HOLLYWOOD - Pass the pipe, and pull the plug, cause it's reinvent the wheel time in Hollywood yet again. Which means, of course, that any optimistic thoughts that something new and reasonably original might soon be coming to the nearest multi-plex, should, for the next little few, be properly stowed. Or, at the very least, temporarily put in turnaround, until further notice.
In other words, welcome to what gives at the moment that is, for better or worse, absolutely right now. And how! A time to reflect, a time to re-think, and, for now anyway, apparently as good a time as any to also re-mine what, till only recently, seemed better left not re-done (at least so far) down there at the local Hooray 4- Store.
And, well, since a celebrated-like crew of everyone, who thinks they're indeed not just anyone, now seems to be so hip to the fix, and seemingly not the least bit bashful about their lack of any recognizable shame as they line up accordingly, to (What else?) show off their team player adaptability while carefully observing the rewind/recycle/remake (then rinse) business as usual sign now that it's been turned on (That's what else. But wait, there's more!), then seriously, why should any of us sitting forever out there in the dark folks suddenly be now not more amused, further impressed, and, (once the ads and previews have finally, at long last, run their course) less likely to blink than ever before, or, better yet, unwilling to sneak a peak to see who may have just sent a text, now that all the back to the opposite of future feature presentations have begun to so obviously un-spool?
In still other words, who do we have to……thank, for such a beautiful friendship set-up at this point in the back story? Uh-uh-uh, hold your applause until all the wind-up and follow through pitches currently still being delivered by the official sponsored merchants of any pre-chewed celluloid hero & villain product have either been swung at, tossed back, or caught for immediate bum rush inclusion as a featured pay or play special on any upcoming film un-fare menu. Or, at least until it seems that the current group-think dreams of all concerned might come falling down, and quickly begin an eventual crash and burn-up-a-thon all along the watchtower wayside.
Then again, maybe that's just one crucial part of a key sequence previously left out of the final scene of the original version of "The Wizard Of Oz", that had Auntie Em going ape and really letting Dorothy (and her little dog, too!) have it not-so-over-easy before the big fade-out hug and traditional end-of-the-shoot-day clean-up of any munchkin spill in aisle 666 was begun by whoever was then low man on the MGM grip pole. No doubt this, and (hopefully) even more flying monkeys (in 3-D!!!) is just something else we can cross our fingers and hope to see in some of the many soon-to-be brought back parts of any now in progress Oz re-tell, which should certainly be extra fun to wallow around in as soon as director Rob Marshall finishes his latest emergency Cinnamon Dolce Latte, Miley Cyrus gets fitted with another sweet pair of ruby slippers, and Seth Rogen stops yucking it up with Tina Fey's Broom Wrangler Trainee.
But…until then, or whenever it finally becomes all too obvious that another so & so someone should probably wake up from the their latest long distance nap and quickly put the momentary kibosh on any immediate (or soon to be upcoming) plans to recklessly recycle any further/whatever assorted treasures may or may not remain within the existing vaults of today's apparently not quite up to full speed ahead Hollywood, let's just sit back and allow whatever fun and games might arise (once properly packaged to any current exploitation of an intellectual property-like kind) to continue as is, and, more or less, keep unfolding accordingly. I mean, what do you hear, what do you say, shall we?
In other words, a virtual who's who of primo-like movieland folk - from a P. T. Anderson here, to an F.U. Tarantino there; from a super-sized side order of Almadover, to a not exactly likewise dose of Bigelow that's just a little heavy on the Greengrass; from the usual couple of kooky Coen's, with their extra fun tab of longer lasting too cool taste, to, believe it or not, a surprisingly un-subtle Spielberg, Lucas, and Cameron combo that is indeed, out of this, or just about any other world, plus, the usual big whole lot more - have, no doubt, each recently benefited immensely from the sudden, anything but cloudy, remake heavy climate currently sweeping out the corners of ever V.I.P. DGA room located in present tense H-Wood.
And, by doing so, this impressive assortment of behind the camera A-listers has quickly found themselves running neck and neck into a rapidly escalating level of not only positive industry-wide interest for any number of their would-be/could-be someday projects, but also plenty of quick-strike, go-for-it, green light clearance, as well, in response to their rising, and sometimes, furious flurry of ongoing non-stop pitches that, for the time being anyway, seem hell bent on looking no further than into the nearest rearview mirror whenever it comes time to either jump start, pre-plan, and/or fill out whatever hoped-for slate is needed to complete the upcoming go-to roster of their assorted down-the-road big screen dance cards.
Leading the way, of course, in this cinematic do-over pageant of sorts is Paramount's highly anticipated end of this year holiday gift, a Christmas day release of "True Grit", a seemingly made-to-order remake that ultimately promises to be served up in a tradition unlike any other. And, as such, is expected by many who know (or should, but don't know any better) to deliver producer Scott Rudin ("The Reader," "The Hours") and anyone else hopefully still in their Gulf & Western saddles by then (Sid, Marty, Gwen, Rachel, Richie, and Inga, along with totally trusted team players, Damien, Brenda, Jackson, Kate, Randi, Ben, and Dover, too!), a decidedly merry box office bonanza to all participants attached therein.
And, although at first glace, this third-time re-telling of an already well branded, once upon another time, old school oater, might seem to be anything but the likeliest candidate (what with its always challenging western-style setting, the obviously too cute, gun-totting farm gal bent on revenge for dead papa yarn, and, of course, the cranky, tough-talking, booze-swilling, one-eyed lawman with a big old hefty sack full of below-the-buckle sand, that apparently only hurts when he ain't otherwise riding roughshod all over it) to wind up being the designated chosen one to gallop up and carry the essential torch that's going to lead the rest of the opportunistic cinematic faithful into what many foresee as a possible "no-brainer" remake renaissance, that, once into full-swing gear mode, could, for some time, seemingly strip mine the you-know-what out of whatever it can for now from Tinseltown's so far already well picked over, gold-platted past. Or, at the very least, allow who's ever of a mind to do so to multi-draft their careless way through the balance of any used to be big/used to be in pictures-like properties still on the clubhouse shelf, just waiting there, of course, for anyone on today's film director leader board to sell out and buy in without blinking too much after having not properly waited an hour since consuming their last big feed at either The Ivy, or, due to previously unforeseen on-set difficulties, the most readily available, highly stocked craft service tent…..well, guess again.
In other words, from just about any angle, other than, of course, the most obvious, if the boot fits, wear it! And, despite having to take a once around the park walk through the big unavoidable mess out in the barnyard, this particular "True Grit" foot gear looks like a perfect fit all around. Which, makes it a definite winner, no matter how much it might now seem to be in need of a little extra hosing off before it's safely allowed back inside the main house just in time for Sunday supper.
Thankfully, in what now appears to be a brilliant bit of take-a-chance dice-rolling, Rudin box car'd his most profoundly apparent producer-with-a-plan skills by recognizing early on that something more than the lucked-out casting of recently minted Best Actor Oscar winner Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart") in the same Rooster Cogburn lead role finally put an Academy trophy in John Wayne's bigger than life, rough hewed hands back in 1969, would ultimately be needed in order to convincingly insure the chances of his film's long distance home on the range success.
Consequently, walk-the-talk Rudin proved himself to be more than just the usual wise enough for the room risk taker by reaching out and engaging the decidedly hip-cred services of above the title top-liner Bridges' "Big Lebowski" bosses, the award-winning directing brothers Coen, Joel and Ethan. And, although this strange but true, "you betcha" duo, responsible for such critically enhanced, yet, brittle bouquets as "No Country For Old Men," "Fargo," and "Blood Simple," among so many more groovy others of that particular ilk, might not appear to be the typical sort of behind-the-camera geniuses itching to knuckle-up and attach themselves to the traditional-minded chores of ushering a new and improved cinematic re-model off the latest the Hollywood assembly line, directly into the best available digital 3-D four-wall, for some extra-wide, opening weekend, hold your breath (and, of course lunch, too) like fun, it never hurts to ask.
Which, apparently is exactly what Rudin did. Once of course, the Gopher State fellas finally woke up with another definite Sturges hangover, and then (after tag-teamin' their way through a couple of big boy bowls of Trix and Kix) quickly figured out a trip-conscious way to whip up their hipper-than-thou re-visit treatment of a tried and true shoot 'em up classic, and still leave enough room in the corners of their tilted viewfinder to unleash a few fun shock-a-roos, just to please the play along ever faithful.
Although, contrary to what has previously been reported by Superstar Spoofeteer, Abel Rodriguez (while apparently waiting to make a left turn out of a parking lot following his front row viewing of a close win by the hometown San Antonio Spurs over the visiting Detroit Pistons), that - according to some wildly circulated inadvertent versions of the film's early draft shooting script - no account "True Grit" varmint, Tom Chaney, would, in the end, meet his maker via an obviously well placed wood chipper (for purposes of, as yet, uncertain financial consideration), the real cause of said film's central bad guy was, and is still, a company secret. While, what's been so far speculated, both in the press, as well as online, has been grossly exaggerated for obviously satirical purposes that, for now anyway, anyone with a workable finger is free to further peruse at their leisure, and forever hopefully enjoy.
And well, the rest is, as they say, at least till now, just a little more history under the bridge; the same bridge, it seems, that, no matter how anyone intends to re-spin it, more than just the usual few in today's filmmaking game have apparently now signed on to (or agreed in reasonable principle to) jump off of; either now, or soon enough, whenever that is, that any necessary sort of would-be professional push, prod, and/or pull comes to that point in the program when the only appropriate response to the next on-deck fade-in, is, if not an everlasting shove, then, by all means, at least a mutually satisfactory nudge. Which, in today's whirlwind manner of big leap developmental accountability, is, I guess, all anyone really needs to cue "Action!" And, reason enough to quickly start shining up an appropriate amount of well earned, "A Film By" stand alone credit title cards, that, once properly put in place, should, with no trouble, handle the rising high tide of so many gifted egos, as they proceed in their own uniquely particular way, without any further apparent caution, through the soon to be parted quicksand sea of their own, more or less, (hopefully with points) choosing.
And, if for some reason you ain't already a believer, check out this should be F'N something roster of directors w/projects (and talent all aboard) just waiting for their close-ups to be lined up accordingly, and properly brought into focus. Hopefully before the next available pumpkin arrives, and/or whatever cats are still out there loose get dragged back into the nearest bag.
*PEDRO ALMODOVAR: His super glossy remake/update of Vincente Minnelli's 1952 classic "The Bad and the Beautiful" is said to have some certifiable sterling work by Michael Douglas as Sylvester "Skippy" Shields, the once successful, but now down on his last buck luck, bad boy son of film legend Jonathan Shields, who (for those who must keep score) was played to the hilt in the multi-award-winning orig pic, by Mike's re-life glad to be rad dad, Kirk. Meanwhile, joining sorry for nothing Sonny Boy Shields this time around for a long tough slide are, Charlize Theron as gorgeous Georgia, the tragic, glamour queen/booze hound love of Skip's sick, twisted life; Kathleen Turner as the tough talking transgender chum who wants to direct; Albert Brooks as the Dixie fried scribe with the dumbbell wife (Amy Poehler) who goes gaga for smooth move groove-wa matinee man child (Ben Stiller); Maggie Gyllenhaal as the always necessary back stage/back door safety valve main squeeze; and Glenn Close as tight ass/never say "never" ("no way," or "no how") beleaguered studio chef/shoulder-to-chew-on/wingperson, of sorts. At last glance, this epic ho-hummer is already in the can, but still waiting on official word on whether or not its possible, more politically correct title, "The Significantly Less Than Good and the Extremely All Too Attractive" might, in fact, be cool enough to pass the required final muster needed to satisfy the suits at the top of the corporate tent pole. And, of course, anyone supposedly still reasonably well dressed enough for proper product placement advising at both the house of DKNY, and, as always, the Rosamunda Home for the Colorfully Insane.
*PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON: Brought in by producer Jerry Bruckheimer to smooth out the rough and tumble edges of Michael Bay's initial kick-ass re-tooling of the late Eric Rohmer's long ago art-house fave, "My Night At Maud's," "Boogie Nights" wunderkindle Anderson had no trouble finding his high-top footing once he jumped in head first to quickly help clueless stars Kevin James and Catherine Keener pick up where Jean-Louis Trintignant and Francoise Fabian never did officially get off. Although, as would be expected, P.T.'s nerve bending enthusiasm did begin to cool off some, and certainly loose a little bit of its compounded complex edge, once trusty co-star Philip Seymour Hoffman showed off his down there nails by properly informing Ghoulardi Jr. that the late Bea Arthur was never once in the original flick, except as a back-up boom operator and occasional onion soup taste-tester for said to be super finicky back in the day producer, Babet Schroeder. It was either that, or once again remind the stressed out full-tilt filmmaker that James was in his trailer, still waiting for his second skid of Snapple to arrive, as promised, like…..YESTERDAY!
*PAUL GREENGRASS: Un-mowed, hot under the collar crowd teaser, Greengrass, certainly gets down to the real biz when he drags dour power mood machine, Clive Owen, and hyper-octane yawn boy, Jack Black, all through the mud, sweat, and inevitable sea of too many tears, in a sprawling, get-the-F-out-of-the way, remake of Haskell Wexler's highly cherished, '60s-era, go-for-The-Man-throat, knock down drag out, "Medium Cool." By anybody's book, this up to date try for further knee jerk importance is certainly well intentioned. But, because of a last minute game changing fee tacked on by certain higher-ups in the Chicago Policeman's Union, and subsequently passed along accordingly, via several handout prone sad sack flacks still up to nothing but the usual shake down things somewhere inside a back room hole behind the current Illinois governor's office, this way no-cool redux of totally trying, long ago "Whole world is watching!" showdown, was forced to it-can its handheld camera look back at the 1968 Democratic Convention dust up involving Chi-town's men in blue, a bunch of noisy hippies, and the unflappable Dan "The Network Man" Rather, and instead had to zero in on a crisis of equally epic proportions that only recently hit maybe just little bit too close to home for some still drawing air (and a well compensated, accelerated wage) in these outlining coastal parts.
Namely, the big Writer's Guild of America vs. Producers of All Media snafu of a couple seasons back. Which, in case you don't remember (or were otherwise required to remain busy with what was going on in the real world at the time) not only brought an all too pampered industry to its knees, but occasionally forced ever reliable Du-par's, the longtime L.A. Farmer's Market cornerstone eatery, to every once in a while re-route their loyal lunchtime trade up the street to nearby N. Fairfax Avenue rival, Canter's Deli.
Needless to say, the emotional fall out from such an abrupt, and, in many cases, unnecessarily rude and entirely ill-timed, force-fed, kugel exchange, is still being felt by those with little if any stake in the urine-on-fire-for-hire contest that was, for way too long, waged by who knows how many battle scarred entertainment professionals, who, in the end (which is exactly where all the long runs wind up going anyway) still remain essentially the primary one's responsible for so many of our favorite reruns. And, as luck, and an uncertain amount of cranking things out from down deep inside the salt mine would have it, a somewhat steady, if not entirely continuous, supply of mostly un-watchable gifts that, from time to time, somehow find their way out of the bargain basement bowels of the nearest Netflix storage facility/compound, only to get all bogged down in whatever sort of movie cue may be currently closing in on you, me, and countless other innocent whoevers.
*TODD HAYNES: Although entirely unnecessary, Haynes' said to be glorious remake of MGM granddaddy mama to us all, "Gone With The Wind", heretofore known as GWTW2, has been building up plenty of buzz about town ever since its recently filmed epic flame out of Atlanta sequence was parlayed into some nearby community-wise good will, thereby causing the right amount of pre-arranged Playa del Rey bottomland to get singed in order to make way for a well needed wetland reserve. And, of course, also provide, if necessary, a now ready to roll in amount of cleared out space, should shopping mall magnet, Rick Caruso, feel the need to pump out another urban whatnot gathering place. Or, better yet, start adding even more Westside terrain to his many already potential locations believed to be earmarked for his growing list of prize-winning designer storage unit facilities. But then, business is business, even in a clear and present universe were it seems that, despite the obvious, there just might still be an audience out there somewhere for a 21st century take on all that now gets up to get down within the new and improved petticoat junction world of today's GWTW2. In other words, no need for "old school" when what you got by the short tail right here is, Angelina Jolie as Scarlett, George Clooney as Rhett, Brad Pitt as Ashley, Julianne Moore as Melanie, Vera Farmiga as Suellen, Reese Witherspoon as Careen, George Segal as Papa O'Hara, Dyan Cannon as Mama O'Hara, Mo'Nique as Mammy, and, surprisingly enough, in a bit of totally stretched-out stunt casting, Mario Cantone (no doubt channeling way more than his usual hip-tilting, swishy Robert Downey Jr. knock-off groove thing) as Prissy. (Yowza, we have a problem. Right back at ya, girlfriend!)
Meanwhile, other than the usual once a day call from Sharpton, concerning the viability of Mario and the supposed availability of either Taraji P. Henson or Rae Dawn Chong, the only fly in the GWTW2 ointment at this point is the growing scuttlebutt that present day Hollywood King, Mr. George C., is currently in anything but a smiley face mood now that he's picked up on the fact that director Haynes is privy to a sneaky bunch of what-if stuff (some phony, photo-shopped, would-be Polaroids) that supposedly shows what Porgie might have been up and down with once upon a long time ago, following a wicked late night/early morning out and about with some of his usual boys-will-be-boys buddies. Talk about a total blush-out disgresh moment from the past coming back to bite your necessary sideways. Even if not true (and everybody knows that to be the case, right?) this no doubt, hoax implied stunt seems to go out of its way to deliver a startling brand of crank-wise goods. All of which seem to suggest that, many years ago, following an all-night card game/Steve McQueen viewing party at the Beverly Hills adjacent townhouse of playground b-ball buddy, Jonathan Gries ("Napoleon Dynamite") someone (guess who?) was rumored to have woken up in the arms of fuddy duddy fun guy, Richard Kind ("Spin City") while, apparently, each heavy hitter was still in the tight fit process of co-sharing the same pair of no longer well pressed New York football Giant boxers.
Uh-oh. Any speculation on what might actually get kicking here should any bit of this totally too testy flame throwing faux biz be mistakenly accepted as even partially true (Clooney is, after all, a die-hard Jet fan); be somehow held accountable for sometimes straying too close to areas of unintentional truth (both Clooney and Kind are said to be big fans of "The Sand Pebbles"); or, be something else entirely, but still in the ballpark, so to speak, and thus, become the indirect cause for even more lurid-styled speculation (Clooney, Gries, and Clooney's ex-wife, Talia Balsam, once reportedly spent an entire summer pretending to be Rock Hudson, Robert Stack and Lauren Bacall from Douglas Sirk's smoldering 1956 monster melodrama, "Written On The Wind"); should, at this point in post hit-the-fan time, hinge on whether or not nauseating nut-job, Gilbert Gottfried, finally ever steps up to the plate to admit his chef-like role in cooking up such a wild fire of a sham in the first place. All done, it seems, in retaliation for Clooney's online gift to the world of some clear-cut extended surveillance camera footage showcasing Gilbert's misguided attempt to ring legendary showman Jerry Weintraub's Bel Air doorbell with, his you know what, when trying otherwise to do his hold on best to not lose his questionable grip of whatever (seven pizzas, a ton of sushi, and a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon) his loaded up arms, shoulders, head, and mouth, could just barely contain, during the total hoot, holler, and howl, scream along moments he found himself getting decidedly punk'd like big time, while thinking he was on his way to join some of his new best pals, George, Jerry, Elliot Gould, Carl Reiner, Don Cheadle, Jeff Garlin and Henriette Mantel, for a big Wednesday night of Oh No/Side Show poker. (Don't ask.)
Anyway, should this out of control tit-for-tat become even more unruly, and/or be cause for even more overly bemused amusement coming from inside Haynes' camp, look for him to quickly get bounced in favor of longtime Clooney shadow, Steven Soderbergh. In which case, the guess here is that all would soon go back to being extra nice/nice. Not only just in time for all concerned, but semi-perfectly in tune with the film's, at this point, expected to be only slightly over schedule completion time, as well. In other words, everything's all on point for this right now wow version of GWTW2 to be all prettied up for it's would-be/should-be first look-see coming out party at next season's cross-the-pond clambake down Cannes way.
*KEVIN SMITH: First, the bareback story: As originally intended, this should have been rollicking remake of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" seemed like the ideal set-up for a "Good Will Hunting" reunion of sorts, what with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck teamed up again, and Gus Van Sant calling out the "action" shots. All in all, nice work if you can get it. Especially when their initial plans to hit the road running with an "Easy Rider" do-over was held up by all the sticky uncertainly surrounding Dennis Hopper's either direct involvement, or delayed for take-off final blessing. Anyway, all seemed to be hunky dory, Butch & Sundance-wise, until of course, Matt and Ben got a whiff of what Gus was going to be aiming at with Paul Rudnick's suddenly out of nowhere glossy re-write of their supposedly already bought into quick knock-off of Bill Goldman's original award-winner. And well, before anyone could officially decide what kerchief went best with plaid chaps, it was exit, stage left, for Gus, who took Rudnick with him to hopefully help save the day with his new assignment, a can't miss re-tool of "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" with Kim Dickens, Tobey Maguire, Edward Norton, and Naomi Watts. (Oh yeah?)
Meanwhile, after a quick search on Craigslist, Kathryn Bigelow signed on for a minute, or two. Or, just long enough to finish her jumbo green tea and pick a fight with at-the-moment-co-star Anne Heche, before suddenly being forced to allow her strong, hard, buffed-up self to get all swept up in the flood of incoming back pats, and endless onslaught of fresh carte blanche offers, which altogether quickly started appearing once the year end awards for "The Hurt Locker" blew up and went all haywire.
So, guess what? Bigelow martini shots nothing, then leaves, only to spend what has since become more than just a few unproductive months bouncing around with her side-by-side Oscars inside a well appointed Sofitel penthouse, while trying like hell to otherwise decide between "Ben-Him" (an absolutely all too accurate version of what original "Ben-Hur" scribe, Gore Vidal, initially intended), with Will Ferrell and Adrien Brody all dressed up and ready to go where you don't want to know where, and, "The Wild Hunch Bunch," some sort of Richard III meets Peckinpah mess-in-the-cargo-pants, pre-set to go all the way nuts with Johnny Deep, John Cusack, John Malkovich, Jon Hamm, John Goodman, Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, John Madden, John David Booty, and, well, hold onto your hats…..and say hello to everybody's not-so-little (where it counts) friend, latina porn superstar, Luscious Lopez.
(Cue shocked, yet amazingly attentive, and, for the most part, all the way interested looks in just about all corners of an on-looking public at large. Or, soon to be headed in that direction, so to speak.)
Anyway, when last heard from, Oscar winner Bigelow claimed to be still mulling things over, after having just called down for more Red Vines, three bottles of Jack Daniels, a case of Diet Mountain Dew, and, another plushy complimentary bathrobe. Although, due to the occasional interruption of the in-room smoke alarm, plus the rustling of perhaps maybe too many ostrich feathers, it sounded, at least to those whose business it is to hear things as such, very likely that the newly crowded Queen-King of the Hollywood World had indeed moved on to what appears to have suddenly become her latest "Do Not Disturb" quest, which apparently is to catch up with what's going down on "As The World Turns" before it goes the deep-six route come September.
And, oh yeah, Damon and Affleck shut it down after the Red Sox failed to do in the L.A. Angels of Anaheim in last year's AL playoffs. Which, in the short run, meant the only one left for Heche to tangle with was the wise guy hair stylist who made the fatal mistake of telling her one day how much he just loved who she once was, during her dynamic daytime run as long-suffering, hot and cold, tragic twin sisters, Vicki and Marley Hudson, on the long gone, yet never forgotten, super soap, "Another World." Which, in the even shorter run, meant Anne wigged out, then hit the road fuming, thereby leaving the Cassidy & Kid cupboard suddenly star-less, and as bare as could be. (Cue the tumbleweed!)
Meanwhile, Baron, ever the advantageous mow/comb & blow boy, having sourced out Anne's "as captured" tongue lash/meltdown (via his nearby platform of perpetually plugged-in social network tools), not only scored a couple of t-head look-sees on both "The Insider" and "The Charlie Rose Show," but also a week-long panel guest gig on "The View," as well. Which, in the end, proved to be the primary basis for the eventual major bone score that came his way when he signed a development deal with the E! Network to dream up any sort of reality program swill he could swim around in, and, hopefully, still be flexible enough to spit out whatever he could, all over a drop cloth clad studio audience, held hostage on a, more or less, daily basis. (Quick, somebody get a hold of the Snuggie people, stat!!)
Which brings us now to the always important second act: Rotund Jersey Boy, Kevin Smith, pit-stops at a Perth Amboy, New Jersey Radio Shack (to get extra batteries for his Game Boy, and something else he hopes to surprise Parker Posey with), runs smack dab into rush around producer, Joel Silver (apparently there doing the same thing, at least Posey surprise-wise), and since he's currently without a quality on-set helmer for his still waiting to fly try at Butch and the Kid (even Dennis Dugan took a pass, mainly cause both Sandler and Spade said, now way, unless Schneider could do the Kate Ross part; and, even though such a three-way throw down would seem to fit in with whatever sort of over-the-top high jinks third re-write man on the scene, bushy gag-for-hire warhorse, Bruce Vilanch, had come around to pump all over his laptop page, the worse case scenario was that eventually Larry Kramer, or, God forbid, Barney Frank, would somehow soon feel the need to come roaring in and unload whatever was left in his, as usual, agitated can of overheated two cents, all because the sniggering, goof proof trio of former SNL knuckleheads still, so obviously, openly prefer the company of (besides each other…wink-wink) real-life, honest to gosh, heavy-breathing dames, who….okay, maybe sometimes couldn't spell their names, but….well, who needs that? (The babe part, yes. The inevitable Larry and/or Barney showdown looming up so mean-like in foreground parts better left alone, hell no!) Certainly not Joel, that's for sure.)...so...?
So….he hands off the behind-the-steering-wheel keys to his prized hot potato package straight into the doughy paws of ready-for-anything Kevin (along with a promise to stop at White Castle before hitting the parkway). And then, after getting someone back at the office to call in their impromptu bail job to lonely Ms. Parker, Hi-Ho-Silver and his new director head down the shore for a back-to-the-drawing-board re-shuffle of their tale of two outlaws and the woman who came between them. (Raindrops keep on fallin' on my…yeah, right.)
Needless to say, after a whole lotta pullin' and re-arranging goes on, Joel and Kev wind up with a complete character motivation overhaul, plus a slight case of necessary narrative adjustment. Which, ultimately forces the two heavy duty plot stirrers to come to the finish line realization that what they're really going to need, besides a bigger boat, is a much wider open corral for….you guessed it, a total distaff re-interp of everyone's longtime favorite big screen buddy flick wet dream. Meaning, of course that, this time around the horn, the "B-I" itch would most definitely be back in the Butch, where, for now anyway, it seems to be, not only well out in the open, but, quite frankly, finally back in a pair of well packed sidesaddle bags, right where it always belonged.
In other words, Butch and Sundance never looked, or smelled, so good. And, seriously, who among us knew that all it would take is a well manicured handful of hard to handle fluff, and, by the by, plenty of next to nothing from the closest available woodpile, to pull off such a daring to be dangerous, hot dang of different, all the way out there plan?
In any case, sardonic, steel-eyed sidewinder, Jane Lynch, and vacant, sleepy-eyed hellcat, Scarlett Johansson, are the fun ones with guns doing all the bank robbing and saddle trampin' this time around. And, with sombrero wearing, gold tooth school marm, Rosario Dawson, taking care of any necessary back and forth/helping hand/wait your turn chores, especially whenever its finally time for the threesome to settle in for some good old new fashioned (going downtown!) home fun, there's sure to be sparks flying, and plenty of fur hitting the fan every which a way. But, have no fear, when the big posse finally closes in on these gals, all their acquired guns of a cocked and loaded nature, indeed get shot off accordingly.
Guys?? They don't need no stinkin' guys! Not when they got each other, and have no plans of ever being anyone's dear old mother. In other words, this ain't your daddy's shoot out no more. So deal with it fellas. And while you're at it, say hello to your other hand on the way back to your bunk in the barn.
All in all, a win/win for just about everyone who hitches their wagon to this mule train. This is especially true for a seldom acknowledged (yet fast growing) niche group deep within the otherwise sometimes all-too-dainty Friends Of Annie Oakley crowd. Plus, will no doubt be a plum in the pocket of director Smith once it's packaged with his previous Sapphic-friendly opus, "Chasing Amy," to become what many think will be a truly outstanding stocking stuffer, for those so inclined. And/or, for those that aren't, but who generally will consider anything, if nicely asked.
*QUENTIN TARANTINO: Proving that he's indeed got the right kind of hard-on fast chops necessary to properly take on Minnelli (Vincente, not Liza, which on neutral turf would no doubt belong to the still standing "Cabaret" songbird in three to four rounds. Or, five, if ringside observers were somehow forced to call it a draw, then give the nod to Liza because of all her in-the-clinch singing, expert use of brass knuckles, and, almost certain, unavoidable, wind-aided assistance, not otherwise specifically brought on by too much pre-fight scotch & soda), ye olde inglourious basterd himself raises more than the usual jaw-dropping roof when he takes on yesteryear family favorite, "Meet Me In St. Louis," and, as usual, pretty much obliterates anything in his path. Including, the Gateway Arch, the Old (Dred Scott Decision) Courthouse, and, the Bowling Hall Of Fame gift shop. Although, truth be told, once Quint took hold of this super snarling, hot bitch of a cool cat flick, his version was quickly re-launched with the more appropriately accurate smackdown moniker, "Beat Me In St Louis."
And well, except for title's slight bit of a name change, plus the fact that the film's famous crowd pleasing trolley number now involves a completely overwrought machine gun/crossbow battle on a much faster than usual Mississippi River paddlewheel boat, everything's pretty much the same. And this includes Uma Thurman's crushproof helmet of Judy Garland-styled hair, her generally swift, unyielding carve along skill with a cake knife, and, of course, Abigail Breslin's big, one-on-one, kick the hell out of the family Christmas tree scene, which, because of the steady, over-the-shoulder, mouth-breathing interest provided by overactive middle-America political/media watchdog group, Xmas First, Tarantino and co-scripter, Ryan Murphy ("Glee," "Nip/Tuck") were thankfully forced to leave almost, but not quite, intact.
Although, I'm guessing that someone over at the Xmas First home office/Sky-Is-Falling Sunday School Reading Room/muffler shop might be a little P.O.'d once they get their first in-your-face taste of what's been added in to spice things up a bit in the film's traditional heartwarming conclusion. But then, considering the overall tone of what sort of blasting got everybody there in the first place, it would seem only natural that young Miss Breslin would enlist the deadpan services of Tim Roth, and utilize the twitchy, bug-eyed, follow through of Steve Buscemi to help her gun down husky home invader, Michael Madsen, who, by film's end, has way more than just the usual out-of-the pen/home-for-the-holidays Jones on, as he tries desperately to retrieve his misplaced shipment of accidentally delivered drug-laced Girl Scout Thin Mints.
Even so, look for more nose-leading, hinterland complaining to come calling on Tarantino, once a few of the more disgruntled ticket buyers begin to cool off after witnessing Uma's scorching "White Heat"-styled finale torch job, which she finally pulls off once she figures out how to get papa Tommy Lee Jones' army surplus flame thrower cooking properly. In other words, clang, clang, clang, goes this mother-F'n, sure fire, three-alarmer!
And now, what was all that out-of-the-world stuff, concerning the way out prospects of whatever the usual head-of-the-curve, ¾'s of just about anyone's best tabulated bottom-line Mount Cashmore, SPIELBERG to LUCAS to (chancy) CAMERON, might currently up to, all the way to tip-top of their assorted toy shops, now that they've finally settled on what to team up with in order to properly showcase what they hope to be a very profitable, new and improved, sure old thing?
Well, to paraphrase noted movie-slamming, catcher in the rye, mad man boy, Holden Caulfield, had, of course, J.D. stuck around long enough to certainly dismiss such big screen carnage, "Phone home, suckers!"
That's right……"It's" heeeere! In a little big something special called, "E.T.2010." And, as usual, "It's" totally lost and up to it's knuckle-dragging space claws in all sorts of suburban kid-friendly, gee whiz fun. Only thing is, this time out Drew Barrymore is the Mom, not the screaming sister. That honor goes to young, excitable fresh face, Morgan Lily ("2012"), while Angus T. Jones ("Two and a Half Men") foot drags his way to screen immortality as big brother Elliot, the confused, friend-less, asperger's suffering mama's boy who finds temporary, yet unrewarding, solace in his lonely, vigil-like, daily devotion to marshmallows, the poetry of Raymond Craver, and the Oakland Raiders. However, things suddenly begin to change one day when you know who lands in the woods just beyond the swing set near the back of what seems like a way too crowded backyard.
Adding a definite oddball, edgy-charm, to this cul-de-sac of crap Wonder Bread universe is Matthew McConaghey as Cecil, Mom's longtime, out-of-work, live-in dumb chum, a totally un-decorated (except for the grenade pin in his head) ex-marine, whose endlessly inventive wild duck desire to yank a hemi out of his dead pa's '71 Plymouth GTX and install it in his own not yet re-done '60-something Barracuda, is only interrupted long enough for him to further add to his high rising Watts Towerish-like monument made up entirely of either empty Coors beer cans, dried-up Bic Pens, several miles of recycled dental floss, and chopsticks from a nearby Chinese restaurant, that delivers. Needless to say, none of the typically unwashed kids in the vicinity have seen the family's vintage Ewoks wadding pool for some time now.
Meanwhile, Andy Dick plays screwy neighbor, Mr. Hughie, whose gate is always open and Slip 'n Slide always plugged in and ready to go, just in case any interested young'ins are in need of an afternoon of some full-on, slippery minded, catch and (eventual) release-like fun, not to be written home about. And, in what may or may not be an indirect shout out to recently passed-on Mr. Salinger, Ray Liotta plays Colonel Bananafish, the military mad man in pursuit of the cuddly little E.T., who winds up letting the air out of his own mixed-up head with an Ortgies 7.65 automatic, once the outer space tyke gets an air-born lift back to a finally just arrived intergalactical transport vehicle.
Adding a certain amount of pile-on sizzle to the mountain range of breathless hype surrounding this re-launch is the fact that producers Spielberg, Lucas, and Cameron (and first time director, Jaden Smith, as well) keep on each insisting that this year's E.T. model is played by an actual, real life, honest to holy no way CGI gosh, genuine, fall to Earth, pint-sized, semi-non-specific gender Extra-Terrestrial. Cute as a button tail included. (Ahhh…..okay.)
To further prove their go-way-out-on-a-limb point of sorts, the towering trio of neatly trimmed bearded Cecil B. GaZillionaires co-sharing the exec-producing tag have even managed to somehow get "It" a SAG card, registered to someone, or something, under the name of "a/k/a." Apparently, "Alan Smithee" was already set aside for a supposedly younger cousin "It", who is rumored to be on the short "Import List" to direct next year's already planned on follow-up sequel.
And, in a move certain to rile anyone not already in the process of trying to make illegal duplication copies of their For Your Consideration Academy Screeners, producers Spielberg, Lucas, and Cameron, citing the little used "Streisand Rule" loophole in the Academy Board of Governor's hard to crack Code of Systematic Exclusitivity, have apparently garnered their appreciative young charge full unconditional membership in what passes for side door inclusion to the Hall of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences these days. A fact, by the way, anyone with a keen eye was already well aware of, having no doubt glimpsed a/k/a's stunning red carpet arrival at this year's Oscar ceremony, when, in her/his now typical low-to-the-ground whirlwind-like fashion, she/he showed up hanging on the arm (literally) of just-happy-to-be there, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
Even so, despite all the carefully arranged maneuvers to suggest otherwise, the actual legitimate viability of a/k/a's supposedly true origins has increasingly been forced to be examined from all sides of whatever clogged arteries currently make up today's always everywhere/right there news and information network. Consequently, as reported first on the Drudge Report, then immediately picked up by Ain't It Cool News, and finally tossed around for a full hour during a sometimes violent square head discussion on Countdown with Olbermann (that also featured sci-fi icon, Ray Bradbury, long-winded social critic, Camille Paglia, NBA Hall-Of-Famer, Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, and, representing the phoned-in views of reclusive hide-out novelist, Thomas Pynchon, stand-up comedian, Louis C.K., all going well beyond reasonably accepted protocol to fully overexplain, yet never quite actually hear, or understand anything), it has come to be now known, and fully accepted, that the performance artist previously known as E.T., and subsequently, just "a/k/a", was, and is, in truth (including all past and future otherwises) knockabout ball of young gal fun, Abigail Breslin (man, this kid really gets around), who, during the full course of filming "E.T. 2010" (and all public appearances thereafter) was outfitted in nothing more than the top half of a vintage Nudie Suit that once belonged to late country rocker, Gram Parsons, that now is, and has been, on "Special Loan" from the private personal collection of, surprisingly enough, blabbering, political sideline gazelle, Arianna Huffington, ever since this charade first began, apparently as a late-night side bet between Spielberg and Lucas to further enhance any ongoing wagering centered around Cameron's rumored ability to polish off three boxes of Captain Crunch cereal in one sitting whenever he re-explains his lengthy side of the big mess with Ed Harris years ago during the filming of "The Abyss."
In other words, before you turn on the stove and kneel down to put your head inside in hopes of taking the final long one….go figure. And, for at least a second, or two, be thankful that Bobcat Goldthwait was in the dentist chair having his crowns re-done the afternoon an emergency call came from the "E.T. 2010" set after original E.T. choice, Pauly Shore, got "something" caught in a Prop Department drawer following a misunderstanding with several on-set teamsters on the first day of shooting.
And well….okay, now you can turn on the gas, and don't forget to say hello to Thelma Todd when you get there.
And so, how do you top all that? You don't. But for some reason the rest of these hip prone autuers sure seem intent on giving it the old Huxley College try.
*NOAH BAUMBACH ("The Prime Of Ms. Makaarim Brodie"): Burka-wearing Ms. Brodie (Jennifer Jason Leigh) spends her days trying to light an unfriendly fatwa fire under her juggernaut of vapid Santa Monica private school girls (played mostly by a real-life gaggle of Kardashian cousins, Agenda, Brenda, Fakenda, Luluenda, Kookoospenda, Pretendamenda, Vavavoomawenda, and so on), while her weekends are reserved for behind closed doors, veil-free flirting with comic book loving/science teacher, Edwin Stashhour (Nicolas Cage). In between she has plenty of time to not see eye to eye with foul-mouth school headmistress, Myrna Molotov-Brodsky (Susie Essman). Although, much of their face to face discord is probably due to Myrna's somewhat unflattering eye-patch, which, unfortunately was needed to conceal some of the damage she recently received about the face during a brawl with some pushy Philadelphia Eagle fans at a Venice area sports bar. Despite the political and cultural overtones, this is vintage Baumbach, right down to the tennis sweaters, the unnecessary confusion regarding Best Foods mayonnaise, and the fact that Chris Eigeman spends whatever limited screen time he has at a Westside deli trying to order a throgs neck sandwich on a kaiser role.
TIM BURTON ("Paint Your Wagon"): The oh so cute, alluring, magical zing of "Alice In Wonderland" continues in this musical update, but with a definite Ed Wood-like twist to help liven things up a bit. So much so that by film's end everyone's smiling big time and walking away with an unmistakable wedgie. Johnny Depp manages to be extra mangy in the all important Lee Marvin part, while Helena Bonham Carter puts to rest any doubters with a brooding take-off of Clint Eastwood's tough guy act, and a tuneless replay of his limited vocal prowess. And, in a move sure to delight some of the rougher members poking around among the usual carriage trade, Crispin Glover lets his hair down (and looks to die for in an apron!) in the Jean Seberg part, as the centerpiece attraction in the ongoing, way, way, out in the open, California gold-rush love triangle. An acquired taste for sure. But if you're big on Burton (and who isn't?), and have the stomach to watch nearsighted blacksmith Kathy Bates shoe what she thinks is a horse, and are in the mood to see Johnny, Helena, and primarily Crispin, dance the pants off the Western Union man (Sacha Baron Cohen) well, you can't go wrong with the three-plus hours spent here.
CHRISTOPHER GUEST ("Ninotchka"): This knee-in-the-nuts update of vintage Lubitisch movie palace confection, circa 1939, wheels out multi-talented Jennifer Coolidge in the part that first made Garbo laugh. No doubt you will too once you get a load of usual suspects (Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, Eugene Levy, Fred Willard, Catherine O'Hara, and Guest) all trying to go around her back, while graceful charmer, Campbell Scott, lays all hands on deck to take elegant care of her ample front. So what if no one knows how to make them like they used to anymore. You'll still remember how to laugh outloud to this one, and not just because the World War II vet sleeping in the theater seat in front of you just farted.
ANG LEE ("Midnight Cowboy"): Don't look now, but it's round-up time all over again for this Oscar winner. Although, due to a scheduling change brought on by a series of tornados, which destroyed numerous original location settings in Texas and Oklahoma (and forever ruined the ice machine at company motel at Waco base camp), production was forced to re-locate to Groton, Connecticut in order to finish remainder of filming before moving onto second-choice principal location in both Newark and Elizabeth, New Jersey (once it was made clear by someone at the New York City Mayor's office that no one there was prepared to make them a cake, unless properly provided with the right materials to do so by certain, unspecified, strong arm concerns within the local Manhattan Branch of Brooklyn's Brighton Beach Bankers, Bakers, and Bouncers, Ltd. Enterprises, Inc., which ultimately were the overseers of such things) the film has since become commonly (and comically) referred to as "Midnight Clamboy" by anyone who felt comfortable enough to start any on-set vehicle during the course of the film's somewhat tense and troubled production time.
Meanwhile, for a variety of reasons, stars Casey Affleck and Henry Rollins, along with co-stars Christina Ricci, Maya Rudolph, Tilda Swinton, Paul Giamatti, and Martin Short have each chosen to stay out of target range limelight until the film's scheduled premiere at Michael Moore's UP Yours International Film Fesitival in beautiful (not yet completely boarded up) downtown Escanaba, Michigan, at some point later this year. Hopefully before either deer season begins, or the on-site cash supply at the Potawatomi Soaring Hawk Check Cashing Complex runs out of twenties and fifties. (Whichever happens first.)
MIRA NAIR ("Last Summer"): Damon and (Ben) Affleck (apparently all over their shared communal funk triggered by the drain pipe dive of the Red Sox last October, yet still smarting a bit from the recent re-buff they both got from "Family Guy" zane man, Seth McFarlane, when their dog and pony show attempt (coincidentally enough, presented at an actual Dog and Pony Show in Quonochontaug, Rhode Island) to hook up with the cartoonish Ocean State wisenheimer's long-planned, far-reaching, animated re-hash of 1969 foreign language Oscar winner, "Z", got a quick thanks, but no thanks, thumbs down, and, of course, a stand-alone tube of Necco Waffers to see the two of them back home safely to their shrouded Bay State confines ) have now joined forces with statuesque, on-the-prowl, thorn bush, Catherine Zeta-Jones, to lay down a warm, sticky season of pure beachfront terror all over the sunburned girth of plumper than usual, Amy Adams, in an anything but buzz-kill attempt to re-fry the whopper of a foggy-lensed film fillet reeled in by Frank and Eleanor Perry in their disturbing 1969 original.
Helping to ease the translation of this stillborn, emotionless, set piece, at least for any hoped for international audiences, are apparently the only other summertime visitors to Martha's Vineyard, two colorful families from India desperately trying to help a left-at-the-alter-groom (a drab, family custom-obsessed, MIT computer research fellow) scour the island in search of his runaway pre-arranged bride, who, it seems, had a couple of second thoughts, along with an extra-long third one that just would not go away, once she met up with a delightfully hard to handle man from Nantucket on the ferry boat, right after it pulled out of Hyannis Port and slowly began to inch out across the sound (just like the ferry), and well….oh, why ruin the surprise? The singing and dancing alone, once all the bonfires on shore are all finally lit, should be a huge draw here, even if torn-to-shreds Amy Adams is anything but light on her clumsy feet by then, and, in all honesty, nothing much more than her usual, sniveling, pain-on-every-one's-parade, stuck in her own imitation Sandy Dennis-like emotional stew, sad self. At least Matt, Ben, and especially Catherine Zeta-J. know how to lock-up and chorus line kick their way into the welcome arms, and excessively over-washed feet, of an altogether unsuspecting sand dune-full of extremely festive new best friends.
And well, other than that, just about the only Hollywood property left untouched, as of late, is "Husbands", John Cassavetes' legendary buddies on a bender extravagonzo from 1970. And, with son Nick still reeling in his Laredo Pythons from the unexpected events surrounding Brit sour puss Mike Leigh's outright hijack of "Faces" (papa John's thought-to-be-untouchable, '60s-era chamber curio about the dead life of a married couple breaking up at the seams) just so he could pull off his own, jagged, drive-by remake, with Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Owen Wilson, Patricia Clarkson, and David Strathairn, each flying all over the place in search of any sort of way too jarring of a close-up that, just for once, they might be able to call their very own, it's no wonder the current keeper of the Cassavetes crown is not in the mood to budge an inch. Even if Sofia Coppola somehow gets her wish and is able to pull off a possible three-way "Mystic River" play day with Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon, and then promises to just stand back, to watch in awe as the tanked-up trio start slamming them back and letting things heave, once they've moved on from the cold, unrelenting, emotional snake pit they fall into together during the "Husbands" pre-credit demise of rowdy, backyard cook-out cohort, Matthew Modine.
But, who knows, maybe if Nick's beloved L.A. Lakers wind up going on another NBA championship run he'll somehow be inspired enough to maybe hand off this rugged, face-the music, guys-in-pain, emotional chestnut to Ms. Coppola and let her try lying to herself like all the other remake artists already well into the process of drawing storyboards and sucking wind all over this once desert town.
As is so often the case, we shall see, what we shall see. It's only a matter of where and when, while the why of it all remains as elusive as ever before. And although this may, or may not, satisfy any uncertain curiosity, or contain whatever inevitable excitement insists on inviting us to come out and play. It does, with a minimal amount of either direct, or, in many cases, indirect involvement, eventually lead to what ultimately becomes an acceptable level of corresponding predictability that, when carefully recognized (along with the horse it rode in on) ultimately helps provide, at the very least, a sometimes necessary indicatation, as to who among us keeps insisting on leaving a door open whenever the lights finally go out.
Meanwhile, until they all really do…..stay in school. Don't do drugs. And, oh yeah, how about those Mets?