As in — the cast of The Avengers was just announced as presenters at this year's Oscars (Sunday! February 24! On ABC!) Why? Well, in the spirit of the continued MTV Movie Awards-ification of the Academy Awards, why not have the dudes from the third biggest movie of all time show up at your party? Also, Seth MacFarlane is hosting, which, roughly speaking, means the only way the Oscars could get under the impressively diminutive "low-brow mass-market appeal" bar they've set for themselves this year would be to open the show with Spuds MacKenzie simultaneously high-fiving Andrew Dice Clay and Vince ShamWow while, below them, the nerd from the Bar Refaeli Super Bowl ad sits on all fours sloppily munching down an XL plate of day-old nachos from Detroit Metro Airport's Chili's Express.
Well, this is kind of a crazy one: Variety reports that Jeremy Renner is slated to produce and star in Kill the Messenger, "based on investigative journalist Gary Webb's stories alleging the CIA's involvement in the spread of crack cocaine in Los Angeles." Wait — Renner? The same dude who never met a gasping or ill-advised franchise he didn't like? Now taking shots at the government? Well, all right. Get ’em, Jeremy.
With few exceptions, such as the mid-January release of Best Picture nominee Zero Dark Thirty, the two-month period between the New Year and the Oscars is Hollywood's wasteland, a long stretch of bad cinematic road where it casts out its unloved misfires, its low-achieving genre fare, and, occasionally, its hidden, wolf-punching gems. We call this time "Dumpuary," and from now until the Academy's final statuette is handed out, our Dumpuary Movie Club will shine a light on the soon-to-be-forgotten films cruelly languishing in the shadow of awards season. This week: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.
Mark Lisanti: Gentlemen,
I know that we all probably would like some time to peel back the many beautiful layers of what we've all just experienced together and ruminate upon its meaning, but I feel like there's also value in jumping in while it's still fresh in our minds, and before our opinions can be colored by the many, many "worst movie of the year" pieces we're about to read.
At this late stage of my life, I should be more comfortable with the idea of living through the inevitable recasting of pop culture reboots. After all, I'm on my second Spider-Man, second James T. Kirk, fifth Batman. I've watched four different versions of Fitzwilliam Darcy, a bunch of different Sherlock Holmeses and Professors Moriarty. (For some reason, Wolverine and Gandalf abide, unchanging.)
The point is, I shouldn't be so offended that this fourth Bourne movie — which came just five years after the third, The Bourne Ultimatum -- continues the story. It offers a new protagonist, who happens to have a remarkably similar backstory to the "Jason Bourne" we came to know in the original trilogy, which, fine, I guess; TV series refresh their casts like this all the time. But replacing the charming and likable Matt Damon with Jeremy "Charisma Vacuum" Renner? UUUUUUUUUGH. Won't it be hard for audiences to care whether he unravels the mystery of his true identity if he seems like such a sour jerk that we don't want anything good to happen to him? ...Just me? Okay. At least Rachel Weisz is on hand to supply some humanity to balance Renner's off-putting grouchiness.
Things I wanted from SNL this past week: Bobby Moynihan’s Guy Fieri responding to the scathing Pete Wells New York Times review(why on earth did they cut it?); Adam Levine parodying his American Horror Story role; Jeremy Renner somehow addressing his appearance in the strange Bravo docudrama “The It Factor,” or maybe addressing his dual life as an action hero and house-flipping hobbyist. What I got: sort of a stinker, to be honest. I was stupid. I forgot to e-mail the producers saying “Make me the show I want, please” and FedEx them a bucket of lobsters and champagne. I’m sorry, everyone. It’s all my fault. Renner is a great actor, but his silly side remains elusive even after his hosting gig. Does he have one? Was he just not afforded the chance to show it? What’s going to happen in Israel? What could newborn babies possibly have nightmares about? Why does Adam Levine do that thing with his tongue? Does he think it’s really cute? Is it cute? It’s these important questions that keep me up all night, every night.
Today on the Hollywood Prospectus Podcast, Andy and I are Bourne again (:30). Longtime fans of the Jason Bourne franchise, we were pleasantly surprised to find the series in the capable, wolf-punching hands of Jeremy Renner. But should there ever have been any doubt? After all, The Bourne Legacy was written and directed by one of the guiding voices of the series, Tony Gilroy, and prominently features Edward Norton telling people they're in the wrong meeting! What's not to love?
After a languid traipse through the Blackbriar and Treadstone file archives, we circle back to the taut, dark majesty that was this past week's Breaking Bad (30:00), and came up with a couple of theories about where the show could be going.
Will Britney Survive on The X Factor? "It's going to be so much fun," said a "clearly uncomfortable Spears" as she took the stage at Fox's upfronts to announce her participation as a judge in the new season of The X Factor. "Doing X Factor may lead her back into meltdown territory. She gets extremely nervous and anxious. She's hard on herself and not very confident." Even a positive event like her engagement to Jason Trawick can "input as stress. This is a lot of change all at once for Britney. She's coming undone." While her last two albums went platinum, friends say she is not fully recovered from the 2008 mental breakdown that ended with a psych ward stay. "She really is starting to seem loopy and not right. She is so happy one minute and crying the next. Her emotions are fragile." At a friend's Brentwood crawfish boil, Spears ignored partygoers while "muttering obscenities by herself." She hung out by the food table, saying, "Fuck it, I'm eating whatever I want. I don't care." Being the world's most famous teenage pop star may have had some unforeseen longer-term ill effects. "Everyone she needs to see comes to the house. She gets her hair done or spray-tans at home. She is definitely lonely and doesn't have friends." A million sad smiley faces. X-Factor may exploit the curiosity factor. "The show needs a bankable pop star who will get viewers watching, whether they think she's ridiculous or they love her."
There was a time, not that long ago, where we harbored an irrational fear that the Avengers movie would consist of nothing but a string of scenes of an eye-patched Samuel L. Jackson playing "Surprise!" with various Marvel characters, a neurosis fueled by that seemingly endless, years-spanning procession of post-end-credit Nick Fury teasers. Though that version wouldn't have been without its costumed peek-a-boo charms (especially if he ever tried to sneak up and pants the Hulk in a really misguided, potentially fatal recruitment pitch), it finally feels like this thing is happening. Look, here's two and a half minutes of very exciting and expensive-looking proof! High-five, Joss Whedon!
So Matt Damon, for at least the time being, has bowed out of the Bourne series of amnesiac-spy thrillers in which he single-handedly popularized the use of the Yellow Pages as an improvisational instrument of bludgeoning death, to chase his somewhat less exotic dreams of buying a zoo/communing with the deceased/turning doorknobs in the wrong direction while wearing magic hats.
Lindsay Lohan is in talks for Elizabeth & Richard: A Love Story, a Lifetime movie about the famed relationship between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. As Slate has pointed out in the past, Lohan and Taylor have some things in common, including "substance abuse issues, public emotional outpourings, and copious amounts of tabloid drama. The key difference, though, is that Elizabeth Taylor had a true record of achievement before she became the most notorious movie star in America." To which I say: Um, excuse me, but the last time I checked Elizabeth Taylor wasn’t in Mean Girls. Grade: B+ [Deadline]
Jeremy Renner is attached to King of Heists, an adaptation of J. North Conway's nonfiction book about an 1878 New York City bank robbery in which a man named George Leslie came to town pretending to be an upscale gentleman while assembling a crew that eventually pulled $3 million from the Manhattan Savings Institution. This all sounds totally great, and that’s before considering the project’s potential for old-timey moustaches. Grade: A [Deadline]
Simon Cowell is actively trying to sell Red or Black?, a game show produced by his company Syco that premiered in the UK earlier this month, to US networks, and a sale might happen in the next few weeks. While there are other contrivances built in, the show is apparently more or less televised roulette. So good news for our very own game-show pitch, a televised version of "Guess which number I'm thinking of." Grade: D [Vulture]