It was another interesting week of movie news, so lets get right into it with the latest Notables section.

NOTABLES

“Calista Flockhart to star in Fragile” – Monday, August 16

This is just funny. Calista Flockhart…fragile. A stiff wind could probably break her neck. This isn’t particularly good or bad news, it’s just humorous.

“J.J. Abrams to direct Mission: Impossible 3” – Monday, August 16

I wasn’t really expecting this one, simply because Abrams is making his feature film directorial debut here. I wouldn’t expect to see someone making their directing debut with such a big-budget franchise project like this one, but I actually like this pick for a new M:I 3 helmer. Tom Cruise has had a different director for each of his Impossible flicks, most likely to get a different style with each one, and it’ll be very interesting to see how Abrams handles this project. I’m giving this news bit a Best News of the Week Nominee.

“Michelle Rodriguez, Matt Davis and Michael Madsen join BloodRayne” – Tuesday, August 17

This cast just keeps getting better and better. With Ben Kingsley joining the uber-gorgeous Kristanna Loken, and this interesting assembly of actors signing on as well, this looks to be a very well-rounded cast. Best News of the Week Nominee.

" Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash becomes a reality” – Tuesday, August 17

Sure, Freddy vs. Jason wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it’d be, but throwing Ash in the mix? I just don’t know how it’s plausible at all, because Freddy and Jason meeting was barely plausible in the first flick. I have no idea how this will work, but I’m pegging this one as a Worst News of the Week Nominee.

“Spike TV ramps up Howard Stern: The High School Years” – Wednesday, August 18

Wow. I wonder what the F.C.C. will think of this one…This sounds supremely retarded and I hope it never sees the light of day. Worst News of the Week Nominee.

“Sharon Stone, Jessica Lange, Tilda Swinton and Chloe Sevigny join untitled Jim Jarmusch film” – Wednesday, August 18

I wish we knew a little more about this film, but with these additions, this cast, along with Bill Murray looks like a great one. Jarmusch is a highly talented filmmaker, and it looks like he has some fine talent to work with, as always. Best News of the Week Nominee.

"Samantha Morton to play the lead in Diane Arbus biopic Fur” – Thursday, August 19

Morton is one of the finest young actresses in Hollywood, although her work has mainly been relegated to supporting roles. This looks like it could be her breakthrough role, and if any actress deserves it, it surely is Morton. Best News of the Week Nominee.

“Eric Bana up for the ‘James Bond’ role?” – Saturday, August 21

I just can’t see Mr. Bana as 007. I’m sorry, but Bond is supposed to be suave, confident, debonair and all that jazz. When was the last time you saw Bana with any of these traits on the silver screen? This is not a good match at all, and I hope he turns the role down. Worst News of the Week Nominee.

“Welcome to MovieWeb Direct!” – Saturday, August 21

Now this is some wonderful news, people! All the great movie news with none those pesky pop-up ads. And if your computer is as crappy as mine is, these ads are even worse, so this just rocks! Best News of the Week Nominee.

BOX OFFICE CORNER

The box office action was spread all over the place this weekend, with 6 of the top 10 flicks scoring at least an 8-figure gross. There was only $7.5 million or so between the #1 and #6 movie, as well, but the big winner this weekend was Exorcist: The Beginning. The prequel to the horror classic was #1 with an opening weekend gross of $18.1 million. With Labor Day weekend just a few weeks away, which is basically the worst movie weekend all year, I wouldn’t be surprised if next weekend’s #1 movie scores even less that Exorcist made.

Without a Paddle took the second spot at the box office this weekend, with an estimated gross of $13.7 million in its debut weekend. The goofball comedy just needs to maintain a steady course at the theaters and it will likely earn back its $19 million budget.

There were a few more winners this weekend also on the indie circuit, with two films that expanded last weekend finding their way on the top 10. Open Water was shown in just over 2,600 more theaters than last weekend, and it took 5th place with $11.7 million. This movie was in 17th places last weekend. The film’s gross increased an astronomical 1213% from last weekend, and, with the flick costing a mere half million bucks to make, it’s $14.8 overall haul is a very nice profit for Lions Gate. Zack Braff’s Garden State eked it’s way onto the top 10, with a 4th-weekend gross of $3.2 million. This indie flick was shown in 477 more theaters and its gross increased a healthy 130 percent from last weekend. It’s nice to see some smaller flicks like this taking in some bucks and actually showing increases from weekend to weekend, which is a nice contrast to blockbusters falling off dramatically (Alien vs. Predator dropped 67.4 percent from its opening last weekend).

GOING LIVE

The Final Cut: (www.finalcutfilm.com)

There’s nothing on this site at all, but the main page does look kind of cool. This is just a teaser site, folks, but there should be more before this flick hits theaters on September 24

Criminal: (wip.warnerbros.com/criminal/) This site looks like a hybrid of the marketing for Ocean’s 11 and Catch Me If You Can. This is a pretty good site though, with some catchy background music…yes, a la Ocean’s 11. Anyway, you can view the trailer, look up the cast and crew, check out their message boards, look at a photo gallery and under “The Skinny” link, there is a bunch of info on the film, including a synopsis and other writings on the making of the movie. There is also a Downloads section and “The Buzz” section, whatever that is, under construction. Overall, this is a pretty damn good site. Criminal opens in theaters on September 10 in limited release.

Paparazzi: (www.paparazzithemovie.com) This is an average site, but I like what they do, after the useless intro, with this big collage of photos from the film. Other than that, we get a synopsis, the trailer, a link for registration and, of course, a photo gallery. There’s not a whole lot here, but there are a few things to keep you busy before this hits theaters on September 3.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou: (www.lifeaquatic.com) This is just another teaser site, and although it has a nice look to it, there is nothing here except for the trailer. This new Wes Anderson Oscar-bait comedy does look like a winner, but this site definitely isn’t. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou opens on December 24.

TRAILER PARK

I Am David:Overly dramatic…schmaltzy…corny…it’ll probably win an Oscar or two. I don’t know, this just doesn’t look like my cup of tea, folks, but you can check it out on October 8 in limited release.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou:I’m a huge fan of Wes Anderson’s off-beat comedies (See: Bottle Rocket, Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums) and Anderson’s latest looks just as wonderful as those 3 movies. This time, Anderson takes Bill Murray out to the sea with Murray as Steve Zissou, oceanographer extraordinaire, and his quirky team that sets out to find the shark that killed Zissou’s friend. This is Anderson’s first flick without Owen Wilson as a co-writer (Noah Baumbach co-wrote), although Wilson is on board as an actor. This should be a spectacular movie, and I’ll be watching the Oscar nominations with this movie in mind. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou opens on December 24.

There are some more new trailers on MovieWeb this week, but my crappy computer’s sound got screwed up somehow after I watched the Zissou trailer. But you can check out the trailers for Spanglish, National Lampoon’s Gold Diggers, the “long trailer” for The Machinist and the trailer for Birth.

BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK

My pick for Best News of the Week, barely beating out the news of MovieWeb Direct, is Samantha Morton’s new role in the Diane Arbus biopic. She simply blew me away with her remarkable performance in Minority Report, and I really have to play catch-up and check out her performances in Sweet and Lowdown, Morvern Callar and In America, because I’ve heard wonderful things about them. She’s probably the best actress out there that the average Joe hasn’t heard of. It will be great to see her fully in the spotlight here, and I can’t wait to see how she does here.

WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK

It barely beat out Eric Bana as Bond, but my pick for Worst News of the Week has to be the new show Howard Stern: The High School Years. I can see it now. He’s a nerd in high school who gains popularity for making fun of the principal and the fat ugly teacher on the high school radio station. Do we really need this? We only hear about him now when he’s in trouble with a celebrity or when he’s fined by the F.C.C. But the self-proclaimed King of All Media’s 15 minutes of fame are or should be well through, and I don’t see how a retarded animated show will change that.