Welcome back to The Morning Read.
As if a trip to Area 51 and a film festival wasn't already disruptive enough to my regular schedule, I managed to get a sinus infection that has laid me flat for the past few days and that has been one of the most painful experiences of my adult life. Then there was a flooding incident that ruined my office in the house yesterday and most of my books, so I lost an entire day to trying to salvage what I could from all of that. Even so, I've been working through most of it, and we'll have some great video interviews for "Sucker Punch" and "Source Code" coming up this week, as well as the rest of my South By Southwest coverage.
First, though, let's jump back in and see what's going on out there on the rest of the Internet. It's been a tumultuous couple of weeks, and there's a lot of ground to cover. There has been casting news I've missed during the festival, but it all feels vaguely anti-climactic to me. It's momentarily interesting to hear what role Joseph Gordon Levitt might be playing in "The Dark Knight Rises," but how much do I really want to know about that film this far away from its production, much less its release? And I'll be writing more about "Hunger Games" later today, so I'm glad to hear Jennifer Lawrence is officially onboard as the lead, but that's hardly the entire puzzle, so I'm not feeling the breathless excitement I've seen in some of the reporting of it. And while I'm glad to hear that production has finally started on "The Hobbit," and it's nice to Peter Jackson up and around and looking healthy, it's familiar and a return to something. It doesn't electrify me the way something genuinely new does. It's just a nice confirmation of something that's been in the works forever.
So what is going on out there? What's going to shake me from my stupor so I can start this week the right way?
Welcome back to The Morning Read.
So I'm guessing this has to be the final trailer for "Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," right? I mean, we're just around the corner from the film's release, and it seems like this is the one where they finally lay out as much of the story as they're going to before we actually see the film.
It seems to be fashionable to retroactively hate this film series at this point, or to roll your eyes at the return of Capt. Jack Sparrow, but I generally enjoyed all three of the films that Gore Verbinski made, and I like the source material they're using this time for the underlying structure of this latest chapter. Tim Powers is a hell of a writer, and his book "On Stranger Tides" offers a lot of opportunities for Elliott and Rossio to build off of as screenwriters.
For me, the biggest question mark about the entire endeavor is Rob Marshall. I'm not the biggest fan of his work as a director, and I think these films require a very particular type of energy if you're going to get them right. I'm certainly willing to give him a chance, and I hope this is the film of his I like the most.
I like the idea that Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) has sold out to the crown and is now working as an official representative of the British Navy. It creates a brand new tension between him and Sparrow that can be a lot of fun depending on how they play it. And in this trailer, it seems that Blackbeard (an ideally cast Ian McShane) has taken possession of the Black Pearl, raising the stakes between him and Sparrow. Throw in the fact that it seems Sparrow put it to Blackbeard's daughter (Penelope Cruz) at some point in the past, and there's all sorts of dynamics to keep things interesting.
Believe it or not, the thing that I've always enjoyed the most about the "Fast and the Furious" movies is the sound. I was a student post production sound mixer back in school, and I've always had an appreciation for a good sound design and a good mix. There's something about sitting in a dark theater watching a movie with a soundtrack that mostly consists of rumbling engines and tires squealing in Dolby all around my head for an hour and a half that just brings a smile to my face.
The part of a movie that has the least to do with sound is its poster, (How's that for a clumsy segue?) and "Fast Five" just put out a new one that focuses more on the actors than the cars.
The One-sheet consists mostly of Rio's sky-blue skies with the cast posed in various states of action across the bottom, this poster invokes more of a collage feeling than anything, as the actors do not appear to be inhabiting the same space.
While Drew's away at SXSW, rubbing elbows with the hip elite and eating amazing BBQ (sob!) I'm back here editing his video interviews and subsequently, in the case of "Source Code" having my movie experience pre-ruined by all the spoilers I'm hearing from the likes of Vera Farmiga and Michelle Monaghan in their respective interviews. Ok, we'll they're not spoilers per-se, but I think I know much more than I would like to about the film.
And now the studio has released the first five minutes of the film to get you hooked.
I haven't watched this. I don't plan to either. I'm a huge fan of Duncan Jones' 'Moon' and my enthusiasm has been building to see this one. So I apologize in advance if there's any problems with the video, I haven't checked it for glitches. I'm just putting it up here for those of you who don't care, or are just too curious to wait for it the theater. We'll have some great interviews coming up next week, which you may or may not wish to watch as well. The one with Jake Gyllenhaal and Duncan Jones will be definitely spoiler-free and I highly recommend it. Watch the film embedded after the jump.
And just like that, Aronofsky is off of "The Wolverine" and on to whatever is next.
My guess is he won't be franchise hunting like he was before the release of "Black Swan." I get it. When he signed on to do "The Wolverine," Aronofsky was still a filmmaker in need of a hit. No matter how good his films have been, and I've been a fan of all of them, he was not a money-maker for any of the studios yet, and that can be problematic when you have big-canvass films you want to make.
Him signing on to do "The Wolverine" looked to me like a guy following up several personal choices with a movie that looked like as safe a commercial choice as possible. I believe he would make a very good "Wolverine" film, particularly with Hugh Jackman aboard, and that he has a real affinity for the material that would result in something honestly exciting.
But since he signed on, "Black Swan" became a legitimate box-office hit. A huge one. And for the first time ever, Aronofsky finds himself in a position of strength as he starts trying to develop his next film. It's like he got all the benefits of making a "Wolverine" movie without having to actually make the film.
Jodie Foster has been part of film as long as I've been paying attention. She's eight years older than I am, so by the time I was paying attention to movies at all, she was already working and familiar and established, a regular guest star on every show on TV, it seemed. I saw her in movies like "Tom Sawyer" and "Bugsy Malone" and "Freaky Friday," and once I got a little bit older, I started seeing her in other films like "Taxi Driver" and "The Little Girl Who Lived Down The Lane" and "Foxes" and "Carny," and she was constantly working with interesting people and on interesting films, and she seemed like an adult from the moment she stepped in front of a camera, no matter how old she was. Once she started directing, it seemed like a natural step, and "Little Man Tate" is a lovely debut movie, sweet but not sentimental, shot through with deep feeling and a love of performance. Then four years later, she returned to it with "Home For The Holidays." And then…
Sixteen years. That's a huge layoff between movies. Not by choice, either. She's had false starts and dead ends. She's produced movies for other people. She's acted. She's stayed involved. But until now, she's been silent as a director, and her return to the job made its premiere tonight at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas. It was one of the last two films I saw at the fest, and I did my best to walk into it cold, without any sense of what I was going to see. I've never watched the trailer for the film, and I saw one poster for it at the Summit offices last year, before Comic-Con. At that point, Summit seemed very happy with the movie, confident that they had something special on their hands.
Disney loves to tease out their press materials and have done so yet again with two new posters for "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides." The first, a "teaser payoff" shows Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, standing heroically in front of a montage of elements from the film: on his left, some mermaids on a rock, behind him on his right, a ship on fire (ooh! and another mermaid in the water.)
In the second one, meant for bus stops, we have Johnny Depp as Sparrow again, although this is a "big head" medium shot, and he's looking straight at us. I would hazard to say it's the same boat on fire in the background, although much farther away. (I would say he's being smart to get away from it, it's gun powder stores could go off!)
Interesting to note how sober and heroic the poster version's of Captain Sparrow are compared to the Ozzy-like character that Depp brings to the screen. Check out the two posters embedded after the fold.
I first met Greg Mottola sitting behind the monitor in video village on the side of a small suburban street in Northridge, California, where he was hard at work on his new film "Superbad," and we hit it off immediately. He's an incredibly easy guy to talk to, warm and smart and funny, and the same qualities that I see in him as a person are the qualities that I see in his films.
Something like "Superbad" or "Adventureland" or "Paul" could easily be plastic comedy noise machines that the studios specialize in, but Mottola imbues his films with a deeply-felt humanity. Even when they trade in high concepts, his films still deliver a very fundamental human punch, and it makes them stick in a way that many films can't.
I spoke to him again during Sundance the year "Adventureland" came out, and at that point, he was already gearing up to work on "Paul," and we talked a little bit about the challenges ahead, and not only for him, but also for whoever he was going to hire to bring the character of Paul to life.
Now that he's on the other side of the experience, I was excited to sit down with him to discuss that process, and while I had some other things planned, that's basically the whole conversation we had. That's the way it works sometimes. You can sit down with an agenda, but if a conversation unfolds naturally, you're not really going to control it, and that's the case with this one.
Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne play young couple stuck in the worst possible nightmare for parents: their young boy is unconscious from a household accident, but his doctors do not know how to wake him up. Add to this strange and supernatural events happening around him when he's home and you have the material for a parental mental breakdown. The two have to come to terms with the reality of their situation in their own way, and either accept it or fight it
Of course this familiar territory explored in such classic films as 'The Exorcist" and "Poltergeist," but the emotions of the situation are so primal, that they rarely fail to enthrall us. In these four clips from the film you can see how thick director James Wan (Saw) builds the tension even though nothing exceptionally supernatural going on in any of them. Each clip draws its power from pure parental protectiveness.
AUSTIN - I wanted to get the quote exactly right, so I went back tonight to look up my review of the 2004 film "Torque." I never reviewed the movie when it came out, probably because it stunned me silent. But at the end of the year, it topped my list of the worst films released that year, and my entire published work regarding the first film by music video wunderkind Joseph Kahn consisted of two sentences: "Joseph Kahn should be tried for war crimes against my eyes and the laws of physics. On the positive side, this may well be the highest-budget film ever directed by a retarded person."
I know it bothered him at the time because I heard from him, and he was very clear and very angry. But after he called me, I never really thought about "Torque" again. It's not a film I've revisited, or that occupies any real space in pop culture at this point. At the time, it was supposed to make Joseph Kahn into a major big-budget guy. There was a fair amount of talk at the time that they were going to hand him "Superman" after he wrapped up on "Torque." That's how confident Warner Bros. was while they were watching dailies roll in. Instead, he dropped back off the feature film world map completely until this week, when his new indie film "Detention" made its premiere as part of the SXSW Film Festival.