Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Joss Whedon fan and Struggling Actress Creates "Wonder Woman" Trailer

What do you do when you really, really want a part in a Wonder Woman movie? Cobble together a costume, put on a truckload of makeup, put your friends in togas, and film your own movie trailer as an audition.

This unknown actress is so convinced that she could play Wonder Woman in the upcoming Joss Whedon movie that she did all of the above. (Watch it here.)

And my reaction is so schizophrenic that it makes wishy washy people look decisive. On hand, I applaud her for not only following her dreams, but for creating them out of her own two hands. That's a beautiful thing. No one will ever fail in life who can tap into that kind of guts, resources, and determination.

But on the other hand, the makeup. Oh lord, the makeup. They make the actresses look more like players in the inevitable skin flick that will be...uh, inspired by the theatrical release. (And a line like "This mission will tax even the greatest amazon" wouldn't be out of place in that production either.)

"Hello, did you order this pizza?"

"Why yes, I did! I'm also an amazon from Paradise Island sent to protect man's world. Now hold still while I use my golden lasso."

But again, back to the "following your dreams" thing. Good job. And the ending is funny. Joss Whedon himself wouldn't wince at that bit. Maybe he could give you a smaller part in the film? Perhaps as Wonder Woman's spunky kid sister? There could be a cute scene where she teaches you all sorts of big sister stuff...like how to apply makeup.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Horror show

Industry professionals continue to watch the 2006 box office returns with fear and loathing. The numbers look slightly better than last year, but plenty of big budget movies were supposed to open with huge splashes and ended up bellyflopping instead. Maybe it's really true that people prefer to avoid the multiplex in favor of watching DVDs on home grown entertainment systems. But you know what continues to pull in the bucks? Horror.

The Hills Have Eyes - $41 million gross. Hostel- $47 million. When a Stranger Calls - $47 million. Final Destination 3 - $54 million. And keep in mind that these movies cost about as much to make as a macaroni and paste sculpture. Their numbers represent serious ROI.

I’m not about to knock the horror genre as being a legitimate art form, although it attracts a disproportionate amount of drek. Good, scary, well-made horror movies pack as much wallop as any other genre, and they should be respected as such. But what I see in the marketplace is a reflection of the cultural mood. Much like the world depicted in Alan Moore’s Watchmen, where people's lives are so dark that they flock to bands with names like Pale Horse and Krystalnacht, the current insatiable appetite for horror represents a deep-seated desire to fight fear with fear itself. Viewers want to deflect Iraq body counts, terrorist threats, and African genocides with red-dyed corn syrup and jump cuts. By appropriating Hollywood imagery of death and violence, we hope to exorcise or appropriate the real-life images that surround us.

I have no doubt that the current wave of horror will eventually end. Movie genres are cyclical, and eventually these pictures will stop opening reliably to $20 million weekends. When that happens, though, I wonder if it will indicate more than simply a Hollywood pendulum swinging the other way. It might also indicate that the real world itself has become a bit easier to take.

A.K.A. Alias

I can’t wait to tell you about the episode of "Alias" that I just saw! It had:

  • That old story technique of kicking things off with a nail-biting cliffhanger that actually happens later in the story
  • A funny tech guy who interrupts others with charming nonsequiturs
  • Heartwarming guest appearances by Greg Grunberg
  • McGuffins so oblique that even the characters don’t understand what they are
  • Jennifer Garner as…no wait…it was actually Tom Cruise.

    Mission Impossible III may have allowed former TV writer/director J.J. Abrams to move up the Hollywood food chain and shoot a major summer tentpole, but the results don’t come close to reaching the level of Alias’s “A” game—despite Abrams-style elements at play (including former “Felicity” star Keri Russell playing a supporting role as a secret agent). Abrams’s camera barely stops moving, and his screenplay trots the characters around the globe, but the set pieces themselves appear more pallid than eye popping. And wasn’t the whole bit with characters disguising themselves with latex masks played out in the previous sequel? Or at least in the two Scooby Doo movies?

    Philip Seymour Hoffman classes up the joint as the bad guy, and Michelle Monaghan offers up some kiss kiss to go along with all the bang bang. But the relentless sound and fury fails to get the pulse racing, or prevent compulsive watch checking. Tom, I know Sydney Bristow. I’ve worked with Sydney Bristow. And you, sir, are no Sydney Bristow.

  • Rejected leading men for Basic Instinct 2

    David Morrissey is the male lead in the upcoming sequel Basic Instinct 2. I think I speak for cinephiles everywhere when I say: David Morrissey? Would you give a major movie part to the guy who recorded Vauxhall and I? And does he really think that teaming up with Sharon Stone is a better idea than getting back together with Johnny Marr?

    David Morrissey and Sharon Stone.

    You may wonder how desperate to cast this role the producers of this movie must have been if they settled for an unknown like Morrissey--who, according to his entry in the Internet Movie Database, has appeared in such summer blockbusters as Butterfly World (2003), Fanny and Elvis (1999), and Michael Jackson and the Boy He Paid Off (2004). I'll answer that: very desperate. Around this time last year, I received a phone call:

    "Hi, I'm the casting director for Basic Instinct 2. Is this Greg Howard?"


    "We'd like to offer you a starring role in the movie opposite Sharon Stone. Interested?"

    "What the hell are you talking about? I'm not a professional actor. The last acting I did was in my high school's production of The Music Man. I sang 'Shipoopi.'"

    "Which is exactly why we're calling you! The script calls for someone who can sing 'Shipoopi'!"

    "Did you just make that up?"

    "....yes. Please do the role. No one else will do it. We're desperate."

    "Why don't you ask the guy who was in the first one? You know, who married the cell phone chick?"

    "Michael Douglas turned us down two weeks after the first movie opened. And everyone else we've asked has turned us down too. They're saying that no one wants to see this sequel and it'll kill their career."

    "Well, I'm not doing it either. There's always a chance that someday I'm going to quit my job and move to Hollywood and put together a film in which I'm bitten by a radioactive shark and turned into a superpowered ninja and then I team up with Allyson Hannigan to lay the smack down on Bill Napoli and Dick Cheney. I won't be able to do any of that if I already have a film on my resume that's the film noir equivalent of From Justin to Kelly."

    "Well, thanks for your time, Greg. Although you didn't have to be such a @*&!* about it."

    "Whatever. By the way, since I'm not even in the Screen Actors Guild, I assume I'm the very last person on your list?"

    "Almost. Next we're going to call Matthew Modine."