Cannes is in full swing and there’s plenty other stuff going on besides — way too much to cover completely. So, consider this just me hitting a very few of the highlights of the film world right this moment.
* The critical wars are going full strength at Cannes with the biggest love-it/hate-it proposition appearing to be Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Biutiful.” I haven’t seen the film, of course, but Iñárritu is most definitely my least favorite of “the three amigos” of Mexican/Spanish/U.S. cinema. (The other two being Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro) and not only because his name is the most impossible to type. I mostly liked “Amores Perros” but his “21 Grams” and “Babel” struck me as exercises in touchy-feely realism that was a lot less real than it seemed to fancy itself.
Still, he’s working with different writers now and everyone seems to agree that the always great Javier Bardem is especially fine in it, so I suppose I should keep an open mind. Still, reading about the film, it’s hard not to side with the anti-faction when much of the commentary echoes my feelings about past films and when the pro-side is being taken by Jeffrey Welles, who really doesn’t seem to respond well when other people don’t love his favorite films. It’s a conspiracy, I tells ya!
In any case, David Hudson does his usual amazing job summarizing the critical reaction from a wide swath of the press; John Horn at the L.A. Times focuses on the reactions of big name critics.
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Since I took a day off earlier in the week, I’ve got probably enough material for fifteen separate blog posts, but just one will have to do…
* Since about Wednesday (my day off) items about the upcoming Superman film being presided over by Christopher Nolan have been rolling out. First Latino Review broke the news in Spanglish that writer David Goyer, who has been involved with Nolan’s Batman franchise from the start, would be on board. Now IESB (via Bad Guy Wins) reports what it says are rumors that the director of the Superman film will be Christopher’s writing partner brother, Jonah, making his directorial debut.
That seems reasonable enough especially given that Nolan’s going to be busy with the third instalment in his Batman franchise. I get a bit more skeptical about the idea that Nolan will be sticking around to direct the long-mulled Justice League movie which would presumably include the new Supes (whoever he may be; sorry Brandon Routh), the current Batman (just as long as no one gets into his eyeline), and Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern, but I suppose anything is possible.
* I could spend the next week trying to figure this one, but negative PR campaigns against Best Picture Oscar nominees have become de rigeur in recent years and the shrapnel is flying in more than one direction around “The Hurt Locker.” First there were stories from Pete Hammond and a typically voracious Nikki Finke about anti-“Avatar” e-mail blasts by producer Nicolas Chartier. Today there was a far more substantive front page news story in the Los Angeles Times on some disagreements among military people about the film’s putative claims to authenticity. The most serious allegation — which doesn’t appear to be anywhere close to being proven — charges that the crew drove a Humvee into a Jordanian village in order to film angry locals.
Though I think quite highly of Paul Rieckhoff of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a frequent guest on Rachel Maddow’s old radio show, I think his criticism is way off-base and was surprised to see him on the anti-“Hurt Locker” side. I don’t think anything in the film indicates that the dangerous-seeking behavior of Jeremy Renner’s character is supposed to be typical, but simply one person’s reaction to an insane situation. Still, it’ s easy to understand why some might kind of forget the movie, though attempting to mirror reality to some degree, makes no claims to being anything other than fiction.
Steve Pond covers the push-back by reporter-turned-screenwriter Mark Boal.
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Some of you may know that I have my own blog, Forward to Yesterday. Today we have numerous items that inspire movie déjà vu of various sorts. Below are just a few and there’s more where that came from. Expect a sequel.
* Steven Spielberg is set to produce, but not direct, a possible series of films based on Donald Hamilton’s Matt Helm character. Cinegeeks will recall that during the sixties spy craze Dean Martin starred in four not terribly well regarded, highly tongue-in-cheek films featuring a character who I gather has a lot more in common with Austin Powers than he does with Hamilton’s far grittier and more realistic creation. (I haven’t seen any since I was maybe six or seven at the oldest; I have a vague memory of Martin lounging in a giant bottle of champagne.)
Apparently the thinking here is to update the series, but to hew a lot closer to the books, which Wikipedia explains are about as far from spy spoofs as they could possibly be, and take a more “Bourne”/”24”-like approach (I gather torture plays a part in the first Helm novel, Death of a Citizen.). I’m weird and “Munich” is by far my favorite recent spy film, so I’m kind of sorry Spielberg won’t be doing this. In any case, I actually hope the filmmakers who take this on find their own path. I’m not sure why, but I could see Steven Soderbergh or Alfonso Cuarón nailing this one.
* Original “Alien” director Ridley Scott is attached to a proposed prequel. He did pretty well the first time around; I say it’s high time the kid got another chance.
* Much as I dig both Johnny Depp and Keith Richard, I’m not a fan of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, though I’m rather fond of movies with sword fights in general. Nevertheless, Mike Fleming, who also brought us the Matt Helm news above, is here to tell you that, following up on the upcoming “Nine,” Rob Marshall’s next movie may be “Pirates 4.”