Welcome to The Morning Read.
I'm not sure I can call this the day's biggest news considering there's a "Batman 3" casting story on our front page, but I'm personally thrilled to hear that Luc Besson is returning to sci-fi, and that he wants to make something that he describes as "'The Fifth Element' to the power of ten." Yes, please. Design is already underway, and he's talking about two movies that will be released in 2013 and 2014. I can't believe I'm already excited about something coming out four years from now, but I have a feeling a new Besson sci-fi film will be worth the wait.
I love Mike Russell's work. His cartoon-fu is strong, and so are his interviewing skills. It's a unique combination, and there are very few pop culture interviewers whose work can be called art. This Dan Aykroyd piece? Art. Totally.
This piece, by a longtime Austin friend, is a lovely way of summing up how people felt by the end of this year's absolutely amazing Fantastic Fest. I got really unpleasantly sick at the end of the festival, unfortunately, so missed the last three days of it more or less. The problem is that I never got to really wrap up that coverage, and so I never got to sum up just how impressive it was as a whole this year. It's getting better and better each time out, and co-founders Tim League and Harry Knowles have every right to be proud that they've built one of the year's essential stops now for any serious film fan.
I love how angry my buddy Scott Weinberg over at Cinematical gets when anyone brings up "Jackass" around him. Considering his disdain for 3D, I'm guessing he isn't lining up for a midnight show of "Jackass 3D" this weekend. I've seen it once already, and I guarantee I'll end up seeing it again. I'll write my review as soon as Paramount lets me, and you'll be seeing some "Jackass" interviews here this week as well. For now, though, check out this well-written argument in defense of "Jackass" and its place in the film world.
RT: @PeterSHall This may be my favorite Craig's List Missed Connection ever.
John August put up a piece today that links out to where Jordan Mechner posted an early draft of "Prince Of Persia" that August worked on back in 2004 and 2005. That final film's got a lot of script problems… so here's your chance to judge how well the development process did or didn't work. Would the earlier drafts have made a better movie? August certainly seems to think so.
The MPAA has been getting people worked up into heated editorials since the Internet went online, and I'm certainly party to many of those editorials myself. I appear on the commentary track of Kirby Dick's documentary "This Film Is Not Yet Rated," and I've certainly questioned them in public many times over the years. I am no less offended by the blatant hypocrisy and lunacy of their decisions as a ratings board these days, but I am perhaps weary from the feeling that we are all just Don Quixote, tilting at this immovable object that will continue to roll on being just as arbitrary and strange as ever. Lately, the focus on "male nudity" as a separate thing they need to label just makes me laugh. I wish they'd shorten it and just include "dong" as the warning, because that's what they're saying. If they need to make special mention of it in the descriptive language, a la "Rated R for drug use, language, violence, and male nudity," what they're trying to warn you is, "If you see this movie, you will see dong." The idea that we as a culture need to be specifically warned about that particular piece of real estate any time it might appear is both sad and sort of hilarious. Like they're worried that if they didn't warn you, there might be some crazy mass incident of people being driven mad and emotionally traumatized because Chris Pontius ties a helicopter to his weenus. In a world where "Blue Valentine" gets an NC-17, the ratings board has ceased to make any sense at all, so why be surprised by any crazy decision they make?
I've tried to be very quiet about "Conan" so far, because I don't want to just be some negative Internet crybaby. I love the Robert E. Howard stories, and I quite like the John Milius film. I certainly would love for the new "Conan" to be good. I just don't know enough about what they're doing to be anything but nervous based on the early images and some of the casting. I still have no idea what to expect, but the photos that Bleeding Cool ran actually look pretty cool to me. I like the design and the texture, and at the very least, I'm interested.
I didn't include the Banksy "Simpsons" opener in Monday's Morning Read because it had already been well-covered by that point. I would direct your attention, though, to the NY Times piece about how they got Banksy to do it, because that's the first question I had after I saw it.
I only walked out of one film in September… which I believe is actually the only film I've walked out of this year… and it was a screening of the new film by Yoshihiro Nishimura's "Helldriver." So… here's a trailer!
Making Of took a trip to the Tippett Studios, and for "Twilight: Eclipse" fans, this should be a real treat. Even if you're not a fan of those films, it's still the Tippett Studios. It's definitely worth a look.
Oh my god… if I'd been on the 101 when Imperial Stars parked a truck across it and started playing a concert, you would be reading headlines today about some angry Los Angeles lunatic who managed to shove an entire band up its own ass. This is madness.
Okay… let's talk a little bit more about words. First, I'd like to thank Kyle Buchanan at The Vulture for his amazingly out-of-context interpretation of what I said about the hubbub around the gay joke in the trailer for Universal's "The Dilemma." When I wrote about the issue in last Friday's Morning Read, I specifically and clearly wrote the following: "I hate the use of the word 'gay' to mean 'lame' or to mean that something's awful." That seems pretty clear. I also said "I think there are more important ways to help young people deal with issues of sexuality and identity and acceptance and bullying than worrying about what Vince Vaughn says in a trailer for a Ron Howard movie." I didn't say it's fine. I didn't say it was a good thing. I didn't dismiss the idea that language can be hurtful. I am amazed at how Buchanan dragged me in as some sort of dismissive defender of the use of the slur, and last night, someone took to Twitter to harangue me further for it. This is one of the dangers of policing speech instead of addressing thought and context. I invite anyone to look through my online history and then come back and accuse me of bigotry. I am precise in my use of language, and when I say something like "this is generational," that's an observation, not an excuse or a dismissal. There are generational ethical issues that I think are profound, things like the notion that anything online is free or the way the words "gay" and "retarded" have been co-opted. If you would like to argue with me that there's a younger generation who doesn't believe that everything online is free or that "gay" and "retarded" mean "lame," then argue that with me, but don't accuse me of feeling the same way as them just because I brought it up. That's so off-base it's disgusting.
With all of this in mind, I can't wait to see what happens when Warner Archive unleashes this one next year.
And speaking of arguing about words…
Let's swing from complaints to compliments here. In the last Morning Read, I ran a link to a great Ernest Borgnine interview by Quint. Well, today, it's Mr. Beaks who sat down with a living legend, and the result is a spectacular read. I'm half-convinced that by the end of this interview, Mr. Beaks and Angie Dickinson are technically dating. Lucky bastard.
I may be chatting with Kevin Smith this weekend, and one of the things I am impressed by recently is the quiet way he's building this podcasting empire. I can't think of anyone else doing what he's doing, and this TechDirt article does a great job of explaining just what makes it so special.
I don't think there's any way to figure out what is real or not real with these guys.
And it looks like they've got some competition in terms of WTF?
The Morning Read appears here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Except when it doesn't.
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