Welcome back to the Morning Read.
Man, getting back up to speed on this column has been tough. I forgot how hard it is to put one of these together every day, and for the last week, I've been letting my days kick my butt instead of the other way around.
But no more... even though I'm out of the house this morning and on my way to the Four Seasons to interview John Woo (we'll have that video for you soon), I'm determined to get these started again. Too much great stuff has gone slipping by in the last month, and I'm tired of letting it happen.
I even promise to keep it 100% "Balloon Boy" free.
Let's start today's browsing over at Ain't It Cool, where Mr. Beaks has a fantastic interview with Spike Jonze. I'm not sure how my schedule and Spike's failed to mesh, but it looks like I missed out on talking to the sensational Mr. Jonze at this end of the process. Beaks does a great job with him, though, and considering how press-shy Spike can be, I think it's an illuminating chat.
There's a whole ton of "Where The Wild Things Are" coverage online right now, and some great tie-ins as well.
For example, check out this contest:
Pretty damn cool, if you ask me. That's a movie prop worth owning, and it's one of the actual ones from the film, not a replica.
I consider this one of those line-in-the-sand movies. I'm not going to call someone who doesn't like it a name, but I will say that I have no choice but to me more skeptical about them as a reviewer when they write something as obstinate as this or when they start trying to review the marketing campaign instead of the movie. It just makes no sense. I love that Maurice Sendak's on the interview circuit right now as well, since I find him endlessly entertaining, no matter how cranky he gets.
Ain't It Cool also has a test-screening review for "New Moon," and whether you're a fan or not, I think you can get a sense of how you might react based on the fairly negative response from that writer. I'm not going to be reviewing "New Moon," most likely, because I had little patience with the first film, and I can acknowledge that the movies aren't really made for me. They speak to a certain audience, and I respect that even if I don't enjoy it.
There's some confusion about whether the "Texas Chainsaw" 3D film that Twisted Pictures is making is going to be a sequel or a remake based on comments made to Shock 'Till You Drop, and I have to laugh at Devin Faraci's break-down of the discussion over on CHUD.
I am so deeply not shocked to hear that Terrence Malick's "Tree Of Life" will not be ready for a Christmas release. Honestly, the only thing that would have shocked me would have been if it actually did come out this year.
One thing about being on the road and super-busy that I hate is that I forget to browse some of my favorite sites. I've really missed The Art of the Title, who have up a lovely look at "Dirty Harry" right now.
The same is true of Kim Morgan's Sunset Gun, which is always a great read. She's got two recent pieces you should take the time to read, one about Robert Mitchum and "Night of the Hunter," and the other about Richard Pryor. When Morgan's got the fire in her belly, there are very few writers I like reading more right now.
When I was in Belfast, I was having dinner with some other online writers and with the publicists from Universal one night, and the topic turned to "Creation," the new film with Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany that deals with Charles Darwin, and I started loudly mocking Jeremy Thomas's claims that the film isn't coming out in America because people are afraid of it. "Afraid they'll fall asleep, maybe," I said, not realizing that the unit publicist sitting next to me worked on "Creation" and is tight with Jeremy Thomas. Ooooops. The thing is, I think he's a smart guy and a great producer, but I hate when people stir up sensational headlines for silly reasons. "Creation" got mixed reviews out of Toronto at best, and the same is true of its current UK theatrical run. You don't have to call America stupid just because your film didn't sell. It's a tough time for indie producers of all types right now, as Thomas so eloquently articulates in this piece.
I've seen some very smart people get a little overexcited about the successful selling of "Paranormal Activity." There's some very canny William Castle action going on here, and more power to Paramount for opening such a small film so well. It ain't the reinvention of the wheel, though, folks, so calm down. I have nothing but respect for Oren Peli's accomplishment on this film, and I'm glad he's finally getting some attention for the movie after two years of radio silence. If you've seen the film in theaters, you saw a different ending than I originally did, and Will Goss did a great job of tracing just how many ways Paramount and Dreamworks tried to figure out a button for the movie.
I know why the idea of an $11,000 smash hit excites people... we're at a moment right now in the industry where William Goldman's saying, "Nobody knows anything," has never been more true, and Gordon Paddison's exhaustive new survey only underlines the idea that the entire industry is changing, audiences are changing, and the people who are going to win in the next few years are the ones who embrace that instead of fighting it.
Part of being on the festival circuit this year has been getting to know fellow online writers much better, and so I truly feel for Kim Voynar, whose account of her Toronto trip this year is both harrowing and heartbreaking. Kim's a great lady, smart and funny and always good for a post-screening conversation, and I wish her nothing but success in her road to recovery.
I know this isn't the longest column ever, but I'm just getting back in the habit. Give me a few days to really get good at it again, and hopefully we won't take this long a break again, even in busy months.
Now where'd that review copy of "Brutal Legend" go...
The Morning Read appears here every day, Monday through Friday. Except when it doesn't.
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