Plus why is the new film a prequel?
One of the pleasures of doing what I do for a living is the opportunity to meet people whose work has meant something to me over the course of my life as a film fan, and at this point, I feel like I've met a lot of biggest names on the list.
Until I was invited to the "Monsters University" press day, I didn't realize how much I wanted to meet Billy Crystal, but once it was on my agenda, I got excited about it. One of the shows that I love the most from the '70s was "Soap," and every five or six years, I revisit the series and fall in love with it all over again. There are a number of reasons to adore the series, but one of the most significant things about it was the character Crystal played. At a time when gay culture was basically just a punchline for the mainstream, Jodie Dallas was allowed to be witty and sharp and decent and way more than just a joke. Crystal's career could have ended there, but he somehow managed to avoid getting labeled or typecast.
The summer's rudest superhero movie goes as clean as it can for new ad
Later this week, I'll be publishing my set visit reports for "Kick-Ass 2," and I think you'll get a really great in-depth exclusive look behind the scenes at how Jeff Wadlow is following up Matthew Vaughn's first film. I had a few days on set by myself, and I was already familiar to the cast from the first film, so I think you'll get an uncommonly intimate look at the making of the movie.
It seems like Universal's really starting to push things into high gear for "Kick-Ass 2" this week. There's a new green band trailer for the movie, and while it's not overtly profane, they left enough of the edge in that it feels like they got away with something.
Could they be aiming for a Sinister Six movie in 2018?
If you're waiting for Sony to give up the rights to "Spider-Man" so Marvel can reboot the character and drop him into the same continuity as "The Avengers," you may want to take up a time-consuming hobby, because it's going to be a while.
"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is set for release on May 2, 2014, but Sony must already be feeling fairly confident about what they're seeing, because they put out a press release today to announce that they are setting dates for two additional sequels. On June 10, 2016, they'll release the third film in the series, and on May 4, 2018, they'll release the fourth.
That means that, barring some unexpected massive failure, this version of the Spider-Man story is going to last at least one more film than Raimi's version did, which makes me sad. I wasn't crazy about the first film, and more than anything, I'm just frustrated by my reaction. I love the character, and I want to love movies about him.
We discuss the film's worthwhile message with its creators
I didn't walk into the room planning to bellow "NERDS!" at producer Kori Rae and director Dan Scanlon, but it seemed like a very organic thing to do when discussing their new film "Monsters University."
I went to see the film for a second time this weekend so I could take Toshi and Allen, who have been raised as active members of the Church Of Pixar. As long as they have been alive, the iconography of the various films and characters created by the company have been part of their lives, and last weekend, when we re-painted the playroom, Pixar ended up playing a pretty major part in the decoration of that room thanks to some wall decals that they wanted to use.
I think I liked the film a little more a second time through, and I think one of the most interesting things about it is the way they're not afraid to play up the negative elements of both Mike and Sully's personalities. These are younger versions of the two, and they make some big mistakes in the way they behave and in the way they solve their problems in the movie.
The album's not even out and it's already everywhere
Well, that didn't take long.
Kanye West's "Yeezus" won't be in stores officially until June 18th, but the new "Wolf Of Wall Street" trailer is cut to the driving pulse of "Black Skinhead," one of the album's tracks, and it is a positively riveting first glimpse at what looks like the "GoodFellas" of the financial world.
It fascinates me that when we finally close the book on Martin Scorsese's career, hopefully another few decades and at least a dozen films from now, there's going to be a major chapter that will be defined by his work with Leonardo DiCaprio. At this point, it may be a more significant chapter than the period that was defined by his work with Robert DeNiro, and it blows my mind to consider that.
In the mood to be scared? We've got just the ticket at the Vista
One of the panels I moderated at WonderCon this year was for James Wan's new film "The Conjuring." It was a treat to have Lorraine Warren, one of the real-life inspirations for the film, and we spoke with her a bit after the panel. I got to meet several of the daughters of the family depicted in the film, and by the end of the day, I'd been able to have fascinating conversations with all of them.
Before I moderated the panel, they showed me the film so I could see what I'd be talking about. That's not always the case, but they seemed very confident that they had something special, and while I'm still not reviewing the film (we'll do that closer to release), I can tell you that I agree. I think Wan's getting better from film to film right now, and it's exciting to watch what he's doing. He has a knack for a particular type of haunted-house experience, and this is a particularly character-driven version of this type of film.
It's so good it almost looks easy, which it is not
"Short Term 12" has played at SXSW, the Seattle Film Festival, and the Los Angeles Film Festival so far this year, and you'll get a chance to see it soon thanks to Cinedigm, who picked it up for distribution. I think they've got a very special movie on their hands, and the performances that are the beating heart of the film are revelatory, real announcements regarding actors I hope to see much more from in years to come.
Brie Larson has done very good work in several films so far, and in general, I'm impressed by the way she disappears into the films. She never seems to be the same person twice. I seriously haven't recognized her in about three films until I saw her name in the credits. But until "Short Term 12," I didn't really have any indication of how amazing she is. And she is. Amazing. I am fascinated by actors who have the ability to just lay themselves emotionally bare, raw and electric and wide open to get hurt again and again, and Larson's work here is all about pain and the way her character Grace protects it. The way she carries it around taking power from it but always struggling to keep it pushed down. She focuses on others so she never has to think about herself. She's good at reaching out to people and helping them. She just can't get out of her own way in real life. Grace is good for everyone but Grace.
Could the 'implosion' he talks about actually be a good thing?
I think it's safe to say that the film business is in a period of transition.
I think it's dangerous to pretend that anyone knows how that period of transition is going to resolve itself.
Steven Spielberg and George Lucas made headlines this week when they spoke at USC as part of the grand opening of the new Interactive Media Building, which is part of USC's School of Cinematic Arts. I think the reason the quotes ended up getting the sort of traction they did in the press is because there's something irresistible about hearing two of the men responsible for the age of the modern blockbuster talk about how blockbusters are ruining Hollywood. There have been a wide range of reactions to the quotes online, but by far, the leading sentiment seems to be a sort of gloating over the idea that these guys are finally realizing what they've done to the industry.
It's an easy claim to make, but it's a hard one to actually back up. By now, it's almost just accepted as a given that "Star Wars" and "Jaws" created the system that exists today, but there's a world of difference between the films that launched Lucas and Spielberg to the top of the business and the films that show up in our theaters week after week right now, and trying to claim that these guys were the ones who lowered the bar does a disservice to the films they made and to the conversation that's worth having about the way decisions are made at the studio level today.
This is one part of a major media push this year to examine one of literature's most mysterious lives
Documentaries make up a healthy percentage of my film diet every year, and the best of them feed my jones in a way that fiction simply can't.
Like with any type of filmmaking, there are great documentaries, good documentaries, and plenty of terrible ones. They are not, by definition, automatically better than some other type of storytelling, but there are things that a great documentary can do that you can't get anywhere else, and obviously I think the subject matter you pick for your doc is a major part of that. When someone like Alex Gibney makes a doc like "The Magic Bus," part of what is frustrating about that film is just how heavily covered every single element of that story already is, and when I see a trailer for "Salinger," what makes it most immediately compelling is how little of that story has been told.
Like many people, I went through a period of being totally smitten with "Catcher In The Rye," and that led me to his other work, and for a time, I was head-over-heels for his voice, his ability to evoke a time and place, and for the way he looks deeply into his flawed but oh-so-human characters. As with any artist who has produced just a small body of work, there also came a point where I felt like I'd gotten as much out of his work as I was going to, and I moved on to other writers and other work.
When will you get a chance to 'Get A Horse'?
It sounds like Disney pulled a fast one Tuesday at the Annecy Animation Festival in France.
I've never been, but it's one of those specialty festivals that I wish I could add to my schedule. I was raised believing that animation is just as valid a form of filmmaking as any other, and while I don't think we take full advantage of what animation can be, I do think it's worth just as much serious regard as any other type of film.
There have been rumblings about the latest animated short from Walt Disney Animation Studios for a while now. Just recently, our own Kris Tapley was talking about how he wasn't sure what to make of "Get A Horse!" based on the initial descriptions from the studio. They were absolutely playing that up in the countdown to the big festival reveal, and on Tuesday, any questions anyone had were answered in what seems to have been a highly entertaining manner.