It seems like 2011 has been a pretty good year to be Joe Cornish.
After all, he released his first film as a writer/director this year, the instant cult classic "Attack The Block," and he's also got a co-writing credit on the new Steven Spielberg animated film "The Adventures Of Tintin." Add to that the work he's been doing with Edgar Wright on the still in-development Marvel movie "Ant-Man," and this is pretty much as good a year as you can have as a filmmaker.
When I introduced the film at its first screening this year and then held the Q&A with Cornish afterwards, it was the kickoff to what has apparently been a non-stop media parade for him, and when he called last week, I told him how much I've enjoyed seeing everything unfold for the film in the meantime. "I appreciate that. Thank you. The support from the, as you'd call it, blogosphere has been the absolute lifeblood of this film, and I'm very appreciative of all the support."
That's the point, though. When I love a movie, the only thing I can do to help is to keep talking about it as much as possible. I told him it was strange seeing the movie at home for the first time because I missed hearing all the reactions that were part of each public screening I went to for it. "Well, hopefully, if people haven't seen it, they can have friends over and make an event of it and turn the lights out."
It seems like 2011 has been a pretty good year to be Joe Cornish.
Yes, Max Landis is related to that Landis. Now get over it.
It really is a double-edged sword growing up with a famous last name, because it may well open doors for you, but it also means people constantly assume that you don't have to do any real work, and that's ridiculous. Max Landis may have grown up with John Landis as a father, and he may have been around film sets since he was a baby, and he may have met many of the people who can hire him socially because of that, but in the end, if the films he writes are going to work, they're going to have to work because of talent, not because of his name.
I wasn't a huge fan of "Deer Woman," the "Masters Of Horror" episode he wrote for his dad, but I liked the ambition and the attitude of it. I thought it had a really strange and novel sensibility, and I'm curious to see what his voice is over the next few movies, starting with "Chronicle," which looks like a sort of found-footage superhero riff. But dark. Maybe real dark.
Mark Romanek and Tom Hanks almost worked together before.
"Almost" is a big word in Romanek's filmography, unfortunately. He almost made "The Wolfman" before famously falling out of the film which went on to be troubled all the way through production.
And in 2005, he almost made "A Cold Case," which was written by no less than John Sayles and Eric Roth. Based on a novel, it was the story of Andy Rosenzweig, an investigator for the Manhattan DA's office, who became obsessed with two murders from 1970 that he is convinced were pinned on the wrong person.
Now it looks like there's a chance they'll finally collaborate, and this could be an important film for Romanek, commercially speaking. He needs it, too. As gifted as he is, and I believe he's enormously gifted, he has not been a successful filmmaker in terms of box-office so far. While he's arguably one of the most talented guys to ever work for Propaganda Films, his career since 2002's "One Hour Photo," featuring one of the best performances in Robin Williams's career, has been a slow-motion attempt to make smart films that just didn't quite come together. His third film was 2010's "Never Let Me Go," and it's a gorgeous, crushingly sad movie that was a hard sell for general audiences.
I hardly ever think about River Phoenix's untimely death these days.
I'm still acutely aware of the giant hole his passing left, though. If you were still young when he dropped dead on Halloween night, 1993, you may not have understood just how much pressure there was on Phoenix as one of Hollywood's biggest young stars.
He was, after all, brilliant. Not just a good young actor, but a remarkable presence on a set, someone who had very quickly made themselves an indispensable part of the industry. He made a strong impression early, and then kept delivering on that promise with performance after performance. Whatever it was that drove him, Phoenix seemed miles ahead of his peers. When you watch his work in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," for example, pay attention to the way he gets every detail of Harrison Ford's iconic work as Indy into his performance, and then remember that he spent time with Ford playing father and son in "The Mosquito Coast" a few years earlier. He was a sponge, soaking up the people around him and then perfectly playing back what he observed. He was movie star pretty, but he also seemed to chafe at the notion of being a movie star. He was bold in the projects and the collaborators he sought out, and he was trying to find his own voice as an artist in the people he chose to work with.
Are you excited for "Tintin"?
If your first reaction is to start grumbling about technology, then I don't know how to get past that. To my mind, the last thing that's interesting about this movie is the software and hardware used to produce it. We live in an age of miracles we take for granted and even complain about, and it tires me.
What excites me about "Tintin" is specifically the collision of talent that it represents. If you read my piece about the San Diego Comic-Con presentation this summer by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, I laid out my thoughts upon seeing the first real footage from the movie.
I've seen more at this point, and I've seen enough to see the characters at play. For example, I'm intrigued by the interplay between Thompson (Simon Pegg) and Thomson (Nick Frost), and I'm trying to imagine the sessions where they recorded that, alone in a room with Steven Spielberg. You look at "Spaced," and you take into account how genuine their love of genre is, and it's hard not to take pleasure in the idea of those two guys just playing, slapstick and banter brought to painted life.
"Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is." - Yoda
It's hard to believe there are only two more "Star Wars" movies left to watch with the boys. When that Blu-ray box arrived at the house, setting off the Occupy Dad's Office movement, it seemed like it would take forever to make it through all of the films. Now we're coming down to the biggest moments in the series, and the boys are already getting ready to start over.
"Dad, in the 'Revenge On The Sith' and the 'Return On The Jedi' movies, we're gonna learn about the truth about Darth Vader, right?"
"So we're going to know if Old Obi-Wan or Darth Vader was telling the truth, right?"
When I was in Russia this summer for the international press day for "Transformers 3," there was a good deal of conversation about how this was the end of the franchise for Michael Bay and for Shia LaBeouf.
Turns out, that talk may have been a bit premature.
The last story I published, about the "Micronauts" deal, was based in part on information revealed in the Hasbro Q3 earnings call that happened this morning. During the call, another surprising bit of information was revealed, and now it looks like Paramount, Hasbro, Steven Spielberg, and Michael Bay are all in discussions to continue the franchise.
When you make a part three in a series and it makes a billion dollars worldwide, you don't stop making those films. Not if you're a Hollywood studio. And so the conversations are underway now, and it looks like Bay is still in the mix despite some of the conversations he had in Moscow about having finally finished with the giant f'ing robots.
It should not come as a surprise to anyone that Hasbro wants to keep making new movies based on their toy and game products. After all, "Transformers 3" looks to be one of the highest-grossing films of the year, and they've had pretty good luck so far in their relationship with Hollywood.
The "Micronauts" property has passed through many hands over the years. I remember having a conversation with Gale Anne Hurd's company about the material years ago when they were looking for a writer, and the thing that struck me as we looked through the materials they offered us was that this is even less of a fully-realized concept or world than something like "Transformers," and whoever does finally turn this into a film is going to have an uphill battle to figure out what story they're telling.
I guess it's a good thing they've got JJ Abrams producing and Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese onboard as screenwriters.
Now that people are starting to review "The Adventures Of Tintin," and the word seems to be largely positive, it's going to be even harder for American film fans to wait for Christmas.
I understand why "Tintin" is coming out everywhere else first. The character is iconic in Europe in a way that it just isn't here in America. Even so, I think a two month gap is going to be almost sadistic once people start talking about how well Spielberg and Jackson and an army of WETA animators have managed to bring Herge's creation to life.
Today, we've got the new one-sheet for the movie, and it looks like Paramount's finally got Tintin's face front and center. People have been talking ever since the first bit of footage or the first few stills that it seems like the advertising has cleverly hidden the faces and the mouths of the characters because of the uncanny valley issue. Here, we've got the intrepid reporter looking right into the camera, and it's fascinating how his design seems to honor Herge's intention while still playing much closer to "real."
There are little movie trivia facts that I love to trot out in certain conversations just because I love the reactions from people when they hear them. For example, whenever 1983's "Twilight Zone: The Movie" comes up, I love to point out that the original plan wasn't to make an anthology film. Instead, they considered telling one story and simply branding it with the name "Twilight Zone" to kick off a series of films.
The script they were going to use for the film was "Miracle Mile." Yes, the same "Miracle Mile" that eventually got made with Anthony Edwards as the lead. That was very nearly the first "Twilight Zone" movie, and I wonder what would have happened if that had been the approach.
It sounds like the new Warner Bros. feature is returning to the concept of one film, one story, and they've been developing a script by Jason Rothenberg for a while now, with Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Davisson Killoran, and Michael Ireland producing for their company Appian Way. We've heard a lot of speculation about who would direct the film, but it appears they've finally made their choice, and I think it's a pretty great decision.