<p>David Tennant and Simon Pegg are set to play grave-robbing partners in 'Burke &amp;&nbsp;Hare,' the next film from John Landis</p>

David Tennant and Simon Pegg are set to play grave-robbing partners in 'Burke & Hare,' the next film from John Landis

Credit: BBC

Dr. Who and Shaun of the Dead unite for 'Burke & Hare'

John Landis taps David Tennant to join Simon Pegg in his grave-robbing comedy

I hate the way most older directors are treated by this business.

John Landis is a good example.  Yes... there is a reason his career took a nosedive during the mid-to-late '80s, but no matter what your feelings about that incident, Landis is still the guy who made "An American Werewolf In London," "National Lampoon's Animal House," "The Blues Brothers," "Coming To America," and "Three Amigos!", and the idea that a guy like that has trouble getting funding for anything is just preposterous.  Sure, give some new guys work, but don't just throw older directors away because of some arbitrary calendar date.  It's short-sighted, and god only knows how many great films we've lost because of the attitude.

Thankfully, Landis is one of those guys who is still on the hustle even now, and it looks like he's got a new film in the works.  According to the fine folks over at Bloody-Disgusting, Landis made an announcement at a horror convention in Orlando last week that David "Dr Who" Tennant would be joining the previously-announced Simon Pegg as the other half of the infamous graverobbing team in "Burke & Hare," a darkly comic riff on the oft-referenced story.

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<p>Jack Black voices the main character in Tim Schafer's awesome new video game 'Brutal Legend,' due in stores this week</p>

Jack Black voices the main character in Tim Schafer's awesome new video game 'Brutal Legend,' due in stores this week

Credit: EA/Double Fine Studios

DVD & Games Forecast: 'Uncharted 2' and 'Brutal Legend' rock console gamers

Plus 'Drag Me To Hell,' 'Land Of The Lost,' and 'Stop Making Sense' hit BluRay

Welcome to the DVD & Games Forecast for Oct. 13, 2009.

I really should just assign my paycheck directly to Amazon or Best Buy or some lucky retailer at this point, because the avalanche of want never seems to subside on my end.  And it's not just me... my wife's got the movies she wants, my kids have movies they want, and even my mother-in-law has specific tastes that I buy for.  With all the people in my house, it seems like each week's release list is just an excuse for all of us to go a little crazy, and this week is no exception.

It's uncommon that games come before movies in this column, but this week, they've earned their spot at the top of the heap, so let's dive right in.


"Brutal Legend" (PS3/XBOX360)

I've played the demo for Tim Schafer's deranged new ode to all things heav y metal on both PS3 and XBOX 360 now, and I'm absolutely rabid to get my hands on the final game.  Hilarious, beautifully designed, and just plain fun, it's the story of Eddie Riggs, the best roadie in the world.  He's killed onstage by a falling set during a rock show, only to find himself resurrected in a world that looks like it's straight off the cover of every single metal album of the '80s.

Filled with battle nun demons, head-banging tribesmen, and guest appearances by icons like Lemmy Kilmeister and Ozzy Osbourne, "Brutal Legend" looks great, sounds great, and has one of the most intuitive gameplay set-ups I've encountered in a while.  I have a feeling I'll get lost in this one when I do get my hands on it, so maybe it's a good thing I haven't picked it up yet.

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<p>Now that Spielberg's moved on, will&nbsp;Gary Ross be the man to bring Matt Helm back to the big screen?</p>

Now that Spielberg's moved on, will Gary Ross be the man to bring Matt Helm back to the big screen?

Gary Ross also set to helm 'Helm' now?

Spielberg's leftovers may come before 'Venom'

When we covered the possibility of Steven Spielberg directing "Matt Helm" a few months back, I thought it had real potential.  As I said back then, I grew up in a Matt Helm household.  My dad introduced me to these books, whether he meant to or not, by virtue of the stacks of them all over the house.  This series, The Destroyer, Fleming's Bond, McDonald's McGee... those are the classics I was raised on.  I'm not sure Spielberg's sensibility would have totally meshed with the Helm series, but if he could make something with the savage integrity of "Munich," he might have nailed it completely.  Especially with George Clooney or Jon Hamm in the lead, both very real possibilities that were discussed.

Now The Playlist has broken the news that Gary Ross plans to pick up where Spielberg left off, and that "Matt Helm" could end up in front of the cameras as early as spring of 2010.  And who's going to be working overtime in the role to help us all forget the horror of Dean Martin's portrayal of this dangerous man?

Could it be... Bradley Cooper?!

I'm almost hesitant to mention the possibility now.  Although I was absolutely on the money when I published our scoop about Cooper being one of the finalists in the bake-off to find the Green Lantern this year, people who don't understand the process or how close you are to a role when you screen test have taken great delight in e-mailing me repeatedly to tell me "U WERE WRONG, DUDE!" about a zillion times since Ryan Reynolds ended up with that role. 

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<p>The last time a pitch produced by JJ&nbsp;Abrams was surrounded in this much secrecy up front, the end result was the monster movie 'Cloverfield'</p>

The last time a pitch produced by JJ Abrams was surrounded in this much secrecy up front, the end result was the monster movie 'Cloverfield'

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Kinberg and McKenna set up pitch at Paramount

Is Hollywood finally back in a buying mood?

Pitching has always been a rough way to make a living as a writer in Hollywood.

The process itself is miserable.  I know guys who enjoy it, but in my opinion, a writer writes.  Pitching is more akin to performance, a separate skill set, and some of the best writers I know have never really been any good at explaining something before they write it, and no matter how many times they have to do it, they never seem to get better at it.

My managers hooked my writing partner and I up with a great pitcher named Todd Komarnicki almost a decade ago, and Todd coached the two of us on the fine art of the pitch.  It was a major milestone for us, the moment we went from writers who couldn't pitch to save their lives to writers who occasionally manage to put together a pitch that makes a compelling enough case that someone takes pity on us and pays us just so we'll get out of their office.

In the last few years, though, it's been nigh impossible to sell a pitch unless you had a ton of elements already attached, like a director or a cast or some underlying material that potential buyers could put their hands on.  The pure pitch-only pitch was a dying breed, and I've been frustrated by what felt like an industry-wide contraction as a result, as I'm sure many writers have.

Not Simon Kinberg and Aline Brosh McKenna, though.  Not after this week.

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<p>Woody, Buzz, and all the other beloved characters are back in next summer's 'Toy Story 3'</p>

Woody, Buzz, and all the other beloved characters are back in next summer's 'Toy Story 3'

Credit: Walt Disney/Pixar

New 'Toy Story 3' news and trailer arrive online

Casting surprises and familiar images a'plenty

Are you excited yet?

Right now, it seems like "Toy Story" is sort of omnipresent in pop culture.  The double-feature of the first two films is still playing in 3D in theaters, and today, Pixar announced that they'll be extending the run so that more people can see it.  That's good news for me, because I was traveling the first week it was out, and this week, I'm playing catch-up, so I haven't had a chance to take Toshi to check them out yet.

The new trailer for the third film, the first to feature actual footage, made its debut in theaters in front of the double-feature, but it's available now online, and I'll embed it at the bottom of this post.  It's very strange to see Andy all grown up now, but in many ways, the trailer serves as a reassurance that, sure enough, we're about to get more "Toy Story," and it doesn't seem that Pixar has screwed with the basic recipe at all.

Today also saw announcements via the official Pixar Facebook page that Kristen Schaal and Blake Clark have joined the cast of "Toy Story 3," with Clark stepping in as Slinky Dog and Schaal playing a still-unnamed character.  I love her on "Flight Of The Conchords," and Clark's pretty much a perfect choice to replace Jim Varney, so both announcements sound good to me.

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<p>Ari Gold's 'Adventures Of Power' is the focus of an LA-area fundraiser for the Bill&nbsp;Graham Foundation on October 13, 2009</p>

Ari Gold's 'Adventures Of Power' is the focus of an LA-area fundraiser for the Bill Graham Foundation on October 13, 2009

Credit: Variance Films

Ari Gold's 'Adventures Of Power' throws a fundraiser concert in LA

And all your details on how to attend are here, plus a deleted scene from the film

I wasn't at Sundance in 2008 when Ari Gold's "Adventures Of Power" played, but I've spent the nearly-two-years since then greatly entertained by the idea that there's an indie filmmaker named "Ari Gold" right now.

The film, which I still haven't seen, opens Friday in LA at the Sunset 5 for a limited engagement, and in the meantime, the filmmakers are kicking things off Tuesday night in LA with a premiere party that's also a fundraiser, and which you can attend. The evening caps off with a secret show from a very cool LA band I've seen live a few times, and they always put on a great show.

Here are the details if you're interested:

BENEFIT: Los Angeles Film Release party for movie “Adventures of Power” opening in Los Angeles , October 16, 2009 at Sunset 5 Los Angeles.

"Adventures of Power" is hosting charity release parties to raise money for music-education for kids, through the Bill Graham Memorial Foundation.  Drummers are encouraged to join Metallica, Rush, Broken Social Scene, and Judas Priest in donating signed instruments for the tax-deductible online auction.

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<p>Joe Hill seems to be writing devilishly on his new project.</p>

Joe Hill seems to be writing devilishly on his new project.

Mandalay Pictures grabs Joe Hill by the 'Horns'

Acclaimed horror author's new novel is set for adaptation


Joe Hill is rapidly becoming one of the best horror authors working, and the fact that he splits his attention between novels, short stories, and comics is just one more reason to be impressed at his output.  Of course, if your dad was Stephen King and your mother was Tabitha King and you spent much of your childhood playing writing games as a family (something Stephen King has written about in his own work), you'd probably stand at least a small chance of developing into a writer of substance, too.

The thing I love about Hill's work is that he doesn't ape his dad in any way, but he has obviously inherited the most important thing a writer can have:  a voice.  There are plenty of competent writers who tell compentent stories, but there's nothing about their work that has a pulse.  Hill, like his father, could tell you a story about absolutely nothing and the way he does it is what would make the work stand out.  Thankfully, Hill has a really crafty way of building his work, and his first novel, "Heart-Shaped Box,"  is a beautifully satisfying piece of work, as is his short-story collection, "20th Century Ghosts."  I haven't read much of his comic series, "Lock & Key," but what I have read absolutely feels to be of a piece with his previous work.

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<p>Max (Max Records)&nbsp;looks on as Carol (James Gandolfini) sulks in the new film version of Maurice Sendak's classic 'Where The Wild Things Are'</p>

Max (Max Records) looks on as Carol (James Gandolfini) sulks in the new film version of Maurice Sendak's classic 'Where The Wild Things Are'

Credit: Warner Bros.

The M/C Review: 'Where The Wild Things Are' roars and rumbles

Let the wild rumpus begin! A masterpiece has arrived

I don't use this word lightly, but "Where The Wild Things Are" is an absolute masterpiece, and it's the finest offering from any Hollywood studio thus far this year. 

It is a gorgeous, painful, heartfelt look at the turbulence of childhood, shot through with the wisdom that only perspective can allow, but told in a way that grounds us in the POV of a child.  It's smart, deceptively simple, and richly imagined.  I saw a rough cut of the film in 2007 at the now-infamous test screening, and even in rough form, it rattled me deeply.  But finished, the film is a miracle of sorts, a movie that authentically captures the experience of what it's like when you're too young to fully manage your own emotional landscape, but old enough to know you have no control.

It is also, in my opinion, the perfect model of what adaptation should be.

Maurice Sendak's book has been part of my life since I was a little boy, and the real power of his story is how much it suggests in less than 200 words.  The art, the choice of how he says what he says, and the dreamlike logic of the piece all combine to weave a powerful spell over both children and adults.  When my first son was born, "Where The Wild Things Are" was the first book I purchased for him, while he was still in the hospital with my wife, waiting to come home.  It felt important to me to have a copy of the book in the house, and as story time has become a nightly institution in the house, Toshi calls for the book at least once a week.  This and Dr. Seuss's "Oh! The Places You'll Go" are his two favorites, the ones we return to more often than any other, and when you consider the way Seuss has been treated by Hollywood, this movie seems like even more of a miracle.

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<p>Neve McIntosh plays a woman in the midst of the worst one-night stand in history in 'Salvage'</p>

Neve McIntosh plays a woman in the midst of the worst one-night stand in history in 'Salvage'

Credit: Jinga Films

HorrorFest 2009: 'Salvage'

English horror film fumbles intriguing ideas

Welcome to HorrorFest 2009.

Of all the horror films I saw at Fantastic Fest this year, "Salvage" may have frustrated me the most.

One of the things I love about low-budget horror is the way it forces invention out of necessity.  When you don't have a giant budget, you have to focus on all those pesky little things like "character" and "story" and "good filmmaking."  It's a burden, sure, but all sarcasm aside, it's also where real filmmakers shine.  You can tell when someone's got the goods when they make a movie for nothing and you never once think about the budget as you watch.

Lawrence Gough's got chops.  No doubt about it.  And "Salvage" is a premise that has a huge amount of potential to it.  He's good with actors, he makes the most of limited locations, and he's not afraid to hurt the audience if it feels appropriate.  As a director, I'd say he pretty much does everything he can do with "Salvage," but still, the final film is a mixed bag, and that all comes down to script.  Gough has a co-story credit with Alan Pattinson and Colin O'Donnell, with O'Donnell credited as the screenwriter.  It's a case where the script doesn't quite live up to the premise it sets up, and considering how close they come, it's a damn shame.

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<p>Stephen Graham and Danny Dyer head the ensemble cast of Jake West's gender-bending zombie comedy 'Doghouse'</p>

Stephen Graham and Danny Dyer head the ensemble cast of Jake West's gender-bending zombie comedy 'Doghouse'

Credit: Sony Pictures UK

HorrorFest 2009: 'Doghouse'

Jake West plays out the battle of the sexes with bags of blood

Welcome to HorrorFest 2009.

 This movie's got a wee case of "try-too-hard," and after a while, it sort of runs out of steam, but there's still a lot of "Doghouse" that I enjoyed.  I didn't care much for Jake West's first film, "Razor Blade Smile," and I haven't seen his second one, "Evil Aliens," but there's some good stuff in his new film, and it seems to me like he's come a long way in the last decade.

Basically, "Doghouse" is a standard-issue zombie movie with a twist:  for some reason, the virus only affects women.  West uses that basic idea to set up what should be a wicked indictment of the "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" culture that exists to seemingly drive the genders apart, and in the moments the film gets that right, it's at its best.  When the film is "just" a horror movie, it's a little less successful because of the familiar nature of the material, but West is obviously a fan of the genre, and he fills the movie with little flourishes that keep things lively overall.

At the start of the film, Vince (Stephen Graham) is reeling from a recent divorce, and his mates decide they're going to take him for a holiday weekend in search of some dirty, uncomplicated sex.  One by one, as each of them is introduced, we see how they are henpecked or compromised by the women in their lives, and how they use their friends as a chance to vent about their feelings. 

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