Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Wednesday Dweebing Deux - Movies

Col collects 'Bones' for Mamet
Columbia Pictures has purchased film rights to playwright and novelist Seth Greenland's "The Bones" for director David Mamet and producer John Calley. Greenland will adapt his darkly comic novel about Frank Bones, a talented but self-destructive stand-up comic who reconnects with a past friend, Lloyd Melnick, the hottest comedy writer on television. Frank envies Lloyd's success, and Lloyd is jealous of Frank's talent -- a situation that soon spirals out of control.

Anderson nearly 'Departed' for Scorsese thriller
Anthony Anderson is boarding Martin Scorsese's "The Departed."

Anderson is in final negotiations to join Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson in the Warner Bros. Pictures police thriller, a remake of the Hong Kong film "Infernal Affairs."

The story, set in Boston, revolves around a gangster (Damon), who infiltrates the police department, and a cop (DiCaprio), who infiltrates the gangs. The two find out that a mole is in each organization and race to find each other's identity. Anderson will play a cop that has had close relations with both men and ends up in an emotional conflict. William Monahan ("Kingdom of Heaven") adapted the material EDITOR’S NOTE: DAMON IS THE BAD GUY? AWW…. ON THE OTHER HAND, DAMON AND DICAPRIO IN THE SAME FLICK? DROOL. (WORTH PUTTING UP WITH NICHOLSON FOR, MAYBE). P.S. AND IS THERE SOMETHING GOING ON BETWEEN SCORSESE AND DICAPRIO?

Campbell set for 'Partition' with Myriad
Neve Campbell is in final negotiations to join Jimi Mistry and Kristin Kreuk in the Indian epic "Partition."

Myriad Pictures and Sepia Films are co-producing the film, which will shoot on location in May. Campbell will play the passionate but lonely Margaret Stilwell, a woman who helps Gian Singh (Mistry), who resigns from the British Indian Army to live a quiet life in his village in northern India. His world is thrown into turmoil when he falls in love with a 17-year-old girl (Kreuk) who is traumatized by the events that separate her from her family as India is divided into two countries.

Vic Sarin directs from a script he co-wrote with Patricia Finn. Philip Glass and Ravi Shankar are composing the score. Campbell's recent credits include "Blind Horizon," "The Company" and "When Will I Be Loved." EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS HAS ALL THE EARMARKS OF FILM-HECK FOR ME. NEVE CAMPBELL, KRISTIN KREUK (PRETTY LADIES…NOT MUCH IN THE ACTING-SKILL DEPARTMENT), PLUS A SCORE BY PHILIP GLASS. CAN I JUST SPILL STATE SECRETS NOW AND SKIP THE MOVIE TORTURE?

Ottman on "Superman Returns" recently talked with composer John Ottman about some of his upcoming projects, including SUPERMAN RETURNS directed by Bryan Singer.

Rumors are swirling about in terms of John Williams score for SUPERMAN being used in some form. Ottman said, "Well, the intent right now is to use at least a version of the main theme or make a very respectable nod to it. But it’s so early in the game. Films tend to evolve in ways one would never expect." He also added that, "There’s no ego here, especially in the shadow of The Master!" EDITOR’S NOTE: CREDIT WHERE DO, AND DO I HEAR AN AMEN?!

When asked about the story Ottman stated "To tell you the truth, I haven’t read the script yet. I do know that Bryan holds the original Superman movie in very high regard, as do I. It’s just a great film. I have to assume he’s going to want to resurrect much of the root of what made that film great while offering a new story. Whatever his take, what I like about Bryan is he takes whatever world he creates very seriously."

John Ottman landed on Hollywood's radar with his tense score and skillful editing for Bryan Singer's THE USUAL SUSPECTS. Since then he hasn't looked back, garnering acclaim for his scores for INCOGNITO, APT PUPIL, X2 and most recently HIDE AND SEEK.

Some of his upcoming projects include SUPERMAN RETURNS, FANTASTIC FOUR, HOUSE OF WAX and Shane Black's directorial debut KISS, KISS, BANG, BANG.

Along with editing and scoring all of Bryan Singer's movies (X-MEN being the exception), John had also branched out into directing with the horror sequel URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT.

The job you do for Bryan Singer is quite unique, how do you go about working? Do you score while you're editing or cut the entire film first before you put music to it?

JOHN OTTMAN: I’d like to say that musical ideas are flowing through my head as I’m editing; but it’s not the way it is usually, at least overtly. I guess subliminally I’m storing ideas as I go along; and a couple times a musical epiphany may come to me to remember later, but mainly it takes all my energy to concentrate on constructing the scenes as we’re shooting and then shape the story and performances in the film. It’s ironic, but my goal is to first make the film work as best it can with no music. I love doing a lot of detailed sound design in lieu of temp music to help create the reality in the scene; I don’t temp in any score until much later in the game. The score is always this monstrous task awaiting me. Just when most editors are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, I have this looming feat ahead which haunts me for all those months leading up to it. It’s such a relief when I finish a job for Bryan because the cloud of anticipation is finally gone!

Who are your main influences as a composer and editor?

JO: I ended up falling into my own style, which most of us do. But Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams’ sensibilities will always linger in me. Like many composers of my generation, STAR WARS woke me up to the sheer excitement of orchestral film music. I then discovered Goldsmith, who became my idol. I drove my parents nuts playing my soundtracks over and over – I think they still know the Klingon Battle from STAR TREK THE MOTION PICTURE by heart! Brilliant. SUPERMAN was another record I played to death, along with EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. I also liked the scores from many other guys, including the new guys at the time, Horner and Elfman.I can’t say I’ve ever been conscious about my editing influences except just noticing good films and making films. The best films usually will have the most talented editors. What a coincidence huh?! So Martin Scorcese’s editor (Thelma Shoonmaker) and Spielberg’s (Michael Khan) come to mind off the bat. But there are so many others. I tend to love the style of the editors who come from the same generation as Shoonmaker and Khan. It’s so much about the characters to them

Many of today’s blockbusters incorporate fast editing and more restrained scores. I found a lot of the “event” movies of today seem to lack a memorable theme. How will your approach to editing and composing SUPERMAN compare to modern-day blockbusters?

JO: Ok, stepping on the soapbox now. I really hate shock editing for the sake of pizzazz, “style” or trying to contrive the film to cover up assets it doesn’t have. Just tell the damn story! Sure, editorial testosterone is great here and there, but “keep it real” as they say. Even in X2, when there was an explosion or stunt, we didn’t repeat the action from seven different angles. It’s like telling the audience, “Wow – look at the big stunt we did. Let’s show it to you a few times now.” I think audiences don’t take a film as seriously when that’s done all over the place. It certainly makes you conscious of the film-making and takes you out of the reality that the director should be trying to keep you in. In THE USUAL SUSPECTS there’s a big explosion at the peer that sets off a gun battle. I used two angles almost in real time as if you were there as a witness. The first cut was really for the shock, and then I went wider to establish the geography.Heck, I love designing montages and such, but they have to tell a story that couldn’t be told any other way, and be motivated somehow. So to answer your question, with SUPERMAN I assume I’ll cut it like I have all Bryan’s films. Ok, inevitably there will be some sort of montage somewhere – it just seems to happen!As far as the music goes? Well, just as with the editing, both Bryan and I revere whatever film-making is most timeless. That means not getting trapped into what is “hip.” It won’t be “hip” when you watch the film ten years from now. That goes for the score as well. The best score is one you can take away from the film and hear a story being told on its own. These are usually the films that endure. It’s agonizing writing themes and plotting them out like chapters of a novel, but it’s worth it. Since Williams sort of defined this for the super-hero/classic block buster film, I think the fear is that any thematically based super-hero score is going to inevitably sound like it’s trying to be Williams or like another iconic super hero film. This fear is understandable. Any odor of “rip off” could make the film laughable. It’s scary for a composer too. For FANTASTIC FOUR, the challenge is how to crack that big super hero thematic nut, push all those exciting orchestral buttons, and have it be original. I mean, you use a loud trumpet playing a fanfare, and everyone thinks it’s any number of John Williams’ themes! (Well those are usually the same people who say ET is the same score as STAR WARS, etc. UGH!) Anyhow, one night, while writing a cue to HIDE AND SEEK, I subconsciously stumbled upon my theme for FANTASTIC FOUR when I was playing with a French Horn sample. I kept doodling on the keyboard as a departure from the dreary creepy cue I was writing, and I thought, “Hmm, that’s a cool idea.” So I stashed it away in a file and resurrected it when I began writing the FANTASTIC FOUR theme.

It’s been reported that this movie will use the John Williams Superman theme. Will any of his other cues be integrated into the film?

JO: Where do these rumors come from?! Well, the intent right now is to use at least a version of the main theme or make a very respectable nod to it. But it’s so early in the game. Films tend to evolve in ways one would never expect. Months from now when we’re actually thinking about scoring the film, who knows what we’ll do? Will the original theme date a new film, or will the film feel horribly empty without it? I think the answer is somewhere in the middle. I can say that whatever is best for SUPERMAN RETURNS and its legacy will be done. There’s no ego here, especially in the shadow of The Master! EDITOR’S NOTE: AND ANOTHER AMEN, AND A HALLELUJAH! As far as other themes, there perhaps could be a variation of Lois Lane’s theme. We’re just not sure yet. The film is not a sequel or a prequel. It is a new film. So the bulk of the score will also be a new score with new themes, but in the style one would expect in SUPERMAN. Part of what hurt the last couple SUPERMAN movies – and they were sequels – was that the Williams music was just regurgitated, with very little new music to let the saga evolve.

Most of the recent superhero movies have had a pop/rock tie in soundtrack, the X-MEN movies being an exception. Was this a choice Bryan Singer made? Also, if you had to work a theme song into a movie what artist/band would you like to work with?

JO: And the STAR WARS films. Hmmm, how well do I know Bryan? Ok I’d say with 96.5% confidence that Bryan will forbid a song being used in the end titles as a pop/rock tie in. EDITOR’S NOTE: THANK HEAVENS. AND WHILE THEY’RE AT IT, LET’S TAKE A CONTRACT OUT ON PEEBO BRYSON? (NEVER MIND, I GUESS IT’S NOT PEEEEEEBO’S FAULT). There’s still that 3.5% chance of course! The reason is the legacy of the film – that timelessness I talked about earlier. Inevitably, any pop song that turns us on today is a quick fix now that will have eyes rolling tomorrow.EDITOR’S NOTE: OF COURSE WHICH COMES FIRST, THE TIMELESSNESS OR THE DEARTH OF PEEBO? I know Bryan wants people to pop in their DVD many years from now and have the film feel as real as possible, with the music being organic to the film. I’m sure Lucas feels the same way, and I agree too. Imagine if we put some pop/rock song in THE USUAL SUSPECTS? Ick. Having said all that, it is a blockbuster film and songs do help in the marketing. Plus, I would love to be involved in helping write a song for the film. I remember I brought the concept up with Bryan during X2, and he looked at me as if I had sold my soul to the Devil. Maybe in a fleeting moment, I had.

Why do you think Warner Brothers have struggled for so long to get a new Superman movie going?

JO: I’ve got to assume the main reason was the script or story concept. It’s a very important franchise for Warner Brothers and they want to do it right. I think the other versions lagged for additional reasons as well, but when Bryan and his writers approached Warner Brothers with their take on it, I think it was a breath of fresh air they were hoping to find. It didn’t hurt also that Bryan and his writers were relatively fresh off a successful X2.

There's been a lot of different interpretations of Superman outside of comics, what will Bryan's take offer us that's different from all the others?

JO: To tell you the truth, I haven’t read the script yet. I do know that Bryan holds the original Superman movie in very high regard, as do I. It’s just a great film. I have to assume he’s going to want to resurrect much of the root of what made that film great while offering a new story. Whatever his take, what I like about Bryan is he takes whatever world he creates very seriously. Even the most ludicrous scenario has to somehow be plausible, at least while you’re watching the film. And the characters have to do things they would do and say. I think there will be more humor in this Singer film too, which should be fun.

What are your memories of the original Superman movie? Did it inspire you in any way to do what you're doing today?

JO: Absolutely. It’s not only the best super hero film ever made, it’s one of my favorite films of all time. EDITOR’S NOTE: I THINK “SPIDERMAN 2” COULD GIVE IT A REAL RUN FOR ITS MONEY NOW AT THE TOP OF THAT HEAP, DON’T YOU? And the memories? They’re indelible. SUPERMAN: THE NEW MOVIE had such elegance, heart, humor, fantastic dialog and a perfect cast. I get chills just talking about the simplest little moments in that film, like when his father dies. At the farm, Clark’s father (Glen Ford) has a little talk with Clark, pondering why he’s here. That alone is such a beautifully acted and written moment. They then race up the hill and Glen Ford’s character holds his arm, winces slightly, and says quietly, “Oh no.” The editor then cuts to an extremely wide shot as Mr. Kent’s now small figure collapses. The music is very quiet and non-dramatic as the shot lingers. His mother runs out, the music grows with simple emotion as we hear her muted moans. Williams saves the epic moment for the end of the funeral, indicating a new chapter is beginning for Clark. Then there’s the scene in the wheat fields when he leaves his mother. Then the discovery of the crystal and the formation of the Fortress of Solitude. Every moment is directed, edited and scored just perfectly. Then the reflective speech by Jor-El with the beautifully cerebral music. I could go on and on, and we haven’t even gotten to Gene Hackman yet. I mean, wow. Richard Donner really created a masterpiece, and I think so many facets of that film taught me how to try and do things the right way. EDITOR’S NOTE: I HAVEN’T SEEN THIS FILM IN YEARS. THIS SURE MAKES ME WANT TO RE-UP MY FAMILIARITY. (NEXT MOVIE-MARATHON THEME…MOVIE SUPERHEROES?)

What do you think of the movie involving DC's other flagship hero, BATMAN BEGINS, and what do you think about Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard teaming up to do the score -- could you ever see yourself working with another high profile composer on a movie?

JO: I think the casting of Christian Bale as Batman is inspired. He looks the part and is a terrific actor with the perfect intensity and good looks. They’ve also got a very good director working on it. I was surprised to hear of two major composers teaming up to score the same film. It’s a little weird, but I’m sure they’ll do a great job. Can I see myself doing this? Well, I’ll try anything, but, well, it still would be a little weird!

You've got FANTASTIC FOUR lined up which you must be excited about; will you be scoring LOGAN'S RUN and X3? Any more directing projects in the works?

JO: There’s an X3? Hell yeah, I’d love to. I really was looking forward to expanding upon the themes I set up in X2. So when it didn’t happen, I was bummed. If they make X3, I hope I can do it. I feel so much part of the X-Men world having written the score (and editing it), that I wouldn’t want to let go of it. As far as FANTASTIC FOUR goes, I just started writing some initial thematic material and I’m really excited about the theme. And yes, I’m really looking forward to scoring LOGAN'S RUN, as it sounds like a totally unique film and world I can create musically. Joel Silver is producing that too, and I love working with him. I can’t say I’m excited about being ball and chained in an editing room for a year again, especially when 6 months of that is in Australia. But that’s a long ways off. Scoring SUPERMAN is far away enough as it is!


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