How's the trailer for this star-studded late-summer comedy?
I'm a fan of the films that Adam McKay and Will Ferrell have made together so far. "Anchorman," "Talladega Nights," and "Step Brothers" are all deranged, and they also all have something in common besides the creative teams that made them: I didn't like the trailers at all.
I think what McKay does is context-based comedy. A good example would be that dinner table sequence in "Talladega Nights" where Ricky Bobby (Ferrell) and his wife (Leslie Bibb) and his best friend Cal (John C. Reilly) sit around the dinner table with Ricky Bobby's family, and things break down into a lecture on good parenting and a display of hyperactive hostility and a debate on which Jesus is the right Jesus to pray to. It's a ludicrous, magnificent scene, and it really only works if you see the full thing, start to finish, so you can see how it evolves. There are great lines in the scene ("I"m gonna come at you like a spider monkey!"), but it's the context that really puts it all together.
I say this to preface the release today of the trailer for "The Other Guys," which is the new film that Adam McKay directed, and which stars Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell as a pair of mismatched detectives. We've been seeing buddy cop comedies for decades now, as far back as "Freebie and the Bean" and as recently as this spring's "Cop Out." It's certainly not a new idea, but it's one that can provide strong returns in the right hands.
How many years will the fanboy community cry the same song?
When I was at Wondercon last week, someone at the Warner Bros. panel asked Sylvain White, the director of "The Losers," how he got into filmmaking. I think they were asking more in terms of "What steps did you go through to get into the director's chair?", but he answered it a different way. "When I was eight years old, I had a life-changing religious event in the movie theater," he said. "My parents took me to see 'Star Wars.'"
How many people had that same life-changing religious event? I know I did, and it seems like every filmmaker roughly my age can say the same thing. The original "Star Wars" trilogy was a hugely important and beloved cultural event that lasted for six years, and during those six years, it was an amazing, intoxicating lovefest for the world and the characters created by George Lucas.
Fast forward to the past week, where "Mr. Plinkett" of Red Letter Media is the nerd du jour thanks to his just-released nine-part video review of the 2002 film "Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones." His review last year of "The Phantom Menace" made him a cult figure in fandom, and he seems to be a perfect example of the corner of pop culture that gave rise to the documentary I saw at this year's SXSW festival, "The People Vs. George Lucas." Directed by Alexandre O. Philippe, the title would imply that it's a sort of mock trial of George Lucas for the crimes he's committed against fandom. It's more or less another slice-of-fandom film that makes a few arguments for Lucas as a hypocrite without really landing any serious points. If anything, the sheer scope of the subculture that still exists around fandom refutes the idea that Lucas did something "wrong." For all of the tears that have been spilled, "Star Wars" remains an incredibly healthy overall property in terms of enthusiasm around the world among all ages. It's just that one part of that fandom, a very specific part, has managed to become the most vocal.
And frankly, I'm tired of it.
HitFix Film Editor Drew McWeeny hosts his first podcast
Be gentle with me.
Our TV guru and overall resident sardonic wit Dan Fienberg has been podcasting for the last few months with his partner in crime and good friend Alan Sepinwall, and the result has been a genuinely engaging listen. I'd been talking about doing this for a while, but talking about it and actually doing it are radically different things.
So this weekend, I took the plunge. I downloaded Audacity, I invited over my good friend and longtime media collaborator Scott Swan, and I recorded and edited a podcast. A two-hour long podcast. And it was waaaaaaaaay too much. We've cut it down by over half, and what you're going to hear (if you care) today is a rough model for what I'll be doing in the weeks ahead.
If you don't know Scott, he's been working with me since I was in high school. As a writing team, we've been award-winning members of the WGAw since 1994, and we've worked on stage, on screen, and on television. You can pick up both seasons of "Masters Of Horror" as well as the one season of "Fear Itself," all on DVD now. You can also get Scott's horror film, "Maskhead," which he co-directed with Fred "August Underground" Vogel if you're braver than I am. He's pretty much the oldest friend I have in the world, and I figured if I was going to have anyone on as a guest for this first one, it would be him.
I've included a brief rundown of what you'll hear and where it is in the show.
Drew McWeeny spends ten minutes with the outrageous movie star
I've been looking forward to a second sit-down with Nicolas Cage since we met on the set of "Kick-Ass" in London. He's a guy whose work I've been fond of since I saw "Valley Girl" theatrically. It's been a thrill watching his filmography develop with pictures like "Peggy Sue Got Married" and "Raising Arizona" and "Vampire's Kiss" and "Wild At Heart" and "Birdy," just to name some of his early triumphs. At some point, he shifted gears and became the Jerry Bruckheimer Action Guy with movies like "The Rock" and "Con Air," and he has certainly made movies both great and mystifying.
Right now, it seems to me that he's in a bit of a career resurgence as far as public opinion goes. He's always been busy, but you'd be hard-pressed to find staunch defenders of "Next" or "Bangkok Dangerous" or "G-Force." I can understand why he would do any of those... even "G-Force"... but that doesn't mean those are films I want to see or that I connect with when they're released.
WIth "Kick-Ass," he's done great work, funny and real and sad and strange all at once, and he makes one of the most frightening variations on Batman so far onscreen.
With "Bad Lieutanant: Port Of Call New Orleans," he's playing with that image of him as a lunatic, and it's a wry and knowing performance, a great collaboration with Werner Herzog.
Plus five new short films from Ridley Scott's commercial division and Bill Condon circles 'Breaking Dawn'
Welcome to The Morning Read.
Lots of news breaking this morning. None of it particularly earth-shaking, but some of it fun.
For example, I'm not sure if I'm excited for "Cowboys and Aliens" yet. I mean, the film's been limping through development for about a decade now, and it's always seemed like the highest of high concepts in search of a compelling story and characters. I like Jon Favreau as a filmmaker, so I'm curious, and Daniel Craig in a Western is also enough to get me interested. Adding Harrison Ford to the cast, though? That might be the thing that finally pushes me over. It's been a long time since Harrison did anything that made me curious, but this is one of those moves I wouldn't have seen coming. Nice work by Latino Review breaking the story, and nice work by Favreau getting Ford involved.
Meanwhile, it's looking more and more likely that Bill Condon, director of "Gods and Monsters" and "Kinsey" and "Dreamgirls," is about to sign on for the final two movies in "The Twilight Saga." If it happens, the real winner is Summit Entertainment, who just classed up a very, very silly franchise just as they get it across the finish line. I have made no secret of the fact that I think the "Twilight" series is garbage, but Condon makes sense as a director here. Despite his Oscar-bait pedigree, the man earned his stripes in the horror world, and I know for a fact he's been interested in doing a gothic Vampire story for a while now... just not this one. I'd wager this is all but a done deal at this point, and I hope these turn out to be the biggest movies out of the entire franchise, just so Condon can move on from a position of enormous strength and get some of his dream films made, like that Richard Pryor biopic or something else close to his heart.
The theatrical editions of the popular series, all in one high-def box for the first time
After careful consideration, my overall opinion of this three-movie nine-disc set is that it represents a rush to make "The Lord Of The Rings" available on Blu-ray, but it does not offer a significant or compelling technical justification to upgrade for anyone who already owns these films, and it certainly isn't the last time we'll see this material presented for sale on this format.
Both "The Two Towers" and "Return Of The King" look pretty great in high-definition, but I'm mystified by how "Fellowship Of The Ring" has been given such a slapdash overall transfer. I would argue that "Fellowship" is the lushest and most beautiful of the films, and yet it's the one that shows the most obvious signs of compression and digital manipulation. It's frustrating, because there are certain titles that I want to use as the demo discs when showing off Blu-ray to friends who haven't made the jump to the format yet, and "Lord Of The Rings" should be a slam dunk.
Overall, I don't think the films look like they're a decade old already in the way that many FX films quickly start to show their age. Because WETA worked so hard to combine practical and digital FX, and because there are so many techniques in play at any given moment in the film, the films still look fairly cutting-edge. Beyond that, they will age well because the emphasis is always on story and character, and that's really the thing that Peter Jackson got right in bringing these epics to the screen. He found the right cast, and he gave them plenty of room to inhabit this fantastic world he brought to life.
Almost an hour with the creators and cast of the spring's rowdiest movie
As I mentioned in the Morning Read yesterday, Saturday was a long and strange day, culminating in the event I'm going to share with you thanks to a new YouTube friend, .
It was a genuine pleasure to moderate a panel with these people. I think they've made a great movie and that entire room full of Wondercon attendees seemed pumped to see what the cast had to say. Jane Goldman, the co-writer of the film, was there along with John Romita Jr., and the cast was well-represented. Clark Duke, Aaron Johnson, Nicolas Cage, Chloe Moretz, and Christoper Mintz-Plasse all turned up to discuss their work in the film, and earlier in the day, I sat with them for interviews you'll see very soon.
Toys210 is the name of the guy who shot the panel at Wondercon. Or at least that's the name of his YouTube account. He broke it into five separate videos, and when I found it last night, Greg encouraged me to post the entire thing here for you.
It was really flattering to be asked to moderate a panel like this one, and it's rare that I can enthusiastically endorse a film like this when moderating a panel that's promotional in nature. This is a gifted group of people, and they handle my questions well, then bear with the ups and downs of a Q&A with the audience..
Here's part one, which features my introductions and the start of the conversation:
Shocking, profane, deeply disturbing, but amazingly made and truly significant
If you were anywhere within earshot of me during SXSW, then you already have some idea of just how enthusiastic I was about a screening that happened early in the festival, a screening that may turn out to be one of my few chances to see this audacious debut on the bigscreen.
However, it's precisely because the film hit me so hard that I found myself unable to quite put it all into words during the festival. It's taken me until now to get my head around it completely so I could somehow write a review that wouldn't just be ranting and raving. So what is "A Serbian Film"? Hmmmm...
"This is a new genre, Milos!"
-- Vukmir Vukmir, "A Serbian Film"
On one level, "A Serbian Film" is the movie that Brian De Palma and Dario Argento teamed up to make in 1987, and it works as a dark, inhuman thriller in which a family man's tainted past catches up with him and threatens the happy life he's built for himself. It is the story of one generation's crimes becoming a younger generation's punishments. But even before any of that, it is a hysterical cry for help, a cultural declaration of surrender that I found emotionally devastating.
And Peter Sollett signs on to direct Marvel's 'The Runaways'
Welcome to The Morning Read.
Friday and Saturday blended into one hellaciously long day for me. I worked on Friday, did some stuff with the family, and then Friday night spent about five or six hours working with my co-screenwriter Scott Swan for a while on a new project. Once we wrapped up work, he drove me to the Van Nuys FlyAway so I could catch a ride to LAX, where I took a one-hour flight north to San Francisco. I spent the morning doing interviews with the "Kick-Ass" cast and spent a few hours preparing for a panel on the film that I moderated at Wondercon. As soon as that was done, I handed off my videotapes to Greg Ellwood, caught a cab to the airport, and flew home so I could hang out with the boys while my wife and her sister went out for some birthday celebrations. I played Easter Bunny and hid eggs all over the house and the backyard, and then finally crashed, after being awake for about 40 straight hours.
So, yeah, unsurprisingly, I'm sick now. Whoo-hoo!
Still, well worth the trip, and it was heaps of fun, all things considered. I've got a ton of work to do this week, including the release of my very first HitFix podcast, and I figure the best way to get the week off on the right foot is to put together a Morning Read, especially considering what a strange grab-bag of links I've got cluttering my bookmark menu. There have been hundreds of thousands of words already written about the iPad in just the last few days, and for those of you who went out and bought one, you should learn some tips on how to play with your new toy. I'm probably still quite a while from owning one. I'm still just starting to enjoy my iTouch. But once they've perfected the thing and gotten a few generations into it, I'm looking forward to satisfying my own gadget nerd itch.
How does a stop-motion epic play to kids in the digital age?
Instead, I give them choices. And let's be honest... I stack the deck. I filter out things I find objectionable so they're never even in the pool of options that are presented to Toshi to choose from. That's just basic parental common sense. And the options I present them with are all things they could enjoy or that they've already asked about. That's a big part of the dialogue I have with Toshi in my office these days.
He's begun to browse.
"Daddy." Only these days, that two syllable hailing signal is more a sound, a siren full of want that is about eight syllables longer, whined at full volume. "Daaaaaaaaddeeeeeeeeee." It means, "I am about to ask you for something and I'm letting you know in advance that if I don't get it, I'm going to make sure you hear about it."
"What's this purple movie?"
"Bring it to me."
"I like this one. I think it's maybe my favorite, so I think I should watch it with you."
"This is 'Beetlejuice.'"
"Yeah. 'Beetlejuice.' That's the one I like."
"I don't think so, pal."
"I really like it when we can watch 'Beetlejuice.' Really, Daddy. Tonight, okay, Daddy? Deal?" He knows that if I say, "Deal" back to him, that's binding in a court of law, and he's always fishing for it as a result. "Deal, Daddy?"
"I don't think so."