Friday One Sheet: The Girl On The Train

A simple, but quite lovely, design for the upcoming adaptation of the novel, The Girl On The Train. I have not read the book, but clearly the designers are aimed at ‘you will not see what is coming’ with the zipper/train motif on a woman’s back, as she faces away from us. They used the stylized type from the cover of the source novel, fine, but why use a different font (and colour) everywhere else? Not entirely sure. It’s a quibble in an otherwise pretty striking, yet delightfully minimal poster.

Say true: Behold, Roland Deschain of Gilead. And I say thankee-sai.


And, as rumored, Matthew McConaughey is signed on as the mysterious Man in Black. Entertainment Weekly as well as King, Elba, and McConaughey all confirm the news.

Filming on the first of what will hopefully be many The Dark Tower films begins in South Africa in seven weeks and Sony Pictures is aiming for a Jan. 13, 2017 release date.

If you’re unfamiliar with the seven novels by Stephen King, you’re weird. But I’ll be helpful and republish EW’s description:

For those who haven’t turned the pages of The Dark Tower books, they tell the story of the fallen land of Mid-World through the eyes of Roland Deschain, a sort of frontiersman knight whose primary weapon is not a sword but a pair of revolvers. He’s on a quest to save his decaying world by reaching the tower that stands at the nexus point in time and space.

The man in black – a devil who goes by many names, but mostly Walter Padick or Walter O’Dim – is an ageless deceiver and sorcerer who also seeks to reach the tower and rule over its seemingly infinite kingdoms.

To complete his journey, Roland must call on help from our world, drawing a junkie named Eddie, an amputee named Susannah, and a young boy named Jake into his realm to be part of his ka-tet – the term for a group brought together by destiny. Their yellow brick road is one of the six invisible beams that hold Roland’s world together – and lead directly to the tower itself.

Other details are still under wraps, but the article suggests the films will not necessarily follow the order of the books (likely for cinematic as well as budgetary reasons). Furthermore, rumors are already swirling as to the companion television series following the flashback storyline of book four’s Wizard and Glass–but the series’s future development will likely depend on the success of the first film.

Whatever. It’s Idris Elba, man. IDRIS ELBA!

Trailer: Steve Jobs


This morning, the trailer for Danny Boyle’s sequel to the 2013 instant classic Jobs (starring Ashton Kutcher) hit the web. Apparently, Boyle couldn’t convince Kutcher to reprise his role for the sequel–which adds Steve to the title–so he settled for Michael Fassbender.

And yeah, it looks cool, I suppose. It’s tough to portray such a recognizable public figure, because the Fass doesn’t really look like Jobs, even if he has the speech and mannerisms down. Still, that’s not necessarily important in crafting a good film, if everything else comes together.

The trailer is solid and certainly takes plenty of creative liberties with Jobs’s life, as expected with Aaron Sorkin and Danny Boyle involved. Steve Jobs drops into theaters on October 9, 2015.

What do you think of the trailer? Chime in below!

Scorsese’s adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s Silence finally happening.

It‘s been nearly a decade since I purchased a copy of Silence by Shusaku Endo in anticipation for a Hollywood adaptation by Martin Scorsese. It was supposed to be his follow up to 2006’s The Departed. At that point, Daniel Day-Lewis, Benicio Del Toro, and Gael Garcia Bernal were all attached to star as the Jesuit missionaries traveling to an unfamiliar and hostile Japan.

Yet, likely due to financing and scheduling conflicts, plans fells through. Scorsese went on to direct Shutter Island instead. With each passing announcement of his next film, I held onto hope that Silence would be his next project. Then came Hugo. The Wolf of Wall Street. Occasionally, a little news blurb would pop up saying Scorsese was still developing the project, but I was no longer holding my breath.

Well, it’s now January of 2015 and it seems the time has finally come. According to Deadline, Silence is finally a go – although with a different cast that now includes Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Tadanobu Asano.

Production begins in Taiwan on January 30th of this year and they’ll be aiming for a 2016 release date.

If you haven’t read this classic novel, be sure to swing by your local bookstore and order it.

Philipp Meyer’s The Son to be adapted for AMC


When Philipp Meyer quit his job on Wall Street to pursue writing, I’m sure he never expected his sophomore novel would not only be a Pulitzer Prize finalist, but also that it’d be adapted to the small screen with his intimate involvement by one of the hottest channels in television, AMC.

I first wrote about Philipp Meyer in 2009, after reading his excellent debut novel, the rustbelt Pennsylvania set American Rust, which at the time had been optioned for a big screen adaptation that is currently stuck in development purgatory.

Last month though, exciting news was announced by Deadline: AMC is developing a show based on his second novel, The Son, and Philipp Meyer himself will serve as executive producer.

Last summer, when I read his Texas-set, ambitious, brutal, and sometimes horrific sweeping epic The Son. I was blown away. I burnt through the 700+ pages in two sittings. The novel is not merely good… it’s a masterpiece. An instant classic. An important book in American literature that’s only going to continue to grow in significance as the decades pass. And while comparisons are silly, if you need one, it’s sort of like Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian as interpreted by John Steinbeck before being edited by William Faulkner.

When reading it, I thought the novel, like Blood Meridian, would be nearly impossible to adapt to the big screen. Even on television, which will provide the filmmakers with much more freedom than Hollywood would, it will be difficult as the story follows three distinct generations and time periods of a rising Texas oil empire: the ruthless Eli McCulloch, Eli’s son Pete, and Eli’s great-granddaughter Jeanne.

Meyer himself described it as a “partly historical novel about the rise of an oil and ranching dynasty in Texas, tracing the family from the earliest days of white settlement, fifty years of open warfare with the Comanches, the end of the frontier and the rise of the cattle industry, and transitioning into the modern (oil) age.”

What I find even more interesting, The Dallas Morning News ran an article yesterday describing how Meyer and writers like him are getting on board projects as executive producer.

Writers including Meyer, Brian McGreevy of Hemlock Grove, and Smith Henderson of Fourth of July Creek have formed a writers collective called El Jefe which, according to Meyer, was created to “help interesting, high-quality literary writers adapt, produce, and retain meaningful ownership of their own work for television and film.” Perhaps this was in response to the mess surrounding the American Rust adaptation that fizzled out.

The Son for AMC will be El Jefe’s first production. There is no word yet on casting or filming dates.

If you’ve read The Son, do you think even with Meyer’s involvement they’ll be able to effectively adapt it for television? Who could you envision in any of the lead roles? Chime in below!

Even if God existed, to say he loved the human race was preposterous. It was just as likely the opposite; it was just as likely he was systematically deceiving us. To think that an all-powerful being would make a world for anyone but himself, that he might spend all his time looking out for the interests of lesser creatures, it went against all common sense. The strong took from the weak, only the weak believed otherwise, and if God was out there, he was just as the Greeks and Romans had suspected; a trickster, an older brother who spent all his time inventing ways to punish you. -Philipp Meyer, The Son

Hot Docs 2014: Love and Terror on The Howling Plains of Nowhere Review

Hot Docs 2014

In a sparse corner of Nebraska, as far as possible from the state’s cities of Lincoln and Omaha sits the high-elevation prairie town of Chadron, population 5600. The town, described as ‘politely hanging on’ after peaking somewhere in the 19th century is host to the State College and was the hometown of NFL wide receiver Don Beebe, but is now quite remarkable for its motley collection of characters unearthed and endeared by author Poe Ballantine (himself one of those characters) in his memoir-slash-true-crime novel, “Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere: A Memoir.”

It has been adapted, wrangled, and condensed into documentary form by Dave Janetta in the same tattered, rascally spirit as the book – equal parts pragmatism and poetry. Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere is morbid, hilarious and whipsmart film-making that belies strained budget and open-ended narrative. It will never look as good as The Imposter or offer the closure of The Thin Blue Line, but its humour is mighty. The Chadron Record’s ‘Police Beat’ newspaper column which features heavily here (more on that in a minute) alone is a treasure of treasures.

In deep dark winter of 2006, the college’s resident PhD theoretical mathematics professor, Steven Haataja, withdrew $100 from the local cash machine and bought a large bag of charcoal from the Safeway before trundling off onto the wilderness in sub-zero (Fahrenheit) temperatures. The townsfolk and the local police are baffled that the introverted professor, who appeared to be settling into the community just fine, left just before the end of the semester without offering any closure to his occupation, family, or colleagues. Chadron has always been a town of transience, a way-station for drifters (or footballers) to Denver or Omaha or any other American city, so someone up and leaving for greener pastures was a common enough event and an eccentric exit from a nebbish math professor was chalked up as just that. Already a source of gossip and amateur sleuthing, when Haataja’s corpse was found in the spring by a rancher on his property a few miles from campus, in copse of trees bound with electrical cords and burned right down to the bones, it becomes the towns biggest mystery.

Would you like to know more…?

Book Review: The Man Who Seduced Hollywood

Title: The Man Who Seduced Hollywood: The Life and Loves of Greg Bautzer, Tinseltown’s Most Powerful Lawyer
Written by: B. James Gladstone
Publisher: Chicago Review Press (May 1, 2013)
Page Count: 352 (hardcover)

Google his name and there are nearly 200,000 results. That’s a significant amount of modern interest for a Hollywood lawyer who died before the internet, as we now know it, spread across America.

Then again, when a lawyer had connections to Hollywood elite such as Howard Hughes, Ingrid Bergman, Frank Sinatra, Rock Hudson, Kirk Kerkorian, and Bugsy Siegel, as well being as a Hollywood ladies man confirmed or rumored to be involved with beautiful actresses as diverse as Joan Crawford, Ginger Rogers, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, and Peggy Lee, maybe it’s not much of a surprise.

So goes to story of Hollywood lawyer Greg Bautzer. The biography is written by B. James Gladstone, who is the executive vice president of business and legal affairs for Lionsgate Entertainment. He is a talented and technical writer who likely used his connections to research and weave together the extraordinary tale of this extraordinary attorney.

Like much of the Hollywood lifestyle, the story of Bautzer appears glamorous on the surface and is portrayed as such in the biography. There is the Brown Derby and Hollywood stars. Sex and alcohol. Gangsters and courtrooms. Yet, whether intentional or not, there is a sadness to the story of Bautzer, whose relationships, both romantic and platonic, are more often than not centered around money, greed, ego, and self-interest.

In many ways, this books seems a perfect fit for a film adaptation. One can imagine Martin Scorsese behind the camera capturing the romanticized life of Bautzer while not shying away from his complexity while recreating all the glamorous highs and tragic lows of his life. I think DiCaprio resembles him enough that it could work. Clear your schedule, Leo. And hey, if this happens, Mr. Scorsese, all I ask for is a Special Thanks in the credits.

If you’re interested at all in old-school Hollywood, this book was written with you in mind.

You can purchase the hardback or e-book on Amazon or, as always, check your local library.

Guy Ritchie Merges Indie with Hollywood Again

In recent years Guy Ritchie has swapped his indie film making roots for mainstream. With a successful slew of Sherlock films in the bag, he has somehow managed to not be too heavily influenced by Hollywood and continues to bring his own unique brand of directing and producing to the big screen. Now it seems that Ritchie’s relationship with Hollywood big guns, Warner Bros, is ongoing as it has been announced that he will produce the film adaptation of Thomas Kelly’s 2006 novel, “Empire Rising.”

Once famous for being married to Madonna, Ritchie struck gold when he released Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels followed by Snatch, both of which became cult classics and were met with rave reviews. His subsequent attempts at shifting his filmmaking to focus on his then-wife failed dismally and the feature film, Swept Away was panned globally by critics. Subsequent movies RocknRolla and film work on prestigious ad campaigns with “Nike” helped rebuild his reputation and his smash, 2009, box office hit Sherlock Holmes saw him regain some good press. Since 2009, Warner Bros. has released every movie Ritchie has made, successfully combining his gritty indie style with a more glam Hollywood production angle.

For Ritchie, this latest Warner Bros. collaboration is like hitting the jackpot at as it features an epically staged love triangle set during the construction of New York’s Empire State Building in the depression era of 1930’s. It’s exactly the fodder Ritchie loves to sink his teeth into and it’s made even more attractive by the fact that the novels writer, Thomas Kelly will provide the screenplay.

Ritchie’s current project is also a Warner Bros. feature and filming for The Man from U.N.C.L.E. has yet to commence. It looks like filming for Empire Rising will begin only after the spy series hits theatres next year. Warner Bros. obviously has a lot of faith in Ritchie’s ability and his talent at keeping the box office hits coming.

The transition from indie producer to relevant Hollywood film maker is not an easy one and I think Ritchie has managed to find an ideal balance whilst still staying semi-true to his roots. He’s creating solid films which offer a great cinematic experience and he keeps the indie buzz going whilst capturing the mainstream audience’s attention.

Trailer: The Monuments Men


Dare I say instant classic?

I know, I know. Sometimes I get a little carried away. I get a little swept up in the moment. It’s a bad habit. But the evidence here just might support my case. With The Monuments Men, director, writer, and star George Clooney decided to focus on a less glamorous aspect of World War II: the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program enacted by the Allied Powers. It’s likely a story that left studio heads shrugging and asking, “But where are the battles?” (See Clooney’s epic rant from earlier in this week). In more ways than one, this seems like an updated take on John Frankenheimer’s 1964 The Train, starring Burt Lancaster.

Clooney has brought together a top-rate cast that includes himself, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett, and Jean Dujardin. Lest we forget, he has a pretty good track record behind the camera: Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Good Night and Good Luck were near masterpieces and Leatherheads and The Ideas of March both were solid.

And the trailer has me sold. The Monuments Men looks downright awesome and appears to be a really fun movie, which is not usually something that can be said about a movie set in WWII.

The film hits theaters on December 18, 2013. Check out the trailer below!