<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]

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<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]

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<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]

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<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]

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<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]

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<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]

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<p>U2 performs at the Brit Awards 2009</p>

U2 performs at the Brit Awards 2009

Credit: AP Photo/MJ Kim

The Morning Read (2.23.09) Jerry Lewis, John August, Ebert on the Oscars

Plus two different pieces by Cory Doctrow

I don't know how much we're going to find out there this morning.  I'm not going to spend hours trolling for content, either, because I don't have hours to spare.  I've got at least 14 articles for the blog to write this week, and one pitch that I have to have perfected by Wednesday afternoon. 

Daunting workload, and that doesn't account for the screenings I have to attend or schedule or the DVDs I have to write, or the near-constant rotation of illness back and forth between my oldest son and my youngest son and my wife and myself and my mother-in-law and my youngest son and my oldest son and my wife and me and my oldest son and my wife and my youngest son and me and oh good god already don't any of us have functioning immune systems?!

So I'll surf a bit and whatever we get, we get.  After all, everybody wants to talk about the Oscars today and, frankly, I don't.  I didn't watch one minute of the show last night.  I was working the whole time they were on.  I got over the Oscars when I was about ten years old, right around the time I figured out that what I love wasn't going to be winning the awards, and that I don't think Oscars mean anything to the larger conversation about film as an art form.  They're too political, too of the moment, too much about the mood right now among a very small group of people, The Academy. 

I know people love the Oscars, and to them, I say enjoy it.  It's just not my thing.  I'll go to an Oscar party if I like the group of people who will be there, but I'm going for the people and the experience, not because I actually care who does or doesn't win or who wears what or says what.  It just bores me, and especially when we spend months and months and months talking about them.  If I were the producers of last night's show, though, I'd take some solace in Roger Ebert declaring them "the best Oscar show I ever saw."

[more after the jump]

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<p>Derek Glover, Bobby Moynihan, Dominic Dierkes, and D.C. Pierson in 'Mystery Team,' a Derrick Comedy film</p>

Derek Glover, Bobby Moynihan, Dominic Dierkes, and D.C. Pierson in 'Mystery Team,' a Derrick Comedy film

Credit: Derrick Comedy

Sundance 2009: 'Mystery Team'

YouTube comedy group makes distinct and winning first film

Prior to seeing "Mystery Team," I had no knowledge of Derrick Comedy.  I read in the Sundance program that they were a YouTube "sensation," but these days, there are so many comedy sites and viral videos that I think it's kind of impossible to keep up with everyone out there.  When I sat down in the theater for the midnight show at the Egyptian of "Mystery Team," all I wanted was to laugh.

And I did.  A lot.

If you grew up reading "Encyclopedia Brown" books or watching "The Little Rascals" on TV, you'll get the basic touchstones that the film plays off of, but even if you didn't, I have a feeling you'll find plenty to enjoy in the movie.  Like much of what's going on in comedy these days, "Myster Team" is the story of man-children, unable to relinquish the things that defined them as kids in order to move on and become adults.  I think there's a case to be made that we get the comedy we deserve from generation to generation, and considering my friends and the geek culture in general, we certainly seem to have embraced the deranged manchild archetype.  When three of the biggest summer movies this year are based on properties that were aimed at children in the '70s and '80s ("Transformers," "GI Joe," and "Land Of The Lost"), it's hard to describe our pop culture as anything but infantilized.  And yet, it's almost celebrated, embraced as a choice and not a defect.  So against that backdrop, "Mystery Team" makes perfect sense.

And did I mention that it's really, really funny?

[more after the jump]

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Motion/Captured Digs Into The Black List 2008

Which of Hollywood's best scripts will you be seeing onscreen soon?

In a recent article about "Jonny Quest," I wrote about The Black List, and since then, I've gotten quite a bit of e-mail from people who have heard of the list but who don't really get the whole idea, as well as readers who had no idea what I was talking about.  And since I never seem to have enough work to keep me busy, I decided that it would be an interesting feature here at Motion/Captured for the next couple of months to take a look at this past year's Black List and then go through to discuss the scripts that were voted onto the list, and to see where the various projects are now in development.

Here's the description of the project that's on the second page of the PDF that was mailed all over Hollywood last December:

"THE BLACK LIST was compiled from the suggestions of over 250 film executives, each of whom contributed the names of up to ten of their favorite scripts that were written in, or are somehow uniquely associated with, 2008 and will not be released in theaters during this calendar year.

This year, scripts had to receive at least four mentions to be included on THE BLACK LIST.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Hugh Jackman in one of the official Oscar publicity photos</p>

Hugh Jackman in one of the official Oscar publicity photos

Credit: AP Photo/ABC, Brett Ratner

The Morning Read (2.20.09) More 'Terminator' nerd-bait and 'Watchmen' FX

Plus Wil Wheaton destroys the embargo and Mr. Beaks talks to Richard Donner

Okay... I think I've got my ideas all worked out now... some new things I'll be doing here on the blog.  Because one thing I like is having certain things that publish at certain times... but I don't want those things to just be round-ups or press releases.  I want them to be actual content... something worth your time to read.  I think I've got a few new recurring features to integrate into what we're already doing that are really going to be fun to write, fun to organize. 

And more than that... when I said yesterday that I think it's important that we all push for change in the blogosphere by positive example, I meant it.  I want better reads every day, and so it only seems fair that I push myself to publish more interesting and unique content every day.  This column's a great way to start the discussion each day, but this is a round-up of the work of others, and I don't want to let it end up overpowering my own work here.

We'll get started with them soon, as I get them ready, and in the meantime, let's wrap up this week with our last Morning Read till Monday.

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