Welcome to The Morning Read.

Lots of news breaking this morning.  None of it particularly earth-shaking, but some of it fun.

For example, I'm not sure if I'm excited for "Cowboys and Aliens" yet.  I mean, the film's been limping through development for about a decade now, and it's always seemed like the highest of high concepts in search of a compelling story and characters.  I like Jon Favreau as a filmmaker, so I'm curious, and Daniel Craig in a Western is also enough to get me interested.  Adding Harrison Ford to the cast, though?  That might be the thing that finally pushes me over.  It's been a long time since Harrison did anything that made me curious, but this is one of those moves I wouldn't have seen coming.  Nice work by Latino Review breaking the story, and nice work by Favreau getting Ford involved.

Meanwhile, it's looking more and more likely that Bill Condon, director of "Gods and Monsters" and "Kinsey" and "Dreamgirls," is about to sign on for the final two movies in "The Twilight Saga."  If it happens, the real winner is Summit Entertainment, who just classed up a very, very silly franchise just as they get it across the finish line.  I have made no secret of the fact that I think the "Twilight" series is garbage, but Condon makes sense as a director here.  Despite his Oscar-bait pedigree, the man earned his stripes in the horror world, and I know for a fact he's been interested in doing a gothic Vampire story for a while now... just not this one.  I'd wager this is all but a done deal at this point, and I hope these turn out to be the biggest movies out of the entire franchise, just so Condon can move on from a position of enormous strength and get some of his dream films made, like that Richard Pryor biopic or something else close to his heart.

I'm not a huge fan of April Fool's Day online, but Film School Rejects really brought the thunder this year, taking their entire site and the field of Internet reporting back in time to 1980.  Great one.  There were a few individual jokes I liked at other sites, and this one in particular just makes me laugh.

Nice little visual round-up by Andrew Lin, a publicist I've known for many years, showing how each studio's websites look on the iPad just a few days after launch.  Expect this to change.  Lots of sites seem to be built around Flash right now, and either iPad will change their policy, or Flash is going to crumble in the very near future.

I don't always agree with Devin Faraci about everything, but I really like reading his work, particularly when he's taking an unblinking look at fandom, as he did at last weekend's Wondercon.  Great, incisive look at where certain properties are in the hearts and minds of fans, with lots to chew on.  His points about "Star Wars," in particular, will be worth more discussion later today in a separate article I'm working on.  And anyone who thinks Devin is mocking fandom in general doesn't know Devin, because he's a HUGE nerd, and I fully expect to see him at this weekend's Monsterpalooza.

Why didn't anyone tell me about the Snacks and Shit blog before now? 

Have you been following the idea of the "Parallel Lines" project?  Basically, it's a follow-up to last year's mind-boggling "Carousel" video which we covered here on the Morning Read, and Phillips has sponsored a series of short films, all built around similar themes and images.  The secret word for today?  "Unicorn."  Ridley Scott's commercial company, RSA, picked the filmmakers and supervised, and the results are really interesting and varied.  Here's the first one, which has a distinctly "Blade Runner" vibe to it:

 

 

And then this second one is a charming bit of computer animation:

 

 

I wonder how this next guy ended up working for Ridley Scott...

 

 

And this one's by the guy who almost got the job directing the upcoming "Alien" prequel in 3D, Carl Erik Rinsch:

 

Here's the last one of the bunch, "El Secreto De Mateo":

 

 

The Morning Read has been shockingly light on Kim Morgan content lately, which is an oversight on my part.  After all, you could be enjoying her look back at the time she guest-hosted "Ebert & Roeper," or you could read her lovely contemplation of the enduring power of the great "Harold & Maude."  Or, if you're not down with that whole "reading" thing, you could just watch her eat.

 

 

There can never be enough words written about the great Preston Sturges, and Douglas McGrath (who co-wrote "Bullets Over Broadway" with Woody Allen) just added some particularly great words to the pile over at Vanity Fair.

Nice little profile of Ralph Bakshi as his version of "The Lord Of The Rings" hits Blu-ray this week.

This is a groovy little slice of existential dread for the media age.

I missed "Exit Through The Gift Shop" at Sundance, but I'll catch up with it soon.  In the meantime, here's a five-minute extended sneak peek at the film, the first from famed graffiti artist Banksy:

 

 

Yep.  I'm hooked.

Why? 

No, seriously... why?

And finally today, I find this just as disturbing as the product placement article I linked to in Monday's Morning Read.  It all boils down to the same thing... corporate influence over shows forcing changes in content that have nothing to do with the interests of the creative teams on those shows or films.  It's poison, no matter what "good" they think they're doing, and it just plain freaks me out.

Next up, my exclusive on-camera interview with Nicolas Cage at last weekend's Wondercon, and then a review of a documentary that has been under my skin since I saw it at SXSW.  Plenty more to come today, so keep checking back.

The Morning Read appears here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Except when it doesn't.

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