<p>Brad Pitt considers what he's going to do with the scalp of the dude from 'The Guardian UK'</p>

Brad Pitt considers what he's going to do with the scalp of the dude from 'The Guardian UK'

Credit: The Weinstein Company/Universal

The Morning Read (3.02.09) Tarantino bashing, viral 'District 9,' and Malick and dinosaurs?

Plus some tough talk about the industry and critics

Happy birthday, Dad! He turns 69 today, and rather than snicker and make dirty jokes about that particular number, I'll just wish him a happy one, hope I'm half as cool at his age as he is, and acknowledge once again that the only reason I am able to do what I love for a living is because he indulged my interests as I was growing up, something not every parent would be willing to do.  He gave me my lifelong appreciation of Ian Fleming, Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, and the cinema of badassery, and I can barely sum up how much I adore him.

You guys have a good weekend?  My family's getting ready to leave town for an extended trip to Argentina, so it's been a blur of all sorts of last-minute activity, things we have to get finished.  In addition, I had interviews on Sunday for "The Last House On The Left," and a ton of writing to get done for this week.  I'm a little dizzy from it, and it hardly seems possible it's already Monday morning again.  Let's see what there is out there worth reading as we gear up for the week ahead.

Why is it that when I read articles in which people rant about how much they hate Quentin Tarantino, the subtext is inevitably about how Tarantino didn't do what they wanted him to do with his career?  Although I think it's ridiculous to pan a movie based on a single teaser trailer, I'm not going to bash the guy for it.  But what does disturb me about this sort of a rant is the implication that Tarantino owes anyone a different kind of movie than the kind he's making.  I know people who complain that what he's making now is totally disconnected from his "early great movies" like "Reservoir Dogs" or "Pulp Fiction."  I don't think that's true or especially fair.  Tarantino's in an enviable position, where he's been able to follow his particular whims as an artist without any restraint, and whether you like the results or not isn't the point. They're his interests.  These are the films that he feels like he has to make.  In the end, all you can judge is whether or not he pulled off the art that interested him, not whether or not he lived up to your particular wants for his career.  When did we stop reviewing what an artist actually does versus what we wish he would do?

[more after the jump]

Read Full Post
<p>If you don't recognize this man's face, this series of articles may not be for you</p>

If you don't recognize this man's face, this series of articles may not be for you

Credit: Kino International

The Motion/Captured Must-See Project: The List Of Duh, Vol. 1

In which we lay down some basic vocabulary for the months ahead

In case you're just joining us, what exactly is "The Motion/Captured Must-See Project"?  Check out this article, and then come back here.

Today is our preliminary piece, in which we get the List Of Duh out of the way.  Although, technically, this is just volume one of what I'm sure will be an occasional updated piece.  I know methodology is least interesting part of all of this, but let's get some of this out of the way up front so that we don't have people constantly yelling at us, "Is that it?  That's everything you ever plan to discuss?"

No.  Of course not.  And I'm not saying that we'll never ever talk about any movie on this list, either.  I'm just saying that my goal with this series is to gradually review films from my personal collection that I think are significant, a tip sheet on what exactly made me into the film geek I am today, movies that I think every good film geek should see for one reason or another.  It's something I hope you'll enjoy both as a resource and a read.

[more after the jump]

Read Full Post
<p>Angelina Jolie tries to decide which of the 9000 people asking her about Jennifer Aniston to kill first</p>

Angelina Jolie tries to decide which of the 9000 people asking her about Jennifer Aniston to kill first

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

The Morning Read (2.27.09) Kotaku liveblogs 'Street Fighter,' 'Sita' sings online, and Morgan talks Jolie

Plus the 'Green Lantern' director who almost was, amazing 'John Carter' and 'Superman' art and Drew Barrymoore to direct third "Twilight"?

We're starting right on time today, so we'll dig in and see what there is to read to kick off the weekend.  Really browse for a while.  Want to wish my baby sister a Happy Birthday out there in N.C.  Of course, my baby sister is in her 30s at this point, so maybe that's not technically accurate.

Kotaku's just plain doing great work these days, and there's a lot of material there that crosses over into film and other areas of pop culture, where games collide with these other things.  A great example is their article where they were sent a screener of the new "Street Fighter" film opening today, and they liveblogged it as they watched it.


I think Kotaku's reaction to that film is particularly telling.  If someone makes a really great video game movie, that community will stand on the rooftop and beat their breasts.  They will absolutely crow about it.  And I have a feeling, pretty darn good would be enough for them to consider something amazing at this point.  Because there are no good videogame movies.  Some of them have very interesting things about them, but as complete films you can really recommend to someone?  Nope.  Not yet.

[more after the jump]

Read Full Post
<p>Harrison Ford silently thanks God it's not Shia LeBeouf sitting next to him in 'Crossing Over'</p>

Harrison Ford silently thanks God it's not Shia LeBeouf sitting next to him in 'Crossing Over'

Credit: AP Photo/The Weinstein Company, Dale Robinette

On The Screen (2.27.09) Harrison Ford in 'Crossing Over'

Plus the Jonas Brothers in 3D and Chun Li's thighs

I'm using both my columns this morning to wish my sister a happy birthday, and I wish it was a weekend where I had something that I felt compelled to tell her to go see as part of her weekend fun.

Which is not to say that I'm slamming this week's movies.  I wish there were more 3D screens so that "Jonas Bros:  The 3D Concert Experience" wouldn't poach "Coraline" screens this weekend, but that's just the cold hard truth in terms of how many digital 3D screens are available.  One of my very favorite films last year was "U2-3D," and I would imagine for a non-fan, it would be a less pleasant or less visceral overally experience.  Since I'm not a Jonas Bros. fan, there's no compelling reason for me to go sit through this.  Still, I'm sort of a shameless digital 3D junkie, so even this tempts me on that level.  I would be shocked if this did poorly this weekend.  There are a lot of ticket-buyers who are excited about this, and more power to them.  I hope it gets them in the habit of seeking out 3D screens for anything that's playing in the format, and I hope that leads to more theaters putting in the right equipment and screens.  Soooooon.

I thought "Doom" was decent fun for one sit in a free screening in the theater, but if I'm being honest, I can't say that's really enough to justify it as a movie.  Its biggest flaw was being dull, overly familiar.  When you're approaching material like this, the best you can hope to do is jolt the audience with something new, something that makes them wake up because there's that charge of the new.  Andrzej Bartkowiak has a short filmography as a director ("Romeo Must Die," "Exit Wounds," "Cradle 2 The Grave," and the aforementioned "Doom"), but he was a cinematographer for a long time, and a pretty damn good one.  Guy shot "Prince of the City," "Speed," and "Prizzi's Honor," for god's sake.  I'll sit through his "Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun Li" at some point while my family's out of town and I'm realizing how much I miss them and I'm hiding out at the theater to avoid my empty house, which should be next weekend and the week after.  That'll be the perfect way to see that one.  I'll be extra forgiving.

[more after the jump]

Read Full Post
<p>Bill Hicks is still trying to find a place for his ash in Heaven</p>

Bill Hicks is still trying to find a place for his ash in Heaven

The Morning Read (2.26.09) Is Pixar sexist, 'Splice' stills, and 'Bull' on Blu

Plus EXCLUSIVE 'Watchmen' interview intro

Okay... remind me not to laugh the next time someone talks about how mad they are about their internet outage.  Thanks to some sort of digital bottleneck in my area, I'm just now able to get online and post my "Lost" recap for this week.  As a result of that and my schedule this afternoon (I have to rehearse a pitch with my manager and then head out for a screening of "Last House On The Left"), today's Morning Read may be a little terse. But there are some things worth getting to, so let's jump right in.

The debate's been ramping up as people have linked to this think piece, but I'm not sure I buy that Pixar deserved to be singled out for this problem.  It's a much larger issue, and a real one.  Women's roles are underwritten industry-wide, and I'm as guilty of it as anyone.  And to be honest, I'm not sure how to fix it.  I don't think the answer is as simple as "more women writers and directors," because I've seen plenty of films by female filmmakers that had the exact same sorts of problem.

[more after the jump]

Read Full Post
<p>Sam Jackson contemplates his paycheck for nine Marvel movies in a row</p>

Sam Jackson contemplates his paycheck for nine Marvel movies in a row

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Sam Jackson's Playing Nick Fury Forever!

Okay, maybe not, but he did make a great new deal

Variety has some of the details, but I notice they don't exactly offer up what sort of financial incentive was involved in getting Samuel L. Jackson to sign a deal that involves not only his "Iron Man 2" appearance, but also options for him to show up in as many as nine other films as Nick Fury.

This is an important deal for Marvel, one I'm not surprised they made.  Fury is a pivotal character in the universe that Marvel's been creating onscreen over the last few films, a lynchpin, and if the ultimate goal here is to get to "The Avengers," they're going to have to have Nick Fury onboard.  And now, thank god, they do.

I'm hoping that the "nine films" thing implies that there is a "S.H.I.E.L.D." movie coming in addition to "The Avengers," 'cause I love the idea of Jackson actually headlining one of these.  Fury's a great character because he's not super-powered, but he is older than he appears thanks to an anti-aging serum that I'm sure 90% of Hollywood would eat a baby to get their hands on.  As a result, Fury's played a key role in Marvel continuity for decades, and when Marvel created the Ultimates line, Fury was recast in the image of Samuel L. Jackson, a move that proved popular with fans.  It also gave Jackson one hell of a bargaining chit in his discussions with Marvel about what he's worth.

[more after the jump]

Read Full Post
<p>Will Ferrell beats a thankfully dead horse on Broadway</p>

Will Ferrell beats a thankfully dead horse on Broadway

Credit: AP Photo/Jeffrey Richards Associates, Robert J. Saferstein

The Morning Read (2.25.09) Michael Cera still George Michael, Gondry on 'Hornet,' and Roizman flips out

Plus Vincenzo Natali on '80s films, Kotaku on 'Wrestle Jam,' and Coppola pitches 'Tetro'

Yesterday's Morning Read got sacrificed to my "Watchmen" review, but that just means we'll have twice as much to discuss today... right?

And it is indeed a busy morning.  Just checking the headlines here at HitFix, it's obvious that a lot is happening out there.

Matt Damon, for example, is set to star in a Philip K. Dick-inspired SF film called "The Adjustment Bureau," which will be written and directed by George Nolfi if a studio picks it up to shoot this summer.

Also hunting for a home is a new Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg comedy called "The B Team," set to be directed by Adam McKay.  Our article claims that Wahlberg has never starred in an overt comedy before.  Obviously someone on the HitFix staff has never seen "The Happening."  And speaking of Ferrell, did you see him on the second episode of "East Bound And Down"?  Dear god.  That show is like something I dreamed while screwed on cough syrup, and I treasure every second of it.

Michael Cera is in for the "Arrested Development" movie?  Wow.  I wish I thought the movie was neccessary.  As much as I liked the show... no, scratch that.  As much as I loved the show, I thought they actually did an amazing job of wrapping it up at the end of the series, and I'm not sure a feature film will be the right way to revisit the particular sensibility that made the show so great.  Part of what I loved was the way jokes would pay off two, three, or even ten episodes after a set-up.  Still, I love the show, love the cast, and I hope they blow my mind with whatever they're cooking up.

[more after the jump]

Read Full Post
<p>Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Carla Gugino share a tender moment in Zack Snyder's 'Watchmen'</p>

Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Carla Gugino share a tender moment in Zack Snyder's 'Watchmen'

Credit: Warner Bros.

The Motion/Captured Review: 'Watchmen'

Zack Snyder films the unfilmable and creates the biggest arthouse superhero movie of all time

"Watchmen" has been part of my life for most of what I consider my adulthood.  I still remember holding the book for the first time, looking at that striking smiley face graphic, flipping through and being confused by what I was seeing.  At that point, in 1988, I was still flirting with getting back into comics.  I had a pretty serious collection when I was a kid, and during one of our many moves, an entire refrigerator box full of comic books and Fangorias and Mad magazine and even a few contraband Playboys went "missing," vanishing into thin air.  Broke my heart, and it convinced me to grow up and stop collecting comic books.

So my first year at college, there was this sort of flea market every Wednesday afternoon at the student union, and one guy had a book stall where he always featured a number of graphic novels.  And sure enough, my geek DNA reasserted itself and I started buying them occasionally.  One of the first ones I fell in love with was a "Swamp Thing" trade paperback I bought written by Alan Moore.  I was so impressed with the way he took this potentially silly character and invested it with real soul and made it about something.  I decided to keep my eye out for anything else the guy had for sale that had Alan Moore's name on it, and so when I picked up that one especially thick graphic novel, and I flipped through and saw the weird naked blue guy and the pages and pages of text and the pirate stuff and, sure enough, Alan Moore's name on the cover, I knew "Watchmen" was heading home with me.

[more after the jump]

Read Full Post
<p>One of the least weird moments in Terry Gilliam's classic 'Brazil'</p>

One of the least weird moments in Terry Gilliam's classic 'Brazil'

Credit: Universal Home Video

The Motion/Captured Must-See Project

An introduction to the new ongoing project here at Motion/Captured

You know what I need?  More projects to keep me busy.

So what, exactly, is the Motion/Captured Must-See Project?

It's my attempt to permanently answer one of the questions I've been most frequently asked over the last decade or so:  what movies do I need to see if I want to be a film geek?

Seems like a silly question at first, but it's not.  These days, there are more movies available to the average viewer at any given moment than ever before, and the hardest thing is knowing where to start.

Normally, my answer to the question above is, "All of them," but that's not really much of a help, is it?

You can spend all of your time just watching new releases, and there's an avalanche of them every year.  I saw over 300 new films last year, and I still missed a good percentage of what was released.  And that gives you no sense of film history, no remove at all to help set things in a larger context.  You can get a list like the AFI 100 or that "They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?" list of 1000 films or all the Oscar winners for Best Picture, and you can chip away at that.  But that can start to feel an awful lot like homework.  Or you can just randomly browse Netflix or your local video store (they still make those, right?) and you can end up watching nothing at all because you're so overwhelmed by choice.

Or you can start here.

[more after the jump]

Read Full Post
<p>Chris Lilley as Jonah, one of three characters he plays on HBO's 'Summer Heights High,' released today</p>

Chris Lilley as Jonah, one of three characters he plays on HBO's 'Summer Heights High,' released today

Credit: HBO

On The Shelf (2.24.09) Final 'Futurama,' Lilley's 'Summer Heights High,' and rare Argento

Plus 'French Connection' and 'Akira' hit BluRay

Hey, everyone.  While much of the online film world sits watching the Oscars on Sunday afternoon/evening, I'm going to throw on a fistful of kung-fu movies and work on this column instead.  And I feel good about the choice.  It's a diverse but weird week in DVD and BluRay, and there's a fair amount of ground to cover, so let's dive right in.

Is anyone else vaguely let down by the return of "Futurama"?  I want to love it.  I certainly loved the show during its run, and when I finally got it on DVD and watched it again, it just confirmed to me how smart and inventive the show really was.  So why don't I love these direct-to-video films they've been putting out for the last year?  Many of the same people are involved in the production, but it feels like something just didn't reconnect when they started back to work.  I'm still enough of a fan that I'll give "Futurama: Into The Wild Green Yonder" on BluRay a chance, but I'll set my expectations lower.

On the other hand, if you haven't seen "Summer Heights High," and you're just now catching up to it on DVD, you can't really set your expectations too high.  It's that smart.  I reviewed the series over at Ain't It Cool when HBO began broadcasting it, and I think it's one of the best pick-ups they've made since "The Office."  Chris Lilley is sort of the one-man army of the show, playing three main characters and also serving as the overall creative force.  What could easily be a one-note gag or broad and silly actually serves as a blunt and honest comedy about the personalities that make up any school.

[more after the jump]

Read Full Post