Newsbites: Billy! City! Caspian! Blue! Passion! W! Messiah! Tropic! Circuit! etc.!

Newsbites: Billy! City! Caspian! Blue! Passion! W! Messiah! Tropic! Circuit! etc.! April 5, 2008

Time for another batch of newsworthy goodness.

1. Variety reports that Armie Hammer — the 21-year-old rumoured to be playing Batman in George Miller’s Justice League movie — has been cast as the young Billy Graham in Billy: The Early Years. The cast also includes Martin Landau, Lindsay Wagner, Kristopher Polaha, Josh Turner, Stephanie Butler, Jennifer O’Neill and Sierra Hull — but there is no mention in this story of Hal Holbrook, who was the only cast member announced one month ago.

2. Dark City (1998; my article) was my favorite movie of the year it came out, and it was also one of the very first movies I bought on DVD. Now, co-writer David Goyer tells that the film has been re-cut and “all of the parties involved” have been interviewed for “an over hour long making-of” that will be included on the new DVD and possibly on a Blu-Ray edition, as well.

3. Quint at Ain’t It Cool News has visited the Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian editing bay and posted his thoughts on the 45 minutes or so of footage that he was shown — and, gadzooks, it sounds like they are seriously diverting from the book in just about every way.

4. CT Movies has an interview with Steve Taylor, who made his feature directorial debut with The Second Chance and is now working on an adaptation of Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz, which begins shooting in May.

5. The Associated Press has a brief update on The Passion of the Christ co-writer Benedict Fitzgerald‘s lawsuit against Mel Gibson:

In court filings Tuesday, attorneys for Gibson and his production company asked the court to seal the movie’s financial records and only allow Fitzgerald’s lawyers access to them. The information details the movie’s domestic and foreign box office receipts, production costs and distribution expenses.

The defense is also seeking to dismiss some of Fitzgerald’s claims, including fraud, which if proven would allow Fitzgerald to seek punitive damages.

6. ABC News takes a sneak peek at the script for Oliver Stone’s W. They published it on April Fool’s Day, so some people have regarded it with skepticism, but Jeffrey Wells, who is quoted in the piece and has read the script himself, assures us the piece is genuine.

7. Matt Page has discovered a month-old CNN video depicting clips from The Messiah, AKA Jesus, the Spirit of God, the Iranian film that tells the story of Jesus from a Muslim point of view.

8. The New York Times says Tom Cruise‘s cameo as “a bald, hairy-chested, foulmouthed, dirty-dancing movie mogul” brought the house down at a recent industry screening of Tropic Thunder — the trailer for which looks hilarious. And for what it’s worth, as other bloggers have noted, this is not the first time Cruise has worked with Ben Stiller.

9. Now that WALL-E seems to be paying homage to Short Circuit (1986), it was probably only a matter of time before someone came along and re-made the original film outright — and according to Variety, the “someone” in question is Dimension Films, the primarily horror-oriented company owned by the Weinstein brothers. What, don’t they want to do another 20-years-later sequel like the Indiana Jones and Rambo franchises have done?

10. Variety says Justin Long and Hayden Panettiere will provide the lead voices in Alpha and Omega, a cartoon about … two kidnapped wolves. That’s an … interesting … choice of names.

11. Errol Morris has written an interesting essay on the use of re-enactments in documentaries, and how to distinguish them from fraud, based in part on some unexpected reactions that certain people had to his film The Thin Blue Line (1988):

It never occurred to me that someone might think that the re-enactments were not re-enactments at all, but honest-to-God vérité footage shot while the crime was happening. It’s crazy for someone to think I had just happened to be out on that roadway, that night, with a 35-millimeter film crew and many, many cameras – cameras taking multiple angles, high angles from overhead, low angles at tire-level looking under the car, even angles inside the suspect vehicle. How could anyone think that? How could anyone believe that? Of course, people believe some pretty amazing things, and it made me think: is it a legitimate question? How do we know what is real and what is re-enacted in a photograph? What is real and what is a simulacrum? It’s a question about images. How do we know what is happening for the first time and what is a re-enactment of an event? In a photograph or in a movie? How do we know it hasn’t been doctored or altered to deceive us about the “reality” we imagine we are observing?

This, of course, ties into Morris’s earlier musings about the Robert Fenton photographs, as well as his upcoming documentary Standard Operating Procedure, which is about the Abu Ghraib photographs.

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