Jared Leto Joker

Jared Leto's getting ready to be Joker in 'Suicide Squad'

Over the weekend, Jared Leto had hinted that something was coming at the start of the week, and today, it appears to be the Twitter feed of "Suicide Squad" director David Ayer where the something finally arrived.

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Leonard Nimoy lived long and prospered
Credit: Paramount Home Video

Leonard Nimoy lived long and prospered

One of the icons of science-fiction has passed away, and we celebrate his life and work

Film Nerd 2.0 has become one of the things I am most closely identified with, which is fine by me. I think there is real value in talking about how we introduce media to our children, and there's absolutely value in talking about how that media affects them. It wasn't a column that I consciously set out to create, though. It just sort of gradually became clear that it was something I wanted to write, and the turning point, the moment of actual creation, was all because of "Star Trek."

For Toshi, the 2009 film was not just his entry point to "Star Trek," but also his entry point to movies in general. When I took him to the theater to see the film, he stood the entire time, and he didn't want to be touched or spoken to or distracted in any way. He was fascinated, and he had a million questions afterwards. The thing that he asked more questions about than anything else was the relationship between Old Spock and Young Spock. It was the first time he was introduced to the notion of time travel and alternate universes and the idea of more than one actor playing different versions of the same role. There's a lot to unpack there for a nascent science-fiction fan, and when the box set of Blu-rays showed up at my house for the first six "Star Trek" movies, he made it very clear that he wanted to watch the films.

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Chris Hemsworth on new villains and old fears for 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'
Credit: Marvel Studios

Chris Hemsworth on new villains and old fears for 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'

Plus guess who we saw trading punches with Thor

If I had to rank the top ten things I've witnessed on a film set, one of those spots would be taken by the moment that occurred as a group of reporters, all flown to London by Marvel, walked out onto the upper balcony of the main room of the Avengers Tower set.

Below us, two figures stood locked in combat. Or at least, they stood locked in the rehearsal for combat, as Joss Whedon walked around them, discussing the staging of the fight. We immediately recognized one of the figures as Thor, and one of the things that I find most impressive about Chris Hemsworth is that even when they have his stunt double on set, Hemsworth is still the biggest guy in the room. He is gigantic. I'm not 100% sure I'm the same gender as Hemsworth. He is, in a word, absurd. Of course they cast him as a god walking the Earth. He's like a forced perspective trick.

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Review: 'Lazarus Effect' is effective if familiar mad scientist fare
Credit: Blumhouse

Review: 'Lazarus Effect' is effective if familiar mad scientist fare

HitFix
C+
Readers
n/a
Would you believe this is from the guy who directed 'Jiro Dreams Of Sushi'?

Let's just assume that if you are a member of a scientific team in a horror film, things are going to end very, very badly for you.

And if the research you're doing involves life after death or, even worse, the re-animation of dead things, then the odds you die in a horrible manner increase exponentially. Unfortunately, no one warned the characters in David Gelb's "The Lazarus Effect," and the results are understandably grim.

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'Prisoners' director set to direct Harrison Ford in 'Blade Runner' sequel
Credit: Warner Bros

'Prisoners' director set to direct Harrison Ford in 'Blade Runner' sequel

It's an interesting match of filmmaker and material

Anyone who doubts the lasting power of Ridley Scott's early work need only look at the headlines this week to see how everything old seems to be new again.

Neill Blomkamp made headlines for being the first major studio filmmaker to ever win a job via Instagram, and he's been making fans crazy by talking about his approach to the upcoming "Alien" sequel. Does it ignore "Alien3" and "Alien: Resurrection" completely? Does it exists in some side universe? Where does "Prometheus 2," which everyone swears is still happening, fit into those plans?

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Marital pressures on diplay in exclusive 'Directed by Winding Refn' clip
Credit: Radius-TWC

Marital pressures on diplay in exclusive 'Directed by Winding Refn' clip

An uncommonly intimate documentary about the filmmaker behind 'Drive' and 'Only God Forgives'

As Nicolas Winding Refn prepares to begin production on "The Neon Demon," his upcoming foray into horror, you can take a peek into his process thanks to the new documentary "My Life Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn," which was made by his wife.

There's a reason "Hearts Of Darkness" is often considered one of the best behind-the-scenes films about filmmaking, and it's because Eleanor Coppola had access that no one else would have. The same is true here, and it captures Refn at the moment where he was working to follow up his breakthrough hit "Drive."

It's a fascinating moment for any filmmaker. In Refn's case, he did a lot of great work before "Drive," but everything came together on that movie in a very special way. Ryan Gosling was at peak cool, and there was something compelling and immediate about that title and those trailers. When you make a whole bunch of films before you have your breakthrough, it can be confusing. What was it about that one that people responded to? Why was it that moment that you finally broke through?

People went nuts for that photo of Guillermo Del Toro and Ryan Gosling together at Disney's California Adventure, but it didn't surprise me. When I ran into Del Toro at the Toronto Film Festival the year "Drive" was there, Del Toro had already seen Refn's film four times, and he was on his way in to see it again. He flipped for that movie, and he's also on-the-record as being a huge fan of Gosling's directorial debut, "Lost River."

Refn was obviously feeling pressure, both internal and external, when making "Only God Forgives." It's a brutal and uncompromising film, and the expectations for it were sky-high because it was Gosling and Refn again. Watching Liz Corfixen's documentary, she captures the chemistry that exists between the star and the filmmaker, and she does a really wonderful job of allowing us into the absolute dead center of all of Refn's anxieties. I'm not surprised by how intimate the work material is that Corfixen shot, but I am surprised at how much of the marital tension she left in the film. Our exclusive clip, embedded above, shows you a hint of that when they're just getting back to Denmark after "Only God Forgives" wraps what looks like a very difficult and demanding shoot in Bangkok. The title of the documentary takes on a very different meaning when you look at the stuff about the pressures that the films put on the marriage. This is Corfixen's movie about how her life is literally directed by Refn at this point, since the choices they make as a couple are choices they make for him and his work.

It's a bracingly honest film, and one that any aspiring filmmaker should make a must-see. This is no mere promotional piece, and you can check it out for yourself as the film arrives in theaters, on iTunes, and on all VOD platforms tomorrow.

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'Batman: Arkham Knight' gets omninous new trailer with mysterious bad guy
Credit: Warner Digital/Rocksteady

'Batman: Arkham Knight' gets omninous new trailer with mysterious bad guy

The Dark Knight's been a strong presence in video games, and this looks like more of the same

I consider the release of big triple A games to be just as much of an event these days as the release of some of the big blockbuster movies. There are conversations that I want to be part of involving these games the exact same way I want to be part of the conversation about movies. These are things that I enjoy, and I want to see the industry turn out more of what's great and less of what's terrible.

The recent run of Batman video games has been impressive, and even at its worst, the games in this series have been interesting and ambitious. The first two games, both written by Paul Dini, made major contributions to the modern ongoing print version of the character, a testament to just how authoritative this has been for fans. I thought "Arkham Asylum" was a great game, but I also found some of the layout of the game frustrating and thought there were ways to improve on the ideas that were introduced. The combat style in particular was something that elevated the game and made the flaws less important.

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Want to see what 'Jem And The Holograms' look like in live-action?
Credit: Universal

Want to see what 'Jem And The Holograms' look like in live-action?

Isn't it time to give your audience a good look at what's coming in October?

Truly, truly… out of focus.

Right now, this is the best look anyone's had at the cast of "Jem and the Holograms," and believe it or not, there are people who are very excited (and worried) about what's coming.

I have a friend who recently made a joke about the cartoon, and when I told her that there is a live-action reboot coming this year, she flipped. It was a potent reminder that all of these properties have their true believers, people who bonded with this thing in childhood and who now take it very seriously as adults. It means something to them.

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Review: 'Focus' is long on movie star charisma but short on innovation
Credit: Warner Bros

Review: 'Focus' is long on movie star charisma but short on innovation

HitFix
B
Readers
n/a
Margot Robbie continues to impress

It's a con man movie, so you know up front that there are going to be cons played on the characters and the audience alike, and sure enough, "Focus" plays out like you'd expect a con man movie to play out. It is slick and it is well-made, and there is little or nothing about it that I'd call surprising. If you know what kind of genre you're getting into and you're going to see the good-looking movie stars do exactly what you expect them to do, "Focus" will go down easy this weekend.

Will Smith is in his comfort zone here as Nick, a big league con man who runs a sizable crew. When he spots Jess (Margot Robbie) one night at a bar, he knows she's got larceny in her blood right away. She's green, though, and she sees Nick as a possible mentor, someone who can teach her how to be more than just a distraction. It's the week of the Super Bowl, it's New Orleans, and the pickings are good. For a while, "Focus" just sort of chugs along affably, showing you how much research Glenn Ficarra and John Requa did. If you've ever seen news footage of Apollo Robbins, then you have a pretty good idea what the first chunk of this film looks like. There's a scene where Nick runs some patter on Jess, and it sounds like Smith's just straight-up doing what we've seen Robbins do, word for word.

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'Parks and Rec' icon Ron Swanson rose above sitcom tropes to become legend
Credit: NBC/Universal

'Parks and Rec' icon Ron Swanson rose above sitcom tropes to become legend

Nick Offerman blurred the lines between himself and the character in fascinating ways

I am in denial at this point. That's the only way I'm going to make it through the conclusion of "Parks and Recreation" tonight on NBC. I will tell myself that this is just the end of another season and next year we'll go back to Pawnee to spend more time with Leslie and Ben and Andy and April and Donna and Garry and Tom and Jean-Ralphio and Mona Lisa and Joan and Perd and Jamm and the entire insane cast of characters that we've been introduced to over the six years of the show.

As much as I'll miss the ensemble, there is one character I will miss more than any of the others, and I'm sad because he was such a spectacular creation, one of those singular sitcom creations that remind us what we love about this particular form. Ron Swanson was a fairly unfocused version of himself when he first showed up in season one of "Parks and Recreation," and it seemed at first like he was going to be the main antagonist to Leslie Knope. Instead, he became a character who seemed to keep expanding, revealing one of the most insane personal mythologies for any fictional character. He may be my favorite television comedy character since Hank Kingsley, and right on par with Reverend Jim. From me, that is very high praise.

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