We’re running a bit of a fever at the moment and probably shouldn’t be trying to write anything. Fortunately, nothing much is going on today. A few quick links:
The Guardian reports that Sacha Baron Cohen is in talks to star alongside Johnny Depp and the just-added Helena Bonham Carter in Tim Burton‘s upcoming adaptation of "Sweeney Todd." Carter will play the pie-making Mrs. Lovett (natch), Baron Cohen’s rumored to be up to play rival barber Signor Adolfo Pirelli, a role which would offer him yet another chance to flaunt an outsized accent.
Speaking of Mr. Baron Cohen, Gina Serpe at E! reports that Kazakhstan Deputy Foreign Minister Rakhat Aliyev has, in an interview with Kazakhstan Today, invited the comedian to visit the country:
"We must have a sense of humor and respect other people’s freedom of creativity," Aliyez said. "It’s useless to offend an artist and threaten to sue him. It will only further damage the country’s reputation and make Borat even more popular.
"I’d like to invite Cohen here. He can discover a lot of things. Women drive cars, wine is made of grapes and Jews are free to go to synagogue."
And yet, Kazakhstan continues to be inherently funny.
And Gideon Yago, perhaps sensing that MTV News host fame is fleeting, is making a move into indie film. According to Borys Kit at the Hollywood Reporter, Yago sold his screenplay, entitled "Underdog," to Focus Features.
At the New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell writes, essentially, about a company called Epagogix and the business of quantifying the potential for success of films in development. Most people have already shrugged and moved on, but David Poland at The Hot Button takes the bait:
Of course, most people object the idea that movies and their success can be turned into a mathematical formula in principle. The world is already filled with people who are anguished about how cookie-cutter studio filmmaking already is. So, suggestions that it should be even more formulaic are fighting words.
Anne Thompson at the Hollywood Reporter surveys the improbably consistent success of Sony Pictures Classics. We’ve always been impressed by the way (for the most part) SPC acquires the same type of films. No other distribution arm knows their niche so well, save maybe Lionsgate.
At the New York Times, Mark Russell reports from Pusan on "Crossing the Line," Daniel Gordon‘s third doc about North Korea. This one centers on James Dresnok, one of four defectors to North Korea from the US Army who because propaganda heroes for the North:
Mr. Dresnok says he is a true believer in the North Korean system. â€œI wouldnâ€™t trade it for nuthinâ€™,â€ he states emphatically. He is proud that two of his three sons attend the prestigious Foreign Language School in Pyongyang, saying he could never have afforded such an education in the United States. â€œI donâ€™t want my sons to be an illiterate old man like me.â€ But he is a celebrity in North Korea, and although Pyongyang is poor by Western standards, it is the city of the elite for North Koreans. â€œAnyone living in Pyongyang is privileged,â€ [the film’s co-producer, Nick] Bonner said. â€œBut the main force behind us was human interest.â€
The stink of Crash hovers over Flags of Our Fathers. A dramatization of James Bradley and Ron Powers‘s bestseller about the truth behind the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, the film is confirmation of Paul Haggis‘s predilection for exploitation and easy sentimentality. Million Dollar Baby, a good film, suffered from Haggis’s unmistakable lower-class condescension (fans of the film stumble when trying to rationalize the Fitzgerald Family Traveling Circus), and Flags of Our Fathers, adapted for the screen by Haggis and William Broyles Jr., uses a very real, largely unknown controversy as a jumping off point for a trite homily on how wars are sold to the American public. (Some will look for parallels to current events, except that would be giving the film the benefit of the doubt.) If Clint Eastwood‘s personality barely shines through it’s because Haggis’s cartoon politics strongarm the director’s vision.
Finally, thanks to Dennis Lim of (well, at the time) the Village Voice for tossing in a mention of us in his "Best local movie blog" entry (even if the title ultimately goes to DaveKehr.com) in this week’s issue.
+ Baron Cohen lined up for Burton’s Sweeney Todd (Guardian)
+ Kazakhs Beckon Borat (E! Online)
+ John Cusack Is Brand Hauser (Empire)
+ Focus sides with Yago’s ‘Underdog’ (Hollywood Reporter)
+ THE FORMULA (New Yorker)
+ October 18, 2006 (The Hot Button)
+ Moving pictures (Hollywood Reporter)
+ An American in North Korea, Pledging Allegiance to the Great Leader (NY Times)
+ Laying it on Thick: Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers (The House Next Door)
+ Best Local Movie Blog (Village Voice)