HOLLYWOOD - In a somewhat bold attempt to break from what has become something of an all too typical would-be-not-so-critical, traditional end of the year, grab bag-like, catch basin affair of sorts, L.A. based journalist, Patterson Dorsey, has apparently seen fit to carry out the rather misguided chore of offering up a sort of wag of the dog (gently) salute to those would-be treasured cinematic gems which, for reasons far from the usual otherwise unknown, failed to make the grade and/or (thank the Lord) see any reasonably substantial light, during what for many, appears to now have been nothing more (and a whole lot less) than temporary business as unusual during the most recent twelve, somewhere out there in the dark, months this past year.
Or, however else the collective evenings did, in fact, wear on.
In other words…..on with the not so fast, my friend, show of no-shows.
FIVE DECIDEDLY EASY PIECES - What at first seemed like a swell enough twist along, readjusted tug job reset (taking erstwhile hidden artistic genius lead character, Robert Eroica Dupea, from the beaten off tracks of the California oil fields, and setting him up accordingly as just another nameless/faceless go-to stud engaging in an assortment of heavy lifting activities deep within the wonderfully wicked world of present day porno picture making in L.A.'s infamous gang-bang-a-thon headquarters in the San Fernando Valley, while, of course, his long estranged family - this time re-tooled as classically trained thespians - conduct yet another season of poorly attended, yet extremely intense, Ibsen, Strindberg, and O'Neill workshops, at the family's legendary theatre-friendly barn, somewhere inside their semi-palatial compound-like estate in either Oregon, Washington, or just someplace with a lot of trees) appeared to be a can't miss tentpole just waiting to happen. What with Johnny Depp on board, along with a bevy of real life porno working gals (Carmella Bing, Luscious Lopez, Sativa Rose, Eva Angelina, and, ever-popular matron muffmeister, Georgette Parks) rounding out an impressive cast of (more than) hands-on destination points. Plus, Catherine Keener, Jeremy Piven, Mickey Rourke, and Lewis Black along for what promised to be a helluva a ride. That is, until Carmella's all of a sudden with-child act got in the way. And, as it quickly came to pass, apparently every available insurance company in town balking at extending any sort of worthwhile in-production coverage, knowing full well of Piven's somewhat notorious full-tilt tendencies when babes of any stripe are in the house, and/or potentially of a mind to assume a variety of positions whenever teams of grips of another sort attend to their all too necessary on-set light-changing responsibilities. Needless to say, Sony's eventual pulled plug s#it-canning of this stroke along get down no doubt did what it could to ruin what had otherwise been so far an altogether good year for whiz bang director Christopher Nolan ("Inception"). Although, with another installment of "The Dark Night" on his to-do plate (and supposed to have been cameo cast vixen, Tiffany Mynx, currently helping him make his subsequent bittersweet ends meet, so to speak) I'm sure he'll figure out a way to get over the disappointment of not seeing this project fully realized, all because another case of unfortunate corporate interruptus saw fit to rear its ugly head and put the brakes on this (around the world, certainly) multi-piece train even before any sort of otherwise receptive tunnel opened up and/or improperly came into view.
HAROLD AND MAUDE - As much as most of America (and apparently many other worthwhile points around the globe as well, especially those with indoor plumbing, and a fondness for hot young guys with plenty of hanging over the forehead bangs) may have seemingly been all-too eager to see Justin Bieber tackle the fits like a glove part of Harold in this, no doubt, would have been fairly accurate retell of Hal Ashby's 1971 cult fave. All such necessary looking forward cache quickly went out the window once Betty White - the initially planned on new and improved supposed to be Maude - gave such a meaty plum role a second thought (apparently a major pay for limited never break a sweat play co-starring gig in Sam Raimi's high gloss stab at Merchant/Ivory-like material, "Matron of the Arts" with Adrien Brody, Laura Linney and Steven Wright, may have also had a little something to do with her bolt from the scene action even before the moat was officially installed around her vintage, boxcar-like trailer on the Paramount lot) and was not-so-involuntarily, somewhat reluctantly replaced by first, Shirley MacLaine, then eventually by old reliable go-to sixty-something or other, Cloris Leachman, before dithering director Peter Bogdanovich finally woke up from his latest 5-year nap, only to promptly toss in the towel (along with his typically highly unattractive ascot), and, of course, move elsewhere to apparently pen a two-part mash note to old school Hollywood get 'er done guys, Howard Hawks and Leo McCarey for Sight & Sound. All of which left this latest May-December love fest well beyond the lurch of no return. Much to the infinite delight, one would suppose, of Bud Court fans everywhere. Both of whom will reportedly be up for parole by springtime of 2012.
HE/SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON - As initially planned by cutting corner edge director Stephen Daldry ("The Reader" and "The Hours"), this variation on a theme oater was supposed to be anything but your father's John Ford/John Wayne horse opera, of sorts. What with Eddie Izzard bringing his genius-like cross-dressing tendencies out of the nearest available vintage armoire and onto a horse to lead the way as Captain Nathan Brittles, and, in the process, get a leg up, so speak, on any first stage alerts during the earliest wave of "don't ask/don't tell" days back when it seems men were men, and apparently the U.S. Cavalry was glad to look the other way and play along accordingly. Especially, if and when, there was ever any thought of things stretching out a whole lot more otherwise than not, if you know what I mean. But, as is usually the case, when the legend becomes fact, and its time to print the faaaaaaabbbulous, there indeed comes a time when one can't help but hope to hell that really ain't just another Colt .45 in the pocket of the trooper you're dancing with in the fort ballroom, following yet another long day of making life both rough and tough for some hard to please nearby Injuns. Who, due to an exorbitant amount of available fire water and several buckboards loaded up with black market carbines, have been acting up some, as of late, and apparently aren't all that afraid to repeatedly showcase such behavior, despite their anything but up to code preference for buffalo inspired day and/or evening casual wear. In other words, as unfashionable as it may to be imagine now, according to this side saddle sore redux, the wild west was anything but a picnic for any and all future GQ types punching the clock while doing out there time with Company C. At least, for the record, it was written off as a clock, if only to appease the chaplain at the fort, and, of course, hopefully allow those so inclined to properly pull off the spring musical without too much of an unnecessary hitch in their wayward collection of high-stepping chorus line moves under the spotlight.
Needless to say, overactive members the Over-Protective Friends of John Wayne Community Forum, feeling the pinch of having let the Coen brothers' "True Grit" remake somehow get through the lock-step line of their ever wary defense, went down extra hard when Harvey Weinstein and crew felt the need to whip this baby out, when the time came to hopefully see if there were any welcoming salutes out and about coming their way. Uh, yeah right. As in, not now, and like, not ever, pilgrim!
INGLOURIOUS MUTHAF@%&ERS! - Hoping to duplicate the rousing success of his award-winning "Inglourious Basterds," hyper-kinetic cinefile junkie, Quentin Tarantino, attempted (to no avail) to unleash this devil may WTF care epic, that hoped to do to all sorts of ultra-bigoted New York area guidos (during the days and nights following the infamous Howard Beach racial dust-up of the mid-80s) what Brad Pitt and his outlaw gang of ultra-violent soldiers in arms (and clubs) did to them there no good nasty ass Nazis during the undercover course of the big one. And, with Samuel L. Jackson, Pam Grier, Don Cheadle, Terrence Howard, Forest Whittaker, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Djimon Hounsou, Sophie Okenedo, Tyler Perry, for some reason, Larry Storch ("F-Troop"), and, Ice Cube as Rev. Al Sharpton, providing the names and dates of all the usual suspect faces, who could really blame the legendary adrenaline rush auteur from giving it ye olde blacksploitation college try. Especially for all those still out there hankering for a double barrel blow-out of a good time in the name of turning tables, namely the getting even kind. Well, a script would have been nice. And, so to perhaps would anyone other than no talent "Jersey Shore" dim bulb The Situation as the go-to racially insensitive knucklehead who started the big racial ruckus in the first place, all because of something to do with his obvious lack thereof, with regards to frequency, size, and response. Meanwhile, the inevitable comparisons to Stallone's high powered shoot 'em up, "The Expendables," probably didn't help this mayhem filled monster get off the ground when apparently the gettin' was almost, but not good enough, to ultimately do so.
RIO BRAVO - Yet another retread of a John Wayne classic that bite the dust before it had a chance to recklessly gobble up more than it could ever hope to successfully chew. Which, in some off-the-wall way, is entirely unfortunate. Since it would have indeed been nice to see Seth Rogan as The Duke's John T. Chance character, Robert Downey, Jr. showing off his stuff in the Dean Martin role, Emenim doing whatever is needed with the Ricky Nelson part, Richard Dreyfuss taking nutso to out there heights that Walter Brennan could never ever imagine, and, of course, Lady Gaga providing plenty of go-to muss and fuss as the high stakes card playing hottie who, back in 1959, helped make Angie Dickinson such a dream queen machine, if you know what I mean. Then again, maybe not. Which, I guess, is just one reason why quick draw cinematic jaw-dropper, Steven Soderbergh, up and left this deep dish of a mess waiting at the station (from here to eternity) once the call finally came in for him to helm George Clooney's rock 'em, sock 'em, new (and hardly improved) version of the Rock Hudson/Paula Prentiss near-classic "Man's Favorite Sport?" with up and coming, back and forth adult film/mainstream honey bunny, Sasha Grey ("Butt Sex Bonanza", "Deep Throat This", "The King of Coochie 4", "Anal Cavity Search 6", and "Entourage").
SUNDAY, BLOODY HELL SUNDAY - Who knew that Judd Apatow's comical whatnot update of John Schlesinger's envelope pushing 1971 out and about mismatched sexual three-way rondelet would wind up to be such an altogether unreleasable, no-show dud? Admittedly, the updating change over of the Peter Finch gay doctor character to that of the bi-sexual object of affection - this time fleshed out in the form Will Ferrell as an anything but subtle Midwestern minister of AC/DC persuasion who performs an assortment of too close for comfort hands (among other things) on maneuvers with the undercover business ends of a not quite estranged, yet forever dueling gay brother (Mario Cantone) and straight sister (Tina Fey) team, who, together still find time (when not choking each other's throat and/or nearby barnyard of future fast food chickens) to operate the family's longtime, four-star rated, bed & breakfast in beautiful downtown Hell, Michigan. But still, such going my (mostly) gay way activities should have been more to someone's liking. Especially, with some very Randy Newmanish Glee-like song and dance routines whipped up by Bob Mould (Husker Du) and Black Francis (Pixies), once the test marketing know-nothings ripped this thing to shreds during its first series of disastrous previews at The Anything But International Film Festival in Traverse City, Michigan on Palm Sunday weekend.
CLAIRE'S KNEE - Trying to duplicate the delicate charm and full frontal verbal interplay of Eric Rohmer's cinematic puff pastries is indeed an ultra-challenging affair, that has all too often proved to be a totally tough trick to successfully pull off. If you don't think so, just give the there was definitely no blood, swing and a miss, lead-footed remake of "My Night At Maud's" (starring Kevin James and Catherine Keener) that over-thinking indie-movie legend Paul Thomas Anderson somehow felt the need to impolitely foist on a totally uninterested public at (extra) large two years ago. Then again, if so, you'd be among the first, since it only came out in a limited DVD edition, that is currently way down the least most wanted list of most well respected south of the border video pirates and/or Tijuana area flea markets, right behind, for some reason "The Devil Wears Prada" and, as always, either "Yentl" or "Fiddler On The Roof." Meanwhile, such a lackluster pedigree did little to dissuade the producers (all eighteen of them) and director Dennis Dugan from attempting to usher "Claire's Knee" through an endless series of in-house minefields at Lions Gate, that, in the end, is what ultimately proved to be the final ruin of what seemed at the time to be a most interesting, up-to-the-challenge, go-to cast: Adam Sandler, Keira Knightley, Lea Michele, Camille Paglia, Rob Schneider, Claire Bloom, and Bruce Dern. 'Tis a pity, since the likes of them collectively ever appearing together again, would seem to be decidedly slim. Unless of course, Junji Sakamoto and Steven Spielberg finally ever team up to co-direct their long delayed, multi-international dream project, a remake of "Tokyo Story" that's built around the rather exhaustive M and N sections of the Davenport, Iowa phone book. In which case, it would look to be game-on all over again. Hell, we can dream, can't we?
ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS - Just what the world needs, an unapologetic remake of the old Douglas Sirk May-December romance weeper extraordinaire. (NOT!) In other words, why monkey with perfection? Well, because of an infinite lack of original ideas, Hollywood, it seems must strip mine its semi-immediate like past, or else run the forever looping risk of churning out endless re-tells of once semi-impressive TV shows ("Petticoat Junction", "Camp Runamuck", "Hank", and "He And She"), or whatever comic-like super hero bursts forth from the semi-stunted, yet forever fertile minds of graphic comic artists from sea to shining toxic waste dumb (more than likely in New Jersey's Essex County). But still, no one was quite prepared to witness the mismatched anything but magic served up by no longer all that marvelous Meryl Streep and total, beyond the edge nerve grater, Dane Cook, in the lead parts, once so eloquently realized by Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman. Hell, not even the recklessly modulated, all too greasy, cannoli eating fingers of first, Martin Scorsese, and then, in a total departure, Abel Ferrara ("Bad Lieutenant" and "The Funeral"), could otherwise save this puppy from a slow painful death at the local pet hospital gas chamber. Which, considering the alternative would be an all too open wide supply of none too happy unsuspecting multi-plex theater patrons from coast to coast, it's no wonder that the original negative of this total turkey is currently buried inside a U.S. Merchant Marine footlocker that occasionally is put into emergency service at a (hopefully) properly climate controlled out patient clinic specializing in rectal surgery and tattoo removals in Culver City, California. Well, one can only hope so, for the sake of the children.
NOW, VOYAGER - Sure, the late, great Bette Davis no doubt probably went for a helluva spin in her grave when she heard that Charlize Theron and Jeremy Renner were assigned the unhealthy task of hopefully making the world (well, much of the gay part of it, anyway) forget the sterling, top shelf work, as expertly showcased by herself and suave, spooky sounding ,co-star Paul Henreid in the original 1942 classic, multi-hanky, weep feast. But even so, any excess rotating she may have done down at the crypt with regards to casting choices would, most likely, pale in comparison to the holy WTF, high-speed, curly-Q's, she performed when she got a peek at the readjustments producer Joel Silver (the "Lethal Weapon," "Die Hard," and "The Matrix" franchises), director Ang Lee ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," and "Brokeback Mountain") and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman ("Being John Malkovich," "Adaptation," and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind") were required to observe in order to avoid the buttinsky reach of anti-smoking forces among us who insist on those of the artistic community to steadfastly observe their politically correct agenda. Especially in scenes that would appear to otherwise promote the sometimes alluring magic of cigarette smoking and its almost primordial effect and seemingly unbridled assistance in the establishment of subsequent sexual relations between consenting adults of a certain age. Preferably, as filmed in black and white. In other words, regardless of how long its been since anyone actually heard Ms. Davis advise the world to buckle up in anticipation of yet another bumpy night, someone somewhere must have heard the high-pitched cry of outrage from the two-time Oscar winner once a proposed product placement deal with Subway was given a few screen tests to see how things would look if, instead of lighting up two Pall Malls to enjoy while always having the stars, Jeremy and Charlize were forced to set up shop at opposite ends of an extra long turkey and Swiss (with avocado) sub, and then proceed to, more or less, passionately gobble things up accordingly until their big, messy-faced, fade-out lip lock was otherwise officially complete. And, due to on-set teamster and craft service regulations, pretty much all over (spillage-wise) a well-placed paper plate, and/or, of course, a Rachael Ray/Old Navy drop cloth.
THE RULES OF THE GAME - Yet another ill-advised remake of a French classic that would seem to be nothing, if not impossible, to successfully translate in such a way so as to properly feed America's altogether limited no course meal, fast food-like tastes. But still, you got to hand it to Jon Favreau, who, like Jean Renoir, had the stones to dive in way over his well coiffed thick head to take on the double-dip duty chores of both director and featured star of this all-star reset re-do of the monumental, once upon a time mutilated, 1939 original that, ever since the 1960s, has been fully recognized as the masterpiece it always was intended to be.
And well, besides Favreau, I suppose it would hurt none to also hand a little something extra to his equally in over their collected head cast of fully game consorts. Namely, Vince Vaughn as the tragic love struck aviator at the criss-crossed center of the film's high/low road to everywhere but nowhere on the pre-World War II landscape; Nicole Kidman as the flighty, despair-filled, married woman object of his outside class boundaries, amours intentions; Ben Stiller as her sexually wandering, twit of husband, the all-too Hebrew oriented Marquis of Whothehellknowsgoldbergadeaux; Kristen Bell as Madame's maid; Philip Seymour Hoffman as the maid's ultra-clueless Gamekeeper husband; and Jack Black as the poacher, who worms his way into just about everyone's crossfire hairs, before it's time to finally send in the clowns, and, of course, cue the kind of unavoidable tragedy that comes with the territory when another unfortunate accident, just waiting to happen, reminds all concerned that there always exists certain unavoidable rules which must be observed, come hell or Vichy water.
And then, after you hand it to all them, make sure you give one of the assembled (if producer Scott Rudin is nowhere in sight) a perfectly loaded pistol so someone who's brave enough to take blame might, at this point in time, do the only honorable thing - namely, take one right between the teeth for such a totally misguided attempt to remake arguably the greatest* film of all time.
*Not counting, of course, Jim Jarmusch's "Stranger Than Paradise," which, by coming out in 1984, inconveniently missed the somewhat carefully thought out arbitrary cut-off point of anything prior to 1977 (or the arrival of "Star Wars"), as being open for consideration, when otherwise attempting to determine the greatest films of all-time.
Well, there you go. According to Patterson Dorsey that there's the top 10 no way, Jose, collection of unmade (and/or, for now until whenever, permanently shelved) Hollywood remakes for 2010.
One can only hope (when not being forced to imagine) what should-hopefully-be-missed cinematic treasures await the impending arrival of the next wave of unoriginal, backward stepping, nightmare merchants ready, willing, and certainly able to sell out the once proud heart and soul of an industry that has routinely made no secret of the fact that they all too often possess little, if any, sense of perpetual creativity. And, as such, even less in the way of what might pass for recognizable game (and/or face) saving shame.
In other words, welcome to Hollywood.
Now, please, pass the bucket, as the audience is puking.