I swear to god, if they call it "3-Glee," I will strangle a kitten.
I'm not a big fan of "Glee." I watched the first season on DVD when it was released, curious to see what all the hype was about, and also because I like Ryan Murphy as a TV producer and writer. I think he does strong work. Even though the show fizzled by the time it wrapped up, there was a lot of juicy loony pulp fun to be had in the first few seasons of "Nip/Tuck."
It does not surprise me that "Glee" is a phenomenon right now. The show is absolutely of the moment, both in style and sensibility, and it punches buttons with the topical writing just as adeptly as it repurposes pop songs into emotional revelations. I think it is significant to have teen characters like these on TV, and I think Kurt is an important character for people to see on TV each week.
Having said that, the show just irks me. I can only stomach small doses of it at a time. I think the difference between season one and season two is a nice illustration of what success does to a TV show. Sincerity curdles into something more akin to suffocating smugness, and there is a self-awareness that hobbles the show's better instincts.
I swear to god, if they call it "3-Glee," I will strangle a kitten.
So far, the Film Nerd 2.0 column has dealt primarily with older titles. I can't really speak to how other people share films with their kids, but this column has been driven so far by my desire to help my kids navigate the ocean of media choices available to them.
For the most part, I believe my kids should have a media diet made up of older titles, for the simple inarguable reason that there are far more good films that already exist than you'll find in any multiplex on a given weekend. Yes, there are good films being made all the time, but if you're going to give your kids a healthy diet of film, you have to be willing to dig deep. You have to do more than just slavishly march to the theater and show them whatever blockbuster Hollywood tells you is "for the family" at this particular moment. Over the course of this column so far, we've dealt with films from the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, and even '90s. And by keeping their intake so diverse, I've seen that my kids aren't just sensation junkies, demanding only big and loud and now.
Having said that, this column came to life one afternoon in a theater for a new release, when I took Toshi to the theater to see the JJ Abrams "Star Trek" reboot. The movie electrified him. It's hard to fully explain the reaction he had if you weren't there to see it, to see his body language. He stood for almost the entire running time, every muscle in his body clenched, and if I tried to touch him at all, he would brush me off, so engrossed in the film that he wanted no other stimulus, nothing to break that connection he was feeling. He was lost in the movie, and that ability to get lost, to get completely absorbed by what you're seeing, that feeling when something goes from being passive entertainment to something immersive, an experience remembered instead of something just watched… well, that's the hit that I've been chasing my whole life, since the first moment I got bit by that exact same bug.
It is one seriously superhero summer, and it's still just warming up.
I'll have a piece up in a little while about my experience watching "Thor" with the boys, and as soon as they were available, I bought them each a toy Mjolnir. They make thunder sounds when you press a button, and they're soft enough that you can hit something without hurting it. Or at least, that was my thought. Within three days, the boys had pushed their mother to the breaking point. I guess she didn't think it was as funny as I did to hear WHACK! THUNDER! "Don't hit me!" over and over from the playroom.
As excited as they were for "Thor," and as much as they've enjoyed watching the "Captain America" trailer over and over, the film that seems to have already won their hearts and minds for this summer is "Green Lantern," and I understand. Ever since they saw that Wonder-Con piece that Warner Bros. put online, they have been absolutely manic about the mythology of the world of Hal Jordan.
I'm going to guess this will not be an uncommon response.
One thing I've realized as a parent is that kids love to learn a new vocabulary for a movie. They love films where there are a million little characters to memorize and play with. The variety on display in the Green Lantern Corps is one of the many things that appeals to them right away. The film's big crazy cosmic scale excites them because it combines so many things they like… monsters and outer space and superheroes and jet planes and creepy-looking things.
Well, if you were even a few minutes late this morning, you missed it all.
Thanks to a genuinely awful pun, today is the day that "Star Wars" nerds the world over proclaim their fandom, because the other 364 days a year, they are completely silent about the subject. Oh, wait, no they're not. I'm not exactly sure why we'd need to set aside a particular day each year for the celebration of "Star Wars," since fandom seems to be one long, unending celebration of the property already.
Even so, I've been anticipating this day since the news that StarWars.com would be making an announcement about the details of the upcoming "Star Wars" Blu-ray release. There was a countdown clock…. A COUNTDOWN CLOCK, I TELL YOU… so this morning's news had to be a big deal, right?
The new site went live at 6:00 AM PST. As of 6:25 AM PST, the new site is gone. Nuked. Crashed like a cop car in "Fast Five." All the original link does is send you to FoxMovies.com now, where there's no mention at all of the upcoming Blu-ray release.
Good thing we've got the details for you, isn't it?
I guess I didn't even think about it, but it's sort of crazy that "Thor" marks the first collaboration for Sir Anthony Hopkins and Kenneth Branagh.
It seems like that would have happened already, right? I mean, Hopkins is one of our finest actors, and with his credits and his incredible voice, how is it that he didn't end up in any of Branagh's Shakespeare adaptations? Or in any of his stage productions? How did it take Marvel Studios to end up bringing these two together?
When I sat down with Sir Hopkins last Saturday, it was the very end of a long press day for him, and while I think he was definitely ready to be finished and worn out, he was still joking and gossiping with the camera crew and the lighting guys, and they all seemed to be genuinely enjoying their afternoon with him. He always strikes me as having some private joke playing in his head whenever I see him at an event like this or speak with him. He seems bemused by the whole circus, and he rarely seems to take this part of it all too seriously.
On the other hand, he seems to be enjoying the simple details of the work he does more and more, and when you talk craft with him, you'll have a good conversation. It's inevitable. He's simply done too much and seen too much and he has so much experience to impart, and it seems like the slightest provocation will lead to a great and rollicking chat about any number of subjects.
Sitting down with Anton Yelchin at SXSW this year to discuss his work in "The Beaver," I felt like the standard five minutes just wasn't enough.
After all, this young actor has been positively crushing it in all of his work the last few years. Even if I didn't care for "Terminator: Salvation," I thought he did genuinely admirable work as a young Kyle Reese, managing to evoke many of the qualities that made the role work in the original "Terminator" without just doing an impression of Michael Biehn. And in "Star Trek," he had the difficult task of playing a young Chekov with a broad Russian accent and not making it a joke.
This is his year, though. He is piercing and unforgettable in "Like Crazy," the romantic drama that flattened me at Sundance, and he is equally good in Jodie Foster's "The Beaver," which finally opens in limited release starting this weekend. He plays Mel Gibson's son in the film, and his storyline, played out opposite the suddenly white-hot Jennifer Lawrence, is just as strong as the primary story about Gibson's own struggles. Yelchin has the ability to project strength and fragility, intelligence and inexperience, contradictory notions that somehow work together in his performances, and "The Beaver" demands quite a bit of him as an actor.
I don't spend a lot of time on the viral games that many studios have started building around the countdown to release on some of their biggest films.
I don't have anything against the idea… it's just that I don't have the time to wait on pins and needles to play my part in these things. I watched the fervor that fans brought to the "Dark Knight" ARG, for example, and I was impressed. I just know that I'd rather wait and see the end result than spend my time and energy on each step along the way.
Having said that, few people play the game as well as JJ Abrams these days, and he and Paramount have been having fun playing with expectations and secrecy on his new film "Super 8." In particular, they've been running a game involving the "Super 8 Editing Room," where they've been sending out physical reels of Super 8 film to various sites, and each site has to input a code to unlock that clip for everyone else online.
In other words, this is a case where if I don't play along with the piece of the game I've been sent, no one else can, either.
Now that the cast of the "Twilight" series is done with photography on "Breaking Dawn," they can really start to focus on life after this enormous franchise and what that will mean for them.Â Both Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart emerge from the series instantly recognizable on a worldwide level, but it's still unclear if you can call them movie stars or not.Â Can they prove themselves as draws away from the characters of Edward and Bella?Â Do audiences care about them, or was it just this one series of films?Â Taylor Lautner is getting ready to put that to the test with his new film "Abduction," which almost seems to have been designed in a lab to give him the best possible shot at being a star.Â Pattinson has tried it a few times, most notably with "Water For Elephants" this spring, while Stewart seems determined to stick to smaller indie-minded films for now.
Actors always depend on the material that is available to them, and they are often at the mercy of larger forces in Hollywood.Â Ultimately, the fates of Pattinson and Stewart and Lautner will come down to their collaborators and their opportunities.Â What I've been most curious about has been the fate of Stephenie Meyer after the "Twilight" films are done.Â Like Jo Rowling, Meyer is known for this one story, this one cycle of books, but the difference to me seems to be a matter of innate talent.Â Rowling strikes me as a rich and interesting writer who got better from book to book, and who I believe will eventually create more stories that resonate on that same massive cultural level.Â
In the interest of full disclosure, I had to thank Chris Hemsworth for something when I sat down to do our interview on Saturday, and it was the first time speaking to him, even though I visited the sets of the film in Manhattan Beach while it was shooting. He wasn't on set that day, so we only glimpsed him on-camera.
Recently, a mutual friend asked Hemsworth to sign a cardboard replica of Mjolnir, Thor's magic hammer, for my son Toshi, and that now resides in a very special part of the playroom, where Toshi can look at it but where it isn't being used as a toy. He knows it's special, and he loves the idea that Thor signed a hammer for him.
I made sure to thank Hemsworth for doing that as we were getting ready for the cameras to roll, and it occurred to me as we were talking that between "Star Trek," one of the first films Toshi fell head over heels in love with, and this movie, and next year's "The Avengers," there is a good chance that Toshi's going to imprint on this guy as one of his generation's movie stars, the way guys my age imprinted on Harrison Ford in the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" movies.
Seems like a good plan to me.
Welcome to The Morning Read.
I guess we can call this confirmed now? Maybe? CHUD actually first reported on Guy Pearce appearing in Ridley Scott's upcoming sorta-"Alien"-prequel film "Prometheus," but there was no official confirmation of any kind. I was reluctant to run a piece here about it because it seemed possible there was some sort of confusion from the original source. After all, Michael Fassbender, who is the same sort of angular leading-man type as Pearce, isn't exactly a household name yet, and we haven't seen his look in the film yet. I could see a casual observer making that mistake. The Playlist says they've got the story confirmed now, and while it's not an announcement from the studio, it sounds like Pearce may well show up in what sounds like one of the coolest ensembles in recent blockbuster memory.
Speaking of CHUD, "Andre Dellamorte" is saying goodbye to the site, and his exit is a great example of "classing up the joint."
And speaking of that cool "Prometheus" ensemble, I am thrilled to see Idris Elba getting all this work lately. I think I just don't care about the race of characters unless that's the point of the text, and while I understand that "Thor" is based on Norse mythology, I think the casting of Idris Elba is one of the film's coolest moves, and his performance more than delivers on what is required of the role. He's commanding, alien, and nails one of the film's best jokes with a perfectly-timed line reading. I'm sorry, but if you're still griping about Elba, you need to look past pre-conceptions to see the actual work. One day, I believe fans will get over the surface issues of skin color and realize that the more inclusive these fantasies are, the more people there are to share them with. To me, that's one of the major pleasures of fandom.