Welcome to The Morning Read.
The Aaron Sorkin script for "The Social Network" is one of the best reads in town right now. Widely circulated, the script is smart and funny and absolutely transcends just being "the Facebook movie," which is good, because I don't think anyone cares about seeing a movie just because they happen to use a website. The script is really about interpersonal dynamics, the drive to make your mark on the world as a young man and how far you're willing to go to do it, and the way ideas percolate from one person to another, and who really owns them.
In putting together his cast for the film, David Fincher appears to have cherry-picked some surprising talent, and the result, which shoots next month starting in Boston, could turn out to be one of Fincher's warmest movies. As Variety notes, "Jesse Eisenberg will play founder Mark Zuckerberg, Justin Timberlake will play Sean Parker, the Napster co-founder who became Facebook's founding president, and Andrew Garfield will play Eduardo Saverin, the Facebook co-founder who fell out with Zuckerberg as the social network became a financial juggernaut." All three roles are fully realized. All three roles are interesting and sympathetic. No one is written as a good guy or a bad guy, but instead, we're exposed to every side of this story, and we can see why everyone did what they did, and we can relate. Sorkin seems to just keep getting better at his craft, and the result could easily be one of 2010's most interesting releases, and one we'll definitely be following as it comes together.
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In November, my family and I have tickets for "The Pee-Wee Herman Show" live here in Los Angeles, and we're all about as excited as we can be to see this icon and so many of his familiar "Playhouse" friends onstage. Pee-Wee's slow march to world conquest begins again last night, with his appearance on Jay Leno where I was surprised how closely Paul Reubens was able to reproduce the old Pee-Wee. Having just seen him in "Life During Wartime," it takes a hell of a magic trick to make him look like this again, but check it out:
Sure enough, that's Pee Wee. When I do go see the show, I'll be sure to write it up for those of you who aren't in LA and who may not get the chance to see this second lease on life for the beloved character. And if you want to keep up with possible Pee Wee appearances, he's just signed on with a verified Twitter acccount, so check out @peeweeherman as well.
Have you seen this amazing commercial yet?
I wish James Dean had lived not only because I'm curious what James Dean's movies would have been like, but because I'm curious what Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift and all the other young method actors who looked at Dean as a threat would have done. His death altered the landscape of Hollywood in seismic ways, and I can only assume that if he'd lived, movies would have been better for it in every way.
Roger Ebert seems to think indie film is melting down. Anne Thompson agrees with him. And so does Charlie Kaufman, although I secretly suspect he always thinks everything is melting down. I think we're definitely seeing a huge course correction right now, but I think things are evolving, not ending.
So tell me this... when Tucker Max's movie bombs and vanishes completely from the pop culture consciousness, will he go away? Someone please promise me I won't ever stumble across another fawning soft-headed puff piece like The LA Times wrote about him. Another buddy of mine described this movie's possible commercial success as "absolute scientific zero," going on to call it "the 'Delgo' of date rape movies." After reading his book (it was sent to me by publicists for the film), there's no way I'd sit through any movie about this guy, and I'll go one step further: if you're anticipating this movie with real pleasure, you are probably reading the wrong film blog right now, because whatever my aesthetic ideal is, it's the opposite of whatever Tucker Max is. And trust me, when you're taking your cues in how to get publicity from Courtney Solomon, you're doing something wrong.
I'm a big fan of the work of Alfonso Cuaron, but I have to say I am stumped by this "Autism Speaks" ad he directed:
I think autism has become an all-purpose boogeyman in our society as of late, used to scare the shit out of parents, and what really bothers me is that so many of the kids who are being diagnosed now would not have been ten years ago or twenty years ago. The real reason those numbers seem to be going up is because now we're tossing almost any social disorder under the broader "austism" heading. By today's standards, I'm fairly sure I'm a high-functioning austistic, looking back at my own childhood and adolescence. You want to really do something positive for autistic kids? More depictions of Asperberger's like Sheldon on "The Big Bang Theory" (and I'll fight anyone who tries to tell me he's not austistic on that show) is the way to go, because Sheldon, for all his strange mannerisms, is presented as a positive character. Yes, he's frustrating and funny and strange, but that's just who he is, and the show accepts that and keeps moving. Treating kids with autism like they've got demons in them that have some larger agenda... well, that seems like a big ol' backwards step to me.
Any time I mention how political things are regarding Diablo Cody, people hop into my comments section or e-mail me to say, "No, no, you've got it all wrong. I don't hate her because of what she represents. I just hate her." Fair enough, but if you think she hasn't become a lightning rod for people who have agendas to push, you aren't paying attention. I quite like this reasoned consideration of the issues in play, and I would say the most cogent point that can be made is that no one ever said Cody needs to represent all women or write movies that serve any particular female or feminist agenda. When there was a small explosion of black directors being given their shot after the success of Spike Lee and "Boyz N The Hood" and "Menace II Society," every one of those directors and every one of those films was judged as a "black" film, and I think that's what crippled many of them. Yes, I think people bring different life experiences and attitudes to their creative work. That's a good thing. But I don't like the notion of one person being emblematic of anything larger than their own work, and I think anyone who is freaking out at Diablo Cody over what she does or doesn't represent to feminism is doing her a disservice. She's a writer. She happens to be a woman. I just hope that whatever she does in the future, she has a genuine passion for it. Like, uh... "Sweet Valley High."
Speaking of Diablo and "Jennifer's Body," did I mention how freaky the vibe was when I walked into the room for my Megan Fox interview during the Toronto Film Festival? Her publicist was outside the room, pitching a giant conniption fit, threatening to ban all online media from the press day because of what a few websites did before we got there. I figured she was overreacting, and then I saw this:
"National Lampoon" was indeed one of the outlets the publicist was foaming at the mouth about, and having seen that video, let me just say "Thanks, 'National Lampoon,' for being unprofessional dickheads who make my job harder simply by existing. So glad you got your unfunny footage and pissed off the actors the rest of us had to talk to after you. And by the way... I know National Lampoon. I grew up reading the real National Lampoon. And whatever you are, you are soiling that name every single day. Way to go."
These photos? All sorts of awesome.
The only film school I would ever consider attending at this point is the new one Werner Herzog claims he's founding. Film school from the dude who made "Fitzcarraldo"? Are you f'ing kidding me? This man shrugged off a mid-interview bullet a few years ago... there is no tougher or more beautifully insane filmmaker walking the planet right now, and anyone would be lucky to spend a weekend talking movies with him. Now if I can just find a spare $1000 sitting around...
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