If you’re noticing that film bloggers and journos seem to grasping at news straws, blame the Passover/Easter spring break slow down. Anyhow, as folks work off all that schmaltz and matzoh at the gym, let’s nevertheless briefly consider a few items of some interest.
* For starters we have the kind of “breaking news” that isn’t really news at all. It’s looking like “The Hangover 2” is going to be a lot more expensive than the first because, you know, the cast would like to be paid a lot more this time and there was a lot of haggling. Can’t blame them . However, as much as I liked the first movie, it did not in any way cry out for a sequel. As the first commenter at Deadline|New York says, lightning doesn’t strike twice — except, of course, when it does. We’ll see.
* More sequel news — well, rumor reported as news — Will Smith is supposedly “locked in” for “Independence Day” sequels. (H/t Anne Thompson.) Momentum may be building here and the story could be true. Director Roland Emmerich dropped a hint or two about it in a recent interview with our own David Medsker recently. We’ll see.
* And, you know how I always make a big deal about not prejudging movies. The E*Trade talking baby movie is sorely tempting me to make an exception. No. We won’t see.
* Three brief items from THR. First, pretty Kaley Cuoco of “The Big Bang Theory” will be going cinematic in a partially animated flick comedy that involves Russell Brand voicing the Easter Bunny; it’s called “I Hop.” Also, LeBron James‘ next coach might be director Malcolm D. Lee. And, finally, two comedy writers who apparently enjoy bowling have been hired to work on the “Baywatch” movie, Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka. Tanaka has the kind of cross-ethnic name that, I think, could influence a guy to go into comedy, though I’m thinking “Kazuhiro Saperstein” would have been even better.
* I’m late to the viral video party, but the “Scarface school play” vid isn’t nearly as funny as it sounds. I guess thinking it was “real” could help, but how could anyone think it was real?
* The new film from master documentarian Errol Morris (“The Fog of War,” “Standard Operating Procedure“) sounds really interesting and potentially even more controversial than any film he’s made because it’s apparently lighthearted. Some might not agree that’s appropriate given the main character’s crime. Read the Playlist’s description and see if you agree.
Once upon a time, the third Monday in February was designated as a day to celebrate George Washington’s birthday. These days, however, although it varies from state to state, it tends to be known less specifically as Presidents Day, which means that we can ostensibly celebrate everyone who’s ever been the President of the United States. Here at Premium Hollywood, we’d also like to extend that to those who’ve served as our nation’s commander-in-chief on television and the silver screen.
Now, granted, that’s a lot of people…more, in fact, than we could possibly give shout-outs to in a single piece. As such, we decided to pare it down to the same number of individuals as have held the highest office in our land since its inception. Forty-four folks is still nothing to sneeze at, but we’re betting that we’ll still end up having left out someone’s favorite son (or daughter). To paraphrase one of our real presidents, you can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time. With that said, however, we still think we did a pretty solid job of picking the best candidates for the piece.
1. President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho (Terry Crews), “Idiocracy”: Why are we leading off with President Camacho? Because, really, when you’ve got a fake President on your list who’s also a porn superstar and a five-time ultimate smackdown wrestling champion, why in God’s name would you wait any longer than necessary to trumpet his inclusion? Clearly, this man is the fake President to end all fake Presidents, and he’s #1 with a bullet. It’s all going to be downhill from here.
2. President Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas), “The American President”: President Shepherd is a widower who pursues a relationship with an attractive lobbyist — Sydney Ellen Wade, played by Annette Bening — while at the same time attempting to win passage of a crime control bill. Although the film was mostly ignored by the Oscars, it racked up several Golden Globe nominations and has since found its way into the #75 spot on the American Film Institute’s list of America’s Greatest Love Stories. Plus, its screenwriter managed to find a good use for the excess material that he didn’t have room to fit into the script…but we’ll get to that in our next entry.
3. President Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen), “The West Wing”: Yes, if you hadn’t figured it out already, “The American President” was written by Aaron Sorkin, which is why you may notice a resemblance between the mannerisms of Presidents Shepherd and Bartlet. Ironically, though, Sorkin had originally envisioned the series as revolving so much around the White House senior staff that viewers would rarely, if ever, see the president. Instead, what the nation got was an idealized leader, one who – in A Novel Approach to Politics, by Douglas A. Van Belle and Kenneth M. Mash – is referred to as the “most popular Democratic president in recent memory.” The book was written pre-Obama, mind you, but we’re pretty sure the title still stands.
4. President William Harrison Mitchell (Kevin Kline), “Dave”: Given the vaguely “The Prince and the Pauper”-esque premise of the film, which involes a guy who makes a few bucks on the side as a Presidential impersonator being asked to play the part for real when the actual President suffers an incapacitating stroke, there was every reason to believe that “Dave” would’ve been a trifle at best, but between Kline’s imminent likability and a fantastic supporting cast (Sigourney Weaver as the First Lady, Ben Kingsley as the Vice President, Frank Langella as Chief of Staff, and Charles Grodin as Dave’s accountant buddy, Murray), it often comes close to – even though it doesn’t quite reach – the heights of “The American President.”
5 – 8. President Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman), “Independence Day” / President Blake (Perry King) and President Becker (Kenneth Welsh), “The Day After Tomorrow” / President Thomas Wilson (Danny Glover), “2012”: As soon as you see the credit “directed by Roland Emmerich” on a disaster flick, you just know things are going to reach a point where the President of the United States is going to be brought into the discussion about whatever imminent danger may be about to thrust itself onto our planet.
There’s also a very good possibility that the ol’ rite of succession may come into play during the course of the film, such as it did in “The Day After Tomorrow,” when we lost President Blake after the blades of his helicopter froze. Say hello, President Becker! The same thing happened in “2012,” too, but we were so in awe of President Wilson’s selfless sacrifice – he stayed behind to help survivors in need, only to meet his death when the tidal wave struck the White House – that we’ve made an executive decision not to include Wilson’s successor, President Anheuser (Oliver Platt) in the list. Why? Because he’s a dick.
The definitive Emmerich-flick president, of course, is President Whitmore. During the course of “Independence Day,” he sees the White House blown up, loses his wife, fights off a psychic attack from an alien, and flies a goddamned jet fighter into battle to help save the day. Plus, he gives the most stirring speech this side of “Patton.” Hell, I’d vote for him.
Bullz-Eye’s David Medsker chatted with “2012” director Roland Emmerich yesterday about the film’s impending release on DVD, but while the final product won’t hit the site ’til close to the DVD’s street date (March 2), Emmerich offered up two pieces of information during the course of the interview that we figured were worth reporting sooner than later.
During the course of the conversation, Medsker brought up our 2009 interview with Bill Pullman and mentioned the actor’s surprise that a sequel to “Independence Day” never got off the ground.
“It’s just one of those things,” said Emmerich. “Everybody wants to do it, but it’s really difficult. People had to wait for ‘Indy 4’ for a decade, and the reason is because of the people involved. If you want to assemble the same people, then you have a big problem. But everyone wants to do it, and it will happen one day, I’m pretty sure.”
If you’re not exactly overwhelmed by his confidence, perhaps this will help: after many years of uncertainty about what the premise of the sequel would be, it can at least be said that Emmerich and his “ID4” co-conspirator, Dean Devlin, do actually have an idea in place.
“Dean and I always said that we’d only do it when we had a really good story that excites us both, and we have the story written,” revealed Emmerich. “We’ve had it for a year and a half, two years. So we’ve been ready! Maybe it takes another two years [to get everyone together]. We’ll see.”
For better or worse, it appears that the rumored “2012” TV series won’t be getting in the way of “Independence Day 2.” When Medsker asked about the status of the series, Emmerich confirmed that it’s as dead as Danny Glover’s character. (RIP, President Wilson.)
“It’s not happening,” he said. “When the TV [network] realized what we wanted to do, they thought this was not possible for TV. It’s just too big. And I didn’t want to do it in a lesser form, so it went away.”
Despite some highly questionable packaging (three discs on a spindle), this collection is a must for serious fans of the cycle of the monster and science fiction films released by Japan’s Toho in the fifties and sixties — and optional for everyone else. It’s certainly nice to see finally see these in widescreen and the original Japanese. (Slightly shorter English versions are also included for those who want to set the movies on “extra-campy.”)
All three films included in this set were directed by Ishirô Honda, the creator of the often disrespected Japanese monster genre, starting with 1954’s “Godzilla,” who also happened to be best friends with Toho’s resident cinema god, Akira Kurosawa. 1961’s “Mothra” is the only actual monster tale in the set and a favorite of aficionados. It’s a genre-blending variation on “King Kong” in which a giant caterpillar (later a multicolored moth) becomes highly problematic for Japan and a fictional stand-in for the U.S when its two incredibly small fairy protectors, “tiny beauties” played by singing duo the Peanuts, are held captive and forced to perform on stage by a greedy not-American explorer/impresario (Jerry Ito). Honda was tiring of straight-up antinuclear grimness and his addition of comedy and some enchanting musical numbers makes for added fun. 1958’s “The H-Man” is another stylish and mostly entertaining genre-combo, in which police investigate a series of purported yakuza murders that are actually the doing of a creepy atomic slime. Early SFX geeks may adore “Battle in Outer Space” — and that certainly includes authors Steve Rylie and Ed Godziszewski who recorded two commentaries for this set. As for the rest of us, this forerunner of “Independence Day” is rather leaden and easily the least entertaining offering of the three.