Role Call: Ricci’s such a drama “Queen”

Well, well, little Miss Quirky and Dark Christina Ricci is joining the ever-growing ranks of actors-turned-directors. Is it written somewhere that an actor has to direct to feel truly complete? Sure, there are a few who are actually pretty good at it. But a young ‘un like Ricci? We’ll wait to pass judgment. At least the project she’s picked is right up her alley–the indie feature Speed Queen. It’s a simple and happy film about a fast-food clerk (played by Ricci, of course) who goes on a wild–and deadly–road trip with a man and woman and then tells her story to a best-selling author while on death row. The style sounds eerily familiar to another dark comedy Ricci starred in called The Opposite of Sex, where the entire story is told through narration by the main character. Yet, Ricci is playing it smart–she’s chosen something that doesn’t seem too hard to direct and she’s sticking to what she does best–playing the bad girl you almost root for.

Jackson and Lopez go Tick-Tock

…Just like two little mice, running up and down a clock. Hey, I like that! Wait until you hear the premise and tell me if you don’t think that should be the tagline to the film. Samuel L. Jackson and Jennifer Lopez are starring in a new Columbia Pictures film called Tick-Tock about an amnesiac who wakes up in the custody of the FBI and finds out he is the prime suspect in a series of bombings in Los Angeles. So, like, the mice running around, trying to find ticking bombs–get it? Damn it, I should be a development executive.

The Red Dragon grows

Any film that has Edward Norton in it piques my interest. He’s just one of those actors that picks the most compelling projects. For example, I didn’t want to see Fight Club when it first came out, but when I did finally see it, I was floored. Same with American History X. So, I trust his judgment. Now, he and another very fine actress, Emily Watson, are in negotiations to join Anthony Hopkins in Red Dragon, Universal Pictures’ prequel to the Hannibal Lecter series. I was a little skeptical when I first heard about this because I’m a fan of Michael Mann‘s Manhunter, based on the same best-selling Lecter novel by Thomas Harris. But now that Norton is on board, it’s sounding better.

The story follows special FBI agent Will Graham (Norton), who is brought out of retirement to track down a serial killer named Red Dragon. In order to catch the killer, Graham, who was once almost one of Lecter’s (Hopkins) victims, has to ask Lecter, who is now behind bars, for help. Watson will play Reba, a blind woman the wacko Red Dragon works with. If they can get a great person to play the killer, we are in business. Maybe Tom Hanks would want to try something completely different. Damn it, I should be a casting director.

Another TV movie makes it to the big screen

No, they aren’t making A Cry for Help: The Tracey Thurman Story into a feature film (although I wouldn’t put it past them). But once again Hollywood executives are taking what I think is material for a television movie and putting it on the big screen. It happens often, and really, it’s a crying shame. In this case, the movie being made is the family drama–that should tip you off right there–Laurel Canyon with Christian Bale and Frances McDormand. In it, Bale plays a straitlaced young man who returns to his supposedly now-vacant childhood home with his fiancée after completing medical school to find his pot-smoking, record-producing mom (McDormand) still living there. He feels utter contempt for his mother’s lifestyle, but when his fiancée gets lured into the dark ways of the rock ‘n’ roll world, mother and son must reconcile to get her back. Wow. The thing is, they disguise these dreadful sounding movies by casting top level talent to star in them. And that’s supposed to make it better. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way.

Spielberg’s big Catch

After a whirlwind change of hands, it looks like director Steven Spielberg is going to direct Catch Me If You Can for DreamWorks, with Leonardo DiCaprio attached to star. I like the sound of this one. The film takes its material from the real-life story of Frank Abagnale Jr., the youngest man to make the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list. Apparently, he successfully impersonated an airline pilot, a doctor, an assistant attorney general and a history professor from 1964-66. He also cashed more than $4 million in fraudulent checks in 26 foreign countries. After he was caught, he became a consultant to the bureau. The film itself has been in development for several years with many A-list directors interested, including Cameron Crowe, Milos Forman, Gore Verbinski and Lasse Hallstrom. DiCaprio has been attached all along but has had to push back the start date until he finished shooting Martin Scorsese‘s Gangs of New York. James Gandolfini was going to star opposite but had to bow out as well. Well, OK, Stevie, it’s up to you now–get that thing made!