<p>Think how much greater 'The Day The Earth Stood Still' would have been if Keanu Reeves looked like this in it</p>

Think how much greater 'The Day The Earth Stood Still' would have been if Keanu Reeves looked like this in it

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

On The Shelf (4.13.09) Kate's Oscar, Carrey's comedy, and Keanu's from outer space

Plus a flood of other BluRay catalog titles and a classic of shock cinema

Yep... it's another one of those weeks where I skipped last week's new releases, and now it's either do a two-week column at once or risk throwing myself off completely.  And, of course, since I am doing two weeks at once, it's a huge column, so strap in.  We're gonna be here a while.

Since moving to HitFix from AICN, I'm sent a lot less material for review, and I'm working to change that.  It's hard enough to keep up with what's coming out, and when I'm sent about one out of twenty titles for review, it gets real expensive real fast to put this column together.  I mean, I guess I could just write it having seen nothing, but what value is there in that? 

I do have some good BluRay reviews coming this week, and I'm hoping to find a way to ramp up DVD and BluRay coverage in general here at the site.  It's important to me because, more and more often, this is where people are exposed to films for the first time, or where they are willing to take a chance with what they watch, and I think that makes home video a big part of the conversation about movies.

[more after the jump]

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<p>The titular ancient god during an afternoon of sightseeing and people-eating in Manhattan in Larry Cohen's 'Q - The Winged Serpent'</p>

The titular ancient god during an afternoon of sightseeing and people-eating in Manhattan in Larry Cohen's 'Q - The Winged Serpent'

Credit: Blue Underground

Motion/Captured Must-See: 'Q - The Winged Serpent'

Michael Moriarty, Larry Cohen, and a hungry lizard god in New York

I know what you're thinking.

"Now you are just screwing with me.  You're going to seriously tell me that something called 'Q - The Winged Serpent' is some sort of essential film viewing?"

Yes.  That is what I am going to tell you.  Larry Cohen is a name you should know.  Unless you've got some sort of melonfarming problem with fun.  Because Larry Cohen is an exploitation filmmaker, no doubt, and a damn crafty one.  He took outrageous ideas and spun crazy, unique gold from them.  Time and again, I think he demonstrated that he has great storytelling and character chops, and given the right cast, he's pretty good with performance, too.  There's a De Niro to his Scorsese, as there always is, and I think it's a great volatile relationship, so it's actually more like a grindhouse version of Kinski and Herzog, and that relationship yields its richest gold in this film, where Michael Moriarty (of "Law and Order" fame) plays Richie, an occasional getaway driver and struggling jazz pianist who, through a series of events, ends up as the only man who can tell New York City where the giant killer Aztec dinosaur god is hiding between forays out into the city to eat people.

Now are you starting to understand how great this film is?

[more after the jump]

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<p>Has Lindsay Lohan completed her transition from working actor to cautionary tale?</p>

Has Lindsay Lohan completed her transition from working actor to cautionary tale?

Credit: AP Photo/Evan Agostini

The Morning Read (4.15.09) New 'Basterds' footage and Lohan laughs at self

Plus Brett Ratner's book line and Chris Cunningham's return

It's Tax Day, and that means... well, nothing, actually.  Just hope you got your taxes filed without suffering from a prolapsed anything.  I'm learning that the greatest reward to having two kids, a mortgage that makes me feel like I'm being chased by a bear 24/7, and a constant lack of money is that Tax Day doesn't hurt nearly as bad as it used to.  I'll chalk that up as a small victory.

I wouldn't have thought to do a tax-related movie post, but the fine folks over at Spoutblog did, and they have up a charming list of 10 Likable Tax Agents from movies.  Well-played.

Got a tax refund coming?  Maybe you can waste it the way I plan to.  And for the record, whoever outbids me on Rick Deckard's gun is a bastard, and I will karate punch you in the dirty-bidness the next time I see you.

Say what you will about Brett Ratner, but this is a cool move.  There are so many great film books that have gone out of print over the years, and if he's planning on re-publishing some great obscure texts, then that scores him some serious karma points as far as I'm concerned.  This is nothing but win for film fans, and I'm curious to take a look at this first batch of titles he's got planned.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Michael Chabon and his big brain pose for a picture between deep thoughts</p>

Michael Chabon and his big brain pose for a picture between deep thoughts

Credit: Sophie Bassouls/Corbis

Michael Chabon Joins Pixar's 'Mars' Expedition

But is the Pulitzer Prize winning novelist the right man for the job?

When the news broke... slowly... over the last few days that Michael Chabon was, in fact, recently hired to rewrite the latest drafts of "John Carter Of Mars" by Andrew Stanton and Mark Andrews, there was much rejoicing.  Nerds everywhere have been giving each other virtual high-fives all day long.  After all, Chabon isn't just a Pulitzer Prize-winning author... he won his Pulitzer for writing about freakin' comic books.

Now, let's be very clear about how I phrase this:  Michael Chabon on his worst day could fucking crush me as a writer.  I get that.  Please don't write me angry e-mail explaining that to me.  He's wonderful.  I think The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier & Clay is cover-to-cover magic, and a number of his books are just tremendous reads.  But he wasn't hired as a novelist here... he was hired as a screenwriter.

And I've seen a few people who are excited because Chabon wrote "Spider-Man 2."  Only... really... his "Spider-Man 2" is not the film.  There are some similarities, but structurally it's different and Doc Ock is a radically different characterization in Chabon's script.  There's more business about how Spider-Man loses and gets back his powers.  Doc Ock has a predatory interest in Mary Jane in this one, and it's all very big and pulpy... and that's not a bad thing, necessarily...

[more after the jump]

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<p>Brian Cox and Damien Lewis in the clever and heartbroken thriller 'The Escapist'</p>

Brian Cox and Damien Lewis in the clever and heartbroken thriller 'The Escapist'

Credit: IFC Films

The Motion/Captured Review: "The Escapist"

There's great promise in this low-budget British debut

Thrillers built around secrets can be tricky things.

For one thing, it sort of creates a situation where anyone who tells you that the film is built around a secret is automatically a prick, since the moment you know there's a secret, you start looking for the secret or trying to get ahead of it, and it can detach you from the narrative you're watching as you get all hung up on the structure of the script.

But then there's also the fact that films built around secrets are rarely movies you rewatch, because there's nothing to them once you know what the secret is.  Filmmakers are willing to sacrifice authentic behavior and internal character logic to their twists, and the more you watch some of these films, the more the inconsistencies stand out.

So as I watched Rupert Wyatt's debut feature, "The Escapist," there came a point where I realized that it was going to be a film built around a twist or a secret or a big reveal, I started to get worried.  It doesn't help that it's a prison film, a genre that doesn't seem terribly versatile, but "The Escapist" is more than the sum of its parts.  Although I wouldn't want to overhype it, I would describe it as a solid picture with moments that deliver such a genuine charge that it bumps the film up a notch.  The performances from the ensemble cast are all solid and engaging, and in particular, Brian Cox delivers as a lead, offering up a sympathetic, roundly-imagined characterization as Frank Perry, the man with the plan.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Zac Efron at ShoWest accepting an award, caught in the middle of his best Dean Martin impression</p>

Zac Efron at ShoWest accepting an award, caught in the middle of his best Dean Martin impression

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

The Morning Read (4.14.09) Zac Efron is Jonny Quest... sort of

Plus 'Anti-Christ' trailer and Sasha Grey and Movieline's return

Tuesday?  Already?

I hope you take a moment to check out the interview I did with Jody Hill.  I think it's a decent read, and it was sort of perfect timing to talk to him about both "East Bound and Down" and "Observe and Report ," and to chat film nerd to film nerd, which always makes for better conversation.

What's going on out there this morning?  Most of the webmasters were Tweeting as they went to sleep about how there was nothing going on.  Slow news day.  "Harry Potter" trailer coming later this week... but not yet.  Thursday.  6 PM PST.  What else?  "Date Night" has a pretty solid cast so far.  Ummm... McG's doing a musical.

Oh... and Zac Efron's going to play "Jonny Quest."  Only they're not going to call the film "Jonny Quest"?  Then how about Zac Efron develops an original film called "Adventure Dude" and Warner Bros. can make Dan Mazeau's sort of bad-ass family adventure script with a real 12-year-old star and Dwayne Johnson instead?  And I'm puzzled... is Warner Bros. really going to change the name of the film because they're afraid of the grosses of "Speed Racer"?  It's madness.  The whole point of developing all these endless sequels and remakes and reboots and reimaginings and rerererererewhatever is for the "name brand recognition," right?  "Jonny Quest" called something else is worthless.

Marilyn Chambers... very sad.  Young, too.  I think her work in "Rabid" is, no exaggeration, great.  It's a really disturbing, emotionally bare performance that makes the horror very, very personal.  Whatever anyone thinks of her porn past or whatever people say about her lifestyle, I think she had at least one great performance in her, and I'm glad she hooked up with a filmmaker like Cronenberg at a moment like that.  Some actors never get that chance.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Jody Hill takes a moment at the premiere of 'Observe And Report' with Michael Pena, Anna Faris, Seth Rogen, and Ray Freakin' Liotta</p>

Jody Hill takes a moment at the premiere of 'Observe And Report' with Michael Pena, Anna Faris, Seth Rogen, and Ray Freakin' Liotta

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

The Motion/Captured Interview: Jody Hill

Comedy's newest hotshot discusses 'Observe and Report' and 'East Bound and Down'

The first time I met Jody Hill, he was hanging out on the set of "Superbad," just... ummm... observing, I suppose.  And since I was there to report on the set, I guess there's some kismet in the idea that our first full-length interview would be for this film.  This was my last interview of the morning, just after the Austin SXSW premiere, and everyone was buzzing on the energy of the screening the night before, so what was set to be a 15 minute interview stretched a liiiiiiiiitle long, as you'll see below in a free-wheeling conversation about Fantastic Fest, David Gordon Green, the North Carolina posse, "East Bound and Down," working with his cast, and more.

Motion/Captured:  Hey, Jody.  How are you, man?

Jody Hill:  Good.  I feel like we've seen each other, but we haven't really had a chance to talk at this festival.

M/C:  Yeah.  I'm sorry you guys have to bail right after this and you don't get to enjoy any Austin.

JH:  I know, man.  It's kind of a crazy schedule.  I've gotta come back here, though, man.  This town's sick.

M/C:  Come for Fantastic Fest.

JH:  Yeah?  Is that good?

M/C:  It's at the end of September and, title for title, best festival I've ever been to.

[much, much more after the jump]

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<p>Jack Nicholson and Kathleen Turner in a dark comedy for the ages, the great 'Prizzi's Honor'</p>

Jack Nicholson and Kathleen Turner in a dark comedy for the ages, the great 'Prizzi's Honor'

Credit: MGM Home Video

Motion/Captured Must-See: 'Prizzi's Honor'

Jack Nicholson and Kathleen Turner star for the great John Huston

Have you ever hated a film the first time you saw it?

I mentioned how "Night Moves" hooked me right away, from the moment it starts with that score and the names "Gene Hackman" and "Arthur Penn" like a promise.  Well, "Prizzi's Honor" was a film that I eagerly anticipated the first time I saw it, excited about the cast and the director and the reviews and when that movie ended, I was so goddamn mad at it that I couldn't see straight.  I hated it. 

I had this immediate near-physical reaction to it.  The final shot is someone on the phone, by a window, the light from outside on their face as they talk softly.  And yet an image that benign outraged me and turned me completely against the film.

Years passed and I remained steadfast in my hatred of it.  If it came up, I just dismissed it completely, but to my secret pleasure, the film's reputation didn't last.  The film just came up less and less, a forgotten footnote for both Nicholson and Turner, and little more than a trivia question answer for Anjelica Huston.  I felt vindicated, like history felt the same way about it as I did.  And when it came out on DVD from MGM Home Video, it was on a super cheapo disc with a cheap transfer.  It's nothing special.  It showed how little regard there was for it, just some catalog shovelware to be sent directly to the $9.99 shelves.

So I picked it up.  Almost out of pity.  And I watched it again.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Rachel Nichols plays one of what may be several Orion slave girls in the JJ Abrams 'Star Trek'</p>

Rachel Nichols plays one of what may be several Orion slave girls in the JJ Abrams 'Star Trek'

Credit: Paramount Pictures

The Morning Read (4.13.09) On Green Chicks (Again) and B-Movies

Plus Twitter and the death of 'Starlog'

Yeah, so... that Weekend Read?  Didn't happen.

And I'm not surprised.  As I've said at least one other time since starting here at HitFix, blogging isn't the same thing as what I was doing at Ain't It Cool.  It's much more demanding of time and attention, and if I'm going to have content here for you to read in any sort of timely manner, I have to pace myself.  I have to set aside specific time to work on specific things, and then hopefully give you enough to read of enough variety to stay engaged.  It's that simple, isn't it?  I'm asking you to check this blog on a daily basis, so maybe I should make sure there's something here each day that I think is worth sharing.  Many times each day if I'm really doing my job right.  I'm not just writing reviews or feature stories for Ain't It Cool, or editing a few news pieces.  It's a much higher volume job.  And I've always, always, always got ideas about how to improve things.

So if you notice me trying new features out or article types, feel free to tell me what you like and what you don't, and what you want more of and what you want less of.  I'm hoping that as I hone my chops, the goal is to give you a steady and reliable stream of content that best reflects the conversation between the writer and his readership.

There's a lot of people out there thinking about this sort of thing.  People who make their living providing online content.  People who work in other media, but who are realizing that it's all moving towards one giant Great Media Singularity, where everything just comes into your home in one fat-ass digital gravy pipe, with news and TV feeds and channels a la carte and subscriptions to studio film libraries where you can just watch whatever you want whenever you want and your e-mail and your Tweets and your online heartbeat monitor and your video games and your movies will all sync up... because isn't that what it's evolving toward at a gallop?

We'll all be living in the Matrix soon enough.  Some of us just already have real estate here.

[more after the jump]

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<p>So does that make this an 'Extract' extract?</p>

So does that make this an 'Extract' extract?

Credit: Miramax Films

The Afternoon Read (4.10.09) 'Extract' teaser poster premiere

Plus the debate on date rape in 'Observe and Report' rages online

I know it's basically the end of the day already.  That's just how Friday worked out this week.  And on top of that, Firefox has decided to randomly sodomize me over and over and over and over this afternoon, making a column as labor-intensive as this one almost impossible to pull off.  So I'm going to make this a relatively short Afternoon Read, and then I'll work to put together a longer, weirder Weekend Read full of all the stuff I bookmarked this week but never quite found a spot to post.  It's going to be a busy weekend of catching up here at the blog, so make sure you keep checking between now and Monday.

Let's kick things off with a poster premiere. 

Earlier this week, we were one of a few sites to debut the teaser trailer for "Extract," the new film from writer/direcector Mike Judge.  Today, we're pleased to offer you the exclusive first look at the poster for the film.  You'll see a glimpse of it here in the article, but for a big high-res look at the whole thing, just click here.  If you've seen the trailer, I think the poster image is both painful and very funny.

[more after the jump]

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