<p>When it comes to influence on the past decade of blockbusters, Neo is still 'The One'</p>

When it comes to influence on the past decade of blockbusters, Neo is still 'The One'

Credit: Warner Bros

'The Matrix' and Madonna top this year's National Registry additions

A typically eclectic mix of titles rounds out the film year

The first film I watched this year was a documentary called "These Amazing Shadows," a look at the work being done by the National Film Registry, and a celebration of the impulse behind the creation of the annual list.

For those of you not familiar with it already, each year, the Registry picks films that are "works of enduring importance to American culture, that reflect who we are as a people and as a nation."  This year, anything released between 1897 and 1999 was eligible, and with this year's choices, the registry now stands at 600 titles.  That's since it was created in 1989, and as with every year, the list of titles chosen includes some obvious choices, some eccentric choices, and some films you probably have never heard of, making for a typically heady mix.

I love that they've included "The Matrix," which will probably end up being one of the most influential films released since I started writing about movies.  It seems with each passing year to cast a larger and larger shadow over pop culture, and I'm wondering if the Wachowskis will ever be able to equal the impact that movie made on audiences and filmmakers alike.

Here's the full list of new films added to the Registry, as well as the explanation sent out as part of today's press release, followed by my own thoughts on each title in italics.

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<p>Paul Williams, feeling moody.</p>

Paul Williams, feeling moody.

Credit: Abramorama Films

Check out the moving new video for 'Paul Williams Still Alive'

One of our favorite songwriters is gunning for an Oscar this year

I reviewed "Paul Williams Still Alive" when I was the Toronto Film Festival in 2011, and I think of the film as a 2011 release because of that.  Technically, though, it's eligible for awards this year, and one of the ones they're aiming for is an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song.

Much of what you hear in the film comes from his long and remarkable career, and for many people, the film serves to connect dots they may not have known were connected at all.  The Carpenters, the Muppets, commercial work… so many of his songs have sunk into our collective cultural subconscious that we know them more than we know him.

When I spoke to Williams during the Toronto Film Festival, it was one of those interviews that could have gone on another two hours, and I wouldn't have even begun to run out of things to talk to him about.  I feel bad that we never made it to the subject of "Still Alive," the original song he wrote for the documentary, and I'm glad to see that the company behind the film is working hard to get it out there.

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<p>Christoph Waltz seemed pleased with Quentin Tarantino's new film 'Django Unchained' when we sat down to discuss it.</p>

Christoph Waltz seemed pleased with Quentin Tarantino's new film 'Django Unchained' when we sat down to discuss it.

Credit: HitFix

Christoph Waltz on speaking the language of Tarantino for 'Django Unchained'

We talk with the Oscar winner about using words as weapons

It was strange being in New York this weekend doing back to back to back junkets and talking about fictional bloodbaths and violence while everyone at the event was also trying to absorb the real-life news about Newtown and the elementary school shootings.  And I'll be clear… it wasn't uncomfortable because I think there is a correlation between violence in art and violence in real life.  I don't.  It was uncomfortable because we were all processing something real, and that makes it hard to be invested in the pretend.

I've chatted with Christoph Waltz a few times now, and I think he's a really sharp, well-spoken performer who doesn't really like digging too deep into his own process or going over projects other than the one that he's currently discussing.  I think he had a long professional career before "Inglourious Basterds," and he got used to doing things a certain way, and just because more people are paying attention to the work on an international scale, that doesn't mean Waltz has any obligation to change the way he works.

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<p>Despite some early qualms on my part, I&nbsp;have to admit Tom Cruise does a hell of a job as 'Jack Reacher'</p>

Despite some early qualms on my part, I have to admit Tom Cruise does a hell of a job as 'Jack Reacher'

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Review: Tom Cruise and Chris McQuarrie make 'Jack Reacher' a compelling pulp hero

HitFix
B+
Readers
B+
It may not be the exact adaptation of the Lee Childs character I'd want, but it's slick, savvy fun

Christopher McQuarrie's sole film as writer/director is a jet-black little piece of neo-noir called "The Way Of The Gun."  While it wasn't a hit when it came out, it certainly had its fans, and I was among them.  I liked the uncompromising sensibility of it, the way it seemed unafraid to be horribly nasty, and the streamlined narrative style.  McQuarrie was first established by his script for "The Usual Suspects," of course, and he's remained a frequent collaborator of Bryan Singer, working on both "Jack The Giant Slayer" and "Valkyrie."

Tom Cruise is also a fan of McQuarrie's work, with the writer contributing to "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol," "All You Need Is Kill," and the most-likely-cancelled "Top Gun 2," and now McQuarrie has finally directed his second film, and he and Cruise have struck paydirt here.  I will admit that I was incredibly skeptical of Cruise for the title role in "Jack Reacher," but I am won over by the film itself, and I feel like this is a really canny way of bringing the work of Lee Child to life.

For those unfamiliar with the seventeen novels featuring the character so far, he is a very calculated creation, a pulp hero that appeals to a sort of hyper-masculine ideal.  In the books, Reacher is a 6'5" muscle-bound ape of a guy who happens to be incredibly intelligent, a keen investigator who retired from active duty in the Army to wander America.  He stumbles into trouble and, like Travis McGee, a sort of "knight errant" chromosome forces him to right any wrongs he stumbles across.  He can't help himself.  He just isn't wired to allow the strong to victimize the weak as long as there's something he can do about it.  He has no luggage, no home, no ties to anything.  He has a bank account where his social security checks are deposited automatically, and he stays on the move constantly.

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<p>Joseph Kosinski seems open to the idea of making a third 'TRON' film</p>

Joseph Kosinski seems open to the idea of making a third 'TRON' film

Credit: Walt Disney Company

Joseph Kosinski talks about 'Tron 3' plans and 'Star Wars' rumors

The director of next year's 'Oblivion' dicusses future plans both real and imagined

Joseph Kosinski is a promising filmmaker, and it certainly appears that he'll have plenty of chances to prove himself in the coming years.  His science-fiction thriller "Oblivion" opens in the spring, and the first trailer, featuring Tom Cruise, just made its appearance online last week.

That film was co-written by Michael Arndt, who also wrote "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Toy Story 3" and who quite notably was hired to write "Star Wars - Episode VII," so perhaps it was only natural that there would be some rumors about Kosinski being the likely candidate to direct that film.  After all, pretty much anyone who's ever directed anything involving special effects is going to be rumored to be the director by the time Disney and Lucasfilm eventually make their official announcement, and Kosinski is already in Disney's good graces.

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<p>Besides, we all know what the new film will be about, right?&nbsp; Big robots and Bayhem, pure and simple.</p>

Besides, we all know what the new film will be about, right?  Big robots and Bayhem, pure and simple.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Michael Bay responds to an alleged 'Transformers 4' script leak as Mark Wahlberg promises change

What direction will the director and the star push the franchise for the new film?

I'm not sure if any of you bothered reading the details about the allegedly leaked script for "Transformers 4" over the weekend, but I tried.  I say "tried" because about halfway through a summary of the supposed document, my brain crawled out of my head, horrified and furious, and attacked me to try and exact some revenge.

I am used to the idea that the "Transformers" mythology is completely incomprehensible, but even by the standards set by the totally deranged second film in the series, the synopsis that several people printed as real today is nonsense.  That reads as pure fan fiction, nerdy on a level that would make Michael Bay's skin crawl.  My guess, not knowing for sure what screenwriter Ehren Kruger and Bay are up to, is that they're going to try to reach out to an audience more akin to fans of the "Fast and Furious" franchise, leaving behind the wacky family stuff from the first three films.  He's working with Mark Wahlberg this time, who he just directed in "Pain and Gain," and simply by switching the focus from Shia LeBeouf to Wahlberg as the lead, he's clearly indicating that this is more of a traditional action movie approach.

But let's pretend we don't know any of that.  Bay says the script people are talking about has nothing to do with his film at all.  Here's his official statement:

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<p>Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is still new to the chair, but he's going to be tested mightily in next summer's 'Star Trek Into Darkness'</p>

Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is still new to the chair, but he's going to be tested mightily in next summer's 'Star Trek Into Darkness'

Credit: Paramount/Bad Robot

Full length 'Star Trek Into Darkness' trailer arrives online

The new cast prepares for their second time at the helm of the Enterprise

Based on the box-office figures for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," I think it's safe to say quite a few of you went to see the film in various formats this weekend.  If you did, then chances are you saw either the theatrical trailer for "Star Trek Into Darkness" or the nine-minute IMAX 3D presentation of the film's first nine minutes.

Right now, I feel bad for longtime "Trek" fans who don't enjoy the JJ Abrams films.  There is no worse feeling for a film fan than disliking something that you are very, very excited about.  I've been out with friends for various screenings over the years, and the conversations that happen after sitting through a crushing disappointment are most often a way of trying to grapple with what went wrong.  For many audiences, the 2009 "Star Trek" was a big, fun, surprisingly well-cast film that they enjoyed and probably haven't thought much about since.  There are the hardcore fans who just love seeing new "Trek" onscreen and who enjoyed the switch-up with the new cast, sure, and there are also kids who were introduced to "Star Trek" by that film and who are now nascent fans for the franchise as a whole.

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<p>There are few people who I&nbsp;enjoy talking to more than Ian McKellen, and few actors I&nbsp;enjoy watching more.</p>

There are few people who I enjoy talking to more than Ian McKellen, and few actors I enjoy watching more.

Credit: HitFix

Ian McKellen says the one-two punch of Gandalf and Magneto was 'timing'

Also learn which version of Gandalf the actor prefers playing

Ian McKellen probably never expected the odd turn that his career has taken over the last fifteen years, but he seems to have embraced it with grace and gusto.

I'm sure if you'd told him before all of this that he would end up beloved by an audience of fantasy-loving comic-book-reading genre fans all over the world, he would have dismissed the idea as silly.  Even when he appeared in "Gods and Monsters," the sensational James Whale biopic by Bill Condon, he probably never expected the particular way that his audience would expand.

Now here we are, sitting down with him to discuss his return to Middle Earth, and I love that he sees a distinct difference between playing Gandalf the White and Gandalf the Grey.  Like McKellen, I prefer Gandalf the Grey, and one of the nicest things about "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is getting my favorite version of my favorite wizard back in action.  He brings such warmth and humor to the part that it was sad to see him changed into more of an action hero on the final film.

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<p>Get ready to have your face punched in by the giant robots of 'Pacific Rim'</p>

Get ready to have your face punched in by the giant robots of 'Pacific Rim'

Credit: Warner Bros/Legendary

First 'Pacific Rim' trailer promises monsters and mayhem on an epic scale

Guillermo Del Toro's dream project finally gives you a sneak peek

One of the things that has rekindled my love of the anticipatory period before a film is released is having kids in the house who go absolutely bananas at every new glimpse they get of the things they are interested in the most. My boys are giant monster fanatics, and they adore robots of all types, so from the very first moment I described "Pacific Rim" to them as "a movie about a war between giant robots and giant monsters," they have been positively rabid to see anything from it.

This is one of those movies that seems like it should already exist. It is hard to believe there has never been a real big-budget treatment of this sort of material.  True, it would have been difficult to pull off with any degree of photo-realism before now, but it still seems surprising that it has taken this long for Hollywood to realize that there will most likely be an audience for two hours of robots that do kung-fu laying a beating on giant monsters that breathe fire.  Actually, there's a wide range of things that both the Jaegers (the official name for the giant robots) and the Kaiju (the official name for the monsters) are capable of, and we'll see quite a few examples of both in the film.

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<p>Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis co-star in &quot;GI&nbsp;Joe:&nbsp;Retaliation'</p>

Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis co-star in "GI Joe: Retaliation'

Credit: Paramount Pictures

New 'GI Joe: Retaliation' trailer destroys London and resurrects Channing Tatum

Paramount's been fine-tuning this one, and the new trailer seems confident

The new trailer for "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" is full of CGI mayhem, ninjas on mountaintops, and Bruce Willis, The Rock, and Channing Tatum all ladling on the macho.  It looks like every 13-year-old kid's dream version of an action movie, ridiculous but impossible not to watch.

One of the things that impresses me about the ninja mountain battle footage you see here is that I was on the set where they shot those scenes, and it couldn't have been any more fake.  The stuff here looks great, and I think Jon Chu could turn out to be an inspired choice for this one.  I know it's been a difficult film in terms of production set-backs, second-guessing, and release date shuffle, but in the end, all that matters is whether or not the film is any fun, and it looks like it is.

There's a part of me that always feels bad saying something looks like fun when it's got the sort of wholesale destruction that this film appears to have.  If they really destroy London the way they show it here, then it's starting to look like Hollywood has some anger issues about London that they're working out, between this and the "Star Trek Into Darkness" poster.

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