Damon Lindelof, you are no longer the Padawan. Obviously, you've now graduated to full-blown Mystery Box Jedi.
Who knows what "1952" is? Well, Disney executives know, but that's it. Other than them, Damon Lindelof isn't telling anyone what to expect from what is described as "an original sci-fi family adventure film."
Fine. I don't need to know a logline to know I'm interested. Lindelof has been a busy, busy man since "Lost" went off the air a year ago, and whatever he's doing, I'm interested. I want to see what he cooks up because I just plain like the way he thinks. I remain a "Lost" fan after the ending of the show, and no matter what I thought of individual choices made along the way, that was a great ride overall, and I begrudge the creators of the show nothing. They entertained me for six years. Well-played. That's all I asked.
Damon Lindelof, you are no longer the Padawan. Obviously, you've now graduated to full-blown Mystery Box Jedi.
I am a firm believer in Sacha Baron Cohen.
I think both "Borat" and "Bruno" are impressive character comedies, and the way Cohen builds and inhabits his characters intrigues me. He is a dedicated, inventive performer, and in a way, it feels like "The Dictator" is one of the most important moments he's had so far.
Up till now, we've been watching him cross over from the small screen to the bigscreen. Both Borat and Bruno were characters created for "Da Ali G Show," and they had been tested and perfected there. Both films played as sort of pseudo-documentaries about the characters interacting with people who were often real people, unaware of the joke. And while I think both films have very different things to say, there is an undeniable similarity between them in style. The one traditional narrative comedy that Cohen's done, the actual Ali G movie, was sort of painful. It didn't work as a film, even if there are a few nice moments here and there.
One of the benefits, if you can call them that, of the PlayStation Network getting hacked and being down for a few weeks is that they are fairly desperate to make it up to customers now that they're starting to restore the service. One of the things they're doing is offering customers two free games from a fairly short list, and I picked "Super Stardust HD" as one of my games.
If you've never seen it, it's basically "Asteroids" cranked up to the point of madness, and it's a perfect "I have fifteen minutes and just want to play one quick game of something" title. If you've got a 3D TV, you can even play the game in 3D, and it is totally lunatic when you do so. Playing the game, I've been impressed by the way it is basically just one of the first arcade games of all time, with graphics that are updated but gameplay that is pure throwback. I didn't even realize how much I loved "Asteroids" until I started playing this.
At this point, the fake documentary/found footage subgenere has become almost omnipresent. TV shows have taken on the form with shows like "The Office" and "Modern Family," and since '99, when "The Blair Witch Project" became a box-office sensation, almost every genre's had their found footage movie, and filmmakers continue to wring fresh life out of the basic form.
The latest example of someone getting it right opens this Friday in limited release, and it's worth the effort for you to track it down. Andre Ovredal wrote and directed the film, and it is a smart and funny use of mythology that works as both wicked comedy and sad commentary. At the start of the film, a group of students are working on a documentary about what they believe are poachers, killing bears all over the country. They find the guy they think is responsible and start to follow him, gradually realizing that he's something far stranger than just a poacher.
It's not a spoiler, since it's the title of the movie, to reveal that the stranger turns out to be a Trollhunter, working for the government to not only keep the existence of trolls a secret, but to also keep the trolls on government land, safe and sound. He's been doing it for so long that he's burnt out, and he decides to let the students film what he does, dragging the secret out into the light finally.
Has 20th Century Fox finally turned a corner in terms of the way they're handling their various superhero properties?
Anyone who sat through "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and "X-Men: First Class" would have to ask that question, because they are such radically different ways of handling the same basic material that it doesn't seem possible that the same people are behind both films.
David Slade, one of the directors who came close to directing "The Wolverine" before Darren Aronofsky got the job, obviously made a strong impression on the upper brass at Fox, because they ended up hiring him for "Daredevil" instead.Â While some might view that project as tainted goods, Slade seemed genuinely excited by the opportunity, and he's been playing his cards pretty close to his vest over the last couple of months.
Tonight, thanks to the news breaking about the hiring of Brad Caleb Kane to write the film, we also have our first look at what it is that Slade has in mind for the reboot, and it looks like he's going straight for the best-known story from the run of the best writer who's ever worked on the character.
There are few genres that reveal quite as much about the filmmaker as the coming of age story. "Submarine" may be based on a novel by Joe Dunthorne, but there is such a personal quality to the film that a few days after I saw it at Sundance, I happened to spot director Richard Ayoade in the lobby of the Yarrow Hotel, and the urge to walk over and give him a hug ran through me. I resisted, but that's the way "Submarine" affected me. It is a wonderful film, smart and funny and beautifully performed, and it speaks well of what Ayoade is capable of behind the camera.
If Americans know Ayoade, it's probably from his work on "The IT Crowd," a sitcom from the UK where he plays Moss, an uber-nerd who would make the guys on "The Big Bang Theory" look like Shaft by comparison. His co-star on the show, Chris O'Dowd, made his big American breakthrough in films last month as Kristen Wiig's romantic interest in "Bridesmaids," and I'm curious to see what happens with him as a result. It is important, though, for Ayoade's film to make some sort of a splash, because I want more work from him in the future. No… I'll go one step further. Based on how good "Submarine" is, I need more movies from him. Absolutely.
One of the most important things Pixar does is maintain their short film program, allowing younger talents or artists who work in departments where directing may not seem like the most logical next step to make the jump and express new voices. It's paid off in any number of ways over the years, and their short films are one of the highlights of each year's new release.
When we first got the "WALL-E" Blu-ray, I think we watched "Presto," the short film that was attached to that film, about 150 times. It's a masterpiece of timing and performance, and one of the things I love about these short films is how they can emphasize a single idea or a technical innovation, and they help push forward the technical side of the feature division. I also dug it when they gave Gary Rydstrom a shot at directing with "Lifted," which is a great piece of comedy staging, or when they had Bud Luckey, a legend in the industry, finally bring his long-time dream "Boundin'" to life.
Now, Enrico Casarosa is going to be taking his shot with "La Luna," and we've got a look at the film's style as well as a synopsis for you.
If you'd like to get a look at the original "Big Man Japan," it's available on Netflix Instant right, and it's worth your time. Of course, I offer up that information with a caveat: the movie is incredibly, almost mind-bogglingly weird.
It's also one of those things where the more familiar you are with the film conventions that it intentionally, gleefully subverts, the more you're going to end up enjoying the film, and it really only works as a response to the tradition of kaiju movies and TV shows that are such a fundamental part of Japan's pop culture history.
So when the news broke via press release this morning to announce that Columbia purchased the remake and sequel rights to "Big Man Japan," I had a hard time imagining what sort of plans Neal Moritz has for the material. Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi are already onboard to write the new film, and it sounds like something they are moving forward on fairly quickly.
As usual, there are no isolated incidents in Hollywood, and right now, kaiju is starting to become a hot property in general. Legendary Pictures seems determined to make the genre viable on the bigscreen between their development of "Godzilla" and Guillermo Del Toro's "Pacific Rim," and both of those sound like serious approaches to the notion of giant monsters.
One of the stories breaking this morning is about Dwayne Johnson joining the "G.I. Joe" sequel for Paramount, and while our own Dave Lewis wrote the story up for the site, I popped in to talk about how Johnson seems to be building a game plan that involves making sequels to films he didn't originally appear in.
Speaking of sequels, though, the Deadline story that everyone's linking to for the Johnson news also contained the following throw-away line: "The picture has become an important one for Paramount, which will have to scratch the 'Star Trek' sequel from its summer 2012 schedule and will likely put this film in its place."
During all of the press JJ Abrams has been doing for "Super 8," he has been setting the fanbase up to wait for a while longer while he and Damon Lindelof and Kurtman and Orci all work to make sure that the sequel to the film, offering up variations on ideas like "we're not making a release date, we're making a movie," and "we're going to work on it until it's right." I know people have been assuming that the summer of 2012 was the release date, but I hadn't actually seen that confirmed anywhere. So how is it that "Star Trek" is suddenly moving "off" a date it wasn't really on in the first place?
Welcome to The Morning Read.
So did the blog seem a little light on content to you last week? Well, I apologize. I got sidelined by some health issues, and while I'm still working through them, I'm well enough to at least get back to work here. There's nothing quite like a doctor reacting like Sydney Pollack in "Death Becomes Her" to get my attention, and I'm going to be focused on doing some things differently to prevent this sort of thing instead of just reacting when my health does let me down.
In the meantime, I've got a big crazy trip planned for the 21st of this month, and I sort of can't believe where I'm heading. It's one of those moments where I am fascinated at the way writing about movies can open up the world for me. I look forward to sharing that one with you, in all its lunatic glory, once I've actually left for the trip. In the meantime, let's jump back into the Morning Read fray, because there's an amazing line-up of stuff out there today.
First, have you seen the reaction to "Human Centipede II" by the BBFC? Be warned… if you read their decision, it's loaded with "spoilers" for the sequel, but in order to understand their decision to ban the film completely, you need to read the details. The film cannot be legally supplied anywhere in the UK now. I'm not a fan of the first film, and I think the second one sounds silly, but banning it? That gives the film an instant power that it would probably not have otherwise, and it also sends the message that the contents of the film are genuinely dangerous. I'd say that is pure win for Tom Six and whoever releases "Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)" around the world.