<p>Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis are the stars of 'Burke&nbsp;&amp;&nbsp;Hare,' the new dark comedy from John Landis, and now there's a trailer for the film.</p>

Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis are the stars of 'Burke & Hare,' the new dark comedy from John Landis, and now there's a trailer for the film.

Credit: Ealing Studios

The Morning Read: Raimi makes it official and 'Oz' is next

Plus the NC-17 turns 20 and 'Burke & Hare' gets a trailer

Welcome to The Morning Read.

It's raining in Los Angeles, I've already interviewed Jason Schwartzman today, and I've got "Grindhouse" on the Blu-ray player.  Sounds like it's time to see what's going on out there today.

You guys haven't had a chance to see "Rabbit Hole" yet, and I still haven't gotten around to reviewing it, so we haven't really begun singing the hosannahs for David Lindsay-Abaire here on the site yet.  We will.  And it looks like Sam Raimi's also in Lindsay-Abaire's fan club.  He had the writer working on "Spider-Man 4" for him before he dropped out of it, and now he's got him hard at work on "The Great And Powerful Oz," which Raimi is now officially set to direct for Disney in the spring.  Raimi appears to be the winner of the great "Oz" scramble of 2010, in which everyone in town simultaneously realized that Frank L. Baum's books are public domain, and if he really does secure Robert Downey Jr. as the Wizard, something that's not set in stone yet, then Disney might as well go ahead and break out the champagne, 'cause they can't lose.

Oh, my.

When I was in Austin for Fantastic Fest, I stayed with my friends Aaron and Kaela, and he's an avowed "Halo" addict who was firmly in the grips of "Halo: Reach" the entire time I was there.  That series has a hold on its fanbase that is truly impressive, so I'm not shocked to read that Hollywood is still sniffing around the game, trying to figure it out how to turn it into a film franchise of the same size.  I would, however, be shocked if all this talk of Spielberg adapting the spin-off novels actually amounted to anything more than a big fat game of "What if?".

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<p>Alex Ross certainly created some iconic images of Superman, and now the challenge Zack Snyder faces is finding a way to apply his own signature to what is arguably the most famous superhero of all time.</p>

Alex Ross certainly created some iconic images of Superman, and now the challenge Zack Snyder faces is finding a way to apply his own signature to what is arguably the most famous superhero of all time.

Credit: DC Comics/Alex Ross

What do we know about Zack Snyder's 'Superman' so far?

And more importantly, what do we want from it?

Yesterday's big movie news was the hiring of Zack Snyder to direct whatever Warner Bros. eventually calls their next Superman movie, and sure enough, people were quick to an opinion about whether or not that was good news.

I'm a fan, and I am amused by the people who get angry about Snyder as a choice.  Someone yesterday complained that the film is doomed now to be "an all-greenscreen movie," and that just makes me laugh.  Snyder did that once, with "300," and since then, the films he's been making have been shot on sets and locations.  Sure, he uses greenscreen for some things, but so do all filmmakers working in the big-ticket spectacle realm right now.  Does that commenter think someone's going to make a Superman film that somehow uses no greenscreen at all?  If so, I must admit that I'm curious what that would look like.  I'm guessing it would be a wee bit light on that whole flying thing.

But when Snyder's only done something one time out of a five film feature directing career, how is that the knee-jerk thing that you throw at him for the rest of his career?  One of the things that comic book panels do that is almost completely philosophically opposite from what movies do is that panels pick a particular moment, a beat, an image, and that's meant to represent the entire idea of what's going on.  I think Snyder's use of slow-motion is a really lovely way of doing the same thing in a film that a panel does in a comic book.  You're underlining something.  You're emphasizing this idealized image, this perfect beat.

All of this is just hypothetical, anyway, because we know so little about what sort of film Snyder's making and what sort of story is being told in the David Goyer script.  There are two important nuggets that have been dropped in the reporting on the film, though, potentially significant enough to mention.

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<p>Wolverine has spent many memorable storylines in the comics in Japan, like the Adam Kubert era seen here, and now rumor has Darren Aronosky directing 'Wolverine 2' in the setting.</p>

Wolverine has spent many memorable storylines in the comics in Japan, like the Adam Kubert era seen here, and now rumor has Darren Aronosky directing 'Wolverine 2' in the setting.

Credit: Marvel Comics

With 'Superman' off the table, is Aronofsky about to tackle 'Wolverine 2'?

What would a superhero sequel mean to the arthouse hero?

Filmmaking today, in terms of the business side of things, is a totally different landscape than what I dreamed of when I first decided I wanted to be a filmmaker.  I don't envy any director with a strong personal vision who also has to play the studio game.  There are choices, life or death career decisions, that filmmakers have to face these days that have little to do with their own tastes or interests.

The best possible scenario, of course, is when a filmmaker manages to make a big studio movie that fits into their tentpole schedule that also somehow scratches a personal itch.  For example, let's look at Darren Aronofsky, currently enjoying some of the best reviews of his career for the amazing "Black Swan."  In the past, he's been attached to at least two different Frank Miller adaptations ("Ronin" and "Batman: Year One") and he's spent time trying to make one of the great samurai stories ("Lone Wolf and Cub") as well as an adaptation of a famous anime ("Perfect Blue").  Considering one of the most famous of the Wolverine/Japan storylines was created in part by Frank Miller and that it played heavily on samurai movie iconography, it would seem to me that a Darren Aronofsky film starring "Fountain" lead Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in Japan would not be too far outside the realm of the expected.  And with Christopher McQuarrie writing it?  That starts to become downright appealing.

There's just that little matter of the oh-my-god terrible "Wolverine: X-Men Origins."

It would be one thing, perception-wise, if Aronofsky was asked to just make a stand-alone "Wolverine" movie away from the "X-Men" franchise, but having to follow up that wretched Gavin Hood film (and, no, I don't blame Hood, who seemed to be eaten alive by that process) would be a depressing prospect, no matter how many good ideas you have for a story.

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<p>Rebecca Hall, Ann Guilbert, Amanda Peet, and Catherine Keener all star in Nicole Holofcener's new film 'Please Give,' now on Blu-ray and DVD.</p>

Rebecca Hall, Ann Guilbert, Amanda Peet, and Catherine Keener all star in Nicole Holofcener's new film 'Please Give,' now on Blu-ray and DVD.

Credit: SPHE

My Blu-ray Shelf: 'Please Give' offers gentle warmth and bitter wisdom

Oliver Platt and Catherine Keener star in smart, gentle comedy

This last month has been an avalanche of reviews here on the blog, many of them for films that you won't be able to see until later this year, next year, or maybe not at all.  That's sort of what happens when you get caught up in a festival cycle, and now that I'm coming out of it, I've got a ton of reviews still to write, and I've also got a landslide of DVDs and Blu-rays here at the house that need to be reviewed.

So this month, I'm going to be exploring some new ways of publishing in order to cover all of this great stuff.  I'll be publishing a certain number of DVD reviews each week, some short, some long, but constant.  We'll see if banking them ahead of publication works or not, but there are enough of them here on the desk that need writing up that there's no excuse for there to not be a constant presence here on the blog of home video reviews.  It is such a major part of my film diet that not including it here on a regular basis is practically negligent.

Just tonight, I watched the Blu-ray of "Please Give," the latest film by Nicole Holofcener, and I think it's one of the strongest things she's done.  In general, I like her films, and I like the performances, and I like the writing, but the films always feel sort of soft… unfocused.  It's great observational stuff, and there's little doubt she's talented, but my affection for "Walking and Talking" and "Lovely & Amazing" and "Friends With Money" is a general affection for her voice more than a feeling that they are all three great movies.  Her latest film may not be the giant grand slam that will launch her into mainstream superstardom, but it's a further distillation of that voice, and impeccably performed by a great ensemble.

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<p>James Franco, Zooey Deschanel, and Danny McBride star in next spring's 'Your Highness,' a fantasy-comedy from the director of 'Pineapple Express'</p>

James Franco, Zooey Deschanel, and Danny McBride star in next spring's 'Your Highness,' a fantasy-comedy from the director of 'Pineapple Express'

Credit: Universal Pictures

Set Visit: Danny McBride and Natalie Portman get medieval in 'Your Highness' in Ireland

They're joined by James Franco, Zooey Deschanel, and Justin Theroux in fantasy-comedy

It is October of 2009.  Belfast.  And Danny McBride does not belong here.

I'm standing in a soundstage that was once, a century ago, a hangar for a shipyard where a boat called the Titanic was built, in a city that was, for most of my life, known more for its violence and long-simmering civil unrest than for its film industry. 

I'm looking around at a huge castle courtyard set, with a few dozen extras packed in, all dressed like they're part of a new "Lord Of The Rings" film.  The details of the set and the costuming and the faces of the extras... all authentic.  All meant to sell a reality, more historical drama than fantasy.

I'm looking at Toby Jones and Charles Dance standing on the steps of the courtyard, and for a moment, I expect some rousing call to arms, like I'm back on the "Narnia" set I visited in Prague.  This looks like every other giant-budget genre film I've visited in terms of depth of detail...

... except that's Danny McBride there on the steps.  And, again, he does not belong here.

The crazy thing is, he's not just in the film... he wrote the film with Ben Best, and he's the star of the film.  Looking at him standing there, it's this weird visual dissonance.  No matter how the set feels, how the world around us on the set feels, this is not "The Silmarillion."

No... this is a wild, profane adventure about brothers, wizards, weed, women, and finding peace with your place in the world.  This is "Your Highness."  And it represents one serious gamble for Universal, the studio that seems to be fueled by the adrenaline from high-risk gambles, one after another these days.

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<p>Zack Snyder is now officially Warner's Big Hope as he signs on to direct 'Superman' in his return to the big-screen.</p>

Zack Snyder is now officially Warner's Big Hope as he signs on to direct 'Superman' in his return to the big-screen.

Credit: Jae C. Hong/AP

Zack Snyder will direct 'Superman' back to the bigscreen

Warner Bros makes the best possible choice for the Man of Steel

Honestly, I don't think there's a better choice Warner Bros. could have made.

For the last year, we've been hearing rumors about what plans Warner Bros. has for Superman, arguably the most famous superhero character of all time.  The first concrete information we had was that David Goyer, Jonathan Nolan, and Christopher Nolan had figured out a way to bring the character back to the bigscreen that they would be producing and writing.  There were rumors about Jonathan Nolan directing the film, rumors about David Goyer directing the film, and then a whole bunch of recent rumors about a whole bunch of names who might direct the film.

In the end, Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. have decided to go with a filmmaker who is already family, and who seems to me to be the absolutely dead-on bull's-eye perfect choice for the job:  Zack Snyder.

As much as any of the superhero films out there, Superman is a character who plays as pure modern mythology, and he should be painted in big epic strokes.  Snyder's got an undeniable way with an image, and his obsessions with flight and slow-motion and the depiction of the clash of power all feed directly into the idea of bringing a new version of Superman to life, while still honoring everything that makes the character an icon.

The story was broken in very brusque manner by Michael Fleming, who I assume knew that the story was about to break and wanted to make sure he got his scoop up.  I'm curious to see if we hear in the days ahead about what won Snyder the job.  Aside from common sense, that is.

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<p>There's no word yet on whether Matt Damon, seen here in 'The Bourne Ultimatum,' will return for director Tony Gilroy's fourth film in the franchise based on the popular Robert Ludlum novels</p>

There's no word yet on whether Matt Damon, seen here in 'The Bourne Ultimatum,' will return for director Tony Gilroy's fourth film in the franchise based on the popular Robert Ludlum novels

Credit: Universal Pictures

Tony Gilroy signing on to direct appropriately-titled 'The Bourne Legacy'

The hiring appears to suggest a continuity in the series that should please fans

There's little doubt Universal plans to keep making "Bourne" films indefinitely, but until today, the direction those films would take was very much up in the air.

Now it appears that Tony Gilroy, who wrote drafts of all three of the "Bourne" films so far, will not only write but direct "The Bourne Legacy," which may well serve as a total reboot of the property.  Matt Damon has previously indicated that without director Paul Greengrass, he has little interest in playing the character again.

Gilroy just recently turned in a draft of "Legacy," and evidently the direction he's taking the series is the direction the studio likes.  There were several other takes on this one, with several other writers working before Gilroy, but this is the first sign that the studio thinks the material is something they're serious about making.  The "Bourne" franchise is incredibly important to the studio, and despite Gilroy's involvement with all of the films, he's been very vocal about his disappointment with them.

So does that mean we're going to see a different approach to the material altogether?  Surely not.  But maybe the new film will emphasize high-tech spying just as much as high-impact action.  Gilroy loves to build elaborate mechanisms for his films, and "The Bourne Legacy" would seem to be a perfectly logical film to do that with.

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<p>Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld star in the new Coen Bros version of 'True Grit,' in theaters this December.</p>

Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld star in the new Coen Bros version of 'True Grit,' in theaters this December.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

The Morning Read: The full-length 'True Grit' trailer dazzles, online now

Plus does Amy Adams have a date with the Muppets?

Welcome back to The Morning Read.

Let's not make a big stink out of this, and I'm not going to make any grand claims, but thanks to some major work behind the scenes by our great tech team, I may be ready to publish The Morning Read again on a regular basis.  It's all about making it an effective part of the work week, and the only way to test that is by giving it another try.

One of the strangest things about a month like September, with back-to-back film festivals, is the way it makes you feel totally disconnected from the news that's going on.  I'm not sure that's been a bad thing in the last month, though, because when I scan back over recent headlines, it's like someone's playing an elaborate practical joke on Hollywood and film fans alike.  For the past four years or so, we've been promised a Spielberg-directed, Tony Kushner-scripted film about Abe Lincoln starring Liam Neeson, and instead, it now appears that "the hottest project in town" really is a 3D movie in which Lincoln kills vampires, produced by Tim Burton and directed by Timur Bekmembatov.  Irony has eaten our pop culture when this is "the hottest project in town," and while I'm sure it'll be a gas, I'm a little amazed reading accounts of how far 20th Century Fox went in their pursuit of the property.  If Liam Neeson did end up playing Lincoln in this film instead of Spielberg's, it would be one of the most bizarre punchlines to a public development process of all time.  

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<p>Jeffrey Tambor, Rip Torn, and Garry Shandling are the trio of performers whose work anchors the amazing comedy series 'The Larry Sanders Show,' now available for the first time ever as a complete DVD&nbsp;collection.</p>

Jeffrey Tambor, Rip Torn, and Garry Shandling are the trio of performers whose work anchors the amazing comedy series 'The Larry Sanders Show,' now available for the first time ever as a complete DVD collection.

Credit: Shout! Factory

My DVD Shelf: The Complete 'Larry Sanders Show' Season One

A review of the first season of the iconic comedy series, part of the new complete collection

Every single episode of "The Larry Sanders Show" is quotable.  How many shows can you say that about?  Or is that one of the things we use to measure our favorite TV shows?  With comedy,

The first episode of the series had its voice and identity in place immediately.  There's no growing pains at all in "What Have You Done For Me Lately?"  The central dynamic that drives the show… Larry, Hank, and Artie… is firmly in place, and each of them is as clearly defined in the first half-hour as they were in the last episode years later.  In this season, Larry's married to Jeannie (Megan Gallagher), and his personal life is one long hall of mirrors, watching his own show at home after spending all day awash in it.  Hank's desperate need for recognition and love is already on display, and I love when "Kingsley's Queens" come to visit, his fan club of middle-aged ladies.  There's a tension between Larry and the network from the very start, and I like that they never name the network in the entire run of the show.  It's just "the network."  It's wild how little the landscape has changed for late-night talk show guys, and after the last year of Conan and Leno and hoopla, oh my, it feels appropriate to watch this series again as a sort of chaser.

The episodes that follow are just as strong.  "The Promise."  Great stuff.  Big laughs.  "The Spiders Episode."  The simple thrill of hearing Carol Burnett say, "I saw your balls."  "Guest Host" taps that recurrent anxiety of being replaced that fuels almost all the choices people make over the course of the series.

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<p>Donnie Yen faces off with Darren Shahlavi, aka China's answer to Ivan Drago, in 'Ip Man 2,' one of the three films that showcased Yen's work at this year's Fantastic Fest.</p>

Donnie Yen faces off with Darren Shahlavi, aka China's answer to Ivan Drago, in 'Ip Man 2,' one of the three films that showcased Yen's work at this year's Fantastic Fest.

Credit: Well Go

Fantastic Fest: Donnie Yen impresses in '14 Blades,' 'Legend Of The Fist,' and 'Ip Man 2'

An unofficial festival sidebar showcases one of the best martial artists in the world

Donnie Yen had a very, very good Fantastic Fest, even if he wasn't there.

The icons of martial arts cinema have been on the wane as of late, and for understandable reasons.  Jackie Chan is probably lucky just to be walking at this point in his life, and Jet Li just doesn't seem to have the drive anymore.  Tony Jaa, the most recent addition to the canon, cracked up and basically destroyed his own career.  Although I've seen many strong martial arts films in the last few years, I don't think there's any single performer who has stepped up as an instantly recognizable star, and that's a shame.

That's why I'm sort of amazed by the resurgence in the last few years by Donnie Yen, who I've always considered one of the best actors out of all the current generation martial arts stars.  In three films playing at Fantastic Fest 2010, Yen's work is showcased in three very different ways, and watching all three of those films is a great way to understand just how wonderful he is these days, and just how singular he seems to be in the world of action cinema these days.

I saw "14 Blades" at ActionFest in Asheville earlier this year, and as part of the jury at the fest, I helped award the film a citation for "Best Action Sequence."  There's a scene early on where Green Dragon (Donnie Yen) meets the Judge Of The Desert (Chun Wu), and they challenge one another to a certain display of skills in a certain period of time, and it's such a classic, simple way of establishing the way each of these characters fights that it seems to me to be a near-perfect scene to show someone who wants to understand why I'm drawn to martial arts films in the first place.  There's character, humor, thrills, and danger all wrapped up in one scene.

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