Inside Movies & DVD with Drew McWeeny
How my time as a Universal tour guide finally paid off
Michael Cera throws a punch in 'Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World'
Credit: Universal Pictures
The first time I met Michael Cera was on the set of "Superbad." Before that, I was a fan of his work from "Arrested Development," and I thought it was particularly appropriate that he was cast as Jason Bateman's son on the show. Bateman is one of those guys who was gifted at birth with amazing comic timing, and Cera appears to be cut from the same cloth, cast from the same mold, able to take a line and find the music in it.
Over the years, as Cera's film career has progressed, it's been disheartening to watch people dismiss him because they feel like he's not playing a character, like he's just coasting on his own persona from role to role. When someone says that, though, I'm not sure what they're watching. Yes, there are things about George Michael or Paulie Bleeker or Nick Twisp or Evan that are similar, but that's because the same actor played each part. The characters are very different, though, and Cera has managed to play variations on a type with real wit and with subtle skill.
Until "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World," though, I don't think he's ever been pushed this far out of his comfort zone, and one of the many things that amazes me about the film is that I can't imagine any other Scott Pilgrim after seeing the way Cera played him. When I went to the press day for "Scott Pilgrim" on Monday, one of two junkets I had to juggle that day, I knew that my final interview of the day would be with him, but I had no idea it would turn into the sort of day where I'm having a conversation about the influence of Nagisa Oshima's "Violence At Noon" on the editing style of Edgar Wright.
Twitter continues to be a fascinating source of movie news
Yep... that certainly looks like Ghostface on the set of 'Scream 4'
Credit: Wes Craven
This isn't a game changer or anything, but it is interesting to see how many images from films in production are starting to leak on Twitter, and directly from the filmmakers involved.
Russell Brand, for example, continues to publish images from the set of "Arthur" via his Twitter feed, and he's starting to give some very interesting glimpses at his character. We ran some of the Batman images here last week, and now this week, we see that Arthur also owns a "Back To The Future" De Lorean. So is he an arrested adolescent who uses his wealth to buy mementos of a happy childhood? That's how it looks just based on the photos so far.
Directors hint at future projects, actors talk about what they're doing on-set, and celebrities of all stripes speak directly to fans about personal things without the filter of publicists. Sooner or later, someone's going to realize that it's humanizing the people who make our entertainment, and they'll clamp down on it so no one sees the man behind the curtain anymore, but for now, Twitter is a fascinating glimpse inside the way filmmaking really works.
Today is a great case in point.
There have been a few images leaked from the "Scream 4" location in Detroit, but this image today is sort of the money shot. Obviously, Ghostface is the iconic killer of the series, and it's impressive to finally see him suited up and ready to rumble.
Is Bad Robot telling a good robot story?
Boilerplate is the shiny metal Zelig, and now JJ Abrams is working to bring the robot's story to the bigscreen.
Credit: Abrams Image Publishing
This one sounds great.
Until today, I was totally unaware of "Boilerplate," which is one of these new-media projects that evolved from a website to a book and now, thanks to the interest of JJ Abrams and Bad Robot, a movie.
Here's what Borys Kit and Jay Hernandez had to say when they broke the story on the Heat Vision Blog this afternoon:
Paramount has picked up rights to “Boilerplate: History’s Mechanical Marvel,” a graphic novel-picture book hybrid by Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett, the creators of comic book series “Heartbreakers,” for an adaptation to be produced by Abrams and his banner.
"Boilerplate" purports to tell the story of the world’s first robot, who, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, fought alongside Teddy Roosevelt and Lawrence of Arabia, journeyed to the South Pole and was involved in the silent movie business before disappearing on the battlefields of World War I.
The book tells Boilerplate’s story by inserting the character into pictures drawn in the style of the age.
Meet Ron Galella in this special sneak peek
Ron Galella made a career out of stalking Jackie O and other celebrities, and the new film 'Smash His Camera' explores that life and asks if his work can be considered art.
I despise the paparazzi.
I've heard all the justifications for them. I've heard people claim that celebrities know what they're getting into and they shouldn't complain and that's the price of fame, and I don't buy it. Not at all.
Like anyone, celebrities are people working a job, and that job has certain demands built into it. When they are at a publicity event or working on a set or making an appearance, they are absolutely fair game, and it should be expected that photos will be taken and demands will be made. But everyone deserves a private life as well, and the paparazzi exist to rob them of every single second of that privacy. What they do is inhuman, and it debases everyone involved.
I like the films of documentarian Leon Gast. I'm not as fond of "Smash His Camera" as many other critics seem to be, precisely because I feel like it lets photographer Ron Galella off the hook. The film does its best to make him seem sympathetic, and I just can't let myself get pulled into that. The film also raises the question of whether his photographs are art, and that's a debate that is worth having, even if I may not come down on the same side of the question as Gast and Galella obviously do.
He's taken some amazing photographs over the years. He's very good at what he does. There is a real sense of pop culture history when you look through his archives. He worked in an era where movie stars were Movie Stars, and he caught many of them in remarkable private moments. His work is revealing and, at times, intimate.
The 'Die Hard 4' director is on his way to Mars
You can trust Len Wiseman... look how serious he is when he's directing.
Philip K. Dick has had a long and strange relationship with Hollywood, and the crazy part about it is that he's been dead for most of that relationship.
Seems appropriate when you read the man's body of work. He was a brilliant idea man, a SF writer who did the majority of his work in the era when you were paid by the word. He cranked out hundreds of amazing short stories that have proven to be incredibly fertile ground for Hollywood over the years. Frequently, though, they just strip out the big ideas from his work and then dump everything else.
"Total Recall" was a perfect example of that. Based on his short story, "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale," the final film by Paul Verhoeven was an action movie that flirted with a few of Dick's amazing ideas, but which ultimately boiled down to Arnold Schwarzenegger shooting people, something that I'm sure would have bored PK Dick enormously.
Since this morning's announcement that there is a new version of "Total Recall" on the way with director Len Wiseman at the helm, with Kurt ("Salt," "Equilibrium," "The Thomas Crown Affair") Wimmer writing it, I've seen many people grousing about the remake of a film they enjoy. But are we sure we can even call this a remake? If they go back to the source material, they could make a film so completely different that it might be totally unrecognizable. It sounds to me more like they're using a title people know, but making something different.
Plus they reveal the first full look at Kato-vision in 3-D
Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg co-star in 'The Other Guys,' which was the focus of a raucous panel at Comic-Con 2010.
Credit: Sony Pictures
If there were any kids in the Hall H presentation for Sony's upcoming films "Priest," "The Other Guys," and "The Green Hornet," they ain't no kids no more.
I was under the impression that ever since the infamous "Borat" incident at Comic-Con a few years ago, the Con was far more restrictive of what could or couldn't play in Hall H. Their point, a valid one, is that it's a family crowd. There are kids as young as stroller age everywhere you look, and there are kids here in groups or with their parents, grade school and high school and college aged. Entire families camp out in Hall H together for a day's worth of programming. It makes sense to try and keep things somewhat clean.
No one mentioned that to Sony, though, because they kicked things off with a blood-soaked presentation for Paul Bettany's new film "Priest," they staged a painfully funny and shockingly dirty panel for "The Other Guys," and closed with a drug-joke laden "Green Hornet" panel. Taken as a whole, it was bracing and a little on the shocking side, but I guarantee no one who sat through it will forget the event.
I'm not particularly anticipating "Priest." I didn't like "Legion," the first film from SFX-guru-turned-director Scott Stewart, which also starred Paul Bettany. This one, based loosely on a 16-volume manga series published here by Tokyo Pop, is set in a world that has been devastated by vampire apocalypse. Humans live in walled cities controlled by the Church, and the only weapons that can be used to stop these no-eyed demons are very special humans called the Priests. The 3-D trailer showed some of the tell-tale signs of being a conversion job, but the effects all appeared to be rendered out as genuine stereo effects. It actually robbed the CGI vampire creatures of any weight or heft in what we saw.
Universal finally takes the plunge on the ambitious horror epic
Guillermo Del Toro takes the stage at Comic-Con 2010 to discuss his upcoming job writing and producing a new 'Haunted Mansion' film for Disney.
Sometimes, it takes just the right combination of clout and timing and just plain persistence for a dream project to make it to the bigscreen.
Looks like the day has finally come for "At The Mountains Of Madness."
This long-rumored adaptation of the classic H.P. Lovecraft story has been in the works by Guillermo Del Toro and his writing partner Matthew Robbins for a while now, and now, along with producers Susan Montford, Don Murphy, and James Freakin' Cameron, it appears that "Mountains" will be the next film Del Toro directs.
Yes... I know there are a ton of projects right now that Guillermo's name is attached to, but I also know the way he thinks, and there is no film that has been closer to his heart longer than "At The Mountains Of Madness," and there are very few authors more important to Guillermo's worldview than Lovecraft. This has always been priority one for him, and Cameron is one of the few producers who I think could genuinely help protect Guillermo's vision.
Universal deserves a lot of credit these days for being the studio that seems to be willing to gamble more often than anyone else. "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World," "Paul," "Your Highness," "At The Mountains Of Madness"... these are movies that are ambitious, that have strong voices, and that seem less than commercially obvious.
Plus the truth about the weekend's most adorable moment
Ryan Reynolds made an impact on everyone in Hall H during the Warner Bros. presentation at Comic-Con 2010 in his role as Hal Jordan in the superhero film 'The Green Lantern'
Credit: Warner Bros.
"In brightest day...
In blackest night...
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil's might
Beware my power... Green Lantern's light."
With those simple lines, Ryan Reynolds charmed 6500 people in Hall H and made a lifelong fan of one little boy. Contrary to many reports, the boy didn't actually ask Reynolds to recite the famous Green Lantern Oath when he got his turn at the mic during the audience Q&A at the Warner Bros. panel. He actually asked the question, "What does it feel like when you do the Green Lantern Oath?" Which is infinitely more interesting and charming than "Will you do the Green Lantern Oath?"
And what made Reynolds so likable in the moment was the genuine way he responded to the question. If you see the footage, you see him react first, an emotional beat, and then a decision. And just watching him make a decision, watching him slip into the Hal Jordan he's playing right now, and then say the Oath... not for us as an audience, because that's not the moment. He said it to that little boy. And just to him. And the look on that kid's face when the Comic-Con cameras cut to him after Reynolds finished...
Sony Pictures Classics offers details on a free screening
Jacki Weaver plays the scariest 'Smurf' you're likely to see in theaters any time soon in the new Australian drama 'Animal Kingdom'
Credit: Sony Pictures Classics
There are few things that make me happier doing this job than giving out free passes to movies for people. On a personal level, the whole reason I ever started writing about films, way before I even thought about getting paid for it, was simply to share my love of films with people, and there's no better way to do that than to actually show the film to people.
In the case of "Animal Kingdom," Sony Pictures Classics obviously shares my feelings, and they're doing something about it if you're in New York City this Thursday night.
All you have to do is go to the AMC 34th St. at 7:00 PM this Thursday, July 29th. Seating is first come first serve and completely free.
So what exactly is "Animal Kingdom"? Well, the film opens August 13, and it's based on real stories about the criminal underworld in Melbourne.
Here's the summary we've been running here on the site:
"Armed robber Pope Cody (Ben Mendelsohn) is in hiding, on the run from a gang of renegade detectives who want him dead. His business partner and best friend, Barry 'Baz' Brown (Joel Edgerton), wants out of the game, recognizing that their days of old-school banditry are all but over. Pope's younger brother, the speed-addicted and volatile Craig Cody (Sullivan Stapleton), is making a fortune in the illicit substances trade - the true cash cow of the modern criminal fraternity - while the youngest Cody brother, Darren (Luke Ford), naively navigates his way through this criminal world - the only world his family has ever known.
Film's core relationship more than makes up for a few bum notes
Steve Carell and Paul Rudd co-star in Jay Roach's broken-hearted new farce, 'Dinner For Schmucks'
From the opening images of the film, with the familiar whimsy of "Fool On The Hill" underscoring loving close-ups of dioramas depicting happier days in a marriage, "Dinner For Schmucks" reveals itself as a movie as sad at its core as Christopher Nolan's "Inception." At the same time, "Schmucks" is broad farce that revolves around Barry (Steve Carell), a force of nature who accidentally unleashes some outrageous mayhem into the life of Tim (Paul Rudd), and it is very, very silly. The way Jay Roach manages to balance those seemingly opposite intents is what makes "Dinner For Schmucks" such a delight.
There won't be a lot of middle ground on this film, I don't think. It is a film that aims big, and so the few missteps it makes are really a matter of unfulfilled ambition more than anything else. In particular, the dinner itself is sort of an anti-climax. Even so, "Dinner For Schmucks" works as an oddball old-fashioned comedy, and it is a nice reminder of just how candy-slick the work of Jay Roach is.
The titular dinner is a rancid by-product of the scumbag corporate culture that Tim so desperately wants to be part of so that his girlfriend Julie (Stephanie Szostak) won't leave him. Tim wants to impress his boss Lance Fender (Bruce Greenwood), and one day, during what should be a routine meeting, Tim takes his shot and steps up... and it works. He gets Fender's attention. Greenwood, along with Larry Wilmore and Ron Livingston, projects exactly the right amount of smarm and insincerity to let you know right up front that we're going to be on the side of anyone who isn't one of these douchebags. They're rotten people, and to his credit, Tim sees through them right away. He still wants to get ahead, though, so he agrees to join them at their monthly dinner where each of them finds a complete and utter freak to bring as a guest, a comedy riff on Nancy Savoca's lovely-and-largely-forgotten "Dogfight."