The Morning Read: Controversial terrorist comedy 'Four Lions' opens on a busy blockbuster weekend
Welcome to The Morning Read.
Another week winding down, and the next few weeks, I'll be seeing most of the rest of the films coming out in 2010. It's an avalanche. Because I see and review things on that sliding schedule, sometimes reviewing something months before you have a chance to see it, on the Friday morning these movies finally come out, it's worth taking a moment to link to the reviews and remind you of what we've said about the films.
For example, there's "Four Lions," which I saw at Sundance and loved. Chris Morris, the evil genius behind "Brass Eye," has made a potent and piercing picture about the absurd face of modern terrorism. It's the first release by the newly-formed Drafthouse Films, and it's stuck with me for the entire year. I urge you to find a theater near you playing it, and if it's not playing near you yet, keep your eyes open for when it does. You can listen to my interview with Chris Morris on the last episode of the podcast as well.
"Megamind" is opening today, as is "Due Date," comedies for very different audiences. The latest Dreamworks Animation movie is a solid effort, a smart and frequently funny take on superheroes, while I was disappointed by the way the chemistry between Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis never really congealed into a great comedy. "127 Hours," the new Danny Boyle film, is great. I loved it at Toronto, and when I recently sat down with Boyle and star James Franco together, it was a great conversation.
There are two films coming out that I haven't seen yet, and I'll be brutally honest: I'm not sure I'll be seeing "For Colored Girls," the latest Tyler Perry film. I'm not calling it a bad movie, because I haven't seen it, but I have seen four other Perry films, and I'm not a fan. I have seen one production of the original stage play by Ntozake Shange, and a videotaped production as well, and I think it's a product of its time. It worked well then, and the things it had to say about the world were very much a reaction to the way things were at that moment. I think Perry's film sounds insufferable, and rather than waste my time and yours, since I doubt anyone clicks on this site looking for my review of that film, I just decided not to bother. With "Fair Game," I'd like to see it, but I just plain missed it. It never timed out right. I love both Naomi Watts and Sean Penn, and Doug Liman's a guy who at least interests me each time out. I can't help but drag my feet on this particular story, though. I've read both the books written by Valerie Plame and her husband, and I've seen Rod Lurie's take on the story, and at this point, I'm not sure I need to see it again. Still.. that cast… I'm sure I'm going to get around to it.
The last film hitting screens this weekend is "Red Hill," starring Ryan Kwanten from "True Blood," and for that one… I've got a review going up tomorrow. Short version? Good stuff.
Ice Cube and David O. Russell are going to work together on a "Dirty Harry" style franchise for New Line? There's no part of that sentence that makes me unhappy. I know Russell takes a lot of heat in the press, and I know his last film "Nailed" imploded, but I really don't care. I can't wait to see "The Fighter," and I love his filmography. The notion of him doing "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune" and then jumping into a '70s-style cop movie with an R-rated Ice Cube starring sounds like a pretty great one-two punch from where I'm sitting. Hurry. Please.
I think it's awesome that Popular Mechanics employs a film writer, and Erin McCarthy brings a really fresh perspective to the world of nerd journalism. Her piece about the way they pulled off the difficult trick of shooting "127 Hours" is a lot of fun, but be warned… there are spoilers inherent to the piece. Very cool spoilers.
Okay, I carefully considered which one item I would want for myself from this article, and I've decided under great duress that I will happily accept EVERY SINGLE THING ON IT. WANT. WANT. WANT.
Ahem. Excuse me.
I believe this is the very first review anywhere for "Arrietty," the new Studio Ghibli film based on the Mary Norton fantasy novel The Borrowers. It evidently just played in Rome.
If I'm going to read any early review of the new Stephen King book Full Dark, No Stars, then I'm glad Neil Gaiman is the one reviewing it.
It's very cool that Tomas Alfredson, who directed "Let The Right One In," is making his English-language debut with a film adaptation of John Le Carre's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," and I think it's even cooler that Gary Oldman is starring in it.
Okay, so here's a case of all sorts of different sites running the same story, and me not being able to find the actual source of the quotes that everyone seems to accept as real. And maybe they are. But right now, I can't find the actual Empire article where Zack Snyder says that General Zod is not the villain of the new Superman film. Just as there was no real official announcement of Zod or confirmation of him, but everyone reported that as fact as well. I can say with authority that I don't know who the bad guy is or isn't in Snyder's Superman, and I don't know what the plot is, either. And right now, all I see is this weird echo chamber of "facts" without source, and Snyder repeatedly saying, "Nope" when asked about them.
Glenn Kenny and James Rocchi both reviewing for one outlet? Looks like MSN Movies just climbed even higher in my bookmarks.
I could read about Z Channel all day long. I remember reading about it when it was still on the air and dreaming about being able to live somewhere that it was on the air, but it was gone before I was old enough to make that happen. If you haven't seen "Z-Channel: A Magnificent Obsession," you should. It's a great documentary. And in the meantime, enjoy this. It's wonderful.
One of the hot online reads last week as the Rhett Reese/Paul Werneck draft of "Deadpool." Problem is, that wasn't what they strictly speaking call a legal read. If you'd like to read something from Reese that's legal and brand new, then you can read the first 20 pages of his first novel, Anxiety, and then read an interview with him about the book and his work.
No matter how this turns out, I wish I was going to be in New York to see it.
Matt Singer's piece on the "'Anchorman' Reconsidered" panel is an exceptional read, no matter if you love the film or think it's overrated.
When are they making the movie about this guy?
Cole Abaius, as well as Colin and Greg Strause, are speaking some stone cold truth here.
And to wrap it up today, while we're talking about some stone cold truth, it's hard not to have heard something about Cooks Source, a cooking magazine that pulled one of the most insane ongoing patterns of plagiarism I've seen, and that complicated matters for themselves when an editor from the magazine wrote a shitty letter to a writer who contacted them after recognizing her work on the site. Actually, I think Devin Faraci's right when he reframes this as a copyright issue and not a case of plagiarism. They did, after all, credit the proper writer. They just didn't pay them or tell them about the publication. Linda Holmes over at NPR also wrote about the incident, helping to add some much needed perspective the mob mentality that erupted. What Cooks Source did was despicable, but watching the ferocity that erupted, and thinking about the oddly selective nature of that ferocity, is enough to give me pause about the entire incident.
Have a great weekend. I'll have reviews of DVDs and Blu-rays this weekend, and I'll also be out and about prepping some great content for you for the weeks ahead. Enjoy whatever you end up seeing this weekend, and let me know here what you think of the new films opening, and on Monday, I'll run the winners of the "Scott Pilgrim" Blu-ray contest right here in the Morning Read.
The Morning Read appears here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, except when it doesn't.