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<p>Seriously... in a fight between an Alien, a Predator, and Clint Eastwood from 'Gran Torino,' who are you going to put money on?&nbsp; Hint:&nbsp; only Clint Eastwood is real.</p>

Seriously... in a fight between an Alien, a Predator, and Clint Eastwood from 'Gran Torino,' who are you going to put money on?  Hint:  only Clint Eastwood is real.

Credit: Rebellion/Sega/WHV

DVD & Games Forecast: Clint Eastwood's career gets boxed and 'Aliens Vs. Predator' fights once more

'GoodFellas' turns Blu at 20 and Criterion does 'Lola Montes,' 'Revenche,' and 'Hunger'

Welcome to the DVD & Games Forecast.

For what seems like a slow week, it's gonna get pretty expensive for me when I make it to the store.  There aren't a ton of titles, but the ones worth picking up are REALLY worth picking up, so let's get right to it, eh?


"GoodFellas - 20th Anniversary Edition" (BluRay)

As we prepare for the release of "Shutter Island" this weekend, it's a good time to look back at the work of Martin Scorsese, and it's nice of Warner Bros. to put out this BluRay edition of one of his best films just in time.  I was impressed by the picture quality right off the bat because the Michael Balhaus photography has always been particularly tricky to reproduce at home.  As the film progresses through time, there are subtle shifts in the image that pay off thematically, and for the first time, I feel like this version of the film gets it all right.  The sound quality is just as impressive.  The extra features are primarily recycled, including a very good documentary on Warner Bros. gangster films that I swear I own five different times, but no matter.  If you're a fan of the film, there's no reason to hesitate.  This is absolutely worth the price.

"Lola Montes" (BluRay/DVD)
"Revenche" (BluRay/DVD)
"Hunger" (BluRay/DVD)

Okay, Criterion, do you really want to hear a grown man cry?

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<p>Hugo Weaving plays Detective Abberline, on the heels of Benicio Del Toro's character in 'The Wolfman,' which opened this weekend.</p>

Hugo Weaving plays Detective Abberline, on the heels of Benicio Del Toro's character in 'The Wolfman,' which opened this weekend.

Credit: Universal Pictures

The M/C Interview: Hugo Weaving on 'The Wolfman'

Learn why he's playing a real person in Universal's monster movie remake

I ran a lot of interviews I did for "The Wolfman" last week, and in each case, I upset someone because of spoilers.  It's hard to talk about that film with the cast and not have the urge to talk about some of the crazier third act moments.

In the case of my talk with Hugo Weaving, we ended up talking about the punchline to the movie, so I decided to hold the interview until after opening weekend.  By now, you've probably seen the film, or you know if you're going to see it, and so read on at your own risk.  It's a brief talk, but a pleasure.  I've been a fan of Weaving's for a lot of years:

Hugo Weaving:  Hello, Drew?

Drew:  Mr. Weaving.

Hugo:  Oh, hi.

Drew:  It is a great pleasure to speak with you, sir.

Hugo:  Thank you.

Drew:  It is interesting the way at the beginning of this decade, you were pretty much in every giant geek movie being made.  Between “The Matrix” and “Lord of the Rings” it seemed like you pretty much dominated everything I wrote about at “Ain’t It Cool” for about six years.

Hugo:  Right.

Drew:  Now with “The Wolfman,” you're tackling another geek icon.  Was the original something that you were familiar with or a fan of before you were asked to be involved with this one?

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<p>Today's most interesting stories include a possible new spin on 'Taxi Driver' from Martin Scorsese and Lars Von Trier and a way for you to demand 'Frozen' in your own local theater.</p>

Today's most interesting stories include a possible new spin on 'Taxi Driver' from Martin Scorsese and Lars Von Trier and a way for you to demand 'Frozen' in your own local theater.

Credit: Lionsgate/SPHE

TMR: Von Trier vs Scorsese vs 'Taxi Driver' and how to see 'Frozen' locally

Plus a little bit of 'Batman' rumor-killing and the secret career of John Hughes

Welcome to The Morning Read.

Last week got crazy busy, and the Morning Read suffered for it. Such is the ebb and flow of columns, I suppose, but here we are at the start of a new week, and there's more than a little bit to talk about, so no time to waste...

First, there's the report that began with the Danish magazine Echo over the weekend. Congratulations are due to the Danish magazine Echo, because I now know that the Dutch magazine Echo exists. Well-played. The "news," such as it is, sounded like Lars Von Trier, the cinematic terrorist behind "Anti-Christ," "Breaking The Waves, and " "Dancer In The Dark," had made a deal with Martin Scorsese to remake "Taxi Driver" with Robert De Niro starring in it. And, suitably, people exploded because that is sacred ground, and taken at face value, there's something almost numbing about reading "remake of 'Taxi Driver'" at this point in pop culture's Ouroboros.

The truth, though, is actually exciting in a "what if?" sort of a way.  It doesn't sound like any deal has been made to do anything, but Scorsese is a self-avowed Von Trier fan, which makes perfect sense.  There's a playful appreciation of form to even the most punishing of Von Trier's films, and I think Scorsese is the sort of film nerd who gets a boner from mise en scene and aesthetic formalism in people's work.  He loves movies where the director's hand is evident, and he has a love for the classic Hollywood women's pictures.  There was a sense in all of those films that being a woman is rough because the universe has it in for them, and if Scorsese was reared on those, as he seems to have been, it's no wonder he tunes in to what Von Trier does.  Now... does that mean he's going to take on a challenge from Von Trier, a la "The Five Obstructions"?  That's another question, and he's got a really full plate in the next few years, starting with his upcoming kid's film "The Invention Of Hugo Cabret," which goes in front of the camera this summer.  It's a love-letter look at a young boy who becomes friends with Georges Melies in Paris, and early reports indicate it'll be the first 3D film from Scorsese.  He also still wants to make "Silence" and several other already-announced projects, so I'm not sure where he'd find time to do it.  And the translation of the piece from Echo leaves a lot of room for uncertainty.

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<p>Mariel Hemingway and Woody Allen make an unlikely couple in the classic 'Manhattan'</p>

Mariel Hemingway and Woody Allen make an unlikely couple in the classic 'Manhattan'

Credit: MGM/UA

The Basics: 'Manhattan' casts a long shadow over the romantic comedy genre

Just how much can one movie be ripped off over the years?

If you're not familiar with The Basics, a new occasional column here at HitFix, then you should read this article.  And this one.

And if you haven't read the first response column from William Goss yet, in which he talks about his reaction to "Duck Soup," then by all means, check it out.

After that first column, I was asked by producer Keith Calder if anyone was allowed to write a response column to The Basics, or if it's just Goss.  And after Goss and I discussed it, we like the idea that anyone can play along if they want to.  I would love it if other people jumped in and added their voices to the mix.  After I write a challenge piece to Goss, if anyone else feels like responding, please just e-mail me a link to your piece, and we'll make sure to include links the next time around.

I figured in keeping with today's date, and also because the movie "Valentine's Day" was released this weekend as part of the genre called "Romantic Comedies" that are neither romantic nor funny, I thought it would be fitting to take a look back at a film that has been ripped off so mercilessly for so many years and by so many films that when Goss watches it, I anticipate he'll get a wicked case of deja vu.

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<p>Director Martin Scorsese discusses a scene with Leonardo DiCaprio on the set of 'Shutter&nbsp;Island,' a creepy new thriller based on the novel by Dennis Lehane.</p>

Director Martin Scorsese discusses a scene with Leonardo DiCaprio on the set of 'Shutter Island,' a creepy new thriller based on the novel by Dennis Lehane.

Credit: Andrew Cooper/Paramount Pictures

EXCLUSIVE: Leonardo DiCaprio talks about Scorsese's 'Shutter Island'

Listen to DiCaprio and his co-stars talk about collaborating with the world-class filmmaker

Paramount's releasing "Shutter Island" this coming weekend, and I'm pleased to see that glowing reviews are starting to pour in for the film, which I saw in December.

Pleased, but not especially surprised.

Dennis Lehane's novel, adapted for the screen by Laeta Kalogridis, gave director Martin Scorsese a chance to work out his Val Lewton, and the end result is creepy, beautiful, lushly realized.  It's a horror film, but the monsters in it are all the monsters we all carry around inside us.  Our fears, our doubts, our pain, our sorrow.  It marks yet another collaboration between Scorsese and his new favorite movie star Leonardo DiCaprio, and what's interesting about them working together over and over is that it bookends the early part of Scorsese's career, when he worked with De Niro over and over.  I suspect that these days, part of what makes DiCaprio so attractive to the director is that he can get almost anything bankrolled simply by being involved, but that wouldn't be enough for Scorsese if he didn't also love the collaboration.

What I've heard about Scorsese from everyone who has ever worked with him is that he is the sort of guy who loves the conversation.  He loves to take a piece of material apart, and he loves to be challenged about it by everyone who is part of the process, whether it's his longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker or the actors or his cinematographer or the writer.  He enjoys it because he's secure that after all the time he's put in as a director, he knows what he likes, he knows what he's trying to say, and he knows that he has the technical ability to communicate an idea.  He trusts the people he hires to bring their very best to the films, and he doesn't spend all his time micro-managing or second-guessing.  Check it out:

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<p>Jonah Hill and Sean Combs in 'Get Him To The Greek,' a dangerous new comedy from Universal, in theaters this summer.</p>

Jonah Hill and Sean Combs in 'Get Him To The Greek,' a dangerous new comedy from Universal, in theaters this summer.

Credit: Universal Pictures

EXCLUSIVE: Nick Stoller discusses the new 'Get Him To The Greek' trailer

The director talks about how crazy the film is, writing the music, and why Diddy is the new McLovin'.

In April, I'll be publishing a series of reports from the set of the upcoming Universal comedy "Get Him To The Greek," including one of the only on-set interviews anyone got with Sean Combs.  I was there for the stuff you'll see in the new trailer where Jonah Hill gets stabbed in the heart with an adrenaline needle.

What new trailer?  Well, the first trailer landed online this weekend, and Universal asked me if I wanted to talk to director Nick Stoller about the trailer, the film, and what's going on.  We had a short chat by phone, and as always, it was good to catch up with this young filmmaker:

Drew:  Sir, very good to hear from you.

Nick:  Yeah, good to hear from you.

Drew:  So, the trailer hit yesterday, and I’ve got to say, man, I love the energy of the trailer.  It’s bigger and rowdier than I even expected.

Nick:  Oh good, good.  That’s what we were going for.

Drew:  So I’ve seen you mention on Twitter... I think you guys are pretty much locked at this point. Are you completely done?

Nick:  Well, we’re locked in the reels.  Yeah, we’re basically done.  We’ve got one last reel to lock and some sound mix to fine-tune.  Just stuff like that.  We’re done.

Drew:  And you’ve screened it for the ratings board already?

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<p>Medusa (Uma Thurman)&nbsp;is about to get a headache from Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) in the new film 'Percy Jackson &amp;&nbsp;The Olympians:&nbsp;The Lightning Thief,' in theaters today.</p>

Medusa (Uma Thurman) is about to get a headache from Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) in the new film 'Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief,' in theaters today.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

The M/C Review: 'Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief'

Can Chris Columbus strike 'Harry Potter' gold a second time?

Before you read this review, you may want to refer to the opening paragraphs of my Chris Columbus interview for some personal disclosure.  If you choose not to take my word on this one, I'll refer you instead to the always-articulate James Rocchi, whose feelings fairly closely mirror my own, and who has no connection to the filmmakers at all.

Let's start with a simple statement:  nothing is going to be "the next 'Harry Potter.'"

When Jo Rowling wrote the first few books in the "Harry Potter" series, she wasn't breaking bold new ground.  She didn't invent a genre.  She didn't come up with the idea of magic wands or wizards or even a Chosen One having to learn his role in a larger destiny with the help of various mentors.

Allow me to restate Joseph Campbell's definition of the monomyth:

"A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man."

Sounds familiar, right?  It should, since it has basically swallowed pop culture whole.  I'd argue that George Lucas (who also didn't create a genre or a storyline or his character archetypes) was the one who started us down that path in terms of modern pop culture.  The success of "Star Wars" changed things in much the same way that the success of "Harry Potter" has impacted the past decade.  All Rowling did was tell her story well, invest some genuine feeling into her characters, and perfectly tap a loneliness and a desire to be special that spoke to a generation of kids who were ready for her message.  What she did was singular, and it was a commercial force that will not be matched in this genre.  Since the explosion of popularity for "Potter," there have been many pretenders to the throne, many book series cranked out trying to capture the same market, and some of them have done well enough to make it to the screen. 

I'm not surprised 20th Century Fox purchased the "Percy Jackson" books.  The idea of doing a "Harry Potter" riff with Greek myths is simple and potentially rich enough in source material to run for many, many books, and Rick Riordan, who created the books, came by it honestly.  He started writing the first book well before there was a Harry Potter, well before Rowling published anything, even if he wasn't able to find a home for the idea until her success kicked the door open.  He was a teacher of Greek mythology whose own son was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD, characteristics that he incorporated into Percy Jackson, his hero.  I haven't read the five books, but I have a general sense of what they are, and they certainly have an active fanbase that has taken to the world that Riordan brought to life.  Are they "Harry Potter" big?  No.  But nothing is.  The next thing that becomes a phenomenon like that will come out of left field, and even if it also plays with familiar tropes (which I can almost guarantee it will), it will do so in a way we haven't seen in a while, and it will spawn its own army of imitators.

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<p>Chris Columbus in the classroom set from his new film 'Percy Jackson &amp;&nbsp;The Olympians:&nbsp;The Lightning Thief,&quot; in theaters today.</p>

Chris Columbus in the classroom set from his new film 'Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief," in theaters today.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

The M/C Interview: Chris Columbus and Craig Titley on 'Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief'

In which we discuss the legacy of 'Potter,' shooting FX, and selfish film criticism

It amuses me greatly that the first formal interview I'm doing with Craig Titley is for a film that deals with Gods as the fathers of mortal children.

Why?  Well, it could be because I'm aware that Titley has spent the last four years plus working towards a doctorate in mythology, making him pretty much the perfect guy to write a film about gods as fathers.  And it could also probably have something to do with the fact that he's the actual godfather of Film Nerd 2.0 himself, my son Toshi. 

Yes, that's right... Craig Titley is family.  Figuratively speaking.  I actually met Craig a decade ago at the premiere of "Detroit Rock City," when Kiss played the afterparty and the two of us ended up standing front row center and talking between songs.  At the time, I knew him as a writer who had several scripts floating around that I'd read, including an early pass at the live-action "Scooby Doo" that was dead-on perfect, and a Bugs Bunny feature film that never got made.  We bonded over mutual interests and both having last names that sound just plain dirty.  We used to joke that we should open a law film for porn stars with a producer friend called Suckle, Titley, and McWeeny.  When I did the long-running "Jedi Council" articles at Ain't It Cool, Craig was one of the guys who attended almost every single one, and he hosted quite a few of them.  He's been a good friend at some hard times over the years, and when Toshi was born, Craig stepped up to stand with us at his baptism, and since then, he's been an active godfather, having fun in the role.  He's the one who has given Toshi the full line of books that we read at bedtime, each one about a different movie monster, and thanks to a birthday gift of a puppet theater and some animal hand puppets, his full name is, according to Tosh, "Craig Puppet Show."  He's also part of "Bat Out Of Hell," the film Scott Swan and I wrote for Joe Dante to direct, a producer who was invaluable in helping us refine the screenplay.  So consider that a whole fat lot of full disclosure, and read on fully aware of our ties.

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<p>Benicio Del Toro stars in 'The Wolfman,' opening today, and I&nbsp;can't help thinking it would have been more effective if only he'd worn make-up.</p>

Benicio Del Toro stars in 'The Wolfman,' opening today, and I can't help thinking it would have been more effective if only he'd worn make-up.

Credit: Universal Pictures

The M/C Review: 'The Wolfman' is all bark, no bite

Some good parts but not a successful whole

"The Wolfman" is a strange hybrid, which may be somewhat appropriate.  It's a film that feels endlessly tampered with in many places, a gothic horror film with decidedly modern tendencies, and I can't say I think it all hangs together are a movie.  But there are many things I like about it, and I would suggest that if you're at all interested in it, see it theatrically.  It's more good than bad, and when it really gets its wolf on, it does so with a shaggy, deranged glee that left me laughing.

There was a much-publicized last-minute switch of director on the film, from Mark Romanek to Joe Johnston, and there was some not-so-secret turmoil with Rick Baker, the legendary make-up artist hired to bring the classic Jack Pierce design into the 21st century, but none of that really matters if the film works, right?


There is an interesting surreal sense of mood to the film.  From the way Benicio Del Toro's Lawrence Talbot is established as a very successful actor who spent much of his life in America to the way the attack on the gypsy camp is handled to a crazy sequence in an asylum, much of the film is handled like a fever dream.  Johnston's moon stalks the film like a psycho killer, always on the wax, and his settings are pure backlot, unreal and impressionistic.  Sir Anthony Hopkins, starring as Sir John Talbot, lives alone in a house that's run-down and abandoned, an external expression of the hollow heart of his family, and the local village seems to mainly consist of a tavern where people sit around and tell stories about horrible murders.  I don't think there's anything remotely "realistic" about the movie, but I'd argue no one was aiming for realism.

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<p>Emily Blunt stars as Gwen, a woman caught up in the tragic events of 'The Wolfman,' the new update of the classic Universal horror film.</p>

Emily Blunt stars as Gwen, a woman caught up in the tragic events of 'The Wolfman,' the new update of the classic Universal horror film.

Credit: Universal Pictures

The M/C Interview: Emily Blunt tames 'The Wolfman'

A short but sweet conversation with the rising star

Oh, my.  You ready to mock me mercilessly?  Prepare to read an interview conducted by a man struggling to contain his shameless adoration.  I think I managed to avoid yelling "I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU!  I LOVE YOU!" until she hung up so she could dial the proper authorities.  But just barely.  As a result, I'm not responsible for any spoilers we discussed, since I was just trying to maintain a sense of decorum.

Believe it or not, though, it's not her striking, quiet beauty that piques my interest... it's the talent behind it.  There are many lovely women working in film today, but few of them make choices I like as much as the ones Blunt makes in front of the camera.  I am impressed by the maturity to her work that made her seem like someone who had always been in front of the camera, completely comfortable even in her first film I saw, able to simply let the viewer in.  She's still building her filmography, but I already consider her someone who is simply worth watching, each and every time.

Our chat took place late Saturday afternoon, and when she called, my youngest son Allen had just passed out in my lap for his nap.  I'm almost positive she didn't notice his snoring as we talked by phone, her calling in from the Four Seasons:

Emily Blunt:  Hello.

Drew:  Hello, how are you?

EB:  I’m good.  How are you?

Drew:  Excellent.  Thank you for taking the time today.

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