By Romeo San Vicente
Maggie Smith is living in a ‘Van’
“The Lady in the Van” is quite the departure for Maggie Smith. Lately, she’s become more well known than ever for her appearances in the “Harry Potter” films, her sassy dowager on “Downton Abbey,” and her cranky retiree in the “Marigold Hotel” films. In “Van,” Smith plays Miss Shepherd, a real-life woman who decided to park her van in the driveway of English writer Alan Bennett (“The Madness of King George,” “The History Boys”), and live there. For 15 years. During this time, Bennett simply allowed her to continue doing so – that British politeness at work – and both of their lives were, naturally, altered by the experience. Filmed at the real locations, this idiosyncratic story from Bennett and director Nicholas Hytner will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and almost certainly be hitting theaters around award season. How could it not?
Archie sings again
Let’s say you’re old enough to remember The Archies, the early ’70s fake rock group invented for the animated Saturday morning version of “Archie” comics. Each episode of the series ended with a song from the “band.” They even had whoppingly popular hit singles such as “Sugar Sugar” and “Jingle Jangle,” very much like the fake live-action TV band, The Partridge Family. Well, writer-director Adam McKay (“Anchorman,” “Talladega Nights”) remembers it so well that he’s taking the Archies to Broadway in a brand new musical. And who better to describe the action plan than the man himself: “Archie represents a bygone era of America. And like all bygone eras, there are elements we miss and elements that should be bygone. This will be a musical that deals with both those realities in a bright, colorful and slightly demented way.” McKay will write the book, but that’s all the information known at the moment. We assume McKay will include Riverdale’s gay teen Kevin Keller and at least some cameos from “Josie and The Pussycats” and “Sabrina the Teenage Witch”? Right? Please?
Davies’ ‘Sunset Song’
Veteran gay filmmaker Terence Davies is a master of the quietly intelligent British period film. He has long explored the fate of individuals caught between their desires and duties during England’s shifting historical framework, as in “The House of Mirth” and “The Deep Blue Sea,” and the results are always moving. For his latest, “Sunset Song,” based on the novel by Lewis Grassic Gibbon, he follows acclaimed Scottish actor Peter Mullan and model/actress Agyness Deyn as they navigate the hardships of rural life in that northernmost U.K. country. The film has its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in September and a theatrical release will follow, wherever movies for grown-ups (aka the ones lacking superheroes, robots and dystopian futures) appear near you.
Porn in the U.S.A. with James Franco
David Simon. Know that name? No? Well, he’s the TV genius who created the acclaimed HBO shows “The Wire” and “Treme.” And after his latest miniseries, “Show Me a Hero,” airs on the pay cable channel, he’s got a new project in the works, a pilot for a series currently known as “The Deuce.” It’s set in the notorious and much-missed Times Square of the 1970s and 80s, a place of vice, sin, drugs and crazy porn theaters that showed X-rated movies round the clock and boasted wild titles on marquees for all to see (they usually included words like “nympho” in case you’re too lazy to chase down Google Images). In other words, it’s going to look amazing. It will also star James Franco, whose presence signifies weirdness and probably some homosexuality. There’s only a pilot order for the moment, but Simon’s relationship and history with HBO tends to point to this going to series. We’re very excited and also somewhat horny now.