Welcome to the first Morning Read of 2010.
Hope the holidays treated you well. Mine were marked by some emotional highs, some emotional lows, a bit of wild spending, and a lot of newly-formed memories of my sons and their reactions that I'll treasure forever.
Having said that, it's time to get the Morning Read back on its official Monday - Wednesday - Friday schedule, with the DVD column on Tuesday and the Motion/Captured Must-See on Thursday each week. If I can't get those columns all working right this year, chugging along at times you can expect to see them, then I'm not much of a columnist, am I?
Let's kick things off with words of wisdom from a very funny man, Dana Gould:
RT @DanaJGould: Live each day as if it was your last. Then, on the next day, pretend you're dead.
Indeed, sir. Indeed.
Over at Ain't It Cool, the great Mr. Beaks has published the only ten-best list that truly matters, a list of the ten greatest man-in-gorilla suit performances of all time. So, yes, he wins the Internet.
Devin Faraci is determined to write about more of the movies he sees this year. I know the feeling. I try to downplay my crazy as much as I can, so I didn't come right out and admit that my OCD is one of the reasons I got into film writing in the first place, but Devin seems to have embraced his, and today, he's writing about watching a documentary I really like, "In The Realms Of The Unreal." And to those of you who e-mailed me about what one guy hilariously called "Creamgate" over the weekend, no... I didn't run the piece to take a shot at Devin. I ran it to take a shot at my own short-fused self. And because it gave me a chance to chew on a scene I really dig. Devin even said it's okay for me to think about a scene too much, so all is love, right?
Anyone else find it sort of charming that the "Scott Pilgrim" folks aren't focused on building a franchise, but are instead determined to just give us one great film? Boy, I wish more people thought like this.
Speaking of "Pilgrim," check out this Twitter exchange from this morning between Bryan Lee O'Malley, the creator of the books, and Edgar Wright, who is hard at work finishing the film:
RT @radiomaru: I do not have a Scott Pilgrim trailer. I'm not hiding it, it isn't here in my pants, I haven't seen it, it doesn't exist. RT @edgarwright: I would like to contest that and observe that you have a suspicious trailer-like bulge in your pocket. RT@edgarwright: I'd like to add that a 4D Scott Pilgrim trailer was attached to all Avatar prints. Maybe you didn't have the right glasses on.
RT @radiomaru: I do not have a Scott Pilgrim trailer. I'm not hiding it, it isn't here in my pants, I haven't seen it, it doesn't exist.
RT @edgarwright: I would like to contest that and observe that you have a suspicious trailer-like bulge in your pocket.
RT@edgarwright: I'd like to add that a 4D Scott Pilgrim trailer was attached to all Avatar prints. Maybe you didn't have the right glasses on.Damn my faulty 4D glasses! Damn them!
Speaking of "Avatar," have you seen the awesome gallery of photos taken during the worldwide tour to premiere the film? LIFE magazine just ran the gallery, and it's worth taking a look at the team taking what has become a victory lap, although at the time, I'm sure they must have all been wrasslin' with some almighty nerves.
Oh, wait, I lied. I've got another list for you, one designed to make you wince. Let's take a look back at ten of the most ill-advised roles of the last decade. Prepare to remember films you've struggled to forget for ten years now. I like it when people try to find a new way to break a decade down, like the ten most culturally poisonous films of the decade, which sort of falls along similar lines. Makes for good conversation.
I like Reid Rosfelt. He's a smart guy and a generally good egg. But I'm baffled how he can write an article saying that file-sharing is actually good for our business when a movie leaks early, a la "Wolverine." Did it hurt the film? Who knows? But can you actually make an argument that having a crappy work print out there serves as marketing? I think that's borderline irresponsible. Just because one megablockbuster survived a leak does not mean it's something studios should build into their business plans.
Now, I'm not going to rant and rave about copyright or the Generation Of Free Shit or any of that this morning. Because I think the issues in play are so complex that pontificating about them almost inevitably makes you sound like a boob. Case in point this morning: Bono. There is no rolling back the clock, sir, no matter how much people wish it was possible. Instead, the future has to be about acknowledging the paradigm shift in how people consume things and then outsmarting it, a la Radiohead. Stick your finger in the dike if you like, man, but trust me... you're getting wet.
Speaking of Radiohead, I love the idea of this new Peter Gabriel covers album, and I can't wait to get my hands on it. Legally. Ahem. And the notion of this being part one, with an album of all the covered artists then contributing their own Peter Gabriel covers for a later record? Awesome.
David Chen over at /Film wrote a really solid think piece about what the films of the last decade have to say about our cultural evolution over that same ten years, and I think he makes some cogent points. As I said in my review of "Avatar," I think the film is, at least in part, about our relationship with entertainment in general and the way that relationship is changing as entertainment becomes more and more immersive. Reality's getting thin, folks, and that's just going to get more pronounced, not less.
Finally, several people mentioned this Newsweek article about the Criterion Collection as a great read, but I think it's got the primary thesis of the piece wrong. These new titles that the company releases bring a financial windfall to them that allows them to go on tracking down and licensing titles that might otherwise never get released. One "Armageddon" pays for 50 restorations of a tiny obscure early Kurosawa title, and I'm more than happy with that trade-off. And here's some advice: if a title is added to the Criterion Collection that frosts your panties and makes you mad? Don't buy it. They're still one of the most important home video publishers that has ever existed. Period.
It's always daunting to jump back into this particular column after a break, so if I'm a bit rusty, bear with me. The year's just getting started, and I'm sure we've got tons and tons of great reads ahead.
The Morning Read appears here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Except when it doesn't.
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