By Gabe Toro | The Playlist July 24, 2011 at 3:05AM
With Comic Con ongoing, most of our news tended to be about the promotion of movies rather than making them. You know what that means: trailers! Plus, casting news regarding the latest from Quentin Tarantino and Charlie Kaufman.
-Some of you were thrilled with "Synecdoche, NY." And some of you are assholes. Charlie Kaufman's directorial follow-up to that maligned masterpiece will be excited about the momentum behind Kaufman's "Frank Or Francis." The script, which details a war of words between a filmmaker and a blogger, has added Nicolas Cage, Steve Carell and Jack Black to its cast, with an early 2012 shooting date sought.
-The biggest question mark headed into Comic Con has to be what exactly is up with Ridley Scott's "Prometheus." It appears some questions have been answered, with a full synopsis, pictures, and footage that screened for the nerdy faithful. We would have never guessed a prequel to "White Squall," but that's our Ridley, always keeping us on our toes.
-Universal has pulled the plug on their ambitious, multi-platform adaptation of "The Dark Tower," sending Ron Howard and the highest paid screenwriter in Hollywood Akiva Goldsman back to the unemployment line. Mourn the loss of ten other would-be projects here.
-Kevin Costner has joined the cast of "Django Unchained." He'll be subverting his image as Ace Woody, the sadistic right hand man to slave-runner Calvin Candie, to be played by Leonardo DiCaprio. With this and "The Man Of Steel" it definitely appears that producers have forgotten about "The Postman." But they'll never forget "Mr. Brooks." That shit is ETERNAL.
-It was a huge week for trailers at The Playlist, as anxious Comic Con participants and non-Con competitors showed off their wares. On a smaller scale were a spoilerific look at "Dream House," foreign horror pics "Kill List" and "Rabbit Horror 3D," the spank-free "A Good Old Fashioned Orgy," broad hockey comedy "Goon," and Robert Pattinson as man-whore in "Bel Ami." Now, the big shots:
... "Paranormal Activity 3" is here to scare the bejeezus out of you! Or something! The trailer is brief, and might as well have been shot by an assistant somewhere making an intern's wage. But it does hint at these films being the rare series to keep rewinding, with timestamped footage dated 1988. And we all know what's scariest about '88- 'twas the year of "Every Rose Has It's Thorn."
... Wong Kar-Wai returns with "The Grandmasters." And, to be honest, it doesn't look like one of his pictures. Where's the red? Where's the LUST? The choreography and set design look spectacular, but can he play another artist's game and win? Because right now it looks like any of Donnie Yen's joints from the last few years.
... Steven Soderbergh came out swinging with, finally, our first look at the much-delayed "Haywire." And... what did people expect? It's a much flatter shooting style than Soderbergh's accostumed to, but this story of a tough chick getting a burn notice seems to feature a lot of cleanly-shot head-on action along with a super convincing leading lady and an incredible supporting cast. What has once become "looks like straight to DVD" is now, "looks like an actual, real action movie."
... If you were on the fence about "Drive" before, the new, stylish trailer should erase all doubts. Slick and pulpy, this adrenaline shot of pure awesomeness. Nicolas Winding Refn looks to have made a film that feasts on Hollywood formula, but retains his sick pop-up sensibility. And seriously, what's up with that dude with the fake face at the midway point? Horrifying. No, not Ron Perlman, the other guy.
... After much discussion regarding a heavily distributed bootleg, fans got a more official peek at "The Dark Knight Rises." And with so little footage to show, the clip relies heavily on footage from the previous movies. But despite some dialogue that sounds fairly on the nose, what's intriguing about this small tease is how unconventionally dark it is, leaning towards an "end" to this particular Batman saga. And, with the sight of Commisioner Gordon bed-ridden and in bad shape and the implication that Batman's already retired, Christopher Nolan's film seems to be clearly interested in a cinematic superhero story we have yet to see. You can read more Playlist speculation here.
... Finally, one of the more controversial studio projects in recent memory surfaced with the new trailer for "The Amazing Spider-Man." Feeling as cheap as it seems, this clip neglects the supervillain appeal of the earlier Sam Raimi films to focus instead on the conflict of a young kid who never knew his father, who then finds a special satchel, and snoooore. Capped off with some truly dodgy CGI, this collection of half-hearted melodrama and unfinished CGI is, in one word, a disaster.
-And in one of our most popular pieces of the year, we take a look at when celebrated directors went off the rails to produce some of their most questionable films. Join the healthy debate here.