Mark Carter’s 2008 Black List (annual round up of best un-produced screenplays from that year) approved script for Serial Killer Days has just been picked up by Paramount Pictures following another re-write with Carter to potentially direct as well. The film, based on the 1996 David Prill novel, is a satirical look at a town that celebrates the annual arrival of a serial killer. Not that this means anything to you, but Daniel Dubiecki is producing the picture (he’s the guy pictured at right. There aren’t any pictures of Carter or the cover of the book so Dubiecki gets a mention because he updates his IMDB profile!). Dubiecki produces Jason Reitman’s films, who was originally attached to direct Serial Killer Days two years back and has helped re-write the script.
The premise sounds promising, but why did the studio insist on a re-write after it had already been re-written following its placement on the Black List? If it was good enough to land on that list, why did they need to change it up?
Source: Hollywood Reporter
Having successfully established herself as a comedic actress in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Kristen Bell is next set to star in the indie ballet black comedy Dance of the Mirlitons, from young screenwriter and director Evan Greenberg. The story, which Greenberg conceptualized in middle school and finalized while attending NYU, centers on "an ambitious, slightly overweight ballerina with an overbearing mother (Bell) who will stop at nothing to become a star. The girl enters a "Mean Girls"-type environment when she has to prove her worth in class."
The project was picked up by Warner Independent after landing on the 2005 Blacklist (Hollywood's unofficial list of the top ten unproduced screenplays) alongside Juno and Lars and the Real Girl, but lost traction when the studio division closed down in 2008. It took Greenberg "a few years" to reacquire the rights to the script, but "once I got the rights back, it was about [finding] the right partner."
For that, Greenberg reached out to producers Daniel Dubiecki (who worked on the Oscar-nominated Up in the Air) and Joel Michaely, who got the project back on track by focusing on signing a well-known lead for the role of the mother before attempting to secure financial support. And Dubiecki believes Bell's is just the kind of name that will help the project move forward. "Kristen's combination of comedic timing and authenticity will bring this character to the next level, and give this crossover appeal," he said.
Now, Greenberg just needs an actress to play the film's "precocious 10 to 12-year-old" protagonist. "We're looking to discover an unknown," said Greenberg, just as 2000's Billy Elliot surfaced previously unrecognized talent in then 14-year-old Jamie Bell.
While progress on Dance of the Mirlitons has proceeded in fits and starts since Greenberg first shopped his script in 2005, he hopes that with the presence of Kristen Bell, production will begin this winter. "I hope that one day people will talk about how it was one of those movies that came together, fell apart, came together again," he said. "The best projects are the ones that take the most elbow grease to get made."
After breaking out two years ago with the teen pregnancy comedy Juno writer-director Jason Reitman trains his keen acerbic eye on the modern business traveler in Up in the Air a bittersweet comedy about one man’s turbulent journey of self-discovery and redemption.
George Clooney stars as Ryan Bingham a corporate downsizer (he fires people for a living essentially) and seasoned road warrior whose aversion to real human connection is reflected in his mammoth stockpile of frequent flyer miles the fruits of a job that calls for 300-plus days spent away from the office. Thoroughly content with a life spent in hotel bars and airport lounges Ryan begins to slowly unravel when he’s tasked with mentoring Natalie (Anna Kendrick) a fresh-faced recent graduate with a bold set of ideas for transforming the business of firing people — ideas that threaten both Ryan’s untethered existence and his budding relationship with Alex (Vera Farmiga) a fellow corporate nomad whose penchant for low-effort commitment-free relationships mirrors his own.
Enchanted by visions of a perpetual booty call replete with racy Blackberry messages and romantic trysts arranged via Outlook Ryan begins to suspect he might have found his soulmate in Alex. Inconveniencing his idealized scenario however is his travel partner Natalie a probing perceptive gal who proves a far more worthy adversary than he initially anticipated. As Ryan exposes Natalie’s real-world inexperience and naivety in a series of mildly disastrous business meetings she in turn refutes his resolutely isolationist approach to love and relationships. Soon their mutual resentment gives way to a father-daughter dynamic characterized by genuine albeit guarded affection. As his carefully crafted barriers steadily erode Ryan’s thoughts increasingly turn to Alex and he begins to contemplate the previously unthinkable prospect of putting down actual roots.
Corporate downsizing emotional detachment and the dehumanizing effects of modern technology aren’t exactly the most lighthearted of topics but Up in the Air avoids wallowing in dour Death of a Salesman territory with the help of Reitman’s sharp perceptive wit and a handful of lively cameos from comic heavyweights like Danny McBride Zach Galifianakis and J.K. Simmons. In fact the whole affair makes for a surprisingly uplifting experience in a "saddest happy ending" kind of way. Though the latter half of the film is hampered by structural deficiencies and a pair of melodramatic sadly predictable twists that move the plot forward but diminish its overall impact it still qualifies as one of the top films of the year and Reitman’s best work to date. Consider Up in the Air a surefire Oscar contender.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Jennifer Check and Anita "Needy" Lesnicky are lifelong best friends and high school students in tiny Devil's Kettle Minnesota. Needy is the practical bookish counterpart to small-town sexpot cheerleader Jennifer who controls most everyone around her — Needy included — with knowing relish using her hypnotic good looks. After Jennifer and Needy escape a grisly fire at the local dive bar Jennifer is whisked away in a creeper van by the band that was playing there despite Needy's pleas not to. In a "sell your soul for rock and roll"-style move the fame-hungry indie rockers Low Shoulder kill Jennifer in an occult virgin sacrifice ceremony which goes awry because Jennifer isn't one. After being left for dead Jennifer shows up at Needy's house covered in blood spewing black bile and grinning wickedly.
The next day amidst the fire tragedy aftermath Devil's Kettle's star football player is found disemboweled and half-eaten in the woods adjacent to the school. Jennifer of course did it and after the vixen kills a sweet emo boy she confesses to Needy (after a too-brief girl-on-girl makeout session complete with heavy tongue close-ups) that the botched sacrifice turned her into a demon and that she becomes happier and more beautiful — and thus deadlier — after she feasts on the blood of horny high school boys. Needy does some research in the occult section of the high school library and discovers her best friend is indeed a pawn of the devil. Needy warns her boyfriend Chip to watch out for Jennifer and consequently finds herself covered in bile with Chip dead in her arms at the prom because he doesn't. Then she seeks revenge.
WHO'S IN IT?
The ever enjoyable Amanda Seyfried takes the lead as plain jane Needy and Johnny Simmons is her sweet doting boyfriend Chip. Adam Brody doing a spot-on Brandon Flowers impression is the killer front man of Low Shoulder. Amy Sedaris makes a too-brief cameo as Needy's mom and Juno's dad J.K. Simmons is a high school teacher with an unexplained hook for a hand. Megan Fox is in it too.
Diablo Cody's script is smart funny and infinitely more interesting than the typical teen slasher swill. The movie revels in its gory moments without being gratuitous and employs a healthy amount of sex without coming off like it's pandering to horny teens. Rather Jennifer's Body is the perfect template for the incomparably hot Megan Fox to use her looks as a plot-forwarding mechanism. This is a professionally signficant departure from her eye candy turns in the Transformers movies and lets Fox prove that she can actually act. There's no one else in Hollywood right now better suited to this role. Fox's performance is unhinged and charming and she makes good use of all the Diablo Cody-isms ("You need a mani bad. You should find a Chinese chick to buff your situation.") that devil-may-care Jennifer gets to utter. The love/hate best friend relationship is interesting and there's a load of good-girl-gone-wrong catharsis in Seyfried's revenge-fueled rampage. Cody and director Karyn Kusama are adept in skillfully if a bit condescendingly creating a convincing depiction of a small Midwestern town which serves as the perfect ultra-real backdrop for the story.
Cody's unique style adds the perfect quirk factor to what could otherwise be run-of-the-mill cinematic garbage.The Cody-isms however sometimes come off as cloying when they aren't being uttered by Fox. Also hopeful Fox worshippers might be disappointed that the sexually radiant actress despite her character's penchant for using sex to lure her victims doesn't actually bare anything that necessitates the film's R-rating.
With its surprising plot twists a snarky bff vs. bff subplot and Cody's flair for linguistics Jennifer's Body is a smart horror flick for anyone who enjoys jolly gore or Megan Fox in a mini-skirt.