Artist Blake Loosli did this great caricature artwork of the main characters from No Country For Old Men, the dark, Oscar-winning Coen brothers flick. Check out more of his work here. It kinda reminds us of the art style from the Team Fortress 2 video game.
Let’s forget that icky period from 2002-2005, and we can all agree that the Coen brothers are two of the most unique and brilliant film-makers working in cinema today. But their brilliance goes beyond awards (the surprise Oscar win for No Country for Old Men) and box office success (True Grit made almost $250 million worldwide). The Coens are a talent at truly surprising their fans by making wildly different and unexpected films. The followed No Country with the excellent A Serious Man, and now their next project may be a musical biopic.
According to the LA Times, the Coens are working on a story told in the world of Manhattan’s folk music scene in the 1950′s and 1960′s. They are basing the script on the life of Dave Van Ronk, pioneer of the Grenwich scene and mentor to a young folk singer known as Bob Dylan. Indeed, Van Ronk is referenced extensively in Dylan’s Chronicle memoirs.
The Coens hinted that music will be central to the film, and it will contain more naturalistic dialogue. While music featured heavily in O Brother Where Art Thou, it’s a big departure for the brothers going for looser dialogue, considering their scripts are normally incredibly tight and refined. But it’s also an incredibly exciting prospect to see established film-makers push themselves into new territory.
The only disappointing part about all this is that their planned adaptation of The Yiddish Policeman’s Union will be on hold for a while.
This year might indeed be the year of James Franco. Not only is he hosting the Oscars with Anne Hathaway this year, but he’s also a contender in the same ceremony for Best Actor for his lauded performance in 127 Hours (Colin Firth will most likely win it). He’s come a long way from bit roles in films and TV shows. But the actor’s ambitions go beyond appearing in front of the camera, as recent news has indicated.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Franco plans to write and direct adaptations of two classic novels, “As I Lay Dying” by William Faulkner and “Blood Meridian” by Cormac McCarthy. “As I Lay Dying” is a classic modernist novel concerning a rural family who attempt to transport the dead mother to her burial spot. The narrative shifts between family members as they grapple with the past and the difficult present. Considered to be one of the most difficult novels to adapt due to multiple perspectives and stream-of-consciousness writing, it, it has never been made into a feature film. How Franco will approach it is anyone’s guess, although the actor has already made several short films to prove his directing prowess. It may also help that he’s a graduate of creative writing.
The second novel, “Blood Meridian”, is from the much parised Cormac McCarthy. His novel No Country for Old Men was adapted into an Oscar-winning film by the Coen Brothers, and The Road and All the Pretty Horses were also translated for the silver screen. However, while the simple writing of those novels proved to be easily adaptable, Bloom Meridian is a very different beast. Drenched in the vernacular of the time and full of ambiguity, it depicts the horrors of the “wild west” through a kid who joins a group of scalphunters, and encounters the terrifying Judge Holden. If even half of the book’s violence was put on screen, the film would be banned from cinemas. The movie was originally set to be directed by Todd Field (Little Children), but now Franco is attempting to convince producer Scott Rudin to be given the reins. Apparently, Franco actually wrote and directed a scene from the film in order to impress.
More news on these projects as they emerge, but you have to respect Franco for his ambition.
If we’re not hearing news about suicide bombers and potential terror attacks, we’re hearing about murderous rampages in schools and villages. It’s no wonder that the unnerving and brilliant No Country for Old Men, a film about the inherent chaos wrapped around the idea of violence, bagged an Oscar in 2008. But while the figure of violence, the oddly named Chigurh, in that film was tinted with a dash of dark humour to help us digest the material, Michael Winterbottom’s adaptation of The Killer Inside Me has been ruffling a few feathers. Sadly, this film of brutal violence has little to add to our growing obsession and fear of violence.
Casey Affleck plays Lou Ford, a small town deputy that appears to be as dull as dishwater. But an encounter with a prostitute named Joyce (Jessica Alba) seems to awaken a darker side to him. At first it emerges as a sadistic sexual side as he whips Joyce before fornicating with her. But an incident involving bribery of one of her clients by the town’s founder results in a murder that only ends up with a trail of bodies in its wake. Ford’s relations with local purty gal Amy (Kate Hudson) eventually grows more and more abusive, and Ford finds himself unable to hide from his homicidal ways.
There are two scenes in the film that are particularly disturbing, involving the beating to death of two women. And they are particularly nasty, as we see every punch and kick, hear bones crunch and faces collapse. And what’s worse is that in one scene the woman seems to accept it. So naturally the film has been labelled as misogynistic. It’s a hysterical reaction, but perhaps understandable in that the film lingers on the violence committed to women in the film, and substantially less so to the murder of men. All three women featured in the film (Joyce, Amy, and a figure in flashbacks who seems to be Ford’s father’s new partner) endure if not enjoy sexually-charged violence (although it can be argued in later scenes that Amy went along with it and came to despise it and merely feel sorry for Ford). But there is context in the film, as some brief and abstract flashbacks show a history of abuse. This also counters the idea that Joyce, who slaps Ford when they first meet, is the trigger to Ford’s violence and thus somewhat responsible. Look closely and you’ll realise the monster was around at a very young age. READ ON »
This was a point advanced in Cinema Blend that I just about dropped my jaw when reading. See, I had forgotten that, way back in the long long ago, the brothers Weinstein owned Miramax, but they sold it to Disney back when it was doing a lot better. Now that Miramax is bleeding cash like a stuck piggy bank, are the Weinsteins plotting to buy the name off Disney’s hands?
There’s no doubt they’d get a bargain for it–with Miramax putting out just a handful of titles a year and generating precious little revenue for Disney, a cash infusion would probably be welcome there. And if the Weinsteins want it–and it’s been suggested that they definitely DO want it–now would be the prime time to get it back for a song.
Does that mean they’d make it better? Well, considering that it’s currently been hobbled and is only putting out slim numbers to begin with, chances are the Weinsteins would crank it to full production again, and considering some of the awesome pieces it’s come out with since they sold it to Disney, they might be able to get something good out of it again.
Okay, remember when I talked about how Miramax was pretty much getting castrated by Disney, seriously downsized, with only one release every other month? Well, it’s getting worse out there. A lot worse.
Miramax’s current president, Daniel Battsek, recently announced that he would step down as the head of Miramax following the recent defanging of same. Disney had said that Battsek would remain in charge of day to day operations, but Battsek wasn’t having it, and left after a month.
Excuse me if I don’t smell a rat bugging out of a sinking ship. After all, Battsek’s career looks pretty prime right now; he DID release No Country For Old Men, after all, not to mention Gone Baby Gone, so if this isn’t a move to go find greener pastures at another studio, I’ll be plenty surprised.
Stranger things have happened, of course, so it’s a move worth keeping an eye on.
Here’s some more good news for those of us with hopes for the adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s bleak novel The Road. In an interview with the LA Times, Nick Cave has spoken about his current project of scoring the movie.
Nick Cave (and his Bad Seeds) have been around for 25 years, writing music that pitches between paranoiac, frenzied delusions, and tragic, desperate ballads, with an occasional break (e.g. his new Grinderman group) to rock out. His lyrics are polished and literary. But he has also delved into soundtracks, including the beautiful laments of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Cave has also worked with The Road director, John Hillcoat, before, providing music for and scripting the nasty Oz Western The Proposition (which is currently being remade for Hollywood) and Ghosts… of the Civil Dead.
With Cave’s reliable tunes, and Hillcoat’s direction, which so far has displayed a habit of never relenting from the disturbing, not to mention the book having been penned by the man behind this year’s Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men, The Road is gearing up to be one of the highlights of the year.
It’s a wonder that classic novelist Ernest Hemmingway’s novels are not getting remade these days. His novels are robust with manly stoicism and strong visuals. Perhaps his ultra-manliness, full of gritted teeth, rampant alcoholism, and all sorts of wrestling with nature and fellow men, is too much for the modern metrosexual man. So, it comes as a breath of fresh air to see Hollywood take on Hemmingway again, with tough-guy Tommy Lee Jones directing, writing, and starring in ‘Islands in the Stream’.
Now, one reason Hemmingway novels are not being remade is that because previous attempts to adapt his books have not been very good. In fact, Islands in the Stream was adapted already, in 1977, with Franklin J Schaffner directing George C Scott through a messy film that tries to stretch its plot into action, and fails miserably. The problem is that Islands in the Stream is possibly Hemingway’s most contemplative (and in my humble opinion, his best) story, full of melancholy and impotence. It’s a story of a man’s man and his inability to be a father. It also has one of the best closing lines of any book. To try and inject action and adventure into it, is to miss the point.
And fortunately, Tommy Lee Jones seems to recognise that. In an interview with the Sunday Times UK last month, Jones admits that the 1977 version was a “bad movie”, and that his version will be “a family film”. I think it’s safe to say that he means that the story will focus on the theme of family, rather than a PG-rated flick about learning lessons.
Considering the last film Jones directed, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, and his acting roles in the similarly toned No Country for Old Men and In the Valley of Elah, his version of Islands in the Stream could very well be a classic, and the first true adaptation of a Hemmingway novel.