The second half of the week yielded quite a bit of little news items:
Looks like a fairly solid thriller with a cast to match. Too bad it's already been done - Citizen X, remember? - and thus isn't a particularly original project, even though this time it's based on a book about the historical murders rather than the historical murders themselves. Those ridiculously heavy Russian accents also don't help. Do audiences really need such reminders in dialogue to remember the story is set in Russia? You'd think the set-up, names and uniforms alone would do the trick. Other than that, this film looks like a decent thriller flick. Considering the current strained relationship of most Western countries with Putin's Russia, you cannot help but wonder whether this is an appropriate time to release a film about a psychopath running rampant in the Rodina aided by a corrupt system of bureaucrats defending an ideology that doesn't always have the best interest of its subjects at heart. I can imagine there will be some complaints from Russian citizens about the contents of this film, whether the film proves to be of good quality or not (probably more so in the case of the former, since then it will receive more attention). Since The Interview didn't spark WW III, maybe this will, though that's undoubtedly giving it too much credit in advance.
Once again Marvel leads and the rest follows. Now that the House of Ideas is firmly getting its grasp on the small screen, expanding its Cinematic Universe on telly too, other studios are eager to do the same. And so Fox plans an X-Men series accordingly. I don't mind, as the conventions of television offer a much broader narrative perspective on the vast X-realm with its many hundreds of characters, in a way the movies could only touch upon. Makes you wonder why they haven't tried this before (and I don't mean like the various animated series). Of course, a conservative studio like Fox likely needed someone more innovative to indicate it can be done successfully, which Marvel has now shown with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Since public interest in anything Marvel is at an all-time high, it seems the right time to produce an X-show. In fact, they better hurry before the popularity of the franchise goes into decline, which is an option I don't exclude, now that Channing Tatum is set to take over the reigns from Hugh Jackman as the leading X-protagonist (shifting the focus more from Wolverine to Gambit), a prospect I'm not looking forward to. I do hope there'll be room for a new creative route, rather than copying the style of the movies. The X-universe is a deliciously diverse place (as befits its message of peace and tolerance to those who are different), so it would behoove the series to reflect that fact and explore any X-citing angle imaginable.
Is it me, or is Chris Pratt everywhere these days? There's not a movie project goes by that doesn't at least once features his name attached, or so it seems. Sure, Pratt looks like a really likeable guy and he made a fine Star-Lord. But does that warrant the thought of 'Oh hey, we need a leading man for this project, let's ask Pratt because he's so darn kewl' all the time? Apparently that's the default casting thought going around Hollywood these days. Sure, put Pratt in Jurassic World. Go ahead and stick him in Indiana Jones. Just make sure the rest of those films looks as dashing and charming. As for recasting Harrison Ford, it was only a matter of time. I always imagined Indiana Jones a lot like James Bond. You can have him be played by any number of actors, as long as the movies continue to incite that same level of adventure and excitement as they always do. In Indy's case, I'm not one of those unrealistic and conservative types that sticks to the original ad infinitum, even though he was the most iconic in that role. I'm willing to allow other actors in that persona. But not Shia LaBeouf, please. Better ask Chris Pratt whether he feels up to it. Oh I forgot, they're already doing that...
Okay, so the jokes in this trailer mostly revolve around bodily excrements and random popcultural references, as is usual in Hollywood comedy nowadays. Bear with me (pun, yes). Do I detect a plot that may very well be too intelligent and too philosophical for a film like this? The question of sentience, what makes a human being a human being and the limitations human beings themselves arrogantly set as to what constitutes life that should be allowed to have the same rights as ourselves, that sort of thing. There's some definite 'Measure of a Man' level story opportunities involved here! And of course, none of it will matter much, as it will just prove interspersed between a flatulence joke here and a cameo by the guy who used to be Flash Gordon there. Still, I can't help but give Seth MacFarlane credit for at least trying. I bet 'The Measure of a Man' ranks among his favorite episodes of Trek. And I also bet this movie is gonna be your totally average run-of-the-mill raunchy comedy, the type you've forgotten the day after you watched it.
Unlike this film which, too, is mostly about sex but doesn't touch upon it in a comedic fashion. Madame Bovary is one of the most scandalous works of literature to come out of the 19th-Century. However, for a contemporary audience that watches too much HBO, it'll be hard to make it as impactful as once this story was. Sexual shenanigans outside of holy matrimony are an everyday occurrence in the dramatic arts now and are not likely to shock anyone. So what relevant meaning is there for today's audience? Probably not anything novel. Doesn't stop a decent collection of both seasoned and young actors from practizing their craft in a wonderful fashion, complete with rustic landscape shots and lavish period costumes. That sort of thing at least never gets old. And if the characters decide to ditch said costumes while fooling around in said rustic landscapes, if not shocked or flabbergasted at such audacity, we'll still be intrigued some.
James Franco by comparison is one of those actors who effortlessly seems to switch between raunchy comedies and serious drama. Or between acting and directing, for that matter. Hot off starring in The Interview, he's ready to direct a John Steinbeck novel, dazzling us with his versatility, if we hadn't become used to it already by now. I applaud such diversity, as well as Franco's taste in casting. He seems to have caught quite a few talented names for this latest project of his (and Selena Gomez, too). Even though he's been directing all kinds of stuff for a while now, I haven't yet had the pleasure of checking any of it out. Whether this will just add to that pile of unseen (by me) titles, time will tell. It's not like I ever read a John Steinbeck novel. But you can wake me for a performance by Ed Harris or Bryan Cranston any time (though preferably not when I'm asleep).