Welcome to The Morning Read.

I can't believe we're already wrapping up the week.  It feels like this one flew by, but maybe it's just the rigor of being back on my daily schedule after the lunacy of Sundance.  Whatever the case, I'm looking forward to checking out Joe Johnston's "The Wolfman" tonight, and then I've got a long weekend of catching up on some other projects.

First things first today, it looks like William Goss has responded to my challenge with his first entry in our two-sided new series, "The Basics," and he's written up the Marx Brothers classic "Duck Soup."  I am pleased to see his reaction to the movie, and not remotely surprised that he's fallen in love with Groucho Marx.  I'll fire off my next volley to him with a Valentine's Day theme soon.

I had a couple of people write to ask me why I would want to do a series like "The Basics," and I tried to explain to them how important I think film literacy is to anyone who wants to write about movies online.  I mean, sure, you can just jump in and start writing about what you're watching now, but if you don't have a baseline knowledge of what's come before, then how do you even have the vocabulary to offer up that opinion?  It should be a point of pride for a film critic that you know what you're talking about.  To explain it another way, check out this piece.

And while we're on the subject of classic comedy, I'm not sure why this is on the NY Review of Books, but this piece on Buster Keaton is fantastic, especially if you're not already a fan of the Great Stoneface.  One of the greatest film experiences I've had with my wife was introducing her to his work, one film at a time, and watching her fall head over heels for my favorite screen comic.  Harry Knowles and I used to argue about this all the time since he's a Chaplin man, and I'm a Keaton man.  It's okay, though... Harry's learned to live with the pain of being wrong.

You wanna see someone who's doing it right?  Check out Dennis Cozzalio's dense and dizzying wrap-up of 2009, which he just published.  It was totally worth the wait.

There's a great interview with Patton Oswalt today about the state-of-the-art of stand-up comedy over at GQ.  It's an interesting time for the profession, and I'm curious to see how things develop (or don't) from where they are now.  His predictions are worth paying attention to, and I'm sure at least one of them will come true very soon.

There are some interesting videos floating around this morning.  Someone took the behind-the-scenes piece about "Burlesque" from "Entertainment Tonight" and tossed it up on You Tube, complete with slightly out-of-synch sound.  I doubt any males are going to pay much attention to the sound, though, with Kristen Bell, Christina Aguilera, and Julliane Hough bumping-and-grinding their way through the footage.  And after that photo I ran in the last Morning Read, seeing Stanley Tucci in the film just makes me guffaw.  Well-played, Mr. Tucci.  Well-played:

 

 

There's also a second teaser trailer now for the new Luc Besson film.  I'm just excited that there IS a new Luc Besson film, especially one that looks like it's equal parts WWI film, "Raiders Of The Lost Ark" tribute, and escaped dinosaur rampage, all filtered through his broad, silly sensibility, and starring yet another Besson beauty, Louise Bourgoin:

 

 

I'm guessing that April release date is for France, so when do we get it Stateside?

Did you guys see this?  It aired while we were all in transit from Sundance, so I sort of forgot to feature it here, but it's awesome:

 

 

If you don't already have the app, it's free, and I highly recommend it.  And thanks to G4 for featuring us on the show.

If you're willing to sit through a truly crazy Yoplait ad and you don't mind subtitles, then you might enjoy "Wallace And Gromit: A Matter Of Loaf And Death" streaming online.  I know it's available on home video already, and I assume all good W&G fans own it, but in my opinion, you can never have enough of these two.  Toshi treasures the stuffed Gromit I brought home for him after one of my trips to London, and Gromit has a place of honor in bed every night when we read bedtime stories.  I love that my boys are growing up with these characters in the world, and I hope Nick Park and Aardman continue to return to them from time to time for years to come.

Pretty much the opposite of the all-ages sweetness of Wallace & Gromit is the cheerful filth of the new red-band trailer for Kevin Smith's "Cop-Out":

 

 

Tracy Morgan, you have sold at least one ticket this morning, and I look forward to watching you punch kids in a whole franchise of "Cop-Out" films.  PLEASE.

This is, without a doubt, the most important story of the year.

I need to be rich.  Not because of the charity work I would do or because of the ways travel would enrich my children's lives, but so that I can own more nerd furniture.  Specifically, so I can buy this.

Awesome, right?  The co-screenwriter of "District 9" is actually in the news today for her next project, which is an adaptation of a short film "Terminus."  I don't remember where I recently saw this short, but it seems like it was just a few months ago, and it really stuck with me as one of the strangest and most haunting shorts I'd seen in a while.  I"m not sure how you expand it to feature-length, but if Teri Tatchell says she's cracked it, I'm inclined to give it a chance and see what she comes up with:

 

 

The director of the short, Trevor Cawood, is attached to the feature as well, so I'm looking forward to seeing if it all comes together.

Finally today,  let's take a look at what /Film's Brendon Connelly has been up to.  He's a biiiig fan of Disney's "The Princess And The Frog," which is just being released in the UK today, and he actually came to LA to put together an extensive documentary about the film's development, and the first two parts of it are a substantial, well-built look at the process.

 

 

Impressive stuff, and I look forward to the rest of the documentary as he posts it.

I'll have some more reviews for you today and this weekend, and I'll see you back here for another Morning Read on Monday.

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

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You can e-mail me at drew@hitfix.com or follow me on Twitter, where I'm DrewAtHitFix.