Getting a bit of an early start and catching up with some news we didn’t discuss yesterday.
* In terms of raw cash, the movies had a record March this year, largely thanks to those inflated, and then extra-inflated, ticket prices for “Alice in Wonderland” in 3-D. We’ll see how long this lasts.
* Reading this Nikki Finke item about what sounds like the increasingly fraught auction of MGM, it really does make it seem like a million years ago when MGM was the absolute epitome, for better and for worse, of Hollywood power.
* Universal, which hasn’t exactly been rolling in cash lately, has pulled the plug on “Cartel.” It would have been a remake of the fact-based Italian mafia thriller from 1993, “La Scorta,” set admidst Mexico’s drug wars. Josh Brolin was set to play the lead. Mike Fleming doesn’t specifically mention insurance or the cost of security, but considering the topic and what’s been going in throughout Mexico — apparently including Mexico City where the film was to be shot — it must have been through the roof.
* Master cinephile blogger Dennis Cozzalio checks in and brings word of some cool film fests.
Sometimes a news story falls through the cracks and, since I don’t have Lewis Black working for me, they just kind of stay there until someone points them out. In this case, the fine cinephile blogger Peter Nellhaus of the well-named Coffee, Coffee and More Coffee alerted me via Facebook that I’d missed this item on the possible casting of Anna Faris, Dan Aykroyd, and Justin Timberlake for an upcoming CGI/live-action adaptation of the really not all that classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon adventures of Yogi Bear. (Any fond childhood memories I had left were quickly erased by actually trying to watch one.)
Admittedly, this idea for a film kind of sets my teeth on edge, but at the same time, that’s how I reacted when I heard they were doing a new “Battlestar Galactica” TV show. The first was so horrible, why revive it? “To make it really good this time” turned out to be the answer. Ideas are just ideas, the execution is where it’s at, and this could be brilliant for all any of us know, though the immutable laws of the entertainment universe — and a seemingly less than inspired choice for the director — indicates that it has at least a 90% chance of stinking. I have to say that the idea of Justin Timberlake doing the voice of Boo-Boo does kind of make me smile, however.
Only time will truly tell, but I’m using this opportunity to present an ancient video for “Life Like Yogi,” the anthem of the long defunct, highly ironic Hanna-Barbara obsessed punk bank, Stukas Over Bedrock — a group whose mid-Wilshire home I used to sometimes hang out at a long, long ago — led by my esteemed fellow cinephile John P. Garry III. A real walk down Punksville’s memory lane.
I’m a reasonably big fan of Werner Herzog, the film performer, documentarian, and wryly humorous, neurotically heroic philosopher-poet. When it comes to his hugely acclaimed fiction films, however, I can become impatient with their emphasis on pure thought over pure storytelling. Though it is a reasonably straightforward documentary, “Encounters at the End of the World” has elements of both sides of Herzog’s output. Instead of being driven by a sharply dramatic real-life narrative like the one in Herzog’s brilliant 2005 nonfiction, “Grizzly Man”, 2007’s “Encounters” is basically a quasi-philosophical and psychological exploration of just what it is that drives a certain species of extremely intelligent people to frozen (still, for the time being) Antarctica — a place that, as Ernest Shackleton learned the hard way, might as well have had a giant “no human beings allowed without space-age technology or a death wish” sign pasted on it.
Herzog obviously loves the hyper-intelligent rebels and happy misfits the place attracts as much as its sometimes mind-blowing beauty. There’s also plenty of cinematic and verbal rumination, including a soliloquy by Herzog in which he muses about what he sees as the impending end of all human life in a more or less fatalistic matter — not so much an “if” as a “when.” On the other hand, in a brief, intriguing interview with a former linguist, the director also appears to be deeply concerned with preserving dead languages for future generations…so, maybe he’s not expecting the end tomorrow. Still, for all its bone-deep beauty and for the sweetness of its intentions, its Herzogian concern with reality-based eschatology makes “Encounters at the Edge of the World” easily the most disturbing G-rated inquiry into science and possible end times since Robert Wises’ “The Andromeda Strain.”