Welcome to The Morning Read.

Hope you had a great weekend.  Once again, I'm trying to get rid of some leftover links that I've hidden amidst all the new stuff I've seen online over the weekend, so this is another appropriate edition of The Morning Read, and with this much to discuss and with me leaving the house at 6:30 AM on Monday morning for a set visit, I'd better write as fast as possible tonight so you guys can read this while I'm out all day.

Looking forward to checking out this "Avatar" roundtable on December 3rd.  Nice get for MTV, and it sounds like it took nearly six months to negotiate.  In the meantime, Geoff Boucher (one of the few film writers for the LA Times that I actually respect at this point) has gone "Avatar" crazy, and his interview with production designer Rick Carter is especially good.  It's one of the first to tackle the question of how different the approaches of James Cameron and Robert Zemeckis truly are.

And speaking of Cameron, this new "AVP" game is one of the first that gets close to tapping into the aesthetic that makes "Aliens" my favorite out of either of those series, and I hope the gameplay delivers on the promise of this teaser video.

Earlier this year, I tried to kickstart a new column that was designed to run on this site and on FirstShowing.net, a back and forth called "The Basics."  That never ended up happening, but now someone else has stepped up and asked to participate, so it looks like we're going to reboot the column with William Goss as the other half of the equation.  If you're not familiar with Film Criticism's Own Plush Toy, as his Cinematical editor Scott Weinberg calls him, Goss is a young but strong writer who just started publishing a semi-regular column called "New To Me," and the latest one just went up, in which he watched "Purple Rain" and "Stunt Rock." 

Perhaps the most important shopping guide any parent will read this season is HuffPo's "15 Toys Not To Buy Your Kids This Christmas".

I remember on the heels of the release of "My Best Friend's Wedding," people were desperate to get into the Rupert Everett business.  Anyone else remember the "gay James Bond" franchise that Sony was developing for him?  Turns out, things didn't really take off, and now Everett's saying that no one who wants a major film career should come out of the closet.  That depresses me enormously.  I thought we were past this sort of nonsense.

Joe Quesada seems pretty confident that "Thor" is going to be something special.

There's been a lot of talk over the last few days about "Panic Attack!," a short film by a young director from Uruguay, and Sam Raimi has now signed young Federico Alvarez to expand the short into a feature, a la "District 9."  What's it all about?

 

 

Giant robots.  So he's got that going for him.

Viral marketing is rapidly becoming an important tool, but there are questions about how to use it, and as technology and marketing co-exist and sometimes clash, there are going to be incidents that are unfortunate, where the marketing does the exact opposite of what it was supposed to do.  The Guardian did a really smart piece about it, and I like a lot of the conclusions they reach in their article.  Pay attention, marketers, so you don't make a mistake like this one.

There is only one person truly qualified to judge "Ninja Assassin," and thank god he has broken his silence to review the film for us all:

 

 

Well-played, Ninja.  Well-played.

Dave Carr gets it. And so does Kim Voynar.  Nicholson Baker definitely gets it.  And Mark Medley remains refreshingly open to it.  The fundamental definitions of media and how we digest it are changing, and you can either cry about it or embrace it.  Or spend your days like me and do both.

Have you seen the trailer for "The Expendables"?  I wish I could pretend to be cynically detached about this one, but the smell of Golan-Globus in the air makes me dizzy with glee:

 

 

My only wish is that Stallone had made the film with the same sort of insane violent abandon that he used on the last "Rambo" film.  Still, it looks like preposterous fun, doesn't it? 

Why is Ayn Rand making such a pervasive cultural comeback?  Has the whole world become college freshmen again? 

I don't want Manny Pacquiao to beat me to death with my own leg, which he could easily do, so I'm just going to say that I am looking forward to any movie in which he boxes a giant crab:

 

 

Oh, man, that's got Fantastic Fest 2010 written AAAAAALLLLLLLL over it.

I am not a big consumer of manga or anime, but I love the passion of that corner of fandom, and I really dig this article by Jason Thompson.  It's a heck of a good read. 

I just recently saw "Easy Virtue," and I remain baffled by Hollywood's utter confusion over what to do with Jessica Biehl.  Aside from the obvious snickering schoolboy answer, I think she's got an unusual charm on camera, a maturity wrapped in a bombshell body that should be booking her work like crazy.  Color me confused, and reading this interview just makes her seem even more grounded and likable

A few years back, I met a guy after a screening of "Grindhouse," and we talked a bit about how uncomfortable it got during the film when we reached the "Planet Terror" sequence involving the helicopter chopping off the heads of the zombies and people started turning around in their seats to stare back at John Landis, who was sitting directly in front of me.  I haven't been in touch with the guy since, but he sent me a link to an interview he did with Wes Anderson (sort of) that he thought might be fun to include in a Morning Read.  He's right.  It's good stuff.

 

 

Of course, it's Jason Schwartzman pretending to be Wes Anderson, but that only makes it better, in my opinion. 

Finally, since we're sharing interviews, I've got my short interview from the Toronto Film Festival with John Hillcoat, the director of "The Road."  I've taken some flack for not loving the movie, but I can't help it.  The final product leaves me cold, and as I said in my "Lovely Bones" review this weekend, I'm a marshmallow. "The Road" is precisely the sort of movie that should have gutted me, and it didn't.  To my way of thinking, that means it fell short.   Still, it was good to sit down with Hillcoat and chat:

 

 

Today I'll be at a set visit, and then tonight, I'll have a new Film Nerd 2.0 for you as well as my review of the Jeff Bridges film "Crazy Heart" and the latest entry in the Motion/Captured Must-See series.  It's going to be a great week, so make sure you check in often.

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

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