With the media and political world reeling from the news of Keith Olbermann’s sudden departure from MSNBC and its possible relation to the Comcast-NBC/Universal merger, the Sundance Film Festival starting up, and even the start of Roger Ebert’s new movie reviewing series featuring a veteran critic and a 24 year old blogger who writes for the terrific MUBI site, there’s simply an overwhelming number of things I could be writing about tonight.
However, two movie news items in particular have caught my eye and the link is music and film, though that may not be immediately obvious. First is word that Sacha Gervasi, director of the highly acclaimed comic documentary “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” may be directing a new film about the making of “Psycho” and that Anthony Hopkins may play director Alfred Hitchcock. (The actual terminology at THR is that they are “in talks” to join the film, which I take it is closer to actually working on something that either “eying” or “circling” a project.)
The second is that Clint Eastwood’s next project will be, fascinatingly, the latest version of “A Star is Born,” which will feature Beyoncé Knowles in the lead role. The musical-drama classic might seem like an odd choice, but Eastwood is a serious music fan and he’s even made a rather good musical biopic, “Bird.”
In fact, his debut as a director owed a little something to Alfred Hitchcock and a lot to jazz. I don’t know who edited this video — or why they included subtitles, but this is worth a moment of your time and definitely emphasizes Eastwood’s musical choices. Also, if you thought Jessica Walter was formidable as Lucille Bluth in “Arrested Development” wait until you see her a few decades prior as the spurned antagonist of a swingin’ jazz DJ in Eastwood 1971 directorial debut, “Play Misty for Me.”
Music, of course, played a huge role in “Psycho” and in all of Hitchcock’s films, at least in terms of the way he thought about them. Take a look at this.
FX’s new comedy series, “Archer,” has a decidedly Adult Swim feel to it, and that isn’t at all coincidental. Created by Adam Reed (“Space Ghost Coast to Coast,” “Sealab 2021” and “Frisky Dingo”), “Archer” is everything you’d expect in an Adult Swim series – from its crude animation style to its adult-themed humor. Still, it might be a little too refined for Cartoon Network’s late night line-up, which is why it works so perfectly on a channel like FX. Though the basic cable network has succeeded in making several first-rate dramas over the years, they’ve yet to crack the comedy nut beyond “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” They may have finally found a worthy pairing in “The League,” but if FX hopes to create a Thursday night comedy block to compete with the big boys, “Archer” is exactly what they need.
Set at the International Secret Intelligence Service (ISIS), a spy agency where espionage and global crises are merely opportunities for its highly trained employees to confuse, undermine, betray and royally screw each other, the series stars H. Jon Benjamin as Sterling Archer, a 007 wannabe who craves the perks of the job without doing any of the work. Joining Archer at the ISIS office is his domineering mother and boss, Malory (Jessica Walter); ex-girlfriend and fellow field agent Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler); head accountant Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell); lovesick secretary Cheryl (Judy Greer); and human resources director Pam (Amber Nash).
It’s a great cast for an animated series, but despite all the recognizable names, it’s relative unknown H. Jon Benjamin who steals the show. Anyone who’s ever watched cult classics like “Dr. Katz” and “Home Movies” are probably already familiar with Benjamin’s trademark voice, but he’s an absolute riot in “Archer” and the main reason the show works as well as it does. In fact, while I had already seen the pilot episode months before during its top secret preview on FX, it didn’t stop me from watching it again. It’s easily the strongest of the first five episodes, although “Training Day,” where Archer trains Cyril to become a field agent, and “Diversity Hire,” where Malory hires a black-Jewish agent to fill a minority quota, are good as well. There’s also an “Arrested Development” mini-reunion when Jeffrey Tambor guest stars as an U.N. intelligence officer in “Killing Utne.”
After months of pissing everyone off by telling reporters that he either wasn’t interested in reprising his role of George Michael Bluth or couldn’t be bothered to sign onto an “Arrested Development” movie until he’d read the script, it looks like Michael Cera has finally caved in.
Inside sources close to the negotiations of the upcoming Arrested Development movie tell me that Superbad and Juno star (and before that, hello, George-Michael Bluth!) Michael Cera has finally agreed to do the feature film project. Cera had been the lone holdout among the show’s stars for several weeks. All other Bluths, including Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Tony Hale, Jessica Walter, Jeffrey Tambor and David Cross, are already game, according to sources.
I think we all knew this was only inevitable. Either Cera was going to sign, or Mitchell Hurwitz – who’s reportedly in the midst of writing the script – would made George Michael the brunt of more jokes than…well, George Michael.