Welcome to The Morning Read.
We're finally into that season of the year where the big summer movies are starting to screen, and it's felt like summer this week in Los Angeles. I'm sitting here in my office, racing to finish some work before the room is too hot to tolerate, at which point I'll go hide under my bed with the air conditioning cranked up to high. It's bad enough that it's nuclear hot in April, but add in two kids who have decided that throwing up is (A) funny and (B) required hourly, and it's an amazing day in my house. For now, I'm going to see if I can put this Morning Read together without having my brain boil right out of my ear.
Can't say I'm shocked to hear that Fox 2000 and Mark Gordon are going to try to turn the Patricia Cornwell mysteries into a film franchise, and if that's the goal, casting Angelina Jolie as Dr. Kay Scarpetta makes sense. It's a good fit, too. I would expect that as long as they get a strong writer and director onboard, this could turn out to be an easy slam-dunk.
I'm shocked at the names that are attached to the "Twilight" sequels. I didn't see the first one in theaters, but finally caught up with it recently on video, and it is the very definition of mediocrity. It's a preposterous reinvention of the vampire archetype, specifically tailored to apply to teenage virgins and the middle-aged women who wish they still were. The vampire has long been a symbol of sexual anxiety, but I think Stephanie Meyers might be the first person to ever use them as symbols of abstinence. Yay, innovation. After seeing David Slade's admirable depiction of vampires as venal animals in "30 Days Of Night," it would be bizarre to see him deal with the figuratively toothless boy band vamps of the "Twilight" series, but that's the rumor. Weird. In the meantime, enjoy a bunch of half-naked werewolves.
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And speaking of teenage werewolves... my first piece of professional work to ever be produced was a one-act play called "Sticks and Stones," which was part of a theater festival here in Los Angeles back in 1994. Jerry Levine directed the production, and he was a great collaborator, a guy who really threw some support behind my co-writer Scott and I when we needed it most. He's most famous from his role in the '80s cult hit "Teen Wolf," and recently, the Just My Show podcast decided to sit down with Jerry and talk to him about that film's enduring power. It's been too long since I've seen Jerry, so this podcast was a pleasant reminder of an old friend, and if you're a fan of the "Wolf," you'll flip out for this. Ahem, Jeff Mahler. Ahem.
Scott Weinberg weighs in on the controversy raised by Karina Longworth in her interview with filmmaker Ti West, who is disgruntled over cuts being made to his new film "House Of The Devil" just prior to its premiere at Tribeca. Weinberg's seen the movie in question, and I think his points about West's aesthetic are astute ones. Some filmmakers love the slow burn, and when you start screwing with that, you ruin the film they made. Seems like simple math to me.
In a short interview with Time magazine, Roger Ebert announces that he's working on a new movie review series with Richard Roeper and Michael Phillips and Christy Lemire. He diplomatically dodges the issue of what he thinks of the Mank/Lyons dog-and-pony act. Ebert: a class act, no matter what. Did you read his recent piece about his notion of God? He's way past film criticism these days, having simply become a great writer.
Well, that didn't take long. JJ Abrams is the guest-editor at Wired this month, and his "Mystery" issue is pretty much nothing but win. There are puzzles within puzzles hidden in the issue, and there are hints in the issue that there's one "big" solution to the entire thing. Sure enough, someone's already cracked it.
And speaking of Abrams, his colleagues over at "Lost" are taking a brief pause this week for a clips show (meaning I actually have a recap-free Wednesday night ahead), and there's a great Q&A with Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof over at Season Pass that looks at where the show's been, where it's going, and what they want from it once all is said and done.
One of the reasons I so admire "Lost" is because of the high-wire act that the show represents creatively. Writing, like any artistic process, is about trying things and, sometimes, failing. Without failure, you'd have to bar for success. Sometimes, writers put it all together perfectly one time and then never hit that same high watermark again. Cracked.com, which is actually one of the best sites out there for turning out pithy pop-culture oriented content, has a good list up now of six writers who turned out one masterpiece and then never matched the trick again.
I am a cranky jerk, and everyone knows that I'm irrational about Twitter fights and Talkback trolls, so how did I not make this list? Looks like I may need to pick a fight with Movieline, eh?
The single most exciting thing about the upcoming "Tintin" film, in my opinion, is the talent pool working on the script. Stephen Moffat, Joe Cornish, and Edgar Wright, co-writing a script based on one of the most beloved characters in worldwide comics? Sounds pretty great to me. And now a rumor has begun that Edgar may step in to direct the third film, after Spielberg and Peter Jackson direct the first two. He denies the rumor, but we can wish, can't we?
I think I've finally made my mind up. I would not like to waterboarded. Thanks for asking, though.
Cinematical made a nice catch, hiring Todd Gilchrist as the latest addition to their excellent roster of reporters and reviewers. He began his new online era today with a piece about non-sequitur cinema, and I'm sure Todd and his big brain are going to be a great fit with the site.
Yep. That's a bedroom, that's James Franco, and that is destroyed. Well-played, everyone.
Holy crap... the United Nations solved racism! We can all finally relax.
My DVD for "Notorious" just showed up here at the house, so I'm not going to go read Vern's review yet, but I will as soon as I've seen the movie for myself. In the meantime, did you know that Vern's on Twitter now? Follow him, or he may have to stab you.
I'm pleased to see that Sacha Baron Cohen continues to win one legal battle after another, and for all the right reasons.
It's interesting how many lower-budget films are starting to use WordPress for their official production blogs, and the new "Dead Of Night" blog is being run by Dan Forcey, one of the film's executive producers via Platinum Studios. Informative and frequently updated, it's worth a read for anyone interested in Kevin Munro's take on the Dylan Dog character.
By now, it's obvious that the struggle to deal with copyright issues and the idea of ownership of intellectual property is one of the primary things that preoccupies me these days, and there's a new piece by Cory Doctorow, of BoingBoing and 'Little Brother' fame, that is an absolutely essential read if any of this interests you as well. It's got to be a terrifying read for anyone on the corporate level, but for artists and the actual creators of content, the prognosis is interesting.
Finally, I neglected to mention the passing of novelist J.G. Ballard earlier this week. Shame on me. He was a giant, a man of incredible perception and prescient vision. He was a tremendous writer, and an amazing thinker. And others have done far better at eulogizing him than I could have. Neil Gaiman, for example. And if you want to understand just how far-reaching his influence was, this BBC News piece does a great job of tracing references to his work in pop culture.
And on that note, I have a ton of work to do this afternoon for you guys, including that Sid & Marty Krofft interview which I hope to have up in the next hour or so.
The Morning Read appears here every day, Monday through Friday. Except when it doesn't.
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