Sitting down with Anton Yelchin at SXSW this year to discuss his work in "The Beaver," I felt like the standard five minutes just wasn't enough.
After all, this young actor has been positively crushing it in all of his work the last few years. Even if I didn't care for "Terminator: Salvation," I thought he did genuinely admirable work as a young Kyle Reese, managing to evoke many of the qualities that made the role work in the original "Terminator" without just doing an impression of Michael Biehn. And in "Star Trek," he had the difficult task of playing a young Chekov with a broad Russian accent and not making it a joke.
This is his year, though. He is piercing and unforgettable in "Like Crazy," the romantic drama that flattened me at Sundance, and he is equally good in Jodie Foster's "The Beaver," which finally opens in limited release starting this weekend. He plays Mel Gibson's son in the film, and his storyline, played out opposite the suddenly white-hot Jennifer Lawrence, is just as strong as the primary story about Gibson's own struggles. Yelchin has the ability to project strength and fragility, intelligence and inexperience, contradictory notions that somehow work together in his performances, and "The Beaver" demands quite a bit of him as an actor.
One of the hottest young actors in town spends some time at SXSW with us
Sitting down with Anton Yelchin at SXSW this year to discuss his work in "The Beaver," I felt like the standard five minutes just wasn't enough.
What does this strange clue reveal about the new JJ Abrams film?
I don't spend a lot of time on the viral games that many studios have started building around the countdown to release on some of their biggest films.
I don't have anything against the idea… it's just that I don't have the time to wait on pins and needles to play my part in these things. I watched the fervor that fans brought to the "Dark Knight" ARG, for example, and I was impressed. I just know that I'd rather wait and see the end result than spend my time and energy on each step along the way.
Having said that, few people play the game as well as JJ Abrams these days, and he and Paramount have been having fun playing with expectations and secrecy on his new film "Super 8." In particular, they've been running a game involving the "Super 8 Editing Room," where they've been sending out physical reels of Super 8 film to various sites, and each site has to input a code to unlock that clip for everyone else online.
In other words, this is a case where if I don't play along with the piece of the game I've been sent, no one else can, either.
The biggest test yet for the 'Twilight' author is still ahead
Now that the cast of the "Twilight" series is done with photography on "Breaking Dawn," they can really start to focus on life after this enormous franchise and what that will mean for them.Â Both Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart emerge from the series instantly recognizable on a worldwide level, but it's still unclear if you can call them movie stars or not.Â Can they prove themselves as draws away from the characters of Edward and Bella?Â Do audiences care about them, or was it just this one series of films?Â Taylor Lautner is getting ready to put that to the test with his new film "Abduction," which almost seems to have been designed in a lab to give him the best possible shot at being a star.Â Pattinson has tried it a few times, most notably with "Water For Elephants" this spring, while Stewart seems determined to stick to smaller indie-minded films for now.
Actors always depend on the material that is available to them, and they are often at the mercy of larger forces in Hollywood.Â Ultimately, the fates of Pattinson and Stewart and Lautner will come down to their collaborators and their opportunities.Â What I've been most curious about has been the fate of Stephenie Meyer after the "Twilight" films are done.Â Like Jo Rowling, Meyer is known for this one story, this one cycle of books, but the difference to me seems to be a matter of innate talent.Â Rowling strikes me as a rich and interesting writer who got better from book to book, and who I believe will eventually create more stories that resonate on that same massive cultural level.Â
Marvel's newest hero turns on the charm in our exclusive interview
In the interest of full disclosure, I had to thank Chris Hemsworth for something when I sat down to do our interview on Saturday, and it was the first time speaking to him, even though I visited the sets of the film in Manhattan Beach while it was shooting. He wasn't on set that day, so we only glimpsed him on-camera.
Recently, a mutual friend asked Hemsworth to sign a cardboard replica of Mjolnir, Thor's magic hammer, for my son Toshi, and that now resides in a very special part of the playroom, where Toshi can look at it but where it isn't being used as a toy. He knows it's special, and he loves the idea that Thor signed a hammer for him.
I made sure to thank Hemsworth for doing that as we were getting ready for the cameras to roll, and it occurred to me as we were talking that between "Star Trek," one of the first films Toshi fell head over heels in love with, and this movie, and next year's "The Avengers," there is a good chance that Toshi's going to imprint on this guy as one of his generation's movie stars, the way guys my age imprinted on Harrison Ford in the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" movies.
Seems like a good plan to me.
Plus Idris Elba on race in 'Thor' and our first look at Clive Owen in 'Intruders'
Welcome to The Morning Read.
I guess we can call this confirmed now? Maybe? CHUD actually first reported on Guy Pearce appearing in Ridley Scott's upcoming sorta-"Alien"-prequel film "Prometheus," but there was no official confirmation of any kind. I was reluctant to run a piece here about it because it seemed possible there was some sort of confusion from the original source. After all, Michael Fassbender, who is the same sort of angular leading-man type as Pearce, isn't exactly a household name yet, and we haven't seen his look in the film yet. I could see a casual observer making that mistake. The Playlist says they've got the story confirmed now, and while it's not an announcement from the studio, it sounds like Pearce may well show up in what sounds like one of the coolest ensembles in recent blockbuster memory.
Speaking of CHUD, "Andre Dellamorte" is saying goodbye to the site, and his exit is a great example of "classing up the joint."
And speaking of that cool "Prometheus" ensemble, I am thrilled to see Idris Elba getting all this work lately. I think I just don't care about the race of characters unless that's the point of the text, and while I understand that "Thor" is based on Norse mythology, I think the casting of Idris Elba is one of the film's coolest moves, and his performance more than delivers on what is required of the role. He's commanding, alien, and nails one of the film's best jokes with a perfectly-timed line reading. I'm sorry, but if you're still griping about Elba, you need to look past pre-conceptions to see the actual work. One day, I believe fans will get over the surface issues of skin color and realize that the more inclusive these fantasies are, the more people there are to share them with. To me, that's one of the major pleasures of fandom.
Will Kathryn Bigelow be the first out of the gate? Who else will try?
What can I say, either pithy or sincere, about the death of Osama Bin Laden at this point that has not been said? Our own Alan Sepinwall already did a nice job of summing up the surreal energy of the evening. I am genuinely pleased he is dead, and that is not a sensation I am accustomed to, this near-revelry in the passing of another. The emotions of 9/11 remain very close to the surface for many people, myself included, even if not consciously. I don't spend time dwelling on it, but I am able to find myself upset anew at things at times I wouldn't expect. And last night, when the announcement was breaking, I was watching it unfold on TV, flipping from channel to channel. I don't have any cable reception at all in my office -- streaming Netflix and Blu-rays are distraction enough -- so I have to watch TV in my bedroom. I saw people online announcing the time… 7:30… and I made sure I was in the bedroom, TV on, ready. Things ran late enough that eventually the news just started breaking in anyway to let you know there was something coming. President Obama would be speaking, announcing… something. And very quickly, it started breaking, the actual story. Osama Bin Laden was dead.
I am aware of the possible repercussions. I think this is a story that is very much being written, not one that is done. And I am sure that all over Los Angeles, people have been on the phone and IM'ing and e-mailing each other, hatching movies or dusting off older movies or discussing the impact on something that's already in motion. The death of Osama is going to leave a pretty big crater in pop culture, and it'll play out in all sorts of different projects.
Will we ever see Chris Pine's Ryan? And when will 'Woods' hit screens?
Hollywood is a strange town, and film culture is a strange culture.
There seem to be only two speeds to the way things work here, and they can be represented by our freeways. There are times when I find myself on an LA freeway, windows down, hauling ass over the Mulholland pass or racing along the 101 towards Santa Barbara, enjoying that feeling of unfettered freedom, but more often than not, I find myself trapped in my car like it's a tomb, sitting motionless while surrounded by thousands of other cars, also motionless, all of us needing to be somewhere, and none of us moving.
That's the way it is with the film business, too. Sometimes things happen at this crazy sort of lightspeed, so fast that it's almost dizzying. But most of the time, development takes forever and things move at a glacial pace, and complications can shelve some films, even after they're done, for years at a time.
Two stories this week highlight that whole "hurry up and wait" phenomenon, that "trapped on the 405 during rush hour" feeling. Thankfully, at least one of them has what appears to be a happy ending, and I'm guessing the increasingly good buzz on "Thor" helped make that happen.
And with Franco Nero starring? This is going to be special
When people were reporting "A Southern" as the title of Quentin Tarantino's long-rumored next film, I knew that wasn't right. The things I'd heard from people close to the project suggested that the title, when we did end up hearing it, would instantly get western nerds excited, and I chose not to print anything, waiting instead for what I hoped would be an official announcement.
Instead, you can thank Twitter for this one.
Earlier today, @AgentTrainee simply tweeted the word "Jealous?" and a picture of a title page that should look familiar to anyone who read either "Kill Bill" or "Inglourious Basterds." And if that title page is right, then we know know a few new things.
First, Quentin finished the latest draft of the script only three days ago.
Second, he's making a motherscratchin' "Django" movie.
Django was first played by Franco Nero in 1966 in a Sergio Corbucci film that is regarded by many as one of the best of the spaghetti Westerns. Thanks to the vagaries of international copyright law, there have been dozens of movies since where Django appears, and while few of them are genuine sequels, Nero did reprise the character a few times.
Trailer for adaptation of beloved bestseller arrives online
I'm totally unfamiliar with the book that "One Day" is based on, but I am aware enough of it to know that it was a phenomenon when it was published, selling about a bazillion copies.
Lone Scherfig, whose last film "An Education" was so good, is the director in charge of bringing this bestseller to the bigscreen, and based on the trailer for the film, it's going to be a very glossy mainstream movie about 20 years in the lives of these two characters played by Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, a romantic drama that takes two decades to play out.
It's not a new idea, certainly. The most popular film I can name that follows a similar shape is "When Harry Met Sally," although that film plays it firmly for laughs. I remember seeing "Same Time Next Year" as a kid and understanding right away that this sort of dramatic structure gives you an opportunity to compress a lifetime of experience into two hours.
I find Hathaway to be one of the more engaging actors of her general age range. She seems willing to throw vanity out the window for her work, and that's uncommon for actors in general. She's a beautiful young woman, but what stands out in her work is the emotional fragility she projects, which is so at odds with how substantial she is physically. She doesn't look like the sort of person who would break, but when she plays those moments, it can be wrenching.
Supernatural police-comedy makes a major casting shift
Here's a phrase I'll bet most people never thought they'd either read or type: "Jeff Bridges will be stepping in for Zack Galifianakis in the upcoming supernatural cop/comedy 'R.I.P.D.'."
The film, which sounds like "Men In Black" for monsters, is set to star Ryan Reynolds, and when Galifianakis left that film, I wondered if it might be because Reynolds was moving on to something else and Galifianakis didn't want to book something that wasn't actually about to happen.
I'll say this… moving from one of those actors to the other totally changes which version of that movie you're making. Bridges certainly isn't infallible, but he's capable of things at this point in his body of work that Galifianakis may never pull off. He's been amazing for a long time, and those of you just catching up in the last handful of years can be excused. You didn't see a lot of his great work in the '80s and the '90s. Those movies didn't make money. I still don't see a cult for most of his great overlooked work, and maybe I should get evangelical about that in a separate piece sometime, really point out the moments where I think he's carved out his place in the cinema firmament.
Lately, he's been on a hot streak and audiences have this great sloppy Jeff Bridges love affair going. They'll eat him up with a spoon in the right movie these days. People want Jeff Bridges to live on their couch. They want to smoke a joint with him and Willie Nelson and play guitars sometime. They want him to be his characters when they meet him, and some of the times we've spoken, he has been.