Friday, January 02, 2009

Better The Devil You Don't

Hugh Jackman has pulled out of talks to appear in Stephen Soderbergh's Cleo. The film, if it ever happens, is to be a 3D musical, set in the US in the 1920s, based upon the story of Cleopatra and with songs by Guide by Voices. How exciting does that sound?

Why has Jackman done this? Scheduling conflicts, apparently. And the word on the street (well, currently just in the sewers, really) is that Jackman will instead by appearing in another musical - not a film, but on Broadway. He seems to have negotiated himself the lead role in Andre Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera Part 2.

Now, Soderbergh has no history with musicals and Lloyd Webber has much. The "better the devil you know" philosophy would suggest Jackman has done the right thing here, but I'm inclined to not agree.

That argument is daft. Sure, we don't know how Soderbergh will approach a musical - well, not specifically - or how Guided by Voices will handle the form; and sure, we know Lloyd Webber has had some success with the form... but we also know that his muscials are, really, rather dreadful. Evita aside (and I hated the film of that, despite some beautiful cinematography and a few good performances), his shows have had far more substandard numbers than winners.

I think a random selection of 5 CDs from the rock and pop section in the local HMV will likely yield a higher ratio of good songs; what's more, I think a random selection of 5 motion pictures from the DVD shelves will uncover, on average, better narrative storytelling than in Lloyd Webber's shows.

I'm disappointed to see Jackman off of the Soderbergh film - I like them both a lot and just yesterday saw and admired both Che films, a couple-few weeks back went a bundle for Jackman in Australia. Should Cleo ever happen - and it might - I hope somebody of a similar calibre to Jackman can be uncovered. No idea who that might be, however.

(And, no - not obvious-ish candidate Gerard Butler because it seems likely he'll be lining up for the Phantom, in the show's simultaneous West End launch).

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