Random observation of the day.

For the second week in a row, two of this week‘s top ten movies are not even playing in the Vancouver area. The films in question are Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married? and the 3-D version of The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). It’s not uncommon for my neck of the woods to miss out on a top ten movie every now and then, but I can’t recall the last time we missed out on two.

The Flash to follow Justice League of America

This one is for my friend Trent, who was a big fan of The Flash back in the day and, for all I know, might still be now.

MTV Movies Blog is reporting that David Dobkin — director of Clay Pigeons (1998), Shanghai Knights (2003), Wedding Crashers (2005) and the upcoming Fred Claus — is the latest director who has been hired to bring Wally West to the big screen:

Dobkin’s film won’t be the character’s first appearance in cinemas, of course, with the Flash a major part of the upcoming “Justice League of America” film. But while fans wait for “JLA” story and casting announcements with bated breath, Dobkin can’t help but hold his – confirming that his movie will exist in the same universe as the upcoming flick as a direct spin-off.

Which made his next comment all the more revelatory: Asked which version of the Flash would be the hero of his flick, Dobkin didn’t hesitate. “Wally West,” he said. This would seem to mesh perfectly with recent rumors that “JLA” opens with Barry Allen’s funeral.

From Levy to Dobkin, “The Flash” movie has certainly courted directors primarily known for their comedic work. But that doesn’t mean they’ll treat the character like a joke, Dobkin said. Asked about his vision for the Flash, Dobkin teased us with a somewhat melancholy tagline: “You can’t outrun yourself.”

What say you to this news, Trent?

I note, BTW, that all of Dobkin’s major directorial efforts to date have starred Vince Vaughn and/or Owen Wilson. Might there be a part for one or both of them in this franchise, too, I wonder?

Newsbites: Shatner! Dumbledore! Politics!

Just a few more quick news blurbs before bedtime.

1. The Associated Press reports that William Shatner is still upset that he won’t be in Star Trek XI, and he says his exclusion from the film is a bad “business decision.” So was allowing your character to be killed in Star Trek Generations (1994; my comments) without setting up an obvious mechanism for his resurrection, Bill.

2. There has been no shortage of items on the Dumbledore-is-gay brouhaha. Here are two bits that particularly caught my eye. First up, David Thewlis — who plays the werewolf Professor Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter movies — tells CityNews.ca:

O.K. but what about the revelation that Albus Dumbledore is gay? Thewlis concedes that threw him for a loop, but not for the reasons you might think. “The funny thing when Alfonso Cuaron directed “The Prisoner of Azkaban, the first film that I appear in, he had the idea that Lupin was gay and he described my character like a ‘gay junkie’ .And of course Lupin turns out not to be gay because he marries Tonks and has children.”

Meanwhile, Rex Murphy of the Globe and Mail comments:

Ms. Rowling is pioneering here, fleshing out her characters off-page and after their story has ended. Dumbledore is gay is real People magazine stuff, and now we can look forward to updates on Hermione’s party schedule. I think this is a really great thing. Limiting what we really know, or can reasonably speculate about, a fictional character to the words on the pages of the book that contains him, and the already told story of which he is a part, is so old-fashioned and bookish. . . .

I would far rather learn what Hamlet was “really” like from some chat-show author interview after the play was written (slept with Gertrude till he was 9, joined a pack of minstrels and wandered around Denmark during his early teens, fervently anti-globalist, despised Claudius even before the murder, for his exploitation of the serfs – that kind of stuff) if such a thing were possible with poor dead Shakespeare. The play itself, with all those words and speeches and images, is so … constricting. Who wants those golden soliloquies when we can have buzz or gossip?

Now, with living authors, this kind of thing is not only possible – as Ms. Rowling’s example demonstrates, with the great news of Dumbledore’s authorial “outing” – it presents unlimited opportunities to “fix” the weak characters, or connect to the trendy issues of the day without ever so much as having to (so to speak) put pen to paper or warm up the tired laptop. Isn’t Dumbledore more interesting, more mod, now that he’s been released from the casket of the author’s own prose? . . .

Literature is so much more elastic, so much more liberating, when it is unshackled from the actual business of writing. Prose is a prison. Interviews, post-publication, are the wave of the storytelling future.

3. Variety says “political films” are struggling to find an audience in Europe, just as they have been struggling in North America.

4. The New York Observer picks up the story concerning how George Hickenlooper, co-director of Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1991), is upset about being shut out of the DVD release of that film. Hickenlooper backtracks a bit, though, at Hollywood Elsewhere, the blog run by Jeffrey Wells; he writes: “I’m making a mountain out of mole hill. It’s not that big a deal. I’m just hoping no editorial changes were made…”

Lars and the Real Girl — the review’s up!

My review of Lars and the Real Girl is now up at CT Movies.

Denzel and Travolta team up for Pelham remake

This one is for my friend Magnus, with whom I saw the original The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) almost a month ago.

We already knew that a remake is currently in the works, and that Denzel Washington — teaming up with director Tony Scott for the fourth time, following Crimson Tide (1995), Man on Fire (2004; my article) and Deja Vu (2006; my comments) — is slated to play the good guy who was originally played by Walter Matthau.

Now Variety tells us that John Travolta has signed on to play the bad guy who was played by Robert Shaw in the original film.

What say you to this news, Magnus?

By the way, on a semi-unrelated note, I just realized the other day that American Gangster — the upcoming crime flick directed by Tony’s brother Ridley Scott — marks the second time that Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe have worked together. In the new film, Denzel is a criminal and Crowe is a cop. But the roles were reversed years ago, when Crowe played the cybernetic villain in one of his first American films, the sci-fi flick Virtuosity (1995), while Denzel played the ex-cop who is sent out to get him. Wow, that takes me back (see page 4 of this PDF file for my review).

Yet another Noah’s Ark cartoon!?

Unbelievable. As if the market was not already glutted with Noah’s Ark cartoons, we now have Rock the Boat. Reports Variety:

Gaumont is getting into 3-D animation with the $35 million feature “Rock the Boat,” a two-minute clip of which will preem at next week’s American Film Market.

The Gallic major is bidding to secure a U.S. deal before casting English language thesps to voice the film early next year.

Tale, being pitched as “Some Like it Hot” set on Noah’s Ark, is about a cheetah and a porcupine forced to disguise themselves as other creatures to qualify for a place on the Ark.

Gaumont’s Franck Chorot is producing, with Fabien Suarez and Andre Bessy, first-time helmers, co-directing from an original script by Suarez.

The entirely French-made film has been in production for the past 10 months and is slated for delivery by September 2009, ahead of a Christmas release in France. The French f/x company MacGuff Ligne will handle physical production of the film. . . .

Here are the other recently-released or currently-in-development Noah’s Ark cartoons I have mentioned over the past month:

  1. El Arca, which came out in Argentina this past summer.

  2. Noah’s Ark: The New Beginning, which Promenade Pictures is already producing from a script by Ed Naha.
  3. Noah’s Ark, which Unified Pictures plans to produce from a script by Philip LaZebnik.

If you know of any others, by all means, let me know.

OCT 26 UPDATE: Matt Page at the Bible Films Blog has discovered a promo pic for this film at the Gaumont website. It depicts what seems to be an ape holding a pictorial checklist — a gimmick we saw several years ago in Walt Disney’s Fantasia 2000 (1999).