I promised two podcasts this weekend, and sure enough, we've got two podcasts this weekend.
We don't do a ton of game coverage on the site, primarily because there just isn't enough time for us to do every single thing we'd like at this point. There are moments where film and games are starting to overlap though, and when you've got a guy like James Gunn writing a game that looks as strange and as stylish as "Lollipop Chainsaw," that seems like a good moment to sit down for a conversation about that cross-over in disciplines and how things are starting to get very blurry for people in this business.
Of course, "sitting down together" can be a figure of speech when you're trying to schedule an interview in the middle of an event like E3. I wasn't at the convention center, and on the day I was set to talk to James, I had a company meeting in Century City. At the end of it, the rest of team HitFix took off, and I turned on the recorder, took the call on my cell phone, and did my best to record the ensuing conversation.
I promised two podcasts this weekend, and sure enough, we've got two podcasts this weekend.
You've got not one but two episodes of the podcast due to you, and so you'll get one today and one tomorrow.
This first one was recorded not long after I walked in the door from the Cannes Film Festival this year, and one of the last films I saw there was Mark Wheatley's "Sightseers." Wheatley was the director of "Kill List," which many critics embraced, and which helped cement my opinion of Wheatley as a fascinating director who is willing to take big creative risks as he builds his films. His new one is a comedy, something I wouldn't have expected from "Down Terrace" or "Kill List," and he has a great feel for the material.
I sat down with Wheatley about two hours after I saw the film, and we had a great, quick conversation about his work and where he's headed. That interview is included here, and in addition, we chat about a whole bunch of trailers that were released while I was away. Which ones convince Scott to go to the theater and which ones look like home video rentals? Even I am surprised by his answers on a fairly consistent basis.
One of the things I've seen people commenting on after catching "Prometheus" theatrically last night and this morning is the unusual promotional clip for "Life Of Pi" that 20th Century Fox has attached to all 3D prints of the film.
More than anything, what I'm reading is confusion. I haven't seen how the clips are formatted, but evidently it's just a scene from the film, played without any real introduction. It's an unusual tactic for the studio to pursue, but "Life Of Pi" is the sort of film that's going to require Fox to try some unorthodox measures to convince audiences that they've got something special planned for them.
According to quotes from Tom Rothman in the New York Times, the decision to handle the clips this way resulted from the response they got when they screened footage for exhibitors during CinemaCon this spring. The response there was certainly positive, and it even led to some Oscar talk among those who love to kick off the awards season about nine months too early.
Last night, I got home from a long day of running around, and I decided to throw on something from the stack of Blu-rays while I worked. I ended up settling on "Lethal Weapon 2," and as I watched the film, I was also checking e-mail and seeing what was going on in the world of film. That's when I stumbled across the news that production designer Michael Riva had passed away. At first, I thought it was a coincidence that I was watching a film Riva had worked on when I got the news, but when you look at his filmography, the odds seem somewhat stacked, because this is one of those guys who worked on everything.
His final film will end up being "Django Unchained," and creating a pre-Civil War south as filtered through the sensibilities of Quentin Tarantino sounds like one of those jobs that would be a dream for a production designer. He's also still got "The Amazing Spider-Man" coming out, and I'm curious to see how he's remagined the world that Sam Raimi established on the first three films… especially since Riva was the production designer on "Spider-Man 3." You could also make the case that as the designer of "Iron Man" and "Iron Man 2," he set a template for the larger Marvel Movie universe that other people will be following for many years to come.
You've got a lot of options for what to watch and how, and we want to help you plan your weekend with a new column where we'll highlight three things you can see in theaters, three things you'll find streaming, and three titles new to home video. Appropriately enough, we call this The Weekend Watch.
For many genre fans, today must feel like Christmas. After all, the frenzy that has accompanied every stage of production for Ridley Scott's "Prometheus" is probably the most enthusiasm I've seen to one of his films pre-release in quite a while. That's not the only new film in theaters this weekend, depending on where you live, but it's certainly the highest profile title. If you decide to sit out opening weekend, there's plenty to discuss on the streaming and home video fronts.
IN THEATERS TODAY
My initial review for the film is up already, and I'm going to take the unusual measure of writing a second post-release piece that I'll post Monday, replete with spoilers, so we can dig in and really discuss what we think of the film. For now, even if I have some issues with the film, I can't imagine telling another film fan not to check it out theatrically. I'm going to the Rave, a giant IMAX 3D screen, for my second viewing, and if nothing else, I look forward to feeling like I'm going to fall through the frame into the amazing world that Ridley Scott and his team have built for us with this movie.
When I was at the Cannes Film Festival this year, I attended the special presentation thrown by The Weinstein Company to premiere footage from Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" and Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained." I did my best to transcribe those clips as completely as possible for you, trying to share some impressions of those short glimpses at two of this year's most highly anticipated films.
Now the first official trailer for the film is here and it seems like a much tighter version of that clip package we saw with a few new shots thrown in for good measure. It uses both the Johnny Cash and James Brown cues that we heard, it's got that great Franco Nero appearance right at the end, and it also adds the awesome new tagline, "Life, Liberty And the Pursuit Of Vengeance."
Oh, hell, yes, Quentin.
Want to go to the drive-in with me?
That's not a hypothetical question, either. I'm genuinely curious how many of you in the Southern California area would want to participate if I organized an outing to the three different drive-in theaters that are currently playing new releases within about an hour's drive from where I live.
Today, if you go to Google's front page, you'll see the latest of their themed Google Doodles, an actual animated film saluting the opening of the first drive-in theater in America on June 6, 1933. 79 years ago. And while the theaters did not endure in great number, it gives me a smile to know that right now, I can go see movies in three different drive-in theaters, and that my kids are going to be able to have that experience.
The appeal of the drive-in is the sense of community when you attend with friends, I believe. Everyone goes and pulls their cars in and sort of camps together… and it's great fun. I did it a few times when I was at Ain't It Cool, always with the assistance of the great Jack Morrissey, a fellow movie theater nerd with a real love of classic Americana regarding where and how we watch films. I don't just remember the movies I saw as a kid… I remember where I saw many of them, and I remember the greatest screens I saw movies on. The actual physical experience of seeing the films that influenced me were often part of the impact the films had on me.
Did not see that coming.
This morning, Hollywood Reporter wrote that the Russo Brothers are in final negotiations as directors for "Captain America 2." HitFix sources can confirm that is the case, making this one of the most unexpected choices Marvel has made on any of these films so far.
The Russos are known for comedy before anything else, and while I am a big fan of "Community," I would not have expected it to serve as an audition for a sprawling action adventure movie. More than that, after "You, Me & Dupree," it felt like Hollywood put the Russos in director's jail. They've done a ton of TV in the five years since that film came out, but returning to the world of features with a highly-anticipated Marvel sequel?
Sounds like they must have made one hell of a pitch.
Casting any superhero film can be tricky.
After all, you've got rabid fans who have deep, meaningful relationship with the characters, and they've got strong opinions. You've got the financiers, and especially with international money driving so much of the conversation today, that becomes a very tricky minefield to navigate. You've got studio people who have relationships they have to service, as well as personal history with many of the eligible names.
With the modern era of superhero films, one of the things that I've noticed is how tricky it is when race becomes an issue of any sort. I'm still somewhat rattled by the firestorm of fury that erupted over Michael Clarke Duncan's casting in "Daredevil" or Idris Elba's casting in "Thor," and more than anything, it's convinced me that we need more race-blind casting in these films, not less. Yes, I know people get attached to a visual representation of a character, but I also think there is a tendency to get hung up on the least important details about a character.
It can be a double-edged sword for a screenwriter to find themselves suddenly "hot," because with that heat comes a certain degree of expectation, and considering how little control writers really have over the end result of their labors, you can do everything right and still end up with your head on the chopping block once a film is actually finished.
Take Will Beall, for example. So far, that first trailer for "Gangster Squad" is fairly persuasive, and the script garnered enough buzz that every young actor in Hollywood was fighting to get cast in the ensemble period piece. Warner Bros. obviously had a good experience with Beall overall because they hired him to write their "Lethal Weapon" reboot, and they also have him hard at work trying to finally solve "Logan's Run" for Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling. Beall's been annointed by the studio, so it is little wonder that they have turned to him to help figure out a project that may well be the single most important in-development project at Warner Bros. right now.