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Zero Dark Thirty: Ooh-Rah!

by Ethan Alter December 19, 2012 6:00 am
Zero Dark Thirty: Ooh-Rah!

It's hard not to watch Zero Dark Thirty without drawing comparisons to Homeland and not just because both Kathryn Bigelow's new movie and that hit Showtime drama both revolve around a doggedly determined, socially awkward female CIA agent (Jessica Chastain's Maya on the big screen and Claire Danes' Carrie on the small) dedicating herself to bringing down America's most wanted terrorist, no matter the personal and professional cost. Beyond that, both the film and the series are shot through with a profound ambivalence -- and even skepticism -- about the way the nation's chief counter-terrorism agency operates, not to mention the moral compromises individual agents make in service of what they perceive to be their duty. But at the end of the day (and as the Season 2 finale made abundantly clear), Homeland is first and foremost a skillfully written soap opera, which uses the War on Terror as a backdrop to the twisted love story at its center; the show's "realism" exists entirely within quotation marks. Zero Dark Thirty, on the other hand, aspires to near-complete authenticity; while the decade-long CIA manhunt for Osama bin Laden almost certainly didn't proceed in precisely the manner that Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal present here, it's the closest we're probably going to get without being granted clearance to review the Agency's classified files.

127 Hours: A Rockin’-ly Fun Film to Watch

by Zach Oat November 5, 2010 6:00 am
127 Hours: A Rockin’-ly Fun Film to Watch

After the hustle and bustle of Mumbai in Slumdog Millionaire, I wasn't sure if perhaps director Danny Boyle had gone too far in the other direction for his next movie. Hiker Aron Ralston's autobiography, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, was about one guy with his arm stuck in between a boulder and a canyon wall in the middle of nowhere, and I wasn't sure how anyone could make that into something exciting and interesting. I shouldn't have worried, because Boyle's direction and Franco's quirky performance have combined to make one of the most engaging and, in fact, fun movies of Boyle's career, despite the occasional bleakness of the subject matter. Heck, there are even a couple of spots where you forget that the guy is going to survive the ordeal to write a book about it.

Dear John: Tell Nicholas Sparks his Movies Are Terrible. Thanks, TWoP

Nicholas Sparks is the new Michael Crichton or John Grisham -- insofar as he's more famous for the many movies based on his books as for the books themselves. Except where Crichton wrote about science and Grisham wrote about the law, Sparks writes about schmaltz. His latest schmaltz-fest, Dear John, looks to be yet another tale in the "tragic romance" vein, which makes us wonder if there's a formula to Sparks' books, or at least to the movies based on them. We parsed the plots of his five films to date -- and his upcoming movie with Miley Cyrus -- to see what threads they had in common. (Warning: While their books have been out for a while, the write-ups of the last two films on our list contain minor spoilers, although we could figure out their plots without even seeing them.)

Father Knows Worst: Classic TV Shows Make Bad Movies…Or Do They?

The Interweb is all abuzz today with news of a Father Knows Best movie in the works at Fox/New Regency. Will the new script dissect the show's oft-criticized paternalism, or skew its overly-rosy view of American life? Nope -- it's going to have a wacky grandpa! Apparently the original plot is going by the wayside in favor of a new dad fighting with his more conservative, live-in father over parenting style, which sounds just hilarious. After all, it's easy to remake these classic TV shows as movies, right? Hmmm... Read on to relive the worst '50-'60s TV reboots ever to appear on the silver screen, and take a gander at some remake ideas we'd rather sit through...

The Phantom Gets Reboot For No Good Reason

Lee Falk's comic strip about a seemingly immortal jungle hero and foe of pirates got an entertaining serial in the 1940s. In 1996, Billy Zane put on a purple body suit for his turn as Kit "The Phantom" Walker. (Did that movie really only come out in 1996? Doesn't it seem like it came out in like 1988 or something?) Now the story is getting a reboot from scriptwriter Tim Boyle, whose credits up till now include movies you've likely never seen. Do The Plex and Fink! ring a bell for you? No? Yeah, same here. An Australian production company has secured the rights for Falk's tale, and expects the budget to be $87 million. Ironically, they will have to become pirates to get the money.

New Line To Bring You New Musical, Featuring Songs You Know By Heart

New Line is getting musical-happy. The studio, who just announced they were planning a sequel to last year's hit, Hairspray, have won a studio bidding war for the rights to the rock musical Rock of Ages, an off-Broadway show that pairs '80s rock ballads with an on-stage love story (a la Mamma Mia!) that's currently rocking out in New York.

Is Josh Brolin Putting a Hex on Jonah Hex?

Josh Brolin seems to be having some trouble deciding once and for all whether or not to take the role of comic book antihero Jonah Hex. Last month, it seemed like the deal was all but done, with Brolin beating out Hex hopeful Thomas Jane for the part. Then just weeks later, he answered both "Nope," and "Don't know yet," when Collider asked him if he'd be doing the movie. He also detailed some of the thought process that goes into his decisions when it comes to picking roles. To spare you a case of mental whiplash, here's a summary: He asks himself a bunch of questions, second-guesses himself and others, then gets a little embarrassed by the whole thing. Now comes the latest news that writers/directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor have dropped out of directing due to "creative differences."

Columbia To Make Major Downer into Three-Hanky Picture

by Kasey McDonald November 20, 2008 12:24 pm
Columbia To Make Major Downer into Three-Hanky Picture

As I was making my way around the internets a few days after the election, reading all the articles on the historic vote, I came across one in the Washington Post about an African-American man by the name of Eugene Allen, who had worked as a butler in the White House for 35 years, starting his job in 1952. At the time, he wasn't even allowed to use the public restrooms in his native Virginia because of the color of his skin, and he and his now-86-year-old wife had talked about how amazing it was that America was on the brink of electing a black man as President. The article, a superbly written piece which ended with the devastating news that Eugene had cast his ballot alone on November 4th, as his wife had died a day before the election, was just picked up by Columbia pictures and will be made into a movie that will tell Eugene's life story.

Captain America Gets Writers; He-Man Gets a Director; The Host Gets Ruined

We've got writers! We've got directors! We've got... well, writers and directors, mostly. First up, there is the long-awaited news about talent being attached to First Avenger: Captain America. Sadly, the acting talent question remains a mystery, but The Chronicles of Narnia scribes Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (a name I will henceforth be calling the handsy guy on my Saturday morning bus) have been attached to pen the script for director Joe Johnston. As most know, the Captain America story is that of rejected army candidate Steve Rogers who undergoes an experiment that gives him enhanced strength and reflexes. And of course, an indestructible shield. The film will be set during World War II, after which the character will then appear in the modern-day set Avengers film, which will come out in May of 2011. I don't know if the weird time-space continuum that links Narnia with our world and makes time pass differently is going to help them, there. Should be interesting.

Gossip Girl Creator to Send X-Men Back to School

If you like your comic books with a little primetime soapy action that the Parents Television Council disapproves of, prepare to get excited: Josh Schwartz, the creator and executive producer of Gossip Girl, Chuck and The OC has just been tapped to write the next film in the X-Men franchise, X-Men: First Class. Though 20th Century Fox is keeping mum on details of the project, word has it that the film will focus on the students of Xavier's Institute for Higher Learning and could bring back some prominent characters from some of the previous X-Men films, like Rogue, Iceman, Angel and some not-so-prominent blink-and-you'd-miss-them characters like Colossus, Jubilee and Shadowcat.

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