Philip Kaufman is too professional and too polite to comment until contracts are signed and the deal's official. But his office confirms that he's in discussions for his next project, The Runaway Jury, a legal thriller from the pen of one John Grisham. I say "project," not "film," both because of the lunatic and gutless tendencies of Hollywood studios and Kaufman's most recent frustration: Signed to adapt and direct the period best-seller The Alienist, Kaufman was forced to watch as the project was shelved after he spent a year crafting the screenplay. Until the director steps behind the camera and calls, "Action!" it ain't a film.
Skeptics might lament that Kaufman -- that rare American filmmaker who makes movies for adults -- is plowing the same arid Grisham soil that Francis Ford Coppola (The Rainmaker) and Robert Altman (The Gingerbread Man) were unable to infuse with their talents of nuance, complexity, and insight. But the director of The Right Stuff and Henry and June hasn't made a film in five years, and fans may think it absurd to quibble about the source material. I, for one, am curious to see what kind of subversive spin Kaufman can put on the Grisham formula of justice, ambition, and smooth-cheeked heroism. Look for it at your favorite multiplex around the millennium.
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Malcolm McLaren had the Sex Pistols and Marc Huestis has ... Christina Crawford. OK, it's not exactly the same, but the San Francisco filmmaker and fund-raising maestro is taking the author of Mommie Dearest on the road. Inspired by the sold-out Castro shows of "Christmas With Christina Crawford," accompanied by screenings of the (unintentionally) campy Faye Dunaway vehicle made of the book, Huestis has booked a four-city tour (LA, Seattle, Chicago, NYC) with a portion of the proceeds going to AIDS organizations in each town. Since rock bands don't play two shows in a month without giving their tour a gimmicky name, perhaps Huestis can dub his event the Family Values Tour. Just don't hang your souvenir T-shirt on a wire hanger.
The highlight of Robert Frank's upcoming tribute at the San Francisco International Film Festival will be a rare screening April 29 at the Castro of his legendary portrait of the Rolling Stones on tour circa 1972, Cocksucker Blues. Per a judge's ruling, the film can only be screened when Frank is present; the last Bay Area showing was on the UC Berkeley campus in 1987. Tickets go on sale the first week in April.
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