Rosenbaum on DeMille’s Commandments

Jonathan Rosenbaum has just posted a review of Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments (1956) that he wrote for the Chicago Reader when the film was re-issued way back in 1990. Very interesting stuff. I would quibble with a few of his statements of fact and at least one of his more minor interpretations — I do think, in fact, that the film inclines us to believe that Joshua and Lilia get together in the end — but the broader contours of his argument seem sound to me. I especially like his points about the changing nature of special effects over the past half-century, and how parts of the film are even, in some ways, anti-spectacle.

Is Jason Bourne bigger than Matt Damon?

iF Magazine reported last week that Doug Liman, director of The Bourne Identity (2002) and producer of its two sequels, has confirmed that a fourth movie is in development — and he says it may be made with or without Matt Damon:

However, could Liman see the series going on without Damon, a la the Bond franchise?

“Yeah,” he says. “Jason Bourne is a movie star. I think Matt Damon is not as big a movie star as Jason Bourne is. Daniel Craig is a movie star, but James Bond is more of a movie star.”

Two possible problems with Liman’s somewhat glib assessment:

One, Damon made Bourne a star in the first place, so it is by no means clear that Bourne could carry on without him. Remember how Sean Connery left the Bond franchise after five movies, only to be replaced by George Lazenby, after which the producers begged Connery to come back, before ultimately moving on to Roger Moore? It took the Bond franchise a while to find its footing, after Connery’s initial departure, and it could easily take the Bourne franchise a while to do so, too — especially since it is not at all clear where the franchise could go from here, given that the third film essentially undid the whole premise of the series.

Two, the Bond films — especially the early ones — were based fairly closely on a very popular, and rather long, series of novels and short stories, whereas the Bourne films, as I understand it, have basically ignored the books from the get-go and have used little of them beyond the titles and a few basic ideas. So Bond has always had a separate fanbase, quite apart from the movies, and whenever the movie franchise has tried to regenerate itself, it has done so by reaching out to that fanbase and stressing its renewed faithfulness to Ian Fleming’s original stories. The Bourne franchise wouldn’t have those options: there are only three books, the fanbase is not as big, and the movies have strayed so far from their source material that there is probably no way they could make a point of being faithful to the books now even if they wanted to.

Quantum of Solace — the theme song’s a duet!

Nikki Finke is reporting that Jack White and Alicia Keys have recorded a duet as the theme song for the upcoming James Bond film Quantum of Solace — the first duet in the franchise’s history, at least where the opening credits are concerned. The song is called ‘Another Way to Die’, so a question that has preoccupied the minds of soundtrack buffs everywhere remains unanswered: Have the composers figured out a way to work the movie’s rather unusual title into the lyrics of its theme song? (It’s not impossible: Just look at how Carly Simon’s ‘Nobody Does It Better’ found a way to use the words “the spy who loved me” back in 1977.)

Tom Marvolo Riddle through the years.

USA Today has released the first official picture of Hero Fiennes-Tiffin in character as the young Tom Riddle, the boy who will grow up to be the evil Dark Lord Voldemort, in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. To mark the occasion, here are a handful of screen captures depicting the various actors and special effects that have played Voldemort at various points in his life:

Tom Riddle, age 11 — Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, age 10

Tom Riddle, age 16 — Frank Dillane, age 16

Tom Riddle, age 16 — Christian Coulson, age 23

Voldemort, age 65-ish — computer-generated special effect

Voldemort, age 68-ish — Ralph Fiennes, age 42

Voldemort, age 71-ish — Ralph Fiennes, age 47

Another actor, Frank Dillane, has been cast as the teenaged Tom Riddle in Half-Blood Prince — Christian Coulson, the actor who played him in Chamber of Secrets, is 29 now, so he’s almost certainly too old for the part! — but no pictures of him in character have surfaced yet. When they do, I’ll update this little gallery.

JUL 14 2010 UPDATE: I have now added Dillane’s picture above.

I have also added a picture of Voldemort from the climax to Deathly Hallows, as per the trailer that was released a few weeks ago; between that and the picture I already had from Goblet of Fire, I figured it would be good to capture both the beginning and ending of Ralph Fiennes’ take on the character.

Yet another Noah’s Ark cartoon brewing?

The Hollywood Reporter says Casey Affleck, the Oscar-nominated younger brother of Ben, pitched an animated film called Aardvark Art’s Ark two years ago and is still developing it at Warner Brothers, though a new screenwriter has been brought in to do the rewrites while Affleck takes care of his busy acting career.

The paper says the film concerns “a group of animals who are stranded when they are not chosen to go on Noah’s ark.”

That brings the number of recent and in-development Noah’s Ark cartoons — whether literal or quasi-allegorical — up to six. Other such films that I have noted here include:

  1. The Flood — Promenade Pictures
  2. Rock the Boat — Gaumont
  3. Noah’s Ark — Unified Pictures
  4. El Arca — Patagonik Film Group
  5. The Missing Lynx — Kandor Graphics

And that’s not counting the seemingly defunct projects that were once being developed by Bill Cosby and Walden Media — to say nothing of the recent live-action effort Evan Almighty (2007).

All About Us — the interview’s up!

My interview with Michael and Christine Swanson, the producer and writer-director respectively of All About You (2001) and All About Us (2007), is now up at CT Movies.