Wednesday, May 02, 2007

It's Eastwood Versus Malick, Dominik Versus Scott

The LA Times have reported on the sorry test screenings for Andrew Dominik's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and the various cuts of the film that have been made in attempt to please variously the director, producers and studio.

The way they tell it, Dominik was aspiring to a Terrence Malick pastiche whereas the studio were looking for something styled after the films of Clint Eastwood - either way, sounds like following a pre-exisitng template was the goal. If they have to copy, can't they come up with somebody better than Malick and Eastwood? How about Monte Hellman. A nice Hellman-styled western would be tempting, I have to admit.

Other than the director's cut, which reportedly runs over three hours, there have been various other versions, overseen by Brad Pitt, editor Michael Kahn or producer Ridley Scott.

I'd think Scott would have a pretty good chance of sorting the film out to some degree - but whether or not that's the same issue as pleasing the studio is another matter entirely. Scott's history in recutting his own films is certainly impressive. As wonderful as Alien always was, he managed to improve upon it - and turn out a shorter film into the bargain.

There's no concrete news on which version of the film will be released - a release currently scheduled for September 21st, but don't be surprised to see that slip even further away. This situation reminds me of the current spin on Julie Taymor's Across the Universe: In both cases there's officially still hope that the version released will be director approved - there has to be hope to stem the flow of bad will against the studio-sanctioned recuts, just a little bit. But in both cases, again, it seems far more likely that a shortened version will hit the multiplexes.

Besides, forcing a double-dip for the Director's Cut DVD only makes for more dollars, doesn't it?

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