One of the great mysteries of the last 20 years is why it has been hard for Hollywood to make a new "Fletch" movie.
If your only knowledge of Irwin "Fletch" Fletcher is from the Chevy Chase film or its sequel, then you might not understand my frustration. If you're a fan of Gregory McDonald's novels, though, then you know what I'm talking about. He wrote great, simple, wildly witty adventures featuring the character for years, and much of what people assume was invented by Chase is pretty much a direct lift from McDonald's first book. He really was that funny in print, well before Chase got there.
In fact, the thing that makes the first film so good, in my opinion, is that McDonald provides such a strong mystery spine that the comedy feels like a bonus, not the point. And it helps that Andrew Bergman wrote the script since he's, you know, a big-brained comedy god. You get to be called that for the rest of your life when you wrote "The In-Laws," "The Freshman," and co-wrote "Blazing Saddles." That's in the WGAw bylaws, I think.
One of the great mysteries of the last 20 years is why it has been hard for Hollywood to make a new "Fletch" movie.
Now that they've officially announced the beginning of production, Warner Bros. appears to have kicked off their viral campaign for "The Dark Knight Rises," and the result is our first look at Tom Hardy as Bane, one of the film's big villains.
It's interesting how closely this appears to be following the model they followed with their "Dark Knight" campaign. I guess Warner feels like there's no reason to change something that built to a billion-dollar worldwide gross. They've got very different elements at play this time, though, and while I think the reveal of Heath Ledger's look as The Joker was one of those lightning-bolt pop culture moments thanks to the iconic Joker/Batman relationship. I'm not sure Bane holds anything like that sort of grip on the audience's minds.
Instead, what I hope works is the air of mystery about the overall film, and when you look at what Hardy's wearing, it kicks off the mystery with what appears to be an intriguing visual cue. That mouthpiece is, if I'm not mistaken, a skeletal hand. Who exactly is this version of the character? A weapon unleashed by the League Of Shadows? Who designed his gear? Who pulls his strings?
I hope that even with reveals of characters like Selina Kyle aka Catwoman, played this time around by Anne Hathaway, they come at it sideways instead of just giving us a shot of the typical spandex clad… er, wait a minute. I just considered a spandex-clad Hathaway, and decided that is what I want after all. Scratch what I just said.
Got four new looks at J.J. Abrams 'Super 8' in the inbox this morning. I hesitate to call them 'clips' because they're obviously tv spots or highly edited pieces that share footage with each other. They're calling them 'sequences' which is a new one for me. All center around the same train crash scene we can presume is at the beginning of the film and sets all the story in motion.
The film takes place in 1979 and focuses on a teenage boy who's life is turned upside down when strange supernatural things start happening in his small town after something is released from a government transport train after a crash that may have not been an accident. (notice a certain "Hatch"Â shot in the "Run"Â clip? Looks a little familiar to me!)
Sporting lot's of Spielbergian lighting and wide eyed kids in danger, the clips highlight that this is an admittedly nostalgic story by Abrams for the time in his childhood when he first started shooting super 8 movies.
UPDATE: James Cameron and Michael Bay preach the 3D gospel and sneak 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon'
HOLLYWOOD - In an odd confluence of big summer movie publicity and 3D technology proselytising, Paramount Studios gathered a theater full of journalists, film students, and I would assume DPs and industry folk to watch a few minutes of "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" and to hear Michael Bay and James Cameron talk about 3D and all it entails. The evening was called "3D: A Transforming Visual Art" (See what they did there?)
The evening began awkwardly with a quick video of Michael Bay accepting his Vanguard award at ShoWest, (the theater owners convention) in 2009 saying that it wasn't necessary for filmmakers to jump to 3D en masse immediately because it "might be a gimmick, might not." The irony did not seem lost on Bay that three years after discouraging theater owners from buying 3D projectors for their cinemas, here he was with a 3D picture of his own.
The conversation that ensued between Bay and Cameron was pretty entertaining because they both have… how to put it politely? Strong personalities. Although mostly cordial, Bay repeatedly spoke about being "old school" and of his reservations about shooting in the format, "They said James had a camera that could be easily used handheld, then I found out you (Cameron) broke your back" to which Cameron replied cooly "That's not true." (To make a long and technical story short, the cameras had grown in size since Avatar, which Cameron did shoot mostly handheld.)
The rapturous sound of Wagner's "Tristan un Isolde" wraps around the audience as surreal images of the end of the world unfold in slow motion. Kirsten Dunst, gaunt and adult in a way we've never seen before, stands at the center of the chaos, almost bathing in it. Before we ever see the title of the film, a hand-written scrawl with the director's name above it in equal size, Lars Von Trier's "Melancholia" has already offered up a more ravishing experience than most of the films I've seen this year, and at that point, he's just getting warmed up.
I have an on-again/off-again relationship with the work of Von Trier. I remember a great deal of buzz before the American release of "Zentropa," and by the time I walked out of it, I was ready to write him off entirely. Nothing about the film appealed to me. Then someone showed me his earlier film "The Element Of Crime," and I got interested again. His mini-series "The Kingdom" convinced me that there was a disturbingly dark wit at play in his work, and 1996's "Breaking The Waves" absolutely pulverized me emotionally. It remains one of my favorite films of that entire decade, punishing as it is. I'm not a fan of "The Idiots" or "Manderlay," and "Dogville" was an experiment I liked but didn't love. "Dancer in The Dark" is one of those films that I am fairly sure I admired, but that I never ever want to sit through again. His experimental movie "The Five Obstructions" is one of the canniest films about filmmaking I've ever seen, a way of illustrating just how much any one thing can affect the entire outcome of a piece of collaborative art. And with "Antichrist," it felt like he pushed shock as far as he possibly could, not to destroy his audience, but hopefully to destroy himself. Even when I don't like something he makes, I find I am compelled to examine it, sometimes more than once.
While I'm busy kicking my cinematic heroes in the balls today, I might as well finally share some thoughts on the new film by Kim Ki-Duk.
Since seeing "The Isle" at the Sundance Film Festival in 2001, I've greatly admired this outrageous, ambitious Korean director, and several of his films have become favorites of mine in the years since.Â In particular, I adore "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring," a meditative piece that seemed to mark a new maturity for him.Â For the last three years, though, he's been suffering from a crippling depression that has kept him away from filmmaking, due in large part to a near-fatal accident involving an actress on the set of "Dream," his last film.Â
This is not a narrative film, but a documentary of sorts, a diary of depression as he tries to deal with his artistic block and his newly discovered fears about what could go wrong while making a movie.Â It is a nakedly personal film, and it is also almost completely unwatchable.
It seems sort of amazing that it's only been a little over six years since I got to know Judd Apatow. I'd been a fan since his name first showed up on "The Ben Stiller Show," and he turned out to be exactly as cool and as approachable as I'd hoped when we first met on the set of "The 40-Year-Old Virgin."
Paul Feig's name has always been tangled up with Apatow's for me since "Freaks and Geeks" first aired, and although it makes him wince any time anyone mentions it to him, I met him on the set of "Unaccompanied Minors" and instantly liked him.
It helps that I'd read his books before meeting him, and if you can, put your hands on a copy of Superstud right now and prepare yourself for the bruising your ribs will take from all the laughter. I spent a morning during the Writer's Strike a few years ago marching the picket line with Paul outside Warner Bros., and he's always struck me as a guy who knows comedy theory inside out, and who actually has the skills to put all of that theory into practice.
It was nice to see Apatow and Feig together, and when you're talking about comedy with guys like this, you do not want to phone it in. Thankfully, I probably couldn't be more relaxed chatting with these two, and I hope that comes through in this conversation.
When I first moved to Los Angeles in 1990, there were already rumors that Steven Spielberg was interested in making a live-action version of "Tintin." Evidently, he was a huge fan from childhood, and he considered it one of those great untapped properties. In the 20 years since then, there have been any number of near-misses for the character as Spielberg has continually tried to figure out how to bring him to life on the bigscreen.
So it's a little strange to finally see a trailer for "Tintin," which no longer appears to be using the "Secret of the Unicorn" subtitle. There were two different posters for the film that appeared online yesterday, one on Empire, one on Ain't It Cool, and it appears there are some slight differences in the domestic and the international versions of the trailer as well.
For those of us in the US, Apple.com is hosting the trailer, [update: it's embedded below now too] and I took the time to download the full 1080p version because I wanted to be able to really look at the work and see it in motion and, most importantly, check out the eyes. Sure enough, WETA once again proves that they are the best company out there for this sort of thing. They give life to these characters that has eluded many people who have worked in motion-capture (coughRobertZemeckiscough), and it really does seem to hinge on how well the eyes work.
I have never understood the mentality behind the competing projects moments that erupt from time to time in Hollywood, but I've been ground zero for one of them, and it's something that will end up happening over and over again.Â The latest example just heated up today with the announcement that "Snow White And The Huntsman" is moving up to a June 2012 release date, effectively trumping Relativity Media's plan to release their "Snow White" movie at the end of the same month.
This has been a brutal race already, but this decision is beyond aggressive.Â Just the idea that there were two version of "Snow White" in development was already potentially bloody, but there were originally a full seven months between them.Â Now, they're set for release less that four weeks apart.Â At this point, I'm curious to see how Universal and Relativity handle this, because one of these movies is going end up on the short end of the stick.
It doesn't always come down to what's first, of course.Â "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon" is a good example of one of these races where the second one in release managed to be the box-office giant.Â And sometimes, neither film ends up working, as with "Dante's Peak" and "Volcano."Â In more cases, someone blinks and pulls the plug on one of the films before they even go into production.Â And since both of these "Snow White" projects are still hypothetical, there's still time for anything to happen.
I was happy to see the new trailer for "Fright Night" in my inbox this morning. I had the pleasure of visiting the set a few months back (details still under embargo) and have been very curious about where the film was going to be going as far as tone. It's a trade-off that studios make when they make a re-make. They get built in name recognition (among a certain age group) and probably in their minds a "tested" concept, in exchange for the inevitable comparisons to the original. The more beloved the original, the higher the risk of fans going b.s. crazy if they get it wrong.
Fitting smack-dab into the aforementioned age demographic for "Fright Night," I saw it once or twice back in the day, but I remember it fondly. I have met people, however, who LOVE this movie and have seen hundreds of times. It's combination of humor, teen angst, and some quality scares hits all the right buttons for many folks. I assume that they look upon this remake with the same (valid) trepidation that I had for the "Rollerball" remake… shudder.