Now more than ever, pop culture is about the small stuff — an obscure TV show, a few notes in a pop song, a tweet. To celebrate a year of micro moments, every day a new Grantland writer will highlight one specific thing — a Big Little Thing — that we won't soon forget.
Warning: The next few paragraphs contain major spoilers for Ridley Scott and Cormac McCarthy's film The Counselor. But so, for that matter, did the excerpt from McCarthy's screenplay published in The New Yorker’s summer fiction issue, months before the film came out, because apparently positioning this movie as literature-with-pictures by a Pulitzer-winning novelist took precedence over not revealing ahead of time whose head gets sliced off. The front cover of the trade-paperback edition of the script says "Now a Major Motion Picture," which is a curious thing for the publishers of a screenplay to feel obligated to advertise. Why else would the book exist?
December 12 is the Onionpocalypse, friends: the date when the funniest newsweekly in the known universe will cease physical publication in the face of sagging ad revenues. The Onion was founded 25 years ago in Madison, Wisconsin; its website shall stand strong. “It's sad to see a print edition no longer exist, but it's important to see The Onion succeed,” says Onion Inc. president Mike McAvoy. As long as we've got this Tumblr where Facebook clowns believe Onion articles to be true, we should be all right.
That may not necessarily be the first thing that comes to mind after you've seen Prometheus, director Ridley Scott's 2012 prequel to his first hit, 1979’s Alien. But these are the kind of insane, inspired, somehow totally plausible extrapolations viewers draw from Scott's movies. Scott doesn't exactly lie as a filmmaker. As a fine-arts student who got his start in the vulgar world of commercial directing and slick TV shows, he has always subverted expectations. You think you're getting a slam-bang war movie? Here's the ultimate story of bureaucratic failure (with explosions). Looking for the quintessential interstellar extraterrestrial adventure? Instead, take the most grotesque body-horror movie ever made. Scott's movies are delivery systems for ideas, but they're also Trojan horses — hulking, beautiful objects, meant to distract audiences while those ideas creep in, one soldier at a time, to take over your mind. It's been an effective, unlikely strategy for the British-born filmmaker. He's a three-time Academy Award nominee for Best Director — zero wins — and his 21 feature films have a lifetime box office gross of $1.25 billion. His name implies prestige, big-time moviemaking on a grand scale: Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Blade Runner. But he's often at his best when he zooms in on the internal horrors of people's lives — a beleaguered king contemplating war, a scientist tortured by her pregnancy, a cop trying to protect a widow witness.
Dueling Bible blockbusters alert! Noah — Darren Aronofsky's telling of the Ark tale, starring Russell Crowe as the last good man alive — has recently dominated the Old Testament–adaptation chatter. But there's another big project on the horizon pulling from the non-Jesus section of the good book. It's called Exodus, it's being helmed by Ridley Scott, and it already stars Christian Bale as Moses, the leader of the Jews enslaved in Egypt, and Joel Edgerton as the pharaoh Ramses II, with whom Moses squares off (with a little help from God). Yes, my fellow chosen people: That means they could have also called this movie Passover.
My weekend was peppered with some NCAA hoops (Go 'Cuse!), some Knicks (three in a row, baby), some 21 Jump Street (a hilarious, meta action-comedy), and of course some green beer and bagels. But my mind, my thoughts, my focus was elsewhere. For the last 72 hours, I’ve been unhealthily fixated on the slew of new Prometheus content slung onto the web.
There’s been such an overabundance of visuals, dialogue, and talking points to sift through. So in an effort to piece them all together in some king of satisfyingly comprehensive way, I figured it’d be best to break them all down into three categories.
What We Saw
Much of the hype around this film is centered on the question of “is Prometheus a prequel to Alien”? As I previously stated, I believe the answer is unequivocally yes, and much of the confusion is due to cleverly crafted talking points delivered from Ridley Scott (the film's director), Damon Lindelof (the writer), and 20th Century Fox (the studio). And why not? It’s hard to make a summer film stand out, much less one possibly (definitely) linked to a once-praised but now irrelevant and mocked movie series. So I have no problem with these folks stoking the fanboy fire with vague and sometimes conflicting messages.
For those who don't know, Prometheus is a new sci-fi thriller directed by Ridley Scott. Since it first went into development, the film has been touted as Scott's return to "the genre he redefined" with films like Blade Runner and Alien. (That would be, well, Sci-Fi). The film has also been rumored to be a prequel to Scott's own Alien film. Up to this point, fans have been given very little a few leaked photos, some official photos, a poster, and lots and lots of speaking through the media (by Scott, the writer Damon Lindelof, and Fox studios).
And now, with the release of the teaser trailer, we finally get a glimpse of the actual film.
Gerard Butler will star in a Ridley Scott directed film about ex-British Army officer Simon Mann, who in 2004 tried to overthrow the president of Equatorial Guinea with a group of mercenaries. Mann was arrested in Zimbabwe, spent five years in prison there, and then taken to Guinea, where he was sentenced to 34 more years – until a presidential pardon set him free. Well, this certainly will not be the president of Equatorial Guinea’s favorite movie. Everyone knows the president of Equatorial Guine’s favorite movie is Flubber. Grade: B- [Deadline]
It’s been a decade since the book was released and almost as long since producer Scott Rudin first attempted to turn it into a movie, but, finally, an adaptation of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections is just about actually happening. If all goes as planned, it'll be an HBO series directed by Noah Baumbach and co-written with Franzen. The project is nearing a pilot order with Anthony Hopkins in talks to play the Parkinson's-addled patriarch of a troubled Midwestern family. In related news: Freedom the movie! Coming 2027! Grade: A [Deadline]
Stellan Skarsgard says Lars Von Trier has cast him as the lead in Nymphomaniac, an exploration of female sexuality from ages zero to 50. According to Skarsgard, “Lars called me and said 'Stellan, my next film will be a porno and I want you to play the lead in it.’” Also, "I want you to sit uncomfortably next to me, Kirsten Dunst–style, when I say something inappropriate while promoting it at a film festival,” Von Trier did not add. Grade: A- [HR]
“Art is never finished.” So spoke Leonardo Da Vinci and, while he probably meant it as a cover for the outrageous expense reports he was sending to the de’Medicis on the regular, it still holds true today. Hollywood, ever desperate for sure things — or at least, reasonably certain things, has gone reboot crazy, pillaging its vaults for properties or screenplays to modernize and re-monetize. Recently, a particularly fruitful crop of idea harvesting has come from the eighties, resulting in a lousy reimagining of Arthur, a potentially OK redo of Fright Night (opening this week with the always-worthwhile Colin Farrell behind the fangs), a probably terrible remake of Conan the Barbarian, and newer, no-doubt Twitter-ier versions of Footloose and even Short Circuit on the unoriginal horizon. (Of course not every remake requires a long-term memory: Sony let five whole Earth years elapse before restarting the Spider-Man franchise from scratch.)
One of the biggest and most-anticipated projects at Comic-Con this year is Prometheus, a secrecy-shrouded possible-prequel to Alien directed by the man responsible for creating the franchise back in 1979, Ridley Scott. Wisely, the 73-year-old Scott declined to make the trek himself, instead sending screenwriter Damon Lindelof to face the seething, geeky masses. (Scott made a cameo appearance via Skype, no doubt interrupting a cracking polo match or some well-deserved Scrooge McDucking.) Lindelof was a perfect choice: Not only did he spend much of the last decade perfecting the art of getting people excited (and, inevitably, furious) by saying very little of substance he also speaks fluent Klingon, er, Nerd. (Actually, he very well might also speak Klingon.)