<p>Warwick Davis is, quite simply, one of the nicest guys in this business, and it's great to hear him telling new stories about the making of 'Willow'</p>

Warwick Davis is, quite simply, one of the nicest guys in this business, and it's great to hear him telling new stories about the making of 'Willow'

Credit: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Exclusive: Warwick Davis on horseback riding in 'Willow' and how Val Kilmer helped him

As the Lucas/Howard fantasy gets the deluxe Blu-ray treatment, we've got a sneak peek

I remember when "Willow" was first announced. I was working at a movie theater, and in those pre-Internet days, there were posters that would arrive and be the first indication that a movie even existed. Sure, I read "Starlog" and "Fangoria" and whatever issues of "Variety" I could get my hands on, and I did my best to be as tuned in as possible to what was happening in movies, but it was a lot harder to come by early information.  As a result, when we opened the poster tubes on day and pulled out a gorgeous but mysterious teaser poster that consisted of red-orange clouds and a simple title treatment for "Willow" with the tagline "Forget all you know… or think you know," all we really had to go on was "From the creator of 'Star Wars'" at the top and "From the director of 'Cocoon'" at the bottom.

Almost immediately, the speculation began, and more than one person guessed that this was finally the new "Star Wars" film, a mere five years after the release of "Return Of The Jedi."  In those days, we still believed that Lucas was going to continue making the films in a fairly timely manner, and even once other publicity materials started showing up, it took me a while to really believe that "Willow" was its own thing.

Read Full Post
<p>If sunshine could act, it would probably be Michelle Williams.</p>

If sunshine could act, it would probably be Michelle Williams.

Credit: HitFix

Michelle Williams explains why there's some Marilyn Monroe in her Glinda in 'Oz The Great and Powerful'

We also discuss the film's unusual ending and why that mattered to her

One of the greatest things about "Oz The Great and Powerful," for me anyway, is seeing Michelle Williams play a role where she spends a good deal of time actually smiling.

If you knew her primarily from "Dawson's Creek" in the early days, it would have been very hard to predict that she would eventually end up as one of the most acclaimed and interesting actresses working. The last decade or so has seen her deliver one great performance after another, though, and sitting down to talk to her about playing Glinda the good witch in "Oz" was a a genuine pleasure.

Before we started rolling, we talked a bit about Sarah Polley's new documentary "Stories We Tell" and how seeing it changed my perceptions of "Take This Waltz," the film that Polley made with Williams.  She seemed delighted that I knew "Waltz" and loved it, and it was obvious as we spoke that she is a huge fan of Polley's work.

Read Full Post
<p>If you don't join us for the special Q&amp;A&nbsp;screening of 'You're Next' at SXSW, you're going to have to explain yourself to Sharni Vinson, and I&nbsp;don't think she's going to take it well.</p>

If you don't join us for the special Q&A screening of 'You're Next' at SXSW, you're going to have to explain yourself to Sharni Vinson, and I don't think she's going to take it well.

Credit: Lionsgate

Join me Sunday night at SXSW for a Q&A with the cast and crew of 'You're Next'

The fiendishly clever thriller kicks off its 2013 release plans with a special screening

I am on the ground in Austin and getting ready for the start of SXSW, the annual orgy of movies and music and comedy and barbecue that remains one of the most purely social film festivals I've ever attended.

SXSW has its own identity, something I consider essential in a film festival.  It is in some ways more mainstream than Sundance, but in other ways, even more ferociously independent.  This festival has no problem opening with movies like "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," which I'll review tomorrow night, or the new "Evil Dead," which I'll also review tomorrow.  But they also program micro-budget indies and personal visions, and it's that collision between those two worlds that makes it such an interesting and dynamic film event.

On Sunday night, "You're Next" will be playing here, and if you don't remember the title, it's a fiendish little horror film that I saw and thoroughly enjoyed at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival. Lionsgate bought the movie, and they've been slowly planning their release strategy ever since. This festival is the kick-off of their build towards this year's release of the movie, and the Sunday night screening is a big night for them.

Read Full Post
<p>Mila Kunis isn't quite this drop-dead gorgeous in much of her screen time during 'Oz The Great and Powerful,' but she seems to have enjoyed her transformation.</p>

Mila Kunis isn't quite this drop-dead gorgeous in much of her screen time during 'Oz The Great and Powerful,' but she seems to have enjoyed her transformation.

Credit: HitFix

Mila Kunis talks about heartbreak and going green in 'Oz The Great and Powerful'

She describes the emotional arc of a wicked witch in Sam Raimi's new film

I blew it. I am perfectly willing to admit that I missed a golden opportunity when I recently sat down with Mila Kunis to talk about her work in "Oz The Great And Powerful," but I didn't realize it until after the fact.

Honestly, I thought my interview went pretty well in the room, until I saw her holding that shaky English kid's hand. The thing is, she has always come across as completely unimpressed by press and interviews and the whole dog-and-pony show that comes with filmmaking. I met her originally on the Hawaiian set for "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," and she could not have been less formal about the entire thing. She wasn't even working that night. She just came to the set from where she'd been swimming all day, and she hadn't taken the time to go get made up or to try to play it up as "Mila Kunis, Movie Star." She was charming precisely because she didn't seem to be trying to impress anyone.

When we spoke for different films over the years at junkets and press days, I always enjoyed seeing how close she was with her parents, who were a frequent presence, and how she frequently would poke fun at the process even as she took part in it.  I'm honestly not surprised by that interview that went viral this week. It looks like business as usual for her, and I certainly thought she was both personable and on-message when we spoke.

Read Full Post
<p>The weird part is that this is pretty much how Tony Vespe always dresses, not just in the new film 'Grow Up, Tony Phillips'</p>

The weird part is that this is pretty much how Tony Vespe always dresses, not just in the new film 'Grow Up, Tony Phillips'

Credit: Arcanum Pictures

Exclusive: SXSW trailer debut for 'Grow Up, Tony Phillips' by Emily Hagins

A new trailer for a coming of age story by a filmmaker who just came of age

It's an oddly personal run to South By Southwest for me this year. There's a documentary playing which uses me as a talking head interview, and there's also a film playing that was made largely by people I've known for many years now.  It's that second film that I'm most excited about, if only because I believe in Emily Hagins as a filmmaker, and I have a feeling she's been building to "Grow Up, Tony Phillips" for a while now.

When I met Emily, she was a little girl.  She attended Alamo Drafthouse events with her mother, Megan, and she was a voracious film fan even at a very early age.  It was apparent early on that she had dreams of being a filmmaker, but unlike many kids, she actually did something about it. She directed her first film, "Pathogen," when she was only 14, and that process was documented in the film "Zombie Girl." That movie has a certain degree of charm, but it's very rough. It really wasn't until her last film, "My Sucky Teen Romance," that I think her voice really started to come into focus, and this new film marks a big jump for her in terms of the type of cast she's directing and maturity.

Read Full Post
<p>This makes me all the happy.</p>

This makes me all the happy.

Credit: Marvel Studios

Kevin Feige and Shane Black on making 'Iron Man 3' photo-real and building a better story

We talk to two of the primary architects of Tony Stark's fate in the new sequel

As much as I like his work, I've never had the opportunity to sit down with Shane Black to talk about film. I'm hoping that closer to the release of "Iron Man 3," we might find time for an actual interview, but I'll admit, part of the reason I was happy to do this particular round table was because Black was going to be part of it.

Kevin Feige, on the other hand, I feel fairly comfortable with after all the years of covering Marvel movies.  Having the two of them paired seemed like a nice way of making sure the conversation would be an easy one, and we dove right in when the two of them sat down, with people peppering Black with joking questions about the giant stuffed bunny rabbit glimpsed in the trailer and geeky questions about the use of the term "gauntlet" in some of the footage we saw.

Once we settled in, we asked Black about something that Robert Downey Jr. mentioned in his interview, that Black had been part of the "Iron Man" series before this thanks to Favreau and Downey reaching out to him on the first and second films.  "I don't think I contributed anything too terribly important," he said, "although Robert's been kind enough to cite it as being helpful."  It sounds like Black and Favreau had a great working relationship on this film, and that Black knows how easy it would have been for that to have been weird and uncomfortable with Favreau having previously called the shots on the series.  "Instead, he was the nicest guy in the world and was extremely beneficial… he's great."

Read Full Post
<p>It pretty much looked exactly like this when we sat down with Robert Downey Jr. to discuss his role in 'Iron Man 3'</p>

It pretty much looked exactly like this when we sat down with Robert Downey Jr. to discuss his role in 'Iron Man 3'

Credit: Marvel Studios

Robert Downey Jr. hints at the future of Iron Man and working with Shane Black again

A fast and loose chat with Downey about the latest chapter in the mega-franchise

I've interviewed Robert Downey Jr. enough times now to know that the way it works is you give him a little question and you sit back and let that brain of his spin. The reason I can't imagine anyone else playing the Tony Stark we've seen in the Marvel movies so far is because that character is so closely tied to the qualities I've seen in the real Downey off-screen. In some weird way, the "Iron Man" films will eventually serve as a highly stylized form of autobiography, telling the story of Downey's enormous promise, his rocky years of self-destruction, and his eventual metamorphosis into the blockbuster-friendly charm machine that he's become.

We had twenty minutes with him.  There were four or five of us around the table.  When he strolled in, he had with him "The Box," his omnipresent collection of various vitamins and health supplements, and he looked healthy and happy.  We jumped right in, asking him if he had any hesitations or worries about playing the character for the fourth time.  "This is… the grab bag wish list of things we've always wanted to do and haven't had the chance," he said.  He had his own expectations for the sequel, and they were hefty, to say the least.  "[This] was supposed to answer all the questions for the audience, cure all my uncomfortable moments in the past playing this character, and get in every idea that fell by the wayside in the last three movies. Then we shot the movie and I feel like there’s still a number of other things we have to do."

Read Full Post
<p>I'm getting the feeling there's not much time for this in 'Iron Man 3'</p>

I'm getting the feeling there's not much time for this in 'Iron Man 3'

Credit: Marvel Studios

Robert Downey Jr, Kevin Feige and Shane Black host an early peek at 'Iron Man 3'

Plus the brand-new trailer for the film makes its debut online

I have carefully constructed my life so that I do not have to brave the horrors of Los Angeles morning rush hour traffic very often, and on the rare occasions I am willing to do so, it had better be for something worthwhile.

For example, if someone were to offer me a chance to sit down on a late January morning with Robert Downey Jr, Shane Black, and Kevin Feige to talk about "Iron Man 3," that would be worth it.  I don't often do roundtables, but in a situation like this one, I know everyone else at the table and I know all three of the people we'll be interviewing, and I have a pretty good idea that it's going to be a relaxed and informative conversation.

The morning began with them taking us over to a screening room and showing us the Super Bowl spot (keep in mind this was a few weeks early), and then they tried to show us the new trailer for the film.

"Which new trailer?" you ask.  Well, that would be this new trailer...

Read Full Post
<p>Come on... Summer Glau with a sword and a tiny skirt? That's not even fair.</p>

Come on... Summer Glau with a sword and a tiny skirt? That's not even fair.

Credit: IndieVest

How can a film starring Peter Dinklage, Ryan Kwanten, Danny Pudi and Summer Glau sit on a shelf for two years?

Who killed 'The Knights Of Badassdom'? Wade Bradley, apparently

It's popular for writers to grumble about the development process, and I've certainly got plenty of horror stories, both mine and those of my friends, about things that were said or done during notes meetings. Honestly, though, if you're paying a writer, then that's an expected part of things, and it's something that good writers learn how to handle with grace and with wit.

The true enemy right now, especially as the old filmmaking model starts to disintegrate and new models seem to spring up almost weekly, is the shady world of international financing. The absolute worst notes meeting I've ever had doesn't begin to compare to the amoral, unethical, and downright criminal things I have personally observed during the financing part of making a film. One bad deal can haunt you for years, and trusting the wrong person to be part of the financing team can absolutely destroy not only your film, but you as a filmmaker.

Read Full Post
<p>James Franco and Michelle Williams make some magic together in 'Oz The Great and Powerful'</p>

James Franco and Michelle Williams make some magic together in 'Oz The Great and Powerful'

Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Review: 'Oz The Great and Powerful' should please Raimi fans and Oz fans in equal measure

HitFix
B+
Readers
C+
Despite a miscast lead, the film offers a lovely fantasy fable

Based on the billion-dollar worldwide box-office, I felt very alone when I despised Disney's "Alice In Wonderland" a few years ago.  The entire thing just made my skin crawl, and it seemed to me to demonstrate a near-total misunderstanding of Lewis Carrol's work.  When the first trailers started to arrive for Sam Raimi's "Oz The Great And Powerful," which opens this week, it looked like more of the same to me.  I love Raimi, but everything about this one had me worried when I walked into the theater.

Turns out there was nothing to worry about.

While it certainly fits neatly into the generic blockbuster mold that it seems like every studio uses these days, there's enough genuine wonder to make this work where "Alice" failed, and it honors the world that Frank L. Baum first created instead of trying to rebuild it into something it's not.  "Oz The Great and Powerful" is the story of a Wizard who does not exist, and the collision of four characters who all need or want him to exist for different reasons.  This collision leads to a collusion, an agreement that this symbol is more important than the truth, and this shared lie, this "Wizard Of Oz," manages to change everything as a result.

Read Full Post