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October 25, 2007 |

By Daniel Carlson | Industry | October 25, 2007 |

The Darjeeling Limited is expanding this weekend to several hundred screens nationwide, and when it does, it will include Wes Anderson’s short film Hotel Chevalier, which functions as Part 1 of the story and sets up the emotional journey for Jason Schwartzman’s character. It’s another fetishistically rendered but still engaging piece, playing out with the quiet elegance of a decent little short story, and it’ll be a treat for those who haven’t seen the film yet to see the short up on the big screen, since Hotel Chevalier has previously only been available as a free download on iTunes. But really, the theatrical release of the short just means one thing: Naked Natalie Portman. I’m sure this is the only thing anyone cares about; you can tell because a writer at the Hollywood Reporter used the phrase “bare derriere” in the lead, displaying all the tact and cinematic insight of a constantly erect 13-year-old. Even the New York Times mentioned the ass shots. Sure, Anderson has created a brand of American comedy whose unique blend of pathos and slapstick has, for all its faults, been an artistic success. Sure, it’s interesting to see a major filmmaker and studio tinkering with short films — who even makes those anymore? — and release patterns to provide slightly more discerning viewers with an interesting theatergoing experience. But who cares? You see Natalie Portman’s ass, and kinda the side of her breasts, a little. Mainly the right one. I sure am glad that’s the news everyone’s leading with. It sure would be a shame if reporters wasted this advantage to hype some semi-nudity from a starlet by talking about the director’s vision. Boy.

In other stripper news: Screenwriter and former stripper Diablo Cody (the forthcoming Juno) and Transformers star Megan Fox, who looks like she would be working the pole in some dive in Panorama City if not for the serendipitous intervention of Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay, are teaming up for Fox Atomic’s Jennifer’s Body. It’s being billed as a “comedic supernatural thriller,” and though initially that brings to mind something like Beetlejuice and sounds like it will be terrible, word on the street — meaning a guy I know who’s read the script — is that the screenplay is actually pretty entertaining. From the looks of the Juno trailer, Diablo Cody might have a knack for working up her own quirky little vernacular. The story deals with a cheerleader — presumably the glass-eyes, waxy-cheeked Fox — who gets possessed and winds up murdering boys in her small town. Fox Atomic is aiming to get things under way before a possible writers’ strike.

Speaking of the strike (here’s some background info), everybody’s trying to get their projects started before it’s too late, including some higher-profile films. Columbia this week set a February start for Angels & Demons, Ron Howard’s bound-to-be-crappy sequel to The Da Vinci Code, and is planning a December 2008 release. Akiva Goldsman is slaving away at the script ahead of the potential strike, which could halt writers as soon as Nov. 1. Bracing for a potential work stoppage, the studios are putting their resources into films ready for production that have finished scripts, since a strike would bar the studios from polishing or tweaking the screenplay if the writers are on strike. That means that crap like Angels & Demons has to be completed before the strike (if there is one) starts. Ah well. At least Tom Hanks is returning for the film, and bringing that awesome mullet.

Finally, this morning’s trailer watch brings what feels like the 19th clip for a movie about the Iraq War. But surprise, this one looks upbeat! Kidding. This one looks just as potentially depressing as the rest. Kimberly Peirce’s Stop Loss follows a group of soldiers who make it home from the war but find themselves forced to extend their tours because of the Army’s stop-loss policy. The trailer isn’t as strong as it could be — points off for the terrible metal opening that seems more at home in an intramural football highlight reel — but Peirce proved in Boys Don’t Cry that she can skillfully tackle some uncomfortable issues. The film bows in March:

Daniel Carlson is the managing editor of Pajiba and a low-level employee at a Hollywood industry magazine. You can visit his blog, Slowly Going Bald.

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