Turning the Coat Hook

St. Crispin's Live Journal


September 5th, 2013

Some Thoughts on the New Film To Start Filming Next Week @ 09:47 am

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I have been following all the news about the new movie avidly I've also been reading Bill K's speculations on the HMSS blog.

I really don't have a problem with an origin story. Most folks who will come to this movie haven't a clue about what U.N.C.L.E. was [my students certainly wouldn't] And the concept of U.N.C.L.E. ---spies ---of all people! --- working together is a novel one, even for today. Not just novel, but I'd argue revolutionary. Norman and Sam were prescient in looking ahead to a post-Cold War world in which the real threat was global terrorism further fueled by elitists with resources and money who were after power. I watch the news these days and I think 'Thrush' all the time.

That said, some younger folks who didn't live through the Cold War would have a hard time grasping the the fantasy of an American and a Soviet working together [Didn't those US and the USSR want to bomb each other? they'll think] others will not understand the overall significance [and American and a Russian? So what?] Still others may see it in light of the Snowden case.

So an origin story that explains the political situation of the time and the revolutionary idea of and American and a Soviet working together and someone [Waverly?] putting together a global initiative that rose above petty politics seems like a good idea to me. It will capture audiences' imaginations as it did ours back in the day. Further, it will eliminate any misperceptions that apparently still linger that Illya was somehow a defector. Even fans misinterpreted this because the TV show could not spell it out and some paperback writers didn't see or read through the development notes. An origin story will eliminate any misperceptions.

And as I've pointed out previously, even though the filmmakers need pay no attention to fanfic [and presumably they won't if only to avoid lawsuits] anyone embarking on an an in-depth exploration of an U.N.C.L.E. universe will eventually find themselves having to describe the origins and include a 'first meeting' story. I know this happened to me. I know it wasn't necessary back in 1960s TV, but storytelling in movies and especially, because of cable TV, is more serial, and so it's a necessary part of the creative process today.

So, I admit to being actually encouraged by the reports and details I'm hearing. It seems the filmmakers are taking some care and they're not just making one knock-off and taking the money and running as they did with Wild Wild West and others. This is obviously meant to be a franchise and they seem to understand a potentially valuable one.

As Craig Henderson has pointed out over the years, it's wasn't Trek. It was MFU that came first. My book, which was just published, argues that case.

So perhaps, finally, MFU will be counted among the other huge more modern franchises ---Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter and the like ---and take it's rightful place in modern popular culture.
 

August 9th, 2013

June 29th, 2013

Looks Like Movie is Moving Along @ 03:00 pm

Current Mood: hopeful hopeful
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Interview with Armie Hammer

For the linkaphobic:

Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill are two of the hottest actors at the moment and they will be starring together in The Man From U.N.C.L.E..

The hunky pair has never met, but in a recent interview Armie Hammer, whose film The Lone Ranger is scheduled to open next week, said he is excited to meet Henry.

The movie will be directed by Guy Ritchie and is a remake of a television series with the same name which starred Robert Vaughn and David McCallum as evil-fighting agents.

Armie plays David’s character, Illya Kuryakin, a Russian spy while Henry landed Robert’s role, Napoleon Solo, after Tom Cruise had to step down due to a conflict in his schedule.

“I would have loved to work with Tom, but at the same time, I’m also excited to do it with Henry, because it adds a different twist to the movie.” Armie Hammer said in the interview.

At the time of the interview, Armie had not met Henry and stated that he was very excited to do so and about what Cavill would bring to the movie after the success of Man of Steel.

“I’m excited about meeting both of them,” said Hammer. “Hopefully, I’ll get to meet David while making the movie. We start shooting in August.”

Armie talks about how he is getting ready to play the Russian agent:

“I’m also very excited about playing a Russian,” he adds. “I’m in the middle of my research phase now. I’m studying the political climate during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was a fascinating time globally. It’s such a great script (by Scott Z. Burns), and it’s so funny! Guy Ritchie has such a great take on it.”
 

April 26th, 2013

April 25th, 2013

MFU Film: Looks Like the Real Deal @ 07:32 am

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Read here,

here


and here.

Feel free to share. Oh, and Solo will be about 5' 7" and Illya will be 6' 5". Just FYI.

Can't wait for the future fanfic.
 

This is Not An April Fool's Joke: MFU Film has been Greenlit @ 07:21 am

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Go here for info.

Read it and weep.
 

January 22nd, 2012

Soderbergh Mentions MFU Project @ 09:08 am

Current Mood: sleepy sleepy
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...and briefly tells what went wrong here.
 

April 17th, 2011

An Experiment @ 06:24 pm

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They've been talking about casting a new MFU *again* and there was a request for photos. I'd photoshopped a pix with some LJer's casting suggestions of Jon Hamm as Solo and Alexander Skarsgard as Illya. I'm going to post it here as well. Not sure how I feel about it myself. Chalk it up as an experiment.

Hamm and Skarsgard

ETA: Hamm is 5' 11 which was RV's reported height[altho I'm thinking RV was probably an inch shorter]. Skarsgard is 6' 3" but then, Sam Rolfe envisioned Illya as a formidable Russian, so we'd just be returning to the original concept before Norman cast DMc.
 

February 22nd, 2011

Recent Mention of MFU Film @ 01:24 pm

Current Mood: cheerful interested
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In the Omaha World-Herald. Comes at the end....

Published Monday February 21, 2011

Soderbergh talks sex, lies and retirement
By Bob Fischbach
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER


REBECCA S. GRATZ/THE WORLD-HERALD Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh at the Holland Center Sunday evening. “One thing I’ve realized: Creative people don’t need money,” he said. “They need freedom.” The event was a fundraiser for Film Streams.


Film fans who love getting their Hollywood insider information from the source nearly filled the 1,965-seat Holland Performing Arts Center on Sunday evening to hear Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh talk about his career.

They got plenty of insights in a one-hour interview by Kurt Andersen, host of public radio’s “Studio 360,” as Soderbergh talked about making hit movies such as “sex, lies, and videotape,” “Erin Brockovich,” “Traffic” and “Ocean’s Eleven.”

The event was a fundraiser for Film Streams, Omaha’s nonprofit art house movie theater.

Yes, Soderbergh confirmed, he is seriously considering retiring from filmmaking after making two more pictures.

No, he doesn’t think of himself as a very gifted screenwriter, despite his Oscar nomination for writing “sex, lies, and videotape.” That’s why he’s mostly hired other writers since.

Yes, he often does his own cinematography, but only because he works fast when shooting a movie, “and it was one less conversation I had to have to get what I saw in my head (on film).”

Soderbergh also talked about sex in the movies, the necessity of lies in the business and the merits of videotape, all in response to questions from Andersen, a Film Streams board member.

Soderbergh won the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or for “sex, lies, and videotape,” his first feature film, in 1989. The movie spearheaded an American wave of independent filmmaking.

“Was there a downside to having such tremendous success so young?” Andersen asked.

“No,” came the one-word reply, followed by a huge laugh from the audience.

“You have to be smart about how you view yourself and your own work,” Soderbergh said. “I’m a big believer in not looking up from your work. Stay focused. Don’t get distracted.”

He said he hadn’t read reviews of his films in years because they don’t help him. After “Erin Brockovich” and “Traffic” were both nominated for best picture in 2000, he said, he knew critical reaction would never get better than that.

Besides, he said, it saves time.

He said a lot more worth hearing.

On sex: “I’ve always been fascinated by the degree to which people are able to incorporate it, or not incorporate it, into their lives. … I think it’s tied to the creative impulse. All good drama is about conflict, and it seems like a very fertile terrain to explore conflict because it’s so emotional.”

On lies, such as those told by the rapscallion criminals in his caper films: “Lies are necessary grease for social interaction. I certainly do not want to be told the truth about anything all the time. … Betrayal is one of the best building blocks you can find for a drama.”

On what’s interesting about using videotape: “Freedom. One thing I’ve realized: Creative people don’t need money. They need freedom. Democratization of technology has resulted in everybody being able to make a film that looks pretty good. But I’m not a believer there are a lot of secret Stanley Kubricks out there.”

Asked to pick the biggest mistake of his filmmaking career, Soderbergh paused.

“My sense is the knock on me is the films are kind of cold, that they’re intellectual. The sort of macro design of them drains some of the emotion out of them. … I don’t know how to address that. I can only make it the way I can make it. … I’m not willing to do anything to get a rise out of an audience. I’d rather have something human scale that, the next day, does not make you feel manipulated.”

He said he focuses on process more than results.

“You have to make what you like and hope others will feel the same,” he said.

On the other hand, he said, there’s nothing noble in spending two years of your life making a movie nobody will want to see.

Matt Damon, who is set to co-star with Michael Douglas in a Soderbergh movie about Liberace and his lover, was quoted from an Andersen interview as saying Soderbergh was serious about retiring soon and looking at painting or photography as a second career.

“I can’t believe he recalled the conversation that well, because we were both really drunk,” Soderbergh cracked. But he said the formula of filmmaking — “the tyranny of narrative” — had begun to wear on him.

“I’m convinced there’s some other way of organizing images and ideas to create an emotional response in an audience,” he said. “I can’t figure out what it is. I just need to step out. … I want to change. If I have to get into another van to another (location) scout, I’m just gonna shoot myself. Let somebody else who’s still excited to get in the van get in the van.”

He said making art is problem-solving, and he’s faster at it now. “But the solves sort of become the same. … I don’t like repeating something, even when it was a good thing.”

Soderbergh has finished filming two movies that will be released this year: “Haywire,” a spy action movie about black operations, in April; and “Contagion,” a virus thriller starring Damon, Kate Winslet and Gwyneth Paltrow, on Oct. 21.

His last movie, he said, might be the big-screen version of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” starring George Clooney. He called movies with Damon and Clooney, both of whom have worked with him many times, “a great way to have a farewell tour.”

A Film Streams spokesman said Sunday’s event could raise $200,000 for the theater, though final figures were not yet available. Attendees included Oscar-winning screenwriter-director Alexander Payne, who introduced Andersen and Soderbergh; Sen. Ben Nelson; and Mayor Jim Suttle.
 

November 18th, 2010

Old Clooney @ 02:25 pm

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I'm seeing lots of chatter on LJ and Channel D about Clooney being too old for the part.

Personally, I am intrigued by how fast the Clooney part of the story developed. Soderbergh is in his 40s but Clooney is a baby boomer. Conceivably, Clooney could very well be an MFU fan. And now I'm wondering if this whole project started with him. Maybe he said something like, "if you direct Steve, I'll star."

As far as being too old for Solo, I doubt the filmmakers are going to pay attention to arcane details like the 40 and out field agent rule. After all, James West wasn't black, but he was still played by Will Smith [and yes, I realize that one didn't go well.]

I also wonder if Clooney would want to do another series and it appears to me that now that Harry Potter is ending, the WB may be looking for another franchise.

Even though I championed him for years, I, too, thought Clooney to have aged out of the role. My current pick for Solo is Jon Hamm.

But none of that will matter if Clooney wants to do it. He's friends with the director, he has the clout and he's a name big enough to sell a $100 million+ film, no doubt a summer release.

My feeling is things could be far worse. He certainly has always fit the role. I'm actually relieved that we might actually get something decent.

And yes, the Star Trek reboot was made with relatively unknown and young actors. Sorry, that won't happen here. Trek has a huge, well-known fan base [we are puny in comparison] and MFU has always been viewed as risky project. That's why it's been in development, in one form or another, since 1979.

Clooney is insurance. This is about money and trying to get juice out of a franchise that Hollywood thought was pretty dead.

The only thing that would stop it is if he decides not to. So, write your complaint letters to him.
 

The MFU Theme was Playing on My Car Radio @ 10:29 am

Current Mood: busy busy
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...this morning. 1010 WINS the all-news station reported the Soderbergh/Clooney project.

So the story has moved from the Hollywood gossip sites to the mainstream media.

I guess this is going to really happen.
 

Still Upright and Breathing Last I Checked @ 08:15 am

Current Mood: mischievous mischievous
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Someone on the Ain't It Cool News' discussion board asked:

"Who's familiar with the original and still alive? "

I was dying to post back, "Probably your mother, dickhead."

Still, I am perversely amused.

Meanwhile Hot Momma Gossip has an amusing report.
 

November 17th, 2010

MFU Film News: Told Ya So @ 08:39 pm

Current Mood: pleased pleased
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Latest reports on the MFU film say George Clooney is eyeing the U.N.C.L.E. movie to collaborate with Soderbergh.

ain't it cool news also has a report. They're saying it will be set in the Cold War era.

I called for a Soderbergh/Cloony remake of MFU back in June, 2007. Follow the link to my original entry.

To me, this is all good news, or at least, the best we could hope for. Back in April, I said this:

Look: there's only three ways to do it.

1) A continuation of the timeline with an older Solo and Kuryakin with a new generation of younger agents. If they're doing a cable series [my first choice when the guys were 5 years younger], it could work. If they're doing a big budget feature film, no, it can't. Then you move on to option 2:

2) Reboot the franchise and recast the roles of the agents. There's two ways to go with a reboot:

a) a modern version set in present day.
b) a retro version set in the 1960s.

I used to think they'd only go with a), but with the success of Mad Men and the current nostalgia for the 1960s in fashion, etc., b) might be a smarter choice.

And to continue: if they're smart, they will cast Clooney as Solo and match him with an Illya who is much younger and played by an up-and-coming actor who will appeal to teen and/or college age audiences.


I still would have liked to have seen RV and DMc reprise their roles in a cable series, but that ship sailed a while ago. A big screen version demands recasting.

Then again, RV has always wanted to play Waverly. Maybe this time, he'll get his chance. He's the right age.
 

Turning the Coat Hook

St. Crispin's Live Journal