IndieNewsweek, 8/2/08

So the behemoth of indie films that is Sundance has come upon us once again and as usual the hype over what will be this year’s Little Miss Sunshine has begun. The biggest cheque was handed out to the interestingly titled Hamlet 2, which was bought by Focus Features for $10 million. While the plot, which sees a high school drama teacher motivate his students by writing a sequel to the Shakespeare play, seems quirky if little ham fisted, the cast gives me some optimism. Steve Coogan hasn’t had much success translating his TV success to the big screen, Around the World in 80 Days was dismal, but when you’re essentially a device for Jackie Chan to riff off in a “zany” manner its hardly surprising. This offers much more promise, Coogan is at his best when he is essentially Alan Partridge in condensed form, and the role of eccentric but well meaning drama teacher Dana Marschz seems to suit him down to the ground, just don’t get me started on his forthcoming Eddie the Eagle biopic…

The other big news this week has been the continuing revelations about the tragic death of Heath Ledger and the impact it will have on his last unfinished work, Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Dr Paranassus. While rumours have been flying about the internet for the last week or so, it seems like we finally have word that it’s going ahead without him, making use of the footage he’s already shot as means of tribute, as you can read about in the latest issue of the mag.

While it’s a fitting tribute I can’t help but be a bit worried about how they are actually going to manage it without it feeling artificial and clumsy. Gilliam needs some success as his last few films have tanked horribly, so he’ll find himself in the awkward position of wanting to pay tribute to his dead star, but not doing so in a way that detracts from the film as a whole.

To end this week, I’d just like to wonder aloud at a worrying trend of music docs and biopics that seem to have taken over our cinemas of late. It started with Ray and Walk the Line but now seems to have ballooned out of control.

In the last few months we’ve had Dylan biopic I’m Not There and Control, the story of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis and soon we’ll have Shine a Light, Martin Scorsese’s documentary about the Rolling Stones. As if that wasn’t enough, it was announced this week that Scorses plans to make a film about Bob Marley due to be released in 2010. But we don’t stop there, oh no, also this week Jesse Martin and Soprano’s star James Gandolfini have been lined up to star in Sexual Healing, Lauren Goodman’s biopic of the last days of Marvin Gaye. If you were reading aloud there and felt the need to pause for breath, I don’t blame you. While all of these films might be great in their own right, if you start flooding the market with anything, even independently made music pictures, then eventually we’re going to get bored of them. I mean, who wants to watch low budget atmospheric horror films anymore?

Taken from IndieNational Magazine Filmblog

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