There is never going to be an easy date for Warner Bros. to release "Cloud Atlas."
Some movies are simply challenges, no matter what. That doesn't make them bad films, and it doesn't make them good films. It just means they are hard to sell to an audience. When you have to cut a 30-second commercial that conveys the main idea or appeal of a film, that is a very difficult thing on certain movies.
Warner Bros. digs "Cloud Atlas." I feel fairly safe in saying so. They know what movie they've got, and they know what sort of challenge is ahead, and so declaring a release date is step one in setting the table for the eventual release of the film.
It helps when you have Tom Hanks and Halle Berry starring in your movie, especially when you can advertise that each of them ends up playing a variety of different roles in the film. And when the supporting cast includes Jim Broadbent, also playing multiple parts, Hugo Weaving reteaming with his "Matrix" directors, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, and younger familiar faces like Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, and James D'Arcy, you've got enough leeway that you can let a relatively unknown actress, internationally speaking, like Doona Bae star in the film in one of the main key roles.
There is never going to be an easy date for Warner Bros. to release "Cloud Atlas."
Okay, now I fully believe that Paul Thomas Anderson is a sadist.
How else do you explain his decision to start dropping these tantalizing clues about his new film "The Master" when we've still got months and months until we actually see the thing?
"Why all the skulking and sneaking?"
When I was at Cannes, the first teaser was released, and that night, I went to the presentation that the Weinstein Company held, where they showed us a much longer trailer. I transcribed that entire footage reel in the article I published that night, and this new trailer features some of that material as well as footage that wasn't part of it at all. This new stuff makes a really strong case for this as something special, and I find myself excited because of how much it looks like it fits with Anderson's other films, about unconventional groups that form around charismatic centers, about these charming monsters. And if that's what Hoffman's playing, that sounds like it's going to fit him like a glove.
JAMES BOND 007 DECLASSIFIED
FILE #6: "On Her Majesty's Secret Service"
This series will trace the cinema history of James Bond, while also examining Ian Fleming's original novels as source material and examining how faithful (or not) the films have been to his work.
Directed by Peter Hunt
Screenplay by Richard Maibaum
Produced by Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli
CHARACTERS / CAST
James Bond / George Lazenby
Countess Tracy di Vicenzo / Diana Rigg
Ernst Stavro Blofeld / Telly Savalas
Marc-Ange Draco / Gabriele Ferzetti
Irma Bunt / Ilse Steppat
Sir Hilary Bray / George Baker
Grunther / Yuri Borienko
Shaun Campbell / Bernard Horsfall
M / Bernard Lee
Q / Desmond Llewellyn
Miss Moneypenny / Lois Maxwell
Ruby / Angela Scoular
Full Orchestra Sting. The familiar "DAH-DAH, dah! DAH-DAH, dah! DAH DAH DAH DAH!"
HARRY SALTZMAN and ALBERT R. BROCCOLI Present
Then the rest of the theme kicks in, swinging and a little bit tweaked, like it's being played on a Moog harpsichord. Lazenby walks in and the gun barrel follows, taking his time, and when he turns suddenly to fire, he drops to one knee. It's him making that moment his with a new move.
Here's how you know "Twilight" is a giant pop culture phenomenon: even the denial of a story about the series becomes a headline across the entire Internet.
Bloody-Disgusting ran a story over the weekend saying that Lionsgate has begun having internal conversations about the idea of rebooting "Twilight." Considering they haven't even released "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II" yet, it seems premature to start having these conversations, but that would suggest that there is some sense of logic or rational behavior that drives the decision-making process in Hollywood. Lionsgate has denied the report, of course, but it makes sense.
Here's the cold hard truth. "Twilight" is giant business, and one of the reasons Summit was such an attractive purchase for Lionsgate this past January is because they own the "Twilight" franchise. While Open Road Films certainly hopes to have a success on the same scale with their upcoming adaptation of the Stephenie Meyer novel "The Host," my guess is that lightning will not be striking twice. With nothing else to sell, Meyer has pretty much reached the end of her commercial lifespan unless she finds a new way to exploit Edward, Bella, Jacob and the rest.
"To Rome With Love" is the 11,000th motion picture by writer/director Woody Allen, and he deserves congratulations for the sheer volume of work he's produced, if nothing else.
Perhaps I exaggerate slightly, but I do find myself often pleased by the mere existence of a new Allen film because of the place it occupies in the natural order of things. A new Allen film every year. That's federal law at this point, right? And when people talk about what distinguishes Allen's work, you'll hear them talking about dialogue rhythms or the font he uses for his titles or his soundtracks, but those are mere gravy on the actual meat of what it is he does, and I think he's fascinating for the way he basically found his own approach to storytelling and he's worked variations in that same form ever since.
He's taken steps away from his main approach a few times, but he always eventually finds his way back, and it's been true from the jokes he wrote as a stand-up to the short pieces he collected in books like "Without Feathers" and continued directly into his filmmaking career, one of the richest and most fully explored of any American director, now or in the past. Woody Allen worships at the altar of the high concept. He loves to imagine a mundane world where one crucial detail is tweaked to comic effect. Sometimes, those high concepts are super high concept, like "The Purple Rose Of Cairo" or "Midnight In Paris" or "Zelig."
Pixar finds themselves at a particularly vulnerable moment in the mythology that surrounds the studio. Since the release of the first "Toy Story," they have released a string of movies that have been nothing less than dazzling, a series of films that have both commercial and critical hits. Last year's release of "Cars 2" was the first moment where they seemed to be operating like any other Hollywood studio, putting commerce ahead of their craft, and for many fans of their work, it was a moment that rattled their faith.
Since we live in an age where each and every decision during the production of a motion picture can be scrutinized, often free of the context that led to the decision, much has been written about the process by which "Brave" emerged from what was originally known as "The Bow and the Bear." Brenda Chapman was the first director on the picture, and she still gets a co-director credit as well as a "story by" in the credits. She was set to be the first female filmmaker to direct a feature for Pixar, and she absolutely deserves credit for getting this original fairy tale from her first idea to the final film that is about to open. But it's hard to get upset about the process when we have no idea what happened that resulted in Mark Andrews and Steve Purcell getting co-director credits with her. After all, Andrews has been kicking around the business for years, working on the storyboard department for "The Iron Giant," working as head of story for "Osmosis Jones," "The Incredibles," and "Ratatouille," and directing the short film "One Man Band." Purcell has paid his dues as well, creating the popular "Sam and Max" computer game series and working as one of the many screenwriters on the original "Cars." Chapman put in years as an animator, working on TV shows like "The Real Ghost Busters" and "Heathcliff" before working in the story department on films like "Beauty and the Beast," "The Lion King," and "Chicken Run." She was one of the directors of the very ambitious "The Prince Of Egypt," and that was a milestone at the time, making her one of the few women to ever reach that sort of position on a major studio animated movie.
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.
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.