<p>Jon Lovitz and Phil Hartman in happier days</p>

Jon Lovitz and Phil Hartman in happier days

Credit: Time, Inc.

The Afternoon Read (3.03.09) Zack Snyder's 'golden rules,' more Malick details, and Pixar struggles with villainy

Plus Phil Hartman's 'SNL' audition and 'Tron 2.0' details

It's one of those days where I didn't get out of bed on time and then with my family leaving tomorrow and the roof leaking in one spot because of the solar water heater and me having to make certain phone calls by a certain time and... well, let's just say it took a while to get my traction.  And then when I did open the browser and start looking around, at first it looked like a whole lot of nothing going on out there.

But then by the time I really got into it, I found a small avalanche worth of things to post.  So by the time I get all of this written up and linked, I'm guessing this is an Afternoon Read.  So be it.  At least there's a lot that's worth discussing.

I'm interviewing Zack Snyder this afternoon, a real interview at length instead of the abbreviated video piece you can see on my interview page right now.  I'm glad to have a second shot at him, because I feel like we just barely scratched the surface in our first talk.  I'm glad I read about his "golden rules" before our conversation, since I'm hoping to make this next talk about the nuts-and-bolts of how you go about building out an entire world on film.

Have you seen the new "Public Enemies" poster?

Or how about the new "Terminator: Salvation" trailer?

How about that Vanity Fair photo gallery from their comedy issue?

[more after the jump]

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<p>Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman) and Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudrup) create sparks in "Watchmen."</p>

Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman) and Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudrup) create sparks in "Watchmen."

Credit: Warner Bros.

Zack Snyder, Dave Gibbons, Billy Crudup and more discuss 'Watchmen'

Our exclusive video interviews with Jackie Earle Haley, Carla Gugino, and more

Hey, I don't know if you've heard, but rumor is they're making a movie out of "Watchmen."

And, yes, maybe we've been a wee bit on the exuberant side here at HitFix the last few weeks, but it's one of those moments where I honestly can't believe something exists, and that it's as good as it is.  So you'll have to pardon the enthusiasm, and hopefully you'll enjoy the video interviews I recorded last week at the Beverly Hilton hotel as much as I enjoyed doing them.

They had the entire top floor of the Beverly Hilton transformed for the "Watchmen" press day.  I spent time watching long excerpts from "Tales Of The Black Freighter" and playing the video game while I waited between interviews, and they had most of the costumes from the film set up under glass.  What a weird atmosphere, all things considered, and it just made it stranger to walk into the various rooms and sit down opposite the flesh-and-blood representations of these iconic characters.

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<p>Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman costar in 'Australia,' out on DVD and BluRay this week</p>

Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman costar in 'Australia,' out on DVD and BluRay this week

Credit: AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi

On The Shelf (3.2.09) Baz Luhrmann, 'Wonder Woman,' and avant-garde 'Treasures'

Plus a talking Chihuahua, vintage Wong Kar Wai, and Tommy Lee Jones

Another week, another batch of new releases on DVD and BluRay, and it's time for us to take a look at what titles of interest are available.  I just made an Amoeba run with Toshi the other day.  It's one of his favorite places to go with me, and he spends most of his time flirting shamelessly with all the crazy rocker tattooed chicks who work there.  Boy's ambitious... I'll give him that.  We picked up a huge fistful of BluRays, including the oh-so-controversial transfer of "The French Connection," and I plan to have a review of that later this week.

For now, let's just jump in, starting with one of the fall's biggest commercial disappointments...

Which is not to say that I disliked "Australia," because I didn't.  I actually thought it was of a piece with the rest of Baz Luhrmann's work, and if you like what he does, you'll probably like this one.  I think he's a rowdy, playful filmmaker, and he makes these eccentric cartoons, big and silly and brash.  "Australia" doesn't work all the way through, but it's got a lot of things to like in it, and I'm a sucker for any story in which an unconventional family is drawn together by choice and circumstance.  Nicole Kidman's the weak link here, but Hugh Jackman almost convinces you that she still looks like a human being instead of a wax figure of her former self.  He's at his most appealing here, and he sells the idea that he's attracted to this difficult, prissy, rigid stick of a woman.  I'm sure the BluRay transfer is amazing, since Fox does a nice job overall, and if I pick this up, that'll be the format.

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<p>Griffin Dunne finds a particularly metaphorical piece of graffiti in a men's room in 'After Hours'</p>

Griffin Dunne finds a particularly metaphorical piece of graffiti in a men's room in 'After Hours'

Credit: Warner Home Video

Motion/Captured Must-See: 'After Hours'

Martin Scorsese's overlooked gem is the first entry in our ongoing series

A flamenco-dancing twenty-dollar-bill.

Plaster-of-paris cream-cheese-and-bagel paperweights.

Mousetraps arranged like stations of the cross.

An ex-husband with a disturbing "Wizard Of Oz" fetish.

Just a few of the indelible images that come one after another in this dark comedy that came at a very interesting moment in the career of Martin Scorsese.

And why not start with Scorsese?

One thing you'll notice, I'm sure, as we get deeper into this column, is that like any film viewer, I have my particular favorites, the themes or filmmakers or actors or ideas that I come back to over and over.  The genres that have a particular affinity for.  The ones I don't.  And Scorsese is a huge subject of interest for me as a film geek.  He's an artistic hero. A guy who is all about voice, and absolutely one of the most polished, controlled filmmakers of his generation.  Of all time, for that matter.  "Taxi Driver," "Goodfellas," and "Raging Bull" were all on the List Of Duh the other day.  Those movies have been fully absorbed at this point, woven into the fabric of film culture in a million little ways.  Those are movies that you've got some sense of even if you've never seen them, because they've been imitated and referenced and sourced to death.

But there was a point when Scorsese was basically unable to get a film made, tied in knots, at an artistic standstill.  And in many ways, "After Hours" is the film that kept him alive at the exact moment he needed it.  The fact that it's also very, very good is a minor miracle.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Brad Pitt considers what he's going to do with the scalp of the dude from 'The Guardian UK'</p>

Brad Pitt considers what he's going to do with the scalp of the dude from 'The Guardian UK'

Credit: The Weinstein Company/Universal

The Morning Read (3.02.09) Tarantino bashing, viral 'District 9,' and Malick and dinosaurs?

Plus some tough talk about the industry and critics

Happy birthday, Dad! He turns 69 today, and rather than snicker and make dirty jokes about that particular number, I'll just wish him a happy one, hope I'm half as cool at his age as he is, and acknowledge once again that the only reason I am able to do what I love for a living is because he indulged my interests as I was growing up, something not every parent would be willing to do.  He gave me my lifelong appreciation of Ian Fleming, Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, and the cinema of badassery, and I can barely sum up how much I adore him.

You guys have a good weekend?  My family's getting ready to leave town for an extended trip to Argentina, so it's been a blur of all sorts of last-minute activity, things we have to get finished.  In addition, I had interviews on Sunday for "The Last House On The Left," and a ton of writing to get done for this week.  I'm a little dizzy from it, and it hardly seems possible it's already Monday morning again.  Let's see what there is out there worth reading as we gear up for the week ahead.

Why is it that when I read articles in which people rant about how much they hate Quentin Tarantino, the subtext is inevitably about how Tarantino didn't do what they wanted him to do with his career?  Although I think it's ridiculous to pan a movie based on a single teaser trailer, I'm not going to bash the guy for it.  But what does disturb me about this sort of a rant is the implication that Tarantino owes anyone a different kind of movie than the kind he's making.  I know people who complain that what he's making now is totally disconnected from his "early great movies" like "Reservoir Dogs" or "Pulp Fiction."  I don't think that's true or especially fair.  Tarantino's in an enviable position, where he's been able to follow his particular whims as an artist without any restraint, and whether you like the results or not isn't the point. They're his interests.  These are the films that he feels like he has to make.  In the end, all you can judge is whether or not he pulled off the art that interested him, not whether or not he lived up to your particular wants for his career.  When did we stop reviewing what an artist actually does versus what we wish he would do?

[more after the jump]

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<p>If you don't recognize this man's face, this series of articles may not be for you</p>

If you don't recognize this man's face, this series of articles may not be for you

Credit: Kino International

The Motion/Captured Must-See Project: The List Of Duh, Vol. 1

In which we lay down some basic vocabulary for the months ahead

In case you're just joining us, what exactly is "The Motion/Captured Must-See Project"?  Check out this article, and then come back here.

Today is our preliminary piece, in which we get the List Of Duh out of the way.  Although, technically, this is just volume one of what I'm sure will be an occasional updated piece.  I know methodology is least interesting part of all of this, but let's get some of this out of the way up front so that we don't have people constantly yelling at us, "Is that it?  That's everything you ever plan to discuss?"

No.  Of course not.  And I'm not saying that we'll never ever talk about any movie on this list, either.  I'm just saying that my goal with this series is to gradually review films from my personal collection that I think are significant, a tip sheet on what exactly made me into the film geek I am today, movies that I think every good film geek should see for one reason or another.  It's something I hope you'll enjoy both as a resource and a read.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Angelina Jolie tries to decide which of the 9000 people asking her about Jennifer Aniston to kill first</p>

Angelina Jolie tries to decide which of the 9000 people asking her about Jennifer Aniston to kill first

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

The Morning Read (2.27.09) Kotaku liveblogs 'Street Fighter,' 'Sita' sings online, and Morgan talks Jolie

Plus the 'Green Lantern' director who almost was, amazing 'John Carter' and 'Superman' art and Drew Barrymoore to direct third "Twilight"?

We're starting right on time today, so we'll dig in and see what there is to read to kick off the weekend.  Really browse for a while.  Want to wish my baby sister a Happy Birthday out there in N.C.  Of course, my baby sister is in her 30s at this point, so maybe that's not technically accurate.

Kotaku's just plain doing great work these days, and there's a lot of material there that crosses over into film and other areas of pop culture, where games collide with these other things.  A great example is their article where they were sent a screener of the new "Street Fighter" film opening today, and they liveblogged it as they watched it.

"GREAT. BLAME HONG KONG."

I think Kotaku's reaction to that film is particularly telling.  If someone makes a really great video game movie, that community will stand on the rooftop and beat their breasts.  They will absolutely crow about it.  And I have a feeling, pretty darn good would be enough for them to consider something amazing at this point.  Because there are no good videogame movies.  Some of them have very interesting things about them, but as complete films you can really recommend to someone?  Nope.  Not yet.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Harrison Ford silently thanks God it's not Shia LeBeouf sitting next to him in 'Crossing Over'</p>

Harrison Ford silently thanks God it's not Shia LeBeouf sitting next to him in 'Crossing Over'

Credit: AP Photo/The Weinstein Company, Dale Robinette

On The Screen (2.27.09) Harrison Ford in 'Crossing Over'

Plus the Jonas Brothers in 3D and Chun Li's thighs

I'm using both my columns this morning to wish my sister a happy birthday, and I wish it was a weekend where I had something that I felt compelled to tell her to go see as part of her weekend fun.

Which is not to say that I'm slamming this week's movies.  I wish there were more 3D screens so that "Jonas Bros:  The 3D Concert Experience" wouldn't poach "Coraline" screens this weekend, but that's just the cold hard truth in terms of how many digital 3D screens are available.  One of my very favorite films last year was "U2-3D," and I would imagine for a non-fan, it would be a less pleasant or less visceral overally experience.  Since I'm not a Jonas Bros. fan, there's no compelling reason for me to go sit through this.  Still, I'm sort of a shameless digital 3D junkie, so even this tempts me on that level.  I would be shocked if this did poorly this weekend.  There are a lot of ticket-buyers who are excited about this, and more power to them.  I hope it gets them in the habit of seeking out 3D screens for anything that's playing in the format, and I hope that leads to more theaters putting in the right equipment and screens.  Soooooon.

I thought "Doom" was decent fun for one sit in a free screening in the theater, but if I'm being honest, I can't say that's really enough to justify it as a movie.  Its biggest flaw was being dull, overly familiar.  When you're approaching material like this, the best you can hope to do is jolt the audience with something new, something that makes them wake up because there's that charge of the new.  Andrzej Bartkowiak has a short filmography as a director ("Romeo Must Die," "Exit Wounds," "Cradle 2 The Grave," and the aforementioned "Doom"), but he was a cinematographer for a long time, and a pretty damn good one.  Guy shot "Prince of the City," "Speed," and "Prizzi's Honor," for god's sake.  I'll sit through his "Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun Li" at some point while my family's out of town and I'm realizing how much I miss them and I'm hiding out at the theater to avoid my empty house, which should be next weekend and the week after.  That'll be the perfect way to see that one.  I'll be extra forgiving.

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<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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