The West Memphis 3, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley were freed in an Arkansas hearing after being in prison 18 years for the murder of three children in 1993. The three were freed after pleading guilty and drawing a sentence equal to the time they already served. The original conviction, which was derived despite any physical evidence tying the trio to the murders, became a cause celebre and the West Memphis 3 have received moral and financial support from the likes of The Hobbit director Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, Johnny Depp, Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines. The case has also be the subject of two Paradise Lost HBO documentaries by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. A third installment will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival next month, followed by the New York Film Festival and a January airing on HBO.
After the West Memphis Three murder defendants were released from prison, it seemed like just a matter of time before the movie crowd got involved because the case is so controversial and became a cause celebre with the likes of Johnny Depp and Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh. Turns out that there is a feature film that already has a screenplay and a major director, ready to start production by the spring. Devil’s Knot is an under $20 million feature that has The Sweet Hereafter and Chloe director Atom Egoyan aboard to direct a script that was originally written by Scott Derrickson and Paul Boardman, the team behind The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Egoyan has spent the last six weeks working with Boardman on a rewrite.
The script is based on investigative reporter Mara Leveritt’s 2003 book Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three, an in-depth chronicle of the sensationalized trials that sent the three to prison for the murder of the three 8-year old boys who were found hog-tied in a drainage ditch. The project is not a rush job. Derrickson and Boardman began writing it in 2006 when the film first took root at Dimension Films. It will be produced by Elizabeth Fowler, Clark Peterson, Richard Saperstein and Boardman. Saperstein was Dimension president and he acquired the film. After he left, Dimension eventually put the project into turnaround and Saperstein became re-involved as producer. The package includes life rights deals with some of the figures in the case, and especially Ron Lax, a private investigator who has been working pro bono on trying to overturn the verdict since 1993. There are no rights deals with the West Memphis 3 defendants Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr., because at the time, two were serving life sentences and Echols was on death row.
With news earlier that Ridley Scott was returning to his sci-fi classic Blade Runner. His Scott Free partner and brother Tony Scott is also getting serious about a new version of a movie classic. Scott is in talks with Warner Bros to direct a reboot of the 1969 Sam Peckinpah-directed The Wild Bunch. This film becomes one of three or so that Scott is most eager to direct as his follow-up to the Denzel Washington-Chris Pine action film Unstoppable.
The original The Wild Bunch was about an aging group of outlaws that try for one last score on the Texas-Mexico border in 1913, as the Old West changes around them. The original starred William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan and Warren Oates. The studio has tried for years to get this going, once getting a script from Training Day‘s David Ayer. It’s early days on the project, but Scott and producer Jerry Weintraub have a take for the movie and Brian Helgeland will draft it.
New movie on the way from director Nacho Vigalondo who made the excellent ‘Time Crimes’ (2007) in which a man accidentally gets into a time machine and travels back in time nearly an hour resulting in a series of disasterous consequences.
Extraterrestrial Synopsis: There’s only one sane response when you wake up to a sky full of alien invaders – run like hell. But what do you do if the invasion starts when you’ve just met the girl of your dreams? Julio wakes up – horribly hungover and with no memory of the night before – next to a mindblowingly sexy girl, in a stunning apartment. She wants him to get out now but the alien invasion that’s just begun outside is the perfect excuse for Julio to stay. And even though things are growing worse by the minute, even though the girl’s husband has arrived on the scene… even though the alien threat is getting more and more terrifying, Julio’s clear about one thing. Just like the monstrous creatures that have traveled across galaxies to destroy Mankind, he’s here to stay.
He worked as a cinematographer on such varied projects as ‘The Masque of Red Death’ (1964), ‘Doctor Zhivago’ (1965), ‘Fahrenheit 451’ (1966), ‘Casino Royale’ (1967) and ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ (1967). However it is his exceptional work as a director for which he will be remembered.
In 1968, Roeg acted as cinematographer and collaborated with Donald Cammell to co-direct ‘Performance’ starring James Fox and Mick Jagger. Set in the London criminal underworld, Performance tells the tale of an East London gang member Chas (James Fox) who works as a debt collector, through the use of intimidation and violence. After murdering a local book keeper, Chas goes into hiding in the house of Turner (Mick Jagger), a reclusive former rock star. Turner lives with Pherber (Anita Pallenberg) and Lucy (Michele Breton) with whom he enjoys a bi-sexual menage a trois. Chas and Turner are initially contemptuous of each other, slowly their interest in each other grows. Drugs, sex and violence ensue in a classic piece of late 60’s cinema.
Roeg followed up Performace with ‘Walkabout’ (1971). A schoolgirl (Jenny Agutter) and her younger brother (Luc Roeg) are driven to the Australian outback by thir father who starts to shoot at them, as they run for cover, he sets fire to the car and kills himself. By dawn the next day, they are weak from exposure, and the boy can barely walk. Discovering a small pool with a fruiting tree, they spend the day playing, bathing, and resting. Next morning, the pool has dried up. A young Aboriginal boy (David Gulplil) appears. Though the girl cannot communicate with him, her brother mimes their need for water, and the newcomer cheerfully shows them how to draw it from the drying bed of the oasis. The three travel together for several days, with the Aborigine sharing food he has caught hunting. The boys learn to communicate, using words and mime. I watched this movie several times throughout my youth, it’s a sad, beautiful story, incredibly well told.
In 1973, Roeg directed ‘Don’t Look Now’, a thriller starring Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie as a married couple mourning the loss of their young daughter. They head to Venice where they meet two elderly sisters, one of whom claims to be clairvoyant and informs them that their recently deceased daughter is trying to contact them to warn them of danger.
While Don’t Look Now observes many conventions of the thriller genre, its primary focus is on the psychology of grief, and the effect the death of a child can have on a relationship. Its emotionally convincing depiction of grief is often singled out as a trait not usually present in films featuring supernatural plot elements. Originally causing controversy on its intitial release due to an explicit and—for the time—very graphic sex scene between Christie and Sutherland, its reputation has grown considerably in the years since, and it is now acknowledged as a modern classic and an influential work in horror and British film.
Thomas Jerome Newton (David Bowie) is a humanoid alien who comes to Earth from a distant planet on a mission to bring water back to his home planet, Anthea, which is experiencing a terrible, catastrophic drought. Newton starts by using the advanced technology of his home planet to patent many inventions on Earth. This allows his rise to incredible wealth as the head of a technology-based conglomerate, World Enterprises Corporation, aided by leading patent attorney Oliver V. Farnsworth (Buck Henry). Secretly, this wealth is needed to construct his own space vehicle with the intention of shipping water back to his planet.
The film maintains a strong cult following for its use of surreal imagery and its performances by David Bowie (in his first starring film role), Candy Clark and Rip Torn.
Roeg took four years to make his next film, ‘Bad Timing’ (1980), a dark film about sexual obsession. Described brilliantly as “a sick film made by sick people for sick people” the film proved a difficult sell and although decorated at several film festivals, was poorly received at the box office. It was the first in a line of collaborations with actress Theresa Russell who he would marry in 1982.
Roeg made ‘Eureka’ (1983), about a prospector who strikes it rich and lives in fear that his daughter and partner are scheming to take away his wealth. In 1985, Roeg released ‘Insignificance’, a drama/comedy set in a hotel where four people bear striking resemblance to Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, Albert Einstein and Joe McCarthy.
In 1986, Roeg directed Oliver Reed and newcomer Amanda Donohoe in ‘Castaway’, adapted form the book by Lucy Irvine, telling of her experiences of staying for a year with writer Gerald Kingsland on the isolated island of Tuin, between New Guinea anmd Australia. He followed that with ‘Track 29’ (1988).
Roeg then made the incredibly fun family film ‘The Witches’ (1990), based on the book by Roald Dahl. Helga (Zetterling) warns her grandson Luke (Jason Fisher) about witches, describing them as demonic women who hate and destroy children. While they look and act like ordinary women, it is really an elaborate facade. They hide their bald heads with wigs and their clawed hands with gloves. Their feet have square ends and hideous stumps where the toes should be, forcing them to wear sensible shoes most of the time. About the only way to tell them apart is by their purple eyes. They also find the smell of children repulsive.
The family take a holiday by the seaside, ostensibly so that Helga can recover from her illness. They visit a hotel where a children’s charity group is holding its general meeting. Luke discovers that the group are all witches. Starring Angelica Houston, Mai Zetterling and Rowan Atkinson. As well as being the final film that the legendary Jim Henson personally worked on before his death.
His last few movies , ‘Cold Heaven’ (1991), ‘Two Deaths’ (1997) and ‘Puffball’ (2007) have received a colder reception by critics and the viewing public. Nic Roeg is an artist, a visionary, and a legend of British film.
Mike Mignola is killing off Hellboy. Read Mignola’s open letter posted by Dark Horse Comics:
Almost from the beginning of Hellboy I knew that if the series went on long enough, I would eventually kill him. I didn’t know exactly how or when, but I figured that when the time was right I’d know. I actually did kill him off in the middle of The Island, but it didn’t take—it just wasn’t quite his time yet.
When Hellboy quit the B.P.R.D (at the end of Conquerer Worm) and ended up at the bottom of the ocean (The Third Wish), I could see we were headed in this direction. When Duncan came onboard to draw Darkness Calls, I told him I wanted him for a three-book arc and I knew the third book would end in Hellboy’s death. I know back then I had a rough idea for the third book, but over the years its plot changed so many times—I’m sure Duncan must have heard me tell him half a dozen different versions of it over the years, and (I hope, for his sake) he must have just stopped listening after a while. I remember that at one point the Gruagach (the long-suffering pig-man) was going to become the major villain and he would be the one to kill Hellboy, but, as is so often the case, these characters don’t always stick to the roads we make for them. Gruagach in particular took on a life (a very sad life) of his own, and the story sort of followed after him. I had to trust that he at least knew where he was going and it turned out that he did. When I asked Scott Allie (long-suffering editor) if I could have a couple extra pages for The Fury #3, it was so I could give Gruagach a proper exit. I just couldn’t leave him hanging in that tree.
And speaking of hanging in a tree—that’s probably where I’d have ended up if I’d tried to draw these last three books myself, so thank you, Duncan Fegredo. The simple truth is that Duncan is amazing. His storytelling is spot on, and he has a nearly inhuman ability to draw everything well. When I write for myself, I tend to avoid certain things, but with Duncan as artist I was free to write the story I wanted to write without worrying about how to draw Hellboy kissing a girl or what a helmet made of birds would look like. And, in my humble opinion, Duncan is one of the best artists working when it comes to giving characters real personality and emotion. I was spared writing a lot of awkward dialogue, because when Duncan draws two characters looking at each other, more often than not you can tell what they’re thinking. I would say I’ll miss writing for Duncan but, fortunately, I don’t have to. While I will be taking over the ongoing Hellboy story line (I’ve always said that in my world, when characters die they just become more interesting) as both writer and artist, there are still a lot of untold stories from Hellboy’s past—a simpler time when he didn’t have to worry about being the Beast of the Apocalypse or king of England. Duncan’s agreed to stick around and draw a bunch of those. I couldn’t be happier.
And now I have to get back to the drawing table.
– Mike Mignola
Paramount Pictures has set Dec. 21, 2012 as the release date for World War Z, the Marc Forster-directed adaptation of the Max Brooks zombie-infestation novel. The film is in production now, with Brad Pitt and Mireille Enos and James Badge Dale starring. Pitt is producing with his Plan B partner Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Colin Wilson. The film’s co-financed by David Ellison’s Skydance Productions and Jeff Sagansky’s Hemisphere Media Capital. And Graham King’s GK Films has also come aboard as financier, with King and Tim Headington taking executive producer credit.
It’s Gillian Anderson’s birthday today. She was every nerdy guys pin-up throughout the 90’s, well, maybe her and Buffy… Armstrong is far classier than her stake wielding junior though. Happy birthday.