Hollywood is a strange town, and film culture is a strange culture.
There seem to be only two speeds to the way things work here, and they can be represented by our freeways. There are times when I find myself on an LA freeway, windows down, hauling ass over the Mulholland pass or racing along the 101 towards Santa Barbara, enjoying that feeling of unfettered freedom, but more often than not, I find myself trapped in my car like it's a tomb, sitting motionless while surrounded by thousands of other cars, also motionless, all of us needing to be somewhere, and none of us moving.
That's the way it is with the film business, too. Sometimes things happen at this crazy sort of lightspeed, so fast that it's almost dizzying. But most of the time, development takes forever and things move at a glacial pace, and complications can shelve some films, even after they're done, for years at a time.
Two stories this week highlight that whole "hurry up and wait" phenomenon, that "trapped on the 405 during rush hour" feeling. Thankfully, at least one of them has what appears to be a happy ending, and I'm guessing the increasingly good buzz on "Thor" helped make that happen.
Will we ever see Chris Pine's Ryan? And when will 'Woods' hit screens?
Hollywood is a strange town, and film culture is a strange culture.
And with Franco Nero starring? This is going to be special
When people were reporting "A Southern" as the title of Quentin Tarantino's long-rumored next film, I knew that wasn't right. The things I'd heard from people close to the project suggested that the title, when we did end up hearing it, would instantly get western nerds excited, and I chose not to print anything, waiting instead for what I hoped would be an official announcement.
Instead, you can thank Twitter for this one.
Earlier today, @AgentTrainee simply tweeted the word "Jealous?" and a picture of a title page that should look familiar to anyone who read either "Kill Bill" or "Inglourious Basterds." And if that title page is right, then we know know a few new things.
First, Quentin finished the latest draft of the script only three days ago.
Second, he's making a motherscratchin' "Django" movie.
Django was first played by Franco Nero in 1966 in a Sergio Corbucci film that is regarded by many as one of the best of the spaghetti Westerns. Thanks to the vagaries of international copyright law, there have been dozens of movies since where Django appears, and while few of them are genuine sequels, Nero did reprise the character a few times.
Trailer for adaptation of beloved bestseller arrives online
I'm totally unfamiliar with the book that "One Day" is based on, but I am aware enough of it to know that it was a phenomenon when it was published, selling about a bazillion copies.
Lone Scherfig, whose last film "An Education" was so good, is the director in charge of bringing this bestseller to the bigscreen, and based on the trailer for the film, it's going to be a very glossy mainstream movie about 20 years in the lives of these two characters played by Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, a romantic drama that takes two decades to play out.
It's not a new idea, certainly. The most popular film I can name that follows a similar shape is "When Harry Met Sally," although that film plays it firmly for laughs. I remember seeing "Same Time Next Year" as a kid and understanding right away that this sort of dramatic structure gives you an opportunity to compress a lifetime of experience into two hours.
I find Hathaway to be one of the more engaging actors of her general age range. She seems willing to throw vanity out the window for her work, and that's uncommon for actors in general. She's a beautiful young woman, but what stands out in her work is the emotional fragility she projects, which is so at odds with how substantial she is physically. She doesn't look like the sort of person who would break, but when she plays those moments, it can be wrenching.
Supernatural police-comedy makes a major casting shift
Here's a phrase I'll bet most people never thought they'd either read or type: "Jeff Bridges will be stepping in for Zack Galifianakis in the upcoming supernatural cop/comedy 'R.I.P.D.'."
The film, which sounds like "Men In Black" for monsters, is set to star Ryan Reynolds, and when Galifianakis left that film, I wondered if it might be because Reynolds was moving on to something else and Galifianakis didn't want to book something that wasn't actually about to happen.
I'll say this… moving from one of those actors to the other totally changes which version of that movie you're making. Bridges certainly isn't infallible, but he's capable of things at this point in his body of work that Galifianakis may never pull off. He's been amazing for a long time, and those of you just catching up in the last handful of years can be excused. You didn't see a lot of his great work in the '80s and the '90s. Those movies didn't make money. I still don't see a cult for most of his great overlooked work, and maybe I should get evangelical about that in a separate piece sometime, really point out the moments where I think he's carved out his place in the cinema firmament.
Lately, he's been on a hot streak and audiences have this great sloppy Jeff Bridges love affair going. They'll eat him up with a spoon in the right movie these days. People want Jeff Bridges to live on their couch. They want to smoke a joint with him and Willie Nelson and play guitars sometime. They want him to be his characters when they meet him, and some of the times we've spoken, he has been.
Will the Winklevoss Twins be Johnny Depp's new kemosabe?
Armie Hammer's post-"Social Network" career has the potential to be very, very interesting.
I'll be honest… when I sat down to watch David Fincher's acclaimed film, it was one of the very first screenings of the movie anywhere, and I was totally unfamiliar with Hammer's work. As a result, I ended up buying into the idea that the Winklevoss twins were played by two separate people. Completely. I never even considered that it was a special effect. I wondered why I didn't know about these guys yet, but still… I just accepted it. That's a real testament to not only the technical trickery involved but also the nuanced work that Hammer did as both of the twins.
Since then, I managed to catch up with the second season of "Reaper," which is the other largest role I've seen Hammer play, and I'm impressed by the guy in general. He won the genetic lottery, but beyond that, he's got a really interesting subversive quality that plays against his preposterous good looks.
As far as I'm concerned, that makes him a great choice for Gore Verbinski's "The Lone Ranger."
A charming young cast can't overcome a wretched half-baked screenplay
My parents, who I do not see often enough, are in town for a few days before they leave for an extended vacation in China. No matter how old I get, when my parents are in town, there is a part of me that immediately remembers how I felt during all the various stages I went through growing up. Because my parents were there, witnesses to my various triumphs and failures, my formative screw-ups and my moments of grace, I am myself most completely when I'm around them. I hope that's how it is for my sons, too, when they grow up and look back. I want them to feel like I was excited to watch them grow and become independent people, because I am. I look forward to seeing them each all of the various milestones I passed on my own journey.
One of those formative experiences for me was my senior prom.
It was, to put it bluntly, a humiliating and surreal disappointment that I didn't even fully understand was a disappointment until after the fact.
It was a nightmare. It was "Carrie"-level bad.
I hated my senior prom. Even so, I remember the build-up to it, the anticipation, the social buzz of the thing. And when I go to see a Walt Disney brand movie called "Prom," I know full well I'm not going to get the Larry Clark version of the thing, which my prom night movie would be, but the fluffy, fun, "Oh, isn't this all just so darn romantic?" version. For tweens. And it totally is that.
As we gear up for the final release in the series, one last trailer sets the tone
Wow. The new "Harry Potter" trailer is absolutely masterful in the way it gradually cranks up the mood over the course of its two minute running time, and the imagery on display here is suitably apocalyptic. This really does feel like the end of something.
So is this it? Is this the final theatrical trailer for the "Harry Potter" series? If so, this brings a ten year journey to a close in a way I find very fitting. This series has built to this final film, and instead of wearing out its welcome, I think it's gotten stronger and stronger and smarter and smarter, a rarity for any series of films. And you can't just point at the books and say, "That's why," either. You can have great source material and still totally fumble the adaptations. In this case, so many decisions have been made correctly over the years that it adds up, and as a result, now, when you look at what they're trying to do here, it feels like a genuine accomplishment and not a commercial obligation.
This entire movie comes down to the battle between Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), and the thing that impresses me first as I watch the trailer is that Radcliffe has made that transformation that no one could have predicted, from that open-faced sweet little kid in "Sorcerer's Stone" to the haunted adult we see in this trailer, and without that, none of the rest of the fireworks matter.
Magic and mayhem makes this look like a wild ride through mythology
It is easy to compare this first trailer for "Immortals" to "300," and it's made easier by trumpeting the fact that the same producers are responsible.
Beyond those surface similarities, though, "Immortals" looks like a super-powered take on mythology that shows just how close our own modern comic book stories are to these tales rooted in an ancient tradition, and that's not at all what "300" was about. And as much as some people want to claim that Zack Snyder invented slow-motion and half-naked men, that is not entirely true. I see a a clear through-line from his music videos to "The Cell" to "The Fall" to what we see in this trailer, and I think we're in for something really unusual here.
When I moderated the panel for this film at WonderCon, I walked in knowing nothing. They showed me this trailer three or four times before we went onstage, and then we showed it twice as part of the panel. And watching it a few times like that, I'm most impressed by the way magic has been handled in this footage. The same way I feel that superheroes have traditionally been let down by the limitations of what is physically possible on film, our archetypes from mythology have rarely been allowed to be as mighty and powerful as they were written, and that's been one of those things that has nagged at me on some level since I was a kid.
Has Matthew Vaughn rebooted the series successfully?
Each new piece of material they've released for "X-Men: First Class" has gone a long way towards convincing me that this was, indeed, the right next step for the series.
It's been interesting watching Fox try to figure out this property, and I've certainly blasted them in the past for what I've seen as aggressive mismanagement of the franchise. "X-Men" is one of the biggest of the Marvel series, not only in terms of sales over the years but also in terms of scope and number of characters. It is one of the most flexible franchises to come out of the House Of Ideas, and the real beauty of it as a film series is that they can rotate characters in and out easily, and move backwards and forwards in chronology if they choose. I've always said that if there's any franchise that could give James Bond a real run for longevity, it's this one, but only if you take care of it and really treat it right.
As much as I like the Bryan Singer films, I would never argue that they are the only possible version of this universe, nor would I say that they render other adaptations pointless. I think there's a lot of great material and ideas that ended up left on the table while they were making those movies, and when you look at how rushed "X-Men 3" was as a wrap-up to that initial series, it feels like Fox was killing the golden goose out of sheer petulance.
And, yes, Loki is one of the bad guys
When I was on the set of "Thor" at the Manhattan Beach Marvel Studios, there was a moment where we were talking to Tom Hiddleston, who plays Loki. Kevin Feige was standing 30 or 40 feet away, doing something else, as we asked Hiddleston questions.
At one point, we asked, "So we had a chance to tour the weapons vault in Odin's chambers, and I couldn't help but wonder… if someone were to steal some of those weapons and head to Earth with them, that would take more than one hero to stop them, wouldn't it? Don't you think that might demand… oh, let's say… The Avengers?"
Hiddleston got a big smile on his face (remind me to play poker with this guy sometime) and said, "Well, actually, that's not far off. What I've heard so far makes it sound like I'll have a great time in 'The Aven'--" and that's as far as he got before Kevin Feige leapt the full 40 feet in one move, leaning in close, and power-whispering something in Hiddleston's ear. The smile vanished and a suddenly-shaken Hiddleston continued. "You know, perhaps I'm not in 'The Avengers' after all."
Thankfully, that one slip of the tongue did not cost us one of the best villains in the Marvel movie universe, because today's official press release confirms that Hiddleston is going to be in the movie and it also lays out who else we'll be seeing in the mega-movie, while still managing to keep the actual nature of the threat they're facing (coughSkrullscough) a mystery.