I Am Number Four is the story of a 15-year-old with special powers, one of nine children who fled a planet called Lorien and landed on Earth ten years earlier along with their adult teachers. As they mature, each child develops powers called Legacies, which help them fight the evil Mogadarians. The Nine can only be killed in order. The Mogadorians have killed One, Two, and Three, and Four is on the run with his guardian, Henri. The movie, starring “Glee’s” Diana Agron, “Deadwood’s” Timothy Olyphant as Henri, and “Alex Ryder’s” Alex Pettyfer as Number Four.
According to the book’s cover, its author is Pittacus Lore, described inside as a 10,000 year old from the planet Lorien. That may be easier to believe than the real-life story of the book’s author, or, I should say, authors.
A remarkable story in New York Magazine explains that the book is a product of James Frey’s “fiction factory.” Frey will forever be known as the best-selling author who got a major on-air take-down from Oprah after it was revealed that he had made up some of the lurid details of his purportedly non-fiction story of his struggles with drug addiction, A Million Little Pieces. Now he is inviting students in graduate writing programs to work with him on developing books designed to be best-sellers.
Frey said he was interested in conceiving commercial ideas that would sell extremely well. He was in the process of hiring writers–he said he’d already been to Princeton and was planning on recruiting from the other New York M.F.A. programs as well. We had probably heard of Jobie Hughes? Hughes was a former Columbia M.F.A. student who had graduated the previous spring. Frey told us that he and Hughes had sold the rights to an alien book they had co-written to Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay.
That book is I Am Number Four, written by Hughes under the direction of Frey. The contract Frey asks his young writers to sign gives them as little as $250 plus a percentage of any revenue — and a $50,000 penalty for revealing the arrangement without permission.
On one hand, this is an established and successful (if discredited) author giving opportunities to aspiring writers. On the other hand, it asks them to give up a great deal in return. I wonder if the relationship with Frey inspired in part the description of the hounded Number Four.
And the Washington Area Film Critic Awards go to…
Best Film?: “The Social Network”
Best Director: David Fincher, “The Social Network”
Best Actor: Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”
Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, “The Fighter”
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”
Best Adapted Screenplay: “The Social Network”
Best Original Screenplay: “Inception”
Best Animated Feature: “Toy Story 3“
Best Documentary: “Exit Through the Gift Shop”
Best Foreign Language Film: “Biutiful”
Best Art Direction: “Inception”
Best Cinematography: “Inception”
Best Score: “Inception”
Best Acting Ensemble: “The Town”
Many thanks to my dear friends Brandon Fibbs, Dustin Putman, Patrick Jennings, and our fearless leader Tim Gordon for making this a pleasure.
Disney’s glorious “Fantasia” and its sequel, “Fantasia 2000” are out for a limited time in a spectacular 4-DVD blu-ray package.
Considered a failure on its original release, “Fantasia’s” eight-part combination of images and music is now indisputably a classic. Musicologist Deems Taylor explains that there are three kinds of music: music that paints a picture, music that tells a story, and “absolute music,” or music for music’s sake, and then shows us all three. Highlights include Mickey Mouse as The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, whose plan to save himself from a little work by enchanting a broom to carry the buckets of water gets out of control, the Nutcracker Suite’s forest moving from fall into winter (with the adorable mushroom doing the Chinese Dance), Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, with characters from Greek mythology celebrating at a festival and seeking shelter from a storm, and the Dance of the Hours, with ostrich and hippo ballerinas dancing with gallant (if overburdened) crocodiles.
It concludes with the scary Night on Bald Mountain followed by the dawn’s Ave Maria. The movie is perfect for blu-ray — it’s as though we can finally see the colors the way the artists could only dream of. The flying Pegasus family soars through the sky, the thistles kick like Cossacks to the Russian dance, the dinosaurs lumber to the Rite of Spring. This is one of the greatest movies in cinematic history, groundbreaking and timeless.
And there’s more. Disney planned another musical segment designed by famous surrealist artist Salvador Dali, who came out to the Disney studio for eight months to work on it. But it was canceled due to financial setbacks at the company at the time, and Disney always regretted that it was not completed. It has become a legend, much speculated about and sought after. This splendid set includes Destino, with Roy Disney at long last completing Dali’s original vision, 58 years after he began it.
Roy Disney also supervised “Fantasia 2000,” the sequel, which includes a charming Al Hirschfeld-inspired Manhattan saga set to George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and a wildly funny flamingo/yo-yo mix-up (more like a pile-up) to the music of Saint-Seans.
Fantasia/Fantasia 2000 is a genuine family treasure, guaranteed to inspire and entertain all ages. Grab it while you can.