<p>Whatever you do, don't look at the codpiece.&nbsp; It will hypnotize you, and then it will sing crazy '80s pop at you.&nbsp; I speak from experience.</p>

Whatever you do, don't look at the codpiece.  It will hypnotize you, and then it will sing crazy '80s pop at you.  I speak from experience.

Credit: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Film Nerd 2.0: 'Popeye,' empathy, and David Bowie's codpiece

In which tears flow as a sign of emotional growth and the Goblin King freaks out a new generation

Welcome to Film Nerd 2.0, an ongoing series in which I discuss parenting, media responsibility, and sharing my love of film with my now-four-year-old son Toshi.

Empathy is, in my opinion, one of the most essential things to nurture in a child as you raise them.  That moment when a child realizes that the world does not begin and end with them is an important one, and it's not something you can force.  Either it will click in, or it won't, and if it doesn't, then you're Ted Bundy's father.  Congratulations!

I've been on the road for the last week or so, and just before I left, I was going through one of my binders full of DVDs, with Toshi sitting next to me.  I was trying to find a film that his mom had asked me for, and he was asking me what each of the discs was that we flipped past.  We reached one particular page and he stopped me, pointing at one of the discs.  "Daddy... what's that?"

"That's 'Popeye.'"

"Nuh-uh.  Popeye is a cartoon."

"Well, yes, normally.  But they made a movie about Popeye, too.  You know how you can watch the Batman cartoons, but you're not old enough for the Batman movies with the real people?"


"Sometimes they make movies about cartoons.  They're just different versions of the same thing."

"Can I watch 'Popeye'?"

"Sure.  Not today, but at some point.  Sure."

I pulled the disc for him and put it in a separate case that we set aside, figuring we'd end up watching it together at some point.  But while I was in Toronto, my wife saw the disc sitting on the counter and asked him if he wanted to watch it while she was napping.  He was excited to check it out, and she stayed long enough to make sure the movie started playing, and then headed off to bed.

She was woken by the sound of sobbing from the other room, and she jumped up, ran to see what was happening, and was shocked to find Toshi sitting on the edge of the bed, still watching "Popeye," tears coursing down his cheeks.  When he saw her, he jumped up and hugged her and, between his ragged breaths, managed to say, "Mommy... they took the baby!"

[more after the jump]

Read Full Post
<p>Michael Moore, doing what he does best, in 'Capitalism: A Love Story'</p>

Michael Moore, doing what he does best, in 'Capitalism: A Love Story'

Credit: Overture Films

Toronto Mini: 'Capitalism: A Love Story' a mild return to form for Moore

His angriest movie is also his saddest

I've had my issues with the last handful of Michael Moore movies.  For me, his best work was "TV Nation" and "The Awful Truth," advocacy and entertainment that worked perfectly as both.  There are moments from those shows that I haven't seen since they first aired that I remember perfectly even now.  Michael Moore unabashedly deals in agitprop, and at his best, he knows how to infuriate you for the right reasons.

Over his last few films, though, starting for me with "Bowling For Columbine," Michael Moore has become the focus of the films, and that's been a huge turn-off.  I think it's also made him increasingly sloppy as a documentarian.  Like M. Night Shyamalan, he started to think that we were going to the theaters to watch him, and not because of the work he was doing, and that's deadly to this kind of filmmaking.

With "Capitalism: A Love Story," which he's already announced as the end of his documentary period of a director, Moore has made a film that reminds me of the great work he did at the start of his career, even if it doesn't quite recapture it completely.  What helps is that the subject matter made him furious, and he's set aside his own ego in favor of straight reportage for much of the film.  I found chunks of the movie intentionally infuriating, but there are things about it that suggest to me that Moore is incapable of digging in and doing the work he used to do at this point.

[more after the jump]

Read Full Post
<p>A typically hallucinatory moment from the ravishing new Gaspar Noe film, 'Enter The Void'</p>

A typically hallucinatory moment from the ravishing new Gaspar Noe film, 'Enter The Void'

Credit: Wild Bunch

The M/C Review: 'Enter The Void' spills over with visual wonder and big ideas

Gaspar Noe's most beautiful movie sums up his career so far

As I begin writing this review, I'm sitting outside my hotel in Toronto.  It's brisk outside, and I've got a few hours to work before I leave for the airport.  I'm so tired I feel like I'm floating through my day.  Disconnected, like nothing's real at this point.  I made it to the end of my 9:00 AM screening this morning by sheer force of will.  I haven't slept in 25 hours at this point, and won't until I am on the plane.

As I finish writing this review, I'm sitting in my office, at my desk, fully rested, full of breakfast, and I can hear my wife and my sons playing in the next room.  I'm enjoying the air conditioner in the office, and I'm enjoying my familiar office chair, and I'm happy to be back on my desktop computer, which is always easier to deal with than my laptop.  I'm going to enjoy this week at home before I have to leave again, and rest as much as possible before jumping into almost two weeks of non-stop work.  All I wanted all week was to be back in my wife's arms, to wake up next to her, to kiss my kids as they sleep.  That comfort was my first priority, and now my priority shifts to preparing to leave that comfort once again.

I am in both of those moments at once, and as I prepare to write eleven more reviews, I'm in each of those moments again as well, trying to conjure up the feeling of each screening, the details that are worth noting, the ideas I feel I must impart.  The ache in my calves brings to mind the 20 miles I walked during the festival.  I'm here, but I'm writing about there, and there is still going on.  Like most modern people, I am unattached to any sort of conventional sense of time, and that's just the way it works these days.

This dreamy disconnected approach to time is just one of the things Gaspar Noe addresses in his ravishing, remarkable new film "Enter The Void," and I'll be blunt:  if you ask me what my favorite thing I saw at the festival was, and what would be the first thing I added to my shelves on BluRay would be given my choice, I'd answer "Enter The Void."

Beyond that, I'd add that "Enter The Void" is as great a pure cinema experience as "2001."

Take that, Cannes Festival audiences.

[more after the jump]

Read Full Post
<p>Amanda Seyfried and Adam Brody, two of the stars of 'Jennifer's Body,' sorta dig Diablo Cody, and they're not afraid to say so</p>

Amanda Seyfried and Adam Brody, two of the stars of 'Jennifer's Body,' sorta dig Diablo Cody, and they're not afraid to say so

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Amanda Seyfried and Adam Brody defend Diablo Cody

Watch: our chat about 'Jennifer's Body' starts with some spirited words

You try sitting across from Amanda Seyfried showing two miles of leg and keep your mind on the interview.  Go ahead.  I dare you.

Seyfried really is the lead in "Jennifer's Body," even if they're using Megan Fox to sell the film.  And Adam Brody sort of steals every moment he's in, including the best-ever reference to Maroon 5.  So sitting down with the two of them to chat about the film was easy enough, and a pleasure.

But just as I sat down, they were discussing the reviews of the film in Variety and Hollywood Reporter, and they were both visibly wound up at the way Diablo Cody had been treated in the reviews.  As a result, they started the interview in a very defensive place, and it sort of set the tone for our brief chat.

For the record, I think Cody draws more insane rage than almost any other screenwriter, and it seems like people review her more than they review what she writes.  It's fine if you don't like her films, but listen to the language the most rabid of her detractors use, and you tell me if you think they have issues with women or not.  It's a little scary.

[more after the jump]

Read Full Post
<p>Matt Damon talks about his latest film with Drew McWeeny at the Toronto Film Festival</p>

Matt Damon talks about his latest film with Drew McWeeny at the Toronto Film Festival

Credit: Warner Bros.

Watch: Matt Damon On 'The Informant!,' 'Ocean's 13', and fake noses

Damon and McWeeny wring as much from five minutes as possible

I like Matt Damon a lot, both onscreen and off.  I like the way he spends his movie-star clout.  I like the way he pursues material that seems like it would be hard to pull off, and I like the way he pulls it off more often than not.

I like that he wrote his way to stardom, something which is still impressive even 12 years later.

And I like his taste in filmmakers.  This is a guy who could work with anyone, and when you're in that situation, who you work with says a lot about who you are.

Matt Damon has as little ego about being "a movie star" as anyone I've ever spoken with, and sitting down with him in Toronto to discuss "The Informant!" was a pleasure, even in the midst of the typical madness of junket press days.

I'm glad I interviewed Terry Gilliam this summer, because it led to one of the best parts of the interview with Damon, which you'll see embedded to the left or for a larger version, click here.

[more after the jump]

Read Full Post
<p>Scott Bakula and Matt Damon talk strategy in Steven Soderbergh's eccentric new comedy, 'The Informant!'</p>

Scott Bakula and Matt Damon talk strategy in Steven Soderbergh's eccentric new comedy, 'The Informant!'

Credit: Warner Bros.

Watch: Scott Bakula on 'Informant!', 'Star Trek,' and more

Plus why you won't see a 'Quantum Leap' movie anytime soon

Scott Bakula is, by all accounts, a good guy.

Maybe I should capitalize that.  A Good Guy.  The kind they don't make a ton of, and certainly not the kind you typically encounter interviewing actors.  That's not to say actors aren't decent folk.  They are, by and large.  But there's something more to the notion of the Good Guy.  Bakula is manly, but not threatening.  He's amiable, but not goofy.  There's a gravity to him, but with a perpetual sense of humor.  I am baffled by the idea that Hollywood never really figured out what to do with him.

Still, he works, and sometimes, he's even given something good to do.  "The Informant!" is one of those cases, and he's dryly hilarious throughout.  His work here is a reminder of just how understated and expert his performances can be, and I hope other directors see it and wake up to all the unrealized potential on display.

Here's our chat:

[more after the jump]

Read Full Post
<p>Megan Fox talks "Jennifer's Body"</p>

Megan Fox talks "Jennifer's Body"

Watch: Megan Fox talks 'Jennifer's Body' in Toronto

'Transformers' star and her 'Body' co-star Johnny Simmons chat with HitFix

Doing interviews at the same time that you're up here trying to see movies is, frankly, insane, and yet I had a pretty good time because of the other journalists up here.  I have nothing but admiration for the insanity that almost all of the publicists were dealing with, stretched too thin and trying to do 40 things at once in most cases.

At the "Jennifer's Body" press day, people were all abuzz before I even got to the Park Hyatt.  Same place I stayed recently when I was up here for the "Scott Pilgrim" set visit.  The first thing I was told, about six times by different people, was that I was not allowed to ask Megan anything about Michael Bay.  There were all sorts of bizarre outlets pulling god knows what.  One guy threw water on himself and tried to take his shirt off while talking to Fox.

My conversation with her and with co-star Johnny Simmons (probably the best performance in the film is him) was considerably less eventful than that.  Still, it's worth a look.

Read Full Post
<p>This is Lola.&nbsp; That's a needle.&nbsp; This will not end well.&nbsp; Robin McLeavy stars in 'The Loved Ones'</p>

This is Lola.  That's a needle.  This will not end well.  Robin McLeavy stars in 'The Loved Ones'

Credit: Madman Films

Toronto Mini: 'The Loved Ones' is dark, nasty fun

Australian film plays like 'The Texas Chainsaw Prom Night'

You know the highest compliment I can pay this audacious, crazy, gory little thriller?

When I walked out of it, I felt like I was in Austin.

I'm heading to Fantastic Fest next week, and I'm already excited about going.  But my first exposure to the programming and personality of Midnight Madness at the Toronto International Film Festival and Colin Geddes is that here's another place to call home.  Here, again, is one of us.

That's why I go to festivals in the first place.  Where else are you going to be around people who are so engaged in the conversation about film that two old friends can end up yelling at each other over the relative merits (or lack thereof) of a documentary made for $385?  Or where else would you pass strangers on the street who hear you mention the festival, stop, then turn back just so they can offer you a quick list of the three best things they've seen? 

That's the atmosphere at a good festival, and being on foot for much of this week, that's the environment I've been immersed in pretty much all day every day.  Every town is different, of course, with my favorite being Austin for all sorts of reasons.  I just plain feel at home there, and dealing with Colin Geddes and all the great volunteers and festival folks here, and enjoying the movies with the crowds at the Ryerson... all of it got me in exactly the right mood for next week, and even more importantly, now that I know this place feels this much like home, I'm absolutely coming back next year.

[more after the jump]

Read Full Post
<p>Ethan Hawke, Claudia Karvan, and Willem Dafoe explain what's what in 'Daybreakers,' an ambitious new vampire film</p>

Ethan Hawke, Claudia Karvan, and Willem Dafoe explain what's what in 'Daybreakers,' an ambitious new vampire film

Credit: Lionsgate Films

Toronto Mini: 'Daybreakers' inventive and fun gore noir vampire film

The Spierig Brothers fine-tune their style in their second film

I wasn't crazy about the first film by the Spierig Brothers, but I respected it as a piece of independent filmmaking just in terms of what they accomplished and how much it cost.  It's a very, very tiny film, but there are some gigantic moments and images in it that had an almost Gilliam-esque approach to effects work.  I remember writing at the time that I had faith that if they ever had some greater resources behind them and a better script, they had a really good movie in them.

"Daybreakers" is, for the most part, that movie.

I'm impressed by the gore noir look of the movie, set in a world about 20 years from now, once vampires have completely taken over the world.  They don't just outnumber humans... it's gotten to the point where humans are basically extinct except for giant private blood farms.  It's reached the point of crisis, so Edward (Ethan Hawke) works with a research time to develop a blood substitute that can keep the vampire population alive.  Those that starve, unable to find real blood, become monsters, crazed and powerful.  The last pockets of humans have been driven completely underground.  It looks like everyone's going extinct at the same time, with no hope.

[more after the jump]

Read Full Post
<p>The relationship between Jennifer Garner and Ricky Gervais is the heart and soul of the bitter comedy 'The Invention Of Lying'</p>

The relationship between Jennifer Garner and Ricky Gervais is the heart and soul of the bitter comedy 'The Invention Of Lying'

Credit: Warner Bros.

The M/C Review: 'The Invention Of Lying' hits hard, cuts deep

But when people go to a Ricky Gervais comedy, is this what they're expecting?

After letting it sink in for a few days, I honestly believe that "The Invention Of Lying" is a more scabrous, despairing portrait of human nature than "Anti-Christ" is.

But, you know... funny.

Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson co-wrote and co-directed this sure-to-polarize satire, so when the riots in the street begin... and they might... you know who to blame.  Go to their houses first.  I'm sure I'll be included on a list of the guilty, though, because I sat there in shock during much of the film's running time, amazed that what I was watching exists.  There is an audacious ugliness to the film that is sort of breathtaking, especially when you realize this isn't some anonymous indie.  This is a Warner Bros. release starring some of the biggest names in comedy on the planet, after all.  And one of the most unflinchingly angry ones I've ever seen.

The premise is deceptively simple:  in a world where lying was never invented, what happens when someone lies for the first time?  In this world, keep in mind, there is nothing that is not literally, almost bluntly true.  No slang.  No fiction.  No subtext.  And, in what suspect will be the most difficult material for some people, no religion.

[more after the jump]

Read Full Post