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RIP Bernd Eichinger

Bernd EichingerVia David Hudson, I’ve learned that probably the best known German film producer here in the United States died suddenly from a heart attack in his Los Angeles home last night. He was 61.

Also a writer and director and the owner of Constantin Film, Bernd Eichinger’s diverse roster of productions includes the excellent, spectacular historical dramas “The Baader-Meinhof Complex” and, most famously, “Downfall.” The acclaimed film about Hitler’s final days is both an excellent movie and the source of all those funny Hitler videos I’m so fond of. (How awful the phrase “funny Hitler video” must read to someone whose never seen one.) As always, our condolences to his family and friends.

Eichinger has an impressive 95 producer credits on IMDb. English language films included “The Name of the Rose” and even “The Fantastic Four” and “Resident Evil.” Other internationally known films include “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer,” “The Neverending Story,” and “Smilla’s Sense of Snow.” Below, courtesy of Jahsonic, is the German-language trailer for “Baader Meinhof,” which he cowrote with director Uli Edel. There are no subtitles but, not speaking a word of German, there’s plenty for me to get.

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From Captain America to “American Idiot”

It’s your late night movie news.

* The big breaking news around the film geek blogosphere is that THR’s Heat Vision blog is reporting that Chris Evans will, indeed, play Captain America. I’ve only seen Evans in the first half-hour of “The Fantastic Four” (that was as far I made it through that one) but let’s say that, for the time being, I’m having a very hard time getting excited about this news.

* Moving from a project I’m interested in with some casting I’m not finding so interesting right now, we move on to some very interesting casting for a project I’m really not that personally interested in except to root for it to do as little business as possible because of the kind of filmmaking it symbolizes. It appears that John Malkovich, Francis McDormand, and Ken Jeong will all be in…wait for it…”Transformers 3.” Christopher Campbell has the predictably cynical and amusing blog reactions. I should add that I have absolutely no criticism of them for being in it. If Michael Bay wants to give me a few hundred thousand to do something connected to one of his films, I’m taking it. Now, if he wants me to say something nice about the flick, that’s going to cost a whole lot more.

* The bidding deadline has been extended a bit for the sale of MGM to make room for an offer from Time Warner. I imagine that would put the classic-era and later MGM library all under one corporate umbrella, which could make life a bit less confusing for us film buffs.

* I love spy movies. Also, in theory, I have no problem with movies based on video games — apart from the fact that I can’t think of one that people actually like very much, much less that I’ve personally seen and liked. Still, with all the great spy novels of all shapes and sizes that there are, the thought of a spy movie based on a video game does not make me very happy.

* I’m confused, is “Everything Must Go” starring Will Ferrell, which starts production this week with financing direct from its producers, really going to be an entirely non-comedic film, or is it being billed as a “drama” simply to distinguish it from Ferrell’s usual ultra-wacky comedies? To me, the premise sounds laden with a potential for dark humor, though I don’t know the Raymond Carver story, I do know he occasionally indulged in that.

* Previews begin the day after tomorrow on Broadway of the new stage musical, “American Idiot.” With a book by Green Day singer and lyricist Billie Joe Armstrong, the show’s “dialogue” is, as I understand, almost entirely sung.  It ran to mixed-to-positive reviews last year in the main theatrical venue of the Green Day’s California Bay Area hometown, Berkeley Rep. While not all the critics were high on the NoCal edition of the show, apparently Tom Hanks and his producing partner Gary Goetzman like it and are “in talks” to turn the production into a feature movie. I love some of the music on the highly acclaimed original album, so I’m intrigued by this one, though I could easily see it turning out horribly. (The music video featured by Kevin Jagernauth of the Playlist shows one way example of how a film version could go rather badly wrong.)

One thing this is not is a “jukebox musical” along the lines of “Mamma Mia!” but a concept album adaptation closer in spirit, I imagine, to “Tommy” and “Pink Floyd’s The Wall.” Still, one hurtle all these movies rarely overcome is the difference in energy between a live performance of a great rock and roll tune and the inevitably more packaged version you’ll get in a movie. Personally, I’ll be impressed if anything in the film version, if there ever is one, matches the intensity of the performance below.

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The post-Disney/Marvel merger world…

Is starting to look a lot like the one we knew before it.

* We’ll start with the good news. It’s been a very good summer, money wise, at the movies. In fact, the best ever…well, skyrocketing ticket prices help, but still.

* Nikki Finke might have had 11 updates to her initial post about the purchase, but she’s already moved on to bad blood in the Writers’ Guild election and, of course, her latest snit. This time, she’s furious about a new system of Oscar voting in which voters will name list the films in order of preference, so that a film with a huge number of second choices could beat a nominee with most first choices, if you follow. Typically, Anne Thompson‘s view is more sanguine. Personally, I think it will just underline the Academy’s inherent conservatism in choosing winners. Those of you hoping for “Inglourious Basterds” to be Best Picture were just dealt a serious blow. Since when was being the year’s Best Picture had that much to do with actually winning it?

* Of course, even as a good chunk of L.A. burns — a summertime tradition around these parts — and even our TV and radio transmitters, and the historic Mt. Wilson observatory are threatened, there’s no stopping the fannish speculation from the both the comic book/movie fan crossover world and more established bloggers. Christopher Campbell chronicles both today. Personally, I’m having some second thoughts on my own politically-based negativity about it this morning, though overall media consolidation is a real problem in terms of limiting the “marketplace of ideas.” This is just far from the worst example.

* And, on the heels of this comes talk of another early franchise reboot, this time of the Fantastic Four. Okay, but if they’re really like to save some money and offer mainstream audiences something that will really surprise and delight them, I believe a finished film is still sitting in the can, all ready to go.

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