<p>Josh Brolin stars as the mysterious Jonah Hex in 'Jonah Hex,' the big-budget Western due out from Warner Bros in 2010.&nbsp;</p>

Josh Brolin stars as the mysterious Jonah Hex in 'Jonah Hex,' the big-budget Western due out from Warner Bros in 2010. 

Credit: Warner Bros.

The Morning Read: Josh Brolin's in 'Men In Black 3' and reshooting 'Jonah Hex'?

Plus I step in 'Jersey Shore' and enter the debate over Script Shadow

Welcome to The Morning Read.

I think it's official.  2009 has just plain kicked my ass.

I've never been sick as many times in a year as I have been this year.  I've never slept less hours in a year than I did this year.  I've never worked as much in a year as I have this year.  I perpetually feel like I'm being chased by a bear.  My comprehensive physical last week is the first one in the last decade that I outright failed, with my doctor just writing "NO" on my chart and circling it in red.  I find that most days pass in a blur of exhaustion, where I feel like I'm moving backwards underwater at all times.

Other than that, I'm fine.  And you?

I will say that almost 11 hours sleep over the last 24 hours has gone a long way towards me feeling human for the moment.  I need to take care of myself this week... I can tell I'm on the tipping point of a major bronchial incident of some sort, and with BNAT this weekend, I really can't take being sick.  Throw in a quick trip to Vancouver for a set visit, and I'm daring my body to collapse.  Let's see how much we can get to this morning before I have to bail for the airport.

Speaking of set visits, when I saw the news on Shock Till You Drop this morning that "Jonah Hex" is gearing up for some additional photography, it flashed me back to that humid, gnarly swamp where a group of us visited Josh Brolin at work on the film earlier this year in New Orleans.  I think there's some real potential there, and I'm curious to see what happens with the film this year.  Westerns are always a hard sell these days, but I think they're up to something cool.  It's obvious people are getting crazy for Josh Brolin, with the rumor today being that he may end up in "Men In Black 3" in some capacity.

Read Full Post
<p>Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon co-star in 'Invictus,' the new film from Clint Eastwood&nbsp;</p>

Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon co-star in 'Invictus,' the new film from Clint Eastwood 

Credit: Warner Bros.

Watch: Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman discuss 'Invictus'

Talking with two of Hollywood's best about their process

I've never had reason to sit down with Matt Damon before this year, and now we've done interviews twice in four months.

And as a special added bonus, this time he brought Morgan Freeman with him.

This was part of last Friday's running around that culminated in my evening with Peter Jackson that I wrote about yesterday.  This TV spot was typically brief, and I was the very last person in the room that day, so I expected the two of them would be worn out.  Instead, I was impressed by how they treated me with the same courtesy and gave me the same energy as if I was the first person of the day.

We had time to talk about the process of playing such recognizable media figures, and how they prepared for the roles, and that's about it, but when you're talking with these two guys?  It's enough.

If you want to watch a larger version, you can see it on its own page.  If you'd like to read my review of the film, you can do that as well.

"Invictus" opens this Friday.

Can't get enough of Motion/Captured? Don't miss a post with daily HitFix Blog Alerts. Sign up now.

Don't miss out. Add Motion/Captured to your iGoogle, My Yahoo or My MSN experience by clicking here.

Not part of the HitFix Nation yet? Take 90 seconds and sign up today.

<p>So what do you think... should Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner be worried?&nbsp;</p>

So what do you think... should Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner be worried? 

Credit: SPHE

Will the 'Romancing The Stone' remake reunite the 'Ugly Truth' team?

And if so, why hasn't that news caused riots in the streets?

We have reached a tipping points for passivity, and it is the fault of each and every one of us that has allowed Hollywood to gradually move the line until reaching the point where there's nothing you can say about any of these films, because it's just business as usual.

I ran a column on Ain't It Cool called "Remake This!", and when I started it, I thought it was a mildly distracting trend that would run its course quickly.  But that hasn't happened... not at all.  Instead, it seems like it's ramped up over the last few years, and now it's just crazy.

Case in point:  "Romancing The Stone."  When that film came out, it was a last chance for Robert Zemeckis, who had been mentored into the business by Steven Spielberg.  He and his writing partner Bob Gale wrote "1941," which was a much-loved script but then became the first overt flop of Spielberg's career, which led many people to point at the writers as the problem.  Not Spielberg, though.  He believed in them, and he was involved in both "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" and "Used Cars," both of which went belly-up at the box-office.  I like "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," but I'm damn near rabid about "Used Cars," which is brilliant.  Zemeckis floundered for a few years before getting handed a script by Diane Thomas that easily could have just been turned into a crappy Indiana Jones ripoff.  But Thomas was a better writer than that, and Zemeckis recognized something special in her work, so he took his shot, and the result was one of those perfect collisions of commercial appeal and genuine skill on the parts of all involved.  That script is one of the greats of the '80s, a sly poke at the notion of romance novels and the men they create, the women that read (and write) them, and the self-interest of treasure hunters.  It's packed with great characters, witty dialogue, and high adventure.

And so of course, they're remaking it now with Robert Luketic, director of "Legally Blonde" and "The Ugly Truth," stepping in to direct.

Read Full Post
<p>Anne Hathaway is rumored to be playing the Black Cat in &quot;Spider-Man 4.&quot;</p>

Anne Hathaway is rumored to be playing the Black Cat in "Spider-Man 4."

Credit: AP Photo

Are John Malkovich and Anne Hathaway the villains in 'Spider-Man 4'?

And if so, who are they playing?

I don't know what to think about this latest "Spider-Man 4" rumor from Movieline.

John Malkovich as The Vulture?  I can get behind that.  He's physically right for the part, and he's at the age where he suggests the way the character was written, but he's still got the right stamina to actually play the part.  And certainly he's a great actor, and a great villain if the material is right.  And, let's not forget, he was one of the actors considered for The Green Goblin for the original "Spider-Man," and was evidently a real possibility at one point before the role eventually went to Willem Dafoe.

We've mentioned the hunt for Felicia Hardy here on the site before, but if this Movieline article is accurate, the character isn't going to be the character we think she is.   And this is by far the strangest decision they've made yet on this series, and that's saying something after the dance number in "Spider-Man 3."

Felicia Hardy in the comics is a character named The Black Cat.  She's basically Catwoman for the Marvel Universe, a thief of some moral complexity who sometimes romances Spider-Man and sometimes fights him. Hot girl.  Tight costume.  Pretty simple stuff.  And Anne Hathaway, who is alleged to be getting closer and closer to signing for the role, would certainly fill out the spandex well.  She's engaging, she's funny, she's gorgeous and she's physically substantial, so I could actually buy her in the action scenes.

Read Full Post
<p>Even though Bela Lugosi's Dracula has remained iconic for over 70 years, filmmakers keep trying to redefine him on the bigscreen, and it looks like Summit's 'Vlad' will be the latest attempt&nbsp;</p>

Even though Bela Lugosi's Dracula has remained iconic for over 70 years, filmmakers keep trying to redefine him on the bigscreen, and it looks like Summit's 'Vlad' will be the latest attempt 

Credit: Universal Home Video

Summit cheats on 'Twilight' with the world's most famous vampire

Is there room for two bloodsuckers at the studio?

Jeeez, Summit.  If you love vampires so much, why don't you marry them?

Oh, wait, I think you probably are in one of the next few "Twilight" movies.  Just goes to show you, no one has more riding on the continuing relevance of vampires as cultural icons than Summit Entertainment.  The second installment of the "Twilight" series was released last month, and since then, "New Moon" has earned 275 grazillion dollars.  Roughly.

Now they're trying to do the one thing that "Twilight" would never be accused of doing:  they want to scare you. And it looks like actor Charlie Hunnam, best known for "Sons Of Anarchy" and "Undeclared," is the writer of the film.  It surprises me, not because I have any idea whether Hunnam can write or not, but because I didn't realize he was even interested.

How do you make vampires scary again?  Fair question right now, when their popularity has very little to do with them as icons of fear and everything to do with the way they serve as sexual metaphor.  And even worse, how do you make Dracula scary?  Or even interesting?  What remains unsaid when talking about the character or the historical inspiration, Vlad Tepes?  It seems that Hunnam is interested in a younger, earlier incarnation of the character, which explains his title:  "Vlad."

Read Full Post
<p>Saoirse Ronan and Peter Jackson on location during the shoot of 'The Lovely Bones,' based on Alice Sebold's acclaimed novel&nbsp;</p>

Saoirse Ronan and Peter Jackson on location during the shoot of 'The Lovely Bones,' based on Alice Sebold's acclaimed novel 

Credit: Matt Mueller/Paramount Pictures

'You are invited to join Peter Jackson for a cocktail reception'

Is there such a thing as a casual conversation during awards season?

I don't care how long I do this for a living or how long I work in Los Angeles.  I'm never going to get cynical about time spent talking to people I respect about the art form and the technical craft that I love. I still think it's a gift every time I get an invitation to some event that offers me a unique opportunity like the one that presented itself last Friday night.

"Paramount Pictures invites you to join director Peter Jackson and the cast of 'The Lovely Bones' for a private cocktail reception."

That's what the invite said when it showed up, and you never really know what that means. Private? Is that 20 people? 40? 100?  All it really means is that it's not open to the general public, right?

I already had reason to be at the Four Seasons, since I had TV interviews scheduled with Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon upstairs as part of the "Invictus" junket. You'll see that here later this week, and it's good.  I was the last person of the day, after a long day of one after another, and the fact that both guys gave me such sincere and thoughtful answers was nice of them.  It's brief, as all of those TV spots are, and not much of an actual in-depth interview.  Those are more like you ask one or two good questions, and you're out.  Something simple and fun that lets them show a little personality or tell a good story.

They're not really conversations, though, are they?

Read Full Post
<p>Penelope Cruz is just one of the women in the life of Guido Contini (played by Daniel Day Lewis) in the new musical 'Nine'&nbsp;</p>

Penelope Cruz is just one of the women in the life of Guido Contini (played by Daniel Day Lewis) in the new musical 'Nine' 

Credit: The Weinstein Company

The M/C Review: Rob Marshall takes on Fellini in 'Nine' with an all-star cast

Does his return to the musical deliver or does he come up short?

"Nine" is the movie that the detractors of "Chicago" accused it of being. 

Like "Chicago," Rob Marshall is working from a major Broadway show.  He's made a very specific stylistic choice, dictated in no small part by the work of a very strong screenwriter.  On "Chicago," it was braniac Bill Condon, whose cellular-level understanding of musicals, even in casual conversation, is amazing.  And he cracked that film's conceit in the script.  Here, Anthony Minghella was the guy who really did the heavy lifting. Michael Tolkin did some early work on the film, adapting the stage production written by Arthur Kopit and Maury Yeston, who also wrote some new material for the film as well, who were themselves adapting a stage production by Mario Fratti, inspired by the film by Federico Fellini.

That's a lot of hands for something to go through, and when you consider how personal "8 1/2" was for Fellini, it seems doubly strange for this many people to spend this much time and energy retelling the story. It's not like this is some universal tale that everyone can relate to:  it's the story of a director of several major cultural hit films who is finding himself blocked as he approaches the start of production on his next film, even as he juggles a wife and a mistress who both feel neglected.

Read Full Post
<p>Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal co-star in the tender-hearted drama 'Crazy Heart'&nbsp;</p>

Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal co-star in the tender-hearted drama 'Crazy Heart' 

Credit: Fox Searchlight

The M/C Review: Jeff Bridges hits every note right in 'Crazy Heart'

Small-scale country-music drama gets everything right

I'll say it.  We're all itching to say it.  This movie gives us yet another in a long line of opportunities to say it.

Jeff Bridges is one of the all-time hall-of-fame no-debate greats.

Watching his body of work unfold is a pleasure.  That's the long and short of it.  There are certain actors whose careers result from the undeniable truth that watching them perform is a pure honey pleasure.  Always. Predictably.  Jeff Bridges has always been at the very least good, but in the last twenty years or so, he's evolved into something so pure and joyous to behold that when he runs into a piece of material that's worthy of the thunder he can call down, it's an event.

He slips on the character of Bad Blake, a country music singer limping through a dog's ass of a career, old and bloated and perpetually drunk, like it's a worn denim jacket, something familiar, something shaped just like him.  By the end of the film, you'd be forgiven if you think this is just like last year's "The Wrestler," with real-life adding the friction to the onscreen drama.  In that film, you know that Mickey Rourke is really a guy who wrestles powerful demons every day, every hour, just to keep himself together enough to make a living at his craft.  His character is, and so is he.  The same is true of the shockingly good "JCVD," where the big monologue moment of clarity for Jean Claude Van Damme is so naked and personal that you can't believe he would sit still and allow it to be recorded.  Here, Bridges convinces as a train wreck still moving forward out of sheer force of habit.

Read Full Post
<p>Steven Spielberg has spent most of the year trying to get a remake of 'Harvey' ready to shoot in the spring of 2010&nbsp;</p>

Steven Spielberg has spent most of the year trying to get a remake of 'Harvey' ready to shoot in the spring of 2010 

Spielberg just can't see 'Harvey'

Director walks away from remake of Jimmy Stewart classic

Can't say I'm exactly heartbroken to hear this.

According to Michael Fleming, Steven Spielberg has notified 20th Century Fox that he won't be using the soundstages they've had reserved for him in the spring of 2010, as he is no longer interested in making "Harvey," based on the Pulitzer Prize winning play by Mary Chase.

The play was famously filmed once before with Jimmy Stewart in the lead role of Elwood P. Dowd, a small-town laughing stock who carries on conversations with a six-foot-tall invisible rabbit named Harvey.  And while I admire the play and the earlier film, I sincerely hope this scuttles this remake altogether.  It wouldn't be the first project that Spielberg torpedoed simply by expressing some interest in it.  In this case, he's been working with Jonathan Tropper, a novelist who is still an unproven quantity as a screenwriter.

Fleming's article says that after Spielberg approached, and was turned down by, the obvious first choice of Tom Hanks, the director then started conversations with Robert Downey Jr.  And while I am a huge fan of Downey, and a big supporter of his recent explosion as a movie star, I think this role would be treading water for him.  I can already picture the entire film... the Janusz Kaminski look, the performance by Downey, and even the uplifting late-career John Williams score.  It's one of those movies that doesn't need to exist because the minute you say what it is, you can picture the entire thing.  It's too obvious.  It's too easy.

Read Full Post
<p>Jay and Mark Duplass, no strangers to Sundance, will be there again this year with their new untitled comedy&nbsp;</p>

Jay and Mark Duplass, no strangers to Sundance, will be there again this year with their new untitled comedy 

Credit: James Rocchi/Cinematical

First Look: Jonah Hill, John C. Reilly and Marisa Tomei head to Sundance

Mark and Jay Duplass have an untitled comedy with a great cast in the fest this year

[This article has been modified from its original text.]

One of last year's big success stories at Sundance was "Humpday," starring Mark Duplass.  He's also one-half of the filmmaking team who made the micro-budget charmer "The Puffy Chair" and the sly mumblecore/horror riff called "Baghead" along with his brother Jay.

I'm not much for the films that are loosely described as "mumblecore."  I think the truth is, though, that a label like that is often something that's created to try and tie together filmmakers who actually have nothing in common.  I think calling the work of the Duplass Brothers mumblecore is reductive and confining.  I think they're making low-budget independent films, and they don't need to be labeled any more than that.

I was talking to Josh Leonard, Mark's co-star in "Humpday," when I saw him on the set of "Sherlock Holmes," and he spoke with admiration about the way the Duplass Brothers work. This was before "Humpday" was on anyone's radar, back in November of 2008, and Leonard was still pinning down the details of his own directorial debut.  It was obvious as he spoke that he had nothing but admiration for the way the Duplass Brothers were maintaining a sense of independence even as they took their first step forward with a studio as a partner.  It is rare that a filmmaker who comes out of such a deeply independent scene manages to find a way to successfully cross over into the studio system without compromising who they are or what they make, but Leonard seemed to feel like the Duplass Brothers had done just that, and early word on this one indicates that they've pulled it off.

Read Full Post