You can feel it. After more than a week of Hollywood flacks being in overdrive announcing every comic book-derived, science fiction, fantasy, and horror project they’ve got, things have suddenly gone a little languid as we enter something like the late summer doldrums. That’s highly relative in a business where ADHD sufferers are seriously over-represented, but even Nikki Finke is mostly ignoring movies and has turned her megablog into a detailed celebration of every aspect of the parting of her bete noir TV executive, Ben Silverman.
But that leaves room for a couple of items relating to two filmmakers who are always worthy of attention.
* AICN’s Capone has a chock-full-of-good-stuff interview with Peter Jackson, whose been busier than you might even think considering the number of projects he’s got going, including some really cool sounding short pieces alongside his upcoming return to his “Heavenly Creatures” “small-movie” mode with “The Lovely Bones.” (Capone also raves about the upcoming Jackson-produced feature debut for South African-born director Neill Blomkamp, “District 9” — already notable because of its semi-unavoidable viral marketing campaign.)
There are some fascinating details about the way the two films of Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” will shake out. Rather than a straight forward adaptation of the novel and then a “bridge” film taking us up to the LOTR-land, Jackson and Guillermo del Toro will bring us an expanded two-film version of the novel incorporating fairly complex and involved sounding material not originally found in what was, after all, more or less a children’s book. And he also gives his thoughts on the movie industry which is, he thinks, even more paralyzed by fear than usual.
* Americans are fond of remaking foreign films for the domestic market. Of course, the favor gets returned sometimes, but we don’t always hear about it. Once, I rented a Bollywood DVD which a kid informed me was “just like ‘The Matrix.'” The film opened with a non-sci-fi fight that did, indeed borrow a bit from the Wachowskis and Yuen Woo Ping’s fight choreography (except without the skill), but as the film wore on, it suddenly became a comedy and I realized I was actually watching an Indian knock-off of “The Whole Nine Yards.”
However, China’s Zhang Yimou is above that kind of thing. Via Anne Thompson we learn that he has announced that his next film will be a remake of the Coen Brother’s breakthrough thriller, “Blood Simple.” Yimou made his worldwide name with beautifully made melodramas with a bit of high-toned arthouse appeal like “To Live” and “Raise the Red Lantern.” That was followed by his transition into a mainland Chinese variation on Hong Kong-style of action epics with his two lavish worldwide hits, “Hero” and “House of Flying Daggers.” Now, it appears, we’re seeing a third Zhang, the maker of down-and-dirty, black-humored neo-noir grunge. Could be good. Whatever Zhang does, it’s worth looking at.