Karl Urban and Simon Pegg are both valuable parts of the chemistry that drives the new "Star Trek" series.
Pegg was someone I already knew I liked enormously before "Star Trek" arrived, and it's interesting to see how JJ Abrams has turned Pegg into comic relief in two different franchises. The Scotty from these movies is a very different person than the Scotty we saw Doohan play for all those years. I have trouble imagining Doohan sprinting around a hangar trying to figure out how to open a door or getting sucked through a water pipe system. Pegg, though, is down for pretty much anything they throw at him, and he works his ass off to entertain in the new film.
Urban, on the other hand, is a guy who hadn't really come into focus for me until "Star Trek." I didn't dislike him or his work, but he didn't make the strongest impression as an actor, and I had trouble figuring out if he had much of a personality. Whoever first thought to have him read for Bones deserves a bonus, though, because he is perfect in the role. So far, I'd argue he's the greatest underutilized asset that the series has, and if they continue with more movies, I pray they give Urban more to do. He deserves it.
Karl Urban and Simon Pegg are both valuable parts of the chemistry that drives the new "Star Trek" series.
Over the weekend, I drove to Las Vegas so I could sit down with the cast and crew of "The Hangover Part III" and talk to them about the film.
At this point, the actors seem relaxed because they've finished. Whatever happens with this last film, their work is done now. Whatever people end up thinking about the new film, they've taken their shot and wrapped up one of the unlikeliest franchises in modern memory.
I spoke to director Todd Phillips, lunatic co-star Ken Jeong, the members of the Wolfpack, and, in the final room, Justin Bartha and Heather Graham. My first observation is that Graham is a vampire. It's the only explanation for how she looks exactly the same now as she did 20 years ago. It's spooky.
These days, a number of my interviews are done by phone because I am juggling some complicated scheduling around the lives of my kids. It's just a fact of parenthood… you make space for all of their stuff because you have to. You do it no matter how hard it is, because it means something to them and you only get one shot at that.
At least, that's how I feel right now. I know people who have made that sort of effort and still managed to fumble things, and no matter how hard we want everything to work out for our lives and the lives of our kids, that's not always the case and we know that. And sometimes, the stories we tell ourselves or that we tell our kids are used to help paper over some sort of hurt, and we justify it by saying we're trying to avoid hurting them any more than is necessary.
What happens when you get away with a story for so long that you forget you told it, until someone else starts peeling away at the edges of it? What happens when you discover that something you've accepted as part of your daily life, one of the fundamental truths of your world, is simply not true?
All of this is dealt with in Sarah Polley's remarkable new film "Stories We Tell," which I gave a fairly breathless review earlier this year. The film is available now for you in a number of different ways, and I want to urge you to give it a try. It is as exciting in its own way as any of the summer blockbusters, and smarter than all of them rolled up into one.
I thought "Waltz With Bashir" was a gorgeous film. I didn't think it always hit the same heights dramatically that it did visually, but it was an intriguing way to give a fresh look to what is essentially a talking heads documentary.
Since then, I've been curious to see how filmmaker Ari Folman would follow up that picture. He decided to start with a Stanislaw Lem science-fiction novel, then adapt it loosely and use it to explore the notion of whether or not our essence is something that can be captured by a computer, much less recreated.
For years now, I've heard people in Los Angeles talking about the idea of scanning movie stars into computers, head to toe, as a way of allowing them to freeze themselves at a particular moment in time, using their digital model to appear in films while their physical form continues to age. We're not at that point yet, but it's something that people have been actively considering for a while, and the conversation raises any number of points about technology, ethics, performance, and what it is we respond to when we watch someone.
Jessica Walter is all sorts of awesome.
First, she is part of one of my favorite animated shows, and not just of recent vintage, either. I think "Archer" belongs in the pantheon of animated comedy. That show is funny on so many simultaneous levels that it makes me dizzy. I love it as a spy comedy, as a comedy about a stunted manchild and his relationship with his mother, and as a non-stop barrage of some of the dirtiest things that have ever made me laugh.
Second, she's the mother of the Bluth family, and that alone would secure her place in the all-time hall of fame. Her work as Lucille was a major part of what made the show special. Watching her manipulate her children and grapple with the ethical vacuum that is her husband and somehow never spill a drop of any of her martinis… well, that's talent.
Beyond that, I wonder how many younger fans of her work in those shows are familiar with the role that first made her an icon to me, Clint Eastwood's "Play Misty For Me." She is outstanding in that film as a woman who is completely obsessed with a radio disc jockey played by Eastwood. It was his first film as a director, and it's still one of the best roles he's ever given an actress in his work.
At this point, it's just funny that I've never done a formal sit-down interview with JJ Abrams.
After all, we've been colliding now for years. For a while, I made an accidental habit out of busting his biggest secrets wide opens months before they were supposed to be revealed, and in the case of his Superman script, before film had even rolled.
It was during the production of the first "Star Trek" that we called a truce, and since then, our e-mail correspondence has been somewhat cordial. Abrams is still playing the game, though, as should be perfectly clear to anyone who goes back to read this article after they see "Star Trek Into Darkness."
I don't blame him at all. That's what the modern world of film marketing is all about. These days, there is an illusion of transparency as the studios have created a system that brings journalists to almost every set and where the entire process is being written about, from development to release. There's still a ton of control being exerted over every part of that presentation, though, and in the case of the films that Abrams has been making, he has gone above and beyond in his quest to keep certain elements of his films secret until they are released.
I'm really sorry I couldn't get away to be the one in London interviewing the cast and crew of "Star Trek Into Darkness" for HitFix, but if we had to send someone else, I'm glad we sent Guy Lodge.
I got to spend some time with Guy earlier this year at Sundance, and one of the many reasons I'm proud to be a part of Team HitFix is because we've got Guy writing film reviews for us. Guy is a very smart, very English critic, and having his voice in the mix with mine and with Greg's and with Kris Tapley's is part of what makes our site what it is. Guy will be handling a lot of our Cannes reviews this year (I won't be making the trip, unfortunately) and Greg Ellwood will also be there.
Guy sat down with, among others, the one-two punch of the day, Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine. I look at these guys and it seems to me like someone grew them in a lab, specifically to be the stars of "Star Trek."
That is how you cut a teaser trailer.
I would be perfectly happy if I didn't see another frame of footage from Alfonso Cuaron's upcoming film "Gravity" until it opened in October. Until today, we've managed to go without seeing any moving images, and I already knew I was desperate to see the film.
Now, though, after that trailer? Holy cow. "Gravity" tells the story of two astronauts, played by George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, who are in the middle of a space walk when their craft is hit by debris and Bullock becomes separated from the ship.
There is no more humbling concept to me than being adrift in space, alone and without any protection beyond the space suit you're wearing. If you want to feel very small, just looking up into space will do that, but to actually be lost in it, not sure if you're ever going to see another person again… I would imagine there's no easy way to express the horror that would set in.
One of the keenest pleasures of "X-Men: First Class" was seeing how Matthew Vaughn treated the styles of the '60s while also making a heightened-reality X-Men movie. I thought they walked the line very carefully, and the costume design work by the great Sammy Sheldon was immaculate and often very cheeky.
Bryan Singer has been tweeting all sorts of things from the set of "X-Men: Days Of Future Past" so far, and they're still just gearing up. I'm glad to see they didn't just jump right to shaving James McAvoy's head and that, if anything, Xavier's looking a little shaggier this time.
I'm curious to see how this one works. I still don't know if it's more of a sequel to "First Class" with cameos from the other timeline, or if it's a return to the Singerverse with cameos from the "First Class" team. Either way, it's such an interesting collision of actors that it's going to be thrilling to see it play out.
Our own Alan Sepinwall has spoken very highly of "The Two Escobars" by Michael and Jeff Zimbalist. You can see that film on Netflix Instant right now as part of ESPN's "30 By 30" series, and I highly recommend you do so. Alan was right about how good it was, and it's one of the few documentaries from this series that I've seen more than once. It's that dense and rewarding a piece.
Here's the first thing you need to know about Michael and Jeff Zimbalist as filmmakers. They get soccer. Football. Whatever you know it as, they understand the drama of the game, and they understand the world's relationship to it. More than that, they understand the drama of the life story of a person, and that's a hard thing to do right.
There are any number of biopics that are technically proficient, well-acted, well-cast, and utterly stiff. To tell a story using the highlights of a real person's life is very difficult, much more difficult than it seems. You can't just make it a greatest hits montage. It takes a deft touch to turn that into something really affecting, and the remarkable part of "The Two Escobars" is seeing just how good they are at all of it. They tell a hell of a story, they make it human and emotional, and they dig deep to try to show how soccer affects these countries.