A scary Tuesday night at the movies

*  The rep of PG-rated horror these days couldn’t be much worse. So, I have no problem believing CHUDster Devin Faraci that a publicist sent out a blast e-mail crowing about the R-rating given to “The Wolf Man” for “‘bloody horror, violence and gore.”

The-Wolf-Man1

I’m excited enough about what appears to be a nicely movie-movie stylized general approach to the movie from director Joe Johnston, of the underrated “The Rocketeer” among other movies, to still be looking forward to seeing this, I think. Moreover, I am a fan of the fairly sanguinary (and, to me, truly freaking scary in more or less the best way possible) “An American Werewolf in London,” but I’m still a bit nonplussed. I realize I’m a bit of wuss about too much gore, certainly compared to the typical horror fan.

Nevertheless, I can’t help finding the attitude of AICN’s Quint a little Stephen Colbertesque in its equation of blood and gore to “nards” (Colbert would just come right out and call it “balls”). I also think making a tough, scary film really doesn’t have that much to do with how much colored corn syrup you throw around. But then who listens to a guy who likes musicals?

* The most disconcerting news about “The Wolf Man” is not the above, but the news last month about the decision to apparently drop a mostly completed score by Danny Elfman. Yesterday, Jon Burlingame of Variety wrote an even more disconcerting piece arguing that film composers are being devalued. Here’s the article ending quote from respected composer James Horner (not my personal favorite, as it happens, though he’s certainly worked on plenty of good movies and I’m perhaps not giving him enough credit):

“No one just says, ‘What do you think of my picture? I want you to write what’s in your heart.’ I haven’t heard that in years. That simple concept does not exist anymore.”

Michael Stuhlberg in Apparently, though, it does for some composers, when they’re working with really good directors. Michael Stuhlberg’s interview with Anne Thompson a while back indicates the Carter Burwell’s music may have changed the tone of Coen Brothers’ “A Serious Man” considerably and that he was given considerable latitude. Real filmmakers apparently still realize that musical choices — when and how to use it, or not use it —  are absolutely crucial.

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Slipping off for the weekend

A few last minute items as the the inglourious weekend gets seriously underway.

* If the movie world had a “Friday news dump” the way they do in D.C., the news that Martin Scorsese’s Dennis Lehane adaptation, “Shutter Island,” has been moved from November of ’09 to February of ’10 might be so handled. No such luck for Paramount as Nikki Finke, Anne Thompson and Screenrant and pretty much every two-bit blogger on the ‘net, including me, has something to say. This is not the first promising film to be so switched. “The Wolf Man” was also shunted by Universal from the traditionally good-movie rich fall to the less auspicious late winter.

Finances are obviously at the root, but speculation is rife on how the move might have been influenced by the Academy’s recent switch to ten awards annually. In any case, I tend to buy at least two of Nikki Finke’s reasons — a simple delay to spread out the financial cost of marketing the film around during tough economic times (perhaps with the hope of a better 2010) and the fact that star Leonardo DiCaprio wouldn’t have been able to promote the film this autumn. Considering they had people already fairly worked about the film, it’s a definite sign of some fragility, I’d say.

* Will the Twitter effect make movies better? Is it even real? Michael Sragow has a decent, yet frustrating, article on the ongoing topic. (H/t Anne Thompson.)

* After making one deal to direct an extremely ill-advised possible “Battlestar Galatica” re-reboot, Bryan Singer has also signed on to do a remake of John Boorman’s King Arthur epic, “Excalibur.” I love John Boorman’s work in general and also tales of chivalry and swordplay, yet I kind of hate (or at least can’t sit through) the original film, which many love but I find unspeakably turgid. So, I guess I’m open-minded about what Singer will do with it. Can almost only be an improvement for me. Of course, neither of these films may ever actually happen. Bryan Singer’s next film is expected to be “Jack, the Giant Killer.”

An interesting note about the 1962 movie version of the fairy tale (one no one ever bothered to tell me…I always thought it was another name for “Jack and the Beanstalk”). Many musicals have had their songs removed to be released in non-musical versions over the years, this is one of the very few where a producer attempted to turn it into a musical after the fact.

* And because everyone else is giving it to you, I might as well also serve up the trailer for Michael Moore’s new “Capitalism: A Love Story.” It made me laugh but of Christopher Campbell, whose favorite words lately seem to be “dated” and “derivative” (but not “delightful” or “delovely”) and his crew of usual suspects mostly think it disappoints. Do these guys ever like anything? Campbell never seems to. In comments, JoblessInTampa has some choice words for the Eastern film geek elites on the issue of being out-of-step.

  

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“The Wolf Man” trailer

A really strong trailer has just come out on what looks like a fairly loose remake of the 1941 Universal monster/horror classic which originally starred Claude Reins and, in the title role, Lon Chaney, Jr. The new version has Benecio del Toro as the unfortunate Lawrence Talbot and Anthony Hopkins as his concerned pop, as well as Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving.

All I can say is that this version looks top notch. I thought director Joe Johnston’s “The Rocketeer” was very fun and pretty underrated, and this looks to have the potential to be even better. One thing’s for sure, considering the best known movie wolf men so far have been ex-Dr. Pepper song-and-dance guy David Naughton (“An American Werewolf in London”) and Chaney, Jr., who had some moments but was not nearly the actor his legendary dad was, it’s safe to say that del Toro will be by far the best actor to inhabit’s the wolf man’s hairy skin. Check it out.

And remember….

Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night,
May become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.

  

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