We've had a strange run here at "The Motion/Captured Podcast."
Technical issues, scheduling problems, and any number of bone-headed moves on my part have made the podcast a highly irregular proposition, and considering it is a show that largely works without a regular format, I'm amazed that we had any episodes at all that actually held together.
Scott Swan is, of course, one of my oldest friends in the world and my screenwriting partner. Having him co-host the show with me made perfect sense because it allowed us to draw on the very real rapport that we have instead of me manufacturing some forced connection with someone else. Scott knows me as well as anyone in the world does, and I honestly can't imagine having done as many episodes as we've done if he hadn't been part of it.
There are some things about the show that have always bugged me, though, and I figured it's time for us to address those things. First and foremost for me, the format of the series never quite snapped into focus. I like keeping things casual and having conversations that just sort of ramble, but for the show to really work, we need to have central idea.
A frank conversation about the disconnect between critics and audiences is featured this week
We've had a strange run here at "The Motion/Captured Podcast."
A few Tweets make it look like the director is moving on
And just like that, the promise of Joe Carnahan's gritty '70s-based take on "Daredevil" appears to be a thing of the past.
Word recently leaked about a proposed deal between Fox and Marvel that would have extended the life of the "Daredevil" option for Fox in exchange for them allowing Marvel to use some of the characters that are included in the various rights packages that Fox has under option, specifically Galactus, who is still bundled in with the "Fantastic Four" property.
It appears that will no longer be the case.
If you check out Carnahan's Twitter timeline, you can see the conversations he's been having for the last few days, and it certainly seemed like Daredevil was on his mind. At one point, he told a fan "DD fans would be very pleased if they saw the things I've seen of late. Very, VERY pleased…" He also discussed some of his own feelings about how to portray the character. "You have to deal with the fact that he IS blind," he told one person who brought up the idea of Daredevil's other senses being supercharged to such a degree that his blindness didn't matter. "He can't be super-charged and seeing 'sound' through walls. That's bulls**t."
Leslie Mann, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Anna Kendrick all talk about the process
As I said in my recent review, "ParaNorman" is an uncommonly beautiful stop-motion film, with some of the best character work I've ever seen in this sort of movie. Part of that is because of the advances Laika Studios has made in using laser-printers to sculpt the faces, and part of it is because they really worked with their cast to get something special.
I've had several opportunities to interview each of the featured cast members of "ParaNorman," so it was an incredibly relaxed and comfortable press day. That made it easier to immediately dig into the process that they went through to help bring these characters to life.
Leslie Mann is always fun to interview. She's always forthcoming and I've never seen her be anything less than full energy, no matter what film we're discussing. I have a feeling we're going to be having some long conversations soon about "This Is 40," and I wish I'd had a chance to see the new trailer before this interview just so we could cover that as well. We had plenty to talk about, though, just discussing "ParaNorman."
Second time's the charm for this series
In general, I feel like my generation has been made stupid by nostalgia. We hold on to any terrible piece of crap from our childhoods simply because we recognize it from our childhoods. I am often startled by the things that people profess love for, and the only explanation for much of it is because recognition has replaced any sort of demand for quality. With "The Expendables," people seemed willing to excuse a truly awful, uninteresting action nothing simply because of the cast, and I just couldn't hang with it.
I'm also not exactly the biggest Simon West fan in the world. Just seeing the difference between the scripts for "Tomb Raider" and the film that West eventually released was enough to make me skeptical of his taste as a filmmaker. I find myself uninspired by his work. I think he's a competent shooter, and if that's all you need from a director, he's your guy.
The writer of the series takes over as director and tries something bold
Tony Gilroy is pretty much the model of a working Hollywood screenwriter in the year 2012. He's crossed over and become a director as well, but when you look at his career path in general, this is a guy who had to define himself while doing works for hire, something that can easily grind up a writer, even a smart and dedicated one.
"The Bourne Legacy" is a long way from "The Cutting Edge," Gilroy's first produced piece of work, and when you look at his '90s credits, he worked on a lot of studio pictures like "Armageddon," "Extreme Measures," "The Devil's Advocate," "Bait," "Proof Of Life," and the Stephen King adaptation, "Delores Clairborne."
It was in 2002, though, that he finally got the main credit on an undeniably big hit, "The Bourne Identity" and building off of that as a starting point, he wrote both sequels and then jumped into directing with two films that he also wrote, "Michael Clayton" and "Duplicity." The identity he's established for himself as a filmmaker now is that he crafts very slick adult entertainment, movies that are definitely big-studio friendly, but that have a little extra something to them.
He's fighting on the same side as Rocky this time, and enjoying every minute of it.
Dolph Lundgren has always looked more like a Stan Winston creation than an actual flesh-and-blood human being.
For one thing, he's ridiculously tall. I'm 6'2", and I'm used to being one of the taller people in any given situation. When I met Lundgren at the recent press day for "The Expendables 2," though, I was startled to realize he stands somewhere around eight-and-a-half feet tall.
Seeing him in "Rocky IV" when it was first released, I was amazed at how much he looked like a special effect, production designed rather than cast. He remains the most visually iconic of all of Rocky's foes in the six films, and he's never really had a role that better utilized his particular talents onscreen.
He's a hard guy to cast in anything besides crazy action films, though, because he doesn't exactly radiate human warmth and kindness, and he's not a guy you give a three page monologue to as a performer. You have to cast him right, and you have to have a role that utilizes the skills he does have instead of pushing him to do things that are outside his range.
Joke for joke, few comedies this year have landed this many punches
When we look back at the career of Will Ferrell eventually, it will be important to discuss the work he does with Adam McKay as a distinct chapter of his filmography.
Sure, Jay Roach directed "The Campaign," and it's certainly got his fingerprints all over it, but there is also something new at play here that we haven't seen from Roach before, and there's no mistaking the gleeful insanity that's at play in the way things escalate within scenes and over the course of the movie. That is one of the signatures of the films that Ferrell and McKay make together, this examination of the way total idiots will dig in on a situation and make things worse and worse simply by force of personality. "Anchorman," "Talladega Nights," "The Other Guys," "Step Brothers"… even the short film "The Landlord"… all play off the comedy inherent to the escalation between two equally ludicrous parties.
Good performances still can't rescue the film from complete adequacy
Hollywood is obsessed with franchise building, often disregarding logic and narrative coherence in an effort to keep squeezing cash out of a property long after any natural storytelling momentum has disappeared.
The longer the series wears on, the less the "Bourne" films have anything to do with Robert Ludlum's original novel. That's fine, of course. The filmmakers are under no obligation to do straight adaptations, and at this point, it feels like they've created something that stands alone, inspired by Ludlum's ideas but only loosely connected to the world he built. At this point, Tony and Dan Gilroy are the primary architects of this series, and while the overall action aesthetic of the series has influenced most of the mainstream action movies being made these days, what they're doing narratively is sort of unique, and worth closer examination.
Matt Damon's performance as Jason Bourne was a major part of the appeal of the first three films in the series, and he made even the most implausible parts of the films feel possible. Losing a movie star for a sequel can be disastrous, but thankfully, Gilroy's laid enough groundwork over the course of the series that the switch they make this time to Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) as the new focus of the film feels quite natural. Cross is part of a parallel program to the one that created Bourne, and he's a generation or two down the line. Unlike Bourne, Cross is well aware of what he is and how he was created and why, and at the start of the film, he's out in the field, training in the most rugged terrain possible. This film overlaps with "The Bourne Ultimatum" in terms of chronology, and it is because of Jason Bourne's actions that the people in charge of Aaron Cross and the other members of his program decide that they have no choice but to burn everything to the ground and leave no evidence.
The first possible filmmaker mentioned raises new questions about superhero film
Warner Bros. has got some extreme pressure on them right now to get one film right, and I would argue there are no higher stakes for any film or any studio in town than there are for "Justice League".
We've heard reports about Will Beall, screenwriter of "Gangster Squad," working on a new take on the script, and reports seem to indicate a fair amount of excitement about his take on the material within the studio. Now it looks like they're approaching a director, and we probably shouldn't be surprised by the name since they've been quite open about their affection for the work of Ben Affleck, with his new film "Argo" preparing to hit the festival circuit prior to its release later this year.
While I'm not sure I get the "only directing films he stars in" thing from the Variety article, since "Gone Baby Gone" was critically acclaimed, kicked off his directing career, and featured nary a shot of his face. Besides, I have trouble believing that after "Hollywoodland" and "Daredevil," Affleck is in any hurry to put on any superhero costume again. Still, the notion of Afflect both directing and starring in a "Justice League" film is intriguing. One of the things I like about Affleck's sensibilities as a director is that he has a very realistic approach to the stories he tells. "Justice League" could use that, especially since it's going to be a tricky balancing act bringing together Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, The Green lantern, and more for the film.
What if even your good guys in a film aren't that good?
Rachel Weisz was my second interview of the day at the recent press event for "The Bourne Legacy," right after I talked to Jeremy Renner, and when we walked in, she spotted my seven-year-old son Toshi, who was with me.
She said hello to him, and he smiled, more shy than normal. I told her that he was probably just recovering from how excited he was to meet Renner. Toshi was even wearing his "Avengers" t-shirt.
She nodded. "Of course," she said. "He's a superhero, after all. I can't compete with that. I'm just a weird lady in a leather dress."
Toshi might not understand the appeal of Weisz, but I was certainly pleased to sit down and chat with her again. The last time I saw her was in Montreal on the set of "The Fountain," and that encounter was a brief one because of how emotionally demanding that shoot was for both her and Hugh Jackman.