The Morning Read: Cameron on ‘Cleopatra’? Angelina Jolie may star in 3D epic for ‘Avatar’ auteur

10.15.10 7 years ago 6 Comments

Warner Bros.

Welcome to The Morning Read.

I don’t know what to make of the idea of James Cameron making “Cleopatra.”

I thought the Steven Soderbergh “Cleo” sounded absolutely lunatic, and I really wanted to see that happen.  I doubt it ever will, though, if Cameron ends up signing on to direct Angelina Jolie in a 3D adaptation of the non-fiction book, “Cleopatra: A Life.”  Jolie’s already onboard, and Scott Rudin is producing the film.  Evidently the script is by Brian Helgeland and lit a fire under the studio.  Stacy Schiff, who wrote the book, is excited by the idea of Jolie being joined by Brad Pitt as Mark Antony, and that’s evidently been the goal since the moment Rudin bought the rights to the book.  It sounds like Schiff has laid out a very different historical portrait of Cleopatra than we’ve ever seen represented before, and on an epic scale.

Certainly Cameron’s the man you want to hire if you want a historical epic shot in 3D.  And he’s always been drawn to powerful female protagonists, so it sounds like Schiff’s book would be absolute catnip.  The things he’s interested in right now as a producer and as a director are all fascinating to me.  There’s “Fantastic Voyage” at Fox.  There’s “At The Mountains Of Madness” at Universal.  There’s the “Avatar” sequel.  There’s the movie about the cave diving accident, and the other movie about the free diving couple.  And now, suddenly, there’s also “Cleopatra.”

It’s an intriguing proposition, and a film that size would require him to focus through at least 2012, which means we won’t see another “Avatar” until at least 2014.  Whatever he decides, it’s interesting to see him entertaining the idea of doing a project that someone just brought to him like this, something that he’s never really done as a director.  It would be a whole different relationship to the material, and I cant help but wonder if it would be a good thing for him.

A battle of two “Snow White” movies?  Someone’s got to blink, right?  I mean, I feel bad for Melisa Wallack and Evan Daughtry, the writers who are each looking at this situation, wondering if it’s going to be Relativity Media and Tarsem Singh or Universal and Joe Roth and Rupert Sanders that end up losing, but either way this one goes, someone loses, and some writer who spent blood, sweat, and tears coming up with their take on this, who somehow managed to get it set up, is going to get that close to the finish line and get their heart broken.  That’s what never gets reported in these races to try and making competing projects, and I don’t care if you get paid for the script or not… it’s painful when this happens.

I’m not a rabid “Doctor Who” fan, but I enjoy the show, and I’ve always enjoyed the change from one Doctor to the next.  I liked the finite mythology of the show and the regeneration of the Doctor as a device to change lead actors.  It also put a great poignant ticking clock on the idea of the show, and if this is true, all of that has just changed.  I guess I’m a little surprised they’d shrug it off so casually, and now I want to see the episode where this is handled so I can judge for myself.

Do you read “The Goon” by Eric Powell?  If not, it’s hard to explain the pleasures inherent to the man’s work, but he’s an astounding artist.  He’s one of my favorite guys working in comics today, an amazing stylist.  Since one of the themes this week has been “Godzilla,” it seems fitting that there’d be news from Chris Ryall of IDW regarding a new upcoming licensed “Godzilla” title.  And now there’s a teaser image, drawn by Powell.  And it… is… awesome.

I played every second of “Red Dead Redemption” this summer, even if it did mean chipping away at it an hour at a time for a month and a half.  Once I finish a game, I’m the sort of person who puts it away and never plays it again.  It’s pretty rare that once I beat something, I’ll pick it up again.  I’ve never been the sort of person who buys downloadable content for a game, either.  But when it comes to the idea of “Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare,” I’m going to finally break that streak and pony up.  This looks incredible.

Ever wonder where Heather Donahue from “The Blair Witch Project” is these days, and what she’s been up to?

I love Warner Archive, and they’ve got a cool Halloween line-up of new titles, including the awesome “Pretty Maids All In A Row.”

I’d be more excited for the return of Paul Verhoeven to feature directing if his new film “Eternal” wasn’t written by the same guy who wrote the laugh-out-loud awful “Obsessed” starring Beyonce Knowles.  Or, as I still prefer to call it, “Oh, No, She Didn’t!”  This is the mind from which Verhoeven’s tale of a married man having an affair with a ghost has sprung.  So, yeah, we’ll see how that works out.

Did you catch the “Drive Angry” trailer?

Ooooh, that looks like big silly fun.

I’d say if this turns out to be true and they are indeed casting for Billy Connors for “Spider-Man,” that sort of puts a gold star on those Lizard rumors, eh?

I hope this is contractual.  And I hope it’s true.

And speaking of “Back To The Future”:

I’m going to have a lot more to say about “Back To The Future” next week, when I write up my full review of the trilogy Blu-ray release.  Until then, it’s nice to see all the excitement about the movies as everyone counts down to the release.  And it’s also nice to see that Lea Thompson is still 19 years old.

Want a great round-up of every little nugget of information out there so far on Kevin Smith’s new film “Red State”?  This should do it for you.

Are you a fan of the original “Bad News Bears” back in the ’70s?  If not, you and I are probably very different ages.  I love that film, and I love reading about the production of the film.  This interview with The Reverend David Stambaugh, aka infielder Toby Whitewood, is huge fun.

Wow, these Australian critics are wimps.  Or easily irritated.  In the 13 years or so I’ve been doing this professionally, I’ve walked out of maybe two films.  Maybe three.  But not more than that.  My job is to stay in that theater if at all possible, and it seems to me that a critic who is the habit of walking out is probably too impatient to be a real film critic in the first place.

I’m not a Springsteen fanatic, but I’m interested in catching up with “The Promise: The Making of ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town'” soon, but for now,this short piece makes a very sharp observation about the new impending anniversary re-release of the album.

To further celebrate today’s release of “Jackass 3D,” because I know most of you took work off to treat the day like a holiday, you might want to enjoy this:–2/jackass-3d-behind-the-scenes-2–2

And finally, I’m going to wrap the week up with my final word on something that’s been simmering all week long.  And if you don’t want me to weigh in on this again, you can skip ahead, but if you do, you’re going to miss one of the most most powerful things I’ve posted this year.

I appear to have poorly communicated my point all week long, and I’m going to have to take the responsibility for that.  I can’t just point at everyone else and say, “You don’t get what I’m saying, so you’re all wrong.”  Obviously I have failed to express the ideas in the right way, because I was still getting e-mail and messages from people asking me how I can support the idea of bullying or the use of “gay” as a casual descriptor, an all-purpose substitute for “weak” or “lame.”  Then again, I also got lectured by a guy who straight-facedly objected to my use of the word “lame.”  If that doesn’t sum up the slippery slope of policing language, nothing does.  I think when you focus ONLY on the word being said, you miss the bigger picture.  I’m actually sort of surprised to see Vince Vaughn dig in to defend the joke in the film.  Normally, people flinch in the face of special interest protests, no matter what, so for Vaughn to actually say, “Drawing dividing lines over what we can and cannot joke about does exactly that; it divides us” is sort of a shock.  Now, I’m still not defending the joke itself, but more because I think it’s a bad joke than because I think the language of it needs to be policed or censored.

But I will concede this:  the larger conversation is starting to reach a critical mass that I think is significant, and I think “It Gets Better” may actually be one of first times I’ve ever seen one of these bumper-sticker political movements take root this quickly.  I think it’s because those three words have real power, and I hope the message is getting through to the kids who need to hear it.  “It Gets Better.”  Even in that truncated version, it’s a powerful idea.  But if you want to hear it explained in a manner that reduced me to tears earlier, you really should watch every second of this.  I promise… it’s worth your time.

My original point… my ONLY point… was always that there is a better conversation to have here than debating to politics of a cheap shot in a bad movie trailer, and I think that better conversation has taken over at this point.  I don’t believe you will ever wipe away bullying or bigotry with some magic wand, and taking away an uncomfortable word from their arsenal only makes it harder to identify the idiots who are driven by hate or fear.  I think you have to work on making the kids who are bullied understand just how much more there is out there in the world, and we have to work on making them stronger, so strong than a dumb little joke will simply bounce off of them, so strong that we never lose another one to their own hand again.

And if you still have a problem with what I’ve said, then I’ll just bid you a good weekend.  I’ll have “Saturday Night At The Movies” for you tomorrow night, and the Motion/Captured Podcast will be returning on Sunday, so there’s plenty of new content here at the blog for you over the weekend.  Hope to see you back here then, and if not, then The Morning Read will be back on Monday to sort through a whole new week’s worth of stuff just for you.

The Morning Read appears here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Except when it doesn’t.

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