Saturday, February 28, 2004
[Um … this is a spoiler warning.]

Title: The da Vinci Code
Author: Dan Brown
Logline: It’s The Name of the Rose meets Thomas Crown Affair meets Scooby-Doo!

The book is just stupid popular, so consider the opening weekend to gross 80 mil, easy. And it’s a book destined for motion-picture adaptation if ever there was one. It reads tight and fast-paced, loaded with thrills, chases, and riddles at every turn. There’s highbrow art history lessons in there, secret societies, and also some sexy European locales. The plot goes like this: Robert Langdon is this art professor dude who meets some hot French cryptologist chick named Sophie, and they run around solving Riddler-style riddles. Some wicked Christians are after them, too, and I think it’s got something to do with Jesus and da Vinci. Whatever, it’s practically a movie already. Get a load of this movie-ready dialogue:

Anagrams? I’d never have guessed it!

You’re the worst cryptographer ever!

I know! It’s like I’m retarded!

How about that? It sounds like genuine real-people-speaking dialogue, not fakey-phoney movie-people dialogue. The screenwriter who adapts this has got his work cut out for him. All he’s got to do is stick a couple of hard returns in there, and bingo! Oscar gold. Take this scene, where Sophie and Langdon are stymied by a missing ten-digit PIN to her late grandfather’s secret Swiss account:

Curses! So close! But alas, we’re stymied by the missing ten-digit PIN to my grandfather’s secret Swiss account…

It’s no use. We’ll never guess it. There’s ten zillion possible combinations. If only he left us a clue…

Oh grandpa! Why couldn’t you leave us a clue?

Hmm… ten-digit number… ten-digit number…

You don’t think—

Of course!

The ten-digit number he wrote on his chest before he died six hours ago!

I’m so stupid!

Absolutely fucking brain-dead!

Hell, if that’s not psychologically taut suspense-building tension with a foreshadowing, character-expository big reveal, I don’t know what is. And then, as if this movie wasn’t already a certified blockbuster, the story really pays off with a super big twist Hollywood whammo ending. Right here, this is the money shot, where Langdon’s trusted ally Sir Teabing reveals his sinister plans:

Mmmmyes, ‘tis I, the nefarious Sir Teabing! I’m the secret villain! You didn’t see that coming because it’s the oldest cliché in the book, my dear boy! Now, I’ll point this gun at you and force you to help me, despite the fact that you’ve enthusiastically helped me all along! Bwaaaaahahahaha!! How dastardly of me!

Goddamn it, if we don’t make this movie, we should just kill ourselves. Perfect starring vehicle for Kevin Costner and Julia Roberts. Plus, maybe Leonardo Di Caprio as Leonardo da Vinci? Maybe Jamie Lee Curtis would be interested in a cameo as the Mona Lisa, because of that man/woman thing.

Recommendation: Definitely consider.

* * *

Title: The Devil Wears Prada
Author: Lauren Weisberger
Logline: It’s The Devil’s Advocate meets every chick flick ever!

Er, O.K. Confession here: I didn’t read this thing, but my girlfriend raved about it, and if you’ve ever been to a girl’s apartment, you’d know she’s got this book on her shelf. So, figure 60 mil opening. We can shoot for Natalie Portman/Julia Stiles/Kirsten Dunst/etc. to play the lead chick. Maybe the Gyllenhaal girl. Also, there’s probably some schmaltzy, sappy love story about the heroine’s affections being torn between an adorable schmuck and irascible cad. Jason Biggs and Jude Law? You betcha. Let’s see what we can do with Angelina Jolie playing the Prada-clad devil. That bitch is crazy! Wanna sell some soundtracks? Sting croons a love ballad. Done.

Recommendation: Consider.

* * *

Title: Burning Down My Master’s House
Author: Jayson Blair
Logline: It’s Shattered Glass meets Drumline!

O.K. get this: a black reporter for The New York Times totally bullshits his way through made-up articles, gets caught, pulls the race card. Now he writes this autobiography/memoir, but, the thing is, he makes shit up. So how do we know any of what he’s slinging here is fact from fiction?

Two words: Charlie fucking Kaufman. This is K-man territory, for shizz. Let’s see if he’ll make this into a trippy headache of truth vs. lie, fact vs. fiction, black vs. white, and so on.

Get the Neptunes to crank out a killer soundtrack. Have Ja Rule sing “F*ck Whitey” or something. Hey, Eminem snatched an Oscar last year for playing the white-man-trying-to-make-it-in-a-black-man’s-world angle. Well, J-Blair can work it, bang down, flip it, and reverse it. Holla!

Maybe Spike’s interested in this project? He sure loves sticking it to whitey. You know who’s a fine young black man? That Taye Diggs. Or Mekhi Phifer. How about that kid who plays the president’s houseboy on West Wing? Or either of those dudes that kissed Julia Stiles—the one from O or the one from Save the Last Dance. Were those the same guy? I can’t tell black people apart. Man, Hollywood is so racist. We pander to the African-American community, handing out shit roles in violent, gangsta, ghetto flicks. Only Denzel and Halle can get good roles. How horrible. I’m embarrassed for all of us. Fat, white studio moguls and lowly D-girls and man-whoring, coke-addict script readers. Jesus, Hollywood’s such a scummy town.

Better steer clear of this project. Too racy.

Recommendation: Pass.

Ray Stillman once killed a man with his bare hands, although he is not one to brag about such things. He is an aspiring screenwriter, an inspiring poet, and a perspiring photographer. Mr. Stillman is an ex-New Yorker who now lives in scenic, sunny, star-saturated Los Angeles, in an apartment building between a bowling alley and a tattoo parlor. He often finds it difficult to resist the urge to ink “Gutter balls” across the knuckles of his left hand. He has made sweet, sweet love with supermodel Heidi Klum many, many times but, again, is not one to brag.

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