I’ve been stockpiling links, so it’s time to post another batch.
1. The Hollywood Reporter says Bob Saget — whose adults-only brand of humour was one of the more, um, noteworthy elements in The Aristocrats — is writing, producing and narrating a spoof of March of the Penguins, to be called Farce of the Penguins:
“The penguin film, and wildlife films in general have been so hugely popular lately that they can certainly use some serious spoofing,” said Jeff Sackman, ThinkFilm president and CEO Jeff Sackman. “(Saget’s) unique ability to take sweet, clean-cut material and turn it upside down and inside out is second to none, and I can’t wait to see him ‘flip the bird’ to the entire genre.” . . .
A poster depicting penguins wearing a bra and panties with the tagline, “What happens in Antarctica, stays in Antarctica,” already has been created to attract buyers at the American Film Market underway in Santa Monica.
A message on a website linked to al-Qaida has threatened death to the veteran Egyptian actor Omar Sharif after he played St Peter in an Italian TV film.
In remarks widely reported in Italy earlier this month, the 73-year old actor, a convert to Islam, said he had “seemed to hear voices” during the filming of St Peter, a two-part mini-series shown last week. Sharif was quoted as saying: “Playing Peter was so important for me that even now I can only speak about it with difficulty. It will be difficult for me to play other roles from now on.”
The Italian news agency Adnkronos International said that a message on a web forum used in the past by al-Qaida had a link to a site carrying the threat. “Omar Sharif has stated that he has embraced the crusader idolatry,” it said. “He is a crusader who is offending Islam and Muslims and receiving applause from the Italian people. I give you this advice, brothers, you must kill him.”
Of the more than $300 million Canada spent investing in films last year, just one feature-length, nondocumentary war movie was completed: Eighteen, by Vancouver’s Richard Bell. The story, about an 18-year-old street kid who inherits his grandfather’s war stories on audio tape, was supposed to be released for the 60th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, in May of this year. Then the release was planned for Veterans’ Week, November 5 to 11. Now it won’t hit theatres until February next year, so the film will completely miss Canada’s Year of the Veteran.
Theatres are instead full of stories about househusbands, supernatural horror, and love, love, love. All about our lighthearted lives, in other words, but nothing about the uniformed men and women who made it all possible. . . .
Through the lens of Eighteen’s postponements, the shadows on the Canadian film system come into focus. Telefilm, the National Film Board, and the provincial film organizations support one overall objective: to keep Canadian stories in front of Canadian eyes. On TV, there’s success; unfortunately, when it comes to feature films, there’s almost no government guidance in what gets made—just what doesn’t.
But if feature films are so pivotal to protecting Canada’s culture, why couldn’t we get a single commemorative film into theatres during Veterans’ Week during the Year of the Veteran?
To this, I would add that it’s striking to me how all of the “Veteran” ads I’ve seen depict very old men in uniform, as though Canada stopped sending soldiers into combat after 1945. I am reminded of that incident where the American army wanted to bestow an honour of some sort on Canadian snipers in Afghanistan, and our own government seemed to get rather embarrassed by the fact that our soldiers were not only doing their job, but doing it well. Sad to say, we are not a country that values its military.
4. The New York Times reports that the Christian producers and non-Christian studio chiefs who collaborated on Left Behind: World at War are still working out how to work together and how to market their franchise:
How comfortable is Hollywood with wooing the Christian audience? The question arose this week over Sony’s release of its first high-profile DVD aimed at believers, “Left Behind: World at War,” the third in a series about the biblical end of days but the first time a major studio has significantly backed evangelical entertainment. . . .
[Sony Pictures Home Entertainment president Benjamin S.] Feingold disputed [producer Peter] Lalonde’s contention that the studio was taking a low-profile approach to promotions. “It’s not been our practice to shy away,” he said. “I don’t believe you can go beyond the followers for these kinds of movies.”
But the producer, who has hired his own publicist to promote the picture, said that potential viewers were being overlooked by Sony’s refusal to spend more heavily. “The marketing budget was consistent with an everyday, direct-to-video release, and this is not that,” he said. “This is a direct-to-video phenomenon. We were really strangled there.” . . .
Mr. Feingold said Sony had plans to make two more Christian movies next year, and intended to make more “Left Behind” films. “We think it will be a nice franchise for Sony,” he said. “Modestly budgeted, the ‘Left Behind’ books are a nice business.”
Mr. Lalonde, however, said he was not certain he would proceed with the studio on the next round.
“We’re going to do another movie,” he said. “Do we self-finance, take distribution back? Our position has been we have to build our own distribution systems, get our own financing, our own pipelines. We lack only one thing: real capitalization.”
As pop culture mimics today’s permissive social values, violence and veiled sexual references have crept into the seemingly innocent cartoon landscape, giving parents new reason to do research beyond the ratings.
It’s not that the Motion Picture Association of America’s ratings board has become more permissive, said MPAA president Dan Glickman: “It’s bound to be a reflection of society.”
It’s also a reflection of movie studios following the formula of hits like the “Toy Story” and “Shrek” films, whose sophisticated scripts include plenty of subtle jokes aimed at adults.
So the octopus-armed alien robots in “Chicken Little,” who shred a cornfield and use their laser-gaze to zap away the town’s animal citizens, are just typical cartoon characters. The film’s allusion to “Girls Gone Wild” is just another cultural reference. The melons held chest-high by the heroine in “Wallace and Gromit” are just large pieces of fruit.