So the $13 million earned by Fever Pitch on its opening weekend is said to be disappointing, and a shadow now hangs over over the nascent film career of Jimmy Fallon. The poor schlub just didn’t have the right chemistry with costar Drew Barrymore, blah, blah. I’m wondering, though, why the one-sheet made absolutely no mention of the fact that this was (look at me…referring to this puppy in the past tense already!) a Bobby and Peter Farrelly comedy? Don’t their names mean something to the fans of There’s Something About Mary, et. al.? Did Fox marketers hide this fact because the Farrelly’s Stuck on you only took in a lousy $34 million or so, and they were afraid this failure would taint Fever on some level? And while we’re on the subject, what killed the Farrelly’s Three Stooges film with Russell Crowe as Moe?
A bit more on the stall-out (what else can you call it? a case of profound head-scratching?) of Steven Soderbergh’s Che, a biopic that’s been expected to focus on the gnarlier aspects of the late revolutionary leader’s life and exploits. A little more than ten days ago, Benicio del Toro, who’s been intending to play Guevara in this particular vehicle for a long while, was asked about the project by an Empire Online reporter, and he replied, “I’m going to see [Soderbergh] in a week or so, and we’re going to sit down. We just want to make a good movie, and it’s really hard to take the life of that man and condense it in two hours…it’s just really hard. So we have to find an angle that we stay true and honest to the guy, and at the same time, you know, attack some of the questions of who he was, and make it work like a movie.” In other words, back to the drawing board. Despite earlier-announced plans to start shooting this moderately expensive drama next August (i.e., four months from now), the project is obviously on hold until sometime in mid to late ’06. Is “we need to find an angle” a euphemism for money problems? Could this mean that Terrence Malick, who was going to direct Che before Soderbergh stepped into the gig about a year ago, might pick up the reins yet again? Malick’s The New World will be completed and released by late ’05, so who knows? Soderbergh is currently working on the experimental Bubble, and in September will begin lensing The Good German, a post-World War II romantic thriller written by Paul Attanasio with George Clooney and Cate Blanchett. (Yeah, I know — I’ve already said that.)
Kristin Scott-Thomas is telling BBC News that the success of the French-produced Arsene Lupin, which opened in Europe last fall but has apparently found no U.S. distributor, exemplifies a new approach to movies in France. “I think it’s very exciting,” Scott Thomas remarked, “because for a long time in France ‘commercial’ was a dirty word. Now it’s okay to make a lot of money with the films that you’re making.” It’s certainly okay for this 44 year-old French resident, because the producing of more and more empty fantabulous films in France means she gets to earn bigger paychecks. What she doesn’t acknowledge, of course, is that the movie is, to judge by reviews, on the fatuous side. As Boyd van Hoeij of European Films.net politely puts it, Arsene Lupin “is high on atmosphere and production values (the reported budget being 23 million Euros), though it treats the story only as a necessity to bring us from one skirmish to the other, from one lady’s bed to the other and from one flaming explosion to the next.” See what I mean? The cultural-aesthetic cancer that has all but taken over mainstream big-budget filmmaking in Hollywood has spread to France. Break out the Dom Perignon! “Arsene Lupin [can] be an old-fashioned adventure if you are willing to let it be just that,” van Hoeij continues. “The story and its internal logic are not its greatest feats, but indulge in this two-hour fantasy of this rakish burglar in an exquisitely imagined Paris and Normandy and you will come away entertained, amused and delighted.” Adhering to general principle, I am torn between shedding a tear and wanting to throw up.