<p>Michael Stuhlbarg is the lead in the new film from Joel and Ethan Coen, 'A Serious Man,' playing a persecuted university professor seeking metaphysical answers</p>

Michael Stuhlbarg is the lead in the new film from Joel and Ethan Coen, 'A Serious Man,' playing a persecuted university professor seeking metaphysical answers

Credit: Focus Features

The Coens give us a first look at 'A Serious Man'

Trailer dazzles and teases, but what's it about?

It's daring of the Coen Brothers to make a movie starring absolutely no one the general audience recognizes.  To a large extent, they get to make the movies they make because movie stars think it's awesome to work with the Coen Brothers.  And they're right, of course.  It is awesome to work with the Coen Brothers.  Because they are, sorry to be redundant but I have to be because it's true, awesome.

If you haven't seen the trailer for "A Serious Man" yet, go check it out at Apple, where they've got the HD version and an exclusive premiere.  Don't check it out on someone else's imbed, especially if they're earning ad revenue.  That's shady.  Apple's the one place that is officially supposed to have the trailer today, and I'm sure we'll be able to embed it later.

"Please... I need help."

[more after the jump]

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<p>Is Steven Spielberg going to take a ride with Donald Hamilton's iconic super-spy?&nbsp; And if so, can he avoid the mistakes of earlier attempts?</p>

Is Steven Spielberg going to take a ride with Donald Hamilton's iconic super-spy?  And if so, can he avoid the mistakes of earlier attempts?

Credit: Sony Pictures/NY Magazine

Steven Spielberg spies 'Matt Helm' with his little eye

Could the Beard be looking at another new franchise?

Man, it's been a while, hasn't it?  Spielberg hasn't released a movie since "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," so over a year now.  That's an unusual gap in production pace from one of the hardest working men in show business.  The Spielberg machine is typically loaded so he can go from big film to small film, commercial machine to personal doodle.  He's had several false starts in the last year and a half.  "Chicago 7."  "Lincoln."  Vague announcements made in interviews, and then later recants as elements didn't quite come together.

I don't know how serious he is about Paramount's "Matt Helm."  Serious enough for Variety to write about it, I suppose.  But I'm curious to see what Paul Attanasio, presumably working from earlier drafts by Derek Haas and Michael Brandt, has come up with.  Does Spielberg want his own Bourne series?  If so, will he use "Death of a Citizen" as his guide to kickstart a franchise?  It's an origin story, and the citizen who dies is Matt Helm, retired WWII military assassin.  He tries to build a normal life for himself, but when his daughter is kidnapped and held in an attempt to press him back into service, he snaps and kills every one he has to in order to bring her home.  His ferocity drives his family away, leaving him alone, driven back into the employ of Mac, the guy who serves as his handler for the first 14 books in the series.  He's not a spy, per se, but more the guy the government uses to kill spies.  Or civilians.  Or anyone they deem worthy of being killed.

Helm is a badass.  A thug.  A man's man.  It's a tough, hard-edged series of books.  In each one, Helm is a weapon, pointed at something and then fired, detonated, unleashed.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Quentin Tarantino's assembled one of his most eclectic ensemble casts for 'Inglourious Basterds,' his latest film</p>

Quentin Tarantino's assembled one of his most eclectic ensemble casts for 'Inglourious Basterds,' his latest film

Credit: The Weinstein Company/Universal

The Motion/Captured Review: 'Inglourious Basterds' is a triumph

Quentin Tarantino returns to form with one of his finest films yet

It's funny... I frequently attend festivals, and I publish my reviews from those festivals, and I ask you to trust me that my reaction to those films aren't colored by where or how I see them.  And yet, here I am at the end of July, and after seeing "Thirst," "Anti-Christ," and now "Inglourious Basterds", I'm going to have to dismiss outright all of the buzz from this year's Cannes festival, because it seems to me that those early responses have next to nothing to do with my own reaction to those films.

In particular, Quentin Tarantino's newest film really took it in the face this year.  I'm guessing part of it was simply the urge that seems to exist in many people to take Quentin down, no matter what.  Ever since he was "annointed" with "Pulp Fiction," every single film he's released has been an opportunity for people to declare that he is no longer relevant, or that his voice has been dulled, or that it's just the same old thing again and again.  I politely disagree on a nearly molecular level.  I think there are very few filmmakers with a voice as innate as Quentin's, and I am perfectly happy to sit through an "inconsequential" movie as fun as "Death Proof" or an "homage mix tape" as ridiculously entertaining as "Kill Bill."  Personally, my favorite of his films is "Jackie Brown," and I think I can pinpoint why that is.  It's a movie about people, and not a movie about other movies.  Do I mind that he's a shameless magpie?  Absolutely not.  You can find my "Kill Bill" or "Grindhouse" reviews over at Ain't It Cool, and I still feel the same way about both films, but "Jackie" hits me on a deeper level.  I adore those people, and I could spend time with them, even away from that particular situation.  I just plain enjoy every element of that movie, every performance, every shot, every exchange of dialogue.

[more after the jump]

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<p>This is a rough approximation of how I felt when I stepped onto Edgar's set today</p>

This is a rough approximation of how I felt when I stepped onto Edgar's set today

Credit: Oni Press

So where the heck is Drew?

And when will we see more Comic-Con coverage?

We're almost back to normal, folks.

I'm sitting in my hotel room in Toronto right now, and in six hours, I'll be taking a car to the airport so that I can catch my 8:30 AM flight back to Los Angeles, where I'll finally be able to sit down and jam through all of the work I've got backed up.

"Wait," you say, "what are you doing in Toronto?  I thought you were at Comic-Con."  Well, I was.  And I drove my family home from San Diego on Sunday, had just enough time to unpack, do some laundry, repack, and head to the airport so I could come here to visit the set of Edgar Wright's adaptation of "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World."  We wrapped that up a few hours ago and then grabbed some dinner.  I still feel like I haven't really slept right since last Wednesday, so things are about as weird as they get right now.

Right now, I'm trying to finish my "Inglourious Basterds" review before I head to the airport.  Then tomorrow, I have to work my way through a whole stack of stuff, including reviews of "In The Loop," "Thirst," "The Goods," and "Funny People," as well as more Comic-Con reports on things like "Tron: Legacy," "Sherlock Holmes," the Disney animation panel, and interviews with Terry Gilliam and Hayao Miyazaki.

So, yeah... I plan to stay busy for a while.

[more after the jump]

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<p>An early spy photo from the set of 'Iron Man 2' was taken during one of the scenes shown to Comic-Con crowds in San Diego this weekend</p>

An early spy photo from the set of 'Iron Man 2' was taken during one of the scenes shown to Comic-Con crowds in San Diego this weekend

Credit: Paramount/Marvel

SDCC 2009: 'Iron Man 2' puts a hurting on Hall H

Updated: Watch Video Interviews with Favreau, Cheadle and Johansson

Well, Marvel, looks like you've got a "2" to be proud of.

Greg liveblogged from the panel today, so I'm just going to focus on the footage that was shown.  I'm glad they showed it twice, because the first time, people were busy going insane, loudly, myself included I suspect.  The second time they showed the footage, it was absolutely quiet in Hall H, and we were able to get a better sense of the nimble verbal wordplay that is absolutely a signature of this series.

I love how they worked the crowd up before showing it, though.  They started by showing us a behind-the-scenes package that looked like something you'd see on a commercial for tomorrow's "Entertainment Tonight" puffball piece.  It was lame.  As the lights came up, Favreau started to apologize, explaining that they just finished shooting last week.

And then Robert Downey Jr. came walking out onstage.  Irate.  "What was that bullshit?"  He started to harangue Favreau.  "You showed me better stuff than that in the editing room."  After he got the entire Hall H audience to sing "Happy Birthday" to Favreau's eight-year-old son, who was there today, Downey sang, "Now you have to show footage."

And so he did.

The opening shot is Tony Stark, in the armor but without the helmet, sitting in the giant donut on top of Randy's Donuts near LAX.  An iconic spot in LA, and a great image for a film.  As the camera pulls back from him, we find someone on the ground, looking up.

"Sir... I'm going to need you to exit the donut."

[more after the jump]

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<p>I wonder what a group shot's going to look like by the end of this upcoming season</p>

I wonder what a group shot's going to look like by the end of this upcoming season

Credit: ABC

SDCC 2009: 'Lost' panel offers up early look at final season

And we're there to liveblog every single moment of it!

Good morning, everyone.  I've never liveblogged from an event before, but I figure the one event at San Diego Comic-Con this year that is worth trying to do it with would be "Lost," because I feel for every single fan who can't be here.  I have no special access to "Lost," so I'm just a fan like anyone else, and at 11:00 PST, when the panel gets underway, I'll start updating you guys on everything that's happening as it happens, wireless access permitting.

Be back in a few...

Okay... first up is an ad for this year's viral campaign, LostUniversity.org.  Then a great "rediscovered" spot for an '80s show called "The Dharma Initiative," which looks like an "In Search Of" knockoff.  Hilarious.

The clips pagckage is all stuff from the end of last year, building to Juliet's "Come on, you sonofabitch!"  And then Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof take the stage to Europe's "The Final Countdown."

Carlton:  Our theme for today's panel is fan appreciation.

Damon:  Yesterday, walking out of Hall H at 7:30, we saw people in line for today's panel, and for someone who has camped out for other things, that's very surreal.

Carlton:  We're going to start out this morning by celebrating some of the stuff you guys have made.

They're starting with some of their favorite fan videos from over the years.  Nice way to say thanks.

I love the one where they dub "Lost" dialogue over "Muppet Babies" footage.  And the Jack-calling-XBox 360 customer support for help with the red ring of death is great.  Of coruse, there's a great Jack/Sawyer "Brokeback" mash-up.  Lord.  Deadly accurate.

Carlton:  Are you making it up as you go along?  That's the question we're asked the most.  So we had an idea to do something that will prove conclusively that we are not making it up as it goes.

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<p>Sharlto Copely stars in 'District 9' as a mid-level bureaucrat whose work with the 'prawns' lands him in a very, very strange world of pain</p>

Sharlto Copely stars in 'District 9' as a mid-level bureaucrat whose work with the 'prawns' lands him in a very, very strange world of pain

Credit: Sony/TriStar

SDCC 2009: 'District 9' (p)reviewed

Could this Peter Jackson production be one of this year's best sleepers?

This is not a review of the film "District 9."

Although I did indeed see it on Thursday night as a precursor to an hour-and-a-half long intimate evening with Peter Jackson, I've been asked not to write a formal review of the film yet.  So instead, what I'll offer up is a preview of the movie, some background on it, and a general reaction.

Neil Blomkamp was originally brought to Peter Jackson's attention by Mary Parent while she was working at Universal, and the idea was for Neil to direct "Halo" while Peter would produce it.  Solid plan, until the co-financed film between Universal and Fox imploded, and suddenly Peter Jackson was left with a protoge but no movie for him to make.

Thankfully, Blomkamp's solution was to return to South Africa to make a small SF indie film based on some of his earlier short films.  And the result is, in my opinion, an instant classic, a movie that had the same effect on me as the first time I saw Paul Verhoeven's "Robocop" in 1987.

Keep in mind... today, "Robocop" is respected and loved and acknowledged as one of the great SF films of the '80s.  But before it came out, it looked like a joke.  I was working at a theater at the time, and we made fun of that poster relentlessly.  "PART MAN... PART MACHINE... ALL COP!"  Oh, please.  I went to a pre-release employee's screening just to make fun of the film... and then lost my mind.  I ended up taking a good dozen people or so back to see it over the next few weeks, amazed by the film, and time after time, people flipped out for it.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Max leads one of the Wild Things across a desert in a beautiful image from the Spike Jonze adaptation of 'Where The Wild Things Are'</p>

Max leads one of the Wild Things across a desert in a beautiful image from the Spike Jonze adaptation of 'Where The Wild Things Are'

Credit: Warner Bros.

SDCC 2009: 'Where The Wild Things Are' wows Hall H

Odd and beautiful adaptation of the Maurice Sendak classic finally debuts

I'm sure by now you've seen the trailer.  It's one of my personal favorite trailers in recent memory, because it does what I feel like a great trailer should do... it teases.  It gives you a taste, but it doesn't really give anything away.

Spike Jonze has taken a long and undeniably difficult road to get to this morning and, to be fair, so has Warner Bros.  This is an $80 million film from the director of "Being John Malkovich" and "Adaptation."  Not exactly a track record that makes a studio think "giant box-office guarantee."  Spike's film, which I saw in rough form many many months ago, is beautiful and stark and sad and scary.  It's a great film, I think, but not an easy film.  I've spoken to Spike at length about the making of the film.

And today... finally... at the beginning of the Warner Bros. presentation in Hall H that kicked off the day, Spike and Warner Bros. premiered footage from the film, far more than the trailer.  For me, the biggest question mark of the movie was answered conclusively today, and I can say now with all confidence... "Where The Wild Things Are" is going to be a very special movie.  And the characters, the Wild Things themselves, are gloriously, amazingly alive.

Maurice Sendak appeared with Spike in a special reel that was shown at the start of the panel, and listening to him talk about how his book was fairly reviled when it came out, how his own family didn't like the book at first, and it wasn't until a few years later that the most important group of critics in literature finally weighed in on the book... the librarians.  They were the ones who saw that children didn't just read the book... they internalized it.  It became part of how they processed the world.  It was Sendak who whispered in Spike's ear, "Make it dangerous," and he did.  His film is not a safe piece of merchandising bait.  It's very somber, and it's very strange, and it's conceptually quite bold, maybe as bold as either of his Kaufman collaborations.

Max Records, the boy who plays Max in the film, came on after the Sendak/Jonze film and then introduced the footage.  He professed to being nervous enough to need to read the notes on his hand.  He explained that he had just recently seen Maurice who said to pass along a very sweet message to the Comic-Con crowd:

"I really like this movie, and I hope they like it, because if they don't, they can all go straight to Hell."

[more after the jump]

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<p>Do not doubt this man...</p>

Do not doubt this man...

Credit: 20th Century Fox

SDCC 2009: I have laid eyes on 'Avatar,' part one...

... and the controversy is just warming up...

"Avatar" absolutely will change the way films are made.

Or, to be more precise, it will revolutionize the way $400 million films are made.  And make no mistake... we're about to see another price paradigm shattered, just like we did the first time a single film cost over $100 million.  "Avatar" is ginormous to the power of superhumongous.  And, personally, I'm glad.  Because it's not my money.  I'm in for at least $28 or so theatrically, and another $40 for the eventual BluRay that will be just plain awesome.  So for a personal investment of around $70, I get to go to Jim Cameron's new planet, Pandora, and have a crazy adventure with the giant blue cat people.

Totally.

I'm glad I didn't live blog this event, and that I didn't rush back to the hotel to just run a description of the footage.  I'm glad I ended up doing several other things after "Avatar," and that I've run into a number of people whose disappointment in the footage was profound, near-complete.  I've been listening to the reactions of the ones who are disappointed.  A good friend of mine, a guy who loves at least one James Cameron film so much that if he ever has a son, he will probably name that son "Aliens"... that guy was so upset about the footage tonight when I saw him that I felt like he was almost confused by how upset he was.  There were things he liked about it, but a whole lot of it was stuff he didn't like.  And that freaked him out a little.  I don't think he expected at the start of today that he'd be a raving fan of "District 9" and disappointed and irritated by "Avatar."

But that's Comic-Con, isn't it?

[more after the jump]

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<p>The first released image from James Cameron's "Avatar."</p>

The first released image from James Cameron's "Avatar."

Credit: 20th Century Fox

SDCC 2009: 'Avatar', Burton's 'Wonderland,' Gilliam, and 'Tron'

Quick impressions on my way out the door

God, I'm dying time-wise, but San Diego is amazing so far.

Yes, "Avatar" is awesome.  I've heard contrarians so far, and we'll get into that tonight.

Yes, my interview with Terry Gilliam is the best interview I've ever done, and you'll read the whole thing SOON.

Yes, Burton's "Wonderland" is gorgeous and strange, and yes, 5000 people seemed to explode at the same time as Johnny Depp made a surprise appearance on the panel.

Yes, "Tron: Legacy" looks cool and gigantic.

And, yes, I'll have details on all of this and more later tonight.  I hate not being able to share details yet, but if I don't walk out the door five minutes ago, I'm not seeing "District 9," and then I won't be able to talk to...

.... well, you'll see.  I'll be back tonight with full reports on everything above and even more insane coolness.  Comic-Con never stops, it seems, and so I guess for the next four days, neither do I.

Talk to you soon.

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