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Film Intelligence: R.I.P. Tony Scott, Hollywood's lost top gun

Every week there are dozens of film news stories. We read them all and bring you the five most important ones in the single most important blog post you’ll ever read (today [at this moment]). This week: a tragic end, Bible stories, toxic avengers and small children crying for our amusement.

1. Tony Scott (1944-2012)

The movie world was shocked this week by the sudden death of director Tony Scott, who apparently took his own life on Sunday by jumping off a bridge in California. Initial reports suggested that Scott committed suicide after learning he had inoperable brain cancer, but Scott’s family later told authorities that those rumors were “absolutely false” and that as far as they knew, Scott was in fine health (a complete autopsy will have the final say, but that will take several weeks). Scott, brother of fellow director Ridley Scott, made some of the most popular action movies of the last quarter century, including CRIMSON TIDE, BEVERLY HILLS COP II, MAN ON FIRE and most famously, TOP GUN. His last film was 2010′s UNSTOPPABLE, starring Chris Pine and Scott’s longtime onscreen collaborator Denzel Washington, as two conductors in a desperate struggle to stop a runaway train. The movie wasn’t fancy, but in its best moments Scott’s aggressive, perpetual-motion aesthetic elevated the battle of man versus machine to the level of pure cinema. Scott was just 68 years old; he will be missed. [TMZ]


2. A Bridge and Troubled Waters

One of the stranger aspects of Scott’s suicide is his choice of location: the Vincent Thomas Bridge, connecting San Pedro and Terminal Island. It was hard for Tony Scott fans to hear the news and not think of the frequent and sometimes crucial roles bridges play in his movies. One looms ominously large over the New Orleans ferry whose explosion serves as the inciting incident — and later, the setting of the climax — of 2006′s DEJA VU. The Bay Bridge in San Francisco figures in the opening credits of 1996′s THE FAN; the Manhattan Bridge serves as the site of the climax of 2009′s THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3. Scott apparently had a history with that particular San Pedro bridge as well, having shot some of 2010′s UNSTOPPABLE there and later imagining it as the potential location of the grand finale of his planned remake of THE WARRIORS. This connection between Scott’s films and his tragic death might be a total coincidence. But it will still be hard to look at those movies again without thinking of the way this fine director’s life ended. [The Hollywood Reporter]


3. “Jesus, another religious themed movie?”

Films with strong Christian themes have proven particularly lucrative for major studios and indie directors alike in recent years. Warner Bros. is hoping that trend continues with the new project PONTIUS PILATE, a biblical screenplay they’ve acquired from WOMAN ON TOP writer Vera Blasi. The script, which Deadline’s Mike Fleming says features “twists and unexpected turns that satisfyingly combine history, political maneuvering and storytelling inventions reminiscent of such films as BRAVEHEART and GLADIATOR,” would focus on the evolution of the infamous figure “from the sensitive son of a Roman Knight into a ferocious soldier whose warrior exploits make him a general and puts him on a political track under the Roman Emperor Tiberius.” If Warner Bros. puts PONTIUS PILATE into production in the near future, it would come on the heels of several other impending religious-themed films, including Darren Aronofsky’s eagerly awaited version of Noah’s Ark. If that movie’s a hit, forget about it: We’re in for a whole flood of new Old Testament movies. [Deadline]


4. SATURDAY NIGHT (Toxic) FEVER

From our This Can’t Be True, Right? Desk, easily the craziest movie rumor in ages. Numerous film blogs are citing a cast and crew list from It’s on the Grid that claims John Travolta is “attached” to star in the long-in-the-works remake of Troma Films’ schlock superhero classic THE TOXIC AVENGER. This version, which will be co-written and directed by Steve Pink (HOT TUB TIME MACHINE), would tone down the gore and nudity (the original was a Troma movie, after all) and go for a slightly more cartoonish tone. And, apparently, give the hero a horrible case of Saturday night fever. Would Travolta play Toxie? Could Travolta play Toxie? That seems unlikely; no way they’re gonna make a 58-year-old superhero, especially since the original character was a bullied teen who fell into a vat of chemicals and gained super-powers. Still, Travolta could play the title character’s dad, or primary antagonist, or an angry gym teacher at his school who loves Scientology. The possibilities are endless. [Bloody Disgusting]


5. The Endless Tears of TIMOTHY GREEN

We close this week on a note of sadness: hilarious, hilarious sadness. In this video, a couple try to console their children after they’re left utterly traumatized by the new kids’ movie THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN, which ends — SPOILER ALERT — with the death of the title character. After laughing at this viral video, and therefore laughing at the sight of small children losing his innocence forever, I felt a pang of guilt — is it wrong to chuckle at this? And is it even worse to have put it on the Internet? Is it a parents’ responsibility to keep their kids’ insanely amusing inner turmoil private? I say no. Personally, I can’t wait to have kids so I can exploit their problems for my own selfish purposes. “Wait, you did what? You dropped your ice cream cone? Don’t cry! I don’t even have my camera on me!” [Badass Digest]

Photo credit: Columbia Pictures