Welcome to The Morning Read.

This may be a quick one.  It may not.  It'll just depend on how much I can get done before I get out the door this morning.  I've got interviews with Danny Boyle and James Franco and director Todd Phillips set for the first half of the day, and I wanted to be sure to have something ready for you guys before I take off.

So this is more like the very very very late night Sunday read, to be fair, but over the weekend, there's been plenty to discuss.  When I ran into our own Greg Ellwood at the Grove after a screening of "Due Date" on Sunday afternoon, we talked a bit about his encounter with Jennifer Lawrence.  He sounded really impressed by her in general, and I've gotten that impression from several people who have interviewed her so far this year.  She's young, too, so it's interesting to see her in this first flush of success and how she's holding it all together.  Can't wait to see her as Mystique.

I was really excited on Friday about the possibility of Steven Spielberg directing "Robopocalypse," and it makes me laugh to see people who feel so diametrically opposed.  I'm not going to say I'm "glad" that Spielberg didn't make "Lincoln," because i'm sure he and Tony Kushner could well make a great movie about Abraham Lincoln.  But I am glad that he didn't make it if he didn't think it was ready or right, and that's evidently what happened.  It just plain never made it out of development.  It happens.  It's a shame, but it happens.  I'm curious, though, to see what effect the production of "Robopocalypse" has on the Jack Black/Steve Pink project, "How To Survive A Robot Uprising."

Especially since it's by the same author as "Robopocalypse."

It's not unusual for competing projects to happen in terms of development, and it's certainly not unusual for Steven Spielberg to be involved in those development races.  I was personally involved by in a film that was full speed ahead until the moment "War Of The Worlds" with Tom Cruise was announced, and that was pretty much that for our aliens and our invasion.  But it's not like we were doing the other H.G. Wells alien book.  The idea that Daniel H. Wilson has these two books about the same general subject that are being developed into two presumably very different types of films at the same moment is a little wild.  I didn't love Pink's film "Hot Tub Time Machine," but I like that he's drawn to crazy SF comedy ideas, and I'm rooting for him to figure this one out.

I love this look at David Thomson and his latest edition of The New Biographical Dictionary of Film.  I think Thomson's a very strong writer, and I find I disagree with him on any number of things.  I love that this review manages to express respect for Thomson's place in the firmament of film writers, but that it also calls Thomson out for all his peculiarities.  If you don't know Thomson's book, it's an amazing, personal dense read, and it's hard to believe it's been 35 years he's been publishing the thing now.

Speaking of film writers who have strong personal voices, Kim Morgan just put up a piece about driving in films that is exquisite.  Man, Morgan's a beast.  What the best of her work communicates is the way movies seep into our DNA, the way they collide with each other in our memories, and in this case, the way they underline our own anxieties and our own manias.  Morgan's work can be almost uncomfortably confessional, and that's exactly what I love about it.

Can you believe Trailers from Hell is already at 500 trailers?  Amazing.

I don't always see eye-to-eye with Jim Emerson, but I think he asks some very smart questions about Clint Eastwood in his review of "Hereafter."  As much as I like Eastwood, I do think you'd have a hard time making a case for any strong coherence of theme or style over the course of his directorial career.  That's to be admired, and there's nothing wrong with being a strong craftsman who simply picks good scripts, but it does raise the question of how much of what he says in his films really represents him, and how much is simply him reacting to what's available.

This man was not just "a" film editor, but in many ways, the perfect model of what a film editor should be.  We will never see Geoffrey Foot's like again.

Excellent piece on writer's block by Mark Evanier, which was retweeted over the weekend by Neil Gaiman.  I don't really experience writer's block, but that's because I've got so much to do that I can always work on something else if I'm having trouble cracking something in particular.  I know people, though, who suffer terribly at times, and it's smart advice for handling it.

Oh, my.

Have you guys been paying attention to any of this BNAT tomfoolery over at Ain't It Cool?  This is Harry's favorite time of the year, when he gets to torture and tease and test the applicants to the festival, and this year, he's come up with one of his best applications yet.  One of the things he asked people to do was sing the theme to an ad campaign from Japan that starred Charles Bronson.  I'll be recording my own take on it later this week, hopefully, but the entries are already pouring in.

If you've never seen the original, here it is in all its glory:




I won't run all of the ones that Harry's already linked to, obviously, but I think it's great that Harry comes up with one of his sinister tortures, and suddenly, things like this exist out there in the world:





No matter which side of the issue you're on, it's fascinating to see California play out the grand social experiment of Prop 219, and if some voters have their way this fall, Prop 19 as well.  I'm not sure how I feel about Prop 19.  I think we have some truly stupid and restrictive laws about adult behavior on the books in this country, and my issues with those laws have more to do with my feelings on personal responsibility than they do with any benefit or harm that comes to me directly.  I think it's important to be consistent, and we aren't.  At all.  I think the conversation we're having in this state is an important one, but I'm not sure we're making headway in the right way.

RT @rainnwilson:  A monkey is riding a boar.

Over at Badass Digest, Roger Erik Tinch put up a piece over the weekend about the voices for the new "Back To The Future" videogame.  Christopher Lloyd will be reprising his role as Doc Brown, but with Marty McFly, they couldn't get Michael J. Fox.  Instead, they made a deal with Satan, and the result is A.J. LoCascio.  If you haven't seen this thing yet, prepare to be absolutely flattened:

 


Meanwhile, Danny over at TRS ran a piece called "Thrush."  Danny's a commercial director as well as a wildly popular Internet personality, and he comes up with amazing finds on his blog, "One Cool Thing A Day."  I can see exactly why he loves "Thrush."  Check it out:


Thrush from Gabriel Bisset-Smith on Vimeo.


Only thing funnier than this post of the 50 Creepiest Baby Halloween Costumes is the comments section below it.

You should listen to both halves of episode 76.  Trust me on this.

I completely forgot "Shanghai" even existed.  That movie really did fall into purgatory, didn't it?

As usual, Mark Cuban's been thinking about the way distribution is evolving, and I think this piece of his is deadly accurate.

I know a few guys who have landed on the Black List over the years, and I'm betting this was a great panel.  The Austin Film Festival has always been about the screenwriter over everything else, and it makes sense this is where the panel was held.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present the single best article generated by anyone on the subject of "Jersey Shore".

Over the weekend, one of the things I did was attend Rudy Coby's magic show at the El Rey Theater.  I've been a fan of Rudy's work for years, and I've carried on an e-mail correspondence with him since the early days of Ain't It Cool.  I've never had a chance to see his act until now, and it was a great evening out.

Finally, I find this worth noting.  Did you read about the giant Wikileaks release last Friday?  I find the whole Wikileaks thing somewhat difficult on an ethical level, but an inevitable part of the development of news distribution in the digital age.  What I think is even more interesting than the leak itself was the way Wired blew the whistle on them ahead of time, and then Wikileaks denied it completely.  When you read the way Julian Assange attacked Wired for their information and called them completely and utterly false, he was lying.  Pure and simple.  And in a way that I find particularly vile considering the way Wikileaks tries to position themselves as pure champions of truth.

Anyway, I've got two pieces coming later today for you, one a look at my visit to the set of "Faster," and the other an interview with Will Ferrell about his new animated superhero film "Megamind."

Until then, have a great Monday morning.

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

 

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