Fat Tuesday at the movies

Do the bon temps actually roulez in Hollywood? It’s more like they just kind of unspool.

* My good friend, Zayne Reeves, was kind enough to make sure I didn’t miss this rather extraordinary Esquire piece by Chris Jones on Roger Ebert’s current life. I’ve been spending my share of time around illness myself over the last several weeks and I can’t think of a more quietly, beautifully sane way of dealing with the strange cards life can deal us. Though I’m just one among very, very many he’s shared kind words with, I’ve always felt lucky for the very brief e-mail correspondences I’ve had with Roger over the years, Now I feel luckier.

* Reviews of the fourth Martin Scorsese film to star Leonardo DiCaprio, “Shutter Island,” are starting to trickle out. Glenn Kenny has a good one. “Good” both as in “positive” and also as in “worth your time reading.”

shutter-island-2010-wallpaper

* Doug Liman will be directing a film about the 1971 Attica prison riot/revolt/uprising, now best remembered by film lovers as the chant from “Dog Day Afternoon.” It’s a story he has a personal connection with through his late father, attorney Arthur Liman. Nevertheless, the director of “Go,” “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and “The Bourne Identity” seems to be moving in a sort of John Frankenheimer-esque direction overall, too.

* Speaking of the man who yelled “Attica! Attica!,” Al Pacino has stepped into a part recently vacated by Robert De Niro. You just can’t seem to keep those two guys apart for very long.

* Nikki Finke is having a very fat Tuesday indeed. Earlier today she reported on Carl Icahn trying to snap up Lionsgate for himself and a deal between Warner Brothers and video kiosk powerhouse Redbox, not to mention the news that the Oscars this year may not be including the original artists in the Best Song category.

There’s still more; a 3-D movie based on Erector Sets. Sure, why not. Next up: “Slinky 3-D,” I’m sure. Now, if they really want to get a rise out of the family audience, they might consider adopting Mickey Spillane’s novel, The Erection Set. From the description I just linked to, it would really be something in three-dimensions.

* Writer-director Paul Feig is reteaming with his old “Freaks and Geeks” colleague, Judd Apatow, for a film starring and cowritten by Dave Medsker’s-ultra-fave, Kristen Wiig writes Borys Kit. Let’s hope it’s better than a typical SNL skit these days.

* I started with Roger Ebert and I’ll end with an item via his must-read Twitter-feed: the Film Preservation Blogathon being organized by my old Chicago-based cinephile blogging mate, Marilyn Ferdinand. If you care about movies, this is the place. It’s also a fundraiser (a first for a blogathon, as far as I can remember) so if the idea of losing a film — any film — forever bugs you as it should, considering donating. You can do worse than starting with this post by Ferdy’s partner in good works, the Self-Styled Siren aka Farran Nehme. And, courtesy of another cinephile colleague from the days when I had time to blog about old movies all the live-long day, Greg Ferrera, we conclude with….a commercial.

  

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Redbox, the meaning of zombies and “Soul Train”

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.

* The healthcare crisis hits film business folks in need of longterm care.

* Speaking of matters of life and death, writer Johnathon Williams finds truth in his love of zombie flicks. (H/t David Hudson)

* 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.

* Another TV-to-movie adaptation. This one based on Fred Astaire’s favorite show. See why below. And, no, that guy just doesn’t look like Rerun, he is Rerun.

That was too much fun. I’ll have a couple of bonus “Soul Train” videos after the flip.

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A post without a Tarantino

I just woke up and realized that there’s more to life than our talented and ever controversial lantern-jawed friend. For example…

* I’ve made it clear too many times that I’m not innately hostile to remakes. But in the annals of apparent bad ideas, Robert Zemeckis using his invariably uninspiring/unconvincing style of motion-capture to remake the Beatles psychedlic animation “Yellow Submarine” is a real contender. I don’t consider the original a great film but it is what it is and remaking it with two of the original Beatles now long passed on seems bizarre to me. I truly don’t see a point here, but maybe I’m missing something.

* I’ve been remiss in not mentioning the whole mishegas going on between Redbox and Warner Brothers. If Warners doesn’t want to sell them the titles prior to 28 days after their release on home video, I’m not sure if there’s any legal justification for forcing them too, but then I’m not a lawyer. On the other hand, as Patrick Goldstein points out in the article from Monday I linked to above, business models like Redbox are going to be unavoidable as the home entertainment market becomes ever more important.

I get more DVDs than I have time to watch for free as part of my critic gig, but I honestly have never understood why anyone would purchase a DVD of a movie that isn’t a huge favorite, much less a movie they’ve never seen before. It’s not like a CD where you can pop it into your car stereo or put it on for background music while you make dinner and, of course, people are figuring out ways to not buy those as well. Seems to me that the economy is forcing people to be a little more discriminating.

* Executive Tom Sherak is the new head of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences (AMPAS to its friends), stepping in for the term-limited Sid Ganis. Anne Thompson has no problem with it. Stepping right into character, Nikki Finke has a huge problem with it, and so do many of her commenters, while the rest are pro-Sherak. Why is it that every time I read the comments at Ms. Finke’s, I get the feeling I’m watching the road company version of “All About Eve”?

* The guy has “movie star” written all over him — he’s a little bit Gregory Peck, a little bit Cary Grant (including Grant’s gift for comedy), with a touch of young Montgomery Clift — so especially with the widely touted ratings success of “Mad Men” on Sunday night, it’s no surprise Jon Hamm is getting movie work. The latest addition to his resume is Zack Snyder’s “Sucker Punch”. Anne Thompson prefers “The Town,” however. One thing’s for sure, if anyone ever decides to do “The James Mason Story,” he’s the guy.

  

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