<p>Wes Anderson's 'The Fantastic Mr. Fox' looks like a throwback to classic stop-motion animation from the '60s</p>

Wes Anderson's 'The Fantastic Mr. Fox' looks like a throwback to classic stop-motion animation from the '60s

Credit: Fox Searchlight

'Fantastic Mr. Fox' trailer debuts to decidedly mixed buzz

Are low-tech animation, big star voices, and classic source material enough?

During the entire production of "The Fantastic Mr. Fox," images have been on lockdown to such a degree that we didn't even have a basic idea of what the style of the film might be.  When you say "stop-motion animation," that doesn't really have anything to do with the look of the film... it's just a technique.

The last two weeks have been sort of an avalanche of material about the film, though, including the debut of the first trailer, and the reaction has been diverse, to say the least.

If you haven't seen it, you should start with USA Today's photo gallery, which contains a fair bit of excellent reportage about who's playing what and how the film's been built.

I've heard from many friends who find the trailer almost unspeakably ugly, who hate the animation, and who think the movie stars overwhelm the piece.  When my wife was pregnant, both times, I did a lot of reading to the tummy, and I particularly enjoyed reading Roald Dahl.  There's something particularly juicy about the way he plays with words that makes those books fun to read aloud, and The Fantastic Mr. Fox was one of the books that we read more than once.

Yahoo! Movies got the trailer premiere, and now Fox Searchlight's released it through their YouTube channel as well:

[more, including trailer, after the jump]

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<p>Steven Spielberg's choice to make 'Harvey' his next film is a surprise after recent rumors</p>

Steven Spielberg's choice to make 'Harvey' his next film is a surprise after recent rumors

Credit: AP Photo

Steven Spielberg sees invisible rabbits, signs to direct 'Harvey' next

Guess the spies will have to wait as Spielberg directs remake of Jimmy Stewart classic

Last week, I wrote about the possibility of Steven Spielberg settling on "Matt Helm" as his next film, something which Michael Fleming and Peter Bart seemed to think was at least possible.

Leave it to Spielberg to zag when everyone's looking for the zig, though, as today he sent out a press release stating in no uncertain terms that his next film as a director will be "Harvey," a new film version of Mary Chase's classic play about Elwood P. Dowd, who is best friends with a giant invisible rabbit named Harvey.  Or who believes he is, anyway.  The Jimmy Stewart film version of the play is a classic, in no small part because of the way Stewart embodies Dowd, all of the movie star's personal charms turned up as loud as possible.

Hollywood's been trying to remake "Harvey" for a while now, but this latest configuration clicked.  Jonathan Troppen's a novelist, with "Harvey" as his first screenplay, so he pretty much just won the screenwriter lottery.  Well-played, sir.  Whatever Troppen did with the material got Spielberg to set aside nearly a year of speculation about what he would do next.  I have trouble counting "Tintin" as a "real" shoot because of the unusual nature of the filmmaking process.  That sounds so experimental that it's more of a diversion than anything.

There's no mention in the press release of who might star, but come on... it's Steven Spielberg.  It's "Harvey."  There's really only one right man for the job, and it just so happens he's got a nice clear schedule right now.

Paging Mr. Tom Hanks... Tom Hanks, please report to "Harvey."  Thank you.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Byung-hun Lee is Stormshadow and Ray Park is Snake Eyes, just part of the huge ensemble in Paramount's 'G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra'</p>

Byung-hun Lee is Stormshadow and Ray Park is Snake Eyes, just part of the huge ensemble in Paramount's 'G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra'

Credit: Paramount Pictures

The Motion/Captured Review: 'G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra' offers preposterous fun

The biggest little boy's adventure movie of the year

I'm the last person in the world who would ever profess to being a fan of the '80s "G.I. Joe" cartoon.  For me, the G.I. Joe of my childhood was the giant 12"-tall action doll with the kung-fu grip and the lifelike hair.  And even then, that occupied such a small part of the real estate of my childhood fantasies that I don't feel any attachment at all to the property.

And as far as Stephen Sommers is concerned, I know a lot of people who lump him in with guys like Brett Ratner and Paul W.S. Anderson and Joel Schumacher, although to be fair, I think he's always been more self-aware than those guys.  He doesn't work as much as some people, either.  He's only made five films since "Deep Rising," two of which were "Mummy" movies, and it's been a full five years since "Van Helsing," easily his worst movie, was released.

Well, it's time to let Sommers out of director jail, folks, because his latest film "G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra" is big, ridiculous, and way more fun than I would have thought possible.  It is a summer movie, through and through, pure pulp preposterousness, and it is one of the most successful little-boy adventure movies I've seen in a long time.  I'm gonna make a scary comparison, but from my point of view, it's a positive one:  it may well turn out to be this year's "Speed Racer."

By that, I mean an pop art accomplishment, digital to a deranged degree, a genuine visual delight that reaches deeper than it has to, plays it with tongue just precisely in cheek, and which has a few flaws that some people will obsess on instead of recognizing just how much fun the package is as a whole.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Song Kang Ho and Ok Vin Kim star in the twisted vampire tale 'Thirst' for director Park Chan Wook</p>

Song Kang Ho and Ok Vin Kim star in the twisted vampire tale 'Thirst' for director Park Chan Wook

Credit: Focus Features

The Motion/Captured Review: Chan Wook-Park's 'Thirst' both delicious and vile

Another spin on vampire lore brings some fresh kink to the table

I'm not going to pretend any familiarity with Emile Zola's Therese Raquin, the novel which provides the partial source material for the latest film from the director of the Korean landmark "Old Boy."  Park Chan Wook is a big of a madman as a filmmaker, and while I admire "J.S.A.," a fairly straightforward early film, and while I think he could make a great "normal" film any time he wants to, he's too eccentric to tackle genre material head-on.  There are long stretches of "Thirst" that play out like uneasy nightmares, and other sequences that play like dreams far wetter, and that combination seems to be irresistable to the director.

If Park Chan Wook is one of my favorite Korean filmmakers, then the great Song Kang Ho is one of my favorite actors working in amy language at all right now.  Here, he stars as Sang-hyeon, a priest who faces a spiritual crisis, meets a woman, plays out a film noir psychodrama, and then unleashes the forces that lead to his own destruction, all with tongue planted firmly in cheek.  It's a wild downward spiral, dark and horrifyingly funny, the absolute annihilation of a man of faith played out as bloodsport.

And did I mention it's a vampire movie, too?

The v word is everywhere right now, enjoying one of its occasional cultural resurgences thanks to the success of "Twilight" at the movies and "True Blood" on TV and "The Strain" at the bookstore, and one of the things that should be apparent from the way all of these different properties have found strong reactions from their fan bases is that there is more than enough room for different interpretations of the vampire myth.  It's an idea that can bend depending on what your underlying metaphor is, what you want to say about life using vampires as your way into the conversation.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Leslie Mann, Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen and Eric Bana in Judd Apatow's 'Funny People'</p>

Leslie Mann, Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen and Eric Bana in Judd Apatow's 'Funny People'

Credit: Universal Pictures

The Motion/Captured Review: 'Funny People' is more painful than hilarious

And that seems to be exactly what Judd Apatow wants

There is a reason I'm not a professional comedian.  I mean, apart from the obvious "you're not funny" reason, thanks.

As much as I've always lived and breathed movies, there was a period of time where I found myself bitten by the comedy bug, way back in the late '80s/early '90s.  There's an immediacy to live performance that filmmakers never really get to experience, and it's a radically different discipline.  I worked at it for a while, but can you guess what ultimately drove me to choose not to pursue that goal?

Other comedians.

Part of it was watching people who were so innately gifted that I felt like I could work at it for twenty years without ever getting as good as them.  But more than that, the backstage culture in the comedy world was so toxic, so venal, so deeply unpleasant, that I decided that the brutal shark tank of Hollywood screenwriting seemed like a comparative cakewalk.

People have attempted to capture this world on film before, like in the Tom Hanks film "Punchline," but until now, I don't think we've ever really had a significant film about the people whose primary job is to make other people laugh.  It's a world Judd Apatow is intimately familiar with, and in some ways, you could call this the "Almost Famous" of the comedy world.  It's a story about people who have reached the pinnacle of success interacting with people who are just starting out, and the vast gulf of experience between them.  It's also about the things that drive these people, and just how serious the business is overall.  It's a character-driven movie much more than a plot-driven one, and the result is a movie that feels like two distinct halves of a story, both given room to breathe.  It's not what I would call a typical film structure, but I give Apatow credit for following these characters through some dark and unsympathetic moments in his efforts to be honest to the world and to who they are.

[more after the jump]

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<p>How many working moms can walk a red carpet like Leslie Mann at the 'Funny People' premiere?</p>

How many working moms can walk a red carpet like Leslie Mann at the 'Funny People' premiere?

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

The Motion/Captured Interview: Leslie Mann discusses 'Funny People'

And the terrible burden of being married to the king of them

It's funny how low profile the hilarious and beautiful Leslie Mann has always been when I've visited the sets of the various Judd Apatow productions over the last few years.  My theory is that she's threatened by my rugged masculinity, or maybe it's just that she's incredibly busy leading a professional life that's just as rich as the one her husband is leading. Whatever the case, it surprised me to realize that I had never really interviewed her, and when she was offered up on the "Funny People" press day, I was pleased to finally have the chance.

Unfortunately, the restraining order and a terrible chest cold kept me at home, meaning we did the interview over the phone instead of in person, and so the conversation is reproduced here for you, starting just after her publicist handed her the phone:

Leslie:  Hello?

Drew:  Hi, Leslie. How are you?

Great.  How are you?

Well, I apologize if I cough my way through this interview, so...

Are you sick?

I am.

What's the matter with you?

I don't know.  Some sort of a chest flu thing.

I don't want to get sick.  I don't want you to get me sick.

Well, I promise on the phone, I won't.

(laughs) So what's going on?

[more after the jump]

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<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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