Inside Movies & DVD with Drew McWeeny
Comedy includes another great summer of 2010 turn for Michael Keaton
One day, I hope the Smithsonian has an exhibit that features the brain of Adam McKay in a jar, because I truly think his grey matter is a national treasure.
He has a relatively short filmography as a director, and each of his four feature films seems to me to be a further exploration of certain types of characters and conversations. "Anchorman," "Talladega Nights," "Step Brothers," and now "The Other Guys"... McKay is drawn to characters living these outsized lives, turned to their very own radios. He's explored the psyche of the wildly successful jackass in his first two films, and with "Step Brothers," he examined the permanently arrested jackass. One would expect, then that "The Other Guys" is just a new variation on the same thing, giving the jackass a gun this time. But since one of the first things the movie does is take away one character's gun, even that isn't quite what you're going to get. Just when you think he's going to zig, McKay just made a major zag.
Will Troy Nixey be next year's breakout director?
Almost half a year ago, from Horrorfest 2009, Drew proclaimed that Troy Nixey, a comic book artist with only a single short film under his belt, would be next years breakout director. There is really no way to tell if he's right from this creepy, but extremely brief teaser trailer.
But honestly, who am I kidding? It's a Guillermo Del Toro project, and he's definitely earned my trust over the years.
Based on a 1973 made for Television creature feature, "Don't Be Afraid Of the Dark," is a project that Del Toro has been developing for a while, producing and also co-writing the script. The story revolves around a family (Guy Pierce, Katie Holmes and Bailee Madison) that moves into an old house already inhabited by diminutive nasties with a penchant for childrens teeth. Yikes.
Del Toro and Nixey screened some footage at Comic-Con which managed to make a very large room full of people jump simultaneously. Some of said footage is included in this teaser, and Guillermo himself was very excited about it when he spoke to us.
The comedy director talks test screenings, Blake Edwards, and SNL
Jay Roach has been making movies for almost exactly as long as I've been writing about them online. The first "Austin Powers" was one of the movies I wrote about in the early days of Ain't It Cool News, and the first test screening of that film is still one of my favorite test screenings I've ever been to.
When I saw "Dinner For Schmucks" a few weeks ago, I was one of the first to do so, and they put me on the phone with Jay Roach the next day. Our conversation started as an interview about his film, but since this is the first time we've spoken after 13 years of me writing about his work, at some point he started asking me questions. It's a loose free-roaming chat, and it was nice to finally talk to him. I hope I speak to him again for the "Saturday Night At The Movies" column, but for now, this was a great first encounter:
Plus are you ready for the vocal stylings of 'Pimps Don't Cry'?
Someone will eventually make a subtle adult comedy with Will Ferrell playing a character who will closely resemble the real Will Ferrell, and when that happens, that filmmaker will be acclaimed for his amazing vision. It's just a matter of time. He's almost always funny in person, but in a smart, quiet way that is totally unlike his screen persona. He's got a wry verbal wit that can be easily overlooked by people more familiar with the outrageous comic performances he's perfected over the years.
When we sat down to discuss his new film, "The Other Guys," it was still a week before the Comic-Con panel for "Megamind" that I moderated. It was the first time seeing Will in a while, and although it was a quick conversation, it was a fun one:
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.