The best 'Death' yet...

Friday, December 18, 2015

The best 'Death' yet... a week in which I seem to have been doing little else other than writing about the recently deceased!

(But then as I've oft noted, this is a tough time of the year for those of us on the "back nine of life," or per­haps it just seems that way because The South­amp­ton Press skips the issue between Christmas and the New Year, so the obits page is fuller than usual the first issue in January.)

But this is about a fascinating... to film buffs, at least... 144-minute documentary examining a "Superman" movie that was never made.

Director Jon Schnep's "The Death of 'Superman Lives,' What Happened?" gives a behind-the-scenes look at the making of celluloid sausage in Hollywood, and features extensive interviews with original screenwriter Kevin Smith, director Tim Burton, costumer designer Colleen Atwood and producer Jon Peters, plus a host of others involved in the production which never got produced.

Smith is animated, profane and at times hilarious, while Burton is exactly like the films he makes... somber, quiet and very insightful.

And the sketches and footage of the evolution of the costume is remarkable... talk about "hi tech!" When one sees the lead actor in costume, one realizes the truth of the addage, "Clothes made the man."

Cage as "Superman"

And yes, Nicholas Cage was indeed set to play the title role!

Not sure how that would have worked out, but for me, who grew up with George Reeves on TV, there's only one "strange visitor from another planet who came to earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men," Christopher Reeve in 1978's "Superman." I laughed, thrilled and clapped through three showings of it the first week it opened... it was great!

Jon Peters being interviewed

Peters is positioned as "the bad guy," mostly to blame for the film's failure to get made, 'though it is revealed to be the studio chiefs at Warner Brothers who had green-lit a number of big budget box office failures during the three years "Superman Lives" was in pre-production.

But listening to the ego-centric Peters, who began his ca­reer as Barbra Streisand's hairdresser before becoming an Oscar-winning producer, and watching him on camera... he reminds one of a (slightly) better-groomed Ron Jeremy.

Despite my abiding affection for the 1978 movie, I'm not in any sense a "Superman fanboy," but I strongly recom­mend this documentary by Schnep, who is an unabashed fanboy.

It's currently playing on cable Showtime.


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