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October 5, 2006 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | October 5, 2006 |

Item #1: It’s tough to come across good action movies, and The Bourne Identity was a really good one, right down to the shameless casting of Franka Potente in the hopes of conjuring a Run, Lola, Run vibe for some of the chase scenes (and it totally worked). It was even an educational film: I now know to always plan an escape route when traveling in a foreign city and which car to check in a parking lot if I’m hunting for a gun. The sequel, The Bourne Supremacy, passed on directing duties from Doug Liman to Paul Greengrass, who’s also heading up next year’s The Bourne Ultimatum. The film is still without a villain, though word is that an offer for the role has gone out to Gael Garcia Bernal (Y Tu Mama Tambien, Bad Education). Garcia Bernal is a talented actor, but he doesn’t seem to have any kind of physical edge whatsoever over Damon, or even the rough presence a villain requires; then again, pitting the boundless energy of Tom Cruise against the doughy charms of Philip Seymour Hoffman seemed brutally unfair until it turned out Hoffman absolutely owned Cruise. So who knows, things could work out for the best. — Daniel Carlson

Item #2: It’s been a tough couple of years for Scarlett Johansson. By my count, she’s only had three new films this year, and only nine scheduled for release in 2007, including roles as Napoleon’s love interest, a Gladiatrix (!?), and the title character in The Nanny Diaries. And now she can add another role to her résumé, Mary Queen of Scots, affording Ms. Johansson the opportunity to do what she does best: wear a bustier, pout, and bat her eyes until she is beheaded (most audience members, I suspect, won’t even notice anything is missing above the neck). For those of you who skipped Western Civ, Mary Queen of Scots was appointed as such because the male bloodline had run dry and was crowned when she was only nine months old. Henry VIII over in England attempted to arrange a marriage (by military force) between his son and Mary Queen of Scotts, ironic because Mary Boleyn (whom Johansson will also be portraying in another film) was a mistress of Henry VIII. But the real beef in Mary Stuart’s life was with Henry VIII’s successor and her cousin, Elizabeth I, who ultimately had Stuart beheaded for allegedly plotting to appear in every single motherfucking film released for the next 10 years. Fortunately for us, within the next decade the string in Ms. Johansson’s back will eventually snap, at which time the studios will simply post her plasticene, half-melted remains on eBay. — Dustin Rowles

Item #3: I never saw Fantastic Four. It seems impossible, I know; I’m a young guy, and supposedly not immune to the charms of Jessica Alba, so much so that I’d be willing to cough up $10 and two hours to watch her run around in something snug. But I just never got around to it. However, it seems that pretty much everyone else saw it, which is why the sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, is already in production. This week it was announced that Andre Braugher and Beau Garrett will be joining the cast; Braugher will play a general tasked with capturing the Silver Surfer (good luck, man; it doesn’t even look like that guy has eyes), while Garrett will play the love interest of Johnny Storm (Chris Evans), aka the Human Torch. That latter bit of casting had me confused at first, wondering if director Tim Story had decided to take the film in a whole new direction and make the Human Torch an entirely different breed of flaming superhero, but it turns out that Beau Garrett is a chick. Really. She’s even been on “Entourage,” so you know she can act. — DC

Item #4: I know we covered this a while back, when Jon Favreau was tapped to direct, but now that one of the best actors in Hollywood has been attached, I think it’s worth rehashing. Indeed, Marvel Entertainment has cast Robert Downey Jr. to play Iron Man in the feature of the same name. Honestly, I don’t know a damn thing about comic books, beyond the pitiless excuses most studios offer up as a form of entertainment (I’ll exclude the Spider-Man films and a few of the Batman entries), but I know this: Robert Downey Jr. is one of the most underappreciated actors working today, and (save for The Shaggy Dog) I’m willing to give the man the benefit of the doubt, even if he’s playing a character wearing a “high-tech suit of armor” and asked to “save the world.” If anyone can convince me there is an actual human being residing beneath a veneer of iron, it is Downey, who could break the heart of Epictetus with those eyes. And speculation that Terrence Howard will come on board (presumably as War Machine, whoever the hell that is) makes this project even more appealing. Now, if we can only keep Scarlett Johansson from appearing in the film, Iron Man may actually have a shot. — DR

Item #5: Well, everyone talked about how there were too many new serial dramas coming on this fall, and it looks like we may have our first death of one of the too many. “Kidnapped,” which I’ve quite enjoyed so far, has not been doing very well in the ratings, and it’s likely to do far worse now that it’ll be up against widely hyped and much anticipated “The Nine,” which comes hot off the lead of that “Lost” show (this gets posted before last night’s numbers are out, but I’d bet dollars to donuts that “The Nine” utterly creamed “Kidnapped”). So it comes as no huge surprise to hear TV Guide’s Mike Ausiello report that the show has been told to halt production after 13 episodes. To add even more fuel to the fire, a head exec at NBC recently referred to “Kidnapped” as an example of a show that may be too complicated for viewers (not sure that I agree with this assessment) and talked of it in the dearly-departed past tense. Word has it that the show runners do have a way of concluding it, however, even with a short run, so I’m still going to stick with it until its bitter end. — Seth Freilich

Item #6: Over the weekend, the top draw at the box office was Open Season, a film we didn’t even bother covering, since we’ve had a difficult time finding critics willing to take on the damn near-weekly CGI-animation releases since the lovely Maryscott O’Connor left us (we also assume there isn’t much interest on Pajiba for reviews of non-Pixar kiddie flicks). The Guardian debuted at the second position, meaning that Ashton Kutcher somehow managed to star in the week’s top two films (take that, Justin Timberlake). Jackass Number Two fell to number three, increasing its total take over the $50 million mark. Buoyed by these box office figures, Hollywood studios have since signed Ashton Kutcher to appear in Jackass Number Three, a film that will feature the “Punk’d” star appearing in front of a white screen for 90 minutes. At number four, Jon Heder has proven that not even gifted actors with a wide range of dramatic abilities can always succeed, as School for Scoundrels pulled in with a miserable $8.6 million (take that, Justin Timberlake*).

This weekend, it looks like we’ll finally have a film that (hopefully) won’t disappoint, as Martin Scorsese arrives with The Departed. Sometimes, damn it, it’s just nice to go to the theater and see guns, cops, betrayal, and Nicholson. And sometimes a moviegoer just to wants to see Jessica Simpson flaunt her cleavage and hurt her pretty little head trying to memorize lines that no one bothers listening to,** which is why we have Employee of the Month. And then there are yet other people who prefer to see second-rate, Jessica Simpson-type bimbos have various body parts removed via a loud instrument used to cut down trees, ergo The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. In addition, we’ll also be bringing you reviews of Shortbus, which is not about special-ed kids, and The Queen, who miraculously will not be played by Scarlett Johansson. — DR

* I have no apparent reason for taunting Mr. Timberlake — I just like the way the phrase sounds in my head.

** I don’t know any of these people.

The Bourne Pajiba

The Weekly Trade Round-Up / The Pajiba Staff

Industry | October 5, 2006 |

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

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