Steven Soderbergh to direct Che Guevara biopic(s) as two-parter (The Argentine and Guerilla) with Traffic cohort Benicio Del Toro as Che.
Classy viewing: Flushed Away stars Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet model new fall fashions while manuevering a 30 foot inflatable toilet slide. The Reeler supplies video. Another pic, for posterity’s sake, via Variety.
TV Guide’s Weeds Q and A in two versions: edited for spoilers, or loaded with them, featuring creator Jenji Kohan on last night’s season finale, and the future of the franchise. According to the Showtime ad played immediately after the season ender, you should expect a renewal for a third season in 2007. Via Pop Candy.
- Posted by Ted Zee on October 31st 2006 | 0 Comments
Recommended viewing of the believe it or not variety: “This spring, he attended a New York fashion show with the President’s daughter, and now he’s the GOP’s newest heart throb.” Video excerpt from Republicans in Hollywood – Interview with The Brown Bunny, Buffalo 66 director Vincent Gallo.
Gael Garcia Bernal: Sorry Mr. Damon, I’ve no time for bad-guy duties in this Bourne Ultimatum you speak of.
Arrested Development creator tasked with the American adaptation of BBC comedy The Thick of It.
Samuel L. Jackson as The Cleaner. Will Farrell in ABA basketball comedy Semi-Pro.
Cinematical interviews author Augusten Burroughs in regards to Ryan Murphy’s adaptation of Running With Scissors. More from Burroughs via The Stranger. Released last Friday, Scissors leaps wildly from overly aggressive stabs at comedy, to dramatic hard-sells from an otherwise gifted cast. Alec Baldwin, Gwyneth Paltrow…we hardly knew ye from your short spells in this funny but severely flawed film.
Another release whose overreaching ambition has spawned mixed reviews: Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in Babel.
Stephen Merchant talks Extras, Ricky Gervais, and the proper response to teenage catcalls of “Oi, Office!” – via The Guardian
Coming Soon interviews director and producer of Cocaine Cowboys, the true Miami stories that informed Vice and Scarface.
Preview: Russel Crowe and Denzel Washington in Ridley Scott’s American Gangster.
- Posted by Ted Zee on October 30th 2006 | 0 Comments
Borat: Let’s get it over with
Look, Sacha Baron Cohen, one of the most subversive comic minds since Andy Kaufman, has talent to burn, and based on advanced reviews alone, Borat is sure to be a smash hit. But this ambush style of comedy, utilizing the bait and switch interview, faux-fish out of water routine, is two evolutionary steps removed from middle-school crank calling, and one step from Punk’d (all apologies to Candid Camera’s Alan Funt). Sacha’s alter-egos – Ali G, Bruno, and now Borat, (previously relegated to imported DVDs or HBO specials, now ready for wide-scale box office) all have had their moments of brilliance. And yes, in the past I’ve giggled appreciatively as some of the worst living examples of American ignorance, bias, and celebrity have received their comeuppance (however obliviously to them in the moment) at Sacha’s very hands. For myself, the effect wears down in repeated viewings. The social commentary is well understood, but as a stealth operation, the laughs come off as cheaply gained.
Now, considering Borat’s big-screen debut, it’s not so much the finished product that I find myself loathing (because in fairness, I haven’t viewed the movie in full, though at some point, I’ll be dragged to the theater by a friend, or will pop the DVD in, when no one is looking), it’s the promotional means to that end.
You Sacha, with the limitless improvisational genius at your command – you’re better than this – the weeks upon weeks of scripted “in character” press conferences, the international “incidents“, the shameless stunts and hucksterism. The over-hype, now reaching dreaded Snakes proportions, can’t be solely laid at your feet, I know. No hard feelings – I eagerly await your next project, as long as it excludes this overwrought formula.
But to whom it may concern: be it 20th Century Fox, or otherwise – I’d rather sit this one out, fast forward past the Borat premiere on November 3rd, and the following weeks as middle America joins in on the joke (due to “lack of awareness” in non-coastal regions, Fox has opted for a smaller, initial release of 800 screens, then looking to build on that number as word of mouth spreads), and this whole gravy train ignites the inspiration for countless silkscreen press entrepreneurs to toss their “Vote for Pedro” shirt designs in favor of slogans boasting a new and improved Kazakhstani flavor, primed for the local mall kiosk or souvenir stand. Besides, there’s another Borat themed (now confirmed as Bruno) creation just around the corner. So book it – we can do this all over again, in a year or so. As we should know by now, there’s no shortage of village idiots to skewer.
- Posted by Ted Zee on October 27th 2006 | 4 Comments
Long before making hay with the announcement of The Darjeeling Limited, Wes Anderson’s other project, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, was an on-again, off-again, proposition. Finally news comes that (20th Century) Fox Animation has picked up the ball, and the full-length, animated adaptation of the Roald Dahl children’s classic is back on track. Anderson and Noah Baumbach, who’ve worked together on The Life Aquatic, wrote the screenplay for Fox, which will primarily use stop-motion, among other animation styles.
Originally purchased by Revolution Studios in 2004, Fox Animation picked up the project after Revolution went under.
According to Variety, Wes Anderson will kick-off pre-production and design for The Fantastic Mr. Fox during shooting for Darjeeling Limited. Much of Darjeeling, featuring Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman, will be filmed in India starting this December, but Anderson plans to shoot some of the film, along with the entirety of Fantastic Mr. Fox, in England. Variety also speculates that the release date for Fox would be mid-2008, at the earliest.
Also, further proving that Mr. Anderson prefers a select casting pool, the current IMDB listing for Fox lists Schwartzman and Anjelica Huston (The Royal Tenenbaums) as “in talks” for voice-over work in the film.
Previously: Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited
- Posted by Ted Zee on October 25th 2006 | 5 Comments
Michel Gondy takes Passaic, New Jersey by storm in Be Kind Rewind. The Science of Sleep director has cast scores of Passaic locals into the film, starring Jack Black and Mos Def, along with Mia Farrow and Danny Glover. Via NYT (registration required)
First, a so-called biopic for Marie Antoinette. Next for Kirsten Dunst – Blondie? Via JoBlo
Looking to recreate that Must See Thursday magic of old, NBC moves Tracy “I Am a Jedi!” Morgan, Alec Baldwin, and Tina Fey’s 30 Rock (best new comedy since The Office crossed the pond), along with ham-it-up hack-fest Scrubs to Thursday nights. On November 16th, you’ll be able to catch “super-sized” 40 minute episodes of My Name is Earl, The Office, and 30 Rock, before Scrubs joins the 2-hour comedy block on November 30th. – Variety
- Posted by Ted Zee on October 25th 2006 | 2 Comments
In short-form casting news:
Peter Sarsgaard will join Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon in CIA drama Rendition. – Variety
Terrance Howard (Hustle and Flow, Crash) in Factor X. Based on the manhunt for the “BTK” serial killer – Hollywood Reporter
Andre 3000, Woody Harrelson and Ray Liotta to join Charlize Theron in Battle in Seattle, based on the 1999 riots in downtown Seattle in protest of the World Trade Organization meeting – Variety
Nicole Kidman changes plans, removes herself from Lady From Shanghai, featuring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz, director Wong Kar-Wai’s follow up to My Blueberry Nights – IFC blog
George Clooney, his third go-round with the Coen Brothers in Burn After Reading – Production Weekly
- Posted by Ted Zee on October 25th 2006 | 1 Comment
Featuring Peter Krause (Six Feet Under), Julianna Margulies (ER), Elle Fanning, Kevin Pollak and Margaret Cho – The Lost Room, an eight-hour miniseries. Described as “The Fugitive meets The Twilight Zone”, Krause stars as a detective caught up in the mystery of a motel room full of seemingly ordinary objects that hold varied and unknown powers. In possession of the key to the room, and his daughter (Ellie Fanning, sister of Dakota) having vanished within, he finds himself running from both the police and criminal minded groups, while desperately seeking his lost child. (Sci-Fi Channel)
Trailer – Via the official site
Previously: The Lost Room – not making friends with librarians.
- Posted by Ted Zee on October 24th 2006 | 3 Comments
The summer months of 2007 will mark a bittersweet period for certain HBO subscribers: expect to see the beginning of the end for David Milch’s Deadwood, as well as the start of a new era, with the premiere of the writer/creator’s next series – John from Cincinnati.
HBO has greenlit 12 episodes for John, described as “equal parts ‘surf series, family drama and David Milch show.'” The series stars Austin Nichols as “John”, along with co-stars Bruce Greenwood, Luis Guzman, Ed (Al Bundy) O’Neil, Rebecca De Mornay and Brian Van Holt. And and although there’s been no official word, former 90210 star Luke Perry was reportedly involved in scenes for the pilot, shooting for which began in Imperial Beach, CA last month. Production on future episodes will kick off in November, with the premiere scheduled for next summer.
Also next summer, the first of the two 2-hour movies planned to mark the conclusion of Deadwood will air, according to Milch. None of the cast members have been confirmed to return, although Milch expects most, if not all of them back. Via Variety.
- Posted by Ted Zee on October 23rd 2006 | 1 Comment
“I know it’s not for everyone. It has been mixed. People either seem to get really get into it or not like it. But I’d rather make something that has people talking and different opinions rather than just a mediocre response.” – Sofia Coppola
In the five months since a handful of boos (“four people…Maybe it was six” claims the director) rained down at the premiere at Cannes, it seems as if Sofia and team Antoinette has spent as much time justifying, as promoting a biopic not necessarily concerned with, or constrained by historical perspective. Essentially, those who prefer their style/substance ratio skewed in favor of the former will find plenty to love. The other camp will find true schadenfreude in the knowledge that there is a line forming for critics in contempt of a vision that runs precariously parallel to the director’s own golden-spooned upbringing. Something for everyone – rather than solely summarizing the polarized reviews (see Metacritic), we offer you the critics, director, and cast in quotes:
The swooning apologists
“To say that this movie is historically irresponsible or politically suspect is both to state the obvious and to miss the point…a thoroughly modern confection, blending insouciance and sophistication, heartfelt longing and self-conscious posing with the guileless self-assurance of a great pop song. What to do for pleasure? Go see this movie, for starters” – The New York Times
“You get a clever, visually gorgeous theme that’s both emblematic of an unfathomable life and somehow weirdly familiar…a startlingly original and beautiful pop reverie that comes very close to being transcendent. – Los Angeles Times
“The work of a mature filmmaker who has identified and developed a new cinematic vocabulary to describe a new breed of post-post-post-feminist woman. And that contemporary creature is also of the artist’s own invention.” – Entertainment Weekly
The frothing dissenters
“It is not enough to merely hate Marie-Antoinette. One needs to organize against it, storm its gates, demand that certain parties lose their heads.” – Hollywood Elsewhere
“Historians can’t say for certain if Marie…actually said “Let them eat cake.’…I kept picturing Sofia Coppola offering up a big plate of icing — not even cake — for audiences: Pink, creamy costumes and music and sumptuous visuals with nothing under it to give the sugar-shock-esque, immediate buzz of the movie any real weight.” – Cinematical
“Like licorice, Marie Antoinette is a confection you either love or hate, and both affects seem tied to your feeling about the director herself and her apparent identification with Louis XVI’s bride. For my part, I can definitely say that I love licorice and hate Marie Antoinette. But I’m still wrestling with the enigma of Sofia Coppola.” – Slate
A director, in steadfast defense
On the boo-birds at Cannes – “It’s very French…there was a standing ovation, too. I think the booing was not really that loud. It was picked upon and reported because, you know, it’s a better story than a standing ovation.”
“Well, um, when I was growing up, it was Godard, Truffaut, the French New Wave. The style was so cool to me.”
So, your own aesthetic is essentially about style rather than, say, story or drama?
“Um, I guess. I mean, I’ve always been drawn to individuals really, people with their own distinctive but identifiable style that no one else has. That’s all I try to do, find my own distinctive way of doing things.” – Sofia Coppola, The Guardian
On keeping the much-discussed pink Converse sneakers, shot by brother Roman Coppola (second unit director) as a joke, in the film: “We decided to leave it in, just, you know, to have a playful element – it’s a teenage world…and uh, for fun…because I could. – Video, NYFF press conference
Schwartzman – happy to be working
“I only had about 13 lines in the whole movie, and it got to the point where I’d be like. ‘Oh, fuck! I can’t do it!’ I swear I couldn’t have done it all without the costumes. Because Sofia told me not to use an accent, so I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m just going to be me, and I’m going to look stupid. But you put on the costumes and you just transform – the clothes totally change the way you hold yourself.” – Jason Schwartzman, Nylon Magazine (print only), Oct 06′
The infinitely quotable star – Kirsten Dunst
“For me, it became a very sensory experience because there weren’t a lot of words, so I concentrated on things like the touch of fabric, or the taste of a cookie.” – Nylon
“It’s kind of like a history of feelings rather than a history of facts” – Hollywood.com
“I’m not going to sound like a crazy woman. I have no idea. There are moments when you’re like, ‘I hope she’s okay with me playing her.’…I think it all became about like a little kid would. ‘I want to play with this; I want to watch this movie. Now I want to eat sugar.’ That was kind of my way of navigating and making her a sympathetic person.” – About.com
“Sofia lets things breathe. I like the fact that there wasn’t a lot of dialogue, and not so much explaining things all the time. I like working like that. Now I’m reading scripts and I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, they talk so much!”’ – Entertainment Weekly
Marie Antoinette opens today
- Posted by Ted Zee on October 20th 2006 | 5 Comments
Sandwiched between next year’s unwarranted, unnecessary Ocean’s Thirteen, and the low-fi, low budget, minor masterpiece, Bubble (one for the studios, one for yourself), comes Steven Soderberg’s The Good German. Based on the Joseph Kanon novel. George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Tobey Maguire in post World War II Berlin – an American journalist (Clooney) tasked with investigating a GI murder, crosses paths with an old flame (Blanchett). Now married, her missing husband, sought after by U.S. and Russian factions, is key to the mystery. Trailer – via Coming Soon
- Posted by Ted Zee on October 19th 2006 | 2 Comments
Helena Bonham Carter to join Johnny Depp, and more than likely – Sacha Baron Cohen, in Tim Burton’s adaptation of Sweeney Todd. She’ll play Ms. Lovett, accomplice of murderous Sweeney Todd, who adds a secret ingredient to her meat pies – Variety
Immediately after dropping Show Me What You Got, Jay-Z – in the news again, this time behind the scenes in developing Hit Men, a scripted boxing drama for ESPN. Set in an “Inner-city” gym, up and comers – scratching and surviving…things of that nature.
Finally – Luckie Louie was cancelled after one season. Hopefully, talk of an HBO series featuring the return of Ray Romano won’t make it that far.
- Posted by Ted Zee on October 18th 2006 | 0 Comments
Sucker Free NASCAR – Jay-Z made his first return-shot across the bow last night, premiering the video for “Show Me What You Got”, along with the usual suspects (Beyonce, Danica Patrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr.). Public Enemy #1. YouTube.
You can catch a clip of Zooey Deschanel on Weeds, as Andy’s (Justin Kirk) long lost Alaskan girlfriend, from last night’s episode.
IFC and the Weinsteins pair up to purchase the Reese Whitherspoon (first-timer) produced “teen fable” Penelope, starring Christina Ricci as a woman born into wealth, yet afflicted with a family curse – she has the snout of a pig for a nose, and believes that the only cure is to marry a suitor of her own well-to-do standing. – Variety. More IFC – the launch of their redesigned news site, featuring reviews, interviews, and TV schedule, allowing you to catch reruns of the best show that never comes up in day to day conversation – Laura Kightlinger’s The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman.
Damon was to Project Greenlight (for whatever that’s worth), as Wahlberg is to Entourage, as DiCaprio will be to E-topia.
Video: The For Your Consideration cast do the red carpet question drudgery, with clips from the film – Via EW
“The judges were so unimpressed by the dresses created by three of the final four contestants — only Uli Herzner triumphed in the last challenge – that they decided to send all four to Olympus New York Fashion Week.” – The truth behind the “final four” in Wednesday’s finale of Project Runway. Also, Michael Knight, allegedly straight, allegedly with
MoeshaBrandy. Via TV Tattle.
What’s it like working with Alec Baldwin? “I haven’t really worked with him that much, except for when I was starring in that first pilot. Cough, cough.” – Rachel Dratch, talking 30 Rock demotions and SNL implosions. – Defamer
- Posted by Ted Zee on October 17th 2006 | 0 Comments
Make no mistake, Mr. Murray is looking to party, as made evident when he arrived at a college get-down in Scotland. He came, he saw, he washed the dishes. “Nobody could believe it when I arrived at the party with Bill Murray. We met him in the bar and he made some jokes. He was just like the character in Lost in Translation. It was really funny because he was pretty old compared with all the other people there, but he was so relaxed and it was really amusing when he started to wash up.” Via The Sunday Telegraph
“I hate reality TV, I have to tell you…I think a lot of it brings out the worst common denominator of the human spirit.” – Meet Padma Lakshmi, the new host for season two of Bravo’s Top Chef.
- Posted by Ted Zee on October 16th 2006 | 7 Comments
Lending a much needed respite from Borat stunts, man about town – Sacha Cohen, is in negotiations to join Johhny Depp in the cinematic musical Sweeney Todd, a Tim Burton production. Based on the Stephen Sondheim “musical thriller” (itself stemming from origins in British folklore and pulp fiction), Burton’s film will feature Depp as Benjamin Barker aka Sweeney Todd, a Victorian London barber. Having returned from wrongful imprisonment, and seeking revenge against a corrupt judge that has brought harm upon his family, the tale evolves into a throat-cutting bloodbath, forshadowed in the Sondheim musical’s opening song: “Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd./His skin was pale and his eye was odd./He shaved the faces of gentlemen/Who never thereafter were heard of again.”
If signed on to the film, Cohen would play “The King of Barbers”, Aldolfo Pirelli, a rival of Todd’s who has an inkling about his dark past . A synopsis of the stage musical reveals a scene, ripe for a Tim Burton translation to the big screen – after publicly dismissing Perelli’s hair-tonic as a concoction of “piss with ink”, Todd challenges him to contests of skill and dexterity – to prove who gives the closest, most efficient shave – and who can prevail in a tooth-pulling competition.
Burton begins pre-recordings late this year, with shooting scheduled to kick off near London next February. Via Production Weekly
More Sweeney Todd speculation: Cyndi Lauper?
- Posted by Ted Zee on October 13th 2006 | 1 Comment
Roger Ebert has published his first review in months, for Oscar contender The Queen, and announced his plans to work his way towards rejoining Ebert & Roeper, as well as covering the Oscars and Cannes. From an open letter published on his site:
A few more recent movies also will be reviewed, but I won’t be back to full production until sometime early next year. The good news is that my rehabilitation is a profound education in the realities of the daily lives we lead, and my mind is still capable of being delighted by cinematic greatness.
I plan to have my Overlooked Film Festival again in April, and cover the Academy Awards and Cannes. I can’t wait to be back in the Sun-Times on a full-time basis, and to rejoin Richard Roeper in the “Ebert & Roeper” balcony. Dr. Harold Pelzer and Dr. Neil Fine of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and my personal physician, Dr. Robert Havey, also of Northwestern, assure me I will eventually walk, talk, taste, eat, drink and live, more or less, normally.
Ebert has been recovering from surgery for salivary cancer since June. He said that friends and colleagues have kept him informed, and an Ebert & Roeper producer recently installed a plasma tv and DVD player in his room, although of late he’s taken to reading classic novels, adding “I prefer to see the new Oliver Stone, Martin Scorsese and Clint Eastwood films on a big screen.”
- Posted by Ted Zee on October 13th 2006 | 1 Comment
Airing last night at the Spike TV Scream Awards, a sneak peak from the Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez production – Grindhouse. As Quentin said back in July, “This is not a faux double feature. This is two f*cking movies for the price of one! Your $10 will be well spent at the Grindhouse, baby!”
- Posted by Ted Zee on October 11th 2006 | 0 Comments
HBO and Doug Ellin, creator and executive producer of Entourage, have agreed to another series based on a close-knit group of men with cash to burn, this time set in New York environs. Ellin refers to the show as a “mature version of ‘Entourage’ set on Wall Street”, based on college friends of the writer that went on to careers netting upwards of 40 million yearly. “They make Vince look like a peasant,” said Ellin. As he described to Variety, “It’s a comedy, but it will be more mature than Entourage.” The forty-something central character and friends “will be dealing with grown-up issues such as marriage, getting older and working within the professional ranks.”
Entourage, which continues the second segment of it’s third season next year, has already been renewed by HBO for a fourth. And wouldn’t you know, just as Hollywood was enamored with the idea of a real Aquaman film, after seeing the faux-production on the show, word is swirling that truth is stranger than (or follows) fiction again – if you caught the midseason cliffhanger, this will ring a bell – I Slept With Joey Ramone, anyone? Via Cinematical.
- Posted by Ted Zee on October 11th 2006 | 0 Comments
Featuring an original score by Jan Hammer (NBC’s Miami Vice theme), Cocaine Cowboys documents the influx of smugglers, dealers, and hired hands that made Miami the drug and murder capitol of the U.S. in the early 80’s. Say hello to my little trailer.
- Posted by Ted Zee on October 10th 2006 | 1 Comment
NBC has the full pilot episode for Tina Fey’s 30 Rock up on their www. In a USA Today interview from Sunday, she discusses her post-SNL life and the challenge in going up against Aaron Sorkin and Studio 60. Hey Ms. Fey, here’s how to draw a clear distinction between the two – make yours funny. Via Pop Candy.
Also available, through Yahoo, is TV Land’s new venture with Mr. T – I Pity the Fool. Don’t sell T short though, because he doesn’t just pity the fools, he schools the fools – offering tokens of motivation for the masses, or in the case of the pilot episode, oh-woe-is-me slobbering car salesmen in need of a kick in the ass.
Both shows premiere this Wednesday, Oct. 11th. Watch the online previews while you can, as they’re usually gone shortly after the episodes debut on-air.
- Posted by Ted Zee on October 09th 2006 | 4 Comments
Polish up the Oscar(s) for Marty. Early on, The Departed is essentially on the precipice of Metacritic’s number one spot for 2006, as far as best reviewed films go. Crime thriller tag-along Michael Mann stumbled over mojito sipping and dog-eared dialogue in Miami Vice this summer, but Scorsese succeeds in bringing the mean back to the streets. DiCaprio. Damon. Wahlberg. Sheen. Baldwin. Nicholson. Trailer.
“And lest anybody’s wondering, The Departed is splattered with moments of pure, dead-eyed, blood-soaked Scorsesean violence — the pop-pop of bullets and oof-oof of beatings that explode skulls and smash faces,” says Entertainment Weekly.
“DiCaprio and Damon give explosive, emotionally complex performances, but it must be said that Jack Nicholson reaches undreamed-of heights of decadent devilment.” – Rolling Stone
“After a couple of films where one of the best directors ever seemed more intent on pleasing Academy voters than millions of admirers, Scorsese returns to contemporary crime fiction with a hugely satisfying bang.” – The Hollywood Reporter
Departed link clusterfuck: More reviews | Cast & director interview: TIME | Released on the largest number of screens in director’s career | Know your Scorsese Quiz | Adapted from Hong Kong’s Infernal Affairs – Trailer | Sesame Streets mashup video | No dildos were harmed in the making of this film.
- Posted by Ted Zee on October 06th 2006 | 10 Comments