Welcome to The Morning Read.

Okay... like everyone else, I woke up today to the news that the official Cannes line-up has just been announced, just a day after the announcement that they'd be premiering the first footage from the new Robert Zemeckis version of "A Christmas Carol" at the festival on May 18th.  That's almost enough news by itself for any one day.  I honestly do not have enough punches for the faces of the people who are actually attending the festival this year.  My jealousy is the size of the Cloverfield monster.  Sure, there's the general thing where I'd just love to go to Cannes some year for the experience, but this year in particular... dear god... I can't even wrap my head around how great the programming is.  It's one of those moments where things just timed out, and as a result, the festival ended up with an embarrassment of riches.

The festival opens with Pixar's "Up," and it closes with "Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky," a film I wouldn't flip out about based on the title, but which happens to be directed by Jan Kounen, who is a freakin' crazy person.  Have you seen "Blueberry" or "Dobermann"?  This guy is deranged.  Count me in.  And between those two bookends?  Well, the films in competition include Jane Campion's "Bright Star," Lars Von Trier's "Antichrist," Gaspar Noe's "Enter The Void," Tsai Ming-liang's "Face," Alain Resnais's "Les Herbes folles," Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon," Johnnie's To's "Vengeance," Ang Lee's "Taking Woodstock," Chan-wook Park's "Thirst," Pedro Almodovar's "Broken Embraces," Ken Loach's "Looking for Eric," and Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds."  That's unreal.  I love how everyone said Tarantino would never make it in time for Cannes.  When he wants to, that dude can get it done.  And the idea of a new Michael Haneke film in competition against a new Gaspar Noe film makes me think that audiences are about to get molested.  Both of those guys make movies that are so emotionally extreme that they should require a psychiatrist's note before you're allowed to watch them, and they're going head-to-head?  Dear god.

[more after the jump]

Out of competition, both "The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus" and "Agora" are screening.  The first is Terry Gilliam's latest film, the final feature appearance by Heath Ledger, and I expect it will get some of the most intense coverage out of anything screening there.  "Agora" is the new film from Alejandro Amenabar, who's been missing in action for a while, and I'm eager to see what he's been up to.  Sam Raimi's excellent "Drag Me To Hell" is showing as a midnight movie, but what I'd absolutely kill to get a look at is "Ne te retourne pas," the second feature from Marina de Van.  Her first film, "In My Skin," remains one of the most unsettling movies I've ever seen, a personal horror movie that's impossible to describe.  She's got Monica Bellucci and Sophie Marceau starring for her this time, so for anyone who likes insanely hot European women, this sounds like a real chore.  "L'epine dans le coeu" is a new documentary by Michel Gondry, and it's one of the special screenings at the festival.  I'd also love to get a look at "Mother," the latest from the great Bong Joon-ho, whose "Host" and "Memories Of Murder" are just tremendous.

And those are just the titles that jump out at me.  I'm guessing there are a number of movies on the list that I don't recognize yet but that will generate plenty of heat by the time the fest is over.  The jurors this year include jury president Isabelle Huppert, Asia Argento, James Gray, Hanif Kureishi, Robin Wright penn, John Boorman, and Zhang Ziyi.  I know the nineteen titles I listed above are all high-profile, but so often, a festival is defined by what you're not expecting, more than what you are, and I'm sure this year's Cannes is no exception, and again... the nearly-crippling envy I'm feeling makes it hard to type this morning, but I look forward to reading coverage of the fest as it unfolds.

And hot on the heels of the official confirmation that "Inglourious Basterds" is playing Cannes, Eli Roth has been talking about the film a bit more.  I'm just going to put it out of my mind so the wait until August isn't so miserable.

Why are Arnold Schwarzenegger and McG so determined to ruin one of the surprises of "Terminator: Salvation"?  It's not like the Arnold scene represents a ton of screen time.  It's a simple quick moment, and the more they play the "Oh, wow, I don't know if those computer thingies can do the magic trick or not" game, the more they're building expectations for it.  At this point, just put the damn clip on Yahoo! movies as a three-day exclusive and be done with it.  Let's make sure there's NO WAY anyone is surprised or delighted by it by the time the film opens at the end of May.  Sheeesh.

Really?

Lots of superhero and comic book movies news out there today.  I could almost theme the whole column around it if I wanted.  Strange news, too.  There's the much-discussed article where Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal discuss the possibility of "Spider-Man 4" being shot in 3D.  There's more to that article, of course, although you wouldn't know it based on how it got quoted everywhere.  I've said before that I don't care about budgets on movies because it doesn't affect the ticket price.  "Primer" and "Titanic' cost the same thing to the audience member who pays to see them.  But if they're really going to start sticking a premium ticket price on 3D films, I think they're pretty much asking for the audience to turn on them.  And if you really want to learn how to dislike Hollywood suits, read that article and pay attention to the way Michael Lynton talks about "exploiting" the catalog that Sony owns.  It's incredibly revealing, and my guess is he didn't think anyone would read an article in the Financial Times.  It's like listening in on a meeting of the New World Order.  "Okay, so we ordered all the equipment to implant the bar code tattoos once we put the people in the FEMA camps, right?  And we've got food for the Lizard People overlords once they arrive?  Excellent."

Tell me the truth... would you wear these?

Then there's the news about Kate Mara and her "under wraps" role in the now-shooting "Iron Man 2."  I've poked a few of my normal sources, and they're staying quiet so far, which leads me to believe that there may be a reason the role is under wraps.  Is this going to turn out to be some sort of cross-over set-up for another film?  What.... is she The Wasp?  Are we meeting a future Avenger?  Or is this going to turn out to be much ado about nothing?  I was pleased to see that Clark Gregg is coming back for the second film.  I thought he was a nice addition as Agent Coulson in the first one.

It's big news that The Weinstein Company appears to have lost the rights to "Sin City 2," and IESB deserves credit for breaking the story in the first place.  It's also been confirmed by the Hollywood Reporter at this point, and it's one of those stories where we're seeing some of the pieces, but not all of them yet.  Bert Fields vigorously denied the rumor when IESB first ran it, but obviously something's going on.  The project is being shopped by Frank Miller's people, so I'm curious if the Weinsteins are just out of money and can't afford to make the film or if they don't see a way to do it cheaply enough to justify a sequel.  Whatever the case, I'm sure the sequel will land somewhere soon.

Over at /Film, Brendon Connelly did a nice summation of the new information on "Tintin" that came out of this month's special 20th anniversary edition of Empire.  Sounds like we're going to see a second film the same year we see a first one.  Now if only they'd done that with "Star Trek"...

No, seriously... really?!

I'm counting down the days till I see "Funny People," and over at ThePlaylist, they spotted Jon Brion in the trailer for the film.  I was too busy tripping out at the notion of a Ringo Starr song being used in a trailer to realize that was Brion.  Neat cameo.

I can't even tell you how much I love this subtitled version of the Billy Bob Thornton interview.  Just experience it for yourself:

 

 

Great, right?  Thanks for that, Cracked.com.

It's a big day for the Mara family in general.  As I mentioned above, Kate Mara just got cast in "Iron Man 2," and now her younger sister Rooney Mara has been given the plum role of Nancy in the "Nightmare On Elm Street" remake.

You ever been on a theme park attraction and wondered what kind of work goes into putting them together?  Here's a good piece about the new "Men In Black" ride that may answer some of those questions for you.

I love this piece by Sean Hood about working on the sound design for his film "Melancholy Baby."  Film sound is one of the things that is most important in the final impact of a picture, but rarely discussed, and I think this article sums up some of my own feelings about the potential of sound.

Oh, I hate myself for laughing.

Kim Voynar's got a couple of good news pieces up.  One is just an appreciation of the screening of "Woodstock" that opened the Ebertfest this year, while the other is a clear-eyed look at the controversy around the casting of the lead roles in M. Night Shyamalan's upcoming "The Last Airbender."

Issue #6 of Mark Millar's "Kick-Ass" just hit newsstands and comic shops yesterday, complete with the backstory to Big Daddy and Hit Girl, just as a new image from Matthew Vaughn's bigscreen adaptation of "Kick-Ass" showed up on Empire.  There was some debate on Twitter about whether or not this image is selling the idea of Hit Girl as "sexy," a la films like "The Professional," but I really don't think that'll be a concern in the actual movie.  Having been on-set and having talked with Matthew and his key creative partner Jane Goldman about their approach, I think the last thing anyone wants is to turn Chloe Moretz into a sexual character.  The relationship between Moretz and Nic Cage in the film is father-daughter, and there's a very protective paternal thing going on in the way he played his scenes with her.  She's tough, she's scary, she's very dangerous, but she's still, in many ways, a little girl, and played as such.

If you want to know more about "Kick-Ass," then stay tuned here at HitFix today, because I'll have my interview from the set with Christopher Mintz-Plasse up in a few hours.  He plays Red Mist in the movie, and it's an important role for him.  I think our chat reveals Chris as a thoughtful, interesting young guy who realizes that he's got some choices to make if he wants a life after McLovin.  I hope you'll drop back by and check it out.

In the meantime, enjoy the first seven minutes of "The Brothers Bloom," courtesy of the fine folks over at Hulu, and I'll see you soon.

 

 

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