Movie Notes

Some of the greatest movie directors in the business are sounding very pessimistic about the future of movies.  The problem, they say, is that the studios, which are run by accounting types rather than by people who love cinema, are putting their bets on a few blockbusters with little originality in them rather than taking a chance on fresh, new ideas which might or might not do well in theaters.  Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, who together have brought billions of dollars into movie box offices, are among the most vocal critics, but Steven Soderbergh is right there with them.  His most recent project, the award-winning HBO movie Behind the Candelabra, a biopic about Liberace, was meant to be a feature movie, not an HBO project, but the movie studios wouldn’t fund it.

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Bully Pulpit

Speaking of Steven Spielberg, his company Dreamworks has just acquired the movie rights to Doris Kearns Goodwin’s latest book The Bully Pulpit which was published on November 5th.  Spielberg recently turned Goodwin’s book Team of Rivals into an Oscar-winning movie.  Now that he’s got the movie rights will he find a backer for a movie about Goodwin’s latest bestseller?  We’ll see.

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Heart of the Sea

On November 20, 1820 a Nantucket whaling ship sank after being rammed by a large, angry sperm whale.  Owen Chase, one of the few survivors of the sinking, told his story to his son who in turn told it to Herman Melville who molded it into the 1851 classic novel Moby Dick.  In the true story the surviving crew members were adrift for more than 90 days and turned to cannibalism in order to survive.  In 2001 Nathaniel Philbrick published In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, a book about the true whaling incident.  Two companies are currently filming movies about the true story.  In 2014 Ron Howard will release a movie based on Philbrick’s novel.  The BBC is also filming a 90 minute TV drama entitled The Whale which is also based on the sinking of the Essex.

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How many movies can you name that are based on poems?  Here are ten that might surprise you.

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The music of Mozart has been featured in more than 900 movies.  WQXR public radio in New York City featured some of that music in an installment of Movies on the Radio hosted by David Garland.

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Filmmakers are once again turning to the Bible for movie ideas.  In a recent article the Religious News Service listed some projects that are either being planned or are currently being filmed.

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Last minute movie casting changes can be traumatic, but sometimes turn out to be fortuitous.  For instance, can you imagine Tom Selleck as Indiana Jones?  I can’t, and I can’t imagine anyone better than Harrison Ford.

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Book Thief

The movie adaptation of The Book Thief, a young adult novel by Markus Zusak, opened at theaters recently.  Here is a review that is typical of the responses of the film critics.

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