I'm that guy who really doesn't like the Paul Verhoeven film.
I like things about it, certainly. I like the idea of Rekall as a company and as a premise for a science-fiction film. Then again, Rekall isn't really a premise for a movie… it's a device, something you still have to build a plot around, and the one undeniably genius move of the original script is having someone ask to have the secret agent memories implanted, only to suddenly find himself in a secret agent scenario, unsure if it's really happening or if this is what he paid for. Great idea. Huge idea. So much you can do with it.
Perhaps that's why I remain disappointed by both versions of "Total Recall" to some degree. Here's this amazing opportunity, and both films eventually just turn into fairly standard action movies. Verhoeven's film ladles on the weird and tries to be subversively funny in the same way "Robocop" was, but it's an uneasy mixture at best, and I think the Schwarzenegger film is largely witless. This is a movie that actually contains a scene where Arnold sits at the controls of a giant drill that he uses to kill someone as he screams "SCREEEEEEEEWWWWWW YYYYYOOOOOUUUU!" It's hard for me to see the things the Verhoeven film does right when there is so much of it that makes me actively embarrassed to be watching it. I saw the film a few days before it opened at a midnight screening at the theater where my friend worked. I was tremendously excited for it, and I was a fan of Verhoeven's work even before "Robocop." I'd seen "Soldier Of Orange" and "Flesh and Blood" and "The Fourth Man" already, and I really liked his overall sensibility. To me, "Total Recall" felt like Hollywood swallowing him up, and it's not until it spit him back out and he made "Black Book" that I was fully onboard one of his films again.
I'm that guy who really doesn't like the Paul Verhoeven film.
I think it's specifically appropriate to say that Colin Farrell is one lucky cat. After all, if anyone in Hollywood has nine lives, it's Farrell.
He was an overnight sensation when he starred in "Tigerland," Hollywood's hot new flavor of the month. Never mind that he'd been working for four years beforehand, including the show "Ballykissangel." "Tigerland" was the moment international audiences first noticed him, and almost immediately, he was everywhere. His first big commercial run included roles in "Hart's War," "Minority Report," "Phone Booth," and "Daredevil," and he failed as many times as he succeeded, enough so that when "Intermission" rolled around in 2003, just three years after "Tigerland," it was already referred to by some of the media as a "comeback."
I think Farrell has made choices over the years that indicate just how seriously he takes the job and how little he cares about stardom. You don't star in "Ask The Dust" because you think you're going to get an action figure deal out of it. You don't make "In Bruges" because you're hoping to make $50 million off of your gross points. He's worked with Malick, Stone, Mann, Gilliam. He's taken some outrageous chances, and even in his most mainstream movies, like "Miami Vice," it seems like he makes the least safe versions of these big studio films.
"X-Men: First Class" felt to me like a Hail Mary pass, a last-ditch effort to figure out what to do with the franchise, and the creative and commercial success of the film seems to have surprised the studio tremendously.
Part of what happened with the film was based on time, or the lack thereof. They had a very tight production window on "X-Men: First Class," and in situations where that happens, there is far less opportunity for anyone to second guess a choice. Matthew Vaughn and his writing partner Jane Goldman crafted something that gave a shot of adrenaline to the series, and it's little wonder they've been brought back to work on the second film in this new series as well.
When word broke recently about the possible title of the sequel, we double-checked with the MPAA and confirmed that the title "Days Of Future Past" had indeed been registered as the title. That's exciting because, like with "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," the title immediately suggests a particularly well-known story arc from the comics.
Even before "Prometheus" opened in May, we'd been hearing rumbles about work already underway for a sequel to the film. I'd heard that it essentially ended on a cliffhanger, and that design teams had been engaged to work on figuring out the home world of the Engineers as well as some familiar Xenomorphs.
I think it's safe to call the reaction to the film "mixed" this summer, and as a result, it seemed likely that all those early plans would go unrealized and that we'd never actually see that sequel.
Fox must have been happy with the numbers, though, because according to a report this morning in the Hollywood Reporter, Fox is pushing ahead to develop a sequel with Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace starring. We checked in with Fox, and it's still very early days on this one. They are indeed reaching out to new writers to try and figure the film out, but they confirm that Ridley Scott is the one steering the direction as they start to develop the movie.
When you're making films that are as small as the "Paranormal Activity" movies, it's easier to fly under the radar and not have major leaks involving story details.
It's not an insult to call these small movies, either. That's part of the charm of the series, this handmade quality that makes them feel like they're not just part of the corporate machine. It's deceptive, of course. While the first "Paranormal" was about as handmade as a film can be, once Paramount finally released it and saw the reaction, they have created a system where they can make these films quietly, cheaply, and no one really knows what they're up to until they decide to share.
For example, with the last film, people didn't even fully know what premise they were using until the film began to screen. The trailers carefully danced around giving away any details, and they way the process worked, they were able to experiment until they found the film they liked. They've got the directors of the last one back this time, Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, and it's almost surprising how clear a picture of what we can expect from the fourth film in the series we get from today's trailer debut.
Before the cameras started rolling, Emile Hirsch and I had a chat about the way "Speed Racer" is slowly but surely growing in reputation, thanks in large part to the younger viewers who saw it and who are going to revisit the film many times as they get older. Hirsch told me he's certainly heard from young fans more and more, and he seemed pleased to hear that the film is not fading. I know that for my own kids, it's one of the films that are just part of their ongoing canon, in the regular rotation, and beloved.
Hirsch has made interesting choices so far in his career, and I'm glad to see him working with someone like William Friedkin. I think Hirsch has real talent, and maybe the commercial failure of "Speed Racer" was the best thing for him. I'm not sure he'd survive a steady diet of giant tentpole films. It seems like he's far more interested in exploring the darker, stranger corners of filmmaking, and that he's good at it.
I interviewed him for "Speed," and for "Into The Wild," and he seems to be a different person each time we come back together to discuss a new film. I think he's the sort of guy who really internalizes these experiences he has, and he's still pretty young, still developing into the actor he'll eventually be.
I don't really work in the world of world of Oscar prognostication, but I think i'd be willing to put down a few dollars that "Saving Mr. Banks" is going to be a serious player when it's released in 2013. I've read the script by Kelly Marcel, and it's kind of great.
I'm fascinated by stories about Walt Disney, anyway, because he was such a great public figure, such a careful controller of his own image, and I think there are movies to be made about him. I'd love to see a film that's just about his relationship with Kurt Russell, Annette Funicello, Tommy Kirk, Jodie Foster… the Disney kids over the years. I'd love to see a film about the early days of trying to build his studio. I'd love to see a film about how hard he worked to realize his dreams of theme parks before anyone really had any idea what the hell he was talking about.
Harry Potter is still a big deal. Just so we're clear.
I'm amazed at the sheer weight of a set like the one announced by Warner Bros Home Video today. I'd imagine this thing has be heavy enough to crush one of my kids, just based on the description of it. 31 discs. I think that's the largest movie set I've ever seen.
It's fitting, though. The world that JK Rowling created still seems to have its hooks in people completely, and a collection like this feels like a fitting way to wrap it all up for people who loved these movies. I'm probably okay just owning the eight films, but I'm not a maniac for Potter the way some people are, and for them, this has got to be an exciting announcement.
We knew Warner was planning this, but we didn't realize what the five hours of new bonus materials would entail. The full details were finally released today, and if you're on the fence about committing nearly $500 to a collector's set, check out the full list that Warner Bros. sent over. And since, according to Rowling's writing, today would be Harry Potter's 32nd birthday, it seems like a perfect time for Potter fans to celebrate.
Rashida Jones was already annoyingly cool to begin with. The daughter of Peggy Lipton and Quincy Jones? Awesome. Gorgeous? Definitely. Tremendously funny on shows like "The Office" and "Parks and Recreation"? Yep. So now she's also written a movie that turns out to be smart and funny and wise about relationships? Good lord, Rashida, is there anything you can't do?
When we sat down during a recent press day for "Celeste and Jesse Forever," we covered a fair amount of ground in just a few minutes. We talked about the very real widow that seems to be represented in the way her film, co-written with Will McCormack and directed by Lee Toland Krieger, looks at the difficulties that come from trying to stay friends with someone after you've failed at romantic intimacy, but which also looks at just how hard it is to maintain any friendship after a certain age or even make new friends.
She's also very aware of the way people react to her past work. I talked to her about my wife's ongoing reaction to her role on "The Office" several seasons ago, and she seems like she's heard that reaction before.
I was already excited for Toronto. The Midnight Madness selection this year just pushes that excitement into a low-grade sustained mania that is going to make August seem very, very slow no matter what.
With this morning's announcement of the Midnight Madness line-up, I now have a pretty good picture of my September firmly in place. Even the film I've already seen from the line-up has gone through a serious post-production process since the Sundance premiere, and I'm excited to see how "John Dies At The End" has come together.
It's a very diverse schedule this year, and I remain impressed with the breadth of what Colin Geddes programs each year. He's determined to give audiences a wild ten-day ride that they can't predict, and looking at this year's slate, I'm guessing it will be another amazing experience. In today's press release, Geddes said, "Audiences clamouring for this highly anticipated lineup can expect wild rides and crazy adventures into the most chimerical and wicked worlds imaginable.”
He went on to add, “Expect everything from outrageous horror comedies to mock-doc eco- apocalypse thrillers, featuring trans-dimensional bugs, lewd Catholic priests, meat monsters and dog-napping psychopaths that will animate the Ryerson Theatre when the clock chimes 12.”