David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg pushed Bill Nye the Science Guy to extremes in this record-breaking documentary.
I first sat down with David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg during my first year covering SXSW for No Film School. They were premiering their first feature, The Immortalists, a doc profiling a group of eccentric and obscure scientists searching for the cure to aging. There was no bidding war over the film. No splashy Variety headlines for it. But it was a thought-provoking, well-told story.
I was thrilled to see them again at SXSW 2017 premiering their second film, Bill Nye: Science Guy (playing San Francisco International Film Festival this week). Their second film is bigger in every way: it’s a hero journey about scientist-cum-celebrity Bill Nye, it had the most successful Kickstarter campaign for a documentary to date, and it screened to sold-out crowds in huge SXSW venues.
«Boil your film down to one sentence, and every scene that you shoot, every scene that you edit, the whole macro story has to go back to that one sentence.»
After spending a few years of exploring James Bond’s personal demons, director Sam Mendes is considering adding another comic book adaptation to his filmography with My Favorite Thing Is Monsters. The director, who previously adapted Road to Perdition for the big screen, is in talks to turn Emil Ferris‘ acclaimed graphic novel into a movie for Sony. The story involves “B-movie horror and pulp monster iconography.”
Below, learn more about the potential My Favorite Thing Is Monsters adaptation.
Deadline writes that Sony won the project in a bidding war last week. Now, Mendes is in early talks to possibly direct and develop My Favorite Thing is Monsters through his production company, Neal Street. Ferris’ story is set in the 1960s Chicago and follows a 10-year-old, Karen Reyes, who’s trying to figure out who murdered her upstairs neighbor, Anka Silverberg, a Holocaust survivor.
Based on the graphic novel’s synopsis, there’s far more to the story than a murder mystery:
Set against the tumultuous political backdrop of late ’60s Chicago, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is the fictional graphic diary of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, filled with B-movie horror and pulp monster magazines iconography. Karen Reyes tries to solve the murder of her enigmatic upstairs neighbor, Anka Silverberg, a holocaust survivor, while the interconnected stories of those around her unfold. When Karen’s investigation takes us back to Anka’s life in Nazi Germany, the reader discovers how the personal, the political, the past, and the present converge.
My Favorite Thing is Monsters is Ferris’ debut graphic novel. Previously, she worked as an illustrator and toy sculptor. The author was raised on creature features, which she cites as a source of inspiration. You can find some of her beautiful work at her website.
Here’s a page from the author’s graphic novel (published in February):
The last time Mendes took on a graphic novel adaptation, we got the wonderful Road to Perdition. Mendes has considered other comic book properties over the years, namely Preacher, which he thought someone could one day make work as television series (and he was right, of course). As for superhero movies, they don’t interest Mendes, as if that wasn’t obvious based on most of his work.
Following the long and exhaustive Spectre shoot, it’s not surprising to see the filmmaker taking on a movie smaller in scale. The only other film project he’s attached himself to since his last Bond pic is Disney’s live-actionJames and the Giant Peach.
Sony has obtained the rights to the graphic novel My Favorite Thing is Monsters
Sony Pictures has won the rights to the graphic novel My Favorite Thing is Monsters, according to Deadline. There were reportedly a number of studios making offers for the critically-acclaimed property. My Favorite Thing is Monsters is the debut graphic novel from Emil Ferris, an illustrator and toy sculptor. Ferris has an MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago. The story is set in Chicago during the late ’60s and is about a 10-year-old girl who loves monsters and tries to solve the case of a neighbor who was murdered.
Here is the official description: “Set against the tumultuous political backdrop of late ’60s Chicago, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is the fictional graphic diary of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, filled with B-movie horror and pulp monster magazines iconography. Karen Reyes tries to solve the murder of her enigmatic upstairs neighbor, Anka Silverberg, a holocaust survivor, while the interconnected stories of those around her unfold. When Karen’s investigation takes us back to Anka’s life in Nazi Germany, the reader discovers how the personal, the political, the past, and the present converge.”
The graphic novel was published by Fantagraphics Press, and was released in February of 2017. Part 2 of the series was released in October.
My Favorite Thing is Monsters isn’t told with sequential panels but through Karen’s sketchbook. Amnesia Entertainment’s Bradley Gallo and Michael Helfant will produce at Sony’s Columbia Pictures. Palak Patel is overseeing. According to NPR, Ferris was a 40-year-old single mom who had contracted West Nile virus and became paralyzed from the waist down. After also losing the use of her hand, she taught herself to draw again. The graphic novel took six years to create.
Have you read My Favorite Thing is Monsters? What do you think of the story? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or tweet us @ComingSoonnet.
If the name «Matt Foley» rings a bell, that’s because of arguably the greatest Saturday Night Live sketch of all time.
Surely, you recall this bit, in which Chris Farley (RIP) plays a «motivational speaker» named Matt Foley who lives in a van down by the river. (In case you don’t remember, highlights from the bit are embedded atop this post and you can watch the full thing on NBC’s website.) Read more…
We have collected our favorite answers (edited for length and clarity) below. Next week’s question: which book (novel or non-fiction) do you want to see adapted into a movie? Who would star in it and who would direct it? Send your (at least one paragraph, please) answer to firstname.lastname@example.org!
All That Jazz
It’s about a choreographer who is as egotistic as they come, but that’s because…he’s simply the best. He is and he knows it, and Roy Scheider personifies this in every single damn frame. I grew up knowing Scheider as the noble Chief Brody from Jaws and he couldn’t be further from that characterization here. Pills, booze, women… Scheider’s Joe Gideon is a who guy lives in excess and he pushes his passion for his art to a point where he has to decide between the two loves of his life – his family or his craft? It’s the kind of movie where after it ends (in the most jaw dropping smash cut I’ve seen), I’m still breathing heavily. This all might sound like hyperbole, but the film brings that out of me. It’s full of numerous fun, catchy and eye-popping sequences but nothing, and I mean nothing, no really – nothing – beats the last hallucinatory musical scene with Ben Vereen. Only a musical genius like Fosse could pull it off. -Andrew DiDonato
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
When I think of musicals, I instantly think of the undeniably charming Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It’s an enjoyable genre mash-up of musical and adventure that makes it stand apart from other films in its genre. The first half of the film appears to be a standard musical about a family building a beautiful motorcar out of a pile of scrap. But soon after the film’s intermission, it turns into an adventure about a magical flying car. There’s a delightful blend of co-writer Roald Dahl’s whimsical fun and original novelist Ian Fleming’s touch of adventure and quirky gadgets. The title song is easily one of the catchiest songs I have ever heard with its mix of vocals and unusual car noises. The “Toot Sweet” and “Me Ol’ Bambo” song and dance numbers are wonderfully choreographed and creatively use props of candy and bamboo poles to enhance the humor and fun. When the credits roll, you will believe a car can fly and you won’t get “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” out of your head for a long time. -Ethan Burch
Dancer in the Dark
Musicals are one of the biggest hurdles that I have when it comes to movies. I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s the suspension of disbelief, because it’s hard to believe that people just start to sing during a conversation for no apparent reason. But there is the rare exception where I can overcome this hurdle. That movie is Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark. Maybe it’s the subject matter. Maybe it’s the style of music. Maybe it’s what singing and dancing means for the main charater. I’m really not sure, but I know that this movie transcends what musicals usually are. It would probably be unfair to say that it is by far the best musical out there, because it is its own thing and unlike any other. But for me, it is just that: the best musical. By far. The stand out song is obviously “I’ve Seen It All” which is just phenomenal. -Stefan Lensa
Though not a full-blown movie musical, Enchanted is one of Disney’s best films of the 21st century and contains one of the company’s best musical scenes. As Giselle (Amy Adams) bumbles around New York City on the arm of Robert (Patrick Dempsey), he continuously questions her logic as she leans into the tropes of many of Disney’s early princess incarnations. Early on, Giselle’s aloof nature is met with disdain as New Yorkers continually disregard her fairly tale attitude, but when she breaks into song in Central Park, the park’s other denizens join in with her as she explains to Robert the ways in which he should demonstrate his love. “That’s How You Know” is the perfect encapsulation of how the film recognizes how silly fairy tales are, but chooses to ignore the ridiculousness, because who cares? They’re fun and they make us happy. -Hawkins DuBois
It’s got to be Moulin Rouge. I love musicals and it’s hard to pass up on the classics of the ’40s and ’50s, but Moulin Rouge really uses the medium of film best. Baz Luhrmann makes the camera part of the musical numbers. You aren’t just in a theater watching a musical on stage, you are on the stage! Its use of old musical songs as well as popular music mash-ups modernized musicals and brought them to a whole new generation. Luhrmann uses the filmmaking tool box to create an abstract mixed media collage that is both overwhelming but also impossible to look away from. At the end of the day there’s really nothing quite like it and therefore the show must certainly go on. -Todd Ruhnau
Fox’s Marvel show has found its female lead, and she’ll be well known to fanboys and fangirls and geeky types of all stripes. Amy Acker is boarding the X-Men sorta-spinoff, along with Bunheads‘ Emma Dumont (she’ll play Polaris) and Percy Hynes White. They join Jamie Chung, Stephen Moyer, and Blair Redford.
Created by Matt Nix (Burn Notice), the untitled drama pilot centers on two ordinary parents who discover their children have mutant powers. With a hostile government chasing after them, they go on the run and link up with an underground network of mutants who are fighting for survival. Acker will play the mother, Kate Stewart, who’s recently separated from her husband Reed (Moyer). When her family is upended, she finds her inner strength. Natalie Alyn Lind stars as the couple’s teenage daughter.
Acker’s no stranger to geeky properties with obsessive followings. She first came to prominence as Fred on Angel, since then she’s been on Angel, Dollhouse, No Ordinary Family, Person of Interst, and Con Man. She had a splashy guest starring role on another Marvel-produced show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as love of Coulson’s life.
As previously reported, Redford will play the leader of the underground mutants and Chung will star as Blink, who has the power of teleportation. Now Dumont has been set to play Lorna Dane a.k.a. Polaris, described as “a strong-willed, brave and loyal mutant who has the ability to manipulate magnetism.” And White rounds out this round of casting as Andy, “a sensitive kid and bit of a loner, who keeps to himself to avoid the turmoil he faces at school and at home.”
TV casting isn’t a race, exactly, but if it were one, Marvel’s Inhumans and Fox’s X-Men spinoff would be neck-and-neck. When one scoops up a Game of Thrones alum, the other gets a Gotham star. When one digs up a True Blood vet, the other looks to Hell on Wheels. Just today, Inhumans grabbed an actor from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so naturally it was time for Fox one-up them by casting Acker.
Bryan Singer will direct the pilot of the as-yet-untitled drama, and executive produce along with Nix, Fox’s Lauren Shuler Donner and Simon Kinberg, and Marvel TV’s Jeph Loeb and Jim Chory.
Looking for some fundamental science fiction films? This is a good place to start.
In 1964, a young director named Stanley Kubrick had just wrapped production on his seventh feature, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. He came to the conclusion that it was time to do something different.
Back then, the science fiction genre had an entirely different credibility than it does today; a movie likeArrivalwould never have been made, let alone earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. That’s because sci-fi was largely comprised of B-movies. Take Ed Wood’s infamous Plan 9 From Outer Space, for example—they were cheap, cheesy, and easy to put together on the fly. The audience didn’t care if it was believable or prescient; they were merely excited by the opportunity to experience a few frights (and maybe a little sex) in the cinema.
The lesson I’ve learned covering film festivals is that sometimes the best films aren’t always the one you loved at first sight, sometimes they’re the ones that you remember. There’s something about them. It could be the performance, it could be the story, it could be something else about it that gets into your mind and still lingers there. Something about it that you keep thinking back to, even if it isn’t a perfect film, there’s something you can’t shake. That is usually the sign of a great film, and film festivals (which are exhausting to cover) help us figure out which ones leave a lasting impression because there’s so many to see in so little time. To wrap up my 4th year attending the Berlin Film Festival (aka Berlinale), I want to recap a few of my favorite films and favorite performances of the 2017 festival. I hope all these films end up on your radar. ›››
Who is Ben Affleck‘s favorite Batman according to Matt Damon? Which Stranger Things cast member paid a visit to the set of Avengers: Infinity War? Who is Batman fighting in a post-production glimpse at Justice League from Zack Snyder? How did Tom Holland react to the Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer? Is Patrick Stewart done with the X-Men franchise too? All that and more in this edition of Superhero Bits.
Matt Damon says Ben Affleck‘s favorite Batman is Will Arnett, but won’t name a favorite Dark Knight himself.