It’s pretty clear that nothing going on in movieland tonight is going to be able to compete with the sheer entertainment value of the NBC late night TV quagmire, but there’s definitely stuff to talk about.
* Peter Saarsgard of the very good “An Education” is a highly intriguing actor who I’ve been following for some time, especially since catching his work in the underrated “The Dying Gaul” at Sundance a few years back. No matter what kind of character he’s playing, he seems to have a real gift for moral ambiguity. If he’s cast as a villain, we think he must have a good side, and if he’s cast as someone more upright, we wonder if there isn’t something underhanded going on. Anyhow, Borys Kit reports that it looks like he might be playing the villain side of the street in the Green Lantern movie. Could be good.
* The longest named director in show business is back on “The Tourist,” a remake of a French thriller to star Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck is the very talented and personable multilingual director behind “The Lives of Others.”
* Simon Brew has some more on the upcoming “Spiderman” reboot announced yesterday. His list of possible new Spideys has two interesting entries that I can’t quite agree with. Daniel Radcliffe actually makes some sense, but we’ll have to see how his American accent is, though I’d personally advise the soon-to-be ex-Harry Potter to avoid overly franchisey roles for a while. Michael Cera would be interesting but, I fear, disastrous. He’d have to get muscular and we know what happens to funny young actors when they become too obviously physically fit. Just ask Anthony Michael Hall.
The trick with Peter Parker is that the actor has to be believable both as a vulnerable demi-nerd, and as the sinewy superhero. Tobey Maguire was actually a really outstanding choice.
* As for superhero casting at the other end of the age scale, it can now be revealed that some time ago the Hughes Brothers were contemplating making a film of The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller’s epoch-making 1985 comic book (in my view, a “graphic novel” is just a long comic book with an inferiority complex).
To star as the comic’s near-geriatric Batman/Bruce Wayne they were thinking of “somebody like Clint Eastwood.” Actually, at the time, he was about the only star for the role. Mel Gibson is getting close to having the right age/physicality for the role in maybe another five-ten years. He’s already got the worldview to play a Miller hero, I suspect. (H/t JoBlo).
* The L.A. Film Critics have spoken: the best movie of the aughts was “Mulholland Drive.” Could there be a bias in the film’s favor if you’ve actually driven the windy hillside road with the awesome nighttime views?
* Can we start calling them Galifianakis & Rudd now that they’re apparently starring in two movies together in a row? The script of their next film is by comic Demetri Martin and will be directed by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton of “Little Miss Sunshine.” Should be interesting.
* This cool little web toy shows you the most popular Netflix rentals of 2009 by zip-code in various large urban areas. It seems that people use Netflix largely to catch up Oscar films they don’t feel like seeing in the theater, e.g., “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” (Sorry, Dave, but I don’t think think I would have made it to the end of that one I’d been watching it at home.)
* This makes me feel a little bit better about the guy currently scheduled to make the newest attempt at “Dune.” Not to compare Pierre Morel to Peter Jackson, necessarily, but having a fan do a project like this makes sense to me. You want someone with real passion.
* Last night, I wrote a bit about the passing of the great French writer-director Erich Rohmer at age 89. I didn’t mention an infamous quote from director Arthur Penn and writer Alan Sharp’s 1975 “Night Moves” in which a private eye played by Gene Hackman humorously compares watching a Rohmer film to an inherently boring act. Jim Emerson will explain it for you. He also mentions a Twitter meme. See if you can find my oh-so brilliant contribution.
* Sitting around watching TV kills! Instead, see a movie while standing up and fidgeting a lot.
* Quentin Tarantino tells a story I’d never heard before about the making of 1992’s “Reservoir Dogs” and the legendarily nutso actor Lawrence Tierney, who embodied crime boss Joe Cabot so well in the film. Though I count myself as something of a Tierney fan, it’s not hard to believe that Tierney, who died in 2002, needed firing. Nor do I have a hard time buying the story in his Wikipedia entry explaining why he only only appeared once as Elaine Benes’ intimidating author father on “Seinfeld.” I personally witnessed Tierney’s oddness more than once.
The most memorable example came before a screening of his “Born to Kill”, a 1947 thriller he’d starred in. In a more or less friendly mode, he accosted me and a friend. He was affable enough but what he said didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Not long after, it seemed to me that he managed to intimidate the film’s famously mild-mannered director, Robert Wise, from the audience while interrupting a post-screening Q&A. But then it turns out that, according to film noir expert Eddie Muller writing back in 1999, I didn’t know the half of it. Let’s just say that it turns out there are worse forms of filmgoer misbehavior than taking cell phone calls. Much worse.