<p>This is just what happened when Channing Tatum accidentally sat in Gina Carano's chair on the set of 'Haywire,' so imagine how much pain she inflicts in the actual movie.</p>

This is just what happened when Channing Tatum accidentally sat in Gina Carano's chair on the set of 'Haywire,' so imagine how much pain she inflicts in the actual movie.

Credit: Relativity Media

Review: 'Haywire' is bone-breaking, genre-bending fun

HitFix
B+
Readers
n/a
Steven Soderbergh and MMA Gina Carano make sweet music together

The last time Steven Soderbergh and Lem Dobbs collaborated, the result was "The Limey," one of my favorite of Soderbergh's films overall.  It's a tough-minded, broken-hearted little revenge thriller, and Terrence Stamp is awesome in it.  It's got style to spare, and it's really lean.  Gets in, gets it done, and then gets out.

When I first heard about "Haywire" and heard that the film was created specifically to showcase Gina Carano, a well-regarded MMA fighter in real life, I admit that I sort of wrote the film off immediately as "lesser" Soderbergh.  The last film he made where he built a film around a real-life personality was "The Girlfriend Experience," an only slightly successful movie that is more experiment than experience, so I admit my hopes were not especially high.

I would argue that part of why "Haywire" works so well is because Lem Dobbs is the screenwriter, and he approached this with a wicked pulp spy movie sensibility that pays off in a film that works first as a spy film, second as an action film, and then also as a drama.  It's genuinely well-written.  It's clever.  And while there's plenty of room in the film for Carano to snap into her own skill-set and start beating holy hell out of anyone within arm's reach, which she does in spectacular fashion several times, those moments are character punctuation.  There's not a single unmotivated or gratuitous action beat in the film.

In other words, forget what your calendar tells you.  "Haywire" is no mere January movie.

Read Full Post
<p>Gina Carano cleans up nice, but don't forget, gentlemen... she can end you.</p>

Gina Carano cleans up nice, but don't forget, gentlemen... she can end you.

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Gina Carano brings the charm as we discuss 'Haywire' and beating on Fassbender

This fighter-turned-actor seems at home discussing her new movie

Gina Carano has charisma to spare, and it's little wonder Soderbergh felt driven to make a film in which he could showcase her.

I'm not a fight fan.  Well, that's only part true.  I don't watch MMA or UFC or really any sort of fighting, but that's because there are only so many hours in any given day, and I have to prioritize about what I do with my time.  I always have more movies to watch.  I always have something to read.  I always have something I could be writing.  I am constantly able to find something that I should be doing, and so the idea of spending a night watching fighting just doesn't fit into the timetable I've got set up.

I do like the actual sport of fighting, though.  I grew up a boxing fan, and I see how boxing has evolved into these other major forms of organized fighting now.  I can see why the audience is drawn to the other forms, and I can see why the stars that have emerged from this world are considered stars.  There is a different level of physical engagement we see from these people, a different level of abuse that they seem willing to subject themselves to, and that's part of the thrill of MMA.  We're impressed by these people because it seems completely deranged to voluntarily step into a ring where someone could beat the holy hell out of you and leave you unconscious with a torn rotator cuff within 45 seconds of starting.  That's not a tornado I want to stick my arm into, thanks, so those who do it and who do it well are definitely to be admired.

Read Full Post
<p>Javier Bardem and Daniel Craig may have been all smiles at this press event in November, but in 'Skyfall,' the two will be pitted against each other.</p>

Javier Bardem and Daniel Craig may have been all smiles at this press event in November, but in 'Skyfall,' the two will be pitted against each other.

Credit: AP Photo/Joel Ryan

'Skyfall' gets an official synopsis on the day James Bond turns 50

We begin a year-long look back at the biggest action series of all time

Fifty years ago today, Terence Young stood on a set in Jamaica and rolled film for the very first time on a feature film about Ian Fleming's creation, James Bond.  It was the scene where Bond arrives at the Kingston airport and tries to avoid being photographed.  It was a significant day at the end of a long search for the right man to play the part and even though Ian Fleming wasn't convinced at first, Sean Connery not only turned out to be a nascent movie star, but he made Bond an icon that endures even now.

Fifty years later, EON Productions and Sony are in production on the latest film in the series, with Daniel Craig playing Bond for the third time.  And today, Sony Pictures released a terse but interesting summary of what we can expect when "Skyfall" opens later in the year.

I've been a Bond fan since my first exposure to the character.  I was seven years old when my dad took me to see "The Spy Who Loved Me" in the theater, and it was love at first sight.  Sure, part of the kick was the idea that my dad was taking me to see a "grown-up" movie with him, just the two of us.  And part of it was because I could tell how important the character was to him.  Mostly, though, the whole thing was just so damn cool.

After all, he had a car that turned into a submarine.  When you're seven, that's the most insanely mind-blowing idea possible.

Read Full Post
<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