I guess Hollywood's fictional scientists learned nothing from A Clockwork Orange. Stanley Kubrick, essentially, sought to teach cinema's most brilliant minds that you cannot alter an individual's natural behavior. Yet that's exactly what director F. Gary Gray is planning to do with his new film, a high-concept futuristic heist thriller called The Last Days of American Crime. In it, America responds to a second major terrorist attack by developing technology that eliminates the impulse to commit crimes of any kind. The story centers on a man leading a heist team to pull off a final job five days before the signal rubs out the criminal instinct.
Let's make this clear. It's not Mr. Gray who is responsible for bringing this story to the screen. You can thank Radical Publishing's Barry Levine for that. The film is a project that he has been shepherding with Sam Worthington, who has a deal with Radical that also includes another adaptation-in-progress called Damaged. The Aussie will star as the team's point man and will also produce with Levine and his partner Michael Schwarz. Rick Remender wrote the script, though Deadline says that Karl Gajdusek, who penned Joel Schumacher's Trespass and will also rewrite William Monahan's Oblivion script for Joseph Kosinski, will work on the screenplay now that a director is on board.
I like Gray as a filmmaker. Sure, he's had a few misses like Be Cool and A Man Apart, but he's also the guy who made Friday, Set It Off, The Negotiator and The Italian Job. The latter release sounds most closely related to what The Last Days Of American Crime has in store for us, and it is a slick heist pic that holds up against the glitzier Oceans films among other genre contenders. My biggest concern is with the story. As previously stated, I just don't see how the hook of having the characters' criminal instincts eradicated will entice audiences to by a ticket. Will it make moviegoers "miss" their criminal behavior? Will everyone go out after the credits and embrace their inner crook? I guess it'll make the team work against a clock, which will increase the tension ten-fold. But if they don't succeed in their mission, I don't see what the big consequences will be.
After a rough couple of weeks in which Robert Zemeckis' most recent production tanked at the box office and had his upcoming remake of Yellow Submarine canceled, the Oscar winning filmmaker is taking note of these debacles and will finally contemplate a return to live-action projects. Deadline reports that he's in talks with Paramount Pictures to helm Flight, a character study revolving around a commercial airline pilot named Whip Whitaker whose plane almost crashes but is saved thanks to his heroic skills. Instantly hailed as a hero, an investigation into the cause of the incident reveals that he was flying under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The story then follows the pilot's journey as he is encouraged to embrace his new reputation that he thinks he doesn't deserve, all while the pilot's union and airline try to keep the facts under cover because of the high stakes involved.
John Gatins, who wrote the Zemeckis-produced Real Steel (and was just hired to script a sequel to the October release), penned the screenplay and wanted to direct, but now that the man behind Forrest Gump and Contact is interested in the project Paramount is hotly pursuing him. Denzel Washington is loosely attached to play the pilot, and I'd be very interested to see the two-time Oscar-winner return to more grounded fare (I don't know about you, but if I see another Tony Scott/Denzel Washington collaboration I'll probably throw myself in front of one of the trains at the center of their last two films). Likewise, this would be the first time that Zemeckis would step on a physical set in a decade after helming performance-capture pictures like The Polar Express and Beowulf; an enticing prospect in and of itself.
Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald are producing. A decision is expected soon as the studio hopes to begin filming later this year for a possible late 2012 release.
Baz Luhrmann's on-again-off-again-on-again adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic The Great Gatsby may not have a set release date or a complete cast, but it does have every leading man in Hollywood chasing it. Leonardo DiCaprio has long been set to play Jay Gatsby in a much-anticipated reunion with his Romeo and Juliet director while his best friend and fellow A-lister Tobey Maguire will likely play Nick Carraway. Now, word comes in that Oscar winner Ben Affleck could join the production as well.
Affleck, who is coming into his own as a fantastic filmmaker, is interesting in taking on the role of the wealthy Tom Buchanan, who in the novel is married to Daisy (a role that Carey Mulligan is locked into), the object of Gatsby's desire. It'd be great to see all three of these modern movie heavyweights on screen together, but there's just one hitch: a film called Argo, which Affleck has targeted as his next directorial effort. A political thriller set up at Warner Bros. (where Affleck has an overall deal, and also the company which will distribute Gatsby), the film will likely shoot in September - directly conflicting with Gatsby's August start.
Since Ben is a big deal at Warner's, the studio is trying to work out the schedule to fit both high-priority productions into his calendar, but I'm not sure it'll be possible. Directing a film is a big commitment and I don't think that Affleck will compromise the integrity of one project for another. However, Buchanan's role is rather small compared to the other male parts, so it is possible that Luhrmann could film all of Affleck's scenes at the top of the shoot to ensure that he can send the burgeoning auteur off in time to helm his own picture.
Look’s the like the thief had a “Minute to Win It.” Or the thief took off by “Dining, Drive-in, and Drive.” Horrible die-in-a-fire puns aside, let us take a moment to remember that Guy Fieri had his $200,000 Lamborghini stolen from a San Fransisco premium car dealership. And it just gets better: this wasn’t a smash and grab. The burglar climbed onto the roof, repelled into the show room, then dashed off with the "chef's" undeserved car. Karma comes in all shapes and sizes, but sometimes your karma gets stolen. Again, let us take a moment to say: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Source: SF Chronicle via Warming Glow
Jerry Seinfeld returned to NBC last night, performing some stand-up on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Don't get me wrong, I love Jerry and Seinfeld will forever be one of my favorite shows, but, c'mon man, the jokes need to be a little more, well, timely. What's the deal with people working in coffee shops?! Well dude, it's 2011, and there's this thing called the internet.
Emily Blunt talked with Conan about her new film The Adjustment Bureau. And, hey, look at that, John Krasinski showed up, proving once again that they are, indeed, the perfect couple.
Robin Williams stopped by The Late Show with David Letterman with his best "homeless dude" look, sporting a full-beard and camouflage jacket. Didn't matter though, as he proved -- through a shameless usage of the f-bomb -- that he's still one funny mother fucker.
Miley Cyrus chatted with Jimmy Fallon on Late Night about her upcoming SNL performance and the two started to have some fun with fake mustache. During their fun, Cyrus proved exactly why she is horrible. She took a practically guaranteed-to-be-funny gag and made it unfunny. How is it even possible for someone to do that?
Christina Aguilera and her boyfriend were arrested in West Hollywood early this morning for being SHWASTED. (That's shit-faced and wasted, for those of you out of the loop. The combination makes for a raging drunk not suitable for the public. It's not scientific, it's just a general feeling we get that determines it when someone is so drunk they have to be arrested just for being drunk. Ipso facto: shwasted.) Anywho, Aguilera was the one too drunk for public, but her boyfriend was driving drunk. Okay, have we learned nothing from ANY OTHER CELEB EVER? They've all carried out this common celeb fuck-up for you. DON'T DO IT. You're famous, you can afford a freaking cab. -TMZ
Some source blabbed to Us Magazine saying that Oscar hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway "hate each other." Well, let me just unpack this one for you. First of all, way to drop this "bomb" about three days too late. Second, I don't think James Franco hates anybody; he's too stoned to be that angry. Third, Anne Hathaway is too much of a Mary Poppins to hold that much hate towards Franco. If anything she probably just looks at him as like a stoned slacker little brother -- and to remedy that, I offer this: THE GUY HAS A MILLION JOBS AND HE GOES TO A MILLION SCHOOLS. Of course he'd need a little bit o' happy to help him get through that huge show and maybe it's a sign that he's trying to do way too much. Slow down, James. We'll still love you even if you only have two jobs. Hate? Probably not. Annoyance? Yeah, that sounds about right. -Us
OBLIGATORY CHARLIE SHEEN UPDATE: This morning on The Today Show, we had the pleasure (weird awkward, cult-like experience) of meeting Charlie Sheen's "goddesses." One's a "model" and the other admits to being a porn star and they take care of his children. He says they "get him" (translation: love his money) and that they work together like a family (translation: they do what he says because they love his money). And even with all this he's so delusional that he's denied help from his friends and family and he's ragging on fans who voiced their concerns on Twitter. Can we all stop caring about this? Maybe that's the key. Maybe that's the cure. Maybe we're so over this that we don't even care. -Today
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When a prime Hollywood director prepares the main course of a movie franchise, it's hard to find someone to take the leftovers. Nevertheless, Paramount Pictures is desperately trying to entice someone to settle for the sloppy seconds in its G.I. Joe franchise. Since Stephen Sommers left the directors chair on the sequel (he helmed the 2009 series starter that grossed just over $300 million worldwide), the studio has been trying to land a competent filmmaker for the follow up. And now, the shortlist...
Reuters and The Hollywood Reporter are claiming that F. Gary Gray, Jon M. Chu and Jaume Collet-Serra are top candidates to direct the high-priority project, which Paramount hopes will be ready for production by the summer for a 2012 release. Lorenzo di Bonaventura is once again producing and will have a hand in filmmaker selection.
While Collet-Serra is best known as a Warner Bros. based director (having made House of Wax, Orphan and this week's Unknown for the studio), Gray and Chu have both helmed big films for Paramount. Gray made the 2001 blockbuster The Italian Job and while he's had trouble mounting fresh films in recent years, his most recent outing was the modest hit Law Abiding Citizen. Chu cut his teeth on Disney's dance hits Step Up 2: The Streets and Step Up 3D, but is at home on the Paramount lot after directing Justin Bieber: Never Say Never to a solid $30 million opening weekend.
Based on their experience working in genre, I'm going to say that Collet-Serra and Gray are the best potential candidates for the job, with Gray narrowly edging Collet-Serra out since he's the only one who has made films somewhere near G.I. Joe 2's budget range. I think that Gray can inject some much-needed attitude into the characters; personality that was missing the first time around. Granted this is a film franchise based on Hasbro toys, but if Paramount wants to increase their profits this time it needs to push its creative team to create characters that the audience will care about when the bullets start flying and bombs start bursting. I'm not saying recast the roles, I'm saying rethink them...
Source: Reuters, THR
Tis the season for new TV shows, so without further ado, here are a few more to add to the ever-growing list. NBC is hoping to continue the sitcom success of their Thursday night line-up (minus Outsourced; replace it already!) by green-lighting four, count 'em, F-O-U-R new sitcoms including one based off Chelsea Handler's book, Are You There Vodka? It's Me Chelsea.
The Handler comedy probably won't star the comedianne, but it will attempt to take her style of humor and translate it to network television. So does that mean all the dirty, awful things she says aren't going to fly? Pass. That's the only reason she's interesting. In other Chelsea Handler-related and inspired-by-real-life-ladies sitcom news, NBC also gave the go-ahead to a sitcom based around Whitney Cummings who often appears on Handler's late night show and manages to drive me crazy every time. Like Are You There Vodka?, the sitcom is supposed to be unconventional, but we'll be careful not to count those chickens until they hatch.
Jack Black and Ben Silverman are putting their weight behind a book-to-small screen adaptation of My Life as an Experiment. Guess what? This one is supposed to be an "unconventional" look at life too! My hopes are bit higher for this one because Black is pulling the strings and while his antics may have grown a little stale on the screen, if they should retire anywhere it's on TV.
Lastly, we have the most promising of the bunch. Brave New World comes to us from Peter Tolan (The Larry Sanders Show) and is another workplace comedy, this time set in the old timey world of a theme park called Pilgrim Village. NBC is killing it with workplace comedies - hello, The Office, Parks and Recreation, and 30 Rock - and with Tolan behind it all, this looks to be a great addition to the line-up.
Source: NY Mag
Naomi Watts has joined the cast of Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar in which she is set to play Helen Gandy, the personal secretary of J. Edgar Hoover of fifty-four years. She joins a stellar cast led by Leonardo DiCaprio as the infamous FBI founder/director. Charlize Theron was originally set to play the part, but backed out due to scheduling difficulties.
Here’s the fun part. You may not think playing a secretary in a government office is a great role, but Gandy was apparently a big deal. She was with Hoover for fifty-four years and had an unnaturally tight hold on the behind-the-scenes dealings of the institution. Which proves Mad Men to be more factual than we thought. The craziest thing about Gandy is that following Hoover’s death, she took it upon herself to destroy Hoover’s “personal” files that supposedly held a lot of incriminating evidence. Loyal, much? It’s an intriguing part of American history and it’ll be interesting to see how Eastwood handles it.
As for the rest of the cast, I’ll let Deadline block quote for me:
Ed Westwick is set to play Agent Smith, a clean-cut operative hired by Hoover to write his biography; Josh Lucas plays aviator Charles Lindbergh; Damon Herriman plays Bruno Hauptmann, the German immigrant accused of kidnapping Lindbergh's 20-month baby in 1932. Called the crime of the century, Hauptmann’s trial was a major case for Hoover; Ken Howard is playing U.S. attorney General Harlan F. Stone and Armie Hammer is set to play Clyde Tolson, Hoover's alleged lover.
As you’ve no doubt heard by now, this year’s Oscar nominees have been announced. If you’re a sci-fi fan, however, there’s really only one category in which our genre tends to appear: Visual Effects. (It’s rare that a sci-fi film gets eight nominations, so Inception is definitely an exception to the rule.) Funnily enough, having a category almost exclusively to ourselves doesn’t help any, because even then the Academy manages to screw the pooch and throw out nominations like its members were tossing darts. I mean, was the tidal wave in Hereafter really a better effect than anything in Tron: Legacy? And I didn’t even like Tron: Legacy...
But instead of doing the usual moaning and groaning about why something should or shouldn’t have been nominated, I’m going to take a more direct tact and simply offer up the five best visual-effects sequences of 2010 -- or: five visual-effects sequences better than anything in Hereafter.
Inception: The Hallway Sequence
Let’s just get the year’s most obvious choice out of the way. I say that not to belittle how much effort was put into just a single special effect, but because it’s a scene that’s already been talked about and dissected on end. And there’s a very good reason that’s the case: because it’s such an awe-inspiring bit of cinematic ingenuity that it commands attention.
Monsters - The Gas-Station Scene
It’s one of the final scenes of the film, so I’ll simply refer to the most beautifully crafted sequence in Gareth Edwards’ Monsters as "The Gas Station Scene" for those who have yet to see it. And don’t think for a second that me considering it one of the best visual effects of 2010 is me grading on a curve simply because Monsters was an amateur, low-budget Indie. Regardless of budget and completely independent of production background, it’s simply an unforgettable, wholly convincing sequence that perfectly marries f/x with the heart of the story.
Iron Man 2 - Whiplash’s Arrival
Jon Favreau may be favoring CGI more and more these days, but so long as he maintains his love for practical effects, that won’t be a problem. Even when he leans heavily on his digital department, he still gives them a hefty bit of real-world foundation to play with, and the results are always top-notch, as evidenced by Whiplash’s brutish yet surgical dissection of several high-speed race cars. The level of detail put into taking apart those cars and exposing their red-hot infrastructure is just plain cool.
The Social Network - The Winklevii
Yes, one of the five best visual effects of the year can be found in a drama about the founder of Facebook. Of course, that’s not surprising considering David Fincher was the man calling the shots. All the same, unless someone tells you or you happen to pay attention to the credits, you’re simply not going to realize that Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are both played by the same actor, Armie Hammer. It’s a subtle effect achieved through a variety of tricks both old and new (body doubles, clever camera angles, digital face replacement), but it’s an absolutely seamless one, and for that reason alone it deserves to be on here.
Buried - The 360 Degree Spin
For someone who wasn’t all that hot on Buried right after seeing it, I’m certainly surprised at how much consideration I’ve personally given it when reflecting back on 2010. But even if you’ve got problems with the script, it’s hard to complain about Rodrigo Cortes’ direction. It’s tough enough to make movies whose settings jet all over the globe visually interesting for 90 minutes, which is why it seems a miracle that Cortes could set a movie entirely within a coffin and still find ways to keep things fresh and exciting. The way he pulls it off is simple, really: He treats the coffin like it is a globe, like it’s a new world ready to be explored from every angle possible. And the apex of his visual exploration is a 360-degree shot in which the camera orbits completely around Ryan Reynolds without any cuts.
It seems like such a simple shot, and you may not even notice it when it happens, but to remove and replace all of the walls in complete synchronicity with Reynolds’ body movement and performance requires a choreographed harmony across a variety of behind-the-scenes departments that I can’t help but tip my hat to. It may not be a visual effect in the bold sense that most people think of when they hear those words, but that doesn’t stop it from being one -- and a brilliant one at that.