Welcome to The Morning Read.
So did the blog seem a little light on content to you last week? Well, I apologize. I got sidelined by some health issues, and while I'm still working through them, I'm well enough to at least get back to work here. There's nothing quite like a doctor reacting like Sydney Pollack in "Death Becomes Her" to get my attention, and I'm going to be focused on doing some things differently to prevent this sort of thing instead of just reacting when my health does let me down.
In the meantime, I've got a big crazy trip planned for the 21st of this month, and I sort of can't believe where I'm heading. It's one of those moments where I am fascinated at the way writing about movies can open up the world for me. I look forward to sharing that one with you, in all its lunatic glory, once I've actually left for the trip. In the meantime, let's jump back into the Morning Read fray, because there's an amazing line-up of stuff out there today.
First, have you seen the reaction to "Human Centipede II" by the BBFC? Be warned… if you read their decision, it's loaded with "spoilers" for the sequel, but in order to understand their decision to ban the film completely, you need to read the details. The film cannot be legally supplied anywhere in the UK now. I'm not a fan of the first film, and I think the second one sounds silly, but banning it? That gives the film an instant power that it would probably not have otherwise, and it also sends the message that the contents of the film are genuinely dangerous. I'd say that is pure win for Tom Six and whoever releases "Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)" around the world.
Hands-down, the best read out there this morning is Quint's interview with Steven Spielberg about "Jaws." Spielberg gave my buddy Eric Vespe, known for most of his adult life now as "Quint" on Ain't It Cool, a full hour to talk about that film, and the conversation they had is just lovely. Spielberg's comments that he will no longer do any special edition versions of any of his films, instead preferring to let the original version speak for when the film was made, is a heroic one, and I wish all of Hollywood would hurry up and get to that way of thought as well. More than anything, Eric does a great job of getting Spielberg to just relax and chat. This doesn't feel like PR because nobody's selling anything. It's just two film nerds, one of which happens to be one of the most successful filmmakers of all time, talking movies. Great stuff.
Oh, Alamo Drafthouse and Tim League… this is why I love you…
That just makes me warm and happy inside, and proud to live in these Magnited States of America.
I guess growing up in Florida gives you a very different perspective on the state, so reading a story like this, I'm not sure why anyone would consider it Paradise, but then I see it through fresh eyes and realize how different that really is.
Ingmar Bergman was switched at birth? What the hell?
Ernie Cline's Ready Player One may or may not end up being one of the big geek moments of the year when the book is released on August 16. I certainly hope it happens for him. But getting Wil Wheaton to perform the audio book version is certainly a step in the right direction.
I've been following this non-troversy about "liberal Hollywood" for the last few days, and I'm struck by any number of things about the way the story has been pushed and how it was documented in the first place. I think "gotcha" journalism is a pretty low form, all things considered. Lying to an interview subject to coax bad behavior out of them isn't wrong, per se, because ultimately, they are responsible for whatever they said in these interviews. There's no way the various subjects here can claim they were misquoted. The thing is, there's no genuine revelation here. Of course people tend to hire people who think like they do when they're staffing up for a TV show, particularly in the writer's room. I doubt there's a lot of conversation with the construction crew about politics before people are hired, because that's not going to be the same sort of time spent together. The supposition here is that voices are being silenced by these actions, and in a world where Fox News exists, that simply isn't true. There are any number of ways for distribution to happen now, and if you have something to say, and someone wants to fund you saying it, then you'll find a place to share it with people. Complaining that people who work in the arts tend to lean towards a more empathetic, human-oriented, "liberal" point of view is not shocking, and it's not a conspiracy. It's just the way people are wired. I have trouble feeling sorry for people who ascribe to major party politics who feel "marginalized," because they don't know what marginalization really is. They are the mainstream of American politics, and there are a whole lot of viewpoints that need real help before we start weeping over how much of a foothold Republicans do or don't have in Hollywood.
My dad is the exact market that they aim most Tom Clancy/Lee Child/Jeffery Deaver/Michael Connelly books at, so when I told him the other day that Deaver is the one who took over the James Bond franchise, with his new book Carte Blanche coming very soon, he was thrilled. What did Deaver learn from his time with 007? Well… this, for starters.
Meanwhile, I'm learning all sorts of things this morning. I'd never heard of Leonard Pickard or Gordon Todd Skinner or LSZ or ALD-52, and I feel so much wiser all of a sudden. This is an epic story of bad behavior and psychedelics.
Sean O'Connell's new edition of "When Can I Watch" gets into the "Indiana Jones" question this week, which is a tricky one.
If you're a documentary filmmaker, Eric Kohn's story should piss you off and make you nervous.
There is not a single film I love that I would call "boring." I do not think of great films as eating vegetables. I think it's a flawed conversation from the very start. Great films are great films, and if someone's palette is too limited to even be willing to try certain things, that's their problem. There is a world of art that frequently gets ignored by the most mainstream of viewers, and that's a shame… but it doesn't mean the films are boring, or that good critics should encourage that sort of lazy thinking in their readership.
Hmmmm… I need to laugh, and I think "Teen Wolf Too" is a terrible movie. If only there were a column that could somehow combine these two things for me this morning…
I've often wondered this myself, and I'm terrible about remembering dreams. I almost never recall them for more than a moment when I wake up.
Nice profile piece about Bill Simmons, who is at the top of his game right now. Even for a casual sports viewer like me, it's obvious why he is who he is in his profession.
"The Tree Of Life" changes nothing for anyone in terms of how other films get made or why. That's ridiculous. Malick is Malick, and his particular style belongs to him. You're not suddenly going to have 50 movies just like his clogging the multiplex, and I think Jessica Chastain sounds a little like a cult member in her interviews instead of an actor who worked with a cool filmmaker. Tone it down a little.
I've been here since the summer of 1990. In a couple of weeks, we'll be celebrating my 21st year in Los Angeles. At this point, I'm a native, and I like the way this article wrestles with the notion of identity for Angelenos.
What if I didn't like "Mystic River" the first time around?
"I raise you 43 Nobel Laureates." Damn, kid… that was smooooooooth.
And on that note, I'm going to take off. Make sure you check out this weekend's "Saturday Night At The Movies" and "Film Nerd 2.0," and I'm going to hopefully be back on pace this week with a bunch more stuff for you. You may have noticed that the blog has evolved a little bit, visually, and in addition to the gift that is getting to see my face every time you visit the blog now, we're also adding letter grades for reviews. You'll see that in action for the first time with my "Submarine" review later today, and in the mini-Blu-ray reviews that are going to start appearing several times a day here on the site as well. Lots to come back for, right?
The Morning Read appears here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Except when it doesn't.
The Morning Read: The UK bans 'Human Centipede II' completely
Plus a great Spielberg interview and the 'Hollywood Liberal' conspiracy
Welcome to The Morning Read.