One thing seems very clear at this point: Bryan Singer is excited to be back in the world of the X-Men.
Little by little, Singer's been using social media to release sneak peeks behind the scenes as he's been preparing to begin production on "X-Men: Days Of Future Past," the latest chapter in an increasingly odd franchise that features plenty of digressions and a semi-reboot right in the middle of things. When Singer left the series, it was a difficult professional moment for him, and it also left Fox in the lurch unexpectedly. When it happened, I would have bet that there was no chance Singer would ever return to the series.
What makes this return especially exciting is how it looks like he's enjoying himself so much. I feel like Singer has been struggling to define himself more often than not over the course of his career. He made such a huge splash with "The Usual Suspects," and his first "X-Men" may have helped kick off the current new wave of superhero cinema, but he has still managed to evade any particular directorial voice, and it's actually somewhat frustrating. I don't think every filmmaker has to have a particular unique voice, but Singer is a guy who seems to want to be thought of as an auteur of sorts, and it doesn't feel like he's ever really figured out what it is that matters to him about the films he makes.
One thing seems very clear at this point: Bryan Singer is excited to be back in the world of the X-Men.
There is something magical about doing something for no reason other than play.
It is uncommon for adults unless they make specific plans for it, but kids are great at walking into a situation and immediately beginning to play with other kids, even if they've never met before. I watch it in my own kids, and it's a sort of fearlessness that adults have crushed out of them. When kids are playing and really enjoying themselves, they're not worried about anything else. They're not thinking about anything else. They're not worried about how cool they look. They're just playing, and it's a very pure form of pleasure.
Holding on to that, in any form, is not easy, and I'm curious to see how Will Ferrell and Jack Black handle "Tag Brothers," a film that The Wrap reports is being developed for the two of them to star in by New Line and Todd Garner's Broken Road. It's based on an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal about a group of adults who started playing an elaborate game of tag years ago. Now, as they approach middle-age, they still spend one month out of the year going to insane lengths to declare one another "It."
I don't think it's a secret that I'm a fan of the Alamo Drafthouse.
I've been a fan since I first set foot inside the original Colorado Street location in Austin, TX, back in 1998, and that love has continued unabated since then. Even as the company has changed dramatically and the locations shifted, then started adding new locations, I've been a fan. What makes the Alamo Drafthouse special is more than just their programming or their menu or their attitude towards people who disrupt the movies. It has always been a collective of people and energy, and now that they're also involved in distribution and production, that means something different than it did originally.
When I was last in Austin for SXSW, I spent an afternoon outside the Alamo Slaughter Lane location, one of the newest in Austin, and I spoke with Tim League, Evan Husney, and James Shapiro about the past, the present, and the future of the brand, and what it means to run a curated home video and theatrical distribution company. It's a pretty loose and relaxed conversation, and one I'm pleased to finally let you listen to.
I would not have guessed that there was a hole in my life shaped exactly like a documentary about the Stone Roses directed by Shane Meadows, but there totally was, and now I know it.
First of all, I love Shane Meadows movies. I just plain like the way he thinks. I like his characters, i think he's got a great subtle eye, and I think he's made some great, largely underseen films that deserve discovery by a larger audience.
Second of all, I love the Stone Roses. I remember when that album first came out. It felt like there was a real moment happening in music, and I loved a lot of what I was listening to, and even amidst a bunch of other great things going on, The Stone Roses stood out. It's one of those albums that has stayed in permanent rotation ever since, and every time I listen it, I get a sort of full-sensory time travel back to the first few times I heard it and the summer it was omnipresent in our house and great times that were scored by the album, and it's all tied up together in a flood of emotion and experience for me.
NEW ORLEANS - It seems appropriate that when we see Jay Baruchel on the set of "This Is The End" for the first time, he's sitting off to the side of everything, by himself, reading one of Brian Lumley's "Necroscope" books.
After all, one of the key dynamics in this film is between Seth Rogen and Jay, their old friendship a point of contention now that Rogen has become a huge movie star. Jay still lives in Canada, and he only comes to LA occasionally when he has to do it for work. On one of those trips, he hooks up with Seth for the first time in a while. It's immediately awkward, and it only gets worse when Seth talks Jay into going to a big-ass Hollywood party at James Franco's house. Everything Jay dislikes about Los Angeles and Seth's new life is crystallized in one awful evening, and when the world ends outside and people start dying, it seems like a natural escalation considering what's already happened between them.
When people talk about "summer movies," it's hard to pin down exactly what that means these days. Does summer belong completely to big loud noisy blockbusters? Or is there room for movies that are smaller, more emotionally intimate? Do adults check out completely from May to August? And are all blockbusters built equally?
We've decided that we want to rev up to this summer's movie season with a countdown. The entire HitFix movie staff voted, and anything being released this summer was eligible. The results surprised even us, but they also excited us because one thing was immediately clear…
This is going to be a very cool summer.
Last week, we covered "The Lone Ranger," the newly-retitled "Fruitvale Station," "World War Z," The Kings of Summer," and "Fast and Furious 6." And in the HitFix countdown, big and small films carry equal weight. We're of the opinion that no great film is ever really "small," and that part of what you trust us to do is tell you about all of your options. If it's got us interested, then we have to assume that you'll also be interested, and if you haven't heard about it already, then our job is to make sure you do.
It must be an exceptionally easy casting decision to hire Olga Kurylenko to play an object of desire.
Which is not to say she is an object in any way, of course. In fact, Kurylenko seems to be constantly pushing me as a critic to redefine how I view her as an actor. Seeing her in "Quantum Of Solace" or "Hitman," she certainly seems like a lovely woman, but those roles don't challenge her, and they don't demonstrate any range at all. The first time I really paid attention to the choices she was making was in Neil Marshall's "Centurion," where she played the mute assassin Etain. It was a damn-near feral performance, and all of a sudden, it was clear that she's much more than just a stunning face.
The one-two punch of "To The Wonder" and "Oblivion" should start to make that abundantly clear to the observant. I was not in love with "To The Wonder," but a lot of what Kurylenko does in it is impressive and emotionally honest and even more impressive because it is largely non-verbal.
It's amazing that we are almost 30 years out from the release of "Ghostbusters," and we're still feeling the ripples from its detonation in the heart of mainstream culture even now.
Frankly, I'm amazed that we haven't seen more films cut from that same basic template. They are expensive, sure, and they're not easy to get right, but it's such a tempting formula. I honestly thought "Men In Black" had crapped out, but the third film wrung some surprising joys out of it. Even so, it seems like that particular franchise is so expensive at this point that Sony can't really afford to do more of them.
Enter "R.I.P.D.", ready and willing to take its place, and based on this first trailer, it seems like a very confident, slick riff on the basic ideas. Ryan Reynolds is the SWAT officer who is killed in the line of duty and immediately recruited into the Rest In Peace Department, the law enforcement of the afterlife, made up of the greatest dead lawmen from throughout history, all working to keep unruly spirits in line.
Yep. That's a Gore Verbinski movie.
In the first weekly installation of our countdown to summer (you can see that here), I picked "The Lone Ranger" to write about because I just plain like the way Verbinski does what he does. I think sometimes it's that easy when it comes to this type of huge-canvass filmmaking. I've certainly had directors whose work did nothing for me who I've realized early on don't share any particular aesthetic common ground with me. And I've also seen plenty of filmmakers who prove early on that whatever secret version of film language they're speaking, it affects me, and I'm onboard, whatever the story or subject.
Verbinski shoots action I enjoy watching. I still think his most inspired moments came in "Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," but there are things he does in the third "Pirates" and in "Rango" that are just preposterous, fun and frantic and impeccably staged. He is able to put all these things in motion and then catch them in the perfect way, and it's a gift that should not be discounted. Not everyone's capable of it, no matter what budget or support you give them.
Alan Horn, the new Chairman of Walt Disney Pictures, took the stage at CinemaCon in Las Vegas today to announce an incredibly aggressive timetable for the "Star Wars" franchise. If they manage to pull it off, it will be almost unparalleled for this sort of big-ticket filmmaking.
According to Horn, we will indeed see the JJ Abrams "Star Wars Episode VII" in the summer of 2015, just in time for Disney to completely dominate that summer since they're also releasing "The Avengers 2" that year. In the following years, we will see one new "Star Wars" film every year, every summer, alternating between the stand-alone films that Disney has mentioned previously and the official episodes in the main franchise.
We'll have more analysis on this later this afternoon, but for now, this has got to be one of the most unrelenting schedules I've ever seen, and it all but guarantees that there will always be a "Star Wars" film shooting somewhere.
What a crazy, crazy world.