Newsbites: Animation! Schrader! Buddha redux!

Just a few new items, this time.

1. Variety reports that 16 films are eligible this year for the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, and I’ve seen most of ’em:

The Ant Bully
Arthur and the Invisibles
Curious George
Everyone’s Hero
Flushed Away
Happy Feet
Ice Age: The Meltdown
Monster House
Open Season
Over the Hedge
A Scanner Darkly
The Wild

At least three, and possibly as many as five, of these films might go on to be nominated; and of course, only one will win.

2. The Associated Press reports that Leonard Schrader, brother of Paul Schrader and sometime collaborator on his scripts, died last Thursday at the age of 62:

He was born in Grand Rapids, Mich., to a family of Dutch Calvinists who forbade the brothers to see any movies.

“That was a church edict,” Paul Schrader said. “What they called worldly amusements were prohibited.”

Schrader didn’t see his first film until he was in college in the 1960s.

Schrader attended the local Calvin College and received a master’s degree at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa, where according to his Web site he studied with Kurt Vonnegut and Jorge Luis Borges.

In 1969 and the early 1970s, Schrader lived in Japan, where he taught American literature.

His first film was “The Yakuza” co-written in the 1970s with his brother and starring Robert Mitchum. Sydney Pollack directed.

Other films included 1985’s “Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters,” based on the life of the Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima, whom Schrader had met before his ritual suicide in 1970. Schrader co-wrote the screenplay with his wife, Chieko, and his brother. Paul Schrader directed the movie, while George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola were executive producers.

3. Variety reports that David S. Ward, writer of The Sting (1973) and Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and director of King Ralph (1991) and the first two Major Leagues (1989-1994), will write the screenplay for Buddha, a $120 million English-language film based on the Thich Nhat Hanh novel Old Path White Clouds. This is not to be confused with the recently-announced Buddha to be directed by Pan Nalin; that film has a budget of only $6 million.

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