As if to give me an excuse to simply mention the name “Charlie Sheen” in the hopes of increasing our web-sters or googleties or whatever they’re called, along comes this trailer for “Elektra Luxx.” It’s a comedy about the porn business with a rather remarkable cast — Carla Gugino, Malin Ackerman, Timothy Olyphant and Joseph Gordon-Levitt for starters — and, though it’s just possible this might not be a masterpiece, this trailer gave me one or two of best laughs I’ve had in a week or so.
That Gordon-Levitt guy is such a card.
Anyhow, “Elektra Luxx” is actually a sequel to a Pedro Almodovar-esque looking movie called “Women in Trouble” from writer-director Sebastian Gutierrez, and it played at SXSW almost a year back. If you want to catch up before this comes out in March, and I sort of want to, the first film is available on Netflix streaming, so I just might be checking it out some lazy day.
Semi h/t (their version wasn’t embeddable): JoBlo.
I’m still recuperating a bit from last weekend’s insanity at Comic-Con and a busy week looms ahead, but the recent film news is just a little too interesting to ignore/gloss over.
* Mike Fleming broke the news this afternoon that Daniel Craig has signed on the line which is dotted to play the male lead in the upcoming American film version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” In case you never set foot in your local Barnes and Noble outlet, that’s the first novel in so-called Millennium Trilogy of mystery thrillers by the late Swedish author/political activist Steig Larsson. The series is becoming a sort of adult/non-geek HarryPotter for the Trader Joe’s set and the first U.S. film of it has attracted the powerhouse twosome of writer Steve Zallian and director David Fincher.
Judging from having seen the solid, but not excessively over-awesome, Swedish film version of the novel (which I’m really going to have to try and read at some point), Craig is probably a much better choice than the earlier floated Brad Pitt for the part. 007 or not, it’s just easier to see Craig as a down on his luck journo. Also, as Fleming points out, this puts Craig in the unique position of having at least two and, if you count a potentially huge “Cowboys and Aliens,” possibly three franchises to keep busy and well-compensated. Craig is not only an extremely good actor, he’s apparently got some very good agents.
If you’re even a halfway serious film fan, you may have noticed that directors like Wes Anderson, Tim Burton, and Quentin Tarantino do not make movies set on Planet Earth, they make movies set on Planets Anderson, Burton, and Tarantino. I’m a bit less of an expert on France’s extremely popular Jean-Pierre Jeunet, but it’s obvious that, even when his films are set in Paris, they’re really set on Planet Jeunet. His films have their own look and exist in their own reality.
As with Tim Burton, Jeunet’s roots are in animation. Together with his early collaborator, cartoonist Marc Caro, he made two films that pretty much destroyed the idea of France as a land where all movies were gritty examinations of the lives of depressed intellectuals (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Dystopic but decidedly non-realistic, “Delicatessen” and, to a much greater extent, 1995’s “The City of Lost Children” broke through internationally, with the latter becoming a popular midnight selection and attracting a geek audience that might have ordinarily rejected subtitled films. That was followed by his first solo production and also his first and, so far, only American film. 1997’s “Alien: Resurrection” was a domestic commercial disappointment that generated mixed reviews and more than a little fan hate in the U.S. — even its screenwriter, fan-master Joss Whedon, has entirely disowned it — but it was nevertheless an international success which is still warmly embraced by its jovial director. After that, Jeunet broke through even bigger with the worldwide success of “Amelie” in 2001, easily one of the most widely seen French films in the United States of the last couple of decades — so much so that it was simply referenced as “the French movie” in last year’s “Up in the Air.”
Now, Jeunet is back with his first film since his worldwide box office and critical hit, 2005’s “A Very Long Engagement,” with his own take on Chaplinesque/Keatonesque comedy with just a dash of Rube Goldberg not-quite-sci-fi. “Micmacs” stars comic Dany Boon (“My Best Friend”) as the hapless Bazil, whose father was killed by a landmine and whose health and livelihood was ruined by a bullet — each produced by a ruthless arms manufacturer. Homeless, he is befriended by a ragtag assortment of seven eccentrics with various unique skills. Bazil enlists their aid in avenging himself against the two firms.
The film has done reasonably well in its initial New York opening, and will be expanding to more theaters this Friday. It’s generally also been a hit with critics, very definitely including PH’s own Jason Zingale.
It’s late, so I’ll keep it brief tonight/this morning.
* Given the wave of movie science fiction we’ve had since the release of “Star Wars” back in 1977, it’s always been a disappointment to me how few of the most respected SF novels (“sci-fi” isn’t a term literary science fiction geeks approved of back in my day) have been made into movies. So, even though the book kind of baffled me when I read it not too long after it’s original release in 1984, it’s nice to see that a film version of William Gibson’s Neuromancer, the novel which is the original source of the word “cyberspace” — whatever that means. Vincenzo Natali (“Cube”) appears to be the helmer.
* The RZA (pronounced “The Ri-zuh”) is joining the select club of successful pop musicians turned movie directors that includes Prince, David Byrne, Rob Zombie, Paul McCartney (on the ill-fated telefilm, “Magical Mystery Tour”) and I’m sure some others I’m forgetting. Not surprisingly for the Kung-fu loving Wu-Tang Clan founder who worked on part of the “Kill Bill, Volume 1” score, it’s a stylized martial arts epic co-written with fellow Tarantino associate Eli Roth.
* Speaking of Paul McCartney, the one time Beatle, an outspoken vegetarian in real life, may be going in a very different entirely unauthorized and fictional direction as a brain-eating mop-topped zombie in a possible film version of yet another comic zombies-in-history novel, “Paul is Undead” which envisions a zombified fab four. Sure, why not.
Behind every great actor is a great director. Leonardo DiCaprio has Martin Scorsese, Johnny Depp has Tim Burton, and Penélope Cruz has Pedro Almodóvar. Cruz, in particular, is a completely different actress when working with the Spanish director. Whether it’s the material he writes for her or the fact that she’s acting in her native language, every time they get together, something magical happens. Their latest collaboration, “Broken Embraces,” isn’t their strongest project to date, but it’s much better as result of Cruz’s involvement. A time-spanning love story filled with passion and revenge, the film stars Lluis Homar as Harry Caine, a blind screenwriter who recalls the story of falling in love with an aspiring actress (Cruz) while on the set of his latest movie, even though she was the mistress of his jealous financier (José Luis Gómez). The principal cast all turn in solid performances – Cruz channels an Audrey Hepburn-like innocence as the object of both men’s affection, Homar brings grace to an otherwise unlikeable character, and Gómez is a real villain’s villain – but the story just isn’t that compelling. Though Almodóvar infuses his film with bright colors and some hypnotically beautiful shots of his leading lady, the story dangerously borders on becoming a cheesy telenovella. It never quite reaches that point, but it’s enough to suggest you won’t love “Broken Embraces” nearly as much as fans of the director were expecting.