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It’s your Yom Kippur Friday movie news dump

Yom Kippur is the holiday where one abstains from worldly pleasures of all kinds, including eating and drinking, and reflects on spiritual and moral values, atoning for one’s sins, and becoming a better person. In other words, just another day in Hollywood!

*  The big news right now is the bombshell, but not unexpected, admission to the New York Times by Casey Affleck that “I’m Still Here” is a fictional film. Moreover, Affleck still may not have come completely clean because he stated that David Letterman wasn’t in on the truth during the notorious interview with star/co-conspirator Joaquin Phoenix. Via Company Town, we learn that Letterman writer Bill Scheft is comparing what went on to Andy Kaufman stunts and even took credit for one of the lines.

Joaquin Phoenix in A lot of people apparently think that Affleck, perhaps more than Phoenix, has some atoning to do, including Anne Thompson. I guess I can understand her frustration at being manipulated and lied to, but ultimately, it’s only a movie and we in the show biz press have all the credibility of car salesmen. Also it is, after all, a movie. From everything I’ve heard about the film, the far greater sin would have been if it had actually been real.

* Orthodox Jewish-bred Israeli-Brit Sacha Baron Cohen seems to be well on his way to a Shana Tova (good year). He’ll be moving into the world of “serious” acting in a planned biopic about the late multitalented Queen singer/songwriter/pianist Freddie Mercury to be written by the exceedingly busy docu-drama specialist Peter Morgan. I’ve read some ethnic quibbles somewhere (sorry, lost the link) since Mercury’s family hailed from parts of Asia. It seems to me the physical resemblance tells the tale and is no more offensive than the multi-ethnic Asian-Caucasian-Native American Lou Diamond Phillips playing a Mexican-American teen in “Stand and Deliver,” despite having not a drop of Latino blood in his veins. All ethnicities are really ethnic mixes anyhow. I can’t count the number of times I assumed someone was Jewish only to find out they were actually a mix of other groups that just came out looking all Jewy or people who look Latino who are actually Eurasian, etc.

No one seems to know whether Cohen, who can sing a little, will sing his own part. Considering Mercury’s remarkable voice, I wouldn’t complain if they simply used the old recordings. If it was good enough for “The Jolson Story” it’s good enough for this.

* Warner Brothers is apparently going to step up their DC Comics game. I have to admit that I find it amusing to read “superheroes” and “spreadsheet” in the same sentence. It’s apparently related to the impending wrapping of the Harry Potter franchise, as WB CEO Barry Meyer joked about remaking the entire series with Justin Bieber.

* Among the acquisitions at Toronto’s film festival is director John Cameron Mitchell’s bid to move a bit into the mainstream, “Rabbit Hole.” It’s an, I’m sure, deadly serious adaptation of a Pulitzer Prize winning play by David Lindsay-Abaire about a couple trying to stay together after the loss of a child. It stars the terrific pair of Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart.

Mitchell’s extraordinary debut was his adaptation of his one-man show with music by Stephen Trask, “Hedwig and the Angry Itch” which is one of my favorite films of the century so far. His follow-up was the comedy-drama with hardcore gay and straight sex, “Shortbus” which was, as I wrote elsewhere some time ago, a lot less exciting or unnerving than you might think.

We certainly can’t accuse Mitchell of trying to play the same game twice. Still, I’d love to see him try his hand at another musical at some point. He’s also a terrific performer, obviously, and I’d love to see him do a few acting gigs as well. He’s essentially been MIA as an actor since “Hedwig” back in ’01.

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* From the “is this news?” file — more delays of MGM movies. It’s the usual suspects — “The Hobbit,” Bond 23, and Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s horror flick, “The Cabin in the Woods,” which has been out of commission for so long it’s starting to get bed sores. The “Red Dawn” remake is also being affected.

* Actor Shelley Malil of “The 40 Year-Old Virgin” will get to do his atoning in prison for a shockingly serious and violent crime.

* The known-to-supergeeks-only Atlas comics line is being revived and is apparently generating talk of movie adaptations. I remember those character; if the talk is right people must be mighty desperate for new superheroes to make TV shows, movies, and video games about.

Heck, I’m ready to revive the abortive Atlas-inspired comics line that me and four other 13 year-olds attempted to launch back in the day. I don’t remember if I actually created any characters, but if you see “Catman: The Movie,” trust that I got a piece of the action.

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