Let me ask you this: why would Christopher Nolan bring "The Dark Knight Rises" to Comic-Con?
Forget about a full-blown screening of the film, which is never going to happen. Warner Bros. isn't going to show 10,000 people something they know those 10,000 people are going to see a week later at $15 a pop. That's just math. But regarding a panel for the film, what would make anyone think that with his final film, following up one of the most successful films of all time, Nolan would suddenly change his entire game-plan and show up with his cast and clips and answer questions?
To be clear, the rumor started to spread last week that Warner Bros. was planning a secret Comic-Con panel for the film, and as the rumor grew, it eventually became "AND THEY ARE SCREENING THE MOVIE, TOO!"
Nope. Not true. Neither one of those things is happening.
Let me ask you this: why would Christopher Nolan bring "The Dark Knight Rises" to Comic-Con?
When you write about entertainment all day every day, you tend to get caught up in minutiae, and it leads to editorial decisions I would call questionable. When you're writing breathless headlines about Pez dispensers, you may be working too hard to find relevance in the irrelevant. Getting hung up on the micro often prevents us from focusing on the macro, but I'd like to take the opportunity to take a step back from time to time to examine 'The Bigger Picture.'
There have been two stories developing this week that fascinate me because of what they seem to suggest about the larger world of media and the way the audience is starting to truly drive the major choices being made.
Last night, I was thinking about these two stories, about the controversy surrounding the ending of "Mass Effect 3" and the reboot of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," and I was watching reports stream in about the crowds turning out at theaters for the midnight screenings of "The Hunger Games," and it all seems to be further proof that we are in the midst of The Age Of Fan-Fiction.
Bryan Cranston spent the last two weeks on the set of the new film 'Get A Job,' and was just getting ready to leave for the set of "Breaking Bad" when a group of reporters sat down with him to discuss his role in the film. In the middle of the interview, he confessed to having serious disagreements with director Tony Kaye, most famous for fighting with Edward Norton on the set of "American History X."
In trying to frame a question about how Cranston picks his projects now that he's not worrying about financial stability, one of the reporters brought up the example of "Detachment," a new film that is on VOD now, and rolling out in a limited release this week in a few cities theatrically. He told Cranston he loved the movie and then started to ask his question.
"Wait," Cranston said, "did you like 'Detachment'?"
Bryan Cranston may have been sporting a full head of hair on the set of the new film "Get A Job" this week, but that won't last long. The actor is on a plane today to return to the Albuquerque location of his critically-acclaimed hit show, "Breaking Bad," and sounds thrilled to be getting back to work as Walter White.
During a conversation with a group of reporters visiting the set of the comedy, Cranston was asked about the difference between building a character like White over several years of a television show and on a film where he has significantly less running time to make an impression. "I'm so excited. I finish this Thursday night, my last day, and then I'm on a plane Friday morning. I buzz my head over the weekend. And then we're in front of the cameras on 'Breaking Bad' on Monday."
I would assume that for some people, the kick that comes from seeing "The Sweatbox" is because they know Walt Disney Pictures really doesn't want you to see the film.
I'm excited to see it show up online today because I think it offers a rare honest look at a development process that is anything but easy. So often, even when you see what is called a "detailed" making-of film, what you're seeing has been sanitized to show you the triumphs of filmmaking without dwelling on the defeats.
That's nonsense, though, and it does a disservice to the people who work on these movies. You have to be willing to get things wrong in service of eventually getting them right, and that means you have to be willing to make mistakes and try some bad ideas and, in general, screw things up. That's really the only way to get to the great stuff, no matter how talented a team you're dealing with.
This makes me happy on so many levels.
I may not write about him as frequently as some of my other favorite filmmakers, but David Cronenberg is very near the top of the list of working directors whose work is important to me. He's got one of the great voices in movies, and I look forward to each new film he makes. I didn't particularly like "A Dangerous Method," but the rare one-off from him doesn't make me any less fond of the vast majority of his body of work.
When they announced that he was adapting Don DeLillo's "Cosmopolis" into a film, it was exciting because the author's voice is so distinct and strong that watching Cronenberg insert his own perspective into that material seemed like an exciting creative cocktail. So far, DeLillo's work has pretty heartily resisted film adaptation, but there was a time where I would have said the same about William S. Burroughs and J.G. Ballard, and Cronenberg did pretty well by both of those guys.
I will admit that I walked into "The FP" ready to love it.
After all, it's being released by Drafthouse Films, and I'm a big fan in principle. After all, this is a company that was formed by Tim League to release "Four Lions" when no one else in America had the balls. And having known Tim for the better part of fifteen years, I know that our taste doesn't always align, but that more often than not, we do enjoy the same sort of weird.
So I found myself depressed when, about a half-hour into "The FP," which Drafthouse Films is currently rolling out in limited release, with more theaters being added this weekend, I realized that not only did I not love it, but I was impatient for it to end. The film feels to me like a short film stretched way past the breaking point, which makes sense, because it started as a short film.
I am fascinated by Reggie Watts. I don't even know if I'd describe him as a comedian, because his live shows are such an original mix of music and humor and attitude, and there's no one else I can point to who does what he does.
One of my favorite moments in the LCD Soundsystem documentary "Shut Up And Play The Hits," which I absolutely recommend to you, is when Reggie Watts shows up during that final Madison Square Garden performance to collaborate on a song. It's just amazing to see how Watts can build this wall of sound that drops into what James Murphy and the band do so well, and it makes the case for Watts as far more than "just" a comedian.
Ridley Scott's "Legend" is an absolutely gorgeous movie, but as a film, it's wildly uneven and occasionally stone-cold silly. I still remember the afternoon I saw it the first time, and my friend and I who saw it together ended up yelling at each other because of how differently we processed it. He really bought into the world of the film and thought it was a great accomplishment regardless of the script, while I couldn't really get past some of the things that I think hobble the film.
One of the interesting side effects of being at a film festival, especially one that lasts longer than a week, is that you become unstuck in time. You stay so busy that the outside world sort of recedes completely. I came up for air a few times during SXSW, but for the most part, it was the rest of Team HitFix that was dealing with breaking news and posting new trailers. I missed quite a few of them, and when I realized that, I thought I'd go back and catch up.
I know I talked to people at SXSW about that Japanese "Avengers" trailer, and it's certainly worth some conversation. It's interesting that the Japanese trailer just plain reveals the alien invasion aspect of the film that the American campaign has so carefully hidden. There's a lot more material here, including an appearance by Pepper Potts that surprised me. Until now, I wasn't 100% sure she was even in the film.
There's more of an emphasis on both Hawkeye and The Black Widow here, and we finally see Cobie Smulders, who I hear is one of the surprise highlights of the film. All in all, this is a great sneak peek at the film, and now that I've seen it, I don't want to see anything else until I see it all put together.
There is something about hockey that lends itself naturally to comedy when someone makes a film about it. "Slap Shot" is one of the best sports films of the '70s, and even today, it holds up because there's something authentic about the world it creates. I think it's the casual brutality of the sport that makes it so cinematic, and the script that was adapted by Jay Baruchel & Evan Goldberg from the novel by Adam Frattasio & Doug Smith feels like a perfect fit for the comic gifts of director Michael Dowse.
I don't understand how Dowse is still marginalized. I'm late to the game, but when I caught up with "Fubar" and "Fubar: Balls To The Wall" and realized they were both from the same director as "It's All Gone Pete Tong," it was one of those moments where I suddenly realized I'm a fan of someone and didn't even know it. I'm guessing part of what roadblocked him professionally was the film "Take Me Home Tonight," which started life as "Kids In America" before it sat on a shelf for a few years. Anytime you have a film that flames out like that, no matter what the reason, it can have a huge impact on your career.