Newsbites: Indy! Invasion! Miracle! Mimzy!

Time for a few more quickies.

1. Variety reports that Shia LaBeouf really is in “final talks” to play Harrison Ford’s son in Indiana Jones IV.

2. The Los Angeles Times has an article on the problems that face foreign film directors who make the switch to Hollywood, and Exhibit A is Oliver Hirschbiegel’s The Invasion:

In fact, a number of gifted foreign directors have struggled trying to make the transition to Hollywood. One recent example is Oliver Hirschbiegel, a German director whose “Downfall” received rave reviews and was nominated for best foreign film. Hirschbiegel was hired by Warner Bros. to direct “The Invasion,” a Nicole Kidman-starring thriller based on Don Siegel’s classic “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

Hirschbiegel shot the movie at the end of 2005, but the studio was so unhappy with the results that it brought in “Matrix” creators Andy and Larry Wachowski to do rewrites and then hired James McTeigue, who directed “V for Vendetta” for the studio last year, to do nearly $10 million in reshoots earlier this year. . . .

Hirschbiegel’s experience on “Invasion” is more complicated. The studio had issues with the movie, one being that it didn’t have enough action. Though the director wouldn’t speak to me, his agents contend the action deficit wasn’t his fault because many of the action scenes were cut due to budget constraints. “It’s not such a big deal,” says Warners chief Alan Horn. “We needed to do reshoots, as is often the case, and Oliver wasn’t available, so we used someone else. I think we’ve had a great track record working with foreign directors — just look at the great work Alfonso Cuarón did on his ‘Harry Potter‘ film — so I’m not so sure these kind of problems have anything to do with nationality or culture.”

3. My colleague Steven D. Greydanus discovered recently that The Miracle Maker (2000), an animated film that just happens to be one of the best recent movies about Jesus — I’ve written about it here, here, and here — was re-issued this week in a new “special edition” that includes an audio commentary by the directors.

4. Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere says The Last Mimzy — a film written and directed by the studio executives at New Line Cinema — is tracking very, very badly, if indeed it is tracking at all. Like, nobody seems to be keen to see it. Why is it doing so badly? Wells speculates that the word “Last” might be one reason:

The use of the word “Last” is bad enough — declaring that anyone or anything is the “last” of anything is recognized worldwide as (a) an unhip screenwriter’s lunge at some kind of half-assed cover-page significance, and/or (b) an old-shoe marketing ploy that lost its snap-crackle in the ’80s. My view is that “Last” was killed off for good with the debacle that was Last Action Hero. The IMDB estimates that 500 movies have used “Last” in their titles, and more than half of them as an adjective. Even New Guinea cannibals and eight year-old kids in Afghanistan are sick of it.

“Last” is half-tenable only if it’s attached to an unusual irony or semi-intriguing condition, such as The Last King of Scotland since the film is not “about” Scottish royalty or castles or kilts but a malevolent Ugandan dictator. But otherwise forget it…”last” equals hackneyed.

This got me thinking about the recent spate of terminal-sounding titles that have been coming out of Fox Faith. The Last Sin Eater and The Ultimate Gift were at least based on books with those titles — but why was The Inquiry re-named The Final Inquiry!?

5. Cinematical notes that a new website,, is now selling “inspirational” movie clips for use in sermons and whatnot.

6. Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere passes on a Times Online story that looks at how actors’ performances are increasingly “improved” in the computer — e.g., in one of Jennifer Connelly’s scenes in Blood Diamond, a tear was digitally added rolling down her cheek. This sort of thing doesn’t bother me all that much — movies are all about illusion, etc. — though I do wonder how it will impact the handing out of awards for best performance, etc.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).

  • RC

    i love those comments on terms of the use of the word “last”

    and your applications to christian films, namely the most recent fox faith films.