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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Superman

Around Town: Superman flies again and the New Wave returns

December 1, 2011 |  7:00 am


A Francois Truffaut retrospective, an animation festival and a screening of 1978’s “Superman” are among this week’s highlights.

The American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre celebrates the legacy of one of the founders of France’s New Wave cinema, Francois Truffaut, who died at the age of 52 in 1984. “The Film Lover: A Francois Truffaut Retrospective” commences Friday evening with his first feature film, 1959’s “The 400 Blows,” his critically acclaimed autobiographical drama about a troubled young boy, Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Leaud in a stunning performance). The second feature is Truffaut’s third entry in the Antoine Doinel series, the 1968 romantic comedy “Stolen Kisses,” with Leaud and Delphine Seyrig.

Truffaut pays homage to one of his icons, Alfred Hitchcock, in his 1968 mystery thriller “The Bride Wore Black,” starring Jeanne Moreau in the title role, which screens Saturday. Also on tap is his 1962 masterwork, “Jules and Jim” with Moreau and Oskar Werner. The retrospective concludes Sunday with his 1960 film noir, “Shoot the Piano Player” with Charles Aznavour, and 1980’s World War II drama “The Last Metro,” with Gerard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve. http://www.americancinematheque.com

Cinefamily’s Silent Movie Theatre gets highly animated this week. The “Animation Breakdown” begins with “An Evening With Don Hertzfeldt” on Thursday, featuring the L.A. premiere of his latest animated short, “It’s Such a Beautiful Day.” The filmmaker will be appearing in person. On Friday, Cinefamily shines the spotlight on Polish animation with several shorts by noted animators including an exclusive presentation of the Brothers Quays’ latest film, “Maska.” Saturday afternoon’s offering is a sneak preview of Pixar’s newest short film, “La Luna,” six months before its theatrical release. Later in the afternoon, Cinefamily presents a cast and crew reunion of the Cartoon Network series “Space Ghost: Coast to Coast.”

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With 2013 date, Superman will fly later than initially planned

July 21, 2011 |  2:10 pm

Warner Bros. announced Wednesday that it will release Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” on June 14, 2013, not in December 2012, as it had previously planned. The reboot will remain on schedule to commence shooting later this summer, with the added time used for postproduction.

Cavi A studio spokeswoman declined to offer a reason for the shift; in fact, she said it was not a change, pointing out that the reboot had never been given an official release date in the first place and that the December 2012 date was a tentative period announced very early in the development process. She waved aside the notion that more time is being taken because of any issues with the script, pointing out that the shooting schedule remains the same.

However it’s characterized, the new date does clear some space between the studio’s major upcoming releases: Warner Bros. will bring out the first installment of Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” adaptation in December 2012; had it come out in December ’12, “Man of Steel” could have competed for studio resources during that period and also gone after a similar audience as that film. As it is, the studio will now have a major summer release at a time when its "Dark Knight" and "Harry Potter" franchises have ended.

Starring Henry Cavill as Superman and Amy Adams as Lois Lane, the new take on the caped hero is being guided by Christopher Nolan, who is producing and godfathering the project. He’ll now have a little more time to work on the movie in the editing room after his “The Dark Knight Rises” hits theaters next July. The June date does suggest the film will have the action-filled spectacle that characterizes most big-budget summer release (not that there was a tremendous amount of doubt).

The 2013 summer calendar is still fairly open, although Marvel Studios has said that it will bring out the next installment of "Iron Man" in early May. The "Man of Steel" move is reminiscent of another move from the holidays to the summer for a big-brand reboot: Paramount moved "Star Trek" from the holidays in 2008 to the summer in 2009, with the J.J. Abrams film going on to become a global hit.


Amy Adams brings a modern spin to Lois Lane

Henry Cavill as Superman: Why are Brits so appealing as American superheroes?

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Henry Cavill. Credit: Associated Press

Where does 'Sucker Punch' leave Zack Snyder?

March 28, 2011 |  7:30 am


He had a promising debut, a monster hit, a slight disappointment and a slightly larger disappointment. And in the last few weeks he's become one of the more polarizing directors out there.

But now things really get interesting for Zack Snyder.

The provocative filmmaker will in a few months begin shooting "Superman: Man of Steel," a reboot of perhaps the most beloved character in the history of movies (a point underlined Sunday with the news about Snyder's choice of Amy Adams to play Lois Lane). But just where exactly do Snyder's fan cachet, and box-office drawing power, lie in the wake of this past weekend's "Sucker Punch"?

The helmer of "Dawn of the Dead" (the promising debut), "300" (the monster hit) "Watchmen," (the slight disappointment) and "Legend of the Guardians" (the slightly larger disappointment) unveiled his girls-with-guns action-adventure this weekend. The Babydoll vehicle evoked some harsh words from critics, which could set up a hurdle with at least one group for the 2012 release of "Superman," albeit a group that doesn't much figure into the marketing of a Hollywood tent pole.

Although the "Sucker Punch" box-office results showed that Snyder still has plenty of supporters -- the movie opened to about $20 million, the second-lowest number of his career but a respectable figure that was in line with pre-release expectations -- the film also caused divisions among fanboys and fangirls, with some naysayers taking the opportunity to assess Snyder's "Superman" chops.

"Sucker Punch is a loud, gaudy, fetishistic, bombastic piece of cinema," wrote Ain't It Cool News contributor Ambush Bug. "It's also hollow, remedial, and bereft of substance ... as the minutes passed, bringing me closer to the time for the credits to roll, all I could think of was how wrong of a choice this director is for a Superman film." (Overall, the movie garnered a decent if not overwhelming B- CinemaScore among general audiences.)

Snyder riles up film-goers the way few other directors do -- it could be that some people really have their stomach turned by his movies, or it could just be that, like a sort of Comic-con version of "Dogtooth," Snyder movies somehow began eliciting both love and hate early on, and the arguments now just perpetuate themselves. Not every superhero director can be Christopher Nolan.

It's hard to say where the road turns next for Snyder. Warner Bros., which is behind both "Superman" and "Sucker Punch," drew a distinction between the two films, with Jeff Goldstein, executive vice president of distribution, telling my colleague Amy Kaufman that "a film like 'Sucker Punch' brought out [Snyder's] core fan base, but he has a lot of potential, and with a bigger, broader title, he can attract a wider audience, as he has in the past."

Much of the success of this mission will course depend on the quality (and, given one of the reviewer knocks on "Sucker Punch," the narrative coherence) of "Superman: Man of Steel." It should be noted that hardcore fans are often skeptical toward casting and filmmaker choices at first but come around when a movie opens. And plenty of directors, of both comic-book movies and every other genre, have managed to turn around even groups hard-wired to oppose them (see under: Oliver Stone and conservatives on "World Trade Center").

Still, once a filmmaker loses currency with the fan community, it's not always easy to get it back. That seems especially true for a property such as "Superman," where even those storytellers who come in with buckets of goodwill can run into problems (just ask Bryan Singer). Snyder has his work cut out for him. It just may not be superhuman work, at least not yet.

-- Steven Zeitchik
Twitter.com / ZeitchikLAT


"Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules" tops the box office

Hero Complex: Amy Adams will be Lois Lane

Critical Mass: "Sucker Punch"

Amy Adams brings experience, and a modern spin, to Lois Lane in "Superman: Man of Steel"

Photo: A promotional photo for "Sucker Punch." Credit: Warner Bros.


Amy Adams brings experience, and a modern spin, to Lois Lane in 'Superman: Man of Steel'

March 27, 2011 |  8:18 pm

My colleague Geoff Boucher broke the news earlier today that Amy Adams will play Lois Lane in "Superman: Man of Steel," Zack Snyder's reboot of the superhero franchise.

Among other things, the news represents a departure from some of the other superhero roles of late, which have tended to go to lesser-knowns. (Superman himself will of course be played by Henry Cavill, a relative newcomer to the big screen.)

The Adams casting also comes at a time when the actress has been headed to a more dramatic place.

After a career of largely sweet and sunny roles ("Junebug," "Enchanted," "Leap Year" and "Julie & Julia"; "Doubt" remains the major exception), Adams showed more dramatic chops as a tough-as-nails Lowell, Mass., bartender in "The Fighter," which garnered her her third Oscar nomination. Incidentally, Adams is more experienced at this point in her career than Margot Kidder, who when she was cast as Lois in the 1978 "Superman" in her late 20s had mostly genre movies under her belt.

Kidder, like the original Golden Age comics character, brought a more thick-skinned approach to Lois — in Adams terms, it was more Charlene Fleming than Giselle.

Which way Adams tilts the Superman character remains to be seen. Snyder does tell Boucher that, for all the attention to the original source material, he wants Lois, like Superman, to have a modern appeal, "relevant and real and ... empathetic to today’s audience."

— Steven Zeitchik



Hero Complex: Amy Adams will be Lois Lane

Henry Cavill as Superman: Why are Brits so appealing as American superheroes?

Photo: Amy Adams in "The Fighter." Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Henry Cavill as Superman: Why are Brits so appealing as American superheroes?

January 31, 2011 |  2:24 pm

The reaction in the fan universe to the news that Henry Cavill is the new Superman has been surprisingly muted given that the actor has little track record -- and the one he does have involves a royals soap-opera on pay cable.

But with the casting of "The Tudors" costar as the new Man of Steel, it's impossible not to notice the trend of Brits in capes. As my colleague Geoff Boucher notes, British citizens will fill all three slots in the holy trinity of superheroes for the first time in history now that Cavill will play Superman. (Welsh native Christian Bale is reprising his role as Batman in "The Dark Knight Rises," and British-American Andrew Garfield is the new Spider-Man.)

Meanwhile, Aussie Chris Hemsworth is playing Thor (a character, of course, rooted in another country's mythology) in a new Marvel movie. Even Green Lantern comes from Canada.

Before the comment flames begin ... yes, in many ways this doesn't really matter. These actors will lose their accents long before they leap off their first building. And while Superman is ostensibly a character who seeks "truth, justice and the American way," the phrase from the comic (if it's used in the movie at all) is just a euphemism meant to suggest goodness. These days it could just as easily be the British way.

Still, the casting of foreigners is notable. For one thing, it reflects where filmmakers are headed with these characters. Nearly all of these superheroes are darker and more tortured, and the current generation of Brits is seen, rightly or wrongly, as more comfortable at that end of the acting spectrum than many of their American counterparts.

Maybe more important, the choice speaks to a desire to cast relative unknowns in the roles. Except for Bale, none of the Aussies or Brits was known to a broad U.S. audience when they landed their superhero parts. The ability to get an actor at a reasonable paycheck -- the superhero, after all, makes the actor as much as the other way around -- can't be far from the minds of producers. And creatively, an unknown is a blank slate that can grow with a franchise instead of overshadowing it.

In fact, while some of us get very worked up about just who will play these superheroes, the actors who have inhabited these parts most successfully -- Christopher Reeve, Tobey Maguire -- have been low-key, even fey presences. Actors well-known for their charm -- a George Clooney, for instance -- actually make less-memorable superheroes.

When Brandon Routh was cast as Superman six years ago, he worried that he'd be confused a little too much with Reeve. It wasn't an idle concern: Routh looked and acted enough like the late Reeve to draw the comparison, but he inevitably got the short end of the stick. The goal these days seems to lie in the other direction: Bring in someone who looks and acts nothing like those who came before.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Henry Cavill (center) in '"The Tudors." Credit: Jonathan Hession / Showtime


Hero Complex: British Invasion among superhero actors


Zack Snyder will mold the Man of Steel [updated]

October 4, 2010 |  3:30 pm

What was starting to feel like a lingering parlor game ended abruptly Monday, as Zack Snyder was confirmed as the director who will bring Superman into a new decade.

The director of "300" and the current "Legend of the Guardians" is in negotiations to take the reins of the Christopher Nolan-mentored, David Goyer-penned project. A number of intriguing candidates had revealed themselves over the last few weeks for the Superman gig, including "Black Swan" director Darren Aronofsky and "Let Me In" helmer Matt Reeves.

Snyder had remained a lead contender throughout, though, in part because he was known as a man who can direct physical action, a staple of the new version about the flying crusader. Snyder of course also took on superheroes, though of a darker variety, in last year's comic-book adaptation "Watchmen."

Some less experienced directors had also surfaced in connection with "Superman," but with Nolan said to be immersed in his new Batman movie, it's believed that he and Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures wanted a veteran director who needed less day-to-day guidance. The production time line remains a question; Snyder is still in postproduction on his upcoming femme-centric action film "Sucker Punch."

More from Snyder via our caped colleague Geoff Boucher shortly.

[Update, 3:42 p.m.]: Snyder tells Boucher at our sister blog Hero Complex that the movie will target a holiday 2012 release. He didn't offer much in the way of story detail, but acknowledged that the character, who historically is less flawed than Spider-Man or Batman, poses its challenges. "Chris and David have given this the shape with a great story," he said. "It is a hard character to crack."]

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Zack Snyder at Comic-Con 2010. Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

It's a swan, it's a plane...Darren Aronofsky latest name to surface in Superman director search

September 27, 2010 |  1:24 pm

When we interviewed Darren Aronofsky at the start of the Toronto International Film Festival, he had a deadpan answer on the progress of "Robocop," the remake of the 1980s action movie that has been felled by financial problems at MGM.

"I think I'm still attached," he said. "I don't know. I haven't heard from anyone in a while."

Now there's talk that he could make his studio debut with a different classic property: Superman.

Super As he intensifies his search for a director on the Warner Bros. reboot, Christopher Nolan, who's godfathering the new Superman and producing the David Goyer script, has had discussions with Aronofsky about the job, sources say.

Aronfosky's latest, "Black Swan," the hybrid dramatic thriller with Natalie Portman, looks on track to become an art-house hit, if not more, and the idea would be to bring Aronofsky's auteur sensibility to the comic book mythology (much as Nolan has done with Batman).

Of course, Aronofsky is just one name among many. Nolan and producing partner Emma Thomas are casting a net wider than Krypton for the job, with Zack Snyder (a man known for action scenes and physical movement), Matt Reeves (getting heat off this Friday's "Let Me In") and a number of veteran filmmakers also reportedly in the running.

There would also be questions about how the relationship would work between two strong-willed auteurs like Aronosky and Nolan. And the "Wrestler" director has famously resisted taking on bigger-budget studio pictures in the interest of retaining creative control.

Still, it's an enticing idea to bring on an Aronofsky or someone of his ilk. He and Nolan have had similar roots, if vastly different trajectories. Both gained  acclaim for low-budget indies that told fractured stories (Nolan with "Following" and Aronofsky with "Pi") and have continued to maintain an auteur vision even as they worked with bigger stars. If Warner Bros. and financier Legendary are going to give Nolan a significant degree of creative freedom, it makes sense to go with someone who knows how to make the most of that.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Vintage Superman art. Credit: Jack Burnley / Taschen.


Black Swan gets its academy dry run

Black Swan's passionate dance

Christoper Nolan takes flight with Superman


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