Time to unload some more notes that I’ve been sitting on.
It’s no surprise that “No Country for Old Men” swept the three biggest prizes, but here’s how odd the year was: The academy showers its laurels on a film that has made about $63 million in domestic box office, while the big winner at the supposedly independent Spirit Awards has grossed double that amount. Maybe the two organizations should just switch names, dates and locations. I mean, would anybody notice?
2. TrekMovie.com reports that 12-year-old Jacob Kogan, who recently starred as the creepy title character in Joshua, has been hired to play the young Spock in Star Trek XI — the release date of which has been moved from Christmas 2008 to May 2009. (You mean we have to wait over a year before we can see this movie?) The website says Kogan will share at least one scene with Winona Ryder, who is playing Spock’s mother, and it notes that we have seen the young Spock before, in Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973-1974) and in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984).
3. When the first Narnia movie came out three years ago, some of us complained about the way it felt like a pale imitation of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, among other things. So imagine how we are reacting, now that Gregory Ellwood of MSN Movies has sneak-peeked the second movie and says it “should win over some moviegoers who wanted more ‘Lord of the Rings’-style scope to the ‘Narnia’ franchise.” Question for the filmmakers: After you’ve finished pumping lots of battle sequences into the first two movies, what are you going to do with Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which is supposed to be all about a mystical sea voyage?
4. Lars von Trier has been talking about making a movie called Antichrist for a few years now — and until now, all I knew about it was that it would be “based on the theory that it was Satan, not God, who created the world”. But now the Daily Telegraph adds a detail or two, as part of a broader profile of von Trier himself:
Instead, his next feature is Antichrist, a “psychological thriller that evolves into a horror film”. It features one man and one woman, yet to be cast, will be shot in Germany and in English this summer and deals with the favourite Von Trier topic of cruelty between the sexes: “You have to guess who is the Antichrist,” says its producer, Meta Louise Foldager, mischievously. Von Trier is testing ways of manipulating the image in it.
5. MTV Movies Blog reports that Paul Haggis, who finished the final draft of the next James Bond movie mere hours before the writers’ strike began, has “no idea” why the filmmakers gave it the title Quantum of Solace nearly three months later. Asked what he thought of the title, “he just sighed and said: ‘No comment.'”
6. Now that the strike is over, Variety says Warner Brothers is hoping to get that lame-sounding Justice League movie into production in time for a release sometime in 2009. Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald says the production may bolt Australia in favour of Canada due to “a dispute over whether it is eligible for the Federal Government’s new incentive for film production.”
8. It’s definitely too late to take part in this now, and I’m nowhere near New York to begin with, but still, a heads-up for future reference: The Revealer recently hosted a screening of two movies that touch on the growth of Christianity in China:
The Cross & The Camera: the films of Gan Xiao’er
In the post-Mao era, religious life rarely appears in China’s new independent films. Gan’s feature Raised From Dust portrays the troubles of a rural Christian family whose father is dying. The documentary Church Cinema shows Christian audiences’ reactions to his feature.
10. Variety reports that The Golden Compass is a hit in Japan, where it just opened, and the film could add as much as $51 million to its worldwide take in that country alone. It’s too bad the struggling studio won’t get to enjoy the extra profits, since it pre-sold the foreign-distribution rights way back when.
11. I haven’t seen the original Starship Troopers (1997) since it first came out, but, ridiculous as it was, I remember loving the satire and the special effects and thinking it was a really good guilty pleasure. I haven’t seen the second film, which went straight to video, but now the third film is upon us, and it reportedly gets into religious matters. io9 reports from WonderCon:
Starship Troopers III is much truer to the original Heinlein book than the first two movies, Van Dien and Neumeier both stressed. We might actually get to see the power suits that Heinlein talks about in the book. “I feel a great debt to the fans of the novel,” said Neumeier. “I adore the novel. I read it when i was 13.”
Neumeier sees the Troopers trilogy as a sort of history of war movies. The first Starship Troopers is sort of a riff on World War II movies, partly motivated by Verhoeven’s desire to deal with the experience of Germans in the mid-1930s, when the Nazis were rising to power. The second Troopers is more of a Korean war movie. And the third one is much more of a Vietnam war film, dealing with issues of religion and politics. It’s also about “how the state can use religion both badly, and for good.”
Gabriel McKee at SF Gospel comments:
I’m not entirely sure what the connection is between Vietnam War movies and religion, just as I’m not sure what the connection is between Heinlein’s novel and church-state relations. It sounds like it will be as satirical as the first film, containing more fake TV news and commercials. But considering that my approach to the first film has always been that it is, specifically, a satire of Heinlein himself, I have to question the wisdom of making the film more faithful to its source material.
For what it’s worth, this is the currently available trailer: