You, Ma'am Are No Indiana Jones

by Kasey McDonald September 18, 2008 10:34 am
You, Ma'am Are No Indiana Jones

There's nothing wrong with Nicole Kidman. Okay, there's long been speculation that she has an eating disorder, but otherwise, I'm sure she's a perfectly lovely person, and in many roles, a very talented actress. A very delicate, waif-ey, porcelain-skinned actress who can play any number of dramatic roles, but not one you'd expect to see in an action-adventure film unless she were the damsel-in-distress. (Yeah, like that Batman we're all pretending never happened.) So you can imagine my surprise when it was announced that she'd signed on to produce and star in The Eighth Wonder, an action-adventure pitch from Mr. & Mrs. Smith writer Simon Kinberg. The bit that took me by surprise? The project is described as centering on "an archeological discovery that sets off a globe-spanning race. The aim is to be a grittier and more character-driven version of the Indiana Jones movies."

Ender’s Game: These Kids Today

by Ethan Alter November 1, 2013 6:01 am
<i>Ender’s Game</i>: These Kids Today

I normally don't feel the need to be so explicate about separating the art from the artist, but in the case of Ender's Game -- both the terrific book it is and the pretty good movie version it's become -- it seems necessary to mark a clear dividing line between my appreciation for the work itself and my distaste for the author who created it, Orson Scott Card. I first encountered the book in the late '90s, roughly a decade after its 1985 release date, and had one of those intense, immersive reading experiences where you become so absorbed in the world on the page, you can't easily snap back to reality. It remains a novel I revisit every few years (along with one or two other of Card's other early works, particularly The Worthing Chronicle and the short story collection Maps in a Mirror) and still appreciate for its masterful plotting and vivid descriptions of a militaristic future where warfare is waged by child soldiers bred on video game simulations and zero-gravity school skirmishes. (Less so its questionable gender and racial politics, which, admittedly, are problematic and become more so with each re-read.)

42: Jackie at the Bat

by Ethan Alter April 12, 2013 8:22 am
<i>42</i>: Jackie at the Bat

It's not fair to spend an entire movie comparing it to another film on the same subject that was never actually made. But as I sat there watching the new Jackie Robinson biopic 42, I couldn't help measuring it against the version of the Robinson story that Spike Lee and Denzel Washington spent years trying to get off the ground before they were relieved by writer/director Brian Helgeland. Knowing Lee's penchant for provocation, his Jackie Robinson movie almost certainly would have been more confrontational -- and less commercial -- than the studio funding it would have liked. And, to be honest, there's no guarantee that it would have succeeded artistically; after all, as terrific a talent as Lee is, his stats are inconsistent with big wins like Do the Right Thing and He Got Game sitting alongside such heartbreaking losses as She Hate Me and Summer of Sam. But, win or lose, Lee's 42 would almost certainly have been more interesting than Helgeland's 42, which takes a crucial piece of sports and social history and treats it with kid gloves, substituting Hollywood gloss for real-world grit.



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