film

Movie-Pitch Mondays! Remake of “The Magnificent Seven”

Starting this week my goal is to keep pace with more weekly postings, Movie Pitch Mondays is that first step. This is where I imagine how I would approach the casting, the direction of plot, and crew that inhabit the production of this theoretical film. Description and vision of each film can vary from piece to piece.

For my first pitch I would love to see a remake of the old western classic “The Magnificent Seven”. Which itself was an Old-West style remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Japanese-language film “Seven Samurai”. I know there’s a current remake of this property under way right now, set to be directed by Antoine Fuqua with Chris Pratt, Denzel Washington, & Vincent D’Onofrio among others signed to star. This is simply how I would arrange the property.

The Cast, with character descriptions:

Tom Hanks as the Sheriff with a heart of gold and wit of steel.

Aaron Paul as the Deputy, loyal and proud yet a shadowy past.

James McAvoy as the angry Scottish indentured Railroad worker.

Simon Pegg as the Neurotic Englishman that translates for McAvoy’s character, inventive.

Michael Pena as a wanted bank robber from south of the border seeking asylum.

Vin Diesel as the tough Miner that’s had enough and demands a call to action.

Robert Downey Jr. as the devilishly charming Southern Gentleman, in from the East.

Patrick Stewart as The face of bureaucratic, crushing, power. Joyless.

Tim Roth as Business partner to Stewart’s character, The Good Cop to Stewart’s bad.

The Crew:

Director: JJ Abrams

Writer: Christopher McQuarrie

I chose JJ for this piece not only because I personally want to see what he could do in this most classic of sandboxes, but also because I believe he would handle that territory of filmmaking well. I would trust his handling of the genre. After “Star Trek”, and now “Wars” a western will almost be akin to retiring if we’re scaling for box office numbers anyways. JJ has a unique visual style, and I’m assuming his cinematographers would come along with him on subsequent projects. He can handle a piece such as this, a big ensemble cast that has many moving parts while maintaining just the right slow burn pace that is representative of the genre as a whole, but respectful of its varied and long history. What I think JJ brings to this potential film that is most needed is his sense of “Magic” that he has somehow acquired, that almost unfathomable subtle touch of magic that makes the film feel impervious to negativity. If that makes any sense. He’s very Spielbergian in that way, which is why I also chose to add in Tom Hanks as the emotional anchor of the piece.

Christopher McQuarrie has a history of delivering knock out screenplays, and just wrote and directed the latest “Mission Impossible” installment, “Rogue Nation”. With “The Usual Suspects” in particular, and “Edge of Tomorrow” in a lesser way, McQuarrie has proven himself capable of multifaceted and complex screenplays. Though this film won’t be a mind blowing reveal like the ending of “The Usual Suspects” it will have multiple things going on all at once and I believe his style would only compliment it.

I see the plot essentially maintaining the general idea that a group of gunslingers ban together to save a small Mexican town overrun by bandits. However in my revision we would place the setting in America and the Sheriff is the initial push in banding together forces both local and afar to save the town from a crushing pair of British businessman that bought their way into the Oil business and need a railway to run their product through the town for high speed purposes. From there the film almost writes itself to be honest. First the threat is established by the foreign businessmen, then when they are turned down a terrible act of violence is carried out. Perhaps the child of Vin Diesel’s character? Dark, but a high character motivator. You’d have your traditional recruitment scenes wherein Hanks rounds up anyone who isn’t too scared of the threat aka Vin Diesel. Next up, the people that have great needs for which they will join up if reimbursed/helped, a la Pena, Pegg, and McAvoy. Lastly, the wild card, or Robert Downey Jr’s character, the charismatic big talker blown in from the east who is really a washed up legend and feels obliged to take up the cause.Lest the townspeople neglect him or worse, find out his true tale and exile him.

This could be a really fun throwback to Western and Samurai tales. I may have wandered too far from the original concept, but every remake has to have its own skin, it’s own purpose, otherwise why do it at all? Obviously the third Act has to have large numbers of muscle/militia bought by the businessmen that end up carrying out an onslaught on the town and its people. Maybe even have Aaron Paul’s young and nimble deputy fall in battle as in the initial Western remake? Like I said there’s a lot you could do with this, I love the idea of it and while this will look almost nothing like the actual remake that is being made right now, I can dream, and you should too! That’s my Movie Pitch for this week!

film

Practical Magic

This September brings the home video release of one of the biggest surprises of 2015, “Mad Max: Fury Road”. Without going through a typical movie review of the film I’ve come to the conclusion that having a conversation about what makes this movie so special would be more productive. Seriously though, if you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and check it out, a solid 9/10. In my opinion the feminism portion of the story is all good and well for a modern movie, but what burned into my memory more so than the story of Furiosa and her gang of fiercely independent women was the mind bending practical effects utilized throughout the movie. That was, in my opinion, what made the movie stand tall above other CGI focused movies currently in the market.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed a fair amount of movies that rely heavily on computer generated content, but the balance between these two types of filmmaking is what matters most though. It’s what gives the movie it’s allure, it’s magic. Thinking back on it, the movies that inspired wonder and awe most for me were the movies that poured their hearts into every prop, car crash, prosthetic, and miniature set. “Back to the Future” “Indiana Jones” “Jaws” “The Nightmare on Elm Street” “Star Wars” All of these movies, and a great deal more, successfully merged reality with a flair of fantasy (not simply swords and magic for all you D&D’ers out there) that transcended whatever genre they existed in to create just the right amount of immersion.

Take “Raiders of the Lost Ark” for example. Remember that infamous Nazi face melting scene? They achieved it by making a mold of the actor’s face out of gelatin, meat, and liver among other things and had it set next to a heat lamp that slowly melted it. Afterword they sped up the footage and there you have it! C’est magnifique! I could go on for days detailing numerous effects over the last century of filmmaking, but more importantly, there was a time in the last decade or so when it seemed like practical effects had been thrown to the wayside by the new and shiny computer effects brought on by newer technologies in filmmaking.

Films like ”Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow”, a film that was entirely shot in green screen (They didn’t even use sets or locations, nothing at all except handheld props and costumes) were being lauded as the new way of modern filmmaking. This thinking held true for much of the 2000′s, some deviations being the wonderfully practical ”Lord of The Rings” trilogy among others, but for the most part CGI had seemingly taken over.

Recently however in the last five years of movie releases a peculiar thing began to happen. Slowly but surely people seemed to tire of overly fake sequences and practical effects began to creep back into the limelight. Now I’m not much a of a horror fan, but the recent “Evil Dead” remake heavily embraced such filmmaking, and knowing that they created a moment with practical filmmaking just baits the question of “How the hell did they do THAT?!” I’m still at a loss as to how they sawed a girl’s arm completely off onscreen. I would have assumed she might have just only had one arm and a prosthetic was sawed in half, but I’m also pretty sure they blatantly showed her utilizing that very real arm beforehand. However they did it, I was wowed. Mission accomplished.

More and more movies began to reincorporate on location shooting, heavily ornate and “lived in” setpieces, and all kinds of manmade visual tricks. Even more dramatic films like the brilliant “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” meshed palpable effects back into the light. “Predators” was one such film. It went back to the jungle, an actual jungle in Hawaii, utilized practical tricks for the Predators themselves, and props aplenty. Now the more you look around the more you see a real effort to wow audiences with a respective meld between both CGI and Practical effects. Even “Interstellar” was lauded for it’s use of special effects sequences, and that was about wormhole traveling through space and across galaxies! Hell, even the Muppets are back!

What George Miller did with this newest iteration of Mad Max was wonderfully brilliant because it lovingly crafted the look and feel of the film with equal parts practical effects and CGI. Just check out this excellent article that details the minutia of several key sequences! http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Mad-Max-Fury-Road-Blu-ray/74537/ In today’s world of filmmaking anything is possible. From Galaxies far far away to indie darlings that focus on more down to earth questions about love or death, there is room for both takes, and in many cases you need to embrace both. Sometimes the effects can be so good that you can’t tell which is which either. Anyone remember the scene late in “The Wolf of Wall Street” when DiCaprio and Hill are walking down the Italian boardwalk to their boat? Only the pier is real. Which is astounding when you think about it.

My point being that practical effects can be used to great effect in a multitude of ways, as can CGI. We shouldn’t be demonizing CGI either because when they are both used in tandem, the results are spectacular. Personally, I’m most looking forward to JJ Abrams entry into the “Star Wars” universe and he has seemed to be heavily utilizing both resources, as he should. So, I say to you Hollywood: Thank you. Thank you for realizing that movies can be made in many ways, and that using the best of all our abilities to wow audiences is the point. Necessity maybe the mother of invention, but when you have an abundance of skills and tricks, we all win.

http://www.raindance.org/7-practical-effects-in-films-you-probably-thought-were-cgi/

http://filmschoolrejects.com/cinematic-listology/7-surprisingly-low-budget-effects-in-big-budget-movies.php

http://mentalfloss.com/article/55963/21-things-you-might-not-have-known-about-raiders-lost-ark