DID YOU READ

Breaking Into Sundance

Breaking Into Sundance (photo)

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Facebook sagas, the most dangerous valley in Afghanistan and the world’s best known anonymous artist — all hot topics at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. On this week’s IFC News podcast, we’re coming to you from Park City, UT to talk about what’s good, what’s not, and how we did with our predictions from last week.

Download: MP3, 58:20 minutes, 53.4 MB

Subscribe to the podcast: [iTunes] [XML]

Bourne

Bourne to Run

10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Bourne Movies

Catch The Bourne Ultimatum this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

You know his name, as the Super Bowl teaser for the upcoming summer blockbuster Jason Bourne reminded us. In this era of franchise films, that seems to be more than enough to get another entry in the now 15-year-old series greenlit. And gosh darn it if we aren’t into it. Before you catch The Bourne Ultimatum on IFC, here are some surprising facts about the Bourne movies that you may not know. And unlike Jason Bourne, try not to forget them.


10. Matt Damon was a long shot to play Jason Bourne.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Coming off of Good Will Hunting and The Legend of Bagger Vance, early ’00s Matt Damon didn’t exactly scream “ripped killing machine.” In fact, Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe and even Sylvester Stallone were all offered the part before it fell into the hands of the Boston boy made good. It was his enthusiasm for director Doug Liman’s more frenetic vision that ultimately helped land him the part.


9. Love interest Marie was almost played by Sarah Polley.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Damon wasn’t the only casting surprise. Franka Potente, of Run Lola Run fame, wasn’t the filmmaker’s first choice for the role or Marie in The Bourne Identity. In fact, Liman wanted his Go star Sarah Polley for the part, but she turned it down in favor of making indie movies back in Canada. A quick rewrite changed the character from American Marie Purcell to European Marie Helena Kreutz, and the rest is movie history.


8. Director Doug Liman was obsessed with the Bourne books.

Universal Picutres

Universal Pictures

Liman had long been a fan of the Bourne book series. When Warner Bros.’ rights to the books lapsed in the late ’90s, Liman flew himself to author Robert Ludlum’s Montana home, mere days after earning his pilot’s license. The author was so impressed with his passion for the material, he sold the rights on the spot.


7. Liman’s father actually worked for the NSA.

Universal Picutres

Universal Pictures

Part of Liman’s fasciation with the Bourne series was that his own father played the same spy craft games portrayed in the books while working for the NSA. In fact, many of the Treadstone details were taken from his father’s own exploits, and Chris Cooper’s character, Alex Conklin, was based on Oliver Stone, whom Arthur Liman famously cross examined as chief counsel of the Iran-Contra hearings.


6. Tony Gilroy threw the novel’s story out while writing The Bourne Identity.

Universal Picutres

Universal Picutres

Despite being based on a hit book, screenwriter Tony Gilroy, coming off of The Devil’s Advocate, had no idea how to adapt it into a movie. He said the book was more concerned with people “running to airports” than character, and would need a complete rewrite. Director Doug Liman agreed, and Gilroy claims to have condensed the original novel into the first five minutes. Getting that out of the way, he then wrote his own story, based on a man who wakes up one day not remembering anything but how to kill.


5. Damon walked like a boxer to get into character.

Universal Picutres

Universal Picutres

Damon had never played a character like Bourne before, and was searching for a way to capture his physicality. Doug Liman told him to walk like a boxer to give Jason Bourne an edge. Damon took that to heart, training for six months in boxing, marital arts and firearms.


4. Damon broke an actor’s nose.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Damon’s training for the films is legendary, but mistakes still happen. While filming a scene for The Bourne Ultimatum, Damon hit actor Tim Griffin so hard, he shattered his nose. Apparently, the space the scene was filmed in was smaller than originally intended, throwing Damon off just enough to exert a real beat down.


3. James Bond visited The Bourne Legacy set.

Eon Productions

Eon Productions

Actor Daniel Craig stopped by the set of The Bourne Legacy to visit his wife, actress Rachel Weisz, who was starring in the movie. While having James Bond on a Bourne set must have been exciting, The Bourne Legacy was the only Bourne movie to not actually feature Jason Bourne, meaning our bets on who would kick whose ass would have to wait for another day.


2. The Bourne Identity was nearly a bomb (in the box office sense).

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

As reshoots began to pile up, and an all-out war between the studio and director Doug Liman spilled into the press, expectations were that The Bourne Identity was going to flop. Matt Damon told GQ that, “the word on Bourne was that it was supposed to be a turkey…It’s very rare that a movie comes out a year late, has four rounds of reshoots, and it’s good.”


1. Matt Damon wasn’t the first actor to play Bourne.

Warner Brothers Television

Warner Brothers Television

Aired on ABC in 1988, the TV movie adaptation of The Bourne Identity, while not exactly critically acclaimed, was a more faithful version of Ludlum’s book. Richard Chamberlain, of The Thorn Birds fame, played a much less ass-kicking spy, while “Charlie’s Angel” Jaclyn Smith played love interest Marie. If you like your Bourne movies heavy with poorly lit ’80s melodrama, this might just be the adaptation for you. Otherwise, you should catch The Bourne Ultimatum when it airs this month on IFC.

How Sundance Works

How Sundance Works (photo)

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Every year, the film industry straps on its winter boots and heads to Park City, UT for Sundance. Sure, it’s America’s largest indie film festival. But what does that actually mean?

This week on the IFC News podcast, we go over what happens at the Sundance Film Festival, break down why it’s even more important as a market for small distributors to find films to put in theaters, and give our picks of what looks more interesting (or most terminally Sundancey) this year.

Download: MP3, 58:20 minutes, 53.4 MB

Subscribe to the podcast: [iTunes] [XML]

Roman Polanski should direct “Breaking Dawn”…

Roman Polanski should direct “Breaking Dawn”… (photo)

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…because hey, somebody has to, right? This time last year, all the acclaim for Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” actually led people to speculate that she’d be the natural choice to direct an installment of the “Twilight Saga,” since both her film and the franchise were distributed by Summit.

Like Catherine Hardwicke, who’d just been dismissed because she thought she wouldn’t have enough time to turn around a quality sequel, Bigelow also happened to lack a Y chromosome (and she’s an exacting, intelligent director of kick-ass action, but for many, that was a secondary consideration). Summit eventually went with Chris Weitz for “New Moon” and “Hard Candy”‘s David Slade for “Eclipse,” and Edward and Bella had their marching orders.

With today’s announcement that Roman Polanski’s thriller “The Ghost Writer” has been picked up by Summit for a spring 2010 release, I think it’s time to start a push for the newest member of the Summit family to direct the fourth and final installment in the “Twilight” books. I mean, sure, Weitz’s successful outing with “New Moon” has led many of those same spectators to suggest he’s the most likely candidate for the potentially two-part “Breaking Dawn” extravaganza, but there’s still no director officially attached yet, and there are a couple reasons to think this could work, in spite of Polanski’s legal troubles:

“Breaking Dawn” is batshit crazy.
By now, you may have read Devin Faraci’s widely linked breakdown of Stephenie Meyer’s finale to the vampire series, and if you haven’t, you should. But to summarize, Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart) finally consummate their relationship after getting married, have literally otherworldly sex and produce a crazy strong vampire baby who becomes the object of Jacob’s (Taylor Lautner) intense affection. Faraci originally suggested David Cronenberg for the job, particularly for the way he might handle the “C-section [that Edward gives Bella] with his fucking teeth,” but here I’d have to suggest the austerity that the director of “Rosemary’s Baby” might be able to bring to the birth might amount to something even better.

12112009_newmoon.jpgHe’s available (sorta).
Summit’s emphasized a quick turnaround on the “Twilight” series to keep the fleeting attention spans of its teenage audience, and Polanski, who was apparently able to finish the editing on “The Ghost Writer” while under house arrest in Switzerland, obviously has nothing but time on his hands. If Wes Anderson can direct a movie via email, there’s pretty much no stopping Polanski from doing the same on “Breaking Dawn,” some of which could anyway surely be filmed outside his door to mirror the wintry look of Forks, WA. Plus, he surely could use the cash for his legal bills, and Summit’s already decided to weather any blowback about working with the guy by picking up his latest movie.

Actors love him.
Getting past the obvious obstacle/joke of having to direct teenage girls, Polanski could reinvigorate the series’ star Stewart, whose boredom with the whole “Twilight” thing extends far beyond the glazed over look she gives to either Edward or Jacob when they’re ripping off their shirts. Though biting her bottom lip has taken her a long way as Bella, Stewart’s repeatedly shown that she wants to get back to the career she had before “Twilight” with films like “Into the Wild” and “In the Land of Women.” (To that end, she spent her “Twilight” hiatus filming the Sundance-bound Joan Jett biopic “The Runaways” and “Welcome to the Rileys,” in which she plays a prostitute.) Give her and likely Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick a director of similar stature and they might actually be happy to show up to work again.

And yeah, this is all in jest — but we’d never have predicted Werner Herzog would helm a “Bad Lieutenant” remake, either. Stranger things have happened.

[Photos: Roman Polanski on the set of “Oliver Twist,” TriStar Pictures, 2005; “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” Summit, 2009]

Tim Rutili Makes the Indie Rock to Indie Film Leap

Tim Rutili Makes the Indie Rock to Indie Film Leap (photo)

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Tim Rutili’s band, Califone, may be at the peak of its powers on its recent album “All My Friends Are Funeral Singers” and, song after song, show no signs of waning. What’s more, Rutili, as a director, has leveraged Califone’s songcraft into a feature film of the same name that will premiere this January in a little town called Park City. It’s the product of Rutili’s decidedly cinematic songwriting process and love for surrealist films and the likes of Luis Buñuel.

In the movie, a fortune teller played by Angela Bettis (“May”) lives in an old house crowded with ghosts. When a light appears in the woods outside, the ghosts realize they are trapped, and insanity ensues, all to a score and soundtrack by, of course, Califone. I caught Rutili on the phone before we had the good news about Sundance. He was driving cross country in a remarkably quiet car, headed toward the Southwest, already doing research for his next film — a “road movie,” of which he gave me a little hint. I got a bigger hint of “All My Friends Are Funeral Singers” — an exclusive clip from the film is below.

I know you’ve made some shorts before, but this is your first feature… how long has it been brewing?

Not very long. I started writing last September, so basically a year from starting the script to finishing the film. I’m hearing from friends who make films that isn’t usually the case, so we got lucky. We have to do some more soundtrack work, but other than that — it’s done.

In the clip, the camera moves from a scene through someone’s ear into another scene with a stuttering old man. Maybe I’m a mean ageist, and I don’t know where it fits in, but I thought it was hysterical.

That doesn’t fit in at all. We have a couple other scenes where the camera goes into people’s ears and you get this non sequitur of what’s happening in their, you know, ghost brain. It’s just fucked up — all those things were just making us laugh. We had some footage of that old guy performing…

Wait a minute — that wasn’t really an old guy though? Was it!?

For the sake of interview, yeah, it was. The guy that does it won’t acknowledge to any of us that it’s a character. He would get mad.

(more…)

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