As fans of his work, we look at the filmmaker's return and what it means
The idea that Warren Beatty is writing, producing, starring in, and directing a film again makes me very happy.
And the idea that it's finally going to be his Howard Hughes movie? Well, color me ecstatic, because this one's been simmering for a while.
I'm not sure what place Warren Beatty holds in our pop culture at this point, if any. I think his place in film history is secure, no doubt about it. He's proven himself to be a gifted and smart collaborator many times over, and as we get closer to the release of his Howard Hughes film, we'll probably do a special series here at the blog to look back at Beatty's career and make the case for why he is one of the greats of his generation.
But in terms of modern current pop culture? If you were to ask 100 people under the age of 30 about Warren Beatty, what comes to mind for them? How well do they know his work, if at all? "Dick Tracy" was his last hit of any significance, and that was 21 years ago. His last film, "Town and Country," was an epic bomb, one of the most expensive money-losers ever made when you consider budget to return, and even that was a decade ago. How many teenagers today even remember that "Love Affair" or "Bulworth" or "Bugsy" came out? That's all that they could even have been aware of in their lifetime.
Well, actually, they're exhausted... so what's the opposite of animated?
He fixed me with a bleary gaze and, with surprising bluntness, replied, "We are both dead behind the eyes today."
Now, I certainly don't think things were as bad as that, but it's good to remember that there is a toll that these things can take on you when you're grinding out about 100 interviews a day for three days in a row sitting outside in the beginning heat of an LA summer. No matter how pampered you are by the studio that's hosting the event, when those interview lights are all directed at you all day long and you're doing your best to not look like they're sucking your very essence out of you, it can be real work.
A game cast and an unapologetic premise make for a funny adult ride
Jake Kasdan's "Bad Teacher" does not always connect with every joke, and there's one character in particular that seems to have been abandoned by the screenwriters midstream, but when the film works, it contains some wicked belly laughs, and I'll give Cameron Diaz credit for this: she seems delighted to play a total asshole.
And why not? There's something liberating about playing someone who is absolutely unrepentantly awful. Elizabeth Halsey is not a reluctant educator who wakes up to her gifts over the course of the film. She's not someone who loves kids but is afraid to show it. She's not a good person who is misunderstood. She's selfish and a little bit stupid and completely superficial, and she sees her teaching job as, at best, an inconvenience, and at worst, a form of torture. She does not love her students… in fact, she can barely stomach them. She has one goal in life after being dumped by the man of her financial dreams: get a tit job so she can hook a big fish. She figures that's all she's missing, and she's willing to do a year of penance in public high school to get there.
The unlikeliest romantic duo in movies this year sits down to discuss their new film
Who would have guessed that the most fun I'd have at the "Cars 2" press day would be with Larry The Cable Guy?
I'm no snob. I don't spend my time sneering at Larry or at his audience. I am perfectly happy accepting that not all entertainment is manufactured for me, and that not every audience is going to want the same things I want. I think some critics find it necessary to dismiss anything they don't personally enjoy, but that's silly. Nobody is the ideal audience for everything.
When I was getting settled in, just before the cameras rolled, I asked Larry if he would ever make the same sort of professional switch that Dwayne Johnson did when he stopped going by "The Rock" and just became "Dwayne Johnson" on a full-time basis, and Larry responded with a quick and confident, "Nope."
The studio exec/director with motor oil in his veins
John Lasseter's name has been synonymous with "Pixar" since it's inception. Although he directed the first three Pixar films "Toy Story," "A bugs life" and "Toy Story 2," "Cars 2" marks his return to directing a feature at Pixar since the original "Cars" released in 2006.
Lasseter sat down with us during a press day the company held in March after we had screened about half an hour of footage of the film and seen a presentation on the set design and lighting. The man loves to talk about his work and his company and his characters. I found it comical that he uses the term "I" and "we" somewhat interchangeably when talking about Pixar, given who he is this is completely understandable and expected. It was obvious that he holds the "Cars" characters very dear to his heart. The man is enthusiastic. Did I mention he likes to talk?
Read the interview after the jump
There are some things Gen X is not cynical about
In a recent interview with HitFix for "Bad Teacher" Jason Segel refused to reveal his "marketing strategy to to take over the world with Muppets." But the release of the first official, non-parody trailer for "The Muppets" shows that there is some kind of master plan for the marketing of the everyone's favorite Marionette/Puppets.
The funny thing is, after the sharp, surprising, and hilarious parody trailers, this first official one is a little bit of a letdown. It's just a trailer. Some funny jokes in it, but pretty light on story, so it really doesn't give us any more information than: It's a movie, and all the Muppets are in it.
Starting with the romantic comedy parody "Green With Envy" and Ending with the Ryan Reynolds' voiced Green Lantern spoof, the sting or parody Muppet trailers have been great. To a certain degree I wish they'd kept making those with their own jokes so that I don't get any more spoilers, but I nitpick.
Watch the trailer after the jump
Pixar seems determined to totally revamp the franchise with this second film
At some point, you just have to let things go.
That's the decision I made after a scene in "Cars 2" where they're discussing the need for alternative fuels since they are starting to run low on fossil fuels. Someone is explaining about how there are only so many dead dinosaurs and now they're running out of oil and they have to find new ways to power cars, and Mater, listening to this, turns to someone and says, "The dinosaurs did what, now?"
They have dinosaurs in the world of "Cars"? Really? If I start thinking about the implications of that, my head will explode. Instead, I just surrendered myself to the notion that logic is not the strong suit of this particular franchise, and it helped me enjoy the film more. Pixar is one of the strongest studios in town when it comes to story and character, and I think they've been very good at worldbuilding in general. The bottom line with these movies is that John Lasseter, the grand poobah of all things Pixar, loves cars. And because of that, they make movies about a world of cars. And that's really all the logic that matters.
Our first look at a draft of the scuttled Willem Dafoe comedy offers some answers
Last week, we talked about Eddie Murphy's career and the way it has served to disappoint fans of his early work with almost surgical precision. In that piece, I didn't even include a story that depressed me more than almost anything else I've ever heard about Eddie.
Around the time "The Goods" was coming out, the lovely Tamar over at Paramount asked me and a few other writers if we wanted to have lunch with Neal Brennan, who directed the film. Brennan was the co-creator of "Chapelle's Show," and he's a guy who has been working in LA comedy for years. As we talked, the conversation touched on any number of topics, and at one point, Brennan told us about an evening where Eddie Murphy came to Chapelle's house. Over the course of that long night hanging out, Eddie, Dave Chapelle, and Brennan all started pitching ideas for sketches, eventually realizing that they had enough material to put together a sketch comedy movie. Eddie was energized by the material they were bouncing back and forth, according to Brennan, and by the time he left, they had all agreed that they were going to find a place to make the film together. That turned out to be the last contact Brennan had with him, which is terribly sad. Can you imagine a sketch comedy film with a fire-in-his-belly Murphy going head to head with Chapelle, determined to prove something? It could have been glorious.
A great conversation that goes from 'You Only Live Twice' to 'The Amazing Spider-Man'
It's been a while.
Matters were complicated because the last podcast I recorded got eaten by my computer, something I had to tell Scott after the fact. It's a shame, too. That was just before Cannes, and it was a really solid podcast overall. We had the director of "Trollhunter" on as a guest, and we played a great round of Movie God, and it was just a fun, spirited conversation that got totally vaporized somewhere on my hard drive.
It was my fault, no doubt. I am just competent enough with the software I use to edit the podcast to be dangerous. I don't really know what I'm doing, but I like to pretend that I do. This week, I was very careful, and I am pleased with the end result.
Part of that is because I finally got Scott Swan back over to the house to record, something that isn't always easy to do. His schedule and my schedule are increasingly hard to synch up. But more than that, I'm glad I was able to record this week because the interview I've got for you is one of my favorites since I joined HitFix.
The very end of over ten years of Harry Potter trailers
The third and final trailer for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" hit the scene today, and given that Drew swore earlier not to watch it in a twitter post, It is left to me to bring it to you.
As the guy that puts up all the video on HitFix, I am not afforded the luxury of not viewing such things. I have to watch all the trailers and all the clips, and though it may somewhat lessen the surprises of watching a film for the first time, at least I know when I can go to the concession stand and not miss much.
If you, like Drew, do not want to know anything new about it, or the movie, stop reading now. There are lots of other great news items to read about, including an awesome "Cars 2" article about frighteningly violent Pixar movies have become, just a few posts down. If not, video and more after the jump.