Inside Movies & DVD with Drew McWeeny

Watch: 'Perks Of Being A Wallflower' star Ezra Miller and a 'Scott Pilgrim' reunion

The young cast talks about how much the book means to them

<p>Johnny Simmons, Ezra Miller, and Mae Whitman were a lot of energy to manage in one interview when we sat down to discuss 'The Perks of Being A Wallflower'</p>

Johnny Simmons, Ezra Miller, and Mae Whitman were a lot of energy to manage in one interview when we sat down to discuss 'The Perks of Being A Wallflower'

Credit: HitFix

The last time I saw Johnny Simmons and Mae Whitman in the same place at the same time, it was on the Toronto set of "Scott Pilgrim Versus The World."  I have a sneaking suspicion I'm going to see members of that cast colliding over and over in the future, and that it's going to remain a very dear memory for them.

This time, we were in Toronto to discuss the new movie "The Perks of Being A Wallflower," and they had three of the young actors who make up the ensemble grouped together for the chat, including Whitman and Simmons.  I didn't meet Ezra Miller in Cannes when "We Need To Talk About Kevin" was playing there, and I'll admit that after I saw that film, I thought Hollywood was going to typecast him because of how completely effective he was in the part.

Instead, I think this film will introduce him to a much broader audience, and I think it's going to have a long shelf life.  While I may not have known the book, I've come to realize that there's a big audience out there who read and really enjoyed the book, and it's important to them.  This isn't just another teen movie to them.  The book's characters are significant because they recognize themselves in them. 

Watch: 'Looper' star Emily Blunt talks about playing mother and chopping logs

Her key role in the film pushed her in some interesting new ways

<p>Emily Blunt was typically charming and forthcoming during our recent conversation about her new film 'Looper'</p>

Emily Blunt was typically charming and forthcoming during our recent conversation about her new film 'Looper'

Credit: HitFix

Pierce Gagnon is not a name most people know at this point, but after they see "Looper," it is a name they'll want to learn.  Gagnon positively steals the film out from under the already-outstanding adult cast that includes Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Garret Dillahunt, and Emily Blunt, who plays Sara, mother to Gagnon's character, Cid.

Gagnon was five years old when they shot his part in the film, and it's an amazing performance for an actor of any age.  I think Rian Johnson and his cast did something very special in capturing his work, and that was one of the things I really wanted to discuss with her when we sat down during Toronto.

It feels like I interview Blunt about four times a year now, which is a perfectly lovely arrangement as far as I'm concerned.  She's a smart performer, and she's been making great choices for the last few years, starring in a number of films that I've enjoyed, racking up one strong performance after another.

Len Wiseman reportedly signing to reboot 'The Mummy' for Universal

Do his 'Die Hard' and 'Total Recall' efforts qualify him for the gig?

<p>I pretty much wrote this story up just to have an excuse to run a picture of Rachel Weisz in 'The Mummy.' Kate Beckinsale, I assume you'll be the lead this time.</p>

I pretty much wrote this story up just to have an excuse to run a picture of Rachel Weisz in 'The Mummy.' Kate Beckinsale, I assume you'll be the lead this time.

Credit: Universal Home Video

Universal is, in many ways, the house that horror built, so it is little wonder they view their various famous monster properties as some of the key assets for them as a studio.  I am not remotely shocked to learn that they are interested in rebooting "The Mummy."  After all, the most recent incarnation has already spawned two sequels and at least two spinoff films, and at this point, it would be preposterously expensive for them to try to get Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz back to play their characters again.

Instead, it looks like they're headed in a very different direction with the film, and if they want to freak out film fans, they've certainly made the right choice.  Len Wiseman is reportedly the choice the studio has made, and while I understand the reasoning on the level of "he's made films of a certain budget in the past and is capable of managing a big-budget movie," I would be hard-pressed to believe that  there are any hardcore Wiseman fans.  The "Underworld" series is profitable enough to support however many movies they've made so far, but I don't get the feeling they're particularly well-liked.  A quick survey of audiences after the release of "Total Recall" this summer probably wouldn't yield many people able to mount more than a passing defense, and while I was kinder than most, I would also say that Wiseman has yet to really prove that he can develop a script to the point where it really lives and breathes.  His movies feel like the description of a movie I should like, but there's something missing.  He makes Real Doll movies.  They're synthetic, and while they look like movies, they don't satisfy in the way a real film does.  I'd love for him to prove me wrong, too.

Hugh Jackman looks lean and mean in first official photo from 'The Wolverine'

Not much of a surprise, but a nice indicator that Jackman's ready to go

<p>Hugh Jackman would love for you to make a joke about him singing and dancing at the Tonys. &nbsp;Go ahead. He's waiting.</p>

Hugh Jackman would love for you to make a joke about him singing and dancing at the Tonys.  Go ahead. He's waiting.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

At this point, Hugh Jackman has been playing Wolverine longer than any motion picture actor has continuously played any superhero character.  So far, at least as far as the big screen is concerned, Jackman is Wolverine.  Period.

He's currently hard at work shooting "The Wolverine," the sixth film in which he'll play the character, and Fox finally released an official still of him on-set in the movie, which James Mangold is directing.  I'm at Fantastic Fest in Austin this week, so of course in a setting where I'm surrounded by film geeks of all stripes, I asked around to see what people thought of the image.

Even now, this many years after he first played the character, I'm amazed how some people still get worked up about how different Jackman is from the typical renderings of the character in the comics.  He's taller, he's leaner, and honestly, he doesn't really look like him.  But Jackman's made the character his with the choices he's made, and he's absolutely willing to transform himself each time he returns to play the part, getting crazy ripped each time.

Watch: Emma Watson and Stephen Chbosky charm while discussing 'Perks Of Being A Wallflower'

One of the new film's stars and the writer/director sit together for a talk about their movie

<p>Holy cow, Emma Watson is pretty.</p>

Holy cow, Emma Watson is pretty.

Credit: HitFix

It wasn't really possible to predict while the "Harry Potter" film series was in full swing, but now that I've seen "The Perks Of Being A Wallflower," I'm prepared to call it.  Emma Watson is going to have a long and successful career as an actor if that's what she chooses to pursue.  She may not be the star of this film, but when she's onscreen, she's incandescent, and she does such delicate character work in scene after scene that I think it's apparent she has more than just Hermione to offer audiences.

Adapting a novel to the screen can be very tricky, especially when it's something very personal.  Stephen Chbosky may have written the much-loved novel, but that doesn't automatically mean he's the right guy to direct the movie.  Thankfully, he turns out to be quite a director, and the result is a movie that I think people are going to fall madly in love with.  It's much smarter than the average teen film, and it does a remarkable job of evoking a specific time and place.

One of Chbosky's biggest weapons in terms of making the film is his casting.  Logan Lerman, Mae Whitman, Ezra Miller, Johnny Simmons, Nicholas Braun, Melanie Lynskey, Paul Rudd… all of them do really strong and memorable work.  It's a testament to Chbosky's touch as a filmmaker, too.  Many of these characters are outside the comfort zone of the actors, and they all rise to the challenge.

Fantastic Fest Day One: 'Frankenweenie' Q&A and champagne for 'The Devil'

We take a look at the wild ride of the first day of the 2012 festival

<p>Team 'Frankenweenie' takes a moment together before the premiere of the film at Fantastic Fest 2012</p>

Team 'Frankenweenie' takes a moment together before the premiere of the film at Fantastic Fest 2012

Credit: Jack Plunkett/Fantastic Fest

Saigon.  Shit.  I'm still only in Saigon.

I kid.  I am thrilled to be heading into my second full film festival this month, something I'm not always going to be able to say.  These are work, and I have suffered a bit of a physical ding on my way out the door to this one.  I'm hobbled, as it were, with a torn Achilles tendon, which makes walking and sitting equally painful, but it very different ways.  A real pleasure, that.  So I did wake up this morning feeling a little bit like Martin Sheen in that Saigon hotel room, groggy and unsure about much.

And even so, I'm looking forward to eight full days of mayhem here, starting with last night's screening of "Frankenweenie 3D," which I just reviewed for you.  I also managed to catch a midnight show, because just like in Toronto, many of Fantastic Fest's most potent pleasures will be hidden at that late hour, and "Here Comes The Devil" was certainly a dark ride to take at the witching hour.

Review: 'Frankenweenie' may be one of Tim Burton's most personal films

Anything you'd ever need to know about the filmmaker is hidden in this film

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<p>Victor Frankenstein watches as he runs an experiment to try to bring his dead dog Sparky back to life in Tim Burton's new stop-motion animated film, 'Frankenweenie'</p>

Victor Frankenstein watches as he runs an experiment to try to bring his dead dog Sparky back to life in Tim Burton's new stop-motion animated film, 'Frankenweenie'

Credit: Walt Disney Company

Sometimes, decoding a director's work comes down to one movie in their career, and the case could be made that with "Frankenweenie," Tim Burton has finally created the Rosetta Stone that perfectly encapsulates his preoccupations, his inspirations, and his own peculiar world view.  There is biography contained in many of his films, bits and details and a perspective on certain things like suburbia and childhood, and "Frankenweenie" could well turn out to be one of his most essential films in any discussion of who he is as an artist.

John August wrote the script for this new version of the film, but this project sprang from Burton's head and heart.  The original version, the live-action short film he made during his first tenure at Disney in the early '80s, was released briefly to theaters attached to the front of "The Black Cauldron," the studio's flawed-but-fascinating foray into fantasy.  Along with his other short film, "Vincent," they felt less like auditions for commercial filmmaking and more like art therapy on Disney's dime.  The feature version seems to merely expand on the ideas that were already present in the short, but in ways that flesh things out nicely.

We kick off Fantastic Fest with an exclusive new 'Tai Chi 0' poster debut

We've got a look at the bad guy from this trippy new genre-bender

<p>You know how I&nbsp;know he's the bad guy?&nbsp; Top hat.&nbsp; I&nbsp;mean, seriously.</p>

You know how I know he's the bad guy?  Top hat.  I mean, seriously.

Credit: Variance Films/WellGo USA

All I knew about "Tai Chi Zero" until now is that it sounded like the Coca-Cola company was getting into the diet martial arts business, and that the film was playing both Toronto and Fantastic Fest.

I started my day today by watching the trailer for the film and by opening my inbox to see that we'd been sent an exclusive poster from the film to premiere.  Okay, so at that point, watching the trailer becomes a requirement, right?  I figure I'm obligated to take a look now.

What was I waiting for?

"Tai Chi Zero" reminds me at first glance of "Kung-Fu Hustle," and considering my almost embarrassing affection for that film, I'd consider that a good thing.  It also looks like it's about playing with standard kung-fu movie tropes, and that can be a lot of fun when it's done right.

Listen: A special Toronto podcast with Christopher Mintz-Plasse and the team behind 'Hellbenders'

A candid conversation with Clancy Brown was a festival highlight

<p>At the end of 'Kick-Ass,' Christopher Mintz-Plasse made a major turn as a character, and it sounds like there's much more where that came from in 'Kick-Ass 2' next year</p>

At the end of 'Kick-Ass,' Christopher Mintz-Plasse made a major turn as a character, and it sounds like there's much more where that came from in 'Kick-Ass 2' next year

Credit: Lionsgate/MARV Films

Toronto may be in the rear view at this point, but this podcast I put together from interviews I conducted at the festival is, in my opinion, a great pleasure.  I'm always fairly upfront about how much I enjoy the overall atmosphere of the Midnight Madness screenings at the Ryerson.  I'm a firm believer that if you're going to write about the festival, you need to include those films in that time slot in the public venue.  That's the point.

When I saw that Chris Mintz-Plasse was working in Toronto, he seemed eager to try out something at the festival during his shooting schedule for "Kick-Ass 2."  When I first got to town, I posted that story about the Twitter feed that director Jeff Wadlow was using to reveal images from behind the scenes.  He's continued to post an image a day.  It's exactly the right amount of tease, and so far, he hasn't even remotely hinted at a spoiler.  He's been fairly jovial when discussing paparazzi photo leaks from the set.  It's been fun to observe.  Chris seemed fairly excited about the film, about the just-revealed casting of Jim Carrey in a key role, and about the evolution of his character from frustrated son to Red Mist to broken-hearted son to super villain.  The end of the first film made the biggest promise in regards to where he might be headed, and much of the large supporting cast is used to fill out his own personal team of super villains with a name so filthy, I'm fairly sure I'm not even allowed to print it with a**erisks taken out.

Review Round-Up: Kristen Wiig, creepy kids, and Clancy Brown in 'Hellbenders'

We take quick looks at three more of Toronto 2012's titles

<p>Kristen Wiig ends up in a hospital gown in a casino in one of those 'hasn't this happened to all of us?' moments from 'Imogene'</p>

Kristen Wiig ends up in a hospital gown in a casino in one of those 'hasn't this happened to all of us?' moments from 'Imogene'

Credit: Lionsgate

It seems hard to believe that I've got to wrap up my Toronto thoughts for this year by Thursday morning, when I switch gears into Fantastic Fest mode, which I'll be covering for the rest of the month.  That means you'll get reviews for "Frankenweenie," "The ABCs Of Death," "Red Dawn," "Paranormal Activity 4," and much, much more.  It also means time's up, and if I'm going to offer up thoughts on Toronto, I'll have a few full length reviews, and a few wrap-ups with quick thoughts about everything else I saw.

You'll hear a lot on this week's special podcast about J.T. Petty's film "Hellbenders,"
and I think it's one of those movies that could easily be oversold to you, but that has a whole lot of charms if you are on its very particular wavelength.  It is truly profane, but in a sweet, puppy dog way.  There's something so eager to shock about the film that it's sort of endearing instead of genuinely offensive.  The premise is a pretty novel high-concept twist on the notion of a team of exorcists, unofficially affiliated with the Catholic Church.  Calling themselves the "Augustine Interfaith Order of Hellbound Saints," the excommunicated priests must live in a state of constant sin, their souls always tipped over to the dark side, guaranteeing them a trip to Hell as long as no one gives them Last Rites to absolve them.  They do this so that as a last resort, they can invite the demon into their body, then kill themselves so they immediately go to Hell and take the demon along with them.  It's the metaphysical version of being a suicide bomber.  You're going down, but you're taking your enemy with you.

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