<p>Gina Carano opens fire on... someone... because of... something... in 'Haywire,' her first action movie.</p>

Gina Carano opens fire on... someone... because of... something... in 'Haywire,' her first action movie.

Credit: Relativity Media

First look: Gina Carano takes a shot in Soderbergh's 'Haywire'

Now can we see her break someone's leg with her bare hands?

It's always tricky when you hire someone who isn't a professional actor to act in your film, but it's even harder to build an entire film around someone who doesn't do it for a living.  I can understand Steven Soderbergh's urge to figure out if Gina Carano has it in her to carry a movie… after all, she's easy on the eyes and she's a real-life ass-kicking machine.  That's a pretty potent combination, and Hollywood already spends a ton of money on movies that celebrate that particular archetype.

It's an interesting year for Soderbergh fans.  His virus-on-the-loose thriller "Contagion" is set for a September release, and he's going to be at Comic-Con for what I'm guessing is the first time ever to help promote "Haywire," the film he designed around Carano.  It seems like this one's been in production for a while, and I was hoping we'd have a trailer by this point, something where we can see Carano in action and hear her deliver a few lines of dialogue.

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<p>Tyrese seems reluctant to admit that this is most likely the last 'Transformers' film with this cast and with Michael Bay directing</p>

Tyrese seems reluctant to admit that this is most likely the last 'Transformers' film with this cast and with Michael Bay directing

Credit: HitFix

Watch: John Malkovich, Tyrese, and Josh Duhamel talk 'Transformers 3'

The military, the muscle, and the Malk all are represented in our last batch of interviews

Here's an odd trio of interviews, but that sort of sums up the casting of "Transformers: Dark Of The Moon" perfectly.  Michael Bay has repeatedly spoken in interviews about how much he loves the films of the Coen Brothers, and looking at his cast here, which includes John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, and John Turturro, it certainly seems like he at least loves the same actors they do.

But Bay makes crazy-ass action movies, so he needs guys like Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson as well, and one of the things that makes a movie like this so surreal is the way you've got such wildly different actors going head-to-head with giant robots kicking the crap out of each other to tie the whole thing together.

I find John Malkovich fascinating.  Here's a classically trained stage actor who has become a pop culture icon thanks to Spike Jones, Charlie Kaufman, and his own innate oddity.  He is urbane, charming, and if you want to talk about the craft of acting, he will absolutely meet you halfway.  It helps that my first question to him as we were sitting down was about his new clothing line, Technobohemian, an example of which he was wearing at the press day.

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<p>Keith Gordon, seen here on the set of John Carpenter's 'Christine,' learned how to direct from guys like Carpenter and Brian De Palma, so do not argue with him.</p>

Keith Gordon, seen here on the set of John Carpenter's 'Christine,' learned how to direct from guys like Carpenter and Brian De Palma, so do not argue with him.

Credit: SPHE

Christopher Nolan set to produce supernatural thriller for director Keith Gordon

Could this be the start of a second wind for Gordon's career?

I've been busy most of today, so I'm just now getting to this story, but it's had me smiling since I first saw it this morning.

I am a big fan of Keith Gordon's work as a filmmaker, but I often feel like that's a lonely position to take.  He hasn't directed a ton of films, and the ones he's made were never really box-office hits or cultural sensations.

He's probably better known from his days as an actor in films like "Christine" or "Back To School" or "Dressed To Kill," where he was always incredibly effective at combining a keen intelligence with a withering sense of social grace.  Watch the way he changes from pre-car Arnie to post-car Arnie sometime in "Christine," and you'll appreciate just how good Gordon could be at times.

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<p>Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts co-star as teacher and student in the gentle community college comedy 'Larry Crowne'</p>

Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts co-star as teacher and student in the gentle community college comedy 'Larry Crowne'

Credit: Universal Pictures

Review: Tom Hanks delivers lovely look at late life lessons in 'Larry Crowne'

HitFix
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Gentle film about the left turns life throws at us is loaded with charm

I'm fairly sure when you look up the word "amiable" in the dictionary, you'll find a picture of Tom Hanks next to it.

That's been the big secret to his enduring appeal, but it also works against him at times.  Hanks has never been a guy to embrace edge or cynicism onscreen, and we live in an age where those things are valued.  His work as an actor has always been distinguished by a certain approachability, an open quality that is best exemplified by the ongoing popularity of his work in "Forrest Gump."  That role could easily have been grating or insulting, but even for someone like me who doesn't really like the film, it's obvious that the reason it connected with people is because of Hanks.  He made Forrest into an almost blinding force of decency.

As a writer/director, you can see that even more clearly.  His first film, "That Thing You Do," is a deeply charming ode to that moment in life where you figure out what it is you want to contribute to the world and you start making choices about how you're going to do that.  There's a scene in that movie that I consider pretty much perfect, about as good as filmmaking can be at communicating an experience.  It's when the kids first hear their song playing on the radio, and they all rush to be together so they can hear it, and the excitement just keeps bubbling up out of them as they realize that people are listening to their work, that something they made is actually out there now.  I remember the night Scott Swan and I got our first professional reviews for a stage-production here in Los Angeles.  We knew that Variety and the LA Times and Dramalogue were all going to publish their reviews the same day, so we started driving around in the middle of the night, looking for whatever newsstand would get their deliveries first.  Finally, we found one at Ventura and Van Nuys that had the truck parked at the curb, still unloading the various papers and magazines, and as we read each positive review, we started wigging out, amazed that people had not only seen our work but enjoyed it.  That feeling was perfectly captured by the scene in "That Thing You Do," and it convinced me that Hanks isn't just an actor playing director.  He can communicate real emotion, and he's capable of creating characters and moments that matter.

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<p>Will Jane Foster return to romance the God of Thunder in 2013?&nbsp; We'll see.</p>

Will Jane Foster return to romance the God of Thunder in 2013?  We'll see.

Credit: Marvel Studios

'Thor 2' confirmed for July 26, 2013

With no Kenneth Branagh, who will guide the return to Asgard?

I am genuinely sorry to hear that Kenneth Branagh will not be returning for the sequel to "Thor" that Marvel Studios is now set to release in the summer of 2013.

I don't think anyone's more surprised by that than I am.  Branagh always made me nervous as a choice for the film, but in the end, I think the decision to hire him paid off in a movie that had its own personality, that didn't feel like "just another cookie-cutter blockbuster."  At least, not to me.  I think the film's got a great sense of fun, but more than that, it took an absurd world seriously in just the right way, and as a result, they not only successfully introduced one of the Avengers, they also earned themselves a franchise, albeit one that comes with many questions attached.

HitFix has learned that Marvel has set a July 26, 2013 date for "Thor 2," or whatever they eventually call it, and according to Michael Fleming, the director's job is now wide open.  Considering "Iron Man 3" is set for a May 3, 2013 release, it sounds like they'll be double-stacking the summer the way they are with "Thor" and "Captain America" this year.  We've already started hearing rumbles about the direction they're going with the next Iron Man adventure, treating it more like a stand-alone James Bond adventure, unconnected to any larger narrative except in the most cursory of ways.  I think it's important after they've made "The Avengers" to still keep the larger Marvel Universe alive, but to also feel free to stop worry so much about the connective tissue and start focusing more on making every issue of every comic as good as it can be.

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<p>Oddly, Patrick Dempsey seemed uninterested no matter how many times I tried to bring up a possible sequel to 'Loverboy' during the press day for 'Transformers:&nbsp;Dark Of The Moon'</p>

Oddly, Patrick Dempsey seemed uninterested no matter how many times I tried to bring up a possible sequel to 'Loverboy' during the press day for 'Transformers: Dark Of The Moon'

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Patrick Dempsey shakes it up for 'Transformers: Dark Of The Moon'

McDreamy gets McNasty in Michael Bay's latest

Round-trip flight to Russia?  $1800.

Four days in a Ritz-Carlton in Moscow?  $2000.

Being able to tell your wife that Patrick Dempsey says hello?  Priceless.

I'm impressed that Dempsey, like fellow '80s survivor Jason Bateman, has managed to reinvent himself as a credible adult lead, but I'm even more impressed by the way fans of their earlier work feel like they've been rewarded for being fans because these guys turned out to be pretty darn good as adults.

In Bateman's case, he's the king of the sardonic one-liner, an amazing reactor, someone who constantly seems a little bit dumbfounded by everything going on around him.  It's a great comic persona, and he's managed to turn that into an industry of sorts.

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<p>Don't quote me on this, but Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts just might enjoy each other's company.&nbsp; I'm just guessing.</p>

Don't quote me on this, but Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts just might enjoy each other's company.  I'm just guessing.

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts on low-key love in 'Larry Crowne'

Plus see what happens when Hanks learns I used to be Moriarty

Tom Hanks.  Julia Roberts.  Big-ass movie stars.

I mean, not to put to blunt a point on it, but that's what they are.  They are major proven durable movie stars, the classic box-office-tested definition of the term.  They've opened more movies than most actors will ever appear in, and they've aged successfully, finding new ways to repurpose what it is they do in the first place, and how they do it.  They've had to constantly reinvent to some extent just to survive.  It's something you either do or don't master, and to have the careers they've had, you master it.

For Hanks, part of that reinvention was the way he gradually moved into writing, directing, and producing.  I think he's got a really interesting track record that reveals a lot about his interests.  He's fascinated by WWII, the space race, pop music, Greeks, Mormons, Maurice Sendak, and, evidently, Neil Gaiman.  So, you know… that's pretty easily summed up.  Or, wait, maybe Hanks is one of those guys who is using his awesome clout for some actual good in this business, showing some real taste in what he helps bring to the screen.

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Watch: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley on being one of the boys in 'Transformers 3"

Watch: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley on being one of the boys in 'Transformers 3"

Why would we compare her to Ginger Rogers?

I did not expect to find myself in the position of sticking up for Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. 

I thought, after seeing "Transformers: Dark Of The Moon," that she would charm people in the role.  She is, no question at all, a professional model, and she carries herself in every second of that film like she knows that Michael Bay is shooting everyone in the movie (and her in particular) like cars in a car commercial, and she doesn't have a problem with that.

But she has more than that going on.  She's not just Hot POA #2 for the franchise.  At least, not in my opinion.  I think what she does well in the film is create a sense that she knows what effect she has on men in general, and she chooses loyalty to one person in particular and means it.  She makes you believe that the unlikeliest relationship of the summer actually means something.  She's invested completely, and she plays Carly as sweet, not as a man-eater.

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<p>Shia LaBeouf talks about growing up Witwicky at the Moscow press day for 'Transformers:&nbsp;Dark&nbsp;Of&nbsp;The Moon'</p>

Shia LaBeouf talks about growing up Witwicky at the Moscow press day for 'Transformers: Dark Of The Moon'

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Shia LaBeouf graduates to adulthood in 'Transformers: Dark Of The Moon'

Star talks about growing up with Michael Bay

The only time I've interviewed Shia LaBeouf, it was during the publicity push for the second season of "Project: Greenlight," and he was still a dewy-eyed Disney kid, freshly scrubbed and more forthcoming than he should have been.  I instantly liked him, and I've rooted for him as he's carved out a place for himself in pop culture over the last half-decade or so.

Sitting down with him in Moscow for "Transformers: Dark Of The Moon," I was struck by what a different person he is in almost every way now.  I still see the same innate comic timing, that same ability to open up and project, but I also see someone who has lived a lot of very hard adult life in the time between our sit-downs.  LaBeouf has played a lot of young man leading roles, and we've seen him play a lot of milestones onscreen and off.  This movie feels like the close of a chapter in his cinematic development, and I'm very curious to see where he goes from here.

We discussed the way he's grown up with Michael Bay right there, yelling at him and blowing up the background, and we also talked about his new co-star, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and what she brought to the dynamic that's been building for three movies now.

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<p>Cedric the Entertainer takes some guff from the charming Taraji P. Henson during our interview for 'Larry Crowne'</p>

Cedric the Entertainer takes some guff from the charming Taraji P. Henson during our interview for 'Larry Crowne'

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Cedric the Entertainer and Taraji P. Henson laugh it up for 'Larry Crowne'

Supporting players gone wild in our unhinged interview

Even before I walked into the room to interview Cedric The Entertainer and Taraji P. Henson together, I could tell it was going to be a wild one.  You could hear laughter all the way down the hall from where they were, and every interviewer who walked out seemed greatly entertained.

Even as I was settling in and they were retouching both of the actors with a bit of make-up, they were constantly taking shots back and forth at each other, and you could sense just how in tune they were.

Personally, I have ridiculous amounts of affection for Henson, who has been a welcome presence in film since I first noticed her in "Hustle & Flow."  There's a warmth to the work she does onscreen that I find really appealing, and in person, she was just as charming.

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