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There Was Almost a ‘Friday the 13th’ and ‘Cheech and Chong’ Crossover, but Some Producer Decided to Be a Total Buzzkill
Jason Voorhees met Freddy Krueger in that classic crossover slasher we all know and love, but you know who the machete-wielding psycho never encountered? Cheech and Chong. According to “Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI” director Tom McLoughlin, that dream matchup almost happened following his 1986 contribution to the enduring slasher franchise — but producer/buzzkill Frank Mancuso wouldn’t hear of it.
During an appearance on the Post Mortem podcast, McLoughlin says that Mancuso “wanted me to do another film after we did Jason, and I said, ‘What are you thinking? I don’t know what it could be now.’ And he said, ‘Well, what do you think about Freddy and Jason?’ And I go, ‘But Freddy’s at New Line and the guys at Paramount have [Jason].’ And it’s like, ‘Well, we’re going to try and see if we can work something out.'”
There was one problem with that, however. “I started thinking about that, going, It doesn’t make sense. I mean, he lives in one realm and — you know, I take this stuff very seriously, what realm a monster’s supposed to stay in. And he came back, he goes, ‘Eh, forget it, it’s not going to work anyway.’”
Though McLoughlin takes monster realms seriously, he’s apparently more lenient when it comes to stoners. That’s when he had his idea: “And I said, ‘You know what? You guys own Cheech and Chong. What if we do Cheech and Chong-meets-Jason? They’re like camp counselors or something. It’s like, ‘Hey, man, I saw Jason out there.’ ‘No, man, that’s a myth.’ But he said, ‘You know what? No.’”
Bummer, man. Listen to the full podcast here.
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Veteran filmmaker James Ivory is happy to let “Call Me by Your Name” rest now. Nearly a decade in the making – much of that time spent with Ivory attached to the film in various positions, from producer to co-director to screenwriter – director Luca Guadagnino’s lush big screen take on André Aciman’s novel of the same name is hitting theaters on the wave of accolades first ignited during its Sundance premiere, admiration that has not abated in the months since the film first debuted.
And while Guadagnino has been actively chatting up the possibility of sequels for the film – or, at the very least, a film that picks up with the film’s main characters after many years have passed, as Aciman’s novel does – Ivory has no interest in returning to the material. For him, this chapter of his creative life is closed.
“That’s the first I’m hearing about that,” Ivory said when asked about sequels. “If he wants to do something, if Andre Aicman wants to write something, that’s fine, good. But I don’t know how they’re going to get a 40-year-old Timmy!”
That would be Timothée Chalamet, the breakout heartthrob at the center of the acclaimed movie. Set in rural Italy during the summer of 1983, the dreamy romance follows teenager Elio (Chalamet) as he falls for visiting graduate student Oliver (Armie Hammer), a coming-of-age tale and love story of immense power and serious beauty.
Sixty years into his career, he’s still best known to cinephiles as one half of the fruitful Merchant Ivory Productions partnership – one that saw Ivory crafting films alongside his personal and professional partner, the late producer Ismail Merchant – and he’s no stranger to seminal gay films. He co-wrote and directed the 1987 E.M. Forster adaptation “Maurice,” which featured a young Hugh Grant as part of a heartbreaking homosexual love triangle in Edwardian-era England.
But “Call Me by Your Name” is something new for Ivory: It’s the first narrative feature that the filmmaker has only written, not directed. It also marks his first produced screenplay since 2003’s “The Divorce,” another adaptation that Ivory made very much his own.
Ivory had already read Aciman’s novel when his neighbor Peter Spears, along with producing partner Howard Rosenman, approached him about producing a film based on it, having purchased the rights before it was even published. Italian filmmaker Guadagnino was later hired as location consultant for the Italy-set film, before the producers picked him to direct, eventually hitting upon the idea that he could co-direct with Ivory.
“I’ve never done that! But I thought why not? I didn’t see why I couldn’t do it,” Ivory said, adding with a laugh, “I don’t know Italian!”
While Ivory agreed – co-directing a feature would have been another first for the filmmaker – he had one big stipulation: He wanted to write the screenplay.
Though both Ivory and Guadagnino were also working on other projects, the pair developed the script together whenever they could, stacking up visits between Italy and New York (Ivory even went to see Guadagnino while he was shooting “A Bigger Splash” in Sicily). With an Ivory-penned script under their belt, financing eventually came together, though financiers had their own demands.
“They thought it would be better if there was only one director,” Ivory said. “I think they were also thinking that I’m pretty old now, that something might happen to me, might cause them trouble.”
Even after Ivory departed as co-director, he says he was “very much involved” with other aspects of the production, from casting to checking out locations alongside Guadagnino. The pair seems to have enjoyed a working relationship both active and respectful (Guadagnino recently called Ivory “the godfather of us all” in a chat with IndieWire), even if Ivory is still a bit sad that one of his casting ideas didn’t pan out.
“He’s like any director would be – and it goes both ways – if he says to me, ‘I think so-and-so would be marvelous for Oliver,’ and that person I have to think very carefully about, because I didn’t much like so-and-so or never saw so-and-so’s movies,” Ivory said. “Or it could be the other way around, and I’d say, ‘you know, I think Gretca Scacchi would be wonderful for the mother, she’s got an Italian passport and that’s good,’ and then he would say, ‘hmm, I’m not so sure.'”
Although Guadagnino made a number of edits to Ivory’s script, including pushing back the setting to 1983 and excising male nudity (a contract stipulation from both Chalamet and Hammer, as Ivory told Variety earlier this month), the veteran filmmaker is still the sole screenwriter credited on the project, and it’s clear from the choices he made in adapting Aciman’s sprawling story that his narrative choices were profound.
Ivory is nothing if not pragmatic about snipping down the material, and he said there was nothing that he regretted cutting, though certainly some significant cuts were made. (Some spoilers ahead.)
While Guadagnino’s film includes a late summer visit to Rome — one last trip for Elio and Oliver to savor before Oliver returns to America — Ivory pruned down the section from Aciman’s novel, which fills dozens and dozens of pages and includes multiple locations and a steady stream of new characters.
“In terms of length, we really cannot have this elaborate trip to Rome, with all these book parties and bookstores and all the rest of it, it would just be an unwieldy thing,” Ivory said. “They wouldn’t have the money to shoot it, and they’ll throw it all away, because you’ll have a three-hour movie. You can’t help but think like that.”
Perhaps most importantly, Guadagnino’s film is set only in 1983, while Aciman’s novel jumps ahead decades down the line to reunite Elio and Oliver as much older adults. It’s a stirring coda to their young romance, but Ivory knew it would never translate to the big screen.
“We couldn’t have the ending, because it’s impossible,” he said. “There’s no way you can find an actor who would physically resemble Timothée, that you would be able to see at age 40…I just threw that out right at the beginning.”
Instead, Ivory opted to conclude the film during the holidays, just a few months after Oliver has departed and summer has long passed. “I told everybody, ‘This story is going to end when Oliver leaves, that will be the end of it,'” Ivory said. “That was my decision and everyone went along with it. When you know from the very first day it’s not going to work, I just didn’t want to do it.”
Ivory focused his energy on building a heartbreaker of a final scene, centered on Elio, back in his family’s Italian country home for the holidays. Guadagnino’s film ends with a heartbroken Elio processing the content of a truncated phone conversation with Oliver while staring into a fireplace. While the scene was tweaked slightly – Ivory said that in the script, Elio was decorating a Christmas tree with lit candles – the emotion of it remains identical to the source material.
“It ends in the same way,” he said, “a long, long close-up where he’s very worked up.”
Sony Pictures Classics’ “Call Me by Your Name” will be in theaters on November 24.
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For comic book fans, the premiere of a new adaptation of a favorite work is always a nerve-wracking thing. The hope is that the story will be captured well by the producers, while the reality is the history of comics adaptations is littered with massive disappointments.
So it’s a relief to see that so far, Hulu’s adaptation of the Brian K. Vaughn-created “Runaways” has lived up to the expectations of Marvel fans, while not being shy about making some significant changes to the story and the characters. However, there’s no reason to fear these changes, as many of them prove to be not necessarily an improvement on the original story, but clearly valuable when it comes to creating an episodic drama out of it.
Beyond updating the technology for today’s teen use of smartphones and Lyft, here are some of the best changes so far. While there are spoilers below for the first three episodes of the series (now streaming on Hulu) there are no spoilers for the comics beyond reference to what is now different.
Aging Up Molly
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‘Anne of Green Gables’ Review: Growing Pains and Poor Decisions Bring Angst to This Adolescent Outing
With Thanksgiving comes the return of Canada’s most famous literary orphan to PBS with the second “Anne of Gables” installment. “The Good Stars,” the second film in a trilogy, continues the adventures of poor orphan girl Anne Shirley (Ella Ballentine), who’s finally found a home with elderly couple Matthew (Martin Sheen) and Marilla Cuthbert (Sara Botsford) at Green Gables. When last we saw Anne, she had settled into her new home and made a bosom friend out of Diana (Julia Lalonde). Taking on the adolescent phase of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Edwardian novel series, “The Good Stars” parallels the growing pains that Anne herself is going through as she becomes a teenager.
Before delving into some of the film’s missteps though, a few positive notes for what is overall an enjoyable hour and a half spent on Prince Edward Island. We are happy to say that Anne getting older has apparently helped get rid of the glaringly awful fake freckles that plagued her last year. Also, with expectations tempered from the first film, Martin Sheen’s overly energetic and talkative Matthew Cuthbert isn’t as jarring this time around. He’s not the Matthew Cuthbert we knew from the novel, but he’s still kind-hearted and understands Anne, and that’s what’s important.
“The Good Stars” is a fun series of scrapes as Ballentine portrays Anne with enthusiasm and joy. It’s hard not to be charmed by her youthful imagination and impulsivity as she struggles with pride, vanity and what it means to be “sensible.” She’s growing up, and therefore has teenager-specific woes and decisions she needs to make that inevitably blow up in her face. It’s about as instructive and inoffensive as good family-friendly fare can be, with beautiful woodsy countryside backdrops to lift the spirit.
Tone and messaging, however, aren’t where the film falters. Instead, like a gangly teenager, the storytelling struggles as it grows, trying to bridge the gap between the innocence of youth to the greater maturity of adulthood. At least a few times “The Good Stars” lays the groundwork for something, but then appears to cop out at the last minute and not follow through. It’s almost as if important scenes have been edited out. In particular, purists won’t be pleased that one of Anne’s most infamous misadventures from the novel — one that results in an injury — is defused and comes to nothing.
This decision seems odd because erasing that outcome means the loss of the dramatic character revelations that came with it. Also, if anything is characteristic about Anne, it’s that she fails spectacularly, but takes the lessons learned from those mistakes to heart. If the film preferred not to have its heroine model risky behavior (which she has done many times already), it would’ve been better to remove this scene altogether.
Possibly because of Sheen’s star power and charisma, Matthew has been given more of the spotlight in this installment than his sister Marilla (Sara Botsford). In order to lay the groundwork for an important storyline in the upcoming final installment, new scenes had been added to the narrative that are often heavy-handed and feel out of place. Expanding the world to three films didn’t appear to give the story room to breathe, but rather makes it far more cluttered.
Perhaps worst of all, Anne’s relationship with her school rival/eventual love interest, Gilbert Blythe (Drew Haytaoglu) doesn’t feel earned. Because “Anne of Green Gables” has been split into three parts, “The Good Stars” got the bulk of Anne’s childhood love-hate relationship with Gilbert. Unfortunately, that means the event that set off their enmity happened in Part 1, which was a good year ago for American viewers. Taking time to reestablish how much Anne’s pride is tweaked, and how they’re the school’s sharpest students, would go a long way with explaining why Anne and Gilbert are suddenly locked in a bitter rivalry in the classroom. Both Ballentine and Haytaoglu imbue energy into their performances, but thus far, they don’t appear to have that necessary fire and chemistry that would explain any sort of impassioned interaction of any kind. Their competition doesn’t feel genuine, and this muddles their motivations as their relationship shifts.
All of these gripes aside, Anne is still a winning and aspirational character. Although this series of films isn’t as dark as Netflix’s more controversial “Anne With and E,” it can’t hide its feminist roots and occasional progressive spirit. At the Television Critics Association press tour panel for “The Good Stars” this past summer, Ballentine weighed in on how the entire “Anne” series is about trailblazing for women.
“She really is a very early feminist,” said Ballentine. “And the novel was written by a woman, and she published it in her own name very early on, where women were not doing that. That was not the norm. And so it’s definitely a life-changer for many people. And having Anne be such a strong female character, have her be very spunky and shape all the people around her, boys and girls, it’s really cool.”
“Anne of Green Gables: The Good Stars” airs on Thanksgiving Day at 8 p.m. ET on PBS.
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The 2018 Independent Spirit Award nominations have landed, so now we know which films and performances will be vying for attention on the beach ceremony the day before the Oscars. But will they also provide a sneak peak at the big winners the next day? That’s harder to say.
Although many of this year’s Spirit nominees — from “Get Out” to “Call Me By Your Name” — are major Oscar players, they have plenty of company from other movies that stand very little chance of Oscar play. At the same time, there are some noticeable snubs for major players in a few categories that could still gain some momentum as Oscar season continues along.
In this week’s episode of Screen Talk, Eric Kohn and Anne Thompson dig through the Spirit nominations to get a handle on some of the surprises and snubs, while making the case for a few overlooked highlights that could still win big.
They also discuss the sexual harassment scandals involving John Lasseter and Charlie Rose. The co-hosts conclude by acknowledging that, yes, they’ve seen “The Post,” and no, they can’t tell you what they thought. But you’ll find out soon enough.
Listen to the full episode below.
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