Friday, September 12, 2008 at 8:29 PM
Relativity Media has acquired rights for a film adaptation of Robert Graves' classic Roman Empire-set novel "I, Claudius". Acclaimed filmmaker Jim Sheridan will direct and co-write the script with longtime collaborator Nye Heron.
Graves' 1934 novel recounts the internecine plots and counterplots surrounding Claudius, the fourth emperor of Rome who ruled from 41-54 A.D and is considered one of the best novels of the 20th century.The stuttering and handicapped Claudius, born into a murderous, imperial family, used his cunning mind and rivals' misjudgment of his disability to not only survive but eventually become one of Rome's greatest emperors.
The story runs through Claudius' life and the various emperors who reigned before him including Augustus, Tiberius, and the mad Caligula. It ends with Claudius' death and his succession by Nero. Although previously adapted onto film in 1937, it remains best known via the 1976 BBC ten-episode miniseries adaptation.That project had a stellar cast that included Derek Jacobi, John Hurt, Brian Blessed, Patrick Stewart, Sian Phillips, John Rhys-Davies, Bernard Hill and Kevin McNally. Along with stellar reviews and many awards, it drew controversy for its dark elements such as the scene where Caligula (John Hurt) off-screen cuts out and ingests the fetus of the sister he impregnated.No production date has been set for the new film version.
at 8:25 PM
A disheveled and incoherent jumble, "Babylon A.D." sadly loses the few bits of intriguing groundwork it lays amidst a cacophony of mangled editing, lethargic performances, and an utterly unfocused and often contradictory narrative.
One could easily dismiss it for using a dystopian story that's been done many a time before by films slightly worse ("Ultraviolet") and immensely better ("Children of Men"). However, French director Mathieu Kassovitz at least has proven himself an interesting helmer in the past which gives 'Babylon' some strong workman-like visuals. Added to this are moments exploring the issues of overpopulation, the erosion of borders in the former Soviet states, the zealotry of modern religion, and plain old corporate fascism.
Unfortunately these intriguing slivers are probably the only thing from the acclaimed novel "Babylon Babies" that has survived the translation to the big screen with any clarity. The main thrust is anything but straightforward as the story, best described as an Orwellian-take on "The Transporter", mutates into a barely understandable mish-mash of sci-fi shenanigans, inconsolable revelations and repetitive gun battles that make little to no sense.
Characters seemingly die only to come back to life, a revelation about virgin birth comes straight out of nowhere and yields an utterly laughable ending, there's some sidetrips dealing with the idea of clones with artificial intelligence, and some throwaway spiritual nonsense about death and rebirth. Ultimately any message it is trying to say is lost amidst the all too somber, self-serious tones and painful dialogue.
Kassovitz showed great promise with some of his earlier features like "La Haine" and "The Crimson Rivers", he even managed to give schlock Halle Berry horror vehicle "Gothika" a quite interesting edge. Yet this, the most expensive and ambitious production he's mounted yet, is far less cohesive or atmospheric. There's some noble but implausible attempts to give the story a sense of reality, time that should've been spent shoring up the one-note characters.
Vin Diesel is usually a reliable enough action hero even in bad material, but here he doesn't seem particularly enthused or convincing in the role of a monotone reluctant antihero who finds redemption. Melanie Thierry and Michelle Yeoh are stuck with very little to do, the former seemingly trying to recreate Milla Jovovich's more more energetic "Fifth Element" work while the later at least gives one role in the film some conviction. Short work by Lambert Wilson and Gerard Depardieu in useless prosthetics are a wash, though Charlotte Rampling as a corrupt female religious leader has fun with her scant few scenes.
Too many cuts and close-ups make the well-conceived but poorly executed and generally perfunctory action scenes come off a disappointment. Some scenes still work such as a bombing at a train station and some parkour in a Vladivostok nightclub. Similarly effective are two sequences involving scrambling survivors climbing a Russian submarine, and later a snowmobile chase across the frozen Bering Strait.
All are ambitious in their ideals but come off as ultimately useless to a story that is in desperate need of some TLC in other areas.In the week prior to its release, Kassovitz famously came out against his own movie and Fox's treatment of it - cutting 10-15 minutes out for its American release. It's hard to say how much of an impact those cuts have had, they're certainly felt but one gets the distinct impression that even ten minutes of brilliant work can not save this movie. Noble intentions aside, Kassovitz delivers some solid moments that survive both this failed adaptation and Fox's further harsh mutilations. They're just not organised or lucid enough to crawl out from under the wasted excess of dreary cliches that sink this like a stone.
at 8:23 PM
Considering how the once exotic South-East Asian city has been gentrified and militarized in recent years, underage transsexual hookers lifting the wallets from inebriated Western tourists is about as adventurous as it gets in the modern Thai capital.
Of course rent boys with too much mascara who can peel a grapefruit using only their anus is something that is hard to classify as a business expense, thus leave it to Nicolas Cage to disguise his Indo-Chinese sojourn as an unjustified remake that looks good on the books at tax time. Enlisting the help of the respectable Pang brothers to reimagine their own commendable 1999 local effort of the same name, the new 'Dangerous' does what most Hollywood studio remakes of foreign fare do - drains the life, edge and energy out of the original to appeal to both its main star and that multiplex audience out in the suburbs who classify sashwan beef as an exotic good.
Cage plays a burned out assassin, one of those jobs that people are either trying to get out of or break into in these kinds of movies. Armed with his own code for survival, a questionable taste in shirts and a mane of hair only a libidinous howler monkey could love, the contract killer knocks off a duo in Prague before heading to Thailand for one last series of jobs before retirement.
Setup allows for gratuitous location shooting around the titular city throughout with much location filming highlighting its colorful and often wildly incongruous nature. Yet all of the locales, from the urine-soaked back alleys to the high-class waterfront restaurants, seem tourist board-approved. Either the effect of recent urban renewal, or a more cautious approach on the Pangs part to not advertise the darker and less savory aspects of the city, rob the remake of the authenticity that made the original live up to its title. Strolling from one scene to the next, the normally over-reactionary Cage takes the opposite tack here.
The resulting apathy actually suits the character better, but short of sparse voiceover delivering familiar hitman life mantras, we get no real insight as to what lies underneath his hardened shell. This makes the sudden and unjustified disintegration of his emotional fencing in the second half, timed with the action which changes from controlled and mildly suspenseful one-off kills to rampant and over-acrobatic gunplay massacres, feel more contrived and ridiculous than it already is.
Thankfully what little grounding there is here comes from the local actors, most notably Shahkrit Yamnarm who delivers a solid turn as Cage's local lackey Kong. Neither slavishly obedient or obnoxiously dismissive, the actor plays the role of the reluctant at first but understandably swayed helper into a far more sympathetic role than it has every right to be (and oddly enough adds an interesting undercurrent of underlying homosexual tension with Cage).
Hong Kong singer Charlie Young also impresses. Stuck in the thankless role of the young deaf female pharmacist who doesn't speak English, she of course finds the clumsy Westerner's ignorance endearing enough to fall for him - fulfilling that white male sexualization of Oriental women fantasy that remains alive and well. Thankfully, Young radiates a sweet genuine charm to make her cloying schmaltzy scenes with Cage bearable. Also, with its focus on the gun fighting, the Pangs seem to have left the inevitable but somewhat awkward love scene between the hearing-impaired Thai lass and the comb-impaired American thug on the cutting room floor - along with a proper resolution for her character.
There's a few good bits of action, most notably the floating market scene and a political assassination with Thai police in pursuit of our hero. The locations are never dull, even the surprisingly tame nightclubs demonstrate taste by playing cheesy pop melodies rather than the tinnitus-inducing bass throbbing that's made modern Western clubbing a repugnant exercise. Even a few of the action scenes highlight some ambitious camera and lighting work for a film of this smaller scale.
Yet they can't overcome the inherent silliness of the bare bones and mildly offensive characters, the familiarity of the plot, the 180-degree mid-point turnabout that completely derails whatever building suspense and interest we had in the story, and the lack of sheer balls and grit that made the original such strong and edgy fare. Neutered, but pretty, and lacking any real development, this is the cinematic equivalent of a eunuch whose voice unfortunately broke pre-castration.
at 8:21 PM
"Capcom today confirmed that Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, the forthcoming feature film adaptation based on its acclaimed fighting series, will see a release in February 2009..."
"Shooting on Alexandre Aja's "Piranha 3-D" has been pushed back from this Fall to March/April of 2009, the reason being the size of the project and the prep work needed to execute Aja's 3-D visuals. It's July 24th release date is now highly unlikely..."
"Kevin Smith has called his new sci-fi project a "space comedy" rather than a "sci-fi superhero movie" as previously reported, and that it is NOT the "Ranger Danger" project he has previously mentioned..."
"Esteemed Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert has been attacked by fellow critic New York Post film critic Lou Lumenick at a screening..."
"Jason Isaacs confirms that despite his character of Lucius Malfoy not appearing in the 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' novel, he was on the film's set for one day of shooting to portray one of the moving paintings..."
"FOX will premiere an extended scene from "The Day The Earth Stood Still" followed by a preview of the two-hour TV movie "24: Redemption" just before the encore screening of the series premiere of "Fringe" this Sunday at 8pm EST."Industrial Light & Magic, George Lucas' legendary visual effects shop, is jumping into the feature animation business for the first time with Paramount's "Rango"..."
at 8:16 PM
One of the best actors, Prakash Raj, wants to produce a movie with Vijay. Prakash Raj owns a production house called Duet Films which has produced many successful movies. With his acting skills, Prakash Raj is currently involved in many projects and the movie Kanjeevaram was screened at the Toronto Film Festival. We expect Vijay to start the project with Prakash Raj after his movie Villu.