“Carancho” meets Spiderman

I generally don’t like to do “first look” posts (the first still released from some putatively highly anticipated new flick). I only do two of these a day and, really, I just don’t give a flying whatever nearly all of the time. Stills are fine, but the ones they release early usually tell you next to nothing are nothing more than a way to try to ignite some buzz based on next to no information. However, I do post trailers extremely often if they’re interesting, even for movies I was barely aware of prior. They’re like stills, only 24 times a second. Today, because the trailer is genuinely enticing and I know at least some of you probably can’t wait to see Andrew Garfield as Spidey, I’ll do both.

First, of course, the trailer. In this case it’s for an Argentinian thriller which looks exciting and sexy — especially if you happen to be an ugly middle-aged guy. (H/t to Brian Clark at MovieLine.)

And now that Garfield/Spiderman picture — after the flip!

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Bond is coming back; Soderbergh promises he’ll retire

In 1962, a bouncing baby franchise was born when superspy assassin James Bond did in the evil “Dr. No.” Now middle aged and needing a bit of exercise to keep its financial heart pumping after nearly five decades of very hard living, the Bond machine survived the end of the Cold War that spawned it, only to be stalled by MGM’s financial morass. Some thought, “It’s a 22 movie run, more if you count a few non-canonical Bond flicks, give it a rest already.” Today, however, Nikki Finke has word that Bond 23 is officially going ahead with star Daniel Craig and the long-rumored Sam Mendes in tow as director. You’ll have your next serving of Bond with your Thanksgiving turkey in November of 2012, assuming nothing untowards happens in post-production.

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In 1963, a bouncing baby human being was born in Louisiana. 26 years later, director Steven Soderbergh personally gave the modern day independent film movement one of its biggest kickstarts with 1989’s “Sex, Lies, and Videotape.” Now, he’s announcing officially that he’s packing it only two decades into a career that, at least in theory, could go another four or five.

Though Mike Fleming jokingly pre-accuses him of doing a Brett Favre, movie directors are not sports figures, and, to paraphrase Marcellus Wallace of “Pulp Fiction,” their asses really can age like a fine wine. John Huston, who led the kind of life that might have killed a lesser man in his forties, made one of his greatest films, “The Dead,” when he was pushing eighty and about to be dead himself. Old French New Waver Alain Resnais is scheduled to release a movie more or less to coincide with his 90th birthday, and Portugal’s Manoel de Oliveira released “The Strange Case of Angelica” in 2010, the year of his 102 birthday. (He’s supposedly working on another.) Almost no one, except Matt Damon, seems to be taking Soderbergh seriously about this.

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You know what, I’m on board with both moves. James Bond has become far bigger than any one set of filmmakers and, like Sherlock Holmes, Superman, and Mickey Mouse, there’s no reason he shouldn’t keep on chugging along indefinitely in new incarnations. And, given how surprisingly good “Casino Royale” was, I’m willing to let the current James Bond team overcome the disappointment of “Quantum of Solace.” All I ask is for a little more of “From Russia with Love”-era Bond and a little less shaky-cam Jason Bourne.

As for Soderbergh, I’m a fan who admires the fact that he’s unafraid to take risks and make movies that, admittedly, sometimes kind of suck, but always in interesting ways. Re: his impending retirement, I’ve watched too many creators repeat themselves over the years to have anything but respect for his decision. I think it’s possible that we all have only so many stories to tell in a particular way and that, perhaps, when we feel we’re through telling them in one medium, maybe the thing to do is switch to another that might permit new stories to emerge. Later, if we return to the first medium, maybe we’ll then have a new story to tell, or at least an interesting new way to tell it. So, if Soderbergh just wants to spend his life painting, I say, “bless him.” If he gets the urge to start making movies again from time to time and unretires as many times as Frank Sinatra, that’ll be great too. The thing not to do is stagnate.

  

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It’s 2011 and time for the return of the Friday night news dump

I haven’t done this in awhile and I know I’m missing a bunch of stories from early in the week, but you’ll read this and you’ll like it, damn it!

* Mike Fleming is claiming a “toldja” on the news that Elijah Wood will be appearing in “The Hobbit” as Frodo Baggins who is, I believe, not yet born during the events of Tolkien’s original children book. The rumor from earlier in the week has now been confirmed and nothing will ever be the same.

* Mr. Fleming also has the latest on speed-crazed Hollywood buying the rights to a book that has yet to be published and the remake rights on a documentary almost no one has seen. At least we know what the documentary’s about, and it does sound like material for a good movie — except, of course, it’s already a movie.

* Robert De Niro will be heading the jury at Cannes this year. This will be his third go-round in the gig.

* There’s been a ton of quibbling on why it’s not a sequel and maybe not even a spin-off, but the fact remains that Judd Apatow is building his next film around the terrific characters from “Knocked Up” played by Paul Rudd and Apatow’s real-life wife, Leslie Mann. I have to admit I find these kind of fine distinctions to be marketing-driven annoyances. Novelists cast supporting characters from past books in leading roles in newer books all the time and no one calls these books anything other than “novels.” Novelists like Sinclair Lewis and Kurt Vonnegut treat their worlds like the Marvel Universe, so why can’t there be an Apatow-verse?

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* Ricky Gervais has apparently signed up to play Mole in an upcoming version of “Wind in the Willows.” Ordinarily, I’d be a little bit excited about this news, but this is a project coming from Ray Griggs, who I frankly wonder about for a number of reasons. I’ve written about him before, at least he had the good sense to hire WETA in on the project. Still, if I were a friend of Gervais’s I advise him to stay away. It has a funny smell about it.

* Oscar winning writer-director Paul Haggis is taking his complaints with the Church of Scientology public in an upcoming book-length expose to be written by Lawrence Wright. Haggis is a former member of the church. I’d tell you what I think of Scientology, but that’s a whole other blog post. I will say I think this will be big.

* Danny Strong played the greatest geek ever on “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” and went on to become a respected screenwriter with his script for the Jay Roach television movie about the 2000 election, “Recount.” Now he’s back in the genre world with a gig rewriting something called “Earth Defense Force,” which Sam Raimi is producing.

* Stan the Man got his star on Hollywood Blvd. Excelsior!

* Ron Howard wants you to know that the “Arrested Development” movie is really still happening. Sure, why not?

  

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Movie news and commentary…lots of it: “The Hobbit” is cast but <sigh> Mel Gibson exists and must be dealt with, somehow (updated)

Tonight’s box office preview has been moved to tomorrow because of a couple of a films news items that just can’t quite wait. The first can be dispensed with in a second. Casting has been announced on “The Hobbit,” short, snub-nosed and talented Martin Freeman will face his inevitable hobbity destiny as Bilbo Baggins, as Peter Jackson again casts a bunch of people I’ve mostly never heard of in smaller roles who’ll probably all be great.

And then there’s this news of Mel Gibson being let go from “The Hangover 2 just a day after it was announced he’d been hired to play a supporting role. Oy.

US-CINEMA-EDGE OF DARKNESS

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Midweek movie bits

I’m going to be taking a day off from the blogging grind, but there’s plenty going on this late evening in the world’s cinema capital. Starting with…

* Team Coco, the movie! Okay, it’s a documentary about Conan O’Brien’s upcoming live tour and it’s still only in the “early talks” stage according to Mike Fleming’s exclusive. It’s apparently in compliance with his severance deal, even though most people will probably end up watching it on television sets anyhow.

* Speaking of documentaries and comedy, A.J. Schnack rounds up some of the SXSW reaction to James Franco’s SNL documentary.

* At the risk certainty of being repetitious, speaking of comedies connected to SNL, Pete Sciretta rounds up the SXSW reaction to”MacGruber.” We also have reaction direct from Jason Zingale at the big Austin fest just a few posts below.

* In the wake of the sale of Miramax, go-to producer Scott Rudin is negotiating to leave Disney, writes Claudia Eller.

* Okay, even if I might not be a fan of all the movies, I confess to enjoying the idea of having the stars of past Marvel films recreate their roles in the long-discussed “Avengers” film and Edward Norton appears possibly willing to play along by returning as the Hulk, maybe. Whatever else may be true, Norton is a very interesting guy.

* Does a serious version of the Black Knight sequence from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” sound like your kind of film? If so, Anne Thompson thinks you might like “Centurion.”

* I think all the entertainment reporters should just take the month off and let Mike Fleming do all the reporting of stories like the one that Jeremy Renner may be joining Paul Thomas Anderson’s not-about-Scientology movie which will star Philip Seymour Hoffman as not-L. Ron Hubbard. Though it’s relatively modest $35 million budget may be a bit high for the finance folks at Universal, other backers may have been found.

That’s hardly all. Fleming also brings us the one about “Hit Girl” Chloe Moretz joining the cast of Scorsese’s lastest and that Tobey Maguire confirmed to be playing Bobby Fisher.

And one two more from Mr. Fleming…If you think Spike Lee has been working as much as he should after the success of “Inside Man” and his acclaimed Katrina documentary, you’re apparently not alone. He’s switched agencies.

And, oh yeah, another beefcake “Captain America” potential. At least the names for the female lead have a bit of spark to them, I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing Keira Knightley or Emily Blunt hanging around a Marvel movie.

* Jeffrey Welles is nutso for “Hot Tub Time Machine,” for what it’s worth.

* I often say that the best movies these days are long-form television. So why shouldn’t Martin Scorsese be getting involved? However, does everything crime and Scorsese oriented have to have Rolling Stones music in the background? Unless I’m misidentifying that anachronistic music in the “Boardwalk Empire,” trailer, I guess it really does. Still, yeah, it is Steve Buscemi’s time to play a big bad boss.

* If it’s not news that Jason Segal will be costarring with muppets, why are we talking about  it? Still, based on his obvious love for puppetry as portrayed in the rather brilliant “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” I think it may turn out okay.

  

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