Rolled out of bed and started in with films, fresh off the stack, in whatever order they were piled in there. And in order, I watched "Wild" with Reese Witherspoon, Jenny Slate in "Obvious Child," the emotional bulldozer that is "Still Alice," with Julianne Moore, and finally the new Tommy Lee Jones Western that he co-stars in with Hillary Swank, "The Homesman."
I honestly didn't know Chris Rock had this in him.
As a stand-up, Rock is one of the greats. The way he evolved was incredibly impressive, and by the time he released "Bring The Pain," he was in complete command of his craft. He knew how to ride an audience to victory.
On film, though, I don't think Rock has ever even approached mastering things the way he has with live performance. He's done stuff I've enjoyed, and one of the things that made his early work noteworthy was just how extreme he was. His scene in "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka" was one of that film's biggest laughs for me. For literally years afterwards, the thought of "One rib!" would kill me all over again. He got to play with Eddie Murphy in "Boomerang," and I remember being excited to see the two of them in a scene, knowing how huge an influence Eddie was for him. He's good in "CB4." But he's in a lot of films where there was absolutely no sign that anyone knew what to do with him and his particular personality.
I am not sure I expected that watching "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" would lead to my deepest conversation so far with my kids about divorce.
Leave it to Tom Cruise.
Not long ago, Toshi was pushing for more movies about spies. Anything, really. He has been reading about spies since I showed him his first Bond film almost two years ago, and since most of that series is inappropriate for him, he's been chafing, desperate to see something new.
When I was picking up my screeners from the HitFix office yesterday, I started to sort them to try to decide what I would watch first, and I put "Locke," Steven Knight's film starring Tom Hardy, near the top of the stack.
Things change quickly sometimes, and that was certainly the case this week for me. Instead of heading to London, I found myself stymied when it came to actually laying hands on my passport. Even now, two days later, I have no idea where it went, so I am in LA enjoying the rains and making my last big push to catch up on films before we lock our top ten lists for the year here at HitFix.
While Zack Snyder is busy playing with the most recognizable action figures in the Warner Bros. playset, it appears that David Ayer is the one making the most unlikely DC film announced so far, with a cast that is, frankly, insane.
There have been rumors about who might play what for several months now, but today, it appears to be official, and I am genuinely surprised. I know that there are three names that end up on any short list at Warner at this point, and I assumed that's why we heard their names in the mix on this movie. Instead, all three of them are actually in the film, and Ayer is suddenly the guy in charge of what could be one of the biggest and strangest movies of the modern comic book era.
Every once in a while, I open an e-mail and just start laughing at what kind of opportunities I'm given.
When someone asks if you want to spend time with Ryan O'Neal, Malcolm McDowell, and Leon Vitali to discuss working with Stanley Kubrick, there's only one correct answer to that. Of course. Absolutely. The interview was arranged to help promote the release of "Stanley Kubrick: The Masterpiece Collection," a new Blu-ray box set that includes eight of his films, a new documentary about the legendary filmmaker, a new hardcover book, and a whole mess of extra features that have been assembled from other earlier releases.
One of the hardest things to find to recommend to people are films that impart genuinely good messages or role models for girls. One of my best friends is raising a daughter who is an engaged film fan, and it was a real treat to be able to invite them to the "Mockingjay" premiere recently. For the most part, though, it doesn't feel like Hollywood has them in mind when its creating most of the big genre fare that's released each year, and finding something that I can pass along can sometimes feel like an exercise in futility.
When Angelina Jolie got the job directing "Unbroken," the new film about Louie Zamperini and his WWII experience, she immediately started hiring the very best people she could possibly hire. Roger Deakins is her photographer. The score is by Alexandre Desplat. William Goldenberg and Tim Squyres cut it. Designed by Jon Hutman. And the list of screenwriters who share final credit for adapting the book by Laura "Seabiscuit" Hillenbrand? Amazing. A murderer's row. Joel and Ethan Coen. Richard LaGravenese. William Nicholson. Nuclear force talent.
Here's where I tell you that I have not read Hillenbrand's book, nor was I especially familiar with Zamperini's story before I sat down in the theater yesterday. Anything I write, I'm writing about the film and the way his story is presented here, not about the real guy, who evidently touched a lot of lives. I want to be clear about that because it always feels like a tricky line to walk when you're talking about based-on-a-true-story movies. When I look at the collaborators that Jolie put together or I read any interview she's given about the film, her passion for the material is clear, and she seems to genuinely adore Zamperini. No doubt about it.
We recently brought a new editor-in-chief in here at Hitfix, and when we were talking in our first meeting, I mentioned the idea of doing more short-form blogging. He responded immediately, and I gave him examples of things that were worth discussing , but that aren't really enough for a longer article.
One of those examples was something I meant to write up the next day, and I forgot completely until "American Sniper" showed up in the stack of screeners I've got here at the house. I immediately put the movie on and then fast-forwarded through the film to find the scene that totally took me out of the movie when I saw it at AFI Fest.