The Untouchables — does it need a prequel?

Hannibal Rising was a flop, but that evidently hasn’t stopped the producers of the similarly-titled and similarly-unnecessary prequel The Untouchables: Capone Rising from going ahead with their own project. A week or two ago it was revealed that the 43-year-old Nicolas Cage would play “the young Al Capone” — which, as Jeffrey Wells noted, was an odd bit of casting, given that the real Capone was sent to jail at the age of 32 and he was played in the earlier film by the 43-year-old Robert De Niro. And now the MTV Movies Blog confirms that the 37-year-old Gerard Butler will play “the young Jimmy Malone” — a character created by Sean Connery, who won an Oscar for the role, when he was 56.

Demons fails to possess CBS’ schedule

Just a quick update: Comments at the blogs for Barbara Hall and her sister Karen Hall indicate that CBS did not pick up Demons, the TV pilot that Barbara produced with Joe Roth. That’s the series which was initially going to be based on “the real-life experiences of Bob Larson”, until the main character was turned into an ex-Jesuit psychologist. (Hat tip to Jeffrey Overstreet.)

Speaking of Rambo and religion …

… I am looking forward to this film, which has played a couple of festivals but, according to the IMDb, won’t get a regular theatrical release in North America until some time next year:

SON OF RAMBOW is the name of the home movie made by two little boys with a big video camera and even bigger ambitions. Set on a long English summer in the early 80′s, SON OF RAMBOW is a comedy about friendship, faith and the tough business of growing up. We see the story through the eyes of Will, the eldest son of a fatherless Plymouth Brethren family. The Brethren regard themselves as God’s ‘chosen ones’ and their strict moral code means that Will has never been allowed to mix with the other ‘worldlies,’ listen to music or watch TV, until he finds himself caught up in the extraordinary world of Lee Carter, the school terror and maker of bizarre home movies. Carter exposes Will to a pirate copy of Rambo: First Blood and from that moment Will’s mind is blown wide open and he’s easily convinced to be the stuntman in Lee Carters’ diabolical home movie. Will’s imaginative little brain is not only given chance to flourish in the world of film making, but is also very handy when it comes to dreaming up elaborate schemes to keep his partnership with Lee Carter a secret from the Brethren community. Will and Carter’s complete disregard for consequences and innocent ambition means that the process of making their film is a glorious rollercoaster that eventually leads to true friendship. They start to make a name for themselves at school as movie makers but when popularity descends on them in the form of the Pied Piper-esque French exchange student, Didier Revol, their unique friendship and their precious film are pushed, quite literally, to breaking point.

Indiana Jones and the Chariots of the Gods?

Take this with the usual grains of salt, but says it has heard from an insider on Indiana Jones IV:

‘Belloq’ also tells us that the opening action scene of the film will pit Dr. Jones against Russians agents in Area 51 – which is interesting, as this is a major similarity to the Frank Darabont draft that confirms my belief that much of what was in that script has made its way into what will be filmed this summer. . . .

I’m holding back some details, but from what ‘Belloq’ tells me, and from my own quick reading through the Darabont draft, I would say that the main storyline remains roughly the same – it involves crystal skulls and takes its cues from Chariots of the Gods.

Oy vey. It’s one thing for Steven Spielberg to put allegorical Moses figures and Christ figures in UFO movies like Close Encounters of the Third Kid (1977) and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), but if this film goes the Erich von Däniken route — suggesting that all the world’s religions were reactions to visits from outer space — then that would be far, far too literal. Then again, it is always possible that the film will point beyond the sci-fi stuff to something truly mystical or supernatural. (It is probably hoping too much to wonder if the film might go in the direction of C.S. Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet, but that’s the sort of thing I’m thinking of.)

Either way, maybe this will explain how C-3PO and R2-D2 turned up in the hieroglyphics in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).

Videotapes, litanies, memory and identity

I have always had a soft spot for 50 First Dates (2004; my comments), the romantic comedy in which Drew Barrymore plays a woman who has no memory of her relationship with Adam Sandler because she forgets each and every day’s events before she wakes up the next morning. So I was really intrigued to see this post by Carmen Andres at In the Open Space on the possible allegorical significance of one of the film’s key plot devices:

Eventually, Henry puts together a video tape which summarizes the time since her accident and plays it for her one morning. While still very painful, the truth up front gives her (and her family and friends) a chance to start living real life again.

I love this part of the film because it reminds of a practical spiritual discipline that really helps me in trusting God. A few years ago, I started a kind of seasonal routine, where I repeat a series of linked biblical truths or Scripture that remind of who God is and who I am. . . .

I can especially relate to Carmen’s thoughts here because both of our families are in the middle of moving from one home to another — so I appreciate her comments about the need to remember our true identities as we move from one empty “shell” to another.

Charles + Maher = religious controversy?

Bill Maher and Borat director Larry Charles are currently making a movie about “the role of institutional religion around the world.” The foreign distribution rights are currently being sold at the Cannes film festival. But the presumably controversial film does not yet have an American distributor. Variety reports:

Based on a 10-minute promo reel seen by about 200 buyers Friday, the pic promises a blend of comedy and reportage that could attract significant controversy. A one-page “statement of intent” by Charles was released at Berlin, and some territories started responding then. . . .

The big question now: Who will buy the film in the U.S., Maher’s home turf? And how readily will they want to be known as the grinches who stole Christ?

“The filmmakers are in no hurry to sell domestic,” said Stuart Ford, managing director of IM Global. “We have comfortably covered more than 100% of the production costs through foreign sales.” . . .

Some who saw the footage believe it would be extremely difficult for a division of a major studio to handle the pic. Handily enough, though, Cannes 2007 is stocked with deep-pocketed indie players capable of distributing on their own.

The producers, Palmer West and Jonah Smith (“A Scanner Darkly,” “Waking Life”), fully financed the film. CAA is handling sales. . . .

Wait a minute, this movie was produced by the guys behind those two films? Maybe this one will have rotoscoped animation, too!