Movie news for a no longer new week

A few items of note…

* 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.

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* 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.

* From “True Blood” werewolf to Superman? Is it a Great Dane? Is it a lycanthrope? No, it’s Joe Manganiello.

* 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.

* Screenwriter John August responds to a less than intelligent quote attributed to Jessica Alba.

* 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.

  

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Movie moments for Mr. Kimura #1

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Knocking around the cinephile blogosphere this morning, I happened upon the sad news, via Toronto Japanese cinema maven Chris Magee, that Takeo Kimura has passed on at age 91. Now, if you don’t know Mr. Kimura’s name immediately, don’t feel too bad. I didn’t recognize it either. However, when I found that  he was Seijun Suzuki‘s art director, I had to take notice.

Now, if you don’t know Mr. Suzuki’s name right of the bat, don’t feel bad either. It just perhaps means you’re not a movie geek with a strong interest in Asian genre cinema of the 1960s and beyond. The world probably has enough of those anyway. What it doesn’t have enough of, however, is filmmakers with Suzuki’s boldness and off-kilter but (often) entertaining sensibility. A acknowledged influence on Quentin Tarantino (whose birthday this is, by the way), Jim Jarmusch, Wong Kar-Wai and probably many others. His best films, like the truly bizarre and compelling black and white “Branded to Kill” play a bit like Sam Fuller thrown into a cuisinart with David Lynch and Jean-Luc Godard. The color ones are weirder.

However, film is a collaborative media, once you seen one of his films, or even a moment from them, you’ll understand why Suzuki’s art director would be his most crucial collaborator.  We’ll move backwards in time, starting with a clip for 2001’s “Pistol Opera,” also co-written by Kimura, which is not an everyday contribution for a production designer to make.

Its reputation is somewhat mixed to say the least (I have yet to see it myself) and ordinary coherence in storytelling is not really Suzuki’s strong-suit in any case. Nevertheless, there’s no denying that what you’re about to say is not something you see everyday, not without the right mix of rare herbs and mushrooms, anyhow and that’s primarily thanks to the late Mr. Kimura.

I’m still trying to work out how that film is supposed to be a remake of sorts of “Branded to Kill,” as that was an absurd but relatively low-key film about a troubled hitman with a sexual attachment to the smell of rice being cooked (really), but there you go. More to come.

  

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