Review: The Kite Runner (dir. Marc Forster, 2007)

kiterunnerIt’s probably safe to say you’ve never seen kite-flying scenes like the ones that form the emotional and metaphorical core of The Kite Runner. The film, based on the best-selling book by Khaled Hosseini, is partly set in Afghanistan in the 1970s, and the simple act of flying a kite comes to represent a freedom of spirit that is lost when the nation is invaded by the Soviets in 1979, and then remains lost when the nation is dominated by the extremist form of Islam that characterized the Taliban.

But the two boys at the heart of this story do not merely fly kites, they “cut” them — by chasing other kites through the air and curling around their strings until they snap. Kite-flying thus becomes a form of competition — and with the help of modern special effects, the film sometimes uses aerial shots to show how the airborne kites pursue one another, like fighter planes hot on each other’s tails.

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Clash of the Titans gets a director — ugh.

Variety reports that Stephen Norrington has been tapped to direct the remake of Clash of the Titans (1981).

Norrington directed the original Blade (1998). He also directed League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), which may go down in history as the movie that ended Sean Connery’s career.

Somehow I am not expecting great things, here.

Then again, if Connery could be lured back to play Zeus, that could make this a riotously funny bit of camp. Or perhaps not.

Now I’ve got this image in my head of Zeus wearing a giant teddy-bear costume. And as surreal as that was in The Avengers (1998), it didn’t exactly make that movie funny.

Peter Jackson isn’t the only one suing New Line.

Variety reports that Saul Zaentz, who has owned the film rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings since 1976, is suing New Line Cinema for the chance to look at their financial records, to see whether they have paid him his proper share of the profits from Peter Jackson’s enormously successful trilogy.

You may recall that Jackson himself is suing New Line for pretty much the same thing — and that Jackson’s lawsuit is one of the reasons why many people think a film version of The Hobbit will never get made, at least not by these guys.

You may also recall that Zaentz said over a year ago that the film rights to The Hobbit would be reverting to him in the very, very near future — and that Jackson would make the film, with or without New Line.

And all of this is happening while New Line’s latest attempt at a popular fantasy franchise — Chris Weitz’s adaptation of The Golden Compass — has been seriously underperforming at the box office.

Make of all that what you will.

Eddie Izzard to voice Reepicheep?

So says Ain’t It Cool News in a dispatch from Butt-Numb-A-Thon 9, where The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian producer Mark Johnson apparently showed up for an on-stage interview.

The brave mouse was played in the BBC version of Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1989) by Warwick Davis, who is now playing the dwarf Nikabrik in the new movie.

(Hat tip to

Too cute.

My wife and kids are watching 101 Dalmatians (1961) right now, and every now and then a dog comes onscreen and my boy, standing next to the couch and staring attentively at the screen, says, “Arf! arf!” If I knew where my camera was, I’d preserve the moment for posterity. But this blog post will have to do.

Forster on being unique among Bond directors

The New York Times had an interesting profile the other day of Marc Forster, the German-born Swiss director of The Kite Runner and the next James Bond movie, among others. An excerpt:

The ability to generate suspense from some of the more aberrant emotional states may serve him well in his new assignment, because Bond, as played in his most recent incarnation by Daniel Craig in “Casino Royale” (2006), seems, Mr. Forster said, “very isolated, a man who’s damaged in some way.” Mr. Craig’s Bond felt to him like “a completely new interpretation of the character,” he said. “This James Bond is darker, more tormented. He’s humanized, in a sense.”

And that, he said, is the quality that will allow the franchise to go on. “In the ’60s and ’70s, when Sean Connery and Roger Moore were playing the role, a large part of the appeal of the James Bond movies was the travel to exotic locations, but that’s not such an attraction anymore,” Mr. Forster said. “People travel a lot more now, and with the Internet they’re more aware of what the rest of the world is like. In a way the most interesting place for a James Bond movie to go is inward — deeper into Bond himself.”

His mention of the ’60s and Mr. Connery was an abrupt reminder that, even more than Mr. Forster’s “non-Commonwealth” status, what really sets him apart from every previous Bond-movie director is that he is the first to have been born after the swingin’ heyday of the series. The canonical Connery Bonds — “Dr. No,” “From Russia With Love,” “Goldfinger,” “Thunderball” and “You Only Live Twice”— were all history by the time Mr. Forster entered the world in 1969. . . .

That he is the first director of a Bond movie who’s too young to remember the originals hadn’t dawned on him, either, until it was pointed out to him. That may be the most interesting thing about this not intuitively obvious marriage of filmmaker and film: After 45 years or so of 007 we’ll finally get to see what this dinner-jacketed warrior looks like through the eyes of a director whose points of reference are not “The 39 Steps” and “North by Northwest” but “Aliens” and “Die Hard.” (Those are the pictures Mr. Forster names as some favorite action movies.) How does James Bond strike somebody for whom the character is not merely mythic, but remotely mythic, like Beowulf?

But Marc Forster has another idea about why he’s the right choice for “Bond 22,” and why it’s the right movie for him. “You know, James Bond’s mother is Swiss,” he said. “That will make it all worthwhile.”

Obscure snarky soundtrack-buff quip of the day: If Forster cites Aliens and Die Hard as his two main influences, will his James Bond movie climax with the same piece of James Horner music that was used in the final scenes of both of those films?