I'm not sure if I'm breaking embargo when I say that I have fallen under the very, very strange spell of "Rango," but if I am, then so be it.
"Rango" is Gore Verbinski's animated Western, a Lizard-With-No-Name story that is funny and freaky and gorgeously realized by ILM. I don't think of them as an animation house, but after this, I suspect we'll be seeing more films where ILM handles all of the animation, start to finish, because this is a heck of a way to start.
We've got some clips from the film today that show off the character performance work in the film as well as the remarkable designs by Crash McCreery, and that give you some sense of the film's very odd sense of humor and storytelling. Verbinski's "Pirates" movies with Johnny Depp all basically play like cartoons anyway, so there's something almost liberated about the energy in this film. Gore plays with tone, plays with genre, and just plain plays. It's an intoxicating mix of ideas and styles.
Early on in the film, the lizard, voiced by Johnny Depp, finds himself alone in the desert, trying to survive the attentions of a hungry hawk, and that's where this first clip comes from:
I'm not sure if I'm breaking embargo when I say that I have fallen under the very, very strange spell of "Rango," but if I am, then so be it.
As a Radiohead fan, it's a pretty great week.
First, there was the news that we're getting "The King Of Limbs" this coming weekend, which is a wonderful surprise. It's the opposite of hype, having something by a band this big basically just pop up, and I appreciate just how special that is.
The other big piece of news this week, which falls more directly under my purview here at HitFix, is that Jonny Greenwood, the band's brilliant guitarist, is set to score Lynne Ramsay's new film, "We Need To Talk About Kevin."
It's little wonder more filmmakers are reaching out to Greenwood. His score for Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will Be Blood" is a fantastic piece of film composition, and probably the best known thing Greenwood's done for film. He also did the soundtrack for last year's "Norwegian Wood" by Vietnamese filmmaker Tran Anh Hung.
But to have Greenwood working with Lynne Ramsay is terribly exciting. Ramsay is not as well-known as she should be, and if you're in the mood for something that's a little obscure but worth the effort, check out her movie "Ratcatcher" or her even better film "Morvern Callar." If there's any justice, then "We Need To Talk About Kevin" is going to be the film that finally brings her the attention and acclaim she deserves.
Although it's not official yet, it's starting to look like Marion Cotillard will indeed play a role in "The Dark Knight Rises," the final Batman film from director Christopher Nolan, and it's being described by those breaking the story as the "love interest" for the movie.
I would be surprised if this is a throwaway character, and much of the speculation around the role has centered on Talia Al Ghul, daughter to Ra's al Ghul, played by Liam Neeson in the first film. In the comics, Talia is one of the most significant romantic matches for Bruce Wayne, having actually fathered Damian Wayne, the fifth Robin. Talia would certainly bring the film series full-circle, and there were many early reports that she was being brought into the continuity in some way.
What drives me crazy during the period between Batman movies is the way fans tie themselves in knots over what did or didn't happen in the comics, and what that means to the movies. By now, it should be apparent that Christopher Nolan hasn't been following any established continuity to the letter. Instead, he's allowed himself and his creative team to play with various elements from throughout the entire mythology of Batman. I'm hoping he does the same thing as a producer on Zack Snyder's "Superman," and it looks to me like that's going to be the case on "The Amazing Spider-Man" over at Sony, too, as well as "X-Men: First Class".
Welcome to The Morning Read.
Oh my god… a new Radiohead album this coming Saturday? I may buy it as a digital only version, but I'm tempted by the deluxe "Newspaper Album." I love the title. "The King Of Limbs." Oh, man, I'm an easy mark, and I… don't… care.
Sometimes, you just get a gift, and I think that's got to be how Paul Thomas Anderson is feeling these days. If you haven't read the Thomas Pynchon novel Inherent Vice, it's a loose, funny, shaggy detective story set in Los Angeles in the '60s, and it reminds me of both "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" and Altman's riff on "The Long Goodbye." Knowing that PTA is the one adapting it, and that he's already got a first draft of the script that Pynchon actually read and approved, I am delighted. If Vulture is correct and Robert Downey Jr. is thinking about playing the lead role of Doc Sportello, then there is no other film in development I'm more excited about.
Except maybe "The Master". Or whatever it's going to finally be called. I've got a copy of this script which deals with the tensions within a pseudo religion called The Cause, but I don't want to read it. If it really is Anderson's take on Scientology, then I'd rather just see the movie. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is evidently interested in playing the leader of the movement, but the part of the disciple whose fall rattles the entire organization will no longer by played by Jeremy Renner, who was attached when the film almost got made at Universal.
The appearance of Megan Ellison, a 25-year-old billionaire whose dad Larry Ellison co-founded Oracle, must have felt like a total miracle to Anderson, who has had trouble making the films he wants to make while resisting the compromises built into the cost of some of the things he's interested in doing. Ellison is one of the producers of last year's "True Grit," and she also just rescued a John Hillcoat film from some financial speed bumps, so she's starting to become a very interesting and welcome presence in the film financing world.
I haven't really spent much time writing or thinking about "TRON: Legacy" since it was released, but when Disney sent out the announcement for the DVD and Blu-ray release for the film, I'll admit that it seems like a really impressive overall package, with some great bonuses onboard as well.
In particular, I'm fascinated by the Second Screen bonus, which does a two-device synch between your TV and, say, an iPad or your laptop, and allows you watch the movie on one device while watching all sorts of secondary features on the second device. I've never heard of that happening before, and it's an interesting way of keeping the film itself unburdened of pop-ups and windows, but making the material available.
I'm also very curious about this new footage that was first rumored over at Ain't It Cool, and which appears to have been titled "The Next Day: Flynn Lives Revealed" for this release. In it, we'll see cast members dealing with the fallout of the events in the film, and we'll also get a tease for the sequel that Disney is still considering. One of those teases evidently sets up the father-son Dillinger team of Cillian Murphy and David Warner, and I can't say I'm remotely surprised. I still say they missed a great opportunity to have a real-world villain working against Flynns senior and junior in the real world by not using Murphy's character more. Why couldn't they have them trying to shut down the servers that held the Grid? Just that little ticking clock, with Murphy trying to assert ownership of what was obviously an ENCOM asset, would have added some real-world tension to the film.
Until I walked into the theater tonight, I had never heard a single note of a Justin Bieber song. I'd never seen him in motion. I knew still photos of him in passing and I saw an appearance he made on "The Daily Show" last week, which made me laugh. Right away, the impression I got of him was a kid who is willing to puncture his own celebrity, and who was enjoying the play side of things. He struck me as a genuine kid, still impressed enough by the pop culture he's a part of to have fun with it.
That impression was only reinforced by the film, "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never 3D," which opens today to hordes of screaming girls everywhere. I was actually invited to the big crazy LA Live premiere this week and intended to go, just to witness the mayhem, but I'm glad I didn't. That experience would have been all about how the 3D didn't end at the screen, since I'd see it surrounded by the people in that film and of that pop music world right now. It's impossible to see a film in a setting like that and not have the overall experience be what you're reacting to, so maybe it's better that I went the way I did.
Instead, I ended up seeing a Thursday midnight screening of the film about four minutes from my house. Paramount was determined that I needed to see the film, so when I told them there was a screening that close and that convenient, they called in a ticket for me. At that point, what did I have to lose?
You know, I don't hate Adam Sandler, so I'm a little confused about why it is he hates me so very much.
Not that I think it's just me he hates. I'd argue that the evidence on display in the films he's making these days like last year's "Grown-Ups" and his new film, the truly rancid "Just Go With It" would signify that he has naked contempt for his audience. When I sat in the theater Wednesday night, witnessing the arrogant and grotesque indifference on display, I couldn't help but feel like I was being punished merely for showing up and still having some slight interest in Sandler as a performer.
Trust me… that last little bit of good faith atrophied and died at some point during the eleven and a half hours that "Just Go With It" seems to last. I couldn't swear in court that it's that long, but that is how it felt. This is the most singularly unpleasant "comedy" I've seen since the horror of "Old Dogs," and it shares many of the characteristics that made that film so vile.
What I find truly amazing is that "Just Go With It" was at some point in its development a remake of the film "Cactus Flower," a '60s movie that earned Goldie Hawn an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker plays the role that Hawn played in the original, and I think it's safe to say that Decker can go ahead and make other plans for Oscar Night 2012. In the original, Walter Matthau was a dentist who needed help from his receptionist, played by Ingrid Bergman, when he spins a wild lie about a bad marriage to impress a much-younger girl, played by Hawn. So this time around, instead of Matthau, Bergman, and Hawn, we get Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, and Brooklyn Decker.
There are times when I really hate Hollywood.
Once a film or a story has been around long enough to have been made officially, then remade unofficially a bunch of times, I have to ask seriously… what value is there in doing another official remake?
When you look at Michael Bay's "The Island," I know people love to say that it's a rip-off of the justifiably obscure "Clonus," but I'd argue there's a whooooole lot of of "Logan's Run" in there, too. And Andrew Niccol is in the middle of his own film about a society where no one ever ages past 30, starring Justin Timberlake, Olivia Wilde, Alex Pettyfer, Amanda Seyfriend, and a bunch of other really young and pretty people.
I don't love the '70s film version of "Logan's Run," but I like elements of it, and I really dig the novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. There's so much material in the book that wasn't used in the film that I think there's room for a filmmaker to come in and really turn it into something new, but doing so means you can't just indulge nostalgia like most remakes do. This can't be a pandering cash-in, because frankly, I don't think that would play for anyone. It has to be something new, something that stands alone.
I'll say this much: hiring Nicolas Winding Refn to direct the film seems to be a step in the right direction. I really liked "Bronson," the film he made with Tom Hardy a few years ago, but before that, I was already a fan thanks to the "Pusher" trilogy, and the notion of him playing around with a studio's money on something with the scale of "Logan's Run" is exciting.
My first reaction to the first footage we've seen from "X-Men: First Class" is that it feels like they're definitely playing in the same universe that was established in the Bryan Singer films, something that couldn't be said of "Wolverine." My second reaction is that Matthew Vaughn is trying to make something fairly somber and moody and sleek, and the trailer aims for the quiet wow in a way I admire.
Does that mean the film works? That's impossible to say at this point. Certainly there have been any number of reports and rumors about the film that suggest it's been a difficult shoot, but even that doesn't mean anything about the final quality of the film. Right now, the only thing I can judge is the trailer itself, and there's a lot about it that I like.
For one thing, I think it's a very interesting move to tie the X-Men into the Cuban Missile Crisis, and there's something amazing about seeing Magneto suited up in the '60s-era yellow-and-blue costume, right there alongside the heroes, trying to save the world.
I also like the decadence that is suggested in some of the images in the trailer, including the image I've used to illustrate this story. What the heck are Charles and Erik doing in the brothel from "Twin Peaks," and why are they sharing a bed while looking at a mutant as she spreads her wings? Since we know Kevin Bacon is Sebastian Shaw in the film and January Jones is Emma Frost, could this be a visit to the Hellfire Club, and if so, just how kinky is Vaughn going to get in a PG-13 movie?
My calendar year now isn't broken up by months in the way it used to be. Instead, I think of everything in terms of festival schedules. We're done with Sundance now, which means it's time to start thinking about South By Southwest.
And now the festival caps off its announcements with the release of the line-up for the Midnighters, SXFantastic, and the complete short film schedule as well. Last year's midnight line-up at the festival offered both "Monsters" and "A Serbian Film," and this year's list looks equally eclectic. I'm so excited to be heading to Austin at the start of March, and now is the time when I start going through the entire schedule, looking at what I've seen already, what I'd like to see, and what I might even try to see for a second time.
Yes, "Bellflower," I mean you.
I'm going to do a thorough SXSW preview piece this weekend, and that's when I'll also start contacting filmmakers about screeners for things I'm afraid I might not be able to see during the festival. Unlike Sundance or Toronto or Comic-Con, I end up doing these Austin-based festivals as the one and only HitFix representative, and that means juggling many more demands on my time than when we're on the ground as a full team. For now, let's look at what just got announced today.