Belle and Book in Beauty and the Beast

Walt Disney Productions

If you were a teenager or adjacent to a teenager anytime since 1999, you are likely familiar with writer Stephen Chbosky and his tear-stained book found in the back of many a geometry classroom, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” It’s the epitome of teen angst, the coming-of-age story about an introverted boy named Charlie and the events that he goes through — some normally adolescent, some traumatic — during his freshman year of high school. You know, just a great time. The book was adapted into a film by Chbosky in 2012, so if you heard any wailing in the theater next door or saw some disheveled 15 year olds grasping each other by the concession stand, you know what’s up.

Now Chbosky (who also wrote Rent) is heading to Disney, where he’ll pen Bill Condon‘s live-action Beauty and the Beast. Sure, it’s a tale as old as time, but in that moment, didn’t you swear that girl from the poor provincial town and the monster prince holding her captive in a mansion full of sentient objects were infinite? The studio’s new vision sees their 1991 Oscar-nominated animated classic directly adapted with music from the Broadway show added. Evan Spiliotopoulos, who penned the recent Hercules (the one with Dwayne Johnson) as well as a number of Disney direct-to-video animated movies, already wrote a draft of the remake, but it’s now up to Chbosky to complete a rewrite.


The Tetris Company

It’s official: we’ve reached the final frontier of video game adaptations. A Tetris movie is in the works!

Threshold Entertainment, the studio behind the two late ’90s Mortal Kombat movies, are teaming with The Tetris Company (a gaming company that deals exclusively in Tetris) to bring us a feature film based on little blocks that fall into a neatly-stacked rectangular pile. Why? Because branding.

“Brands are the new stars of Hollywood,” Threshold CEO Larry Kasanoff, told the Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy blog. He’s right, of course. If he wasn’t, we wouldn’t be getting a Marshmallow Peeps movie. Or a View-Master movie (although that one didn’t last song). Or any other toy/game/sumptuous marshmallowy snack treat that has no discernible film-like properties but is being made because people recognize the name.

Same goes for Tetris. Kasanoff is quick to assure us that there’s already a story in place that will cleverly take the few recognizable concepts from Tetris — I’m assuming this comes down to three factors, the shapes, the act of sorting the shapes as they fall and the song — and weave them into “a very big, epic sci-fi movie.” With an emphasis on creativity, as Kasanoff argues: “We’re not giving feet to the geometric shapes.” Although there’s something to be said for the “shapes with feet” idea. Think about a low-budget horror pic with giant Tetris pieces sporting obvious guy-in-a-suit legs, crushing horny teenagers to death as they foolishly get stuck in a slow-moving Tetris block pileup. Could be brilliant.

But with Tetris, filmmakers have pushed past an important boundary. No longer do we need to make adaptations from properties with some modicum of movie material — stories, characters, settings or any kind of recognizable conflict (well, conflict beyond the need for that one straight line block that just won’t come). All we need is a name. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at a few other games with just as much movie in them as Tetris (that is, none), and speculate what their adaptations might be like.

Chris Elliott Get a Life

Shout! Factory

Sometimes I think Hollywood is directly screwing with me, personally. Recently I compiled a list of the comedies from the 1980s that couldn’t be made today. Big was one of the 10, and the feature itself was inspired by a commemorative piece for its 25th anniversary from a year earlier. At that time I’d written, “We can’t be sure that this movie won’t be remade anytime soon, but we can be sure it won’t mean as much after the careers of Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Will Ferrell and others of their ilk.” Well, now suddenly there are plans to remake Big, albeit as a TV sitcom on Fox rather than a movie.

My point about the premise of Big‘s lack of relevance today still stands, especially in the wake of A.O. Scott’s much-discussed New York Times Magazine article on “The Death of Adulthood in American Culture.” The people developing the Big show seem to be aware of the issue they face, however, with the pitch communicated via Deadline being that it will “explore what it means to be an adult, what it means to be a kid, and how in today’s world those two things are more confused than ever.” The problem then, I think, is that the source of comedy — seeing a grown man act like a 12 year old — is gone, and this is sounds more like a drama with social commentary regarding the modern prevalence of grown men who at like 12 year olds.

Either way, is it going to have much to offer that we don’t already know or have already seen? In the past quarter century, since the release of Big, the rise of the man-child has been noticeable in both pop culture, including movies starring the comedic actors named above, and actual society. Because this potential remake will be on TV, I’ve selected a handful of series that have come along since the late 1980s plus one longtime variety show with recently pertinent sketches as evidence that there’s not really a place for Big on the small screen. 

Time Out of Mind

Lightstream Pictures

Late in Oren Moverman’s Time Out of Mind, an addled Richard Gere panhandles in the middle of a busy Manhattan street, shaking a cup and asking for change, occasionally attempting to engage with passerby, and being utterly ignored in the process. Moverman and Gere filmed this scene – and others like it – guerilla style, not shutting down streets or blocking off sets, simply sending Gere into the fray in costume and character. Few people noticed that the older homeless gentleman asking them for change was actually Richard Gere, and even those that gave him money scooted by without locking eyes with the man, too embarrassed or occupied or blind to see the desperate human being standing in front of them.

That’s entirely the point of Moverman’s latest, which chronicles Gere’s George as he shambles and shuffles around New York City, scrapping by for yet another day and night. Homeless and jobless for many years, George has found a few tricks to keep himself alive and in relatively fine health, but when the film opens, his latest scam – squatting in the abandoned apartment of a woman he may or may not know – has come to an end. Narratively loose, the film follows George through an indeterminate number of days (or weeks, or months, it’s kept purposely vague) as he attempts to carve out even the most basic existence.



They say that the genre is the real star of any horror film; that the characters and setting are secondary to the effect of hiding beneath a blanket in a dark room. Filmmakers around the world bank on this, using the horror genre as a way to tell stories unique to their culture that still appeal to international audiences. What follows is a list of 31 examples from 31 countries; there are found footage films, zombie comedies, creature features, and even a couple of horror-musicals mixed in for good measure. While not everything listed has received universal acclaim, they were all influenced by the popularity of international horror cinema and take pride in their cultural identity.



Two years ago Universal released an Essential Collection of their most well-known monster films in newly remastered HD Blu-rays, and now they’ve followed up that set with a far more complete box set — 31 feature films (including the Spanish Dracula) covering the years from 1931 to 1956. Universal Classic Monsters: Complete Collection 1931-1956 brings together six previously released Legacy Collections plus 1943’s Phantom of the Opera. Each collection focuses on one classic character — Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, the Creature from the Black Lagoon — starting with each of their highly revered debuts and followed by the characters’ appearances in sequels and spin-offs.

I’d seen those debuts of course, albeit most of them decades ago, but I’d never seen many of these sequels. Until now.

Creature from the Black Lagoon was the last of Universal’s classic monsters to see the light of day — so obviously I’m starting this month-long column with it — and with the possible exception of the Mummy he was also the least personable and empathetic of them all. I recall enjoying some aspects of the film as a kid, but I’m not sure I had ever even heard of the two sequels, Revenge of the Creature and The Creature Walks Among Us. And now I know why.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Hey, it’s almost Halloween, so let’s all get ready by putting this on repeat for the rest of the month and talking about some horror movies. Specifically, let’s take a look at the dreaded horror remake. Everyone’s gotten one now — Freddy, Jason, Michael Meyers, and even the freaking Amityville Horror have all seen attempted remakes of their films. Why the hell are the production demons in Hollywood foisting these turds on us? Everyone knows that horror remakes always suck.

Except when they don’t, anyway.

Dwayne Johnson in Get Smart

Warner Bros.

Because the sky is blue and grass is green and we all have to pay taxes and one day die, Dwayne Johnson is going to fulfill his destiny as an actor and machine-like human by playing a secret agent (a real one, not a silly one as he did in Get Smart). The world’s most lovable former wrestler turned Scorpion King turned adrenaline fueled action star confirmed over Twitter that he’ll be starring in an adaptation of The Janson Directive, a project that’s been in gestation over at Universal for some time. You’ve got competition, Jason Bourne — there’s a new Robert Ludlum-penned mystery man in town.

With that tweet, Johnson also confirmed that The Janson Directive is being propelled forward with a script by Akiva Goldsman. It’s promising news when you hear that the Oscar-winning writer of A Beautiful Mind is penning the script; it’s another when you remember that he’s also the writer of A Winter’s Tale. Until the flying horse stops haunting our dreams, we can’t stop talking about it, buddy.


David Fincher

David Fincher likes his TV. First came his executive producer stint on House of Cards, then that film noir series he’s been bandying about with James Ellroy. And here comes another- Fincher’s just announced that he’ll be doing the director’s version of a TV bingewatch through the entirety of 2015- directing every episode of his planned remake of the BBC conspiracy thriller, Utopia.

Please, for yours and everyone else’s sakes, do not confuse the Fincher-approved Utopia (coming to HBO) with the Fox reality series that puts the immense responsibility of building a perfect society in the hands of a group that contains a raw vegan chef, a tantric sex enthusiast and the “Hillbilly MacGuyver” (good luck with that).



Calling the second episode of GothamSelina Kyle” is just a wee bit disingenuous. It’s not so much a Selina Kyle episode- for one thing, she refuses to be called Selina Kyle, and any attempt to say those words around her will cause an immediate correction with the proper nomenclature: “cat.”

Expecting “Selina Kyle” to include any in-depth look at a young Catwoman’s psyche is a fool’s game. This one’s not about our future clawed criminal; it just happens to involve her, as a victim of our Batman villain of the week (even if it seemed like Gotham wouldn’t be doing that). Like last time, Gordon and Bullock take the lead, on the trail of the little-known, little-seen, probably-murderous Dollmaker.

So yeah, kind of a misnomer with the “Selina Kyle” thing.



Cargill and I close out our two-part two-step through the weird and wonderful world of oddball musicals from the late 70s/early 80s. If you thought Donald Pleasence singing “I Want You So Bad” in Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was the most bizarre offering we had on our playbill, just wait until you see what we’ve got for you this week.

Devils, transvestites, and bike-curious 50s superheroes are all scheduled to appear before the final curtain call. Uncover your ears, junkies, Can’t Stop The Musicals Part 2 is upon you!

You should follow Brian (@Briguysalisbury), Cargill (@Massawyrm), and the show (@Junkfoodcinema).

Download Episode #25 Directly

Michelle Yeoh in Crouching Tiger 2


“These are two different experiences, like going to a football game and watching a football game on TV.”

Nope. There is no analogy that’s more annoying than the one above, this time spoken by Netflix‘s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos. Watching a movie at home is slightly like watching a live sporting event on TV, but going to the movies is nothing like going to a live sporting event, whatsoever. Not even the most lively, infectious, communally synched audience at a movie theater is a fraction of that of a football stadium crowd. And there’s nothing relating moviegoing to the excitement of being there on game day and being part of a unique moment that isn’t replicable. I can say this as someone who loves the theatrical movie experience and pretty much never goes to football games. If there is anything remotely close, it’d be the difference between attending the world premiere of Veronica Mars at SXSW, with the cast and director present on stage, and seeing the movie at home via VOD.

Sarandos was of course making the analogy, as it’s often made, in defense of day-and-date releases, claiming that a video-on-demand option of a movie simultaneous to its theatrical opening isn’t any more of an issue than a TV network broadcasting NFL games as they’re happening. This time it’s because Netflix itself has announced its first day-and-date release, for the sequel Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend. The movie will be available for subscribers to stream on its release date, August 28, 2015, when it will also debut in cinemas solely on IMAX screens. The large-format exclusive isn’t an intentional arrangement, but reportedly no theater chains are interested in booking the movie because of the Netflix deal. Here’s the thing, though: it will be on IMAX screens housed in major chain theaters, because apparently IMAX gets to make that decision.*


Above you can enjoy the Taken 3 trailer (or Tak3n, I suppose), the third film in the Taken franchise starring Liam Neeson. This time it’s really really really personal — someone has framed him for murdering his wife (Famke Janssen) and is threatening to take out his daughter (Maggie Grace) as well. So now he is on the run trying to unravel this web of lies while being pursued by what sounds like every law enforcement agency imaginable. It’ll be here in January, directed by Taken 2 helmer Olivier Megaton.

Gird. Your. Loins.

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