Inside Movies & DVD with Drew McWeeny
Like 'Lost In Translation' with a father-daughter dynamic
Elle Fanning and Stephen Dorff co-star in Sofia Coppola's new film 'Somewhere'
Credit: Focus Features
Yep. That looks like a Sofia Coppola film.
And I say that as a big fan of her work. I like some of her films more than others, but I think she's got a real voice, a very strong sense of language in film, and even a lesser work like "Marie Antoinette" is obviously a considered, controlled piece of filmmaking.
"Somewhere" is a world she must be familiar with, the story of a young girl living the high life with her famous father. This trailer is pure observation, and I'm already feeling a strong connection to what we see here. I'm not a Dorff fan, particularly, so I'm curious to see how I react to him over the course of two hours as opposed to two minutes. I just know that, as a parent, I've thought about what it would do to my relationship with my children if my wife and I weren't together. I don't think I could do that to them, ever. And if I did, I think I'd overcompensate. I'd be so worried, so hyperaware of any possible damage to the amazing personalities both of them are developing right now.
I know some people are already rolling their eyes because "who cares about the lives of rich people?", but I don't think that's important, really. The reason I hate "It's Complicated" isn't because the people are rich... it's because the conflict of "which of these men do I bang and can I get a gigantic kitchen in my house?" is something nobody can relate to. With "Somewhere," I think it's more along the lines of "what do you do to protect your child while your marriage implodes?", and money's got nothing to do with understanding that. That's very basic and primal, one of the things that I think you have to be afraid of if you're married. Vampires? Relatively sure I'm not afraid real vampires will eat me or my family. Divorce? Yeah, that's terrifying.
What do you gain hiring SNL talent for voice-over roles?
Will Ferrell and Tina Fey will both lend their voices to 'Megamind' this November, just one in a long tradition of animated films that make use of 'Saturday Night Live' voice talent
Credit: Dreamworks Animation
This morning, Toshi and I took in a screening of "Despicable Me," the new animated film that stars Steve Carrell. Although I'm not able to review it yet, I can say that I was pleasantly surprised by the way the celebrity comedians who contributed voices for the film are all essentially disguised completely. No one just stops in to do a cameo in their own voice. Even Jack McBrayer, best known as Kenneth on "30 Rock," plays a different type of character than normal.
It's nice, because a good comic actor freed of the visual recognition should be able to vanish completely into something, and "Despicable Me" makes very good use of Kristen Wiig, who plays the woman who runs the orphanage where the three little girls who are the stars of the film live when it starts. Wiig gets to play a physical type she'd never play in real life, and she does a voice that didn't make me think of her at all. It's perfect for what you're looking at, but it doesn't sound like "Kristen Wiig," and I think that's great.
Since "Saturday Night Live" went on the air, dozens of animated films have used cast members to do voices in cartoons, and often, they did their very best to get the comic performers to play themselves or barely disguised versions of themselves. While I can understand it from a marketing point of view (after all, who wants to watch a Bill Murray movie if you can't tell it's Bill Murray?), I think it's a waste. Animation is all about potential and freedom and unleashing something in a voice actor, not just tying them to what we already know about them.
Some details about follow-up to the spring's fantasy hit are announced
Sam Worthington, dressed in his 'Clash Of The Titans' costume, burns his hand while trying to pick up an Academy Award.
Credit: Warner Bros.
Evidently, if you want to work at Warner Bros right now, it is important that your name is "Greg Berlanti."
In addition to the "Green Lantern" that's in production now and the "Green Lantern 2" and "The Flash" treatments he's working on, Berlanti is supervising the treatment for "Clash Of The Titans 2" for the studio. That's an astonishing quartet of tentpole pictures to be handed by the studio. That's like if Paramount asked JJ Abrams to pick up the slack and pump out a reboot of "Top Gun" and a new "Godfather" while also producing "Star Trek" and "Mission: Impossible" sequels. It's pushing all the chips to the middle of the table on one particular sensibility.
What's obvious is that Warner Bros. likes whatever Berlanti did on "Green Lantern." Will audiences feel the same way? We won't know until next summer. That's what makes it an interesting gamble to let him supervise all these other properties that are moving forward in the meantime.
And to be fair, he's not working alone. On "Green Lantern," he's sharing credit with Michael Green and Marc Guggenheim, and they're working with him on both "GL2" and "Flash." And on "Clash Of The Titans 2," he's not writing it, but is instead working on the treatment with Dan Mazeau and David Leslie Johnson.
Behind-the-scenes glimpse offers up some tantalizing clues
Chris Hemsworth stars as 'Thor' in next summer's superhero epic.
Credit: Marvel Studios
Ooooooh, I am chomping at the bit at this point to start really talking about what I saw on the set of "Thor," but for now, I'm still under a gag order, so the most I can do is share some impressions with you that might offer up some context for what you saw if you checked out the "Entertainment Tonight" set visit that was just posted.
I was surprised both by what they did show and how little they actually revealed. If you've got keen eyes, you can catch a glimpse of Heimdall's Observatory, a remarkable set and a major puzzle piece in understanding the difference between the typical approach to Thor and Norse mythology that has been part of the comic series since its creation. You also get a look at Odin, the uber-god being played by Anthony Hopkins, and a hint of the Earth-bound action that occurs when some of the most dangerous Asgardians come looking for Thor, who has been banished to our world by the All-Father so he can learn some humility.
That was always one of the core concepts of "Thor," the notion that Thor is an arrogant god whose actions endanger himself, his fellow Asgardians, and the people they rule. Odin wants to entrust his kingdom to his son, but he knows he's not ready, so in the comics, he strips him of his powers and forces him to take the human form of Donald Blake, a crippled doctor, a physical form that is almost the exact opposite of Thor's. In helping others and dealing with his infirmity, Blake learns to be everything that Thor was not, so that when Blake finds a cane that transforms into Mjolnir, an enchanted hammer, and which transforms him into the God of Thunder, he assumes his original shape with a new appreciation of his responsibilities.
Jackie Chan lays strong foundation for solid update of '80s classic
Jaden Smith strikes a pose in a climactic moment from the new remake of 'The Karate Kid,' in theaters this weekend.
Credit: Sony Pictures
I stepped in it earlier this week.
On the anniversary of the release of "Goonies," the fans of the film spent much of the day celebrating online. And instead of just observing it and being glad that people have that sort of passion about film... ANY FILM... I did that thing that I always hate when other people do it to me: I rained on their parade.
I posted something on Twitter about how nostalgia turns "bad movies into classics." And that's all it took to rile up a whooooole lotta people for the rest of the night. And I think I knew what I was doing. I knew that phrasing was going to poke people, and I said it that way anyway. The truth is that "The Goonies" can easily be described as beloved. There is an age range of film nerd who grew up in that sort of Amblin' Stage II era, the same ones who bond over the way they used to think hoverboards were real "because Robert Zemeckis told me they were," who love "The Goonies" dearly. It is significant to them.
I look at the film, and I see a noisy mess that sort of falls apart from scene to scene with a young cast that was energetic but uneven. It's a fantastic score doing most of the heavy lifting for a film that I don't much like. And that's my critical opinion of it. It doesn't mean anything to me as an artifact. It had no significance for me when it came out. I was 15, and I certainly remember the hype for it. I remember giving up on it before I even made it out of that first screening. I just didn't buy into what it was selling.
Joe Carnahan's big summer movie seems like a plan came together
I love it when a cast comes together, like Bradley Cooper, Liam Neeson, Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson, and Sharlto Copely in 'The A-Team'
Credit: 20th Century Fox
"The A-Team" is a completely ludicrous movie.
Everything about the movie is ridiculous. The casting is absurd, with pros like Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper sharing pretty much the entire running time with Quentin "Rampage" Jackson and Sharlto Copely. The TV show that the film is based on was a formula so simple even 12-year-olds felt like they were smarter than the storytelling. The action set pieces in the film are an affront to the laws of physics. The story is an aimless mess of cliche.
It's also heaps of fun.
From the moment this one was announced, I've had my arms folded in stern disapproval, annoyed not because the material is sacred, but for the exact opposite reason. It seemed like the bottom of the barrel. And yet sitting in the theater, watching the chaos and madness that Joe Carnahan orchestrated, it's such well-orchestrated chaos and madness that I stopped thinking about this as a remake or an update or whatever it is, and just started enjoying the lunacy of the ride.
Last week, Universal sent over a van-shaped box set of the original series, which I never really watched as a kid, and I threw on a few episodes. It seems silly to own 100-plus episodes of this, since every one of them seems to be exactly the same. That's what TV used to be... an excuse to watch the exact same thing every week. One of the reasons I actually watch more TV these days is because it's evolved past that, and in some ways, movies are starting to play that role. When people go see a sequel or a remake or a reboot, it's not because they want a brand-new experience... it's because they're chasing the familiar. They want the sensation of watching something new that is the exact same thing, the exact same sensation and feeling that they enjoyed before.
That mechanical fish is freakin' me out
Yep... that's a desert. And not a single chameleon in existential crisis in sight. Or is there?
Credit: Paramount Pictures
According to Paramount, what I'm linking to today isn't technically a teaser trailer. It is "an announcement piece." Now, I'm not familiar with that term, but I guess it's good that they describe this as something other than a trailer, because by any conventional standard, this would fail as a piece of advertising.
Paramount's in an interesting position on this one. After all, "Rango" is the follow-up collaboration of director Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp, the first thing they've done together since the release of the final movie in the "Pirates Of The Caribbean" trilogy. Verbinski intrigues me because despite this enormous financial success of that trilogy, I don't get the feeling he's a mainstream guy at heart. I've met him and spoken to him a few times, and even when he was battling deadlines and dealing with the international salesmanship that goes with making a blockbuster, there was a piece of him that felt like it was watching all of that with bemused detachment.
This project has the vaguest synopsis possible at this point: "The story of a chameleon with an identity crisis." That's all the studio has released. That and a cast list that includes Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, the newly-omnipresent Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Harry Dean Stanton, Ray Winstone, and, most intriguingly, Timothy Olyphant as "The Spirit Of The West," whatever the heck that means.
This preview showcases the twisted relationship at its very funny core
Wait... maybe I'm crazy, but how does John C. Reilly resemble a jaguar? You'll have to watch our exclusive clip from 'Cyrus' to find out.
Credit: Fox Searchlight
I quite liked "Cyrus" when I saw it at Sundance in January, and the more movies I've seen this year, the more I'm convinced that "Cyrus" is something special.
On the surface, the idea of two people locked in a secret antagonistic relationship is an old comedy trope, and John C. Reilly just played a variation on this recently in the Adam McKay film "Step Brothers," where he was pitted against Will Ferrell. That was an overtly ridiculous comedy version of the idea, and worked well. But the Duplass Brothers don't really do the broad comedy thing. Their films are frequently funny, but they are also more grounded in simple observation than in trying to build big comedy set pieces.
"Cyrus" feels a lot like a natural extension of what they did in "The Puffy Chair," and fans of the awkward are going to eat this one up. Reilly plays a decent guy nursing a broken heart who meets a woman played by the good-god-so-hot Marisa Tomei. At first, their relationship seems to be going well, but then Reilly follows her home and realizes she has an adult son who still lives with her. Jonah Hill's work as Cyrus, the overly-dependent son, is flat-out disturbing at times, exactly as it should be, and as Reilly works to build a new life with this woman he loves, Cyrus works overtime to ruin things.
What makes it so much fun to watch someone else do wrong?
Nicolas Cage stars in 'Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans,' one of the odes to bad behavior that is the subject of today's Blu-ray review round-up.
Credit: First Look Pictures
When I say I'll give almost anything a chance, I mean it. The question isn't whether or not I'll watch something I've been sent. The question is when will I get to it.
With much of what I'm sent, that's random chance. I put things in stacks and then just watch my way from top to bottom. What's interesting is when themes emerge over a series of movies that you put on by chance. For example, last week I watched a stack that turned out to be half chick flicks, half anti-social bad behavior. I didn't mean for it to split down the middle like that, but it just worked out. So it makes sense to split the stack in half for review.
Let's start with the bad behavior, because the undeniable truth is that bad behavior is just plain fun. That's why so many movies love to revel in the ridiculously anti-social. These are things we would ever ever do... so why not watch someone else do them?
I'm shocked that "Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans" exists, and that it's even remotely good. The idea of anyone doing a requel to the Abel Ferarra wallow seems pointless. That film was all Catholic guilt and unrelenting squalor, and despite the extreme nature of the material, it was one of the most accessible things that Ferarra ever made, due at least in part to Harvey Keitel's self-eviscerating work in the lead. I guess if you're going to try to follow up that kind of organic freakshow, you've got to pick your ingredients wisely.
The director of 'Fame' and the choreographer for 'Undisputed III' revamp the franchise
This is a good example of what not to expect from a new 'Mortal Kombat' film if today's proof-of-concept leak is anything to go on.
Credit: Midway Entertainment
Since 2001, I've had a "Mortal Kombat 3" listed on my IMDb page. The film's title has changed several times, and the film has had tons of false starts and stops. At various points, I've been in contact with different directors who were temporarily attached to the project, but no one's ever rolled film on it at all.
When I was at ActionFest in Asheville, North Carolina, one film really stood out, a direct-to-video action film called "Undisputed III." I'll have more about that in the next couple of days, but for now, the most important thing about that film is the way Isaac Florentine shot the action, and the way Larnell Stovall choreographed the fights. Stovall is a guy who I think we're going to end up hearing a lot about in the next decade, a guy who has a genuine hunger to change the way action happens on film. He comes from a fight background himself, and as a result, he has very strong ideas about what he wants to see when he looks at fights onscreen.
He's been working in stunts for a while now, and thanks to the buzz that's building from "Undisputed III" and "Bunraku," the upcoming film he also did the choreography for, he's starting to become one of the most in-demand names in town. One of the things Stovall has been doing is proof-of-concept test shoots for possible blockbusters, some big movie geek/comic nerd properties, and I think if he ends up landing these jobs, fans of the material are going to flip out.