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4 items from 2005

Christensen, Haas, Ribisi join 'Eden'

15 December 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Lukas Haas, Giovanni Ribisi and Erika Christensen have signed on to topline indie The Gardener of Eden for Appian Way. Penned by Adam 'Tex' Davis, the dark comedy centers on a young man who accidentally saves a girl from a neighborhood assault and then decides his calling in life is to become a modern-day hero. Kevin Connolly will make his directorial debut. Appian Way in association with IEG Virtual Studios is producing the film with the 7th Floor. Appian Way's Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Simpson are producing along with 7th Floor's Allen Bain. Graham King and Benjamin Waisbren of IEG Virtual Studios and Jesse Scolaro and Darren Goldberg of the 7th Floor are executive producing. »

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MTV nuts for 'Squirrel' pilot from Cox, Arquette

12 May 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

David Arquette and Courteney Cox are getting into business with MTV, producing a quirky hybrid live-action/animated pilot for the cable network tentatively titled Dirt Squirrel. The project, which is the first partnership between MTV and Arquette and Cox's Coquette Prods., features a mix of animated and live-action characters -- both animal and human -- set against an animated background. The pilot, which already has been shot, stars Arquette as crime-fighting superhero Dirt Squirrel, who takes on neighborhood villains with his own martial-arts style while spewing snappy one-liners. As the title character, Arquette performs in a costume with prosthetics. Dirt Squirrel also gets help from a crime-fighting squadron known as the League of Super Nuts, which includes two teens: skateboarder Merlin Ipswich (Jeff Braine) and "rebel grrrl" Jeanie Ipswich (Brittany Finamore). In addition, the pilot features Cox, Paul Reubens and Lukas Haas as a trio of villains. »

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Huston, Haas, Spiner try out indie 'Material'

26 April 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Anjelica Huston, Brent Spiner and Lukas Haas have joined the cast of Material Girls, which is set to star sisters Hilary Duff and Haylie Duff. Martha Coolidge is directing the film, which began principal photography April 18 in Los Angeles. In the comedy, which follows a pair of cosmetics heiress sisters who lose their fortune in a questionable scandal, Huston will portray the owner of a rival cosmetics firm trying to wrest control of the girls' company. Spiner will portray the CEO of the besieged company, and Haas is the head of a free legal clinic to whom the girls go to for help. »

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25 January 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

PARK CITY -- The mean streets don't get any nastier than the high school parking lots in this cool-crafted mystery. A crowd-pleaser here at Sundance, Brick is a dazzling slab of hard noir storytelling with lineage from The Maltese Falcon to The Usual Suspects. A marketing challenge would be to extend the viewership beyond teens and lure adults into this high school netherworld.

In filmic terms, the "brick" in this hard case is the MacGuffin, the key to our white knight's quest to find out why his ex-girlfriend died. The avenging "detective" in this instance is, according to form, a loner named Brendan ( Joseph Gordon-Levitt ). He's wiry, wears glasses and has no qualms about stepping on, and crushing, big toes.

In writer/director Rian Johnson's hard-charged scenario, Brendan tears through the strata of his California high school, dealing with all the usual generic suspects: thugs, potheads, vamps and authority figures. He gets tips from a fellow loner, The Brain ( Matt O'Leary) and all sorts of offers from the school vamp/tramps: the rich girl (Nora Zehetner) and the drama queen (Meagan Good). In this shrewdly calibrated piece, Johnson has served up a rich mix of red herrings, femme fatales, heat, dealings and death. When he's pieced it all together, all sewers lead to The Pin, a bat-like Beelzebub with a Kaiser Soyse mystique.

The well-selected cast is headed by Gordon-Levitt as a sinewy Sam Spade -- brash, obsessive and tough. Zehetner is fetchingly devious as the rich girl, and Good is "bad" as the floozy femme. Lukas Haas, with his big round eyes and protuberant ears, is downright eerie as the enigmatic druglord. Haas' open-eyed gaze, which is the same innocent look he gave in Witness, is iced here with a sinister glare. He's the Devil, with cape and cane, to boot.

Under Johnson's articulate command, technical contributions are superb, most prominently cinematographer Steve Yedlin's luminous, charged framings which should be a major contender for the fest's cinematography award. Adding wicked counterpoint to the sleaziness is Nathan Johnson's music. Deliciously oozy woodwinds wrap and coil around the plot -- more devious charm in this hard-formed Brick.


A Bergman Lustig Production


Producers: Ram Bergman, Mark G. Mathis

Screenwriter/director Rian Johnson

Executive producers: Johnson Communications, Norman Dreyfuss

Co-producers: Dana Lustig, Susan Dynner, Angela Roessel

Director of photography: Steve Yedlin

Production designer: Jodie Tillen

Music: Nathan Johnson

Costume designer: Michele Posch

Casting: Shannon Makhanian


Brendan: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Laura: Nora Zehetner

The Pin: Lukas Haas

Tugger: Noah Fleiss

The Brain: Matt O'Leary

Emily: Emilie de Ravin

Dode: Noah Segan

VP Trueman: Richard Roundtree

Kara: Meagan Good

Brad Bramish: Brian White

No MPAA rating

Running time -- 119 minutes »

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