<p>I'm gonna go out on a limb and predict there's more of this in the new film, 'Transformers:&nbsp;Dark Of The Moon&quot;... but in 3D!</p>

I'm gonna go out on a limb and predict there's more of this in the new film, 'Transformers: Dark Of The Moon"... but in 3D!

Credit: Paramount/Dreamworks

First teaser for 'Transformers: Dark Of The Moon' debuts

Updated: Watch the trailer that poses numerous questions

The "Transformers" films so far have managed to frustrate many different demographics in many different ways.  I liked the first film, more than I typically like Michael Bay's movies, but it seemed to make the hardcore "Transformers" fans from the '80s crazy because of all the ways it messed around with the characters and situations they knew.  The second film frustrated anyone who likes coherence or narrative structure or non-racist robots.  And the idea of Michael Bay shooting a 3D movie for the third chapter in the franchise sounds like a whole new form of motion sickness waiting to be invented.

Today is the launch for the official marketing campaign on "Transformers: Dark Of The Moon," the new sequel, and the biggest news for fans of the series is the release of the teaser trailer that you can see now in HD on Apple.com.  It's a big teaser, too, set during the Apollo 11 moon landing, and the response today has been favorable from most people, even those who didn't like the first or the second film.  I'm guessing this is actual footage from the film, not just something shot for a trailer, and it looks like the set-up for the film, a reveal that we found a crashed Autobots ship on the moon, complete with not-quite-dead robots inside.

Maybe I'm dumb, but wasn't the teaser trailer for the first film pretty much the exact same idea, but set decades later and on Mars?

And if you were the people making "Apollo 18," wouldn't this teaser trailer give you fits?

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<p>Michelle Williams will break your heart in 'Blue Valentine,' and now she does it with an &quot;R&quot;&nbsp;rating instead of the patently-absurd &quot;NC-17.&quot;</p>

Michelle Williams will break your heart in 'Blue Valentine,' and now she does it with an "R" rating instead of the patently-absurd "NC-17."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

'Blue Valentine' rating overturned on appeal

What does this mean for the film's Oscar chances?

"Blue Valentine," the piercing new drama by Derek Cianfrance starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, has won its appeal against the NC-17 rating originally awarded to the film by the MPAA's ratings board.  The film will now be released with an "R" rating on December 31st by the Weinstein Company.

What does this appeal mean in regards to the MPAA overall, and what does this mean to the film as an awards season contender?  Those two questions have both come up in the last few weeks in multiple conversations about the film, and I think both questions have answers that can be seen as either troubling or promising depending on your perspective.

For example, the Classification and Ratings Administration, or CARA, which is the actual voting body of the MPAA that handles the ratings, has been changing in the last few years, and I would argue that this appeal has to be viewed as part of a continuity of events that indicates that the CARA's decisions are just as random and baffling as ever, but that the appeals process has finally been fixed, meaning filmmakers have a real shot at getting a reversal on those totally arbitrary decisions at this point. 

The reason I think the system has started to work is because of one revision in the rules on the appeal process, allowing for appeals to cite precedent.  That's so important, such a fundamental idea, that it seems bizarre that it's a recent development.  When you can point at a moment from an earlier film that was rated "R" and show that it was either the same or more graphic than a moment you're fighting for in your own movie, it's invaluable.

The following quotes were sent over from The Weinstein Company in response to today's appeal:

“All of us – the filmmakers and cast – were united in our support for the film in its original form.  After presenting our case to the MPAA appeal board today, they were convinced of the artistic nature of Blue Valentine and recognized that it was consistent with the kind of movies for which The Weinstein Company is known.  We appreciate their decision to give the film an ‘R’ rating,” stated TWC Co-Chair Harvey Weinstein, who led the appeal with a team of attorneys including Alan R. Friedman and David Boies.

“Every so often you get to stand up for something that you believe in.  We believed in presenting relationships and sexuality with an honesty and truthfulness often lacking in the grand tradition of Hollywood sensationalism,” stated Derek Cianfrance.  “I am thankful the MPAA saw the light and were humble enough to reverse their decision, and I am also thankful for all the support from the industry and fans of Blue Valentine.  This is a victory for free speech and artistic integrity.”

“I am so appreciative that the MPAA was gracious enough to reconsider their rating of the film,” offered star Ryan Gosling.  “I can’t express how grateful I am to those in the media who stood up for the film and put their reputations on the line in using their voices to support something they believed in.  This is a film that was created for the audience, to reflect how complex they are and to involve them in a dialogue that Derek Cianfrance has been trying to engage them in for twelve years.  We’re over the moon to have the opportunity to finally be able to share it with those for whom it was intended.”

“It is amazing to be a part of this historic decision,” said Blue Valentine producer Jamie Patricof.  “While this has been a frustrating distraction from the film, the outpouring of support from the industry, journalists and film fans has been truly moving.  We are ecstatic, that the MPAA was able to see the honesty that Derek was able to achieve in this film and overturned the original rating, so the film can now be seen all across the world.”

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<p>The poster art for this year's Butt-Numb-A-Thon in Austin promises one of the manliest installments of the festival yet.</p>

The poster art for this year's Butt-Numb-A-Thon in Austin promises one of the manliest installments of the festival yet.

Credit: AICN

The Pre-NAT edition of the Motion/Captured Podcast

Plus a look at what's new onscreen and on video in December

'Tis the season.

And by "season," I mean that it is time for Butt-Numb-A-Thon, the 24-hour movie marathon created by Harry Knowles as the ultimate birthday for himself.

This is the 12th year of the festival, and I've been fortunate enough to attend all of them so far.  As I write this, I'm already in Austin, where I'll be making my way to the Alamo Drafthouse on Saturday, ready for another barrage of both new and vintage films, programmed by Harry for maximum effect.  I know a few things playing, and it's going to be a great year.  I love that I never know a single vintage title that will play, and that those are almost without fail the highlights of each year's line-up.

Scott Swan, my old friend and writing partner, is unable to join us in Austin this year, but he's been to many prior Butt-Numb-A-Thons.  As a result, he was the perfect guest to have on the podcast this week to talk about years past and what may happen this year.

We also run down the last few weeks of home video new-releases and we look at what's still coming out in these final days of 2010.  It's a loose and casual podcast overall, and one of the last ones for the year.  We may have a special holiday edition, and if things really work out, I'll run a couple of "best of" looks at the year's very best in Blu-ray with Scott by my side to sift through it all.

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<p>By the time the third 'Matrix' movie was released, the Wachowskis were viewed as major mainstream filmmakers, but 'Speed Racer' may have tarnished that.&nbsp; Will 'Hood' put them back on top?</p>

By the time the third 'Matrix' movie was released, the Wachowskis were viewed as major mainstream filmmakers, but 'Speed Racer' may have tarnished that.  Will 'Hood' put them back on top?

Credit: Warner Bros.

Will the Wachowskis play Robin 'Hood' with Will Smith?

The writing-directing team looks to update a classic myth in their next mainstream movie

I'm one of the critics who went on the record to defend "Speed Racer" when the film was released a few years ago, and I am confident that the film will grow in esteem over the years.  I am very curious to see how the Wachowskis overcome the baggage that has become attached to their names, and I'm confident they can do it. 

An important step may be the production of the film "Hood," which was just set up at Warner Bros.  Described as a "modern urban" version of the classic "Robin Hood" story, the most intriguing thing about the way the movie's coming together is the missed opportunity that the Wachowskis appear to be revisiting here.

Did you know Will Smith was very nearly Neo opposite Sean Connery as Morpheus in "The Matrix"?  How do you feel about that as an alternate version of the movie?  Can you imagine it?

If Will Smith wants to play a modern urban Robin Hood for the Wachowskis, I think that sounds like a great match, a great team-up, and it's exciting to think about what might result from that collaboration.  It sounds like the script is done, and with Warner Bros. coming onboard, this may come together quickly.

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<p>Sharlto Copely starred in Neil Blomkamp's Oscar-nominated debut film, 'District 9,' and the two will team again for 'Elysium'</p>

Sharlto Copely starred in Neil Blomkamp's Oscar-nominated debut film, 'District 9,' and the two will team again for 'Elysium'

Credit: SPHE

The Morning Read: Neil Blomkamp gets ready to depart for 'Elysium'

Plus the big 'Narnia' gamble and Louis CK dominates Jay Leno

Welcome to The Morning Read.

We're entering that time of the year when things get weird and schedules go wonky and I want to make sure that the Morning Read doesn't suffer.  I've had that happen before, and it becomes a hard habit to get back into if I let things get away from me.

It's certainly not for lack of material.  I was on the move last Friday, so we're talking about almost a week since the last Morning Read, and that means there's been an avalanche of links that I've bookmarked.  Let's see how many of them I can get through, working roughly backwards in chronology, starting with this morning's news that Neil Blomkamp is hard at work now setting up his next film, "Elysium."  It's exciting to hear that Sharlto Copley will be starring again for him.  I would love to get a hold of that graphic novel that Blomkamp is presenting to studios as they meet about the film, set on another planet in a distant future.  The cool thing here is that MRC is already committed to making the film.  All they're doing right now is looking for a distributor, something that should be very easy to pin down based on the amazing success of "District 9," both critically and financially.

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<p>Jang Dong and Danny Huston co-star in the new film 'The Warrior's Way' opening this weekend</p>

Jang Dong and Danny Huston co-star in the new film 'The Warrior's Way' opening this weekend

Credit: HitFix

Watch: The cast of 'The Warrior's Way' mixes cowboys and kung-fu

Danny Huston and Jang Dong bring East and West together

It's unusual for me to sit down to speak to cast from a film before I've actually seen the movie and even now, I still haven't seen "The Warrior's Way," which opened yesterday after spending some time on a shelf. 

That may not be promising, but I'm a fan of genre mash-ups, and one of my favorite in recent memory was the sensational "The Good, The Bad & The Weird," a movie that mixed Korean/Chinese history and American Western archetypes to amazing effect.

It sounds like "The Warrior's Way" is aiming for that same sort of mix of influences, and that's the main reason I agreed to sit down with Danny Huston and Jang Dong, the stars of the film.  Well, that and the fact that Huston hails from a Hollywood family that has demonstrated a mastery of genre for several generations now.

Jang Dong isn't a household name here in the U.S., but he's been in some remarkable Korean films.  In particular, I would recommend anyone who loves war films should track down "Tae Guk Ki," which Jang Bong was part of.  It's an amazing ensemble effort that offered up a perspective I'd never seen in film before.

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Watch: Natalie Portman spills the secrets of 'Black Swan'

Watch: Natalie Portman spills the secrets of 'Black Swan'

Watch her face when we mention 'Your Highness'

It's funny that I'd be posting this only a few days after I've posted an interview with Jeff Bridges, because this is pretty much the polar opposite in terms of performances.

I'll admit it… I'm a tech nerd.  I love the way technology and performance are increasingly combined for an end result these days.  But I am also a huge fan of performances where an actor pushes themselves to a physical extreme in pursuit of a transformation that no computer could accomplish.

One of the defining performances I saw as a young film fan growing up was Robert De Niro's in "Raging Bull."  I studied that film, looking at the way De Niro took himself from lean, polished, chiseled physical perfection to this bloated, ruined bag of fat, and it stuck with me because I couldn't imagine that being the same person.  Since then, we've seen other actors who have pushed themselves to extremes in order to create striking images and give life to stunning characters. 

Christian Bale practically built his early career on his ability to waste away to almost nothing, and if you saw Matt Damon in one of his early roles in "Courage Under Fire," what he did to himself in the film actually hurt him.  One of the reasons I would consider Michael Fassbender one of the most promising actors to emerge in the last few years is because of his harrowing work in "Hunger."  It's dangerous to push your body to extremes in either direction, which is one of the reasons we can't look away when we're watching it.

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<p>Garrett Hedlund starts to suspect he may be in trouble in a moment from Disney's megabudget new sequel, &quot;TRON:&nbsp;Legacy&quot;</p>

Garrett Hedlund starts to suspect he may be in trouble in a moment from Disney's megabudget new sequel, "TRON: Legacy"

Credit: Walt Disney Company

Review: 'TRON: Legacy" dazzles visually, but ultimately disappoints

Is it enough to just look and sound great?

In 1982, when the original "TRON" was released, I was a wee lad of 12 years old.

I feel like I should offer up some thoughts on the original film because it may help you gauge what you should think about my review of the new mega-budget sequel to the film, "TRON: Legacy," which arrives in theaters on December 17th on a wave of hype that is as big as Disney can possibly generate.  They've been building to this moment for a while now, ever since that reveal of the test footage at Comic-Con.  They've bet big on this one, and they're already working on an animated spin-off and talking about making more sequels.  And all of that makes sense… if the film is good.

So in 1982, I was already a rabid movie addict, and that summer was, in my opinion, the single best genre year of my lifetime.  And not just up till the point, but still.  It was a preposterous avalanche of great genre films, and I soaked it all up happily. 

I even ran a whole series of articles about the subject over at Ain't It Cool back in 2007, in which I had different writers tackle different films from that summer that they loved or that were important to them.  Harry wrote the article on "TRON," and I wrote an introduction for that piece which I'll reprint here:

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<p>Johnny Depp will reprise his wildly popular character Captain Jack Sparrow in at least two more &quot;Pirates&quot;&nbsp;sequels following the release of &quot;On Stranger Tides&quot;&nbsp;in May.</p>

Johnny Depp will reprise his wildly popular character Captain Jack Sparrow in at least two more "Pirates" sequels following the release of "On Stranger Tides" in May.

Credit: Walt Disney Company

EXCLUSIVE: Disney will set sail for 'Pirates of the Caribbean' 5 & 6 back-to-back

But with a busy Johnny Depp, when will the sequels happen?

After the surprise success of "Pirates Of The Caribbean: Curse Of The Black Pearl," Disney quickly put a plan in place to create two sequels back-to-back.  Gore Verbinski directed both of the sequels, and I spent time with him during the editing of both pictures. 

Towards the very end of post-production on "At World's End," we spoke at the ADR stages, and I've never seen someone who looked more tired.  He was so exhausted that Disney wouldn't allow him to drive himself anywhere.  And when he got those films across the finish line, it didn't surprise me at all that he just kind of dropped off the radar for a little while.  It's an unreal amount of work to pull off something like that.

Without Verbinski directing the fourth film in the series, and without Dick Cook at Disney to help shepherd the film, the prospect of "Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" seemed daunting at first, but eventually, Disney hired Rob Marshall, and they've wrapped photography on the film now.  My guess is that things went very, very well, better than Disney even expected.

How do I know? 

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David Slade on 'Eclipse' saying goodbye to 'Wolverine 2' and what's next
Credit: Erica Farjo

David Slade on 'Eclipse' saying goodbye to 'Wolverine 2' and what's next

Director also explains just why Victoria went up that tree

It’s safe to say that for film fans of the non-“team-Edward” or “team-Jacob” variety,  “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” is the most accessible. It was choc full of action and included considerably less navel gazing than the previous installments. I’m biased of course, as I’ve known director David Slade since the days when I was in TV commercial production and he was primarily a commercial director.

His first feature “Hard Candy” was a stunning psychological thriller about a teenaged girl who takes revenge on a suspected pedophile by kidnapping him in his own apartment. Slade’s second film was “30 Days of Night,” a hard “R” horror movie about vampires that take advantage of the sunless winters in northernmost Alaska to have a “sunless spring break” of sorts, and go blood crazy on a small town.
So, when Summit Entertainment Googled “Director” “teenaged girl” and “vampire” his name popped up and he was instantly hired for “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.” (Ok, it might have been more complicated than that, let me re-check my facts and get back to you.)
Long story short, “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” is being released on Blu-Ray this weekend and Mr. Slade was kind enough to have me over and talk about the “Eclipse” DVD and more.
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