The Afternoon Read (3.03.09) Zack Snyder's 'golden rules,' more Malick details, and Pixar struggles with villainy
It's one of those days where I didn't get out of bed on time and then with my family leaving tomorrow and the roof leaking in one spot because of the solar water heater and me having to make certain phone calls by a certain time and... well, let's just say it took a while to get my traction. And then when I did open the browser and start looking around, at first it looked like a whole lot of nothing going on out there.
But then by the time I really got into it, I found a small avalanche worth of things to post. So by the time I get all of this written up and linked, I'm guessing this is an Afternoon Read. So be it. At least there's a lot that's worth discussing.
I'm interviewing Zack Snyder this afternoon, a real interview at length instead of the abbreviated video piece you can see on my interview page right now. I'm glad to have a second shot at him, because I feel like we just barely scratched the surface in our first talk. I'm glad I read about his "golden rules" before our conversation, since I'm hoping to make this next talk about the nuts-and-bolts of how you go about building out an entire world on film.
Have you seen the new "Public Enemies" poster?
How about that Vanity Fair photo gallery from their comedy issue?
[more after the jump]
Back at my old stomping grounds, the AICN boys have been busy. Merrick managed to pin down some enticing "Tron 2.0" details, and while it all sounds like a promising idea for a sequel, the thing that makes me happiest? Light jets. With walls.
Meanwhile, Mr. Beaks pinned down two really juicy exclusives. The first is his piece about "The Tree Of Life," Terrence Malick's new film, where he reveals two things: first, Douglas Trumball is involved with the film somehow. Second, the film may actually be films. The more I hear about what Malick is up to, the more it sounds like he's got something radical planned for us, and I'm so ready to see what it is.
His other great read today is about the long-in-development George Lucas project "Red Tails," which he breaks down in a fair amount of detail. It sounds promising, even if George Lucas is involved.
I saw the other day where Brian Bendis was on Twitter, bitching about how reviewers were discussing their personal relationships to "Watchmen" in their reviews of the film, and he suggested that personal details have no place in film criticism. To that, allow me to politely respond, "Buuuuuuuuulllllllshhhhhhhit." There is no such thing as a completely objective film review, something written from an absolutely impersonal point of view... at least, nothing of any worth could be written like that. That would be a synopsis, not a review. Film is art. We have personal relationships with art. We have personal reactions to art. That's the point. Who you are, what you've seen, what you've done... all of that plays into your reaction to something, and if you leave that out of any serious criticism, then you aren't giving your reader the context they need to judge your reaction. There's a reason Pauline Kael's work sent shock waves through film criticism that are still being felt... she had to fight to simply include the word "I" in a review, or any personal information, and while I certainly think there is a danger that reviews can become simple narcisissm, that's really only when people become preoccupied with being clever, entertaining themselves or other critics instead of offering up anything worth discussing. Devin Faraci's been thinking about "Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind" recently, obviously through a very personal prism, but in writing about it, he has a lot to say about what makes the film endure.
And for the record, I agree with him about "Monopoly: The Movie." Even if the film sounded like a rock-solid storyline, though... please, Hollywood, abandon this bizarre desire to start using board games and completely non-narrative toys as the basis of movies. It's bad enough that all the nerdstalgia '80s cartoons are making the jump... but board games? Does Gore Verbinski really think it sounds like fun spending two years of his life on freakin' "Clue"? REALLY?!
Over on The Playlist this morning, they link to a piece about problems that Pixar is having in tweaking the villain in "Up," this summer's Pete Doctor film. I've seen the first half of the film, and the villain still hasn't made his appearance in the film at that point. The only evidence of him is some newsreel footage from his youth and some highly-trained dogs with special bark-to-English translation collars. I have faith that the process at Pixar works, and I have no doubt that when we see the finished film, they'll get him right. Still, it's always nice to see that even a company as great as Pixar has to work through growing pains on their films.
And I have to agree with The Playlist... part of the hilarity surrounding the controversy over the new BluRay transfer of "The French Connection" is watching Jeffrey Wells bust a gasket over every word out of William Friedkin's mouth right now, and especially over his radio appearance yesterday.
Oh, hell. Right in the middle of putting this together, Zack Snyder called for that interview, and I hit the wrong button to minimize my screen, losing about 40 minutes worth of work on this column. Now it's going to be my task to reconstruct that. Hmmmm...
I had a chance to talk to Jennifer Salt at a friend's Oscar party one year, and I couldn't help myself... I had to ask about "Easy Riders and Raging Bulls" and that era where she and Margot Kidder shared the now-infamous Nichols Canyon house. I think there are always pockets of really sharp and talented people who are drawn to each other who later all pop to different degrees, and tracing those groups back to those formative early days is fascinating. Margot Kidder talks about that and other subjects in a nice interview over at The AV Club.
And speaking of superheroes and their wimmin folks, Evan Rachel Wood's feeling chatty on the subject of Julie Taymor's "Spider-Man" musical. That's either going to be an amazing live experience or a train wreck beyond compare. Either way, it's a safe bet I'm going to have to take a trip to New York when it opens.
I have to admit... the entire idea of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" makes me laugh. It sounds wacko, and I like it. And now Alfred Molina's been cast as the bad guy.
Kim Morgan's feeling obsessed this morning, and she's working it out over at Sunset Gun.
One more reason to love Cartoon Brew: Jerry Beck has a knack for hunting down the weirdest cartoon ephemera and posting it, and "Harry Happy" is a freakshow I never would have seen if he hadn't put an article about it together. Well played, sir.
I'm also grateful to the Comic's Comic for tracking down Phil Hartman's original "Saturday Night Live" audition tape and posting it. I can barely type his name without being hit by a wave of sorrow. I really miss Hartman. I never met him. I know nothing about him personally. I just miss his unique form of bluster and know-nothing bravado, and I think we are much poorer for his passing. It's amazing how much seeing that tape can bring all the pain of his untimely demise back even as it reminds us of why he was such a resource in the first place.
Vern hasn't watched Sam Raimi's "Darkman" in a while, so he decided to revisit it, and was surprised by how well it holds up. He was also surprised that he actually enjoyed "Darkman 2" and "Darkman 3." And as always, no matter what he writes about, Vern's one of the best reads out there right now.
I remember when Dave's Video closed here in Los Angeles, I wrote a eulogy for it on Ain't It Cool. I had a difficult relationship with Dave, the owner of the place, but I respected what he built, and what it represented in a world where giant corporate chains rule the roost. So I understand why Anthony Kaufman would get a bit weepy about the closing of Kim's Video in New York. Amazing place, no doubt. However, I can also see that, sentiment aside, Craig Keller makes some excellent points at Cinemasparagus about how the closing of one store is not a signpost on the road to the end of cinema. And although I think Ted Hope's a smart guy, Keller kind of nails him, too, in regards to his piece on New York's film industry.
There's more to discuss, but it'll have to wait for tomorrow. I've still got to help my family finish getting ready for their trip tomorrow, and it's already midday. I'll keep those bookmarks ready, and I'll see you later this afternoon with a new Must-See.
The Morning Read appears here every day, Monday through Friday. Except when it doesn't.
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