This makes me happy on so many levels.
I may not write about him as frequently as some of my other favorite filmmakers, but David Cronenberg is very near the top of the list of working directors whose work is important to me. He's got one of the great voices in movies, and I look forward to each new film he makes. I didn't particularly like "A Dangerous Method," but the rare one-off from him doesn't make me any less fond of the vast majority of his body of work.
When they announced that he was adapting Don DeLillo's "Cosmopolis" into a film, it was exciting because the author's voice is so distinct and strong that watching Cronenberg insert his own perspective into that material seemed like an exciting creative cocktail. So far, DeLillo's work has pretty heartily resisted film adaptation, but there was a time where I would have said the same about William S. Burroughs and J.G. Ballard, and Cronenberg did pretty well by both of those guys.
This makes me happy on so many levels.
I will admit that I walked into "The FP" ready to love it.
After all, it's being released by Drafthouse Films, and I'm a big fan in principle. After all, this is a company that was formed by Tim League to release "Four Lions" when no one else in America had the balls. And having known Tim for the better part of fifteen years, I know that our taste doesn't always align, but that more often than not, we do enjoy the same sort of weird.
So I found myself depressed when, about a half-hour into "The FP," which Drafthouse Films is currently rolling out in limited release, with more theaters being added this weekend, I realized that not only did I not love it, but I was impatient for it to end. The film feels to me like a short film stretched way past the breaking point, which makes sense, because it started as a short film.
I am fascinated by Reggie Watts. I don't even know if I'd describe him as a comedian, because his live shows are such an original mix of music and humor and attitude, and there's no one else I can point to who does what he does.
One of my favorite moments in the LCD Soundsystem documentary "Shut Up And Play The Hits," which I absolutely recommend to you, is when Reggie Watts shows up during that final Madison Square Garden performance to collaborate on a song. It's just amazing to see how Watts can build this wall of sound that drops into what James Murphy and the band do so well, and it makes the case for Watts as far more than "just" a comedian.
Ridley Scott's "Legend" is an absolutely gorgeous movie, but as a film, it's wildly uneven and occasionally stone-cold silly. I still remember the afternoon I saw it the first time, and my friend and I who saw it together ended up yelling at each other because of how differently we processed it. He really bought into the world of the film and thought it was a great accomplishment regardless of the script, while I couldn't really get past some of the things that I think hobble the film.
One of the interesting side effects of being at a film festival, especially one that lasts longer than a week, is that you become unstuck in time. You stay so busy that the outside world sort of recedes completely. I came up for air a few times during SXSW, but for the most part, it was the rest of Team HitFix that was dealing with breaking news and posting new trailers. I missed quite a few of them, and when I realized that, I thought I'd go back and catch up.
I know I talked to people at SXSW about that Japanese "Avengers" trailer, and it's certainly worth some conversation. It's interesting that the Japanese trailer just plain reveals the alien invasion aspect of the film that the American campaign has so carefully hidden. There's a lot more material here, including an appearance by Pepper Potts that surprised me. Until now, I wasn't 100% sure she was even in the film.
There's more of an emphasis on both Hawkeye and The Black Widow here, and we finally see Cobie Smulders, who I hear is one of the surprise highlights of the film. All in all, this is a great sneak peek at the film, and now that I've seen it, I don't want to see anything else until I see it all put together.
There is something about hockey that lends itself naturally to comedy when someone makes a film about it. "Slap Shot" is one of the best sports films of the '70s, and even today, it holds up because there's something authentic about the world it creates. I think it's the casual brutality of the sport that makes it so cinematic, and the script that was adapted by Jay Baruchel & Evan Goldberg from the novel by Adam Frattasio & Doug Smith feels like a perfect fit for the comic gifts of director Michael Dowse.
I don't understand how Dowse is still marginalized. I'm late to the game, but when I caught up with "Fubar" and "Fubar: Balls To The Wall" and realized they were both from the same director as "It's All Gone Pete Tong," it was one of those moments where I suddenly realized I'm a fan of someone and didn't even know it. I'm guessing part of what roadblocked him professionally was the film "Take Me Home Tonight," which started life as "Kids In America" before it sat on a shelf for a few years. Anytime you have a film that flames out like that, no matter what the reason, it can have a huge impact on your career.
I enjoyed 'The Muppets' when I saw it last year, and the soundtrack has been fairly omnipresent in my house thanks to my sons, who at this point know every word of every song. When we have long trips in the car, I admit that it makes me happy to listen to them sing "Mah Nah Mah Nah" or "The Rainbow Connection."
My parents introduced me to The Muppets in the '70s via "Sesame Street" and their syndicated series, and I like the idea that they've endured as characters long enough now that I can pass that love along to my own kids. They are an institution, and it is genuinely encouraging to see that they've endured this long.
It seems long overdue for Walt Disney to have finally sponsored The Muppets for a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. I think it's a very commercial honor, and I don't think it's particularly merit-based, but if anyone deserves one of those stars, it would be The Muppets. It looks like it was a very nice ceremony, and there's something special about seeing news photos of Kermit The Frog and Miss Piggy and all the familiar characters. It makes them feel real.
This was inevitable.
Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant have made quite a name for themselves as studio screenwriters for hire, and they've had enough giant mega-hits that they have proven themselves to be worthy of the studio's trust. I'm partial to their no-apologies crazy-ass rated R style comedy, but I respect the fact that they have figured out how to have their fun and still work successfully inside the system.
Now it looks like they're going to finally be calling the shots on a film of their own, co-writing and co-directing a movie called "Hell Baby," which they'll also star in, along with Rob Corddry and Leslie Bibb.
Darko Entertainment, which has proven itself to have very eclectic and dark taste in movies, and especially in comedy, so I'm hoping this is unfettered and insane Lennon/Garant.
This is a first.
When I was picking movies for this year's Film Nerd 2.0 with my sons, we went through books full of DVDs and shelves full of Blu-rays, discussing things that interested them, explaining things they asked about. I thought the final list we chose was a nice mix of styles and filmmakers, and it seemed like a nice trip through several eras of Hollywood.
After our last film together was "To Kill A Mockingbird," it seemed appropriate to go in the other direction and pick something that was light and fun and that we could enjoy together before I left for a film festival trip. Those long professional moments away from home are hard on the kids, and they're hard on me as well. At six and four (Allen just had a birthday), they like being silly. They are silly all the time. They are constantly struggling to make each other laugh, and I find myself watching them in the playroom, them unaware that I'm paying attention, and being amazed at what dedicated clowns they are.
So are you excited about "The Cabin In The Woods" yet?
I think Lionsgate is doing a good job with a difficult situation. They picked the film up from MGM because they believe in it, and they've been very clear about that since they first started reaching out to press last year. They have also been very clear from the start that they recognize just how hard it is to sell this movie without giving away so much of what makes it great.
Ultimately, a good film is more than just the sum of its secrets, and "The Cabin In The Woods" is a film that plays even better once you watch it a second time. The film is loaded with tiny details that pay off in a whole different way the second time around. I suspect that horror fans will see the film many times, just to dissect all the things that Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard have layered into it.
Tomorrow, March 20th, would have been the 84th birthday of Fred Rogers. To commemorate the day, you'll be able to find the movie "Mr. Rogers and Me" on DVD, local PBS affiliates, and iTunes. And if you are even remotely interested in the man and his work and his ongoing legacy, then I urge you to check it out.
I forgot I requested a screener for this one, so when I got home at 2:00 in the morning today from Austin, I was surprised to see it on the stack of things that arrived while I was gone. I had to wait up for a while for the new "Snow White and the Huntsman" trailer to go live, so I figured I'd watch a few minutes of the documentary while I was waiting.
Of course I watched the entire thing, and of course there were about five or six places that brought tears to my eyes and of course it's a wonderful tribute to a wonderful person.