Monday, December 10, 2007


Okay, so if you’ve checked out Afterthoughts (30) already (and if you haven’t, scoot on over to the Archive), below are The Black List 2007 scripts that I’m excited to see hit the big screen.

Passengers by Jon Spaihts (38 mentions)
“A passenger on an intergalactic spaceship is the only one prematurely thawed out from cryogenic slumber… 100 years before anyone else.”

Reportedly being produced by Keanu Reeves, who is also attached to star. I am far from a Keanu fan, but I have managed to enjoy some films despite his presence—Dangerous Liaisons, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and The Matrix—so hopefully, this’ll be added to that list.

The Road by Joe Penhall (24 mentions)
“Based on the book by Cormac McCarthy. After a nuclear explosion, a man goes on a nightmarish road trip in order to transport his son to safety, while fending off starving stragglers and marauding packs of cannibals.”

McCarthy’s novel was once on Oprah’s Book of the Month Club (let’s not hold that against it, shall we?), and the adaptation’s being directed by John Hillcoat (The Proposition).

This Side of the Truth by Matt Robinson (17 mentions)
“Set in a world where the concept of lying doesn't exist, a loser changes his lot when he invents lying and uses it to get ahead.”

It’s a comedy from the man who graced both Seona Dancing and The Office, Ricky Gervais. What’s not to like?

Source Code by Ben Ripley (13 mentions)
“As part of an experimental government program to investigate a terrorist incident, a soldier finds himself living and reliving a series of events that take place on a commuter train just prior to the train exploding.”

Never Let Me Go by Alex Garland (7 mentions)
“Based on the book by Kazuo Ishiguro. Students at an isolated boarding school in the English countryside gradually discover that they are clones who will inevitably be harvested for organs no matter how ‘human’ they are.”

Though not necessarily an original concept, if done right, it’s a powerful one. And considering the script is by Garland (The Beach and the screenplay for 28 Days Later, among others), and the source material is a much-lauded novel from the man who also wrote the Booker Prize-winning The Remains of the Day, this should kick some serious a$$.

The Book of Eli by Gary Whitta (7 mentions)
“A lone hero must fight his way across the wasteland of postapocalyptic America to protect a sacred book that holds the key to saving the future of humanity”

Described by Whitta as “… kind of a post-apocalyptic western,” this is being directed by the Hughes Brothers (Menace II Society and From Hell).

Shelter by Karl Mueller (6 mentions)
“A group of nuclear holocaust survivors caught in a bomb shelter begin to turn on each other as they wait for rescue.”

Slumdog Millionaire by Simon Beaufoy (6 mentions)
“An illiterate kid looks to become a contestant on the Hindi version of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire in order to re-establish contact with the girl he loves, who is an ardent fan of the show.”

This is Danny Boyle’s latest, and since I loved Millions, and since this one sounds like it could be operating in a similar narrative area, I’m looking forward to it.
Plus, Beaufoy also wrote The Full Monty and Blow Dry, so I’m kind of expecting this one to be funny and uplifting too.

Valkyrie by Christopher McQuarrie (5 mentions)
“Severely wounded in combat, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg returns from Africa to join the German Resistance and help create Operation Valkyrie, the complex plan that will allow a shadow government to replace Hitler's once he is dead. Fate and circumstance conspire to thrust Stauffenberg from one of many in the plot to a double-edged central role. Not only must he lead the coup and seize control of his nation’s government—he must kill Hitler himself.”

I am not a big Tom Cruise fan. I am, however, a big Bryan Singer fan. And since this is Singer’s reunion with The Usual Suspects scribe McQuarrie, this one is at least something I’m curious to see.
This is also the project that got in the way of Singer’s Superman sequel, so this better be worth The Man of Steel’s delay.

World War Z by J. Michael Straczynski (5 mentions)
“A sober telling of the aftermath of a war fought against a legion of humans who were inflicted with a virus, died and were re-animated into flesh-eating zombies.”

So, hey, zombies, brought to us by Straczynski, who gave the comic book world Rising Stars (what could be seen as a precursor to TV’s Heroes), based on a novel—World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War—written by a former SNL writer.
Sign me up.

The Wrestler by Robert Siegel (5 mentions)
“Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson, a 1980s-era pro wrestler, has become a burnt-out shell of his former self. After he has a heart attack during a small-time match, a doctor tells him he could die if he fights again. In an effort to build a new life, Robinson takes a job at a deli, moves in with an aging stripper and tries to build a relationship with her son. The prospect of a rematch with his old nemesis, the Ayatollah, proves too tempting to resist, even though it means risking his life.”

Not normally something I’d be interested in, but this is Darren Aronofsky’s stab at some mainstream material, so consider my curiosity piqued.
It’s also got Mickey Rourke as “The Ram,” so that’s interesting too.

Zombieland by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick (5 mentions)
“After a zombie plague ravages America, a pair of ‘odd couple’ survivors team up to find purpose and combat the living dead in the post-apocalyptic Southwest.”

Oh ho! More zombies! More post-apocalyptic fun! From two writers on The Joe Schmo Show! Bring it on!

Darkon by John Hodgman (4 mentions)
“Every other Sunday, between 150 and 300 people gather in costume and armor to fight unchoreographed mock battles with padded weaponry. For most, it is much more than a game.”

Orphan by David Leslie Johnson (4 mentions)
The Bad Seed with an orphan.”

That premise doesn’t really sound promising, but the cast is headlined by The Departed’s Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard (from a boatload of stuff including Boys Don’t Cry, Jarhead and the upcoming The Mysteries of Pittsburgh), so maybe this one will turn out okay.

Blindness by Don McKellar (3 mentions)
“Based on the novel by Jose Saramago. An epidemic of blindness sweeps through an unnamed contemporary city and pushes society to the brink of breakdown.”

An interesting concept vaguely reminiscent of Kazuo Yamazaki’s anime Kaze No Na Wa Amunejia (A Wind Named Amnesia)—where people lose their memories—this one’s got teeth: killer cast which includes Gael Garcia Bernal, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, and Maury Chaykin; written by McKellar, who not only co-wrote and appeared in Francois Girard’s excellent Le Violon Rouge (The Red Violin), he also played Yevgeny Nourish in David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ; based on Nobel-laureate Saramago’s Ensaio Sobre a Cegueira; directed by Fernando Meirelles, who brought us Cidade de Deus (City of God) and The Constant Gardener.
Need I say more?

Clash of the Titans by Travis Beacham (3 mentions)
“Zeus’ son, Perseus, journeys to save Princess Andromeda. During his adventure, he must complete various tasks set out by his father, including capturing Pegasus and slaying Medusa.”

A remake of Ray Harryhausen’s 1981 effects extravaganza—his Medusa rocks!—this one is here largely for nostalgia reasons, and because Harryhausen is a special effects pioneer and the reason why stop-motion has a solid place in my film geek’s heart.
True, this redux is most likely to sport pixels instead of clay, but I owe it to Mr. Harryhausen to see whether this one pays him fitting tribute, or stomps all over his legacy.
Hopefully, Beacham (who also wrote Neil Jordan’s upcoming Killing on Carnival Row, present on The Black List 2005) honours the spirit of the original.
And for more on Killing on Carnival Row, check out Afterthoughts (32) in the Archive.

Jeff the Immortal by Chris Bishop (3 mentions)
“A slacker discovers that he is the latest in a long line of immortal warriors who must fight to achieve his destiny.”

The Ornate Anatomy of Living Things by Matt Spicer & Max Winkler (3 mentions)
“A New York bookstore clerk discovers a museum devoted to his life.”

The title alone demands attention. And with a premise like that, how can I resist?
This one’s being produced by Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking and Juno).

The Wedding Party by Francesca Marciano (3 mentions)
“A wedding party during the war in Afghanistan is told from the perspective of an English officer, a Russian and an American, all of whom are the same man.”

Huh? Okay, colour me curious.

The 37th Dimension by Tom Kuntz & Griffin Creech (2 mentions)
“A classic detective noir...with some big twists.”

Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by John McLaughlin (2 mentions)
“The true-story behind the difficult production of the classic Alfred Hitchcock film.”

Yes, I have a problem with the lengthy and rather obvious title, but this one’s got not just Sir Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock, not just Helen Mirren as Hitchcock’s wife and collaborator, Alma Reville, but also has Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy in the director’s chair.
All that, and it’s about Psycho.

Burn After Reading by The Coen Brothers (2 mentions)
“CIA agent Osborne Cox decides to pen his memoirs and is fired from the agency. The disc containing the memoirs inadvertently gets left in a ladies locker room at a gym, where Linda and co-worker Chad, hatch a plan to sell its contents to the highest bidder.”

Like The Wrestler, this one’s got a premise that wouldn’t ordinarily catch my eye, but come on, it’s the Coens. I’ve loved these guys since they first took what they learned on Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead and rather summarily kicked my a$$ with Blood Simple.
And the cast is ridiculous: John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, and Richard Jenkins. I may not be a big fan of either George Clooney or Brad Pitt (who also happen to be in the cast), but hey, did you see those first four names I dropped?

The Fortress of Solitude by Joshua Marston (2 mentions)
“Based on Jonathan Lethem’s novel. A white kid living in a black neighborhood of Brooklyn forms an unlikely friendship with the son of a washed-up musician.”

I loved the novel, so I’m hoping this one is good. And it’s being directed by Marston, whose Maria Full of Grace, though I haven’t seen, made quite an impression on global cinema. (And he’s got the exact same birthday as I do. How cool is that?)

Giant Monsters Attack Japan by J.F. Lawton (2 mentions)
“Prompted by a corporate transfer, a father and son move to Japan and find that all the fantastic elements of the son’s favorite Japanese movies – Godzilla, giant robots, secret ninja cults, etc. – are a real and borderline mundane aspect of everyday Japanese life. Adjusting proves difficult, hijinks ensue.”

Brilliant concept, and brought to us by the South Park boys, I hope this one amuses me the way Team America didn’t.
And yes, I realize Lawton has written everything from Pretty Woman to Under Siege to Chain Reaction to DOA: Dead or Alive to 88 (count ‘em, 88!) episodes of V.I.P. (which he also created), but the premise is really wild, so here’s hoping this one comes out as cool as it sounds.

Justice League of America by The Mulroneys (2 mentions)
“The exploits of the Justice League of America, an organization made up of the world's greatest superheroes: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash and Green Lantern.”

I’ve talked about this one in Afterthoughts past.
And WB? We’re all still waiting for that official casting announcement…
(That is so racist, the fact that the Martian Manhunter isn’t mentioned in the League line-up.)

No Man’s Land by Jeffrey Nachmanoff (2 mentions)
“Fifty years after an alien race takes over earth, a human detective investigates a rape/murder case and ultimately discovers the aliens’ true intentions.”

Of Every Wickedness by Brian McGreevey & Lee Shipman (2 mentions)
“Based on a true story: Three years before Jack the Ripper shocked London and the world, a murderer terrorized the dusty streets of Austin, TX, in what would become the first recorded serial killings in American history.”

If you’ve been ‘round these parts before, you’ll know I’m into serial killers just as much as zombies, so this one was bound to get me curious.

Unique by Michael Cooney (2 mentions)
“Jon Geoffries discovers the Earth has a twin, a parallel world in another dimension. The worlds are closely linked, explaining such phenomena as deja vu and love at first sight, with people having counterparts on both Earths. However, a few are born "unique," with no doppelgangers, and can travel between worlds. Geoffries is one such person and soon finds himself a target of enemies who want to exploit his connection.”

Yeah, I had big problems with Identity, which Cooney also wrote, and David Goyer, who’s directing, has got a spotty track record, but again, the premise sounds great, so I hope this one doesn’t get botched.
Incidentally, Cooney’s also got another script entitled Shelter, which should not be confused with Karl Mueller’s Shelter, mentioned above. Cooney’s Shelter, like Identity, also has to do with multiple personality disorder.

Will by Demetri Martin (2 mentions)
“A young man discovers love after he develops complete free will when the angel who writes his destiny (not unlike an author) forgets to finish writing after page thirty-five.”

So there you go, some films to look forward to.
If you want to download PDFs of The Black Lists 2005 to 2007, go here, and if you want to check out more Black List 2007 stuff (like the top 5 scripts and other neat-o bits), go to Afterthoughts (32) in the Archive.

(Book cover art courtesy of [The Road; Never Let Me Go; and World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War] and [Blindness and The Fortress of Solitude].)

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