Friday, October 27, 2006

Austin 5: Saving The Best For Last

I overslept the final day of the Austin Film Festival after days of not sleeping caught up with me. Turned out to be the best move I made.

I had wanted to catch Chris McQuarrie's lecture, since he is one of my favorite writers. ("The Usual Suspects") But because I slept late, I missed the first lecture and was scheduled to miss the second. On a lark, I went to the second lecture, which was in a tiny little room in the Driskill Hotel. It turned out to be the best session of the conference, and this was after I missed the first hour.

It turns out, like me, McQuarrie has a passion for writing historical dramas (the only difference being, his are really good). He was telling us about his John Wilkes Booth script, a pitch that was so good that you could have heard a pin drop as he told it. A half-hour later, when he finished, we burst into applause. It was such a good script that I felt like I should have paid $7.50 to the writer after his presentation, because I could see the whole movie in my head.

Sadly, that's probably the only place I will see it. McQuarrie told us of the various problems he had trying to get the script made with himself attached as director. This, from an Oscar-nominated writer.

He also told us of two other scripts he worked on, "Operation Valkyrie," about the plot by German generals to assassinate Hitler in 1944, another drama he was having trouble getting made, and his script for Alexander the Great, which got shelved when that hack Oliver Stone got his crappy version with Colin Farrell made first.

After hearing about McQuarrie's Alexander script, set to star Leo DiCaprio, the tragedy of Stone's script being the one to see the light of day was two-fold. Once again, McQuarrie held us spellbound as he told us of monsoons in India and Alexander's horse.

McQuarrie was so good I regretting missing the first part of his talk, when he went into details about his roller-coaster relationship with director Bryan Singer and how miserable the latter had made himself trying to finish "Superman Returns" (and how it cost the two of them the chance of remaking "Logan's Run.")

Meeting McQuarrie reminding me of everything I loved about writing and made me frustrated, because if this guy couldn't get his genius work made, what chance did little ole me have?

FRIDAY'S BEST BET: The St. Louis Cardinals have a chance to wrap up the World Series tonight (Fox, 8 p.m.) only because they got to face a New York Mets team in the NLCS that was missing two of its top three starters.

One of TV's all-time classics, "It's the great pumpkin, Charlie Brown," (ABC, 8 p.m.) has its 40th anniversary tonight.

My all-time favorite Doctor Who villains, the Cybermen, make their first appearance on the current series (Sci-Fi, 8 p.m.) in a two-part tale. As much as I liked the Chris Eccleston version of the Doctor, the David Tennant series has surpassed it.

The human race may have left New Caprica, but the effects of being under Cylon occupation still linger on "Battlestar Galactica" (Sci-Fi, 9 p.m.)

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: Masochistic Georgia fans can prolong their suffering in the annual bloodfest versus Florida (CBS, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.), a perfect cap to what's been an otherwise miserable week for me.

I'll continue to plug "Kidnapped," (NBC, Saturday, 9 p.m.) for the remaining eight weeks its on the air.

Hugh Laurie ("House") is the guest host for "Saturday Night Live." (NBC, Saturday, 11:30 p.m.)

For those into marathon airings, the TV Guide Channel will air the first four episodes of the Fox series "Standoff" from 3-7 p.m. on Sunday.

In addition, BBC America will re-air the series "Hex" all day Sunday, beginning at noon. "Hex" was supposed to be a British version of "Buffy," though the quality was not there early on. I was originally going to give up on this series until they killed off the lead character and replaced her, totally turning the series on its head. Now I eagerly await the second series, set to air on BBC America next summer.


Replicant said...

Remaking LOGAN'S RUN or any of the other myriad of films being pondered is sad sad sad. Where has the originality gone?

Phillip Ramati said...

Generally, I agree with you about remakes. Believe me, no one roots for originality in Hollywood more than I do.

However, it isn't always bad. After all, Battlestar Galactica is a remake.

Anytime you get talents like McQuarrie and Singer working together, it's usually a good result at the end of the day.

Anonymous said...
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Zodin2008 said...

Phillip, you have to block those junk bloggers!

Anyway, I am fine with remaking a film as long as it's a good remake and not "Rollerball" with LL Cool J and Chris Klein. I LOVE the original "Logan's Run" (Michael York's best role ever besides "Austin Powers") and I am OK with a remake if someone with the right talent & pedigree (a Chris Noaln, Bryan Singer type) was making it.

I know a lot of people didn't like the new "Superman" flick this Summer but I thought it was fantastic--Singer hit all the right notes with the exception of the horrible Kate Bosworth as thw worst Lois Lane ever.

And "Battlestar" last night continually showed why it's the best hour of Television and nothing (except maybe "Rescue Me") ever comes close.