<p>Michael Shannon is just as intense when discussing his work as he is on the big screen.</p>

Michael Shannon is just as intense when discussing his work as he is on the big screen.

Credit: HitFix

Michael Shannon talks about playing cold-blooded for 'The Iceman'

We also touch briefly on his work as General Zod

At this point in my career, I like to think that I'm a pretty good interviewer. The more time you give me with someone, the better the conversation will be, and the deeper we'll get into certain ideas.

The real frustration of on-camera interviews is that they are, by their very nature, short. If you get five full minutes with someone, it's a luxury. And those aren't what I would call conversations. They are rapid-fire exchanges where you're trying to get one great answer out of it, and that's if you're lucky.

It becomes even more complicated in a case like my recent conversation with Michael Shannon for the new film "The Iceman," where he stars as Richard Kuklinski, a real-life Mafia hitman. It's a solid film and a great performance, and I wanted to talk to him about the work he did in the film and the research he did on the real guy.

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<p>He's been knighted, he's won an Oscar, and even so, he was as down-to-earth and friendly as anyone I've encountered in the junket world in a while.</p>

He's been knighted, he's won an Oscar, and even so, he was as down-to-earth and friendly as anyone I've encountered in the junket world in a while.

Credit: HitFix

Sir Ben Kingsley gets positively giddy talking about being bad in 'Iron Man 3'

Plus he talks about what Shane Black brought to the table

When I sat down to talk to Sir Ben Kingsley, the first thing I told him was that I would hold the interview until after the release of the film if we ventured too far into spoiler territory. It's one of the first times I've ever said anything like that to an actor, but then again, not everyone plays a role like the one that Sir Kingsley plays in "Iron Man 3."

In the end, I think we were careful enough that you can watch and we don't give the game away. If you've seen the film, though, I think you'll appreciate how we talked about the film and his role in it. He doesn't dodge the questions, and he's not playing coy. He's just very careful about how he says things.

By far, the most controversial part of "Iron Man 3" fans is going to end up being The Mandarin and the choices that Shane Black made about how to depict the character. One of the reasons I think the movie works so well is because Shane Black and Drew Pearce took some chances in the script and they made some big choices about how to portray certain events and certain characters.

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<p>What no one realizes yet is that Paul&nbsp;Thomas Anderson and Joquin Phoenix have teamed up to shoot a top secret dark and gritty reboot called 'Popeye:&nbsp;Sailor Of The Night'</p>

What no one realizes yet is that Paul Thomas Anderson and Joquin Phoenix have teamed up to shoot a top secret dark and gritty reboot called 'Popeye: Sailor Of The Night'

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Joaquin Phoenix and Paul Thomas Anderson take 'Inherent Vice' to Warner Bros

Does a major studio pedigree mean this is a less personal film?

There are a number of outlets that I would argue do a good job covering the oh-so-broad world of entertainment, and I certainly hope HitFix is one of those sites. But for some writers, having a much more narrow focus allows them to do one thing very, very well, and a great example of that would be Red Vines & Cigarettes, a website devoted to the work of Paul Thomas Anderson.

It should surprise no one that the first firm word of what's going on with "Inherent Vice," the next film from the writer/director of "The Master," "There Will Be Blood," and "Boogie Nights," would come from this particular source, but the news itself is somewhat surprising, if only because it looks like a very different process for the filmmaker this time.

Anderson has always been independent-minded, even if he did make "Punch-Drunk Love" for Revolution and even if he had the support of New Line as they were trying to make the jump from mini-major to major-major. His first film, "Hard Eight," was something he put together himself, and on his last movie, he had Megan Ellison and the very deep pockets of her Anapurna Pictures to help him realize his vision.

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<p>Let's be honest... if an audience is coming to a 'Transformers' movie, this is why.</p>

Let's be honest... if an audience is coming to a 'Transformers' movie, this is why.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Kelsey Grammer joins the human cast for Michael Bay's 'Transformers 4'

Does it really matter who's in the movie, though?

I'm curious… does anyone think it actually matters what human cast they put together for a "Transformers" movie at this point?

After all, even though I gave the last film a positive review, that was for the Bayhem and the hour-long siege in Chicago, which I still think is a dazzling extended bit of action filmmaking. Everything that is wrong with the "Transformers" series can be traced to every scene in the films that does not involve giant robots bashing the hell out of one another.

You can't blame them, really. The first film told a small-scale and somewhat charming variation on a "boy and his car" story, a coming-of-age piece that also happened to involve giant extraterrestrial shape-shifters. Each of the sequels has added an unnecessary sense of bloat to the proceedings, though, and even as they've gotten more bizarre, they've grossed more and more money. It's become harder to sit through long stretches of "character comedy" that is often filled with some of the strangest choices you'll ever see in a mainstream blockbuster.

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<p>Wolverine pretty much is a swordfight all by himself, so the Silver Samurai is almost redundant here.</p>

Wolverine pretty much is a swordfight all by himself, so the Silver Samurai is almost redundant here.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Singer tweets Jackman sneak for 'X-Men' as 'Wolverine' CinemaCon trailer leaks

Two different looks ahead at Fox's busiest mutant in action

At this point, I'll bet even Hugh Jackman is wondering just how much Wolverine is too much Wolverine.

Right now, they aren't even done with "The Wolverine," the Japan-set stand-alone film by James Mangold that's coming out in July, and Hugh Jackman is already doing wardrobe tests for the about-to-start-shooting "X-Men: Days Of Future Past."

Bryan Singer, returning to the world of "X-Men" for the first time since he left Fox in turmoil so he could go direct "Superman Returns," seems to be enjoying every single part of the pre-production process, and he's being fairly open with imagery via his Twitter account. I ran a photo last week that he sent out from Storm's wardrobe test, showing off Halle Berry's new look, and yesterday, he had a little fun with the way fandom is freaking out over every little thing he releases by putting out the first image of Wolverine from "DOFP."

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<p>Sharlto Copley gets to play a bad guy in 'Elysium,' and he's already onboard to make 'Chappie' with director Neill Blomkamp this fall.</p>

Sharlto Copley gets to play a bad guy in 'Elysium,' and he's already onboard to make 'Chappie' with director Neill Blomkamp this fall.

Credit: Sony Pictures

Sharlto Copley and Die Antwoord sign up to star in Neill Blomkamp's 'Chappie'

The story of a 'ridiculous robot' starts shooting in the fall

I love watching a long-term artistic collaboration come into focus. When Neill Blomkamp released "District 9," one thing that was obvious was that Blomkamp and his star Sharlto Copley had a great chemistry, and that they were both equally important to the way that film worked.

A few weeks ago, when I went to the special event for "Elysium," both Copley and Blomkamp were present and they were talking about how they adjusted their method of collaboration for this new film. What was evident was the kinship they feel and the connection they have. They have that thing you need in a constant collaborator, that ability to not only know what the other guy is thinking but to throw things at him that he might not expect. There is a trust that is inherent to the way they communicate, and as a result, I hope they continue making films together for as long as they're both interested.

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<p>Gwyneth Paltrow seemed energized by what they had her do in Shane Black's 'Iron Man 3'</p>

Gwyneth Paltrow seemed energized by what they had her do in Shane Black's 'Iron Man 3'

Credit: HitFix

Gwyneth Paltrow talks about putting Pepper in harm's way for 'Iron Man 3'

Plus she talks about Shane Black and his contributions to the series

One of the ways I feel like I'm disconnected from the way a lot of people digest pop culture is the way I tune out celebrity gossip almost completely. When I hear someone say that they "hate" a celebrity, I wonder what gets them to that point. There are no celebrities who matter enough in my world for me to hate any of them, and certainly not because of the way they live.

Case in point: when I think of Gwyneth Paltrow, I think of her onscreen work. I think of the first time I saw her in the largely unseen gem "Flesh and Bone," where she was captivating and carnal and impressive. Over the years, I've liked much of her work, and she's made her fair share of films that did nothing for me. Through it all, it never occurred to me to hate her.

Is it because she's married to a rock star and because she runs a lifestyle blog? Because I've never visited it, and I'm not even sure what it's called, and I certainly don't think there's any chance anyone's going to force me to read it any time soon. And who cares who she's married to? I think the reason many people love gossip is because it gives them something to compare their own life to, and when they see someone living better than them, it gives them a specific target for their anger.

Is it because she was just picked as "The Most Beautiful Woman Alive" by People magazine? Because that's another thing that seems very silly to be upset by. It's not like she demanded that they run the headline, like when M. Night Shyamalan insisted they call him "The New Hitchcock" in a story. I doubt she campaigned for it at all. She's got a big new high-profile film coming out, so it makes sense that they'd pick her.

When we sat down, all I knew was that I wanted to talk about the way her role in "Iron Man 3" has evolved. I think I accidentally offended her a bit when I asked her how it was to step into the energy between Robert Downey Jr. and Shane Black, because she made a point of explaining that Shane was the newcomer, and that he was the one joining their family. That's totally true, of course. She's been part of the Marvel Universe since "Iron Man," and now that her contract is up, it's time to reflect on the experiences she's had so far and decide if she's going to stay involved moving forward. The things they have her do in this film definitely shook up the sense of sameness that can set in after playing a part four or five times, and she sounded like it was a good experience.

Will we see more of Pepper and Tony? I'd bet on it. Right now, these people have a real sense of ownership over the characters they've established on film, and I think money is only one small part of the decisions they'll be making about the future.

And if you seriously feel like you need to say terrible personal things about Paltrow, do it elsewhere. I would rather have a conversation about her work than about any weird baggage you've picked up because you spend too much time reading about her personal life. Everyone I've ever known who worked with her has great things to say about how she is on a set and what she brings to the table in a collaboration, and those are the things that matter here.

"Iron Man 3" will blow the back wall out of your local theater starting Friday.

<p>John Williams is the chocolate to the peanut butter of 'Star Wars'</p>

John Williams is the chocolate to the peanut butter of 'Star Wars'

Credit: AP Photo/Steven Senne

JJ Abrams suggests John Williams will score 'Star Wars Episode VII'

Also featured this week in 'Duh' magazine: water is wet

There are times you want to shake things up and try something new, and there are times you want to be part of a tradition and do things a certain way, and finding the balance between those two impulses are a big part of successfully remaking any franchise film or figuring out how to add new chapters to something that is already in progress.

For example, I'm looking forward to hearing what Hans Zimmer does with the score for "Man Of Steel." The hint we got of it in the most recent trailer for the film was enough to make me think he managed to do something that is genuinely different, somehow setting aside the huge iconic influence of the John Williams "Superman" score. That's not easy to do. I think Michael Giacchino managed to craft a great score for "Star Trek" in 2009, and watching the sequel I was struck anew by just how great and memorable his theme really is. It's not often I walk out of a new film these days with a score stuck in head, instantly evocative, impossible to shake.

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HitFix's 25 Most Anticipated Films of Summer 2013: Who's no. 1?

HitFix's 25 Most Anticipated Films of Summer 2013: Who's no. 1?

Shirtless Ryan Gosling, tattooed Charlie Day, and the return of Celine and Jesse

The countdown is complete, and at least on our end of things, the summer is underway.

So far, members of the HitFix staff have seen at least half of the films from this countdown, including "Iron Man 3," "Star Trek Into Darkness," and "The Great Gatsby," and while we may be embargoed from reviewing them, we can tell you that our enthusiasm for the summer is unchanged. This is a great, diverse line-up of material, and it doesn't matter what your tastes are… something in here is going to appeal to you.

Maybe you're looking forward to seeing some new adventures for some familiar faces this summer. Nothing wrong with that, and Hollywood is happy to help with Robert Downey Jr. facing a very different take on The Mandarin, one of Iron Man's most famous rivals. There's also the follow-up to 2009's successful relaunch of "Star Trek," with JJ Abrams once again directing and playing games with some of the most iconic moments from the original series. Hugh Jackman's playing "The Wolverine" for the sixth time, we check in with a young Mike and Sully for "Monsters University," the anti-social lunatics of "Kick-Ass 2" dish up some more bad behavior, and Superman will finally punch a whole bunch of someones in "Man Of Steel."

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<p>I just noticed that Charlie Day's got tattoos on both arms. I&nbsp;have a feeling 'Pacific Rim' is going to be loaded with tiny details worth revisiting.</p>

I just noticed that Charlie Day's got tattoos on both arms. I have a feeling 'Pacific Rim' is going to be loaded with tiny details worth revisiting.

Credit: Warner Bros.

Amazing WonderCon footage from 'Pacific Rim' posted by Guillermo Del Toro

The director seems impatient to show off what he's done

In the days leading up to WonderCon, I had a link to an online screener of the "Pacific Rim" footage that Warner Bros. sent over so I'd get a chance to see the footage before the event. They told me it would play a grand total of three times before the link would expire, and I called both of my sons into the office to watch it with me.

Not even two seconds passed between the three screenings of the footage. As soon as it ended, both of my kids started demanding that I restart it. Then again. And when the link expired, they looked at me like it was "Lord Of The Flies" and I was about to get hunted. They were rabid about what they saw, and I figured their near-chemical reaction was because they are seven and five years old respectively.

Then at WonderCon, I watched an entire auditorium of people have the exact same reaction to the footage, and seeing it on a giant screen, I was struck by how impressive it is, how primal the reaction is when you're watching giant monsters and giant robots throw down like this. That last image, with the jaeger walking down the street dragging an oil tanker like a baseball bat, is completely thug. It's just absurd, and when you're making a movie about giant monster and giant robots, absurd seems like the way to go.

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