Mr. Soderbergh, you know I love you. Just the other day I was talking about how your Solaris is a beautiful film that slipped right by most audiences. But now, when I read that you plan to make a 3D musical film about Cleopatra, and not least that it will be called Cleo, I have to think you’ve lost your goddamn mind.
According to Variety, Soderbergh is talking to Catherine Zeta-Jones to play Cleo, er, Cleopatra and Hugh Jackman to liven up Marc Antony. Variety also says that the music ‘has been written’ by Guided By Voices which should surprise fans that thought the band was done four years ago. Now, if this is would be set to Bee Thousand, count me fucking elated and confused. (This might be my only chance to see Catherine Zeta-Jones sashay out of the screen and into my heart as she croons ‘Tractor Rape Chain’.) But no, the script is by one-time GbV bassist James Greer, so it’s the real thing.
Let’s dissect. Jackman is a patently fine, perhaps even fantastic choice for a bugshit insane project like this. Zeta-Jones? Why not? Whatever made her Chicago performance work can probably be brought to bear here, too, especially if she’s wearing a snake crown. All the time. But Soderbergh…I’m sure he just wants to play with 3D cameras, and going into full-on Busby Berkley mode seems like the most excessive way to do it. But amid all of the things the man does well, there’s nothing that suggests he’s got the touch for a musical. If I have to suddenly look at Full Frontal in a more positive light because of this I’m going to spend about thirty seconds being irritated as hell.
EDIT: Doing some digging, I see that this has been spoken of before in hushed tones. Not so new; still ridiculous.