Newsbites: Plissken! Becket! Commandments!

Newsbites: Plissken! Becket! Commandments! March 13, 2007

Time for another quick batch.

1. Variety reports that Gerard Butler — star of 300, Beowulf & Grendel (2005), Dear Frankie (2004) and others — hopes to play Snake Plissken in a remake of Escape from New York (1981).

2. I just noticed today that Becket (1964) will finally come out on DVD on May 15 — with a commentary track by Peter O’Toole!

3. Matt Page at the Bible Films Blog passes on the news that a new animated version of The Ten Commandments is in the works.

4. Wired reports that the Dove Foundation is phone-spamming people to create a “survey” which will prove that Hollywood does not represent the “values” of mothers and grandmothers.

5. Scott Renshaw at The ScreenGrab bemoans the poor quality of most “faith-based” films and asks mainstream filmmakers to pick up the slack by taking religious subjects seriously:

As a film critic in flyover country, I’m obliged to endure more than my fair share of movies that are marketed as uplifting, God-lovin’, non-threatening fare. As a film critic in Utah in particular, that includes the local cottage industry in independent movies pitched specifically at the majority Mormon population (the “Mo-movies”). If you are a big-city cinema buff whose movie-going diet consists either of Hollywood or art-house releases, this sub-genre might be nothing but an amusing rumor to you. And it probably would not surprise you at all to discover that most of these movies … let’s see, what’s the technical term I’m looking for? Oh yeah: Suck ass.

This suckage manifests itself in an impressive array of ineptitudes. Directors avoid niceties like pacing. Cinematographers treat focus as a suggestion. Actors read lines as though they were only pronouncing words phonetically without understanding their meaning. And the scripts. Oh most merciful Lord of Hosts, the scripts . . .

Questions of faith can be as complex and compelling as any part of human existence, yet those stories rarely make their way to our screens. Rare is the writer/director like Mormon auteur Richard Dutcher who takes seriously the task not just of congratulating his viewers for believing in the same things, but of exploring the knotty intersection between our souls and our lives.

So come on, filmmakers—give faith a chance. You don’t need to surrender the subject to the hacks. I’m begging you.

6. Film Junk reports that Michael Bay’s live-action Transformers movie was recently rated R, until executive producer Steven Spielberg nagged the MPAA into changing the rating to PG-13. This may, of course, be nothing but a rumour; the film doesn’t show up at all at, which is the MPAA’s official website.

MAR 16 UPDATE: Shia LaBeouf confirms the rumour here.

7. reports that Shia LaBeouf says he isn’t in “final talks” to play the son of Indiana Jones. Quoth he:

“It’s nuts. It’s like these rumors are spiraling out of control,” proclaimed LaBeouf. “Look, there’s no deal on the table. If it was on the table, I would love to. It’s like a dream come true to be in that project, but it’s a rumor at this point. These things happen, but it’s wild that it was in Variety; it’s weird.”

While no stranger to casting gossip, LaBeouf is holding out hope, however, that this one may come to fruition.

“I’ve been through it before, though” explained the actor. “I was rumored to be Jimmy Olson in Superman Returns. I’ve been through the rumor fallout thing before, so I’m not putting too much weight in it. You hope, of course. But is it solidified? No.”

8. Variety reports that Andrew Lloyd Webber recently announced he will make a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera.

9. Variety, the Associated Press and the Globe and Mail cover the left-leaning Michael Moore exposé Manufacturing Dissent.

10. Variety says audiences are increasingly okay with the ads that appear before movies: “63% of viewers ‘do not mind'”.

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