Rent: the review is in the mail…

Just got home from seeing the film version of Jonathan Larson’s musical Rent. It isn’t kosher to review films before the date of release, so I won’t comment on the movie itself just yet. But for what it’s worth, I reviewed the live theatrical version for BC Christian News seven years ago, and I hadn’t seen, heard or thought about it at all since then — so it was interesting how, at a couple points in the film, the characters would sing a line that made me think, “Oh, yeah, I remember quoting that one…”

NOV 18 UPDATE: Oh, one irony about last night’s screening just occurred to me. Before the movie, I bumped into a couple that I used to hang out with a fair bit when I attended another church some 10 to 15 years ago, not too long before I saw that stage version of Rent; today, he’s a pastor at one of those churches that meets in a movie theatre. And then, after the movie, I bumped into an editor that I’ve only just started writing for, and we talked about my in-progress first assignment for her. The characters in this musical keep singing lines like, “There is no future, there is no past,” but I seemed to run into both of those things last night!

“Great film, [but] there’s nothing Christian about it.”

That’s what Left Behind producer Peter Lalonde apparently said to the New York Times about the upcoming Chronicles of Narnia movie. Personally, I’d be surprised if he’d even seen the movie, so this may be one of those out-of-context things. But still…

I mean, I’d be very happy to say there’s nothing biblical about the Left Behind movies, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say there is nothing Christian about them. Objectively, of course, there is. It may be a really bad form of Christianity, but it’s still Christian.

Walk the Line — the interviews are up!

My preview of the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, featuring junket interviews with Joaquin Phoenix, Waylon Payne, Reese Witherspoon and director James Mangold, is now up at CT Movies.

Interviews: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Waylon Payne, James Mangold (Walk the Line, 2005)

He sang gospel songs, but he also wrote darker tunes like the one in which he assumed the persona of someone who shot a man “just to watch him die.” He was a country star who found his greatest success after he teamed up with a producer of rap albums. He produced a haunting music video shortly before his death at 70 that offered a stark, unflinching look at human mortality, yet he had — and continues to have — many fans many years his junior.

Johnny Cash was a man of contradictions, and Joaquin Phoenix — who plays the Man in Black in Walk the Line, a film developed with Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash prior to their deaths in 2003, and overseen since then by their son John — had a chance to see those contradictions up close, when he accepted a dinner invitation from the Cash family.

[Read more…]

Bridge to Terabithia in the works

Variety reports that AnnaSophia Robb — the young co-star of Because of Winn-Dixie (my junket report; my review) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — will star in an adaptation of Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia. Robb will play Leslie Burke, the progressive thinker and athletic girl next door who introduces a boy named Jess Aarons to an imaginary world.

I was a huge, huge fan of this book in Grade 6. I bought a copy for myself after Miss Joosse read it to our class, and during the more boring stretches of my paper route, I often tried to visualize how I would film this book; the only thing I might have visualized more would have been the death of Gollum in The Lord of the Rings.

An adaptation of the book was filmed for TV in 1985 — directed by Eric Till, a Canadian who would go on to direct more recent films like Luther (2003; my review; my essay) and Red Green’s Duct Tape Forever (2002) — but as I recall, I was underwhelmed by it.

I hope the new film will do the book justice, though there isn’t much info to go on right now. Director Gabor Csupo has basically no experience behind the camera of a live-action movie; all of his work to date has been as a producer and animator on shows like Rugrats and The Simpsons. The film is also being produced by Walden Media, whose track record to date has been pretty mixed.

Incidentally, I’ve noticed that there is a land called Terabinthia — note the extra letter — in the Narnia books. Coincidence?

Canadian box-office stats — November 13

Here are the figures for the past weekend, arranged from those that owe the highest percentage of their take to the Canadian box office to those that owe the lowest.

Water — CDN $494,516 — N.AM $494,516 — 100%
Pride & Prejudice — CDN $337,629 — N.AM $2,804,000 — 12.0%
The Legend of Zorro — CDN $4,268,428 — N.AM $39,489,000 — 10.8%

Prime — CDN $1,967,115 — N.AM $18,998,000 — 10.4%
Derailed — CDN $1,266,926 — N.AM $12,800,000 — 9.9%

Jarhead — CDN $4,047,817 — N.AM $47,065,000 — 8.6%
Saw II — CDN $6,136,780 — N.AM $74,151,000 — 8.3%
Zathura — CDN $974,625 — N.AM $14,000,000 — 7.0%
Chicken Little — CDN $5,165,870 — N.AM $80,774,000 — 6.4%
Get Rich or Die Tryin’ — CDN $1,001,355 — N.AM $18,203,000 — 5.5%

A couple of discrepancies: Water was #10 on the Canadian chart (it hasn’t turned up on the North American chart at all, yet), while Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story was #9 on the North American chart.


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