<p>Tom Cruise, seen here in last year's 'Mission:&nbsp;Impossible - Ghost Protocol,' is set to play the titular character in 'Jack Reacher' this Christmas.</p>

Tom Cruise, seen here in last year's 'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol,' is set to play the titular character in 'Jack Reacher' this Christmas.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Is Paramount hobbling a potential franchise by changing 'One Shot' to 'Jack Reacher'?

Has Hollywood learned nothing from 'John Carter'?

Paramount's been making some odd and potentially expensive choices recently, and no matter what's really going on behind closed doors, it's making them look like they are rudderless and even desperate.

I was not at CinemaCon this year for Paramount's presentation, but that's where they first showed footage from what they hope will be a kickoff to an ongoing franchise based on the Lee Childs novels about Jack Reacher, an ex-military cop who wanders America and frequently finds himself in harm's way.  They're starting with an adaptation of the ninth book in the (so-far) seventeen novel series, "One Shot," and until now, that's the title they've been using for the film itself.  Today, though, it appears that they have decided to retitle the piece.

It will now officially be known as "John Carter."

Oh, wait… I mean they're changing the title to "Jack Reacher."  But my entirely-intentional slip makes a point, and I'm curious how no one brought up Disney's marketing debacle from this spring when they were having meetings about this title switch.  Of course, this is just the latest in a series of strange choices that Paramount's made on this one.

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<p>Video may have killed the radio star, but the biggest hit from The Buggles is a key part of one of the most magical moments in the remarkable 'Take This Waltz,' arriving this week on streaming platforms.</p>

Video may have killed the radio star, but the biggest hit from The Buggles is a key part of one of the most magical moments in the remarkable 'Take This Waltz,' arriving this week on streaming platforms.

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Weekend Watch: 'Men In Black,' 'Take This Waltz,' and new Ghibli Blu-ray

One of the year's best films shows up at home before a theatrical run

You've got a lot of options for what to watch and how, and we want to help you plan your weekend with a new column where we'll highlight three things you can see in theaters, three things you'll find streaming, and three titles new to home video.  Appropriately enough, we call this The Weekend Watch.

It was a long and irritating day of travel to get me from France to Los Angeles, and I've only been home for about six hours, but that's enough time for me to start to get my post-festival bearings again and prepare this week's Weekend Watch.  As always, there are big films and small films and theatrical and video all in the mix, and it's an eclectic buffet that proves that just because it's the beginning of the summer movie season doesn't mean you only have big giant blockbusters as possibilities.  It looks like I'm going to be taking Toshi to see "The Avengers" on Sunday after all, so that's my Memorial Day fireworks celebration, and I'll also be enjoying a birthday celebration with friends tomorrow with friends and family.  Hope you guys are going to use the weekend to see something fun, and that we're able to help steer you towards something you might not expect.

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<p>Mads Mikkelsen fights for his reputation in Thomas Vinterberg's 'The Hunt'</p>

Mads Mikkelsen fights for his reputation in Thomas Vinterberg's 'The Hunt'

Credit: Zentropa International

Review: Vinterberg's 'The Hunt' infuriates in all the right ways

A piercing examination of the aftermath of false accusation impresses deeply

CANNES - Thomas Vinterberg's 1998 film "The Celebration" was a blistering piece about repressed secrets as a form of familial cancer, and it established him as an important voice in Danish film on part with Lars Von Trier.  The films he's made since then have not worked with the same focus, but he's remained an interesting presence with the potential to put it all together again.

And now, with his new film "The Hunt," he's done exactly that.

It's interesting that you could read this as an almost direct inversion of "the Celebration," but I don't think that was by design.  Instead, Vinterberg began his process on this film by reading some disturbing reports on how children are so unclear on the notion of fantasy that they can lie with complete emotional conviction, and how adults, unclear on the way that works, can sometimes believe the unbelievable because of the source.  We tend to paint children in our culture as these pristine moral figures, and when I hear that, it makes me wonder if the people who believe that have ever actually met any children.  I love my kids, and I think they are well on their way to being good people.  But left to their own devices, kids are basically wild animals and morality is something we teach them, not something that is inherent to them.  They are driven by desire and need and powerful waves of emotion that they barely understand.

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<p>Denis Lavant gives the performance of a lifetime... or several lifetimes, to be exact... in the triumphant 'Holy Motors,' which just premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.</p>

Denis Lavant gives the performance of a lifetime... or several lifetimes, to be exact... in the triumphant 'Holy Motors,' which just premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

Credit: CNC

Review: 'Holy Motors' is dizzying, visionary, and one-of-a-kind

HitFix
A+
Readers
A
Our review of the best film at this year's Cannes Film Festival

CANNES - The last time I saw the name "Leos Carax" onscreen was as part of the anthology film "Tokyo!", where he was one of three directors including Bong Joon-ho and Michel Gondry.  His segment, "Merde," was surreal and silly, and his star, Denis Lavant, gave a unique performance as the title character, a strange sewer-dwelling beast.  The images from that stuck with me the same way images from Carax's earlier film "Lovers On The Bridge" stuck with me, and I've been hoping for the last four years for Carax to get back to making features.

"Holy Motors" was more than worth the wait.

It is rare for me to see a film that I enjoy so deeply and that I feel like I have just begun to understand, but "Holy Motors" is a huge meal, a rich and playful picture that packs so much into its two-hour running time that once I finally staggered out of the Salle Debussy last night, I felt drunk.  I was dizzy from everything that Carax had thrown at me, but I was also feeling that light-headed wooziness that comes in the first flush of love.  It is a film that speaks to me on the same intuitive level as something like "Enter The Void" or "El Topo" or "Eraserhead," and while I can't claim to have fully digested it yet, I can say with confidence that it's my favorite film I've seen so far at Cannes and so far in 2012.  It is a film I'll see many times in the future, and I look forward to exploring every corner of this kingdom of dreams that Carax has created.

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<p>Kristen Stewart lets her guard down and delivers one of her best performances so far in the Walter Salles adaptation of 'On The Road'</p>

Kristen Stewart lets her guard down and delivers one of her best performances so far in the Walter Salles adaptation of 'On The Road'

Credit: IFC Films/American Zoetrope

Review: 'On The Road' makes great use of Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund, and Sam Riley

HitFix
B+
Readers
C
Long-rumored Kerouac adaptation mostly gets it right

CANNES - Many filmmakers have attempted to adapt Jack Kerouac's seminal novel "On The Road" over the years, but Walter Salles is the guy who finally wrestled it up onto the screen.  It is a largely successful attempt to bring the book to life, and it follows the same sort of episodic rhythm that Salles utilized so well in "The Motorcycle Diaries."  While I would not call it a towering accomplishment, it is far more successful than I would have expected knowing the source material.

It would be interesting to take all of the films that exist that deal with the Beat Generation and the various characters who defined the era and look at how these people have been interpreted though various artistic filters.  After all, "On The Road" was Kerouac's biography, but through a very thin filter of fiction.  He renamed people, turning himself into Sal Paradise, the novel's narrator, while he turned the charming and charismatic Neal Cassady into the iconic Dean Moriarty.  Cronenberg's adaptation of "Naked Lunch" used a similar device, taking the unfilmable William Burroughs novel and turning it into a film that is as much about the writing of the book as the book itself.  We've seen films like "Howl" and "The Sheltering Sky" tackle the era and the figures who wrote those remarkable works, and there are, of course, plenty of documentaries that also tackle the era, giving these people a chance to make a case for their own place in cultural history.  The result is that we've got a pretty dense tapestry of material to choose from now if we want to try to understand what it was like to both create these works and to live in an era where they were fresh and causing major cultural shifts.

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<p>Brad Pitt is not to be trifled with.&nbsp; Seriously.</p>

Brad Pitt is not to be trifled with.  Seriously.

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Review: 'Killing Them Softly' uses Brad Pitt as a blunt instrument

HitFix
A-
Readers
C
His second film with Andrew Dominik is dark, cynical, and fairly great

CANNES - Andrew Dominik's last film, "The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford" was, to put it kindly, divisive.  You can count me on the side of the folks who thought it was a gorgeous, poetic look at an American West that may not have ever truly existed, and the legends that stood astride it in its sunset years.  The score alone would qualify it as a fairly major work of film art for me, and when I revisited the film about four days before flying out for this year's festival, I found myself smitten all over again.

With "Killing Me Softly," Dominik appears to have zagged when everyone expected a zig, and this lean, mean, cynical little crime film, adapted from a novel by George V. Higgins, is a stylish delight, but perhaps not what many viewers will expect.  Brad Pitt is obviously the biggest name in the film, and his work as Jackie Cogan is great.  But he doesn't appear in the film nearly as much as some of his lesser-known co-stars like Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn, who both rip it up playing low-level criminal dummies who are enticed into a job by The Squirrel, played by Vince Curatola.  If you're a "Sopranos" fan, you'd know Curatola immediately as Johnny "Sack," and it's interesting seeing him show up in a key role in the same film as James Gandolfini, who contributes a lovely supporting turn as a washed-up hitman who's too busy whoring and drinking to actually pull a trigger.

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<p>Rick Baker, even after all his ups and downs with modern Hollywood, still seems to be in touch with that little kid who first fell in love with monster make-up all those years ago.</p>

Rick Baker, even after all his ups and downs with modern Hollywood, still seems to be in touch with that little kid who first fell in love with monster make-up all those years ago.

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Rick Baker discusses his work on 'Men In Black 3' and much more

We take a little time with one of Hollywood's living legends

Rick Baker is one of my heroes, artistically speaking.

I fell in love with his work when I was young, and for most of my life, I've been watching his creations come to life onscreen and I've felt lucky to be witnessing them.  When I saw "An American Werewolf In London" in 1981, the way he (along with John Landis and David Naughton) made a transformation from man to beast feel like a tactile, physical process involving heat and pain seemed miraculous.  He has made the fantastic seem not only possible but absolutely probable for his whole career, and he has a shelf full of Academy Awards to show for it.

However, he's also seen the industry change around him, and whereas he was once the hot new alternative to the special effects of a bygone era, today computer effects have shifted the landscape around Rick to the point that he is now the one considered quaint and old-fashioned by Hollywood.  It's not true, of course, and I would strongly urge filmmakers to reconsider their push to do everything with ones and zeros instead of creating something tangible.  I've seen things he created thirty years ago that still exist, that you can still touch with your own hands, and that could, with just a little bit of touch-up work, still be put in front of a camera and filmed.

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<p>This, surprisingly, was not Edward Norton's reaction when I brought up 'The Avengers'</p>

This, surprisingly, was not Edward Norton's reaction when I brought up 'The Avengers'

Credit: Universal/Marvel

Edward Norton explains why he still hasn't seen 'The Avengers'

What does a past-tense Hulk think of 'The Other Guy'?

CANNES - "It just isn't very important to me."

While that may look dismissive in print, that's not the way it came across when I asked Edward Norton about "The Avengers" and the new Hulk in town during our time chatting at the "Moonrise Kingdom" press day.

In fact, far from it.  I spent most of our conversation focused on his work with Wes Anderson in the new film, but I knew that I had to ask him if he'd seen Joss Whedon's film yet and, if so, what he thought of it.  After all, we were the ones who broke the story when Norton first learned he might not be returning for a second go-round as Bruce Banner and his big green alter-ego.  I felt like a quick comment from him would be the exact right button to put on things at the end of the entire process.  If you don't remember, you can follow the story as it developed here, here, here, here and here.

Even so, the moment I asked, I felt a pang of remorse.  I realized that I wasn't sure how fresh that wound was, or how Norton felt about the entire situation, and I feel like it's taken a while for him to get comfortable with me in interviews.  He is a fiercely intelligent guy, and justifiably serious about his craft.  He does not seem to love the press, but when treated with respect, he seems more than willing to have a real conversation about what he does and about film in general.  As soon as the question was out of my mouth, it felt like I had crossed a line and pushed him into an uncomfortable conversational corner, but he handled it with grace.

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<p>Joaquin Phoenix in 'The Master' appears to be just one of the things worth being excited about in Paul Thomas Anderson's new film, one of three previewed tonight by The Weinstein Company.</p>

Joaquin Phoenix in 'The Master' appears to be just one of the things worth being excited about in Paul Thomas Anderson's new film, one of three previewed tonight by The Weinstein Company.

Credit: The Weinstein Company

The Weinsteins unveil early peeks at 'Django,' 'The Master,' and 'Silver Linings' at Cannes

The rest of the year should be nothing but roses for The Weinstein Company

CANNES - The invitation arrived yesterday afternoon, and it immediately got my attention since the giant banner on the front of the Majestic Hotel has been driving me crazy all week long.  It's very simple, just the Saul Bass-style chain design and the title "Django Unchained," but that's enough at this point.  I'm always excited by a new Quentin Tarantino film, but this one in particular tackles subject matter that I find intriguing, and I'm dying to see how it actually plays onscreen.

It was an easy decision to make.  Instead of seeing a new film tonight, I put on a suit and headed over to the Majestic, where The Weinstein Company threw a cocktail reception designed to showcase footage from three of the films they are releasing later this year.  Each of them is from an exciting filmmaker, and two of them are among the most highly-anticipated properties in production at the moment.  Earlier this afternoon, the first clip from Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" arrived online, and I posted a short reaction to that.  I was curious to see if they would show us anything different, and after about a half-hour of drinks and finger food, they ushered us into an adjoining room, where they had set up chairs and a large screen.

Harvey Weinstein walked to the front of the room and, without any preamble, just began speaking.  "Hi, everyone.  When I was 13 years old, I had a bar mitzvah, and a film was shot, but only two minutes were shown.  Marty Scorsese found it, and I got you here under false pretenses. We're going to watch the one-hour version which was lovingly restored by all the directors I've ever argued with over the years. There are no scenes of me in any of it."

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<p>Joaquin Phoenix comes out swinging in the first look at Paul Thomas Anderson's new film 'The Master'</p>

Joaquin Phoenix comes out swinging in the first look at Paul Thomas Anderson's new film 'The Master'

Credit: The Weinstein Company

First look at Paul Thomas Anderson's 'The Master' arrives online

Fascinating first clip promises a nice rebound for Joaquin Phoenix

CANNES - In a few moments, I'll be leaving my apartment to go to a special cocktail party that the Weinstein Company is throwing to debut footage from several of their new films.  However, I don't even have to put my pants on to get my first look at Paul Thomas Anderson's highly-anticipated "The Master," since the film's first teaser trailer just appeared online.

I spotted it when Megan Ellison, one of the film's producers, tweeted a link to the film's official site, and all that they have there right now is the trailer.  I've watched it twice, and the first thing I take away from it is that I'm thrilled Joaquin Phoenix is back on his game.  I wasn't crazy about his Tony Clifton phase, and I think he is a very interesting actor.  He's totally different than his brother River was, but they do share an ability to lay themselves emotionally bare if they get hold of the right material.  It's exciting to see Phoenix in a film that looks like it may be something very special.

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