This is a first.
When I was picking movies for this year's Film Nerd 2.0 with my sons, we went through books full of DVDs and shelves full of Blu-rays, discussing things that interested them, explaining things they asked about. I thought the final list we chose was a nice mix of styles and filmmakers, and it seemed like a nice trip through several eras of Hollywood.
After our last film together was "To Kill A Mockingbird," it seemed appropriate to go in the other direction and pick something that was light and fun and that we could enjoy together before I left for a film festival trip. Those long professional moments away from home are hard on the kids, and they're hard on me as well. At six and four (Allen just had a birthday), they like being silly. They are silly all the time. They are constantly struggling to make each other laugh, and I find myself watching them in the playroom, them unaware that I'm paying attention, and being amazed at what dedicated clowns they are.
This is a first.
So are you excited about "The Cabin In The Woods" yet?
I think Lionsgate is doing a good job with a difficult situation. They picked the film up from MGM because they believe in it, and they've been very clear about that since they first started reaching out to press last year. They have also been very clear from the start that they recognize just how hard it is to sell this movie without giving away so much of what makes it great.
Ultimately, a good film is more than just the sum of its secrets, and "The Cabin In The Woods" is a film that plays even better once you watch it a second time. The film is loaded with tiny details that pay off in a whole different way the second time around. I suspect that horror fans will see the film many times, just to dissect all the things that Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard have layered into it.
Tomorrow, March 20th, would have been the 84th birthday of Fred Rogers. To commemorate the day, you'll be able to find the movie "Mr. Rogers and Me" on DVD, local PBS affiliates, and iTunes. And if you are even remotely interested in the man and his work and his ongoing legacy, then I urge you to check it out.
I forgot I requested a screener for this one, so when I got home at 2:00 in the morning today from Austin, I was surprised to see it on the stack of things that arrived while I was gone. I had to wait up for a while for the new "Snow White and the Huntsman" trailer to go live, so I figured I'd watch a few minutes of the documentary while I was waiting.
Of course I watched the entire thing, and of course there were about five or six places that brought tears to my eyes and of course it's a wonderful tribute to a wonderful person.
Watch: Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth meet in fantastical world of 'Snow White and the Huntsman'
I am back in Los Angeles after what felt like an inordinate time away from home. I've missed my boys something fierce, and more than anything, I've missed sitting with them and watching something. Anything. They went to a few movies while I was gone, and in particular, they seemed to have a really good time going with my wife to see "Mirror, Mirror."
I'm still in Austin, as the SXSW Film Festival is just ending today, but I know my fellow HitFixers are hard at work at Wondercon in Anaheim. I had to check in on what's been going on, and there's nothing I'm more curious about than the presentation Fox made today for "Prometheus."
Fox has been playing a very slow burn with their "Prometheus" materials so far, and that's good. I feel like this is going to be a pretty special film, and I don't want to see everything amazing thing in it before the film is in theaters. I want it to shock me and surprise me. I already feel like I know way too much about the film, much more than has been made public so far, and that makes me a little sad. I wish I was going to walk in a blank slate and see some of these things without anticipating them.
I gotta give it up to Fox. I think they've won me over.
I am genuinely amused by this new trend of crossing one thing that's not horror at all with something else that is totally horror. Seth Grahame-Smith should get full credit as the godfather of this sudden explosion of stuff, since his "Pride And Prejudice And Zombies" was the flashpoint. He also had a hit with his follow-up book, which was all him instead of cleverly repurposed Jane Austen, and now "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" is gearing up for a summer release and revealing a new trailer that fully sets the tone of what you can expect to see.
Timur Bekmambetov is a perfect choice for a project like this. He indulges in what I call "the cinema of the possible impossible." His specialty is designing a moment that is absolutely ludicrous and impossible based on all known laws of physics, and then finding a way to make it look absolutely real. It's the reason his Russian films "Night Watch" and "Day Watch" were so intriguing, so promising regarding this guy's voice. He made these little low-budget films punctuated with moments of pure "Holy hell, did I just see that?"
Gary Ross was, to say the least, an unconventional choice when it came to helming the adaptation of the popular young adult novels "The Hunger Games," written by Suzanne Collins. Ross has established himself as a particular kind of filmmaker with his work on films like "Dave," "Big," "Pleasantville," and "Seabiscuit." He's not the guy you think of for world-building science-fiction or big action. Yet when we look back at these films in the future, one of the smartest choices they could have made was giving this first film to Ross, because he's made something very special, concerned primarily with the human heart of the story instead of the spectacle.
The books by Collins are solid and interesting, and while they didn't inspire the same rabid fandom in me that they appear to have inspired in some, I can understand the excitement. Ultimately, "The Hunger Games" is a series about personal responsibility and finding one's place in the world, and it is interested in more than just who's going to kiss who. Each of the books is built differently, which already makes it more interesting than many ongoing series.
It's not quite accurate to call this the "new" film from the Duplass Brothers.
That's actually "Jeff, Who Lives At Home." Or "Kevin," a documentary that they also recently finished.
What happened here is that before "Cyrus," the Duplass Brothers directed this film about what happens when two brothers let something fester, unfinished, and then they ran out of money and time to finish it, and so it festered, unfinished. And now, finally, they've gone back and completed it, and the result is a charming, low-key look at brotherly competition and the ways it can twist an already complicated dynamic into something sour and painful.
It's strange to think that, including "The Hunger Games," Gary Ross has only directed three films.
Those three films cover a lot of ground, too. "Pleasantville" is very different than "Seabiscuit," and neither one of them would prepare you for what he's done with "The Hunger Games." I'm going to guess he was not the first person on the list that Lionsgate put together when they bought the book and started talking about turning it into a film. I'm not sure what I've been expecting. I read the books last year, and since then, I've watched all the casting announcements and we've run the photos and the trailers, and honestly, none of it really told me what to expect from the film.
At this point, I'm starting to suspect there are more than two Duplass brothers.
It's really the only way to explain their almost absurd level of productivity recently. Since "Cyrus" played Sundance, it seems that there is always something coming out with either Mark Duplass starring or written by them or directed by them, and it's been a good run for the two of them.
I quite liked "The Puffy Chair," their early film, but when they made the jump to working with casts that are better-known, they also seemed to hone their craft in a way that is surprisingly at home in the mainstream. Their new film, "Jeff, Who Lives At Home," is my favorite thing they've done, and so of course when asked if I wanted to sit down with them to talk about the movie, the answer was a very easy "yes."