Posting over the next few days is going to probably be news-free, so we’ll make hay while the cinema news sun shines. We start off with casting news.
* Jeremy Renner of “The Hurt Locker” is “near a deal” to play Hawkeye in the Avengers film to be (theoretically) directed by Joss Whedon, who hasn’t said a word officially to anyone in months, as far as I can tell. Renner is a smart choice. Playing a character who hasn’t previously been introduced is going to be a special challenge in this movie and actors without real ability and charisma probably need not apply.
* So, if the Wrap is correct, Brad Pitt likely won’t end up staring in the U.S. remake of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” It looks like that will be Daniel Craig, instead. Having seen the Swedish film, it seems to me he’s a much better fit for the part of the male lead. The character has a bit of a hang-dog, defeated quality to him that just doesn’t fit Pitt. I think Craig can pull that off easily. He should probably gain or lose a bit of weight for the part. This guy might do okay with woman, but he’s a coffee-and-cigarette addicted journalist, not a perfectly exercised super-spy.
* Speaking of matters Bondian, as per the Playlist, Christopher Nolan is describing his very highly anticipated “Inception” as his Bond film, in a way. I’m personally not a fan of “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” but it’s an interesting model, nonetheless.
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Composed like a mini festival of short films on the subject of love, “New York, I Love You,” the second installment in the city-based anthology series, starts off strong before coming to a screeching halt. A majority of the best segments not only occupy the first half of the film, but they also have the most star power, including one by Jiang Wen starring Hayden Christensen and Andy Garcia as two men vying for the attention of a beautiful girl (Rachel Bilson); Yvan Attal’s playful two-parter (featuring Ethan Hawke, Maggie Q, Chris Cooper and Robin Wright Penn) about flirting with strangers; and perhaps most surprisingly, Brett Ratner’s charming tale of a young kid (Anton Yelchin) whose last-minute prom date (Olivia Thirlby) turns out to be more than meets the eye. Mira Nair’s segment about a Jain gem merchant (Ifran Khan) and Chassidic dealer (Natalie Portman) haggling over the price of a diamond (and bonding over religion) is also cute, but it probably would have made for a better full-length feature.
Portman also directs a segment that is easily one of the weaker entries in the anthology, while Shekhar Kapur’s story about a retired opera singer (Julie Christie) just doesn’t fit tonally with the rest of the film. The same can be said about Scarlett Johansson’s contribution, which was deleted from the theatrical cut and appears only as a special feature on the DVD. It’s probably a good thing it was removed, because with the exception of a hilarious final segment starring Eli Wallach and Cloris Leachman as an old married couple making their way to Coney Island for their anniversary, the second half of the film is a bore. It’s also a little strange to see Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee sitting on the sidelines, because no one knows New York better than these guys. Maybe the producers will be smart enough to recruit them during their next visit to the Big Apple.
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Is it just me or has Drama’s role on “Entourage” significantly increased during the second half of this season? Initially used strictly for comedic effect, the older Chase brother is finally coming into his own. His new NBC drama is a certified hit and he’s just been offered a part in Brett Ratner’s latest project, “Rush Hour 3.” Well, sort of. After arriving at Ratner’s bachelor pad (which is just as a sleazy as you expect), Drama discovers that a serious mistake has been made in regards to his invite. The part being offered isn’t meant for Drama, but rather the 17-year-old Tommy that plays his younger brother on the show.
Nonetheless, Drama is determined to get a part in the film; to the point that he flat out refuses to leave until the mistake has been fixed. And it is, to a degree, when Drama finagles the ominous role of the bus driver out of Ratner with the understanding that he’ll have to pay for his own airfare and hotel accommodations. Drama doesn’t see a problem in this negotiation, as he takes the good news back to Tommy with the deal that if he gets the part, he’ll have to pay for Drama’s plane ticket. A bit shady? Sure. But it was classic Drama at his absolute best.
Meanwhile, Vince and Eric join Ari for a meeting with Yair Marx, a potential financer for “Medellin,” and while things don’t get off to a great start (the guy wants Sylvester Stallone to play Pablo Escobar’s dad), Marx respects Vince’s passion to make the film his way. Negotiations are put under even more stress when Vince receives a phone call from Marx’s wife, Nika, asking him to meet her in private. Cautious that the secretive meeting his meant more as a means to seduce him than for business, Vince brings Eric along, and boy do things not go well. Aside from picking on Eric a handful of times throughout the course of the short chat (did anyone else see her whack him in the head with her purse on the way out?), Nika leaves the meeting completely unimpressed.
Fortunately, that doesn’t seem to change Yair’s mind about financing the film, and he invites them all to dinner to celebrate, delivering the $60 million check disguised as dessert. Of course, there’s only one catch: Yair wants Vince to apologize to Nika by fucking her “like a superstar, while I stay down here and play billiards with your friends.” Wow. Vince has obviously dealt with a situation like this before (though his earlier discussion with E about their 10th grade science teacher was a bit creepy), but I can’t see him going through with it. Especially since next week’s previews seem to indicate that they’re still looking for money to begin production.