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April 24, 2007 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | April 24, 2007 |

For those of you wondering what the hell happened to the Coen Brothers — who have been noticeably absent since 2004’s just plain goddamn awful The Ladykillers — they have two new projects on the horizon. The first, No Country for Old Men, is scheduled for release later this year. Based on a Cormac McCarthy novel, the plot concerns an illicit drug deal gone wrong, dead people, cash and mayhem out in a remote desert on the Texas-Mexico border. In other words, the usual Coen Brothers stuff. And the cast is pretty phenomenal in that special Coen sort of way: Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Woody Harrelson, and Stephen Root — the regulars, however, seem to be completely absent. The other project, which will start filming late this summer, has just cast Brad Pitt alongside George Clooney and Frances McDormand in Burn After Reading, a caper about a CIA agent writing a book who loses the disc. Apparently, everyone who comes in contact with the disc is killed — and Clooney will play the assassin. Not a bad premise. After peaking with the Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou? trilogy between 1996 and 2000, the Coens’ films have trailed off in quality. But whatever — they can churn out another decade of clunkers before I lose faith, and these two projects both seem infinitely promising. But where the fuck is John Goodman? If the Coens really want to rekindle the magic, they might consider casting an old favorite. (Oh, and this just in: They’ve announced a third project they’re working on — a film called A Serious Man. No details were given.)

And, good God: This is what happens when a third-billed actress in a horribly sappy travesty of a film suddenly hits it big: The studio exercises a sequel option and forces the actress to be in a movie she has no business making (nor does anyone else, for that matter). But that’s what happened to America Ferrera, star of the kinda cute television show, “Ugly Betty.” It looks like Alcon Entertainment is screwing her over and making her appear in a sequel to … (hold breath) … The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. (I respectfully plead that you do not click on that link and read the review. It was a weak moment for me. An embarrassing mistake in my dark past.). So, it looks like the entire cast (Ferrera, Blake Lively, Amber Tamblyn, and Alexis Bledel) will be rounded up and hornswaggled into the project, though I don’t know what the hell is left to do with those goddamn Levi’s but throw them into a bonfire and never speak of them again. It’s a shame, too, because it looks like this project may prevent Ferrera from starring in An Invisible Sign of My Own, a film adapted from a very good Aimee Bender novel.

There is, however, good news to report, even if it is of the sequel variety. Badass extraordinaire Jason Statham has been cast as the lead in Death Race a remake of the 1975 Roger Corman flick, Death Race 2000, which starred Sylvester Stallone and David Carradine. And while the cult classic had a certain charm (inasmuch as an ultraviolent car-race movie where points are scored by running over pedestrians can have charm), Statham is quickly becoming one of my favorite leads for those disposable, adrenaline-fueled action pics that you forget about the next day. So I don’t really see a huge problem in remaking this particular film. Maybe it will even keep some of the satirical bent from the original. I recall, in fact, buying the maximum number of shares of this movie a good five years ago over on HSX for around $1 a pop, so I’m glad to see that production is finally coming to fruition, though I haven’t checked my portfolio in years. I wonder if it’s still even there … it is! And I’m a very rich man, if you count fake money.

What do we have for you on DVD this week? Let’s see. How about Code Name: The Cleaner, a really, really bad film that features a janitor rapping about bowel movements. No? How about Deja vu? How about Deja vu? It’s all right, though nothing particularly earth-shattering. There’s also 10 Items or Less, which came and went with little notice, though our review suggests that, “on its own limited terms,” it is “nearly perfect.” If you don’t like nearly perfect films, there’s always Night at the Museum, “a flimsy pretext to throw a bunch of random shit together to (ideally) distract youngsters and not offend the parents.” Barring that, Little Children hits Blockbuster shelves, and though it’s not light, breezy fare, it is a “gripping” film about “the woefully complex and ever-shifting relationships that populate modern America.” And Kate Winslet is in it, to boot. Finally, The Queen will also be released; add it to your Netflix queue, and when it arrives to your house, you’ll no doubt leave it lying on top of the DVD player for months before mustering the energy to watch it. You won’t be disappointed with Helen Mirren’s performance when you do.

In the trailer watch, I saw the preview for Gracie over the weekend, and I’ve been waiting to make this horrible joke for days now. So, the setup is this: Gracie is a soccer-film based somehow on the lives of Andrew and Elisabeth Shue, right? (They had a soccer-playing brother who died in a swimming accident, I believe. Beyond that, I have no idea how the story relates to their lives.) Anyway, the film involves two teenage siblings. The brother is some super soccer stud who dies in a car crash. After his death, the sister, Gracie, takes his place on the soccer team and leads it to the state title or whatever it is that people are supposed to win in soccer (Doubloons? Skittles? A Pocketful of Rainbows?). So, I’m watching this trailer, knowing as I do that it’s a soccer film based on the Shue family, and I’m already beginning to form a groan in the back of my head. Why? Because I just know what the film is going to be called. It’s so obvious, right? But, man, was I surprised to learn it was called Gracie. What the hell? There was a pun right there for the taking. Who passes up an opportunity that huge? I’m flabbergasted. At a loss for words.

How could you not call it The Other Shue?

I’m so disappointed in you, Hollywood.

Finally, I wanted to take a paragraph and address a concern that many of our readers have had of late. In addition to the occasional comment, I’ve gotten more than my fair share of emails complaining about the ads on the site. Let me just say this: We don’t choose our advertisers, they choose us. The only say in the matter that I really have is whether or not to accept a particular ad. More times than not, I do. Why? Because we’re not some huge corporate-run site that subsists on Time-Warner or Viacom’s dime. We’re a blog, and every bit of money we earn from those sometimes questionable ads goes back into the site, and as we grow, so do the number of posts we are able to run — allowing us to go from Friday-only reviews two years ago, to an average of two entries a day (three if you count Pajiba Love), in addition to the biweekly Guides (which are immensely time-consuming and offered by our staff gratis). And in exchange for our ability to afford that, we occasionally allow a PETA ad with a half-naked pseudo-celebrity to run on our sidebars, though we have been lucky enough to obtain a few longtime advertisers, like OneHorseShy and Fab Cards (and they really are fabulous), for whom we have a lot of appreciation. So, basically, what I’m saying is this: For those of you who are turned off by some of our ads, I honestly do apologize. I wish Disney would throw a lot of cash at us in exchange for running ads for their shitty films while we ripped them apart in our reviews, but unfortunately, we sometimes get folks like Slick Nicky, who sells mouse pads in the shape of Pamela Anderson’s ass (and yes, I did turn down their subsequent campaigns. Sorry, Slick Nicky — I have no idea why you’d want to renew your ad. Do our readers really buy your mouse pads?) And, barring some obnoxious NPR-type fund drives or one of those damn donation buttons, there’s not much else we can do about it here. We do hope you’ll stick around anyway.

Sorry to harsh your mellows; now, please go back to appreciating that fine, fine Elisabeth Shue pun.

Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba. He lives with his wife in Ithaca, New York. You may email him, or leave a comment below.

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

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