Welcome to The Morning Read.

I'm not personally acquainted with Terrence Malick, but it looks like he got me a birthday present.  My birthday?  May 26.  The official release date of "Tree Of Life"?  May 27, 2011.  Thank you, Mr. Malick.  Now if I can just get my ass on a plane to Cannes to see the film premiere there…

More news that makes me happy this morning?  Laeta Kalogridis has been hired to help get "Fantastic Voyage" ready to shoot.  She's one of James Cameron's favorite writers, and one of mine as well.  She's been in the game for a while now, but it's only in the last few years that the films she's been working on have even remotely resembled the scripts she writes.  With "Shutter Island" and "Avatar," she seems to have finally turned a corner professionally, working on films that actually live up to her work.  She's an amazing action writer, and she's great with character, a killer combination that keeps her busy.  She's also working on "Ghost In The Shell" right now, but I'm guessing if she's onboard "Fantastic Voyage," they'll sign another director soon to replace Paul Greengrass.  Can't wait.

This interview with Jeremy Thomas is a clear-eyed look at the current landscape of financing and distribution in the world of indie film.  It is also profoundly depressing.

RT @LuckyMcKee:  "We're just, none of us, at all like what we thought we would be, back there when the days were golden and long." John D. MacDonald

Speaking of depressing, this piece that looks at the death of the brick-and-mortar video store makes me deeply melancholy.  My parents opened a video store in the early '80s, one of the very first ones in the city where we lived at the time, and I spent many hours working in other video stores growing up.  The best video stores had character, shelves packed with colorful boxes, and browsing them was the best way to discover things you didn't even know you wanted to see.  Physical media may be more expensive to produce, and it may have all sorts of other costs built in, and digital media may well be the wave of the future.  But what we lose when we lose these communal stores and these communal experience is beyond cost, and I'm not sure what it's going to do to film fandom and general film knowledge in the years to come.

Really, Silsbee High School?  You sure that's the right move?

I want to phrase this carefully so he doesn't choke me out if we ever meet, but… I love crazy Wesley Snipes.  LOVE him.  I think he's still as magnetic on screen as ever, and I'm fascinated by the aura of quiet deadly lunacy that he's cultivated.  I think the idea of a movie about J. Edgar Hoover's campaign to silence MLK sounds great, actually.  It's one of those historical stories that I find both interesting on a human level and also deeply significant in terms of what it meant for our cultural history.  There's a photo of MLK walking out of Hoover's office after their first meeting that is just hypnotic.  MLK looks like he's been gutpunched after having all the accumulated evidence laid out that Hoover had gathered on him.  I do love, though, how in this interview Wesley seems surprised they're not going to ask him back to play Blade again.  I'm guessing I have a better recollection of how things went down on the "Blade: Trinity" set than Snipes does, and I'm not surprised he's done as Blade at all.

Unreal.  Takes a real criminal mastermind to plot a heist like this.

Do you find yourself anywhere on this chart?

For example… are you a monster nerd at all?  If so, check out Greg Nicotero's outstanding new short film "The United Monster Talent Agency."  Nicotero, if you don't know the name, is the "N" in "KNB," one of the premiere make-up houses in the world.  Greg's short film is both witty and gorgeous, packed with a love of old Hollywood and monster movies in particular.  I'm a little sad about Halloween this year with my kids still out of the country.  This will be the first time in the last five years that Halloween hasn't been all about the kids, but the one nice part of that is rediscovering all the other great ways I can enjoy my favorite holiday.  I love that Nicotero managed to fit as many classic monsters into one film as he did, and I think this should help get Nicotero behind the camera for a feature soon.

 


I'm serious when I say this guy is a hero.  At some point, we've got to take some sort of common-sense control back in regards to air travel, and it's going to take people who aren't afraid to butt heads with a disgustingly powerful system to make it happen.  If you don't fly 25 - 40 times a year, don't try telling me air travel and air travel is anything less than deeply broken, because you're wrong.  It's unreal how bad it's gotten, and how complacent we seem to be about it.

And speaking of heroes, keep on Walking Tall, Ms. Valles.

"Merantau" on Blu-ray in December?  That's a good thing.

A crocodile loose on an airplane?  Not so much.

RT @stephenfry:  RDJ still Holmes and Jude Law the faithful Watson - I'm playing brother Mycroft. Can't say where we're filming, but it's a night shoot.

I'm not scared of babies.  Why would anyone be scared of… OH GOD WHAT IS THAT? WHAT IS HAPPENING?!

Frederick Wiseman is a giant in the world of documentaries, and for good reason.  I'm impressed by this interview with Wiseman, conducted by Bilge Ibiri.  If you don't know Wiseman's work, this may spur you to get educated, and if you are, it's a great conversation about where this giant is these days.

Larry Fessenden directed my script, "Skin and Bones" for the NBC series "Fear Itself," and the biggest shame of the process was that because of the WGA strike, we didn't get to work with Larry at all during production.  It wasn't until the episode was in post-production that we spent an evening hanging out with him and watching the cut and talking about it.  I'd met Larry years before at the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal, where he was showing "Wendigo," and I think he's one of the great eccentrics of modern horror.  He seems to be cut from the same sort of 1970's character actor cloth as guys like Tracy Walters and Jack Nicholson and Warren Oates, but he is undeniably drawn to this genre and its potential.  The New York Times has done a wonderful job of looking back at the last 25 years of Glass Eye Pix, the indie company that Fessenden created, and again… if you don't know his work, please consider this a valuable introduction:

 


Ouch.  Nice smackdown.  I think taking shots at Roger Ebert about how he ruined film criticism is a lot like blaming Spielberg and Lucas for ruining movies.  Doing something well doesn't ruin it.  "Jaws" and "Star Wars" didn't ruin movies, but the rush to make blockbusters at the expense of all other types of filmmaking might have.  The glut of glib know-nothing binary "film critics" who emerged in the wake of the TV success of Siskel and Ebert are no different than the parade of bad stand-up comics that choked the clubs in the late '80s.  Lots of imitations, and very few originals.  You may not like the state of modern film criticism, but laying it all at the feet of Ebert is just plain obtuse.

Wes Anderson fans, prepare to smile.

Okay, I'm officially tired of people telling me I've underestimated Uwe Boll or that I need to give him another chance or that he's not that bad.  I'm tired of hearing about how he's been picked on by the online press.  I don't buy either of those narratives.  He's a terrible filmmaker, and his "good" films are terrible.  I don't see anything about his work that demands this level of continued scrutiny.  I don't want him to stop making films, because who am I to tell someone they can't earn a living?  But I do think the press should ignore him at this point.  He's Jim Wynorski with a better sense of how to get press for himself.  He's not even a joke.  He's such a terrible filmmaker that he actually thinks the best way to defend his work is to punch film critics.  God forbid you make a movie that needs no defending.  No, it's easier to just hit somebody.  He's been picked on by the press because he wanted to be picked on by the press.  He encourages it so he can play the victim.  Please… at some point… can we all agree to just let him drift off into blissful obscurity?  He only exists if we write about him.

I want this.

I also want this.

Every year, Joe Lynch and Adam Green put together a short film for Halloween, and since this is indeed the season, brace yourself.  And for god's sake, just take one:

 


I'm not the world's biggest Hal Hartley fan, but I love this conversation with him.

And finally today, I'd like to welcome our new Internet neighbors over at Badass Digest to the party.  This is the new online home of Devin Faraci, formerly of CHUD, and it's also the new venture for Tim League, Moises Chiullan, Henri Mazza, and Roger Tinch.  Good group of people, and with the mental resources of the Alamo Drafthouse behind them, I have a feeling this is going to be a regular stop for me in my daily reading.  For now, you should start with Devin's appreciation of Warren Oates, and then explore a bit.

On that note, have a great weekend, folks, and keep checking back all weekend.  I'm sure we'll have fun things for you, and of course, we'll see you back here Monday to do this all over again.

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

 

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