All posts from “April 2009”

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April 28, 2009


Veteran indie publicist Reid Rosefelt is launching a site called SpeedCine, which will launch in July as a database of all the movies that are legally available for viewing online. This will be a great resource for anyone who has moral issues with the so-called "free" content that the internet makes available.

Until then, Reid is blogging about the industry. He's a fount of information on the movie business, and a great writer as well. So if you like to read about Hollywood and Indiewood, check out his blog here.

April 27, 2009

Tom Hanks: Pawn of Satan?

So says author in reference to 'Angels & Demons.' And the Donohue-Howard feud continues.

"It's sad that a great actor like Tom Hanks has become a pawn of Satan and is aiding the cover-up of the existence of the Illuminati today and is a part of Dan Brown's fraud."

So says Mark Dice, author of The Illuminati: Facts & Fiction, of the movie star's role in the upcoming film version of Angels & Demons, based on Brown's book of the same title. A&D is a prequel to The Da Vinci Code.

Dice went on to say that "Brown's book, as well as the film, serves only as disinformation and a whitewash of the real Illuminati."

Dice is founder of something called The Resistance, which on its website calls itself "a conservative political and media watchdog and activist organization focused on preserving family values and upholding the Constitution of the United States."

Take Dice's words with a grain of salt. A loose cannon who also goes by the pseudonym "John Conner" (a la the Terminator saga), Dice has called the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. "an inside job" by the U.S. government. He has also demanded that demanded that Duke University change the school nickname of "Blue Devils" because it's "offensive to the Christian community." (No report on whether he has a problem with Wake Forest's "Demon Deacons" or Arizona State's "Sun Devils" or . . . Oh, nevermind.)

It's not the first attack on Angels & Demons. The Catholic League's William Donohue dissed the film, prompting director Ron Howard to respond last week. And now Donohue has responded to Howard's response:

"Ron Howard must be delusional if he thinks Vatican officials are going to like his propaganda - they denied him the right to film on their grounds," says Donohue. "Moreover, we know from a Canadian priest who hung out with Howard's crew last summer in Rome (dressed in civilian clothes) just how much they hate Catholicism. It's time to stop the lies and come clean."

Somehow, I don't think Howard is waiting in the batter's box to step up and take the next swing. But I also bet we haven't heard the last of this, either.

April 26, 2009

Newsbites: The '80s live forever edition!

1. Arnold Schwarzenegger has confirmed that he may very well appear in Terminator Salvation when it opens May 21 ... but because the Governor of California is busy with other things at the moment, he has done no acting for the new film. Rather, his performance will be an entirely digital creation, based on a body-cast mold that was made for the first movie in 1984. If you ask me, this is all for the good, as Schwarzenegger's physical appearance did change somewhat over the course of the first three films -- which, when you think about it, is a little odd, since all three of his characters were supposed to have come off an assembly line at the exact same time in the future. -- Los Angeles Times, Variety, WENN

2. Robert Rodriguez is developing a "reboot" of the Predator franchise called Predators. The original film came out in 1987 and spawned either one sequel or three, depending on whether you count the Alien Vs. Predator cross-overs (2004-2007) as part of the original canon. At any rate, 20th Century Fox has already given the new film a release date, namely July 7, 2010. --, Ain't It Cool News (x2), Variety,

3. Leonard Nimoy provided the voice of Galvatron in the animated Transformers movie that came out back in 1986. So naturally, the guys who've been writing the live-action movies want him to come back and voice one of the characters in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which comes out June 24. And since those guys also happened to write the upcoming Star Trek movie, they've had a chance to talk to Nimoy about this personally. What makes the whole thing even stranger and even more inter-connected is that Nimoy's wife, Susan Bay, is a cousin to Transformers director Michael Bay -- but the director says he hasn't approached Nimoy about doing the part directly yet; for now, he prefers to let his mother serve as a go-between. -- Sci Fi Wire, MTV Movies Blog

Continue reading Newsbites: The '80s live forever edition!...

April 25, 2009

WWJD: The Movie

Upcoming film based on classic Charles Sheldon book, In His Steps

According to a press release from Nasser Entertainment, Charles Sheldon's classic Christian book, In His Steps, is being made into a film called What Would Jesus Do?

Production by Nasser Entertainment begins in May, but no potential release date was given. The company specializes in made-for-TV programming.

The film will feature John Schneieder (Nip/Tuck, CSI, Bo Duke in TV's Dukes of Hazzard), country singer Adam Gregory, and Maxine Bahns (The Mentalist, The Lost Tribe).

The film will closely follow the story of In His Steps, following four individuals -- a singer, a newspaper editor, a wealthy philanthropist, and a minister who lost his faith - all vowing to walk in the steps of Jesus, with every decision based on the one question, "What would Jesus do?"

Joe Nasser of Nasser Entertainment said that when he was fighting cancer some time ago, the Bible and In His Steps brought him comfort.

Nasser writes, "I promised God if he thought he should heal me I would make the movie and spread the question WWJD? to as many people as possible. Well God healed me and I intended to keep my promise."

April 25, 2009

Odysseus without the odyssey?

Warner Brothers sure likes its Greek myths and legends. After making a buck or two on Troy (2004) and 300 (2006), and after putting the gears in motion for their upcoming remake of Clash of the Titans, the studio has now acquired Odysseus, a spec script that would seem to be based on Homer's epic poem The Odyssey.

It may not be quite what you'd expect, though. While Odysseus is best known for the ten years he spent wandering around the Mediterranean on his way home from the Trojan War, it sounds like the movie may skip all that and focus on the second half of Homer's epic, which takes place after Odysseus has arrived incognito on his home island of Ithaca. The Hollywood Reporter reports:

The story centers on the legendary hero Odysseus, famed king of Ithaca, who returns to his island after 20 years of fighting the Trojan Wars, only to find his kingdom under the brutal occupation of an invading force. Odysseus single-handedly defeats every last man and takes back his wife, his son and his kingdom. . . .

The intent is to make not a sleepy swords-and-sandles epic but a bloody relentless revenge movie, something akin to "300" meets "Taken."

The script is by Ann Peacock, who may be best known for writing an early draft of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005); and the director attached to the project is Jonathan Liebesman, who is currently directing the alien-invasion flick Battle: Los Angeles.

Incidentally, Warner Brothers is also behind that futuristic, outer-space version of The Odyssey that was announced six months ago, starring Brad Pitt. I wonder how that one's coming along?

April 24, 2009

Yet another Nativity movie in the works.

Three years ago, New Line Cinema produced The Nativity Story. Next month, MGM will begin shooting Mary, Mother of Christ.

And now, according to Variety, Fox Searchlight is "fast-tracking" the gospel musical Black Nativity, based on the Langston Hughes show that has been playing continuously in various cities since it premiered on Broadway in 1961; it was, in fact, one of the first plays written by an African-American to open there.

The studio intends to release the movie as early as this Christmas, which sounds awfully fast, indeed.

Continue reading Yet another Nativity movie in the works....

April 22, 2009

Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw to play real-life evangelical couple

Patrick Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times reports that Warner Brothers is making a movie based on The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, a book by Michael Lewis about "Michael Oher, a 6-foot-5, 350-pound African American teenager who is transformed from a homeless vagabond to a star football player, largely thanks to Leigh Anne Tuohy, a dynamic evangelical Christian who helps provide him with a surrogate family and a shot at success in life." While the bulk of Goldstein's column looks at Quinton Aaron, the 24-year-old, 6-foot-8 and 380-pound actor who has been hired to play Oher, Goldstein also mentions that Sandra Bullock is set to play Tuohy, and Tim McGraw will play Tuohy's husband Sean. It's anybody's guess how prominent the religious themes will be in the film itself, but for what it's worth, when Collin Hansen reviewed the book for Christianity Today two years ago, he called it "a gripping tour through the world of college recruiting, professional football strategy, and the volatile mix of faith and sports" -- and the film is being written and directed by John Lee Hancock, who also directed the Dennis Quaid baseball movie The Rookie (2002), so that bodes well, at least.

April 22, 2009

Newsbites: The biblical and religious edition!

1. Marlon Wayans has been hired to produce and star in the film version of The Year of Living Biblically. This is worrying, for two reasons: First, his surprisingly decent performance in Requiem for a Dream (2000) aside, Wayans is best known for really dumb comedy, whether as a supporting character in movies like Dungeons & Dragons (2000) or as a collaborator with his brothers on lowbrow fare like White Chicks (2004) and the first two Scary Movies (2000-2001). Second, Sammy Davis Jr. aside, black Americans tend to be Christian, not Jewish, and the story of a Christian who tries to follow all of the Bible's rules is bound to be somewhat different from the story of a Jew who attempts the same. I haven't read A.J. Jacobs' book yet, so I can't say quite how it would be different -- but, for example, I have read that Jacobs did not approach the New Testament the same way he approached the Old because, as a Jew, he could not obey the command to follow Jesus. At any rate, it is certainly possible that the film version could clear these hurdles, but for now, I'm not counting on it. -- Hollywood Reporter

2. The Catholic Bishops Conference of India has called for a ban of Angels & Demons, the upcoming sequel to The Da Vinci Code (2006). Meanwhile, director Ron Howard has written an editorial for the Huffington Post in which he says the new film's negative assertions about Catholic history cannot be "lies" because they are "fiction". (But they can still be negative, right?) And now word has come that author Dan Brown has finally finished the third book in the series, and the studio that produced the first two movies is already planning to make the third; the new book is called The Lost Symbol and it comes out in September. -- Hollywood Reporter (x2), Huffington Post, Variety

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

April 20, 2009

Slumdog's Young Star for Sale?

British tabloid says her dad tried to sell her for millions, but he denies it

News of the World claims that the father of Slumdog Millionaire child star Rubina Ali tried to sell his 9-year-old daughter to become a millionaire himself.

The British tabloid got the alleged story by having a reporter pose as an Arab "sheik," from whom the girl's father supposed demanded millions of Indian rupees--worth about $300,000 in the U.S.

NOTW quoted the father, Rafiq Qureshi, as saying he wanted his family to escape Mumbai's slums, adding, "I have to consider what's best for me, my family and Rubina's future."

But People magazine says Qureshi refutes the report, saying it was a "lie made up by foreign journalists playing games with me."

He told People there had been an offer but insisted that he had feigned interest out of politeness: "In India, you never say 'no' directly, least of all to guests. You try not to offend people by refusing to help. They said they were childless and desperately fond of Rubina after seeing her in the film. I felt sorry for them, but I was never going to give her up."

Slumdog Millionaire won Best Picture and other awards at this year's Oscars.

April 20, 2009

Ron Howard Fights Back

Producer responds to Catholic League's William Donohue re: 'Angels & Demons'

Catholic League president William Donohue has been dissing the upcoming Angels & Demons--the prequel to The Da Vinci Code--for a couple of months now, claiming the film to be a "smear" on the Catholic Church. For the most part, the filmmakers have taken the high road and remained silent.

No longer. In a measured but strongly-worded op-ed today in The Huffington Post, A&D director Ron Howard responds by saying that Donohue should essentially zip it till he sees the movie.

Howard writes that Donohue "is on a mission . . . to paint me and the movie I directed, Angels & Demons, as anti-Catholic . . .

"Let me be clear," Howard continues. "Neither I nor Angels & Demons are anti-Catholic. And let me be a little controversial: I believe Catholics, including most in the hierarchy of the Church, will enjoy the movie for what it is: an exciting mystery, set in the awe-inspiring beauty of Rome. After all, in Angels & Demons, Professor Robert Langdon teams up with the Catholic Church to thwart a vicious attack against the Vatican. What, exactly, is anti-Catholic about that?"

Donohue has written a booklet, Angels & Demons: More Demonic Than Angelic (available for a $5 donation to the Catholic League), which he said that A&D "details the myths, lies and smears that are made against the Catholic Church [in A&D]. It also provides evidence of the anti-Catholic animus harbored by those associated with the film.

"Author Dan Brown and director Ron Howard are . . . obsessed with Catholicism. It is not enough to criticize it - they are hell bent on demonizing it. It is not enough to drag out dirty laundry - they invent it. And the fact that they pay absolutely no price for their propaganda shows beyond dispute that anti-Catholicism is the one bigotry Hollywood likes."

Howard says Donohue needs to lighten up and recognize a work of fiction for what it is: Just fiction.

"Mr. Donohue's booklet accuses us of lying when our movie trailer says the Catholic Church ordered a brutal massacre to silence the Illuminati centuries ago," Howard writes. "It would be a lie if we had ever suggested our movie is anything other than a work of fiction (if it were a documentary, our talk of massacres would have referenced the Inquisition or the Crusades). And if fictional movies could never take liberties with reality, then there would have been no Ben-Hur, no Barabbas, The Robe, Gone With The Wind, or Titanic. Not to mention Splash!

"I guess Mr. Donohue and I do have one thing in common: we both like to create fictional tales, as he has done with his silly and mean-spirited work of propaganda. "

Howard concludes with these words: "I know faith is believing without seeing (and a boycott would be disbelieving without seeing). But I don't expect William Donohue to have faith in me, so I encourage him to see Angels & Demons for himself. Then he will finally witness, and perhaps believe, that what I say is true."

April 18, 2009

Newsbites: The fantasy edition!

1. It has been public knowledge for years now that the studios behind the film version of The Hobbit want to make it a two-movie series that will connect in some way to Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003) -- but there has been much speculation as to what sort of two-movie series it will be. Will one movie be devoted to The Hobbit proper, followed by another movie that "bridges" the gap between the two stories? Or will The Hobbit itself be spread out over the two films? Jackson and Hobbit director Guillermo Del Toro have now announced their decision, and the answer is: the second option. Says Del Toro: "We’ve decided to have The Hobbit span the two movies, including the White Council and the comings and goings of Gandalf to Dol Guldur." Adds Jackson: "We decided it would be a mistake to try to cram everything into one movie . . . The essential brief was to do The Hobbit, and it allows us to make The Hobbit in a little more style, if you like, of the trilogy." -- Empire

2. Speaking of The Lord of the Rings, each film in that series was released to DVD three times: once in its shorter theatrical version, once in its longer "extended" version, and once in a format that included both versions. Now it is time for the trilogy to come out on Blu-Ray -- and apparently the series will go back to square one, with a shorter-version-only edition; the "extended" versions will not come out on Blu-Ray until closer to the Hobbit release date. -- High-Def Digest, Digital Bits

3. 20th Century Fox has revealed that it will release three films in 3D in 2010. They have not yet said which films they have in mind, but one of their biggest movies that year will be The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, so some of the online speculation has pointed in that direction. --, NarniaWeb

Continue reading Newsbites: The fantasy edition!...

April 18, 2009

Michael J. Fox and The 700 Club.

I happened to spot Michael J. Fox's new book Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist at the drug store the other day, and since he's a fellow Vancouverite, I gave it a quick look.

I was particularly intrigued by the chapter on "faith". While it's more or less what you'd expect from a Hollywood celebrity, it still has some interesting tidbits, such as Fox's description of himself as a lapsed Protestant who now attends a Reform Jewish synagogue with his wife and kids, or his references to the evangelists and Christian musicians he met or knew in Vancouver while growing up here; I'm only nine years younger than Fox, and I grew up in the evangelical milieu here myself, so I can't help wondering if I may have crossed paths with any of these people, too.

Fox also makes at least two references to The 700 Club, in contexts that suggest he probably isn't all that interested in watching the show or being one of its guests -- but one thing he doesn't mention, at least not that I noticed, is that he once co-starred in a prime-time TV special produced by The 700 Club in the early 1980s. You can see a fragment of that performance above.

Continue reading Michael J. Fox and The 700 Club....

April 17, 2009

The subtleties of subtitles.

If you're like me, you tend to watch DVDs with the subtitles on -- whether because the kids are awake and the house is too noisy, or because the kids are asleep and the house needs to be quiet, or for some other reason altogether. And if you're like me, you can't help but wonder sometimes just what was going through the subtitlers' minds.

Case in point: Two nights ago, I was watching Peyton Place (1957), a surprisingly edgy-for-its-time (but still rather tame, compared to its source material) movie about adultery and incest and gossip and, um, "miscarriages" in a small New England town -- and in one scene, as two women and a boy go to church, we hear the choir in the distance. See if you can figure out what lyrics the choir is actually singing as these people approach the church:

Continue reading The subtleties of subtitles....

April 16, 2009

Snippets: Saving Lives, Ice Castles, and More

A movie about making a difference in a teen's life, a remake of an ice flick, and more.

Two weeks ago, a 17-year-old friend of our family--and a best friend to both of my teenage sons--took his own life. We've been reeling and processing it ever since. (The young man is now in heaven, so that certainly helps the grieving process.) So when I heard about a new film coming this fall called To Save a Life, about how schoolmates react in the wake of a teen's suicide, I was intrigued. Apparently the overriding theme of the indie drama addresses what teens can do to reach out to their lonely, hurting classmates. The website includes some links to Christian sites for help, and veteran Christian musician Charlie Peacock has signed on to helm the music for the project. Peacock doesn't associate himself with schlock, so I have hopes that the movie will be reasonably good.

Remakes On Ice!: Not sure why it had to be remade, but 1978's Ice Castles is getting a makeover. Sony Pictures Worldwide will star newcomer Taylor Firth, a U.S. figure skating whiz who also just happens to be a Christian. Former skating champ Michelle Kwan will have a cameo in the film, which is scheduled to release sometime around the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Remembering the Martyrs:
A new documentary, Malatya, tells the story of two Turkish Christians and a German missionary who were tortured and killed inside a Bible publishing hours in Malatya, Turkey, in 2007. Two of the surviving wives, who have forgiven the killers, both contributed to the film, which releases to DVD on Saturday.

April 16, 2009

Newsbites: The medieval and historical edition!

1. William Hurt has joined the cast of Ridley Scott's Robin Hood; he will play William Marshall, the first Earl of Pembroke, "a historical figure who was one of the most powerful men in Europe. Marshall was a servant to the Plantagenet kings and one of the best jousters of the era." -- Hollywood Reporter

2. Showtime has renewed The Tudors for a fourth and final season; it will consist of ten episodes that "dramatize King Henry VIII's last two tumultuous marriages, to Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr." After that, series creator Michael Hirst plans to develop a series based on Camelot. -- Hollywood Reporter

3. Speaking of Camelot, the Cartoon Network is developing a live-action movie that will set the legend of King Arthur in the present day; it is tentatively titled Reborn. -- Hollywood Reporter

4. James Franco will reunite with Pineapple Express director David Gordon Green and co-star Danny McBride for the medieval-fantasy comedy Your Highness. The story concerns "two spoiled and arrogant princes" who are "forced to go on a quest to save their family and the kingdom" after "an evil wizard casts a spell on their father and kidnaps the older prince's fiance". -- Variety

April 16, 2009

Newsbites: The Terminator edition!

1. Terminator Salvation director McG says the ending of his film will be "challenging" and "elliptical" -- and it will leave the door wide open for a couple more sequels: "It’s not a happy little bow of an ending at all. The ending is tough and requires reflection, and in some degrees it bifurcates the audience. You walk back to the car and one person thinks it means this, and the other person thinks it means that." -- MTV Movies Blog

2. The ratings for The Sarah Connor Chronicles went up a bit a few weeks before the season finale, but did not pick up on the night of the finale itself. Some insiders say the show is as good as cancelled, now, but there will be no official indication of that until Fox announces its fall schedule May 18. -- Ace Showbiz, Hollywood Reporter, TV by the Numbers, Entertainment Weekly, io9

3. Thomas Dekker, who plays -- or played? -- John Connor on The Sarah Connor Chronicles, is in final negotiations to play a swim-team jock in the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street. --

4. A settlement has been reached in the lawsuit between Terminator Salvation producer Moritz Borman and his fellow producers Derek Anderson and Victor Kubicek. -- Variety

April 15, 2009

Film Premiere Hits Home


American Violet, out in limited release today, faced protests from the KKK when it recently premiered at a church in the small Texas town where the movie is set. The NPR reporter who broke the true story the movie is based on covered the event and you can listen to his report here.

The backstory: filmmaker Bill Haney was listening to the radio during his commute in Boston when a story on NPR caught his attention. The story focused on a poor young woman in Hearne, Texas, who was charged with drug possession. She faced intense pressure to plead guilty despite a lack of solid evidence. And she decided to fight back. That young woman's name was Regina Kelly and her story became American Violet, a movie Haney wrote.

Kelly's story shines the light on the racially tense environment in Hearne and on the untold numbers of innocent casualties of the war on drugs. Kelly's faith played a big role in her ability to go up against the local legal establishment and my interview with Kelly and Haney was posted on Tuesday.

April 14, 2009

Music and Moviemaking


Calvin College recently hosted its biennial Festival of Faith and Music in Grand Rapids. It was a weekend full of rich conversation and wonderful music with participants including Cornel West, Lupe Fiasco, David Bazan, Over the Rhine, David Dark, Charlie Peacock, Andy Crouch, and so many more.

Nathan Johnson, who used wine glasses and household junk to compose the score for the neo-noir film Brick and also scored the upcoming The Brothers Bloom (both directed by his cousin Rian Johnson), gave an excellent behind-the-scenes look at composing music for independent film. He explored specific creative challenges regarding structure, technology and the constraints of small-scale music production.You can listen to his workshop here.

April 13, 2009

On a more personal note...


Barbara Nicolosi, the founder of Act One and a prominent Christian voice in Hollywood, announced her engagement to Norris Archer Harrington just this morning.

She writes: "One of my friends said, 'So, now you have a date for the apocalypse.'

"Yeah, it's hard not to think of Jesus saying, 'But in the end times it will be as in the days of Noah, when they were eating and drinking and marrying and giving in marriage right up until the rain started to fall.' So this is my part in filling out Biblical prophecy for the last days?


Cool, indeed. Congrats Barb!

April 10, 2009

Terminator odds and ends.

The final episode of the second season of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles aired tonight, but I won't be seeing it just yet, since I only started catching up on this year's episodes about a week ago. It's been fun blitzing through the season so far, though; while there's a certain hit-and-miss quality to the series as a whole, it does explore some fascinating ideas, and I am particularly intrigued by the way it has introduced explicitly religious elements in places where I always thought the original films were somewhat lacking.

For example, when former FBI agent James Ellison tries to teach the artificial intelligence known as John Henry that it is wrong to let someone die, he bases this assertion on his belief that human life is made in the image of God and is therefore sacred. The viewer may or may not share Ellison's belief in this regard, but to my ears, this is at least a more potentially engaging argument than the one John Connor made in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), when he tried to persuade the reprogrammed Terminator that you can't go around killing people "because you just can't, okay?"

I still have several episodes to watch, so I can't say much more about the series just yet. But for now, let me say that I am one of the many people who hopes Fox renews this show for at least another season, despite its low ratings.

Meanwhile, in other news, io9 (via Carmen Andres) has posted a chart that attempts to show the entire history of the Terminator franchise, including all the timelines that have been revealed in the movies and TV episodes to date. It looks fun, but if I were to take it at all seriously, I think the chart makes three errors:

Continue reading Terminator odds and ends....

April 10, 2009

Year One gets a PG-13 rating after all.

Year One was originally rated R in the United States for "some sexual content and language". Producer Judd Apatow and writer-director Harold Ramis appealed the rating a few days ago, but to no avail.

Now, says the Hollywood Reporter, the quasi-biblical comedy has been re-cut and successfully re-rated PG-13, for "crude and sexual content throughout, brief strong language and comic violence".

Note how the R-rated version only had "some" sexual content, according to the MPAA, whereas the PG-13 version -- the one with less footage, and specifically less of the "adult" footage -- has crude and sexual content "throughout".

No doubt this reflects how extremely relative the ratings process is, and how each rating brings a different set of expectations to the movie: As R-rated movies go, this one was apparently kind of mild, but as PG-13 movies go, it's right there on the edge.

Oh, and apparently "comic violence" doesn't even bear mentioning in an R-rated film, but when it turns up in a PG-13 movie, it becomes the sort of thing that the MPAA figures parents might want to know about.

The deleted footage will no doubt see the light of day on DVD, of course.

April 10, 2009

Newsbites: The time travel edition!

1. Mike Newell is attached to direct The Box of Delights, an adaptation of a 1930s children's novel "about a boy entrusted with a magic box that allows him to travel through time", among other things. The story was previously adapted for British radio in the 1940s and for British TV in the 1980s. -- Variety, Hollywood Reporter

2. Disney has picked up Wouldn't It Be Nice, a family comedy about "a teenage couple who, just before they plan to run away together and pursue their dreams, are magically zapped 20 years into the future only to discover that their lives didn't necessarily turn out as expected. In their mid-30s but with teenage minds -- and dealing with three kids and everyday worries -- they learn that maybe they weren't as grown up as they once thought." If they are zapped into the present day, then presumably they were teenagers in the late 1980s or early 1990s -- so why is the movie named after a 1960s pop song? Oh, and question: If they discover that they weren't "ready" to be married after all, what will they do if and when they return to their original age and original time? Will they decide not to get married and have kids -- in effect, blotting out the existence of the three children that they had been dealing with for the bulk of the movie? I'm getting a certain The Family Man (2000) vibe here. Or, if you prefer, this movie could turn out to be the polar opposite of Back to the Future (1985). -- Hollywood Reporter

3. Groundhog Day (1993) director Harold Ramis says a stage musical version of that movie is in the works. -- MTV Movies Blog

April 10, 2009

Newsbites: The war movie edition!

1. Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr. have joined the cast of Red Tails, the George Lucas-produced World War II movie based, however loosely, on "the first all-black aerial combat unit". This is at least the second time Gooding has been involved with a film on this subject; in 1995, he co-starred with Laurence Fishburne and others in a TV-movie called The Tuskegee Airmen. --, Variety (x2), Hollywood Reporter, Associated Press

2. Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer have bought the screen rights to Horse Soldiers, an upcoming book about "a band of elite special forces and CIA operatives who secretly invaded Afghanistan post-9/11 on horseback and helped Afghan fighters capture the city of Mazar-i-Sharif and topple the Taliban." This would not be the first time Bruckheimer, best known for his action and fantasy movies, has tackled this sort of subject matter; he previously produced Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down (2001) and acquired the film rights to a magazine article on 'Jihadists in Paradise'. -- Variety

April 8, 2009

Clash of the Schindler's List veterans!

Schindler's List (1993) made Liam Neeson a star and introduced the world to Ralph Fiennes. Now, according to the Hollywood Reporter, the two actors will reunite, in a manner of speaking, for Louis Leterrier's remake of Clash of the Titans (1981). Neeson, who has spent the past few years providing the voice of Aslan in the Narnia movies, will play Zeus, king of the gods; while Fiennes, who has spent the past few years playing the evil Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter movies, will play Hades, the "ruler of the underworld who aims to overtake Zeus and rule over all." Zeus was played in the original film by Laurence Olivier, but the part of Hades is new to the remake, which can probably be taken as a sign of just how different this new film will be from its predecessor.

April 8, 2009

Newsbites: The quasi-biblical (or not) edition!

1. The ratings for Kings, the TV series that modernizes the story of Saul and David, have not been very good -- so NBC has decided to move the show from its current Sunday-night slot to Saturday night, "where expectations are extremely small." Four episodes have been aired so far; the fifth will hit the airwaves April 18. -- Variety, Hollywood Reporter

2. The MPAA has upheld the R rating it gave to Year One, despite an appeal from producer Judd Apatow and writer-director Harold Ramis for something more lenient. The film, a comedy about a couple of prehistoric hunter-gatherer types who wander through the Book of Genesis, received the rating for "some sexual content and language." -- Hollywood Reporter

3. Warner Brothers has acquired Methuselah, an "action adventure" named after the biblical figure who lived to be 969 years old. The film itself will concern a man who "ages at a similarly slow rate and has used all the extra time to develop an incredible set of survival skills." -- Variety

April 7, 2009

Snippets: Baseball, Egypt, and More!

The best baseball movies, a controversial Egyptian film, and more.

Now that baseball season has begun, it might be time to watch some great films from that genre.

Guideposts magazine has picked its list of the top five inspirational baseball movies of all time, and while their choices (including The Rookie and the original Angels in the Outfield) are good ones, I don't see how they could've possibly missed Field of Dreams, arguably the best and most inspiring baseball movie ever. Fortunately, CT Movies compiled the perfect baseball movie list several years ago. Check it out.

Controversial film: NPR reports that a new Egyptian film "is stirring controversy in the minority Coptic Christian community for its frank portrayal of the difficulty Christian couples face in getting divorced or remarried." According to the story, "a group of Christian attorneys tried to block [the film], arguing that it demeaned the sanctity of Coptic marriage."

Doorpost Voting Begins: Online voting has begun at The Doorpost Film Project, an annual short film contest. Check it out; I was a judge for this contest last year, and was very impressed with the high caliber of films.

April 6, 2009

Expression of the day: Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

I can't recall whether I have ever heard this expression before, but I doubt I'll forget it now. 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl', a term coined by Nathan Rabin a few years ago after seeing Natalie Portman in Garden State (2004) and Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown (2005), popped up twice in my news feed this morning. First, Christopher Campbell looked at how Zooey Deschanel, who I adore, has come to embody this character type; he then listed ten MPDGs who were not played by Deschanel but, in his opinion, should have been (including, yes, the Portman character in Garden State and the Dunst character in Elizabethtown). And then, Glenn Kenny praised the Kristen Stewart character in Adventureland for not being the MPDG that she could oh-so-easily have been. If a third person had used the term this morning, we'd officially have a trend on our hands, but for now, these two citations will have to do.

April 6, 2009

Herod the Great and his Cleopatra cameo.

Lou Lumenick reminds us that a "75th anniversary edition" of Cecil B. DeMille's Cleopatra (1934) is coming out on DVD tomorrow -- along with a number of other films that were made in the early 1930s, right around the time the movie industry was beginning to enforce the morality code that would dominate American films up until the 1960s.

I happened to watch Cleopatra for the first time a few months ago, and I was surprised when, a little more than an hour into the movie, Herod the Great showed up. In his first scene, he says that he has come directly from Rome, and that he is on his way back to his kingdom in Judea, but while he is in Egypt, he has a message for Cleopatra: namely, Octavian wants her to kill Mark Antony.

In the next scene, Herod and Mark Antony share some drinks and some laughs, and then Herod, still laughing, tells Antony that Octavian wants Cleopatra to poison him -- a message that Antony himself laughs off, until a later scene in which he discovers that Cleopatra is testing different kinds of poison on her prisoners.

Continue reading Herod the Great and his Cleopatra cameo....

April 6, 2009

Newsbites: The reimagined characters edition!

1. Two -- not one, but two -- movies about the Easter Bunny are now in the works. Universal is developing I Hop, a live-action film about "an out-of-work slacker who, while driving home late one night, runs over the Easter Bunny. When the bunny can’t hop because his leg is broken, the slacker must train to take over the job and save Easter." Meanwhile, Sony Animation has picked up Hip Hop, in which "the Easter Bunny decides to retire and hides out as a pet with a suburban family, turning their lives upside down." -- Variety, Hollywood Reporter

2. Emma Stone is in talks to star in Easy A, a modernized high-school version of The Scarlet Letter. The film "centers on a student who sees her life paralleling Hawthorne's heroine Hester Prynne after she pretends to be the school slut in hopes that she'll benefit from the notion she's promiscuous." -- Variety

3. NBC is developing Dorothy Gale, a modernized version of The Wizard of Oz. The show will follow "the story of Dorothy, a girl from Kansas who tries to tackle modern-day Manhattan (her version of the Emerald City). Dorothy finds a job in the art world -- and must deal with a wicked boss." -- Variety

Continue reading Newsbites: The reimagined characters edition!...

April 1, 2009

Gibson to Film 'Passion' Sequel

CT Movies exclusive: 'Resurrection of The Christ' due Easter 2010

Editor's note: Now that April Fool's Day is behind us, we'll fess up: This "news" story is a spoof. The 10-point "acrostic" below should've been evidence enough: Read the first letter of each line, going down vertically. Get it? Happy April 2nd.

CT Movies has learned that Mel Gibson is planning a sequel to The Passion of The Christ, to begin filming in May in southern Italy.

The film, titled The Resurrection of The Christ, is scheduled to release around Easter of 2010. Though the script has not yet been finalized, a source close to Gibson told us that the film will pick up where The Passion left off - with Christ in the tomb, rising from the dead. The storyline will include Christ's appearance to his disciples and many others, and carry through to the Ascension.

James Caviezel, who played Jesus in The Passion, is not available to resurrect the role, the source told CT Movies. When asked who was being considered for the part, the source said that Mickey Rourke, recently nominated for an Oscar in The Wrestler, was on the short list. He also said that Russell Crowe, Ewan McGregor, and "an unknown actor from Australia" were being considered.

The source told CT that Gibson wanted to accomplish 10 things in the new film:

A mazing miracles
P assionate acting
R esurrection power
I nspirational images
L ove of the Lord
F ollowing Jesus
O ne way to Heaven
O mniscience of God
L asting impressions
S alvation from sin

The source also told CT Movies that although the mainstream media might ridicule Gibson for this decision, the director was clinging to his favorite Scripture passage about being "fools for Christ" (1 Cor. 4:10).

CT Movies will continue to monitor the story, and report any new developments should they arise.

April 1, 2009

Newsbites: The Star Trek edition!

Note: There may be spoilers here if you have not yet seen any of the ads or read any of the recent prequel comic books.

1. Paramount is so confident that the new Star Trek movie will be a success when it opens five weeks from now that they have already commissioned a sequel, to be produced and written by the same guys who made the current movie. They are currently aiming to release the sequel in two years. -- Variety

2. Paramount has released new trailers aimed at the action-movie and kid-friendly crowds, and the ads contain new images of pointy-eared babies and planetary destruction, among other things. -- (x2)

3. Some of my fellow Trekkies, incidentally, have complained that all the planetary destruction feels too much like Star Wars -- the Death Star and all that -- and not very much like Star Trek. But to that, I would reply that the villain in one of the previous movies, Star Trek: Generations (1994), wiped out not just planets but entire systems, and of course the original series included episodes such as 'The Doomsday Machine', in which the destruction of entire planets might not have been shown, presumably for budgetary reasons, but was certainly part of the plot.

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April 1, 2009

Newsbites: The demons and monsters edition!

1. Swedish director Mikael Håfström -- whose last film was the Stephen King adaptation 1408 (2007) -- is set to direct Last Rite, based on the true story of an American priest who studied at an exorcism school in Italy. The script is by Michael Petroni, who was recently hired to re-write The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. -- Variety

2. Paul Bettany, having played an albino assassin monk in The Da Vinci Code (2006) and the archangel Michael in the upcoming Legion, will now star in the horror western Priest as "a warrior priest . . . who turns against the church to track down a murderous band of vampires who have kidnapped his niece." Based on a TokyoPop comic book, Priest will be directed by Scott Stewart, who also directed Legion. -- Hollywood Reporter

3. The English subtitles on the American DVD version of the Swedish vampire flick Let the Right One In (above) are very, very wrong. -- Icons of Fright, Jeffrey Wells

Continue reading Newsbites: The demons and monsters edition!...