This is just plain odd, and it makes me very happy.
I got a press release this morning from SPHE, and I had to read it twice because I didn't believe it the first time. I've been hearing for the past decade how "Ishtar" was never going to come out on DVD because of all the delicate negotiating it would require between the various principal players like Dustin Hoffman, Warren Beatty, and Elaine May.
Anyone who's been reading this blog since it launched, or who was reading my work on Ain't It Cool, probably knows by now that I'm a fan of "Ishtar," and not in some winky ironic way, either. I think it's a genuinely funny film that got unjustly slammed when it was released in 1987, and it's deserved a major rediscovery for some time now. Last year, Mr. Beaks and I hosted an evening at the New Beverly where we double-featured this film with "Joe Vs. The Volcano," and seeing it with a crowd was great.
It's been hard to defend the film when it's been largely unavailable to the viewing public, and it's been hard to explain to people that there are reasons other than the quality of the film that have kept it off of DVD entirely. How many high-profile film can you honestly say have never had a DVD release in the American market? How many Warren Beatty films or Dustin Hoffman films have been completely shelved and sat out this format entirely?
Would would a simple press release get today's spotlight?
This is just plain odd, and it makes me very happy.
Plus we play a round of Movie God with the comedy icon
The October skies were still grey and swollen with potential rain as I sped across town to make it to my early morning interview on Saturday with Will Ferrell.Â Perfect weather to interview a supervillain.
Sitting down with Ferrell, 43, has become something of a habit for me over the last decade or so.Â I've stood on-set chatting with Ron Burgundy, sat in a crazy forced perspective classroom beside Buddy The Elf, and there have been any number of interviews as he's released his films.Â This summer, I moderated the "Megamind" panel at the San Diego Comic-Conâ€¦ or more accurately, I stood onstage and asked a few questions while Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, and a cardboard Brad Pitt expertly worked the audience.
I like that when I sit down with him at this point, there's no obligation for him to be "on."Â He's always sharp and funny, but he doesn't exhibit some manic urge to score points or play some character.Â He's a thoughtful, soft-spoken guy when we sit down.Â Especially when it's 10:00 AM and I'm the first interview of what will no doubt be a very long Saturday for the star.Â I feel good about the fact that my decision to recently shave everything off my face for the first time in about a decade makes Will laugh the moment he walks into the room, and for the first few minutes of the interview, as we settle in to talk, every time he looks at me, he cracks up anew.
We begin by talking about the basic premise of the film and the way it riffs off of the traditional idea of the arch enemy.Â "There's always that one guy, and when they catch him, they lock him up forever.Â Onlyâ€¦ it doesn't really work out for some reason.Â Somehow, that guy always makes it off the prison island."
Plus the creepiest celebrity soundalike of all time
Welcome to The Morning Read.
This may be a quick one.Â It may not.Â It'll just depend on how much I can get done before I get out the door this morning.Â I've got interviews with Danny Boyle and James Franco and director Todd Phillips set for the first half of the day, and I wanted to be sure to have something ready for you guys before I take off.
So this is more like the very very very late night Sunday read, to be fair, but over the weekend, there's been plenty to discuss.Â When I ran into our own Greg Ellwood at the Grove after a screening of "Due Date" on Sunday afternoon, we talked a bit about his encounter with Jennifer Lawrence.Â He sounded really impressed by her in general, and I've gotten that impression from several people who have interviewed her so far this year.Â She's young, too, so it's interesting to see her in this first flush of success and how she's holding it all together.Â Can't wait to see her as Mystique.
I was really excited on Friday about the possibility of Steven Spielberg directing "Robopocalypse," and it makes me laugh to see people who feel so diametrically opposed.Â I'm not going to say I'm "glad" that Spielberg didn't make "Lincoln," because i'm sure he and Tony Kushner could well make a great movie about Abraham Lincoln.Â But I am glad that he didn't make it if he didn't think it was ready or right, and that's evidently what happened.Â It just plain never made it out of development.Â It happens.Â It's a shame, but it happens.Â I'm curious, though, to see what effect the production of "Robopocalypse" has on the Jack Black/Steve Pink project, "How To Survive A Robot Uprising."
Special guest Scott Swan stops by for a round of Movie God
Because a couple of people vaguely asked for it... the Motion/Captured Podcast is back.
I kid, but I genuinely appreciate all the kind e-mail and messages you've sent me asking about this podcast, and I also appreciate your patience as I figured out the tech end of things.
This week, Scott Swan joined me as we tried to sweep out the cobwebs. When I was Fantastic Fest at the end of September, I sat down with Steve-O for an interview that we've included in today's podcast, and we also brought back Movie God, the game that made Matthew Robinson curse at me when he was a guest on the show.
Since it's been a while, please go easy on us. We'll start doing more of these, including special themed podcasts for certain releases or certain times of the year or if there are things that demand further conversation. I'm also working on adding more and more guests, and since I'm mobile now, it should be easier since I don't have to make them drive out to the ass end of the San Fernando Valley to be on the podcast.
I like the differences between a written article and a conversational piece, and the reason Scott is my most frequent guest is because after 24 years of friendship, there's no one I'm more comfortable talking to about anything. We can just yak about whatever, and hopefully that comfort level makes this worth a listen.
Plus Malick gets a release date, Nicotero does monsters, and Badass Digest goes live
Welcome to The Morning Read.
I'm not personally acquainted with Terrence Malick, but it looks like he got me a birthday present. My birthday? May 26. The official release date of "Tree Of Life"? May 27, 2011. Thank you, Mr. Malick. Now if I can just get my ass on a plane to Cannes to see the film premiere there…
More news that makes me happy this morning? Laeta Kalogridis has been hired to help get "Fantastic Voyage" ready to shoot. She's one of James Cameron's favorite writers, and one of mine as well. She's been in the game for a while now, but it's only in the last few years that the films she's been working on have even remotely resembled the scripts she writes. With "Shutter Island" and "Avatar," she seems to have finally turned a corner professionally, working on films that actually live up to her work. She's an amazing action writer, and she's great with character, a killer combination that keeps her busy. She's also working on "Ghost In The Shell" right now, but I'm guessing if she's onboard "Fantastic Voyage," they'll sign another director soon to replace Paul Greengrass. Can't wait.
Will this be the pure popcorn we crave from the director of 'Raiders' and 'Jurassic Park'?
The robots are coming!
I like to pretend that I'm okay with the evolution of Steven Spielberg into a very solid, respectable, smart and heartfelt grown-up filmmaking. I can appreciate the nuance and the craft of films like "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan" and "Catch Me If You Can." But in those quiet moments, when I'm honest with myself, I confess that I would trade every "grown-up" movie he's ever made including my beloved "Empire Of The Sun" if it meant I got another piece of pure popcorn as perfect as "Raiders Of The Lost Ark."
And now, damn it, I have reason to hope.
I haven't read the Daniel H. Wilson novel Robopocalypse, but I can say with confidence that if Drew Goddard is scripting the adaptation, it's going to rock. Goddard is one of those guys who made his bones crafting some of the best TV of the last 15 years, and in his best moments, I hear the same influences in his work that inform my own tastes. That includes a big helping heaping of early Spielberg. Goddard working with Spielberg is an exciting combination.
Reading the article at Deadline, I'm also encouraged by the description of the process on this one. The novel wasn't even finished when Spielberg and Goddard got involved, so for a time, Spielberg would be working on storyboards while Wilson was turning in book pages and Goddard was adapting them into script form.
Co-stars, including Billy Bob Thorton, weigh in on the project
At comic-con it was easy to confuse "Faster" with "Drive Angry" as they both have lots of steely eyed muscle car driving. As more becomes revealed, they are shaping up to be very different movies, each interesting in its own way.
"Drive Angry" has Nic Cage escaping from hell in 3D, "Faster," on the other hand, has the always charismatic Dwayne Johnson, bent on avenging the death of his brother in a plot that's been laid out very simply in the promotional materials. It feels gritty, pure, and a throwback to earlier times. A 50's western or a 70's cop drama. The fact that there appears to be lots of muscle car chases and gunplay only sweetens the deal.
Two SF titles find new life on the big screen
There will come a point soon where we will be able to set at least two versions of every single film ever made on a shelf. And on that day, I look forward to having a party with my friends to watch Michael Bay's 3D PG-13 $500 million version of "Salo."
Until then, I'll have to content myself with the constant avalanche of remakes of titles both obscure and obvious by artists big and small. At this point, I just marvel at the weird combinations of things. Who wants to see Matthew McConaughey take a shot at "Sargent York"? Or how about Shia LaBeouf in "The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad"? Doesn't make any sense? Doesn't matter! We'll just remake it again in five years anyway!
I'm amazed when little skirmishes break out, bidding wars over rights packages that have been around for a while, but that's a testament to a producer or a writer or a director suddenly making something old look brand-new and exciting. This week, two SF titles have suddenly come roaring back to life with talent attachments and announcements, and despite my irritation with this culture, they both sound like they've got real potential.
Will Smith has become a go-to choice in making big event action movie versions of SF classics. "I Am Legend" and "I Robot" both took strong source material and turned it into decent but surface-level movies. Only time will tell how Jason Rothenberg has adapted both the original novel Colossus and the 1970 film "Colossus: The Forbin Project" into a new film which is, for the moment, called "The Forbin Project."
It's the story of a supercomputer artificial intelligence that basically goes all Frankenstein and tries to take over the world. I expect Will Smith to punch it.
It's a heady time for DIY filmmakers looking to break through
You're a filmmaker working on original projects, and you're looking at the misery of the international financing market, and you're looking at the marketplace and its near-psychotic dependence on remakes and sequels and brands and widgets, and you are filled with despair.
The reason some people break through and some people don't comes down to something as simple as presentation. It is absolutely still possible for a good original idea to take root and bloom and even succeed wildly these days. Possible, but incredibly difficult. If you want to get people to pay attention to your idea, you have to be professional about it, but you also have to think beyond the basics. You have to take initiative, and if you really believe in your idea, you find a way to tell that story. You do it because you have to, not because you're looking to get rich. You do it because it's a compulsion.
I love it when artists take it upon themselves to kickstart something, and when they do it using limited resources, on a small scale, somehow creating things that don't feel like they were created by committee based on market research.
This week's been a good week for this type of story, and two of them deserve to be highlighted. The first is a major new Dreamworks animated film called "Alma," based on a short film by Rodrigo Blaas. Guillermo Del Toro will be working with Blaas and Dreamworks to turn Blaas's award-winning short film into a full-length feature, and it's obvious that Blaas has made a huge impression on Del Toro, since they'll also be co-directing the animated film "Trollhunters".
New trailer delivers a new look at an old tradition
Over the years since "The Exorcist" exorcism and possession movies have almost become a genre unto themselves. Journalist Matt Baglio sought to get to the reality behind all the green vomit and glazed over eyeballs from those films and followed a young priest as he took a course in exorcism from a Vatican affiliated university. His 2009 non-fiction book "The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist" was the result.
One year later and here comes the film version of that book, "The Rite." From the looks of this trailer, all of the Hollywood conventions about exorcism are back with a vengeance. Colin O'Donoghue stars as Michael Kovak, the disillusioned American seminary student who meets Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins,) who introduces him to the darker sides of the faith.