Inside Movies & DVD with Drew McWeeny
The movie's looking more and more like a genre-bending dare from Warner Bros.
There's a reason I'm excited about this summer more than I have been about the last few waves of superhero movies.
It feels to me like we're about to turn a corner, like the studios have all done the basic real-world origin story and supervillain story about as much as they can do it. More than they reasonably should have done it, actually. And it's time for the genre to either evolve or evaporate, so they're finally making the jump to the outrageous.
This summer, we're going to Asgard for the first time.
This summer, the Red Skull's chasing the Cosmic Cube around World War II.
And this summer, the Green Lantern Corps will gather on Oa.
I didn't think we'd ever get to the cosmic space opera comic books. It seemed to me like the decision-makers were all guys like Tom Rothman, guys who made decisions on franchises like "X-Men" based on personal feelings about things like giant robots, decisions that were also financial as much as creative, decisions that kept superhero films earthbound and somewhat contained.
Looking at that photo of Mark Strong as Sinestro, though, I have to say this about "Green Lantern": they're going for it. They aren't shying away from anything. He's perfect. He's a bright red John Waters. What else can anyone ask for from Sinestro?
Plus another 'Spider-Man' musical review and an entire film made with 'GTAIV'
Welcome to The Morning Read.
So that's what we can expect, visually, from Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander in "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo." I knew they were planning a reveal soon, but this is an interesting way to do it, outside of the context of the film. I would have expected Fincher to wait until he could introduce her in footage, but instead, "W" magazine got the exclusive and ran a big layout of images, specifically emphasizing the tattoos she sports in the film. It's a complete transformation for Mara, and I honestly don't see the girl from the start of "The Social Network" at all. Impressive. More than that, the article reveals that the script by Steve Zallian makes some major changes to the ending of the book, which is interesting news. I think there's plenty of room for improvement in this version of the story, and it sounds like Zallian and Fincher have decided to go for it.
Michel Gondry proves to be the right choice for this lesser-known character
By now, the rhythms of the superhero movie are as familiar to filmgoers as the rhythms of the western or the war movie or the romantic comedy. There's a few basic shapes, and 95% of everything in the genre fits into one of those shapes. It seems like filmgoers don't mind, either, because they continually go see the films without major complaint.
"The Green Hornet" seems determined to do things a little different, and even within that determination, there are models for this. We've seen the blowhard hero who is a front for the truly heroic sidekick before. I really like "Without A Clue," where Michael Caine plays a truly lunkheaded Sherlock Holmes with a quietly brilliant Ben Kingsley as Watson by his side. In this variation, Seth Rogen is Britt Reid, a layabout no-good son to James Reid (Tom Wilkinson), a newspaper magnate with a fierce sense of social conscience. When James Reid is killed, Britt has to decide how to proceed with his life. It's not until he meets Kato (Jay Chou), a mysterious employee of his father's, that he gets the idea that he can do some good as a masked vigilante.
See if you think there will be any difference between the two
"Battle: Los Angeles" looks cool.
No two ways about it. The film obviously deals with a street-level view of an alien invasion that seems to take place around the world, although the film mainly seems focused on the Los Angeles battlefront. Aaron Eckhart's the big action lead, and Bridget Moynihan is the face of civilian terror, part of a group that Eckhart is trying to keep alive in the film.
The teaser trailer made its impression by offering up a very stylized first glimpse at the film, and the new trailer offers up more narrative, but it also builds to a very particular point and then drops out in a way that is uncommon. It's a bold ending to a trailer.
My guess is that this is the last trailer we see for the film. It's a spring release, and this makes it look like a huge-scale film with a nice sense of SF reality. I worked on a film for Revolution that dealt with civilian and military reactions to an invasion of Earth, and there are a lot of common ideas being dealt with in what we're seeing in this trailer. I'm glad someone got one of these made at this size. This is a cool approach to updating the old '50s invasion films, and I like the glimpses we've had of the alien culture so far. I'm curious to see how well the human story works, because that's the real key. If this film delivers on the emotional side, it looks like the visceral is absolutely pinned down already.
A quick window of opportunity with a great prize attached
It delights me that "True Grit" has become the biggest theatrical hit the Coen Brothers have ever had, just as it delights me that the box-office take for "Black Swan" is now more than the combined box-office take for all of Aronofsky's other films combined. Not because I think box-office correlates with what is good, but because successes like these for artists I admire mean that these artists will have it easier the next time they try to make something. That's the most important thing that money does… it enables them to continue working.
Paramount seemed excited by "True Grit" before it came out, but since its release, that excitement has turned into over-the-moon joy. A critical darling and a commercial hit, there is even a growing sense that the film could turn out to be an Oscar winner. And in the midst of all this celebration, Paramount wants to give something back to you, the audience that has made the film a success.
Here's how it'll work: I'm going to ask you a question, and you just have to mail the right answer to our news desk. Everyone with the right answer will be entered in a drawing to win one of three posters for the movies, signed by pretty much everyone but Matt Damon.
Plus Rogen talks about the challenge of creating a good bad guy
Talking to Seth Rogen is about as relaxed and informal as it gets in terms of doing publicity with actors or writers or directors. At this point, we've spoken so many times, in so many different contexts, on so many different projects, that it just feels like we're picking up in mid-conversation each time now.
With Cameron Diaz, it's totally different. I don't believe I've ever had a reason or opportunity to interview her before, and anytime you put two people together for an interview where there's a totally different comfort level with one or the other, it's going to leave things a little unbalanced.
Thankfully, she seemed easy to chat with, and I think they're all fairly pleased with the way "The Green Hornet" came together. And they should be. It's a film that certainly feels like it's of a piece with the general superhero movie mainstream, but that also does things I've never seen in one of these movies. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg were writers and producers here, and they anchor the film in one sensibility, while Michel Gondry adds another distinct voice, and then the other performers bring particular qualities that pull the film this way and that, out of that original shape somewhat, but not so much that we can't still recognize it. For a film based on a character as second-tier as "The Green Hornet," there's has to be a strong take on the material, or it's not worth doing at all.
Plus the birth of Commander Future and a week's worth of catching up
Welcome to The Morning Read.
What a week last week was.
My Internet went down on Monday, the first time that's happened to me in this house, and the first time I've had any trouble with AT&T U-Verse at all. They weren't able to fix it until Wednesday afternoon, and it took several different repairmen to do the trick. The rest of the week was spent off-balance and catching up. I will be the first to admit it… I am a total crackhead when it comes to Internet access, and when denied it, I am out of step and out of sorts.
Thankfully, I still feel like I was able to get a lot done. There are a number of TV interviews I've done with folks like Colin Farrell, Natalie Portman, Peter Weir, Ed Harris, Ivan Reitman, Seth Rogen, and more set to share with you, and I'm gearing up for Team HitFix's 2011 attack on Sundance, and I feel like it's already an aggressive screening schedule this month, like the holidays are over and it's time to hit the ground running.
I bookmarked a ton of things while I've been catching up, and I want to try to share as many of them as possible with you this morning, so let's jump right into it.
A look back at one of the unsung greats of action cinema
You know, there are times when you realize only at the moment of someone's passing just how much their work meant to you.
Such is the case as I sit here tonight, "Breaking Away" playing on Netflix Instant, thinking about the films of the truly great Peter Yates. I would argue that even when he directed scripts that were not the equal of his considerable talents, he brought class and restraint and a lyrical visual style to everything he shot. He was one of those directors who you can feel thinking from shot to shot, every cut part of the storytelling. There's no fat on the work of Peter Yates. And at his best? In his very best films? There are few who stood toe to toe with him.
His high points are, in my opinion, "Bullitt," "The Hot Rock," "The Friends Of Eddie Coyle," "The Dresser," and "Breaking Away." And those films, each and every one, is distinguished by his voice, his eye, his enormous heart. These days, action scenes are gigantic, noisy things, pitched at such a preposterous intensity because we've become numb from the barrage. When Yates shot a set piece, like the justly-acclaimed car chase in "Bullitt," the reason it is so effective is because Yates puts you right there in the seat next to Steve McQueen. More than that, he makes you understand the appeal and the sensual pleasure of driving a car that goddamn fast in the middle of a city, hauling ass for dear life.
Can you imagine what the Lisbeth Salander theme will sound like?
This is one of those stories where no one's going to act terribly surprised by the news, but it's nice to get it confirmed and official.
Trent Reznor will be scoring David Fincher's next film, "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo."
That's one of those sentences that just plain makes sense. I was surprised when they hired him for "The Social Network," but his score for that film is great, and a real confirmation of Reznor as someone who should be working on films. If he knocked an unlikely fit like the story of a bunch of Harvard kids inventing Facebook out of the park, imagine what he's going to do with a story about criminal conspiracy and missing persons and old mysteries and murder and blackmail and rape and darkness. Trent Reznor composing the Lisbeth Salander theme is one of the reasons to look forward to a movie theater this year. I look at Lisbeth, and I imagine that she's always hearing something in her head that sounds like a Trent Reznor album anyway. It's perfect.
This year's first ARG campaign is off and running
Okay, let me just put on my tinfoil hat for this next one.
After all, if we're going to be discussing a government conspiracy to hide the existence of moon monsters, I want to be dressed properly. And that does seem to be the underlying tension in "Apollo 18," the film that's set for release on April 22, 2011.
This is the movie that became an immediate hot ticket after it was set up at last year's AFM. The film, currently being directed by Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego, deals with the secret space missions that took place after the public cancellation of the second half of the planned Apollo trips. I'm not sure what form the film will finally take… I've heard people describe it as a found-footage movie, but I'm not sure that's right.
What I am sure of is that "Apollo 18" has already got a pretty healthy presence online, with a game that is gradually exposing bits and pieces of information. It all started with a hidden section of the official site, where there are documents being posted that "prove" the conspiracy of silence surround the Apollo 18 mission.