World War II

David Ayer on Set of End of Watch

In a climate where most creative types can’t make money being a screenwriter unless they’re one of the lucky few who gets tapped to turn a board game or an old TV show into a movie, End of Watch filmmaker David Ayer has just sold his latest script on spec for $1m. The film is called Fury, and it’s a World War II story about an American tank and its five man crew battling a desperate German army as the Nazi regime crumbles around them. QED International was the company who foot the bill for the screenplay. They’ve hired Ayer himself to direct, and plan on setting him up for a fall production start. Ayer, for his part, says that his goal for Fury is to “bring a fresh execution to the genre. What these men went through is worthy of a complex, honest portrayal. This will have incredible, visceral action and complex rich characters. I plan to bring tank combat to life in a way that lands with a modern audience.” Given the found footage gimmick that Ayer needlessly implemented in his admittedly impressive cop drama, End of Watch, that sort of quote brings to mind a film made up solely of grainy, black and white newsreels of period war action, which would probably be pretty horrible, and is likely a worst case scenario for this one.

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Wolfenstein

Producer Samuel Hadida announced at the American Film Market that he and Panorama Media have put a plan together to finally bring us a movie version of all those classic Wolfenstein video games. A few years ago Pulp Fiction writer Roger Avary was attached to this project, which was then titled Return to Castle Wolfenstein, but some personal issues derailed the film before it could get off the ground. Well, fret not, because Avary has been brought back to write and direct, and the film, now just titled Castle Wolfenstein, is once again ready to go.

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Michelle Williams

The story behind the publishing of Irène Némirovsky’s “Suite Française” is an interesting one. When World War II first started, Némirovsky was a successful writer living in Paris, but by the time 1942 rolled around, she was a prisoner being held in Auschwitz, the prison camp where she eventually died. Somewhere during this period she managed to write the entirety of “Suite Française,” however, in microscopic handwriting, in a single notebook. Believing it to be a personal journal, Némirovsky’s daughter kept it until the late ’90s without ever reading it. Then, after thumbing through the pages and realizing that she had one of the first literary works about World War II ever written, she decided to have her mother’s book published, and it wasn’t long before it became a bestseller. The book’s Amazon description describes its plot by saying, “Beginning in Paris on the eve of the Nazi occupation in 1940. ‘Suite Française’ tells the remarkable story of men and women thrown together in circumstances beyond their control. As Parisians flee the city, human folly surfaces in every imaginable way: a wealthy mother searches for sweets in a town without food; a couple is terrified at the thought of losing their jobs, even as their world begins to fall apart. Moving on to a provincial village now occupied by German soldiers, the locals must learn to coexist with the enemy—in their town, their homes, even in their hearts.”

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Director Peter Webber (Girl With the Pearl Earring) has a new project coming up called Emperor that looks at the tension and confusion in Japan immediately after their surrender in World War II. The film will star Lost’s Matthew Fox as a man named General Bonner Fellers (or “boner feeler” as he was doubtless known in his junior high), who served General Douglas MacArthur as his leading expert on all things Japanese. Basically he was the 40s military version of kids that are really into manga and video games. Being the leading expert on Japan was a pretty important role in this particular moment in history, however, as Fellers ended up being the guy who had to decide whether or not Emperor Hirohito should be tried and hanged as a war criminal. That’s some pretty grave stuff, but Fox won’t have to handle the dramatic load alone. THR is reporting that veteran actor Tommy Lee Jones has now signed on to the project to portray General MacArthur. Emperor producer Gary Foster says of the choice, “Tommy will bring strength, intelligence and gravitas to the portrayal of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, a legendary American hero.” Gravitas is a good word to use there. Jones is one of those actors that just lends a certain weight to every role he takes, no matter how ridiculous the movie around him might be. I’m sure his familiar presence will add quite a bit to this historical drama. Hell, at this point he’s practically a legendary […]

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Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman’s Playtone company has, along with help from Universal, optioned the next big Hanks-starring vehicle. This one will be an adaptation of a novel called “In the Garden of the Beasts” and will see Hanks traveling back in time to Nazi Germany to play U.S. ambassador William Dodd. Dodd, along with his socialite daughter Martha, were fully engrained in the upper crust of Berlin back in 1933, right when things were starting to get crazy there but before everybody knew just how crazy. Dodd and his family lived amongst the Nazis, with his daughter even having an affair with a Gestapo official, but eventually conflict arose when they started to become more and more aware of the violence and evil that was happening right under their noses. Couple of real detectives, those two. “In the Garden of the Beasts” was written by Erik Larson, who is also known for “The Devil and the White City,” which told the life story of Dr. H.H. Holmes, a Chicago serial killer who murdered a bunch of World’s Fair guests from out of town in a hotel that he had built to be a funhouse of torture and terror. That book has been optioned by Leonardo DiCaprio and his people, so, you know, Larson is building up quite the lucrative career of writing creepy books and then selling their film rights to huge movie stars. Good for him. It’s always nice to see a weirdo make good. I hope he […]

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With the entire original run of The Twilight Zone available to watch instantly, we’re partnering with Twitch Film to cover all of the show’s 156 episodes. Are you brave enough to watch them all with us? The Twilight Zone (Episode #80): “A Quality of Mercy” (airdate 12/29/61) The Plot:  A zealous officer is anxious to kill, kill, and then kill. The Goods: Deep in the jungles of the Pacific theater of World War II, a Lieutenant (a very, very youthful Dean Stockwell) joins a ragtag bunch that’s used to hunkering down, waiting things out, and opting for comfort over protocol. Lieutenant Katell is a fire-breather, a young gun who claims that he has experience killing, but probably doesn’t. He has an axe to grind against an enemy he knows nothing about except that they’re the enemy. Thus, instead of moving around a small encampment, he wants to cut through it and kill everyone with a Japanese uniform. That is, until The Twilight Zone intervenes.

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We’re spending all week celebrating war movies. First up, we learn that sometimes it doesn’t matter if the purpose of an American holiday is better captured by the cinema of another country. In the case of Ballad of a Soldier you’d be hard-pressed to find another story to exemplify why we honor those that serve and, unfortunately, don’t make it home.

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Grave of the Fireflies

In this segment of Movies We Love we visit the 1988 animated masterpiece from Isao Takahata, the co-founder of Studio Ghibli along with close friend and fellow master animator Hayao Miyazaki. Tread cautiously as there are no Totoros to be found in this tale of a brother and sister trying to survive the famine of Japan during World War II.

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Hopefully 2009 prepared you for brilliant science fiction. Back in 1936, it’s Christmas in Everytown, and there’s talk of war coming to their doorsteps.

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Kiera Knightley in The Edge of Love

When the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas said “Somebody’s boring me. I think it’s me,” he may have just seen The Edge of Love, allegedly based on his own life.

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Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino says “Inglorious Bastards” in May 2009, Robert Fure thinks not so fast!

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Guy Ritchie to direct Sgt. Rock

Joel Silver has named Guy Ritchie as the director of the planned Sgt. Rock feature.

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