Our monthly miscellany of news we like to talk about.
Happy Memorial Day! The weather’s far too nice here to sit in a move theatre, so we’ll likely be heading to the theatres only to check out Terminator: Salvation, and then most likely a late show. (We don’t have to get up.)
With the summer movie season already well under way and the networks presenting their upfronts, there’s a lot going on worth talking about. Especially for television, with at least one network debuting a record number of shows in the fall, the news is thick and deep. The following list only represents some of the news items popping up around the Intertube this week, so we’re sure there’s plenty more to report. Still, this stuff caught our eye, and anyway you’ll have more fun getting outside and enjoying the fresh air and sunshine anyway. The Internet in all its time-wasting glory will be here when you get back.
1. Steven Spielberg announced plans this week to produce a biopic based on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. Some King family members are already up in arms about the deal, saying they weren’t consulted on the negotiations. In the meantime, we’ll also continue waiting for Spielberg’s long-awaited bio of Abraham Lincoln, starring Liam Neeson in the role of the Great Emancipator. Rumors of that film have circled since Dreamworks got the rights back in 2001. Neeson, having pulled off the sleeper hit of the year with Taken, says he’s still eager to get into the role.
2. On a completely different subject, we have to repeat how much we’re looking forward to Moon, July’s indie sci-fi effort about an astronaut miner (Sam Rockwell) facing replacement just as his long, lonely tour on the lunar surface draws to a close. There’s never a bad time for smart science fiction, especially those rooted in near-future concepts and especially character-driven performances like this one. (We can’t help but think of Stanislaw Lem’s novel Peace On Earth every time we watch the trailer.) At any rate, we’re hoping the small-scale effort, directed by newcomer Duncan Jones, isn’t completely overshadowed online by the already-percolating hype surrounding New Moon, the sequel to Twilight, set for release this November. We previewed Moon last month, but here’s the trailer once again.
3. Good news and no-news (which is still good news, according to an old saying) for fans of comic book movies. This week reports swirled that Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige and Thor director Kenneth Branagh had selected Chris Hemsworth (Star Trek) to play the titular Norse god of thunder. The next day reports circulated that British actor Tom Hiddleston (Wallander) will play his villainous half-brother Loki. Over on the DC Comics side of things, there’s still no word on casting for the Green Lantern movie, despite filming scheduled to begin in September. As a suggestion to help speed things along, we suggest Michael Trucco (Battlestar Galactica) to play Green Lantern Hal Jordan. He’s a good actor and he looks the part, for whatever such virtues factor into how those decisions are made.
4. One of the (count ‘em) ten new shows announced by ABC for their 2009-10 season this week, Flash Forward has Next Big Thing written all over its expensive-looking trailer. Based on a novel by Canadian author Robert J. Sawyer and developed for television by screenwriters David Goyer (Batman Begins) and Brannon Braga (Star Trek: Enterprise), the network hopes the ensemble drama will serve as a “companion” series – and eventual successor, no doubt – to Lost,which begins its final season starting next January. Flash Forward depicts the aftermath of a mysterious event that causes the world’s population to black out for two minutes and 17 seconds, during which everyone gets a glimpse of their future. The ensemble cast includes Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare In Love), Courtney B. Vance (Law & Order: Criminal Intent), Sonya Walger (Lost), John Cho (Star Trek), and Peyton List (Mad Men).
5. Since we’ve championed the film at least once before for release on DVD and/or Blu-Ray, we’re very excited to announce the Peter Yates’ 1973 crime classic The Friends of Eddie Coyle saw its home video premiere this week – as a Criterion Edition, no less. Among the cool extra features is a reprint of Rolling Stone magazine’s profile of star Robert Mitchum, from the time of the film’s shooting. Apparently Mitchum, already a legendary Hollywood rebel, researched his role as a desperate low-level gunrunner by hanging out with Boston ganglord Whitey Bulger, the inspiration for Jack Nicholson’s character in The Departed thirty-three years later.
6. Have you seen the latest ads for the Judd Apatow-produced, Harold Ramis-directed Year One? So much of this film demonstrates so much of what annoys us most about modern American cinema. A full decade after his distracting turn in the otherwise charming High Fidelity, Jack Black is still doing the same cocky buffoon shtick he’s done in virtually every role since. Likewise co-star Cera, bringing George-Michael Bluth’s amiable timidity to yet another paycheck. Because we know Ramis co-starred in Stripes that same year, we know he’s old enough to remember History of The World Part I and Caveman, both 1981 efforts that covered the exact same lowbrow ground. Here’s hoping that Ramis’ upcoming Ghostbusters 3 will offer better comedy. Failing that, his remake of Meatballs. Yes, Hollywood is remaking Meatballs. You’ve been warned.
7. It’s been a while since we’ve heard from the Skeet Ulrich contingent of our readership, so as a shout to them we want to mention Armored, the September release directed by Nimrod Antal (Vacancy) about a group of armored truck drivers attempting to steal $42 million from one of their own vehicles. Columbus Short (Cadillac Records) leads a cast full of man’s men, including Ulrich as well as Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix), Jean Reno (The Professional), Matt Dillon (The Outsiders) and Fred Ward (Tremors). Nothing closes out summer like a good, gritty neo-noir, and this one, with hints of both Criss Cross and Reservior Dogs, looks to fill that position this year. A second film with an almost-identical concept is also currently in production, this one starring Eric Bana (Munich) and directed by F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job).
8. Finally, we were saddened this week to learn of the passing of Wayne Allwine, who supplied the voice of Mickey Mouse for thirty two years, from complications of diabetes. He was 62. A lifelong Disney employee, Allwine was only the third voice actor, after Walt Disney and his mentor Jimmy MacDonald, to portray the mouse in movies, television shows, and at the various Disney theme parks. A native of the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, Allwine joined the Disney corporation in 1966, starting in the company mail room before working his way up to sound editing such films as Splash and Three Men And A Baby. His widow, Russi Taylor, has provided the voice of Mickey’s sweetheart Minnie Mouse since 1986.
We’ll return next Wednesday with a review of Terminator: Salvation. Have a great holiday weekend and be careful on the roads.