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John Malkovich

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Deeper Down the Portal.

“When Flemmer gets wind of this he teleports to the theater (freezing Charles Nelson Reillly in time along the way) and takes control of the Truman puppet during the second act of Equus…[It] starts juggling bowling pins while playing the psychiatrist and Malkovich has seizures, levitates and breathes fire while playing Alan Strang. The Truman puppet turns into a giant swan, which bursts into flames, and then from the ashes of the swan the corpse of the real Harry S Truman rises and implores the audience to vote for Mantini.”

As seen at io9, Devin Faraci reveals the originally-planned ending of Being John Malkovich, and it’s out there alright. This reads like the textbook definition of “Too Many Notes” — I much prefer the filmed version, and especially its haunting final moment.

Migrant Malkovich.

“After selecting thirty-five images to emulate, Sandro contacted Malkovich, who instantly agreed to participate…Sandro states: ‘John is the most brilliant, prolific person I know. His genius is unparalleled. I can suggest a mood or an idea and within moments, he literally morphs into the character right in front of my eyes.'”

Malkovich, Malkovich. Malkovich, Malkovich… Ok, so this is pretty transparent blogger-bait, but, hey, I have a blog! John Malkovich recreates 100 famous photographs for artist Sandro Miller. “Sandro Miller ‘has been photographing people for over thirty years. He became interested in photography at the age of sixteen upon seeing the work of Irving Penn and has since devoted his life to creating expressive images.'”

Preludes to Erebor.


Plenty of trailers of note accompanying the return to Bag End tonight. (So far, reviews have been decidedly mixed, but I remain cautiously optimistic.) First up, we have a very grim Kryptonian moping around like he’s Bats — and getting lousy advice from Pa Kent — in the second trailer for Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, with Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Antje Traue, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Ayelet Zurer, Lawrence Fishburne, Richard Schiff, Harry Lennix, Tahmoh Penikett, and Christopher Meloni.

Hrm. I wouldn’t have picked this grim direction for Superman — seems like a Captain America vibe would work better — but at least it’s different, I guess. Hopefully the presence of Chris Nolan will help rein in Snyder’s Sucker Punch sensibilities.


Idris, meet GLaDOS. GLaDOS, Idris. Cthulhian monsters from under the sea fight giant robots in the first trailer for Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim, with Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Ron Perlman, and, yes, GLaDOS. Eh, I dunno…I’m sure I’ll probably see it, but I’m getting a Battleship vibe from this, to be honest.


Tom Cruise is Legend — or is he WALL-E? — in the first trailer for Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion, also with Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Zoe Bell, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Melissa Leo, and Andrea Riseborough. Hrm, ok…I was liking it better before Freeman showed up with those goofy goggles.


Meanwhile, over on the other side of the planet, Will Smith gives Jaden Smith a few Batman Begins lectures while running from iffy CGI sabertooths in the first trailer for M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth. Wait a tic…M. Night Shyamalan? Yeah, not happening.


Mr. Lowry. Sam Lowry! Has anybody seen Sam Lowry?!? Ah yes, speaking of films I will not see, he’s playing the president in that new GI Joe movie, the one where they blow up London. Didn’t see the first one, and a year of reshoots and post-conversion 3D is not normally a recipe for success.


New love awakens Nicholas Hoult from a zombie-like stupor — er, a zombie stupor — in the full trailer for Jonathan Levine’s Warm Bodies, also with Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry, and John Malkovich. Cute premise…it’ll depend on the reviews.


We’re seeing this? What do you mean we, white man? Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp bring the legend of The Lone Ranger to life for Disney and Gore Verbinski, also with Tom Wilkinson, Helena Bonham Carter, Ruth Wilson, James Badge Dale, William Fichtner, and Barry Pepper. Sorry, but even with the usually reliable Wilkinson as the Big Bad, all I can see here is Hunter S. Tonto.

Retread, Extremely Dull.

To complete the pre-election backlog at last, Robert Schwentke’s by-the-numbers action-comedy Red, which I caught a few weeks ago at the Uptown, is…really forgettable. I mean it. It can’t have been more than a month ago since I saw this flick, and yet, even with its impressive A-list cast — hey, A-listers have mortgages too — Red already has that half-remembered did-I-watch-this-on-television haze about it in my mind.

For a dumb action-comedy, Red is neither particularly action-y nor particularly funny. (It is plenty dumb, tho’.) The film’s killer app — Helen Mirren as a badass assassin — doesn’t show up till halfway through the movie, and even then is criminally underutilized. It has one of the most annoyingly intrusive, jingly-jangly Oceans’ 11-wannabe scores this side of The Informant. It can never decide on a tone, and veers from broad, Naked Gun-style antics (see, for example, everything involving bazookas) to half-hearted stabs at being taken seriously. And, with the possible exception of Bruce Willis doing the hero-walk out of his moving car (to save you money, it’s at 1:40 in the trailer), there’s just very little to write home about here…or even on GitM about, for that matter.

But, write I must, so let’s take it to the synopsis: If you just watched the aforementioned trailer, you’re already basically up-to-speed. In brief, Frank Moses (Willis, on autopilot) is an ex-CIA spook who’s not handling retirement well. He spends his days tearing up his pension checks so he has an excuse to phone up the friendly and equally lonely cubicle-rat Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker, deserving better) — They make small talk about romance novels and avocadoes and whatnot. So far, so good. Red has an off-kilter feel to it at first that seems like it might be going somewhere. Unfortunately, we’re only maybe six or seven minutes into the film, and then the bullets start raining down like a hailstorm of stupid.

Y’see, a crack team of assassins have been sent to kill Frank in the dead of night for some reason, and they end up firing so much lead into his Cleveland home that the entire structure comes tumbling down. (Wouldn’t this draw unwanted attention to your ostensibly black-ops hit? Oh, whatever.) Frank, of course, survives this demolishing unscathed. And after abducting his new friend Sarah (shades of Knight & Day here — no better way to win a lady’s heart, apparently, than by absconding with her against her will), he decides to get the old “Retired: Extremely Dangerous” band back together to figure out why he’s been targeted.

And why is that, exactly? Well, long and boring story, really, but it has something to do with an old mission in Guatemala where the current vice-president (Julian McMahon, feeling as TVish here as he did in Fantastic Four) kinda sorta lost his mind and started shooting up the place. More important for our purposes is the band in question — Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Mirren, and Brian Cox. That’s a pretty solid traveling troupe if you’re looking to do some actorly jamming for a few hours, and particularly when you have occasional fun special guests like Ernest Borgnine and Richard Dreyfuss (who’s basically reprising his role from W) waiting in the wings.

Only problem is, it doesn’t play out like that. Freeman seems bored, and you can’t really blame him when the only thing the script calls for him to do is [spoiler] give a Shawshank-y farewell speech and die…twice. Meanwhile, Malkovich, playing an ex-agent who was dosed with LSD for decades, goes Method: He skips right over funny and lands on the creepy, off-putting-homeless-guy side of crazy. (As far as Malkovichian CIA romps go, I prefer Burn after Reading.) Mirren, as I said, is underused. And Brian Cox…well, Cox can be a very good actor (Manhunter, The 25th Hour) or, when in it for the paycheck, an absolute, William Hurt-like hambone. (The Ring, Troy.) As a vodka-swilling, back-slapping, overly-emotional ex-KGB kingpin, guess what he’s like here? When you’re even in spitting distance of out-hamming Dreyfuss in a motion picture these days, that’s no mean feat.

Oh yeah, Karl Urban (still channeling Bones from Star Trek) is skulking around in this too, as the Agency’s muscle. He’s ok, I suppose — He gets his hat handed to him by Bruce Willis decently well. But his entire character arc is laid out the first time he looks askance at his sinister, take-no-guff handler (Rebecca Pidgeon), so there’s a lot of waiting around for his inevitable crisis of conscience to take hold. In the meantime, there’re a lot of explosions and bullets and stuff, all set to that godawful, its-ok-you-can-laugh-now score.

In the end, Red is slow-witted, dull, nonsensical, and even a bit sadistic — drink every time someone gets abducted, tied up, beaten up, or interrogated. But, more than anything it’s just…forgettable. Who knows? Maybe the CIA has been hard at work on a nefarious plot to redact Red from my brain. If so, I salute them.

Cowboy Junk-y.


I highly doubt any compadres and comadres out there need me to tell them at this late date that Jimmy Hayward’s loud, dumb, Hoobastank-ish adaptation of DC’s Jonah Hex is, all things considered, a lousy film. So, to be clear right up front: In no way am I recommending that anyone actually sit through the durned thing, especially if your own money is involved. But, I am forced to admit: While I may have just been in a summer-afternoon, World Cup-enhanced good mood at the time, I actually found Jonah Hex to be a pretty entertaining lousy film, if you set your brain to numb and roll with it.

For, however defiantly stupid Hex is for most of its run, and yes, Hex is extremely, flagrantly stupid — we know that from the horse-mounted howitzers in the first reel — at least the movie is aware enough of its drive-in badness just to let its Weird Western Tales freak flag fly. (Speaking of Hex’s comic book origins, the obligatory source material disclosures: I’ve been aware of the character since he popped up in the Crisis way back when, but never really followed him, even when he got sent into the far-flung future for some reason, and I couldn’t tell you much about Hex beforehand except the scar.)

So basically, I found Jonah Hex to be on the bizarrely-enjoyable, “TNT New Classic at two in the morning” side of terrible, as opposed to the just-plain-irritating-terrible of, say, 1999’s The Wild, Wild West. (Or, to take two recent examples, Alice in Wonderland or Clash of the Titans.) True, gun-for-hire John Malkovich seems really bored as this twisted tale’s Big Bad, Confederate general Quentin Turnbull. (Like Hugo Weaving in The Wolfman, another genre turn I thought would have to be fun no matter what, Malkovich is a letdown. Even in other easy paychecks like Con Air, I’ve never seen him so listless.) But the Malkatraz choosing to phone-it-in notwithstanding, there’s still a lot of goofy fun at the fringes of Jonah Hex.

I mean, we’ve got rising star Michael Fassbender (of Inglourious Basterds, Fish Tank and, soon X-Men: First Class — He’s the Magneto to James McAvoy’s Professor X) as a jolly, lilting Irish-immigrant henchman in a bowler hat. There’s Will “Gob Bluth” Arnett playing it straight as a McClellan-esque Union general, Jeffrey Dean Morgan (of Watchmen and The Losers) as a wordy and depressed zombie, Lance Reddick (nee Major Cedric Daniels) slumming it as Hex’s Q, American Beauty‘s since-AWOL Wes Bentley randomly popping up very briefly as Southern Gentleman #2…and that’s not even getting into the random Civil war-era gladiatorial bat-beasts and whatnot.

And then there’s Hex himself: Josh Brolin, who, not unlike Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley in Splice, carries the stoic deadpan — with a glint of laughter in the eyes — of a man who seems to be in on the joke. If nothing else, Brolin — after spending two decades not-really-making-it between 1985’s The Goonies and 2007’s No Country for Old Men — seems to be getting a real kick out of being an A-Lister carrying his own B-level comic book film. For her part, Megan Fox is not much to write home about here, but she’s easy on the eyes and acquits herself well enough. I know she’s often a target of many people’s weirdly vociferous wrath. But I’ll give Fox this: If Hex and Jennifer’s Body are any indication, she seems to have a pretty solid sense of her own limited range.

Now, you’ll notice I’ve gone several paragraphs in now without mentioning anything involving the actual story, and that should give you a sense of its quality. But, basically, Hex wants revenge on the aforementioned Gen. Turnbull, since he’s the man who disfigured him (good work, make-up people), murdered his family before his eyes, and inadvertently gave Hex the power to commune with the dead (although, apparently not with his family, which is where you’d think he’d then spend most of his time.) Turnbull, meanwhile, wants to level the Union on its 100th anniversary, as payback for that whole Civil War thing — you may have read about it. (The engine of his centennial-obliterating master plan are highly dangerous WMD, apparently once engineered by Eli Whitney — In practice, they’re glowing golden orbs not unlike the pinkish bombs Jar Jar et al were flinging around Naboo in The Phantom Menace. And, yes, the fact I just mentioned Episode 1 should again give you a sense of what you’re in for here.

So, yeah, the film is bad, no doubt. But I still definitely enjoyed myself through its schlocky-grisly awfulness. If you’ll allow me to explain by digression: Speaking of John Lee Hancock’s amiable but slightly dull adaptation of The Alamo in 2004, I finished up by saying of Billy Bob Thornton’s Davy Crockett that “Billy Bob is so good here that I spent most of the film contemplating who else I’d cast alongside Thornton for the definitive American History miniseries. Christopher Walken as 1850 Henry Clay? Fred Thompson as James Buchanan? Adrien Brody as Mexican War-era Lincoln? The possibilities are endless.

And, with that in mind, I think the point where Hex sorta sold me as Z-grade entertainment, despite its pretty unmitigated badness otherwise, is when Aidan Quinn (most recently playing a drunk-of-a-different-color in The Eclipse) shows up as President Ulysses S. Grant, a man who needs that outlaw and ex-Confederate rapscallion Jonah Hex on the side of God and country, his dirty deeds be damned, or else. If you’ve been coming ’round these parts and reading the movie reviews for any amount of time, you’ve probably noticed I have a weakness for both historical recreations and genre outings. Well, however much of a bomb in the end, Jonah Hex at least has the good sense to frolic happily at that crossroads for awhile.

Age and its Discontents.

Another slew of new arrivals in the summer trailer bin:

  • With a little help from his friends (Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, and Mary-Louise Parker), Bruce Willis eases out of retirement from the Company in the trailer for Robert Schwentke’s Red (formerly a Warren Ellis comic, apparently), also with Julian Glover and Karl Urban. Eh, could be fun.

  • Todd Solondz offers up another misanthropic and probably-funny smorgasbord of quirky, highly damaged people in the trailer for his Life During Wartime, with Shirley Henderson, Allison Janney, Ciaran Hinds, Paul Reubens, Michael K. Williams, Ally Sheedy, and Charlotte Rampling.

  • For the sake of completion, the trailer for Paul Weitz’s Little Fockers, a.k.a. Meet the Parents 3, with Ben Stiller, Teri Polo, Robert DeNiro, Blythe Danner, Barbara Streisand, Jessica Alba, Laura Dern, and Harvey Keitel. Didn’t see the last one, won’t be seeing this one…particularly after that hard-to-watch Sustengo lameness.

(L)East Meets West.

In this week’s trailer bin, M. Night Shyamalan tries to get his groove back with some help from Nicktoons in the new trailer for his live-action version of The Last Airbender, with Noah Ringer, Nicole Peltz, Jackson Rathbone, Dev Patel and Aasif Mandvi. Sorry, M. Night, but after Signs, The Village, Lady in the Water, and that Mark Wahlberg Triffids movie (Google reminds me: The Happening), I’m skipping this unless reviews say otherwise.

And, elsewhere on Yahoo…what’s wrong with your FACE? Josh Brolin mounts up for his own third-tier comic book film in the first trailer for Jimmy Hayward’s Jonah Hex, also with Megan Fox, John Malkovich, Will Arnett, Michael Shannon, and Lance Reddick. Oof…seems pretty clear I’ll have to get my drink on before this bad boy.

GOBah Hex, etc.

In recent casting news, Will Arnett and Michael Shannon saddle up for Jonah Hex, already with Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, Michael Fassbender, and Megan Fox. “It’s the story of Hex (Brolin), a scarred bounty hunter tracking a voodoo practitioner (Malkovich) who wants to raise an army of the undead to liberate the South. Arnett will play a Union soldier who enlists Hex and is blindsided by the dirty fighting style of his enemies. The role is not inherently comic. Shannon plays Doc Cross Williams, the bizarre ringleader of a brutal gladiator circus event. The character might appear in sequels.

Also on the comic-to-film front, Idris Elba and Zoe Saldana join The Losers, starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan and based on the Vertigo comic. (Or, put another way, Stringer Bell and Uhura are teaming up with the Comedian.) The comic “follows a Special Forces team betrayed by its handler and left for dead. The ‘losers’ regroup in the interest of revenge, the opportunity to remove their names from a secret CIA death list and to conduct covert operations against the CIA and its interests.” Well, ok then. The only comic Losers I’m cognizant of are the WWII tank crew who bought it in Crisis, so I have no idea if this’ll make a good movie or not.

And finally, the cast for Christopher Nolan’s Inception fills out, with Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy, and Ellen Page all in talks to join Leonardo di Caprio in Nolan’s “contemporary sci-fi actioner set within the architecture of the mind.” (Murphy is the sole Nolan veteran of the three, having played the Scarecrow in both Batman films.)

Tricks in the Trades.

A good bit of interesting news on the movie development front of late: Presumably given carte blanche from WB (provided he brings home another Batman in 2011 or 2012), Christopher Nolan announces his next project will be Inception, a self-penned story “‘described as ‘a contemporary sci-fi actioner set within the architecture of the mind.’” So, Minority Report meets Memento? I’ll go.

In other news, David Cronenberg looks to go Bourne with The Matarese Circle, starring Denzel Washington and Tom Cruise as rival spies up against the same sinister conspiracy. The industrious Woody Allen has locked down the stars for his next (post-Larry David) project in Anthony Hopkins and Josh Brolin. (No other details forthcoming.) And, over on his other next film, Brolin has found a worthy antagonist for his Jonah Hex in none other than John Malkovich. “Malkovich will play Turnbull, a wealthy Southern plantation owner whose son is killed by Union soldiers during the Civil War. He blames Hex, a former confederate soldier-turned-hardened bounty hunter and gunslinger.” Ah, movies. They just keep making more!

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