Edgar Wright, Johnny Depp, Neil Gaiman, and Bret McKenzie? Bring it on!

10.26.15 1 year ago

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There is a profound importance placed on reading in my house.

As a habit, there are very few that are more important to cultivate. I encourage both of the boys to read at their own comfort level for pleasure, but more importantly, we read together every single night we go to sleep in the same house. Right now, we're working our way through the first few books in the “Myth Adventures” series by Robert Aspirin, and it's great fun making them laugh by doing silly voices and really making a meal of all the very silly dialogue. The same was true when we read our way through the “Harry Potter” books. There are few pleasures quite as sublime as doing a terrible Scottish accent to read all the Hagrid parts of the books and listening to your little boys laugh till they cry.

A particular favorite of ours is Neil Gaiman's delightfully ridiculous “Fortunately, The Milk…”, which feels like a book that was designed to be read aloud. The entire thing is a father who stepped out for milk explaining to his children why he was gone so long, and it's a story that involves ancient pagans, time travel, talking dinosaurs, and… yes… milk.

I'm not sure my first through reading it would be “This is a movie,” but if Edgar Wright believes there's a movie in it, then I'm willing to accept that he's right. He's getting close to production on “Baby Driver,” which is an amazing script and an Edgar Wright project through and through, a perfect fit for his sensibilities. The notion that he's going to go from what can only be described as the most unconventional musical I've ever read (yes, even less conventional than “Frank Or Francis” by Charlie Kaufman) to a Bret McKenzie-scripted adaptation of a Neil Gaiman children's book is exciting because it suggests that Edgar has effectively shaken free from the trap that is the Hollywood system.

I still see people mourning Edgar's version of “Ant-Man,” and I really wish it would stop. I assume these same people are desperate to see Joe Cornish or Shane Black actually take the job directing “Gambit.” I liked “Ant-Man” a lot. I really liked what Peyton Reed did with it. I look forward to the second one. But what Edgar does as a filmmaker is so particular that I don't want to see him absorbed into the studio system, where that is never going to be the right fit. One of the reasons I have a great deal of affection for the team at Universal is because I watched how hard they worked to not only give him room to make “Scott Pilgrim Vs The World” exactly the way he wanted to make it, but then also to sell the film he actually made. No one could have worked harder to try to get that to work at the box-office, and when it didn't, they still knew that they'd made a film that they liked, and they never threw Edgar under the bus.

20th Century Fox snapped up the package when it was taken out to the market last week, and I'm excited to see how Edgar and Johnny Depp work together. It's easy to be cynical about Depp these days, but that's precisely why I won't indulge it. I'll skip that “Alice In Wonderland” sequel unless someone I trust tells me it's amazing because I already know I hate that character. I have some strong feelings about the choices Depp's been making for a while now, but at the same time, I know that this guy has so many amazing performances left to give. You can't have a run like he had in the '90s and then simply be out of gas. You can't. It's still going to come down to director and material. In the right project, playing the right part, in collaboration with the right filmmakers… I have to believe Depp has more home runs in him. And Edgar Wright feels to me like a filmmaker who has such a keen sense of what he wants that he could be exactly right for Depp.

We'll find out. Right now, there's no timetable for “Fortunately, The Milk…”, but one would assume they'll be working to get it ready for Edgar to jump into once he wraps up “Baby Driver,” which I am positively rabid to see. Lots of good stuff on the horizon for Mr. Wright.

Speaking of Edgar, you might want to check back in a few for a new Film Nerd 2.0 about this weekend's attempted screening of “Shaun Of The Dead.”

It'll be worth it.

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