Mary Harron

Anna Nicole Smith

The Playlist perhaps puts it best in the opening line of their own post regarding this news: “How the mighty have fallen…” Remember how Mary Harron directed American Psycho? Do you think she does? After her work there, Harron could have done just about anything she wanted – which made it all the more confounding when she began her slow descent into half-cocked features that barely even left a mark (The Notorious Bettie Page, The Moth Diaries) and one-shot directing gigs on various television series. What next? Obviously a Lifetime movie about Anna Nicole Smith, creatively titled The Anna Nicole Story. Pardon?

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Is there anything more dangerously piquant than the angst of a teenage girl? The raw emotions, the budding sexuality and the passionate conviction that their feelings are matters of life and death all lend themselves towards the possibility of entertaining cinema. When handled correctly these characters can provide lurid thrills and wonderfully overwrought drama, but in less sturdy hands the results can be disaster. Even worse, it can result in mediocrity. Rebecca (Sarah Bolger) is returning to her all-girls boarding school excited to see friends and to try to put her father’s suicide further behind her. Her best friend Lucie (Sarah Gadon) is the one she’s happiest to see, and the two immediately fall into their old habits that have bonded them over the years. Into this tight friendship lands Ernessa (Lily Cole), a transfer student from the UK whose own father also killed himself. The new girl is odd in appearance and behavior, but nothing bothers Rebecca as much as Ernessa’s immediate attempts to befriend Lucie and Lucie’s almost as fast embrace of that friendship. She quickly grows jealous, and unable to conceal her feelings she upsets Lucie and loses the one thing that mattered most. When Lucie starts getting sick no one seems to see the connection between her mysterious illness and the presence of Ernessa, but when Rebecca’s suspicions drive her to dig deeper and her friends start leaving school by car or by body bag she finds the newcomer is more than a simple mean girl. […]

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As we get further and further out from The Twilight Saga’s initial success, it starts to feel like more and more of a stretch to accuse everything featuring young women and vampires of being a cash grab meant to capitalize on the mainstream’s fascination with Team Edward vs. Team Jacob. And yet, other than as a cash in on Twilight, I can honestly think of no other reason why a movie as miserable as The Moth Diaries would exist. A tale about the repressed sexuality of an all girls boarding school and how bottled up feelings bubble to the surface once a vampire is introduced into the mix, director Mary Harron’s adaptation of the Rachel Klein novel of the same name fails on almost every level imaginable. Initially my instincts were to blame that on Klein’s novel – which I haven’t read – because Harron had already proven herself a capable adapter of literary works with her 2000 film American Psycho; but, on further inspection, the excuse of less than serviceable source material failed to explain the film’s made for (crappy) TV look, the incapable actors that fill its supporting roles, or its scatter-shot, disjointed pacing. No, The Moth Diaries has to be a case of everyone involved firing on absolutely no cylinders.

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Fine, maybe you didn’t ask for it, but someone did! Incidentally, the person who wrote the film and wants to direct it! Weird, right? Commercial director (and second unit director for The Social Network) Noble Jones reportedly pitched a new take on Bret Easton Ellis‘s American Psycho (which of course already has already has its own, very fine, cinematic adaptation from Mary Harron, starring Christian Bale in one of his best roles, which hit theaters in 2000) to Lionsgate a few months ago, followed that by turning in a script within the last few weeks, and is now seeing an uptick in interest thanks to the entertainment industry’s insidery tracking reports. Thanks, assistants at WME who run these things, thanks a lot. Now that we’ve got all the bile out of the way, who the hell is Noble Jones and just what does he want to do with Bret Easton Ellis’s classic villain, popped-collar investment banker serial killer Patrick Bateman? Well, Deadline Rochester calls Jones “a Fincher protege,” which is most certainly not a bad thing. His take on the material moves the action to present day, taking it out of the gloriously yuppie-fied ’80s world that the novel and Harron’s film both lived in (which was sort of, oh, I don’t know, essential to the meat of the story). The film is deemed as “a down and dirty new version” and will reportedly by a low budget affair. The film has not yet been greenlit, but is in “early […]

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Mary Harron must be obsessed with refined murderers. She famously gave the world an adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s business-card obsessed killer in American Psycho, and now she’s headed to boarding school to create The Moth Diaries – an adaptation of the Rachel Klein novel of the same name. It looks like she’s got a cast on board as well – Lily Cole, Scott Speedman, Sarah Gadon and Sarah Bolger have all signed on. As to tone, Harron notes “This is a chillingly atmospheric horror story with real emotional depth. I’ve tried to stay true to Rachel Klein’s novel in the way it re-works and updates the Gothic tradition and the whole notion of girl-on-girl vampires.”

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For an industry that is viewed reductively by much of middle America as being politically left-leaning to the point of being out-of-touch with the rest of the country, Hollywood has shown a stagnant lack of progress in terms of gender equality. Actresses’ careers are in jeopardy as soon as they hit 35, it always seems like there’s a dearth of good roles for women, and much of the business behind the camera is dominated by a boys’ club. Particularly striking are the lack of female directors.

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Studios have been afraid for too long. It’s time to put Palahniuk’s long, strange trip into the heart of American commercialism and religion on the big screen.

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