<p>Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck star in 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints,' one of the independent films involved in a very unusual filmmaker-driven promotion right now.</p>

Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck star in 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints,' one of the independent films involved in a very unusual filmmaker-driven promotion right now.

Credit: IFC Films

The director of 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints' tries something crazy to promote his film

Why would he want you to see 'Drinking Buddies,' 'You're Next,' and 'Short Term 12' as well?

While I'm not sure I think this is the best weekend of movies all year, it is an unusually dense release weekend for good strong movies that I encourage you to see.

There's the Edgar Wright film "The World's End," which I liked a lot, and if you're a fan of the earlier movies that Edgar made with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, then by all means, make sure you see this one. I've been talking about "You're Next" for two full years now, and I absolutely encourage you to check it out. It's a fun spin on a familiar structure, and the cast really does kick the whole thing up to another level.

I've never been particularly excited about Joe Swanberg's films one way or another. I haven't flipped for them, but I'm also not particularly angered by them. I think "Drinking Buddies" is a big jump for him, though, in that it manages to be thematically sound, full of strongly drawn characters, and yet still maintain the spontaneous feeling that Swanberg seems to aim for in his work. I think the entire cast of "Drinking Buddies" is at the top of their game in the film. It's the most appealing role Olivia Wilde has ever had, and Anna Kendrick gets to play against how she's normally cast here, with both Ron Livingston and Jake Johnson doing very strong work as well.

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<p>Okay, okay, Sharni... you can have the big trailer. Gina Carano just threatened to break my thigh. You win.</p>

Okay, okay, Sharni... you can have the big trailer. Gina Carano just threatened to break my thigh. You win.

Credit: Lionsgate

'You're Next' star Sharni Vinson joins the cast of the female 'Expendables'

The cast seems great. Let's hope they have something to do.

So Sharni Vinson is set to join Katee Sackhoff, and Gina Carano in what is being called "the female 'Expendables'" by everyone writing about it?

You won't hear any argument from me.

I think Carano was a badass in "Haywire" and her fights with Michelle Rodriguez are one of the best things about "Furious Six." Sackhoff is great in "Riddick," and talking to her at Comic-Con this year, watching her on that remarkable "Women Who Kick Ass" panel, I'm impressed all over again.

For most people, today is their first chance to see Sharni Vinson in action. For those of us who have been talking about "You're Next" for the last two years, it's simply the inevitable next step that comes from people seeing what a spectacular "final girl" she makes. She gives an authentic performance, and when she snaps into action, you believe it.

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<p>The films that Gilbert Taylor shot are positively overflowing with classic images and brilliant visual ideas, and 'A Hard Day's Night' could well be one of the most imitated movies ever made.</p>

The films that Gilbert Taylor shot are positively overflowing with classic images and brilliant visual ideas, and 'A Hard Day's Night' could well be one of the most imitated movies ever made.

Credit: MGM/UA Home Entertainment

Gilbert Taylor, legendary photographer of 'Star Wars' and 'Hard Day's Night,' has passed away

Few cinematographers left behind more groundbreaking work

When you think of your favorite images from your favorite movies, I think it's a fair question to ask who you think is responsible for those images. More often than not, people praise the director for anything they like about a movie, and it is rare that the public even acknowledges that there are cinematographers, much less single one out for praise. I admit that when I visit a set, the guys I get most excited about meeting are the directors of photography. I think these guys are magicians, and the best of them have created things that have never existed anywhere, and they've made it look like all it took was a camera.

I always encourage people to check out "Visions Of Light," a beautiful documentary about the art of movie photography, and I love how the film puts some of the industry's giants front and center, tying them to their accomplishments and restoring some balance in terms of who we credit for those shared memories that have made movie fans of us all.

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<p>Even Marvel Comics took a crack at 'The Stand'</p>

Even Marvel Comics took a crack at 'The Stand'

Credit: Marvel Comics

Scott Cooper signs to write and direct 'The Stand' as Ben Affleck moves on

It's an interesting choice by the studio

What matters most when it comes to finding a filmmaker to make "The Stand"?

Forget the question of whether or not we even want or need a new film version of "The Stand." That's one of those things where it really doesn't matter about "want" or "need," because it's in motion. Money has been spent. People are working to make it happen. And if that's the case, then the next question deals with finding the right person to tell the story.

I remember when George Romero was the guy who was attached to make this happen, and I remember how long that process took without finally yielding results. Rospo Pallenberg, the writer of "Excalibur," was the writer on the film, and they chipped away at it for years. That's back when Romero was still part of Laurel Entertainment, and every year they'd have their section of AFM ads where they promoted all the films they had in development, and every year, "The Stand" was part of that package.

Richard Rubenstein, the other side of the Laurel equation, was the one who eventually managed to wrestle the project onto TV, with Mick Garris taking the creative lead on that version.

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<p>&quot;Mr. Affleck, I'm sorry, but Mr. Cavill would like for you to take his costume off and, if possible, get it steam-cleaned. Yes, especially that part.&quot;</p>

"Mr. Affleck, I'm sorry, but Mr. Cavill would like for you to take his costume off and, if possible, get it steam-cleaned. Yes, especially that part."

Credit: Focus Features

3 On 3: We break down the pros and cons of casting Ben Affleck as the new Batman

In the meantime, Twitter's killing it with #Batfleck

They must have sent out the press release tonight about Ben Affleck being cast as Batman for Warner's upcoming "Superman Vs. Batman" about three minutes after I walked out the door of the HitFix office this evening.

As a result, I didn't know about it at all during my screening tonight. I slipped in just as the lights went down, and as soon as it was over, I was up and on my way to the car. It wasn't until I walked into the house and booted up the computer that I saw the chatter on Twitter, on Facebook, in my e-mail box. I saw Affleck's name first, over and over, and I had that horrible "Oh, god, I hope he's not dead" moment that comes anytime I see a celebrity's name explode over social media.

As we do with many big stories, we gathered three HitFix contributors to spitball some quick responses to questions that the casting of Affleck raised for us.

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<p>'What do you mean, Kurtz is my father?'</p>

'What do you mean, Kurtz is my father?'

Credit: Lionsgate Home Video

What if George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola traded jobs on 'Star Wars' and 'Apocalypse Now'?

How different do you think modern filmmaking would look?

This week HitFix is revisiting some of the key turning points in recent entertainment history and considering what would have happened if history had turned a bit differently. What if...?

My first contribution for "What If?" week here at HitFix asked a very simple question. That's an easy one because it's an either/or proposition, and honestly, it's something I've thought about so many times in the last 20 years that it seemed like the most immediate and obvious topic to cover.

There's another question that I've been turning over for a while now, and it's a little more complicated. Part of it is based on something that was a real possibility, and the other part is based on speculation on my part about how a chain of events could have played out. I'm not saying that this scenario was ever going to happen, but that's not the game, is it? When you play "What If?", everything is possible, and so I'm going to posit something here that could have changed not only the landscape of modern cinema, but my life and the choices I've made about my work. Based on some of the responses I've gotten from other filmmakers for my vacation articles that will be running next year, I'm not the only one who would have been heavily impacted, either, which makes me wonder…

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<p>JJ&nbsp;Abrams and Dan Mindel, pictured here as they discussed how to shoot 'Episode VII,' have finally worked things out.</p>

JJ Abrams and Dan Mindel, pictured here as they discussed how to shoot 'Episode VII,' have finally worked things out.

Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Dan Mindel will shoot 'Star Wars Episode VII' on 35mm film

Little by little, Abrams is making all the right choices

It seems like a lack of concrete information on the development of "Star Wars Episode VII" is driving people berserk. Considering we're still two years away from release, it's a little scary to see how rabid people already are.

I reported not long ago that while the script is still being developed, several major action sequences in the film have already been shared with ILM so they can start working on the various things they'll need to pull off those scenes. I also reported that ILM is putting together a fairly substantial model department, something I enjoy hearing, but when I reported it, I noticed something about the responses. Many people acted as if this was a return to something that Lucas hadn't done at all since "Return Of The Jedi," and that's simply not the case.

The truth is, all three of the prequels used models and miniatures. What changed most substantially was the way those objects were composited into shots and the amount of CGI used to extend the physical builds in all sorts of different ways. When I hear people complain that everything in the prequels was CGI, it's a reminder that a lot of people don't really know what they're looking at in a film, and they dismiss things based on some vague understanding.

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<p>&quot;Wait... <em>how many</em> sequels did you say we're doing?!&quot;</p>

"Wait... how many sequels did you say we're doing?!"

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Steven Charles Gould has been chosen to write four 'Avatar' novels for James Cameron

The ambitious plan would complement the upcoming trilogy of sequels

One of the very best movie adaptation novels that I've ever read was written by Orson Scott Card, based on James Cameron's "The Abyss." He wrote three chapters of backstory for the main characters of Bud, Lindsey, and Coffey, and Cameron liked them so much he gave them to the actors to use as their backstory for the film.

Since it was written before Cameron hit the wall on budget and time, the novel was adapted using the original ending, so when I sat down in the theater, I had a pretty good idea of where the story was going, and I was shocked when the ending appeared to be lopped off for no apparent reason. It was infuriating, and for a while, I had real problems with the movie simply for that reason. I still think it's the one time Cameron has ever really hurt himself with an edit, and once the original ending was finished and restored for a home video release, it definitely changed the way the entire final third of the film played.

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<p>It's hard to argue with Quentin Tarantino when he calls 'Taxi Driver' one of the greatest films of all time.</p>

It's hard to argue with Quentin Tarantino when he calls 'Taxi Driver' one of the greatest films of all time.

Credit: SPHE

Quentin Tarantino's new list of the 12 greatest movies raises some questions

Aren't lists supposed to be definitive and permanent?

One of the things that seems to be part of being a lifelong film nerd is the making of lists. Obviously, I publish a list each year of what I consider the best films I've seen during the preceding 12 months, but I've also published lists that have to do with specific genres or that deal with something like my favorite films in a decade or even of all time.

In an interview I did with Edgar Wright yesterday, he talked about how as a kid he kept lists of all sorts of things. Films he wanted to see, films he'd seen already. I did the same thing, and I've known many film geeks over the years who have had their own lists at the ready. Quentin Tarantino was a hardcore film fan before anyone knew his name as a filmmaker, and one of the things that was clear going to see his various film festivals in Austin or Los Angeles over the years is that he is a omnivorous film consumer. He'll watch anything, hoping for a gem or a discovery, and he's shown me many movies that I never would have otherwise seen, some of which have become favorites of mine now as well.

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<p>How many times do I have to tell Tom Cruise that just hiding part of his face isn't fooling anybody?</p>

How many times do I have to tell Tom Cruise that just hiding part of his face isn't fooling anybody?

Credit: Ubisoft

Ubisoft's 'Watch Dogs' already in development as movie before its PS4 debut

Could Ubisoft be the company to finally get game-to-movie adaptations right?

I can't wait to get my hands on a PS4. I'm dying to play many of the games I've seen teased for this fall, and just the other day, I started updating my GameFly queue to make sure I had PS4 titles on there as well.

I don't get to play games as much as I'd like. I'll frequently go three or four weeks at a time without putting a single game into the PS3, which is primarily a Blu-ray player in my house. Even so, I'm excited for "inFamous: Second Son" based on how much fun those first two games were, and "Killzone: Shadow Fall" will hopefully be a big jump forward from the three games Sony's released in that series so far.

There is no other title this fall, though, not even "Grand Theft Auto V," that has me as excited as "Watch Dogs." Ubisoft is a great developer in general, but there's something about the mechanics of this title that just plain does it for me. When they showed the very first gameplay video, I was hooked at that point. If you haven't see anything about the game yet, you play the character Aiden Pearce, a hacker who snaps when his family is taken from him by a violent crime. He decides to exact his own form of justice by taking over Chicago's ctOS, the operating system that runs pretty much every major function in the city. It allows Aiden to control everything, from cameras to mass transit to the traffic lights in the streets.

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