A game cast doesn't ground this strange fairy tale enough
- Critic's Rating C
- Readers' Rating n/a
I interviewed writer/director Peter Hedges when he was getting ready to release "Dan In Real Life," a Steve Carrell movie from a few years ago, and our 20 minute scheduled conversation ended up lasting much longer. Hedges struck me as a decidedly non-Hollywood type, smart and sincere and serious about making movies with a nice mix of sentiment and ideas.
That sensibility is definitely represented in "The Odd Life Of Timothy Green," the latest movie by Hedges, and there are definitely things to like about the film. It's uneven, though, with a central conceit that doesn't quite hang together, and I'm not sure the film's theme is focused enough to really work. It's a hard film to dislike because of just how earnest it is, but it's also a film that has some severe problems, making it hard to give a blanket recommendation.
Hedges, starting from a story by Ahmet Zappa, has crafted a movie that aims to make some profound statements about the nature of parenthood and what it takes to nurture someone, and he is assisted greatly by a cast that includes Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Rosemarie DeWitt, David Morse, M. Emmet Walsh, Lois Smith, Dianne Wiest, Ron Livingston, Common, and James Rebhorn. He's got John Toll shooting, so you know the movie looks great. It is, aesthetically speaking, uncommonly pretty for a Disney live-action family film, and it aims to earn copious tears from you.
Meet the people who made 'ParaNorman' such a visually spectacular treat
It's unusual at these broadcast press days to get time to talk technical with filmmakers. For the most part, these events are all about getting a sound bite out of a movie star.
On a film like "ParaNorman," thought, it's great to have that chance to talk to the people who actually brought the remarkable world of the movie to life. Stop-motion is one of those art forms where survival depends on younger artists learning from those few people who are still actually doing this, and Laika's new film plays like a master class on the potential for stop-motion. They've combined classic technique with high tech in a way that is visually dazzling.
Beyond that, though, "ParaNorman" is an example of just how beautiful and affecting performance work can be when you've got masterful animators at the helm. Laika is unusual as a company because Travis Knight is not only the head of the company, but also an animator who did a lot of the hands-on work himself. There are some dazzling sequences in the film that he was the lead animator on, and it's proof that he's not just some executive. His father is Phil Knight, the co-found of Nike, and Laika was created out of the passion that Travis Knight feels for stop-motion animation in general.
One of the best action stars working tells us about building a fight scene
When you sit across from Jason Statham, it's hard to not be aware that he could end you if the mood struck him.
As one of the youngest members of the core team of "The Expendables," Statham gets to do some of the most physical hand-to-hand combat in the movie. He's got a scene in a church in the film that is him at his balletic badass best.
Talking to him about this second film in the series, I wanted to ask about how the action scenes were designed this time around. It feels like this second film did a much better job of building scenes that gave each cast member room to show off the skills that qualified them for the movie in the first place. Statham talked to me about how he works with his fight choreographer, a guy who he's been working with for a while now.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt will attend fest to support his new sci-fi adventure
September is starting to look like it may well end up being one of the best months of film viewing of my entire life between the Toronto International Film Festival's line-up and Fantastic Fest, which is still coming into focus.
This morning, the second wave of Fantastic Fest titles has been announced, and it continues to look like it's going to be a deep, crazy batch of movies. Some of the titles that were announced today are exactly what I expected, and others are out of left field, which is the exact thing that I love about Fantastic Fest every year. There are things I've seen at the festival that I'll never see again because they don't neatly fit into any distribution plan in the US right now. I love going to a festival where it's not just about what's going to sell to a distributor. It's great to see a festival that is programmed for the people that actually attend and not just as a promotional opportunity for a larger release pattern.
It also helps that Tim League and the amazing programmers he works with every year are completely out of their minds.
Martin McDonagh's new film looks like a wicked funny ride
I can't believe I leave for Toronto on September 5th.
That's just around the corner. And if Toronto is just around the corner, the end of the year is just after that. Which means it's almost 2013. Which means… okay, I'm going to give myself a headache. Let's just focus on Toronto. Let's focus on the Midnight Madness line-up, which looks amazing this year. Let's focus on "Seven Psychopaths."
After all, it's a new film by Martin McDonagh, whose "In Bruges" was such a delight. He's a great playwright, exciting and brash and wicked funny, and this is the story of a down-at-the-heels LA screenwriter played by Colin Farrell who ends up involved in a bizarre heist of sorts when his best friend kidnaps the dog of a deranged gangster. Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell are Farrell's friends in the film, and Woody Harrelson is the dangerous dog owner who is determined to get his Shih Tzu back.
The film also features Abbie Cornish and Olga Kurylenko, and that cannot be a bad thing. Zeljko Ivanek appears to have a fairly big role in the film as well, and he's one of those "that guy!" actors who always does interesting work.
Oh… and did I mention Tom Waits is in it? He's the guy with the bunny.
It may not be everyone's Batman, but was it ever meant to be?
Every single time I've sat down to finish this article, I am struck anew by just how complicated any conversation about "The Dark Knight Rises" has become for reasons that have nothing to do with the movie itself.
And once I sat down to finish it, it quickly turned into an unwieldy and completely disorganized collection of thoughts that I couldn't quite get my arms around.
I originally planned to publish this the week after the film opened, but it has stymied me for the last two weeks because of what happened in that theater in Aurora, Colorado. I don't believe the film had anything to do with the actions of that deranged piece of garbage, but I think the media has worked overtime to make sure they connect the two with a near non-stop assault. I just saw that a BBC3 documentary is being rushed through production called "The Batman Shootings," a disgusting title, and sure to be a classless piece of sensational garbage.
One publication I've seen made the editorial decision to only refer to what happened as "The 'Dark Knight Rises' shooting" in every single headline they've run, as many as four or five a day so far, and it turns my stomach every single time. It feels gross for anyone to take this film that represents the conclusion of six years worth of storytelling involving one of the biggest characters in pop culture and permanently saddle it with what that lunatic did. And if it seems like I'm going out of my way not to say his name, it's because I refuse to play into his agenda in any way. He wanted to tie himself to something huge and unavoidable, just like someone deciding to shoot John Lennon, and if you give him the gift of celebrity, doesn't that mean it worked?
Facts are fun but in short supply as people pile on to a speculative story
You can't be fired from a job that doesn't exist.
Today has been a long day of hysterical headlines and wild overreaction to what basically amounts to a non-story, a re-confirmed detail that has been combined with one new piece of information, slathered in rumor, and then served up in a mixture that is designed to outrage and drive page views, but which seems to me to point out one of the fundamental flaws of entertainment "news" as a whole.
David Koepp was hired to write a sequel to "Snow White and the Huntsman." That's true. David Koepp is now moving on, presumably to some other high-profile job, as Universal tries to decide what, if anything, they're going to do with the script.
Let's imagine we lived in a world where "Snow White and the Huntsman" was a giant megahit and people were genuinely asking for a sequel. Let's imagine that in that version of the film, Kristen Stewart felt like an organic piece of the overall world and not a momentarily hot actress shoehorned into a franchise role that ill fits her. Let's imagine that there's a scandal involving her and the filmmaker and the studio decided to fire her as a way of scolding her for her sexual indiscretion while they reward the filmmaker with another job. That would be a situation worth reporting on, and it would be a fairly damning course of action by Universal Studios.
A frank conversation about the disconnect between critics and audiences is featured this week
We've had a strange run here at "The Motion/Captured Podcast."
Technical issues, scheduling problems, and any number of bone-headed moves on my part have made the podcast a highly irregular proposition, and considering it is a show that largely works without a regular format, I'm amazed that we had any episodes at all that actually held together.
Scott Swan is, of course, one of my oldest friends in the world and my screenwriting partner. Having him co-host the show with me made perfect sense because it allowed us to draw on the very real rapport that we have instead of me manufacturing some forced connection with someone else. Scott knows me as well as anyone in the world does, and I honestly can't imagine having done as many episodes as we've done if he hadn't been part of it.
There are some things about the show that have always bugged me, though, and I figured it's time for us to address those things. First and foremost for me, the format of the series never quite snapped into focus. I like keeping things casual and having conversations that just sort of ramble, but for the show to really work, we need to have central idea.
A few Tweets make it look like the director is moving on
And just like that, the promise of Joe Carnahan's gritty '70s-based take on "Daredevil" appears to be a thing of the past.
Word recently leaked about a proposed deal between Fox and Marvel that would have extended the life of the "Daredevil" option for Fox in exchange for them allowing Marvel to use some of the characters that are included in the various rights packages that Fox has under option, specifically Galactus, who is still bundled in with the "Fantastic Four" property.
It appears that will no longer be the case.
If you check out Carnahan's Twitter timeline, you can see the conversations he's been having for the last few days, and it certainly seemed like Daredevil was on his mind. At one point, he told a fan "DD fans would be very pleased if they saw the things I've seen of late. Very, VERY pleased…" He also discussed some of his own feelings about how to portray the character. "You have to deal with the fact that he IS blind," he told one person who brought up the idea of Daredevil's other senses being supercharged to such a degree that his blindness didn't matter. "He can't be super-charged and seeing 'sound' through walls. That's bulls**t."
Leslie Mann, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Anna Kendrick all talk about the process
As I said in my recent review, "ParaNorman" is an uncommonly beautiful stop-motion film, with some of the best character work I've ever seen in this sort of movie. Part of that is because of the advances Laika Studios has made in using laser-printers to sculpt the faces, and part of it is because they really worked with their cast to get something special.
I've had several opportunities to interview each of the featured cast members of "ParaNorman," so it was an incredibly relaxed and comfortable press day. That made it easier to immediately dig into the process that they went through to help bring these characters to life.
Leslie Mann is always fun to interview. She's always forthcoming and I've never seen her be anything less than full energy, no matter what film we're discussing. I have a feeling we're going to be having some long conversations soon about "This Is 40," and I wish I'd had a chance to see the new trailer before this interview just so we could cover that as well. We had plenty to talk about, though, just discussing "ParaNorman."