Take Two: Tarzan epic 'Greystoke' doesn't hold up as a legend
Credit: Warner Home Video

Take Two: Tarzan epic 'Greystoke' doesn't hold up as a legend

Some great work is lost in a powerfully muddled execution

It is the responsibility of the working film critic not only to see and review as many new releases as possible, but also to constantly revisit films in order to challenge one’s own opinions. Moreover, it is important to review those films as you would any other film, no matter whether you once loved it or hated it. Considering how many movies are constantly available to audiences today, every film should be considered new to someone.

Critics should take it upon themselves to form new opinions of even the most revered movies, and to always remind themselves and their audiences that films do not belong on shelves. They must be seen and shared and constantly re-examined.

My kids have started asking me questions about Tarzan.

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From Amy Schumer to 'Raiders!': Our picks for what to expect from SXSW

From Amy Schumer to 'Raiders!': Our picks for what to expect from SXSW

Big-budget, regional, musical and doc discoveries co-exist at the rowdiest film fest of the year

Every film festival has its own identity, and one of the things I've learned over time is that you can't cover them all the same way. It helps that SXSW is in Austin, because if there's any city on Earth where I feel comfortable besides my home, it's Austin. I have a network of friends there, and when I drive there, I feel like I've got a handle on where I am at all times, something that could only happen when you've spent as much time as I have there.

Hollywood has really settled into SXSW, using it to premiere certain kinds of movies. Big comedies or movies that work well with big audiences like horror films tend to be the best films to bring here. Austin is a movie town, and the audiences are demonstrative, to say the least. Part of what makes a premiere at the Paramount special is the people who pack into that theater.

This year's line-up features big names and unknowns in equal measure, which is another part of SXSW's charm. After all, the festival was defined in many ways by the support it showed to microbudget films and regional voices. Guests like Judd Apatow, Melissa McCarthy, Amy Schumer, Will Ferrell, and Kevin Hart will be there with new films, while George Miller will be at the festival to screen his stone-cold classic "The Road Warrior." I'm hoping there will be plenty of discoveries there as well, because those moments are magic. I love that feeling when you're sitting in a theater and you realize you're watching a major new talent at work, like when I saw "Short Term 12."

Katie Hasty will be in Austin with me, and I think you can look forward to a wide array of reviews and interviews, with both of us already having to make hard choices about what we will or won't get to see. We put together a look at what you should look forward to, and I think it gives you a clear look at just how diverse the line-up is. These aren't the only films we'll see, of course, but it should give you some idea of what to expect.

Our SXSW coverage kicks off on Friday in a big way. See you there.

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Reports have 'Tron 3' set for a Vancouver shoot later this year
Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Reports have 'Tron 3' set for a Vancouver shoot later this year

Who's asking for this one?

Joseph Kosinski has an elephant's memory when it comes to bad reviews.

To be fair, I saw "TRON: Legacy" twice before I reviewed it, and I had some nice things to say about the film in terms of design and how Kosinski re-created the world of TRON, but I also strongly disliked the screenplay. I referred to the film as a "Fleshlight" in my review, saying it looks like a real film, but there's nothing alive about it. I think it's a very pretty but completely empty film overall, and if anything, the sheer aesthetic drop-dead beauty of the whole thing only bugged me more. When it came time to do interviews for "Oblivion," Kosinski turned me down cold because of that "TRON" review. Oh, well.

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Tim Burton takes flight as director of new live-action 'Dumbo' remake
Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Tim Burton takes flight as director of new live-action 'Dumbo' remake

Anybody want to wager on whether or not they include the crows this time?

Those of you who live in mortal fear that an original idea might actually get produced in Hollywood these days, I have good news for you.

I'll say this much for the idea: Tim Burton's version of a circus is probably something I should see once in my life. Other than that, though, I'm not sure about the idea of a live-action "Dumbo." I get it as a business decision, because Disney has realized that there is big money to be made from doing live-action versions of its classic animated films. I suspect "Cinderella" is going to make a small mountain of money for the studio, and I'll confess that I am personally very curious about what director Jon Favreau is up to with "The Jungle Book."

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Roar pull quote

Insane 'Roar' trailer features the best HitFix pull quote ever

I have never been happier to be quoted in a trailer.

"Roar" is a huge treat, and I love that Drafthouse Films is willing to pick up older films for distribution if they feel like there's something worth sharing. I would have loved to have been in the room with Tim League while he watched this movie for the first time. I'll bet he looked like a Tex Avery wolf cartoon, eyes popped out of his head, because I know that's how I looked while I was watching it.

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The 'Ghostbusters' world gets bigger with Channing Tatum version in development
Credit: Sony Pictures

The 'Ghostbusters' world gets bigger with Channing Tatum version in development

Does anyone really believe Sony asked for an 'all-guy' version?

When discussing "Ghostbusters," I have to tread lightly in certain regards. I spent a good portion of 2014 conducting interviews with many of the people involved with the films, and one of the things that we discussed was the way the future of the franchise might unfold. Those interviews are the property of the book company I was working for, and you'll learn all sorts of amazing things when they release that book later this year.

I think it's safe to say, though, that Dan Aykroyd in particular seemed determined to open up the world of the Ghostbusters when we spoke, which should not be a surprise to anyone familiar with the development of the original film. When Aykroyd took his first shot at the script for the original film, it was a huge-canvass science-fiction movie with inter-dimensional travel and Ghostbusters offices open in cities around the world. In the 1984 film, there's a moment after they walk out of the bank where they just used Ray's grandmother's house as collateral for a loan, and Venkman tries to reassure him, saying, "The franchise rights alone will make us rich."

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New 'Tomorrowland' trailer offers more hints on Brad Bird's SF secret
Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

New 'Tomorrowland' trailer offers more hints on Brad Bird's SF secret

George Clooney and Hugh Laurie team up to save the future

So here's a new trend I'm not fond of at all: making an audience "earn" a trailer debut.

At some point, studios stopped treating trailers as the device by which they advertise an event and started treating them like they were the actual event. Last week, they made people Tweet "#AvengersAssemble" if they wanted to see a new trailer for "Avengers: Age Of Ultron." I have no doubt they were going to release the trailer no matter what, but by tying the trailer to the Tweeting, Marvel and Disney were able to suddenly manufacture this cultural moment.

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'Ask Drew' kicks off our re-consideration of 'The Matrix'
Credit: HitFix

'Ask Drew' kicks off our re-consideration of 'The Matrix'

Plus we look into those 'Fantastic Four' rumors

It's been a while since we did one of these.

We actually shot one that is officially classified now as "lost" because of audio issues, and our video team has been incredibly busy so far this year working on new projects. This week, though, we finally convened in the HitFix studio to record a new episode of the show that you guys write for us every week.

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Albert Maysles defined truth on film from 'Salesman' to 'Gimme Shelter'
Credit: Criterion Collection

Albert Maysles defined truth on film from 'Salesman' to 'Gimme Shelter'

An amazing legacy guarantees him a place in the pantheon

One of the titans of the documentary world has passed today.

There are many filmmakers whose work can be said to have influenced other artists, and certainly one of the ways we weigh the worth of an artistic legacy is by the way it seeps into the larger culture. By that standard, Albert Maysles was enormously important, and the mark he leaves on the definition of a documentary is immeasurable.

"Grey Gardens" is perhaps the most famous of his films, and one of the things I realized when I first saw it was that documentaries can be about anything. The point of the process is truth, and Maysles was ferociously dedicated to capturing moments of almost breathtaking truth. One of the first pieces of his work that I saw was "Gimme Shelter," the documentary about the 1969 Altamont concert where Hell's Angels stabbed a concertgoer to death, an event which was recorded on film. What could easily just be a morbid look at a terrible event is instead a record of the atmosphere that would make that stabbing possible in the first place.

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Review: Wildlife oddity 'Roar' is the can-you-believe-it discovery of the year
Credit: Drafthouse Films

Review: Wildlife oddity 'Roar' is the can-you-believe-it discovery of the year

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Ever feel like watching a lion try to eat a weeping Melanie Griffith for real?

"Roar" feels like Walt Disney decided to make a snuff version of "Swiss Family Robinson." It may be the single most irresponsible thing I've ever seen as a movie, and I have seen it three times now. I may watch it again tonight. I am that fascinated by this record of absolute madness.

Drafthouse Films has done a great job of picking up worthy new films for release, starting with "Four Lions," but they've also displayed a knack for turning up some fascinating curios, forgotten films that might otherwise never get their moment. "The Visitor" was a great example, a deranged mix of religious allegory and post-"Star Wars" blockbuster mania. One of the highlights of this year's Fantastic Fest was a screening of a film called "The Astrologer," a self-financed vanity project that defied any easy description, and I was disappointed to learn that there are copyright issues that may prevent that from getting any sort of actual release. With "Roar," though, they've come up with something that demands a trip to the theater, the sort of thing you're going to want to see with as many friends as possible.

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