Modest title. Might be an interesting movie…I’m lying, it’s an awful trailer. Maudlin and sappy — though I’m always interested what Desmond Tutu, the closest thing I know of to a real saint, has to say. All I can really say is that, if any of you know your “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” this reminds me of what happened when Zaphod Beeblebrox entered the Total Perspective Vortex.
* Back in 1939, Hollywood’s best-paid screenwriter, Preston Sturges, sold his screwball political satire, “The Great McGinty,” to Paramount for the grand sum of $10.00 on condition that he also be allowed to direct the movie. (I think he might have gotten a buck for the actual directing gig.) To this day, writers often take a pay cut for the privilege of becoming what Sturges used to call “a prince of the blood.”
Today, Mike Fleming reports that writer Dan Fogelman may be about to be paid in the neighborhood of $3 million to direct his first feature. “Imagine” is set to star Steve Carrell and will pair him with an older actor –presumably an aging superstar — who will be playing his extremely absentee rock musician dad who discovers a letter from John Lennon and decides to actually meet his now-middle-aged son for the first time.
* My colleague Will Harris forwarded me a press release with some exciting news for serious movie fans and fans of serious movies. Screenwriter and director Paul Schrader, still best known as the writer of “Taxi Driver,” but also a fascinating director in his own right with credits ranging from “American Gigolo” and “Cat People,” to “Mishima” and “Auto Focus” is poised to come back with “The Jesuit.” The deal for closed at the ongoing American Film Market, still underway in Santa Monica, and is set to star Willem Dafoe, Michelle Rodriguez, and Paz Vega. It’s a revenge film and, between that title and the Calvinist-raised Schrader’s well known inclinations from past films, you can hope for more than just a bit of spirituality meshing with the blood, guts, and sexuality. The Playlist has more.
* The Playlist also passes along the news that Christopher Doyle, an Australian-born cinematographer who made his name doing absolutely stunning work in Hong Kong for Wong Kai-Wai and others, is going to be making his first film in 3D. That should be interesting.
* Hot on the heels of producing “Paranormal Activity 2” and wrapping “Area 51” the very shrewd Oren Peli is going back to the roots of American horror with a film loosely based on a story by Edgar Allen Poe.
* No, Ahmet Zappa and Michael Wilson aren’t writing “Tiki Room: The Movie” but an Polynesian tale that was inspired by the Tiki Room. I don’t care, as long as the birds sing words and the flowers croon.
And there may be some actual news mixed in here. Maybe.
* The big story today is that a lot of people have sussed out the the 23rd James Bond movie is, according to the possibly not-so-super reliable UK tabloid “canned.” Obviously, the same fiscal black hole at the once mighty MGM that is screwing things up royally for “The Hobbit” is also at least delaying the latest entry in what has to be the longest-running franchise in movie history.
He may be a bit emotional, but it’s hard to disagree with the passion of Harry Knowles on this, while Kevin Jagernauth provides some necessary background to the story. I agree that it’s a bummer this is happening during the era of Daniel Craig. As far as I’m concerned, Craig is easily the best Bond since Connery.
Another self-indulgent clip. This one is from 1944’s “The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek. Preston Sturges was arguably the first really well-known writer-director in Hollywood, and he was in the position of writing a film that almost certainly influenced “Juno” — only the self-imposed censorship of the time meant you couldn’t openly discuss sex in any way in an American film, nor could you say the word “pregnant” and the shame attached to premarital pregnancies was exponentially greater than today.
“Miracle” stars Betty Hutton as an irrepressible young woman who takes the matter of raising wartime morale among America’s troops a bit too personally and, with the help of some spiked punch, winds up married to a man who name and face she can’t quite remember. Her ensuing pregnancy makes matters a bit worse, especially for her long-suffering, long-time friend, Norville Jones (Eddie Bracken), whose entirely unrequited love for Trudy Kockenlocker is suddenly assumed to be highly requited by everyone, especially her father, Police Constable Edmund Kockenlocker (the utterly awesome William Demerest).
And here’s our first introduction to Ms. Kockenlocker. No wonder poor Norville’s so in love.
A few items worthy of your attention this evening.
* A new study predicts that the Redbox video kiosks will be taking over 30% of the DVD market before the end of 2010. There’s no stopping this and you can’t really argue with success, but I fear this will only narrow the already narrow marketing of films further, as the kiosks can only rent a very limited of inevitably mostly recent and blockbuster titles. It’s really the opposite of Netflix, which is a godsend for those who want to broaden their movie/TV horizons.
* Also via The Autuers/Mr. Hudson’s invaluable Twitter feed, comes this interesting comparison of the late John Hughes and the even later master of forties screwball comedy, Preston Sturges. I personally would never really compare the two but it is slightly spooky that they both died on August 6th and were almost the same age, and there were some similarities to their respective careers, but not to their sensibilities. Of course, that also happens to be the day the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan and my sister’s birthday, draw whatever connections you want. (My sister is, however, way nicer than an atom bomb or a writer-director’s untimely death.) I will say that, to me, Sturges movies are much, much funnier and a lot more interesting.