I started this last year, and it got side-tracked as the end of the year came hurtling towards me.
I haven't abandoned it, though, and starting now, and continuing this year, we're going to make this an every Thursday part of the blog. I decided to do the first 26 entries on the list as an alphabetical A-Z run, and so today, we continue that. Once I reach "Z," though, we'll be opening it up to whatever I consider appropriate. Sometimes it'll be themed to things happening in pop culure, sometimes it'll just be something on my mind, but each and every week, I hope to write about a film I consider an essential part of the education of any true film freak.
One of the sad things about the Academy's decision to move the honorary awards to a separate ceremony is that most of America has no idea that Roger Corman is now an Oscar winner. And as far as I'm concerned, it's long overdue. Corman's impact on American cinema is impossible to estimate, but if you erased every person he ever helped get started in this industry, the last 40 years of film would look totally different. Like many people, I was shocked byhow dismissive much of the reaction to the award was in print and online, and I was particularly struck by just how wrong Eric Snider's complete dismissal of Corman was, but his opinion is probably closer to what the general public feels when they hear the name, if they know who he is at all.
You might want to put some towels down when 3D TV arrives later this year from a variety of manufacturers, including Sony BRAVIA, Philips, and more.
It's interesting... the studios made such a big deal at first about how 3D was going to be the thing that drove people back to the theaters, and based on the performance of "Avatar," they could make that case quite successfully right now.
And yet all I'm hearing right now is about the push to get 3D into the home, and with the Consumer Electronics Show in full-swing in Vegas right now, there's tons of breaking news about the format and what we can expect from it every day. Sony made a splash this morning with the following news:
Culver City, CA (January 7, 2010) – To coincide with the rollout of 3D electronics hardware from Sony Electronics, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) today announced the studio will begin releasing 3D content on Blu-ray Disc™ worldwide in 2010.
The first planned SPHE Blu-ray 3D release will be the recent animated blockbuster “Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs,” timed to the availability of Sony Electronics’ 3D compatible BRAVIA® LCD TVs and 3D compatible Blu-ray disc players in the summer of 2010. More information about the upcoming Blu-ray 3D edition of “Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs,” as well as other future SPHE Blu-ray 3D releases, will be announced in the Spring of 2010.
“3D entertainment on Blu-ray is poised to revolutionize the home viewing experience in much the same way that high-definition televisions and Blu-ray Disc have over the past several years,” said SPHE worldwide president David Bishop. “SPHE is proud to lead the way in providing compelling 3D entertainment to complement the new hardware entering the marketplace.”
I fully intend to pick up one of those BRAVIA 3D sets when they're released this summer. I know people who are saving money for that new Apple tablet thing... not me. I want a 3D HD set and a compatible player, because I've seen a few tests that have blown my mind.
Martin Compston, Gemma Arterton, and Eddie Marsan make a winning trio in the kidnapping drama 'The Disappearance Of Alice Creed'
One of the most constant criticisms I've heard of "Avatar" is "the story isn't original." And while I understand why people want to be knocked out by something they've never seen before, I don't think the only valid form of storytelling is trying to be completely original. Not every movie is going to be "Adaptation". For me, it's not really about the story being told so much as it is about how that story is told.
I was at Toronto this year, seeing whatever I could see, taking recommendations, and since I was up there without a press badge, I was sort of at the mercy of the fates. I had never heard of this film until I was outside a theater and Michael Lerman, a friend from the festival circuit, started raving about how great it was. I was lucky enough to sneak into the only other screening of the film, thanks to Lerman putting me in touch with the right people, and I still owe him a thank you for the suggestion.
Written and directed by J Blakeson (and, yes, that's how he bills himself), this is probably the hundredth indie kidnapping drama I've seen I started working as a professional reviewer. So many of them fall into a familiar pattern, and there's little or nothing they can do to liven up the formula. As soon as this film started, I sort of involuntarily sunk down in my seat, convinced I was in for a whole lot of been-there-done-that.
In Edgar Wright's 'Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World,' Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) prepares to whup some ass with a flaming sword. Call it a lightsaber, and comic artist Bryan Lee O'Malley and Lucasfilm legal will whup some ass of their own.
Credit: Universal Pictures
When I look at the image of Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), flaming sword in hand, with Gideon Graves (Jason Schwartzmann) looking down at him and Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) in the background, it is hard for me to believe that the film really exists and that it's really coming out this year. It's even harder for me to believe that I actually stood on that set in Toronto.
Yet... it's true.
And if you're not yet familiar with the material, I can understand why these early images from "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World" might not blow your mind. But based on how great "Shaun Of The Dead" and "Hot Fuzz" are, one would hope you might get excited based on the knowledge that this is the new film from director Edgar Wright. Or maybe the premise hooks you the same way it did when I first heard about the books, before there was a film in development. A young guy, Scott Pilgrim, is basically just drifting through his life in Toronto, in a band with his friends, sort of dating a high school girl, when suddenly he meets a girl named Ramona Flowers who rocks his world. He wants nothing more than to date her, but she tells him that in order for that to happen, he will have to defeat all seven of her evil ex-boyfriends in battle.
Benecio Del Toro stars as Lawrence Talbot in 'The Wolf Man,' which is finally being released this spring after a rocky production process
Credit: Universal Pictures
Welcome to The Morning Read.
As I was working yesterday on some articles, I was inspired by the "10 best man-in-gorilla-suit movies" list by Mr. Beaks at AICN to throw on some Three Stooges shorts. Those guys knew the value of a good man-in-a-gorilla-suit gag, and sure enough, about two shorts into the disc I randomly picked, there was an entire bit about a mad scientist who wanted to put Curly's brain in a gorilla's body. Good stuff.
And obviously there's something about the simple vulgarity of the Three Stooges that endures. As long as I've known the Farrelly Brothers, they've been interested in making a movie about the Stooges. It's not a biopic, though. It's more of an anthology film, with several Stooges shorts in succession. The film seemed to hit a development wall just as it was getting ready to move in front of the camera when Sean Penn dropped out last year so he could focus on his family. According to a report in yesterday's Boston Herald, Penn is now back onboard. We did a little checking around on our own, and it sounds to me like the Farrellys are planning for a very busy next year and a half, as they get ready to shoot one film for Fox and then shoot "The Three Stooges" right afterwards. That, of course, depends on MGM's financial restructuring, just as "Bond 23" does, but I'm guessing Jim Carrey hasn't been packing on pounds for nothing.
Hit Girl is trying to be polite, so don't make her angry. Just tell her you'll be at the opening night screening of SXSW this year and no one has to get hurt.
Earlier today, I was goofing around on Twitter (big surprise) and Rebecca Feferman, who is in charge of press and publicity for South By Southwest (SXSW) was asking if anyone wanted to guess what movie might be opening the festival this year.
I wrote back, "Beats me, but I bet it will kick ass."
I got this e-mail a few minutes later as a reward for guessing it right. Here are the first official titles announced for the fest, and trust me... if you're able to get there for opening night, "Kick-Ass" is totally worth it.
Austin, Texas -- January 6, 2010 – Earlier today, the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival announced it will host the world premiere of Lionsgate and Marv Films’ Kick-Ass for its 2010 Opening Night. A twisted, funny, high-octane adventure, based on the comic written by Mark Millar and John S. Romita, Jr., Kick-Ass was directed by Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust) from a screenplay by Jane Goldman & Vaughn. The South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival runs March 12 – 20, 2010 in Austin, Texas.
And by that, I mean we finally have the right guy for the job, a guy who should be making a James Bond movie every four months, a guy who wears the role like a tailored tuxedo.
And yet so far, we've got one great movie, one movie that felt like a coda to that movie, and then a whoooooole lot of development angst. And that's all.
I love the notion of Peter Morgan as the first-chair screenwriter on a new Bond film. Action is something that can always be tweaked and finessed later, but watching a James Bond film that had an actual great plot and compelling characters would be a welcome surprise. Morgan has proven himself to be a keen observer of the dynamics of power, and that's important in the world of Bond. "Casino Royale" and "Quantum Of Solace" set up a great organization of shadowy bad guys and a wonderful ally in the form of Felix Leiter, and I hope that whatever Morgan did built from that foundation. I know Purvis and Wade will be the guys who actually polish the script and work on it during production, but that's actually not a bad thing... they can build a stunt sequence, and they're experts at dealing with the demands of Broccoli and Wilson at this point. As long as Morgan wrote something really strong to start with, I think it's all looking good.
I never realized Spider-Man's greatest enemies were screenwriters, but that seems to be the case these days
Credit: Sony Pictures
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
If you lived in Los Angeles back in the '90s, "Spider-Man" seemed positively cursed as a film property. Even when James Cameron got interested, it just couldn't come together. Then Sam Raimi did the impossible and actually got "Spider-Man" filmed and released and, even more amazingly, it was good. And so was the sequel. And even the third film has things to like about it, even if it felt like there were too many cooks in the kitchen.
But between the Julie Taymor musical for Broadway and the third sequel (which I really hope isn't going to be called "Spider-M4n," the entire property is starting to feel cursed again.
It was IESB that first ran the story that there was something wrong with the development on "Spider-Man 4." I picked the story up because I was hearing the same thing from some of the FX guys who were supposed to work on the film, but I couldn't source it past them. Since that first story ran, I've been hearing some really terrible things about what's going on between Sam Raimi, the studio, and the writers, and I've been starting to wonder if there's any chance they can reach an agreement that will make all involved parties happy.
Today, Nikki Finke is running the story, along with a copy of the internal memo that was sent to all the FX guys when they were told that there was an indefinite delay on the film.
Just how silly is 'Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs"? These characters are played by Neil Patrick Harris and James Caan.
Welcome to the DVD & Games Forecast.
It's fitting that it's a slim week as we kick off the year. I think everyone's still working off their Christmas hangover, financially speaking, and I doubt people would be thrilled if there were 97 great new releases all landing this week. Even so, there's always something worth searching out, and this week's no exception...
I only went to see this one because Toshi was desperate to see it, but I was surprised by just how sweet and funny the film is. Smartly written, the movie invents a spine on which to hang some of the key images from the popular children's book. There was no real story to the book, which didn't make it seem like a natural for adaptation. By inventing Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader), a would-be scientist whose father (James Caan) runs a bait-and-tackle shop, the filmmakers have given the story a focus it never had. Flint hates growing up in a town where all there is to eat are sardines, and so he turns his attention to creatign a machine that can turn water into any kind of food in the world. Bruce Campbell, Anna Faris, Mr. T, Andy Samberg, and Neil Patrick Harris all contribute deliriously goofy turns, and overall, the film is one of the strangest comedies for kids I've ever seen. Beyond that, it's a beautifully designed film, and the BluRay transfer is top-notch.
H.R. Giger designed a sandworm for a version of 'Dune' that was developed in the '70s for Alejandro Jodorowsky to direct... can you tell?
Credit: H.R. Giger
Okay, I know Paramount had a big SF hit with "Star Trek" last year, and I know Cameron's "Avatar" is steamrolling box-office records by the hour right now, but shouldn't that open the door for new SF properties to be developed instead of just redeveloping the same properties over and over and over, particularly one that didn't really lend itself to the bigscreen in the first place?
I know that "Dune" has been in the works for several years now. Peter Berg was flirting with the film actively back in 2007, and for a long time, he was the guy attached as director. And I'm sure that Pierre Morel didn't just sign on in the last week or so. These deals take a long time to put together, and I'm guessing the timing between this and "Avatar" with its massive success is coincidental. The timing of the announcement, though? That feels less like an accident.
I'm sure it would be possible to make a more action-oriented version of "Dune." It's all about what you choose to emphasize, and I think it would be fairly easy to make a giant action movie spectacle version of the story. I also think that would be just as half-assed a representation of "Dune" as the David Lynch film was.