Brian De Palma might direct 'Paranormal Activity 2' and Variety makes a huge ethical gaffe
Welcome to The Morning Read.
Is it really already the last weekend of February? Good god, at this point, time goes by so fast that I feel like Dave Bowman inside the monolith. It seems like Sundance was yesterday and SXSW starts tomorrow and in the meantime, I'm just scrambling to write as much as possible. I'm working on a script with my writing partner for the first time in a year in what little free time I have, and it's felt incredibly good to be finally flexing that creative muscle again. I love this work I do here at HitFix, but I am amazed that a whole year has already gone by and we're into the second year now. If I let myself, I could spend every day just churning out articles, and never get around to writing my own material again.
One of the things that takes up a lot of mental real estate is the prep involved in the Morning Read. I'm always looking for material for it, always bookmarking things for later, and it's changed the way I read things online. I spend more time now, hunting and reading, and I almost never get to use everything that I bookmark. This week, several things got on top of me, and as a result, I've got paaaaages of bookmarks, and today, I want to share at least a few, even if I am getting a late start.
Man, I was taken aback when The LA Times ran a piece about the potential directors for "Paranormal Activity 2." I like the first film, so don't take this wrong, but... what world are we living in where Brian De Palma is considering Oren Peli's leftovers? That's just f'ing crazy. Admittedly, De Palma is good at creepy horror, he's been preoccupied with notions of what reality is in front of a camera for decades, and his not-very-good "Redacted" was a direct experiment in this sort of found-footage filmmaking. So it's not that I think it's a bad choice. But still... this is BRIAN FREAKING DE PALMA we're talking about. His career trajectory is so awful that it makes me feel better about my own near-total failure in Hollywood. If this guy, at this point, is looking this as a potential job, then obviously this business is deeply broken. Brad Anderson (who's no freshman, no matter what The LA Times says) is a great choice if they can get him. I'm a little amazed that the list features names I actually like. I guess the first film's success put Paramount in a great position on this one. My question is who's going to be able to pull this off and have it in theaters in October. Sounds like one hell of a ride for some filmmaker, and my guess is we'll have a name soon if they hope to make that date.
This is a very serious accusation, one that Variety would do well to respond to as soon as possible. If it's true, then I am unspeakably depressed by the implications. When I was growing up, those rare occasions when I could get my hands on a copy of Variety were cause for celebration, especially if it was a Cannes marketplace issue or an AFM issue, with page after page after page after page of ads for movies that didn't even exist yet. When I moved to Los Angeles, I was maniacal about buying Variety every day, as soon as it was on the stands, and I really regarded it as the industry bible. Those days ended a long time ago, but even so, the one thing they still had going for them was the notion that they had one of the most complete review archives, dating back decades, in any media. That story's been updated now with a letter from director Joshua Newton "explaining" what happened that, to my mind, makes things even worse. Whether it's Newton pointing at a negative review of the oh-my-god-awful "Rat Race" as proof that Robert Koehler's a bad reviewer or the idea that the review was spiked because it reflected badly on Netwon's carefully-constructed Oscars campaign... the letter is just a wealth of cringe. As is the situation. And unchecked, this sort of thing could spread.
For the record, I won't take down a bad review for less than half a million dollars. Guy's gotta have standards, after all.
In a world that was fair, people would be freaking out about the upcoming film "I Saw The Devil" the same way they freak out over big-budget superhero movies, and every tidbit of news would end up with a headline on every single film site. Why? Well, it stars Choi Min-Sik for one thing. He was the lead in "Oldboy," for those who aren't up on their Korean cinema, and he's sort of amazing. It also stars Lee Byung-Heon, who was the lead in the amazing "A Bittersweet Life." And it's directed by Kim Ji-Woon, whose last film "The Good, The Bad, and The Weird" was one of the most amazing pieces of entertainment I've witnessed in a theater in years. Even though we don't live in a world that is fair, there are sites like Twitch out there to help make up for that, and they just put up the first two stills from the film.
William Goss posted his second installment in our "Basics" call and response series, a look at Woody Allen's "Manhattan," and we're both pleased to see that other people are jumping in to respond as well. I think we're going to try to squeeze in one more back-and-forth before SXSW in mid-March, where I think I'll actually be seeing Goss since he's rooming with my friend James Rocchi.
And speaking of James Rocchi... oh, man, do I love his junket interview with Tracy Morgan and Bruce Willis. Before I say any more about it, just go look for yourself. In the book "Prizzi's Honor," there is a section where Richard Condon talks about a look that Charlie Partana, the hitman, worked to perfect. He refers to it as "the hose," and it's the look you give someone when you want to shut them down. It's a withering look of near-total disdain, and at the end of that clip, you can see Bruce Willis fix Rocchi with one of the best examples of it I've ever seen. What kills me is that I know exactly what question James was asking, and it's a sort of light way into talking about the chemistry between co-stars, but based on the actual movie, I'd say there was no chemistry between Willis and Morgan, so James may have hit a bull'seye with that dart by mistake. Whatever the case, that was the best laugh I've had all day. All four times I watched it.
I'm not familiar with Nick Simmons... or at least, I wasn't until this week. And I'm sure he'd prefer that the way I was introduced to his work was not through charges of incredibly blatant plagiarism, but sure enough, it looks like he's been stealing from the manga series "Bleach" for his own American comic series, "Incarnate." But don't take my word for it.
What is it about Japanese culture that fascinates Americans, and vice-versa? McG, Kirsten Dunst, and Takashi Murakami seem to have been wondering about that themselves...
Meanwhile, I think Harrison Ford has said all there is to be said.
This saddens me. I loved using B-Side when I was planning my festival trips, and the loss of their service is a genuine upset.
I love what this guy has to say, but he's fighting a losing battle.
I wonder what James Cameron thinks of this article.
Even though I enjoy working on HitFix, I think for the good of my sons, I am having the Internet removed from my house altogether. This is why.
Do you love "Drunk History" as much as I do? Then you may enjoy this:
I think trend pieces can be either very insightful and interesting or total wastes of space, depending on how deeply you dig into your subject. I consider this one of the good ones.
And finally today, since it's late, I'll leave you with a very sharp piece by John August, who has long wanted to bring a new version of "Alice In Wonderland" to the bigscreen. Oddly, he was not part of Tim Burton's version at all, which is strange considering how closely the two have become associated as writer and director. He explains why, and also what it is about "Alice" that keeps drawing him in, and it's well worth a read.
I'll have my own "Alice In Wonderland" review up for you in a little while, and then a new Motion/Captured Must-See, which will take us to the '80s this week, and all that before the weekend even kicks in.
The Morning Read appears here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Except when it doesn't.
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