<p>'The secret word for today is classic!'</p>

'The secret word for today is classic!'

Credit: Warner Bros. Home Video

Film Nerd 2.0: The boys hit the road for 'Pee-Wee's Big Adventure'

HitFix
A
Readers
A-
How does one of the cult gems of the '80s hold up for a new generation?

There was a period of time there where it seemed like if you chose to show a kid the movie "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure," people might view that as bad parenting or a controversial choice because of some of the real-life misadventures of Paul Reubens.

Thank god that's over.

I'm old enough that my first exposure to Paul Reubens and the Pee-Wee Herman character came through the Cheech and Chong movies he appeared in.  I was only ten years old when "Cheech & Chong's Next Movie" came out, so I didn't catch up with it until it showed up on cable a year later, which was right around the same time HBO first aired "The Pee-Wee Herman Show," a videotaped version of the show that Reubens staged in LA with the help of the Groundlings.  That's how he ended up in the Cheech & Chong film, too.  There was an entire LA underground comedy scene that was captured in those early films that Cheech & Chong made, and when you see him play the character in "Next Movie" or when you see him as "The Hamburger Dude" in "Nice Dreams," that's the impression I had of Reubens for many years.  There was something great about the way he set the raunch and the rock-and-roll of the late '70s against the super-pure '50s kids show aesthetic that he so obviously adored, and it was edgy without being full-blown dirty.  I've written about this before, actually.

Read Full Post
<p>Jennifer Lawrence, seen here in 'The Hunger Games,' is an important figure now in the future of both Summit Entertainment and Lionsgate.</p>

Jennifer Lawrence, seen here in 'The Hunger Games,' is an important figure now in the future of both Summit Entertainment and Lionsgate.

Credit: Lionsgate

Summit and Lionsgate make it official and announce their merger deal

'Twilight' and 'Hunger Games' under one roof? Too good to be true.

There's a fair amount of online chatter this week about the impending purchase of Summit Entertainment by Lionsgate, and while I've seen a fair degree of snark and a lot of "Twilight" related comments, this is a significant deal, and it deserves some real consideration about what it means to the creative community and what it means for both companies.

First, if I'd known that Summit was selling for a mere $412.5 million, I might have made a bid on it myself.  What a bargain.

I kid, but that number seems low when you look at the success of Summit's "Twilight" movies.  The truth is that for many people, Summit IS "Twilight" and vice-versa, and the question of what they might be after that series ends is a scary one.  I've often said that both the best and the worst thing that ever happened to New Line was "Lord Of The Rings."  Best because of the huge financial and critical success they enjoyed, finally winning a Best Picture Oscar, something that would have been impossible to imagine in the "Pink Flamingos"/"A Nightmare On Elm Street" early days of the company, but worst because after they made "Lord Of The Rings," they started chasing that success, making much more expensive movies and eventually pricing themselves right out of business.

Read Full Post
<p>Woody Harrelson is well aware of what sort of expectations people have for 'The Hunger Games,' and he's confident that people will like what they see when the film arrives in March.</p>

Woody Harrelson is well aware of what sort of expectations people have for 'The Hunger Games,' and he's confident that people will like what they see when the film arrives in March.

Credit: Lionsgate

Watch: Woody Harrelson is excited for people to see 'Hunger Games'

The veteran actor seems happier to be acting right now than ever before

Woody Harrelson's having a lovely moment these days.

I sat down with him this week to talk about his movie "Rampart," and that represents one part of what I like about his work right now.  He's a great character actor, but it took a while for filmmakers to really figure out his range.  I think he has a strong connection to filmmaker Oren Moverman, and I am excited to see if they're going to keep working together moving forward from here.

But Woody has also become a valuable asset for big studio movies when they find the right role for him, and I think Haymitch, an important figure in the world of "Hunger Games," could be one of those cases where he's not the first name you think of, but he's could turn out to be an inspired choice.

He's certainly ready for whatever happens, and I think it's interesting to see how different his attitude is from Elizabeth Banks, who we spoke to yesterday.  She's keeping her head down, focused on the work she's doing, and tuning out the rapidly-mounting hype for the films.  Woody, on the other hand, seems totally at peace with whichever way this goes.  It could be gigantic, and he'd be happy to keep on playing the character in future films, or this could just miss, and he'd still be satisfied with the work and the experience.

Read Full Post
<p>Channing Tatum doesn't have much screen time in 'GI&nbsp;Joe:&nbsp;Retaliation,' but it sounds like he would have been happy with even less.</p>

Channing Tatum doesn't have much screen time in 'GI Joe: Retaliation,' but it sounds like he would have been happy with even less.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Watch: Channing Tatum seems pleased with the 'GI Joe' reboot

If anything, he would have been happier with an even cleaner break

Steven Soderbergh is a miracle worker.

These days, George Clooney is about as close to a sure bet as you can find when it comes to awards season, both as an actor and as a filmmaker, and it's easy to forget that when he made the jump from "E/R" to feature films, there was a struggle while he was trying to define himself. 

These days, there is no real remnant of the tic that defined him at first, that weird sideways head thing he did where he'd sort of do the palsy shake while he was talking.  The moment where he finally stopped doing that was when he worked for Soderbergh in "Out Of Sight," and whatever happened between them, it transformed Clooney, and he's never looked back.

I think the same thing might be going on right now with Channing Tatum, and it's exciting.  When we sat down to talk about his role in "Haywire," we had a brief moment where we were trying to sort out some camera issues, and we started talking about the recent trailer release for "G.I. Joe: Retaliation," as well as my time on the set of the film.

Read Full Post
<p>Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, and Bruce Willis all star in Wes Anderson's period comedy 'Moonrise Kingdom'</p>

Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, and Bruce Willis all star in Wes Anderson's period comedy 'Moonrise Kingdom'

Credit: Focus Features

Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray charm in Wes Anderson's 'Moonrise Kingdom' trailer

HitFix
A-
Readers
B+
A period comedy about young love gets a trailer and looks promising

One of the ridiculous things about making lists of what you're most anticipating before the start of a calendar year is that you haven't really seen much yet. Chances are by the time a film's actual publicity campaign kicks in, I've seen more than you have, but even so, many of those "what's coming in 2012" pieces you see at the end of the year are speculation, betting on interesting combinations of things you recognize, hoping for the best.

When you talk about a film that looks good in the hypothetical, "Moonrise Kingdom" sounds like someone sat in a room with someone else and said, "How can we get Drew to pay attention?"

"Well, we could cast it with people like Bill Murray and Bruce Willis and Edward Norton and Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton and Jason Schwartzman."

"Nice.  Good.  He loves those actors."

"Exactly.  And we should get the script to be a collaboration, try to appeal to two different points of interest for him.  Take someone like Roman Coppola, whose movie 'CQ' is one of those underseen, under-appreciated gems that Drew totally loves, and have him collaborate with someone whose taste would make an interesting match…"

"Wes Anderson?"

"Oh.  Slam Dunk.  Ticket sold.  Drew's in."

Read Full Post
<p>The new HBO series 'Girls' by Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow will be showcased as part of this year's SXSW Film&nbsp;Festival in Austin, TX.</p>

The new HBO series 'Girls' by Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow will be showcased as part of this year's SXSW Film Festival in Austin, TX.

Credit: HBO

SXSW announces 'Cabin In The Woods' for opening night

Plus Lena Dunham live in person with Judd Apatow and 'Girls'

This is exciting.

SXSW has announced their opening night film for this year, and it's a doozy.  I'm allowed to say that I've seen it already, and that anyone who is in the audience for the Joss Whedon/Drew Goddard horror experiment "Cabin In The Woods" that night is in for a treat.

And I mean it when I call it an experiment.  This is one of the year's wildest rides, and I can't wait to be able to talk about it when the festival finally arrives.

Add to that the idea that Judd Apatow's coming with Lena Dunham, and that seems like the perfect combination to describe the identity that SXSW has carved out for itself, as a place where Hollywood and indie co-mingle quite comfortably.

Here's the information that SXSW sent over this morning:

Read Full Post
<p>Jack Nicholson gave one of his very best performances as Jake Gittes, an LA private eye in trouble right up to his nose in the classic film 'Chinatown,' finally arriving on Blu-ray in April.</p>

Jack Nicholson gave one of his very best performances as Jake Gittes, an LA private eye in trouble right up to his nose in the classic film 'Chinatown,' finally arriving on Blu-ray in April.

Credit: Paramount Home Video

'Chinatown' Blu-ray will feature commentary by Robert Towne and David Fincher

Plus more filmmakers discuss their love for the film in other special features

"Chinatown" is one of those movies that changes every time I return to it, each time giving it some space after I see it.  It is a slippery classic that represents a gorgeous collision between the studio hypergloss of the '40s and the New Truth cinema of the '70s, a European's heartfelt struggle to understand the city where his chosen medium thrived and took root.  I adore "Chinatown," both as a script that refuses to compromise in the way it unveils its sad, damaged heart and as a perfectly-pitched tribute to the LA noir fiction I love so much.  It's impeccably performed, beautifully photographed, and about as good an example of what happens when everything clicks just right on a movie as I can name.

And it is finally, finally, finally coming to Blu-ray.

Like Universal, Paramount is celebrating it's 100th year this year, and I think releasing one of the finest films the studio has ever made on the finest home video format that's been made so far is a pretty nice way of celebrating the year.  And if the only thing the disc contained was a perfectly restored high-definition print, I'd be all about that.  I would happily pick one up.

Read Full Post
<p>Elizabeth Banks makes a striking Effie in 'The Hunger Games,' and it sounds like she's still not aware of the impending tidal wave of attention the film will bring her.</p>

Elizabeth Banks makes a striking Effie in 'The Hunger Games,' and it sounds like she's still not aware of the impending tidal wave of attention the film will bring her.

Credit: Lionsgate

Watch: Elizabeth Banks braces herself for the 'Hunger Games' onslaught

It's almost charming how much she's in denial about impending stardom

I've interviewed Elizabeth Banks a handful of times now, and she comes across during a press day the same way she comes across in her work:  down to earth, not fussy at all, and always just sort of slightly kidding about things.

I'll have my full interview with her about the new film 'Man On A Ledge' soon, but for now, we wanted to share a short piece of the conversation when I brought up the impending onslaught of publicity and attention for "The Hunger Games."

I just talked to Woody Harrelson about the film as well, and he seemed well aware of what sort of expectation there is for the movie.  Banks, though, seems like she's got her head down, focused on this year's "30 Rock" and doing publicity for "Ledge" and basically anything that keeps her from thinking about the insane spotlight that she's about to step into with this series.

I get it.  It's one thing when you make a movie in a vacuum and you release it and people suddenly fall in love with it and there's a big fan base that grows from the movie.  But this sort of big fat pop culture phenomenon that you're adapting is something very different, and it comes with a totally different type of attention.  Fans of the "Hunger Games" series have very strong opinions about the casting, and while some of the choices may have been controversial, it seems like fans have taken to the idea of Banks playing Effie Trinket in a big way.

Read Full Post
<p>Sam Worthington wants another shot at making a great 'Titans' film, and he's convinced that 'Wrath' will make up for 'Clash'</p>

Sam Worthington wants another shot at making a great 'Titans' film, and he's convinced that 'Wrath' will make up for 'Clash'

Credit: Warner Bros/Legendary

Watch: Sam Worthington throws himself on his sword over 'Clash Of The Titans'

And are we really going to have to wait until 2016 for more 'Avatar'?

Each time I sit down with Sam Worthington, I am struck by just how resolutely unpolished he is, and how refreshing that can be.

No matter how many press junkets and interviews he does, I get the feeling no one is sanding any rough edges off of Sam Worthington any time soon.  He doesn't have that filter that is so carefully trained into most movie stars, and he doesn't seem terribly political in terms of what he will or won't say.

As a result, I've always enjoyed talking to him.  If you do get a reaction out of him, it's genuine.  If you want to talk '80s metal bands with him, you'll get him to talk all afternoon, and you'll see what passion looks like.  But he'll be equally frank and critical if you want to talk about his own movies.

For example, as we sat down last week to discuss his new film "Man On A Ledge," I wanted to ask him about returning to play a character in a sequel, something he just did for the first time, and something that he's going to do soon (relatively speaking, considering the "Avatar" sequels aren't going to arrive until at least 2016) when he returns to Pandora for James Cameron.

Read Full Post
<p>The skyline of Coruscant may look beautiful, but in the proposed series 'Star Wars:&nbsp;Underworld,' we're going to see the seedy underside of this planet-sized city if George Lucas has anything to say about it.</p>

The skyline of Coruscant may look beautiful, but in the proposed series 'Star Wars: Underworld,' we're going to see the seedy underside of this planet-sized city if George Lucas has anything to say about it.

Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Lucas talks 'Red Tails' trilogy and McCallum drops 'Star Wars: Underworld' title

All sorts of Lucas news breaks straight from the source

Wait, wait, wait… so "Red Tails" is a trilogy?

That's what George Lucas said during a fairly freewheeling interview on "The Daily Show" this week.  He's been making the rounds doing publicity for "Red Tails," which is a surreal thing to say as a longtime Lucas fan.  How many years has he been talking about this story, and how long has he been trying to get it made?  And now, finally, here it is.

Rick McCallum has also been doing interviews to support the film as well, and he dropped an interesting bit of information about the long-rumored live-action "Star Wars" television show… a title.

What's really interesting is how the title plays into what I'd already learned about the show, and every time they say anything official about the show, it sounds like they're making the series that I initially heard described.  And if that's true, it sounds like it could be a really interesting different take on the world of "Star Wars," one that's not like any of the films that have been made so far.

Read Full Post