All posts from “March 2009”

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March 31, 2009

Newsbites: The Greco-Roman edition!

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1. Kevin Macdonald (Touching the Void, The Last King of Scotland) will start shooting The Eagle of the Ninth in August; the film concerns "a wounded Roman soldier and his loyal Celtic slave who try to solve the mystery of the Ninth Legion, a brigade of Roman soldiers that vanished after heading into the untamed Highlands of Scotland 15 years earlier." -- Variety

2. Coincidentally, Neil Marshall (The Descent, Doomsday) is already making his own movie about the Ninth Legion; it is called Centurion, and it is far enough into production that the filmmakers recently released a making-of video and a photo of former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko (above) made up to look like "a savage-looking Pict warrior woman". -- Empire, Rotten Tomatoes

3. Bond girl Gemma Arterton has been cast as the demi-goddess Io in the upcoming remake of Clash of the Titans (1981). Meanwhile, Cinesite has been hired to provide some of the "major creature animation" -- using computers, of course, rather than the stop-motion techniques that living legend Ray Harryhausen used on the original film. -- Empire, VFXWorld

4. Sean Bean will play Zeus, Kevin McKidd will play Poseidon, Pierce Brosnan will play Chiron, Uma Thurman will play Medusa and Melina Kanakerides will play Athena in Percy Jackson, an adaptation of the best-selling children's novel The Lightning Thief, which is set in the present day and concerns the half-human children of the gods. -- Variety, Hollywood Reporter (x2)

5. The Gotham Group is developing a film based on Steven Sherrill's novel The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break, which concerns "the mythical half-man, half-bull minotaur who was supposedly slain by Theseus 3,000 years ago and now lives a lonely life in a Wichita trailer park, making ends meet as a short-order cook in a rundown diner." -- Variety

March 31, 2009

Where the Wild Things were.

The blogosphere went gaga for Where the Wild Things Are last week, after a trailer was released for the upcoming film adaptation directed by Spike Jonze from a script he co-wrote with Dave Eggers.

There were a few voices of dissent, though. Noah Millman, for example, responded to Peter Suderman's claim that the trailer is "a perfectly sold hipster nostalgia piece" by articulating several "red flags" that, in his view, indicated the film was not paying proper respect to Maurice Sendak's original book.

Time will tell how the movie itself holds up to scrutiny. In the meantime, here are a couple of earlier adaptations, one complete and one merely a test reel.

First, the original 1973 animated film directed by Gene Deitch:


Click here if the video file above doesn't play properly.

And second, a 1983 test reel combining hand-drawn animation and some very-new-at-the-time computer-generated animation -- produced by Disney and directed by none other than future Pixar guru John Lasseter:


Click here if the video file above doesn't play properly.

March 30, 2009

'Blue Like Jazz' moving forward

Movie based on Donald Miller's book to film soon in Portland, Nashville

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Looks like the Blue Like Jazz film project, delayed several times, finally has a green light.

Donald Miller, author of the book on which the movie is based, blogged recently that director Steve Taylor (The Second Chance) is moving forward on shooting Blue Like Jazz the movie. He’s set to shoot in Mid May through June. We will be shooting in Portland and Nashville through the end of June. I couldn’t be more excited."

Miller and Taylor had hoped to get the movie rolling last year, but had to put the project on hold due to a lack of funding.

They've apparently got enough money to move forward now, though they're still seeking "associate producers" (at $99.95 a pop) to help defray costs.

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The official movie website has an amusing "from the director" video with Taylor and Miller that includes a few laugh-out-loud moments. (The site also includes a hilarious blog post from Taylor about how he's trying to learn Facebook etiquette.)

Back to Miller's blog entry: "I’m skyping today with the actor who will likely play me. Unfortunately I can’t tell you who it is until we sign contracts, but we are both stoked on the choice." Miller and Taylor joke on the "from the director" video that Brad Pitt was the No. 1 choice.

Or was it a joke? If Pitt can age backwards in a movie, certainly he's got the acting chops to play a curious case like Mr. Miller. ;-)

March 30, 2009

Maurice Jarre has died

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The Oscar-winning composer lost his battle with cancer in Los Angeles on Sunday. He was 84.

Maurice Jarre became a household name after partnering with director David Lean for 1962's breathtaking Lawrence of Arabia, for which he was awarded his first Academy Award for Best Score. He would continue to work with Lean (and win two further Oscars) on Doctor Zhivago and A Passage to India.

The composer of more than 150 films (including the 1970s television mini-series Jesus of Nazarath), Jarre is also known for lending his unique sound to Dead Poet's Society, Ghost, Witness, Gorillas in the Mist, The Mosquito Coast, Fatal Attraction and No Way Out.

March 29, 2009

Newsbites: The biblical and infernal edition!

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1. The upcoming TV mini-series version of Ben-Hur will be shown on ABC in the United States, though an airdate has not yet been set. Casting is still under way, but production is set to begin in May in Spain, Morocco and Canada. -- Variety

2. Matthew Vaughn is looking at producing an adaptation of the comic-book series American Jesus, written by Mark Millar; the story "centers on the return of Christ in the modern world, leading to a final confrontation with the Antichrist in a bid to save humanity." Vaughn is currently finishing an adaptation of another Millar series called Kick-Ass. -- Hollywood Reporter

3. Universal has hired Dan Harris to write Dante's Inferno, a live-action film that will not be based on the poem by Dante but, rather, on the Electronic Arts videogame "in which players journey through the depths of hell." Harris co-wrote X2: X-Men United (2003) and Superman Returns (2006) and is currently attached to direct I, Lucifer. -- Variety

4. The first image from Lars von Trier's Antichrist has been released, and its depiction of limbs writhing and emerging from the dark, twisted roots of a massive tree has led to speculation that it may have been inspired by a silent-movie version of Dante's Inferno (1924). -- Jeffrey Wells

March 28, 2009

"The year's best movie (so far)."

That's what J.R. Jones of the Chicago Reader calls Olivier Assayas's Summer Hours, a haunting and effective drama about three adult siblings who have to deal with their mother's estate after she passes away; it plays in Chicago twice this week as part of the European Union Film Festival.

I am inclined to agree with Jones's assessment, though I saw the film last year at the Vancouver International Film Festival. I have been waiting for it to receive a commercial release ever since; in the meantime, I wrote a brief bit about it here.

And for what it's worth, I must say I have been keen to see the film again these past few weeks, since my own grandmother -- pretty much the only grandparent I ever had -- passed away two weeks ago. The various services and family gatherings that took place this past week are the main reason I haven't done any blogging lately, though I hope to get back up to speed in the near future.

For what it's worth, the trailer above doesn't begin to do the film justice, but a few clips bring back just enough of the movie to bring a tear to my eye.

March 27, 2009

Young, Gay, and Christian . . .

A new documentary includes interviews with those who fall into the demographic

According to its website, Through My Eyes, a new DVD documentary, "provides an unflinchingly honest look at the role of today's young Christians in the gay debate: what they really think, how they perceive the church, and what they wish other Christians knew."

I was moved by the words of the teens and young adults in the trailer. The film was apparently "created for Christians by Christians" to help promote discussion in the church on this important topic. The website says the DVD "tackles one of the most controversial topics today with compassion and sensitivity, shining new light on the debate for people on both sides. It's unlike anything you've seen before."

The film was produced by The Gay Christian Network, "a nonprofit ministry serving Christians who happen to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, and those who care about them."

Here's the trailer:

March 26, 2009

Sean Penn is Such a Stooge. Literally.

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When I think slapstick comedy, I don't think of Sean Penn. Or Benicio Del Toro. Yet, they are on tap to play two-thirds of slapstick legends the three stooges in a new MGM film. Variety is reporting that Penn has signed up to play Larry and "the studio is zeroing in" Del Toro as Moe.

Who's taking the role of funny portly guy Curly? Non-portly guy Jim Carrey. He is in negotiations and "is already making plans to gain 40 pounds to approximate the physical dimensions of Jerome 'Curly' Howard."

According to the Variety report, "the film is not a biopic, but rather a comedy built around the antics of the three characters that Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Howard played in the Columbia Pictures shorts."

Even as one who can appreciate the three stooges (I was a huge fan in junior high), I'm not so excited about this. I think Penn can pull it off (Larry is the straight guy, after all) and Carry is pretty intriguing casting (he's going to be fun), but I'm not so sure about Del Toro. If the announcement had been that these three actors were going to do a couple 8-minute YouTube shorts as the three stooges, I'd be excited to watch. But a full-length movie? I think the novelty is going to wear off fast.

But more than the actors, I am wary of the creative team putting it together: Peter and Bobby Farrelly (There's Something About You, Stuck on You, Dumb and Dumber). I liked their bowling send-up, Kingpin, but having the three stooges in the hands of directors known for bawdy humor, worries me. But to be honest, I find that I really don't care enough about this project to expend much emotion for it other than to say, "eh."

Anyone offended that they are recasting the three stooges? Anyone worried? Is anyone excited about this?

March 25, 2009

Wild Thing

You make my heart sing, you make everything . . . groovy

I can't wait for the rumpus to begin:

March 24, 2009

Christian films short on Christian substance

So says the AFN about two new church-produced movies

The One Lamb and C Me Dance, two new films made by churches and hoping to follow in the footsteps of church-produced box-office hits Fireproof and Facing the Giants, both fall short in delivering the goods, according to a recent story by American Family News.

AFN says it "appreciates the efforts of these films but believes both fall far short of fulfilling what a film can do to illustrate the gospel to a non-believer and at the same time be family-friendly for Christian viewers. Both goals can be accomplished, as illustrated by films from Sherwood Productions [the production arm of the Georgia Baptist church that made Fireproof and Facing the Giants].

AFN notes that The One Lamb, unrated by the MPAA, "is flawed primarily by its frequent profanity. In the first 30 minutes, God’s name is used in vain twice and nine other profanities occur. Occasional profanities occur throughout the rest of the film."

FWIW, I personally don't have much of a problem with profanity in a film IF it's realistic in its portrayal. If a character isn't a Christian and has a foul mouth, I would expect him/her to be portrayed that way; of all people, Christians -- including Christian filmmakers -- should tell the truth, even in depicting reality. If that makes the film less "family-friendly," so be it. But the truth should be told.

Now, I haven't seen The One Lamb (I saw the trailer and wasn't impressed), but the profanity criticism alone wouldn't "disqualify" it for me. But the AFN goes on to say, "One other questionable scene, clearly intended as comic relief, has a group of African-American women at a Bible study at Earl’s kitchen table. They ogle, leer, and make suggestive remarks to a shirtless Jack, begging him to take it all off. It is an unfortunate, disrespectful caricature of the African-American Christian."

Wow. That's astounding, and totally uncalled for. The fact that the film was made in the South -- at a church in Charlotte, NC -- won't help when critics note this instance of what can certainly be perceived as racism.

Meanwhile, C Me Dance, made by a church in Pennsylvania, has serious theological issues, according to the AFN. The film is about Sheri, a "Christian teen who wants to reach her friends and community with the gospel after she is diagnosed with terminal cancer. The only problem is that she doesn’t actually preach the gospel, which raises theological concerns.

"While Sheri is said to have been granted special powers by God for winning the lost, the manifestation of that power seems akin to occult practices. Standing behind the pulpit, she communicates by telepathy with the congregation; then, people are shown apparently coming to Christ."

The story goes on to note that Sheri "is also able to communicate the reality of the crucifixion of Jesus merely by touching people on the hand, at which time they see an image of Christ being nailed to the cross. In at least one instance, Sheri merely stares into the eyes of hostile classmates and causes them to leave her alone. . . . [Evangelism] must somehow articulate the message of the gospel clearly. And it certainly cannot be done by means that approach the forbidden line of the occult."

From where I sit, such concerns sound legit.

March 23, 2009

Is 3-D the Wave of the Future?

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In an online story last Thursday, TIME magazine discussed the future of 3-D technology. It reminded me of a sit-down I had last December with a couple other critics in the D.C. area and 3-D evangelist Jeffery Katzenberg, one third of Dreamworks Pictures. Katzenberg brought a half hour of footage for Dreamworks' Monsters vs. Aliens, which appears in theaters this weekend. The 3-D rendering was amazing, but what was perhaps more amazing was Katzenberg's announcement that all future Dreamworks animated films will be made in 3-D. Katzenberg and others truly feel that 3-D technology has evolved to the point that in a decade or so, every film made will be in 3-D, finally fulfilling the prophetic utterances of audience-strapped studios in the mid-20th century desperate for any ploy to get people out from behind their television sets and back into theaters.

Sound familiar?

Continue reading Is 3-D the Wave of the Future?...

March 21, 2009

An improvement on guy flicks and chick flicks alike

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I Love You, Man may be a "bromantic" comedy -- a buddy flick about two men who are secure enough in their masculinity to express their platonic love for one another -- but that doesn't mean women can't get something out of it too. In my own review of the film, I claimed that the film's depiction of women and the relationships men have with them is "a little healthier" than what we have seen in other recent male-oriented comedies, especially those produced by Judd Apatow. (I Love You, Man is not an Apatow film, but its two lead actors, Paul Rudd and Jason Segel, are both veterans of Apatow films such as Knocked Up and Forgetting Sarah Marshall.) And now, Jennifer Armstrong at Entertainment Weekly says this film "respects" women more than recent female-oriented comedies such as He's Just Not That Into You and Confessions of a Shopaholic, which "paint women as desperate creatures". I can't say I disagree with her.

March 21, 2009

"All of this has happened before..."

No time to develop this thought in any detail, but it just dawned on me that there is something strangely coincidental about the fact that Knowing premiered in theatres on the same day that Battlestar Galactica had its series finale. If you have seen both of these shows, then you might have spotted some interesting similarities between them -- but there are also some crucial differences as well. For some intriguing spoiler-filled comments on Knowing, check out Roger Ebert's blog, and for some intriguing spoiler-filled comments on Battlestar Galactica, check out The Gospel according to Science Fiction author Gabriel McKee's blog. And then, feel free to discuss what these sci-fi dramas did -- and didn't -- have in common in the comments below.

March 20, 2009

Newsbites: The historical and biblical edition!

1. Columbia Pictures has released a new trailer for the quasi-biblical comedy Year One, which opens June 19. (Slight warning: the trailer has just a wee touch of innuendo.) -- ComingSoon.net

2. The first episode of Kings, the quasi-modernized version of the story of Saul and David, turned out to have even lower ratings than expected when it aired last Sunday, even after NBC moved it from its originally-intended Thursday-night slot. The rest of the first season has already been shot, so the network might as well air the remaining episodes, but it is open to question whether the show will be renewed for a second season. -- Variety, Hollywood Reporter, Nikki Finke

3. Rome star Ray Stevenson says the prospect of a big-screen follow-up to that TV series is "no longer a smoke and mirrors rumor. . . . From what I have heard, they are nearing the end of script development. We shall see." When series creator Bruno Heller discussed the possibility of a big-screen spin-off in November, he mentioned that the show would have dealt with "the rise of the messiah in Palestine" if it had not been cancelled, though he did not say whether the movie would go in that direction. -- MovieWeb

Continue reading Newsbites: The historical and biblical edition!...

March 19, 2009

Another Church Movie

'The One Lamb,' opening in 100 theaters, was produced by a small NC church

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Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, has made quite a name for itself by making low-budget movies that went on to become major box office hits -- Facing the Giants and Fireproof.

Other churches are following suit, making films of their own, including University City United Methodist Church of Charlotte, NC. The One Lamb, in production for three years, opens in 100 theaters and in 34 states on March 30. (Yes, that's a Monday, and not the typical Friday theatrical release. Perhaps they didn't want to compete with big budget blockbusters that open on the weekend.)

For what it's worth, the press release promises a film that depicts "an inspirational story of hope and redemption . . . [capturing] the elements of life transforming films such as Chariots of Fire and the recent Fireproof, telling the poignant story of the rise and fall of a promising campaign manager/lawyer . . . who is battling cancer and competes in the New York City Marathon as part of a personal spiritual rebirth. Although [he] is facing an enormous battle against the cancer rapidly destroying his life, his biggest struggle is the fight against the mistakes of his past. He is befriended by a cranky, retired pastor who helps find redemption for his past failures and hope for his future."

To see if it's playing near you, click here.

March 19, 2009

C Me in the NYT

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I remember in the weeks and months after The Passion of the Christ came out and made truckloads more money than anyone ever thought it could, how studio executives and marketing types in both the religious and secular film worlds kept talking about how to tape into the evangelical niche, how to employ a grassroots marketing campaign to the same effect as Mel Gibson's movie did-- in fact, they're still talking about it even today. But there's a new little-Christian-movie-that-could in town, and I've been seeing more and more people talking about how to win over the evangelical market by following in its footsteps. That movie, of course, is Fireproof, a movie that you may have heard of. It's referenced in a New York Times blog entry this morning as "one of the biggest indie money makers of the year [2008]," but blogger Brooks Barnes predicts that its success may be matched by a film called C Me Dance, which he says is an "overtly religious film" that is "gathering momentum on conservative blogs."

Barnes proceeds to say that the film is "opening in about 200 theaters nationwide on April 3 and produced by Pennsylvania-based Uplifting Entertainment, is about a teenage girl who achieves her dream – joining the Pittsburgh Ballet – only to discover she has a rare blood disease. The girl and her father then embark on a spiritual adventure to bring revival to America."

The total cost of the film-- including marketing-- is noted to be half a million dollars, the same cost as Fireproof, which went on to make $33.5 million.

By the way, I'm pretty sure I can already spot the pun in C Me Dance's title, film unseen, and if I'm right, the filmmakers deserve either a special award or a scolding; I can't decide which.

But even if the film turns out to be as cheesy as its title sorta is, it's still worth noting that it has apparently had quite an effect on those who have seen it; the Leukemia Society, for example, is already endorsing it as a a meaningful and eye-opening movie.

March 18, 2009

Just What the Docter Ordered

'Up' director Pete Docter still another man of faith at Pixar

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Every time Pixar releases a new movie, I count it as one of the most anticipated of the year--and this summer's Up is no exception.

Why is it that Pixar's creative wheels seem to be spin faster than everyone else's, that their wells of imagination seem to run deeper than all of their competitors? Perhaps it's because many of the company's principals are in tune with the Creator himself.

Andrew Stanton (WALL-E, Finding Nemo) has discussed his Christian faith (even with CT Movies), and we've heard that Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) is also a believer.

I was googling for info on Pete Docter, the writer/director of Monsters Inc., and now the director of Up, and found this interview with Radix magazine, done about the time Monsters Inc. released, in which he also discusses his Christian faith.

Docter was asked how having a child changed him as an artist, to which he replied: "Work-wise, I definitely see things differently. . . . As a Christian, having my son has made me even more amazed by the whole Creation, when I watch him grow and start to connect things in his brain. I say, 'That's amazing.' It leaves me speechless."

Asked how his faith affects his work, Docter said, "Years ago when I first spoke at church, I was kind of nervous about talking about Christianity and my work. It didn't really connect. But more and more it seems to be connecting for me. I ask for God's help, and it's definitely affected what I'm doing. It's helped me to calm down and focus. There were times when I got too stressed out with what I was doing, and now I just step back and say, "God, help me through this." It really helps you keep a perspective on things, not only in work, but in relationships."

Asked if he planned to ever make an explicitly Christian film, Docter said, "Not at this point. I don't feel so comfortable with that. Even if you have a moral to a story, if you actually come out and say it, it loses its power. Not that we're trying to be sneaky or anything, but you have more ability to affect people if you're not quite so blatant about it. Does that make sense? . . .

"To me art is about expressing something that can't be said in literal terms. You can say it in words, but it's always just beyond the reach of actual words, and you're doing whatever you can to communicate a sense of something that is beyond you."

Amen to that.

March 18, 2009

Perpetuating Black Stereotypes?

Tyler Perry's films are hugely popular, but are they dumbing down African Americans?

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The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly includes a thought-provoking article about the films of African-American writer/director/actor Tyler Perry, one of the hottest names at the box office in recent years. His current film, Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail, opened at No. 1 and has earned more than $83 million. His seven films overall have grossed over $360 million.

Popular, yes. But are they politically incorrect? Or even offensive?

"Tyler Perry's films are rooted in some of the worst stereotypes that have ever existed," Todd Boyd, professor of critical studies at USC School of Cinematic Arts, told EW.

Donald Bogle, author of Toms, Coons, Mulatoes, Mammies & Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films, tends to agree: "If a white director put out this product, the black audience would be appalled."

Perry's critics argue that his movies include "regressive, down-market stereotypes," as EW put it: "In many of his films there's a junkie prostitute, a malaprop-dropping uncle, and Madea, a tough-talking grandma the size of a linebacker ('Jemima the Hutt,' one character calls her)." Bogle says that Madea has "connections to the old mammy type. She's mammy-like."

Perry comes to his own defense, telling EW, "These stories have come out of my own pain and everything I've been through. These characters are simply tools to make people laugh. And I know for a fact that they have helped, inspired, and encouraged millions of people."

Indeed, Perry, a Christian, infuses his movies with stories of hope, forgiveness, and redemption -- partly mirroring his own personal journey out of a painful past, which he shared with CT Movies in this interview.

What do you think of Perry's films (if you've seen any)? Do they perpetuate stereotypes, or not? Are they uplifting and inspiring? Chime in on the discussion thread below.

March 17, 2009

Fearing the Reaper

The latest edition of The Atlantic showed up in my mailbox, and in it there's a rather fascinating article by James Parker, who considers the popularity of the slasher movie (of which there have been several recent examples: The Last House on the Left, Friday the13th, My Bloody Valentine 3-D, etc.) in light of what it says about our culture, what it might tells us about our own attitudes toward violence and death, and more. Christian moviegoers might want to note that Parker draws even makes a connection to a certain Mel Gibson movie. (It should also be noted that Parker quotes a bit of movie dialogue that contains some harsh language, and that his discussion includes a couple of brief descriptions of some rather gory scenes). The whole article is available online.

March 17, 2009

Dick Ross, 1918 - 2009

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Last week, we reported that Robert E.A. Lee, producer of the Oscar-nominated films Martin Luther (1953) and A Time for Burning (1966), had passed away. This week, he was joined by another major player in the Christian films of that era.

Dan Wooding of the Assist News Service reports that Dick Ross, director of several Billy Graham films between the early 1950s and mid 1960s, passed away on Saturday at the age of 90.

In addition to his work for Graham, Ross also produced the film version of The Cross and the Switchblade (1970), starring Pat Boone as David Wilkerson (you might have heard that name in the news again recently) and Erik Estrada as Nicky Cruz.

But it was the Graham films -- and the studio that made them -- that are arguably Ross's greatest legacy. Click here for an article we ran four years ago on the history of Billy Graham movies; it touches on Ross's role at the beginning of that venture, and on the people to whom he passed the torch after directing The Restless Ones (1965), a movie about juvenile delinquents, teen pregnancy and other social issues that was also the first Billy Graham movie to be shown in regular theatres.

March 16, 2009

A Real Chick Flick; 'Narnia Code'; and More

Jack Chick in documentary; film unlocks Narnia's 'code'; 'C Me Dance' opens . . .

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The man behind millions of evangelical tracts has been profiled in a new documentary called God's Cartoonist: The Comic Crusade of Jack Chick.

According to The Tallahassee Democrat, director Kurt Kuersteiner says the film has "taken on a life of its own . . . What was that John Carpenter movie (The Thing) where the head grew legs and ran off? That's what it's been like."

Producer Dan Wester says that Chick himself is "thrilled" with the film, which includes the tagline: "Can a comic book save your soul?"

BBC doc unlocks Narnia 'Code': The UK's Guardian reports that "C.S. Lewis included a secret code in the Chronicles of Narnia linking each story to a planet, according to a BBC documentary to be aired next Easter." The doc claims to have "uncovered the true hidden layer in the novels" and their "medieval cosmology, with each of the Christian and medieval scholar's books linked to one of the seven planets of the era's cosmology."

Hopeful 'Dance': A new Christian film about a young woman who loves to dance, but is now fighting for her life with a rare disease, says in its synopsis that "a wonderful miracle happens that causes Sheri to be able to bring people to Christ with absolutely no effort at all." Hmm . . . More: cmedancethemovie.com.

March 15, 2009

Kings -- the interview's up!

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My interview with Michael Green, executive producer of the new TV series Kings, is now up at BC Christian News.

The first episode airs Sunday night, and it's interesting on a number of levels, especially if you're a Bible-movie buff like me. (The show is basically a modernized version of the story of Saul and David.) I'm not reviewing the episode, per se, but here are four extra points that occurred to me while watching it, which I couldn't fit into the article linked above:

First: The way the film depicts David's battlefield heroism, and his reluctance to be feted and exploited by the powerful and influential people back home, is reminiscent of Flags of Our Fathers (2006) -- but when I mentioned this to Green, he said he had never seen that film, so he couldn't comment on that.

Continue reading Kings -- the interview's up!...

March 11, 2009

Newsbites: The sci-fi and fantasy edition!

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1. Dark City (1998) director Alex Proyas says there has been talk lately of making a sequel to that film -- and if he does make it, he would like the supernatural hero of the first film to become the villain of the second film: "He should turn nasty because he's got unlimited power. That's something I'd like to explore." That certainly fits with some of the changes that Proyas made to the "director's cut" last year. -- MTV Movies Blog

2. Matt Damon is attached to star in The Adjustment Bureau, a sci-fi action romance about "a charismatic congressman who . . . meets a beautiful ballet dancer, only to find strange circumstances keeping their sparks from catching fire." The film is "loosely based" on a Philip K. Dick story. -- Variety, Hollywood Reporter

3. Director Alexander Payne and actor Paul Giamatti, who last worked together on the Oscar-nominated Sideways (2004), are teaming up again for Downsizing, a "social satire" about "a man low on money who decides he can have a much nicer life if he undergoes a process to shrink himself." The film will also star Reese Witherspoon, who worked with Payne on Election (1999). -- Variety

Continue reading Newsbites: The sci-fi and fantasy edition!...

March 11, 2009

Newsbites: The comics and cartoons edition!

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1. Steven Spielberg has just finished a month or so of motion-capture photography on The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn. Peter Jackson and his team will spend the next 18 months on the digital animation and special effects -- but Spielberg will receive the sole directorial credit. It has long been reported that Jackson will direct the next film in what is expected to be a three-part series, but as of right now, there is no script or budget lined up for the next installment. -- Variety

2. Thanks to the recession, less theatres have installed digital projectors capable of showing 3-D movies than was expected even a year ago, and the first big victim of this slowdown will be Monsters Vs. Aliens, which opens March 27. A year ago, DreamWorks Animation said it expected there to be 5,000 screens capable of showing digital 3-D movies by the time the film came out, but last week, they admitted there would only be "in excess of 2,000". Another 4,000 screens or more will show the film in regular 2-D. -- The Wrap

3. Fox is developing a movie based on the comic strip Marmaduke, which concerns "a mischievous Great Dane". It is unknown at this point whether the film will be animated, live-action, or a combination of the two like Fox's previous Garfield (2004-2006) and Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007-2009) adaptations. -- Hollywood Reporter

Continue reading Newsbites: The comics and cartoons edition!...

March 10, 2009

Fanboys Fracas

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Over a month ago, Roger Ebert wrote a relatively nasty (1 1/2 star) pan of the film Fanboys, which, according to the great film critic, glorifies the lifestyle of freakishly avid Star Wars (and general sci-fi) fanatics-- a lifestyle dismissed by Ebert as "idiotic." Now, the review is provoking quite a heated exchange between some of Ebert's readers.

First, there's this angry retort:

You panned Kyle Newman's "Fanboys" last Friday and I felt compelled to write. I'm the Chicago-based co-host of the "The Force-Cast," the most downloaded Star Wars podcast on the net. I appreciate and understand most of your review and I accept your appraisal. Your pan is not what bothers me. What bothers me is this quote from your review of "Fanboys": "Its primary flaw is that it's not critical. It is a celebration of an idiotic lifestyle, and I don't think it knows it"

Now… when I read the words "Idiotic Lifestyle," my heart sunk. I actually felt personally offended. I've never felt such emotion before while reading a review. I felt like you were calling out my lifestyle as Idiotic. Why the hate??? Where does THAT come from. It was an ignorant and close-minded put-down that needs to be addressed. Remember when Chuck Woolery said the 501st (Star Wars costuming group) were guys who need to get a life at the Rose Bowl parade??? He realized afterwards that it was a ridiculous remark and he apologized. I think this situation is just as bad times 10!

...

So, Please take time to reconsider the terrible way you depicted the broad base of Star Wars fandom. What's wrong with an individual expressing his love and passion for a film franchise that influenced so many? Call us geeks or nerds, whatever you want. Because at the end of the day, we are all just people. And lets face it, at the end of the day, you are nothing more than simply a glorified movie nerd yourself. Eat that, Roger you Fanboy!!!

...

An idiotic lifestyle??? How dare you Roger Ebert. How dare you.

And then there's this reply, on Ebert's behalf:

In calling Roger Ebert a "glorified movie nerd," you seem to imply that knowledge of film and knowledge about The Force belong on even pedestals. Comparing Ebert's knowledge to your knowledge of Star Wars minutiae only reveals to me that you're about a few midi-chlorians short of an annoying Gungan -- or a few roofies short of being able to say you've gotten laid, take your pick. Knowing "Citizen Kane "frame by frame and being able to talk about each scene in depth as an example of great formalism in cinema is just a little less fanatical than being able to quote 6 two-hour films by heart, plus the spin-offs, the animated series, and the entire timeline as it pertains to the extended Star Wars universe - -which by now probably fills more comics, books, websites, zines, and non-canonical fan fiction than has ever been written about our own actual universe. Stephen Hawking would feel ashamed by the sheer volume of work dedicated to the Star Wars universe in comparison to his own achievements.

...

Life really is too short, the world too full of wonder, for any one person to go out of his way to possess such inconsequential knowledge. You miss out on so much in life and, in the end, will it have been a life well spent?

Why do I bring this up? Well, mostly because I think it's an interesting study in how people perceive the fine line between being passionate and being obsessive-- a line I have to make an effort to be mindful of when it comes to, say, U2 or Flannery O'Connor or Arrested Development. Also: Because it's kind of a funny exchange.

March 10, 2009

Proyas Revisits Dark City

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While he doesn't go into a lot of detail, director Alex Proyas (of the upcoming Knowing) has been guest blogging over at the superb SlashFilm and today discusses his seminal work, Dark City. If you haven't seen Dark City, I cannot recommend it highly enough. If there was a better sci-fi film made in the 90s, I haven't seen it. Proyas discusses some of the differences between the theatrical version (which he calls the "dumbed down" version) and his new director's cut. Click here to read the piece and here to read our own Peter Chattaway's take on the release.

March 10, 2009

Gomorrah--A Necessary Antidote?

The guys at the Filmspotting podcast have a great review of the new gangster movie Gomorrah suggesting it may offer a cure for our culture's obsession with characters like Tony Montana and Michael Corleone. Definitely worth a listen--they go pretty deep.

March 10, 2009

Sodom (with or without Gomorrah) in Louisiana

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Louisiana Movies reports that the ancient city of Sodom, built for Harold Ramis's biblical comedy Year One (which opens June 19), is still standing in northwest Louisiana, and local movie types hope to rent it out to other filmmakers as well.

The next movie to use these sets would not have to be a biblical epic, per se -- as reporter Alexandyr Kent notes, the city could be turned into all sorts of other places with a bit of re-dressing -- but certainly many films in this genre have cut down on costs by re-using sets that were built for other movies. My favorite example of this is Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979), which was filmed in Tunisia on sets built for Franco Zeffirelli's considerably more reverent mini-series Jesus of Nazareth (1977). Who knows? Perhaps, in a reversal of that precedent, the Year One sets could be used in a more pious production somewhere down the road. But would the makers of that film admit to the link between the two films as freely as the Pythons acknowledged their debt to Zeffirelli?

The makers of even earlier biblical epics didn't have to deal with such questions very much, since they were less inclined to share their work in the first place. Cecil B. DeMille famously destroyed the sets for the silent version of The Ten Commandments (1923) and buried them in the California desert, lest anyone take advantage of his monuments and beat him to the big screen with a cheap imitation of his movie. And I have heard similar stories about the massive sets that were built for some of the 1950s Bible epics, too.

March 9, 2009

Newsbites: The sequels and remakes edition!

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1. Bill Donohue of the Catholic League has launched an e-mail campaign against Angels & Demons, the upcoming sequel to The Da Vinci Code (2006) -- but since conventional wisdom has it that all publicity is good publicity, and since the earlier film grossed a phenomenal $758 million worldwide (considerably more than The Passion of the Christ, and more than either of the Narnia movies) despite a similar campaign, an anonymous studio chief has quipped that the only thing that bothers him about Donohue's newest campaign is its "timing": "Maybe we could have hoped for the campaign a little closer to the opening." The film comes out May 15. -- Variety

2. Terminator Salvation producer Moritz Borman is suing fellow producers Derek Anderson and Victor Kubicek for fraud and breach of contract, and seeking $160 million in damages -- two and a half months before the film comes out. -- Variety, Anne Thompson

3. First there was Meet the Parents (2000), starring Ben Stiller as a man who has reason to be nervous about marrying the daughter of Robert De Niro. Then there was Meet the Fockers (2004), in which De Niro and clan get to know Stiller's parents, played by Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand; it went on to become one of the top-grossing comedies of all time. Now, plans are afoot for a third film, to be called Little Fockers, presumably in reference to Stiller's children. John Hamburg (Along Came Polly, I Love You Man) is working on the script, and the studio is talking to potential directors. -- Hollywood Reporter, MTV Movies Blog (x2)

Continue reading Newsbites: The sequels and remakes edition!...

March 9, 2009

Newsbites: The period-piece edition!

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1. Alan Doyle, of the Canadian folk-rock band Great Big Sea, has been cast as Allan A'Dayle in Ridley Scott's Robin Hood movie. The film will also star Russell Crowe as Robin Hood and Cate Blanchett as Maid Marian. -- National Post, Globe and Mail

2. New Regency has bought the script for a film called Medieval, about which little is known except that it "plays like 'The Dirty Dozen' in the age of castles, plagues and serfs," and the studio "hopes to spin [it] as a hyper-realistic action movie in the vein of '300.'" More emphasis on "hyper" than "realistic", then, I'm guessing. -- Variety, Hollywood Reporter

3. Guillermo Del Toro wants to make "a Gothic-Western retelling of 'The Count of Monte Cristo,'" which may or may not be called The Left Hand of Darkness. -- MTV Movies Blog

March 9, 2009

Newsbites: The supernatural stories edition!

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1. Alfred Molina has been cast as the evil magician Horvath in Jerry Bruckheimer's modernized live-action adaptation of The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Nicolas Cage will play the sorcerer, Jay Baruchel will play the apprentice, and Teresa Palmer will play the apprentice's love interest. -- SlashFilm, Hollywood Reporter

2. Chris Columbus, who directed the first two Harry Potter movies (2001-2002) among other things, will direct Percy Jackson, based on the first book in the Rick Riordan series about a schoolboy who discovers that his father is the Greek god Poseidon. The story will revolve around the theft of Zeus's master lightning bolt, and it will star Logan Lerman, who played one of Mel Gibson's sons in The Patriot (2000) and Christian Bale's son in 3:10 to Yuma (2007). -- Variety, Hollywood Reporter

3. It's official: Dakota Fanning will play an evil Italian vampire in New Moon, the sequel to Twilight. Rumour also has it that Drew Barrymore has been approached about directing the third film, Eclipse; the first film was directed by Catherine Hardwicke, and the second film is being directed by Chris Weitz. -- Variety, Hollywood Reporter, Entertainment Weekly (x2)

Continue reading Newsbites: The supernatural stories edition!...

March 9, 2009

I've Loved You For So Long

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I saw a trailer for the French film I've Loved You For So Long (Il y a longtemps que je t'aime) some time ago and it had mostly dropped off my radar. So I was pleasantly surprised to see it open in my cinematic backwater this weekend. As the trailer suggested, Kristen Scott Thomas pulls off a wonderfully tense and complex performance as an older sister just back from a 15-year stint in prison. As her younger sister, Elsa Zylberstein puts in a performance no less moving. This portrait of hope and grace breaking through bitter stoicism is worth seeking out.

March 8, 2009

Robert E. A. Lee, 1921 - 2009

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The New York Times reports that Robert E. A. Lee, former head of communications for various branches of the Lutheran church, passed away late last month at the age of 87.

Lee, whose duties included a 34-year stint as executive secretary of what is now known as Lutheran Film Associates, was executive producer of the Reformation biopic Martin Luther (1953) and the civil-rights documentary A Time for Burning (1966). Both films were nominated for Oscars: cinematography and art direction for Martin Luther, and documentary feature for A Time for Burning.

Lee's work was cutting-edge for its time. David Neff, editor-in-chief of the Christianity Today Media Group, recalled five years ago how Martin Luther was the first movie he ever saw, and how moviegoing was so frowned-upon in church circles back then that some of his fellow congregants criticized his parents for taking the family to see that film -- even though it had been made by a church.

Meanwhile, A Time for Burning was widely praised for acknowledging the racial divisions within the Lutheran church itself. The film partly concerned a pastor at an all-white Lutheran church who was forced to resign after his efforts to promote fellowship between his church and local black Lutheran churches ended up dividing his congregation.

Co-director William C. Jersey tells the New York Times: "A Time for Burning would never have happened without Robert Lee. . . . Here we are, we’re doing a scriptless film, and our hero is forced to resign. So then what do we do? And Bob Lee, who's representing the church, has this trial by fire with others within the church who say, 'We're making a film about the church's failure?' He says, 'We should do it,' and we finish the film. So he was vindicated, but in 1965, that was a big risk -- for an institution to say, 'We're flawed.'"

Lee's other films included Question 7 (1961), "a drama about Christian life in East Germany", and the documentary The Joy of Bach (1980).

March 6, 2009

Imagining the deaths of people still living

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MTV Splash Page reports that former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca is not happy about the fact that Watchmen depicts him being shot and killed in an alternate version of the 1980s. Larry Carroll writes:
In director Zack Snyder's "Watchmen," historical figures are depicted as existing in an alternate reality in which we won Vietnam, Richard Nixon was elected for five terms, and superheroes walk amongst us. And as much as I personally loved the movie, I'm also a huge film buff - so when I saw a very-alive American icon getting murdered 24 years ago on screen, I found myself struggling to comprehend the "Why?" "How?" and "Has this ever been done before?" of what was unfolding before my eyes.

"It's nothing against Lee; I think Lee's awesome," Snyder told me when I asked him about the scene, in which an actor playing Iacocca meets with superhero industrialist Ozymandias, only to be caught in the crossfire as an assassin tries to kill the crimefighting CEO. "But he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

The fact of the matter, however, is that the former Chrysler CEO and Ford President never met the fictional Adrian Veidt - and when I reached out to Iacocca for comment, he wasn't exactly thrilled about the details of his big-screen debut.

A spokesman confirmed that Iacocca had never heard of "Watchmen" until I called. The news of his depiction came as a surprise, and his office confirmed that they had never been approached by Snyder, Warner Brothers, or anyone else associated with the film - either to ask permission or to simply give him a heads-up.

When I explained that Iacocca is shown on-screen being shot between the eyes and killed, the phone went quiet for what felt like forever. The automotive pioneer's office has since attempted to contact the studio to secure a screening, DVD or even an explanation, but as of press time had yet to receive a return phone call.
To answer Carroll's question, yes, this sort of thing has been done at least once before -- and at feature length, too, rather than just a cameo. I refer to Death of a President (2006), a pseudo-documentary that used archival footage and a few special effects to depict the assassination of George W. Bush.

I can't think of any other examples right now, though.

March 6, 2009

WALL•E + Watchmen = very, very funny


Click here if the video file above doesn't play properly. Hat tip to Upcoming Pixar.

March 5, 2009

Trek spoilers revealed

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While not giving away too much of the store, TrekMovie revealed the cover art for Alan Dean Foster's novelization of Paramount's upcoming reboot of the Star Trek franchise. (Foster is the king of film novelizations, have done adaptations in the past for everything from Star Trek and Alien to The Terminator). Normally this wouldn't warrant much more than a passing mention, except that with the cover art came the blurb on the back which actually reveals some key elements of the plot:

"One grew up in the cornfields of Iowa, fighting for his independence, for a way out of a life that promised only indifference, aimlessness, and obscurity.

The other grew up on the jagged cliffs of the harsh Vulcan desert, fighting for acceptance, for a way to reconcile the logic he was taught with the emotions he felt.

In the far reaches of the galaxy, a machine of war bursts into existence in a place and time it was never meant to be. On a mission of retribution of the destruction of his planet, its half-mad captain seeks the death of every intelligent being, and the annihilation of every civilized world.

Kirk and Spock, two completely different and unyielding personalities, must find a way to lead the only crew, aboard the only ship, that can stop him."

We already knew this reboot would be something of a coming of age story for the crew, particularly Kirk and Spock. But what this tidbit reveals is that the Romulan Nero is plunging back through time to wreak havoc after the total annihilation of his home planet, Romulus! How this occurs and who is behind it is, as of now, still a mystery.

The plot thickens?literally.

March 5, 2009

A God Among Men

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We'll probably be talking a lot about Watchmen in the upcoming days and I really look forward to seeing what Russ Breimeier has to say about the film. I screened it several days ago and it hasn't let go of me since. One of the things that particularly struck me was the manner in which the film examined what it would look like if a god were to truly live among us.

In Watchmen, Dr. Manhattan stands in for Superman, the only superhero of the bunch to actually possess supernatural powers (some of which Superman could only dream of). Rather than hide in plain sight and devote himself to doing good for others as Superman did, Watchmen contends that a superman/god would be so far beyond us and have so little in common with us that he would actually feel the opposite of empathy - he would look upon this planet with as little consideration as we might look upon an ant colony. Dr. Manhattan has completely lost touch with his humanity and no longer cares what happens to Earth or the people on it. His heightened state has eradicated his compassion and perhaps even his soul.

It's a fascinating quandary and raises some legitimate meta-questions, particularly when viewed against the Judeo-Christian worldview, which believes the experiment of a God living amongst humans has already occurred. What made all the difference in that model? Could love for a thing also be tied to the creative impulse that gave it life in the first place? Something to think about...

March 5, 2009

How important is "accuracy" in a movie?

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No time to post anything terribly in-depth right now, but a question has been nagging at me, so I thought I'd throw it out there.

There has been a lot of talk lately -- a lot -- about Zack Snyder's adaptation of the graphic novel Watchmen and the degree to which his movie is an "accurate" or "faithful" rendition of Alan Moore's writing and Dave Gibbons' artwork. Indeed, there has been so much emphasis on the movie's "accuracy" that it struck me as redundant when Warner Brothers released a "motion comic" on DVD that takes the panels of the graphic novel and makes them move. Isn't that more or less what Snyder is doing, except he uses actors etc.?

I have not yet seen the film for myself, but I have read a few reviews, and a line at Roger Ebert's blog (he likes the movie, by the way) puts a fun, witty spin on my concerns: "Faithfulness in adaptation is not necessarily a virtue; this is a movie and not a marriage."

If the discussion has reminded me of anything, it is of the way Christians tend to approach movies based on biblical stories. To quote a line from one of my reviews of The Passion of the Christ: "It is quite telling that the only way many Christians know how to defend a work of art is to assert that it is an 'accurate' adaptation of scripture, as if to minimize its artistry or creativity. It is even more telling that many Christians make this assertion even when the work of art in question contains several elements that are quite definitely not accurate."

Continue reading How important is "accuracy" in a movie?...

March 5, 2009

Arrested Developing?

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The happiest movie-related news I've heard all week comes via MTV, reporting that the long-rumored Arrested Development movie is really, truly, 100% DEFINITELY going to happen. For serious this time. Yes, I know, this project has been on-again, off-again pretty much since the day the show was canceled, but you know this report is true, because Ron Howard says it is. And he would never, ever lie.

And man, when this thing finally comes out, I'll be jumping for joy. In my mini-bio here at CT Movies, I say that the combined three seasons of Arrested Development are my favorite film of all time, and I'm only half kidding. I suppose picking a TV series as my favorite movie is cheating, but I've watched the series (yes, the whole series) more than I've watched almost any film ever made, save for a few long-time, sentimental favorites, and I care more about the characters in that series than any movie characters I can think of right now. The whole show is just a perfect blend of the heartfelt and the absurd, the satirical and the silly. It's great comedy that never sacrifices great storytelling.

Of course, if you've seen the trailer for the upcoming Land of the Lost feature, you know that TV shows turned into movies aren't always well-advised (see also the announcements of upcoming adaptations of The A-Team and Yogi Bear), but then again, some of them work out pretty well-- see the Serenity film. And since this particular franchise dropped some not-so-subtle hints of a feature film in its final episode, I'm trusting that the storytellers have been planning this for some time, and won't disappoint.

March 4, 2009

Newsbites: The science-fiction edition!

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1. Leonardo DiCaprio will star in Chris Nolan's Inception, about which little is known except that it is "a contemporary sci-fi actioner set within the architecture of the mind." -- Variety, Hollywood Reporter

2. Battlestar Galactica co-executive producer Mark Verheiden will write Quatermain, about which little is known except that it is a "sci-fi adventure" that is "big, live action and would not be outside the wheel-well for fans of, say, Battlestar Galactica." -- Hollywood Reporter, Mark Verheiden

3. More details are beginning to leak out about Tron 2.0, which is currently being prepped in Vancouver. Among other things, the story will reportedly begin in 1989, and Flynn (the Jeff Bridges character) will have a seven-year-old son. Hmmm, the original movie came out in 1982, seven years prior to that. Who is the boy's mother, I wonder? -- Ain't It Cool News

Continue reading Newsbites: The science-fiction edition!...

March 3, 2009

Star Trek and Terminator parallels

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It's beginning to look like the Star Trek and Terminator movies could have a couple of very significant things in common -- and no, I'm not just referring to their ILM special effects or to their sometimes overlapping cast members. (Anton Yelchin plays Kyle Reese and Pavel Chekov in the upcoming Terminator and Star Trek movies, respectively; Paul Winfield played the ill-fated Captain Terrell in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan two years before he played the ill-fated Lieutenant Ed Traxler in the original Terminator.)

The newest trailer for Terminator Salvation went online today, and reports coming out of WonderCon 2009 indicate that a new trailer for Star Trek was shown to the masses there, too, and should be arriving in theatres in the very near future. And based on these trailers -- or, in Star Trek's case, the description of that trailer provided by ComingSoon.net and TrekMovie.com -- it sounds like each of these franchises is pushing in a direction that may be new to the franchise in question, but has already been well-covered by the other one.

Warning: There may be spoilers ahead, but they are all gleaned from the trailers that have already been made public (and, in Star Trek's case, some of these details are also gleaned from the Countdown prequel comic-book mini-series that is already out there).

Continue reading Star Trek and Terminator parallels...

March 3, 2009

Munyurangabo finally gets a theatrical release

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Talk about coincidences. CT Movies editor Mark Moring left on a missions trip to Rwanda two days ago, and now two -- not one, but two -- Rwanda-themed movies that premiered on the festival circuit two years ago have finally been picked up for an American theatrical release in the next few months.

I mentioned Shake Hands with the Devil, a dramatic film based on the memoirs of UN peacekeeping commander Roméo Dallaire, last Friday; Regent Releasing plans to release it in the summer.

And now, today, Film Movement has announced plans to release the critically-acclaimed independent film Munyurangabo in May. (CT Movies critic Jeffrey Overstreet has the full press release at his blog.)

The latter film may be especially interesting to Christian filmgoers as it was produced by people who were visiting Rwanda on a Youth with a Mission (YWAM) trip at the time the film was made.

Continue reading Munyurangabo finally gets a theatrical release...

March 3, 2009

WGA Strike -- One Year Later

WGAw Executive Director sent this letter to the membership on the one-year anniversary of the end of the 2007-2008 writers' strike. In it, he quotes Battlestar Galactica showrunner Ron Moore as saying:

In my opinion, nothing is as important as the issues surrounding digital delivery of content. Nothing. In the not so distant future, literally every piece of work ever done by the Guild will be available digitally. The systems and methods of delivery will vary and change, but the central truth is that all our work is going to be converted to ones and zeroes and sent to the consumer. We have to have a very clear, very solid method of tracking and being compensated for any and all work that is delivered in this way, whether it was originally created for TV or film or directly for digital distribution. To me, it is a strike issue.

I absolutely believe this to be true. A year later I remain convinced that the WGA scored a moral victory, despite the fact that the strike effectively ended my career as a rank-and-file screenwriter.

Continue reading WGA Strike -- One Year Later...

March 2, 2009

Newsbites: The Hasbro toys and games edition!

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1. Director Ridley Scott and Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner say their film version of Monopoly will reflect the current economic crisis. As it happens, the current version of the board game was patented in 1935, at the height of the Great Depression. -- MTV Movies Blog

2. Goldner says the movie based on Hasbro's Ouija board will be a spooky horror film that tells people to be careful what they wish for, and it will ask whether the Ouija board is really just a game: "Half of the people that play Ouija as a séance think it’s just a game. The other half thinks it’s much more serious than that. So that idea, is this real or is this just sort of imagined? Is this something that’s done by the participants or is this something that’s really from beyond?" -- MTV Movies Blog

3. Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski is in final negotiations to direct a movie based on Clue. The board game was previously turned into a feature film -- with three different endings, all released to theatres -- in 1985. -- Hollywood Reporter (x2)

4. The title character in Stretch Armstrong, currently being written by Steve Oedekerk of Bruce Almighty and Kung Pow: Enter the Fist fame (he also happens to be a Christian -- Oedekerk, that is; I have no idea about Stretch Armstrong), will be a reluctant superhero. "Imagine a comedic way to get into reluctantly finding out that you now have all these powers, and what do you do with it," says Goldner. "Especially if people want to get their hands on those powers." -- MTV Splash Page

5. Amazingly, there was no new news this past week about the latest G.I. Joe and Transformers movies, both of which come out this summer.

March 2, 2009

Newsbites: The comics and cartoons edition!

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1. A couple rumours have been floating around about that Green Lantern movie. First, it was claimed that Anton Yelchin -- the not-quite-20-year-old actor who plays Kyle Reese in Terminator Salvation and Pavel Chekov in the new Star Trek -- was in the running to play test-pilot-turned-superhero Hal Jordan. Many fans dismissed the idea immediately because Yelchin is too young for the part, and Yelchin himself agrees with them. Meanwhile, it is also being reported that Gil Kenan was attached to direct Green Lantern until his last movie, City of Ember, flopped at the box office and all but shuttered Fox-Walden; the film is now set to be directed by Martin Campbell, whose last film was Casino Royale (2006). -- Latino Review, Hitfix, The Playlist

2. One of the most acclaimed animated films of last year -- cinephiles as varied as Doug Cummings and Cartoon Brew's Amid Amidi have named it the best animated feature of 2008, and critics like Roger Ebert have also sung its praises -- is now viewable in its entirety online. Sita Sings the Blues tells the story of a Hindu goddess who is separated from her husband, and because it makes heavy use of 1920s jazz songs, the film has been lost in copyright limbo and unable to secure a theatrical release. -- Reel 13

3. Five clips from the upcoming Pixar film, Up, were shown at WonderCon 2009 in San Francisco, and they prompted an impressed Daniel Fienberg to say that the film should probably be titled "Pixar's Gran Torino". He says the film, which revolves around "a grouchy old widower" and a "friendly, obsequious Asian kid", should be able to "feed into that wave of Geriatric Chic" that made Clint Eastwood's latest film a surprise hit. -- Hitfix

Continue reading Newsbites: The comics and cartoons edition!...

March 2, 2009

The Lost Dawn Treader?

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Peter reported earlier this week that The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage Dawn of Treader film is currently undergoing much rewriting. Ironically, some TV viewers have noticed in recent weeks that this Narnia book may actually be getting a rewrite in a different way - on ABC's Lost.

C.S. Lewis' influence on Lost isn't anything new. After all, last year saw the addition of a character named Charlotte Staples Lewis (pictured). Her arrival on the island clearly rang of Prince Caspian. And when I wrote my recent Christianity Today review of the show, I was tempted to include my observations about the show's parallels to The Great Divorce (a group of characters visit heaven - symbolically in Lost, literally in Divorce - but cannot be happy there because of their stubborn and selfish attachment to selfish sins and thus rush back to hell.)

Only recently has the show begun to overtly connect its island to the magical, mythical land of Narnia. While some examples of this would be spoilers to those not fully caught up, suffice it to say that the episode two weeks ago introduced an important place called "The Lamp Post" - which stands figuratively at the Island's entrance, much like the one that welcomed Lucy to Narnia in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Entertainment Weekly's resident Lost writer, Jeff Jensen, recently devoted a whole column to Narnia-Lost connections. While much of the article will read like ancient hieroglyphics to the uninitiated (and spoiler-heavy to fans not absolutely caught up), he had some thought-provoking observations - especially regarding Dawn Treader.

Here's a spoiler-free rundown of Jensen's Dawn Treader comparison:

Continue reading The Lost Dawn Treader?...

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