<p>Oh, come on, Franco, you&#39;re just trying to freak us out now, aren&#39;t you?</p>

Oh, come on, Franco, you're just trying to freak us out now, aren't you?

Credit: Tribeca Films

Review: Gia Coppola's 'Palo Alto' is a sad and lovely look at teenage life

HitFix
A-
Readers
n/a
Based on James Franco's book, this is a small but special film

It would be easy to think that the last name Coppola is a shortcut to becoming a filmmaker, but that would be dismissive, and honestly, sort of backwards. At this point, living up to that last name must be an intimidating prospect, but with her first film, Gia Coppola proves herself to be a deeply empathic filmmaker with a great sense of atmosphere. "Palo Alto," based on a collection of short stories by James Franco, is a lovely debut film, and a strong expression of just how it feels to be a teenager struggling to figure out your place in the world.

Forget about narrative. Forget about whether things add up in a typical A-B-C fashion. What makes "Palo Alto" special is the way it captures certain feelings, and it's not an easy thing. There were moments in the film where I found myself almost completely transported back to those long, weird, woozy nights where Teenage Drew made bad decisions and just plain didn't care. Something as simple as a party in a house where someone's parents are out of town becomes an excuse for Coppola to dig deep into the still-nascent souls of these aimless kids, and while she is very frank about showing how the currency of sex is such a casual thing for them on the surface, she's also very good at showing us the ways it actually impacts them in some permanent way.

Read Full Post
A new 'Ask Drew' gives the spotlight to underrated filmmakers and more
Credit: Indomina Releasing

A new 'Ask Drew' gives the spotlight to underrated filmmakers and more

Plus we get into the fate of the Motion/Captured Podcast

Three down, and as many more to go as you guys are willing to play along with, and so far, "Ask Drew" seems to be fun.

I'm looking forward to the week where I am asked a question that simply short circuits me on-camera and you guys get to see my impression of a chicken trying to speak Mandarin Chinese. I know it's going to happen. It's inevitable. But so far, so good. I've got such a fun video team to work with these days that this becomes a game when we shoot it. They've been great about curating the questions so far, coming up with a real mix of stuff.

I was a little surprised to see a question this week about one of my screenwriting projects, but that's certainly fair game. I could write a book about things not to do if you actually want to get your films made, and if my experiences can help anyone as they navigate a business that rarely makes rational sense, then I'm happy to share.

Read Full Post
<p>Leigh Whannell and Lin Shaye were a pretty great paranormal investigation team in &#39;Insidious&#39;</p>

Leigh Whannell and Lin Shaye were a pretty great paranormal investigation team in 'Insidious'

Credit: Film District

Leigh Whannell steps into the role of director for 'Insidious Chapter 3'

Here's hoping his character moves front and center for the film

If anyone has a natural claim on the director's seat of an "Insidious" sequel besides James Wan, it would be Leigh Whannell.

Sure enough, the news broke today via Wan's Twitter account that Whannell will indeed step behind the camera for "Insidious: Chapter Three," marking Whannell's directorial debut. He and Wan have been creative partners since the release of "Saw," and the last few years, Whannell has been on a hell of a roll in general.

This year, one of the highlights of SXSW for me was the film "The Mule," which Whannell co-wrote and co-starred in, and his co-writer on that one was Anghus Sampson, who also directed it and who appears in the "Insidious" films as Whannell's paranormal investigation partner. That film is a tremendously entertaining character piece about a worst-case scenario for a first-time drug mule, and it serves as proof to me that Whannell is capable of more than just one genre. Our industry is so aggressive about putting people in boxes that it felt like an important moment for Whannell and Sampson as filmmakers.

Read Full Post
<p>Coulson? Fitz? Simmons? May? It&#39;s getting hard to tell.</p>

Coulson? Fitz? Simmons? May? It's getting hard to tell.

Credit: ABC/Marvel Studios

Agent Ward actually becomes a human being in the penultimate episode of 'Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.'

If the show had started this strong, imagine where they'd be now

Television is such a particular beast when it comes to storytelling, and one of the reasons that I love the modern television landscape is because of just how elastic definitions have become and just how far we've come in terms of how people both observe and break the traditional rules of the form.

When you factor in that "Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D." is, at heart, a fairly cynical proposition for a show, a sort of ongoing advertisement for already-omnipresent movie events, it seems like it would be silly to expect it to be anything but an uneven and uninteresting affair, and if you'd asked me five or six weeks into the season if it was worth the effort, I would have told you no.

At this point, though, they've done what only a show that knows it has a full run of 22 episodes to play with can do, which is slowly but surely figure out exactly what show it is they're making and, also slowly but surely, get better at actually making it. If the show had been as confident about what it's doing at the start of the season as it is now, people would probably be pretty darn excited about what's happening here in the home stretch. As it is, I'm just happy to see a creative team come together like this, no matter what the show.

Read Full Post
<p>Oh, look, it&#39;s a rising star.</p>

Oh, look, it's a rising star.

Credit: HitFix

Jerrod Carmichael on the comic freedom he felt while shooting 'Neighbors'

Ladies and gentlemen, meet one of your next comedy superstars

Jerrod Carmichael is about to become unavoidable.

That's the buzz in the LA comedy scene, anyway, and based on his work in the new film "Neighbors," I would agree that it is only a matter of time before everyone knows this young comedian and his work.

This past week, he was on the road going college-to-college to promote the film, along with co-stars Dave Franco (who we spoke to yesterday) and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and it sounds like it was an insane trip. I remember talking to Mintz-Plasse when he was just coming off of a similar promotional tour for "Role Models," his first major experience interacting with the public, and he was sort of blown away by the entire thing. Now Chris is an old hand at this stuff, and it's Carmichael who got the crash course in what it's like to be out there promoting a movie to a truly rabid audience.

When we were at SXSW this year, Universal had a hefty "Neighbors" presence, taking over a bar and transforming it into a frat house. I spoke with several of the people involved with the movie, and I got a great sense of excitement from everyone involved, especially after the reception the film got from the audience the night before. One thing I noticed in talking to Nick Stoller, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg is how excited they all were about the work done by Jerrod Carmichael in the film, and the idea that they had managed to get him for the film at all. It was apparent that they felt like it was a privilege to be able to cast him at this point in his career, before he blows up and starts headlining movies of his own.

One of the funniest moments in the movie is this weird digression between Carmichael and Hannibal Buress, another comedian who I feel like should be much bigger than he already is. That's one of the benefits for Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen as producers. They can find roles for these funny people who they believe should get more exposure, and it's nothing but win for them. They get to make their films even funnier, and these comics end up getting major exposure that can help push them to the next level.

I was struck by just how self-effacing Carmichael was. He's so relaxed and confident on stage, but it doesn't seem to come from a place of ego or swagger. This was one of the interviews I really wanted to make sure we had on the books now, because in five years, when Carmichael's a giant star, it'll be great to be able to look back at who he was in those last few moments before everyone was in on the secret.

"Neighbors" opens everywhere this Friday.

<p>Yeah, I know the feeling, buddy.</p>

Yeah, I know the feeling, buddy.

Credit: Fox

First trailer for 'Gotham' series teases early versions of Batman icons

Is this really enough for an entire series?

"I love this city… and I see it going to hell."

I don't get it.

It feels like they really want to make a Batman show, but they can't make a Batman show because the feature film division has dibs. So here we are with another prequel that I can't imagine is going to tell us anything we actually need to know about these characters except that… sigh… they are all connected.

I wasn't actively rolling my eyes until they got to the big finish and started showing Catwoman, The Riddler, Batman, Poison Ivy, and Penguin, and at that point, I just found it irritating. When I was hanging out with a number of genre-loving friends lately, they were talking about how it feels like the geeks have won pop culture and right now we're all taking our victory lap. Looking at "Gotham" or "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," I'm not sure I feel like a winner. I feel like an aggressively targeted demographic, certainly, but I don't want two hour movies that are simply there to sell me more two hour trailers a few years from now, and I don't want a prequel to every single story I like.

Read Full Post
Review: Well-made 'Million Dollar Arm' works more as mythmaking than as a movie
Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Review: Well-made 'Million Dollar Arm' works more as mythmaking than as a movie

HitFix
B
Readers
n/a
Jon Hamm, like everyone involved, does exactly what he was paid to do

Simply by existing, "Million Dollar Arm" serves as both mythmaking and infomercial in equal measure. Based on the true story of how Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel became professional American baseball players, the film is more than competent in the way it builds a wish fulfillment fairy tale out of a last-ditch effort to save his business by J.B. Bernstein, a sports agent, and why wouldn't it be? Craig Gillespie directs from a screenplay by Thomas McCarthy. That's a rock-solid pedigree, and Jon Hamm plays Bernstein with his Don Draper turned up loud. It's a feel-good story that raises cultural questions that the film doesn't seem terribly interested in answering, and it feels like an easy triple in the grand Disney tradition.

First, dealing with it simply as a film, it's fairly direct and there is an easy charm to it. The agency that J.B. opened is faltering, and when he misses out on signing an NFL star they've been courting for a year, it looks like they're going to have to close the doors. J.B. has one last big idea, though, after a late-night of watching cricket on cable, and decides to create a reality show/contest that will take place in India. They're going to reach out to cricket players and see if they can find someone who they groom to become a baseball player. It's a big jump to make, since cricket really doesn't have much to do with baseball. Even the mechanics that are similar mean very different things to the two different games. But J.B. hopes that he can make it work and end up with a star that his agency can own, lock, stock, and barrel.

Read Full Post
Bob Iger takes a selfie with Chewbacca from the set of 'Star Wars Episode VII'
Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm Ltd.

Bob Iger takes a selfie with Chewbacca from the set of 'Star Wars Episode VII'

I hope this is how they introduce every character

Wouldn't it be great if every major news break for the entire duration of principal photography for "Star Wars: Episode VII" was handled in the form of a selfie?

As the entire planet is now aware thanks to last week's news cycle, "Star Wars Episode VII" is now up and running in the UK, and in addition to the table reads of the script, there are final decisions being made now about wardrobe and the on-screen appearance of the characters. That means screen tests. That means fitting sessions.

And, evidently, that means Bob Iger gets to hang out with Chewbacca, according to the official Instagram account for the film.

Read Full Post
Dave Franco promises 'Neighbors' is 'insane'

Dave Franco promises 'Neighbors' is 'insane'

Franco explains why he would love to work with his friends forever

Of all the Francos right now, Dave Franco is the Daviest.

In other words, it's silly to compare James Franco and Dave Franco because the more we see of the two of them, the more it becomes apparent that shared DNA aside, these guys are radically different performers.

In "Neighbors," Franco plays Pete, the right-hand-man to Teddy (Zac Efron). The two of them rule the frat in the film and exist as a sort of living embodiment of the bro code. One of the things that "Neighbors" does well is the way it begins with broad stereotypes and then reveals the characters to be far weirder than they originally seem. Franco's character emerges as the "smartest" of the frat guys, an admittedly low bar, and his relationship with Teddy drives the film is some very funny directions.

Read Full Post
<p>Who? GET IT?!</p>

Who? GET IT?!

Credit: BBC

'Doctor Who' star Matt Smith signs on for pivotal role in 'Terminator: Genesis'

When they say he's connected to John Connor, they're not kidding around

It's interesting when you can tell from a press release that the studio is being very careful about what they say.

"[Matt] Smith will play a new character with a strong connection to John Connor," is how they phrased it in the announcement today, "alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, J.K. Simmons, Dayo Okeniyi, and Byung Hun Lee."

To be fair, they're being very careful about everything involving this film and the cast. They've revealed some basic information. We know that Emilia Clarke is Sarah Connor. We know that Jason Clarke is John Connor. We know that Jai Courtney is Kyle Reese. And we know that Dayo Okeniyi is playing Danny Dyson, the son of Miles Dyson, the man credited with creating Skynet in "Terminator 2: Judgment Day".

Read Full Post