Until I walked into the theater tonight, I had never heard a single note of a Justin Bieber song. I'd never seen him in motion. I knew still photos of him in passing and I saw an appearance he made on "The Daily Show" last week, which made me laugh. Right away, the impression I got of him was a kid who is willing to puncture his own celebrity, and who was enjoying the play side of things. He struck me as a genuine kid, still impressed enough by the pop culture he's a part of to have fun with it.
That impression was only reinforced by the film, "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never 3D," which opens today to hordes of screaming girls everywhere. I was actually invited to the big crazy LA Live premiere this week and intended to go, just to witness the mayhem, but I'm glad I didn't. That experience would have been all about how the 3D didn't end at the screen, since I'd see it surrounded by the people in that film and of that pop music world right now. It's impossible to see a film in a setting like that and not have the overall experience be what you're reacting to, so maybe it's better that I went the way I did.
Instead, I ended up seeing a Thursday midnight screening of the film about four minutes from my house. Paramount was determined that I needed to see the film, so when I told them there was a screening that close and that convenient, they called in a ticket for me. At that point, what did I have to lose?
You know, I don't hate Adam Sandler, so I'm a little confused about why it is he hates me so very much.
Not that I think it's just me he hates. I'd argue that the evidence on display in the films he's making these days like last year's "Grown-Ups" and his new film, the truly rancid "Just Go With It" would signify that he has naked contempt for his audience. When I sat in the theater Wednesday night, witnessing the arrogant and grotesque indifference on display, I couldn't help but feel like I was being punished merely for showing up and still having some slight interest in Sandler as a performer.
Trust me… that last little bit of good faith atrophied and died at some point during the eleven and a half hours that "Just Go With It" seems to last. I couldn't swear in court that it's that long, but that is how it felt. This is the most singularly unpleasant "comedy" I've seen since the horror of "Old Dogs," and it shares many of the characteristics that made that film so vile.
What I find truly amazing is that "Just Go With It" was at some point in its development a remake of the film "Cactus Flower," a '60s movie that earned Goldie Hawn an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker plays the role that Hawn played in the original, and I think it's safe to say that Decker can go ahead and make other plans for Oscar Night 2012. In the original, Walter Matthau was a dentist who needed help from his receptionist, played by Ingrid Bergman, when he spins a wild lie about a bad marriage to impress a much-younger girl, played by Hawn. So this time around, instead of Matthau, Bergman, and Hawn, we get Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, and Brooklyn Decker.
There are times when I really hate Hollywood.
Once a film or a story has been around long enough to have been made officially, then remade unofficially a bunch of times, I have to ask seriously… what value is there in doing another official remake?
When you look at Michael Bay's "The Island," I know people love to say that it's a rip-off of the justifiably obscure "Clonus," but I'd argue there's a whooooole lot of of "Logan's Run" in there, too. And Andrew Niccol is in the middle of his own film about a society where no one ever ages past 30, starring Justin Timberlake, Olivia Wilde, Alex Pettyfer, Amanda Seyfriend, and a bunch of other really young and pretty people.
I don't love the '70s film version of "Logan's Run," but I like elements of it, and I really dig the novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. There's so much material in the book that wasn't used in the film that I think there's room for a filmmaker to come in and really turn it into something new, but doing so means you can't just indulge nostalgia like most remakes do. This can't be a pandering cash-in, because frankly, I don't think that would play for anyone. It has to be something new, something that stands alone.
I'll say this much: hiring Nicolas Winding Refn to direct the film seems to be a step in the right direction. I really liked "Bronson," the film he made with Tom Hardy a few years ago, but before that, I was already a fan thanks to the "Pusher" trilogy, and the notion of him playing around with a studio's money on something with the scale of "Logan's Run" is exciting.
My first reaction to the first footage we've seen from "X-Men: First Class" is that it feels like they're definitely playing in the same universe that was established in the Bryan Singer films, something that couldn't be said of "Wolverine." My second reaction is that Matthew Vaughn is trying to make something fairly somber and moody and sleek, and the trailer aims for the quiet wow in a way I admire.
Does that mean the film works? That's impossible to say at this point. Certainly there have been any number of reports and rumors about the film that suggest it's been a difficult shoot, but even that doesn't mean anything about the final quality of the film. Right now, the only thing I can judge is the trailer itself, and there's a lot about it that I like.
For one thing, I think it's a very interesting move to tie the X-Men into the Cuban Missile Crisis, and there's something amazing about seeing Magneto suited up in the '60s-era yellow-and-blue costume, right there alongside the heroes, trying to save the world.
I also like the decadence that is suggested in some of the images in the trailer, including the image I've used to illustrate this story. What the heck are Charles and Erik doing in the brothel from "Twin Peaks," and why are they sharing a bed while looking at a mutant as she spreads her wings? Since we know Kevin Bacon is Sebastian Shaw in the film and January Jones is Emma Frost, could this be a visit to the Hellfire Club, and if so, just how kinky is Vaughn going to get in a PG-13 movie?
My calendar year now isn't broken up by months in the way it used to be. Instead, I think of everything in terms of festival schedules. We're done with Sundance now, which means it's time to start thinking about South By Southwest.
And now the festival caps off its announcements with the release of the line-up for the Midnighters, SXFantastic, and the complete short film schedule as well. Last year's midnight line-up at the festival offered both "Monsters" and "A Serbian Film," and this year's list looks equally eclectic. I'm so excited to be heading to Austin at the start of March, and now is the time when I start going through the entire schedule, looking at what I've seen already, what I'd like to see, and what I might even try to see for a second time.
Yes, "Bellflower," I mean you.
I'm going to do a thorough SXSW preview piece this weekend, and that's when I'll also start contacting filmmakers about screeners for things I'm afraid I might not be able to see during the festival. Unlike Sundance or Toronto or Comic-Con, I end up doing these Austin-based festivals as the one and only HitFix representative, and that means juggling many more demands on my time than when we're on the ground as a full team. For now, let's look at what just got announced today.
If Shane Black gets the job writing and directing "Iron Man 3," that sound you'll hear will be me on the rooftop of my house, screaming praise and thanks to the sky above.
In the scant few hours since Borys Kit ran the story about Marvel talking to Black about the possibility of him coming onboard for the sequel, I've seen many fans already naysaying the idea, claiming he doesn't have the experience to do the job.
Hogwash. Balderdash. A pox on your tongue.
Shane Black has been a key player in many giant action films, and while he may not have directed "Lethal Weapon" or "The Last Boy Scout," this is a guy who knows his way around a set piece and who has in many ways defined the genre since the mid-'80s, even on films he had nothing to do with. Black's work on "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is so sure-handed, so confident in terms of tone, that I can't imagine why anyone would even try to deny the brilliance of hiring him.
It helps that Black was partially responsible for helping re-establish Robert Downey Jr. as a lead at a time when many people wouldn't take a chance on him. Whoever ends up directing "Iron Man 3" is going to have to be comfortable with the very demanding Downey, and I don't mean "demanding" in a bad way. I've just seen him work several times now, and he is a guy who is constantly pushing, constantly trying ideas, constantly working to make a scene play better.
'The Eagle,' starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell, is based on a 1954 novel by Rosemary Sutcliffe called "The Eagle of the Ninth." The story centers around a young Roman Centurion, Marcus Aquila, (Tatum) whose father and his entire battalion disappeared 20 years before in the northern region or Roman ruled Britain that we now know as Northern England and Scotland, supposedly slaughtered by the native peoples of that region. (See last years "Centurion," directed by Neil Marshall, to see an excellent telling of that story.)
Marcus decides to venture north to try and find out what happened to his father, as well as retrieve the golden eagle standard (a bronze statue of an eagle representing Rome) and restore honor to his family's name. Accompanying him is his slave Esca (Bell) who just happens to be from this northern area, and whose family was slaughtered by the Romans. When they enter this wild land, tables are turned and Esca holds the power as the guy that knows the terrain and the language.
Welcome to The Morning Read.
I'm intrigued by the prospect of the Coen Bros. making a horror film. For years, my buddy Scott and I have wished for a haunted house movie from the eccentric brothers, just because of the inherent potential in an idea like that. When I woke up today to the news that they may actually be finally working in horror, I'll admit it… my entire day got better right away. That's how Pavlovian my love of film is, and that's how much I'm confident that they'll bring something fresh to the genre, no matter what story they end up telling. To be fair, the comment is just one passing remark in a larger interview, and it sounds like they're working on a few different things right now, so there's no telling if the horror film ever ends up being made. One thing is for sure, though: Tara Reid is crazy.
Are you familiar at all with Brian Lynch? He is a strange, funny man, and he's been an online presence for a long time now. He's written comic strips like "Angry Naked Pat" and "Monkey Man," he's made crazy little films like "Big Helium Dog," he sold a Muppet script to Henson's company at one point, and now he's the screenwriter of the Russell Brand Easter Bunny movie, "Hop." I can guarantee I'm going to end up seeing this because as soon as my kids get a look at E.B., the CGI character who Brand voices in the film, I will not have an option. They're going to demand to see this film in the theater, and I am going to be the one who ends up taking them. Thankfully, James Marsden is the live-action lead, and I'm convinced that guy can do no wrong in comedy. It took a while for him to become the comedy leading man he is now, and there were a lot of films where no one quite knew what to do with him, but these days, Marsden is one of those people I innately trust, because he's more than proven that he will do anything for a laugh, and he'll most likely do it well.
MGM's financial woes are the stuff of legend at this point.
As long as I've lived in Los Angeles… just over twenty years at this point… MGM has been "in trouble." There have been several major shifts in ownership, and who owns what, and the MGM library has been broken up and resold many times over. As a result, this latest round of MGM difficulty has been a fair amount of white noise for me, more of the same, with the notable exception of the fates of "Bond 23" and "The Hobbit."
Those were the biggest stories tied up in this larger story, and as Greg Ellwood wrote last night, it looks like "Bond 23" has become terribly important to Sony. And why not? They had a major part in both "Casino Royale" and "Quantum Of Solace," and they've gotten used to that James Bond money. They've also been part of laying some narrative groundwork that I hope pays off finally in this next film, and with Sony already in the Daniel Craig business in a big way with Fincher's "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," it makes sense that they want to keep track of him and be part of scheduling his time over the next few years.
But now that the big questions are out of the way, there are a few other important issues on the table, and it looks like Sony may be riding to the rescue of some smaller films that need the help. In particular, "Red Dawn" and "Cabin In The Woods," which have been missing in action for a while now, and which are both movies that deserve their day in court.
During Sundance, Fox Searchlight showed up for two of their films. One is the Tom McCarthy film "Win Win," and the other was Miguel Arteta's new comedy "Cedar Rapids." They went all out with the "Cedar Rapids" promotion, too, installing a Brownstar Insurance office on Main Street, and that's where I went to sit down and talk to the cast about their film.
I ran a bit of my conversation with Ed Helms about his upcoming "The Hangover Part II" here the day after the interview, but we wanted to hold onto the actual chat with Isiah Whitlock, Jr., Anne Heche, and Helms together until we got a little closer to release.
Well, the movie's coming out on Friday, so I'd say it's time, right? You can check out my review of the film if you'd like, and then check out this conversation with these actors, who obviously built a genuine rapport as they shot the film.
From the moment they all showed up in the room, they were chatting, joking, teasing me, kidding the cameramen. I have to assume, having seen the film, that John C. Reilly was sleeping one off somewhere, but these three more than made up for that.