It is the 50th anniversary of James Bond's first theatrical feature film this year.
That alone would be justification enough to write my special series in which we review each and every film in the official James Bond franchise so far, but I must confess a more personal motivation at work here.
1977 was a big year for me in terms of figuring out my tastes as a filmgoer. It was obviously the year that "Star Wars" was released, and that film was like a lightning bolt someone fired directly into the top of my head. It was also the year that "Smokey and the Bandit" was released, and in some ways, that film was like my dad's "Star Wars," a movie that seemed to be almost specifically engineered for his pleasure. It made a huge impression on me, seeing him laugh like that, seeing how completely he handed himself over to it. My dad is cut from that same sort of pure cowboy cloth as Sam Elliott, and growing up, his stoicism was one of the things that defined my idea of manhood. Watching him laugh so hard he cried was uncommon, but it did happen on occasion, and I made careful note of what did it to him.
It is the 50th anniversary of James Bond's first theatrical feature film this year.
By now, it's starting to look like "That's My Boy" is taking a bit of a hit at the box-office this weekend, a shock after the almost unassailable commercial strength of his movies over the last decade or so. After all, when something like "Grown-Ups" can make a Scrooge McDuck-sized pile of cash, it's not like the viewing public is exactly discerning when it comes to Adam Sandler's films.
So what happened with "That's My Boy"? Although our own Geoff Berkshire wrote the official HitFix review, I'd just add that the film reminds me of Sandler's early comedy albums and his first few films in the way it feels unfettered, like anything goes. The R-rating seems to have allowed Sandler and his crew to try some things they haven't tried before, and, yes, the results are crude and often breathtakingly crass, but I'd rather see Sandler lay it all out there like this than sleepwalk through a vacation video with his millionaire buddies.
You've got to get everyone on board if you're going to make a movie as completely deranged as "That's My Boy," from Sandler to the supporting cast to Sean Anders, the director of the film, who also made "Sex Drive" a few years ago. I've run several interviews this week with cast members, including Sandler and Andy Samberg, but this last interview we've got for you tonight is actually three of them put together.
You can't see me right now, but it's safe to assume I'm doing backflips of pure joy.
Neal Stephenson's breakthrough novel was "Snow Crash," a pre-Internet book that seems positively prescient when you look at it now. It's a rousing adventure story about Hiro Protagonist, part pizza guy, part hacker, part samurai, who gets pulled into the mystery of a computer virus called Snow Crash that threatens to destroy the proto-internet that is the main setting of the novel. It's a truly great book, and there have been attempts to turn it into a film before, with Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall attached to produce it at one point for Disney.
Now it looks like Joe Cornish, whose breakthrough film was last year's "Attack The Block," is set to write and direct the film, with Kennedy/Marshall once again attached, and the film this time set to be produced by Paramount.
This is exciting news. "Snow Crash" is a great piece of original science-fiction, and I would love for studios to stop demanding everything be a prequel or a requel or a sequel or a reboot or a whateverthehell that's already been made. As I watch the cast come together on Jose Padilla's "Robocop," I am impressed by the actors he's brought together, and I like Padilla, and I remain deeply, deeply unconvinced that we need a remake of an already perfect movie.
'Your Sister's Sister' star Mark Duplass and director Lynn Shelton on building a great movie relationship
When I sat down with Mark Duplass and Lynn Shelton to discuss their film "Your Sister's Sister" at Sundance this year, I was well aware of just how tight time was for everyone. I was working to juggle interviews and screenings, and Duplass was there representing two movies of his own and supporting his wife, Katie Aselton, who was there with her film "Black Rock." He was so stretched thin that I saw him napping in a chair between interviews.
Even so, once we all sat down together, our allotted interview time ended up stretching a bit because the conversation was going well. I've gotten to know Mark and his brother Jay on a professional basis over the last few years, and I think it's been a genuine pleasure watching them develop their voice from film to film, expanding their audience while maintaining their own sensibilities.
I saw Shelton's "Humpday" at Sundance a few years ago, and I admired the way it navigated a potentially gross joke to create something smart and heartfelt and funny. I was excited for "Your Sister's Sister," but unprepared for what a jump Shelton seemed to make from one film to the next.
It is not every day that I am offered a sit-down interview with Vanilla Ice.
And, to be honest, I would not have expected it to go quite the way it did. After all, I remember the release of "Cool As Ice." I remember his pop culture moment and how absurd it was, and I can't claim to have been a fan.
In "That's My Boy," Rob Van Winkle shows up, once again transformed into Vanilla Ice, playing an exaggerated and ridiculous version of the persona that people know. It's one of those jokes that could easily fall flat, except he's actually very good at tweaking the public perception of him.
As we were waiting to do the interviews, my sons asked me who I was going to be talking to over the course of the day, and I listed the various people who were participating. When I mentioned "Vanilla Ice," they were immediately entertained by the name, and they started asking me questions about him.
One of those moments when I realize how absurd my job can be took place during this year's Sundance Film Festival. I was waiting for my cameraman to set up for the interview we were about to do and standing in the lobby of the building everyone was using for interviews. I realized that Christina Hendricks was standing next to me, while in front of me, Lizzy Caplan and Alison Brie were chatting, and Teresa Palmer was at the bar on the other side of me.
And when I walked away? It was so I could sit down with Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt.
Yes, I am aware that is preposterous, and that I should count myself lucky.
Sitting down with the female leads of "My Sister's Sister" was a pleasure because (A) one can never spend enough time talking to Emily Blunt and (B) "My Sister's Sister" is kind of awesome. It's a small, tender, brutally honest movie that features great performances from all three of the leads. Playing sisters, though, requires a special sort of bond that you need to somehow communicate to an audience, and that's what I wanted to talk to Blunt and DeWitt about when we spoke.
Musicals are one of the most unusual genres in all of film, and I am fascinated by any attempt to create one, especially in a modern age where filmgoers do not have them as part of their daily cinematic diet.
There is a moment early on in "Rock Of Ages" where Julianne Hough, playing Sherrie Christian, is on a bus on her way to the big city, ready to make her dreams of music stardom come true. She begins to sing "Sister Christian," and while the song choice may have made '80s survivors smile, it wasn't until the rest of the passengers on the bus also begin to sing that the audience around me started to laugh. It's that moment where any musical makes the leap from reality to the world of the movie, and if your audience is willing to go with you, you're gold.
Justin Theroux and Allan Loeb are credited with the adaptation here, along with Chris D'Arienzo who created the piece for the stage, and it's painting in big bright primary colors. There is not a subtle moment in the movie. The entire thing is pitched at this sort of full-volume level, everything spelled out with the most literal interpretation of song lyrics and the most exaggerated character types, so there's no chance you're going to miss anything. "Prometheus," this is not.
My wife is in school these days, which means there are many moments where I am the only person available to take care of Toshi and Allen, even if I've got work that needs to get done. It can make for some exciting schedules on certain days, and a recent Saturday was a perfect example of that.
We were up early for Toshi's final baseball game of the season, and then we had his end-of-the-season party at his coach's house with all the parents and players, a great group of folks. And almost immediately after that wrapped up, we had to head down to the Four Seasons so I could do my interviews for "That's My Boy," Adam Sandler's new comedy.
Walking into a room with kids in tow totally changes the dynamic. In the case of Sandler and Samberg, the last room we did that afternoon, as soon as we walked in, Sandler was up on his feet.
He stood in front of the boys, looking down at them. "I'll bet I can guess your ages." He pointed at Toshi and guessed correctly. "Six, right?" Then he pointed at Allen. "And you're three."
"No," said, Allen. "I'm four. I turned four on my birthday!"
We're in the home stretch now, with only a few weeks left until "The Amazing Spider-Man" arrives in theaters.
The film screened late last week for people doing interviews at the New York press day, and I assume we'll see it here in LA in the very near future. I'm looking forward to it, and to make sure I don't carry the Raimi movies into the theater with me, I've made sure not to re-watch them or refer to them at all. The last time I saw any of them was when "Spider-Man 3" was released, and at this point, I've got my general impressions of them, but that's about it. Whatever Marc Webb and his cast and crew have done here, I'm going to judge it as its own film.
This is, of course, a key moment for Sony Pictures. They've got a lot riding on this film. In order to remain in the Spider-Man business, they need to keep producing films at a certain pace, and they are gambling big here by rebooting. They had a proven creative team and a well-liked cast in place, so scrubbing all of that and starting over is about as risky as making a Spider-Man movie can be at this point. Sure, the character is well-known around the world, and ultimately, the character is what they're selling, but if this is going to work, all the moving pieces have to come together.
The moment I posted my review for "Prometheus," I knew we would have to run a second piece that asked more questions about the film and that tried to offer a deeper analysis of it.
Greg Ellwood also followed up with me, asking if we were going to do a piece about the unanswered questions. The thing is, the questions that people are talking about when they discuss this film range from the easily answered to fundamental confusion about the nature of the story being told. I don't have any special inside knowledge, but at this point, I've read enough from the people who made the film and from other people who have watched it that I have questions, I have comments, and I have observations and frustrations. All in all, I have mixed feelings about "Prometheus," and it drives me sort of crazy as a result.
Any time you watch something a second time, it's going to be a different experience, especially when it's something that arrives with the sort of expectations and hype that "Prometheus" had. I'd honestly seen as little as possible before seeing the film. After the first one or two trailers, I checked out. I haven't seen the last five or six trailers or the TV spots, so I didn't have every image in the movie already in my head by the time I walked in the door.