One of the things I find I often read in the wee hours of the morning, when I need to take a ten or fifteen minute break and recharge my own batteries, is my giant Pauline Kael best-of book, For Keeps. I can open to any review and read it and engage completely, whether I disagree (which I often do) or find myself redefining my own appreciation for a film based on how much we agree (her "Used Cars" review affirms every single thing I love about it). I find it doesn't matter what film I'm reading about... I'm reading because I want to read her voice. That's what really matters to me in film criticism.
Lately, there's been another of those occasional and almost seasonal behind-the-scenes dust-ups between members of the online community, mainly the result of too many days in close quarters in a row and too much alcohol at a dangerous altitude. But it has raised once again the question of what service it is that we are providing as a community, and, to a larger degree, is there even an online community at all?
[More after the jump.]
I post "The Morning Read" because for the most part, when you click from site to site, you see the same basic set of headlines everywhere, regurgitated with varying degrees of snark and SEO-worthiness. You can read those headlines everywhere. Over and over. But there are things out there worth reading or watching during your browse, and since I never know what sites people are looking at, this brings that conversation to one place... this column each day. I want to encourage a dialogue between all the sites I link to, and I've had a few ideas that might help to encourage that in the weeks ahead. For now, these links are my way of saying that I think there is something online worth talking about, worth reading, and that the medium is producing real voices. We may not have a Kael, or maybe we do and we spell it V-E-R-N, but we definitely have a wide range of writers whose work is consistently worthwhile.
Have you seen the trailer for "The Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past"? No? Oh, good lord, it's horrible. It's amazingly horrible. It's a hateful thing with sharp fingers that are too close to your eyes, threatening to blind you and just horrible enough to do it. Is Matthew McConaughey determined to make me dislike him? Is it like a challenge to burn off every last little bit of goodwill? Because why else make something like this? Before you watch the trailer, you should brace yourself courtesy of an absolutely spot-on breakdown by Burbanked, an not-quite-LA-based blog. Hilarious, accurate, and suitably mean.
Wash the taste of that one out of your brain with a trip to Trailers From Hell, where John Landis presents the trailer for "To Catch A Thief" this morning. Great stuff. I love it when Landis talks film.
And speaking of Landis, I was wondering when he was going to have something to say about the idea of Michael Jackson turning "Thriller" into a Broadway musical. Jackson may own the song, but Landis was the writer/director of the iconic short film/video, and I would imagine he has to be part of any decision making process involved in translating that into a new medium. Landis seems to think so, too.
When I went to the screening of "Friday the 13th" on Friday night, most of the online horror press was there. Brad Miska of Bloody-Disgusting and I chatted for a few minutes, and of course, the ubiquitous Ryan Rotten was there, ready for some mayhem. Later that night, Brad reported that Jena Malone is set to star in "Cabin In The Woods," the new film co-written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard. Goddard's directing the film, and Richard "Holy Shit, I'm An Oscar Nominee" Jenkins and Bradley "West Wing" Whitford are both confirmed as cast members so far. Ryan seems to think Brad's got it wrong, though, pointing to an earlier already-discredited New York Times article that Whedon labeled "misinformation." But wouldn't it seem counterproductive to put out misinformation and then call it misinformation when referring to it? Whatever the case, I can already tell you that Whedon and Goddard are in danger of hobbling their own film with all this game-playing and uber-secrecy, and by constantly referring to their movie as a "game-changer" and "the horror film to end all horror films." It's a clever read, it'll be a clever riff on horror films, and that's about all the hype it'll support. Either they back off on declaring their movie a genre-busting work of genius, or they risk an enormous backlash once viewers finally lay eyes on it.
Sharon Waxman says Lionsgate is going to buy Summit. That's a drag. We need more buyers in town, not less. Folding Summit into Lionsgate only collapses the market for writers and directors at a time when Summit seemed like they were actively working to become an interesting alternative to the labels already out there. They had a real early New Line energy to them as a company, and while I can see why Lionsgate wants to buy them, I also think "Twilight" has a lot less staying power as a franchise than they might expect.
I don't know how much you care about the history of animation or the way various characters have been interpreted over time, but there's a pretty great piece on "Superman's secret cartoon history" over at Cartoon Brew this morning.
Probably the biggest genre-news tidbit this morning has to be Marketsaw's debut of a rendered image of a female Na'vi from James Cameron's upcoming "Avatar." Marketsaw is a site concerned only with 3D films, and that very narrow focus allows them to do good work. I've said before... you have to have some idea of what you're covering to do good coverage, and the most generic sites out there are the ones with no focus at all. Marketsaw is rough around the edges, but their palpable enthusiasm for 3D and its potential makes them absolutely worth a bookmarking.
I may be going to SXSW this year. In all the years I was with Ain't It Cool, there was never a reason for me to head to Austin for the festival, since there were so many locals ready to cover it. I'm ready to head back to Austin for some Chuy's and some Salt Lick and some movie overload though, so I'm intrigued by the full line-up of features they just announced.
And finally this morning, if you just want to do some reading, Esquire has put the seven greatest stories from their magazine's 75 year run online now. It's a pretty varied batch of reportage, but rewarding. That should keep you busy for a while.
Meanwhile, I've got a full schedule of stuff for you guys here at Motion/Captured today, so check back for reviews and more, and be back here this time tomorrow for the next Morning Read.