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Thursday night movie news dump

I usually do this on Friday, but the interesting film related stories have been coming fairly hot and heavy all week and it’s time to play catch up. I’m telling you right now, as long as this post is, whatever the most important and interesting story from this eventful week turns out to be, it’ll be the one I skip.

* When I first heard about the project a week or so back, I was taken by the prospect of screenwriter Dustin Lance Black segueing from a biopic about the first openly gay U.S. politician in “Milk” to one about by far the most powerful closeted gay man in American history, J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover was the first director of the FBI starting in 1935 and, in a real blow to our democracy, intimidated several presidents into keeping him in the position until his death in 1972, a shocking 37 years later.

An already interesting project got even more interesting, however, a couple of days back when word got out that none other than Clint Eastwood, who will be joining the very smal club of octogenerian directors this May, might choose to helm it. (The Playlist broke the news on the 10th that Eastwood was “set” to direct; yesterday Borys Kit of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that he was merely “eying” the project.).

Taken together with “Invictus,” this would be the second time the right leaning but independent-minded Republican would be taking on subject matter that deals obliquely with a significant moral failure of American conservatism. Nearly all well-known conservatives tacitly supported both the racist and fascist pre-Mandela South African regime and Hoover’s uninterrupted reign.

In the case of “Invictus,” the idea of him doing it turned out to be more interesting than the film. However, for the man who embodied “get tough” law enforcement concepts as Dirty Harry to take on a law enforcement figure who enjoyed getting tough with anyone who dared to espouse politics he deemed radical — but not the mafia — that’s a horse of a potentially very different color. One to watch.

Clint Eastwood will take your question later

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Looking backward

A few more items with a retro cast, starting with a sad one.

* It’s simply too big a show business and media story not to mention that the death of Michael Jackson has been ruled a homicide. Though you can argue that it shouldn’t be more than a legal story, there’s really no underestimating the pop-cultural impact of something like this. Certainly, it won’t be lowering the temperature around the upcoming movie built around Jackson’s last performances.

* On a far more pleasant note, Anne Thompson has casting news on Andrew Stanton’s upcoming non-Pixar film of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “John Carter of Mars.” I’m not familiar with most of the names, but Samantha Morton is definitely cool with me.

* Anne Thompson also posted a trailer that I’m borrowing below for Christopher Nolan’s new film with Leonardo DiCaprio, “Inception.” Ms. Thompson calls it a “mind movie.” I wonder if everyone doing well in Hollywood from studio heads to head waiters shouldn’t just tithe to the estate of Phillip K. Dick without whom we’d have none of the film’s in this subgenre would exist. If ever a writer’s impact was underestimated in his own lifetime, he’d be the guy.


Inception @ Yahoo! Video

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And in other movieland news….

* MGM is looking more solvent than before, with the help of its significant library. La Finke toldja.

* Willem Dafoe has been cast as sympathetic Martian Tars Tarkas in Andrew Stanton’s upcoming “John Carter of Mars.” It’s been a very long time since I read the books, but the character description reminds me of his “Platoon” character, just a little.

* Where does an actor for whom the ladies swoon go in the masculinity department after playing the hirsuite badass Wolverine and the heroic Gable-esque lead in “Australia“? Well, if you’re movie star/Oscar host Hugh Jackman, you play an Avon cosmetics sales person. I had an aunt who did that; I got aftershave for my tenth birthday.

* After the news of Harry Potter’s big haul (see the post just below), we’ll be seeing more like this, I’m sure.

* Not coincidentally, the blogger-boy cause celebre del dia boils down to a Hogwartsian architectural design and a suspiciously Potter-esque font, and basic concept, in the trailer for something called “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.” My reaction: Chris Columbus is directing, so I’m not sure why anyone even cares. See for yourself…

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