Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe are unexpectedly silly in the NSFW 'Nice Guys' trailer
Credit: Warner Bros

Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe are unexpectedly silly in the NSFW 'Nice Guys' trailer

This red-band trailer makes it clear this is going to be a delightfully R-rated affair

I love Shane Black.

The strange part is that I didn't realize how much I loved him until he started directing his own material. I read the spec scripts that put him on the map like "Lethal Weapon" and "The Long Kiss Goodnight," and I admired them on the page, but the films didn't seem to quite capture whatever it was that made them so much fun. Oddly, considering how humorless Tony Scott's movies typically were, "The Last Boy Scout" seemed to me to be the closest thing to the experience of reading a Shane Black script out of any of his films.

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Review: Holiday horror comedy 'Krampus' ends up more naughty than nice
Credit: Universal/Legendary
C+

Review: Holiday horror comedy 'Krampus' ends up more naughty than nice

There's some good stuff in there, but it's muddled hopelessly

One of the weird sub-genres of film that I am fascinated by is the "scary Christmas movie," and when said scary Christmas movie is from the director of "Trick 'r Treat," I am doubly curious. Walking into "Krampus," I had my fingers crossed that I was about to see something that could enter the annual rotation.

While I don't think the film works as a whole, there is a lot to like about "Krampus," not the least of which is that once it gets going, it doesn't seem to hold anything back. This is one of the most intense PG-13 films I've ever seen, with a nightmarish second half in particular full of images that really will be too much for many younger viewers. Michael Dougherty, who co-wrote and directed the film, has a fondness for the truly off-kilter, and his monster designs in this film feel very tactile and organic and perverse. You wouldn't want to touch anything you see onscreen. Doughterty's assembled a great cast, and he certainly has a great nasty sense of humor. So why doesn't this one feel like it connects?

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What one bad screening of 'The Hateful Eight' means for the future of film
Credit: The Weinstein Company

What one bad screening of 'The Hateful Eight' means for the future of film

Quentin Tarantino would have popped a blood vessel if he'd seen what we saw

There are few things I've been looking forward to more this year than the release of Quentin Tarantino's "The Hateful Eight."

Since the live-reading he did of the script here in Los Angeles, I've been excited to see how he would hone the ending of the piece and how he and his longtime collaborator Robert Richardson would make the whole thing look. Tarantino's films are events for me, and I think a big part of that is because there is so much of my DNA as a film fan that was formed the same way as it was for him.

Starting with the Comic-Con presentation for the film, though, something else has become important thanks to the emphasis that Tarantino has placed on the 70MM presentation of the movie. After all, he went out of his way to work with Panavision to shoot in a real Ultra Panavision format, and it is so important to the way Tarantino wants the movie seen that he designed an entire special roadshow experience for the 70MM prints of the film.

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The true story of George Miller, Stanley Kubrick, and the talking pig
Credit: Universal Pictures

The true story of George Miller, Stanley Kubrick, and the talking pig

Part two of our interview with the legendary filmmaker takes a strange left turn

One of the pleasures of repeatedly interviewing George Miller over the course of 2015 was that he got chattier and chattier every time we ran into each other.

On the day we had him stop by the HitFix studios to talk about "Mad Max: Fury Road," which the NBR just named the best film of 2015, he was at his most charming and relaxed, and our one-hour conversation covered a lot of ground. One of the most unexpected digressions had to do with "Babe," a project that took quite a bit of time to develop. It eventually became a showcase for a masterful blend of animatronic and animation, and Rhythm & Hues won an entirely justifiable Oscar for their work on it.

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Peek behind the scenes of this year's most impressive animated movie
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Peek behind the scenes of this year's most impressive animated movie

This behind-the-scenes just makes the whole thing more impressive

Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson have pulled off something truly special with "Anomalisa," something I raved about when I saw it at the Toronto Film Festival, and it's exciting knowing it's going to be in theaters soon so people can experience it for themselves.

What I find most eerie and thrilling about the movie is the way it manages to sell the illusion of real life through the performances of these stop-motion characters. The voice work by David Thewlis, Tom Noonan, and Jennifer Jason Leigh is exquisite, and somehow, it feels like those performances are really being given by these beautifully crafted stop-motion puppets. Beyond that, the world that they've created for the story manages to work as pure metaphor, something I'm not sure many filmmakers could accomplish in any form.

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The truth about that bear attack from 'The Revenant'
Credit: 20th Century Fox

The truth about that bear attack from 'The Revenant'

People just want to be outraged about something, I suppose

Let's be clear about something: no, a bear does not rape Leonardo Di Caprio in "The Revenant."

Some days, I find myself wondering how certain people are even part of the ongoing conversation about film based on how alarmingly stupid they are, and how much trouble they have deciphering even the easiest of movies. It's not my job to police the internet or to correct every bit of misinformation that's out there, but when you see something truly wrong starting to take hold and spread, it seems like there is a responsibility to speak up and make sure the correct information is on the record somewhere.

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We break down all the amazing spoilers from the 'Star Wars: Force Awakens' soundtrack listing
Credit: Lucasfilm

We break down all the amazing spoilers from the 'Star Wars: Force Awakens' soundtrack listing

The whole movie, completely spoiled, beat for beat, just the way you want it

Okay, I'm finally at that point where I can't absorb any new knowledge about "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Now that the final marketing push for the film has kicked in, it's non-stop. We are awash in spoilers and new images and all I want is to see the finished movie.

One of the most egregious offenders in spoiler history was the soundtrack listing for "Star Wars Episode I - The Phantom Menace," which gave away the death of a main character. I was reluctant to look at the track listings for "The Force Awakens" but since it's my job, I decided to go whole hog and attempt to tell you exactly how the entire film will unfold based only on what I've learned so far and what the tracks are called. I am confident this is a 100% accurate representation of the final film.

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George Miller says the original 'Mad Max' was meant to be set present-day
Credit: HitFix

George Miller says the original 'Mad Max' was meant to be set present-day

Our hour-long interview with the master filmmaker kicks off with a look back at his start

2015 has been a terrific year overall.

One of the absolute high points for me has been getting the opportunity to meet and chat with George Miller, whose "Mad Max: Fury Road" remains one of the finest things produced by anyone anywhere this year. I've always been a fan, and I'd interviewed him once before by phone, but this year brought him roaring back into the mainstream, and I took full advantage of the opportunity.

Our first encounter was at SXSW, where I moderated a Q&A after a screening of "The Road Warrior," and it was a magical evening. In the midst of this busy media event, we had a sold-out audience at the Paramount in downtown Austin, and it played like it was a brand-new movie.

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How will 'Mission: Impossible 6' be different than any other film in the series?
Credit: Paramount Pictures

How will 'Mission: Impossible 6' be different than any other film in the series?

It's the first time any director's been back for round two in this series

One of the things that has made the "Mission: Impossible" series so interesting so far has been the way they've used a different director each time, bringing a different sensibility to each entry in the series while playing with the rotating ensemble cast, Tom Cruise always at the center of the thing.

That's about to change, though. This morning, Christopher McQuarrie tweeted the very simple phrase, "Mission: Accepted." That is exciting news on several fronts, but mainly it's exciting because McQuarrie and Cruise have been developing this great creative chemistry for a while now, and anything that continues that has a chance of being good for all parties involved.

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Review: Pixar's latest, 'The Good Dinosaur,' is one of the studio's thinnest films
Credit: Pixar
B-

Review: Pixar's latest, 'The Good Dinosaur,' is one of the studio's thinnest films

Pixar's working in a minor key here in a major way

It's nice.

That's not a slam against the latest film from Pixar, but I want to offer very tempered praise here. I was taken aback at first by just how slight the film is, but I think it has a gentle touch on the best material in the film, and it does have a very real sense of emotional power to it, cumulative but fairly undeniable.

What threw me off was just how simple the film is. This may be the single most stripped down narrative they've ever offered, and I can't help but wonder if this is the result of the film's development issues. It feels like the film's central relationship works, and they knew that was the key to making the film work, and so all the attention was focused on that to the detriment of what normally makes Pixar movies shine, the supporting cast of characters and the great strange left turns that are the things we often remember the most.

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