It's all about the benjamins, folks
If you're asking yourself why 20th Century Fox is moving ahead with a new "Daredevil" movie, it's simple. If they don't make another movie, the rights will eventually revert to Marvel Studios, and they'll be able to reclaim their character and do whatever they want with it. They could happily drop Daredevil into an "Avengers" movie, whether it makes sense or not, if they owned the character outright.
Instead, Fox is going to do whatever they can to hold onto the character, and that means they have to make a new movie about Matt Murdock and Daredevil and the Kingpin and whatever other characters they hope to keep control of in the future. It's the same reason there's a "Spider-Man" reboot being made at Sony, and it's the reason we'll see another "Fantastic Four" film even if no one asks for it. It's the reason there's a "Ghost Rider 2" coming. The studios who own the various Marvel characters that were in production before Marvel started doing things for themselves are never ever going to willingly give up their hold on those characters, just in case.
"Daredevil" may not have been a hit, critically or commercially, but the character has existed long enough that Fox recognizes that there's at least a chance. Maybe they didn't get it right the first time. Maybe they won't get it right this time. Does't matter. As long as they have the rights, they can keep trying to get it right, as many times as they want.
SXSW Review: Ti West follows up acclaimed 'House Of The Devil' with playful ghost story 'Innkeepers'
Slow-burn ghost story delivers big scares, no subtext
AUSTIN - Ti West is starting to build a brand name for himself as a horror filmmaker, and with his last film "The House Of The Devil," he seemed to crystallize his voice and really settle into what is he wants to do as a storyteller. That film is all about the ultra-slow burn, and by the time it actually pays off, it's obvious that West is more interested in the fuse than the explosion. Since it seems that it was technically impossible for anyone to write a review of "House" without using the term "slow burn," West seems to have made a conscious decision to play with expectations for his new film, "The Inkeepers," which made its premiere over the weekend at the SXSW Film Festival.
"The Innkeepers" stars Sara Paxton and Pat Healy as Claire and Luke, two young people who are working the front desk at The Yankee Pedlar, an old hotel that is about to close. For the most part, they're the only ones who are in the building, and they spend much of their time recording various rooms in the hotel on both audio and video, trying to capture some sort of proof of hauntings in the old building. And for probably 2/3 of the film, it plays as almost a low-key comedy about inertia, and there's a great laid-back Jarmusch vibe to what's going on, punctuated only by the occasional jump scare which plays as an intentional violation of the mood that's being built. It's like West read the complaints that nothing happened in his last movie, so he's chosen to include a number of blatant, obnoxious, over-the-top jump scares, so in your face about it that you have to laugh.
Captain Jack Sparrow delivers a brief recruiting message as well
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Director Rob Marshall peek out from behind the cameras in the latest Featurette for "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides." After a quick recruiting message from Captain Jack Sparrow, the producer and the Director introduce the new characters and re-introduce some of the old ones.
With Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow on a quest for the fountain of youth. The movie will bring back old foes such as Captain Barbosa played by Geoffrey Rush, as well as introduce Blackbeard the Pirate played by Ian McShane, and his daughter Angelica, played by Penelope Cruz. Of course Angelica and Jack have a romantic history which serves to further enhance the tensions between Sparrow and Blackbeard. You can be sure the usual threats of Mermaids, cutthroats and zombies never fade from the background.
Joe Cornish steers a largely unknown cast to complete triumph
AUSTIN - Joe Cornish is a name that may not be familiar to genre audiences around the world, but all of that is set to change with the release of his remarkable new film "Attack The Block," a spirited mix of teen gang drama, SF monster movie, and hero's journey, told in a dense vernacular and shot with the style of early vintage Carpenter. It is entirely successful, and it announces Cornish as someone worthy of attention and a long filmography.
Cornish, for those unfamiliar with his work, is probably best-known so far for his work on "The Adam and Joe Show" in the UK, but later this year, he'll have a credit as the co-writer (with Edgar Wright) of "The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn," and he and Wright are also still working on their "Ant-Man" script as well. None of the work he's had produced in the past could have really prepared viewers for "Attack The Block," though. It's one of those films that feels like the work of a seasoned veteran, someone who had learned how to finesse their vision onto the bigscreen. It's confident, it manages to blend genre with ease, and it coheres beautifully.
The film features a few familiar faces for fans of UK films. Jodie Whittaker was Peter O'Toole's focus in "Venus," and she's also been seen in films like "Good" and "St. Trinian's," while co-star Luke Treadaway has shown up in "Heartless" and "Clash Of The Titans." Probably the best-known cast-member is Nick Frost, but don't go into "Attack The Block" expecting anything like his earlier films or roles. This movie's far more interested in the largely unknown cast that is front and center, a bunch of inner-city kids growing up in UK public housing blocks. They are a convenient demon for the press, the English equivalent to the South Central LA kids of the '90s, bad guys by virtue of where they live and how they look.
Paul Feig makes a wonderful sophomore picture that is better than it should be
- Critic's Rating A-
- Readers' Rating n/a
Kristen Wiig is very hard to explain in terms of comedic persona.
With many comics, you can sum them up somehow. That's one of the basic things that seems to be essential with our great comedy stars. We need to be able to easily understand them. You go all the way back to Keaton and Chaplin, they worked in broad iconography. They communicated with everything, their clothing, their physicality. They were easily summed up, and then in each new situation, it was just about watching what they would do. Keaton goes to war. Chaplin during the Gold Rush. Keaton gets a train. Chaplin and a kid. Easy on the surface to grasp, and then within that, there is room to do so much more.
With Wiig, I don't get any single easy definition or summation, and that's what keeps her interesting. From the very start of "Bridesmaids," one of the primary things i enjoyed was simply seeing how Wiig handles herself in each new situation, as her life keeps punching her right in the face in the most painful ways. It is a very funny film, but there's a sincerity to the sadness that elevates the material, and which to me seems like the sort of film Paul Feig should be making in the first place.
Feig, of course, is the guy who created "Freaks and Geeks," and he's a whip-smart comedy writer. Read his books. Thank me later. His first film, "Unaccompanied Minors," seems to make him visibly uncomfortable when mentioned, but he's being too hard on himself. He made a small-scale studio comedy on a budget, with a script he didn't write, and he got himself in the game. "Bridesmaids" was written by Kristen Wiig and her Groundlings partner Annie Mumolo, and it was produced by Judd Apatow and Barry Mandel, and I think the entire thing manages to feel very personal while still possessing a big immediate commercial appeal. This could easily catch fire with audiences both male and female, and it could be a real launching pad for Wiig as the center of her own films.
Kristen Wiig shines in supporting role adding heart and character to comedy
AUSTIN - It's strange to be in Austin and to keep running into Edgar Wright, Nick Frost, and Simon Pegg, and to realize that they're not all here for the same movie.
"Paul," which Universal will release on March 18, is a SF road comedy starring Frost and Pegg as two friends who travel to America for the San Diego Comic-Con. Afterwards, they hit the road in a rented RV, and while they're visiting the various UFO-related sites in the west, they find themselves on a desert highway in the middle of the night where they witness a terrible car accident. The only thing to survive the accident is a small grey alien who introduces himself as Paul, voiced by Seth Rogen. He needs a ride to a rendezvous point because it's time for him to leave our planet and head home, and the only two people who can help him are Clive (Frost) and Graeme (Pegg).
The film uses the basic language of shared SF fandom as a starting point, and before I get to what I like about "Paul," let me offer up a few things I didn't. There are "Family Guy"-style on-the-nose reference jokes in several major moments in the film, and for my personal taste, all of them fell flat. When a character shoots his CB radio to end a conversation and actually says, "Boring conversation anyway," or when a country-western version of the Cantina theme is playing as someone walks into a bar or when a particular line of dialogue is used to punctuate a punch, each and every time I felt embarrassed, not included. I don't need the specific and pointed direct references to other movies to enjoy what I'm watching. In Joe Cornish's "Attack The Block," there are certainly many other movies that are mixed up in the formula, but there's no moment in the film where it stops to specifically turn and wink and nudge your ribs and say, "Hey, I saw 'Star Wars'!" It's too much for me, and I think I've become burned out on direct film references in other movies. Then again, I didn't mind it in "Rango" because of the way they were repurposed to be jokes on the mere act of recognition, turning meaning inside out in many cases.
The first night of SXSW delivers a major popcorn pleasure from the director of 'Moon'
AUSTIN - When I saw "Moon" at the Sundance Film Festival, at the very first screening of the film, I thought it was okay. Not great. Okay.
I've come to like it more upon revisiting it, but I think of it as a very good first film, someone's announcement more than a totally successful film. I like Rockwell in it, and that's enough to recommend the film. And it absolutely made me curious to see what Duncan Jones might do next. Even if I didn't love the film, I really admired the filmmaking and the ambition.
"Source Code," his second film, deserves to launch him into the ranks of filmmakers who are trusted with big idea popcorn material, smarter than average and populist in its appeal. It is a slick movie, a "Twilight Zone" style high concept with an ethical question built into it. Several of them, actually. And the cast absolutely nails the tone of the material, seeming to confirm that Jones has good taste in actors and he knows how to create a space for them to do great work. It helps, of course, if you've got actors like Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Monaghan, both appealing and demonstrating a real, easy chemistry, essential when you're trying to take this kind of material and invest it with big heart.
Vintage Spielberg attitude makes this feel very special, indeed.
I've been on the road since early on Wednesday, and I apologize for how light the blog's been on content during that time. I spent most of Wednesday and much of Thursday in a place without any internet or phone, which made it impossible to write anything up or post anything.
And then tonight, as I landed in Austin, a real-life disaster movie began to unfold on the opposite side of the world, and like many of you, I've been watching this horrifying footage from Japan unfold, and I'm once again reminded just how powerful nature really is. When I hear people talk about how mankind is going to destroy the earth, I just shrug it off because when the earth really does decide to get rid of us, it will be effortless. Nature is still so incredibly powerful, and we are still able to do so little in the face of a natural disaster, and all we can do right now is hope that the people in the path of these quakes and these waves and all the other things resulting from this are as okay as possible.
It almost feels wrong to have post movie news right now, but then again, movies are often our escape when the real world is too tough for us, and so I'll do this anyway. Especially since what I'm posting is kind of awesome, and highly anticipated by many of you.
Paramount has just released the full-length trailer for "Super 8," the new film from director JJ Abrams, and it is a stunner. You get a good sense of general plot from this film, and it looks like there's a little bit of "Close Encounters" in there, some "Jaws," and a whole lot of small-town Spielberg as well. It's the story of a group of young friends who get together to make monster movies on super-8 film back tine '70s, when a train derails in their town, releasing something dangerous into their community.
Strong visual style and interesting approach almost overcomes weak script
Alien invasion movies have been done many ways, by many filmmakers, and there's very little you can do that is genuinely innovative. In the case of "Battle: Los Angeles," the solution appears to be strip it down, soup it up, and let it rip, and in the film's best moments, the approach works for them very well.
Aaron Eckhart stars as Staff Sgt. Nantz, a career military man who is assigned to a unit of marines when a meteor shower turns out to be something far more intentional and malicious. The film actually opens with the Marines in a helicopter, en route to their landing zone, explosions all around them, the invasion of Earth already at full tilt. I wish the film didn't back up after that opening to give us 20 minutes of exposition we don't need, and you can almost hear the studio notes during those sequences.
"Well, we need to give Nantz some personal stakes. Let's explain who he is and establish why this mission is important to him, and let's meet some of those Marines and show who they are and make sure our audience knows them all before the heavy action kicks in." The thing is, all of that is covered on the fly during the action, so the early explanatory stuff feels redundant, and the film would seem much more unconventional and bold if they just dropped us into the situation, sink or swim, fight or flight, and let us figure it all out as things unfold.
Plus Bridget Moynihan gives us the scoop on what she learned at vet school
Last year, one of the highlights of the ten days or so I spent at Fantastic Fest was the evening of the Fantastic Feuds. If you haven't read about them, it's a series of debates/boxing matches, and the main event this year was between Michelle Rodriguez, the scrappy star of "Girl Fight" and "Avatar," and Tim League, the founder/owner of the Alamo Drafthouse. Tim spent months smack-talking "Avatar," and Michelle showed up to make him eat his words.
You see that look on Michelle's face in the photo that we ran with the story? That's the look she got on her face the moment I walked into the room for our interview and told her that Tim was ready for a rematch. He's not. He's never indicated to me that he wants to get back in the ring with her. But I'm not above stirring the pot a little to get an interview off on the right foot, and in this case, as soon as I got her laughing, Michelle was a delight.
I find it funny that she's always cast as such a flinty-eyed hardass in movies, because she comes across completely different in person. She's warm, she's funny, she seems predisposed to laughter. One day, some filmmaker's going to capture that side of her on film and we're going to see a whole new career open up for her. I can't wait to see that happen, and while our chat was typically short, it was a pure pleasure.