<p>Scarlett Johansson is The Black Widow in next summer's 'Iron Man 2'</p>

Scarlett Johansson is The Black Widow in next summer's 'Iron Man 2'

Credit: Paramount Pictures

'Iron Man 2' images land in Entertainment Weekly

Comic-Con preview issue reveals Johansson as Black Widow

One day, HitFix will be so big that we will command movie stars to appear at the HitFix studios for photo shoots that we will run as exclusives, but until that day, we are stuck with the sloppy seconds from outlets like Vanity Fair or Entertainment Weekly, and that's just the way it is.

Thankfully, with Comic-Con happening next week, Entertainment Weekly decided to court the nerds a bit, and the result is an "Iron Man 2" cover along with a preview inside that includes new photos and, yes, our first look at Scarlett Johansson as Natasha aka The Black Widow.  She's a spy, but our introduction to her comes when she's hired to replace Pepper Potts (Gwenyth Paltrow), who has been promoted to CEO of Stark Industries.

I like the look of this film, and the world they're building out from the first one.  I like the tech that Mickey Rourke's character Vanko aka Whiplash is using.  Electrified bullwhips?  A crazy drunk Russian who talks to his cockatoo and teams up with Sam Rockwell?  Oh, please, yes.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Nicolas Cage ladles on the crazy in the Alex Proyas apocalyptic thriller 'Knowing'</p>

Nicolas Cage ladles on the crazy in the Alex Proyas apocalyptic thriller 'Knowing'

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Movie Diary: 'Knowing,' 'Thirst,' and 'Watchmen Director's Cut'

Plus Ray Harryhausen on BluRay

Welcome to The Movie Diary.

Tuesday and Wednesday sort of blurred together for me, with one film spilling from one day to the next, so I'm going to put them together as one big entry.  And, no, it's not me trying to get out of doing one... it's just that sometimes, especially when you're watching something longer, days do end up blending, so it makes sense to write them up like this.

"Knowing"

One of the reasons I sat this one out theatrically is because my managers, Aaron Kaplan and Sean Perrone, are the executive producers of the film, and I've been aware of "Knowing" since the first draft sold years ago.  I've read any number of drafts over the years, and I've always liked the core idea even if I thought some of the execution was off in some of the drafts.  Alex Proyas is a near-perfect choice for the film as director.  He can orchestrate feelings of apocalyptic doom with panache, and the major set pieces here are admirably chaotic, some of the most traumatic disaster footage I've ever seen in a big-budget film.  If Irwin Allen saw just how bloodthirsty Proyas is in those sequences, he would tapdance his way right out of the grave.  I like that the film doesn't flinch away from the extremity of the scenario, and eventually, it builds to a climax that is unexpectedly dark while offering a surprisingly moving coda.  If you get all twitchy at any religious symbolism, then "Knowing" probably isn't for you, but I thought it delivered as a thriller and as a surreal SF vision of the end of the world.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner take the act on the road in 'Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home'</p>

Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner take the act on the road in 'Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home'

Credit: Paramount Home Video

My BluRay Shelf: 'Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home' not quite what I remembered

Wrap-up of the unofficial 'trilogy' deserves its place in fans' hearts

So here's a practical question for you:  how do you explain time travel to a four-year-old?

I spent so much time fretting while we were watching "Wrath of Khan," thinking about how to put Spock's death in the proper context, that it never occurred to me that I might end up engaged in a conversation about quantum physics with someone who believes werewolves live in our pool.  The conversations are the entire point of watching something with Toshi, though, so I don't try to dodge it when I'm not sure how to explain something.  It's good practice.  After all, if we can't discuss something like this, how am I ever going to explain the important things to him later, when it counts.

And then to complicate things, I told him there was time travel in JJ's "Star Trek."

"What you say?!"  That's a big one for him right now.  He says it like you just called him an asshole.  "Not in the theater 'Star Trek.'  You know, what you and me saw?  Just us in the theater?"

"Yes.  That's why Old Spock and Young Spock talked.  Old Spock went back in time so he could talk to himself."

"No way.  You're crazy."

"It's like if you went back in time to see yourself as a baby."

"I'm not a baby.  I'm a kid."

"I know that.  But what if we went in your room right now, and in the crib... instead of your brother, what if it was you when you were a baby?"

Mind.  Blown.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Drew Barrymore, Ellen Page, and Kristen Wiig all star in 'Whip It,' a roller derby comedy</p>

Drew Barrymore, Ellen Page, and Kristen Wiig all star in 'Whip It,' a roller derby comedy

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Drew Barrymore's 'Whip It' trailer debuts

Ellen Page, Barrymore, and Kristen Wiig in a roller derby comedy

Kristen Wiig is playing a roller derby goddess named "Maggie Mayhem"?

Ticket.  Sold.

Actually, this script had a good reputation anyway, having found a spot on the 2007 Black List, and then Drew Barrymore cast the crap out of it when she signed on to make her directorial debut.  She's in it, as well, but the star appears to be Ellen Page, playing a girl who hasn't figured herself out yet, until she sees roller derby and decides she wants to beat the hell out of other girls on wheels.

*sniffle*  Gets ya' right here, don't it?

Actually, I like the trailer.  It's funny, and aggressive, and I'll bet you Barrymore was the perfect person to create a sense of comraderie on that set.  I'm sure it won't reinvent the genre, but I'm getting a distinct vibe here of a film a la "A League Of Their Own," one that's got such a finely tuned sense of itself that it overcomes cliche.

Check out the embedded trailer after the jump, or check it out in high-definition on Yahoo!, where it premiered today.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Natalie Portman and Emily Blunt are both set to go 'on point' in upcoming and intriguing roles</p>

Natalie Portman and Emily Blunt are both set to go 'on point' in upcoming and intriguing roles

TMR: Stephen Chow leaves 'Green Hornet,' Blunt and Portman dance, and a 'G.I. Joe' review

Plus did Ryan Reynolds ditch 'Deadpool'?

Welcome to The Morning Read.

This is the third... YES, THIRD... false start on the column today.  I'm having monstrous computer issues this morning.  Let's see if I can get through this in baby steps, because I am having a hard time writing more than three lines before my computer throws up and runs screaming around the room for ten minutes.

It's not all bad news today, of course.  Vern declared "Spawn" the worst comic book movie of all time, so Wednesday's got that going for it.

And speaking of comic books and superheroes, when our own Greg Ellwood interviewed Michel Gondry back in April, Gondry suggested that the involvement of Stephen Chow as Kato was, at best, an unresolved question.  Now, unsurprisingly, Chow has left the film.  I couldn't imagine a scenario where he stepped aside as director but stayed on to play a supporting character.  I'm so curious to see what Gondry and Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are putting together, and I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing that Chow's gone.  All depends on how Kato's written and what Gondry wants from him.

This is an important conversation for all of us who are writing online these days, because trust me... things are changing out there.  I have no idea what the internet's going to look like five years from now or even a year from now... but I guarantee that our media diets are only going to get more complex and that the number of voices out there involved in the media will only increase.

Great article about marriage that was originally linked to on Twitter by Dave Chen, of Slashfilmcast infamy, and it ties in nicely to an interview with Bill Hader that was shot for "Paper Heart," and which is online now:

[more after the jump]

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<p>Beyonce doesn't like the new title, fellas... don't you think you could change it back?</p>

Beyonce doesn't like the new title, fellas... don't you think you could change it back?

Credit: SPHE

Movie Diary: 'Obsessed,' MST3K, and Fred Durst

Plus an unnamed entry in the Must-See series

Monday was a day at home, so I had some time to watch, starting in Monday's wee hours, just after midnight.

Can't tell you what the first film was, though.  And, yes, I'm aware that goes against the idea of keeping a movie diary like this, but this is the next entry in the Motion/Captured Must-See series, and I don't want to reveal the title till the review runs tomorrow.  It's the "W" entry in the alphabetical list, and that's all I'll say for now.  It was just as good as I remembered, too.

What else did I watch? Well...

"Obsessed" (BluRay)

First, if it's true that this was originally called "Oh, No, She Didn't," and they ended up changing it to "Obsessed" before release, then the system failed and they left a pile of money on the table, because that title is about 50 pounds of awesome.  I'm happy to see Idris Elba play the lead in anything, and he's good as a man whose office temp (Ali Larter) becomes infatuated with him, threatening his life with his wife (Beyonce Knowles) as things spin into a "Fatal Attraction" downward spiral.  It's formula all the way, and silly, but if the catfight would have lasted a full half-hour, I'd feel better about recommending it.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Christopher Lloyd heads up the Klingons out to destroy the Enterprise in 'Star Trek III: The Search For Spock'</p>

Christopher Lloyd heads up the Klingons out to destroy the Enterprise in 'Star Trek III: The Search For Spock'

Credit: Paramount Home Video

My BluRay Shelf: How 'Star Trek 3: The Search For Spock' taught my son to cheat

The 'treading water' part of the 'Star Trek' trilogy has some pulp charms

I wrote in my last review about seeing Toshi cry for the first time at a movie when the full impact of Spock's death hit him, and I got a lot of mail from you guys about it.  Some of you liked that I didn't ruin the third film for him, and some of you thought I was cruel for putting him through that.  I just want him to have pure experiences with movies as much as possible, separate from hype and expectation.  It's a good way for me to remind myself what it's like to simply watch and digest, without all the noise that surrounds the release of any film these days.

When we sat down to watch the third film in the series, I didn't tell him what it was called or what it was about.  Instead, we just jumped in, and he immediately got caught up in the events, which makes sense as they pick up immediately from where "Wrath of Khan" leaves off, starting with a recap of the ending and the death of Spock.  As soon as Toshi saw the Genesis planet again and the movie got rolling, he made the natural connection.  "Daddy, that's where they put Spock's body! They can get him and they can make him alive, right?"

Okay, so he's not a doctor.

But he did inherently grasp the notion of a narrative cheat, and more than that, he seemed delighted by the idea that a character who dies doesn't have to stay dead.  I remember a fair amount of grumbling the summer this one came out, but I think it makes a really nice connective piece between "Wrath of Khan" and "The Voyage Home," and although I do think it's a massive cheat to have killed Spock in one film and brought him back immediately, I also think it's handled as well as one could possibly ask, considering.

[more after the jump]

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<p>No, that's not the white Snoop Dogg... it's Howard Moon (Julian Barratt) and his sidekick Vince Noir (Noel Fielding) from their TV series 'The Mighty Boosh,' new to DVD in the US</p>

No, that's not the white Snoop Dogg... it's Howard Moon (Julian Barratt) and his sidekick Vince Noir (Noel Fielding) from their TV series 'The Mighty Boosh,' new to DVD in the US

Credit: BBC Video

Movie Diary: 'Surveillance,' 'Push,' and 'The Mighty Boosh'

Plus 'RIP - A Remix Manifesto' and some catalog BluRay

No matter how much I write, it never seems to be enough.

I think the purpose of this blog, more than anything, should be to keep an ongoing and evolving record of everything I'm watching and reading and playing, and then to offer up long-form reactions to those things as they warrant.  And no matter how many hours a week I put in, I only ever seem to write about a percentage of it all.

That has to change.

And since there's no way I'm going to cut back on the number of movies I see and I'm not going to suddenly discover more hours in a day, something else has to change.

So let's try this.  At the end of each day, I'll post my thoughts on everything viewed that day.  In some cases, I will later write a full review, and in some cases, I won't.  Just depends on how much more there is to say.

In a perfect world, this will eventually allow me to cover, to some extent, every single thing I watch.  I'm sure this will take some time to snap into focus as a column and as a habit, but I'm betting this can relieve at least a little of the self-generating stress I almost always feel these days.

Let's start by recapping the weekend we just wrapped up, which should give you some indication of the format for the column and just how much I watch in an average day.

"The Mighty Boosh"
Series 2, Disc 1

I'm late to the party on this show.  I've seen bits and pieces of it over the years, but it's only in the last week since the DVDs of all three series of the show arrived here at the house that I've been immersing myself in the bizarre alternate reality created by Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Cheech and Chong's reunion has proven real fun for fans, and today they riff on 'Tron' as part of the Cinemash series</p>

Cheech and Chong's reunion has proven real fun for fans, and today they riff on 'Tron' as part of the Cinemash series

Credit: Getty Images

TMR: Cheech & Chong do 'Tron,' Spike Lee looks back, and 'Treevenge' is online

Plus this week's DVD and BluRay releases

Welcome to The Morning Read.

Anyone else already want a do-over for this week?

There's plenty to talk about, though, so that's good.  I'd rather have too much to discuss and not enough time than the other way around, I guess.

There's a handful of interesting new titles on DVD and BluRay this week.  "Mad Men: Season Two" is one I'm going to have to pick up.  I didn't watch the first season till home video, but I'm assuming I'll enjoy this new season just as much.  I still don't believe "The State" is really out on DVD now.  Until I am actually watching the sketches I remember, I won't believe it.  It's just taken so long, and there have been so many setbacks.  Amazing.  I know "The Towering Inferno" is trash, but it's Steve McQueen and Paul Newman, so it's entertaining trash, and now it's on BluRay, so it's high-def entertaining trash.  Works for me.  I've got the new box set of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"/"Curse Of The Golden Flower"/"House of Flying Daggers" BluRays, but the only one I didn't already own was CTHD, and I'm thrilled to add that to the stack of things to watch this week.  The insane Spanish horror film "[REC]" comes out today.  If you saw "Quarantine," the American remake, you've basically seen this film, but the Spanish original is absolutely terrifying, and worth tracking down for horror fans.  "Dakota Skye" is a microbudget charmer about a girl whose superpower is hearing the truth within any lie, and the turmoil that causes for her.  And finally, Criterion's got a BluRay version of the amazing NASA documentary "For All Mankind" coming out this week that I positively covet.

And why are they releasing it this week?  Could it be because this is the 40th anniversary of the moon landing?  If you want to relive the experience, or if you're like me and you weren't even alive when we first landed on the moon, then by all means... check out this awesome real-time recreation of what it was like.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Jemaine Clement stars in 'Gentlemen Broncos," the opening night film of Fantastic Fest 2009</p>

Jemaine Clement stars in 'Gentlemen Broncos," the opening night film of Fantastic Fest 2009

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Fantastic Fest 2009 releases first list of titles

'Robo Geisha,' Jess Franco and Jemaine Clement live, and... Uwe Boll?!

They've only announced thirty or so titles so far, but already Fantastic Fest 2009 is shaping up as another amazing assortment of titles from around the world, shattering the envelope as frequently and gleefully as possible.

I'll be there, right after HitFix wraps up its coverage of this year's Toronto Film Festival, and I can't wait for the craziness.  Here's a rundown of what's already been announced, and some comments on the films I'm particularly excited to see.

The opening night movie is the latest comedy from Jared Hess, "Gentlemen Broncos," starring Jemaine "Flight Of The Conchords" Clement.  Here's a description:

A couple of months ago, the Fantastic Fest programming team had the pleasure of viewing an early cut of Gentlemen Broncos and absolutely loved it. In his third film, Hess continues to craft his very rich alternate-reality universe dominated by awkward but lovable losers, inappropriate fabric pairings and charmingly homespun handicrafts. The themes of creativity and fantasy (let alone the interspersed movie-within-a-movie recreations of our protagonist's sci-fi epic Yeast Lords) make this the perfect film to kick off the 5th edition of Fantastic Fest. We will be announcing more details about this very special screening and after-party in subsequent press releases, but suffice it to say we are ecstatic to be kicking off the festival with the likes of director Jared Hess, screenwriter Jerusha Hess and star Jemaine Clement live in person.

Benjamin (Michael Angarano), home-schooled by his eccentric mother (Jennifer Coolidge), is a lovable loner whose passion for writing leads him on an offbeat and hilarious journey as his story first gets ripped off by the legendary fantasy novelist, Ronald Chevalier (Jemaine Clement) and then is adapted into a disastrous movie by the small town's most prolific homespun filmmaker. Find out more at the official site.

So that's how things kick off... where's it go from there?

[more after the jump]

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