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March 10, 2005

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I've got more I could write about Deadroom at the moment, but I'm not going to. Instead...

There are three genre films coming out this fall that rank amongst the releases I'm anticipating the most this year. One is Linklater's A Scanner Darkly, which I hear might be moved back to next year. The other two are Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain, and the adaptation of Alan Moore's V For Vendetta.

I'm been following the progress of the former ever since it was first rumored (by Aronofsky himself at the screening of Requiem we met him at), announced (with the initial title The Last Man), and then, just before production was to begin, canceled. It was really disappointing news. Every hint of the plot that seeped through sounded quite extraordinary - a really daring, intelligent and uncommercial science fiction film - the kind that studios rarely get behind. (Why must we equate amazing with uncommercial? That's so depressing.) But since then, the script was rewritten, the film recast, and just last month photography quietly wrapped. The two shots to the right are the first images to surface online; Moriarty from AICN visited the set earlier in February, but his report isn't up yet.

Hopefully, the project's two-year stasis was for the best. Aronofsky's been attached to quite a few different projects since Requiem, most of which have fallen through or been stuck in development hell, and through them all this seems like the only one he's been really passionate about. I can't wait to find out what it's actually about.

More recently, I became very excited, very quickly about the adaptation of V For Vendetta, which, for my money, is Alan Moore's second best work (of those I've read) after the incomparable From Hell. I first read it in high school (in theater class, to be exact) and, like any property that I loved, entertained daydreams about one day directing an adaptation of it myself. I knew the Wachowskis had written a screenplay for it years ago, but its sudden greenlight was a surprise announcement early this year, with pre-production having already taken place in relative secrecy in Berlin. Now, normally, I wouldn't expect terribly profound things from the combination of Joel Silver, The Wachowskis, and a first time director (James McTiegue is his name) - but the source material is so strong (and so much more conducive to a cinematic adaptation than Moore's Watchmen, which is currently being developed and which Aronofsky, incidentally, abandoned when The Fountain picked up steam) and the respect with which everyone seems to be treating it (as suggested at the press conference) gives me quite a bit of hope. Likewise, the casting of Natalie Portman in the lead adds quite a bit of credence to the project, especially given her political activism of late. Add to that the fact that, other than Portman, there are no big names in the cast; and that the film is actually going to be released on November 4th to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Guy Fawks day; and it becomes clear that everyone involved considers this a pretty important picture and not just a potential sci-fi blockbuster (which, given the subject matter, it most likely won't be - another depressing fact). The film just started shooting, and Warner Brothers already has a website up.

Both this film and The Fountain are probably doomed, in most respects, to a fairly lukewarm response from the public - I hate to underestimate people, but look what happened with Soderbergh and Solaris. What's exciting, aside from the potential of the films themselves, is the fact that they are being made. I don't know the first thing about business, but some projects just don't seem to make any sense from a commercial perspective; that they're greenlit anyway seems to me indicative that there are people in the business who understand that this commercial perspective is ultimately not what film is about at all. These days, particularly, it seems that the film that are being remembered are the ones that initially don't make any money; when art is concerned, posterity is the ultimate bottom line.

Posted by David Lowery at March 10, 2005 2:46 AM