Newsbites: Joan! Chariots! 11th Hour! Lives!

Newsbites: Joan! Chariots! 11th Hour! Lives! August 29, 2007

Another day, another handful of news and blog links.

1. Variety reports that Sönke Wortmann has been tapped to direct Pope Joan, now that Volker Schlöndorff is out of the picture.

2. The Scotsman reports that Rich Swingle has written a sequel to Chariots of Fire (1981) called Beyond the Chariots and hopes to have trailers ready for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Both films concern Olympic runners Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams, the former of whom went on to be a missionary in China who died in a Japanese concentration camp. (Hmmm, will China’s Communist government embrace the film for showing how they suffered under the Japanese, or will they reject it for depicting a Christian missionary positively?) Presumably this is an entirely different project from With Wings as Eagles, the proposed sequel that Amazing Grace co-producer Ken Wales has talked about.

3. Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore takes issue with aspects of Leonardo DiCaprio’s new documentary The 11th Hour:

As a lifelong environmentalist, I say trees can solve many of the world’s sustainability challenges. Forestry is the most sustainable of all the primary industries that provide us with energy and materials. Rather than cutting fewer trees and using less wood, DiCaprio and Berman ought to promote the growth of more trees and the use of more wood. . . .

To address climate change, we must use more wood, not less. Using wood sends a signal to the marketplace to grow more trees and to produce more wood. That means we can then use less concrete, steel and plastic — heavy carbon emitters through their production. Trees are the only abundant, biodegradable and renewable global resource.

4. The Lives of Others director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck talks to Entertainment Weekly about the late star Ulrich Mühe:

How did Mühe’s upbringing in communist Berlin contribute to his portrayal of the Stasi agent?
This film allowed him to close a chapter in his life, to work through things again that had not yet been processed fully by him. The movie’s about the leading artists in the GDR around 1984, and that’s exactly what he was. He had been under surveillance from the moment he left high school. [He gave a speech] on the 4th of November [1989, just days before the Berlin Wall came down]. You could feel the political turmoil, but people didn’t know…[if] this could turn into another Tiananmen Square or Prague Spring. He was one of the organizers of the big demonstration [at the Berlin Wall] and talked before half a million people saying, ”Look, we have to make sure that this turmoil that we’re going through at the moment is used for something positive.”

It’s crazy that the scenario is exactly flip-flopped — that he plays the Stasi agent here.
It was strange — he was an incredibly courageous man in spirit and in will, but he didn’t have the physical constitution of a hero. He was positioned at the Berlin Wall as a sniper during his obligatory military service, and that got to him so much that at age 19, he collapsed on duty with stomach ulcers. He lost half his stomach — that was the origin of the ailment that killed him 35 years later.

So it all comes back full circle…
Sometimes I’d ask him, ”Why does all your anxiety always express itself in illness?” And he said, ”I tend not to be outward going that much. All my emotions go back in.”

5. Remember how Bryan Singer promised to “go all Wrath of Khan on” the sequel to Superman Returns (2006)? Film Ick claims to have received some very spoiler-ish information about Singer’s sequel, and if there is any truth to one of the bigger spoilers — and I do take this with a huge grain of salt — then I have to say this next film sounds more like The Search for Spock (1984).

6. The New York Times has a story looking at how the fortunes of New Line Cinema are now resting on The Golden Compass.

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  • Does this mean that if Christians do not support the anti-Christian “Golden Compass” in droves, then New Line will fold? And if so, then Tolkien’s “Hobbit” will never see the light of day?

    What a moral quandry.