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July 31, 2007 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | July 31, 2007 |

There’s quite a bit of Johnny Depp industry news today, starting with reports that he’s signed on to produce and star in an adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s novel Rum Diary, which Hunter wrote in the early 60s, but didn’t publish until 1998. Bruce Robinson (who wrote the screenplay for Killing Fields) will write and direct. Depp will play the lead character, Paul Kemp, a maniacal, violently alcoholic American freelance journalist living in San Juan. Clearly, there are quite a few autobiographical elements to Rum Diary, which means I probably won’t work up the nerve to see it. Nearly a decade later, I still haven’t managed the courage to see Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for fear that, even in the capable hands of Johnny Depp and Terry Gilliam, it won’t do justice to the source material. As a guy who wrote his thesis on Thompson’s work, I stand resolute behind my feelings that Raoul Duke’s work should never be adapted for the screen, and I don’t care who assembles it. It just feels wrong, like adapting The Bell Jar for the big screen and casting Julia Stiles as the lead.

They did that? Yes. They did that. To our librarian readers, please take your aggression out in the stacks.

Moving on, Depp — who has to support that shitty moustache grooming — will also be making another blockbuster it seems, having tasted immense success and finding that it suited him, quality be damned. Though, this one looks pretty decent. Depp will star as Barnabas Collins in the vampire movie, Dark Shadows, based on a gothic daytime television soap that ran on ABC from 1966 - 1971 (it’s been re-attempted a couple of times for TV since then with minimal success). I, unfortunately, know very little about the series, but Wikipedia tells us that it’s the only soap opera to have all its episodes on DVD — all 1225 of them. What are you doing for the next 51 straight days? Eh, you can hardly go wrong with Depp as a vampire, as long as it has nothing to do with Anne Rice.

How’s this: A comedy called Four Christmases, starring Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn as a couple from divorced families who have to visit all four parental homes in one day? Not a bad idea — and certainly something many of us can relate to. I’m sure there’s something (besides the sitcommy overeating contrivances) inherent to the situation that can be mined for a few laughs. But, c’mon: Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon? As a couple? Granted, the age difference (six years) isn’t that significant, but who the hell thought to put these two together? It’s like Hershey’s chocolate syrup and eggplant. They’re each decent foods in their own right, but you don’t mix the two together. I mean, unless you’re planning to do something with that eggplant that we don’t need to talk about on a pop-culture site.

Elsewhere, there’s another goddamn CG-animated film in the works, this one being produced by the Weinstein Company. And, actually, it sounds decent: It’s called Igor, and it’s about a mad scientist’s lab assistant who dreams of winning the coveted first-place award at the Evil Science Fair and becoming a mad scientist in his own right. Christian Slater was originally set to voice Igor, while Jeremy Piven was going to play Dr. Schadenfreude, which was Igor’s nemesis. Well, somewhere along the way, Christian Slater got the boot/quit, and John Cusack took the role of Igor. A little later, Jeremy Piven suddenly disappeared from the project with no explanation, only to be replaced quickly by Eddie Izzard, which I have absolutely no complaints with. My gossipy self, however, just wonders if the quiet, little-discussed falling out between Cusack and Piven had anything to do with the casting change. Talk amongst yourselves.

Moving on: In Quotes. How fucking awesome is Maggie Gyllenhaal? This is probably more appropriate for the gossip blogs, but good God, this woman rules. Here’s what she said about taking over Kat(i)e Holmes’ role of Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight: “I’m not thinking of it as a role that anyone’s played before. I’m not walking into Katie Holmes’ performance. I’m thinking of it as an opportunity to play somebody who’s alive and smart. Chris (Nolan) asked me to do this because he wanted me, not because he wants some generic lady in a dress.”

Ouch. Get bent, Joey Potter.

A couple of quick props: A reader, Rebecca H., (who would include Iman and Paz Vega in her same-sex top five) pointed me toward the Wikipedia entry for She-Tragedies and she was totally on point in its relation to torture-porn and how history has once again repeated itself. Turns out, Eli Roth is just the Nicholas Rowe of our time. Who knew?

Another reader, David, sent along a note asking what we thought of Disney banning smoking in their films. To be honest, I think it’s fucking idiotic, because it’s not just Disney, they are “discouraging” thier subs, Miramax and Touchstone, from depicting smoking, too. So, horror movies — where teenagers are slashed and filleted — are OK? Drug use is OK? But smoking is not? There goes the private dick flicks. And the trailer-trash epics. Why are people so worried about smoking in films these days? In what pre-2005 film is anyone who smokes considered cool? The only time I ever see it on TV anymore is the goddamn “Real World” or the cooking shows (are all chefs smokers?). Whatever. Fuck it: Here’s your opening, Dreamworks animation. You can lead the industry in cigarette smoking characters — how much better would Shark Tale have been if De Niro’s shark smoked Camel unfiltereds?

Anyway, I hate to compound your misery, but for those of you who have already seen The Simpsons Movie, you’re already privy to this travesty: An Alvin and the Chipmunks movie. And it looks unbelievably atrocious. And if that’s not bad enough, Jason Lee is playing David Seville. This, of course, following Underdog (opening this weekend), in which he voices the title character. What the hell happened Banky? The man who popularized the stink palm is now making bad kiddie flicks. Jesus, it’s depressing. I guess the man’s gotta make some money for Xenu.

And who else thought, for the first 30 seconds of this trailer, that there was going to be a Spinal Tap sequel? It’s a cruel motherfucking trick, I say.

But, I’m not gonna go out like that. Let’s go out on a high note. Ranylt pointed me to the trailer for Hitman, and watching it, I seriously felt my toes curl a little. Given the B-level cast (Timothy Olyphant’s kick-assery, notwithstanding) and the virtually unknown French director (Xavier Gens) doing his best John Woo impression, there’s no chance in hell the movie will be nearly as good as the trailer, but for 1:49, I was all prepared to pretend. In fact, I was totally on board with the flick until I saw this, from the second commenter over on YouTube: “I think it will be a good movie to watch with friends! including pizzas, beers and after the whole movie you can turn on you PS and play it too!:D.” After recognizing that a “PS” does not refer to one of those newfangled sex toys, I realized that — oh shit — this is a video-game movie? Damn you, Ranylt! (*shakes fist*) You got my hopes up for nothing. And shame on you Timothy Olyphant. Ah hell — the trailer is still sweet.

Fear and Loathing in Las Pajiba

The Daily Trade Round-Up / Dustin Rowles

Industry | July 31, 2007 |

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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