"In today's news, NOSTALGIC PROPERTY has been BOUGHT/GREENLIT/DEVELOPED by SOMEONE I GENERALLY LIKE and will now be made again."
I should keep that open in a document at all times on my laptop, because I write that story about 250 times a year these days. Today, it is the Thunderbirds, a property that is familiar to 100% nobody under the age of 20, and Weta is the hook that's got everyone writing about it. I am sure dozens of you could immediately comment under this story about the rich and interesting history of "Thunderbirds," and you can defend it both as commercial gamble and creative foundation. I'm not saying otherwise.
I'm saying that at this point, planting a flag in another thing that occupies a certain percentage of pop culture real estate is par for the course. I just recorded a podcast with Scott Swan where we talk about, among other things, yesterday's Super Bowl movie commercials, and he made a good point about "The Lone Ranger." If this version doesn't work, it is safe to say that no one will ever make a "Lone Ranger" property again, because at this point, it's had so many chances to re-establish its place in pop culture, and the last feature film was a disaster, and this one is crazy expensive and had the biggest commercial pedigree possible and the most aggressive marketing team in the business selling it and it HAS to work. So if it doesn't, I think it's scientifically safe to say it never will.
"In today's news, NOSTALGIC PROPERTY has been BOUGHT/GREENLIT/DEVELOPED by SOMEONE I GENERALLY LIKE and will now be made again."
There is a very short list of reporters online who consistently and correctly scoop information that is supposed to be secret. I'm not talking about breaking a casting story because the studio sent you the press release ten minutes early, and I'm not talking about the shell game that gets played with information at the trades. I'm talking about genuinely revealing something that someone else does not want revealed at all. It is a skill set that very few outlets seem to value or cultivate.
Then you've got Latino Review and El Mayimbe, who evidently subsists entirely on a liquid diet of the tears from angry studio executives. Mayimbe cracks me up because of how alpha male he gets about scoops. When you're hunting down information on movies about dudes in spandex beating all hell out of other dudes in spandex, it seems to be a particularly funny time to get aggro about what it is you're doing. And that's what makes Mayimbe great.
It also helps that he's got a pretty ridiculous track record.
Mark Millar has obviously discovered the trick to cloning human beings, and he's used himself as a test subject. Sure, I can't prove that, but it's really the only possible explanation for his omnipresence right now.
He's got new comic titles dropping constantly, he edits CLiNT magazine, he curates the annual Kapow! event, and now he's also employed by 20th Century Fox, who brought him in to help create a cohesive world for their Marvel properties. That last job is the one I'm most curious about, because Millar is, by his very nature, a deconstructionist. Much of his work has been about pulling these icons apart and reassembling them in new ways.
As Fox gets ready to make "X-Men: Days Of Future Past," it feels like this is a make or break moment for their franchise. I like most of the movies that have been made about the X-Men so far, but I think they're in a weird position right now. Matthew Vaughn's "X-Men: First Class" essentially rebooted the film universe, and in doing so, made several choices that ignored the continuity of the Singer films and Ratner's "Last Stand," while also doing a few things that tied directly into the Singer films.
If you've never seen Matteo Garrone's film, "Gommorah," you really should.
It's a Mafia movie, but not the way we've come to think of them over the years. Garrone made a film that captured a very organic, very lived-in ecosystem that is run by thugs and punks. "Gomorrah" plays like a refutation of every single movie every made that's made the criminals look good. The closest comparison I can make is "City Of God," the film that opened my eyes to how the favelas work and how society has reconfigured itself, leaving this lawless space to its own devices. The unobtrusive documentary-styled style he employed only added to the feeling of authenticity.
That was 2008, and since then Garrone's been radio silent. I saw his new film "Reality" at the Cannes Film Festival last year, and I liked it quite a bit. I called it the story of Job as told in the age of reality TV. His star, Aniello Arena, gives a remarkable performance as Luciano, an Italian guy whose dreams of appearing on Italy's "Big Brother" seem to vanishing a little more every day, and it's killing him. He's the family member who is always clowning around, cracking jokes, making his daughter laugh on her wedding day, He's a good and decent man with a small but respectable fish market, and he supplements that income with tiny scams on the side. He is a happy man, but all those jokes he cracks hide an ambition that eventually becomes fixated on this stupid TV show.
Boy, I'm tired of "Tax Shelter Theater."
I know the landscape has changed in the last decade for independent financing, and I know it continues to change. It is a scary time to be making movies, if only because so many things seem to be evolving as we speak, and one of the things that feels most like a holdover from the '80s and '90s is this certain kind of low-budget picture that exists as part of a deal with a distributor, a pipeline of garbage that somehow lands big-name actors while rarely, if ever, cranking out anything worth watching. There are certain producers who show up on movies and as soon as I see their name, I automatically assume I'm about to see an indifferent piece of junk, and certain company names that set off the same warning bells. What gets me most about these movies is that they don't have to be so bad. It's financing that exists simply to service a deal, so why couldn't that money be used to attach those same big names to genuinely worthwhile and adventurous fare? You can't tell me that a movie as generic and paint-by-numbers as "Stand Up Guys" is the best that can be done with these resources. You just can't.
Jonathan Levine has managed to build an interesting filmography without repeating himself so far, and by hopping from genre to genre, he's proven himself to be a very limber filmmaker whose greatest strength is building spaces for actors to do strong work. "Warm Bodies," based on a young adult novel and no doubt greenlt by Summit to help them in a post-"Twilight" world, is a sincere and savvy take on both "Romeo and Juliet" and the zombie genre, and if there's any justice, this should be a strong spring performer as word of mouth spreads.
Isaac Marion's novel posed a challenge to anyone adapting it because so much of what happens in the book is internal, narrated by the inner monologue of a zombie named R. Levine, who wrote the script as well as directed, went all-in on the narration idea, and much of the film is married to an ongoing narration by Nicholas Hoult. It's been fascinating watching Hoult come into focus as a performer. His work in "About A Boy" was so good that I remember walking out of the movie worried about his future. He was such a painfully awkward kid, and yet a few years later, watching him on "Skins," he seemed to have transformed completely into a fascinating dead-eyed shark. He grew into himself and seemed to be particularly good at playing the great-looking shit, the kid who took full advantage of the genetic lottery he won. Either one of those roles could have been enough to trap him into playing variations on the same character over and over, but seeing one kid play both parts suggested a real depth to what Hoult was capable of, and he continues to prove that with each new performance he gives.
Here's hoping it's at least as big as "Aquaman."
I have a serious question, and it's larger than the notion of whether or not people want to see an "Entourage" movie. In general, when you are invested in a television show over a long period of time, is a theatrically-released movie the ultimate goal for you as a viewer? Is that somehow considered the payoff to a good run on TV? Or is the relationship with a TV show something very different than the relationship we have with movies?
And more importantly, is it a coincidence that the studio that is making "Entourage: The Movie" has the word "Bros" in its name?
Honestly, the thing that I'd be most worried about if I were the person pulling the trigger on this one is whether or not people are going to pony up the $15 to see a long inside joke that they've already seen seven full seasons of on HBO. "Entourage" was one of those shows that I watched while I had HBO, but as it wore on, it really started to feel like one note playing over and over again. It's an easy show to beat up on because of the lifestyle it glamorizes, but there were moments where it did a nice job of laying bare the way ego drives the entertainment industry just as much as creativity. It also helped that Jeremy Piven dug into his ongoing role as Ari in a way that basically gave him the second half of his career.
About a week ago, my kids walked into the office where I spend most of my time, the two of them both smiling broadly.
I knew as soon as I looked at them that they were struggling not to laugh before revealing their joke. Toshi spoke first, and he sounded completely rehearsed, like he and Allen made a plan. "Daddy, you know how you said we could ask you any question?"
"Yes," I replied, and I got scared, flat-out scared that they were about to ask me something like "What's a blow job?" On the day they do ask that, I plan to reply, "Five dollars, same as in town," and then vanish in a puff of smoke.
Thankfully, though, this was something more innocent, more fitting of the mindset of two comic-book crazy kids who are mainlining pop culture. Toshi nudged Allen, giving him his cue to ask the question, and even before Allen started speaking, he started laughing, and when he talks and laughs at the same time (which is often because he is a very silly little boy), it's like Woody Woodpecker trying to describe something to you. Waves of giggles as he struggled to ask, "When Spider-Man has to go poop, does he have to take his whole costume off?"
So of course I'm in tears from laughing, too, at this point, trying to stop, and I finally managed to answer, "Yes, but he has to leave his mask on." Because that image entertains me mightily.
Allen nodded as I spoke, satisfied with the answer, and walked away with a single "Cool." And that was that. Pleased with themselves for asking it in the first place, still trailing little flurries of self-satisfied laughter, Toshi and Allen left my office and went back to the playroom. As they pulled my office door closed, Allen's last comment to Toshi was, "I knew it. I told you."
Review: Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley do exquisite work in heartfelt Sundance hit 'Spectacular Now'
PARK CITY - One of the benefits of staying longer than the opening weekend of the Sundance Film Festival is that you can catch up with films towards the end of the festival that have picked up buzz over the previous days. As soon as "The Spectacular Now" made its public premiere, it became a priority for me to see during the festival, and it more than lived up to the early word. Written by the same writers as "(500) Days Of Summer" and directed by the filmmaker behind last year's "Smashed," I think "The Spectacular Now" is better than either of those films, and it delivers a strong emotional punch in a smart overall package.
Based on a novel by Tim Tharp, "The Spectacular Now" tells the story of Sutter Keely, played here by Miles Teller, who is coasting through his high school career on a cloud of innate charm and alcohol fumes. He is the life of the party, and that's the problem. Constantly drunk, he seems to believe that there is no reason to think about the future at all. He is all about the moment, all about the sensation. As the film begins, his long-time girlfriend Cassidy (Brie Larson) has reached the breaking point, and she can't do it anymore. She knows how charming he is, but she also knows that he's dragging her down, and she wants more. There is a strong tie between the two of them, and as much as it pains her, she can't continue to let him dictate the way they both seem to be failing. Once Sutter finds himself on his own, he is rudderless, and he spends a lot of energy trying to convince himself that none of it matters, that it's okay that she left him. His mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) has a hard time really communicating with him, and the unspoken space between them has to do with Sutter's long-absent father. His older sister (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is out of the house, married, and she married into money, doing her best to leave behind her upbringing.
Paul Giamatti as The Rhino?
I'll say this for Marc Webb. He's got one hell of a cast put together for "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." At this point, it seems like actors have all decided that everyone does a superhero movie at some point, so why not pick a side (good or evil) and just have fun with it?
Giamatti is a real-deal genre nerd. The first time I was introduced to him was on the set of "Shoot 'Em Up," and it was obvious after a half-hour of conversation that this was a guy with a voracious genre appetite. He's joining a great cast. Obviously you've got Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Sally Field all returning from the first film, and two of the darlings of this year's Sundance Film Festival are joining the cast, since Shailene Woodley has been added as Mary Jane Watson and Dane DeHaan is going to play Harry Osborne.