Newsbites: Heretic! Lifeboat! Narnia! Indiana! Bill! Rapture! Docs! Connor! Superman! Fantasia! etc.!

Hoo boy, got some catching up to do.

1. It’s like The Day of the Jackal — but with Martin Luther instead of Charles de Gaulle! Variety reports that Phoenix Pictures has picked up a spec script called The Heretic, which follows “a fallen priest-turned-hitman sent by a rogue archbishop to assassinate Martin Luther, only to discover that not everyone is telling the truth.” The film is described as a “Renaissance-era action-adventure thriller.” Sounds like my kind of cheese!

2. Variety says producers Michel Shane and Anthony Romano are developing Lifeboat 13, “based on the WWII story of the four chaplains who gave their lives during the 1943 sinking of the Dorchester after it was torpedoed by a U-boat.” Jeffrey Wells has doubts about the historical incident’s story potential and asks “where the movie is.”

3. Cinema Blend reports that the rumours last month about Disney hedging its bets on future Narnia movies were true after all: according to producer Mark Johnson, there are currently “no plans” for any movies beyond Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which starts filming in October.

Meanwhile, Variety reports that the Prince Caspian videogame will include “two exclusive live-action scenes shot by the film’s cast and crew”, totalling “about 2½ minutes in length”. This is apparently the first time movie footage has been shot for a tie-in videogame since Enter the Matrix came out five years ago.

4. Want more Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull spoilers? Click here for a bunch of new photos, click here for the soundtrack’s track listing, and click here to download a copy of the film’s production notes. (The production notes may or may not be bogus, but they certainly look and feel like the real thing.)

5. Uma Thurman tells MTV Movies Blog there may be an expanded version of Kill Bill (2003-2004) in the near future, “putting the two films together with an intermission with an added anime sequence” that Quentin Tarantino has “already written”.

6. FilmBuff Newsreel reports that Guillermo Del Toro has another idea for a movie about “childhood and horror”:

“It’s called Saturn And The End Of Days. It’s about a kid named Saturn watching the Rapture and the Apocalypse while on the way back and forth from the grocery store. It’s like, what would happen if the Apocalypse was viewed by you [while] doing errands. You go back and forth and nothing big happens except the entire world is being sucked into a vortex of fire.”

Sounds like a comment Eric Idle made on the commentary track for one of the deleted scenes from Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979), about how, as summarized by me, “whenever any event of major significance takes place, there are always people who miss it because they’re busy with all the mundane things of life, ‘hoovering’ and so on.”

7. Karina Longworth explores the thorny question of whether it is a good thing that documentaries and non-fiction films like Morgan Spurlock’s Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? are now being subjected to the same sort of focus-group test screenings that fiction films have had for decades.

8. Variety and the Hollywood Reporter confirm the rumour: The Sarah Connor Chronicles has been renewed for a second season, and the network might even do some cross-promotional stuff with the studio that is producing next summer’s Terminator 4 — even though the two storylines are completely unrelated.

9. Brendan Fraser tells MTV News he did a screen test for the part of Superman back when Brett Ratner was involved in the film, before Bryan Singer took the reins and made Superman Returns (2006).

10. Modern Mechanix has posted JPEGs of a three-page article on Fantasia (1940) and its ground-breaking stereophonic sound that appeared in the January 1941 issue of Popular Science.

11. Robert Koehler has an interesting review of an Argentinian documentary by Alejo Hoijman called Unit 25:

The fact Christians may flock to this doc points up the project’s confusion, for it seems equally likely Hoijman either wanted to show the nefarious ways in which Evangelical Christianity is used as a cudgel in the special Argentine prison known as Unit 25 (the only one of its kind in Latin America), or that he wanted to observe how a lost young man named Simon Pedro entered the unit as a disbeliever and, by the end, found his faith.

Yet another possible and more profound perspective — and there’s nothing on view that discourages or encourages it — is that “Unit 25” is a parable on the power of the group to enforce its codes and beliefs on the individual to conform. Various readings, though, aren’t a sign of the doc’s depth, but of its conceptual confusion.

12. More ado about Bill C-10. Ang Lee, who filmed Brokeback Mountain (2005) in Canada, spoke against the bill while speaking in Vancouver last weekend, and Heritage Minister Josée Verner issued a statement saying she was “surprised” by Lee’s comments. Meanwhile, Diane Watts, a researcher with REAL Women of Canada, says artists who receive public funds need to be held “accountable” and Bill C-10 is the way to do it.

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