<p>William Joyce is imagining a new relationship between Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and more in his multi-media project that kicks off in movie theaters next year with 'Rise Of The Guardians'</p>

William Joyce is imagining a new relationship between Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and more in his multi-media project that kicks off in movie theaters next year with 'Rise Of The Guardians'

Credit: Dreamworks Animation

We sit down with William Joyce for a first look at 'Rise Of The Guardians'

Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and the Sandman are coming next year

It's strange when you realize that the people who you flip out about meeting are rarely the ones you expect will make you have that reaction.  I've met people whose work has been important to me my whole life and handled it with relative grace and calm, and then I've also met a few people who rattled me face-to-face simply because I didn't understand quite how significant their work is to me.

William Joyce is one of those people.

I love reading to my kids, and the books that end up in the constant rotation, the ones that we come back to over and over again, are the ones where the art and the prose are both approached with care and with soul.  We've sampled books from dozens if not hundreds of authors, and there are certain guys who went right to the top of the permanent pile as soon as we read the books for the first time, and an uncommon number of those books were written and illustrated by William Joyce.

They are gorgeous, designed and painted with delicate wit and a lush sense of imagination, books like "Bently and Egg" and "Buddy" and "Santa Calls" and "The Leaf Men," and he's the creator of the "Rolie Polie Olie" books and TV show.  His work has been a key part of films like "Meet The Robinsons" and "Robots," and he's just published two new books as part of what sounds like the biggest overall property of his career.

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<p>Fee fi fo fum, I smell Nicholas Hoult starring in Bryan Singer's 'Jack The Giant Killer'</p>

Fee fi fo fum, I smell Nicholas Hoult starring in Bryan Singer's 'Jack The Giant Killer'

Credit: New Line/Legendary

Watch: First trailer for Bryan Singer's 'Jack The Giant Killer' is ambitious but uneven

Fingers crossed that this ends well, but the campaign's off to an odd start

I am dying to see how "Jack The Giant Killer" plays out next year, both as a movie and as a commercial release, because both things are important to the ongoing development of Bryan Singer as a filmmaker.

Creatively, I feel like Singer's one of the most successful guys working who doesn't really have what I can point at as a particular, recognizable voice, nor is there any special theme that runs through his work, aside from perhaps an odd preoccupation with Nazis.  And one could argue that his two biggest films were big because of a general interest in X-Men, not because of Singer.

He's also been one of those guys who has developed a number of fairly pricey films that haven't come to fruition, big movies like a "Logan's Run" remake or a "Battlestar Galactica" bigscreen reboot.  And his "Superman Returns" was a very very expensive almost, well-crafted but generally underwhelming.  He's in a position right now where he is still considered an A-list filmmaker, but it's about time he starts actually being that filmmaker.

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<p>Jared Harris doesn't even look remotely evil, which makes it surprising to see how good he is at it in 'Sherlock Holmes - A Game Of Shadows'</p>

Jared Harris doesn't even look remotely evil, which makes it surprising to see how good he is at it in 'Sherlock Holmes - A Game Of Shadows'

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Jared Harris on becoming Moriarty in 'Sherlock Holmes - A Game Of Shadows'

We talk about how to play evil without giving in to cliche

Sitting down to talk to Jared Harris about his work in the new film "Sherlock Holmes - A Game Of Shadows," I was excited not just because he's playing Professor Moriarty in the sequel to Guy Ritchie's first big hit adventure with the pulp detective, but also because of the full body of work that Harris has been putting together.

It must be hard as an actor when your father is not just a well-known person, but an undeniable legend.  There's no other way to describe Richard Harris, though, and a career like his casts a shadow over the entire English film community, not just the career of his son.

Despite that, Jared Harris has been very good over the course of his career at defining himself on terms totally removed from his father's identity.  He's been great on "Mad Men" the last few seasons, and he's always been a bit of a chameleon, vanishing into roles in a way his father never could.  I still remember being impressed by his run of films around '95, '96, when he was in "Smoke" and "Dead Man" and especially "I Shot Andy Warhol," and he seemed like such a great new presence.

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<p>Elizabeth Banks gets her Gaga on in an important early scene from 'Hunger Games,' starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen</p>

Elizabeth Banks gets her Gaga on in an important early scene from 'Hunger Games,' starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen

Credit: Lionsgate

UPDATED: See the new poster revealed by the #HungerGames100 Poster Puzzle Hunt

Only one hundred days till Katniss Everdeen hits theaters

One of the ways you know Lionsgate is feeling good about the prospects of "Hunger Games" is by the way they have already promoted Liam Hemsworth to "last-name-only" status in the new trailer for "The Expendables 2."

And I'll say this for Lionsgate… I've been watching companies mount online campaigns for movies for the last fifteen years, and you can tell when a studio is all-in on something.  And right now, there's no one working harder for something that's coming out next year than Lionsgate is for "Hunger Games," and today is a milestone for them, one they've chosen to commemorate with an online Poster Puzzle Hunt that uses Facebook, 100 different websites, and Twitter in one fell swoop.  We've come a long way from when Gordon Paddison and New Line decided to bet big on an Internet presence for "Lord Of The Rings," and when Lionsgate asked if we wanted to play along this morning, we jumped at the chance, if only to see how the whole thing's going to work.

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<p>Robert Downey Jr. let down his guard and sat for an interview with us about his new film 'Sherlock Holmes - A Game of Shadows'</p>

Robert Downey Jr. let down his guard and sat for an interview with us about his new film 'Sherlock Holmes - A Game of Shadows'

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Robert Downey Jr. talks the new Moriarty with the former Moriarty

We sat down with the star of 'Sherlock Holmes - A Game Of Shadows'

The first time I sat down with Robert Downey Jr. to talk about all things "Sherlock Holmes," we were on the set of the first film in London, and I was still working for Ain't It Cool.  As a result, much was made of the idea that Moriarty was going to be visiting that day, and it turned out to be one of the strangest days on a set I've ever had.

Strange, but good.  What struck me right away was that Downey has that ability to focus his full attention on someone in a conversation in a way that cuts out the rest of the world, making you feel like there's nothing more urgent than whatever the two of you are discussing.

I took him a gift that day, a copy of a fascinating piece of literary criticism by Pierre Bayard called "Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong: Reopening The Case of The Hound Of the Baskervilles."  I figured it was completely appropriate, and he responded to the gesture by giving me more and more time over the course of the afternoon.  It ended up being published as two different articles over at Ain't It Cool, and that was the end of my use of the name I published under for a full decade-plus.

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<p>Sacha Baron Cohen's definitely got some serious beard going on in the first trailer for his new comedy 'The Dictator'</p>

Sacha Baron Cohen's definitely got some serious beard going on in the first trailer for his new comedy 'The Dictator'

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Watch: Sacha Baron Cohen returns to big character comedy in 'The Dictator' trailer

Can he and Larry Charles pull it off again?

I have a feeling "The Dictator" is going to be an important movie for Sacha Baron Cohen.

"Borat" was lightning in a bottle.  He'd been building up to that moment for a while, and 20th Century Fox did everything right in releasing the film.  They turned it into a moment where you had to see what it was, even if you didn't want to, just so you could be part of the conversation.

With "Bruno," there was an entirely different set of expectations placed on the film and its performance, and it was harder for Cohen to shoot because people were aware of him and aware of his techniques.  And while I think it's a very funny film, I also think there's only so far you can go in ambush comedy.  What makes me respect Cohen's work isn't the "gotcha" element of springing something on an unsuspecting person, but rather the depth of character work he does in creating these comic personas.

Lately, he's been taking roles in other people's movies, and he's doing very good work.  I liked him a lot in "Hugo," and I'm excited to see what he does with the character of Scotty in Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained."  The things I've heard about the work he's been doing on the Freddie Mercury film he's been trying to get made gives me real hope that it's going to be something special.

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<p>Rooney Mara certainly went all out with the physical transformation into 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo'</p>

Rooney Mara certainly went all out with the physical transformation into 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo'

Credit: Sony Pictures

Review: Fincher's take on 'Dragon Tattoo' is visually striking and dramatically dormant

HitFix
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Readers
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Rooney Mara does nice work, but to what avail?

There are few filmmakers whose work speaks more directly to me on an aesthetic level than David Fincher.

Even so, my first exposure to his work as a feature film director left me convinced that he was not worth paying attention to at all.  Considering how little he has to say about "Alien 3" at this point, it seems he agrees that it was not the best foot forward, and all accounts of the experience make it sound like it was a nightmare for all involved.

As a result, when I walked into his next film, I had no expectations at all, and I think I even had a bit of a chip on my shoulder about the movie.  A few hours later, I sat there, totally flattened by "Se7en," amazed at what the film accomplished and just how rough it played.  It seemed like a film made by someone who had decided to never compromise again, and there was something genuinely dangerous about it.  Immediately, my opinion of Fincher shifted, and in the years since, he's proven himself to be an immaculate visual artist, capable of creating some of the most arresting, electrifying images of the last fifteen years.

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<p>Guy Ritchie works with Jared Harris and Robert Downey Jr. on the climax of 'Sherlock Holmes - A Game Of Shadows'</p>

Guy Ritchie works with Jared Harris and Robert Downey Jr. on the climax of 'Sherlock Holmes - A Game Of Shadows'

Credit: Warner Bros.

Listen: Guy Ritchie talks about building a better Moriarty

Plus call-in games and a conversation about the death of 35MM film

I know this is confusing, but this podcast was recorded between the Bret McKenzie and the Edgar Wright one.  I just wanted to get the Edgar one up before tonight's programming began at the New Beverly.

The first time I met Guy Ritchie, Harry and I were trying to get him to bring "Snatch" to Butt-Numb-A-Thon.  We had lunch with him and with Matthew Vaughn, who was still Guy's producer at the time, and by the end of the lunch, we had the film, and I'd really come to like the two of them just as film fans and guys.

The next time I saw him was on the set of "Sherlock Holmes," and he'd covered quite a bit of ground as a person and as a filmmaker in the years between those encounters.  What struck me about that encounter was that he seemed to have made a choice about what he wanted, and that choice involved giant-budget tentpole movies.  I certainly don't think that big-budget films are "better" than independent movies, or vice-versa, but I do think that the best way to get some creative freedom is by making a studio some serious money.  Ritchie was coming off a series of misfires like "Swept Away" and "Revolver," and it seemed fitting that he had Robert Downey Jr. starring in his film, as Downey had also made that jump into franchise filmmaking with a real passion.

Now, as Ritchie prepares to release his first sequel, we sat down to talk about how he approached his interpretation of Professor Moriarty, the most famous villain ever faced by Sherlock Holmes, and how he felt about stepping back into the world.  It's a pretty loose conversation, one of two I had with Ritchie last week.  You'll see the other one as a video interview sometime this week.

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<p>Going to a film festival programmed by Edgar Wright at the New Beverly is a lot like this, only the rock stars are old movies, and everyone's invited.</p>

Going to a film festival programmed by Edgar Wright at the New Beverly is a lot like this, only the rock stars are old movies, and everyone's invited.

Credit: Universal Pictures

Listen: Edgar Wright on New Beverly programming and the death of 35MM

Plus the Movie God that finally broke Drew

That's right… the second podcast of the day, and this one is hot off the presses.  Or the microphone.  Or whatever a podcast is hot off of.

This morning, I talked to Edgar Wright about his New Beverly programming series, The Wright Stuff III, and we also talked about the idea that 35MM film is on its way out.  This is something that is upsetting even if you understand the forces at play that are making it happen.  I know how important the theatrical experience is to Edgar, and I wanted to ask him about how the festival's going so far.

For those of you who aren't aware of it, he's running a series of well-known films that he hasn't seen before, all picked by friends and fans and fellow film freaks, and he's finally seeing them on the bigscreen where they belong.  They had a silent movie night with "The Gold Rush" and "Steamboat Bill Jr." the other night, and they had a great crazy night of surrealism last night with the Japanese ghost story "Kwaidan" and the Dr. Seuss film "The 5000 Fingers Of Dr. T," and he's had guests to introduce the films like John Landis and Joe Dante and Alan Arkush and Patton Oswalt.  Basically, this is film nerd central in Los Angeles all week long.

What else is playing?  Well, here's the rundown of the rest of the programming, along with some special guests who will be there to introduce the films:

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<p>This is a candid photo taken during the recording of the soundtrack for 'The Muppets,' and was not staged in any way. &nbsp;Seriously.</p>

This is a candid photo taken during the recording of the soundtrack for 'The Muppets,' and was not staged in any way.  Seriously.

Credit: Walt Disney Company

Listen: Bret McKenzie discusses songwriting for 'The Muppets'

Plus Scott loves Jonah Hill and we play some more Movie God

Wow.  I really screwed this up.

Until someone asked me about it on Twitter last night, I was under the impression that I had published both the pre-Thanksgiving and post-Thanksgiving podcasts, and I even distinctly remember putting together the article for the first one.  But when I went back to look, I realized that I seem to be going soft in my old age.

It's a shame, too, so I'm going to publish not one… not two… but three podcasts in the next 9 hours.  It's going to veritably rain podcasts down on you people.  And all three of them are overloaded with goodness, so hopefully that will make up for my apparent brain damage.

This first podcast features an interview with Flight of the Conchords member Bret McKenzie, and it's a real treat to talk to him about his work on "The Muppets."  He's at an interesting point in his career right now, and they don't really make a ton of movie musicals.  Still, I'd say he more than proved he's up for the task, and I hope more filmmakers reach out to him and build some projects around the work he does.

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