Welcome to The Morning Read.
As I've said, I'm gearing up for almost a month on the road. Toronto's going to be a full week, and then Fantastic Fest is another ten days, and there may be a set visit in there somewhere that takes another three or four days. Point is, if I'm going to keep the Morning Read up and running while I'm gone, I've got to get better at it. I've gone from five times a week to some weeks where I barely get two of them up on the site.
I think part of the problem is that I get precious about it sometimes, as I do with almost everything, and then I get tied up in knots if I can't "pull it off" just right. Ridiculous. This is just a way to parse what's going on in a given morning, and it only works if I actually put it together and publish it.
So these may be shorter than they have been in the past, but hopefully I can get back onto a five-a-week schedule or something very close, and this time actually keep up some sort of a presence for the column while I'm on the road.
[more after the jump]
I assume you've heard by now that Disney is buying Marvel for $4 billion. It's a huge entertainment business story, obviously, but I'm not really sure what it means creatively, and I suspect no one will know for several months, until the two companies have a chance to deal with the infrastructure that comes with any giant corporate merger. One of the things I was interested about immediately was what effect the deal would have on Universal Studios Orlando, which is obviously in direct competition with Walt Disney World. USO features several Marvel characters like Spider-Man and the Hulk prominently in their Islands Of Adventure area at the park, and according to this story, that's not likely to change. The other thing I immediately wondered was, "Could Pixar end up making a Marvel movie at some point?" And according to Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney, John Lasseter has already met with Marvel and had that conversation, and "they all got excited by it." Oh, hell, yes. Still, there are other legal issues to consider before this deal's all wrapped up, but once it is, I hope they dig deep into that library, because, as Devin Faraci pointed out, there's gold in them thar hills.
Here's a good conversation with the folks at Criterion, courtesy of The Playlist. We're at a really weird moment for fans of catalog titles, and I think if studios decide not to continue releasing older films as well as their new titles, we're in real trouble as film fans. Those older titles may not sell as well, but that's the truly important work being done. Preservation. Restoration. These are pure good things, and they must be encouraged on a financial level as well as a moral one.
So at this point, "Inglourious Basterds" is either Quentin Tarantino's second highest-grossing film, or it will be at some point this week. I'd say all of those people who keep trying to push the idea that Quentin's "finished" or that pop culture has somehow moved on. Nonsense. Even if you don't like the film, it's amazing how much energy and ink has been expended on it so far. You can count David Denby among those who are horrified or offended by the movie. The great Kim Morgan, on the other hand, seems to be in tune with the film, and her conversation with Quentin Tarantino is one of the best he's done to promote the movie. Boston.com decided to look into the history of revisionist history on film, while Jim Windolf at Vanity Fair seems a little worked up by the notion. Jonathan Rosenbaum seems to be cooling off a little from last week, when it seemed like he was about to grab a baseball bat and go looking for Quentin. Wait... maybe not. Unsurprisingly, rabbis may not agree with the film's notion of violent revenge. If you want to trace the geek cinema roots of the "Basterds," Scarecrow Video wants to make it easy for you. And finally, Jim Emerson's done a hero's job rounding up quotes about the film all in one place, and I think it perfectly illustrates why this is going to be one of Quentin's most enduring creations. No film that causes this much thoughtful conversation is in any danger of being forgotten.
Wanna see the original un-aired pilot for "South Park"? You'd better move fast, because it's gone within the week.
I'm so excited by the prospect of a "Walking Dead" TV show, and I hope that the proposed AMC series fully honors Robert Kirkman's dense and somber zombie comic. I love that a zealous fan has plotted out all the major incidents from the series using Google Maps. That's one cool use of tech.
Somewhere in the world, right now, even as we speak, the Kids In The Hall are making a new mini-series. Awwwwwww, yeah.
From the "Just Not Getting It" department today, we've got the rantings of whoever the hell The Awl is. I don't know who these hipster douchebags are, but based on the evidence of this rancid, ignorant article about "Where The Wild Things Are," they're obviously too cool for school. We could start with their infantile potshots at Hollywood as a whole, a sure sign of snobbery that clouds any ability to actually process what something is, rather than what your limited world view wants it to be. Or we could talk about the idea that they would write an impassioned attack on an excerpt from a book that they didn't even finish reading. We could point out that Maurice Sendak himself has not only signed off on the adaptation, but in fact was the one who encouraged Eggers to do it, and that Sendak has told anyone who doesn't like it to "go straight to hell," which must confuse them since they seem to think Sendak's being wronged by this movie. They even go so far as to write this off as a cynical cash-in a la "Cat In The Hat." In the end, I'd sum it up this way: the people who are getting all morally or artistically outraged by this film sight unseen are just like the protestors who tried to stop me from seeing "The Last Temptation Of Christ" without having seen it themselves. Time and time again, people work themselves up over art they haven't experienced, then try to convince others to do the same. Once you've seen something, feel free to have whatever reaction you want to have. That's valid. But this sort of knee-jerk garbage has no place in any serious conversation about cinema or any other art form. And since I've now actually experienced the "writing" of The Awl, I feel secure in my decision to avoid them in the future.
In the meantime, MOMA wants to celebrate Spike Jonze. Good call.
We are closer to this being true than I think our industry would care to admit, and it would make me laugh if it didn't scare the shit out of me every day.
Ohhhhh... right. Nice get, miss.
Our good friends over at Cinematical have the exclusive debut of the one-sheet for "The Invention Of Lying." I think it's a really, really hard film to explain using just a poster, but it's a good shot at doing so.
John Landis was just in England for FrightFest, where he showed off the new restored print of "An American Werewolf in London" and also reflected on the experience of making it. It's an interesting time for the English film industry, and you have to be quite shrewd to successfully stay afloat right now. I do like it when the entire industry looks back, though, because it suggests to me that these are artists who actually watch other films, who think about them, who consider film history. I'll trust someone like that, because it gives me hope that they might be swinging for the fences every time at bat.
Speaking of which, it appears that Edgar Wright has wrapped production on "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World," as indicated by the martini shot that illustrates today's column. That's an interesting set they're on there... makes me think we're going to see the inside of Scott Pilgrim's head in the movie after all. Congratulations to Edgar, and if you want to see a whole big batch of shots he took at the end of the shoot, check out his blog.
On that note, I'm off. Lots more stuff all week long, including interviews with Mike Judge and Ricky Gervais, a ton of reviews, and the return of the weekly home entertainment column.
The Morning Read appears here every day, Monday through Friday. Except when it doesn't.
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