This day has been a long time coming.
We all have landmarks by which we measure our lives and our accomplishments, goals you've set for yourself that you've either accomplished or not, and I'm certainly someone who holds film experiences very dear. The moment I knew I'd spend the rest of my life somehow involved in movies took place in a dark movie theater when I was seven years old, and it was one of those lightning bolt occasions. I felt pinned to the back of my chair as I watched a tiny blockade runner fleeing from a seemingly endless Star Destroyer that just kept coming out and over, more real than anything I had ever seen, and I've never wavered in my determination to be involved in storytelling somewhere, somehow.
Because of the relevance of "Star Wars" in my development as a fan of storytelling in general, reaching the moment of sharing these films with my kids has been one of my primary goals since I've been writing about the entire experience of sharing narrative with my children. I know people who start screening the films for their kids as soon as they are old enough to open their eyes, and I respect that. Of course I know other people who don't think it's of any particular importance, and I respect that as well. For me, "Star Wars" is special, and I wanted to wait until they were old enough to process them as stories, so they're not just wallpaper, images without context.
This day has been a long time coming.
To be honest, I think we went overboard. But for good reason.
I mean, four hours of podcasting in one week? Good lord. Sure, that first podcast had no less than five interviews from the Toronto Midnight Madness section of this year's festival, and a great conversation with Bobcat Goldthwait, another with the filmmakers behind "Livid," and yet another with Eduardo Sanchez. It was overstuffed with goodness, and there was some conversation about Netflix and Kevin Costner and other things as well, so if that was it, that would already been one of our better weeks.
But no. No, I had to push it. I had to try to put together two full giant podcasts this week, so that we'd have all of our Toronto coverage up and done and nothing hanging over me for after Fantastic Fest. That meant we had to do another full-length podcast so that I'd have room to run the rest of the interviews. After all, I've got an interview here with Gus Van Sant about his new film "Restless," an interview with '70s icon Paul Williams and Steven Kessler, the guy who made the documentary about him, and with the Duplass Brothers on their lovely new film "Jeff Who Lives At Home." I can't sit on that stuff. I want you to enjoy it as much as I enjoyed having the conversations during the fest.
If you missed it on IGN, here's the gory-fun graphic red band trailer for "The Thing" which reveals lots more of the monster effects and, honestly, way too many plot details as far as who gets eaten, smooshed, penetrated, etc.
I repeat: DO NOT WATCH THIS IF YOU ARE SPOILER ADVERSE.
On the other hand, if you've been curious as to the look of the effects in the film, and do not mind a few details about how each character gets assimilated, check it out.
I say "each character" because this is a prequel to the original John Carpenter "Thing", and in that movie they make a reference to no one surviving the events that came before? I may be mistaken, or they may choose to alter the reality of the first film. All's fair in love and remakes… er prequels.
When I met Jonah Hill, it was on the set of "Superbad," and that performance in that film was all about a certain type of confidence turned up to a fairly intense level. Having already gotten to know Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg a little bit, and realizing that Jonah and Michael Cera were playing comic versions of Seth and Evan, it was one of those meta-moments where you're not sure who you're really meeting.
Since then, our paths have crossed many times, and watching him increase in both craft and confidence in his work onscreen and how he handles himself off-screen has been a real pleasure. Hill is smart, but more than that, he strikes me as the kind of guy who is always observing, always watching the people he works with, growing in each new experience because of how open he is to different choices that other performers or filmmakers are making around him.
Another Halloween, another "Paranormal Activity."
The third film in the found-footage franchise acts as a prequel, taking place roughly twenty years before the first film.
A brand new poster illustrates the upcoming film's trip down nostalgia lane: In a blurry still from a home video, two little girls sleep in their beds while a spectral shadow stands between them. The video's time stamp indicates that it takes place in the Reagan-Bush era, when endless horror films were dominated by cartoonish slashers like Freddy, Jason and Michael Myers.
What's most intriguing about "Paranormal Activity" is that "Catfish" directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman -- who know a thing or two about blurring the line between fiction and reality -- are at the helm, while original director Oren Peli is on board as a producer.
I'll say this much… if you're a fan of the podcast at all, this is your lucky week.
This is the first of two full podcasts we recorded this week. The other will be up at some point tomorrow, and features one of my favorite segments from the two years we've been doing this.
Today, though, we've got a preposterous amount of material to share with you, and I decided to have Scott help me introduce four separate interviews I conducted over the course of the Toronto International Film Festival that just wrapped up.
One of the reasons I'm grateful for the Midnight Madness programming at the festival is because it would be easy to get worn down by the serious fare that the festival offers all day long, and Midnight Madness is always full of the most delightful lunatics. Where else are you going to see crazy Indonesian action, a dark killing spree comedy, creepy possession horror, and bizarre dark French fairy tales all in the same line-up?
Chris Pratt seems to be living a charmed life.
It would be lovely to report that he's a jerk who seems ungrateful and who is nowhere near as likable off-screen as he is on-screen, but that would be wildly untrue. Instead, we have to contend with the possibility that he's a genuinely nice guy who happens to be just the right combination of talented, hard-working, and lucky. I spent some time on the set of Nick Stoller's new film "A Five-Year Engagement" this summer, and I met Pratt for the first time there. He's got a major supporting role in the film as one of Jason Segel's best friends, and he struck me right away as a young guy who is still defining himself in this business, but who is grateful for every break he's had so far, and who understands that each new role is an opportunity to expand his range and prove what he can do.
At this point, I think it's safe to say that Joseph Gordon-Levitt has carved out a space for himself as one of the most promising talents in his age range, and he's demonstrated a pretty remarkable range over the past twenty years in front of the camera.
Even as a kid on "Third Rock From The Sun," he managed to stand toe-to-toe with John Lithgow who was turned up to Full Ham. And Lithgow at Full Ham is like ten times anybody else at Full Ham. To stand there and play scenes with that when you're still in your teens is no easy feat, but Gordon-Levitt always made it look easy.
And as he's come into focus as an adult performer, he has been lucky enough to find collaborators that have helped him redefine himself with grace and style. I always wonder what would have happened to Kurt Russell if there was no John Carpenter, and likewise, I wonder about Gordon-Levitt if there was no Rian Johnson. "Brick" may not have been a giant box-office hit, but it was a key step in the way he evolved into a credible leading man, and without him playing that role, he might not have been given a shot at films like "The Lookout," "Stop-Loss," or "500 Days Of Summer."
We have reached an interesting and, frankly, depressing place in modern political dialogue, where even trying to tackle the subject guarantees that part of your audience will walk away angry. My first political memory involves the Watergate trials, so it's little wonder I've grown up in an increasingly cynical political atmosphere. I do wonder sometimes if it's even possible to fix things at this point, or if we are simply at the point where there will never be something like a middle ground again.
We ran a piece here about the statement that Harvey Weinstein sent along to be ready before the public premiere of "Butter" at the Toronto Film Festival last week, and while it drew some big laughs in the room and got some play in the press, I felt like it was yet another set of battle lines being drawn. And while there are many things I like about the film, which is definitely worth seeing, there's a chance that its merits will be ignored in the conversation over the easy targets that the movie singles out, especially in the climate as we're gearing up towards the 2012 election season.
When I was contacted about running a clip from an upcoming indie called "A Bird Of The Air," one thing got my attention right away, the name of co-star Rachel Nichols. Aside from the fact that she's adorable, I think she's interesting although still largely untested on film. She still hasn't had that breakthrough role or that big moment, and so instead, she's chipping away doing nice work in films like "P2" or "Conan The Barbarian" or on shows like "Alias."
Is "A Bird Of The Air" a different type of role for her? Maybe. I don't know much about it. The first time I heard of it was when they approached me with the clip. When I got home from Toronto, I found a screener of this one waiting on my desk, and at some point this weekend, I'll throw it in and take a look at it.
The film was written by Roger Towne, who is indeed the brother of screenwriting legend Robert Towne. Here's hoping this is more of a Beau Bridges situation than a Jim Hanks situation, where this is a brother with his own thing going on, and not just someone barely getting by on a last name. He did write a draft or two of "The Natural," so fingers crossed, right?