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Rob Marshall says Johnny Depp’s “The Thin Man” isn’t a remake, movie version of “Wicked” would pull from stage and book

Rob Marshall says Johnny Depp’s “The Thin Man” isn’t a remake, movie version of “Wicked” would pull from stage and book (photo)

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Nick still needs a Nora.

A new version of Dashiell Hammett’s “The Thin Man” is moving forward, and director Rob Marshall has made key decisions about what the film will be like — but some questions remain, such as who will play Johnny Depp’s wife?

“I think anticipation [for the film] must be high,” Marshall said while attending the Princess Grace Awards gala last week in New York. “People are even asking me, ‘Are you going to write it?'”

Marshall won’t be handling those duties — screenwriter Billy Ray (“The Hunger Games,” “Shattered Glass”) is now aboard, after Jerry Stahl (“Permanent Midnight”) and David Koepp (“Premium Rush,” “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”). “It’s funny that those writers were even announced,” Marshall said, “because we hadn’t really started with either of them, with Jerry or David. Neither had written a word. Billy is the first writer who’s actually writing a draft.”

Ray’s draft is not a remake of “The Thin Man,” Marshall said, but “a reimagination.” Hammett’s novel, published in 1934, has been transformed into television shows, radio programs, stage plays, Broadway musicals, and movies, taking place in eras from the original 1930s to the 1950s.

“We’ll be setting it in the ’30s,” Marshall said, “because it is of that world. It’s an era that we have a great affinity for. I think both [producer and partner] Johnny DeLuca and I feel like we were born in the wrong era, and Johnny really feels like he lives in the ’30s. So we’re going to be able to inhabit a world that we really, truly love … in the time of speakeasies, one of those rich, beautiful times in America.”

The story centers on “these incredible characters, these iconic characters that have been with us for many years,” as Marshall called them: Nick and Nora Charles, a married, wealthy, and witty detective duo, who inspired later sleuthing couples in Moonlighting, Remington Steele, and Hart to Hart, among others. In a series of six films, Nick and Nora Charles were “brilliantly played” by William Powell and Myrna Loy, as Marshall put it. In his version, Nick would be Johnny Depp — but who would be Nora?

Marshall said Nora remains to be cast, but whoever plays her needs to have “humor and an effortlessness,” as well as “elegance.” That’s not something that’s easy to find!” Marshall said. “It’s about this relationship. The core of all these wonderful thrillers is always that great relationship with each other. That’s what drew us to it, and what drew Johnny to it.”

A nightclub scene might bring a musical number to the film, but the film itself will not be a musical, Marshall said. “I don’t know if Johnny will be part of the music part of it,” he said, “because it has to be organic to the story.”

Marshall plans to start shooting next year, with a targeted 2013 release. Meanwhile, the director is still in the running for the screen adaptation of “Wicked,” for which he says there is “no rush,” despite Brett Ratner’s recent entreaties that he get to take it on instead.

“They’re looking to establish the rights from ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ which is complicated, so they have the flexibility to do everything they need to do with the film,” Marshall said. “[Producer] Marc Platt is a great, dear friend of ours, and I’ve met with the writers, and they’re incredible. They want to do it right.”

The film version would pull from both the stage production as well as Gregory Maguire’s book, he said. “There’s a lot of material to work from,” he said. “It’s a film! So you’ve got to approach it differently, from a different angle. It’s what gives you so much more flexibility, and what makes it scary, too! That’s the tricky part.”

Let us know what you’re hoping to see from “The Thin Man” and “Wicked” movies in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

Underworld

Under Your Spell

10 Otherworldly Romances That’ll Melt Your Heart

Spend Valentine's Day weekend with IFC's Underworld movie marathon.

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Photo Credit: Screen Gems/courtesy Everett Collection

Romance takes many forms, and that is especially true when you have a thirst for blood or laser beams coming out of your eyes.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a werewolf, a superhero, a clone, a time-traveler, or a vampire, love is the one thing that infects us all.  Read on to find out why Romeo and Juliet have nothing on these supernatural star-crossed lovers, and be sure to catch IFC’s Underworld movie marathon this Valentine’s Day weekend.

1. Cyclops/Jean Grey/Wolverine, X-Men series

The X-Men franchise is rife with romance, but the steamiest “ménage à mutant” may just be the one between Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden), and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Their triangle is a complicated one as Jean finds herself torn between the two very different men while also trying to control her darker side, the Phoenix. This leads to Jean killing Cyclops and eventually getting stabbed through her heart by Wolverine in X-Men: The Last Stand. Yikes!  Maybe they should change the name to Ex-Men instead?


2. Willow/Tara, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Joss Whedon gave audiences some great romances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer — including the central triangle of Buffy, Angel, and Spike — but it was the love between witches Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara (Amber Benson) that broke new ground for its sensitive and nuanced portrayal of a LGBT relationship.

Willow is smart and confident and isn’t even sure of her sexuality when she first meets Tara at college in a Wiccan campus group. As the two begin experimenting with spells, they realize they’re also falling for one another and become the show’s most enduring, happy couple. At least until Tara’s death in season six, a moment that still brings on the feels.


3. Selene/Michael, Underworld series

The Twilight gang pales in comparison (both literally and metaphorically) to the Lycans and Vampires of the stylish Underworld franchise. If you’re looking for an epic vampire/werewolf romance set amidst an epic vampire/werewolf war, Underworld handily delivers in the form of leather catsuited Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and shaggy blonde hunk Michael (a post-Felicity Scott Speedman). As they work together to stop the Vampire/Lycan war, they give into their passions while also kicking butt in skintight leather. Love at first bite indeed.


4. Spider-man/Mary Jane Watson, Spider-man

After rushing to the aid of beautiful girl-next-door Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), the Amazing Spider-man is rewarded with an upside-down kiss that is still one of the most romantic moments in comic book movie history. For Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), the shy, lovable dork beneath the mask, his rain-soaked makeout session is the culmination of years of unrequited love and one very powerful spider bite. As the films progress, Peter tries pushing MJ away in an attempt to protect her from his enemies, but their web of love is just too powerful. And you know, with great power, comes great responsibility.


5. Molly/Sam, Ghost

When it comes to supernatural romance, you really can’t beat Molly and Sam from the 1990 hit film Ghost. Demi Moore goes crazy for Swayze like the rest of us, and the pair make pottery sexier than it’s ever been.

When Sam is murdered, he’s forced to communicate through con artist turned real psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg in her Academy Award-winning role) to warn Molly she is still in danger from his co-worker, Carl (a pre-Scandal Tony Goldwyn). Molly doesn’t believe Oda is telling the truth, so Sam proves it by sliding a penny up the wall and then possessing Oda so he and Molly can share one last romantic dance together (but not the dirty kind). We’d pay a penny for a dance with Patrick Swayze ANY day.


6. Cosima/Delphine, Orphan Black

It stands to reason there would be at least one complicated romance on a show about clones, and none more complicated than the one between clone Cosima (Tatiana Maslany) and Dr. Delphine Cormier (Evelyne Brochu) on BBC America’s hit drama Orphan Black.

Cosima is a PhD student focusing on evolutionary developmental biology at the University of Minnesota when she meets Delphine, a research associate from the nefarious Dyad Institute, posing as a fellow immunology student. The two fall in love, but their happiness is brief once Dyad and the other members of Clone Club get involved. Here’s hoping Cosima finds love in season four of Orphan Black. Girlfriend could use a break.


7. Aragorn/Arwen, Lord of the Rings

On a picturesque bridge in Rivendell amidst some stellar mood-lighting and dreamy Elvish language with English subtitles for us non-Middle Earthlings, Arwen (Liv Tyler) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) bind their souls to one another, pledging to love each other no matter what befalls them.

Their courtship is a matter of contention with Arwen’s father, Elrond (Hugo Weaving), who doesn’t wish to see his daughter suffer over Aragorn’s future death. The two marry after the conclusion of the War of the Ring, with Aragorn assuming his throne as King of Gondor, and Arwen forgoing her immortality to become his Queen. Is it too much to assume they asked Frodo to be their wedding ring-bearer?


8. Lafayette/Jesus, True Blood

True Blood quickly became the go-to show for supernatural sex scenes featuring future Magic Mike strippers (Joe Manganiello) and pale Nordic men with washboard abs (Hi Alexander Skarsgård!), but honestly, there was a little something for everyone, including fan favorite Bon Temps medium, Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis).

In season three, Lafayette met his mother’s nurse, Jesus, and the two began a relationship. As they spend more time together and start doing V (short for Vampire Blood), they learn Jesus is descended from a long line of witches and that Lafayette himself has magical abilities. However, supernatural love is anything but simple, and after the pair join a coven, Lafayette becomes possessed by the dead spirit of its former leader. This relationship certainly puts a whole new spin on possessive love.


9. Nymphadora Tonks/Remus Lupin, Harry Potter series

There are lots of sad characters in the Harry Potter series, but Remus Lupin ranks among the saddest. He was bitten by a werewolf as a child, his best friend was murdered and his other best friend was wrongly imprisoned in Azkaban for it, then THAT best friend was killed by a Death Eater at the Ministry of Magic as Remus looked on. So when Lupin unexpectedly found himself in love with badass Auror and Metamorphmagus Nymphadora Tonks (she prefers to be called by her surname ONLY, thank you very much), pretty much everyone, including Lupin himself, was both elated and cautiously hopeful about their romance and eventual marriage.

Sadly, the pair met a tragic ending when both were killed by Death Eaters during the Battle of Hogwarts, leaving their son, Teddy, orphaned much like his godfather Harry Potter. Accio hankies!


10. The Doctor/Rose Tyler, Doctor Who

Speaking of wolves, Rose “Bad Wolf” Tyler (Billie Piper) captured the Doctor’s hearts from the moment he told her to “Run!” in the very first episode of the re-booted Doctor Who series. Their affection for one another grew steadily deeper during their travels in the TARDIS, whether they were stuck in 1950s London, facing down pure evil in the Satan Pit, or battling Cybermen.

But their relationship took a tragic turn during the season two finale episode, “Doomsday,” when the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose found themselves separated in parallel universes with no way of being reunited (lest two universes collapse as a result of a paradox). A sobbing Rose told a holographic transmission of the Doctor she loved him, but before he could reply, the transmission cut out, leaving our beloved Time Lord (and most of the audience) with a tear-stained face and two broken hearts all alone in the TARDIS.

Brett Ratner says “Wicked” adaptation is his “dream project”

Brett Ratner says “Wicked” adaptation is his “dream project” (photo)

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Of all the names that come to mind to potentially direct a big screen adaptation of “Wicked,” Brett Ratner is not someone we would put at the top of our list.

The “Tower Heist” director admitted in an interview with The New York Times that adapting “Wicked” is his “dream project.” It might seem like a strange choice for the man who helmed the “X-Men” and “Rush Hour” trilogies, but he defended his decision by saying he is better-served by going the unexpected route.

“People who played it safe, they weren’t really going anywhere,” he said. “They did the same thing over and over again. I’ve always challenged myself, and whether I failed or not, I didn’t fail in my mind. I went through the experience, and it prepared me for the next time I’m going to do it.”

It should be noted that Ratner has never directed a musical, though he has worked on several music videos. “Wicked” would definitely be a passion project, and that can be a hit-or-miss venture (just look at Peter Jackson’s ill-received adaptation of “The Lovely Bones”). Since he is producing the Oscars and planning to direct “The 39 Clues” next, Ratner wouldn’t be able to tackle “Wicked” until sometime next year at the earliest, so it sounds like he is just sharing that this is a project he’d like to work on. Only time will tell whether he ends up getting the gig.

Rumors of a “Wicked” film have swirled around Hollywood ever since the musical debuted on Broadway in 2003. The latest story is that “Band of Brothers” showrunner Erik Jendreson was looking to adapt the story into an eight-hour miniseries for ABC, though there’s been no movement on that front since it was announced in January.

Do you want to see “Wicked” get adapted? Do you think Ratner is the man for the job? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

“The Rum Diary,” reviewed

“The Rum Diary,” reviewed (photo)

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2011 could use Hunter S. Thompson. The greed, the fraud, the hypocrisy; that’s what Thompson’s gonzo journalism was all about. So the timing is certainly right for an adaptation of “The Rum Diary,” Thompson’s 1998 novel about his time raking through the muck of corrupt 1950s Puerto Rico. It’s just the wan execution that’s wrong.

Johnny Depp returns to the role of Thompson, one he played to great comedic effect in Terry Gilliam’s delightfully deranged film adaptation of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” There he was Thompson as cartoon character — a lysergically-fueled tornado of flailing limbs and blistering prose. “The Rum Diary” presents Thompson — a.k.a. Paul Kemp — as matinee idol. He’s looking sharp in period suit and sunglasses, with his hair at its most handsomely Deppiest — either perfectly slicked into a small pompadour or perfectly tousled into a droopy curl. Depp does a little of his signature mugging but mostly he’s the straight man in this story: the incredulous observer of crooked newspaper editors, unscrupulous land barons, and hermaphroditic witchdoctors. Given the time period and the reverence with which Depp and the film hold Thompson’s words and ideals, “The Rum Diary” feels a little like a super-hero origin story. You’ve seen the guy at his apex of his powers. Now see how he got them.

Unfortunately, as is the case in most prequels, the backstory is a lot less juicy than the story. Kemp — who describes his drinking habit as existing “at the upper edge of social” — is the only applicant for a job at a crumbling Puerto Rican newspaper. His editor, Lotterman (Richard Jenkins, hamming it up in an intentionally bad toupée), assigns him to replace the recently deceased horoscope writer (he was, Lotterman warns, “raped to death”). Kemp wants to write about the protests against the island’s wealthy American elites but is rebuffed because bad news is bad for business. So he’s sent to cover bowling alley openings instead. That sort of thing didn’t start with Occupy Wall Street, you see.

Kemp’s writing brings him to the attention of one of those wealthy American elites, a real estate developer named Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart) who is clearly evil because he a)dresses all in white and b)smokes big cigars. He wants Kemp to help some shady investors turn a nearby island into the next Caribbean vacation destination. Kemp winds up fighting to keep these rich dudes’ hands off that private Caribbean island, which is kind of hilarious when you remember that in real life Depp IS the rich dude who’s got his hands on a private Caribbean island. Hooray for Hollywood!

For a a while, Kemp does go along with the scheme, mostly because he’s interested in Sanderson’s girlfriend, Chenault (Amber Heard). With good reason; Heard is insanely beautiful in this movie. Her work in “The Rum Diary” makes a very strong case for her as the best-looking young actress in Hollywood.

“The Rum Diary” is a good-looking piece of work from top to bottom. Director Bruce Robinson — the long MIA creator of “Withnail and I” — captures period Puerto Rico with an eye toward the natural beauty and its colorful inhabitants. The details of the 1950s newsroom feel perfect. But for all of Kemp’s outrageous misadventures and Thompson’s outsized journalism, “The Rum Diary” is surprisingly inert. Even with all the thematic resonances to modern protest movements, it doesn’t add up to a whole lot more than a vanity project in which a big-time movie star valorizes a departed friend for no other reason than he can.

One set-piece after another — a car chase, a cockfight, a disastrous acid trip, and, yes, a visit with a hermaphroditic witchdoctor — come and go with very little in the way of comedy or drama. Maybe Depp, despite his dead-on impersonation of Thompson’s cigarette-stained voice and alcohol-soaked persona, is a bit too cool for the film; even when his job’s on the line, he never seems especially invested in anything around him. When Kemp finds his true, gonzo voice he starts ranting about bringing “blasts of rage” against the greedy bastards destroying Puerto Rico. But the movie never comes close to matching its subject’s passion.

“The Rum Diary” opens on Friday. If you see it, tell us what you think. Leave us a comment below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

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