Film Fatale Archive for March, 2007

Step 1: Hire Foreign Director w/ 0-1 Visa. Step 2: Fire HIm

Remember all that banter on Oscar night about how international the American film business has become? (Look Three Amigos! directors from Mexico making acclaimed and successful films like CHILDREN OF MEN and BABEL, and English-as-second-language stars like Penelope Cruz and Djimon Hounsou up for acting awards — it’s almost as though moviegoevers don’t care who makes a movie, as long as it’s good.
Hang on a minute. It’s still a rough landing for many international talents — especially acclaimed directors who get a first chance to make a US studio film.
As this Guardian piece by Patrick Goldstein points out, more than a few have been hired and then bounced from their own projects — or pretty much left out of the post production process.
Ang Lee’s Chinese language films (from PUSHING HANDS and THE WEDDING BANQUET) have nearly all won critical acclaim and international awards. His studio films have not: RIDE WITH THE DEVIL, a post-Civil War combat film was uneven but ambitious in scope — and THE HULK turned out to be an expensive letdown to fans and the studio that bankrolled.
But the Guardian doesn’t point out that Lee wasn’t unfamiliar with the US way of working — he’d long ago emigrated from Taiwan and was a resident of upstate New York. Others cited in the piece, though, were newcomers: Oliver Hirshbiegel of Germany won acclaim for DOWNFALL, a 2005 Academy Award nominee — he’d also made thrillers back home. But while in charge of THE INVASION, another remake of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, the studio brought in the Wachowskis (of MATRIX fame) and James McTeigue (V FOR VENDETTA) to handle reshoots.

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RES. EVIL Anderson To Drive DEATH RACE 3000

Dread Central reports that RESIDENT EVIL Paul W.S. Anderson’s next gig will be not CASTLEVANIA but DEATH RACE 3000 — the remake of the 1976 action comedy about a no-holds-barred race through the desert — and over pedestrians who get in the way. There is a videogame version, too: As in the Paul Bartel-directed movie, you rack up points by running down hapless old people, kids and wrecked cars with rival drivers inside: kaboom, splat, etc. (For some reason, the original DEATH RACE 2000 is mixed up in my mind with the cartoon show THE WACKY RACES (featuring Snidely Whiplash and his laughing dog Mutley)

Props to reporter Johnny Butane being for the exclusive ) and but boo, dude, for even quicker with a reflexive slam on Anderson’s “entire career” (Douse the lighter, Butane and put away your little internet-sized pitchfork. Who died and made you the arbiter of “potentially cool movies”?
I’ve never quite understood why the fanboys recoil from Anderson — when pressed, they’ll acknowledge that EVENT HORIZON did scare the hell out of them, RESIDENT EVIL — while it did not follow the strictures

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Anne Hathaway, Renee Zellweger: Too Babelicious For The Biopic?


Jane Austen is one of the giants of literature. But in the words of one of her modern day publishers, “the poor soul didn’t have anything going for her in the way of looks.” Sweet. Two hundred years on, and a bestselling writer still has to worry about getting her author portrait spiffed up and PhotoShopped. (See Gawker’s discussion: Jane Austen — Book Hot?)
From Barbara Ellen via the Guardian, “If even the literary establishment thinks one of its biggest female hitters is a dog, what hope does Austen, or any ‘ordinary woman’, have in Hollywood?
The beauty gap between real-life figures and the actors who play them is nothing new — consider the middlin-pretty to decidedly unhandsome crowned heads of Europe portrayed by Greta Garbo, Vanessa Redgrave and Cate Blanchett. When it comes to casting of actresses to play well-known writers, Ellen argues, though, the distance between iconic author portrait and Hollywood becomes even more vast. Hilarious, almost
Cases in point: the undeniably lovely Anne Hathaway (THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA) plays the young Jane Austen in BECOMING JANE , a fanciful, not-exactly true romance of the young Englishwoman’s maybe-romances gone wrong. (Austen did not marry.) Hathaway is a fine actress — she made you believe she was gawky in THE PRINCESS DIARIES. But one thing she isn’t is plain, even intermittently–not in the way Joan Fontaine, another beautiful actress, could make you believe she was in REBECCA and SUSPICION.
Ellen takes further issue with Renee Zellweger in BEATRIX, whom she says is too cute by half to play children’s book author and illustrator Beatrix Potter.
Well, take a number. Frida Kahlo wasn’t the hot number that Salma Hayek is, and I doubt very much that anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce was as boyishly handsome as HORATIO HORNBLOWER hero Ioan Gruffud. No man could be. And William Shakespeare: he was no Joseph Fiennes.
Becoming Jane is out now in the UK. Miramax says it will release the film on August 3.

Why Terry Gilliam's TIDELAND Is w e i r d On DVD

Rage, rage, rage against the machine auteur Terry Gilliam thinks — wait — he knows there’s something cockeyed and screwy with ThinkFilm’s DVD treatment of his most recent film TIDELAND. Via FilmIck and Ain’t It Cool News comes word that…
The aspect ratio is messed up.
If you caught the brief film festival and arthouse run of this unforgettably Grotesque adaptation tale filial love and dark childhood fantasies (imagine Dorothy Gale from Kansas with a smack-addict dad), and you made it all the way to the end without puking your guts (I nearly didn’t), the cinematography by Nicola Pecorini was overwhelming. Gilliam, with his background as an illustrator and artist, knows how to compose a shot for maximum effect.
The cinematic TIDELAND’s aspect ratio was 2:35 to 1 — not an uncommon ratio these days, especially not for a film set on the American plains. (The other common ratio is the TV-ish, squarer but still rectangular ratio of 1:85 to 1.) What you’ll pretty much never see is an aspect of 2:25 to 1 – but that’s what Gilliam preferred when he personally mastered the film for DVD, according to a statement that ran on FilmIck

That’s when the tide turned — somebody at ThinkFilm thought: No. Let’s go a different way.
From Ain’t It Cool, the blog post fury, featuring Gillliam and hopping mad cinematographer Pecornini (I regret that we cannot hear the this man’s fabulous Italian accent as he types. There’s nothing like a European director of photography — a painter of light from the land of Leonardo, people! — throwing down.

James Bond: Scripts, Schemes & Kickboxing Babe

via Cinematical
Preparations for the next James Bond film — aka Bond 22– are moving along, according to Cinematical’s Patrick Walsh. The follow up to CASINO ROYALE — now being written by Neil Purvis and Robert Wade — will not be an adaptation of any one Ian Fleming novel or story, but will reportedly contain elements of the Bond creators short stories “The Hildebrand Rarity,” “The Property of a Lady,” “Risico” and “007 in New York.”
Read more here — Walsh has a quote from a Sony executive confirming star Daniel Craig’s participation and the start date. Costar casting has not been confirmed, but as always, villain and Bond babe rumors remain the most fun guessing game around. Who do you think should play the the late Vesper Lynd’s Algerian boyfriend (the man who troubled her heart as much as Bond did?) And which up and coming dangerous beauty ought to portray the “kickboxing babe” mentioned in Walsh’s story?
Honor Blackman (GOLDFINGER) and Famke Janssen (GOLDENEYE), the two brainiest, most dangerous beauties of the series, have set the bar rather high — so think hard.

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How Isabelle Huppert Deals With On-Set Stress

Thank you, David Poland and Defamer, for the video link of the week: the recorded-off-the-monitor horror movies from the set of I HEART HUCKABEES.
And you thought your workplace was stressful. Check out the quick-to-boil comments of actress Lily Tomlin, who’s baffled and pissed off by the directions of screamer boss – writer/director David O. Russell (whose Mr. Spacely of Spacely Sprockets demeanor was extensively chronicled by Sharon Waxman in TK). As Mark Lisanti recalls, Russell, who’d given Waxman the run of his set, promptly went apeshit on the ace New York Times reporter when her account of the making of Huckabees appeared in a seasonal film preview issue. His main complaint was that the material would appear only in book form. As if he’d have come off better there.
While I can’t help but feel sorry for everyone who’s seen and heard in these clips, there’s something really admirable in the way the other crew members and the three actors — Dustin Hoffman, Mark Wahlberg, and Isabelle Huppert — deal with what’s going on.

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"Honey Shot" Director Andy Sidaris, R.I.P.

The world will keep turning on its axis, but it’ll jiggle just a little less with the loss of TV sports and B movie director Andy Sidaris (SAVAGE BEACH, PICASSO TRIGGER), who departed this earth last week at the age of 76.
While working as a sports director for ABC’s “Wide World of Sports,” Sidaris pioneered what came to be known as the “honey shot” — a shot of a pretty young woman in the crowd, or a cheerleader waving her pom-poms on the sidelines. (Let me tell you, for girls watching TV sports in the early 70s, just how depressing and annoying these gratuitous shots were — especially because ABC rarely covered women’s sports.)
Yet Sidaris turned out to be as a dramatic TV and film director, one of the more lighter touches in episodic TV, helming episodes of the “Hardy Boy/Nancy Drew” mysteries that were kid friendly but just this side of camp. With his Arlene as his production partner, he made a dozen hilarious action movies starring some guy from “General Hospital” and gun-wielding glamour models with plot-explaining titles: FIT TO KILL and BULLETS, BOMBS AND BABES.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon