Movie File: ‘Harry Potter,’ Peter Jackson, Ben Affleck, ‘Flags Of Our Fathers’ & More

Pope's exorcist guns for Potter; Jackson lines up hero's tale; Affleck directs his bro; Clint Eastwood takes on WWII film.

An unachievable quest? An insurmountable enemy? A ragtag group of Everymen who become legends? “Lord of the Rings” overlord Peter Jackson has been down this road before — now he’s taking a story of impossible heroism to the skies. Based on the real-life adventures of Royal Air Force Squadron 617, Jackson’s take on the events that inspired the 1954 U.K. film “The Dam Busters” follows Commander Guy Gibson and his crew as they lead a dangerous bombing mission into the heart of Nazi Germany. Exacerbating an already perilous journey, the crew must deploy a revolutionary “bouncing” bomb, which was improbably designed to skip across water, pass heavily fortified defenses and destroy German dams. Jackson, who calls his forthcoming “Dambusters” “one of the most remarkable true stories to come out of World War II,” will produce the film, which is set to be directed by first-timer Christian Rivers. An Academy Award winner for visual effects in “King Kong,” Rivers views the plight of the 617 as a turning point in the war. “The bravery of these young pilots, some of whom were only 20 years old, inspired the whole Allied world not just to resist, but to strike back against Nazi Germany,” he said. Filming will begin in early 2007. …

Forget Voldemort. Harry Potter’s newest and most viable threat may be coming from the Catholic Church. Three years after Pope John Paul II praised the work of J.K. Rowling, calling her a “Christian by conviction,” Father Gabriele Amorth, chief exorcist to Pope Benedict XVI, told followers that her novels “hide the signature of the king of the darkness, the devil.” Nevertheless, Harry Potter remains “He Who Shall Not Be Tamed,” as production continues on filming the fifth novel in the series, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” Directed by David Yates, the flick will be released in the States on July 13, 2007. …

For Casey Affleck, working with big brother Ben Affleck is just another day at the office — literally. Both Afflecks recently completed work on “Gone, Baby, Gone,” a new film based on a fictional crime mystery from “Mystic River” author Dennis Lehane. The flick centers on the disappearance of a young girl from the insular Boston community of Dorchester and the two private detectives (Affleck and Michelle Monaghan) hired to track her down. “I’m a private investigator who lives in the neighborhood,” the younger Affleck explained. “I do small-time investigations, so this is a big break for me. [For this community] it’s not about trusting the police or getting the best that money can buy, it’s about using people you know.” Ben, who makes his directorial debut on the project, impressed Casey with his poise and grace under pressure. “He handled himself really well. He might have been nervous, but he didn’t show it,” Casey noted, adding drolly, “It would have made me nervous to direct [the film's stars, including] Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, … myself!” Casey can next be seen in “The Last Kiss,” opening September 15. …

































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Revered movie stills have a way of becoming iconic, like still lifes that perfectly capture a moment, a scene or an entire film. “Flags of Our Fathers” goes the other way. Based on the late Joe Rosenthal‘s lauded photograph of six U.S. soldiers raising an American flag on Iwo Jima, the Clint Eastwood-helmed war flick centers on the tragic cost of battle and the bloody, but ultimately victorious, American victory on the small Pacific island. Joseph Cross plays Franklin Sousley, who, according to the actor, is a “19-year-old Marine from Hilltop, Kentucky,” and “not the brightest bulb in the box.” Cross, who stars in the upcoming “Running With Scissors,” said working with Eastwood was a dream come true. “You can’t ask for anything more,” Cross gushed about the two-time Oscar winner. “He’s very laid-back, kind and gracious. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He doesn’t need 100 takes to get what he wants.” Filmed in Iceland and Los Angeles, “Flags of Our Fathers” is set for an October release. …

As the director of “Doom” and “Romeo Must Die,” Andrzej Bartkowiak knows a thing or two about shooting action, a skill that should serve him well on his newest film, “Black and Blue.” Written by Jimmy Cummings and Brad Sohn, “Black and Blue” centers on a straight cop who gets involved in the crooked world of Boston’s Irish gangsters and must fight his way out to save the ones he cares about. Sohn believes the style of the movie is a throwback to 1980s action films. “I think it’s in many ways like the kind of action movies that Jimmy and I grew up on and loved,” he said, before adding, “Which, of course, makes Andrzej the perfect fit to direct.” The film is being produced by Emmett/ Furla Films, which last week released “The Wicker Man.” …

When the law fails the people, the people become outlaws. Such is the premise of Nick Love‘s appropriately titled new feature “Outlaw,” about a group of citizens who, tired of and disappointed by the way their government handles crime, take matters into their own hands and right the wrongs of society through vigilante justice. The film, which stars Bob Hoskins as “a policeman who is sick of it and who is giving information to the outlaws” and Sean Bean, draws from documented stories of similar incidents throughout England. Hoskins sees the story as an affirmation of community spirit in the face of rising crime. “People feel laws are going soft,” the “Hollywoodland” and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” star declared. “In the old days, in a community, people knew each other, they protected each other. Nowadays people get beaten up for their pension book. We should look after each other.” …

It must be the beach. The precocious director of the upcoming “Haven” starring Orlando Bloom, Frank E. Flowers, promised that his next project will once again be shot in the Caribbean. “I’m writing a movie about Jamaica,” he enthused. “My family’s from there and I really want to tell another Caribbean story.” The movie, which Flowers described as a “sort of ‘Straw Dogs’ set in Jamaica” comes on the heels of his Cayman Islands-inspired “Haven.” Flowers was confident that by returning to the beach he wasn’t repeating himself. “Every Caribbean island is so different,” he said, smiling. “We kind of shine a light down there every once in a while and let people see that. It’s a big deal. It’s a big time for the West Indies.” Flowers rose to prominence with “Swallow,” a short film that made its way around Hollywood three years ago.

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