Trailer: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

waltermitty

What a remarkable trailer. That was my first thought after watching the preview for Ben Stiller’s adaptation of the 1939 short story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Evoking plenty of emotion with its not-so-subtle use of the song “Dirty Paws” by Of Monsters and Men, the trailer does an excellent job of showing, rather than using a bunch of dissected and rearranged dialogue and cheesy voiceovers as a means of telling. Perhaps like Walter Mitty’s story, this film will be more about the journey than anything.

Ben Stiller has also stepped behind the camera for this one. From Reality Bites to The Cable Guy to Zoolander and Tropic Thunder, Stiller has never disappointed me as a director. He has a unique eye, with a deliberate blend of humor, drama, and the absurd – which admittedly rubs some people the wrong way, but has always worked for me.

The movie’s screenplay was adapted by Steve Conrad (The Weather Man, The Pursuit of Happyness), of which the seems to have the same sort of melancholy, introspective tone. It also co-stars Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott, Patton Oswalt, Sean Penn, Shirley MacLaine.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty hits North American theaters on December 25, 2013.

What do you think of the trailer? Does it work for you?

Trailer: Romeo and Juliet

romeoandjuliet

Romeo and Juliet, written by some dude named Shakespeare (from my in-depth research for writing this article, I’ve discovered that this Shakespeare cat was actually a guy named Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, according to a 2011 movie by Roland Emmerich), has been adapted for the big screen so many times, it actually has its own Wikipedia page describing them all.

The 1968 version directed by Franco Zeffirelli is probably the best known, followed by the ultra-zany 1996 version from director Baz Luhrmann (where he replaced the “and” with a “+”), but there are countless others for those who just can get enough of these two naive and, frankly, stupid teenagers who thought they were in love because they couldn’t get their raging hormones under control.

For those who have been turned off by the complex sentence structure in Shakespeare’s writing, there are plenty of films that draw their inspiration from it, including West Side Story, Romeo Must Die, Tromeo and Juliet, Warm Bodies, and High School Musical. A personal favorite is the animated 1979 Romie-0 and Julie-8, about two androids from rival robotics firms who fall in love (you can watch this masterpiece of animation right here – no need to thank me).

With all that said, do we need a new adaptation of Romeo and Juliet? Well, nobody cares what you think anyway, as long as the masses pay the ticket price to see it and high school English teachers purchase the DVD to show their classes. Either way, frankly, it’s been quite some time since a traditional take on the story has been made.

I don’t really have much interest in the movie itself, but I am extremely interested in seeing Hailee Steinfeld in her first role since True Grit, in which she gave an astonishing performance which secured her an Oscar nomination. The rest of the cast is worth noting also: Paul Giamatti, Stellan Skarsgård, Damian Lewis, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Natascha McElhone, and plenty of young fresh faces round it out.

So while I have very little interest in a story that I’ve seen played out over and over and over (and I think the 1968 version holds up very well), I am eager to see Steinfeld back on the screen. By the looks of the trailer, she will continue to impress.

The movie hit theaters on July 26, 2013 in the UK with a September 6, 2013 release in the states.

Which version of this classic tale of young and dumb love is your favorite? Are you looking forward to this new version?

Chuck Palahniuk writing a sequel to Fight Club.

FightClub

This isn’t really movie news, but it could eventually lead to some. Today, Chuck Palahniuk announced at ComicCon (and on his Twitter) that he is writing a sequel to what is probably his most popular novel: Fight Club. He also announced that it will be a graphic novel, rather than a traditional one, and he has been meeting with artists from Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse.

Here is how Palahniuk described the story of this surprising sequel:

It will likely be a series of books that update the story ten years after the seeming end of Tyler Durden. Nowadays, Tyler is telling the story, lurking inside Jack, and ready to launch a come-back. Jack is oblivious. Marla is bored. Their marriage has run aground on the rocky coastline of middle-aged suburban boredom. It’s only when their little boy disappears, kidnapped by Tyler, that Jack is dragged back into the world of Mayhem. It will, of course, be dark and messy.

Love it or hate it, Fight Club is a massively important American film of the 90s. In 2008, Empire Magazine ranked Fight Club as the tenth Greatest Movie of All-Time. While that’s a stretch, it was an enjoyable movie and a particularly important one to me as a teenager.

Directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, the film grossed over $100 million dollars worldwide, was adored by critics, and in the years since it’s initial release, it’s gained quite the cult following. Frat boys all around the U.S. started telling their friends to hit them as hard as they could and rednecks around the world started their own fight clubs which the subsequently told everyone about. Both groups, of course, seemingly missed the not-so-subtle messages of the film.

It will be interesting to see where Mr. Palahniuk takes the story of the Narrator and Tyler Durden with this graphic novel and if there will be talks of adapting it for the big screen, especially considering Fight Club’s success. I’m not personally excited for this story. While there was a time that I enjoyed Palahniuk’s writing, mostly when I was a teenager, the older that I get, the less that I care for his stories and writing style. The last book of his that I read, 2011’s Damned, was infuriatingly awful.

What do you think of this news? Are you excited for a sequel? What do you think of the choice of making it a graphic novel? Would you like to see a Fincher-Norton-Pitt reunion? Chime in!

Ron Howard in talks to adapt Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.

Back in April, it was reported that Disney acquired the rights to Neil Gaiman’s fantastic children’s novel The Graveyard Book. When it was announced, Henry Selick – the stop-motion director behind The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, and Coraline – was set to direct what would be another stop-motion film. Somewhere along the way, the project fell apart or Disney lost confidence.

But the project is seeing new life, according to the Hollywood Reporter, this time with Ron Howard in negotiations to direct what will be a live-action adaptation.

This is great news, of course. The Graveyard Book is the best children’s novel I’ve read since Harry Potter – and in many ways, it was a much more enjoyable read for me. The book follows a young boy named Nobody Owens who is taken in and raised by the inhabitants of an old graveyard after his family is brutally murdered by a man named Jack. Ghosts from all centuries, vampires, werewolves, and a variety of ghouls make up the rich cast of characters where it is the supernatural who fear the humans – not the other way around. It’s thrilling and scary and genuinely touching, hitting on some very mature themes and beautifully exploring the trials and tribulations that come with growing up.

The book also won both the Carnegie and Newbery medals for best children’s book.

Have you read the book? If so, what do you think of Howard behind the camera? And are you relieved or bummed that the film will be live-action rather than stop-motion?

Looney Tunes to be rebooted as ‘a hybrid live-action/CG film’

According to Hollywood Reporter, Looney Tunes is set to be “rebooted” by Warner Bros. with former SNL scribe Jenny Slate and some Harry Potter producer on board to make it happen.

For many of us who are 25+, Looney Tunes is sacred. Still, we can already admit that they were shit on in 2003’s Back in Action and whatever Cartoon Network tried to do with its recent Looney Tunes Show, which was like a Friends version of Bugs, Daffy, and pals, but hell, if Warner Bros. further shits on these characters and makes the next Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, well… well… I’ll probably Tweet something very angrily about it. So, take that Warner Bros.

Five (Additional) Novels Hollywood Needs to Adapt

Back in 2007, when the third row was just in it’s infancy, I wrote an article titled Five Novels I Want to See Adapted. So far, the only one actually filmed and coming to theaters is The Great Gatsby and I can only assume Baz Luhrman decided to pursue such an ambitious project because he read it (he even took on my suggestion of casting Leonardo DiCaprio, although I had him more in mind for Nick Carraway at the time). Adaptations of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian have been discussed in the years since, but nothing has actually come to life. A couple of years later, I decided on six more books that I wanted to see adapted. Again, due to my influence, Hollywood took note and has moved forward in the production of The Graveyard Book, based on Neil Gaiman’s bestselling young adult novel.

Now, dear readers (and Hollywood producers), I have come to you with five more novels that must make their way onto the big screen in the coming years. Like before, I don’t ask for much, only a “Special Thanks” in the credits.

Gun, With Occasional Music
by Jonathan Lethem

I think it’s best described as Blade Runner meets Who Framed Roger Rabbit? written by Raymond Chandler. In a near dystopian future, evolution therapy has made it possible to skip childhood – but it’s also provided animals with advanced intelligence. Populations are controlled with mind-altering drugs and it’s illegal to ask questions to anyone without a proper (and nearly impossible to get) inquisition license. In this world, Private Inquisitor Conrad Metcalf finds himself being trailed by a trigger-happy kangaroo after a solemn rabbit makes a case to Metcalf that he has been framed for murder. The book is a pulpy, goofy noir that was made to be adapted for the big screen. It’d be ambitious. It’d be weird. But in the right hands (someone like Duncan Jones), it could be pulled off.

While reading, I couldn’t help but picture Bogart in the role of Metcalf, but I could easily picture someone like Daniel Craig or Michael Fassbender in the role. Get Doug Jones to don some suits created by the minds behind Pan’s Labyrinth and we’d have ourselves an instant classic. With witticisms like “Tell him next time he wants to talk to me, don’t send a marsupial,” I don’t know how any filmmaker could resist.

Would you like to know more…?

Gorgeous first trailer for Joe Wright’s “Anna Karenina”

It’s no secret that I love Joe Wright’s work and as much as I loved Hanna, it’s going to take more than on really great action thriller to convince me that period dramas, and more specifically period dramas based on acclaimed novels, aren’t Wright’s calling. He can take all the time he needs and test any waters he might as long as he comes back to the period drama because few directors today seem to handle the material quite as well as Wright does.

It remains to be seen if Anna Karenina, an adaptation of of Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel no less, will be just as wonderful as most of Wright’s previous projects but the first trailer certainly suggests as much. The project is adapted by Oscar winner Tom Stoppard and re-unites Wright’s muse Keira Knightley with Matthew Macfadyen and adds the likes of Kelly Macdonald, Jude Law, Emily Watson and Aaron Johnson (the Kick-Ass star seems the odd-man out until you consider his filmography and realise that actually Kick-Ass seemed less in line with his other work though it is what most people know him for).

It’s lush, it’s gorgeous, the music soars, the costumes shine, Knightley looks beaten, Law looks angry and Johnson seems to be filling the role of heartbreaker to a tee. Even more so than Wright’s previous projects, watching this trailer I was reminded of the old romantic epics I love so much. Yes, I thought of Gone with the Wind but what it mostly reminds me of is David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago (interesting bit of useless trivia: in 2002, Knightley starred in a TV adaptation of “Doctor Zhivago.”). Basically, this looks glorious.

Anna Karenina will break our hearts on November 9th.

Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book to be adapted by Disney.

A while back, I wrote a post about six novels that I wanted to see adapted. One of my choices was Neil Gaiman’s 2008 fantasy children’s novel The Graveyard Book, in which I said it was “only a matter of time before somebody gets this thing made for the big screen” and when it did it would be “huge.” Now, as Disney has finally acquired the rights to adapt what is an absolute classic in children’s fiction, I am convinced that it will be even bigger than I initially imagined.

Inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, Gaiman’s story follows a young boy named Nobody who is taken in and raised by the inhabitants of an old graveyard after the brutal murder of his family. Ghosts from all centuries, vampires, werewolves, and a variety of ghouls make up the rich cast of characters where it is the supernatural who fear the humans – not the other way around. It’s thrilling and scary and genuinely touching, hitting on some very mature themes and beautifully exploring the trials and tribulations that come with growing up.

The adaptation will be directed by Henry Selick, who is primarily a stop motion director having directed The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, and a prior adaptation of Gaiman’s work with Coraline – so it’s pretty safe to assume that this will also follow that trend. All I can say is that I am really looking forward to this one.

Have you read The Graveyard Book? What are your thoughts on an adaptation? Would it translate better as live-action rather than stop motion? Chime in below!

Six (More) Novels I’d Like to See Adapted

Back in 2007, I wrote up a little something discussing five novels that I would love to see adapted for the big screen. Despite the influence of my opinion in Hollywood, not one of those has made it to the big screen yet – although two of them (Blood Meridian, The Dark Tower) are in the works and one was, but fizzled out (East of Eden). Here is my latest batch of recommendations. Studios, all I ask for is a “Special Thanks” and a producer credit. Maybe a lead role.

As always, leave your own thoughts and recommendations in the comments.

Would you like to know more…?

Trailer: John Dies at the End

We are big fans in these parts of Don Coscarelli’s occasionally pathos-laden cult goof off Bubba Ho-Tep and it is delightful to see the director, whom some might say peaked in the 1980s with the Phantasm movies and The Beastmaster, stay in this interesting low-budget cult niche. The wittily titled John Dies at The End is a drug/hallucination in the vein of Naked Lunch as a lark, which features a lot of interesting supporting characters (Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown, and Guillermo Del Toro regular Doug Jones) and lots of imaginative prosthetics-work and situational weirdness. While I have my criticisms of using the ‘tell your story in a bar’ framing device in these films (It practically kills the almost-gems I Sell the Dead and John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars to name a couple examples.)

The trailer seems to put the wacky-genre-hopping tone in the same ballpark as Joe R. Lansdale (who wrote the horror-comedy graphic novel on which Bubba was based) although John Dies At The End is adapted from a 2001 novel by Jason Pargin.

Check out the trailer (tucked under the seat) and let us know if you are keen on another micro-budget romp for a very specialized audience.

Would you like to know more…?

James Franco adapting Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God

If there is one Cormac McCarthy novel that I thought would never be adapted it would be Child of God. Written in 1973, the book follows a violent and sexually deviant man named Lester Ballard who wanders aimlessly around the mountains of Tennessee, living a mostly isolated life while he is killing, committing various other crimes, and having sex with dead bodies. Yes, you read that right. Despite the strangeness of the premise, it still stands as a masterfully written novel (I read it in a single sitting) and I can see how someone involved in the movie business could be inspired to want to tackle such a difficult novel – although I can’t imagine a studio ever financing such a movie, unless it is extremely altered or toned down.

Apparently though – and it comes to no surprise due to his previous interest in adapting McCarthy’s Blood Meridian – James Franco wants to take on adapting the book, according to Indie Wire.

“We shot a 20 minute test of it [Blood Meridian] that turned out pretty well … we were gearing up to do the feature but that for various reasons is on hold, but we are going to make a movie based on his [Cormac McCarthy’s] third book Child Of God,” Franco said.

And for now, that’s all we have – whether he wants to play Lester or not, we are still unsure (although I would probably guess no), but we do know he plans on on directing.

Has anyone Row Three readers out there read the book? Do you think something like this could ever be adapted for the big screen or is Franco chasing an unreachable dream?