A busy Monday in movieland…

…And not a whole lot of time to talk about it.

* Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” tested as the most memorable film commercial during last night’s hugely rated Superbowl and understandably so, it’s genuinely beautiful stuff. Past versions of the classic, however, have been somewhat hampered by the episodic — you might even say pre-Pythonesque — structure of Lewis Carrol/Charles Dodgson’s freewheeling children’s literary classic. (The first work of art to ever really blow my mind, I think.) The idea this time is to get around that problem by turning the film into something like a sequel to the original as concocted by writer Linda Woolverton. Storylines, or the lack thereof, have been Burton’s Achilles heel in the past, so this should be interesting.

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* The late Michael Jackson’s doctor has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

* We’ve had movies based on toys and board games, so why not a new movie based on this blog?

* In the seventies and eighties, horror films were often named after holidays. Now it’s ensemble romantic comedies, apparently.

* “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” meet “Mr. and Mrs. Jones.” (I guess “Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Episode 1” didn’t do well in focus groups.)

* I’ve always loved Robert Wise’s great film of “The Andromeda Strain” and there are few movies I’ve detested more than Wolfgang Peterson’s “Outbreak.” (A virus is threatening all of humanity and I’m supposed to be distracted by an adorable monkey on loan from an overrated sitcom and helicopter chases???) I’m sure Steve Soderbergh’s “Contagion” will at least try to be closer to the Wise approach. Soderbergh may be uneven because he’s so unafraid to take huge chances, but when he pulls a movie together, few are better.

* Yet another item from Deadline|Hollywood’s ace, non-venomous reporter, reporter, Mike Fleming. Ami Canaan Mann, daughter of Michael Mann, is directing her first big feature (but not her first feature). It’s an intriguing sounding fact-inspired thriller about a series of unsolved Texas murders tied with the drug trade.

  

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Wrapping Comic-Con, if that’s even possible

Okay, so the big show has been over for more than 24 hours and it’s time to come to some grand conclusions. The thing is the only grand conclusion I can offer you is one that isn’t news, and really hasn’t been for many years now: Comic-Con is less and less about comics as a medium — a medium that is too frequently confused with a genre — and more and more about a kind of obsession in the media business with appealing to a young males with tales of butt-kicking monoliths and moderately dressed babes who bend over a lot, and now to young females with tales of forbidden love with troubled vampires who are more a lot more James Dean than Bela Lugosi or Max Shreck — not that there’s anything wrong with any of that, in theory. (I’ve never seen/read “Twilight,” hence my blissful tolerance on that score.)

Of course, there are plenty of bright spots and I’m fond of reminding the world of “Sturgeon’s Law,” the dictum uttered by science fiction great Theodore Sturgeon that “90 percent of everything is crap.” In other words, don’t expect greatness most of the time from any genre, whether it’s superhero funnybooks or Elizabethan plays (though the ones that survive a few centuries tend to be dandy).

And, as someone who bemoans the lack of emphasis that the still nascent art form of comics gets at its own convention, I need to get serious myself and read a few more of them this year. (If you’re curious about comics as a medium and how they relate to other media, including film which grew up alongside it, one of the best books about media ever created is a comic book, “Understanding Comics” by Scott McCloud.) For this kid who grew up dreaming of the day his comic book favorites would finally become major motion pictures, the phrase “be careful what you wish for” is certainly valid.

Before we go, we do have a few lingering con and geek related news items I should probably mention…

Read the rest of this entry »

  

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