Monday, July 20, 2009

You Can Run, but You Can't Hyde: Abel Ferrara Jumps on Mad Scientist Bandwagon

Hot on the heels of the announcement that there are two movies based on Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the works--a modern retelling with Keanu Reeves and a more faithful adaptation that Guillermo del Toro may get around to one of these years--comes news that Abel Ferrara is also jumping in with both feet. Ferrara's movie, to be called Jekyll & Hyde, will also be a "contemporized" version of the tale, which has to be a hard blow to anyone who was looking forward to seeing what it looks like when the director of Bad Lieutenant instructs a woman dressed like Polly Peachum to stagger through heavy ground fog up to the camera and say, "'Ere, Guv'ner, yew look like a fine figger of a man now, don'tcha, what do you say to a walk around the block wit' a girl what could show even a educated gentleman such as yourself a thing or two, she could, she could?" The part of the conflicted scientist will be split between Forest Whitaker and Curtis Jackson, A.K.A. 50 Cent. Presumably Whitaker will play the half that has the weird eyeball thing going on, while 50 Cent, expanding on his breakthrough performance in Jim Sheridan's Get Rich or Die Tryin', will represent the younger, hotheaded personality that nobody wants to see in a movie.

Luc Roeg, one of the executive producers on Ferrara's movie, says, "The combination of such formidable talent in front of and behind the camera will turn this wonderful gothic story into a modern classic for a whole new generation." This is not the first time that Ferrara has tried his hand at updating a classic horror fantasy: his 1993 Body Snatchers, the third movie derived from Jack Finney's 1955 sci-fi serial, which also featured Forest Whitaker, has the special distinction of having been perhaps the most incomprehensible movie of the director's career, which is no small claim. The Jekyll and Hyde story has already been around before not so long ago, in the form of Stephen Frears's 1996 adaptation of Valerie Martin's novel Mary Reilly, a movie that established that the sight of Julia Roberts wrestling with an eel does not make for good box office. Rumors that Sean Penn and Benecio del Toro will soon team up to star as a pair of magpies in the $60 million live action feature Heckle and Jeckle, with Tim Burton directing from a script by David Mamet, remain unconfirmed at this time.

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