Variety is reporting that Josh Brolin has pitched a new take on Victor Hugo's classic The Hunchback of Notre Dame to Warner Bros. with Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows writers Kieran and Michele Mulroney attached to write the script. There aren't any plot details currently available other than what's well-known about the beloved story, which follows the deformed Quasimodo who dwells within the titular cathedral in Paris and falls in love with the Gypsy Esmeralda.
According to the source, the studio would like to develop the project as a directing vehicle for Tim Burton, a WB regular with a penchant for revitalizing fairy tales and fantasy stories of old (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland, the list could go on). However, Burton is currently putting the finishing touches on the adaptation/remake of his first film Frankenweenie and preparing Dark Shadows for a spring start, so his involvement in this project could be delayed quite some time if he plans on helming it.
The proposed creative team makes this all sound more interesting than it really is. On paper, the prospect of Brolin and Burton teaming for a potentially epic period piece is awesome. But this is The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It's been done to death. The Oscar nominated actor better have an ace up his sleeve, otherwise I'm afraid it'll look something like this.
“Independent film” is a term that is becoming harder and harder to define. What constitutes a film’s independence? Freedom from a studio’s creative clutches? Freedom from bank loans taken out to finance the production? Specialty divisions of major studios like Focus Features and Fox Searchlight release films like Away We Go Taking Woodstock Slumdog Millionaire and The Darjeeling Limited labeling them “indies” -– yet each of those titles boasted an eight-figure budget (as much in some cases as common studio schlock) and/or some well-known faces to help sell the product. In my eyes what ultimately categorizes a film as an indie is its subject matter which will often strongly contrast the kind of stories that full-fledged commercial pictures tell. A common theme that often pops up in independent films is that of self-discovery or personal reinvention which is what Kieran and Michele Mulroney’s Paper Man is all about.
The film centers on Richard Dunn (Jeff Daniels) a failed writer stuck in an emotional professional and marital rut who vacations in a rustic cottage in the Hamptons at the suggestion of his wife Claire. Richard’s problems stem from in part his feelings of inadequacy toward Claire (Lisa Kudrow) a highly respected surgeon who couldn’t be more of a polar opposite and can’t process his creative/psychological predicaments. For moral support Richard relies primarily upon Captain Excellent (Ryan Reynolds) an imaginary friend from his childhood days who provides advice to the aging author. He appears destined to remain a hopeless man-child until he finds someone else to focus his neuroses on: a troubled local teen named Abby (Emma Stone). Together they learn to put the past behind them and embrace the positive in their lives and in each other.
So is Paper Man a true independent film? Let’s see: We’ve got a cast that includes current stars like Reynolds and Stone as well as veterans like Kudrow and Daniels who affords Richard enough innocence so that you can’t help but like the guy -- or at least sympathize with him -- despite his obvious and often irritating flaws. We’ve also got an offbeat narrative that isn’t an easy sell to multiplex audiences another common trait of independent cinema. What Paper Man does have in common with larger scale studio films like The Blind Side Julie and Julia and My Sister’s Keeper is a big heart filled with more emotions than a rainbow has colors. This doesn’t take away from its independence; it makes the film more accessible to a broader audience.
That’s not to say that Paper Man doesn’t have other appealing traits. Emma Stone delivers the goods with a terrific turn as Abby a self-destructive teenager still reeling from the death of her twin sister. She could have gotten by solely on her every-girl cutesiness but instead she shines by creating a layered character that is not as easy to read as you will initially think. Ryan Reynolds also stands out as Captain Excellent Richard’s personal Superman whose bleached blonde ‘do snarky comments and ridiculous getup should draw more than a few chuckles.
Ultimately Paper Man is a pretty solid effort from first-time husband-and-wife writers/directors Kieran and Michele Mulroney (brother and sister-in-law of Dermot) who craft complicated relationships between their characters and avoid easy outcomes to the complex situations that arise. Positioned to open just as the summer movie rollercoaster begins the film will be a welcome alternative to the downright “un-independent” movies that feed off the creativity of others. (Think A Nightmare on Elm Street Prince of Persia Sex and the City 2 The A-Team… you get the idea.)
Three months ahead of the release of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes, Warner Bros. is developing a new installment.
The Risky Business blog reported yesterday that the studio is poised to bring on Kieran and Michele Mulroney to write a new draft while Brad Pitt has had discussions with producers to star as Holmes' nemesis Moriarty.
The Pitt talk was rumored over the summer in a story that appeared to originate in The London Mirror (the link to the story has since ceased working), but the info was quickly denied by Warners. At the time, the studio said: "The report in today's London Mirror is completely inaccurate. Brad Pitt is not joining the cast of Sherlock Holmes."
There have also been rumors that he appears in several shots of Holmes as Moriarty, but those familiar with the script say the character is in shadow and cannot be recognized.
In the first Holmes, set for release during the holidays, Robert Downey Jr. plays the title character with Jude Law as his Watson. Rachel McAdams also stars. Susan Downey, Dan Lin, Joel Silver and Lionel Wigram produced.
Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham, Wigram and Simon Kinberg all worked on the screenplay for the first film. The Mulroneys wrote Warners’ Justice League: Mortal and also wrote and directed the indie dramedy Paper Man, which starred Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Daniels.
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Let's hear it for the old guy who in this movie comes off sexier than his buff young accomplice (Dermot Mulroney). OK the old guy happens to be the gracefully aging icon Paul Newman -- as a feisty heistmeister who dodges a long prison sentence and then teams up with his equally conniving rest-home nurse (Linda Fiorentino) on a bank job gone wrong. "Where the Money Is" is breezy suspenseful and as much a love story as anything else -- if you call mentoring a new life in crime a kind of love. The mission-improbable caper is no more or less entertaining than a "Rockford Files" rerun but the film's swerving joyride takes its real thrills from the great escape that Fiorentino's Bonnie Parker makes from a dead-end life in the married lane.
Newman still hasn't lost it and as Henry Manning he doesn't miss any nuances in the edgy balance between streetwise wariness and amiable rapport with his sultry new colleague. The steam-powered Fiorentino has forged her career by making danger look casual and this is her most alluring work since "The Last Seduction" added another zero to her salary. Her chemistry with Newman a flirty twist on the idea of honor among thieves is really what makes this movie worth seeing. Mulroney is serviceable as the dim but lovable hubby a supporting role that's more foil than fully etched character.
We can all thank director Marek Kanievska for deciding not to have the May-December duo end up in the sack and leaving them simply professional cohorts. The director's admirable sense of comic timing works all the better by not letting the laughs get in the way of his leads' exploration of their characters -- although there's no denying the limits of this frothy genre. Perhaps Kanievska's greatest feat here is allowing Newman to retain his dignity in close-up.