The Evening Read: Kevin Smith finishes 'Red State' and wages war on film critics
Welcome to the Morning Read.
Actually, thanks to a visit to Santa Monica to check in on a film that's currently editing and a delightful afternoon of traffic on the 405 that makes no sense at all to me, today it's the Evening Read. And so be it. It was a big day of things to read, and just trying to find the time to sift through it all took until now.
In the time between when I posted my "Sucker Punch" set visit this morning and now, the new trailer premiered on Apple.com, and I'm sorry if you're one of those people who still inexplicably insists that Snyder doesn't handle narrative well… I disagree. Yes, he's a man who loves style and loves to play with the image, but I think he's a storyteller. And this new trailer tells a complicated story well, setting up the movie in a way that hints at how much there's going to be for viewers, but that also leaves you wanting more. And the use of Led Zeppelin? Bonus points.
Also, I have to say… I have resisted joining the cult of Apple for many years, but watching a 1080p trailer from Apple.com on a 13" Macbook Pro is only one of the ways I've been converted since I got the laptop in September. This must be what it feels like when The Thing takes you over. I can feel myself changing into one of those people…
I'm amazed at the way things have turned for Kevin Smith in terms of the online community, and I don't think I'm standing side-by-side with the rest of the Internet on this one. Around the time "Cop Out" came out, Smith got wildly upset about some of the reviews, and he spent a fair amount of energy talking about how little he feels critics add to the process, and how he doesn't believe there's any real need for him to allow anyone to see his movie for free. Specifically, he said that he was more likely to let 150 of his random Twitter followers see and "review" the film than he was to let critics see his next one for free. Now he's actually finished his new one, "Red State," and he's been talking about it a bit. In doing so, he's evidently sparked a new round of conversations about this, and I've seen him on Twitter, butting heads with editors I like and admire like Erik Davis at Cinematical. It's weird, because Smith isn't a dumb guy. He's not a guy who lives in a bubble. He didn't grow up entitled. He's an indie guy who has never had a $500 million grossing blockbuster hit, a guy who makes a living off a carefully cultivated fanbase that is willing to follow him from project to project. That is absolutely the model that filmmakers need to be cultivating these days if they can, because the entire industry has changed, and it's still changing, and if you aren't willing to try and adapt to this model, you may not find a place for yourself in the business. Smith may be getting flat-out aggressive about the idea that he is tired of playing the publicity game with websites he feels aren't credible, that don't fact check even the most basic of facts, and he's only truly got to answer to his audience at this point. What he has to say to movie websites may not make them happy, but it's not inaccurate. He doesn't need us. He doesn't need anyone to write about his film. More publicity is a good thing, certainly, but the Kevin Smith faithful will know about his film regardless of how the mainstream media or the online press handles him, and honestly… even if a few outlets decide that their personal interactions with Smith sour them to the point where they won't cover his film, it doesn't matter. Others will. If there's a vacuum, someone will step in to fill it, and the movie will get covered. Even so, I think Smith is in for a rude awakening if he thinks he can show a film like "Red State" at a festival like Sundance and not have anyone review it "for free." Personally, I like the idea that "Red State" represents the filmmaker stepping outside his comfort zone and I like the DIY approach he's taking with the way he's talking to his fans about the film so far, and that first marketing image. And whether I end up paying to see the film or not ultimately doesn't matter to me. I'll still review it based on the film, not based on something Kevin Smith says on his blog or on Twitter, and I hope the rest of the community can find a way to do that as well.
This raises a question with has certainly been on my mind, and which is definitely on Devin Faraci's mind. We discussed it on last week's podcast, and he just sat down to talk about the ideas further with Dave Chen of the /Filmcast. And Pajiba wrote a fairly piercing look at how much hot air much of the column inches expended online truly are. Things have changed in the last 14 years or so, since I first logged onto a computer looking for movie talk and/or movie news, and while some things about that evolution are great, there are many others that are starting to make me despise the state of the business. I have a feeling this is a conversation that is just warming up, and I hope to play a part in redefining my own feelings about how things should work both here on the site and on the Internet at large. One thing's certain… it will not continue the way it's going right now, and the sites that survive this next evolution are the ones that bring genuine knowledge and a voice and a perspective to the table, and ones that are willing to not simply serve as marketing arms to the studios. I know a lot of great publicists, and I'm happy working with many of them. The ones who i like most are the ones who know full well that there are things I'll like and things I won't, and not to get too hung up on one or the other.
Frosty over at Collider has been working AFM like a beast the last few days, and one of the images he snapped was for a sort of promotional one-sheet for "The Tree Of Life," Terrence Malick's new movie. It tells you nothing, but I dig it anyway.
Grant Morrison can certainly be counted on to shake things up.
And George Takei? That dude is AWESOME:
Jordan Hoffman, the power of the Indiana Jones goofy face is something that I have personally been aware of for years. I love Harrison Ford precisely for this reason… his best work has a total lack of cool about it that makes him cool.
I love "Sexy Beast," and I thought "Birth" was a noble failure. Whatever Jonathan Glazer does as a director, I'm interested, and if that means he's going to make "Under The Skin," in which Scarlett Johansson plays an alien who uses the form of a beautiful human woman to snare male victims, then count me in. I haven't read the Michael Faber novel that the film will be based on, but it sounds like fun, and I think Glazer has such remarkable still-untapped skills as a feature director that I hope he knocks this one out of the park.
Huh. So I'm guessing no one at MSNBC watches "Mad Men."
Some interesting speculation on which younger cast members might make appropriate additions for an "Expendables" sequel, and it's interesting that Stallone mentions Dwayne Johnson. When I was on the "Fast Five" set recently, the idea of The Rock appearing in an "Expendables" sequel came up, and he got visibly energized by the suggestion. I think he'd make me interested in a sequel immediately, and I'm encouraged to see Stallone mention lesser-known names like Scott Adkins, who is indeed amazing in "Undisputed III," or Michael Jai White, whose work in "Black Dynamite" convinced me that he's one of the great untapped talents out there right now.
Documentarians, if you know you're telling a good story and your subject matter is important, don't give your opponents ammunition to tear your movie down. I liked "Waiting For 'Superman'," but I also believe that it doesn't tell the whole story. I think the conversation that it inspires is a big one, and the film is only one small part of it. I am concerned, though, that there's more wrong with the film than I can identify with my personal knowledge of the charter school system.
So, really, California? You said no to this guy?
Prop 19: A Message from Tommy Chong
Cheech & Chong | Myspace Video
Okay… maybe he's not the right guy to explain the political fine points. But he still makes me smile every time I see him.
I'm not sure I really want to see another Wolverine movie. I trust Hugh Jackman. I trust Darren Aronofsky. I trust Christopher McQuarrie. But that first film was so incredibly bad that I'm not sure I think there's any chance of pulling things back from the edge. I never thought I'd be saying this, but I'm more interested in the project Jackman is developing for Broadway, a giant musical version of "Houdini," with Aaron Sorkin onboard to write the book while Glenn Slater ("Tangled") and Danny Elfman working together on the score and the songs. That's incredible. That's a pretty wild line-up, and if Jackman's been carefully working on this for the last few years, my guess is he wants this to be something special.
I'm very curious to see the first finished footage from the "Star Wars" 3D conversions. I've seen various test footage from the 3D versions over the years, and I would assume that these are going to be some of the most carefully rendered and fine-tuned conversions ever. This conversation with John Knoll addresses the attitude that ILM has as they're beginning the process, and it's worth a look.
George Roush, aka 'El Guapo' over at Latino Review, frequently uses blunt sarcasm to make his points, and his latest fake editorial is no exception. The point he makes is a good one, though. At what point does marketing become an assault? I personally don't need to ever see another sneak peek image from either of the "Harry Potter" sequels or from "TRON: Legacy." It feels like there are hundreds of posters for those films at this point.
Have you been following the case that the Supreme Court is hearing right now about the California case involving free speech and the game industry? You should be. It's an important one, and Kotaku's doing strong work covering it.
Okay… I'm going to put up a few more things for you tonight, including the "Goonies" Blu-ray review about four dozen of you have e-mailed me about, and then hopefully I'll have a new podcast for you tomorrow.
The Morning Read appears here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Except when it doesn't.