Archive for November, 2008

Hell Ride (2008)

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

Hell Ride According to the backstory of how Hell Ride got made, it was a meeting between Quentin Tarintino and Larry Bishop, who played a batrender in Kill Bill v2, and was best known as a cult film star of several road and exploitation biker films from the late 1960’s and early 70’s. “It is your destiny to write, direct and star in a movie” Quentin is quoted as saying to Bishop. The Pulp Fiction director would also put his name on it as an executive producer. Actually, Tarintino should have considered taking his name off the film, unless he was simply giddy that his name is connected to a exploitation biker pic for the next generation. It doesn’t work. Hell Ride is indeed an accurate title- the ride is hell, that’s undisputed. (more…)


Friday, November 28th, 2008

The combination of family travel, lingering illness and Fallout 3 has kept me away from the blog this week, but I should be back to a normal schedule beginning Sunday.

There’s actual news, including my next writing project and an update (post-mortem?) on Shazam!. Plus, I really want to write something about this misguided memo from Thomas Kinkade reprinted in Vanity Fair. It’s a good cautionary tale.

(Update: Fixed spelling of Kinkade’s name. Thanks Matt Redd.)

Discuss: Should They Make an ‘Incredible Hulk’ Sequel?

Friday, November 28th, 2008

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Poor Hulk! Batman, Iron Man, even Wolverine get more sequel press than he does. But late last week, Tim Blake Nelson revealed to MTV that he had signed for Hulk sequels, with every intention of taking the villainous center stage as The Leader. But like the rest of us, he has no idea whether or not they'll come to be, or whether or not Edward Norton will return. "It's all good, and I really do hope [the sequel] happens, for all sorts of reasons. But yeah, we did, we had a great time on Hulk together. I'm eager to do Hulk 2 if they make it ... I'm signed on to do Hulk 2 and 3 whether Edward's there or not, so it's not even up to me ... I certainly hope Edward is on the sequel - but that's up to Marvel and Edward."

Meanwhile, over in Avengers land, Robert Downey Jr. mentioned again that Hulk is going to show up in that crown jewel of superhero flicks. It's a strange place for the green giant to be in, because he's going forward, yet lost in a land of sequel rumor and leading man drama.

It's a question we've thrown out to Cinematical readers before, but with all this additional info, where do you want Hulk to go from here? Do you think that he should get his planned trilogy, then land with a thunderclap in The Avengers? Should they just leave well enough alone with The Incredible Hulk? And how do you feel about yet another Hulk recast?

My personal take is that if Marvel can't make up with Norton, they should just give up franchising Hulk, and just leave him off the big screen until The Avengers. Theoretically, you could have an all-CGI Hulk in that, thereby sidestepping the need to replace Norton. It would be clunky, though, and might "really really suck." Sigh. Why does there have to be so much drama in the world of Marvel? Earth's mightiest heroes should have a much easier time uniting than this.

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Discuss: Are Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes Remaking ‘Last Tango in Paris’?

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

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Toss this one right into the "unproven" files, but it's amusing enough to warrant some exploration: According to this tabloid (along with The Guardian and our pals at Spout), it seems that spouses Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes may be gearing up to remake Bernardo Bertolucci's controversially sexy romance drama Last Tango in Paris. The last time we saw Tom Cruise nail a spouse on camera was in 1999's Eyes Wide Shut, and I'm sure he probably groped Mimi Rogers in a movie once or twice. (Say what you like, but the guy does have good taste in women.)

"They need to have sex on screen, to prove their love" is what The Guardian's Xan Brooks had to say, which only serves to make the whole thing sound more like an April Fool's gag. The paragon of journalism that is Now Magazine indicates that the couple simply wants to star together in something sexy. I believe the title Basic Instinct was tossed out as an example. Yikes. In Mr. Brooks' tongue-in-cheek piece, he proposes a remake of Betty Blue. Double yikes. But if this entirely goofball story turns out to be 100% true, and Cruise / Holmes are intent on making a "sek-say" remake together ... Lolita makes a little more sense. Or maybe The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Seriously, that I'd go see.

But the question of the day is now this: Does it creep you out to see married couples "doin' it" in a movie? Hmmm, I think I smell a new Cinematical Seven topic.

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Step Up 2 : The Streets (2008)

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

The Streets There were a few fears I had going into the sequel to Step Up, a surprise dance hit from two years ago. Both fears were confirmed within the sequel’s first ten minutes. Despite being entertaining and energetic, the first film had lots of clunky dialog and unbelievable soap opera circumstances. The sequel is made from the same mold, and, no pun intended, really does get off on the wrong foot, at least in the first reel. It takes some time for the film to recover, the lifeline supplied by the dancing and one character who is played by Adam G. Sevani, who I had never seen before, but who steals scenes left and right from everyone else in the entire film. When his character gets interesting? They have him literally step aside. (more…)

The Forbidden Kingdom (2008)

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

The Forbidden Kingdom This is one picture that has three things going for it from start to finish: Jackie Chan, Jet Li and a ton of fun. The Forbidden Kingdom, of course, was the highly anticipated film that featured the martial arts legends in the same film at the same time. On that level, it does not disappoint. It’s only a let down in my view because there should have been more story-the film almost begs to be more epic on a grander scale and palette. (more…)

France, finished

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

The sweet, dark gravity of jetlag has subsided, so it’s time I put up a link to the rest of my pictures from France. They’re not all labeled at the moment, but proper titles are coming.

photo gridFor those who don’t recall, I joined a group of nine American screenwriters on a program organized by Film France to explore Paris and Marseilles. The trip was exhausting in just the right ways, with too many people to meet and too much to see. Over eight days, I rode in several vans, a helicopter, a high-speed train, a very slow-speed train, and far more boats than I would have imagined. I even took a Vélib bike for a spin around Paris.

The purpose of the trip was to inspire American screenwriters to write more movies set in — and ideally, shot in — France. Going in, I thought of it like a location scout: a bunch of interesting backdrops, including things a tourist wouldn’t get to see. But as we got more into it, I found myself more drawn to people than places. I would ask a shipping yard exec about daycare, and an heiresses about divorce.

Of our group, I spoke the second-best French (or more precisely, eighth-worst), so I occasionally found myself shoved at the growing pool of journalists who accompanied us. And while my comprehension was surprisingly good, I found no quantum of eloquence when trying to answer questions in French. I sounded like a drunken third-grader. So I learned to nod thoughtfully, then plow ahead in English unabashed.

The trip was full of strange moments that I’d love to string together in a Sedaris-like monologue. The most meta-cinematic was when we found ourselves on a private island owned by the Ricard foundation. A tram tour took us past experimental lagoons, an old Nazi watchtower and the grave of founder Paul Ricard. It was already feeling a little Lost-ish when we got to the Institut, where we watched a self-produced film which could have come directly from the Dharma Initiative.

There was even a scale model of the island:

bubble island

Later, we had a lunch in which every course featured truffles. That was on the other Ricard island.

On our last day, we toured Marseilles’ port in a pilot’s boat, brushing up against giant tankers. It provided good reference for my latest obsession, African piracy. Somehow, I don’t think the Somalian film industry will be getting a program together for us to visit.

Bailing on an idea

Friday, November 14th, 2008

questionmarkI recently got representation, and my agents fell in love with my latest spec idea. Cut to nearly six weeks later and I still haven’t been able to hash it out completely. How do you know when to keep going at an idea in an attempt to crack it and or when to call it a day and realize the idea is not as good as you first thought it was?

What do I tell my agents if I can’t crack it?

– Stef

Your agents probably got excited by the idea because they think they can sell it — and you, as the writer.

Six weeks is a long time. I say this not to panic you, but to make sure you understand that employable screenwriters need to be able to produce on demand. You promised them something and didn’t deliver — that makes them nervous. How can they convince producers to hire you when you can’t hand them the script you yourself pitched?

Yes, sometimes seemingly-good ideas collapse upon further scrutiny, and it’s ultimately better to bail. If you truly can’t make your idea work, you need to move quickly on writing something else that is similarly marketable, even if it’s not the same genre. And you need to do it now.

When your agents ask, “What are you working on?” you should be able to answer immediately and passionately. So if it’s not the project you pitched them, make sure it’s something they’re going to be excited to read.

Including an important symbol

Friday, November 14th, 2008

questionmarkI’m writing a film about a cop whose investigation leads him into the occult, and there’s a particular (real) symbol that crops up several times. It’s more than just a Star of David: in fact, it incorporates several familiar symbols, and also some Hebrew words… anyway, it’s complex. I’ve written the scene where someone in the know walks Our Hero through the symbology, but I want to make sure that my readers really know what it looks like.

Is it appropriate to include an illustration or figure of the symbol at the end of the screenplay? I’ve seen some scripts that have pronunciation guides at the back, so how is this any different?

– Sean Wolfson

You can probably get away with it.

My advice: think about it like a book. In the best-selling novel version of your script, would the author have included the drawing? If so, do it. But only once, and only if it’s really that important.

Prom Night (2008)

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

Prom Night (2008) It can be easy to understand the public outcry regarding Hollywood remaking the horror films from the 70’s to the late 80’s. There are so many of them being made that it’s tough to keep a, ahem, body count. But now here is one of the worst offenders: a remake which isn’t *really* a remake at all. Prom Night has no remote connection to the 1980 slasher much less the Mary Lou sequels that followed the original. NO. This offender is in name only. So in theory 1980’s Prom Night could still be remade, it just can’t be called Prom Night. Ouch. (more…)