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Filmism.net Dispatch February 22, 2010

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I love Steven Soderbergh and 2008 and 2009 were his years to show us what he could do (ie anything) with a dab hand. I can't see anything announced for 2010 yet, but 2011 will bring us what looks like his most exciting project yet, Contagion. It's said to be a Traffic-like thriller about a viral outbreak, and here's why it's exciting.

When Soderbergh goes extreme indie (Ocean's Eleven), the results are faultlessly entertaining. When he does both together, hold on to your hat...

If you've ever seen Saturday Night Fever, you might have seen John Travolta emerge from his bedroom after a night at the disco wearing nothing but his black underwear and yelling the word 'Attica' at his grandmother. You might have asked yourself whether it was some old Italian curse or something. If you've seen Dog Day Afternoon you'd have a better idea, as Al Pacino chants it to stir up the crowd in front of the bank he's holding up, whipping them into a fervour of anti police brutality sentiment.

So Travolta was doing Pacino, and Pacino was referencing a prison riot (at a place called Attica) from the early 1970s that's infamous today because of the alleged excessive force the police and guards used to quell it.

What's that got to do with anything? Just that Doug (Mr and Mrs Smith, Jumper) Liman is directing the story for the screen, and anything's more interesting that having to talk about Avatar again. But none of us get off that easy, and in what I'm frankly praying is the last piece of news from Pandora in awhile, Cameron's said he'll be writing the prequel as a novel.

I reported on Scorsese's upcoming film on the life of Frank Sinatra ages ago, and recently learned Leo DiCaprio is going to be old blue eyes. Careful, guys I know you like working together, but you don't want to end up chemically bonded at a cellular level like Tim Burton and Johnny Depp and do the same movie over again.

It was nice to hear Owen Wilson's going to be in Woody Allen's next movie. He's following in the footsteps of many a comic actor before him and might finally put the memories of crap like You, Me and Dupree to rest.

Lastly, notorious pap-hater Sean Penn might finally have gone too far, possibly facing 18 months in the clink for assaulting one.

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