And all over the world, hearts break
At this point, I'm just ready for "Where The Wild Things Are" to come out, cause a flurry of conversation, make whatever cultural mark it's going to make, then end up on my shelf on BluRay where I can watch it any time I want. I have been carrying around all these complicated feelings about this movie since Christmas of 2007, when I saw it a very rough version, and as finished footage has started to show up, I hear people reacting to it, and I'm relieved to know I'm not crazy.
I think this longer trailer absolutely conveys what it is they're hoping to accomplish with this film, and I'd say if you don't like this trailer, you're not going to warm to the movie instead. It's very much a film about a little boy coming face to face with all the big giant scary feelings and ideas we all have inside us and having to learn how to handle all of those emotions and fears and weaknesses. It takes the deceptively simple Maurice Sendak book and turns it into a commentary on the process by which we move from wild, uncontrolled childhood to something more focused, the first steps towards adulthood.
In fact, looking at Twitter reactions (since all I can do on that accursed website now is look, for some reason) and Facebook posts and comments sections as other people post it, and being in the room in San Diego when the new footage premiered in Hall H, what amazes me is how this seems to be a film that punches right past nostalgia, right past reason, and somehow seems to be causing enormous emotional reactions even based on these short peeks at the material. I thought it was a really emotional movie in rough form, but I didn't anticipate how the film seems to tear people's hearts out from the moment the monsters start moving and talking. It's fascinating. Obviously, Max Records, the young star of the movie, is a big part of the equation as well.
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Creator of 'Breakfast Club,' '16 Candles,' 'Vacation,' and more left a huge mark on film comedy
Before I ever saw a single film he was involved in, I was already a fan of John Hughes and his comic writing.
My first exposure to him was through his work for National Lampoon, where he was part of that magazine's best era. In August of 2008, Zoetrope magazine republished the original short story that Hughes wrote that became the source material for "National Lampoon's Vacation," and the new introduction that Hughes wrote now looks to be his last word on his own Hollywood career that we'll see in public, made all the more noteworthy because of how rarely Hughes spoke about himself:
"... Despite my finishing the story in time for the FedEx pick-up, it was ultimately bumped from the vacation issue to an annual edition comprised of pieces that didn't make their intended issues. Unbeknownst to me, Warner Brothers purchased the story upon publication in September. I was in Chicago, and my only experience of any reaction to "Vacation '58" occurred on a flight home from New York, when I heard two businessmen laughing out loud and discovered they were reading my story. As a salaried editor, I had no ownership. The publisher, Matty Simmons, generously invited me to write the screenplay despite my never having even seen one.
This was all happening during Hollywood's post-Shampoo era of gold chains, red Ferraris, and big sideburns. As a print humorist-envisioning myself as Chicago's Booth Tarkington Jr.-I willfully knew nothing of show business, except that it was a rich target for satire. P. J. introduced me to the eminent literary attorney Morton Janklow, who advised me to go to Los Angeles and get an agent. When I arrived at the incipient powerhouse Creative Artists Agency in my poplin suit and rep tie, I was mistaken for an IRS agent. Despite my contrastive definition of hip, I passed the audition and got the Agent and the requisite accessory, the Lawyer. After securing a copy of a screenplay to use as a format model, I returned to Chicago to write a script and inexorably alter my life for WGA scale."
Yet even as he waxed nostalgic about his own beginnings in the business, there's some mythmaking and some revisionism going on. Didn't he write for "Delta House," the "Animal House" spin-off TV show? And wouldn't that predate "Vacation"? How did he do that if he'd never seen a screenplay? These contradictions and half-truths are hallmarks of the incredible lengths Hughes would go to in order to protect his privacy, writing under a pseudonym at times, rewriting his own personal history, and just plain disappearing when he felt like it. For the last twenty years, I would argue that he has been an artistic non-entity. His last film as a writer/director was "Curly Sue," for god's sake.
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Could this be the sci-fi epic he's been itching to make?
As long as I've been writing about movies online, Ridley Scott has had the itch to make a big dystopian science-fiction movie again. For a while, he was developing a script called "Metropolis" that wasn't a remake of the Fritz Lang film. It was more of an original SF thing based around a future city. When "The Matrix" came out, "Metropolis" dropped dead because enough of the ideas in the films were similar that Scott's project became redundant.
Obviously, he just last week stated that he is serious about making an "Alien" prequel. I can't imagine he's going to want to do two big sci-fi films close together... although "Blade Runner" wasn't that long after "Alien," and "Kingdom of Heaven" and "Nottingham" practically overlap, historically speaking.
Now this week, he's announcing that he is working with Leonardo Di Caprio at Universal to bring Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" to the screen. This is another one of those projects that Ridley Scott has been circling for a while. It makes sense that they just hired Farhad Safinia to write the adaptation of the classic work of sci-fi and speculation. Safinia wrote "Apocalypto," which was so removed from our experience that it might as well be science-fiction. It's also the ultimate guy-on-the-run movie. Although "Brave New World" isn't an action film, it is about one man who finds himself persecuted by the system because his thinking gets out of line. There's a lot more to it, but that pretty much sums it up.
"Alien." "Blade Runner." Very bleak world views in those. But for this new film, Scott's going to have to take everything he's learned and turned it up. He's proven himself many times over...
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Plus two great interviews with the legendary director appear online
Dennis Cozzalio and Jeremy "Mr. Beaks" Smith have both done great interviews this past week with Joe Dante. I sort of have to recuse myself from doing formal interviews with Joe at this point because of professional conflicts of interest, but I'm on record for a looooooong time now as a huge fan of this idiosyncratic visual prankster, perhaps the hippest of his circle of '80s peers, and at times, perhaps too hip for the room.
I guess that depends on the room, though, because when Joe hosts movies at the New Beverly, he is 100% in his element, happy and excited to show things. He's a collector of films, and the reason is obvious when you see him curate before screening his personal print of something. There are a number of filmmakers I know who light up like this. Edgar Wright. Dante. Frank Darabont. And of course, Quentin Tarantino. And I get it. They're real movie nerds, they live and breathe movies deep down in their bones, and part of loving movies is loving the experience of passing one along, introducing a great movie to the right person, knowing that you've helped instigate real love.
I wrote about the experience of seeing The Movie Orgy when Joe did his first screening series here in LA at the New Beverly. Looking back, I'm shocked to see it was April 22nd, 2008. Doesn't seem like it was that long ago. At the time, I thought that was pretty much the one chance I'd ever had to see that event. I was wrong though. This coming Saturday, August 8th, starting at 5:30 in the afternoon, you have another chance to see it, and... even better... it's free. Has to be because of the nature of the film... which is sort of a mash-up before the idea even existed.
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Big spoiler clip and an introduction to Hans Landa, the Jew Hunter
The more time I've spent chewing on this film, the more I love it. I'm weary of hearing from so-called "fans" of Tarantino who basically just want him to remake "Pulp Fiction" over and over, crime movies filled with people talking about pop culture. I saw some comment earlier today on YouTube about the trailer for the new Thomas Pynchon book, where someone said, "Oh, man, this looks like the film that Tarantino should have made after 'Pulp Fiction'!"
God, how depressing. You know what he made after "Pulp Fiction"? "Jackie Brown." And "Jackie Brown" sort of totally rocks.
I really don't understand why fandom wants filmmakers to get stuck in these professional stutters. To me, what makes a filmmaker worthwhile isn't just the subject matter he deals with, but the voice with which he tells his story. And in Tarantino's case, I'd say that voice is just as crystal-clear and well-defined today as it's ever been. He loves to let his characters talk, aaaaaaand talk and talk and talk and talk, and in talking, they reveal themselves. It's one of his signatures, and I'd argue a real gift when he's firing on all cylinders, and I find that more often than not, I am rewarded for the time I spend with these people as they talk.
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Plus good news for 'At The Movies' and Weird Al takes on CNR
Welcome to The Morning Read.
That darn Terry Gilliam, taking up my whole day yesterday. Good thing he's sort of awesome, or I'd be really upset. I've got more interviews I'll be editing for you later today, but first, there's so much going on that it seems like we need a Read, don't we?
I mean, we didn't talk about this week's home video releases. It's not a huge week, but you can finally get "Big Trouble In Little China" on BluRay, which I'll be doing the next time I head into Hollywood. I already have a copy of "Race To Witch Mountain" here on BluRay, and it's worth it just for the cameo that happens 1:02:30 into the film. I'm not sure who that guy posing with the Tusken Raider is, but I think he's destined to be Hollywood's next great superstar. That is what film acting is all about. HBO released "Flight Of The Conchords: Season Two" on DVD this week, pure silliness that I find easy to rewatch. I haven't seen "The Soloist," and since it wasn't sent for review, I'm not sure when I'll get around to it. I wrote about the absolutely ridiculous "Obsessed" recently, and I just wish it was a wee bit more knowingly campy. That would help. Finally, Disney's got two catalog titles out on BluRay this week that I have right here, ready to be watched. It's been a while since I've seen "Sling Blade," and I guess it's probably time to revisit the movie that established Adam Sandler as a real commercial force and not just a cult phenomenon, "The Waterboy."
RT @AdamFrazier: When Bill Clinton wants to bring two women home, not even North Korea can stop him.
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The new Tyler Perry film puts its greatest asset front and center on the new one-sheet
I know Tyler Perry isn't really a name you see mentioned a lot here, but whether I like his films or not, I respect the fact that this guy has built a niche audience for himself that translates into real freedom to make his films his way. I don't have to be his target audience to admire the way he has reached that audience.
I always laugh when I see film nerds freak out because something they don't like is popular with audiences that aren't just like them. It's like when people get crazy about the little "Twilight" girlies. Leave 'em alone... at least they like something. At least they're excited about something. So much of fandom seems to exist to simply be negative that it just depresses me. So even if I'm not Perry's fanbase, I'm glad they exist... I'm glad they pay to go see movies in the theater... and I hope that fandom translates to them expanding their tastes to other movies and other filmmakers.
Today, Lionsgate asked us if we'd like to premiere the final one-sheet for "I Can Do Bad All By Myself," his latest movie. The official website also launches today. Since Taraji Henson is the star of the film, meaning there's a huge picture of her on the one-sheet, that is a very simple decision for me to make. She's not only lovely, she's also a pretty remarkable actress, and it seems like Perry is using better and bigger casts each time out these days.
Check out the full-sized one-sheet after the jump:
The conclusion of our epic conversation with the lifelong maverick
I posted part one of this interview just a few moments ago, and realized that I needed to break it in half because of how long it was. The website choked the first time.
The nice thing is, now I get to publish a brand-new image from "The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassus" with the second half of the interview, so it's win-win, eh?
Let's pick up right where we left off at the end of part one:
Drew McWeeny: I've always looked at "Life of Brian" as, in my opinion, one of the most accurate historical pieces from that era.
Terry Gilliam: We do our work. [laughs]
And in the service of, ostensibly, a comedy. You guys made phenomenal points about the political era and what the world was and why the Messiah was needed, and I mean... all of that is in there. And actually, the way I discovered Monty Python was I was told... because my parents were very religious while I was growing up... that that was on the list of films I could never see. They might as well have taken me to the theatre and bought me the ticket because it was like, "Well, you know I have to now. There's no question."
[laughs] See, that's what's so interesting. Like my mother who goes to church every week... very religious... she didn't think it was blasphemous because that's not Jesus. Isn't that interesting? She just said, "That's not Jesus, that's Brian." She knew a lot of people got crucified, so where's the problem?
Yeah. [laughs] Jesus is over there.
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We talk 'Parnassus,' 'Holy Grail,' 'Brazil,' Philip K. Dick, Matt Damon's pretty nose, and more
Okay... gun to my head, clock is ticking, what's my favorite film?
I'm either going to say "Brazil" or "Lawrence of Arabia." Both answers are right, and it just depends on the degree of cynicism I allow myself that day as to which one I give.
When I was contacted the week before Comic-Con about the possibility of sitting down with Terry Gilliam at some point in San Diego, I thought it would, at best, turn out to be a ten-minute stop on an assembly line of quick interviews about "The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassus," the still-unsold new film from Gilliam featuring the final performance of Heath Ledger. And I was perfectly fine with the idea of just getting ten minutes with him.
Instead, I got a full hour, and the result is one of my favorite filmmaker interviews I've done. I really do prefer being able to have a longer conversation with someone, because you get past the early sort of perfunctory stuff and start to really dig into things. I've loved Gilliam's work since the first time I saw "Time Bandits" in 1981. I was 11 years old, and hooked immediately. I've always wanted to chat with him, and near the end of this hour, I felt like I'd finally said or asked pretty much everything pressing, everything that I'd been saving up over the years. It was satisfying in a way few interviews ever are for me.
I hope you guys enjoy it as well. Here's the full text, from the moment Quint got up and walked away at the end of his interview. I stepped up as Terry stood for a moment and we shook hands. He had his hair pulled back into a ponytail, and that infamous devil's grin of his was firmly in place as I introduced myself.
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Sure it's a documentary, but try finding something more fun in theaters right now
Here's how I know Mark Hartley is a good interviewer.
I've seen Quentin Tarantino introduce movies live over and over and over in the last 12 years. I've seen him introduce in front of huge crowds, in front of small late-night die-hard audiences, in front of industry audiences at premieres, and in front of a group of friends at his house. He's a storyteller, always, first and foremost, and he loves to set the stage for a movie he's about to show, getting you so excited and primed so you know exactly what you're about to get. He's great at it. I think, as much as filmmaking, film custodianship is a gig he is born to and that he loves. So I'm not surprised to see him here, talking about these movies. I am surprised to see how relaxed and casual and person Quentin's material in the film is. It's one of the best interviews about movies I've seen with him. He's on-point with a precision that makes everything very, very funny, but also absolutely informative and true. For Hartley to get the interview he got, he had to be on his game, and the result is just one of the dozens of pleasures in store for anyone lucky enough to behold "Not Quite Hollywood" on the bigscreen right now.
I mean, don't get me wrong... see it however you can see it. If it's VOD or DVD or PPV or iTunes or whatever, see it. But if the theatrical option is possible, make the effort. The opening title sequence alone is worth your ticket price, and if you're not absolutely hooked and ready to see whatever movie could possibly hold all of the insanity you see during the opening titles, then get up, go get your money back, and go find a morgue, because you may not have a pulse. I'd argue that scene for scene, moment for moment, there's nothing more entertaining playing theaters right now.
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