Intentionally claustrophobic and set in a grim fairie tale (see what we did there?) of foreboding forests and brooding, dark villages (wonderful design by Brit genius Guy Dyas, who was production designer on X2 and the forthcoming Superman Returns), The Brothers Grimm is nonetheless primarily a comedy (albeit with supernatural and quite scary overtones), which plays with the idea that the Grimm Brothers - Jacob (Ledger) and Will (Damon) are in fact con artists, travelling through the villages and forests of Germany, offering their services as witch-hunters to beleaguered locals. However, the duo are pressed into service at a town where the real thing - Bellucci's 500 year-old wicked queen - is holding sway...
Instead of a series of key sequences loosely strung together, Gilliam's teaser was much more ramshackle and Gilliam-esque, interspersing brief snippets of dialogue into the odd longer sequence. But The Brothers Grimm looks ace, a triumph of mood (there will be some jump out of your seat moments as the witch's evil spreads out to the local village), character (Damon and Ledger both seem to be hitting it out of the park, Ledger as a twitchy coward and Damon as a charismatic buffoon - think Jack Sparrow without the shakes and you might be in the right ballpark) and design.
It also looks very funny (Ledger's physical schtick and desperate attempts to woo the gorgeous Lena Headey are most chucklesome, while Damon gets the best lines. "Your son did a fine job here," he tells a local. "That is my daughter," replies the local. "Well, then, one day he may make someone a fine wife") with the odd moment of pathos (the brothers' relationship appears to be finely realised) and action (we could talk about a major action sequence that we saw, but given that it appeared to be the climax of the film, we'd really rather not; suffice to say, it was impressive and yet refreshingly free of bombast). Keep your eyes peeled for this - 2006 could be Gilliam's year.
"Syriana," which Mr. Gaghan (the Oscar-winning writer of "Traffic") wrote and directed and which is to be released by Warner Brothers this fall, dramatizes one spy's role as the tip of the bayonet of American policy in the Middle East, loosely inspired by the memoirs of Robert Baer, a career field operative.
"The Good Shepherd," which Mr. Roth first drafted over a decade ago and which Mr. De Niro says he is to begin shooting for Universal Pictures and Morgan Creek on Aug. 15, takes a sweeping look at the C.I.A.'s early history, from its old-boy origins in World War II through the Bay of Pigs and the paralyzing search for moles.
Stacey Snider, chairwoman of Universal, said it was no coincidence that "The Good Shepherd," long considered one of the best unproduced scripts in Hollywood, was getting made now. "We were always attracted to it because it was a rich, great story," she said. "But when it came to us, because of current events, we could look at it and say, not only is this an incredible multigenerational saga, but the topicality makes it more urgent."
When Mr. Roth's script first came his way, Mr. De Niro passed on a role, and the project withered. He and his TriBeCa Films partner, Jane Rosenthal, then revived it for Mr. De Niro to direct, but he soon found what others had learned: "Everybody's been afraid of it," he said.
Several years, studios and financing partners later, the film is being financed by Morgan Creek, which will distribute it overseas; Matt Damon will play the Angleton character and Angelina Jolie is in talks to play his wife. Mr. De Niro will play a small role as well.
If only all breakups went as smoothly as MATT DAMON and ODESSA WHITMIRE's. A gym-goer at Crunch in New York's Soho neighborhood tells me the two frequently run into each other while working out. There appears to be no signs of strain while they chat with each other. Damon is getting lots of attention at the gym. I'm told he's quite hot thanks to some training from boxing champ CLAY BURWELL.