Speaking of unnecessary prequels, I completely forgot about the forthcoming “Rise of the Apes.” You know, the film that will be, amazingly, the seventh entry in the series (following five movies in the first series and the misbegotten Tim Burton reboot in 2001)? It’s easy to forget the movie was due out this summer, and the only time I remembered it was when I saw it mentioned in stories about the wonderfully ubiquitous James Franco. It seemed odd to me, that a big-time summe movie was coming without a single official set photo or teaser or trailer or anything like that reminding us of its arrival. (Compare it to other summer hopefuls like “Transformers 3” and “Thor” and “Captain America” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” and the like, all of which have been releasing such things.)
So it’s unsurprising to learn that Fox has rescheduled the movie from June 24 to Nov. 23. The movie does sound nifty in some ways, and not just because Franco is endlessly interesting (and he must have found something worthwhile in this project, right?). Instead of guys in costumes, the apes in this movie are going to be the photorealistic creations of Peter Jackson’s Weta. (Andy Serkis, who gave life to Gollum, is portraying the movie’s main ape, who leads a revolution against humanity or something along those lines.) It’s not actually a huge risk, because there are no other big-budget would-be blockbusters opening near Thanksgiving. The movie’s main competition will be “The Muppets” and the fourth “Twilight” film.
Eternally multitasking actor-writer-student James Franco, who will probably be nominated for Best Actor and lose the trophy to Colin Firth next month, has big ambitions for his directorial debut. The two films he wants to make are something: Adaptations of Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying” and Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian.” He plans to helm the Faulkner movie this summer and film “Meridian” in 2012. EW has the scoop, though their insistence on mentioning “Lost” in the headline makes me shake my head.
You’ve got to admire the ubiquitous Franco’s moxie. He already catches some level of hell from literary types for his prose, received mixed reviews for his art exhibit and is seemingly always on the edge of becoming overexposed. (You might feel he’s already crossed this rubicon, but I don’t agree. Yet. He makes just few enough movies, and they’re just good enough, that the rest of his media coverage is easy enough to ignore if you want; he’s not a daily fixture or anything like that, let me put it that way, so he has yet to bother me that way.) He’d obviously gravitate to adapting a work of literary gravitas over, say, directing some small movie here or there. It’s ambitious as hell, but the proper adaptation is a tough enough beat for an established director, let alone a first-timer. At least these movies will get plenty of press.
There’s a little more insight into the unexpected (and pretty widely panned) selection of Anne Hathaway and James Franco as Oscar co-hosts. Basically, the movies likely to get a lot of Oscar attention are more art house-y than mainstream (“The King’s Speech,” “The Kids Are All Right,” “Winter’s Bone,” et cetera), and the people behind the ceremony are worried the ratings would plummet because of all the low-grossing options. (The ceremony typically does well with a big box office draw — “Avatar,” “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King,” “Titanic” — in the mix. When it’s between low-grossing art films like “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood,” audiences don’t tune in.)
So they picked two young, good-looking, charismatic stars. Not the worst strategy. Ever since Billy Crystal first hosted in 1990, the ceremony has gone for comedians (and, once, a song-and-dance man in Hugh Jackman). That’s because comics can work the room, improvise some quips and generally make things entertaining. Neither of these two can do those things, but if their material is good, there’s no doubt they can sell at least their scripted stuff well. If their patter is kept to a minimum later in the show, who cares who’s hosting?
I’m a bit bewildered by the mean-spirited reaction to these two. Sure, I think it seems completely arbitrary, but I’ve read things about the selection that make me shake my head (one commentator wrote something insulting the intelligence of these two and referred to Hathaway as untalented, which is weird, because she is a recent Best Actress nominee). If they have good material, they’ve both shown they can be funny and entertaining and, really, that’s all we want from the Oscar host(s). Spend the first 10 minutes keeping our attention, then get out of the way so we can move on to our Oscar pools. But, hell, what do I know? I thought Chris Rock was the best host of the last decade-plus, and I liked both of Jon Stewart’s gigs.
For no good goddamn reason, talented young actors James Franco and Anne Hathaway are going to host the 83rd Academy Awards on Feb. 27. Franco will likely be a nominee for Best Actor, while Hathaway has a small, outside shot at a nomination for Best Actress. Last year, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin were selected because they represented something of a droll comedy duo; the year before, Hugh Jackman was picked because he’s a song-and-dance man. Franco and Hathaway, both thoroughly charming and undeniably talented in many ways, are…none of those things. I suppose we should be glad the Academy went younger and picked a lady to co-host. [Deadline, NYT]
Here’s the red band trailer for “Your Highness,” which is just the most absurdly perfect ever conceived. It stars Danny McBride as a prince, James Franco as his more-polished-prince brother, Zooey Deschanel as a kidnapped maiden, Natalie Portman as a badass and Justin Theroux as a wizard. It’s about McBride and Franco going on a quest to save Dechanel, and it’s kind of like “Krull” and those other very-very-very-1980s sorcery/swordplay epics, only it’s funny, and looks awesome, and it is absurd to think about the kind of money a studio shelled out so McBride could play the hero, but he (as the star) and this movie look just perfect. Also, when this movie comes out, Franco and Portman will assuredly be one Oscar nomination richer, to say nothing of a potential trophy. Worth knowing.
Again, red band, so if you don’t like naughty words or whatever, don’t watch.
This is a new trailer for “127 Hours,” Danny Boyle’s follow-up to “Slumdog Millionaire.” It’s the story of Aron Ralston, the hiker who was pinned under a boulder, and if you don’t know the rest of the story, I am not going to spoil it for you here. I will say that all of the early buzz for this one is tremendous, albeit with a warning; people are saying glorious things about James Franco’s performance, and considering he is the main thing on the screen for a lot of the time, that bodes well. But there is a stretch late in the movie that is, according to early reports, incredibly excruciating to watch. So be forewarned.
Anyway, he’s going to get a Best Actor nomination, the film will probably get nods for Best Picture and (maybe) Best Director, so that’s something.