<p>MC Jean Gab'1 and Carole Karemera surrounded by some fairly serious dudes in a pivotal scene from 'Black'</p>

MC Jean Gab'1 and Carole Karemera surrounded by some fairly serious dudes in a pivotal scene from 'Black'

Credit: Chic Films

SXSW Day Two: "Black"

It's a French blaxploitation film set mostly in Africa. And it's awesome.

I guess I'm going to have to finally write my review of "Black Dynamite" from Sundance after this.  Seeing "Black," the French film that played as one of the midnight movies on Saturday at SXSW in Austin, I think I'm finally able to articulate why that earlier Sundance sensation didn't quite sit right with me.  No matter, though... for anyone who genuinely enjoys black American cinema of the '70s in all its forms, high and low, is in for a huge treat as soon as an American distributor steps up to acquire what could easily be a breakout hit, a movie that manages to mix African mysticism, blaxploitation, and the heist thriller into something that felt truly original.  I loved it... and I'm willing to bet others will, too.

MC Jean Gab'1 (any fan of Jean Gabin's work has gotta love that rap name) is probably most familiar to American genre fans as one of the bad guys from "District B13," but based on his work here, I'd love to see the guy break out as an international movie star.  He's got a great face, and he's able to convincingly handle all the action while always bringing a sly, subtle humor to everything.  He's not just a presence... this guy's the real deal, a very good actor in the body of an action hero.  Carole Karemera is just as visually striking, just as powerfully built, and she makes a fitting female lead opposite Gab'1.  She plays Pamela, a woman whose fate it completely tied to the fate of Black, Gab'1's character.  The chemistry between these two is a big reason the film works.  They don't really meet until about a third of the way into the movie, but once they do, it's immediate, almost electric, and the film (which is already very good at that point) gets a jumpstart that carries it even higher.

[more after the jump]

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Why do Gary Oldman and Bono hate 'The Perfect Sleep'?

Celebrities pile on to attack a small indie film opening this weekend

The first time I saw "The Perfect Sleep," it was just Gary Oldman and I sitting together to watch it.  I knew his reaction to the film was terse and perhaps even abrupt, but I had no idea he and Bono and Bas Rutten all felt this strongly about it:

 

 

Now, come on... to be fair... "The Perfect Sleep" is a lovely update of the style of film noir, as filtered through a jet black sense of humor and a martial arts junkie's wet dreams.  And Jeremy Alter?  The director of the film?  Not just a good guy but also one the sharpest and most together guys I know in the business.  Maybe he did something terrible to Gary Oldman.  Whateve the truth, he's not helping the film by posting this...

... or is he?

We'll know by Monday.

Here's wishing the director and the star/writer luck with the film, because I'd love hear Gary Oldman's head explode from 10-15 miles away. 

<p>Tony Jaa can kill you with every square inch of his body.&nbsp; And THAT is why he is awesome.</p>

Tony Jaa can kill you with every square inch of his body.  And THAT is why he is awesome.

Credit: Magnolia/Magnet

SXSW Day One: "The Square," "The Snake," and "Ong Bak 2"

Australian film noir, eating disorders, and unholy asskicking on the first day of the fest

Okay, then.  That is how you kick off a festival.

Like I said in my earlier update, my Thursday was all about getting to Austin.  I was dizzy from being exhausted by the time I went to sleep last night, so when I got up today, I wasn't really sure what the hell was going on.  42 hours awake and then nine hours of sleep don't really add up to "fully rested".  Even so, once I got out of bed, it was pretty much time to head to the convention center to get everything started.  I'm staying with my friend Aaron and his lovely wife Kaela, and we drove into downtown, dealing with truly wretched traffic thanks to the combination of SXSW, spring break, and the rain.  She dropped us at the Radisson and took off, and we went in to find Ain't It Cool's Quint, who was doing an interview there.

I've never bumrushed an interview before, but we sort of stumbled right into the middle of Quint's conversation with filmmaker Nash Edgerton.  The name didn't ring a bell for me, but when I saw him, I started getting this feeling that I recognized him, but it still wasn't quite connecting for me.  Aaron and I sat down, trying to be quiet and stay out of Quint's way.  As soon as I heard Nash mention "Spider," though, the lightbulb went off over my head.  I saw "Spider."  I love "Spider."  Why?  Well, check it out for yourself...

[more after the jump]

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Holy Crap! Another Film Festival!

Motion/Captured heads to Austin for South By Southwest

It's strange that in over a decade at Ain't It Cool, I never made it to Austin for SXSW, the music and film culture that's become one of the spring's biggest cultural happenings each year now.

That changes starting today.  Yesterday, I flew to Austin, where my good friend Aaron picked me up at the airport.  We rushed to a press screening of "Duplicity" that Harry had mentioned to me (it's pretty good), and then spent the rest of the day getting ready for the onslaught ahead.  I also had a treatment to polish, more transcription to do for articles I'll be publishing all weekend here at the site, and we managed to sneak out for barbecue at the Salt Lick with a whole fistful of friends including Capone and Quint from Ain't It Cool, Paul Rudd, and writer/director John Hamburg, who are both in town for tonight's opening night screening of "I Love You, Man."

I can already tell that it's going to be a busy festival, but I'm going to try to cover this one with more urgency than I did at Sundance.  Having Dan and Greg both there with me this year, we were able to all handle some of the coverage.  This time, it's all me, and I'll be doing my best to stay current as we go.  That may mean some sort reactions to films now and full reviews later.  It may mean some interview pieces.  But I'll do my best to make sure there's always something new up for you as the festival progresses.

I'm not sure if we'll have time for the Morning Read every day, but we may try to fit in one or two during the fest.  For now, I'll just recommend that you go read Roger Ebert's wonderful contemplation about the difference between "sexual" and "erotic" in film imagery.  As always, his commenters are half the fun.

If you're here at SXSW and you want to get in touch, try me at drew@hitfix.com or on my cell phone.  323-788-4068.  If you've got a film here you want me to see, let me know, and if I write something about your film and you feel like talking about it, call me for that, too.

It should be a fun and crazy week ahead.  Stay tuned.

<p>Why did someone paint this town red, and what terrible things are happening there?</p>

Why did someone paint this town red, and what terrible things are happening there?

Credit: Universal Home Video

Motion/Captured Must-See: 'High Plains Drifter'

Clint Eastwood will take you to Hell

We all get the Hell we deserve.

Is there any doubt about whether or not this is a horror film?

Because it totally is.  That opening shot... a man and a horse seeming to materialize out of this haze, and that ghostly score... clearly, something bad is coming.

And that something is Clint Eastwood.

And the town of Lago is not ready.

It's easy to forget now, since this film is 36 years old at this point, but this was a young man's film.  Eastwood had only made one other movie as director when he made this one, and Ernest Tidyman had only worked on a couple of movies.  Of course, Eastwood's first film was "Play Misty For Me," which was pretty damn good, and Tidyman's first three scripts were for "Shaft" (based on his own novel), "Shaft's Big Score," and "The French Connection," which won him the freakin' Oscar.  So, uh... yeah.  Not bad.  And that creative chemistry between this young director/actor and this screenwriter, significantly older, who came from a journalism background, led to one of my favorite films out of Eastwood's entire career.  It looks like a Western, it's structured like a revenge picture, but it's a straight-up ghost story, and a great one.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Why don't I find it more comforting posting this still from 'Knowing' about twelve hours before I leave for the airport?</p>

Why don't I find it more comforting posting this still from 'Knowing' about twelve hours before I leave for the airport?

Credit: Summit Entertainment

The Morning Read (3.11.09) Win A Free Wii, Stewart smackdown, and Raimi trailered

Plus my second 'Holmes' piece on AICN and Schwarzenegger plays coy

Holy crap.  I'm leaving town in the middle of the night tonight.  I'm so totally not ready for that.  Holy crap.  Holy crap.

Okay.  Can't spend forever on the Morning Read today.  I'm gonna read like I'm being chased.  Quick!

The conversation Glenn Kenny recounts here is the reason I never underestimate what a film audience does or doesn't know.

Hey, do you like free stuff?  Oh, that's so weird.  I totally like free stuff.  Like, you know what would be great?  A free Wii.  Even saying "free Wii" is fun.  Actually owning a free Wii would be redonkulous.  And since we're a relatively new site, and contests are still relatively new for us, your odds are slightly better than if you try to win something on, oh, say, AOL.  You actually want to win the prize in a contest for once?  You want a real chance at it?  Just tell yourself, "There's a free Wii just for me," and enter our "Knowing" contest.  I have a psychic vision of you winning some free stuff right now.

"Are you the only one of your friends without a Wii? HitFix wants to give you a chance to win a Wii console player, a Flip digital camera or an iTunes gift card. Show us your entertainment know how and enter the Knowing movie contest today."

And speaking of Proyas... tell us what you really think about 20th Century Fox, sir.

[more after the jump]

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<p>George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg in Martin Brest's heartbreaking gem 'Going In Style'</p>

George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg in Martin Brest's heartbreaking gem 'Going In Style'

Credit: Warner Home Video

Motion/Captured Must-See: 'Going In Style'

We had respect for Martin Brest before 'Gigli,' and here's the best reason why

There's really no difference between this film and, say, "Wild Hogs" when you look at them on paper.  Three friends shake off complacency by doing something totally unlike them, and they get in trouble, face some danger, and learn valuable life lessons.  That description would generally describe a whole ton of movies, but it's the details, the flavor, the rhythms of the films... that's what defines which take on that basic formula works best.  And I'd argue that there are few finer variations on the form than this heartfelt, small-scale miracle starring three actors in their twilight years, but burning at full wattage.

George Burns came roaring to life at the box-office in the '70s, and Hollywood wasn't quite sure what to do with him when it happened.  First there was "The Sunshine Boys," which made huge bank and won Burns his Oscar.  Then there was "Oh God," which was another giant cultural hit.  And when "Going In Style" came out in 1979, it should have been the perfect triumphant third hit in a row.  But... it wasn't.  It wasn't a disaster or anything, but it wasn't really a hit.  It was only later when the film went into a sort of perpetual half-life cable rotation that I met other people who really appreciated it.  Here's where I learned that I love Art Carney.  I didn't watch "The Honeymooners" as a kid.  I knew of it, of course, mainly through references in cartoons or on clips shows about television history, but it wasn't a show I actively watched.  It just didn't have any appeal for me.  So for me... Carney started here.  This was the movie where I just totally fell for him, where I realized how much I love his particular comic sensibility.  And Lee Strasberg is perfection as the mild-mannered third wheel in this group of friends, gentle and wide-eyed and always reacting even when it's not his moment.  Strasberg was a famous acting teacher, and here's a case of a guy who absolutely could practice what he preached.  His work is beautiful, simple, honest.

It's a sitcom premise, basically.  It's very high concept.  And yet, in its execution, it seemed to promise that Martin Brest was a filmmaker of wit and sensitivity.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Roxane Mesquida and Anais Reboux in the harrowing French drama 'Fat Girl'</p>

Roxane Mesquida and Anais Reboux in the harrowing French drama 'Fat Girl'

Credit: The Criterion Collection/Cowboy Pictures

Motion/Captured Must-See: 'Fat Girl'

In which I confess my love for films where French teenagers have it rough

Ah, yes.  So now we talk about sex.

When you endeavor to talk about the full world of film, one topic that's going to come up is sex.  Inevitably.  As long as people have been using cameras to film other people, sex has been part of the deal.  Obviously, there's a huge subculture that consists of real people having real sex on film.  And obviously filmmakers have been wrestling with the drama of sex, the emotion of it, since the very start.  And one of the ideas that seems to always get filmmakers worked up (all meanings intended) is including graphic real sexuality in "real" dramatic films.

Which brings us to Catherine Breillat.

She's that little girl who figured out that if she lifts her dress over her head at the party, all the adults will laugh and clap.  She's grown up smart, good with actors, and with a real eye for composition... but at heart, she's still that same little girl, loving the attention.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Your first look at the Snipe, a major character in Disney/Pixar's 'Up!', exclusive to HitFix</p>

Your first look at the Snipe, a major character in Disney/Pixar's 'Up!', exclusive to HitFix

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar

The Morning Read (3.10.09) EXCLUSIVE! New image from Disney/Pixar's 'Up!'

Plus I visit 'Sherlock' in London, cool 'Tintin' details, and a pointless 'Fantastic Four' reboot

Howdy, kids.  Ahhhh, it's a good morning when you've somehow managed to piss your wife off so much she won't even speak to you, and yet she is on a different continent.  That's just how talented I am.

If you're relatively new to HitFix, joining us after seeing me on G4 or following a link over from Ain't It Cool, take a moment to look around.  And even if you've been reading us for a while now, there are new features going live all the time.  For example, you can now e-mail/Send to a Friend any story, event or blog post.  Event Reminders are NOW working.  You can now set reminders for 15 min, 4 hours, 8 hours and the day before an event.  And on a member's E-Alerts page, you can now add the "Breaking News" option to your alerts.  On the appropriate stories, we can send out an E-mail blast to our users as soon as something goes live, in addition to the daily news blast we already send out.  So check all of that out while you're here.

Hey, how about that new image from "Up!" that we premiered today, eh?  That's the first official image Disney's released to feature not only Dug the Dog and his handy-dandy talking dog collar, but also The Snipe, a mysterious bird which is one of the things that kicks the whole movie off in the first place.  Thanks to Disney for sending that one over.

Did you see that some joker calling himself "Moriarty" published the first part of a story about his set visit to "Sherlock Holmes" in London?  It's worth reading, I guess, if you like weirdos with fake names giving you all your movie news and rumors.

And, man, Harry went review crazy.  I think that's the most reviews I've seen from him in one day in, like, forever.  He wrote about "Adventureland," "Moon," "American Prince," and the "Watchmen" ephemera of both "Tales of the Black Freighter" and "Under the Hood".  That's a whole lotta Grande Rojo all at once.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Olivia Munn, who licked disappointingly few things while taping today's episode of 'Attack of the Show'</p>

Olivia Munn, who licked disappointingly few things while taping today's episode of 'Attack of the Show'

Credit: G4

Today, 'Watchmen,' and 'Attack Of The Show'

HitFix's Drew McWeeny goes on G4's attack of the show to talk 'Watchmen'

Well, if you'd like to see the appearance, you can.  It's ready to embed, and it's below for your viewing pleasure.  I can only ever watch about 11 seconds of myself on camera before I get up and run shrieking from the room, so I can't really discuss the appearance itself.  I'll say that the experience of doing this sort of thing remains just plain weird.  I like all the folks at G4.  Good group, and they've had me on frequently over the years to discuss things.  They even had me on to make the official announcement when I left Ain't It Cool to come work here at HitFix.  When they call, if I'm available, I work it out.  I like to help them if I can.

Honestly, when they called to ask if I wanted to come in to talk about "Watchmen," that's all I needed to hear.  Sure.  Happy to do it.  It was only when they sent over a fact sheet that I realized what I'd committed to.  I didn't realize David Poland was going to be on the show with me.  There was a moment where I reeeeeeeeeally debated not going.

[more after the jump]

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