Welcome back to The Morning Read.
Man, did I need that vacation. I needed it to spend time with my sons and my wife after their long trip to South America. I needed it after the wild ride that is Sundance each year. But more than anything, I just plain needed to step away from movies for a week and shut everything down so I could clear my mind, reset my palette, and prepare myself for the rest of 2011.
I did not watch the Super Bowl yesterday. Nothing against the big game, but if I don't watch during the season, I don't see much point in pretending that I'm invested one day out of the year. I enjoy football, but I don't really have time to devote to it, and that's the sort of thing that I feel like you need to make room for as a fan. I have caught up on the movie ads that premiered during yesterday's game, though, and so I thought we'd kick off this Morning Read with some quick reactions to the way these specific campaigns are being managed. Obviously I put up a piece about the "Super 8" piece by itself, but there were a number of other big ads that premiered as well.
Welcome back to The Morning Read.
It's like someone dropped the scale of a 2011 action film right smack dab into the heart of early '80s Spielburbia, and the result is about a bazillion people who just went, "I think I need to see 'Super 8.'" Well-played, Paramount.
The thing about "Super 8" is that, being cloaked in the same typical secrecy that surrounds all of the Bad Robot projects precisely because of jerks like me who tend to blurt things out, there's not much to go by so far in terms of solid information on what we'll be seeing this summer.
What I have heard from those in the know is that the film is very much a boy's adventure movie, like "The Goonies" or "E.T.", a film that's aimed at a young audience and that's meant to play broad. I think the youthful feel of the movie surprised some of the people who are working on it in various capacities. Not in a bad way… just in a surprised way.
And now looking at this trailer, what it seems to sell is the wonder of the film, the feeling that these are normal people caught up in something crazy, and in particular, that kid's-eye point of view seems to be clearly communicated in this, the first real footage we've seen from the movie.
So the media machine behind "Captain America" was not initially very successful at keeping the costume under wraps with leaked photos appearing around the internets as early as last summer. But all of a sudden June is just around the corner and we finally start to get some official images from the production, first from Entertainment Weekly that Drew commented on before, and now a slew more shots published in the UK's Empire Magazine.
So below is what the complete costume is supposed to look like when it's properly lit and airbrushed. I'm sure they were delaying showing the helmet due to the darn thing having wings on it, but I don't think it looks so bad. The wings look more like an airline logo than anything else, and maintain a military vibe, which at the end of the day is appropriate. Thoughts?
Click through to see full Image...
I don't feel the need to continue to defend Lucky McKee's difficult and demanding new film "The Woman," because I think audiences will figure it out on their own. By now, you may have heard about the infamous first screening of the movie at the festival and the tumultuous events afterward, but what you may not have heard is how much better the second screening went.
Part of that is because the hubbub from the first screening kickstarted the conversation about the film, and whether you like the movie or not, at least you'll walk into it now with some sort of context for what you're about to see. I wanted to help extend that conversation a bit, and so one of the last things I did at the festival was make sure we spent some time talking to Lucky and his lead actress, the lovely and unusual Pollyanna McIntosh.
I've already had several e-mails and comments on the site attacking the notion that a film like "The Woman" could be feminist, but I don't even think that's up for debate. It may not be a comfortable, easy feminism that the film articulates, but there is no doubt in my mind that the movie is meant to create a feeling in the viewer that matches the unbearable powerlessness that many women feel every day of their lives.
And to illustrate just how bizarre Sundance can be, this interview was taped about a half-hour after I finished talking to Elmo. From the most adorable little red monster in the world to the gender politics of "The Woman," Park City really was a wonderful way to kick off the film year, and I'm sure we'll continue these conversations over the rest of 2011.
With the HitFix crew up to our knees in Park City film news, we called in the beautiful and always charming Jenna Busch to chat with the creative team behind the new 3D underwater claustrophobia-fest "Sanctum."
The film centers around a crew of cave divers that get caught in a giant underwater cave during a storm and must find their way out or face certain death as the cave is flooding. The incident is partially based on the experiences of the the films' co-writer Andrew Wight. "Our real story is we were all caught in a cave collapse after a big storm and we all survived, our fictional story kind of picks up where the real story leaves off," said Wight.
The film was shot with the cameras that James Cameron developed for use on his groundbreaking 3D film "Avatar," cameron, donning his producer hat for "Sanctum" told us that part of the reason he produces 3D films like "Sanctum" is to learn things that will make his cameras better. "it's a work in progress," said Cameron "every time we go out and shoot one of these things we learn more that will make the cameras better, lighter, smaller."
I've made a number of jokes over the last few days about just how many jobs Evan Glodell had on his debut film, "Bellflower," but the truth is that I'm impressed. I would be impressed if he was just the lead actor and gave a performance as strong as the one he gives in the film, but to also be the writer, director, producer, and to be responsible for building the working props and the specialty camera rigs? Ridiculous.
I get the feeling that's the only way a film like "Bellflower" would ever get made, though. This is obviously a personal vision, and the handcrafted quality of the film is part of what makes it feel so special. When you see the film, you'll see the way the image matches the emotional states of the characters, the way it almost feels recovered instead of filmed.
I ran one interview during Sundance that was with the cast of the film, but there were two very notable exceptions. One was Glodell himself, and the other was Tyler Dawson, who plays Aiden. Woodrow, Glodell's character, may be the mechanical mastermind of the film, but Aiden is the constant that is always there to support Woodrow.
Their friendship is the spine of the movie, and whatever hope you may find embedded in the wrap-up to the film, it's because of the dynamic between them. Today, we've got our chat with Glodell and Dawson, and I think you can see that same dynamic at play in the conversation we had.
Although the deal is far from done, Javier Bardem is reportedly very "Intrigued" by the take on the Bond villain for "James Bond 23" as explained to him by director Sam Mendes, when they met about the part. The LA Times is reporting that Bardem will not commit until he reads a script, of course, but so far so good. "I'm a huge fan of the James Bond Saga," said the actor, indicating a healthy interest.
Bardem won an Oscar for his chilling role as the very bad man Anton Chigurh in the Coen Brothers "No Country for Old Men," so this casting choice would be a no brainer for Mendes, although the role may not be as straight forward evil as Chigurh. According to Bardem "I'd be playing Bond's nemesis, yes, but it's not that obvious. Everything is more nuanced, It's very intriguing."
The Actor appeared this year in "Eat Pray Love" and well as the lead in the Spanish Language film "Biutiful," for which he is nominated for an Oscar.
I do my best to avoid interviews at film festivals. It's not because I have a problem sitting down to talk people about their work, but because of the finite nature of time. There's only so much you can do at a festival, and when I'm averaging four hours of sleep a night as it is, something's got to give.
But there are interviews I make time for. Some, like the "Bellflower" conversations, are because I see something at the fest and flip out for it. My upcoming conversation with Lucky McKee and Pollyanna MacIntosh about their film "The Woman" is the same way. But others, you know you want to do before you ever even get on the plane, and one such priority for me this year was spending some time with Jason Eisener, who directed "Hobo With A Shotgun," and Rutger Hauer, who is the Hobo With A Shotgun.
And it was sooooooo worth it.
I've met Jason a few times before, and after the Sundance premiere of his short film "Treevenge" a few years ago, we had a great chat standing outside the Egyptian theater on Main Street. But for this one, we did an extensive sit-down. So intensive that we've broken the full dialogue down into three six-minute videos.
PARK CITY - By now, you may have seen my interview with Elmo, the three-year-old red monster from Sesame Street who caused an incredible stir anywhere he showed up during the festival.
The whole reason Elmo was here, of course, was for "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey," which is the documentary that Constance Marks brought to the fest, a look at the life and work of Kevin Clash, the man who gives both voice and soul to Elmo. And while the short exchange with Elmo was adorable and fun, the real conversation was the one I had with Marks and with Clash.
As I said, when I first showed up at the Yarrow and went upstairs to the conference room where we did the interview, there was a little time to talk to Clash informally, just to sort of ease into things. He and Marks both were excited about the review that our own Dan Fienberg wrote about the film, and they were also amazed by just how fervent the affection for them seemed to be at each of the screenings so far.
What Clash and I really seemed to bond immediately over, though, was our personal histories regarding Jim Henson. I told Clash how it was Jim's passing that motivated me to move to Los Angeles in the first place. I was 20 at the time, and I was marking time in Tampa, Florida, sure that there would be plenty of time for me to conquer Hollywood. Someday. Eventually. For Jim Henson, a fixture in my life since I was conscious of pop culture as a child, to simply disappear one day because of a cold seemed so far beyond the realm of acceptable that it was mere days after his passing that my co-writer Scott Swan and I were in a car with all of our possessions, on our way to Los Angeles.
PARK CITY - Considering how rough much of the festival has been, and how much controversy I've found myself in, today was a lovely antidote.
Why? Well, because of a unique opportunity that came together after several days worth of negotiation, I had two very sweet and sort of moving interviews in a row. The first, which you'll see later this week, was with Kevin Clash, the puppeteer who is being honored in the new documentary "Being Elmo," and I think he's kind of wonderful. We had time to chat informally about Jim Henson and Frank Oz and we got to make "All About Eve" and Grover jokes, and immediately, I recognized in him the core values that I respond to in other guys who grew up on Henson's work. It's a philosophy, something that you just react to, and it was immediately relaxed.
At the end of that conversation, which also included Constance Marks, who directed the documentary, suddenly someone else was in the room, as if by magic, and Kevin Clash disappeared. Alex Dorn, who's been shooting all of the interviews we've done up here this week, just turned the camera on, and… well… I had a chat with Elmo.