I know, I know… that's like my mantra these days, but there's only one of me, and I'm trying to turn out a workload that would probably keep four people busy for ten hours a day. That's just the way it is, too. There's so much to cover, and there are only so many hours in a day.
I'm also sort of a dummy when it comes to all things technical. For all of the wisdom I've accumulated over the years about other things, when it comes to technology, I have a built-in EMP of sorts that means that most machines hate me and vice-versa. It can make things awkward considering I work on a computer all day every day.
Long story short, this podcast was lost to the ages, but through some heavy lifting, I managed to recover it, and now I'm running this and the next podcast in the same day. That'll give you plenty to listen to between now and when I come back from vacation.
Last week, I took a drive through hideous rush hour traffic from my house in Northridge all the way to the IMAX theater that used to be called The Bridge, near the airport. And the crazy thing is that I didn't do it to see a whole film. Nope. I did it just so I could see 20 minutes of the new "Mission: Impossible" film on an IMAX screen.
And I regret nothing.
There's a new trailer for the film that is just now launching, and I'll have that embedded for you below. First, though, let's set some of what you're going to see in context.
We saw two full sequences from he film, and producer Bryan Burk was on-hand to set up the two scenes for us. He's Bad Robot's producer on the film, and I think it was smart for Cruise to reach out to Bad Robot even though JJ Abrams wasn't directing this one. Burk and Abrams are very smart commercial producers, and Cruise had a very good experience with them on the last film. Christopher McQuarrie, who also scripted "One Shot," the currently-shooting Reacher adaptation that Cruise is starring in, was the lead writer on the film, and then Bad Robot brought in Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec, writers they loved from "Alias" and a ton of other TV credits. They worked to once again make a "Mission: Impossible" film that feels different than any of the others in the series, something I like about the franchise.
I'll just go ahead and say this up front: I should have done this better.
I don't think it's a bad interview, per se, but I like Zach Galifianakis, both as an actor and as a comic, and I think he's one of those guys with a razor-sharp mind. I also think it's really easy to lose him in a conversation if you're not keeping him interested. When you're at a junket, you're one of a parade of people who trot into the room in what must feel like a blur to the people sitting in that chair, and you don't really have a conversation. You have the illusion of a conversation. You have to hit the ground running and then hope you can get one or two good sound bites before they hustle you out the door for the next person.
With Zach, I feel like I never really found my way into the conversation, and the result is a perfectly pleasant five minutes or so, but that's not what I was hoping for. I was hoping I'd engage him and draw something special out of him. Nope.
"The Rum Diary" is not a very good book.
It's an early piece of work by Hunter S. Thompson, but anyone who picked it up looking for the voice that distinguished his classic work was likely disappointed. He wrote it in his early 20s, and it went unpublished until 1998. More than anything, it serves as a fascinating glimpse at a raw, unpolished talent, and it offers up some autobiographical details hidden amidst the twists and turns in the story of Paul Kemp, a reporter who moves from New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico in order to kick off his career as a writer.
As a film, "The Rum Diary" is far more interesting, due in no small part to the collision of talent that it represents. First, there's Johnny Depp, whose performance as Thompson in Terry Gilliam's "Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas" is positively inspired, a spooky case of near-possession where an actor absolutely channels a real-life figure. The idea of seeing him play Thompson, or a Thompson stand-in, at an earlier point on his slow slide into self-medicated madness is undeniably appealing. Then there's writer/director Bruce Robinson, whose "Withnail & I" is one of the greatest films of the '80s, and one of my very favorite British films of all time. He hasn't made a movie since "Jennifer 8," a Hollywood misfire that killed his career dead, and from the moment he was announced as the man behind the camera, this became one of those films I almost refused to believe really existed. The idea of Depp reaching out to Robinson, who was always Hunter's first choice to make a "Fear & Loathing" film, and somehow coaxing him out of retirement would be interesting enough even if it were just a straight adaptation of the book.
One of the pleasures of the new film "Puss In Boots" is the almost preposterous amount of sexual tension that builds between the lead character Puss (Antonio Banderas) and his partner in crime Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek).
And don't worry if you're a parent. This isn't something overt that your kids are going to have to ask you uncomfortable questions about, but it's impossible to miss. Banderas and Hayek seem to have an indecent amount of fun together, and it's one of the most infectiously silly things about the film.
Sitting down with the two of them together, that same chemistry is totally evident. Ever since they worked together in "Desperado," they've had a very special onscreen relationship, and the filmmakers behind "Puss In Boots" took full advantage of that. When I joined them during the press day for the film, we talked about how director Chris Miller made a very unusual choice as far as the recording process was concerned, and what benefits there were to that decision.
As films show up at the house, the boys like to open all the packages, something I've had to decide against thanks to some of the more extreme movies that have been sent to me over the years. I'll glance inside before deciding if they can open something.
There are times when the boys are excited not because they know anything about a movie, but simply because they recognize that they heard someone talking about the title. It's sweet, and I'm sure they take their cues from me. No matter how hard I try to make sure that what they watch is about laying out choices and letting them make those choices, they get excited if I'm excited at all. They're just trying to learn about the world that way. "Hey, mom likes this so I'm going to like this!" "Dad said this movie's title ten times, and so we want to see it!"
Marketing is pervasive, and as Toshi's been learning to read, one of the big joys for him is reading the titles of movie posters as we drive around. Living in LA, there is a constant barrage of roadside imagery selling movies. And they ask about EVERYTHING we go by. There are times when they become excited about something for bizarre reasons, and one of my recent favorites was when they became fixated on the release date of "Crazy Stupid Love."
By now, you are probably pretty sure of how you feel regarding the "Shrek" franchise. I think it has been a lovely example of the law of diminishing returns as they've milked it way past the point of dry. I forget the name of the last movie, and I'm so uninterested in it that I don't even feel the urge to look it up. It struck me as a lazy cash-grab, and as a result, when I walked in to see "Puss In Boots," it was with dread more than anything.
Thankfully, "Puss In Boots" is not a "Shrek" film. At all.
It's so disconnected from the series that I have no idea where it takes place in the timeline of the "Shrek" series. Before? After? Doesn't matter. "Puss In Boots" stands on its own, and it's better for doing so. It is a very silly film, a big adventure movie, and surprisingly effective. It's not easy to spin off a popular supporting character into his own movie, and yet this feels completely natural. It helps that Antonio Banderas seems to fully understand the ludicrous nature of the film, and his performance is nuanced and hilarious, a charming riff on his own bigscreen image.
Late Saturday night, a few hours after we finished watching "Revenge Of The Sith," about an hour after both of the boys had fallen asleep, I was sitting in my office when the door opened and a sleepy-eyed Allen walked in.
"Dad, I think it's sad that Anakin's a bad guy."
"Did you just wake up to tell me that?"
"Yeah. I hope he gets better."
I picked him up, carried him back down the hallway to his bedroom, and he was asleep again by the time I tucked him in surrounded by his stuffed animals. That one thought was weighing on him enough that he needed to get up and come tell me. And as I sat back down, I realized what showing the films in this particular has done narratively that is underlined in a very different way now. More than ever, the notion of having to stand against one's father to punish him and, maybe, to redeem him is written in GIANT GLOWING LETTERS now. The last thing they saw was the birth of Luke and Leia.
Which blew their minds, by the way.
Like, off the charts, oh my god, running in circles. Blew. Their. Minds.
And that wasn't the biggest moment of the night.
There's nothing I love more than coming home from a night out with the kids to find angry half-literate e-mails from people calling me names over something they don't understand. So you can imagine this has been a gorgeous Friday night.
After all, we were the ones who told you that David Yates and Steve Kloves were going to be the creative team in charge of Warner's big-screen treatment of the Stephen King epic novel. And when we reported it, offers had been made and deals were in motion. It was accurate at that moment.
Then things went radio silent. And while I'm not in a position to tell you what went on behind the scenes, I can tell you that following the success of the last four "Harry Potter" films, both Yates and Kloves are expensive, particularly when working together, and one of the keys to getting any giant tentpole film off the ground right now is finding creative ways to bring costs down. When your writer and director together are worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $15 - $20 million before you make any other deals on the film, that is not an inexpensive place to begin.
There are certain filmmakers who have earned a permanent spot on the list of people whose work I will always approach with an open mind and a sense of optimism, and the Wachowskis are absolutely on that list.
Sure, there's "The Matrix," that bolt-out-of-the-blue hit that made them into A-list names, but as much as I admire that movie, I'm equally fond of both "Bound," the indie thriller that was their directorial debut, and "Speed Racer," the much-maligned but genuinely inspired kaleidoscopic adaptation of the Japanese cartoon. I think they have great energy as filmmakers and I also think they have contributed to a serious expansion of the vocabulary of science-fiction and action on film.
I'm very curious about "Cloud Atlas," the film they're shooting now, and I think it sounds bold and experimental and unusual. After that, though, it looks like they're going to be making a big-ticket science-fiction film for Warner Bros, not based on anything else, and thanks to Deadline's story today, we know now that "Jupiter Ascending" is the title. Beyond that, we know nothing else right now. The film is out to actors, which is how the story broke.