Late night/early morning movie news

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.

Shrek Forever After* 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.

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The Informers

Typically, when you hear about movies premiering at Sundance, it’s because the film in question was well received. Not so for Gregor Jordan’s “The Informers,” which was torn to pieces by online critics, many of whom went on to describe the film as one of the worst they’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t go that far, because while the movie may not exactly be good, there are quite a few noteworthy performances hidden within it. Based on a collection of short stories by Bret Easton Ellis, “The Informers” takes place in 1983 Los Angeles and follows a series of intertwining narratives about a drug-dealing college man (Jon Foster) who’s worried that his girlfriend (Amber Heard) is screwing his best friend (Austin Nichols); a big-time movie producer (Billy Bob Thornton) forced to choose between his ex-wife (Kim Basinger) and former fling (Winona Ryder); a neurotic loser (Brad Renfro) who receives an unwelcome visitor (Mickey Rourke); and an international rock star (Mel Raido) suffering yet another major meltdown.

Unfortunately, my favorite story in the book – one involving a vampire named Jamie – has been axed from the movie, and along with it, the satirical bite (no pun intended) that Ellis is famous for. Instead, Jordan plays the whole thing serious, and though it doesn’t really change the outcome of the stories, it does change the tone. The characters are essentially the same, however, and in some cases, are even given more depth thanks to the actors playing them. Foster, Nichols and Lou Taylor Pucci are all solid as the film’s emotionally detached hipsters (an Ellis trademark), while Brad Renfro turns in a great performance in his final role. It’s not enough to convince non-Ellis fans to see the film, but if nothing else, it’s a good excuse to check out Amber Heard in all her naked glory.

Click to buy “The Informers”

  

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