I have a weird relationship with Tim Burton's movies.
Fitting, I guess, since he's such a particular filmmaker. And this is going to be one of those reviews where you read it and you look at the letter grade and you say, "Are you sure those match?"
When "Alice In Wonderland" came out a few years ago, I found myself getting actively angry at almost everything about the film. I hated the script. I hated the way they bent Lewis Carroll's work. I hated the performance choices. Nothing about it worked for me, and beyond that, it irritated me. That film, of course, made well over a billion dollars around the world.
When "Mars Attacks!" came out, I thought it was wildly flawed, but also entertaining and ridiculous and packed with details that made me sort of fall for it, flaws and all. If I had to give "Mars Attacks!" a letter grade, it might not be a good one, but I own the film and I've seen it many times since that initial screening.
Often, I've noticed that when I really enjoy something that Tim Burton does, it makes other people mental and vice versa. Knowing this, I am probably not the best barometer for most people on Burton's work. All I can do is be honest and admit that, yes, "Dark Shadows" is one of those films where I see a lot of problems with it, and they pretty much don't matter to me because of what I enjoyed about it. I think the overall effort is endearingly ridiculous, and here's a way to gauge your own expectations for the film: how do you feel about "Death Becomes Her"?
I have a weird relationship with Tim Burton's movies.
Shortly after our interview ended, Eva Green returned to her home planet, happy and ridiculously hot.
I love people like Eva Green. I love actors who not only maintain a personal sense of style but who genuinely seem like they are tuned in to a private radio station, listening to music only they can hear. I love them because we often see that individual personality come out in their work in ways that no one could predict. They give performances that are alive in unexpected ways, and the films they are in are much richer for it.
Eva Green made a pretty serious impact on male moviegoers as soon as Bertolucci introduced her in "The Dreamers," and there is no doubt… she's a stunning woman. As she's gotten older, though, what's become increasingly clear is that she is not really equipped to be part of the machine. She's been in some big films, sure, but I don't get the sense that she has handed herself over, heart and soul, desperate to be a movie star.
I'm really surprised that Matthew Vaughn's willing to let someone else play with his toys.
After all, "Kick-Ass" wasn't just some studio gig he got hired for that was going to happen with or without his involvement. He chose to make the film outside the studio system because he knew it wasn't going to be easy to convince people to let him do certain things like cast a real 12 year old to play Hit Girl or keep the extreme attitude of the thing.
As Mark Millar's been publishing "Kick-Ass 2" over the last year or so, the question has been raised many times about whether or not there would be a movie sequel. Every time I ran into a member of the cast of the original, they seemed absolutely ready to jump back in and return to these characters. Chris Mintz-Plasse in particular seemed hungry to play the villain this time, and he seemed excited by where the character had gone on the comics.
Now, according to reports, Universal may well step in as the home for "Kick-Ass 2," and while Matthew Vaughn's MARV Films remains in control of the material, Vaughn and his screenwriting partner Jane Goldman are not going to be hands-on in quite the same way this time.
Until this year's SXSW film festival, I'd never spoken to Joss Whedon.
It didn't really strike me as odd until after the fact. I mean, I've been writing about this guy's work for the entire time I've been online, and we have many overlapping friends. Even if I hadn't had the opportunity for a formal interview, it seemed like we should have at least run into each other at some point. Even my Twitter icon sort of perfectly sums it up, a photo of the two of us standing about eight feet apart that I never even realized happened.
The SXSW chat went really well, I thought, and then I saw "The Avengers" and just flipped for what he pulled off. Sitting down with him again at the press day for the film, it was hard to know where to start the conversation because there's so much that's worth talking about when someone's having a creative moment like the one Whedon's having right now, not to mention the body of work he's already accumulated.
When someone contacts you and asks if you want to see Gary Busey bloopers from the sequel to "Piranha," the answer is ABSOLUTELY NO QUESTION "yes."
All I needed to hear was "Gary Busey" and "bloopers," because I can only imagine what it looks like when he gets something wrong. The performances they cut together of his these days look like outtakes in the first place, barely sane collections of reaction shots that only loosely relate to what's happening around him, so bloopers? Please. As many as possible.
Busey is a big personality, and at this point, you know what you're getting when you cast him. I give him credit for holding together this sort of niche he's carved out, finding films that can make use of his particular presence and his box-office percentages in the overseas financing game. Thanks to some of the hits he's been in, Busey can help get a film made. He is a vital piece of the chess board, and I seriously respect any working actor who figures that out for themselves. Lots of people appear in movies. Not many people do it for forty or fifty years in a row.
Yes, I know Roger Ebert recently wrote a piece about struggling to define his ten favorite films of all time. He was doing so as part of the "Sight & Sound" critic's poll, and it was a typically great Ebert piece, even if I disagree strongly with some of the titles on his list.
Disagreement is, of course, part of the point. And since I wasn't asked to be part of the "Sight & Sound" poll, and neither were any number of interesting online voices, it was immediately appealing when Cole Abaius from Film School Rejects asked me to contribute my list to a piece he's doing this week. I decided it would be a fun exercise and opened up a file to start writing and…
I've taken a shot at a similar list before, almost in passing, and I've certainly got a running short list in my head of my favorite movies. But actually quantifying what my ten, or in this case twenty, favorite films are, without cheating, without including trilogies, without padding the list out… that's tough. And by the time I was done, I realized this needed to be a stand-alone article here on the blog.
One film you won't see on my list? "Citizen Kane." I might include it on the list of the ten most significant films of all time, and I certainly think much of what we consider modern film language evolved from choices that Welles and Gregg Toland made on that film, but as far as personal enjoyment? It's not in my top ten or even my top twenty. I just don't feel compelled to revisit it often, nor do I feel there is much more I can ever take from it as an experience.
It's hard to believe that the summer of 1982 is already upon us.
Oh, sure, it happened 30 years ago, but what I'm talking about is the Alamo Drafthouse celebration of what I consider the best genre summer of all time. This week, they're warming up with a Tuesday booking for the great sleazy "Vice Squad," and then the party starts in earnest with "Conan The Barbarian" this Friday.
HitFix is pleased to co-present this first weekend's movie, and as part of that, we've got a very special premiere for you today of Mondo's special poster that they've put together for the event. Believe me when I say to you, there are very few things that are going to make me this happy this year.
Unlike "Blade Runner" or "The Thing," two films that have become critical hits in the 30 years since their release, "Conan The Barbarian" is still dismissed by many, and that drives me crazy. I think it's a genuinely great film, and while it's not exactly my interpretation of Robert E. Howard's dark and strange pulp stories about the sword-bearing Cimmerian, I love what John Milius did with it. It's one of my favorite performances by Arnold Schwarzenegger, too, and I think he benefits enormously from Sandahl Bergman's work in the film. She makes him more soulful simply because of how she plays against him.
It looks like campaign season has begun.
Or rather, it looks like "The Campaign" season has begun, with Warner Bros. using Facebook today to kick off the marketing for the new Jay Roach political comedy starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis.
Roach's last film was the HBO drama "Game Change," and part of his goal with that film was to stick very close to reality since he was depicting events from a real election that was held up to enormous media scrutiny. If he got the details wrong, we'd know immediately because of how the images from that primary season were burnt into our collective consciousness.
With "The Campaign," it looks like Roach decided to kick loose and go the other direction, cranking up the absurdity of our political machine, and hiring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis seems like a good step in that direction. Instead of releasing a conventional trailer, this morning sees three new videos online. The first is on the main Facebook page for the film and features Marty Huggins (Galifianakis) and Cam Brady (Ferrell) together. Then each of them also has their own Facebook page where they have posted attack videos aimed at each other.
It is not unusual for studios to respond to real-world issues by changing titles, delaying films, or even altering content within the movie. This can be done for any number of reasons.
Anyone who has been following the Trayvon Martin story in Florida would likely understand 20th Century Fox's decision to change the title of their summer science-fiction comedy "Neighborhood Watch." The movie doesn't have anything to do with that situation or anything like it, but just knowing that George Zimmerman was a member of a neighborhood watch program and hearing that phrase on news story after news story had to be enough reason to get the studio nervous.
Today, they are set to officially announce the title change to "The Watch," and they'll do so with a debut of the new red-banded trailer for the film.
"I was shocked," said Clark Gregg, who reprises the role of Phil Coulson for the fourth time in "The Avengers", of first reading Joss Whedon's script. "As someone who's been in these movies, who loves these movies, who loved the comics, who knows these heroes, and who loves good writing, I didn't know how anyone was gonna do it."
Critics are shocked too - against all odds, the hugely-anticipated superhero film that could've gone wrong in a million different ways now stands at a whopping 94% "fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes, with Drew McWeeny (who chatted with Gregg and co-star Cobie Smulders during the film's recent press junket) giving the film an "A" in his own review. So what's the secret to Whedon's success?
"It's a magic trick," said Gregg. "The fact that it's so human, and so funny, and then so damn exciting...I don't know how he did it, so I'm kind of a little freaked out by him right now."
You can watch Drew's full interview with Gregg and Smulders (who appears in the franchise for the first time as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill) above!
"The Avengers" hits theaters on May 4.