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Butler's Script Sale of the Week...

A busy week for sales with a good amount of what could be really cool projects. Spielberg taking on the true life teen con man story CATCH ME IF YOU CAN is great news. As a huge fan of Charles Bukowski, I can't wait for the animated THE WAY THE DEAD LOVE based on his poetry. For some reason I think the Dustin Hoffman tennis comedy, HEAD CASE, will be hilarious. And I hope to God the remake of Hitchcock's SUSPICION doesn't turn out to be cinematic blasphemy.

My pick of the week is the David Fincher project, HARD BOILED .

No, it's not a remake of the brillant 1992 John Woo flick (thank God). It's an adaptation of the, by most accounts, brillant 1997 comic scripted by Frank Miller (of BATMAN and DAREDEVIL fame) and drawn by Geoff Darrow. Fincher is planning to produce and direct with Nic Cage taking the lead.

HARD BOILED, set in the not too distant future, tells the story of Carl Seltz, a devoted husband and father, a tax collector, and the ultimate robot killing machine. Author Frank Miller is considered a legend in comics circles. If the only thing he ever did was the classic Batman DARK KNIGHT series he'd be assured comic book demigod status for eternity. But he has consistently churned out the most relentless and cutting edge comics out there. Not to mention the ability to tell a truly satisfying story. If you're not already excited about Fincher directing this baby then you're not a true film fan.

Fincher burst on to the celluloid scene with the underrated ALIEN3 (1992). Of course, it would be another three years before Hollywood really took notice with the release of his now classic serial killer flick, SE7EN (1995). He followed that up with THE GAME (1997), brillant for its happy ending (brillant because Fincher already knew what the audience expected from him and gave them the opposite). Then in 1999 came what I firmly believe to be one of the best films of the 20th century, FIGHT CLUB. He should just about be finishing work on THE PANIC ROOM due next year and then it'll be on to HARD BOILED.

With the source he's working from. I've no doubt Fincher can turn this into a great flick. Only two concerns remain with this project.

One, they haven't announced a screenwriter to adapt yet. At this point, however, Fincher can have the pick of the litter. He's also shown he knows what a good story is, so that's not too big a concern.

Two, Nic Cage. Ten years ago, I would have been thrilled with Cage taking on a project like this. That was the Cage of RAISING ARIZONA (1997), VAMPIRE'S KISS (1989), and WILD AT HEART (1990). Ever since the Oscar, though, he's taken the mainstream route to mediocrity. I don't blame the guy for taking on a few action pics for big bucks, but he seems to have gotten it into his head that he's Jimmy f'n Stewart or something. BRINGING OUT THE DEAD (1999) marked a close return to form, but he follows that up with the abysmal GONE IN SIXTY SECONDS (2000) and the sickly sweet FAMILY MAN (2000). However, there are signs that the old Nic may be returning. I'm not so sure about the upcoming WINDTALKERS, but he's also got Fincher pal Spike Jonze's ADAPTATION coming up - a very good sign, indeed.

If anyone can ignite the fires in Cage that fuelled his early performances it's Fincher (just look what he does with Brad Pitt). Of course, that's if Jonze doesn't beat him to it ...

--Edward Butler

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