Reel World

Opening Dates for Megamovies; Julian Schnabel

VertigoAs a public service for those planning 2001 vacations and/or action-figure purchases, here are the scheduled opening dates for several locally connected megamovies certain to bombard you (and, probably, to show up in Happy Meals). Monkeybone, Bay Area director Henry Selick's latest blend of live action and stop-motion animation, comes on April 11; PDI/Dreamworks' animated Shrek arrives May 18; Pearl Harbor, the CGI effects extravaganza keeping ILM busy, debuts May 25; and Disney/Pixar's animated Monsters Inc. lands in November. Remember: When a flick opens on 2,850 screens, you can run but you can't hide.

The Unbearable Lightness of BeingRemember when you were 15 and said whatever popped into your head? Painter and filmmaker Julian Schnabel still has that endearing quality of naive earnestness. "I've been looking at a lot of movies, and they look pretty damn boring to me," he declared during a pre-Christmas chat at W with Spanish heartthrob Javier Bardem about their sultry portrait of the late, gay Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas, Before Night Falls. "You know what everybody's going to say all the time. I never thought I was going to be a film director. I didn't have any money when I was younger, so I'd spend a lot of time in the theater watching three, four movies a day just to kinda get out of the weather. I didn't know it was on-the-job training. How did I start talking about that?"

Put back on track, he cited another highly praised movie about a writer deprived of his freedom. "Oh yeah, I watched Quills. I look at that movie and it's just a movie, about the Marquis de Sade. What, we're going to look at a movie about censorship that happened in what century was he alive, the 18th century? It's all very nice, it's beautiful dialogue, and it's nicely acted -- it just looks like a professional movie to me. I'm watching this thing and I'm wondering: What's the difference between me and [director] Philip Kaufman? I'm not a professional filmmaker. I don't want to be a professional anything. I don't just want to pick a subject and have that kind of distance from it where I go in, do this thing, and then go get another job." Schnabel took a breath. "I don't want to put [Kaufman] down. I'm just trying to discern the difference between what Before Night Falls is, and what, say, a well-made Hollywood movie is." I say see 'em both and hash out the argument over a tall one.

Boogie NightsSophia Coppola (The Virgin Suicides) and novelist and screenwriter John Ridley (U-Turn, Three Kings) are writing a script for an HBO series about an "urban" record company run by a pair of black brothers, according to Variety. If HBO buys the concept, Coppola is lined up to direct the pilot episode. American Zoetrope is involved, and, natch, Francis Ford Coppola is one of the executive producers. ... Your film antennae may have picked up nervous vibes from Hollywood, where folks expect a strike this summer by either the Screen Actors Guild, the Writers Guild of America, or both. In its extensive preliminary list of contract demands presented to studios and networks, the WGA insisted that writers be included -- as directors and stars routinely are -- at premieres, junkets, trade shows, and film festivals. Has any screenwriter actually asked to be present at those scenes of pomp, inanity, jive, and jet lag?

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