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February 20, 2007 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | February 20, 2007 |

After months and months of casting speculation about who would play Harvey Dent/ Two Face in the sequel to Batman Begins, The Dark Knight (rumors had Jamie Foxx, Ryan Phillippe, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and John Cusack attached at various times), Christopher Nolan has finally found his man. Aaron Eckhart is in final negotiations to assume the role that Tommy Lee Jones played in 1995’s Batman Forever. And while I’m all atwitter that Nolan chose Eckhart (who finally got some overdue recognition for his role in Thank You for Smoking), I do worry that — with Heath Ledger already attached as The Joker — the director is throwing too many characters into the narrative pot. If you have The Joker, do you really need another villain? Fortunately, Nolan is steering clear of big-time blockbuster A-listers, which does suggest that The Dark Knight won’t be another exercise in stunt casting, which is part of what killed the franchise the last time around (that, and Joel Schumacher, of course).

In other casting news, there is almost nothing I love as much as an authentic Boston accent delivered in a Boston-based production, which is part of the reason I found The Departed so riveting and Mark Wahlberg’s and Matt Damon’s performances so natural. Now, the two have re-teamed for another film featuring Massachusetts natives. The Fighter will be a boxing film about the life of “Irish” Mickey Ward (Wahlberg) and his trainer brother, Dick Eklund (Damon), who hailed from Lowell, Mass. Ward is one of those Massachusetts blue-collar heroes (the Dropkick Murphys wrote a song about him), whose career trajectory (including a three-year retirement, several setbacks, and a world championship) seems tailor-made for the big screen. Paul Attanasio (Donnie Brasco, The Sum of All Fears, and the forthcoming Bourne Ultimatum) has been hired to rewrite the script. Wahlberg and Damon’s participation is contingent upon approval of it.

Elsewhere, Scott Smith’s big-screen adaptation of his novel The Ruins has found a director. Carter Smith, a commercial and music video director, has been hired to helm. Scott Smith will adapt the script from his own novel, though I can’t imagine that Red Hour, the production company run by Ben Stiller, will allow Smith to stick with the novel’s original ending, which provides the sort of killjoy despair that Hollywood normally eschews. No talent has been cast yet, but given the choice of director, the youth of the characters, and the genre, we can probably expect a Bruckheimerian hack job with an assortment of CW stars and, I’m guessing, Sophia Bush.

This week on DVD, Babel makes itself available for your Netflix queues, giving you a few days to relieve your pre-Oscar guilt for missing it and having to confess ignorance during the awards shows when your friends ask your opinion. It’s a pretty good flick, to boot. The Prestige will also be released on DVD today, which reminds me why Rex Reed is probably the worst film critic in the history of the profession, as evidenced by what he wrote about the film. Here’s a taste:

This is the latest product of loopy brothers Christopher and Jonathan Nolan, whose libidinous fantasies work overtime to turn paranoia, confusion and insanity into art movies like the despicable Memento. On his own, brother Christopher also directed the paralyzing Batman Begins, the worst Batman movie ever made, which was also the only pretentious Batman movie ever made. Dedicated to the premise that no movie that makes sense is worth making at all, these hacks have dumped their worst faults into The Prestige. Worse yet, it’s a whacking bore.

That from a guy who found The Omen remake “imaginative” and “riveting.”

Additionally, Man of the Year, Flushed Away, and For Your Consideration will arrive on Blockbuster shelves this week.

Finally, in the trailer watch, here’s one I saw attached to Music and Lyrics last week: Jerry Seinfeld’s Bee Movie, an adult animation comedy which actually looks semi-amusing, though it’s hard to tell anything about the flick from this particular trailer.

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.

Thank You for Pajibaing

The Daily Trade Round-Up / Dustin Rowles

Industry | February 20, 2007 |

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

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