<p>That, ladies and gentlemen, is a 'Big Ass Spider!'</p>

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a 'Big Ass Spider!'

Credit: Big Ass Spider!

SXSW announces the 2013 Midnighters with a 'Big Ass Spider' and Zombie and Vampires in love

An eclectic mix with a Wingard/Barrett showcase as a special sidebar

It is the announcement of the midnight section of the SXSW festival that always gives me that final nudge to the ribs that finally signifies the end of Sundance and the start of the next phase of my year.  Today, SXSW Midnighters reveals its line-up, and the festival snaps into complete focus, and unsurprisingly, it's going to be a ton of fun in Austin from March 8th to the 16th.

I think the fact that the still they chose to send out today is for "Big Ass Spider," the new film by Mike Mendez, pretty much sums up the attitude of this particular midnight selection.  There is an irreverence that is part of their programming that always makes it a kick.  It is worth it to stay up late at SXSW.  You want to be there in that room when something like "Attack The Block" plays for the first time because you want to feel that energy from that crowd

Much of the SXSW line-up has already been announced, and you can see it at the festival's official site.  Meanwhile, taco-crazed Jarod Neece fired up the e-mails this morning to send out a missive in which he details what kind of lunacy awaits festivalgoers this year.  “Full of scares, sex, madness, laughs, chills and major mind f*cks, we hope there's a little something for everyone.”  What's really scary is that when you're talking to Neece, you can hear the asterisks in his swearing.  It's something else.

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<p>We are closer than ever to making my epic nine-part 22-hour 'The Legend Of Lobot' dream a reality.</p>

We are closer than ever to making my epic nine-part 22-hour 'The Legend Of Lobot' dream a reality.

Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm

Disney's Bob Iger confirms 'Star Wars' spinoff films coming from Kasdan and Kinberg

Why now is the best moment ever to be a 'Star Wars' fan

I'm not sure this is exactly breaking news so much as it's a confirmation of what they've been saying since the Disney deal was originally announced.

Yes… they are making stand-alone films in the "Star Wars" universe.  Yes, they will feature characters you already know.  Yes, Simon Kinberg and Lawrence Kasdan are working on them.  All of this has been reported already.

This is what we have to look forward to for the next few years.  We're going to end up breathlessly reporting the same few things over and over in an absence of new information, just because each and every mention of "Star Wars" is a bonanza of SEO magic.  And why not?  "Star Wars" fans are out there frantically searching for new information. We've probably run ten or twelve stories about the series since the Disney deal was announced, and I've got a podcast going up sometime today with a ton of "Star Wars" conversation at the center of it.

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<p>Henry Selick, seen here at the premiere of 'Coraline,' has rescued one of his passion projects from development hell at Disney.</p>

Henry Selick, seen here at the premiere of 'Coraline,' has rescued one of his passion projects from development hell at Disney.

Credit: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Henry Selick finds a partner to rescue 'The Shadow King' from Disney

Now they just need to find a partner to pay for it

Henry Selick is a ronin, a masterless samurai in a particularly difficult part of the filmmaking landscape, and any time he finds someone willing to pay for him to make one of his movies, I'm thrilled.

Being a career animator is not an easy life to choose, and I can't imagine anyone doing it for any reason other than a deep abiding love for the medium.  Selick has conjured up some real magic in the films he's made and he certainly does great work with the various collaborators who have been part of his movies so far.  Not every filmmaker can lay claim to one great movie, and I'd argue that Selick has made two so far.  "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is just gorgeous, as beautiful an example of stop motion animation as I've ever seen.  "Coraline" is an eerie, sublime accomplishment, both technically and creatively, and is easily the finest example yet of Neil Gaiman's work brought to life.

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<p>Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell had fun at this year's Golden Globes, and now it looks like she'll be joining him for more fun in 'Anchorman:&nbsp;The Legend Continues'</p>

Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell had fun at this year's Golden Globes, and now it looks like she'll be joining him for more fun in 'Anchorman: The Legend Continues'

Credit: AP Photo/NBC, Paul Drinkwater

Kristen Wiig joins 'Anchorman 2' in perfect fit as Brick's wife

The sequel to the comedy classic keeps adding more names to the party

I have a feeling you're going to see a lot of announcements about actors joining the cast of the upcoming sequel to "Anchorman," and when we see the final film, many of those people will end up playing one or two scenes at most.  It's going to be a positively ridiculous cast, and that's because the original film has become a huge favorite for pretty much anyone working in film comedy right now.  This is going to be a case where anyone Adam McKay wants, he's going to get.

Christina Applegate was the one who broke the news on Twitter, which is starting to become one of the most reliable sources of breaking casting information when people like Bryan Singer can't wait to share something.  In this case, I can imagine Appelgate's got to be happy to be adding some funny female energy to what is already a very large roster of very funny dudes.  Kristen Wiig will be onboard playing the wife of Brick Tamland, Steve Carrell's character from the first film.  Carrell is just one of the returning characters, of course.  Will Ferrell is back as Ron Burgundy, Paul Rudd will be Brian Fantana once more, David Koechner will return as Champ Kind, and Applegate is going to reprise her role as Veronica Corningstone.  Just typing the character names again makes me happy.  I was an early fan of the script, and I was thrilled when it was not only made, but when it turned out to be as consistently funny as it was.  It seemed like it was such a gamble for the first film to get made that it's sort of amazing to be writing news stories about a sequel now.

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<p>Tina Fey's newest film, 'Admission,' is about to open even as she celebrates the conclusion of '30 Rock' and looks ahead to future projects like 'The Nest'</p>

Tina Fey's newest film, 'Admission,' is about to open even as she celebrates the conclusion of '30 Rock' and looks ahead to future projects like 'The Nest'

Credit: Focus Features

Tina Fey may 'Nest' with the director of 'Pitch Perfect' for Universal

Paula Pell's script sounds like a perfect fit for Fey

Tina Fey is going to be a busy, busy woman now that "30 Rock" is finished.  I get this feeling like the entire industry has been waiting for her to conclude the series so they can all get busy making her stinking rich.  She is pretty much universally loved by the people making decisions in this industry, and she's as valuable behind the camera as in front of it.

I'm out the door in a few minutes to go see "Admission," and I'm curious to see how she is in it, although I think it's just one of what I'm sure will be many Tina Fey movies in the next few years as Hollywood tries to figure out what works best for her at the box office.  The pairing of her with Paul Rudd is almost like doing a movie on training wheels.  Of course they'll be charming and funny together, whether there's anything more to the movie or not.  Those two seem perfectly paired in terms of comic sensibility.

I like the idea of her starring in something written by Paula Pell, who was a producer on "This Is 40" and who served as one of Judd Apatow's on-set sounding boards for new material as they were working.  Pell has a very wry and active presence on Twitter these days, and she's known Fey since the "Saturday Night Live" days, so there's a comfort level there already.  Pell just set up her script for "The Nest" with Fey's company Little Stranger Inc. to produce at Universal, and Jason Moore, who directed "Pitch Perfect," is currently negotiating to make this as his next film.

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<p>I have nothing to add to this image that would make it any better than it already is.</p>

I have nothing to add to this image that would make it any better than it already is.

Credit: MGM/UA Home Entertainment

'Thunderbirds Are Go!' for ITV Studios and Weta Workshops

Who's the audience for this latest revival of the '60s cult oddity?

"In today's news, NOSTALGIC PROPERTY has been BOUGHT/GREENLIT/DEVELOPED by SOMEONE I GENERALLY LIKE and will now be made again."

I should keep that open in a document at all times on my laptop, because I write that story about 250 times a year these days.  Today, it is the Thunderbirds, a property that is familiar to 100% nobody under the age of 20, and Weta is the hook that's got everyone writing about it.  I am sure dozens of you could immediately comment under this story about the rich and interesting history of "Thunderbirds," and you can defend it both as commercial gamble and creative foundation.  I'm not saying otherwise.

I'm saying that at this point, planting a flag in another thing that occupies a certain percentage of pop culture real estate is par for the course.  I just recorded a podcast with Scott Swan where we talk about, among other things, yesterday's Super Bowl movie commercials, and he made a good point about "The Lone Ranger."  If this version doesn't work, it is safe to say that no one will ever make a "Lone Ranger" property again, because at this point, it's had so many chances to re-establish its place in pop culture, and the last feature film was a disaster, and this one is crazy expensive and had the biggest commercial pedigree possible and the most aggressive marketing team in the business selling it and it HAS to work.  So if it doesn't, I think it's scientifically safe to say it never will.

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<p>Will we see Hulk fighting for his life on an alien planet in Marvel's Phase Three?&nbsp; That's the rumor tonight.</p>

Will we see Hulk fighting for his life on an alien planet in Marvel's Phase Three?  That's the rumor tonight.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Sounds like Marvel plans to keep The Hulk busy for the next few years

Have we learned the role the Hulk will play in Phase Two and Phase Three?

There is a very short list of reporters online who consistently and correctly scoop information that is supposed to be secret.  I'm not talking about breaking a casting story because the studio sent you the press release ten minutes early, and I'm not talking about the shell game that gets played with information at the trades.  I'm talking about genuinely revealing something that someone else does not want revealed at all.  It is a skill set that very few outlets seem to value or cultivate.

Then you've got Latino Review and El Mayimbe, who evidently subsists entirely on a liquid diet of the tears from angry studio executives.  Mayimbe cracks me up because of how alpha male he gets about scoops.  When you're hunting down information on movies about dudes in spandex beating all hell out of other dudes in spandex, it seems to be a particularly funny time to get aggro about what it is you're doing.  And that's what makes Mayimbe great.

It also helps that he's got a pretty ridiculous track record.

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<p>Wolverine may have more to worry about than a single robot head in 'X-Men:&nbsp;Days Of Future Past'</p>

Wolverine may have more to worry about than a single robot head in 'X-Men: Days Of Future Past'

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Mark Millar discusses Sentinels, Kitty Pryde, and 'Days Of Future Past'

Sounds like they're making some great choices for the new film

Mark Millar has obviously discovered the trick to cloning human beings, and he's used himself as a test subject.  Sure, I can't prove that, but it's really the only possible explanation for his omnipresence right now.

He's got new comic titles dropping constantly, he edits CLiNT magazine, he curates the annual Kapow! event, and now he's also employed by 20th Century Fox, who brought him in to help create a cohesive world for their Marvel properties.  That last job is the one I'm most curious about, because Millar is, by his very nature, a deconstructionist.  Much of his work has been about pulling these icons apart and reassembling them in new ways.

As Fox gets ready to make "X-Men: Days Of Future Past," it feels like this is a make or break moment for their franchise.  I like most of the movies that have been made about the X-Men so far, but I think they're in a weird position right now.  Matthew Vaughn's "X-Men: First Class" essentially rebooted the film universe, and in doing so, made several choices that ignored the continuity of the Singer films and Ratner's "Last Stand," while also doing a few things that tied directly into the Singer films.

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<p>If you're waiting for a phone call that will make you famous, you'll answer the phone anywhere, anytime.</p>

If you're waiting for a phone call that will make you famous, you'll answer the phone anywhere, anytime.

Credit: Oscilloscope Pictures

Check out the classically stylized poster for Matteo Garrone's lacerating satire 'Reality'

A Cannes favorite from 2012 finally arrives in U.S. theaters

If you've never seen Matteo Garrone's film, "Gommorah," you really should.

It's a Mafia movie, but not the way we've come to think of them over the years.  Garrone made a film that captured a very organic, very lived-in ecosystem that is run by thugs and punks.  "Gomorrah" plays like a refutation of every single movie every made that's made the criminals look good.  The closest comparison I can make is "City Of God," the film that opened my eyes to how the favelas work and how society has reconfigured itself, leaving this lawless space to its own devices.  The unobtrusive documentary-styled style he employed only added to the feeling of authenticity.

That was 2008, and since then Garrone's been radio silent.  I saw his new film "Reality" at the Cannes Film Festival last year, and I liked it quite a bit.  I called it the story of Job as told in the age of reality TV.  His star, Aniello Arena, gives a remarkable performance as Luciano, an Italian guy whose dreams of appearing on Italy's "Big Brother" seem to vanishing a little more every day, and it's killing him.  He's the family member who is always clowning around, cracking jokes, making his daughter laugh on her wedding day, He's a good and decent man with a small but respectable fish market, and he supplements that income with tiny scams on the side.  He is a happy man, but all those jokes he cracks hide an ambition that eventually becomes fixated on this stupid TV show.

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<p>Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin all know better.</p>

Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin all know better.

Credit: Lionsgate

Review: Pacino and Walken are helpless against the inertia of 'Stand Up Guys'

When even Alan Arkin can't make the material work, there is a problem

Boy, I'm tired of "Tax Shelter Theater."

I know the landscape has changed in the last decade for independent financing, and I know it continues to change.  It is a scary time to be making movies, if only because so many things seem to be evolving as we speak, and one of the things that feels most like a holdover from the '80s and '90s is this certain kind of low-budget picture that exists as part of a deal with a distributor, a pipeline of garbage that somehow lands big-name actors while rarely, if ever, cranking out anything worth watching.  There are certain producers who show up on movies and as soon as I see their name, I automatically assume I'm about to see an indifferent piece of junk, and certain company names that set off the same warning bells.  What gets me most about these movies is that they don't have to be so bad.  It's financing that exists simply to service a deal, so why couldn't that money be used to attach those same big names to genuinely worthwhile and adventurous fare?  You can't tell me that a movie as generic and paint-by-numbers as "Stand Up Guys" is the best that can be done with these resources.  You just can't.

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