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Talking pictures: No 'Dark Shadows,' just another 'Addams Family'

Published: Sunday, March 28 2010 12:00 a.m. MDT

Chris Evans, left, who starred with Ioan Gruffudd and Jessica Alba in the "Fantastic Four" movies, has been cast as Captain America.

Photo credit: Diyah Pera, All

It's not like I really expected Hollywood to listen to me, but still … yeesh.

In last week's column I made a few suggestions for the film industry, at least two of which the studio executives and others clearly disregarded.

For one thing, I said that director Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp should go ahead and make their long-promised adaptation of the Gothic soap opera "Dark Shadows."

But Burton then announced a handful of projects — which didn't include "Dark Shadows" and instead featured an animated movie based on cartoonist Charles Addams' "Addams Family" concepts and characters.

No one was exactly clamoring for this, and the live-action 1991 adaptation starring Raul Julia and Christina Ricci was pretty enjoyable.

And sadly, Paramount Pictures and Marvel Studios decided to go cheaper and younger with their casting of the red white and blue-clad superhero Captain America.

Rather than getting a recognizable name like Matt Damon, "The First Avenger: Captain America" will star Chris Evans.

He's already played a superhero — the cocky Johnny Storm, aka, The Human Torch — in the "Fantastic Four" movies.

He also projects a cocky, fratboy-ish demeanor that's nothing like the confident-leader-of-men qualities exhibited by the character.

The choices of workmanlike director Joe Johnston and the screenwriters of the mediocre "Chronicles of Narnia" movie adaptations don't exactly instill me with confidence, either.

(Still, given what Paramount and Marvel got with the almost-as-unlikely pairing of director Jon Favreau and star Robert Downey Jr. for "Iron Man," we could all be pleasantly surprised.)

AKIRA!

This week marks the 100th birthday of beloved Japanese writer-director Akira Kurosawa.

While he died in 1998, he left a considerable legacy — film works spanning more than 50 years.

In addition to re-releasing some Kurosawa classics on Blu-ray, Criterion has also released "AK 100: 25 Films of Akira Kurosawa" ($399.95), a DVD collection of works ranging from 1943's "Sanshiro Sugata" to his final film, 1993's "Madadayo."

But for those looking for more economical and off-the-beaten-path choices, here are three of my favorites among his lesser-known films. (The films are not rated and are in Japanese, with English subtitles):

"High and Low" (Criterion, $39.95)

Kurosawa's enthralling 1963 adaptation of the Ed McBain crime novel "King's Ransom" is supposedly being remade.

So, it's best to watch this version now, before Hollywood inevitably ruins the story and characters.

"Red Beard" (Criterion, $39.95)

The 1965 drama stars Kurosawa regular Toshiro Mifune as a doctor who mentors a younger physician at a charitable hospital.

"Stray Dog" (Criterion, $39.95)

Kurosawa's 1949 crime thriller features Mifune once again, as a detective who loses his pistol.

e-mail: jeff@desnews.com

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