a perfect world, this news item would pertain to the casting of Paul Bettany as Dr. Bradford Crane in the Olivier Assayas-directed remake of The Swarm. Yes, Olivier Assayas. Anyone who’ll admit to Film Comment that they adore The Cannonball Run must have a deep and abiding affection for Irwin Allen’s killer bee epic. Hell, if I weren’t backlogged with work, I’d knock off right now and spend the rest of the day watching some of the biggest stars of 1978 get stung to shit.

Unfortunately, I think the commercial capsizing of Wolfgang Petersen’s Poseidon* has cooled the demand for further remakes of Allen’s disaster classics, so Paul Bettany won’t be stepping into Michael Caine’s slummin’ shoes anytime soon (even though he’d be perfect for the part). No, the only bees in Bettany’s future are the kind that inspire self-discover and foster racial understanding. Those kinds of bees suck.

Not that you care anymore, but Bettany has been cast as Dakota Fanning’s abusive father in The Secret Life of Bees, an adaptation of the Sue Monk Kidd novel by Gina Prince-Bythewood. The story is about a young girl who runs off with her family’s also-abused housekeeper (Jennifer Hudson) to Tiburon, South Carolina, where they hole up with three sisters (Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys and Sophie Okonedo) who learn ’em to keep bees. Any chance these bees get loose in the second act and derail a train hauling Fred MacMurray and Olivia de Havilland? No? What’s the fucking point, then?

In all seriousness, I’m semi-interested in this film as the theatrical follow-up to Prince-Bythewood’s very good Love & Basketball. But, man, what a horrible waste of bees!

*Which he tacitly disowned when we talked to him about the director’s cut of Troy last September.