It's no secret that Guillermo Del Toro is one of my favorite people in the film industry today.
There are very few filmmakers who adore genre with the same enthusiasm as Del Toro who can also wrestle the images from their heads directly onto the screen. No matter how outrageous or surreal an idea he has, he is great at turning those ideas into actual physical things. Part of that is because he's a gifted artist in his own right, but it's also because he knows how to mobilize the amazing art departments that he puts together for each of his films.
There are talented filmmakers who I don't feel strongly about on a personal level, but Guillermo is as decent as he is gifted, and when you see how many people work with him over and over, that's because he really does create an atmosphere of family on the films he makes.
It's no secret that Guillermo Del Toro is one of my favorite people in the film industry today.
When I was twenty-six years old, I was a WGAw member already with a few produced plays, but I feel like I was still very young in many, many ways. Frankly, I'm amazed anyone took me seriously at that age, because I know for a fact I didn't carry myself with the same poise that Armie Hammer does.
I think he was exactly the right choice for Disney to cast as The Lone Ranger, and I think if they'd done something more traditional with the character, he could have absolutely crushed it. If there's anyone who seems stranded by the script, it's him. Obvious attention was paid to making sure that Tonto is given every bit of quirk and character that Johnny Depp requested, but Hammer is often left high and dry by the strange tonal shifts of the film and the completely inconsistent internal logic of his actions.
One of the weirdest little subcategories of things I like is when an actor shows up in two different movies in a film series playing totally different characters for no particular reason.
Weird, right? But now you can add Kristen Wiig to the list of people who have done that, since she played a very small role in "Despicable Me" as a character named "Miss Hattie," and now in "Despicable Me 2," she is front and center as the so-happy-to-be-a-spy-she-is-giddy new character, Lucy. She is also Gru's unlikely love interest in the film, and the two of them have a loose, easy connection that makes their material a lot of fun.
I am equally entertained by the notion that Wiig and Carrell are going to be paired again in "Anchorman: The Legend Continues," and it looks like Brick has met his match, which should be hilarious. The trailer that was only released to theaters has a little bit more footage, and that's where you get a good look at Wiig and Carrell together, both of them dim bulbs in a big way.
I like Gore Verbinski quite a bit.
I liked his early films like "Mousehunt" and "The Ring," but when he made "Pirates Of The Caribbean," it was like a whole new filmmaker suddenly emerged. Suddenly he was revealed as an amazing action director, a guy who could stage an elaborate sequence on several different fronts, juggling everything with a visual clarity and a sense of geography that is staggering.
As action cinema in the last decade has devolved into a flailing incoherence where shaking the camera to obscure what's happening has replaced creating great action, Verbinski has become an increasingly rare bird. He has also established himself as a very canny gamer of the ratings system. You look at his version of "The Ring" or his "Pirates" films or "The Lone Ranger," and you can see just how much he's managed to sneak by under the guise of a PG-13.
At some point, when you interview someone enough times, it starts to feel like you're just checking in, like it's an ongoing conversation that you just return to a few times every year.
I met Steve Carrell the first time on the set of "Anchorman." I visited on the day they shot the big rumble between all of the various news teams, and Carrell was having a great time that day pushing the weirdness of the scene. It was such a playful set, and he was certainly in the spirit of things.
Then I spent a long day with him on "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," and I really got a glimpse of the Steve Carrell that has become a movie star due in large part to that breakthrough performance. He seemed to me like a guy who was very serious about his craft but who wasn't really playing the big-picture career game at that point. When I saw him on the "Get Smart" set, it was starting to feel more like someone had decided that the Steve Carrell brand was a very big brand, and there was more attention and energy focused on every choice. Carrell was still the same guy, but the energy around him was undeniably different.
I got challenged by a few of you for something I wrote in my review of "The Internship," and, in hindsight, you are correct about the way I said something.
I mentioned that I feel like Hollywood failed Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, and a number of you pointed out that Vaughn has a co-screenplay credit on "The Internship," which hardly makes him a victim of the system. Owen Wilson has also had
The truth is that Vaughn and Wilson are guys who are still working, even if I think they've been put in certain boxes that are short-sighted in terms of what they are hired to do, and they seem to have made an uneasy peace with what's expected of them. I think there are guys who take to life in the box very easily, and they do it very well, and I think they enjoy what they do. And nobody should be faulted for it. I don't have to enjoy the films, but someone's paying to see them.
If we want to talk about people who Hollywood failed completely, we should look at the case of Richard Pryor. This guy should have been working with great filmmakers from the start. When you talk to people about Pryor, you have to sort of establish up front which Richard Pryor you are talking about. If you judge him by the filmography he left behind, then it's a really unpleasant story. There are some bright spots, and I think Pryor did some very good work at a number of points… but it's really a story of wasted potential.
The original "Despicable Me" is still probably the best overall film that Illumination Entertainment has produced, but they're a young company. I think they tried valiantly with "The Lorax," but they had to add so much busywork to the lean and lovely Dr. Seuss story that it just felt padded. Their live-action/animated hybrid "Hop" is a little too willfully cute for my tastes, but it has more in common with the "Despicable" films, and the ways they're similar sort of define how I think about the company.
Pixar has the best story department in animation, even today, but what Illumination brings to the table is a non-stop joke machine sensibility, and that's what makes their films enjoyable. Even if they don't quite land some thematic point or connect the dots on an emotional arc, the jokes just keep coming, one after another, and way more of them work than don't. "Despicable Me 2" is a less emotionally resonant experience than the first film, but it is positively packed with laughs. There is a sweetness to the movie that works well enough to ground it in something identifiably human, and to be honest, I don't really need "Despicable Me 2" to be as emotionally devastating an experience as something like "The Spectacular Now." The laughs seem way more important to me, and I can't fault the film in that department.
BUCKINGHAMSHIRE - For the first half of my stay on set, I catch glimpses of Jeff Wadlow, but from a distance only. The soundstage I'm on is taken up largely with a rooftop set, and it's on the rooftop that Wadlow is busy staging and shooting the intense final fight between Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and The Motherfucker (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), something that's been brewing for two full films now.
It's not until lunch that I got the chance to really sit down and talk with Wadlow, and while he and I were unfamiliar with each other, he seemed immediately ready to discuss anything. I talked to him first about how many familiar faces I saw in every department, and how most of them had a fairly strong sense of what a "Kick-Ass" film should be since they were there for the first one. From Wadlow's script, I got the sense that he had an equally strong idea about what a "Kick-Ass" movie should be, and I asked him how he'd found the process of working with this full company as the newcomer.
"It's been great," he began. "I mean, I've been very lucky in that once they read the script they were in. And I think as you said, that was everything. When there's talk of the sequel happening without Matthew directing… I heard from my agent, you know, that nothing was a done deal, and he didn't have options on the cast, which was not typical. Normally you have options so it's not really that much of an issue."
It was about 113 degrees outside in Santa Fe when i sat down to talk to Johnny Depp about his role as Tonto in Gore Verbinski's 'The Lone Ranger,' which opens tomorrow.
I didn't realize how much altitude is also an issue in Santa Fe, and I found myself drinking about a full bottle of water between each interview and still drying out in the middle. I'm not sure how Depp managed to sit there all day and still look like… well, like Johnny Depp. Considering he just turned 50, I'm pretty sure he had the real Fountain Of Youth built into his contract for "Pirates Of The Caribbean 4" as a rider. As always, he seemed soft-spoken and incredibly serious about his work, a good interview because you know that he's really thinking about his answers.
I love "Rango." I think it is so jam-packed with Verbinski's obvious fondness for Westerns that it feels almost giddy, and Rango is a great character for Depp to give voice. There's something perfect about his weird exaggerated appearance and Depp's dry Joe Friday-like delivery that makes me laugh right away. When that film came out, we spoke to Depp about it, and I even asked him at the end of that interview about when we might be able to expect Jim Jarmusch's "Dead Man" on Blu-ray.
My exposure to the work of Miranda Cosgrove is very, very limited.
For example, I could tell you that I think she does lovely work in "Despicable Me 2" as Margo, the oldest of the girls that were adopted by Gru at the end of the first film. She is at that age where she's starting to notice boys, and they're starting to notice her, and while I'm sure every teen (and every father of every teen girl) has trouble during this period of transition, not all of them have a former evil genius for a father.
Watching Gru's frustration as he sees Margo make those first fumbling steps towards adulthood is very funny, but I have to admit… I can only laugh because I have sons. I think I would be a total catastrophe as a dad if I had two girls. Overprotective hardly even begins to describe how I'd handle things. Yesterday, someone ran a photo of Eminem's daughter on Twitter, who was so much a presence in his lyrics when she was basically a baby. She's a pretty teenage girl now, and I can't imagine being the poor teenage kid who goes to pick her up for a date and then has to face Eminem before he can leave the house again. I would have absolutely no problem being a menace if some kid showed up to take my daughter on a date, and "Despicable Me 2" gets a lot of comic mileage out of showing how Gru handles it.