Welcome to The Morning Read.
It feels like a logjam has recently been kicked loose, and we're finally seeing projects reach the screen that have been lingering in development for what seems to be a preposterous amount of time. "Cowboys and Aliens" released its first trailer today, and that marks a moment that seemed like it would never happen. Spielberg is finally making his "Tintin" movie after decades of being interested in doing so. David Fincher made "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" after something like 500 other directors worked on it over the years. There have been so many false starts on "The Green Hornet" that I still don't believe it's actually happening. It's interesting to see which version of these long-gestating movies makes it to the screen, and who ends up spearheading the films.
Along those lines, George Clooney has been interested in "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." since at least 1999. He was reading drafts of the film back in the summer and fall of 2000, and was seriously interested in making the film with either Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez. The property is obviously a major asset for Warner Bros. It is the only other spy franchise co-created by Ian Fleming, and you can do almost anything with it depending on what tone you take with the material. The Playlist and Hollywood Reporter have both been reporting on the way the film is starting to come together, and the teaming of Clooney with Steven Soderbergh and Scott Z. Burns as director and screenwriter is exciting, and the idea of making it a period piece so you can do this as a '60s film is absolutely perfect. It's so perfect that I'm having a hard time believing Warner Bros. is hip enough to let them do it. It's exciting to think of it, though, and for Clooney, this would be the end of a long process of flirting with Napoleon Solo.
I'm not sure how long today's column is going to be. I had a screening of "Faster" first thing this morning, and I've got "Harry Potter" tonight. But as many of these things as I can share, I will. It's a big weird batch of stuff today, too. For example, would you live in a domed city inside a former diamond mine in Siberia?
A huge thanks to Ant Timpson and Devin Faraci for uncovering "Lost In The Garden Of The World." What's that? Well, let's just say if you're a fan of '70s filmmaking, you owe it to yourself to check it out immediately.
I think it's a stretch for anyone to claim that Carey Mulligan is entering her second act, considering her first act is just getting underway. I get the Fitzgerald reference, but calm down. It's a nice story about Mulligan getting the call from Baz Luhrmann telling her that she's co-starring in "The Great Gatsby" with Leonardo DiCaprio, but I'm still not sure I think "Gatsby" can work as a film. It's an internal novel, but its dramatic issues go deeper than that. I think Sarah Churchwell makes some painful points about the book and the previous attempts to film it, and I'll be curious to see if Luhrmann can avoid the pitfalls that have frustrated so many others.
When I was at "Faster" this morning, there were many 30 people in the room, and even so, they had a security guard standing there, staring at us with his night goggles, and it got to be almost laughable. I'm not sure there's ever been a case of a movie critic pirating a movie ahead of a film's release, and it's wildly insulting to treat us like the source of the problem. Look at your post houses. Look at your vendors. Look at the people who have their hands on your actual elements. It's not us, that's for sure. And if you do digitally watermark the screeners you send people at the end of the year, prosecute anyone who leaks theirs and then treat everyone else like grown-ups you trust. I'm sure Warner Bros. will figure out who leaked part of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I" soon, but it's inaccurate to say that the last studio movie that leaked pre-release was "Wolverine" last year. It's an ongoing issue, and this is just another example of how pervasive the problem is.
I love this interview with Alan Stillman, the founder of T.G.I.Friday's, and I especially love the suit he's wearing in that picture. Daaaaaaaaaaamn.
Oh, good god. This is the worst practical joke gone wrong I've ever heard.
A clear-eyed look at the year ahead in horror, and just how horrifying a prospect it is, by Ryan Rotten.
Alex Roman may have made a deal with the Devil to be able to make a computer do the things he makes computers do. Want proof?
100% CGI. And amazing.
This doesn't surprise me at all. I've heard that "Apollo 18" is going to have a hell of a time making its release date in March. I'm not sure you can even do it on a technical level, but The Weinstein Company and producer Timur Bekmambetov are going to give it the college try, but with new director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego.
Aki Higashihara is a wonderful person, and I would never say anything bad about her. I hope she never ever types my name. Here's why.
"The Swarm" is an awful, awful, awful movie, and remaking it makes me giggle. Having said that, death by being stung by bees would be an incredibly miserable way to die, and there is the possibility that a great filmmaker could figure out how to make this scary.
Vern? Reviewing "Ip Man 2"? Yes, please.
Huh. AMC Theaters is testing their version of an Alamo Drafthouse business model, and a friend of mine actually went to check it out. I dunno… this feels like a good idea with an expensive and annoying execution, and I'm not sure they understand what makes the Drafthouse work.
Are these plot holes? Do you agree?
I was talking with my friend the other day about the career of Rupert Everett, and the way he had his almost moment right after "My Best Friend's Wedding." I remember when Sony was going to make a "gay James Bond" movie with him, which sounded like a really weird idea then, because it's such an insulting reason to do something. I doubt Everett had much interest in just running down a checklist of movies. "Gay 'Rocky'". "Gay 'Godfather.'" "Gay 'Star Wars.'" Still, there is a wealth of weird sexual politics at play in the history of James Bond, and it's always worth serious discussion.
I am unfamiliar with these superheroes for a reason.
Like art? Like fantasy? Like science fiction? Have eyes? Click here.
Like Earth? Like photography? Have eyes? Click here.
Sergio Aragones is an old-school badass, and this interview with him is a pure delight.
I can think of about a thousand uses for a "space-time cloak," and if I printed even one of them, I'd probably get fired. Perhaps this is not a good technology.
It's about time people take Cannon Films seriously, and I hope we do a similar retrospective program for the studio here on the West Coast sometime soon.
I like this a lot, and I've said before that filmmaking is the ultimate form of film criticism.
Tom Shadyac is going to have a lot of people make cheap jokes about him over this profile, but I think it's an interesting look at a guy who is obviously trying to figure out what he wants from the world, and how he feels he fits into it. I don't see how that makes him a target for ridicule automatically.
And finally, I've been missing London recently, but thanks to this, I'm not. This is one of the coolest things I've seen all week.
Off to "Potter," and when I'm back tonight, I'll have some very cool stuff for you.
The Morning Read appears here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, except when it doesn't.