<p>Kevin Costner, seen here at the Santa Barbara Film Festival in 2011, is due for a great career year in 2012 with roles in the new 'Superman' film and Quentin Tarantino's 'Django Unchained'</p>

Kevin Costner, seen here at the Santa Barbara Film Festival in 2011, is due for a great career year in 2012 with roles in the new 'Superman' film and Quentin Tarantino's 'Django Unchained'

Credit: AP Photo/Phil Klein

Kevin Costner cracks a whip in Tarantino's 'Django Unchained'

Easy-going actor signs on for truly despicable role

By now, I've learned to have faith regarding Quentin Tarantino and his casting.  I may not love the choice of Jamie Foxx for Django, the lead in his upcoming movie "Django Unchained," but I understand that there were more factors that went into it than just "Hey, let me hire anybody I feel like hiring."  The only thing that scared me about Foxx when he was announced is that we haven't really seen him play period like this before, and he's such a thoroughly modern guy that it is hard for me to imagine.

Kevin Costner, though?  Man, that's perfect.

I am actively anticipating what happens when "Django Unchained" is released, because it is the single most incendiary thing Tarantino's ever written, and a damn good story besides.  It's one thing to provoke, and that's easy.  But when you create great characters, spin a great yarn, and you manage to provoke at the same time, that's something special, and that's exactly what it feels like "Django Unchained" is going to pull off.

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<p>Aziz Ansari and Jesse Eisenberg co-star in the new comedy '30 Minutes Or Less'</p>

Aziz Ansari and Jesse Eisenberg co-star in the new comedy '30 Minutes Or Less'

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Comic-Con: Jesse Eisenberg has a question, and the winners can see '30 Minutes Or Less' early

One trivia question and you could be in the theater on Friday night

One of the new trends that I really like at Comic-Con this year is more screenings of finished films.  I'm a big fan of that, and I think there's no better word of mouth than when people get to see an entire movie.  So far, we've heard about "Captain America," "Attack The Block," and of course, "Cowboys and Aliens," but now we're also pleased to announce that "30 Minutes Or Less" is going to be screening on Friday night, the 22nd, and we've got a way for you to attend that event.

It will be an event, too, since Aziz Ansari, Nick Swardson, Michael Pena, and director Ruben Fleischer will all be there to introduce the film before it starts at 8:00 PM and then do a Q&A afterwards.  It's such a quick flick, too, running a lean 90 minutes, that you can do this and enjoy it all and still have plenty of time for trouble on Friday night.

I got a chance to see the film last week, and while I won't be running a full review until the week of release, I enjoyed it.  It's another of this summer's R-rated comedies that take full advantage of the rating, and it's all about chemistry.  Aziz and Jesse Eisenberg are both very funny in it, and Michael Pena continues to prove himself one of the strangest and funniest guys working right now.

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<p>Evan Sneider is the star of the unsettling and unusual 'Girlfriend'</p>

Evan Sneider is the star of the unsettling and unusual 'Girlfriend'

Credit: Wayne/Lauren Film Company

Review: 'Girlfriend' tells uneasy story of love and kindness with unlikely star

HitFix
B
Readers
n/a
Justin Lerner's debut feature hinges on a very special lead performance

It's not often that I can honestly say that a movie strikes me as completely original, but that is true of Justin Lerner's new film "Girlfriend," opening today in New York.  It's the sort of film I have trouble even assigning a genre as I watch it, and I strongly encourage you to get out and support this tiny indie right now while you can, and maybe we'll see this one get a wider release, which it absolutely deserves.

I'm curious what the order of events was for this one.  The lead in the movie, Evan Sneider, is a young man with Down's Syndrome, and I'm curious if the role was written for them or if they went out and found Evan after writing the script.  It's one of those cases where the film wouldn't exist without Evan, and I'm not sure this is the sort of thing you could even put together if you didn't know you had the exact right person to play the part.  Sneider's work in the film is accomplished and moving and, again, original.  I'm so used to the ingrained idea that any time you see someone with Down's in a key role in a film, they'll be portrayed a certain way, that when you see something like this that throws rules out the window, it's enough to make the experience deeply unsetting.

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<p>Chris Evans straps on some red, white, and blue in 'Captain America:&nbsp;The First Avenger'</p>

Chris Evans straps on some red, white, and blue in 'Captain America: The First Avenger'

Credit: Paramount/Marvel Studios

Exclusive new 'Captain America' poster, plus how to win passes to see it early

Paramount's ready to wrap up 2011's summer of superheroes

I'm seeing it this weekend, and here's how you know I'm genuinely excited:  I hate traffic in Los Angeles worse than I hate anything, and I am driving into Carmageddon not once, but TWICE this weekend in order to both see the film and talk to the cast and the director.  There are not many movies coming out this summer that could get me to do that.

If you're going to be in San Diego for Comic-Con and you want to see "Captain America: The First Avenger" on Thursday, there's a 10:00 AM screening at the Horton Plaza Theater, and it's going to be complete with special guests and special surprises.  It is worth making the effort for this one.  We've got 30 pairs of tickets to give away, and I wish you luck.  I'll just say this... the people who saw it tonight who I talked to sounded happy about what they saw.  I'm avoiding any more footage or scenes or spoilers at this point because I just want to see the movie and see it all put together.

And if it weren't enough for us to hand out 30 pairs of tickets for you, we have something else as well, a brand-new poster for the film that brings together almost all of the film's major characters, with an imposing and decidedly evil Red Skull looking down at everything.

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<p>One thing's for sure... the Scorsese film 'Hugo' seems to adapt the images from Brian Selznick's book 'The Invention Of Hugo Cabret' very closely</p>

One thing's for sure... the Scorsese film 'Hugo' seems to adapt the images from Brian Selznick's book 'The Invention Of Hugo Cabret' very closely

Credit: Scholastic Press/Brian Selznick

Watch: 'Hugo' trailer features Sacha Baron Cohen, robots, and Scorsese 3D

Will this be a holiday treat from one of our greatest filmmakers?

Well, then.  That's a little bit more "running into things and falling down" than I'm used to from my Scorsese trailers.

I have not read the book The Invention Of Hugo Cabret, but it sounds like a heady mix of influences, and the idea that Martin Scorsese signed on to make a 3D film aimed at kids because of this book is reason enough to pay attention to the book.  Today, we've got the first trailer for the film to give us a hint of what we'll see when the film is released this November, and whatever I expected, it wasn't this.

Brian Selznick, who wrote the book, was inspired by Georges Melies, one of the giants of silent cinema, and evidently the book was a combination of a novel, a picture book, and a flip cartoon, a combination of words and text that was designed to work as a puzzle as much as a narrative.  In his own words, the book is all about "Paris in the 1930's, a thief, a broken machine, a strange girl, a mean old man, and the secrets that tie them all together."  And based on the trailer, the film covers the same ground.

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<p>Spike Lee will once again play Mookie, the character he created in 1989's 'Do The Right Thing'</p>

Spike Lee will once again play Mookie, the character he created in 1989's 'Do The Right Thing'

Credit: Universal Home Video

Spike Lee is playing Mookie again right now in a new feature film

How did we all miss this story?

Sometimes, I am disappointed by the way news spreads online, and by which news becomes important.  This week, Spike Lee's name has been all over the news because of the announcement that he's attached to the in-development remake of "Oldboy," and it seems like everyone wrote about that.  After all, "Oldboy" is a critical favorite, and whoever signs on to make that film is putting themselves in the hot seat right away.  We wrote about it here, as well, so I'm not pointing fingers.

But the real Spike Lee news this week went largely unreported, and it's embarrassing to see that the new community can't at least match their excitement over a hypothetical remake when it comes to reporting on a new film by Lee that is actually shooting right now, especially since it's a semi-sequel to his best film, "Do The Right Thing."

Yes, that's right.  Mookie's back.  And it's happening right now.

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<p>This year's Fantastic&nbsp;Fest poster, created by Mike Saputo, is loaded with geek easter eggs and promises all sorts of lunacy from the week-long event.</p>

This year's Fantastic Fest poster, created by Mike Saputo, is loaded with geek easter eggs and promises all sorts of lunacy from the week-long event.

Credit: Fantastic Fest/Alamo

First wave of Fantastic Fest 2011 programming announced

Vintage movies, deranged comedy, and more fill out this round of titles

Hey, 2011, you wanna pump the brakes for me?

I can't believe we're already hearing announcements for Fantastic Fest programming.  After all, FanTasia in Montreal is just kicking off today, Comic-Con is next week, and then we've got… oh, that's right, it's just over a month until we reach September, or as I like to call it, "The month I am gone at film festivals."  We just finished making all of our arrangements for Toronto, and now we're starting to think about Fantastic Fest.

For me, the highlight of the festival is going to be welcoming Tim and Karrie League's new twins into the world.  I still can't believe they're scheduled to deliver their kids right in the midst of all the madness they've got planned for this year's edition of my favorite film festival, but I guess that just adds to the excitement.  In the meantime, we've got a chunk of titles to check out, and one of the things that surprised me is how many vintage titles are part of this wave of announcements.  I like that.  I'm looking forward to those as much as any of the new titles, and let's take a look at all of them so far:

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<p>The mix of real locations and exotic alien architecture seems to be one of the signatures of Andrew Stanton's adaptation of 'John Carter'</p>

The mix of real locations and exotic alien architecture seems to be one of the signatures of Andrew Stanton's adaptation of 'John Carter'

Credit: Walt Disney Company

Watch: 'John Carter' trailer offers us our first glimpse of Barsoom

So this is what live-action Pixar feels like

This one's been a long time coming.

So far, timing has kept me out of the loop on all things "John Carter."  I didn't visit the set.  I didn't visit Pixar to see footage with Andrew Stanton.  My one real afternoon around pre-production art from the film was an accident because of where Disney held a "TRON: Legacy" event.  And through all of this, I've been perfectly content to wait, because this is one of those films that will arrive with a lot of history attached to it, and I'd rather wait and let them show us whatever they're happy with when they're happy with it.

I love pulp fiction of all types.  The "John Carter Of Mars" books by Edgar Rice Burroughs are great, spirited, inventive adventure novels that have been picked clean by people borrowing ideas and inspiration from them over the years.  One of my biggest questions about this film is how they plan to make it feel fresh when so many movies have stolen elements of the source material over the years.  It would be like making a "Lensman" movie and having to deal with angry "Star Wars" fans yelling about getting ripped off.  Sometimes, you wait so long to make something that there's a chance it is going to feel like the imitation even if it's not.

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<p>Do you really need Ash to make an 'Evil Dead' movie work, or is it possible to take the basic idea and spin something new and scary from it?</p>

Do you really need Ash to make an 'Evil Dead' movie work, or is it possible to take the basic idea and spin something new and scary from it?

Credit: DEG

Ghost House confirms 'Evil Dead' remake with Diablo Cody onboard to rewrite

At least we know it's in the hands of a fan

Now is the time on "Sprockets" when we eat some crow.

All my reservations about a new "Evil Dead" movie of any kind are on the record from yesterday.  My basic feelings are the same.  If your'e just dealing with the bare bones (a bunch of college kids, a cabin in the woods, a cursed book, and terrible things happening), it's not the strongest spine to hang a remake on.  We're going to see Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard play with the conventions in "The Cabin In The Woods," a movie that sort of makes the tropes of "Evil Dead" obsolete by design. 

In order to truly make a new "Evil Dead" work, you have to do a few things.  You have to make it genuinely scary, you have to do something we haven't seen from the genre, and you need to craft characters who matter and who aren't just generic spam in a cabin.

Hiring Diablo Cody is a step in the right direction.  In my opinion?  A big step.

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<p>Legendary distributed this image of Godzilla at Comic-Con, which makes me wonder what sort of plans they have for him at this year's San Diego event.</p>

Legendary distributed this image of Godzilla at Comic-Con, which makes me wonder what sort of plans they have for him at this year's San Diego event.

Credit: Warner/Legendary

Legendary brings in David Goyer to rewrite 'Godzilla'

Does this mean they're getting closer to a greenlight for the King Of Monsters?

I've had several conversations over the last few years with Thomas Tull about Godzilla, both generally and specifically. 

If you don't know Tull's name, he's the Big Cheese at Legendary Pictures, the company that has served as one of the primary financing partners for Warner Bros. the last few years, and he is a fascinating figure, a guy who came to Hollywood from the world of high finance but who is genuinely a giant movie nerd.  Sure, he's a financial partner in the Pittsburgh Steelers, and a guy who build a giant hedge fund, but movies are one of his great passions.

And even with movies as a general passion for Tull, the character of Godzilla is a particular passion, something he loves dearly.  Right now, as Legendary prepares for their first Comic-Con panel next week, I'm excited to see what sort of presentation they've put together for "Pacific Rim," which is a big giant demented monster and mecha movie that Guillermo Del Toro and Travis Beacham have cooked up.  It's a wild read, and I can't even imagine what sort of outrageous energy Del Toro's eventual film will have.  I know there was some confusion during development when it was reported that "Pacific Rim" would be replacing "Godzilla," but despite the presence of giant monsters in both projects, I don't think that would be as easy as previously suggested.

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