I don't think it's a secret that I'm a fan of the Alamo Drafthouse.
I've been a fan since I first set foot inside the original Colorado Street location in Austin, TX, back in 1998, and that love has continued unabated since then. Even as the company has changed dramatically and the locations shifted, then started adding new locations, I've been a fan. What makes the Alamo Drafthouse special is more than just their programming or their menu or their attitude towards people who disrupt the movies. It has always been a collective of people and energy, and now that they're also involved in distribution and production, that means something different than it did originally.
When I was last in Austin for SXSW, I spent an afternoon outside the Alamo Slaughter Lane location, one of the newest in Austin, and I spoke with Tim League, Evan Husney, and James Shapiro about the past, the present, and the future of the brand, and what it means to run a curated home video and theatrical distribution company. It's a pretty loose and relaxed conversation, and one I'm pleased to finally let you listen to.
I don't think it's a secret that I'm a fan of the Alamo Drafthouse.
I would not have guessed that there was a hole in my life shaped exactly like a documentary about the Stone Roses directed by Shane Meadows, but there totally was, and now I know it.
First of all, I love Shane Meadows movies. I just plain like the way he thinks. I like his characters, i think he's got a great subtle eye, and I think he's made some great, largely underseen films that deserve discovery by a larger audience.
Second of all, I love the Stone Roses. I remember when that album first came out. It felt like there was a real moment happening in music, and I loved a lot of what I was listening to, and even amidst a bunch of other great things going on, The Stone Roses stood out. It's one of those albums that has stayed in permanent rotation ever since, and every time I listen it, I get a sort of full-sensory time travel back to the first few times I heard it and the summer it was omnipresent in our house and great times that were scored by the album, and it's all tied up together in a flood of emotion and experience for me.
NEW ORLEANS - It seems appropriate that when we see Jay Baruchel on the set of "This Is The End" for the first time, he's sitting off to the side of everything, by himself, reading one of Brian Lumley's "Necroscope" books.
After all, one of the key dynamics in this film is between Seth Rogen and Jay, their old friendship a point of contention now that Rogen has become a huge movie star. Jay still lives in Canada, and he only comes to LA occasionally when he has to do it for work. On one of those trips, he hooks up with Seth for the first time in a while. It's immediately awkward, and it only gets worse when Seth talks Jay into going to a big-ass Hollywood party at James Franco's house. Everything Jay dislikes about Los Angeles and Seth's new life is crystallized in one awful evening, and when the world ends outside and people start dying, it seems like a natural escalation considering what's already happened between them.
When people talk about "summer movies," it's hard to pin down exactly what that means these days. Does summer belong completely to big loud noisy blockbusters? Or is there room for movies that are smaller, more emotionally intimate? Do adults check out completely from May to August? And are all blockbusters built equally?
We've decided that we want to rev up to this summer's movie season with a countdown. The entire HitFix movie staff voted, and anything being released this summer was eligible. The results surprised even us, but they also excited us because one thing was immediately clear…
This is going to be a very cool summer.
Last week, we covered "The Lone Ranger," the newly-retitled "Fruitvale Station," "World War Z," The Kings of Summer," and "Fast and Furious 6." And in the HitFix countdown, big and small films carry equal weight. We're of the opinion that no great film is ever really "small," and that part of what you trust us to do is tell you about all of your options. If it's got us interested, then we have to assume that you'll also be interested, and if you haven't heard about it already, then our job is to make sure you do.
It must be an exceptionally easy casting decision to hire Olga Kurylenko to play an object of desire.
Which is not to say she is an object in any way, of course. In fact, Kurylenko seems to be constantly pushing me as a critic to redefine how I view her as an actor. Seeing her in "Quantum Of Solace" or "Hitman," she certainly seems like a lovely woman, but those roles don't challenge her, and they don't demonstrate any range at all. The first time I really paid attention to the choices she was making was in Neil Marshall's "Centurion," where she played the mute assassin Etain. It was a damn-near feral performance, and all of a sudden, it was clear that she's much more than just a stunning face.
The one-two punch of "To The Wonder" and "Oblivion" should start to make that abundantly clear to the observant. I was not in love with "To The Wonder," but a lot of what Kurylenko does in it is impressive and emotionally honest and even more impressive because it is largely non-verbal.
It's amazing that we are almost 30 years out from the release of "Ghostbusters," and we're still feeling the ripples from its detonation in the heart of mainstream culture even now.
Frankly, I'm amazed that we haven't seen more films cut from that same basic template. They are expensive, sure, and they're not easy to get right, but it's such a tempting formula. I honestly thought "Men In Black" had crapped out, but the third film wrung some surprising joys out of it. Even so, it seems like that particular franchise is so expensive at this point that Sony can't really afford to do more of them.
Enter "R.I.P.D.", ready and willing to take its place, and based on this first trailer, it seems like a very confident, slick riff on the basic ideas. Ryan Reynolds is the SWAT officer who is killed in the line of duty and immediately recruited into the Rest In Peace Department, the law enforcement of the afterlife, made up of the greatest dead lawmen from throughout history, all working to keep unruly spirits in line.
Yep. That's a Gore Verbinski movie.
In the first weekly installation of our countdown to summer (you can see that here), I picked "The Lone Ranger" to write about because I just plain like the way Verbinski does what he does. I think sometimes it's that easy when it comes to this type of huge-canvass filmmaking. I've certainly had directors whose work did nothing for me who I've realized early on don't share any particular aesthetic common ground with me. And I've also seen plenty of filmmakers who prove early on that whatever secret version of film language they're speaking, it affects me, and I'm onboard, whatever the story or subject.
Verbinski shoots action I enjoy watching. I still think his most inspired moments came in "Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," but there are things he does in the third "Pirates" and in "Rango" that are just preposterous, fun and frantic and impeccably staged. He is able to put all these things in motion and then catch them in the perfect way, and it's a gift that should not be discounted. Not everyone's capable of it, no matter what budget or support you give them.
Alan Horn, the new Chairman of Walt Disney Pictures, took the stage at CinemaCon in Las Vegas today to announce an incredibly aggressive timetable for the "Star Wars" franchise. If they manage to pull it off, it will be almost unparalleled for this sort of big-ticket filmmaking.
According to Horn, we will indeed see the JJ Abrams "Star Wars Episode VII" in the summer of 2015, just in time for Disney to completely dominate that summer since they're also releasing "The Avengers 2" that year. In the following years, we will see one new "Star Wars" film every year, every summer, alternating between the stand-alone films that Disney has mentioned previously and the official episodes in the main franchise.
We'll have more analysis on this later this afternoon, but for now, this has got to be one of the most unrelenting schedules I've ever seen, and it all but guarantees that there will always be a "Star Wars" film shooting somewhere.
What a crazy, crazy world.
Joseph Kosinski's first film, "TRON Legacy," is a triumph of design that left me completely cold as a movie. It is also one of those films that I found more irritating with each revisit. I saw it once for review and so I could do the interviews about the movie. I saw it once as part of Butt-Numb-A-Thon. I saw it once with my kids when it came out on Blu-ray since they were out of the country when it was released in theaters. So three times, and each time, I found it more hollow as a movie even as I was amazed at the world it created.
On a movie like that, though, you've got a lot of corporate interests being serviced and protected, and you've got a lot of people voicing opinions, and no matter if the screenwriters you throw at it are good or bad, there are choices that will be part of the mix that are maddening. It's not really fair to blame the director for everything that's wrong with a movie when it's a big franchise monstrosity. In Kosinski's case, I liked enough of what he did on "TRON Legacy" to walk into "Oblivion" hoping for some big improvements. After all, this is based on an original idea by him, it's not a franchise film, and he had guys like Michael Arndt and William Monahan working on the script, so maybe this would be something more personal.
There he is.
Okay, Warner Bros, well-played. Right now, they're doing a full slate reveal at CinemaCon, complete with presentations on films like "Pacific Rim," "The Hangover Part III," and, of course, "Man Of Steel."
I wrote recently about how much reserve they were showing in the trailers thus far, and I wondered when they were going to finally start showing off the massive action in the film. It appears that the answer to that question is "Right now," and based on this trailer, I think it's safe to say Zack Snyder is going to turn out to be a positively inspired choice for director.
This doesn't look like every other superhero film. It doesn't really look like any other Superman film. Instead, it appears they've taken the recognizable story and design elements and they've used them to make something that is both new and yet instantly recognizable.