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Filmism.net Dispatch August 31, 2009

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Thanks to the Rudd government and Screen Australia's largesse in offering producers 40 percent of their production budgets back for any film they shoot in Australia, two blockbusters have arrived here in recent weeks, one a sci fi action thriller being filmed in Tasmania.

Not quite the most bizarre news I heard through the week was a planned sequel to the 1979 vampire comedy Love at First Bite. I remember leading man George Hamilton being silver around the temples and looking stately all that time ago, maybe he's actually dead and really a vampire this time?

That's not the most bizarre news I've heard because this is; Michael Bay, not exactly an auter of small, quirky dramas, is directing James Frey's A Million Little Pieces. Remember the guy who went on Oprah spruiking his biography of drink and drugs before he was outed at having made up the whole thing, going back on Oprah to face her wrath later on? Can you think of a stranger marriage of material and director? Maybe Lars von Trier doing The Smurfs, Stephen Sommers doing Juno or Ang Lee doing a movie about the Hulk. Oh, wait...

There are also follow-ups to Hancock (which I was in a small club at thinking was pretty ace) and The Dark Knight in the works. No surprise with the latter, but apparently the whole thing is going to be shot in the ridiculously expensive IMAX format, not just the big action scenes.

Jet Li is going to be in his first non action, dramatic role, and if you've seen his performance in movies like The One or Romeo Must Die you'll know that movie's in big trouble.

There's also another Great Expectations in the works, but the most exciting thing I learned this week was that my literary hero Michael Crichton had time to pen one more book, Pirate Latitudes, before his untimely death this year. And in the best ever marriage between director and material, his most successful directorial muse in Steven Spielberg has signed on to produce and (everyone clap your hands if you believe!) possibly direct. Other efforts from both brains have changed cinema in the past.

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