A strong cast and WETA working overtime looks like a winning combination
I don't care what anybody else says. At this point, I am flat out excited about the impending release of "The Adventures Of Tintin".
It's exciting enough that Spielberg and Jackson are working together, and whatever you think about this film or that film, specific titles from either filmography, if that combination of brainpower doesn't excite you, then we simply don't have a common starting point in any conversation about film.
It's exciting enough that Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish were brought in to finish what Stephen Moffat began, and again, that's one of those equations that puts lead in the pencil, figuratively speaking.
And after the reaction many people had to Andy Serkis in "Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes," it's a safe bet that there will be a lot of attention on his performance as Captain Haddock, which has always been one of the most enjoyable characters in the Tintin universe.
Can casting the right bad guy balance out the wrong lead in the movie?
I've been saying for years that Werner Herzog strikes me as a Bond villain in search of a movie, and now, it appears he's going to be playing the main bad guy in "One Shot," the first film adapted from the wildly popular series of novels about Jack Reacher written by Lee Childs.
I've written already about my irritation at the casting of Tom Cruise in the role of Jack Reacher, and no matter what Lee Childs says, I can't get past it. I think the Reacher series is one of my favorite ongoing modern pulp series, and a big part of that is the sheer pleasure that happens when big giant Jack Reacher decides it's time to rain some hurt down on some deserving scumbag. And as written, Reacher is a giant. He's a huge hulking brute of a guy, and there is much time and energy spent describing him that way and making sure that pays off in the way confrontations unfold in the books.
I like Tom Cruise. Don't get me wrong. I think he's fun to watch, and in the right roles, he is absolutely iconic. But he's not Jack Reacher as written.
We look at the troubled history of the film so far
Serious question. By a quick show of hands, how many of you are seriously excited about or interested in a film version of "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies"?
I ask because I'm a little confused by the way this one's coming together. Or not coming together, as the case may be. According to Variety's Justin Kroll and Jeff Sneider, Blake Lively has now officially passed on playing Elizabeth Bennett in the film adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith's novel. I actually had to go look up who the current director of the film is, and I'm wondering if Craig Gillespie is going to stay on the film for much longer. This thing's been through a lot of hands in the last few years, and it's no closer to making it to the screen now than it was at the start of the process.
As a book, I guess I can acknowledge the joke, but I made it through about four chapters of the novel when it came out before I set it aside. I'm all for post-modernism and mash-up culture, but it has to add something beyond a gimmick, and I'm still not convinced that "P&P&Z" does.
So are we ever going to see it turned into a film?
One of my least favorite moments of the year so far was writing a mediocre review for David Cronenberg's new film "A Dangerous Method." I love Cronenberg's work, and I consider him one of the most interesting and exciting filmmakers working anywhere today. Even when I don't like a film he makes, which is rare, I like the conversation about it, the experience of seeing it, and the knowledge that he's still working.
One of the most remarkable parts of his career is the way he managed to shake the horror genre, something many horror filmmakers are incapable of doing. Studios and audiences love to put filmmakers into easy boxes, and Cronenberg's work was so outrageous that it would have been very easy to imagine him spending his whole life working in horror. Instead, he managed to redefine himself so completely that it's possible that there are film fans who don't even know him as a horror filmmaker.
In which a long-anticipated moment is far more emotional than expected
Before I left for Fantastic Fest, I showed the 1977 "Star Wars" to my boys.
I left the Blu-ray box set sitting on the shelf where I have all of my "to be played" discs, standing up so the boys could see the cover. I did that specifically to torture them. I wanted them to itch every single time they walked in the room while I was gone. And I know them well enough to know that they would manufacture reasons to be in my office to do things, because that's what they do every day all day. My shelves are a constant source of discovery for the kids, whether it's books or movies or games or music. They're always asking to sample something.
And after I left for Fantastic Fest, I talked to the boys on the phone, and each phone call would begin with Toshi saying some variation on "Daddy, when you get back, it's going to be Friday, and on Friday, it's going to be too late, and on Saturday, we're going to watch 'Empire Strikes Back,' right?"
"How many days is that?"
The 'Up In The Air' star talks about how to avoid typecasting in Hollywood
Anna Kendrick is awfully young to be typecast already, but it just goes to show you how Hollywood thinks about people.
She made her first impression on audiences in "Rocket Science," and it's easy to see why. Her work in the film is precise and sharp-edged. I have trouble saying much about her work in the "Twilight" series because she doesn't have much to work with in those films, but she manages to steal whatever moments she has with her energy that's so different than the intentional languor of the rest of those movies.
With "Up In The Air," it felt like they were directly reacting to the work she did in "Rocket Science" by casting her as another bossy, smart, hyper-anxious type, and she did great work in the movie that made people sit up and take notice.
The danger, of course, is that she's going to get stuck playing that type of character, and I think she's very aware of it. When we sat down at the Toronto Film Festival to discuss her work in the new film "50/50," we talked about that issue, and about the way "50/50" presents a very different side of her personality. It's a very good film overall, but for her, it could be a real turning point.
'Death Proof' vet joining Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx in western
As if I hadn't just had an exhausting but amazing month-long orgy of film, as if I wasn't sitting here in the airport, ready to fly home, spent and worn out by how great it's all been, there just had to be one story breaking today that I couldn't resist writing up before I hop on the plane.
Why? Because it makes me ridiculously happy, that's why.
In a recent podcast, Scott and I lamented the idea that Kevin Costner was dropping out of his proposed role in Quentin Tarantino's upcoming "Django Unchained," and I really am sad he's not doing it. I think it would be a nice fit.
However, if Costner dropping out means that Kurt Russell is going to play the part, then sign me up twice. That's awesome. I love Russell in "Death Proof," and I think he is, in general, under-utilized by filmmakers. The role he's stepping in to play is a nasty one, a guy who works for Leonardo DiCaprio, onboard to play the main bad guy in the film. Samuel L. Jackson's got a great role in the film already, as does Christoph Waltz, and Jamie Foxx is onboard as the lead in the film.
For those who don't know what the film's about, it's a big sprawling Western, but set in the South of the Reconstruction Era, where Foxx plays a freed slave who teams up with a German bounty hunter to learn his trade and track down his wife, sold away from him. DiCaprio is a slave plantation owner who pits his slaves in gladiator-style battles, and Russell will play the guy in charge of training the slaves to fight for the games.
We're only about a month away from the film starting production, and I'm thrilled to think that we're a year away from a new Tarantino film, especially one with a cast this strong.
The Weinstein Company will release "Django Unchained" in theaters Christmas Day, 2012.
Plus we discuss his work in the wonderful 'Take This Waltz'
Seth Rogen sort of knocked me on my ass at Toronto this year.
I'm used to enjoying his work. I've liked him quite a bit ever since "Freaks and Geeks," and I still remember meeting him at the "Anchorman" premiere and really gushing about how much I liked his work on that show, and how I hoped I'd see him in more stuff soon.
So that happened. Cut to now, with him having achieved the status at this point of being Seth Freakin' Rogen. He's big money now. He's made it happen. He is an unlikely movie star simply because of what a cool, normal, regular guy he is. He's bright, he's sharp, but he's normal. He's got this instant accessibility, like he's someone you went to school with or knew from camp or something. He's made quite a career as America's Smoking Buddy, and watching him start to really expand the range of what he plays and add new notes to the material he picks is gratifying. The best parts of "Freaks and Geeks" had nothing to do with comedy. That show reached deep, and even at that point, Seth did some things that I still think are bold and real and not for laughs.
Celebrity talking heads weight down an even-handed look at fandom
- Critic's Rating B-
- Readers' Rating A-
I went to the San Diego Comic-Con for the first time about twelve years ago, but I've been going to smaller conventions my entire life. Fandom has changed so much since I first fell in love with it that I find myself feeling a little disconnected from the modern face of Comic-Con. I like fans when I meet them one on one, but I find that I'm less and less in love with the larger community called fandom.
I think I understand why, too, but it was something that only really started to come into focus when I was at Comic-Con this year and then again when I saw the new Morgan Spurlock film "Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Journey" at Toronto this year. Tonight, it is the closing night film at Fantastic Fest 2011, and it seems appropriate since this is one of the first films where my friend and former employer Harry Knowles is an executive producer as well as an on-screen presence, and sure enough, I saw him show up in fine style tonight, ready to enjoy the hometown screening of the film.
There is quite a bit about the film that I like, and there are a few big things about it that I don't like at all. I think what the film does at its best is explain what it is that draws people to San Diego each year. There are five distinct stories being told in the film. My favorite deals with Holly Conrad, an aspiring costume designer who wants to enter the Masquerade with her friends playing a team from "Mass Effect 2." She's enormously talented, and the work she does in the film is professional quality. Spurlock follows her from her home to the Con and through the entire process of preparing on-site and rehearsing and dealing with tech issues and stage fright, and it's a lovely portrait of the way fandom and professional aspiration can sometimes synch up.
How did he turn tragedy into a new movie opening Friday?
I think it's safe to say that in the case of Will Reiser, his encounter with cancer has resulted in the very best possible outcome.
After all, Reiser survived and has recovered fully, a major landmark for any cancer patient, but he went beyond that. Working with his friends Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, he's turned his experience into a project that began life as a script called "I'm With Cancer" and which finally reaches theaters this week as "50/50."
I'm sure there are some screenwriters who would deny it if asked but who, in their heart of hearts, hear this story and think, "Boy, that guy's lucky he got cancer." That's crazy, of course. Reiser is a very fortunate young man on many fronts. First, he's fortunate that he had friends who stood by him in a very difficult time, and he's fortunate that he had an outlet to express the ideas and emotions that must have been part of his surprisingly youthful struggle with the disease.