TMR: 'Airbender' photos, On The Screen, and Gilliam at Cannes
A rant about the responsibility of reviewers as we head into the holiday weekend
Welcome to The Morning Read.
You ready for the holiday weekend? Do you get a holiday weekend? I don't. I'm working all weekend long, getting stuff ready for next week, making sure you've got DVD reviews to read this weekend, and also juggling some time with my family over the three days between now and Monday. Next Tuesday's my birthday, and I plan to take most of that day off. Until then, I don't really get a break.
When I miss a day doing The Morning Read, it's pointless to try to catch up, because there's so much that happens in a given day. I've been juggling a few deadlines this week, and in the process, I've just had to let a few things go. All my best intentions can crumble in the path of an infant's ear infection and the ensuing doctor's visits, and sometimes, a new "Harry Potter" trailer just has to wait, y'know?
Still, it's a long four days coming up, so let's pack in plenty of Morning Read before everything slows down, okay? I mean, there's plenty going on out there.
First, there are the weekend's releases at the theater. I think we've said all there is for us to say about "Terminator: Salvation" this week, including my review of the film, but now it's time for you guys to get a look at it and decide if you think this is a new beginning or just one last shot at a fading franchise. I'm getting ready to leave in a little while to catch an afternoon show of "Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian," but I'm not sure I'll be able to make myself go see "Dance Flick." I just can't take those parody jukebox movies. Stephan Elliott, director of "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," is back this week with "Easy Virtue," a period comedy starring Jessica Biel and Colin Firth. Steven Soderbergh's "The Girlfriend Experience" is opening as well, with Sasha Grey starring fresh off her nonstop media blitz. I reviewed the film at Sundance this year if you're interested. And finally, if you're in NY, LA, or San Francisco, you can check out "The Boys," a documentary about the Sherman Brothers, composers of some of the most recognizable film music in history, a big part of the Disney company's legacy. Chances are if you've ever hummed a Disney tune, the Sherman Bros. wrote it, but their personal life is evidently far less harmonious than their work, and I assume that's what the film deals with.
[more after the jump]
I love the news that Alejandro Jodorowsky is finally getting ready to make "King Shot," his long-rumored spaghetti western, and if you know "El Topo," you know why that's a good thing. He's a lunatic, but I'm all for making sure that the lunatics get to sneak one by occasionally, and it's been a while since we've had new Jodorowsky.
Did you see the photos that USA Today ran from M. Night Shyamalan's "The Last Airbender"? Looks like they're staying fairly true to the design of the show, which is good. It's weird... this is the first time Shyamalan has ever worked from source material, and so it's the first time he's trying to please a fanbase that's already in place. It's a whole different game for a filmmaker, and it brings a different kind of anticipation and pressure. There's been a bit of controversy about casting because the filmmaker's didn't go all-Asian with the cast, but so far, these images are encouraging, and what's most important to me is whether they get the inventive, engaging world of the show right on film.
It's been too long since I stopped by The Art of the Title, and this week, they've got a great double-feature up, looking at the title sequences from "Hulk" and "The Incredible Hulk," both of which are really dynamic and packed with ideas.
You know this whole remake trend is out of control when they're even talking about rebooting Mecca:
Okay... that was sort of awesome.
Kevin Smith released a "Clerks 2" commentary while that film was in the theater, and now Rian Johnson's done the same for "The Brothers Bloom." If you want, you can download his commentary from Apple.com and then play it on an iPod while you're in the theater with the movie. It's an interesting idea, and I would expect that more filmmakers will try this in the future.
"Titan Maximum" sounds crazy, and I can't wait to see it.
I'm going to try to make it to this gallery exhibit of the work of Bob Peak, poster illustrator, because I'd love to see some of his incredible iconic work up close. Like "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" or "Apocalypse Now." But I do have one question: can you really call him the Father of the Modern Hollywood Poster when most posters these days are just crappy Photoshop collages of floating heads?
I hadn't stopped by Vern's site for a while, but now that I have, I've caught up on a few of his latest and greatest reviews. He's got a Steve Railsback double-feature that's a must read, as he takes on both the reprehensible "Turkey Shoot," directed by the great Brian Trenchard-Smith, and "The Stunt Man," one of the great cult titles of the early '80s. In addition, he's got a new review up of "Orca" that is just plain brain candy. You can never have enough Vern. Ever.
Cinematical did a round-up of some of the reviews that have already appeared online for Terry Gilliam's "The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassus," and I'm intrigued by what I'm reading so far. It really doesn't matter what anyone says... there's a new Gilliam film in the world, and I can't wait to see it. In general, it's been interesting to read some of the buzz coming out of Cannes, but I refuse to let someone else set expectations for me on new movies from filmmakers like Almodovar or Gilliam or Heneke or Chan-Wook Park or Bong Joon-ho or Noe or Tarantino. And some of what I've been reading has really turned me off... not to the movies, but to the reviewers. When did everyone start to get so smug and shitty about doing this job? If I had been lucky enough to go to Cannes this year, I'm sure there would have been films I liked and films I didn't, things that surprised me and things that disappointed me. That's the case at every festival. And I'm not saying that I was turned off because I disagreed with what someone said about the films they were reviewing... but there was an attitude I picked up on Twitter and on blogs and in other places, like some of these reviewers were literally grumbling about "having" to go see these films, walking in with their reviews pre-written in many cases. "Oh, well, guess I've got to go sit through 'Antichrist' now." No. No, you don't. Get on a plane and go fucking home if it's that big a problem. I would have given anything to see that line-up this year, even if I hated it, because of the excitement and the potential, and anyone who thinks it's a burden to do this job is (A) a fool and (B) ungrateful. Writing about movies is an amazing job, and every single one of us who does it should be appreciative of this opportunity. There's not one person doing it who is "too cool for the room," but there are a shocking number of other film writers who act like they are.
Speaking of robots, have you seen the trailer for "The Surrogates"? I loved the comic, and I think it's got a great premise. Curious to see if Mostow can pull it off onscreen, and if we're going to see Bruce Willis return to doing good work. It's been a little while, but it's got real potential, and I like the trailer.
I don't agree with Nikki Finke often, but I have to admit... this new proposed Jon Peters autobiography sounds absolutely wretched. Delusional and grotesque, I can't imagine who the audience is for this sort of self-justifying drivel from one of the men who most acutely symbolizes empty Hollywood accomplishment. Let's be clear... Jon Peters is garbage wrapped in skin, and all he's ever done is damage the films he's been involved in. He can't claim a single genuine success as his own. He's a two-bit con man whose ride is over, and now he's determined to burn down whatever little name he still has intact.
Maybe the most amazing thing I've seen all week is this leaked teaser for a new game from the team that made the exceptional "Shadow Of The Colossus." The trailer is okay, but watch it a few times and really pay attention to the character work of the giant creature. It's one of the most natural animal characters I've ever seen animated, and it's a fantastic payoff, a blend of performance capture and animation that comes together in something that seems persuasively alive.
See what I mean? I'm not sure what to expect from the game, but "Shadow Of The Colossus" was one of the most striking gaming experiences I've ever had. Alternatively beautiful and horrifying and challenging, when the conversation starts about whether or not video games qualify as "art," SOTC is one of the titles that I'd offer up as evidence on the "pro" side of the debate. And there's a good chance this new title will be similar. We'll see.
That's the last Morning Read for the week, so you guys enjoy your holiday. Play me off, Keyboard Cat.
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