Plus are you ready for the vocal stylings of 'Pimps Don't Cry'?
A new arrival just as a vacation kicks off means explanations are in order
I'm going to take a vacation.
It's strange to even type that, because vacations are illusory in my world. I find it hard to switch off the machinery of my daily life in a way that would genuinely mark something as a real vacation. The last times I think I pulled that off were in Hawaii with my wife before Toshi was born and then right after he was born. Those two times, I think, were my most successful vacations, and I look forward to taking a full week with my kids and my wife to enjoy some downtime before they leave on an extended trip to Argentina and I kick off trips to Toronto, Fantastic Fest, and the fall movie season.
Since we launched HitFix and my own Motion/Captured blog back in December of '08, I've watched the readership grow, and the site itself has slowly but surely added new faces and voices to the mix. It's been an exciting process so far, building out Team HitFix, and when we take a trip en masse to an event like Sundance or Comic-Con, it's a nice reminder of how strong a team that can be.
We've just added one more new name to that roster, and I want to introduce him to you before I leave on vacation, because you're going to start seeing his name here on the blog, as well as other places on the site. He's not completely new to the site... he's been doing most of our video editing for a while now, and he's definitely someone we all feel comfortable welcoming to the team.
Want to understand it all? HitFix has your in-depth guide
In the rush to either canonize or crucify Christopher Nolan in the last few weeks, most people have carefully avoided major spoilers. To be fair, even the film's harshest critics have been vague in terms of spoiler-heavy conversation.
Now it's out. Now you've had a way to see it. You've had time to see it. You've got a chance now to be part of the conversation, and that's exactly what I want. I want you to engage. The film wants you to engage. That's part of the point of the piece. And since this is such a dense text, we'll break this into a few pieces today and tomorrow, and with each piece, divide it into sections that represent separate movements.
This isn't a review in the same way my last piece was. We're starting here from the given that I really like and respect the film, and I was definitely affected by it. In talking about it, I'm going to use the character names. We're not talking film craft here, except as it affects storytelling. This is a conversation about the very nature of the story that's being told. At dinner recently, there were several of us talking, and we were split on "there's a set way to read the film" and "it's all meant to keep you speculating," and even that split suggests what a great dense text Nolan has put together, and how rich the conversation about it can be.
But it was a rare case of me not really being able to quantify or explain the impact it had on me. Almost everyone I talked to about the film thought I didn't like it because of the tone or the body language of whatever I told them. I was still chewing on it, and I realized I would need to see it a second time. I picked a 10:45 show near my house. Three minute drive. When I bought my ticket, there were still 650 tickets available, according to the girl I asked, "Is it busy?" I went to the very top right of the auditorium, where there was a single seat, with no attached seats, close enough to the exit that I could use the light there to see, and no one would be bothered behind me if I took some notes.
Keep in mind... my "Twilight: Eclipse" review got 174,370 comments (approx.), so please... don't let that film spark more conversation than "Inception." Please. I'll be crushed if people are more willing to argue with me about the sexual politics in a series about a high school girl in love with a vampire than they are the meaning and the narrative gamesmanship of Nolan's latest.
How my time as a Universal tour guide finally paid off
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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.