Newsbites: Stiller! Malick! Sundance! Stomp!

Newsbites: Stiller! Malick! Sundance! Stomp! January 12, 2007

Just some quick items here; more later.

1. One of the bigger surprises when I re-visited Empire of the Sun (1987) two years ago was seeing a rather young Ben Stiller in one of the supporting roles. Now Production Weekly says Stiller is basing a comedy on his experience making that movie:

Ben Stiller plans to star in and direct ‘Tropic Thunder’, a high concept comedy that he’s been developing ever since he worked on Steven Spielberg’s “Empire of the Sun” way back in 1987. The script Stiller wrote with Etan Cohen (”Madagascar 2 “) and Justin Theroux, is about the making of a big-budget war movie where everything that can go wrong does, and where the actors end up becoming the commandos they are playing. Principle photography is scheduled to begin in July.

2. Keith Uhlich at The House Next Door passes on the news that the original, rarely-seen, longer version of Terrence Malick’s The New World (2005) is already out on DVD in Italy. Still no word on when the even longer three-hour version might come out.

3. Jeffrey Wells links to a New York magazine piece on the “sex-shock cinema” coming to the Sundance Festival this month. Some of the films involved — The Ten, Teeth — happen to have religious elements, albeit of an apparently perverse sort.

4. Two stories, both from the Associated Press, appeared in my news reader only a few seconds apart, and the difference between the headlines was rather eye-catching. First, there was this:

Theater Fears Violence, Drops Black Film
Thursday January 11 4:15 PM ET

The CEO of a theater chain said he won’t show a film about black college fraternities at any of his Springfield theaters this week out of fear it could trigger the kind of gang violence that erupted during another movie last month.

The decision drew criticism from the president of the Springfield branch of the NAACP, who said it hurts black audiences, particularly black families that would be attracted to what he says is an uplifting film.

The movie, “Stomp the Yard,” is about a dance competition between black college fraternities.

Tony Kerasotes of Kerasotes Theatres, a Midwest chain, said he did not make his decision based on race but out of concern that the film would attract gang members.

He said he feared a repeat of a fight and shooting that occurred during a Christmas Day screening of “Black Christmas” at Parkway Pointe theater in Springfield. “Black Christmas” is a horror film and did not depict the black community. . . .

Then, there was this:

New Film Shows Positivity of Black Youth
Thursday January 11 3:41 PM ET

A film about black youth that doesn’t focus on violence, gangs and life in the ‘hood? Hard to believe these days, but it’s possible. . . .

Make of that juxtaposition what you will.

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  • Re the perversity at Sundance.

    I had a dustup with Barbara Nicolosi and a couple of her commenters over ZOO, a film about … well … here’s Barbara’s initial post and the resulting combox fracas (actually not that ugly).

  • Thanks — interesting. I am surprised that all those posts were made without any reference to Kevin Smith’s Clerks II, which had already come out by then, and which climaxes with a “donkey show”. And a number of recent and upcoming films, like Trust the Man (2005) and Wild Hogs (2007), already have scenes, played for laughs, in which people stumble onto bestiality websites by accident; if I’m not mistaken, the relevant scenes from both of those films even appear in their trailers. And come to think of it, wasn’t a man raped by a hamster in the PG-13 “family film” Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000)? So this stuff is already out there in the mainstream.

  • Re: the decision not to show Stomp the Yard; that is very interesting , because at the theater at which I work, in downtown Washington D.C., we had not one but two brief fights break out in the lobby on Saturday, and I made a comment to one of the other employees that it was only natural that when we book movies which seem to glorify aggresive behavior that we see it acted out in reality . . .