The news of the day, going by all the noise out there, was broken by Variety‘s Justin Kroll: David Fincher is “in early talks” to direct the screenplay Aaron Sorkin’s written based on Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. And Scott Rudin’s producing. This would, of course, reunite the team (excepting Isaacson) that gave us The Social Network in 2010.
In other “in the works” news, Ben Brock reports at the Playlist that Alexandre Desplat will score Roman Polanski’s D, a film about the Dreyfus affair written by novelist Robert Harris, who co-wrote The Ghost Writer (2010) with Polanski.
“Based on a novel published in 1964, first adapted as a screenplay in 1968, shot intermittently between 2000 and 2006, and painstakingly assembled until the day of its director’s death in February 2013, Aleksei German’s Hard to Be a God finally premiered, literally half a century in the making, at the Rome International Film Festival in November,” writes Calum Marsh, who caught it in Rotterdam. In a terrific piece for the Voice, he notes that the film is
an adaptation of a well-known Russian science-fiction novel by brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, who also wrote Roadside Picnic, the book on which Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker was based. The Strugatsky story concerns a group of men in the near future who discover a planet identical to Earth as it was 800 years ago; they attempt to surreptitiously ingratiate themselves among its inhabitants, forbidding themselves from using their knowledge to accelerate this alter-Earth’s development. Stranded on this familiar alien world, the travelers become the gods of the title: men doomed to trudge eternally through the muck of a backward civilization, advanced but ineffectual, possessed of peerless intelligence but resigned to suffer history anew.
“Todd McGowan’s new book [Spike Lee] remains largely inconsiderate of Lee’s public persona, instead focusing the analysis exclusively on the director’s films, seeking a link that unites them,” writes Clayton Dillard at the House Next Door. “For McGowan, excess and its negotiation is the defining unity of Lee’s filmmaking—an excess that ‘draws the spectator’s attention to form’ and ‘disrupts the smooth functioning of society and makes evident the failure of all elements to fit together.’ However, McGowan seeks to move past prior understandings of excess and claims that a new theory is needed to understand Lee’s films, ‘one that focuses on the intimate link between excess and passion.'”
The Los Angeles Review of Books is spending the week anticipating the Oscars. So far, Wai Chee Dimock has a few suggestions as to why Inside Llewyn Davis has been all but shut out and Naomi Fry takes on The Wolf of Wall Street. So, too, does John Paul Rollert, adjunct associate professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth Business School. Writing for the Atlantic, he finds that Wolf is “a sustained meditation on the grotesqueries of greed, but it makes no attempt to assess that passion as the alleged engine of capitalism.” Meantime, at In Contention, Kristopher Tapley interviews Martin Scorsese.
Francis Ford Coppola’s Twixt (2011) and Brian De Palma’s Passion (2013) have both recently made their UK debuts on DVD. Brad Stevens for Sight & Sound: “The fortuitous juxtaposition of these titles underlines how much they have in common, both being concerned with the ways in which modern communications technology has obscured the distinction between reality and fantasy.”
IN OTHER NEWS
John McTiernan, director of Die Hard, Predator and The Hunt for Red October, was charged in 2006 with lying to a federal agent and went to prison last April. Yesterday, he was finally released. Matt Singer has details at the Dissolve.
New York. Patrice Chéreau: The Love That Dares, a nine-film retrospective, opens on Friday at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and runs through March 5. Melissa Anderson for the Voice: “In the films of this prodigiously accomplished writer-director—who also mounted radical interventions in opera and theater throughout his five-decade career—desire is explosive, raw, terrifying, ridiculous, repellent, and transcendent, often all at once.” John Oursler recommends Flesh of the Orchid (1975), screening March 1 and 4: “This film riffs on Hitchcockian themes of misplaced identity and lovers on the run, and for the most part achieves similarly thrilling albeit darker results.”
More recommendations at the L: Aaron Cutler on Raúl Ruiz‘s City of Pirates (1983), screening as part of Film Comment Selects; Dan Sullivan on Roger Corman’s A Bucket of Blood (1959), screening tomorrow at Spectacle; Jeremy Polacek on Jean-Pierre Gorin and Jean-Luc Godard‘s Letter to Jane (1972), March 1 at Anthology; Zach Clark on Bob Clark’s Rhinestone (1984), March 1 at Nitehawk; Jordan Cronk on Jem Cohen‘s Fugazi: Instrument (1999), March 4 at Nitehawk; and Steve Macfarlane on Jean-Pierre Melville’s Two Men in Manhattan (1959), March 4 at the French Institute Alliance Française.
Over the next few weeks, Siobhan Davies and David Hinton’s All this can happen (2012) will be screening in Manchester, Leeds, Washington DC and Helsinki
San Francisco. The HUMP! Film Festival arrives at the Roxie this weekend, and for the Bay Guardian, Marke B. talks with programmer (and Stranger editor) Dan Savage: “Here I am, with my monogamish husband, editing this severely liberal paper and writing a sex column, my schedule full of porn, and I always feel like I’m going to be attacked for not being radical enough for SF, because I spoke out for same-sex marriage and other things.”