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Lukewarm Off Presses: "Chef" Again, Lord Attenborough, Joan Allen, and Movie-to-TV Series

Four interesting tidbits coming atcha that we neglected to discuss for multiple reasons. If you hadn't yet heard them, they'll feel like brand new news to you.

In what is clearly understood to be an awards-traction move, Jon Favreau's sleeper hit Chef will be coming back to theaters this Friday in wide release. I'm not sure it has the critical oomph to win any nominations and it didn't have the box office size to make that a non-issue (a la gargantuan hits like My Big Fat Greek Wedding) but could it sleeper hit its way into, say, The Screenplay race? I'm realizing I neglected to consider it at all there which is an obvious mistake. I had a really good time watching it with friends though; it's an easy sit and safe for diverse groups of viewers. My favorite visual was ScarJo eating a bowl of pasta but my least favorite visual was being asked to believe that vivid ScarJo and sexy Sofia Vergara would be a good sexual match for mopey Jon Favreau. These men and their self-serving onscreen fantasies!

Vanity Fair remembers Lord Richard Attenborough (1923-2014), actor turned Oscar winning director. I apologize profusely they we didn't honor him with an RIP here. This week was rough offblog. I'll remember him best as the director of Gandhi (1982) a very good biopic (as I remember it) that was unfortunately tarnished by being crazy over-rewarded by the biopic-obsessed Academy and had the misfortune to win in a strong year too what with Tootsie and E.T. and Victor/Victoria and Blade Runner all knocking about the cinemas and arguably moving on towards 'timeless classic' status. (Gandhi even took Costume Design)  Reportedly Shadowlands (1993), a biopic of C.S. Lewis with Anthony Hopkins & Debra Winger (Oscar-nominated) was his favorite of his own films. I liked that one too at the time. Notice how I'm ignoring the elephant in the room (A Chorus Line)

TV has a long history of attempting series versions of hit movies. Sometimes they're wildly popular (see M*A*S*H), occassionally they develop rabid fanbases but don't quite become big hits (Bates Motel, Hannibal currently) but most of the time they're quickly forgotten (Working Girl, anyone?) and cancelled. As you have probably heard Steven Spielberg is producing a series based on Minority Report even though there's been a show stealing that stop future crime premise for some time now (Person of Interest) and how you gonna function without Samantha Morton's pre-cog eeriness? Martin Scorsese is developing a Shutter Island TV Show for HBO which sounds like a strange idea in an ongoing format unless they go anthology with it and tell different crazy people stories as they come to grips or lose their grip of reality altogether OR they make it about the doctors and play-actors creating these worlds for the crazy prisoners, you know? And there's also a series coming based on that campy 90s hit Devil's Advocate which originally starred Keanu & Charlize as young marrieds and Al Pacino as The Devil. I have to tell you that all three of these sound like T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E ideas to me. Agree or disagree?

...and a tardy Yes No Maybe So extra

We don't do every trailer but I'd feel remiss if we continued to ignore the fact that Joan Allen, who disappeared so completely and who we've missed terribly, has a new movie coming out. The Stephen King adaptation A Good Marriage. Spoilers direct from the trailer in this Yes No Maybe So...

Yes - Joan Allen in a leading role again. It's been since, what, Upside of Anger (2005) for which she should've easily copped the Oscar (and she wasn't even nominated -oh the humanity). And the premise will certainly give her emotional scenery to chomp on. 
No - So the trailer basically tells you what's going to happen: she finds out her husband is a serial killer and then she tries to rescue one of the intended victims and things get scary. So if we're looking for good scares and suspense we won't get that here since we know what will happen.
Maybe So - Stephen King adaptations have been instant classics (Carrie) and absolute garbage and every gradation inbetween so who knows. I'm not familiar with director Peter Askin's work (Company Man, Certainty, Trumbo) beyond the filmed version of John Leguizamo's stage show Spic-o-Rama. Anyone?

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Reader Comments (15)

my least favorite visual was being asked to believe that vivid ScarJo and sexy Sofia Vergara would be a good sexual match for mopey Jon Favreau. These men and their self-serving onscreen fantasies!

Are you saying that Gabourey Sibide should be cast as the romantic interest of some hot and young white guy? You'd buy that? Liar. You cannot be for sexual equality if you champion substitute women (Laverne Cox) or dumping on unattractive men with attractive actresses in the movies. You know gay men can make you really feel like shit. You'd think they would be less vapid and judgmental considering the historic marginalization.And this isn't an attack against you. More so pointing out the hypocrisy. And before you say I'm a trans-phobe -- I'm pro-gay, pro-biological women -- and that's not binary thinking but queer agenda non-conformist.

August 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

The three offered shows:

Minority Report: WOULD be a good idea, but, as you said, Person of Interest is working that premise as well. Because of PoI, it's probably TERRIBLE. Agree.
Shutter Island Show: If they use shorter seasons, cap themselves off at five short seasons and have 10 people go through "one of their five phases of mental breakdown" (and yes, shift focus to the doctors after season 1 or 2) or something "hooky" like that, maybe it could work. Slightly disagree, but I'm not sure if they're clever enough for that format.
Devil's Advocate Show: Really? The Devil's Advocate!? Wow, guys. Are you really that hard up for concepts for "Lawyer Show" that you have to turn to THIS movie? This is like using Gotham City as the backdrop for a Batman-less prequel show, instead of a daring, hooky examination of an accurately age cast Bat Family (something we've NEVER really gotten in live-action, but I'm one of the few people who seem to think that would actually be cool) or a cop show where Batman IS actually around and doing his thing, which is a half decent hook, even if there's still too many cop and lawyer shows on the market. (Oh, wait, that Batman-less prequel show IS also happening? And it's just called Gotham? Oh, now I remember: I've said multiple times that that show is going to be awful. Even some of the name choices (a character nicknamed "Fish" as the boss of the Penguin? Poison Ivy's real name is Ivy Pepper? They weren't even trying) ARE HORRIBLE, so I have no expectations for the rest of the package.)

August 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

It's really hard to take 3rtful seriously

August 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterManiac

/3rtful - i try not to respond to your constant negativity (you should read back your comments and see how rarely you say something positive. It is distressing) but when you absolutely misread something it's a different kind of a problem. How, in any way, does that sentence you quote imply that I WANT the same thing only in reverse? I have always objected to these unbelievable fantasy couplings. Why would I want it with the genders reversed? So you propose I want something I don't want and then call me a liar and a hypocrite for this feeling I don't have that you've projected on to me.

This entire conversation is in your head.

Pull back and really look at what you're saying before you hit "create post" next time. And please stop bitching about trans people in the comments. I don't have time to moderate every comment and I don't want to become of those websites where people fight constantly and say awful things about other people. That's just not the tone of this blog.

August 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nat: So, yeah, I strongly disagree with Devil's Advocate being a show. And Gotham, for that matter, when a show focusing on an age accurate Bat Family or a Gotham PD navigating their role in crime prevention in a city with Batman AND a bevvy of supervillains are both decisions that are non-generic/not artistically bankrupt. (For further intrigue, maybe have the first three seasons take place during the KnightSaga, so you have a season and a half to two season hook in there of basically watching cops deal with an increasingly Punisher-style brutal vigilante who has access to his own takes on Batman's gadgets and their growing unease with what's going on.)

August 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

If Chef gets nominated it will mean we had a pretty lame season. I liked it, it was nice, made me hungry a couple of times, loved Hoffman and the end credits sequence, but I didn't get enough Leguizamo and I definitely share your concerns regarding the female characters.

As we saw last night, Sofía is perfectly comfortable with being objectified, so I guess we shouldn't worry for her although I think she's better than she thinks she is. At least Scarlett tried and interesting angle with the fringe hair and the attitude.

August 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

volvagia - i have no idea what you're talking about - haha. sorry. I don't know what a KnightSaga is or a BatFamily. But yes, Gotham looks very uncreative. I shant watch.

August 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I've been curious about the "Chef" distribution plan - it played here in Chicago well into July, and while it did just fine at the box office I don't think the numbers suggest it was a consistent draw. I'm not sure if the studio really believes in the movie that much (and if so, why not give it a wide release in the first place?), if they made theaters agree to stick with it as some kind of package deal on bigger movies this summer, or if they're just trying to keep Favreau happy so they can anchor him to a dozen more "Iron Man" sequels.

August 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDave

The ScarJo and Sofia Vergara stuff bothered me so much, in regards to Chef.

In general I thought Chef was one of those films were the people involved were having so much fun that you almost forgot how fundamentally flawed it was in its plotting.

August 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKacey

Film to TV transitions are pretty difficult to pull off so they all sound like bad ideas to me. Mash was a wonderful exception. So was Karen Sisco (Out of Sight) but that never caught on and was canceled.

Great to see Joan Allen back in anything. Hope it was worth the wait.

The Favreau/Veraga/ScarJo mating would bother me more if I didn't see examples of it in real life.

August 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

I s this all a great actress like Joan can get,seems very mediocre,it's only a trailer i know but i want her cutting down presidents,sanding up for her privacy,being stoic and loyal,slapping no good b/f's,i hope she gets a more meaty role soon.

August 27, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermark

I've read the short story A Good Marriage and at least I'm interested what it would look like as a movie. But I don't have hight expectations or whatever.

I'd like to see a discussion of best Stephen King novel adaptations or is there already one?

I'm reading "IT" at the moment and most people say the film adaptation is so-and-so, but Tim Curry as Pennywise is great.
I do actually look forward to judge that myself.

My favorite is still Misery tbh, and Shining. And the end of The Mist. Woha, that was just evil and great at the same time.

August 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

Mark: The Killing, Season 4. It's short, but Joan is fierce.

August 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I just rented Fading Gigolo and thought of your original review of Chef (which I haven't seen). John Turturro, who also directs, plays a reluctant florist-turned-gigolo to Sharon Stone, Vanessa Paradis (playing a Hasidic Jew in mourning, of all things - he services her by giving her massages), and.... Sofia Vergara! Of course, all three women are crazy about him; even though he's not conventionally handsome, he supposedly gives off animal magnetism and is fantastic in the sack. Really?

The movie is actually entertaining and the performances are good, but couldn't Turturro have cast a woman who was not conventionally beautiful or perhaps significantly older than he as one of the three women?

August 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

My partner and I saw "The Hundred Foot Journey" the Saturday after it opened, and "Chef" on Sunday (I'd already seen it but didn't tell him because I knew he'd love it and wouldn't see it if I had already.) Never underestimate the power of "food porn" (see: "Chocolat" "Babette's Feast" "Tampopo" "Big Night" etc.)--lots of shots of food, a good score, and an amiable cast and mood can paper over a lot of script issues. (That's true of both "Hundred Foot" and "Chef."

"Shadowlands" is a meltingly lovely film (I used a piece of its soundtrack at my wedding reception), but time has not been kind to "Gandhi," and Oscar-watchers well remember the way it steamrolled the much-more-deserving "Tootsie" "Victor Victoria" "Das Boot" "Blade Runner" and of course the iconic "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" (#25 on the AFI list). But Attenborough was a wonderful actor--which, of all people, Steven Spielberg really utilized handily.

August 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDback

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