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Exclusive: Darren Aronofsky Calls Noah’s Ark Project His ‘Big Event Film,’ Remains Mum On Christian Bale Rumor

Exclusive: Darren Aronofsky Calls Noah’s Ark Project His ‘Big Event Film,’ Remains Mum On Christian Bale Rumor (photo)

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He’s made some of the most memorable independent movies in the past two decades, but now if Darren Aronofsky has his way, he’ll be going bigger for his next picture…much bigger. The Brooklyn-bred filmmaker tells IFC News that his long-planned Noah’s Ark project has now taken center stage, and it’ll be far larger in scope than anything he’s ever attempted.

Coming off 2010’s “Black Swan” which earned star Natalie Portman a Best Actress Oscar, the director is turning his attention to the legendary Bible story of a man commanded by God to build an ark large enough to save the world’s animals from a catastrophic flood. The multi-denominational yarn has fascinated religious scholars and archeologists for millennia, and if Aronofsky has his way, he’ll be the first to bring the legendary figure to the big screen in a big way. But don’t peg it to the scriptures.

“I don’t think it’s a very religious story,” Aronofsky told us at the 2011 Provincetown International Film Festival, where he was receiving career-spanning honors. “I think it’s a great fable that’s part of so many different religions and spiritual practices. I just think it’s a great story that’s never been on film.”

Given the expansive, and often debated scale of Noah’s tale, one wonders which version would find its way to Aronofsky’s script: a smaller character study on the biblical figure painted in a more realistic light, or a Roland Emmerich-style disaster movie. The filmmaker tells IFC that he’s leaning towards the epic option. “I want to make a big event film, and I think it can be that.”

Prior to Noah, the closest the helmer has gotten to a studio picture was a brief attachment to Hugh Jackman’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” sequel. Without a big-budget blockbuster on the resume and armed with an adult-oriented, potentially controversial original story, Aronofsky is finding it challenging to line up financing, but remains committed to the project. “All these films are hard to make so you never know,” he says. “We’re trying to get it made and we’ll see.”

As for the recent rumor that he’s aiming for Christian Bale for the lead role, Aronofsky remains sly. “No comment,” he says with a grin.

Would you like to see Darren Aronofsky’s vision of Noah Ark? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter and let us know.

Jackie That 70s Show

Jackie Oh!

15 That ’70s Show Quotes to Help You Unleash Your Inner Jackie

Catch That '70s Show Mondays and Tuesdays from 6-10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Carsey-Werner Company

When life gets you down, just ask yourself, what would Jackie do? (But don’t ask her, because she doesn’t care about your stupid problems.) Before you catch That ’70s Show on IFC, take a look at some quotes that will help you be the best Jackie you can be.


15. She knows her strengths.

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14. She doesn’t let a little thing like emotions get in the way.

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13. She’s her own best friend.

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12. She has big plans for her future.

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11. She keeps her ego in check.

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10. She can really put things in perspective.

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9. She’s a lover…

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8. But she knows not to just throw her love around.

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7. She’s proud of her accomplishments.

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6. She knows her place in the world.

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5. She asks herself the hard questions.

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4. She takes care of herself.

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3. She’s deep.

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2. She’s a problem solver.

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1. And she’s always modest.

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John Turturro’s “Passione” Project

John Turturro’s “Passione” Project (photo)

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John Turturro likes killing cliches. Though he’s best known as an actor, particularly for his work with Joel and Ethan Coen (“Barton Fink,” “The Big Lebowski”) and Spike Lee (“Do the Right Thing”), “Passione” is Turturro’s fourth film as a director, and his first documentary. In it, he presents the music of the city of Naples in all its rich and vibrant character, from ancient ballads to classical compositions, to modern jazz, reggae, and more.

Turturro put his love of music on full display in his last film, 2005’s “Romance and Cigarettes,” which featured the likes of James Gandolfini, Kate Winslet, and Christopher Walken bursting into song. “Passione” takes things even further; it’s like a wild crazy jam session playing out on the streets of Naples, with one powerful performance after another all linked together with stories, personal anecdotes and even a few appearances by Turturro himself as narrator, storyteller, and, in one scene, backup dancer.

Though the title makes it sound like Turturro has worked his whole life to tell this story, that’s not the case; in fact, Turturro was invited by local producers to bring an outsider’s perspective on Neapolitan music. Though he already loved the city, Turturro was surprised by what he found in his research. “It’s really international,” he told me of Naples’ melting pot of musical influences. “It’s not just these lament love songs that I heard growing up, some of which are really good but I wasn’t that interested in. I [told the producers], “Listen, I’m not interested in doing the cliche stuff. Maybe if we could kill the cliche…”

During our half-hour conversation, I talked with Turturro about killing cliches, and what he thought his status as something of a Neapolitan neophyte brought to this unusual project. Plus we discussed his work with the Coens, his dream of making a movie about the notorious Jesus Quintana, and what it’s like to counter-program yourself during summer movie season.

The producers actually came to you and pitched you the project. How did their pitch vary from your finished film?

Well, they said “Buena Vista Social Club.” The first thing I said was “You don’t want to make a movie about putting a band back together, because that was a very specific story.” Then they wanted to do something that would be a little more all-encompassing. Truthfully you could make a ten hour documentary about this subject matter.

When they asked me to do it they knew I had worked [as an actor in Naples], and that I liked music, and people there really loved “Romance and Cigarettes.” The film ran for seven months there and did very well. So they hooked me up with a journalist and musicologist [Federico Vacalebre] and he was sort of my tutor. He’d send me documentaries and songs, and I would listen to them. There were singers I liked, and when I met them and saw what they looked like, I was like “Wow, this person could be good on film.” And you could tell from their renditions if they could be an interesting storyteller. Because a lot of singers, you put a camera on them and you need fifty cuts to sustain it.

Eventually by the time we said okay after two years of work, we had selected the songs. But I changed my mind, even in preproduction and sometimes even in the course of filming, so we had to improvise a lot. Eventually it became like a musical adventure through the city, where each song tells you a little something about the city. And I cut a couple songs out because I wanted to leave the audience wanting more.

It was really an adventure. We shot 23 songs in 21 days. It was nuts. And a lot of the songs are live. So it was really like a little miracle. It could have been a disaster. The first day I was thinking “I don’t know what the hell I’ve got myself into!” [laughs]

You might assume given the subject matter, given the title, that you spent your whole life studying Neapolitan music, or that you grew up there. But you didn’t; you just love the city and the music. What do you think that perspective brought to the movie that it wouldn’t have if someone who was a lifelong expert had made it?

Distance. Early on they said “Y’know John, you have to do an immigration song, you have to do this, you have to do that…” And for a while, I conceded. And then when I was looking at the songs and the arrangements I was thinking, “This is too heavy. You’re going to be bored. I need something slow, then I need something delicate, then I need something powerful.” The film starts telling you what you can do. So eventually I told them “I don’t have to do anything you tell me. I only have to make a movie that people will stay awake for. And that’s my job.”

This was a fantastic education, but what was really interesting for me was to see these people when they sing; they sing like they’re rooted in the ground. You watch singers [in America], they have big voices but a lot of times they’re trying to sing to impress you. And these people are singing out of this need of who they are.

The performances in the film reminded me a little of the performances in “Romance in Cigarettes.” People singing their guts out in these very naturalistic settings.

Yeah, but it’s a whole different thing here. In “Romance and Cigarettes,” they wish they could sing. I think when you see someone who’s a great performer they can encapsulate so much in a song. It’s one of the great things about being a human being, being exposed to different kinds of music.

I was intrigued by the way you structured the film so that the explanation or history about a song often came after the performance rather than before it. Why’d you choose to edit things that way?

There’s that number, for example, “Catari.” Fausto Cigliano plays “Catari” in front of this painting. Some people who are art historians will know that painting is a Caravaggio and it’s “The Seven Acts of Mercy.” Now I could have subtitled it. But you’re experiencing the painting as a painting. And you experience the song as a song. I don’t want to over-subtitle everything. Like the song “Canto Delle Lavandaie Del Vomero” in the Roman aqueduct. That song is from 1300. It’s the first popular song. The lyrics are really simple, so I didn’t even subtitle it.

Some songs we talk a little bit more about than others. I wasn’t stringent, I didn’t make up rules. I kind of let what we had tell us what was good and what worked. Some people wanted more explanation, but I think that would have taken away from the emotional experience of the movie. And that’s what the movie is, You come out of it, you’re like “What the hell was that?” And if you want to know more, you can ask me and I can tell you.

That’s what the DVD commentary’s for.


That’s right.

(more…)

“Step Brothers 2″ and “Tim and Eric” Updates From John C. Reilly

“Step Brothers 2″ and “Tim and Eric” Updates From John C. Reilly (photo)

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It blows my mind that we got even one movie as wonderfully insane as “Step Brothers.” But now it looks like there’s actually a chance we might get a second film about immortal man-children and Chewbacca mask enthusiasts Brennan Huff (Will Ferrell) and Dale Doback (John C. Reilly). Incredible.

Yesterday, I spoke with John C. Reilly about his terrific new film “Terri,” which opens in limited release on July 1. At the end of our interview (which we’ll post a little closer to “Terri”‘s release), Reilly and I were talking about his role in the Beastie Boys’ epic “Fight For Your Right (Revisited)” video, which led into a conversation about Will Ferrell and his incredible gift for making profanity sound funny. At that point, as a die-hard “Step Brothers” fan (I’ve hosted “Step Brothers”-themed New Year’s Eve parties, for God’s sake) I had no choice but to ask Reilly about the rumors I’d recently read that he and Ferrell had begun discussing the possibility of a “Step Brothers 2.” Right as they were pulling me out of the room, I also snuck in a quick question about the eagerly anticipated (and definitely happening, since it’s already being shot) “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie.” Here what went down:

Speaking of Will, when he was promoting “Everything Must Go” last month he mentioned that you guys had been talking about making “Step Brothers 2.” Are there any developments? When you’re “talking about” it, is that just “Should we do it?” “Yes, okay, let’s do it?”

It’s more than that. It was that for a while and now we’re moving in the direction of trying to get it actually made. There’s a lot of people who like that movie, it’s a really beloved story. And I think there’s some more gold in them hills, but no one wants to make a lame sequel. There’s nothing worse than a beloved movie of yours being sold out. So we’re trying to be as careful as we can be.

You know the studio was saying they wanted us to do it for a long time. And for a long time we were kind of like “Nah, we’re not just going to do that because you want to make money on it.” But then the more we thought about it — you know why? and we came up with a couple of great ideas recently that seem to make sense for where those guys would end up in a sequel.

So there’s sort of a plan in place for what the sequel would be like?

Well, just in the same way as when we wrote the first one, spitballing ideas and remembering stories from our pasts. So, yeah, it’s at the spitballing stage, I guess.

All right, well I’m looking forward to it. As someone who named his fantasy football team The Catalina Wine Mixer, I hope it happens.

[laughs]

Have you shot your stuff for the “Tim and Eric” movie yet?



Yeah.

Is it all sketches or is there a narrative?

Oh there’s a real narrative. It’s incredibly, um…

Incredibly narrative driven?

Well, it’s surprising. If you look at Tim and Eric’s show, one of the wonderful things about them was how absurd the right and left turns are; one piece to another. But yeah, this has a story. An absurd story.

I don’t know what I can do to help ensure “Step Brothers 2″ happens. But whatever it takes — buying a few dozen copies of the “Step Brothers” DVDs and Blu-rays, knocking on wood until my knuckles bleed, drinking a crapload of wine from Catalina — I will do it.

How badly do you want to see “Step Brothers 2?” Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter!

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