The crazy gang is back. Has it really been more than 10 years?
The crazy gang is back. Has it really been more than 10 years?
A few remaining items worth mentioning this late evening/early morn…
* RIP John Forsythe. The watchably stolid actor with a nice touch at both melodrama and low-key comedy and a memorable voice passed away at 92 late Thursday. He worked a great deal on stage and in kept his hand in at the movies, but he’s did most of his work in multiple television series and, ironically, is probably best known today as the disembodied voice of Charlie from “Charlie’s Angels.” Still, he was a strong presence in a number of notable movies, including playing opposite a very young and very adorable Shirley Maclaine in Alfred Hitchcock‘s black comedy, “The Trouble with Harry” and as a vicious judge taunting a youngish but far less adorable Al Pacino in Norman Jewison’s “And Justice for All…” He also dealt with a murderous Robert Blake in “In Cold Blood” and fended off a nasty, nasty Ann Margaret in, yes, “Kitten with a Whip.”
* Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg — the Jewish-American twosome who struck a blow for the depiction of Asian-Americans as actual human beings, albeit hilariously stoned ones, by creating “Harold and Kumar” — are set to reboot the “American Pie” franchise with a film that is also a sequel. Also, the third go-round with ‘Roldy and Kumar is in motion, even if Kal Penn is currently employed outside of Hollywood. I mean, good roles for Asian American males should not so rare that they are all forced to go to work at the White House.
* The lovely and talented Emily Blunt will not be romancing “Captain America,” according to the Playlist’s Edward Davis. I’m not sure why he’s so convinced it won’t be a very good movie except for the fact that, of course, most movies aren’t very good and the bigger the budget, the more often that turns out to be true. But even so, I don’t quite get it.
On the other hand, I completely agree with the premise of another post by Davis: Yes, the thought of Tom Cruise uglying himself up in a major way to play Phil Spector really does have some demented genius to it. I’m not Cruise’s biggest fan but, well cast, he can be brilliant and playing lunatics seems to work for him. I have no idea why that might be the case.
And, yes, I like a third Davis post about a long-delayed movie being labored over by Cameron Crowe about the equally great and equally demented Marvin Gaye. Re: casting, I’m rooting for Jesse L. Martin of “Law & Order” — a terrific actor and the physical resemblance is pretty eerie.
* Don’cha just hate it when a star and director team up, get plenty of compliments, and then just repeat themselves? Well, fresh off their mostly good reviews and general decent business on “Greenberg,” about the personal travails of a bitter forty-something musician-cum-carpenter, the two are simply rehashing the same basic premise with “Mr. Popper’s Penguins.” Oh, wait…
* From a couple of days back, Anne Thompson nicely summarizes the spreading conventional movie-geek wisdom on the making and consumption of 3-D films. Shorter version: really, not every movie should be in it, it’s worth a little extra to see movies actually shot in 3-D in 3-D, but the conversions from 2-D to 3-D are pretty much best ignored and may even end up ruining the fun.
* Sharon Waxman writes that a mystery bidder has entered the fray to purchase the studio original named for the Weinsteins’s parents, Mira and Max. Could it be Harvey and Bob W.’s long lost older brother, Mogul X, who fled in shame after his first producing effort sold exactly three tickets at Sundance, and vowed only to return only after he had become the world’s greatest movie executive? It’s a thought.
I’ll be taking tomorrow off, so this’ll have to hold you….
* Several blogs, including The Vulture, are commenting on Disney’s refusal to greenlight a sequel to the Sandra Bullock/Ryan Reynolds hit comedy, “The Proposal.” Apparently, Disney is only interested in either franchise pictures with commercial spin off possibilities (i.e, toys and video games) or small-budget youth-themed films.
* So, after everything we’ve seen from him over the last eleven years or so, I’m supposed to believe George Lucas getting more involved will improve the reportedly troubled “Red Tails”? I just hope he stays far, far away from the actors.
* The Playlist has a fascinating peak at an apparent early draft of P.T. Anderson’s not-about-Scientology screenplay.
* The late John Hughes will get a special Oscar tribute this year.
* Nikki Finke on the latest version of the often remade Wuthering Heights. They might as well just go all-out and make Heathcliff a vampire in this one, from the sound of it.
* The British trade, Screen Daily, is the latest pub to go behind a paywall. Anne Thompson has some salient thoughts.
* Devin Faraci of CHUD provides a listen to that unused rock music score for “The Wolfman.” Yup, it’s hard to imagine how it could possibly have worked with a period horror film, but then I probably would have told Quentin Tarantino that using an eighties David Bowie song in a World War II movie wasn’t such a great idea, either.
Actually, much as I love “Inglourious Basterds,” I’m still not convinced about that particular touch.
I keep reading that the studios are reducing their outputs and that we’ll be seeing fewer new movies, but there’s sure no sign of it lately as we have another complicated week where, at least in theory, anything can happen. Still, the prognosticators agree that the latest entry in the first and longest running franchise in the sub-genre of torture-heavy horror, “Saw VI,” will likely win the week for Lionsgate.
On the other hand, there is also a consensus that the low-violence yet entirely potent chills of “Paranormal Activity” will be cutting into the Saw-bucks some also. Obviously, there is some audience crossover but, just as obviously, the most jaded gore hounds may find it beyond tame. I’ve already noted online the start of an inevitable backlash. I doubt this reaction will have the same angry potency that afflicted “The Blair Witch Project” so many moons ago. In that case, Lionsgate’s attempt to persuade less-savvy audiences that it might actually be real probably backfired later on, as did the over-hype of some of the early write-ups.
This time, Paramount has been more cleverly circumspect than the “Blair Witch” marketers, simply making the case that the modest video-movie can really scare the bejesus out of an audience. I’m here to tell you it can, even though I feel sure that not a single person I saw it with was under any delusion that what we were watching was not staged. Still, you see the violence-loving fanboys complaining at certain sites. I mean, how can a movie be scary if it lets you imagine the worst of it? How is that ever going to work?
It’s probably pretty obvious by now, especially from my post just before this one, that I prefer the “Paranormal” approach and will be rooting for it but, despite the still growing excitement around the movie, it’s the definite underdog as “Saw VI” will be opening in 3,036 theaters, while it’s competitor will be expanding to a mere 1,900. However, the outstanding per-screen averages that the film has been nailing could compensate if some horror audiences find the prospect of yet another ultra-brutality fest less than ultra-appealing.
Though it’s yet another family-friendly CGI animated film, this one based on a property at least some of us remember from our childhoods, hopes are not all that astronomically high for the next film. Summit’s “Astro Boy” is based on the best known creation of Japan’s “God of Manga” Osamu Tezuka, who basically invented both manga and anime as we now know them and who created some of the best comic books for adults that I’ve ever read. Of course, you’d never know from the horrendously lame gag at the end of the trailer or the often ugly CGI animation that ruins the beautiful 2-D (black and white, too!) of the early Tezuka cartoons as scene in the trailer. This appears to be another case of a studio adapting a property and missing what made the original work.
If your name is Will, you wear glasses, and you occasionally had a rough time of it in high school when it came to fitting in, then you will likely find that it’s quite easy to enjoy the new BBC America sitcom, “The InBetweeners.”
Actually, I guess that’s a pretty tiny demographic, so let’s try this: if the idea of an amalgam of “Freaks and Geeks” and “American Pie” delivered in a British accent fills you with joy, then, boy, do Iain Morris and Damon Beesley have a show for you.
Their best-known American credits…okay, fair enough, it’s really their only one…are as the writers of a couple of “Flight of the Conchords” episodes, but with “The InBetweeners,” they’ve put together a raunchy look at teenage life that, at least based on the episodes I’ve seen, is a bit like “Skins” without all the depressing bits…which is to say that the teenagers here are committing the sort of debauchery that you’d like to think that your own teenagers wouldn’t indulge in, even if you’re pretty sure they do, anyway.
“It’s not in any way, I think, really heavy,” said Joe Thomas, who plays Simon on the show. “I suppose it’s heavy in the sense that it’s sort of about inadequacy and expectations not being met and teenager years being sort of perpetually disappointing to a degree you wouldn’t even have thought possible given the last disappointment. But ‘Skins’ has, like, death in it and big themes, whereas we have…”
At this, Morris interrupted his star. “The best example is probably that, in the first series, you might see Joe’s naked bottom. In the second, you’ll see his penis in a wet sock. That’s how we moved it on. That’s how we’ve tried to develop the show and try and just get those themes going through. Of humiliating Joe Thomas.”
“Yeah,” confirmed Thomas, “that’s one of the themes.”
Regarding comparisons to the work of Judd Apatow, Morris is more than happy to consider his work part of the tradition of comedy humiliation. “It’s those things like ‘American Pie’ and ‘Animal House’ and ‘Swingers’ and things that were sort of character stays of men in a way that had humorous content. And in one of the episodes, the last episode, there’s a sort of homage to ‘Freaks and Geeks,’ by which I mean a joke we stole wholeheartedly. Do mention it to Judd if you see him.”
Now, there’s one thing for Americans to keep in mind (as if we’d ever forget): our television standards are more stringent than those of the Brits. This necessitates certain changes in various episodes that air on BBC America, and you can bet that “The InBetweeners” is a series which will require a bit of tweaking.
“We actually do bleep certain words,” said Garth Ancier, President of BBC Worldwide America, then backpedaled slightly and clarified, “We don’t bleep them. We do audio deletes, which is actually a different way of dealing with it. But we do do audio deletes on certain words that start with ‘F,’ and we do pixilate occasional nudity and things like that. Look, we have to live within the U.S. system. These are shows that are airing on free over-the-air television in the UK on E4 and Channel 4, but the U.S. audience is a little tamer, and so we have to calibrate where it should be, and we do. We do it with ‘Skins,’ too.”
“Sounds like bad news for Joe Thomas bottom fans,” said Morris.