Monday, May 14, 2007

FU Frank! Do "The Spirit" Right!

Okay, this story started as a nice piece about Frank Miller's Hollywood love affair. I was calling it "Frank Miller.... Hollywood's Boyfriend!" But while looking up pics for the text, I found this, vile, sad thing:

I originally thought it was a mock up, made by a fan or a prankster, to emblazen Spirit fans with hateful murder toward Miller, but looking here, I found out that this seems to actually be part of the early marketing?

This ugly piece of lazy modern Miller art is used, instead of work like this?:

or this?

or this?

or this?

And to top it all off that Miller quote to Variety, I'd read many times before, hung sharply at the bottom of the page:
“I intend to be extremely faithful to the heart and soul of the material, but it won’t be nostalgic. It will be much scarier than people expect,”

Apparently we shouldn't expect the art direction to encompass the art of Will Eisner? Instead we should expect Miller's crappy "Dark Knight Returns Again," simpler, middle-aged, lazy style? Please...Don't let that poster be indicative of Miller's art direction...

Thank you, and now on to the original story...

This is a nice piece I read, about Miller taking over Hollywood. See Alan, it only took decades of pain! Come back in five years and let's get Tim Roth to make a real John Constantine movie!! Miller deserves some power, even though if you read the entire article (here!) you'll see the posturing of a crazed law and order meathead, but that is why they love him....

Revenge of the Dark Knight
Hard-edged comics guru Frank Miller is hot in Hollywood. Now for the graphic details.
By Geoff Boucher, Times Staff Writer
April 29, 2007

......Miller, the most important comic book artist of the last 25 years, is enjoying his moment in the Hollywood sun. There was, of course, the record-breaking March box office of "300," a lovingly faithful adaptation of Miller's bloody 1998 graphic novel, but there's also the two sequels to "Sin City" now in the pipeline and the Batman project now being filmed in London that borrows its title from Miller's 1986 masterpiece, "The Dark Knight Returns." "They finally got the title right," Miller said with a pretend sneer. "I was wondering when that would happen."

....Like most stars of the comic-book community (where he is the rare artist who became equally celebrated as a writer), he had become accustomed to be treated like a valet by Hollywood — Hey, kid, thanks for the keys and the vehicle, here's a couple of bucks — and then forced to watch the studios wreck everything on screen. The 1990s Batman movies, for instance, would not have happened without Miller's work, but they often ignored or trampled his contributions to the character. ..... Elektra, a beloved character he created, tanked badly on the screen in the hands of others.

Now there's a sweet satisfaction in the fact that the new Hollywood approach is to hire fan-boy directors and show fawning respect for the source material. "Sin City's" Robert Rodriguez even insisted on sharing director credits with Miller on those films (a maverick stand that cost Rodriguez his membership in the Directors Guild), and that led directly to a somewhat shocking development: Miller has now been tapped to write and direct his own film based on Will Eisner's classic noir hero "The Spirit."

One of the producers, Michael Uslan, also the producer of "Constantine" and executive producer of "Batman Begins," said the filming will start this year and that there already is intense interest from distributors given the splashy success of "300," which grossed $70 million in just its first weekend. Uslan was an executive producer on more than half a dozen superhero movies, including the Tim Burton "Batman" films, and he said Miller's relative newcomer role to Hollywood is not a problem.

"Honestly, to me, there's nobody else that could do this film. I saw him at Will Eisner's memorial service last year and I told him that I'd been turning comic books into movies for years, but that with 'Sin City' he's doing something better: He was making movies into comic books. I told him he had to make 'The Spirit.' He said there was no way he could do it. Then after three minutes he said, 'There's no way I can let anybody else do it.' "

....The mid-1980s brought the shift of comics toward more mature ambitions and Miller (along too with Alan Moore, writer of "The Watchman") was at the center of the renaissance. His defining characters — Daredevil, Elektra, the aging Batman of "Dark Knight," the disgraced samurai of "Ronin" — were solitary, haunted, honor-bound and extremely efficient at hurting other people. Reading Miller, Mickey Spillane and Clint Eastwood sprang to mind, especially when one Daredevil cover was an overt homage to "Dirty Harry."

Miller also became an outspoken champion of artist's rights in the industry, and he engaged in serious work to celebrate the legacy of past stars, among them, Eisner, who died in 2005 at 87 and was the creator of "The Spirit," a work often hailed as the "Citizen Kane" of comics. The artists had a close friendship, and Miller seems more nervous about his film living up to the expectations of his late mentor than he does about any pressures from producers or the public.

"There's quite a standard there, and I feel a tremendous responsibility and honor doing it," Miller said. He chewed on the thought some more. "It is a lot of pressure, though, yes."

...Miller will need all his supporters and his strength to pull off the new role as solo director of a major Hollywood film. He surely learned a lot at the side of "Sin City's" Rodriguez, but the new job requires not just artistic antennae but also an efficient dictator sensibility.

"He can do it, absolutely," said "300's" (director, Zack) Snyder, "because he has the respect instantly of the people around him because of his vision. I saw on the set of '300,' he won people over because he knows what he wants, and what he wants is great. He's in this unique position now where he is a brand name. Like Quentin [Tarantino], there's this perception that his take on pop culture is so singular and right that he gets to break the rules."

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