Welcome to The Morning Read.

Last night, up to the moment I heard about Leslie Nielsen's death, I was totally focused on the early reactions to last night's first preview performance of the long-in-development musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark."  Then this morning, it was Irvin Kershner's death that rocked me, so it's a late start getting back to the business of seeing what's going on out there.  I'm jealous of anyone who goes to see this production in New York.  I have a feeling it's something you'll want to be able to say you saw later, when it is the stuff of legend and myth.  With an original score by Bono and the Edge, directed by Julie Taymor, and produced at a rumored cost of $65 million, which would make it the most expensive stage production of all time, this is a blockbuster by design, but by no means a sure thing.

For years now, it's seemed impossible to believe it would ever actually open.  Even now, based on the reports that are emerging from the preview performance, it sounds like there are a number of fundamental issues they're still working out.  The New York Times is probably the most authoritative source to weigh in so far, but there's also a handful of reviews up at AICN and there are message boards and industry blogs where more reactions are appearing.  You can run a Google search on "Turn Off The Dark reviews" and more and more reactions are showing up from the 1900 people who were there.  By and large, it sounds like last night was a glimpse at what they hope the show will be, and not the show itself.  I'm not a big Taymor fan, but I've been curious.  I think this show sounds like a collection of all of her worst tendencies, wrapped in some borrowed iconography.  It doesn't sound to me like she's added any real insight to the archetypes or the specific character of Peter Parker, and I'm not sure the Cirque Du Soleil spectacle of it is enough to justify all of this energy.

Whatever the case, here's the piece that ran last night on "60 Minutes" about the show, which is just a basic friendly behind-the-scenes glimpse.





Still, this is early in the process, and six weeks from now, a radically different show could well open officially.  At that point, it will be time to judge "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark."  For now, consider last night a bold stumble on the way to their opening, and no more significant than that.

George Lucas has spoken up in regards to Irvin Kershner's passing.

I'm intrigued by the cast that's coming together for "Cloud Atlas," the next film by the Wachowskis.  Halle Berry let slip during a recent press conference that she's planning to appear in the film next summer with Tom Hanks and Natalie Portman.  For those who have been predicting the end of the Wachowskis post-"Speed Racer," it would seem to me that a cast like that pretty much puts that question to bed.  I haven't read the novel that they're adapting, but it has its ardent supporters, and it's interesting to see the secrecy-minded Wachowskis working with material that is readily available.  If this does come together, I suspect we'll have quite a bit of "Cloud Atlas" coverage.

I don't always agree with Mike D'Angelo… in fact, I'd go so far as to say that I rarely agree with him, but I've been reading him as long as I've been online, which is to say for at least fourteen years now.  And I think he's always an engaging read, especially when he is passionate about something.  It's worth being passionate about "Afterschool," the film by Antonio Campos, and this is a wonderful breakdown of just what makes the film special and why Campos is someone we should all be paying attention to at this point.

I was worried when I saw the headlines that we were either in for a conventional biopic of Pink Floyd or a remake of "The Wall," but it looks like there may be a film on the way that tells the story of the kids who sang on the iconic 1979 single "Another Brick In The Wall" and the schoolteacher who got them the gig.  It's being described by producer Andy Harries and screenwriter Steven Thompson as "'Dead Poets Society' meets 'School Of Rock'," and I'll admit… it sounds like a good story to me.  Color me curious.

This is the first review I've read of the UK cut of "A Serbian Film," which is roughly four-and-a-half minutes shorter than the version I reviewed at SXSW this year.  This is the version I have a feeling a lot of the world will end up seeing.  I know that it's been purchased for American distribution, but I still have no idea what version of the film they plan on releasing here or how.

As someone who obviously has incorporated Twitter into my daily communicative life, I try not to get too strategy-minded about how I use it, as evidenced by my Thanksgiving-evening drunken "Seven Samurai" live-tweet.  But this article has convinced me not to use the "retweet" button on Twitter anymore.  Well-argued.

Speaking of social media and its applications, the best thing I read all weekend online was this piece about a guy who is using negative energy to power his business.  It's frustrating and infuriating and hilarious, and it is a wonderful snapshot of Internet culture.

Are you excited for "Game Of Thrones" on HBO?


How about now?

Peter Sciretta did a great job over the weekend of taking the recent output of Kevin Smith and his ever-expanding SModCast empire and parsing out of it whatever news there was to post, following up with Smith to clarify and to nail down a few exclusives.  I love the idea of Smith holding an auction in the actual Sundance theater after his first screening, selling it to a distributor right there in the room.  Of course, that's presuming he made it into Sundance.  If he goes, great.  If he doesn't, I'm sure he'll be fine and end up making exactly the deal he hopes to make on the film.  It can't be a wildly expensive package, and it sounds to me like an incredibly easy film to market.  Richard Kelly, who screened "Southland Tales" at Smith's SModCastle and who sat down for a gigantic interview with Smith, has actually seen "Red State," and spoke a little about it.

Thank god we're safe from Mark Ruffalo.  The long national nightmare is over.

I don't buy it.  I think it's just deranged to accuse Jackson and company of racism.

I don't know who David Freed is, but I feel comfortable calling him a cretin.  This piece in The LA Times is an embarrassment.  He's perfectly free to not enjoy "Neptune's Daughter," but responding by writing a piece that purports to blow the lid of the non-scandal of how star ratings are devised for cable guides is asinine.  Just because one person doesn't care for vintage films, that doesn't negate their worth, and it only proves just how worthless it is to put any trust or faith in numerical scores for something as personal as art.

And while we're speaking of worthless cretins, if there's a list of them somewhere, please put this guy on that list.  What a disgusting, ill-informed piece.  This guy genuinely has no idea what he's writing about, and seeing such naked hate in print is almost dizzying.

This is an important piece about the way life in North Korea is right now, and I have no qualms in calling the people who put it together and smuggled it out heroic. 

#3.  Awesome.

This sounds like it's going to be a description of the most apocalyptic event imaginable.  Imagine my disappointment.

On that note, I'm going to bail.  I've got lots more to do this afternoon, and I have to be ready to travel on Wednesday.  I have to go on a trip that sounds like absolute torture.  No, seriously.  It's work.  Difficult, difficult work that I won't enjoy at all.  Pinky swear.

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

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