Aug 17 2009 10:30am

Welcome to the World of Tomorrow!: A Movie News Roundup

This week, movies took a trip into a brave new world: a world where aliens have arrived on Earth just in time to be a clunky and troublesome metaphor; a world where Oscar Wilde protagonists are meant to be heterosexual; a world where Superman had better come up with a new origin story but quick. Below, I hash out the new, the notable, and the remarkably shirtless in Hollywood.

- District 9 opened last weekend to great reviews. Critics, audiences applaud the effects and action; don’t seem to notice any troubling metaphors or parallels or the witch doctor or anything.

- Literature’s favorite playboy, Dorian Gray, is getting a 2009 movie adaptation. The international trailer has been released, and reflects a slightly modernized take on the subject matter (bluer, more flammable, less gay than previously).

-  Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus might be getting an American release, courtesy of Sony Pictures. The film is best known as the last film work of Heath Ledger; after his death, Colin Farrell, Johnny Depp, and Jude Law stepped in to fill portions of the role. The plot (as much as a Gilliam movie can be said to have a plot) centers around an immortal side-show ringmaster whose deal with the Devil comes back to haunt him.

- Speaking of deals coming back to haunt you, DC lost some rights to Superman’s origin story this week. Unfortunately, most other rights for Superman remain with DC, which means we’re in for another seventy-two seasons of Smallville, and a new Superman movie that proves that Clark Kent’s father is actually a time-traveling Bruce Wayne.

- Not that they’ll be making a new Superman movie, since Bryan Singer will be busy; he just got tapped to direct a Battlestar Galatica movie! It has no connection to the show, which at first sounds really infuriating, but the longer you think about Singer’s track record, maybe that’s for the best.

- Marvel took a quick break from gloating over the Superman thing to announce that Christopher McQuarrie will be writing the Wolverine sequel. The new movie is said to take cues from the Claremont and Miller Wolverine-hits-Japan miniseries. My eternal 13-year-old gets sad that the movies ruined Rogue, because she remembers that one time Rogue offered to join Wolverine on his hunt for his fiancée Mariko and took a laser blast to the chest and then she was finally accepted by the rest of the X-Men, and maybe that would have been a nice subplot, is all she’s saying. Ahem.

- In bizarre and totally unnecessary movie-remake news, Robert Downey, Jr. is in talks to play the vampire Lestat in a reboot/adaptation of Anne Rice’s seminal vampire novels. Even more bizarrely, the movie rumors are confirmed by a member of LiveJournal community Oh No They Didn’t, who emailed Anne Rice and got a personal response about the current state of negotiations. Welcome to the world of tomorrow!

- Milla Jovovich’s career just keeps going, doesn’t it? Her most recent movie is The Fourth Kind, based on “actual events,” where Milla’s the town psychologist who begins to suspect that Something is Up. (Hint: It’s aliens! They’re right behind you! RUN!)

- Because it was too funny to ignore: Summit slapped a New Moon trailer in front of a teen movie Bandmumblemumble, in an attempt at synergy. The movie flopped; the trailer is now on the internet. In case the trailer below isn’t working as of press time, just know that in Forks, Washington, it’s apparently illegal for teen boys to wear shirts.

Genevieve Valentine is an incurable movie and TV nerd whose fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Federations, and more. Her first novel (Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti) is forthcoming from Prime Books. Her appetite for bad movies is insatiable, a tragedy she tracks on her blog.

Paul Howard
1. DrakBibliophile
Strange, I never saw Dorian Gray as being homosexual. I do know that his creator was gay.

On the other hand, considering what happens to Dorian does the gay community want to claim him.
Kerwin Miller
2. tamyrlink
lol tell me what happens to dorian and i'll speak for the rest of the community and claim or disclaim. (i take those privelages lol)
Rajan Khanna
3. rajanyk
Gah. BSG, the current version, isn't even finished yet (with that TV movie yet to come). They're already planning another relaunch? And do we really need more Lestat? Vampires can suck it.
4. BritMandelo
You know, when it comes to "District 9"--well. I thought the isolationism/ethnocentrism metaphor, as placed in South Africa, was pretty interesting. I didn't find that "troublesome" because I thought it was a smart touch, though maybe a little clunky because it was so damned obvious. The racial divide between the MNU workers was an interesting touch as well--notice how it's predominantly white males, the black office-worker is the one who doesn't get the safety vest.

Yes, we have the Dramatic Black Evil Witch Doctor, which is always a troublesome stereotype. But as a whole, I thought the symbolic intent of the movie was handled well.
5. BritMandelo
Crap, double-comment:

That Picture of Dorian Gray adaptation makes me want to tear my hair out. That was one of my first queer!books as a youngster, and it really left me with the lasting impression that we can write about people like ourselves. It was mind blowing as a twelve-or-so year old to realize that maybe everybody isn't heterosexual in books, and wouldn't that be nice?
6. BritMandelo

He wasn't gay, but bisexual. Or, well, omni-sexual. At the beginning of the book his leanings seem to stray mostly toward Basil, etc, but after the portrait he's more or less sleeping with everyone he can. Because he can, and there are no consequences (or so he thinks).
Paul Howard
7. DrakBibliophile
Tamyrlink as I remember the story as he plays around his picture gets old and diseased. IE his lifestyle would have killed him early on if it wasn't for the picture.

At the end of the story, he destroys the picture and everything he had done 'catches up with him'.
8. Ralph Giles
Re District 9 metaphors, what struck me is that both the white MMU leadership and the black gangsters wanted exactly the same thing, and displayed the same morals in getting it. They, along with the mercenaries, are all perfectly horrible portraits of humanity. That one group was using science and the other magic toward their goal was a reflection of why one was a multinational and the other is living in a slum.

I don't know what the norms are in South Africa, but I also noticed that the beginning of the film had a lot more black characters on screen than one sees in Hollywood action movies. They're later pushed aside as the plot focusses a few white characters, but it still felt like a deliberate commentary. And of course, in the documentary segments, it's the (black) whistle-blower who's wearing the prison uniform, not the (white) boss he implicated. That can't be an accident.

Like the Skull Island natives in Jackson's King Kong, the witch doctor/gangster thing was just so over the top I read it as commentary on our society, not unconscious racefail. On the other hand, the only aliens we get to know are pretty nice, caring people, surrounded by all these terrible humans. Is it ok to still have a noble savage if the whole point is a science-fictional resetting of race relations in South Africa?
Ethan Glasser-Camp
9. glasserc
I thought the tone in this post was pretty wonderful! Just the right amount of satire and snark.

10. bonnie-ann black
in the book, The Painting of Dorian Gray, none of his "sins" or excesses are ever spelled out. which makes them all the more chilling, i think. so whether the sins were sex (of whatever variety), drinking, leading the innocent into damnation, stealing, antimony... whatever the worst excesses of humanity could be... you have to imagine them all.

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