<p>James Taylor and Carole King are the subjects of a new documentary premiering at Sundance</p>

James Taylor and Carole King are the subjects of a new documentary premiering at Sundance

Credit: Tremolo Productions

Sundance review: 'Troubadours' takes James Taylor and Carole King back in time

A look at the California Music scene of the '60s and '70s is solid storytelling

My entire life, I've grown up positively soaked in the pop culture of the 1960s.  After all, when I was born, the decade was just coming to a close, and the pop culture was still fresh.  By the time I was in high school, the music was showing up on oldies stations, but because so many of the people making films and television shows were children of the '60s, it was still omnipresent.  I'm so familiar with the music of the era that even the stuff I've never actually sought out is still wedged firmly in my consciousness simply because it was ubiquitous.

This year, we're officially a half-century out from 1960, and yet we continue to mine this decade, and it's fair to start asking if there's anything left to say.  The new documentary "Troubadours," one of this year's Sundance premieres, looks at the music scene that evolved around the Troubadour in Los Angeles, and in particular, at the work of Carole King and James Taylor, who re-united in 2007 at the club for a series of shows.  These two are front and center in the film, and the interviews with them form the spine that the rest of the movie hangs on, but by focusing on the Troubadour, it allows filmmaker Morgan Neville room to look at the folk movement, the rise of the singer/songwriter, Steve Martin, "hoot nights," Troubadour founder Doug Weston, and many more subjects, and the film manages to feel energetic and fresh no matter how well some of this ground has been covered before.

For example, I had no idea freight trains used to run down the middle of Santa Monica Blvd. and Beverly Hills, and that one little digression is an example of how rich and diverse the story is, even if it does keep coming back to the music.  Elton John, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, David Crosby, Kris Kristofferson, and others show up for interviews, as well as many faces that are less famous but just as significant to the way the "California Music" scene developed.  Anyone looking for any dirt on these people or that period will likely be disappointed, as "Troubadours" is obviously a film born of great affection. 

Read Full Post
<p>Roger Corman is the subject of a new documentary that was just picked up for TV distribution by A&amp;E</p>

Roger Corman is the subject of a new documentary that was just picked up for TV distribution by A&E

Credit: A&E Indie

Errol Morris' 'Tabloid' and new 'Corman' documentary find pre-Sundance acquisition homes

Plus O-Scope brings an older Sundance title back into circulation

Sundance hasn't even begun, and the acquisitions are coming fast and furious.  By the time we actually reach Park City, the only thing still for sale is going to be Kevin Smith's "Red State" at the rate things are going right now.

I'm looking forward to the Roger Corman documentary "Corman's World: Exploits Of A Hollywood Rebel," and I'm curious to see how good a job it does of covering new ground on this heavily covered career.  The film premieres at Park City this coming Friday, and A&E already purchased the TV rights.  There's no word on when they'll air the film, but I'm sure they're hoping to get a theatrical run with it first.

Meanwhile, in a very unusual move, Oscilloscope Laboratories has picked up the rights to Marc Singer's film "Dark Days," which I loved when it played Sundance… back in 2000.  It won some major awards that year, and Palm Pictures ended up releasing it theatrically and on DVD.  It's currently out of print, though, which is why Oscilloscope stepped up. 

Here's what the director and Oscilloscope founder Adam Yauch had to say about this unusual deal:

Read Full Post
<p>Juno Temple, Thomas Dekker, and Haley Bennett costar in Gregg Araki's new film 'Kaboom,' which will premiere at Sundance and on VOD on the 21st</p>

Juno Temple, Thomas Dekker, and Haley Bennett costar in Gregg Araki's new film 'Kaboom,' which will premiere at Sundance and on VOD on the 21st

Credit: IFC Films

Sundance review: Gregg Araki's 'Kaboom' hits Park City and home screens simultaneously

After 'Mysterious Skin' and 'Smiley Face,' the cult filmmaker retreats to familiar ground

The first image of Gregg Araki's latest film, "Kaboom," announces itself as a Gregg Araki movie instantly.  A naked Thomas Dekker walks down a hallway blown out and overlit, locked in a dream about something ominous.  Considering the way Araki seemed to grow away from some of his stylistic signatures with his last couple of films, "Mysterious Skin" and "Smiley Face," this almost feels like a retreat of sorts.

Almost.  The thing is, as much as the film is visually a Gregg Araki film of the old school, there is a near-optimism that has started to creep in at the edges of his work, and that clearly distinguishes this from earlier works like "The Doom Generation" and "Totally F***ed Up," movies that defined Araki as one of the most willfully provocative voices in indie queer cinema.  His signature sexual omnivorousness is on full display here in the form of Dekker's character, Smith, who considers himself "undeclared," and at first, this appears to be a film about a young man following his dick from partner to partner, unsure about what or who he wants, and the young cast is more than game for whatever Araki throws at them.  Dekker is joined by Juno Temple, Haley Bennett, Brennan Mejia, and Chris Zylka, among others, all of them happy to get naked at the drop of a hat.  And if this was just a 21st-century round-robin of evolving sexual politics, that would be enough to justify Araki's return to his earlier thematic concerns.

Read Full Post
The Morning Read: Gervais infuriates Hollywood and Robert Downey Jr. barks back
Credit: AP Photo/NBC, Paul Drinkwater

The Morning Read: Gervais infuriates Hollywood and Robert Downey Jr. barks back

Plus Pee Wee Herman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the 'True Grit' poster winners

Welcome to The Morning Read.

I am a different man than I was when I last spoke to you guys before the weekend.  My boys are home after a long trip away, and it's been a wonderful weekend of catching up with them and with my wife.  I didn't realize quite what an introverted jerk I've been for the past few months until I felt it all drop away while watching my boys run towards me at LAX.  I've got a few days with them before I leave for Sundance, and when I get back, I plan to take a few days off just to enjoy them being home.

I may also be planning the first-ever Film Nerd 2.0 set visit, and if it comes together, I promise it will be one of the most special things I've ever done for the site.  Fingers crossed.

Let's take care of a little housekeeping first up today and congratulate Ty Osterman, Thomas de Groot, and Kerry Early, our three winners in the awesome "True Grit" poster contest.  The correct answer to the question of how many actors have played Rooster Cogburn is three.  Most people know Jeff Bridges and John Wayne played him, but the legendary Warren Oates also played the role in a TV take on the material.  Congrats to all of those who won, and thanks to all of those who played.

Read Full Post
<p>Chris Hemsworth tempts fate -- and his father -- with some overt hubris in an early sequence from 'Thor,' arriving in theaters this May.</p>

Chris Hemsworth tempts fate -- and his father -- with some overt hubris in an early sequence from 'Thor,' arriving in theaters this May.

Credit: Marvel Studios

New 'Thor' and 'Captain America' images land over the weekend

Thor's angry, Captain America is running, and all is right with Marvel

WHAM! BIFF! BOP! That's the sound of Marvel Studios raining haymakers on anyone else releasing a superhero film this year (I'm looking at you, "Green Lantern") as they continue to release new stills from their double-header this summer, each one further cementing just how different their two offerings this year really are.

For example, check out Thor in the image at the head of this article.  My favorite thing about the "Thor" story is the idea that he is a God who must be humbled.  That's really not your standard superhero story.  Here, his arrogance in the film's first act leads to the destruction of an entire planet and ignites a war with the Frost Giants, and that hubris of his is what draws Odin's wrath down on him, particularly when Thor (Chris Hemsworth) refuses to apologize to his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins).  That image of Hemsworth in full rant is the angry Thor I was hoping for in the film, and it looks like they're going to treat the character right.  I'm mystified by the people who are beating this one up, sight unseen.  Maybe it helps that I've seen more than has been released so far, so that context allows me to see how some of these images fit together.

Or maybe I'm just a "Make Mine Marvel" kind of guy.

I'll admit it... for me, DC has always been "that company that owns Batman," whereas I love the Marvel Universe in general.  It's an attitude that the comics had when I was growing up that just appealed to me in a very direct way.  There's a more human, street-level sensibility to Marvel, and even when they get fantastic and cosmic, they are always grounded in very compelling and recognizable human emotion.

Read Full Post
<p>Why is this monkey wearing a Rolling Stones jacket, and whose arm is that?&nbsp; You'll have to click the story to see the full image from 'The Hangover Part II'</p>

Why is this monkey wearing a Rolling Stones jacket, and whose arm is that?  You'll have to click the story to see the full image from 'The Hangover Part II'

Credit: Warner Bros./Todd Phillips

Todd Phillips releases cryptic 'Hangover Part II' image on Facebook

Movie marketing 101, personal style

The Internet has changed the way movie information is shared with fans, and in ways that personalize the process in ways I'm guessing no one could have ever predicted.

Earlier tonight, Todd Phillips, the director of "The Hangover" and "Old School," posted a new picture to his Facebook account.  It's a shot of the returning cast from the original "Hangover," along with a monkey in a Rolling Stones jacket.

It's not a groundbreaking earth-shattering moment in movie publicity, sure, but the casual way Phillips tossed it up on the Facebook account and then started conversing with people as they posted reactions to it is sort of amazing.  When I was a kid, growing up a million miles away from any sort of movie production, I would have loved to have had a way to talk directly to filmmakers, especially while they were in the middle of making a film.  Now, that's possible.

My favorite touch about the photo is the tattoo on Ed Helms's face, which seems to be the exact same tattoo that Mike Tyson has on his face.  I'm really weirded out by the bald Zack Galifianakis, and I'm guessing there's a backstory on why he has no hair this time.

Read Full Post
<p>Fans of the 'Alien' series are going to have to content themselves with a brand-new SF world when Ridley Scott releases 'Prometheus' next March</p>

Fans of the 'Alien' series are going to have to content themselves with a brand-new SF world when Ridley Scott releases 'Prometheus' next March

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Ridley Scott returns to SF with original film 'Prometheus' instead of 'Alien' prequel

The development of this one gives me hope for Hollywood

Well, this seems fitting.  Evolution finds a way, I suppose.

For the last couple of years, there has been constant talk about Ridley Scott finally returning to the world of "Alien" with a prequel, or perhaps a pair of prequels, that were allegedly to explore the world of the Space Jockey, the dead alien glimpsed in the original 1979 film.

During this process, I've been covering it as politely as possible, determined to wait and see what Sir Ridley was cooking up.  I'm not a fan of prequels in general, and I think they represent a truly destructive drive to over-explain things in movies, robbing fantasy and science-fiction of some of its magic.  Nothing killed The Force more completely than the drive to tie it to space DNA, and my feeling during this entire time we've been reporting on this story is that telling the story of the Space Jockey sounds like the single least interesting story in the history of backstories.

When Scott was working with Jon Spaihts on the prequel, the word was that they had so much material that they were considering making it two films.  Spaihts is a really good writer, and his script "Passengers" convinced me that he's got the right sensibility for hard SF.  He's got a great sense of how to handle tech and still focus on the human stories in the foreground.  Even so, Damon Lindelof was brought in as "Lost" wrapped up, and whatever it was that he pitched to Ridley Scott radically reshaped the material.  How radically, though, we didn't realize until today, when 20th Century Fox finally announced what they've been up to.

Read Full Post
<p>Christoph Waltz has trouble disguising his glee during our interview for the new film 'The Green Hornet'</p>

Christoph Waltz has trouble disguising his glee during our interview for the new film 'The Green Hornet'

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Christoph Waltz talks about being a bad guy in 'The Green Hornet'

Plus you'll see just how excited he is about working with Roman Polanski

When I visited the set for "The Green Hornet," Christoph Waltz was already definitely in the race for the Oscar he eventually won for Best Supporting Actor, and talking to him about his decision to follow that film up with a superhero movie, he seemed like he was still sussing out the whole Hollywood game.

Sitting down with him last weekend, with that Oscar now residing at his house permanently and with a few more films under his belt, Waltz has obviously relaxed into his place in the system now.  He had a shorter press day than the rest of the cast because he had to make a flight out to Europe, where he was set to start rehearsals for Roman Polanski's film version of "God Of Carnage."

Waltz is interesting because he's had a full career already before anyone in Hollywood ever saw him in "Inglorious Basterds," so I get the distinct feeling that while he's enjoying this new part of his career, he's also self-aware enough to know that it is a wonderful, happy accident that it happened.  He seems to be enjoying himself enormously, and my favorite part of the conversation we had was the visible enthusiasm he shows when I mention Polanski.

Read Full Post
<p>Winona Ryder, Jennifer Connelly, Kevin James, and Vince Vaughn all star in Ron Howard's new film 'The Dilemma'</p>

Winona Ryder, Jennifer Connelly, Kevin James, and Vince Vaughn all star in Ron Howard's new film 'The Dilemma'

Credit: Universal

Review: Vince Vaughn overpowers Ron Howard's almost-successful 'The Dilemma'

A strong writer's voice gets muted in mainstream muddle

The first sign that "The Dilemma" wasn't meant to be just another on the stack of terrible bland romantic comedies that Hollywood releases each year is that Allan Loeb is the only credited writer on the film.  Ron Howard's so firmly entrenched in the mainstream at this point that anyone looking for the mainstream could use him as their true north for a compass reading, but Loeb is a real-deal writer who blew up a few years ago with a handful of scripts on The Black List that pretty much everyone read.  He got handed a bunch of studio assignments right away, and now we're starting to see those assignments bear fruit as actual movies.  How's Loeb fared as a studio-go-to-dude?  Well, based on the evidence of "The Dilemma," it's an uneasy fit so far.

Ronny (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Kevin James) are college friends who have spent their entire adult lives working together and sharing all their personal time as well.  Nick married his college girlfriend, Geneva (Winona Ryder), while Ronny took the more free-wheeling path.  He's in a serious relationship with Beth (Jennifer Connelly), but he's still gun-shy about the idea of proposing marriage, even at the age of 40.  Nick and Ronny run a design firm for car parts, and they manage to land a big bid with one of the Detroit majors.  Ronny's the mouth, the sales guy, the face of the company, and Nick's the genius, the guy who actually designs the things that they sell.  Once Ronny lands them the bid, it's up to Nick to deliver, which is why Ronny has no idea what to do when he spots Geneva making out with Zip (Channing Tatum) one afternoon in a public place.

Read Full Post
<p>The picture sorta says it all</p>

The picture sorta says it all

Credit: Marvel Studios

Captain America suits up for a great look at Chris Evans in costume

It's been a good day for Marvel fans

So evidently I committed the cardinal sin yesterday of being interested in something that was not brand spanking new.

I've seen the "Green Lantern" trailer twice.  Once in a theater.  Once at home.  Both times, my impression was "Wow, that moved fast."  Lots of images.  Not much time to look at them.  When I saw the Sinestro image pop up yesterday, I hadn't seen a still of him yet.  I did not realize that the still was, in fact, a screen shot of his split-second appearance in the trailer.

I was informed of this by a flurry of e-mails, most of which started, "Hey, stupid," or some variation thereof.

I apologize for the life choices that I've made which have led to me not memorizing the trailer and being interested by a still that was not, in fact, released in the last 24 hours.

To make up for this, I bring you Entertainment Weekly's latest photo from "Captain America: The First Avenger," starring Chris Evans as the title character, as scanned by the folks at Coming Soon.  Not only is it new, but it's the best complete look we've gotten at the costume so far.  And check out those HYDRA soldiers behind him, eh?

And, I have to say, I like it.  It's a nice solution to one of the most difficult-to-translate costumes in all of superhero comics.  There are so many remarkable ways Captain America could look like an idiot, so many easy ways, and I'm guessing this was a looooooooooooooooong process before they settled on the costume we see here.  I like the way it looks practical, like a suit that would both protect and allow for motion.  I like the details of design, the way the American theme has been incorporated into the aesthetics.  That, more than anything, is what had me nervous.

Read Full Post