I saved this one for last.
After all, you don't often witness chemisty as immediate and as just plain weird as whatever's going on between Charlie Day and Ron Perlman. In "Pacific Rim," Charlie Day stars as a scientist who has devoted his life to the study of the kaiju, the giant monsters that have been pouring out of a hole at the bottom of the ocean. I love Day's work in the film, and I think they made some sensational choices in terms of his look. I love that he's got tattoo sleeves that are all kaiju that have fallen in battle. His character is trying to contribute something to the war efforts that is totally different from what the Jaeger pilots do, but just as valuable.
It's because of his efforts that he comes into contact with Hannibal Chau, played by Ron Perlman, who is such a brother to the film's director at this point that Perlman could probably get away with changing his last name to Del Toro. Chau runs the black market for kaiju organs and anything else they can salvage when these giant monsters fall. Even thought Day is playing a kaiju expert working for the military, he still have no choice but to reach out to Chau. There is something he needs that only Chau can provide, and from the moment they meet, there is this great tense mood of near-violence between them.
I saved this one for last.
One of the things that surprised me after I took my sons to see "Pacific Rim" is how certain details landed for them.
For example, there's a moment in the film where Charlie Hunnam's character, Raleigh, is trying to make a point to Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), and he grabs his arm. Elba turns around, surprised that anyone would consider grabbing his arm a good idea, and says something to Hunnam. The line he says has become a permanent part of Allen's vocabulary, and it was an immediate thing. He cackled in the theater, and I've heard him quote the line about twenty times now in different situations.
When I asked him why the line entertained him so much, he told me, "Because, daddy, he's awesome."
There are many kinds of movies that I love.
I'm always baffled by people who really only seem to have one genre of film or one style of film that they like, because to me, film is all about variety. If you browse through my shelves full of movies or the books full of DVDs and you try to figure out some system by which they're ordered, you'll go crazy. I intentionally do not alphabetize my films or my discs, and I don't group them by genre. I just add titles as they show up, putting them on the stacks or filing them in the books, and what looks like random chaos to anyone else is, to me, the purest expression of the way I ingest movies. I see no real tangible difference between the pleasures I get from "Pacific Rim" and the pleasures I get from something like "Before Midnight" or "Stories We Tell." To me, film is all about voice. You find the right voice to tell me your story, and I'll pretty much follow you anywhere.
And if there is anything that Guillermo Del Toro has, it is voice.
We have reached an age where the truly fantastic has become commonplace. We look at images in movies today that would baffle people from 100 years ago, images that would be considered sorcery 500 years ago, and we are blase about them. We accept the incredible as an ordinary part of filmgoing these days, and to some degree, it has ruined us. When the amazing becomes routine, what is left to give us that sense of wonder?
Rinko Kikuchi has now been directed by two of the Three Amigos, and both times, she's done wonderful work.
Innaritu's "Babel" is one of those films where, even if you don't love every part of it, there are so many things going on in it that it's worth your attention. In particular, the work of Rinko Kikuchi in the film is so raw, so real, so exposed and vulnerable, that it transcends language. You can watch her work in the movie without subtitles and even if you don't speak a single word of Japanese, her entire performance comes through, loud and clear.
In Guillermo Del Toro's "Pacific Rim," Rinko is once again a key piece of the puzzle, and once again, her ability to open up a character and lay their most private thoughts bare is essential for making something work. Del Toro makes full and canny use of her as a visual element and also as an emotional heavyweight. When she has to land the movie's biggest punches, she does, and she makes you believe that Mako could indeed by the thing that would bring Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) back to life enough to step back into the fray.
It's no secret that Guillermo Del Toro is one of my favorite people in the film industry today.
There are very few filmmakers who adore genre with the same enthusiasm as Del Toro who can also wrestle the images from their heads directly onto the screen. No matter how outrageous or surreal an idea he has, he is great at turning those ideas into actual physical things. Part of that is because he's a gifted artist in his own right, but it's also because he knows how to mobilize the amazing art departments that he puts together for each of his films.
There are talented filmmakers who I don't feel strongly about on a personal level, but Guillermo is as decent as he is gifted, and when you see how many people work with him over and over, that's because he really does create an atmosphere of family on the films he makes.
When I was twenty-six years old, I was a WGAw member already with a few produced plays, but I feel like I was still very young in many, many ways. Frankly, I'm amazed anyone took me seriously at that age, because I know for a fact I didn't carry myself with the same poise that Armie Hammer does.
I think he was exactly the right choice for Disney to cast as The Lone Ranger, and I think if they'd done something more traditional with the character, he could have absolutely crushed it. If there's anyone who seems stranded by the script, it's him. Obvious attention was paid to making sure that Tonto is given every bit of quirk and character that Johnny Depp requested, but Hammer is often left high and dry by the strange tonal shifts of the film and the completely inconsistent internal logic of his actions.
One of the weirdest little subcategories of things I like is when an actor shows up in two different movies in a film series playing totally different characters for no particular reason.
Weird, right? But now you can add Kristen Wiig to the list of people who have done that, since she played a very small role in "Despicable Me" as a character named "Miss Hattie," and now in "Despicable Me 2," she is front and center as the so-happy-to-be-a-spy-she-is-giddy new character, Lucy. She is also Gru's unlikely love interest in the film, and the two of them have a loose, easy connection that makes their material a lot of fun.
I am equally entertained by the notion that Wiig and Carrell are going to be paired again in "Anchorman: The Legend Continues," and it looks like Brick has met his match, which should be hilarious. The trailer that was only released to theaters has a little bit more footage, and that's where you get a good look at Wiig and Carrell together, both of them dim bulbs in a big way.
I like Gore Verbinski quite a bit.
I liked his early films like "Mousehunt" and "The Ring," but when he made "Pirates Of The Caribbean," it was like a whole new filmmaker suddenly emerged. Suddenly he was revealed as an amazing action director, a guy who could stage an elaborate sequence on several different fronts, juggling everything with a visual clarity and a sense of geography that is staggering.
As action cinema in the last decade has devolved into a flailing incoherence where shaking the camera to obscure what's happening has replaced creating great action, Verbinski has become an increasingly rare bird. He has also established himself as a very canny gamer of the ratings system. You look at his version of "The Ring" or his "Pirates" films or "The Lone Ranger," and you can see just how much he's managed to sneak by under the guise of a PG-13.
At some point, when you interview someone enough times, it starts to feel like you're just checking in, like it's an ongoing conversation that you just return to a few times every year.
I met Steve Carrell the first time on the set of "Anchorman." I visited on the day they shot the big rumble between all of the various news teams, and Carrell was having a great time that day pushing the weirdness of the scene. It was such a playful set, and he was certainly in the spirit of things.
Then I spent a long day with him on "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," and I really got a glimpse of the Steve Carrell that has become a movie star due in large part to that breakthrough performance. He seemed to me like a guy who was very serious about his craft but who wasn't really playing the big-picture career game at that point. When I saw him on the "Get Smart" set, it was starting to feel more like someone had decided that the Steve Carrell brand was a very big brand, and there was more attention and energy focused on every choice. Carrell was still the same guy, but the energy around him was undeniably different.
I got challenged by a few of you for something I wrote in my review of "The Internship," and, in hindsight, you are correct about the way I said something.
I mentioned that I feel like Hollywood failed Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, and a number of you pointed out that Vaughn has a co-screenplay credit on "The Internship," which hardly makes him a victim of the system. Owen Wilson has also had
The truth is that Vaughn and Wilson are guys who are still working, even if I think they've been put in certain boxes that are short-sighted in terms of what they are hired to do, and they seem to have made an uneasy peace with what's expected of them. I think there are guys who take to life in the box very easily, and they do it very well, and I think they enjoy what they do. And nobody should be faulted for it. I don't have to enjoy the films, but someone's paying to see them.
If we want to talk about people who Hollywood failed completely, we should look at the case of Richard Pryor. This guy should have been working with great filmmakers from the start. When you talk to people about Pryor, you have to sort of establish up front which Richard Pryor you are talking about. If you judge him by the filmography he left behind, then it's a really unpleasant story. There are some bright spots, and I think Pryor did some very good work at a number of points… but it's really a story of wasted potential.