It's pretty clear where I got the first name of my first son, Toshiro, and he's well aware of the legacy of the artist who inspired that name. While he hasn't seen Seven Samurai yet, he knows who Toshiro Mifune was and that he is an actor I hold in very high regard. What's less immediately clear is that my younger son is also named after one of my artistic heroes, because it's his middle name. He is Allen Miles McWeeny, and sure enough, he is named after one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century, a towering figure whose music has meant more to me than I can ever fully express.
Frequently, when I am writing a review, I will have to look someone up to jar my memory. I see so many films that it is possible for me to like something, even review it well, and then never think of it again. Such was the case with The Dirties. I actually went back today and read my review, and as soon as I did, I remembered all the things I liked about the movie and its director/star/co-writer Matt Johnson. The same things are true about Johnson's new film, Operation Avalanche, but even moreso, and I think Lionsgate stands a chance at turning it into a low-key hit if they handle it right.
When I was at Comic-Con in 2014, one of the things I had to do moderate the panel for Sony's Goosebumps. I was in the green room getting ready for the appearance when a huge group of people walked in to get ready for another one of the panels. I immediately recognized both Jordan Peele and Keegan Michael Key, and made a beeline for… Peter Atencio, the director of their beloved Comedy Central series.
Because as much as I love Key and Peele as performers and writers, what made that show such a special thing for me was the razor-sharp work done on the film and television parodies. Atencio has such a fantastic eye for the small details that make something recognizable that you can set his work right next to the original and all that separates them is attitude. Parody is incredibly difficult to get right, and Atencio approaches everything with such a keen awareness of genre that he elevates the joke, giving Key and Peele a tremendous stage for their work.
So who blinks?
One has to assume there's no way both Ready Player One and Avatar 2 end up coming out on December 15, 2017 now that Star Wars Episode VIII has moved its release date. In both cases, there are reasons to expect that they wouldn't want to go head to head with Star Wars.
The Internet often feels like a gigantic game of telephone, and it can be exhausting trying to sort out what is true and what is false when you see outlets picking up stories and running them without any additional reporting, and often without taking even a moment to consider if a rumor makes sense.
George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the most exciting success stories of 2015. Heading into the year, everything I was hearing from inside Warner Bros. was about how nervous the film made them and how there were execs at the top levels of the studio who simply didn't know what the hell they'd made. I had spoken to people who saw early test screenings, and the word from them was far more positive. I personally was just hoping for something fun. I was not prepared for the actual film Miller made, and watching him exceed all expectations has been delightful at every step.
It has been way too long since we've seen Pee-Wee Herman in a movie.
One of the unexpected pleasures of the last decade has been seeing the return of Pee-Wee to his rightful place in pop culture. I was sure when Paul Reuben was arrested in the early '90s that he had successfully killed his most famous creation, and for a while, it seemed like that was the case. I suspect Reuben was happy to see Pee-Wee go at that point. When I met him in that era, he seemed like he was running from the character. He couldn't have looked any less like Pee-Wee with his long hair and his full beard and mustache, and he got visibly irritated when people would walk up to him and talk to him about Pee-Wee.
Jeff Pope's script for Philomena was a low-key winner, smart about the way it approached a painful and difficult subject. Pope was nominated for an Oscar along with Steve Coogan, who shared the writing credit, and while they didn't win, it must have been a good experience. After all, Coogan's just agreed to star in Stan & Ollie, the latest script by Pope to make it to the screen, and John C. Reilly has signed on to co-star, with Jon S. Baird (Filth) set to direct.
Over the years, I've read lots of stories about tensions behind the scenes with some of Hollywood's great comedy teams, and I am curious to see what Pope and Baird do with the story of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Wisely, they are focusing on a specific moment in their careers, rather than trying to tell the entire story. Set during their farewell tour of the UK in 1953, the film catches the team well after their heyday, and it deals with the way the two of them manage their personal and professional relationships after decades of working together. It sounds, based on the Variety article with the quotes from Jeff Pope, like a passion project for the writer.
When George Lucas first broached the subject of following up American Graffiti, he proposed a bigscreen version of Flash Gordon, which was owned by Universal at the time. Instead, he went on to make the first Star Wars film for 20th Century Fox. Of course, Fox no longer has anything to do with Star Wars, which was sold to Disney, and Fox could use a little space opera magic of their own right about now. And, in no small bit of circular irony, it appears that it is the very property that sent George Lucas running to Fox in the first place that they're turning to for relief.
On his Facebook page today, screenwriter Mark Protosevich announced that he's writing Flash Gordon for 20th Century Fox, with Matthew Vaughn attached to direct. That is just plain great news. Protosevich has been first guy in on any number of intriguing geek properties over the years, and he wrote a draft of John Carter Of Mars that was one of the best action/fantasy scripts I've ever read.
Vaughn and Protosevich have been in each other's orbit before this, but I'm not sure to what extent. Protosevich did a pretty great job with an early pass at Thor, and there was a point where Vaughn and his co-writer/creative partner Jane Goldman were almost on Thor, and I'm curious if it was the Protosevich that got them interested in the first place.
"I can't wait to get started and if you're curious about the take? I'm not saying a word. All I'll say is this - it will be nothing like any version of Flash Gordon you've seen."
That's what Protosevich had to say about it before going silent again, and I'm thrilled for him and for Vaughn. Vaughn came onboard last year, when the script was still credited to J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay. Now it appears they're bringing in a new writer and they're hopefully picking up steam. I'd really like to see this film, because it's up to Matthew to create a brand-new version of something that has been iconically defined several times.
Perhaps he'll save every one of us.
JJ Abrams, you sneaky sumbitch.
If reports from around the country are true, then JJ Abrams and Bad Robot managed to sneak a trailer for a film called 10 Cloverfield Lane into theaters in front of the new Michael Bay film 13 Hours tonight.
The first time around with Cloverfield, I stumbled right into the middle of their super-secret trailer release and accidentally gave away the whole game without knowing what I was doing. I didn't really know what the movie was that the trailer was for, and was just intrigued by the idea that the trailer was actually shot before they had made the actual film, and that they had put together this sort of "what the hell is this?" teaser that was designed to just land without any advance warning.
Guillermo Del Toro and Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark is a marriage that should result in the birth of glorious nightmares for an entire generation of kids.
The original Alvin Schwartz books were smart, savvy collections of stories that had been told and retold, like a Grimm Bros. collection for campfire tales, and Stephen Gammell's illustrations in the original editions of the books are a big part of the reason they were as memorable as they were. In late 2013, Patrick Melton & Marcus Dunstan set the project up at CBS Films. They were originally set to write the film. In late 2014, the property changed hands, and John August was brought in on the rewrite.