Monsters Ball and Adaptation

What upcoming productions have been announcedr A remake of the best zombie movie of all time and a remake of the best movie of a guy screaming “Caaaaaaaaaaannn you dig iiiiiiiiiiitt!!” of all time. It’s so bad, Guy Ritchie can’t even remake his own movie for a third fucking time, he has to go and remake somebody else’s. And sometimes these fuckwits don’t even know what movie they’re remaking. THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER just reported on a spec sale, the title of which I’ve mercifully forgotten, but the following description from the REPORTER will be seared on my mind forever: “A throwback to such thrillers as “Body Heat” and “Dead Calm” the film features a murder on a boat that is then retold from three different points of view.” That’s it. No mention of some old black-and-white Japanese film or some non-animated guy named Akira. Dipshits.

Looking for originality–not to mention brains–in Hollywood is like looking for cock in a convent.

However, like the time Sister Donna whipped out her Polish surprise for me one day after confession, the town that glitters can pull back its robes and reveal what you had always hoped was there: ass-kickingly great and unique screenplays. And even better: ones that have actually been shot and will be released before year’s end.

I finally got my hands on Charlie Kaufman’s “Adaptation.” I won’t bore you with a plot description because McWeeny and others have done so better than I could already. But rest assured, it is every bit as good as they say it is. Definitely one of the five best scripts that I have ever read. Even better than “Being John Malkovich” (which I thought took forever to get going). “Adaptation” is complex, thoughtful and funny as hell. The third act is a humdinger (as mandated by Robert McKee who makes an appearance) and also surprisingly heartfelt and emotional.

Two caveats, though: “Adaptation” is about a screenwriter (Kaufman) who has to adapt an unfilmable book into a viable script. People who are not screenwriters or in the picture business may not be as enamored with the story as the rest of us. I’m also a little afraid of the casting of Nicolas Cage. He will be Kaufman whose first lines in the script are “I am old. I am bald. I am fat. I am repulsive.” Kaufman is supposed to be a pitiable self-loathing, self-doubting creature who spends most of his time masturbating. At one time you Cage could nail this role in his sleep, but that was before Fuckheimer sunk his claws and turned the former Coppola into a pretty boy hack. Thank God for Spike Jonze. If there’s anybody that can get Cage back to his old demented self, it’s Spike. Remember, he’s made the only Cameron Diaz movie in history where I didn’t want to fuck Cameron Diaz.

I also got to read “Monsters Ball” by Milo Addica & Will Rokos. It will star Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry and Heath Ledger. Billy Bob will play Hank Grotowski, a prison guard in charge of executions who is the antithesis of Tom Hanks in “The Green Mile.” Hank is ugly, mean and a racist. Living with his even nastier prick of a father, Hank has driven his first wife to an early death and when he’s not chasing black kids off his property with a shotgun Hank is berating his son (Heath Ledger) whom he loathes. Halle Berry’s charcter is named Leticia, a struggling single mom whose husband is on death row. When not working as a waitress in a trashy diner, she berates her artistically talented son for being so fat.

Hank and Leticia both lose someone close to them. They are emotionally damaged, fragile and both know their lives need to change. They hook up and at first it seems just to be some form of self-medication. They drink and fuck to dull the pain (yes, cinema screens across the nation will once again be blessed by the presence of Halle’s tats). Soon, however, Hank and Leticia start opening up to each other, see each other more and more often. Hank gives Leticia his car since hers broke down. Holy shit, Hank wonders, am I falling in love with this woman–and a black woman, to bootr

Yeah, it sounds like a cheesy romantic melodrama about a narrow minded bigot who learns to change his ways, but I gotta tell you this movie is gonna be totally fucking dark. The scripts takes every chance it has to kick you in the stomach. There is some brutal shit in here which means all of the tender uplifting moments will be earned. I think Hank will be the best role for Billy Bob in a long time and when Halle Berry gives a shit about the person she’s playing (like she did in, say, “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge”) versus the times she doesn’t (as in “X-Men”) she can be really, really good. I have a feeling Leticia will receive Halle’s full attention. She’s a real person with depth who goes through some profound life changes. It’ll be fun to see what she does with it.

Now, I noticed when Garth over at Dark Horizons linked up to my script review of “Ebony & Ivory” the other week he said it was a “positive” look on the script. Really, it should have been “mixed.” That script is still in a rough form, has a long way to go and could get fucked in a thousand different ways. “Adaptation” and “Monsters Ball,” though, are works of genius, have been filmed and they can’t come soon enough for me.

Rating: A