Since his death in 1910, Mark Twain has stood as America’s favorite crotchety uncle; his Missouri wisdom and misanthropic humor have became our national homespun philosophy, the great link connecting “Don’t Tread on Me” with “Get off My Lawn.” On stage and screen, Twain’s cranky avuncularity has lured a long line of aging all-American types to don the white mustache and Colonel Sanders suit, from Bing Crosby to Hal Holbrook to James Garner and, of course, the great Tom Skerritt.
With that distinguished lineage, it is only fitting that the torch should pass to our age’s own iconic figure of no-guff American manhood and tobaccy-chewing plain sense. I refer, of course, to Mr. Val Kilmer, who last week debuted his one-man show about America’s bard, Citizen Twain, in a workshop production in Los Angeles.
Mark Wahlberg is in talks to reteam with his Contraband director, Baltasar Kormakur, for 2 Guns, which is working off a script originally drafted by Blake Masters and rewritten by David O. Russell. It follows a DEA agent and an undercover naval intelligence officer who are both stealing mob money and unwittingly investigating one another. That makes it sound a little like The Departed, which also starred Wahlberg. If Marky’s going to be cribbing off his own movies, can he do Fear next? Grade: B [Showblitz]
Warner Bros. is developing Don Winslow’s 1950s-set novel Satori for Leonardo DiCaprio to star in. He’d play Nicholai Hel, a Westerner raised in Japan and mentored by a martial arts expert/military general. Things get complicated when Hel kills a guy that would have targeted the general as a war criminal, is thrown in prison for three years, and is freed by the CIA in exchange for killing the Soviet commissioner to China. Later, he meets a beautiful French woman, of course. Oh, also, he’s a master at Go, the chess-like Japanese board game. The potential “Leo squinting” meter reading is off the charts! Grade: A- [Deadline]
You thought the world was turned off forever by TV shows based on slight Internet concepts after $#*! My Dad Says? You thought wrong! Texts From Last Night — the stockpile of drunken and otherwise addled party texts — will have its third run through the network adaptation process, with Silvio Horta (Ugly Betty) giving it a whirl for Happy Madison and Sony Pictures TV. What could possibly go wrong? Grade: D [Deadline]
Val Kilmer has joined the cast of The Goats, an adaptation of Brock Cole’s young-adult novel that is being directed by D.J. Caruso (Eagle Eye). Chandler Canterbury and Annalise Basso star as kids at a summer camp who get pranked and then stranded on Goat Island. Val Kilmer plays king of Goat Island a sheriff. Grade: B [Showblitz]
Pink has joined the cast of Thanks for Sharing, an ensemble drama about recovering sex addicts also starring Patrick Fugit, Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim Robbins, and Josh Gad. And, somewhere, 50 Cent is all like, “Fall back, Pink. Fall back.” Grade: B- [Showblitz]
Rose McGowan is starring in the romantic thriller Napa as a veteran of the Afghan War who returns to her hometown to work as the sheriff. Sorry, this is a "thriller"? How gnarly do the streets of Napa get? Grade: C [HR]
Elizabeth Shue and Abigail Spencer have joined Curtis Hanson’s surfing drama Of Men and Mavericks. The movie revolves around the true story of Jay Moriarty, a champion surfer who died in a diving accident at 22. Shue will play Moriarty’s mother; Spencer plays the wife of Moriarty’s mentor Frosty Hesson, who is being played by Gerard Butler. That’s pretty excellent casting, as we’ve long felt Gerard Butler looked like a "Frosty." Grade: B [HR]
50 Cent’s output in the last few years has been remarkable: While still releasing major-label albums and occasionally acting in studio movies, he’s managed to fund, produce, star, and sometimes even write a steady string of nearly indistinguishable B-movie crime thrillers. But the really amazing thing? The quality of his co-stars. 50 isn't satisfied playing guns and robbers with guys whose best-known work was a two-episode arc on Party Of Five. Somehow, some way, he lands actors you not only recognize but also might actually like. Set Up, the latest in the 50 Cent assembly line of schlock, arrives on DVD today with both Ryan Philippe and Bruce Willis on its cover. How does 50 pull this off? Below, we look back on his recent filmography and speculate.
There are two ways to approach the trailer for Twixt, Francis Ford Coppola’s Comic-Con-baiting, self-financed descent into indie-horror insanity. One is through rose-colored glasses, telling yourself repeatedly that this tale of a bloated, ponytailed Val Kilmer as a hack horror writer investigating a small-town murder with the help of Elle Fanning as a My Chemical Romance fan and Bruce Dern as a HoneyBaked ham isn’t a note-for-ridiculous-note mash-up of Barton Fink and this trailer for a video game made in 1998.
Comic-Con, San Diego’s annual orgy of geek revelations and Hollywood hype, came to an end over the weekend and the general consensus seemed to be that of a 14-year-old Farscape obsessive after his first messageboard posting: meh. Many of the big guns either chose to sit out this year’s fete entirely or coast on the good-will of enthiastic nerdom by dangling posters or concept art as if they were the One Ring. Such reticence was probably a good call. Recent box-office returns have demonstrating the capriciousness of the Comic-Con audience — as the disconnect between the rapturous response in the room and subsequent commercial failures of one-time Hall H attractions Kick-Ass and Green Lantern proves.