I need to keep it brief tonight, but there are a few items tonight that I want to catch up with.
* It nice to lead with some good news. Jailed Iranian director Jafar Panahi has reportedly been released on bail from his imprisonment. The director, who was supposed to sit on the Cannes jury, had been on a hunger strike. The acclaimed film-maker appears to be in trouble because of a documentary about the Iranian protest movement.
* The lower than expected box office performance for “Shrek Forever After” had an effect on Wall Street. Moreover, Patrick Goldstein wonders if those inflated 3-D ticket prices might already be starting to backfire. I tend to agree. People may not mind paying a little extra for something that feels like a real event, but 3-D is already starting to feel old hat and, as Goldstein reminds us, there’s a lot more coming.
* This story fell between the cracks a few days back — and Louis Black doesn’t work for me — but Morgan Spurlock (“Super Size Me“) really is doing that comicon documentary that was rumored sometime back. It was originally plugged as a collaboration of some sort with Joss Whedon, but it turns out Whedon is just one of a few geek superstars who will be executive producing. That’ possibly the most elastic job title in show business, so his involvement could be fairly minimal though I’m sure he’ll appear on screen. Accompanying Whedon in backing the film are none other than Stan Lee and Harry Knowles.
* A long time ago, I found the novel, Less Than Zero, oddly compelling reading in that it was a vivid portrait of a human train wreck. That being said, Brett Easton Ellis is certainly not dispelling the widespread opinion that he might be a jackass with his pronouncements about female directors. May he shortly be visited by the ghost of Ida Lupino.
* The real winner at Cannes: Eliot Spitzer.
* Call me a luddite old fogey with terrible hand-eye coordination, but I can’t get excited about movies based on videogames. Nevertheless, Warner Brothers disagrees and is starting things up on a film version of “Mass Effect.”
* Note to Kim Masters and her mysterious “talent representative.” The reason Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy aren’t as popular as they once were has nothing to do with the Internet or “dumbing down.” It has a lot to do with their failure to make funny and/or good movies. It eventually gets to you. I do agree with producer David Friendly that “the concept is becoming the star.” That, in a way, is as it should be.
* If you’ve got some time, you should check out the really good and really long New York Times piece about the late author of the latest hot book-based franchise, Steig Larsson of The Millenium Trilogy. The very decent Swedish film version of the first book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which believe it or not combines classical style mystery/detective fiction with blunt portrayals of sexual abuse and a character partially inspired by Pippi Longstocking, is already a huge international hit. A big-star laden American version is coming, perhaps with Brad Pitt. And the books are just one element of Larsson’s fascinating and somewhat tragic life. Anne Thompson has more on the film, in particular.
* If he didn’t provide the links to back himself up, I’d wonder what the Filmdrunk was imbibing, but apparently Martin Scorsese thinks that Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro would be good as the older Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, respectively, for his long delayed film about the Rat Pack. Perhaps fortunately, it’s destined to be delayed a bit longer as Scorsese has a lot on his plate right now.
* I know nobody really cares, but just for the record, “The Switch,” based on a novel by Elmore Leonard, will not be a prequel. Not really. The book “Jackie Brown” was based on, Rum Punch, was a sequel. The movie might be “blessed” by Quentin Tarantino, whatever that means, but it sounds as if it will have no real connection to the terrific Tarantino film, which Leonard has said is his favorite adaptation of one of his books.