<p>Richard Pryor's first concert film, still one of the best comedy performances ever recorded, was a highlight of the 2010 vintage programming at the Butt-Numb-A-Thon in Austin</p>

Richard Pryor's first concert film, still one of the best comedy performances ever recorded, was a highlight of the 2010 vintage programming at the Butt-Numb-A-Thon in Austin

Credit: MPI Home Video

Review: BNAT vintage line-up offers Richard Pryor, 'Hunchback', rare Welles and Ronald Reagan

A front-loaded vintage line-up was every bit as exciting as this year's sneaks

AUSTIN, TX - One of the things that I've always found most irritating at Butt-Numb-A-Thon is when a vintage title begins to play and someone gets up to leave the theater, thinking it's okay to miss "the old ones."

Well, "the old ones" are the point.  Anyone can call a studio and ask to see a movie that's coming out in a week or a month or next year, but it is incredibly personal and revealing to program at least five or six vintage titles every year, and in some years, even more than that.  If you want to know someone's real movie taste and get some sense of the breadth of their knowledge, ask them to recommend six films for you from before 1980.  Tell them to do it quickly, without looking.  Ask them for specific genres.  Ask them to program to a theme.  You'll know who they are very quickly, and it's bound to lead to a great conversation.

As a result, I find that I spend my pre-BNAT anticipation trying to guess how Harry might build his program around a central idea, and inevitably, the enjoyment of seeing a flawless print of something unexpected and beloved on a bigscreen with an audience of friends is the thing that really sticks with me after each year's festival.  That's the thing… it's a personal event.  It's a birthday party.  So a big part of the festival's kick-off each year is a sort of roast-atmosphere greeting by Tim League that somehow involves the active humiliation of our dear friend Jeff Mahler.  Jeff is old-school Ain't It Cool.  Family.  And the epic-level teasing at this point has just become legendary to witness.  We enjoyed a stuttering insult comic named Gravy at the start of the fest, and later, Jeff was served a disturbing dessert that he proceeded to pelt several of us with.  The later it gets, the weirder it gets at BNAT.  Last year's videotape of various Hollywood figures roasting Harry was amazingly raw, and it feels like each year, the ante gets upped.

Read Full Post
<p>Patrick Dempsey is part of the ensemble cast in Rob Minkoff's bank robbery film 'Flypaper,' one of three late additions to the 2011 Sundance Film Festival</p>

Patrick Dempsey is part of the ensemble cast in Rob Minkoff's bank robbery film 'Flypaper,' one of three late additions to the 2011 Sundance Film Festival

Credit: The Safran Company

Sundance adds Miranda July, Ashley Judd, Patrick Dempsey to 2011 festival

Late additions sound like must-sees

When the line-up for the 2011 Sundance Film Festival was announced recently, there wasn't much that immediately jumped out at me, which is not to say that I'm calling it a bad line-up.  There's just a whole lot of "I'm not sure what that is" on the schedule, which i like.  I'd rather go into the festival and be surprised repeatedly than just go with a checklist of titles that are pre-ordained.

Just a few minutes ago, a press release arrived in our e-mail inbox from the Sundance Press Office, and they've added three last-minute titles to the schedule, with some immediately interesting descriptions for the films and some recognizable names attached.

Miranda July's "Me and You And Everyone We Know" is a divisive film, and I'm on the side of the "Liked it" camp.  She's an interesting voice, and "The Future" sounds pretty great, as does the Alison Ellwood and Alex Gibney documentary about the Merry Pranksters.  Throw in Rob Minkoff, director of big giant megablockuster "The Lion King," working in the "bank robbery gone wrong" genre, and this is a pretty cool little boost to the line-up.

Read Full Post
<p>Someone's punching someone, and I'm buying popcorn to watch it happen when 'Fast Five' hits theaters in April</p>

Someone's punching someone, and I'm buying popcorn to watch it happen when 'Fast Five' hits theaters in April

Credit: Universal

Watch: Vin Diesel butts heads with Dwayne Johnson in 'Fast Five' trailer debut

Does the fifth film in the series suggest new life in the aging franchise?

I feel like I've spent an uncommon amount of time with Dwayne Johnson this year, even for people who play the publicity game, but that may just be a sign that Johnson's career has finally kicked into overdrive.  I saw him in Hawaii last month, and then about six weeks before that, I visited him in Atlanta, where he was finishing up production on "Fast Five," the newest entry in the "Fast and the Furious" franchise.

Johnson is, of course, the newest cast member to join the ever-expanding ensemble that makes up the ongoing "Fast" crew.  I'm fascinated by the way Universal took this sort of underdog little first film, a movie that no one expected anything from, and is now finishing up on this, the fifth film, with no signs of slowing down.  I'm also impressed by the way Justin Lin has become the David Yates of this series, coming in late and then pretty much taking the series over.  He made "Tokyo Drift," then "Fast and Furious," and now he's the man who is bringing Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel together for what could easily be the largest scale of the films so far.

Set primarily in Rio this time, the story focuses on an international team headed by Johnson tasked with tracking down and capturing the team led by Paul Walker and Vin Diesel, as well as many other returning cast members from all four of the previous films.  Loyalties will shift, truths will be revealed, very large men will most likely beat hell out of each other, and, in the words of Johnson…

"And above all else, you don't ever ever let them get into cars."

Read Full Post
<p>Jon Favreau directs Robert Downey Jr. and Don Cheadle on the set of Iron Man 2</p>

Jon Favreau directs Robert Downey Jr. and Don Cheadle on the set of Iron Man 2

Credit: Parmount Pictures/Marvel Studios

Confirmed: Jon Favreau won't return for 'Iron Man 3'

Question is: Who broke up with whom?

Jon Favreau, who's recently been making making the rounds with his work in progress, the stand-alone sci-fi-in-a-western "Cowboys and Aliens" has informed Marvel Studios/Disney that he won't be back to direct a third installment of "Iron Man." Vulture reports that insiders say Favreau has been frustrated with the direction that marvel wanted to go for the film, insisting that it tie in with other Marvel titles such as "Thor" "The Incredible Hulk" and "The Avengers." The Director told MTV News recently that the production company's concepts of the film version of the Marvel Universe were not very clear to him, saying "This whole world… I have no idea what it is. I don't think they do either.."

Still others speculate that Favreau's growing price tag may have been the cause for the split, and that Disney/Marvel was looking to contain their costs and wouldn't mind a less expensive director at the helm. Star Robert Downey Jr. Does have Director approval, however, and may complicate things. As of now the project is slated to go ahead no matter who's directing and hit theaters on May 3rd of 2013, necessitating a shooting start date of early 2012 if not before.

Favreau confirmed this news thought his twitter account (@Jon_Favreau) saying "It's true, I'm directing Magic Kingdom, not Iron Man 3. I've had a great run with Marvel and wish them the best." Meaning that he's definitely not breaking up with Disney any time soon, as "Magic Kingdom," is a Disney movie that takes place in Disneyland.

Read Full Post
<p>Rango loves his Mr. Timms, and I'm betting so will audiences when 'Rango' is released in March</p>

Rango loves his Mr. Timms, and I'm betting so will audiences when 'Rango' is released in March

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Watch: New 'Rango' trailer sells the comedy and the story even more

Johnny Depp is the perfect man to play this frantic lizard, evidently

There's a distinct possibility that the first film my younger son Allen sees in the theater will be Gore Verbinski's "Rango."

For one thing, it comes out on his third birthday.  That's convenient.  That wouldn't matter, except he's obsessed with the first trailer for the movie.  And I have to agree with him that it's one of the more arresting, interesting movie trailers I've seen in a while.  Visually, the film is unusual and striking and you almost need to see the trailer a few times just to get a handle on what you're looking at.  But it's the comedy that he's smitten with, and he'll act the trailer out every time.  He walks into my office, gives me a solemn, "Dad, play the lizard and the bird," and then plop himself onto my knee, waiting.

Every single time through, he would pretend to be a cactus when Rango would pretend to be a cactus, and then giggle like he was being tickled.  I love seeing him fall for something, openly adore something like that.  And it makes me love "Rango" right away.

Read Full Post
<p>Seth Rogen and Jay Chou prove to be a winning combination in Michel Gondry's fast and funny 'The Green Hornet'</p>

Seth Rogen and Jay Chou prove to be a winning combination in Michel Gondry's fast and funny 'The Green Hornet'

Credit: Sony Pictures Worldwide

Review: BNAT 12 features early looks at 'Rango,' 'Cowboys and Aliens,' 'Green Hornet' and more

From short glimpses to full features with a side trip for IMAX, fest delivers on the sneaks

AUSTIN, TX - With programming ranging from a short look at one scene from Gore Verbinski's psychedelic animated Western "Rango" to an extended 40-minute sneak of "Cowboys and Aliens" to the full-length premiere screenings of "True Grit," "The Fighter," "TRON: Legacy," and "The Green Hornet," this year's Butt-Numb-A-Thon was packed with sneak preview material.

It's hard to believe it's been 12 years now that Ain't It Cool News and the Alamo Drafthouse have been throwing this annual birthday party/nerd extravaganza for Harry Knowles.  I still remember the original late night phone calls with Harry talking about his dreams for the thing.  Originally, the idea was that you'd pay a low price of $25 to get in, but as the 24 hours wore on, the programming would become intentionally more punishing, and anyone who wanted out early had to pay, and the earlier you left, the more it would cost.  The original poster for the first festival played into the idea that once we locked those doors, you were in for a wild ride programmed by a dangerous crazy person.  Very quickly, though, BNAT developed into a very special event, a combination of very personal vintage programming, practical jokes, endurance tests, and, yes, sneak premieres of some of the biggest films of the year.

Read Full Post
Watch: Michael Sheen and Beau Garrett talk 'Tron: Legacy'

Watch: Michael Sheen and Beau Garrett talk 'Tron: Legacy'

Both approaches to roles as 'programs' as different as their characters

When we last spoke to Michael Sheen at at Comic Con in July, not a lot was known about his character Castor, nor exactly how he fit into the story of the film. But Mr. Sheen spoke so enthusiastically about the project, it was obvious that he was a "Tron nerd." He spoke of keeping his "11 year old self" happy by doing the film.

Cut to half a year later and his enthusiasm is in no way muted. Sitting down with his beautiful costar, Beau Garrett, we find that Sheen was highly involved in the development of his character and his look. "It was great to be a part of that and influence the direction the character went" says sheen.

Beau Garrett, on the other hand, stepped onto a much more wholly formed concept in her part as the siren Gem. "It was an idea Joe (director Joseph Kosinski) had had for a long time. I sort of got to jump into something that was already created." said the actress.

Read Full Post
<p>Penelope Cruz, Johnny Depp, and Ian McShane all star in next summer's 'Pirates Of The Caribbean:&nbsp;On Stranger Tides'Wa</p>

Penelope Cruz, Johnny Depp, and Ian McShane all star in next summer's 'Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides'Wa

Credit: Walt Disney Company

Watch: 'Pirates 4' trailer promises Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz, mermaids, zombies, and more

First look at the mega-sequel gives some hint of the film's grand scope

If I had been back from Austin in time this morning, I would have gone to Disneyland to see the crazy party that Disney threw for the premiere of the "Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" trailer.  How do I know it was crazy if I wasn't there?  Because it's Disney, and when they want to impress upon you that something of theirs is an event, there's no one who can do it bigger.  And in the case of this particular film, Disney's making one of the biggest bets they've ever made as a studio, and seeing it pay off is of utmost importance.

After all, Gore Verbinski was the director of all three of the "Pirates Of The Caribbean" films, and he's just as much a part of their success as Johnny Depp's work as Captain Jack Sparrow is.  The films are all, even if you're not crazy about how overstuffed they get, remarkably built pop entertainments.  That sort of stuff doesn't come natural to every filmmaker, and I'm interested to see how Rob Marshall does with the responsibility of transforming this from a trilogy of hugely successful films into an ongoing franchise for the studio.  RIght now, that's still a hypothetical proposition, even if I was able to confirm recently that they're planning to shoot the fifth and sixth films in the series next year in Hawaii.  For now, though, they've got Marshall's name front and center in the trailer for what it's worth, and they're counting on him to figure it out.

Read Full Post
Watch: Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges saddle up in 'True Grit'
Credit: Paramount

Watch: Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges saddle up in 'True Grit'

You can smell the horses in four clips from the Coen bros' Western

You can almost smell the horses in these four clips from the Coen brothers remake of the John Wayne Classic "True Grit." Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Hailee Steinfeld star together as an unlikely posse, in pursuit of a killer played by Josh Brolin.

Jeff Bridges stars as Rooster Cogburn, a character so different from his Kevin Flynn in "Tron Legacy," also in theaters this month, it could make your head spin. Matt Damon is LaBoef, a Texas Ranger and Hailee Steinfeld is Mattie Ross, a stubborn young girl who hires Cogburn to chase down Tom Chaney, the man who killed her father.

Drew had the pleasure of seeing it and reviewing it here and I'm looking forward to seeing it soon, in the meantime, check out the four clips embedded below for a taste of each of these characters and see if you'll want to join the hunt when the movie opens in two weeks.

Read Full Post
<p>Chris Hemsworth plays the title character in one of next summer's most ambitious films, 'Thor,' the latest step towards 'The Avengers' from the folks at Marvel Studios</p>

Chris Hemsworth plays the title character in one of next summer's most ambitious films, 'Thor,' the latest step towards 'The Avengers' from the folks at Marvel Studios

Credit: Marvel Studios

Set Visit: A trip to Asgard for 'Thor' reveals secrets of next May's Marvel movie

Once you've been to the Rainbow Bridge, everything else pales

MANHATTAN BEACH, CA - Standing in the middle of Heimdall's Observatory, with the Rainbow Bridge extending from the front of the room, we need only turn the dials built into the walls and the floor to send ourselves anywhere in the Universe.

Of course, we may have to get past the frozen warrior standing outside first.

When I got the call to join a group of other journalists on the set of the new Marvel Studios movie "Thor," due in theaters next May, I didn't have to think about it.  For one thing, it's not every day you can drive your own car for just over an hour and end up in Asgard.  And for another thing, I was curious to see how Marvel planned to handle one of the trickiest of the steps on the road to "The Avengers," and I'll be the first to admit it… I had my doubts.

After all, it's one thing to make a movie like "Iron Man," or a movie like "The Incredible Hulk," where we see fantastic characters dropped into a world that is very recognizable.  That's a big part of the Marvel Universe in general, and one of the reasons for its enduring appeal.  But with "Thor," you're introducing a whole new world of rules, and you're suddenly stretching the Marvel Universe in a new direction, expanding it to include magic.  I've always liked "Thor" as a comic, but as a film?  It seems like the biggest gamble yet for Marvel Studios.

Read Full Post