Films: Rushes

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The Independent Culture
LESS THAN GREAT: The dismal presence of Matthew McConnaughey (check out his performance in Contact for a text-book definition of redundancy) looks set to blight another project. An Alexander the Great biopic, which originally came to light with Oliver Stone and Tom Cruise attached, has been revived with the news that Christopher McQuarrie, the writer behind The Usual Suspects, has penned a new screenplay of the life of the Macedonian leader - and the smirking Texan is in talks to star.

RETURN OF THE DOLLS: Brady Bunch director Betty Thomas looks intent on mining an entire career from a rich seam of 50s and 60s trash. Next up for Thomas is a re-make of Dr Dolittle with Eddy Murphy and this week comes news that she's on the verge of clinching a deal to helm another version of Jacqueline Susann's pulpy best-selling 1966 novel, Valley of the Dolls. Susann's vivid portrayal of the tribulations of three wannabe starlets battling to the top has sold over 19 million copies to date and underwent its first film adaptation a year after publication; an effort which Susann judged "a piece of shit". Susann got as good as she gave, however: Truman Capote once commented that she looked rather like "a truck driver in drag". Whether actress Bette Midler, who is due to star as the writer in a forthcoming biopic, will take Capote's bon mot as a cue for her characterisation remains for us all to see, however.

TEARS FOR PINOCCHIO: A tearful turn of events in Francis Ford Coppola's legal action against Warner Brothers provided a fascinating glimpse into the kind of schmaltz that attracts one of American cinema's greatest directors. Coppola is seeking over $23m in damages for what he believes is the studio's attempt to lay claim to a live-action, big screen adaptation of Pinocchio, which they had initially expressed interest in before backing off. Coppola told the court before breaking down: "I don't know why stories of kids are so moving to me. You need a concept that gives life to a [story], to give it a heart and soul, something unique." The director cried as he recounted his vision of the Pinocchio tale, which updates the story of the lying wooden puppet who dreams of becoming a real boy to Nazi-occupied France.