Wow. I really screwed this up.
Until someone asked me about it on Twitter last night, I was under the impression that I had published both the pre-Thanksgiving and post-Thanksgiving podcasts, and I even distinctly remember putting together the article for the first one. But when I went back to look, I realized that I seem to be going soft in my old age.
It's a shame, too, so I'm going to publish not one… not two… but three podcasts in the next 9 hours. It's going to veritably rain podcasts down on you people. And all three of them are overloaded with goodness, so hopefully that will make up for my apparent brain damage.
This first podcast features an interview with Flight of the Conchords member Bret McKenzie, and it's a real treat to talk to him about his work on "The Muppets." He's at an interesting point in his career right now, and they don't really make a ton of movie musicals. Still, I'd say he more than proved he's up for the task, and I hope more filmmakers reach out to him and build some projects around the work he does.
Wow. I really screwed this up.
Okay… I'll admit it. This entire trailer is worth it for the punchline.
Before we discuss the first theatrical trailer for "Men In Black 3," let me ask you a completely snark-free question. How many of you are actually excited for a third film in the "Men In Black" franchise?
See, I think this is an example of a genuine franchise, a premise so flexible that you can drop different actors and actresses in as time wears in and salaries rise. I don't necessarily think that "Men In Black" has to star Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. Then again, I'm not really even sure how people feel about the first one and the second one, a full decade after the second film and a mind-boggling fifteen years after the first one. Was it really 1997? The same summer as "The Fifth Element"? Because that seems like forever and a half ago, and I can't imagine the cast of "The Fifth Element" continuing that now.
Wait… Milla as Leeloo Dallas Moooteepass again and 2012-era Bruce Willis in another giant-budget Luc Besson SF film? I take it back. I can TOOOOOTALLY imagine that now, and in fact, I'm irate we're not getting it.
The year is over. For me, anyway.
On Tuesday, I'm recording the voice-over for my Top Ten Films Of The Year video, which Alex Dorn is already working to coordinate, part of the massive year-end onslaught of stuff you're about to get from the rest of Team HitFix. It's an exciting time of year for us because we're sort of mainlining films in one last crazy buffet of a self-programmed film festival for about ten or twelve straight days.
And so as I sit down to write the list this weekend, I'm looking at the list of qualifying films, also known as "All the new films I saw in 2011." Which is, according to my final count, 211 films. Not the most I've ever seen in a year, and not the least either. It's a good solid average number.
I'm always amused by how seriously people take "the rules" when people are making lists at the end of the year. All I can tell you is that my film year is not the same as Greg Ellwood's film year which is not the same as Kris Tapley's film year or Guy Lodge's or Dan Fienberg's or Alan Sepinwall's, just as my TV year is probably radically different than theirs, or my gaming year, or my year in books. Media becomes more and more of a personalized diet for people each year, because there's so much of it, and because the ways we ingest it are so different. Even if you attend the same film festival as someone else, there's no guarantee you'll end up seeing the same things.
I was very careful when I wrote about the "Dark Knight Rises" footage we saw the other day not to give away certain images or beats from the seven-minute prologue that will be available on a limited number of IMAX screens when "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" opens on December 16.
But I feel like with the release of the new teaser poster for "The Dark Knight Rises," I don't have to be quite as careful, because the goosebumps-inducing ending of the preview reel is the same basic idea as the remarkable new teaser poster for the film that Warner Bros. just released.
Of all things, they used Twitter to debut this power, sending out a link mid-afternoon on Saturday, and right away, I expect that this poster is going to spark a spirited round of fan debates and speculation about what we're going to see when this final film in Nolan's trilogy arrives in theaters this summer.
Bane, played in the new film by Tom Hardy, is notable in his original comics incarnation as the man who quite literally broke Batman. I'm starting to get the idea that Nolan and his collaborators like the idea of giving Batman a physical challenge in this film that he's not ready to handle, and I'm starting to wonder if Nolan is indeed perverse enough to kill Batman in this film. After all, he's done. It's time to wrap things up, and there are very few ways that are more final to end a series than killing your main character.
One of my favorite books this year was a piece of fiction written by UK film critic Kim Newman, a collection of stories called "Moriarty - Hound Of The D'Urbervilles". It is a series of tales narrated by Col. "Basher" Moran, second-in-command to the insidious Professor Moriarty. The stories boast about successful wrongdoing and brag about various schemes gone right, and in all of them, Moriarty is presented as a barely-human monster with a bland face. It is a wonderful way to revisit the world of Sherlock Holmes from a new perspective, and it is pretty much pure fun.
One thing that is clear when you look at the entire body of work that exists out there about Sherlock Holmes and the various characters he's collided with over the years is that he remains one of the most elastic, archetypical pulp characters ever created. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle probably didn't even fully understand the allure of the character, which is true most of the time when someone has that moment of pure inspiration. In the stories he wrote, Doyle was careful to drop plenty of bread crumbs that other writers and readers have picked up over the years, clues to ways you could reinterpret or reimagine or even just reexamine the characters. If you don't like one interpretation, there's always another just around the corner, and there's probably some version out there that will exactly scratch whatever itch you have concerning the ongoing adventures of the world's crankiest genius and his stalwart if unspectacular companion.
Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram make sense as a creative partnership.
When I spent time in London for the first "Sherlock Holmes," I had the opportunity to take a long walk with Wigram over to the cathedral they were using for the opening of the movie, and as we walked, we talked about Holmes, Doyle, London, its history, and more. He was also one of the people who was involved deeply in the "Harry Potter" series, and so you could say he's trusted by Warner Bros in a very big way.
Although it's only been recently that "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." has been in the news in a regular way, Warner's been working to figure out a way to bring this one back to life for a long time now. Back in '99, they were reaching out to George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and others, and they never really figured out how to do it. It seems like Clooney must have been a fan of the original series just based on how many times he's circled back around to the property over the years. I'm sorry his back is forcing him to curtail the more physical roles because I think he'd be pretty great in a big Bond-like spy movie.
Bane seems like a bad, bad man.
That is, of course, the point of the prologue from "The Dark Knight Rises," which was screened tonight at Universal Citywalk's IMAX screen with Christopher Nolan in attendance to set it up for us.
When "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" opens on December 16 in a limited run for a week before it goes wider on the 21st, any of the screens that are playing the large-scale film format IMAX will also be playing this special "Dark Knight Rises" footage, which will not be released online. Let me urge you to make sure you attend one of those screenings, and not just for the "Dark Knight" stuff. I think I was fairly effusive the other day in my review of "M:I - GP," and part of what impressed me was the way Bird used the IMAX format in the scenes that were shot that way. Now, seeing what Nolan's done with the IMAX cameras, I think the double-feature makes the best case yet for what a smart filmmaker can accomplish in terms of immersion without ever once using the term "3D."
Joe Hill is a tremendous writer.
It's funny… I know why he chose to write as Joe Hill and not use his dad's last name, and I think he's more than proven that he has his own voice and his own talent and he doesn't need to play off of who he is to get published or build a fan base. He deserves every reader he's got, and more.
Even so, i was with Devin Faraci this summer at Comic-Con, and as we were walking through downtown San Diego to get somewhere and pick up passes to something, we walked by Joe Hill at one point, and it was sort of stunning how much he looked like his dad in the late '70s or early '80s. I'm not sure how anyone who was ever face to face with him would have had any question about his relationship to Stephen King, because it's downright spooky.
Recently, Fox TV flirted with an adaptation of his comic series "Locke & Key," and I'd love to get a look at the pilot episode that Mark Romanek directed. That didn't get picked up, though, and the film version of "Heart-Shaped Box" hasn't been able to get off the ground, either. His most recent novel was "Horns," a disturbing piece about a guy who wakes up one morning with actual devil horns starting to grow out of his head and no memory of how or why. It is a visceral, emotional ride and a big step forward for him as a novelist, even though his first few books were also very strong. Although there's quite a bit of the book that deals with the inner journey of the main character, I suspect it will translate well to film and could be a very smart mainstream horror movie for grown-ups.
While I would never claim that "The Sitter" was the worst film I saw in 2011, I think it is the film that most bitterly disappointed me this year. I've written at length about the work of Jonah Hill, as well as director David Gordon Green, and I consider the production company Rough House to be one of the most interesting working in comedy today. Perhaps because of the regard I have for their collective work, I am baffled by how completely I disliked "The Sitter," and I find myself unable to work up the spleen that normally goes into a really strongly negative review. More than anything, I just feel deflated by the whole thing.
More than anything, I'm puzzled by the movie. Keep in mind, I liked the last two comedies that David Gordon Green directed, "Your Highness" and "Pineapple Express." I am willing to acknowledge that "Your Highness" is deranged, one of the strangest mainstream films I've ever seen, but I like that it has such a strong sense of itself and it's so willing to try anything. If you're part of the 99.9% of all audiences who seemed to despise "Your Highness" completely, then I would advise you don't even attempt to see "The Sitter," because it doesn't even have the ragged, whacked out personality that made that film interesting.
On a breezy afternoon in Santa Monica last June Universal pictures invited HitFix and handful of journalists to visit the edit bay of next summer's tent pole movie "Battleship" to see the films' progress and talk to director Peter Berg.