I'm a big fan of "Bellflower."
I think that's been pretty clear since January when I ranted and raved and ran both a pair of interviews and a review during the festival.
Now it's finally arriving on home video this week, and the Blu-ray is flat out gorgeous. It's also got the DVD inside, and it's a handsomely packaged release by Oscilloscope Laboratories. In honor of the release at home, I'm going to be running some lists this week that were put together by the cast of the film, in which they name their favorite post-apocalyptic films.
First up, fittingly, is Evan Glodell, who wrote and directed the film, and he also stars in it. He's a real talent, and an interesting guy overall, and yet when he sat down this weekend to record the podcast, he confessed that he has some strange blind spots in terms of what he has or hasn't seen.
I'm a big fan of "Bellflower."
Elijah Wood seemed startled when he saw me at the Beverly Hilton hotel.
"What are you doing here?"
"I didn't know you did the TV stuff."
"Well… I do. See you in there."
It's weird because I see Elijah several times a year in Austin at this point at film festivals, and I think he's a really sharp, fun film fan. I know him from his constant interest in music, his fondness for Texas barbecue, and his willingness to indulge every crazy, glorious whim of Tim League's. It's almost always a surprise for me at this point when I see him in something like FX's show "Wilfred," which was a dark, twisted ride this season, one I liked a lot, and I think it struck him the same kind of strange seeing me in this context.
Well, here it is.
I've gotten to the point where I was tuning out any and all talk about "The Hunger Games" because I didn't want to feel exhausted by the movie before I ended up getting a chance to see it.
Today, I'm ready to take a look at the new trailer and finally get a real look at what it is that Gary Ross has done adapting this monster hit series of books into what Lionsgate hopes is going to be a monster hit series of films.
I watched the trailer twice this morning, and my reaction so far is that it looks like Ross has done it. It's a tonally interesting bit of world building based on the footage we've seen here, and I'm really liking the sense of reality that the trailer establishes. Jennifer Lawrence looks like she's going to be a strong presence as Katniss Everdeen, the girl who is chosen to compete in The Hunger Games, a gladiator battle to the death that's held once a year in The Capitol. We get a glimpse of almost everyone in the trailer, including Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, and, of course, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson as the two young men who represent different paths Katniss might take in her life.
"The Adventures Of Tintin" is a preposterously fun movie, first and foremost, regardless of what technology was used to make it. It is very old-fashioned in storytelling terms, but cutting-edge in the way it's told. It tells a rough-and-tumble adventure story that is more real-world than much of what Hollywood makes these days, but it's animated in a way that removes it from reality completely. It is a film that seems to hinge on a number of contradictions, and that friction is just one of the reasons I really loved the experience.
Much has been written about how long Steven Spielberg's been interested in making a film version of Herge's long-running comic series, and one of the biggest questions that I've heard repeatedly is "Why would he do it as a performance capture animated film?" I think the first answer to that question is obvious after you see the movie and you see Snowy, Tintin's canine sidekick, in action. Snowy is a major character in the film, and has an outsized personality. Trying to get the same performance out of a real dog in the middle of a film also involving stunts and special effects and international travel would be a nightmare, and as it is, Snowy is one of the main highlights of the movie now. Also, there is a sense of scale and abandon to the way the action is staged in the film that would be a nightmare to orchestrate in live-action, and I think working in animation has set Spielberg free in a way I'm not sure we've ever seen from him before.
Ultimately, though, the tools used wouldn't matter if the film was no fun.
And this film is nothing but fun.
In yet another milestone on the very strange road to adulthood my two sons are walking, they were witness to an exceptionally chipper Kirsten Dunst talking about her "boobies" as we settled in for a quick conversation last weekend about her new film "Melancholia."
This was a very busy morning for us. I was also doing interviews for "The Muppets" at the same hotel, so I had both of my sons with me. Toshi actually did one of those interviews, and you'll see that here next week sometime. They've both come to junkets with me before, and they know that they have to sit quietly when I'm doing the actual interview. As fans of Spider-Man, they are aware of Dunst from the covers of the movies they're not old enough to watch yet, and they knew that she used to be Spider-Man's girlfriend.
When we were just sitting down, I complimented Dunst on her work in "Melancholia," and she thanked me, then asked what the boys were doing with me. I explained about "The Muppets," and she got interested immediately, asking them how they liked the film and asking me if they got the movie right. She then asked the boys if they had seen "Melancholia" with me, and laughed when they both said no.
"Well, that's good. They haven't seen my boobies, then."
It's a weird one this week.
One of the first things that brought Scott Swan and I together as friends was our shared affection for all things "Star Wars." When we first met, "Return Of The Jedi" was only two and a half years old, and both of us were still operating under the impression that there would be more sequels, and that they would come fairly quickly.
Now here we are in the year 2011, a full six years after the release of the final prequel, and I've just finished sharing the films with my kids for the first time. It seems hard to believe, since in some ways, it feels like it's just been a blink of the eye since the first time Scott and I sat there, arguing over the merits or the demerits of the films, and it sort of feels like our entire friendship has been one long conversation about the films and their creator, George Lucas.
We were asked by many of you to do an all-"Star Wars" podcast, and the result is perhaps the loosest and most inside conversation we've ever published as a podcast. This is Scott and I late on Sunday night, just shooting the breeze, the conversation wandering from point to point, all of it somehow loosely related to "Star Wars." If you're looking for something professional and well-organized, this ain't it. But if you want to hear two old friends picking up the same topic for the 10,000th time, this is it, and it's a real glimpse at the nerd DNA we have in common.
At this point, I think Adam Sandler has a pretty good idea of what he's going to be doing for the rest of his life, and he's made peace with it. He makes a certain kind of film, running a few variations to keep it slightly different each time out, and they make a certain kind of money. His friends all stay employed, nobody challenges him, and he's happy.
Good for him.
The people around Adam Sandler all seem to love him. I can't recall ever hearing a bad word from anyone in Los Angeles who works for or with him. Todd Garner, who produces many of the films that Sandler's part of these days including this one, loves him, and I know Todd well enough to know that he does not pretend about who he does or doesn't like. Judd Apatow and Robert Smigel, two very funny men I have boundless respect for, think of Sandler as a dear friend and a comedic peer. Sandler creates constant work for a core group of people, and they owe their livelihoods to him, something which must be a strange relationship to have with your friends, but which he seems to wear well. They all seem to share his sensibilities enough that the films represent a pretty consistent example of comic voice bent to different scenarios and characters, but always within a certain range.
This is not a review.
After all, for this to be a review, I would have had to have seen "Looper," which isn't set for release until about a year from now, and how would I have done that?
Let's say I was a time traveler, though, and let's say I did use my awesome power to simply see a film a little bit early. That sounds like a totally rational use of the technology, right? After all, this is the new movie by the writer/director of "Brick" and "The Brothers Bloom," and it stars "Inception" and "Dark Knight Rises" star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Motherfudging Willis, and Emily Blunt, and it's been described as a science-fiction film. What part of that doesn't sound like something I'd want to see?
At this point, of course, "Looper" is still fairly unfinished, so trying to review it as a finished film right now would be an exercise in futility. Let me offer up thoughts on a test screening of the movie that took place in Burbank Tuesday night, while trying to be delicate about spoilers while still somewhat specific in my reaction.
I think it's safe to say that Clint Eastwood has secured his legacy as a filmmaker.
Even if he'd quit directing after he totally crushed it with "Unforgiven," he would have made the case for himself as a world-class director. But at this point, the only filmmaker who works faster or more frequently appears to be Woody Allen, and like Allen, he works often enough that for every great movie he makes, at least two or three of his movies are nearly impossible to sit through. I'm amazed at how bulletproof he is these days, critically speaking, but I think the real respect you can pay an artist is to react honestly to their work and not just give them a pass based on who they are.
I can't in good conscience recommend that you see "J. Edgar," which of course isn't going to stop anyone from actually seeing it. After all, it is Eastwood directing with a screenplay by Dustin Lance Black, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of "Milk," and it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, Judi Dench, and a typically dense Eastwood cast. Sounds great, right?
The music of "The Muppets" is a major part of the film's appeal, and so far, it's the soundtrack that has spent the most time in the various CD players around the house. The boys and I listen to it each day on the way to and from school, and they've already started to learn all the words to the songs.
Yesterday, Katie Hasty ran the song that opens the film, and today, we've got the actual video from that number. This is basically the opening of the film, and it introduces Gary (Jason Segel), Mary (Amy Adams), and the brand-new Muppet, Walter as they prepare for their big trip to Hollywood.
Music and dance have always been important parts of the world of the Muppets, and I'm really impressed by the way the songs in this film fit into the Muppet pantheon so effortlessly. "I've Got Everything That I Need," the song featured here, is one of the songs written by Bret McKenzie, who you may know as one of the members of Flight Of The Conchords. McKenzie's voice is crystal clear in the film, and if you like the music he performs as part of FOTC, then you'll probably have a great time with these songs.