Have I mentioned yet that I love "Attack The Block"?
It's hard sometimes when you see a movie at a film festival that you fell head over heels in love with, particularly when that movie does not have a US distributor lined up. If you're in the UK, you'll see "Attack The Block" on May 13, 2011. But if you're here in the States, there's nothing. No release date. No one set to release the film. And so far, the conversations we're hearing in the press include such lunacy as subtitling the English-language movie for a US release or, even scarier, a remake. Which is hopefully not a conversation anyone actually involved in releasing the film ever really has. Nobody's finding a better cast of real kids than this one, and nobody's going to do what Joe Cornish did as a director.
Let me be clear: if you remake "Attack The Block" for the US market, I hope you get an entire colony of fire ants in your urethra. And I hope they're very, very angry.
If you live in Los Angeles, I have a lovely surprise for you. This coming Thursday night, we're going to be participating in a special screening of the film, and I'm authorized to offer 15 pairs of tickets to you, the viewing public. You want to see it now? You want to avoid a huge wait? You want to see what it looks like before somebody tries to make it "better" for an American audience? Here's your chance.
Have I mentioned yet that I love "Attack The Block"?
Welcome to Cheat Sheet, a new feature we'll be running from time to time here at HitFix, designed to help catch you up on all the pop culture phenomenons you don't have time to digest yourself.
It's hard to keep up some days. Every time you turn around, some new book series or comic book or video game has become the big buzz item, and if you haven't read it or seen it or played it already, you can feel lost in the conversation. I'm the sort of person who will push myself to read an entire series or watch an entire series or play a game simply so I understand what people are discussing, which is why I've actually read the Twilight books from start to finish. I found them painful the entire time, but I can also speak with some sense of personal authority about Stephenie Meyers and her writing, and it's not just some knee-jerk reaction over what I sort of half-understood based on a Wikipedia entry or a movie trailer.
Right now, "Hunger Games" is heading into production with Jennifer Lawrence attached to star as Katniss Everdeen, and if you've never read the books, you might be wondering why fans are so rabid about this series of books, why they're so invested in the casting of the lead, and what you might be expecting to see in theaters in 2012. That's why we've decided to make "Hunger Games" the first entry in our Cheat Sheet series, and hopefully by the end of this article, you'll be able to observe the rest of the casting and the crazy hype with an expert's eye.
And who knows? Maybe a few of you will even be motivated to pick up the novels by Suzanne Collins as a result.
Our last interview we're posting for the Zack Snyder film "Sucker Punch," opening today, is with the two young women who ultimately represent the heart of the film.
I remember meeting Emily Browning for the first time at a screening in Austin, part of the Butt-numb-a-thon, where she and her co-star from "A Series Of Unfortunate Events" flew in for a post-film Q&A. She was so young, and they both seemed a little overwhelmed by the flight, the event, the film, and everything else. It feels to me like that happened two years ago, but that's impossible. Looking at her in "Sucker Punch," seeing how she's dressed, how she conducts herself, how much she's changed, it's obviously been a while. I felt like I was already an old man at that initial meeting, and she was just a little kid, and now she's an adult, undeniably, and that must make me very old. Disturbingly old. Like maybe I should go lie down somewhere so I don't hurt myself old. Sheesh.
Sweet Pea, played by Abbie Cornish, is incredibly important to the way the film works, and because they couldn't really explain that to us on set, I didn't realize just what sort of role she might have in things. It's no accident that Browning and Cornish were teamed for the press day, because their roles in the film are equally significant. Cornish has been turning in strong and interesting work in almost everything she's done since "Somersault," and I think it's just a matter of time before she finds the role that really pushes her over the top. She has a strong bond with Jena Malone's character, Rocket, who is Sweet Pea's sister, but she also serves as the skeptic in the group, the one who wants to play it safe.
Welcome to The Morning Read.
This week, Dimension Films made anyone who saw "Scream 4" sign a non-disclosure agreement regarding the ending of the film, and it's smart marketing in a way. They've made sure the ending won't be printed, and if it is by someone who didn't sign the NDA, then that becomes the story, and it's news, and it feeds back into discussion of "Scream 4," and that's sort of what they're counting on. It led to some awkward interview moments when the cast refused to answer any questions about that ending, even though the press had already seen it, but so be it. Is discussing the fact that there's an NDA about the ending the same as discussing the ending? Is this one of those endless feedback loops? Simply by typing it out, have I created a paradox that will erase me completely from the timeline?
Speaking of timelines, it appears Commander Future will return in April. I'll let you know exactly when it drops, but your feedback helped guarantee his return, so thanks for that.
Now let's jump into today's Morning Read and get this weekend underway. I'll be working all weekend at press events for "Hanna" and "Your Highness," but there'll be plenty of content for you here on the blog, including more of my SXSW catch-up. There are three separate episodes of the podcast coming as well, including a great one I recorded with James Gunn and Rainn Wilson of "Super."
Each of the individual young women who star in "Sucker Punch" would test the paying-attention skills of any red-blooded guy sitting across from them, but you put Jamie Chung, Jena Malone, and Vanessa Hudgens together in a room and then dare me to keep my mind on the conversation, and it's almost like a hidden camera show.
The truth is that these are charming young performers who are thrilled with the film they just made, and I wanted to talk to them about their expectations for the film versus the way it looks in its final form, and I wanted to talk to them about the process. And it was a good conversation, too. Jena Malone in particular clearly communicates her excitement about the movie in this piece, and I find their exuberance right now to be really lovely. Whatever happens with the movie, whatever the majority reaction is to it, I suspect this will remain one of the most important milestones for the entire cast because of the experience they had and the bonds they formed with the rest of the ensemble.
What different backgrounds they come from, too. Chung is a reality TV discovery, and so far we've seen very few of them make serious runs at feature film careers. Chung has a quiet charisma that I found affecting in her work as Amber in the film, and I hope this is just the start for her.
Malone, of course, has been acting since she was a child, and she's managed to make a very interesting transition into adulthood. No surprise with some of the mentors she's had on her films. When you have Jodie Foster as a resource, chances are you'll manage to make the jump from young actor to grown-up fairly well, your professional soul intact.
From the very first frames of the film, "Sucker Punch" rejects reality. There is a naked theatricality to the staging of the first few images, and then writer/director Zack Snyder drops us into the worst night in the young life of Baby Doll (Emily Browning). It's a specific decision, as is practically everything in every frame of the film, and it's one of many choices where I think Snyder the writer may have let down Snyder the director in ways that make the film a grand fascinating almost, a near-miss, an ambitious just-this-close.
The story the film tells is fairly straightforward, but the way the story is told is anything but. Baby Doll had a younger sister until one awful night after their mother died when their stepfather (the suitably toadlike Gerard Plunkett) went crazy and terrible things happened. Baby Doll is taken to an asylum for women, a gothic mental hospital where she's basically handed off to Blue (Oscar Isaac) with a payment that guarantees that in a few days, a specialist will show up to give her a lobotomy, taking any secrets she might have out along with the grey matter. Baby Doll can't handle what she sees going on around her, and she has a break with reality. To her, it's not an asylum. It's a brothel. And it's not run-down and disgusting, it's opulent and lush. The other girls aren't mental patients, they are girls pressed into dancing (and more) for rich clients in an elaborate theater. Dr. Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino) isn't a psychiatrist trying to reach the girls through therapy, but is instead the madame, teaching these girls how to dance for their lives, literally. And Blue isn't just an abusive orderly who will do anything for money, he's actually a pimp, the man in charge, and the main obstacle between Baby Doll and freedom.
As long as I've been talking to Zack Snyder, "Sucker Punch" has been bouncing around in there somewhere, a constant concern of his.Â When we first sat down to talk, he was in post-production on "300," and he talked about how there were things he wanted to do that were original, something he was writing, and at the same time, he also had "Watchmen" sitting in his office, an active concern for Warner Bros.
He moved from "300" directly into that adaptation of one of the sacred texts of the comic world, and it was something that Warner Bros. really wanted to make.Â The train was moving, and he hopped on.Â And even so, even as he did his third adaptation in a row of existing material, he was still working on developing his original idea, and it was only after he delivered that film that he finally took the plunge.
Now here we are, and "Sucker Punch" arrives in theaters on Friday, and sitting down to talk to him about the movie, it feels like he's graduating from school all over again.Â This is a film he had to make before he moves forward in the rest of his career, a dare he posed for himself years ago, and whatever you think of the finished film, the ambition on display is outsized, an artist betting on his own sensibilities without a safety net.Â It was great to hear him talk about what he's actually done as opposed to the hypothetical of what he might do or could do or wanted to do.Â This is the moment where audiences finally see Zack Snyder without anyone else's sensibilities grafted onto what he does, and it'll be interesting to see what happens.
Okay… I'm in.
I was already interested, certainly, but that new trailer for "Captain America: The First Avenger" is incredibly persuasive and stylized and charming. There's something great about the way Joe Johnston's creating the world of the '40s, and about the way he makes Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) into a puny weakling in the early parts of the film.
And once it kicks in? It looks like an adventure movie, pure and simple, and as logical a choice as that seems to be, I'm amazed how few adventure movies there are in the superhero genre. Angst is the main order of business, with revenge and daddy issues and taking over the world as major motivators. This is much more of a straightforward "here's your mission" adventure film, and it is something I've wanted to see for a while now.
Stanley Tucci looks like a hoot as Professor Erskine, the guy in charge of the Super Soldier Program, and he's got the best line in the trailer, about the way it takes a weak man to understand the value of strength and power. Tommy Lee Jones is Col. Phillips, the perfect military face for WWII. I like that Bucky (Sebastian Stan) is the guy who looks older and bigger and like the "real" soldier. It's a very different take than the Bucky and Cap relationship I grew up reading about, which was more of a traditional Batman and Robin hero and sidekick thing.
Can you believe that the first "Scream" came out way back in 1996? That was before most people had cell phones, the internet, or knew what the word 'meta' meant. But the film stood out for the sharp and comic writing by Kevin Williamson, and the fact that as self referential and funny as it was, it delivered plenty of scares.
Folks who love the series will be happy to see the old "Scream" magic alive and well within these 3 clips. Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette are back as Sidney, Sheriff Dewey (no longer a Deputy) and Gale Weathers respectively, and watching them is like seeing old friends from school. You didn't especially keep up with them, but you're happy to see them again anyway and you'll definitely accept their friend request on facebook... (to torture an analogy.) Clips embedded after the jump
When I was working as a tour guide on the Universal Studios lot in Hollywood, it was during the time they were shooting "The Flintstones," and our tour ended up getting lots of looks at the sets for the film, the props for the film, and even, on occasion, the stars of the film. It was a guaranteed reaction every time we got a look at Fred Flintstone's car with the holes in the bottom for his feet to go through, and between tours, several of us would brazenly walk onto the various soundstages, hoping to see Henson Company dinosaurs.
One afternoon, as we were walking across the lot, I spotted the cast trailers, and wanted a friend to take a picture of me with Elizabeth Taylor's door. That's all. Just the door. I figured it would be a funny picture, and I could talk about how many other doors that door had been married to and how hard it was to get it to pose for the photo and on and on. Dumb jokes, all of which were going through my head as I walked up the first few steps of her trailer so I could pose.
That's when the door to the trailer swung open from inside and I found myself looking directly into the most famous pair of violet eyes in film history. She may have been just past 60 at that point, but she didn't miss a beat. She sized me up, then turned to her assistant and said, "I'm almost sure I didn't order this."
They do not make broads like that anymore.