Vin Diesel goes 3D with 'xXx' at Paramount and film critics go crazy about 'Kick-Ass'
Welcome to The Morning Read.
I'm confused by Paramount's decision to purchase the "xXx" franchise from Revolution Studios/Sony, who made the first two films. I remember when I was working at Revolution and they were releasing the first film, they had such ambitious plans for how to extend the franchise, either with Vin Diesel onboard to star in the films or without. Having that sort of flexibility built into a franchise from the start is what I was talking about with "X-Men" and "Mission: Impossible" the other day. Obviously, the first film was sold on Vin Diesel, who everyone was gambling was a movie star. It wasn't just the "xXx" films, either. The first "Fast and the Furious" was part of that, along with "The Chronicles of Riddick." Then we went through a phase where Diesel was absolutely NOT a movie star, and they were making faster and furiouser movies without him in them, and they made a "xXx" movie starring Ice Cube and that baby-faced scowl of his. And then "For Fast For Furious" or whatever it was called starred Disel again and suddenly everyone realized that maybe Vin Diesel IS a movie star, and so now here we are.
Putting 3D in the hands of Rob Cohen and Vin Diesel sounds like, quite frankly, a B-movie hoot. Whatever else "xXx 3D" will be, it will be big and loud and aggressively 3D. It will be about as subtle as "2 Girls 1 Cup." It will be pure sensation, and it will most likely make a metric ton of cash. And because they're shooting the film that way, from the start, with Cohen specifically building his set pieces for the process, I'm in. I'll happily see the first 3D screening of that, and the more ridiculous the better. Joe Roth controls this particular piece of the Revolution fire sale. I know there are other projects controlled by Todd Garner, and other projects that went to other producers, and I fully expect to see a trickledown of Revolution stuff that gets redeveloped elsewhere, with this being a prime example. Paramount seems to be heavily investing in films that will actually shoot using 3D from the start, like the greenlit-by-a-peniscopter-test "Jackass 3D," which I fully expect will win Best Picture 2010. From me, anyway.
I assume you saw the gloriously horrifying rendition of "Stand By Me" that was just posted by the Muppets on YouTube. My younger son is fascinated by it. Hypnotized, even. The power of the Muppets compels him. I think as long as we are making movies, we should be making Muppet movies. And according to Brian Henson, who's busy in New York with the live improv show "Stuffed and Unstrung," they're working on a number of different things, none of which are "The Muppet Man" at the moment. I want to see "Stuffed and Unstrung" (I think "desperate" is actually more accurate), but I'm still not sure how I feel about that proposed biopic of Jim Henson. There're a lot of different places where Henson's been quoted, and /Film did a great job of rounding them up.
I'm not sure which of the "Kick-Ass" reviews I like most. There's this one, which works up such a righteous head of moral indignation that it's sort of impressive, or this one, which seems to believe cinema itself lies in the balance of your reaction to this movie. I quite like the film, but I can have a reasonable conversation about it with smart critics who have little use for it, like James Rocchi, because he's able to express his reasons for being disappointed with or irritated by the film in reasonable, adult, articulate terms. But these two reviews froth to little effect, and reveal far more about the reviewer than they do about the movie. Take the one by the guy at the Daily Mail. When he says the film has a "perniciously sexualized" view of children, he's wrong. Even the scene that guys like him seem to take as their smoking gun, with Chloe Moretz in a schoolgirl's outfit, is played with her using the outfit to seem younger and harmless while she bluffs her way into a building. She's back in her remarkably non-sexual superhero outfit about six minutes later. No one onscreen leers at her or makes comments about her or in any way reacts to her as a figure of lust or desire. The camera doesn't fetishize her... only the viewer can do that with "Kick-Ass." If you're watching Moretz and having to wrestle with your own moral compass, that's your failing as a person, not the failing of the filmmaker or of other people who enjoyed the film without whatever baggage it is that should force you to register with local police. Someone in the Jeff Wells comments section where I mentioned my irritation with the people who keep projecting this onto the movie brought up Luc Besson's "The Professional" and said I'd say the same thing about that film. Not at all. Besson is French. Enough said. There's sexual tension built into "The Professional" for days, man. It's not just subtext... it's text. But that movie is not "Kick-Ass." The characters are different. The characters they interact with are different. Hit Girl is the product of a father so deeply damaged and afraid that he feels like he has to cut short his daughter's childhood and train her to be equally at home with marshmellows in her cocoa and butterfly knives in combat. She's been made cold and dangerous because the world she's growing up in is cold and dangerous, and Damon knows what he's done. He knows he's robbed her of something essential, and it bothers him. Again... feel free not to like the movie, but when you resort to accusing the filmmakers and anyone who likes the film of sexually fetishizing a pre-teen girl, you have left behind rational discourse in favor of character assassination. Poor form, indeed.
This is ridiculous.
But then again, they are the best, and they specialize in the ridiculous. So that fits.
I need a vacation. I think running down this checklist with the Alamo as my final destination might do the trick.
I'm not sure who I'm crushing on harder by the end of this blog entry... Kelly Oxford, who is the coolest housewife on Twitter, or Dan Harmon, whose show "Community" got better and better over the course of the season and is pretty much one of the best sitcoms on TV at this point.
I reeeeeeeeeeally like this movie:
And I said so when I saw it at Sundance this year.
Yeah, well, I was a Fesh fan back before he went electric.
Good Friday seems like a good day to run an exclusive clip from "The Good Heart":
Good, eh? The film, which stars the decidedly good Brian Cox and the also quite good Paul Dano, is available right now on VOD. Check it out. And have a pint. Preferably together.
I'd run more, but my entire day has been made up of running my family ninety different places in the car and dealing with forty other people chipping away at my time. I hate that... but it means I've got a TON of stuff I can run for Monday's read.
See you then. Film Nerd 2.0 is next.
The Morning Read appears here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Except when it doesn't.
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