So, that Americanized version of Pierre Morel’s French thriller District 13 we reported on back in 2009 is still happening, and it may have just found one of its stars. Paul Walker has entered negotiations to join the cast of the remake, which will be titled Brick Mansions and relocated to a city in the States (probably Chicago).

But the news isn’t all bad! Also on board is David Belle, who starred in the original and its sequel but will be playing a different character here. Plus, the script comes from Luc Besson, who co-wrote the original, and Robert Mark Kamen, who collaborated with Besson on Taken. More details after the jump.

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THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS
I’m conflicted. Deeply, deeply conflicted. I’d really love nothing more than to tell you that The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is wonderful—that it’s an impressive return-to-form from the man who gave us such enchantingly peculiar films as Brazil, Time Bandits and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Had things worked out differently, I imagine that I’d be telling you just that. They didn’t though, and so here I am, forced to contend with the realization that this film might’ve been great were it not for Heath Ledger’s untimely passing. Most readers of this site are probably already aware of the immediate effect that Ledger’s death had on the film; since the filming of his scenes in the “imaginarium” had not yet taken place, Gilliam was forced to invent a scenario that allowed others actors (Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell) to fill in for the role. In theory, this sounded like an ingenious workaround for what should’ve been a project-terminating disaster. In reality, the best that can be said of the workaround is that it allowed for the film to be completed. The worst? It caused total narrative chaos. The nature of the character’s changes in appearance come across as awkward and forced, but more than that, they completely sever any connection the audience has with him. As a result, the scenes in the imaginarium—many of which are pivotal—lose all impact, and bring a halt to the momentum built up by the rest of the film. This is even more problematic in that the imaginarium sequences also lack any visual appeal, instead recalling the same eye-blistering green screen artificiality found in The Lovely Bones and Spy Kids 3D: Game Over. Outside of the imaginarium, the film fares much better. It still suffers a bit from Gilliam’s typical plotting messiness, but the story is so charmingly bizarre—and so distinctly “Gilliam”—that it quickly won me over. Had the narrative incoherence brought on by the imaginarium sequences not derailed the film, I suspect this would’ve been another seminal effort to add to Gilliam’s filmography. Regrettably though, the unfortunate realities of “life” once again got in the way of Gilliam’s efforts, making this strictly a film for curious and/or diehard fans.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – Commentary with director Terry Gilliam, an intro by Gilliam, a deleted scene, featurettes (“Behind the Mirror”, “Building the Monastery”, “Doctor Parnassus Around the World”, “The Artwork of Doctor Parnassus”), a Heath Ledger Wardrobe Test, an interview with Heath Ledger, and a Cast & Crew Presentation on Stage. Blu-ray – Includes everything on the DVD, as well as “The Drunk” Multi-Angle Progression Sequence, and 2 additional featurettes (“Heath Ledger and Friends”, “The Imaginarium of Terry Gilliam”).

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rmk

Mediacorp scriptmeister Robert Mark Kamen has been telling the Los Angeles Times all about his next assignments for the big French action factory, and both of the films they namedrop are seemingly inevitable responses to the studio’s past glories.

Besides a sequel to Taken, the sleeper hit of the year (so far), Kamen is also crafting the screenplay for a US set rehash of Banlieue 13 – or District B13 as it was already renamed in English speaking territories. The original took an American paradigm – Escape From New York, essentially – and gave it such a specifically French spin that, frankly, I don’t know what sort of mess we’ll end up with after it gets spun back the other way.

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