O Brothers, Where Art Thou? The Wilderness Years of The Coens

Outside of Martin Scorsese, there are very few clean slates in Hollywood – and even He has Bringing Out The Dead blotting his copybook (discuss…). The Coen brothers though, have created an unbroken conga-line of stunningly original movies, mixing and mastering genres, and even creating new ones.

If there was a bump in the road in 1994 time, it seems, has since been kind to The Hudsucker Proxy. A bigger budget (courtesy of ’80s alpha-producer Joel Silver) and an initially unresponsive family audience had it labelled as the Coen’s first flop, but watched now its pleasures are myriad and unmistakably Coenesque (including a great, late-vintage performance from Paul Newman).

The Coens announced themselves to the world in 1984 with the instant neo-noir classic, Blood Simple. Now, just mull the following subsequent film titles over in your mind like a mouthful of Chateau Petrus. Raising Arizona, Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy,
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Coen Brothers-Scripted Gambit Trailer Starring Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz

From the very start of their career, there haven't been very many cases where The Coen Brothers didn't both write and direct their own movies. There is the early Sam Raimi collaboration Crimewave, which they wrote but did not direct, and there is the somewhat middling George Clooney / Catherine Zeta-Jones comedy Intolerable Cruelty, for which they shared screenwriting credit with Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone. Now we are about to see what another Coen Brothers script looks like in the hands of a different filmmaker with the upcoming caper flick Gambit. Gambit is a remake of the 1966 film of the same name that starred Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine. Colin Firth plays an art curator who wants to get revenge on his boss (Alan Rickman) by conning him with the help of a rodeo queen (Cameron Diaz). The story seems pretty different from the original and the dialogue definitely has that unmistakable Coen Brothers wit.
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Palm Springs ShortFest to Honor Gus Van Sant! Check Out Complete Forums Schedule!

The Palm Springs ShortFest has announced that highly-acclaimed writer/director Gus Van Sant will be presented with the ShortFest Spirit of Short Film Award as part of a special Directing Master Class presentation celebrating his work in film. A selection of his short films will be shown on Saturday, June 23rd at 2:30 p.m. with a discussion headed by Festival Director Darryl Macdonald. Van Sant, who earned Oscar nominations for "Good Will Hunting" and "Milk," was previously honored at the Palm Springs International Film Festival in 2009 when he received the Sonny Bono Visionary Award.

I personally salute the Palm Springs ShortFest. It is such a grassroots effort that honor the diversity and talent of many striving filmmakers. And most of the films shown move on to win Oscars such as "Freeheld" which won Best Documentary Short in 2008.

The Palm Springs ShortFest happens on June 19th to the 25th. For more details,
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Midnight Riders Brings Paul Revere to the Big Screen

Midnight Riders Brings Paul Revere to the Big Screen
American Film Co., which is behind Robert Redford's new historical drama The Conspirator, will bring Paul Revere's legendary ride to the silver screen with a new project entitled Midnight Riders.

The studio has acquired the book Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fisher, which will be adapted by screenwriters Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone (Intolerable Cruelty). It is said American Film Co. is close to deciding on a director as well. Midnight Riders will be more of an action-heavy project compared to The Conspirator, according to American Film Co.'s Brian Peter Falk.

"This is a historically accurate swashbuckler about the spark of the American Revolution, with horses, gunfights, swords and a little bawdiness."

However, Midnight Riders will share a common theme with The Conspirator, in that it tells a story many thought they knew, but really don't. Here's what Matthew Stone had to say about the story behind Midnight Riders.
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American Film Co. Tells Paul Revere Story With ‘Midnight Riders,’ Director On The Way

When one considers the success of HBO’s recent John Adams mini-series, it kind of feel obvious. The American Film Company (they’ve got Robert Redford‘s historical courtroom drama The Conspirator in theaters next week) have bought the rights to David Hackett Fischer‘s book Paul Revere’s Ride and hired screenwriting duo Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone (Intolerable Cruelty, Soul Men) to pen the script, which is be titled Midnight Riders. [L.A. Times]

The “ride” in question is that of Revere and William Dawes (not to mention the many others), who rode across the Massachusetts countryside to Lexington, Concord and many others locations to warn people like Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the British were, uh, coming. Revere has always garnered the most fame from the event, thanks to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, Paul Revere’s Ride. You’ll remember, Revere is the same man who engraved the Boston Massacre into infamy,
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The Name's Revere... Paul Revere

American Film Co. have bought the film rights to Pulitzer Prize winner David Hackett Fischer's “Paul Revere’s Ride" and have hired "Intolerable Cruelty" screenwriters Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone to adapt it reports The Los Angeles Times.

Entitled "Midnight Riders", the story is being described as a "historically accurate swashbuckler... with horses, gunfights, swords and a little bawdiness" and will cover the famous ride that Revere and William Dawes took before the battles of Lexington and Concord.

'Ride' will concentrate on the espionage elements of the event that weren't really touched upon in the well-known Longfellow poem. A director is close to being locked for the film as well.

American Film Co. is the group behind Robert Redford’s “The Conspirator" opening this weekend about the trial of accused John Wilkes Booth conspirator Mary Surratt.
See full article at Dark Horizons »

Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone to Write Paul Revere Movie Midnight Riders

The American Film Co. have hired Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone (Intolerable Cruelty) to write the script for Midnight Riders based on the famous ride of Paul Revere and the less famous ride of his compatriot William Dawes.  24 Frames reports that the mission of the American Film Co. is to make movie about U.S. history, but in this case, also an action-espionage thriller.  Says American's Brian Falk, "This is a historically accurate swashbuckler about the spark of the American Revolution, with horses, gunfights, swords and a little bawdiness."  Fellow executive Rob Stone adds, "For people who grew up mainly with the [Longfellow] poem, it's a far more interesting story." I'm a history nut and I look forward to seeing how much artistic license will be taken for this story.  However, I don't demand that non-fiction films be "historically accurate". I demand that history books be historically accurate.  Films should be thought-provoking and entertaining,
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DVD Review: Soul Men

Soul Men

Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Bernie Mac, Sharon Leal, Isaac Hayes | Written by Robert Ramsey, Matthew Stone | Directed by Malcolm D. Lee

Samuel L Jackson and Bernie Mac star in this road movie/rockumentary/buddy comedy. Louis and Floyd were backing singers in a legendary 70s soul group, The Real Deal, but fell on hard times after lead singer Marcus Hooks (played by John Legend) went solo. Thirty years later, Floyd is stuck in a retirement home and Louis is living in poverty after a spell in jail. When news of Hooks’ death reaches the pair, they are cajoled into travelling across America to perform at their former band mate’s memorial concert. Things, however, do not go smoothly, as estranged daughters, aging groupies and their own acrimonious relationship threaten to derail the whole venture.

It is unfortunate that the film is overshadowed by the deaths of Bernie Mac
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Soul Men

Release Date: Nov. 7

Director: Malcolm D. Lee

Writer: Robert Ramsey, Matthew Stone

Cinematographer: Matthew F. Leonetti

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Bernie Mac, Isaac Hayes

Studio/Run Time: Dimension Films/MGM, 103 mins.

Despite final performance from Hayes, not enough soul in this buddy film

Call it the Dark Knight effect, wherein the specter of death draws an audience to view its late stars one last time. Alas, the posthumous appearances of Black Moses and an Original King of Comedy (whose last film, Old Dogs, is slated for a 2009 release)—Samuel L. Jackson, still living, hasn’t yet attained royal status—are the lone highlights of this buddy pic. After the lead singer (John Legend) of a successful soul trio expires, back-up singers Jackson and Mac begrudgingly bury the hatchet so as to have one last performance at the Apollo Theatre. It’s a good enough excuse to dust off an Eldorado
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Three join 'Soul Men'

NEW YORK - Jennifer Coolidge, Sean Hayes and (no relation) Isaac Hayes are joining Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac in Malcolm Lee's comedy Soul Men for Dimension Films.

Musician John Legend, Affion Crockett, Adam Herschman, Fatso Fasano and Jackie Long are also joining the feature about two former bandmates (Jackson and Mac) forced to reunite when a third member (Legend) passes away. The pair fight with each other all the way across the country when they're forced to take a road trip together for a reunion concert.

Soul marks a return to the big screen for former South Park voice star Hayes, who plays himself. The veteran soul singer suffered a stroke in 2006.

Longtime Christopher Guest ensemble member Coolidge (For Your Consideration) plays Mac's love interest. Former Will & Grace star Hayes plays the band's obnoxious manager.

The film, written by Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone, is now shooting in Shreveport, Memphis and Los Angeles. Producers David T. Friendly, Charles Castaldi and Steve Greener are aiming for an October theatrical release through MGM.

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