News out of the festival: Clint Eastwood's 'Changeling' starring Angelina Jolie in 1920s period dress (a perfect fit after her somewhat short stint as the face of St. John) has become 'The Exchange'. Very appropriate that the name would change given the name itself, but I kind of liked 'Changeling' - gave it sort of a steam punk vibe which only heightened the mystery element that the movie is founded on. Basic premise, which is based on the real-life Wineville Chicken Murders case: Christine Collins (Jolie) and her son live humbly in a quiet neighborhood in 20s Los Angeles, but one evening after pulling in some overtime, she finds her son has mysteriously disappeared. Months go by before her son is returned by the LAPD, and in the meantime her plight has become regional news, so when she finally reunites with him at the platform of a train station, she's stunned to find that this new boy isn't hers. Her cries of confusion are blunted by the police who label her deluded and loony, and she's placed in a mental ward by corrupt cop Chief James E. Davis (Colm Feore). But with the help of radio Evangelist Rev. Gustav Briegleb (John Malkovich), she uncovers a web of corruption, politics and murder.
One of my absolute favorite films out of the 90s (it was my no.1 for a good long time in high school, years ago) is 'L.A. Confidential' and another of my favorites in general is 'Chinatown' so it's struck me that maybe I just like these historical fiction tales on Los Angeles in its early history, which is certainly very rich and tangled. This film sounds a heck of a lot like 'Confidential' and in the best way, but being written by J. Michael Straczynski whose best-known vehicle was creating 'Babylon 5' I imagine the characterizations will be a lot broader, and less pulpy than 'Confidential' which was adapted from a James Ellroy novel (whose other book turned into Brian De Palma's 'The Black Dahlia' - another Los Angeles-spun historical fiction film). 'Exchange' definitely has my attention, and with Todd McCarthy's early review of the film, I imagine only greater things could be coming out of this between now and its release later in the year. The content alone has it poised for some kind of run through the awards season early in 2009, and J. Michael Straczynski's script has seen some great responses. What do you think? Surefire Best Picture contender? (If Awards Daily has placed it on the tracker, then it must be!)
(Also interesting to note is that Amy Ryan, the Academy Award-nominated mother from 'Gone, Baby, Gone' plays a supporting role in this as well, which gives the film an unintentional (?) flavoring of that film, which was rather good I thought. I wonder if Eastwood will splice that route and lift it to some subtext, or simply ignore it and pin the LAPD as the sole source of immorality?)
IMAGE from: First Showing