Newsbites: Horseman! Dissent! Brian! Harry!

Newsbites: Horseman! Dissent! Brian! Harry! August 28, 2007

Just a few more quick items.

1. Variety reports that Intrepid Pictures, one of the producers of the upcoming Balls of Fury, is making an apocalyptic thriller:

Intrepid Pictures has acquired supernatural thriller “The Fourth Horseman,” penned by Marshall Uzzle and Perry Fair, and set it up with Intrepid partners Marc D. Evans and Trevor Macy along with Mike Karz.

The banner has brought in the writing team of Paul Benz & Steve Tomlin (“Snowblind”) to rewrite.

“Horseman” centers on a young priest’s battle to thwart the rise of the fourth horseman of the apocalypse, when three of the horsemen — War, Pestilence and Famine — await the birth of their fourth brother so they can fulfill their destiny and bring about the end of times. . . .

Birth? Brothers? So who’s their mother? Where does she live and what does she do? Will this young priest be trying to thwart the birth of an unborn child? (Just think of the dramatic conflict.) The fourth horseman, by the way, is Death, and the horse itself is pale, hence the term “pale rider“. Maybe Clint Eastwood’s the father.

I wonder what sort of double-bill it’ll make with The Horsemen.

2. Variety reports that AOL’s True Stories will offer free excerpts of the Michael Moore exposé Manufacturing Dissent.

3. reports that a new “immaculate edition” of Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979) is coming out on DVD and Blu-Ray on November 6. It has some new features, but it looks like the radio ads, deleted scenes and audio commentaries might just be copied over from the Criterion edition, which I commented on here.

4. Alan Jacobs makes some interesting comments on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in the newest issue of Books & Culture:

Many readers have already exclaimed that Harry’s final quest marks him as a clear Christ figure. This is wrong, seriously wrong, and I think J. K. Rowling goes out of her way to tell us so. People (characters in the books as well as readers) think that Harry is a unique person of unique power, but at a dozen points in the series we are clearly shown that he is not: he is called the Chosen One, but he is chosen by Voldemort, and Dumbledore emphasizes to Harry the sheer contingency of this choice. The work of the Cross is done by Christ alone; Harry always has help. (It’s worth emphasizing that while each of the Horcruxes is destroyed, each is destroyed by a different person.) At his moment of agony Christ was abandoned; at the end of his quest Harry is supported and comforted. As my friend Jay Wood has noted, if Harry resembles a biblical figure it is not Christ but rather Stephen the Protomartyr. But the comparisons with Stephen are limited too: for a more precise analogue, I encourage you to rummage through your children’s books until you find an old copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Surely you have one. Read the story of the Three Brothers, and pay particular attention to the youngest. You’d be surprised what you could learn.

It should be obvious at this point that the Harry Potter books amount to something more, far more, than your average penny dreadful. But they belong, firmly, to that moral universe, even as they expand it beyond what we might have thought possible. Many years ago Umberto Eco wrote that the greatness of Casablanca stems from its shameless deployment of every narrative cliché known to humankind: “Two clichés make us laugh. A hundred clichés move us. For we sense dimly that the clichés are talking among themselves, and celebrating a reunion.” The Harry Potter books are like that: every trope and trick of the penny dreadful raised to the highest power and revealed in all their glory.

5. Roger Ebert, Jeffrey Wells and Peter Debruge ponder whether the Bourne movies are making people sick — literally.

6. I must agree with Chris at Movie Marketing Madness: the new red-band trailer for Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem is “awful”.
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