I am disappointed.
I really enjoyed the recording I did with Scott Swan for the new podcast. It has been, as it seems to be between all of them, a little while since we last recorded, and I had a lot of fun this time. Felt good. I also have some great other things lined up as part of the podcast, three full interviews that I think all are worth your time.
So when I went to put it all together, I was shocked to hear something wrong with the audio. There's a strange sound, and I have no idea what caused it or where it happened in the process. I have tried everything I could to clean it up, following advice from audio nerd friends, but everything I tried seemed to make it worse.
In the end, I decided to cut it together and put it out even though it has the issue. There's too much about it that worked for me to just shelve it, and it took me a week to get through all of my efforts at fixing it. As a result, this was supposed to run last Thursday, just before the opening of "After Earth," and we do spend some time talking about what felt like a pile-on waiting to happen. If you followed the film's release over at Rotten Tomatoes, you know that's exactly what happened. Look at the quotes on that page: it's a contest to see who can shred Shyamalan and the Smith family the hardest. It's rough. We talked here about the way some directors end up getting their turn in the barrel and the way audiences and critics walk into films.
I am disappointed.
If you feel like cinema peaked with Ron Howard's "Gung Ho," then "The Internship" may be the film of the year for you.
Personally, I'm baffled by the whole thing. Does Google have actual money in the film? Did they co-produce it in some way? Because if not, I'd love to know why a major studio produced a feature-length infomercial for a tech company. Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn are in it, sure, but this is "Larry Crowne" with corporate sponsorship. This is the sort of thing you show all the interns on the first day of the program to get them all revved up. What it's not is a film I would recommend to anyone, or a comedy that I would call funny in any way.
I was worn out by the end of the film simply from the full-body cringe of embarrassment that is "The Internship." If this is what Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn were waiting on as a follow-up to "The Wedding Crashers," that is tragic. This is the best piece of material the two of them have read since that film came out? This was the winner out of all the possible combinations of those two guys that you could have possibly come up with? I find that hard to believe, yet somehow, this is the film they ended up making together.
There are certain people who I am very relaxed about interviewing at this point because of how many times we've spoken and the circumstances, and I think chief among them at this point would be Seth Rogen.
I've always found Seth to be exactly what you think he would be if you've watched his movies. He's smart, he's funny, he's approachable, and he's got a self-effacing sense of humor that indicates to me that he hasn't changed one bit since I first saw him in "Freaks and Geeks." At least not in the ways that matter.
Sure, he's more mature. Sure, he's the one calling the shots on his new film, "This Is The End," which he wrote and directed with his partner, Evan Goldberg. Sure, he's married now and seems like a really happy man. But there's nothing about him that seems more guarded or more cynical. If anything, I respect him because of how frank he's always been and how he hasn't let his fame take that away from him.
He's also just plain fun to talk to. Always.
Ethan Hawke was born the same year as me, just a few months later, so one of the ways I've used the "Before" series as milestones in my own life is watching the way he and Julie Delpy have changed over the years.
I still feel like the same person I was in 1995 when the first one came out. I was 25 years old and I was going through the first flush of success with some of my work being produced for live theater here in LA. My writing partner and I were working with some great people, and I was in a long-term relationship with someone, and Ethan Hawke was very much a surrogate for the experience I was having. When I saw that film, I was young enough to still believe in the grand sweep of romance, and old enough to have some life experience under my belt already. I felt like I had the answers. I had things all figured out. I was on my way. And that's the attitude of that first film, almost exactly.
Amy Adams had just as hard a job on "Man Of Steel" as Henry Cavill did. Both of them were stepping into iconic roles, although I would argue that Superman has been written better as a character in the films so far than Lois Lane has.
The biggest problem I've always had with Lois goes to the very heart of the character. She is supposed to be a great reporter, smart and capable and constantly breaking stories. If that's the case, how does she manage to work next to someone every day and not recognize him when he takes his glasses off? That bothered me as a little kid, and over time, I've come to just accept it as part of the price of buying into Superman stories.
One thing that I didn't expect when I sat down to see "Man Of Steel" was that they would finally give me a Lois Lane who addresses all of my issues, making her into a character I can finally respect. Her Lois is smart and capable and unafraid to get herself mixed up in trouble in pursuit of a story.
It's a big ol' Ethan Hawke day here at HitFix, and when you consider the distance between "The Purge" and "Before Midnight," it's hard to believe the two films have anything in common.
One thing that has always intrigued me about Hawke is the way he dodged some of the most apparent traps inherent to being an actor. If we haven't seen him in a superhero movie yet, chances are we never will. He doesn't seem to spend his time hunting down franchise roles, and even the big films he's done feel like choices he made because he was genuinely drawn to something. There are very few films on his filmography that don't make sense as choices, even if the films didn't quite live up to their promise every single time.
When I sat down to talk to Ethan Hawke and Jason Blum during the press day for "The Purge," I thought their professional relationship might have started with last year's creepy "Sinister." Instead, though, we ended up talking about how they've actually had a professional and personal relationship stretching back 20 years. I was genuinely surprised to learn they had opened a theater company together.
James Wan is having a big year.
Right now, he's gearing up for "Fast & Furious 7," whatever they end up calling it, which is the biggest film he's ever made if we're just talking about budget and scale. Before we see that film, though, two films that he's already finished will be released.
The first is this summer's "The Conjuring," which is a tremendous piece of entertainment, smart and sleek and scary as hell. That one's based on the true story of Ed and Lorraine Warren, who made their reputation as paranormal investigators. Patrick Wilson stars in that one as Ed Warren, and it's starting to look like Wilson and Wan are building a great relationship as actor and director, since "The Conjuring" will be followed up this year by the September release of "Insidious Chapter 2," hitting theaters on the appropriate date of Friday the 13th.
One of the reasons I fell in love with horror films early in my development as a film fan was because I realized that you could tell any story and grapple with any topic, and you could do it by dealing in metaphor. The horror films that I think cut the deepest are the ones that have something real to say about who we are and what marks us, and just because they feature corpses or werewolves or creatures from space, it doesn't mean they are any less emotionally or intellectually valid than any other form of film. They just smuggle their meaning a little more.
The flip side of that is when you see a horror film that thinks it's doing something profound while completely and utterly missing the mark, and "The Purge" is a fantastic example of that. Written and directed by James DeMonaco, the film starts with a pretty hefty premise for audiences to swallow. Set in the near future, the US government has decided to pick a single day of the year where they suspend all emergency services for 12 hours, and everything is legal. That includes murder, although there are a few rules. Nothing above a certain category of weapon types (so I'm assuming no nukes) and there are several Federal employees including The President who are off-limits. Otherwise? Feel free.
I hope audiences take to Aubrey Plaza as a lead in films, because I think she is fascinating.
Her particular brand of emotional reserve is a very specific comic voice, and not one that we see all the time. She's strikingly pretty, but that's not what makes her so compulsively watchable. I think it's the fact that you can see this constant barrage of thoughts just behind her eyes, this constant sizing up of the people around her, that makes her such a quiet gem on "Parks and Recreation." One of the reasons "Safety Not Guaranteed" worked was because of the value of her oh-so-rarely-seen smile and the effective deployment of it at key moments.
Now she's working with writer/director Maggie Carey, who also has her own specific comic voice, and when I visited the set of the movie, they were still trying to pin down a new title instead of what it was when it was set up originally, "The Hand Job." Looking at the new red-band trailer that showed up online today, "The To-Do List" makes perfect sense as a replacement, and it's not like people are in any danger of missing the point.
If you're an "Arrested Development" fan, you probably pride yourself on being able to pick up all the levels of the various jokes that are piled on with an almost breathtaking density, but even the nerdiest of fans probably missed one of the weirdest inside beats this season. There are a number of jokes in the new series built around that weird early-'90s tax shelter production of "Fantastic Four" that was supposed to lock down the rights for Roger Corman, and on their own, those jokes are a bunch of fun.
But if you pay close attention, you'll spot Josh Trank and Jeremy Slater in the episodes, and that's a joke that won't fully pay off until Fox releases their in-development reboot of "Fantastic Four," which Josh Trank is set to direct, and which Jeremy Slater worked on as a writer. The notion of layering in a gag that won't even fully make sense for a few years is one of the many reasons I love "Arrested Development."