Sunday, 6 February 2011

New Super 8 trailer online now and plot details revealed!

"Do not speak of this. If you do, it will find you..."

The wall of silence surrounding JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg's summer sci-fi movie Super 8 is finally beginning to fall with the unveiling of a 30-second Super Bowl ad AND a revealing new interview with the writer-director.

Up until now, all we had to go on was a teaser trailer that gave tantalizing clues about the alien-on-the-loose plot but ultimately gave nothing away. We know it's about small town kids and some kind of escaped alien, plus that it is a bit of a throwback to Spielberg's 1980s Amblin output, but that's about it.

Now the TV spot fills in a few blanks.

Starting with your typical shots of a small American town - the sun setting next to a pylon, Main Street USA - it cuts to the train crash we saw in the first teaser.

We then get shots of the kids escaping the train wreckage amid spectacular explosions, flying metal and spinning train carriages. The shot from the teaser of the container being battered from the inside comes next before we get shots of the military with flame throwers - presumably decontaminating the town.

The trailer ends with a flurry of money shots and the ominous voiceover: "Do not speak of this. If you do, it will find you..." - lights flickering, residents fleeing, the kids (one in zombie make-up) creating their Super 8 movie, Kyle Chandler in his deputy sheriff's uniform, a house exploding, the kids running away from something, Chandler hugging his son, shop fronts exploding around soldiers (who appear to be transfixed - or taken over? - but something), a shop worker being dragged through the aisles of a store by some unseen force, a bus overturning and finally more shots of the town being bombarded by a rain of fire.

The spot ends with a flash of images, none of which I could figure out, but probably mean a lot to fans of the viral marketing campaign that has been on the go for months now.

All in all, pretty spectacular, but see for yourselves.

Pretty cool huh? You can watch it in glorious HD here

If that wasn't enough Super 8 news, the LA Times has published a surprisingly long interview with Abrams where he opens up a bit about the movie:

Abrams says: “To me, all people need to know is that it’s an adventure about a small town and it’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s scary and there’s a mystery: What is this thing that has escaped? What are the ramifications of its presence? And what is the effect on people? But I know that’s not enough. Look, I feel we need a little bit of a coming-out party because we are up against massive franchises and brands and most people don’t know what ‘Super 8′ means. We’re a complete anomaly in a summer of huge films … and we don’t want to be so silent or coy that people don’t care or don’t hear about it.”

But what about the plot? The LA Times' Geoff Boucher was given a glimpse of the first 30 minutes and described it the storyline:

Super 8 takes its name from the Eastman Kodak film format that became a sensation with amateur movie-makers in the late 1960s and represented a rite of passage for several generations of aspiring directors, among them Spielberg and Abrams. The Paramount Pictures release is set in Ohio in 1979 and introduces a troupe of six youngsters who are using a Super 8 camera to make their own zombie movie. One fateful night, their project takes them to a lonely stretch of rural railroad tracks and, as the camera rolls, calamity strikes — a truck collides with an oncoming locomotive and a hellacious derailment fills the night with screaming metal and raining fire. Then something emerges from the wreckage, something decidedly inhuman.

Okay, so the plot revelations aren't a million miles away from what has already been hinted at, but the most interesting thing about the article is the little details, including the fact that Abrams didn't just consult with Spielberg about getting the right vibe for his coming-of-age film - he also spoke with Rob Reiner, director of what I consider to be THE best rites of passage film of the 80s, Stand By Me.

There's no quotes from Spielberg in the article, but he is mentioned.

The hybrid approach immediately won the affections of Spielberg. He told Abrams that for years he had tried to find a film that spoke to the specific heartbreak of divorce and then finally found it by making the unlikely decision to meld it with a sci-fi story. The result was “E.T.,” which had spaceships but was just as much a tale of a single-parent family and the loss of connection and home, for human and alien alike. “Super 8″ has a similar backbeat approach to heartache. The film begins with a small-town factory death that is very much of the real world.

“This is a movie about overcoming loss and finding your way again and finding your own voice,” Abrams said. “A boy whose lost his mother and the man whose lost his wife. There’s this father who, because of the era, never really had to be the parent. He’s a good man, he works hard, he’s a deputy in the town, but he’s never stepped up as father.”

Read the full article here

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Brilliant Spielberg biography gets a second edition

I must have read over a dozen books on Steven Spielberg and most of them are pretty poor.

Many of them are seem to have been culled from inaccurate press clippings and unreliable witness and rushed into print. And of course it's only after you've bought the book and started to devour it that you realise that it's a stinker.

That cannot be said for Joseph McBride's peerless biography that was first published in 1997.

A proper biography in every sense of the word (McBride actually interviewed dozens if not hundreds of people in order to get the facts right) this, for me at least, is the last word on Spielberg's life. (Or it will be until the great man writes his own autobiography...)

Most impressive are the many chapters McBride devotes to Spielberg's childhood. Thanks to the co-operation of Spielberg's father Arnold as well as friends and classmates, we get a very revealing portrait of his sometimes painful early years in Arizona.

So why am I raving on about this more-than-a-decade old book now?

Well Joseph McBride has just added four chapters to it, taking the story of Spielberg from 1997 up to present.

From the product decription on Amazon:
This new edition adds four chapters to Spielberg's life story, chronicling his extraordinarily active and creative period from 1997 to the present, a period in which he has balanced his executive duties as one of the partners in the film studio DreamWorks SKG with a remarkable string of films as a director. Spielberg's ambitious recent work--including Amistad, Saving Private Ryan, A. I. Artifucial Intelligence, Minority Report, The Terminal and Munich--has continually expanded his range both stylistically and in terms of adventurous, often controversial, subject matter.

As I say - brilliant BRILLIANT biography that any Spielberg fan should own a copy of. And these four extra chapters are definitely worth buying it for a second time.
Buy the book here or read more about it at Joseph McBride's website

Spielberg's Broadway musical pilot

Steven Spielberg has always talked about directing a musical, but he's never done it. But now, with a pitch to NBC, he could be dipping his toe into the water.

NBC has agreed to make the pilot musical drama - which is being called Smash - and. although details are sketchy, it will reportedly revolve around the creation of a Broadway show.

According to EW, the script was written and executive produced by playwright Theresa Rebeck. Executive producers will include Spielberg, Darryl Frank, Justin Falvey, and Craig Zadan and Neil Meron of Hairspray fame. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman will provide original songs for the series.

So there's a strong team being it which has got to give NBC some confidence - the only question is will audiences have tired of the Glee formula by the time it hits our screens (assuming the pilot goes to series) next year?

Friday, 19 November 2010

Report: Daniel Day-Lewis sighted at Lincoln museum

A follow-up report to today's news that Steven Spielberg is to shoot his Lincoln biopic emerged in the Stage-Journal Register.

Daniel Day-Lewis was today spotted visiting the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, the Lincoln Home, the Old State Capitol and the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices in Springfield, Illinois.

He was accompanied by accompanied by Doris Kearns Goodwin, whose book “Team of Rivals” is in part the basis for the movie, and also Spielberg's long-time producer Kathleen Kennedy.

Kennedy told the newspaper:

“We just came in for a quick peek. Doris, obviously, has been a great partner in all of this. Her book, ‘Team of Rivals,’ had a lot to do with our initial interest in wanting to do a story on Lincoln.”

The group also toured the vault below the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, where Illinois State Historian Thomas Schwartz showed them original Lincoln documents.

“All of us were very moved by that,” Kennedy said.

Asked whether “Lincoln” would be filmed in central Illinois, Kennedy said there had not yet been any technical scouting and no decisions had been made.

Read the full report, with more quotes from Kathleen Kennedy, here

Daniel Day-Lewis to star as Lincoln for Steven Spielberg

Want to know what Steven Spielberg is going to do between now and the start of filming for his recently announced sci-fi movie Robopocalypse?

Breathe a sigh of relief because he's finally decided to shoot his long-gestating Lincoln biopic - and it's going to star Daniel Day-Lewis!

Dreamworks today announced that Spielberg will start shooting the movie, based on the best-selling book, Team of Rivals, by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, in the fall of 2011, with a release slap-bang in the middle of awards season in 2012.

That means he'll be doing a trademarked Spielberg one-two punch in the tradition of Jurassic Park/Schindler's List and War of the Worlds/Munich. Robopocalypse with then start shooting in January 2012 (for a summer 2013 release).

Just as exciting is the prospect of Spielberg working with the ultra-choosy but uber-talented Daniel Day-Lewis, filling the role that Liam Neeson seemed destined to play for so many years. Remember in August Neeson publicly stepped away from the role, after figuring out he was much too old to play the 16th American president.

Spielberg said: “Daniel Day-Lewis would have always been counted as one of the greatest of actors, were he from the silent era, the golden age of film or even some time in cinema's distant future. I am grateful and inspired that our paths will finally cross with Lincoln.

"Throughout his career, he has been exceptionally selective in his choice of material," added Stacey Snider, "which makes us feel even more fortunate that he has chosen to join with us for Lincoln."

The announcement ties in with a report in the Washington Post yesterday that Spielberg was spotted lunching with Rita McClenny, director of the Virginia Film Office, at Millie's Diner in Richmond, the former capital of confederacy that Lincoln visited in April 1865 right after the city fell.

Aaron Ruby, an associate at Capital Results public affairs firm located near Millie's, spotted Spielberg as he walked in the front door. "I recognized him right away. At first nobody at the table would believe me. You don't don't expect to see Steven Spielberg in Richmond, at best you see somebody who looks like him,'' he said. "I asked a couple members of his entourage if they were making a movie in Richmond and one woman replied 'maybe.'"

No prizes for figuring out what that film was in light of today's press release from Dreamworks:

Los Angeles
– Two-time Academy Award winner Daniel Day-Lewis will star as the 16th President of the United States in DreamWorks Studios’ Lincoln to be directed by Steven Spielberg. The announcement was made today by Spielberg and Stacey Snider, Co-Chairman and CEO of DreamWorks Studios.

“Daniel Day-Lewis would have always been counted as one of the greatest of actors, were he from the silent era, the golden age of film or even some time in cinema's distant future. I am grateful and inspired that our paths will finally cross with Lincoln,” said Steven Spielberg. "Throughout his career, he has been exceptionally selective in his choice of material," added Stacey Snider, "which makes us feel even more fortunate that he has chosen to join with us for Lincoln."

Based on the best-selling book, Team of Rivals, by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, the screenplay has been written by the Pulitzer Prize winner, Tony Award winner, and Academy Award nominated writer Tony Kushner. It will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Steven Spielberg.

It is anticipated that the film will focus on the political collision of Lincoln and the powerful men of his cabinet on the road to abolition and the end of the Civil War.

Doris Kearns Goodwin won her Pulitzer Prize for No Ordinary Time, the story of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and the home front in World War II. Kushner's prize was for his play Angels in America, which later became an Emmy Award-winning television special. He had previously worked with Spielberg on Munich for which he was nominated for an Oscar in the Adapted Screenplay category.

Filming is expected to begin in the fall of 2011 for release in the fourth quarter of 2012 through Disney’s Touchstone distribution label.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

New Tintin pictures!

I'm back from holiday now so updates should be more frequent. Apologies for the sporadic activity...

More pictures from Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn have been revealed in the new issue of Empire.
They give us our first glimpse of the Thomson Twins (played by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost). Also in their picture is Silk the thief (Toby Jones).

The shadowy textures and tilted camera angle in the above shot certain bear out Spielberg's assertion that the look of the Tintin film would hark back to film noirs.

The final new shot in Empire isn't so much film noir as a David Lean film epic. I'd find it hard to believe if Spielberg wasn't thinking of Lean's Lawrence of Arabia when he was composing this shot of Tintin in the desert, with sand dunes stretching as far as the eye can see.

Spielberg wanted to make an animated Harry Potter film

This isn't really news, but it's an interesting nugget of Steven Spielberg lore that fans may find intriguing.

In the LA Times' extensive coverage of the new Harry Potter film, an article discusses what Steven Spielberg had planned to do if he got the job of turning the books into a movie.

Spielberg being Spielberg, he was the first choice to helm Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone ("Sorcerer's Stone" in the USA), the opening film in what Warner Bros hoped would become a lucrative franchise.

The LA Times takes up the story...

Warner Bros. secured the rights for four “Harry Potter” novels for about $2 million. At that point, only the first book was on shelves in England and none had reached America. Warner Bros. tried to get a financial partner on the project, reaching out to studios including Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks, which passed.

Once the books became a sensation, greenlighting the first “Potter” film became a major priority at Warner Bros., where Alan Horn had recently taken over as president and Barry Meyer as chairman (replacing longtime studio chiefs Terry Semel and Bob Daly). DreamWorks circled back and proposed a partnership, but Horn wisely declined. There was one aspect of the DreamWorks talks that did intrigue him, however.

“I did think it would be worthwhile for Steven Spielberg to direct,” Horn said. “We offered it to him. But one of the notions of Dreamworks’ and Steven’s was, ‘Let’s combine a couple of the books, let’s make it animated,’ and that was because of the [visual effects and] Pixar had demonstrated that animated movies could be extremely successful. Because of the wizardry involved, they were very effects-laden. So I don’t blame them. But I did not want to combine the movies, and I wanted it to be live action.”

Spielberg instead took on Warner’s 2001 sci-fi film “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence,” and the Hogwarts post fell to Chris Columbus, director of “Home Alone” and “Mrs. Doubtfire,” who was then tapped for the job …

The LA Times story seems to suggest that Spielberg's animated take on the books wasn't to Warners' liking to they politely thanked him then started the search for another director. Compare that to quotes Spielberg gave to back in 2001:

"I purposely didn't do the Harry Potter movie because for me, that was shooting ducks in a barrel. It's just a slam dunk. It's just like withdrawing a billion dollars and putting it into your personal bank accounts. There's no challenge."

Whatever the case, I think Warner Bros probably the made the right choice on this one. As much as I love Steven Spielberg, an animated version of the novels sounds pretty terrible to me...