with some cool musical moments thrown in.

* More on the revived “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” front. I’ve been failing to mention that, as noted by Empire Online today, Robert Duvall has been attached for a while as Quixote “and he can ride a horse” quips Gilliam. (The 1999 attempt at filming the screenplay fell apart when original star Jean Rochefort, a highly accomplished horseman, suffered from a herniated disk which precluded him from riding. The terrific documentary, “Lost in La Mancha” has the whole, miserable story.)

As Anne Thompson reports from Cannes, Gilliam is apparently in a jovial mood. I really, really hope it works this time.

* Octogenarian author Elmore Leonard, who has quite a history in the movies, discusses said history and the upcoming film version of his long delayed “Freaky Deaky.” He also discusses how, rather than updating the story, he decided it would be better — and more appealing to contemporary audiences — if he could actually set the story earlier and thereby make the characters somewhat younger. Charlie Matthau is directing.

* Director James Gray is not my idea of a modern day David Lean, but his newest project has Brad Pitt and is being compared to “Lawrence of Arabia” by the excitable folk at Cannes.

* Mike Leigh’s film “Another Year” has been generating a lot praise and just got picked up by Sony Classics. Kenneth Turan takes an intriguing look inside the director’s highly unusual method.

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* Jean-Luc Godard’s “Film Socialisme” has been mostly baffling everyone and, somewhat understandably, angering many. Certainly, his decision to subtitle the film in “Navajo English” or, to use an SNL reference, Tarzan/Frankenstein/Tonto-speak, and making one of his most ultra-opaque films is kind of asking for that reaction. Todd McCarthy‘s take is definitely worth a read, and, again, David Hudson has excerpts and links to a lot more diverse reactions.

* So, we basically go fifty-six years between movies of of Jules Verne’s (public domain) 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and now we have two dueling versions, potentially. Why do movie producers pull this crap? (Anyone remember the two Les Liasons Dangereuse adaptations of 1988?) Also, I don’t know about you but, unlike Matthew Belloni and Borys Kit, I’ve always considered it science fiction, since I’ve always been aware that high-powered submarines didn’t exist in 1870 and I’m still pretty sure even the largest squid couldn’t destroy one.

*“‘Douchebag’ finally found a home.” I just like the sound of that.

* All things must pass, theme park department: Farewell, Star Tours.

* Matt Zoller Seitz solicited suggestions on Facebook for this nice feature on films directly inspired by the recently restored and re-released “Metropolis.” Guess which one I (and probably someone else) mentioned.

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