<p>This behind-the-scenes photo from Quentin Tarantino's 'Death Proof' shows just one of the many amazing images Buddy Joe Hooker has been part of creating during his decades in the business, which will be celebrated at this year's ActionFest</p>

This behind-the-scenes photo from Quentin Tarantino's 'Death Proof' shows just one of the many amazing images Buddy Joe Hooker has been part of creating during his decades in the business, which will be celebrated at this year's ActionFest

Credit: The Weinstein Comany

Biff! Bam! Whack! ActionFest is back, and we've got your first details

The first guests and films have been announced for this year's festival

Last year, I attended the first-ever ActionFest in Asheville, NC.  It was one of those things that just sort of fell together perfectly.  A long-time friend of mine was the festival director and wanted to put together a jury he felt comfortable with, and when he called to invite me, it was about three weeks after my parents retired to Asheville after living most of my adult life in Tampa, FL.  Complete coincidence that it all worked out that way, but when someone asks if you want to go sit on a film jury with Chuck Norris and visit your parents at the same time, you say yes.

And while any festival in its first year is going to suffer from certain birth pangs, there was a lot to like about the event.  The films shown were good, and the people present were great, and overall, it was a heck of a good four days.  And Asheville is a beautiful city, especially in April as the spring kicks in.

So, yes, I'll be returning to Asheville in April this year for the second edition of ActionFest, and I'm excited.  It sounds to me like the plans are coming together well, and I'm pleased to be involved with several of the events over the course of the weekend.  I love the idea of a festival that celebrates action movies and the stuntmen and filmmakers who make that action happen onscreen.  It's unusual for stuntmen to ever get their chance to stand in the spotlight, and we're going to be celebrating them in a major way this year.

Don't take my word for it, though.  Instead, you should check out this press release that went out today, which outlines the first wave of announced titles, and then let me know how it sounds to you:

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<p>That's Medusa... ain't she beautiful?</p>

That's Medusa... ain't she beautiful?

Credit: Oscilloscope Laboratories

Exclusive: Your first look at the one-sheet for 'Bellflower'

Plus some details on their SXSW screening plans

Have I mentioned yet that I love "Bellflower"?

Just describing the film to someone makes me happy.  I've been doing my best to make sure other critics show up for the movie when it plays SXSW next week, and I know I'll be seeing it again at least once during the festival.

I'm excited to hear that that Evan Glodell is going to be bringing Medusa with him to the festival.  And who or what is Medusa, you may ask?  Well, I'll let the press release from the filmmakers explain that for you:

"Visionary filmmaker Evan Glodell will be celebrating his SXSW 2011 premiere of Oscilloscope Laboratories’ BELLFLOWER this weekend by unveiling his hand-crafted, road ready and apocalypse-equipped car - Medusa.  This unforgettable machine creates some of the film’s most high-octane moments amidst the romance cum revenge-fantasy tale of Woodrow’s journey of love, betrayal and vengeance.  

Glodell, a former engineering student, constructed Medusa to be a real-life road monster.  Unlike the Batmobile, Glodell’s Medusa is the real deal - no CGI or special camera tricks needed…the extraordinary features you see in the film are the same features you will see when you meet Medusa in person!  

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<p>I don't think you can call the studio who made this movie 'chickenshit,' and I&nbsp;think risks like this, as much as I love them, are the exact reason Universal may have to play it safe in days ahead.</p>

I don't think you can call the studio who made this movie 'chickenshit,' and I think risks like this, as much as I love them, are the exact reason Universal may have to play it safe in days ahead.

Credit: Universal

Is it fair to blame Universal for the state of the industry today?

As they shut down 'At The Mountains Of Madness,' what does it say about our business?

I just got off the phone with Harry Knowles a little while ago, and the good part of our conversation was hearing how spirited he seems on the eve of his release from the hospital after an extended stay as part of his recovery from major, potentially life-changing back surgery.

We had a major disagreement as we were talking, though, over something he just published in which he called out Universal as being "chickenshit" because they aren't going to make "At The Mountains Of Madness."  That disagreement spilled over onto Twitter, and I think the easiest thing to do is explain myself clearly here because the situation Universal is in serves as a microcosm of where the entire industry is right now, and I can understand why it freaks Harry out and upsets him.  It should.  Things have probably never been worse, and to some extent, it's our fault.

Believe me... I ache to see that film.  When you describe that movie to me, it sounds like something that someone put together especially to appeal to me.  A $150 million horror film adapted from the work of H.P. Lovecraft without any compromise, produced by James Cameron, starring Ron Perlman and Tom Cruise, directed by Guillermo Del Toro?  And I've read drafts of the script over time by Matthew Robbins and Guillermo, and they're awesome.  If you don't know the book or if you're not familiar with Lovecraft, it's a sprawling tale of an expedition to the Arctic in search of signs of a lost civilization that predates man, and what happens when the people searching find something alive, something not remotely dead, something that is ready to reclaim the Earth as its own.

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<p>Evidently, we can expect a lot less of this in the next 'Iron Man' movie</p>

Evidently, we can expect a lot less of this in the next 'Iron Man' movie

Credit: Marvel Studios/Paramount

First details of Shane Black's 'Tom Clancy'-like 'Iron Man 3' revealed

Plus where is Marvel headed after 'The Avengers' wraps up?

Shane Black.  "Iron Man 3."  Since the first moment those two names were connected, the question has been, "Will he write the film?"

And now, according to Ain't It Cool, we have an answer.

Shane Black appeared this weekend at the Omaha Film Festival, along with some other guests like Tom Elkins, Mauro Fiore, and Ted Griffin, and one of the people who was in the audience wrote in to AICN to talk about what Black revealed regarding "Iron Man 3."

Here's the paraphrased version of what they ran:

Shane Black is about to meet with Robert Downey Jr. this week in Los Angeles.  They'll be discussing the story and Black will, indeed, be writing the film.

Marvel Studios wants to make sure this third film isn't just a retread of the first two.  They want to make sure this next film doesn't just end up as another film about "two men in iron suits fighting each other," and I agree.  I think that's a great impulse.  Tony Stark's had a long history in print, and for the first two films to be so similar in shape is probably a mistake.  If they're serious about taking the film in a Tom Clancy-like direction, with Iron Man fighting real-world villains, it's a cool direction to take the series.  It sounds like after "The Avengers," Marvel's focusing on making movies that stand alone again, which is also a very strong impulse.

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<p>Channing Tatum was at Sundance promoting his recent film 'The Son Of No One,' and he's involved in the new 'Pan' project that was just set up at Sony as well.</p>

Channing Tatum was at Sundance promoting his recent film 'The Son Of No One,' and he's involved in the new 'Pan' project that was just set up at Sony as well.

Credit: AP Photo/Danny Moloshok

Channing Tatum's 'Pan' origin story finds home at Sony

How many fairy tale movies and TV shows is the public really asking for?

Evidently, fairy tales are what you want right now, even if you don't know it yet.

Hollywood has decided, and you have no choice in the matter.  You are going to be into fairy tales in the next few years, and you'd better love it, because there's more coming.  However much you think there is, there's actually more.

I'm curious to see if there is really an appetite for this stuff, or if Hollywood's going to get halfway into this avalanche of titles and realize they dove off a cliff with no parachute.  I get one part of the motivation here… you're dealing with stories that are public domain, so you get name recognition without having to pay anyone for the underlying rights.  But this material is fairly unproven as a big-screen lure, and it seems risky to me to just go all in the way the studios are at the moment.

This past weekend, "Beastly" finally opened, a "Twilight"-inspired riff on the "Beauty and the Beast" story with Vanessa Hudgens and Alex Pettyfer, and this coming weekend, "Red Riding Hood" starring Amanda Seyfried will open, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, who, of course, directed the first "Twilight" movie.

The battle of the "Snow White" movies is, frankly, ridiculous.  Relativity is making a Tarsem Singh version called "The Brothers Grimm: Snow White," with Julia Roberts playing the evil Queen, while Charlize Theron will play the role for "Snow White and the Huntsmen," with Kristen Stewart as Snow White and Viggo Mortensen as, presumably, the Huntsman, with Rupert Sanders directing for Universal.  Disney's had a long in-development version called "Snow and the Seven" about Shaolin kung-fu monks, but that does not appear to be any closer to actually shooting at this point, even with Michael Arndt onboard as a screenwriter.  Francis Lawrence and Natalie Portman have been attached at various points, but I'm not sure I see this one getting made after two other versions of the same basic material.

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<p>Guillermo del Toro</p>

Guillermo del Toro

Credit: Matt Sayles/AP

Guillermo Del Toro's 'Mountains' gets a start date? Not so fast, says producer

Rumors are, for now, just rumors, and the film continues development

I've seen a number of sites run the story today that started at i09 that says "At The Mountains Of Madness" has an official start date of June, and that Tom Cruise is finally confirmed for the film.

The i09 story quotes Don Murphy, although in a sort of indirect way, only quoting part of a sentence from him.  So imagine my surprise when I e-mailed both Murphy and Del Toro this morning to congratulate them, only to hear back that they do not, in fact, have a start date.

Murphy's official statement to HitFix is as follows:  "We are all trying to get Mountains up and running with Tom and Jim and everybody but no start date has been set AT ALL."

They've both responded to me at this point, and it's clear that this is not a news story yet.  They are still working very hard on the film, and I'm itching to see what they've been up to in the development phase of things.  Guillermo's been cooking this one for a long time now, and having James Cameron involved, a guy who is as dedicated to the art of world-building as any filmmaker I can think of, seems really exciting, especially in a post-"Avatar" world where he's once again proven just how reliable his commercial instincts are.

I wish this were happening in June.  And who knows?  That's still several months away, and maybe things come together soon and dates start to fall into place.  But for now, both producer and director have emphatically and clearly explained that they do not have that start date.  This is a development project, and one that I certainly pray gets the go-ahead.

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<p>Aaron Eckhart in a lighter moment during our conversation about his new film 'Battle:&nbsp;Los Angeles'</p>

Aaron Eckhart in a lighter moment during our conversation about his new film 'Battle: Los Angeles'

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Aaron Eckhart reports for duty with 'Battle: Los Angeles'

The actor talks about his new action film in our recent interview

Aaron Eckhart is a good egg.

And he just happens to be having a great run of luck right now.  His work in last year's amazing "Rabbit Hole" just destroyed me.  As a father, imagining myself in his character's shoes in that movie was almost too much to take.  And the way he navigated the performance without ever going for the easy beats, the cheap sympathy, was genuinely impressive.

I still remember the experience of seeing "In The Company Of Men" in the theater when it first came out and watching the way people reacted to him.  It was a star-making performance, but as a world-class asshole, and I think there are people who simply assumed he had to be that guy.

Over time, what I've been impressed by is the solid matter-of-fact adulthood that Eckhart represents in an age where so many of our actors are boyish well into their 40s.  Eckhart has never seemed like a boy.  Not once.  He's a throwback to an age where movie stars had some miles on them, where they were real men, and he brings that same quality to his work in the new film "Battle: Los Angeles," where he is the staff sergeant to a group of marines who find themselves navigating the mean streets of Santa Monica during a military emergency involving aliens from space.

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<p>The Goonies find the map that will send them on their big adventure in an early scene from the '80s cult hit 'The Goonies'</p>

The Goonies find the map that will send them on their big adventure in an early scene from the '80s cult hit 'The Goonies'

Credit: Warner Bros. Home Video

Film Nerd 2.0: Toshi and Allen encounter high adventure with 'The Goonies' on Blu-ray

The column returns after a long hiatus, and we explain why

Why do we share movies with our children?

It's a question worth asking as I finally return to this column.  It's the question that originally motivated me to turn this into a regular feature on the site, but we've never actually discussed that idea head-on.

So why?  What is it that I hope to accomplish by sharing movies with my little boys?  I think for some people, maybe even many people, TV and movies are just placeholders, something to have on, and there's very little thought that goes into it.  People seem to trust brand names and take the path of least resistance when it comes to picking what they show their kids.  Anything Disney gets an automatic pass, and there are channels like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network that people seem happy to turn on and just trust without watching along with their kids.

And I've met people who are genuinely good-hearted about trying to mold their kids into carbon copies of themselves, tiny mirrors of their own taste.  There's no malice in it, and there's nothing wrong with it, but it's not for me.  I feel strongly that my job is to educate my kids about what images mean, to set a context for them so they can deal with what they watch, and to lay out a buffet of choices, then help them follow their own interests.

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Watch: Director Gore Verbinski and star Isla Fisher discuss 'Rango'

Watch: Director Gore Verbinski and star Isla Fisher discuss 'Rango'

Plus more thoughts on whether it's right for kids or not

We went back for seconds.

It is unusual for me to see a movie twice before it opens, but in this case, I took Toshi, my five-year-old, with me to see the film before I went to the press junket, and we had a great evening out with it.  With my younger son, Allen, he's never seen a film in the theater, and he turns three years old today, March 4.  Ever since that first "Rango" trailer showed up online and he demanded to see it about 300 times in a weekend, I realized that we would have to make this his first film in the theater.  Then I started hearing word that the film was "too weird" for littler kids, and I decided I needed to check it out first, with Toshi along as a sort of barometer.

It's funny, because Toshi is interested in monsters, so of course his little brother is interested in monsters, too.  If Toshi watches a Godzilla film, then Allen has to see the Godzilla film.  If Toshi gets to see the Lon Chaney "Wolf Man," then Allen gets to see it.  And watching the two of them during these films, Toshi is the one who has to hide his eyes and who gets visibly nervous and who asked me to turn off "Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein" 45 minutes in because it was too scary.  Allen never averts his eyes.  He never flinches.  He leans in closer during the scary parts, and several times, I've seen him smack Toshi and yell "LOOK!" because Toshi was missing something cool.

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<p>Emily Blunt plays Elise, fighting for the right to love Matt Damon in George Nolfi's 'The Adjustment Bureau,' in theaters today</p>

Emily Blunt plays Elise, fighting for the right to love Matt Damon in George Nolfi's 'The Adjustment Bureau,' in theaters today

Credit: Universal Pictures

Listen: Emily Blunt discusses Dick, Damon, 'Adjustment Bureau' on The M/C Podcast

We play a Dick-centric round of Movie God and talk Tarantino and Malick

It's not that it is difficult for me to put the podcast together after Scott and I record it, because it's not.  All told, I'd guess it takes about 30 minutes to edit one of these after I record it.  Start to finish.

The problem is setting aside the time to do it as other stories are breaking or deadlines hit or family demands arise.  There are screenings to attend, things to write, and the podcast sometimes sits on my desktop, taunting me.

That's what happened this week.  And I'm sorry.  It's a good one.  In particular, I really like the interview with Emily Blunt this week.  She is effortlessly charming in conversation, and she really likes "The Adjustment Bureau," the new film she's in.  You can tell.  It's a very shaggy, amiable back and forth about fate and love and Dick and Damon, a potent cocktail to say the least.

In honor of the release of "The Adjustment Bureau," based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, my guest host Scott Swan and I played a particularly Dick-centric round of Movie God, and my guess is that some of you are going to be angry about the films we choose to keep or kill in the game this time around, and hopefully you'll be entertained by the way we tied each round of the game in to the week's theme.

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