TORONTO - How do you know you're on a Guillermo Del Toro set?
Seeing Ron Perlman dressed in full character as Hannibal Chau, who runs the black market for kaiju parts, is a pretty good hint.
At this point, Perlman and Del Toro seem almost like brothers, guys who know each other so well that there's not a lot of need to explain things back and forth. When Del Toro hires Perlman, he knows exactly what he's getting, and when Del Toro calls, Perlman knows he's going to have something fun to dig into.
When we caught up with Perlman on the set of "Pacific Rim," he was in his trailer, unwinding between set-ups. He had on part of his Chau costume, and he was in a great, relaxed mood. I've worked with Ron in our second "Masters Of Horror" episode, "Pro-Life," and one of the things I learned spending time with him is that he has a no-nonsense attitude about the career he's chosen and he tells great stories.
TORONTO - How do you know you're on a Guillermo Del Toro set?
I have about four different drafts of the script for "The Zero Theorem" sitting on my hard-drive right now, and I haven't opened any of them. At this point, a new Terry Gilliam film is such a rare and precious thing that I am reluctant to spoil the experience for myself.
Now it appears a sales reel has made its way online for the film, and it shows quite a bit of what Gilliam is up to without really spoiling anything. My favorite film of his is still "Brazil," and this looks like we're back in that territory, dealing with multiple layers of reality. Christoph Waltz is the star of the film, and it looks like he has thrown himself into the role whole-heartedly. It's a shocking look for him, with no eyebrows and no hair, and I'm excited to see how he fits into the world that Gilliam has created around him.
UPDATED - Last week, I called out another website for running a rumor that didn't pass what I considered the basic sniff test of whether something is true or false. They stood by their source at the time, and they were upset because of what I wrote.
I would imagine they're going to be very happy to read this update.
The treatment I referred to in this piece is absolutely, completely false. Fan-fiction, and nothing more. The source for this was trusted to me, but I can't blame the source for my mistake. I made a giant rookie error because I was intrigued to see what I thought were the origins of the ideas behind one of my favorite films this summer. I did exactly what I have snarled at others about in the past: I bought it because I wanted to buy it.
I accept full responsibility for running the story and for doing so without putting the treatment through the same sort of screening process that I would expect others to use before writing about something. You, the HitFix readership, deserve and should expect better of me, and after seventeen years of doing this, I should know better as well.
I apologize, and instead of trying to make the mistake disappear, I will leave this here as a reminder that I can't operate on blind faith, even when something comes from someone I trust.
I'll say this for the author of the treatment: he made an astute educated guess about the content of the film based on what wasn't much in the way of officially released materials when he wrote this in December of 2011. Seeing how close he came to the basic shape of things is surprising.
But again... this was my mistake completely. If I am going to ask you to trust my reporting, I can't make this sort of error again. I treated this different than I would treat "breaking news" simply because the film was in theaters already, but that's no excuse. Either you do the legwork so you can publish with confidence, or you don't publish. That simple rule should apply every single time, and I am sorry I let this happen.
James Wan first made a splash with the original "Saw," and for several years afterwards, he struggled to define his voice further. Even if you like "Dead Silence" or "Death Sentence," they didn't connect with pop culture in the same way. He took three years off before he made "Insidious," a movie that made a strong case for Wan and his writing partner Leigh Whannell being much more than "just" the guys who made "Saw."
Now, looking at "The Conjuring" and the previews for "Insidious: Chapter Two," Wan seems to be coming into focus as a guy who can scare the hell out of an audience without leaning on gore, and I suspect "The Conjuring" is going to be one of this summer's biggest word-of-mouth phenomenons. It does not reinvent the wheel, and it's not a movie that suddenly redefines a genre, but it is confident, it is beautifully acted, and when it gets serious about being scary, it is remarkably tense and terrifying.
TORONTO - We're in China.
Well, technically, we're in Hong Kong by way of Toronto, standing on a soundstage that has been transformed into a city street that appears to have been wildly smashed to pieces, but when you're in the middle of it looking around, it's pretty convincing. We're in China, and the giant monsters were evidently here right before us.
It's March of 2012, and there is a small group of us who are visiting the set for Guillermo Del Toro's monsters vs. robots epic as the film nears the home stretch on what was, all things considered, a relatively quick shoot. Most of the stuff involving the Jaeger pilots was shot earlier in production because there is so much CGI that they're going to have to do to those scenes that they needed the lead time. On the day we visit, we're watching Charlie Day and Ron Perlman working together, which seems like a good deal to me.
The Pinewood Toronto Studios is a great facility, and it's funny that I'm running two set reports this week, one from each of the Pinewoods. We were met at the front door of the building where "Pacific Rim" had its production offices by Ian Gibson, Guillermo's badass assistant. And believe me… I've been in Los Angeles long enough to know when someone's assistant is of the particularly badass variety, and Gibson is one of those guys. The right match to Guillermo, and a great host for the first half of the day.
Finally… an "Anchorman 2" trailer that features some actual footage from the film.
What amazes me is that they've got footage in there from the last day of shooting, which was only two weeks ago. I would imagine they've been cutting as they've been shooting because they're going to be in theaters in December, and knowing the way Adam McKay works, they probably shot about a bazillion feet of footage to give themselves plenty of options for each scene.
When I was at the "Despicable Me 2" press day last week, I wrapped up my interview with Steve Carrell and, as I stood up to leave, mentioned that I had visited the very end of the shoot, and Carrell just lit up. He told me that he thinks it's going to be completely insane this time, and even trying to describe his reaction to what they shot, he had a hard time keeping himself from laughing.
One of the things that has always impressed me about Pete and Bob Farrelly is how no matter how big their films got or how much hype there was around them at a given moment, they still seemed to be two guys running a small family business, surrounded by friends and unconcerned with much beyond their personal work.
When you look at the credits for their films, you see a lot of the same names each time, and that's because they really do create a sense of community with their casts and crews. They take care of the people who help them make their films, and I have always gotten a sense of enormous loyalty from the people around them. When the guys say they want to do something, they stick with it, too. "The Three Stooges" is a movie they wanted to make for at least a decade, and the gradual process of chipping away until they figured out how to do it was all part of what they eventually made. "The Heartbreak Kid" was a pet project for years, a film that had inspired them profoundly that they really wanted to put a personal stamp on. Whatever you think of those films, they were things that mattered to the guys, things they fought for over time.
I am inordinately fond of Kristen Wiig.
When I saw an early, slightly shaggier cut of "Knocked Up," one of the first things I said afterwards to Apatow is that whoever the network lady at E! was, she was fascinating. Every moment she's on screen in that film, she's the only one I'm watching. The choices she made, the way she twisted every line… just fascinating.
That was right around the time she was starting to blow up on "Saturday Night Live," and over the course of her years on the show, she really carved out a spot for herself as a singular talent. Her approach to character entertains me because she never does what one would expect. I feel like she's a throwback to the early days of the show, when Anne Beatts and Marilyn Miller wrote pieces for Gilda Radner and Lorraine Newman that were gentle and smart and utterly unlike anything that the boys on the show were doing.
We already gathered here at HitFix for one "3 On 3" regarding "Man Of Steel," but we decided to go another round now that the film's in theaters and people are starting to weigh in on the film.
I've actually been surprised by the response to the film. I never considered that people might find it controversial or that there would be a huge debate about certain elements of the plot. It just didn't occur to me, so I'm a little flabbergasted about some of the conversations I had this weekend.
Once again, Greg Ellwood and Kris Tapley joined me to answer three questions that we still have about the movie. Check out the conversation below.
One of the pleasures of doing what I do for a living is the opportunity to meet people whose work has meant something to me over the course of my life as a film fan, and at this point, I feel like I've met a lot of biggest names on the list.
Until I was invited to the "Monsters University" press day, I didn't realize how much I wanted to meet Billy Crystal, but once it was on my agenda, I got excited about it. One of the shows that I love the most from the '70s was "Soap," and every five or six years, I revisit the series and fall in love with it all over again. There are a number of reasons to adore the series, but one of the most significant things about it was the character Crystal played. At a time when gay culture was basically just a punchline for the mainstream, Jodie Dallas was allowed to be witty and sharp and decent and way more than just a joke. Crystal's career could have ended there, but he somehow managed to avoid getting labeled or typecast.