Movie news and stuff

Where to begin…

* Could the ultimate case of movie development hell finally be unraveling? We’re told that Ewan McGregor will star in Terry Gilliam’s “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.”

* Lionsgate may be on the block with all kinds of possible ramifications for hardworking and often underpaid workers there. However, just in case you were worried, they’ve got $16 million set aside for five executive golden parachutes if Carl Icahn’s attempt is successful. Whew!

* Anne Thompson discusses the people who didn’t show up at Cannes.  Somehow, she overlooked my absence.

* One of the people who isn’t showing up is living cinema legend/bad boy Jean-Luc Godard, who is citing the chaos in Greece as his reason. Yeah, I have only the vaguest possible idea what he means by that myself. Meanwhile, the Playlist’s Christopher Bell reviews a new documentary about the severed friendship between Godard and Francois Truffuat, who were respectively the Rolling Stones and the Beatles of midcentury French New Wave cinema and, alas, finds it lacking.

francois-truffaut-strike

* Marina Zenovich, the woman whose documentary many credit/blame with restarting the Roman Polanski mess — and, yes, that’s the “evil profligate dwarf” himself next to Godard, Truffaut as well as Claude Lelouche and Louis Malle in the picture above — will next be doing the film version of Mark Harris’s widely acclaimed book, Pictures at a Revolution, which looks at the remarkable five best picture nominees from 1968.

* Speaking of Polanski, Oy vey, Woody. (Via FilmDrunk whose headline repeats the obvious, but still hilarious, joke here.)

* Armando Iannucci, co-writer and director of the outstanding comedy about tragedy, “In the Loop,” has a new film with a preposition and a noun in the title set up.

* Cameron Crowe, who was on an amazing run of movies like “Say Anything” and “Almost Famous” until suddenly, he wasn’t, is getting back on the horse with a fact-based tale that involves all kinds of animals, possibly including horses. It does sound like a heck of a story.

* Nikki Finke thinks James Robinson should pay up before showing his face at Cannes.

It’s late. I’m tired and I want my turkey burger and an Old Fashioned. More to come later.

  

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Early De Niro

I’m such a fan of Mel Brooks, that I’ve given short shrift to his fellow filmic Kennedy Center honoree, Robert De Niro. The show airs at 9:00 tonight (Eastern and Pacific), but in the meantime, here are a pair of key moments from 1973, when two performances in smaller films garnered De Niro a great deal of attention and some critic group awards, paving the way for his role in “The Godfather: Part II” and superstardom.

Bang the Drum Slowly” was a gentle, somewhat thin and corny, sports comedy-drama/tearjerker based on a book by Mark Harris. In it, Michael Moriarty portrays a seasoned major league baseball player who befriends a less successful teammate who is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but who also has an incurable illness and whose only wish it to finish out the season. It’s far from a heavy-duty film and De Niro’s magnetic but ensemble-friendly performance is a million miles from the tortured or melodramatic tour de force you might expect. He also generates some extremely nice chemistry with Moriarity, a really outstanding actor in his own right who actually might have received nearly as much or more attention for this film than De Niro did. It also shows that De Niro has the ability to be one of the most hilariously lame dancers you’ll ever see at about 1:38.

Also, given that this is a Scorsese film about quasi-criminal characters in seventies Little Italy, the NSFW warning is somewhat in effect.

And in Martin Scorsese‘s third film and first masterpiece, “Mean Streets,” De Niro pretty much became the De Niro we know today, and I think this scene, which also features a young Harvey Keitel in the leading role as well as familiar-faces-to-be Richard Romanus and David Proval, makes that point about as clearly as possible.

  

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Friday night news dump (updated)

Time for our usual week-ending grab bag of left over and end-of-week movie stories…

* Two executive deaths today. First was 76 year-old nearly lifelong Paramount executive Gino Campagnola. That was followed by Nick Counter of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. As Nikki Finke recounts, he was the guy whose job it was to negotiate with unions in the recent negotiations and strikes with the guilds. Not surprisingly, there are some hard feelings, as evidenced by some of her commenters who really crossed the line in terms of simply being mean about the man’s death.

As a liberal, I’m always going to tend to side with unions, but the man is dead and making the best deal for the bosses was kind of his job. You don’t have to like him, but calling him a “scum bag” or talking about karma on the day of his death is not cool. I wonder if Finke, who is known for zealously controlling her comments and once removed an entirely innocuous, on topic, comment about “Mad Men” by me after an unrelated exchange with me here, will leave those comments up. She has also posted official reactions from SAG which are, of course, much nicer.

* As “This Is It” passed the $100 million mark domestically and is at $144 million worldwide, the Jacksons as a whole make a mark at AFM (American Film Market) with some intriguing sounding seventies footage. [Update: I obviously got confused a bit by the headlines on this piece. As of Sunday 11/8/09, the music doc is estimated to have made “only” $57, 855 in the U.S. market.]

This-is-it-Film-Michael-Jackson-small

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