Harris Wittels, of #humblebrag and 'Parks and Rec' fame, has passed away
Credit: NBC/Universal

Harris Wittels, of #humblebrag and 'Parks and Rec' fame, has passed away

The 30-year-old writer/producer/performer was a major comic talent

One of my favorite things about "Parks and Recreation" is the way they've filled out the corners of the city with some of the weirdest supporting characters on television.

It always made me happy when Harris and Brett would show up. The perpetually stoned friends were introduced running animal control for Pawnee, a position for which they were woefully underqualified, and every time they showed up, they seemed to be in stranger and stranger conditions.

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Exclusive: Adam Scott on joining the 'Hot Tub Time Machine 2' ensemble
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Exclusive: Adam Scott on joining the 'Hot Tub Time Machine 2' ensemble

Wait... is that a skirt he's wearing?

One of the best things about "Hot Tub Time Machine 2" is the addition of Adam Scott to the cast.

Actually, you can say that about pretty much anything Adam Scott appears in. One of the most reliable comic performers working today, Scott throws himself into his roles with an attention to detail and a unique sense of timing. My favorite moments of his are moments I can't imagine anyone else playing in quite the same way, whether it's a role like the insanely intense family sing-along in "Step Brothers" or his relationship with Leslie Knope on "Parks and Recreation" or the deranged "electric ladybug" drug trip sequence in "Hot Tub Time Machine 2."

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Review: Shockingly, 'Hot Tub Time Machine 2" is very dirty and very silly
Credit: Paramount

Review: Shockingly, 'Hot Tub Time Machine 2" is very dirty and very silly

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It is, after all, called 'Hot Tub Time Machine 2'

It seems strange to describe this as "much sillier than the original," considering that "the original" in this case is a film called "Hot Tub Time Machine," but I think it's safe to say that they hit the ground running with this film, with very little focus on genuine storytelling, and for the most part, that approach serves them well.

In addition to being very silly, this film is profoundly dirty. Rob Corddry's character Lou is the apex predator of the modern movement of sociopathic comedy. There is a character type, personified in Larry David or the cast of "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" or Ruxin on "The League," that is completely without conscience or humanity, and I'm intrigued by just how far some comedy is willing to push that archetype. It's tricky, because if you do it wrong, you create a character that is unbearable to watch. And even when you do it perfectly, part of the point is that this character is a horrible, horrible person. Most of the things that Lou says in the film are obscene, often hateful as well. It's impressive to see just how dedicated to the character Corddry is.

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Fox confirms that Neill Blomkamp is onboard for 'Alien' sequel
Credit: 20th Century Fox/Neill Blomkamp/HR Giger

Fox confirms that Neill Blomkamp is onboard for 'Alien' sequel

This won't be the sequel to 'Prometheus,' though

20th Century Fox has confirmed to HitFix that Neill Blomkamp is indeed now officially set to make an "Alien" sequel, as the director stated today on his Instagram account, which any hardcore "Alien" fan should be subscribed to already.

We've also confirmed that this will not be a direct follow-up to "Prometheus," but will take place after "Prometheus 2," which Ridley Scott will produce. I'm curious how any of that will work now. If you saw the initial imagery that Neill Blomkamp released online, he's obviously envisioned a film that ignores pretty much anything that takes place after the ending of James Cameron's "Aliens." It's the sort of thing that I'm used to seeing from hardcore fanboys, but I'm not sure I've ever seen a series that hates its own continuity with quite the vigor that the "Alien" franchise does. Fox is confirming that the film will take place after "Prometheus 2," but again… what kind of sense does that make? How are we getting Hicks and Ripley back if that's the case?

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Why can't US audiences see Asia Argento's great 'Misunderstood'?
Credit: Asia Argento

Why can't US audiences see Asia Argento's great 'Misunderstood'?

Why do some films vanish into a sort of distribution limbo forever?

Earlier today, fellow film nerd Marc Heuck tweeted the following:


I reached out to "Doctor Strange" director Scott Derrickson, who is a producer on the film and who talked to me about it before the Cannes Film Festival, where it absolutely flattened me. I asked him if it's true that the film is still without a distributor, and he told me they haven't been able to figure out anything. Not theatrical. Not VOD. Not even a basic DVD release.

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On 'Wild Tales' and the long tail of falling in love at film festivals
Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

On 'Wild Tales' and the long tail of falling in love at film festivals

You finally get to see Damian Szifron's blistering comedy this weekend

Last May, I was seated in the upper balcony at the Grand Palais for the first screening of "Relatos Salvajes," as it was called in the program guide, and as the film played, I had that great familiar feeling of falling head over heels in love with a movie.

Now, the film stands nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, submitted by Argentina, and I've had several more chances to watch the film. My ex-mother-in-law finally got to watch it because Sony Pictures Classics sent out screeners during awards season. She's from Argentina, and I knew she'd end up loving the film, not least because of how clever the film's use of Ricardo Darin is.

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'Holy Motors' director Leos Carax and Sparks develop movie musical together
Credit: IFC Films

'Holy Motors' director Leos Carax and Sparks develop movie musical together

It sounds like a film being engineered expressly for our interests

Everyone gets excited about movies for different reasons.

There are plenty of times that something is announced and I look at Twitter or Facebook and see that people are going nuts for it, and I'm left cold by the news. Sometimes it's because a nostalgia button's been pushed, sometimes it's because of the creative elements involved. And there are plenty of times I put up a piece of news here and I'm thrilled about it and there reaction from you guys is a sort of deafening silence.

So when I say that this is the most exciting film news that I've heard so far in 2015, I accept that my own excitement level may be pitched somewhere different than yours. But there's no way I can downplay the dopamine rush I got when I read that Leos Carax is deep into development of a new movie musical that will feature music by Sparks.

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From 'The Thin Man' to 'Dogfight': A broken-hearted Valentine's playlist
Credit: Warner Bros.

From 'The Thin Man' to 'Dogfight': A broken-hearted Valentine's playlist

Ten movies that we hoped would help us heal during a very hard holiday

It has not been an easy week.

At the start of the week, we had our editorial meeting here at HitFix, as we do every Monday, to talk about both the week ahead and longer-term projects as well. For fairly obvious reasons, there was a fair amount of talk about Valentine's Day content, and I mentioned a few different ideas that I might write about, including one that I'll end up publishing at some point about Steve Martin.

But even as I pitched a few ideas, I found myself uncomfortable with the entire idea of writing about romantic films right now. Honestly, I was hoping to spend this week with my head down and then just sail right through this weekend without writing about love at all, because for the first time in my adult life, I am no longer sure what I think about it.

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Gina Carano and Colossus join Ryan Reynolds for 'Deadpool'
Credit: Universal Pictures

Gina Carano and Colossus join Ryan Reynolds for 'Deadpool'

One year till the long-rumored film is finally in theaters

I'm confused about something… why does "Deadpool" need comic relief?

It looks like the long-rumored Tim Miller movie is finally moving forward, and once something starts casting, the momentum is such that I think it's safe to say there really will be a "Deadpool" movie.

Adding Gina Carano to anything is fine by me. I am unfamiliar with Angel Dust, the character she's said to be playing, but after "Haywire," the movie that convinced me that James Bond should wear more adorable little hats, it's clear she's got the goods. I liked her performance in the film, and every time she goes into action mode, she is more than convincing. TJ Miller is the name they say will provide the "comic relief" for the movie. I'm still not sure why that would be required in a film about the Merc With The Mouth, but...

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An all-star cast wrestles with ghosts in gorgeous trailer for 'Crimson Peak'
Credit: Universal/Legendary

An all-star cast wrestles with ghosts in gorgeous trailer for 'Crimson Peak'

Guillermo Del Toro looks to have finally built his ultimate haunted house

There are plenty of movies released that I am perfectly happy knowing everything about before they ever show up in a theater. Then there are those films that I try to know nothing about because I imagine they will be such finely-tuned experiences that I don't want to deprive myself of that pleasure.

Such is the case with Guillermo Del Toro's new film, "Crimson Peak," his latest film, and while I did watch the trailer, I feel like I still know next to nothing about it, which I love. After all, we don't get a new movie from Del Toro every year, and this one in particular marks a sort of collision of the two different filmmakers that Del Toro can be. There's the guy who makes these big fun crazy blood-filled bags of popcorn that don't really look like anyone else's idea of what a mainstream movie is, and then there's the guy who makes lovely small-scale Spanish-language films that play like fever dreams full of ghosts and heartbreak.

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