Oh, Speed Racer, you got dark, didn't you?
Before the cameras started rolling, Emile Hirsch and I had a chat about the way "Speed Racer" is slowly but surely growing in reputation, thanks in large part to the younger viewers who saw it and who are going to revisit the film many times as they get older. Hirsch told me he's certainly heard from young fans more and more, and he seemed pleased to hear that the film is not fading. I know that for my own kids, it's one of the films that are just part of their ongoing canon, in the regular rotation, and beloved.
Hirsch has made interesting choices so far in his career, and I'm glad to see him working with someone like William Friedkin. I think Hirsch has real talent, and maybe the commercial failure of "Speed Racer" was the best thing for him. I'm not sure he'd survive a steady diet of giant tentpole films. It seems like he's far more interested in exploring the darker, stranger corners of filmmaking, and that he's good at it.
I interviewed him for "Speed," and for "Into The Wild," and he seems to be a different person each time we come back together to discuss a new film. I think he's the sort of guy who really internalizes these experiences he has, and he's still pretty young, still developing into the actor he'll eventually be.
The latest addition to a great cast makes this a project worth watching
I don't really work in the world of world of Oscar prognostication, but I think i'd be willing to put down a few dollars that "Saving Mr. Banks" is going to be a serious player when it's released in 2013. I've read the script by Kelly Marcel, and it's kind of great.
I'm fascinated by stories about Walt Disney, anyway, because he was such a great public figure, such a careful controller of his own image, and I think there are movies to be made about him. I'd love to see a film that's just about his relationship with Kurt Russell, Annette Funicello, Tommy Kirk, Jodie Foster… the Disney kids over the years. I'd love to see a film about the early days of trying to build his studio. I'd love to see a film about how hard he worked to realize his dreams of theme parks before anyone really had any idea what the hell he was talking about.
Just in time for Christmas, the ultimate Potter collection arrives on Blu-ray and DVD
Harry Potter is still a big deal. Just so we're clear.
I'm amazed at the sheer weight of a set like the one announced by Warner Bros Home Video today. I'd imagine this thing has be heavy enough to crush one of my kids, just based on the description of it. 31 discs. I think that's the largest movie set I've ever seen.
It's fitting, though. The world that JK Rowling created still seems to have its hooks in people completely, and a collection like this feels like a fitting way to wrap it all up for people who loved these movies. I'm probably okay just owning the eight films, but I'm not a maniac for Potter the way some people are, and for them, this has got to be an exciting announcement.
We knew Warner was planning this, but we didn't realize what the five hours of new bonus materials would entail. The full details were finally released today, and if you're on the fence about committing nearly $500 to a collector's set, check out the full list that Warner Bros. sent over. And since, according to Rowling's writing, today would be Harry Potter's 32nd birthday, it seems like a perfect time for Potter fans to celebrate.
The co-screenwriter gives us a glimpse at why the movie is so smart
Rashida Jones was already annoyingly cool to begin with. The daughter of Peggy Lipton and Quincy Jones? Awesome. Gorgeous? Definitely. Tremendously funny on shows like "The Office" and "Parks and Recreation"? Yep. So now she's also written a movie that turns out to be smart and funny and wise about relationships? Good lord, Rashida, is there anything you can't do?
When we sat down during a recent press day for "Celeste and Jesse Forever," we covered a fair amount of ground in just a few minutes. We talked about the very real widow that seems to be represented in the way her film, co-written with Will McCormack and directed by Lee Toland Krieger, looks at the difficulties that come from trying to stay friends with someone after you've failed at romantic intimacy, but which also looks at just how hard it is to maintain any friendship after a certain age or even make new friends.
She's also very aware of the way people react to her past work. I talked to her about my wife's ongoing reaction to her role on "The Office" several seasons ago, and she seems like she's heard that reaction before.
Two 3D movies, Rob Zombie, and Barry Levinson? What a year
I was already excited for Toronto. The Midnight Madness selection this year just pushes that excitement into a low-grade sustained mania that is going to make August seem very, very slow no matter what.
With this morning's announcement of the Midnight Madness line-up, I now have a pretty good picture of my September firmly in place. Even the film I've already seen from the line-up has gone through a serious post-production process since the Sundance premiere, and I'm excited to see how "John Dies At The End" has come together.
It's a very diverse schedule this year, and I remain impressed with the breadth of what Colin Geddes programs each year. He's determined to give audiences a wild ten-day ride that they can't predict, and looking at this year's slate, I'm guessing it will be another amazing experience. In today's press release, Geddes said, "Audiences clamouring for this highly anticipated lineup can expect wild rides and crazy adventures into the most chimerical and wicked worlds imaginable.”
He went on to add, “Expect everything from outrageous horror comedies to mock-doc eco- apocalypse thrillers, featuring trans-dimensional bugs, lewd Catholic priests, meat monsters and dog-napping psychopaths that will animate the Ryerson Theatre when the clock chimes 12.”
An actor reinvents himself midstream, and we talk to him about why hes doing it
At the end of our interview, I had a chance to talk to Matthew McConaughey for a few moments with the camera off, and I told him how I tend to judge his movies first and foremost on the inclusion of a whole-hearted "Alright, alright, alright." When I hear that, I know I'm in for something special, and hearing it in "Magic Mike" earlier this summer almost made me applaud in the theater.
"I only use it when I feel it's appropriate," he said. "Sometimes I only manage to work in an 'alright,' and I have to be content with that. But going back to 'Dazed and Confused,' that has always been something that feels right for certain characters, and I do… I like to break it out."
He must be walking around the house repeating it over and over and over this year, then, because McConaughey is having one of the very best years he's ever had as an actor. His work in Richard Linklater's "Bernie" earlier this year not only reunited him with a director he loves, but it also gave him a great eccentric supporting role to play.
With his 'G.I. Joe' still struggling towards release, it seems like a gamble to us
When I was on the set of "G.I. Joe: Retaliation," I had a chance to talk to Jon M. Chu about his approach to the sequel and to the world of "G.I. Joe" in general. While that set visit remains embargoed, probably forever thanks to the post-production convulsions the film is going through, I think it's safe to report that Chu struck me as an '80s kid through and through, sincere about his love of everything involved in a "G.I. Joe" movie.
It's also probably safe to say that any kid who grew up with "G.I. Joe" as a regular part of his diet also was well aware of "He-Man" and "Transformers," the other two corners in the '80s afternoon cartoon pyramid. I was too old for all three, but it seems that they marked the kids who watched them deeply, and at this point, it goes beyond nostalgia. It's just part of their pop culture DNA, and so it makes sense that you'd want an '80s kid to come in to direct "Masters Of The Universe" for Sony and Escape Artist. You want someone who's going to take this seriously, who has a love of the characters and the world already firmly in place, and who can find the right tone for what could easily be straight-up ridiculous.
One of the most in-demand actors in Hollywood also happens to be one of the nicest
When I sat down to speak with Bryan Cranston on Friday, I told him that, based on the comments I hear from everyone else who does this same video interview circuit, he may well be one of the most universally liked interview subjects out there today.
And why not? Here's a guy who was a working actor for decades who is finally having that moment where he is getting near-universal praise for his work and who is in demand in a way that few actors ever experience, and he seems genuinely grateful for the experience and, beyond that, aware of just how unusual it is. When you sit down with Cranston, you can count on a real interview. You can count on real answers. You can count on a guy who wants to be in that chair, who actually thinks about what he's going to say instead of just spitting out a stock answer.
Cranston was at the press day to talk about his work as Cohaagen, the main antagonist in the remake of "Total Recall" that opens on Friday. In the Paul Verhoeven film, the role was played by Ronny Cox, and I love that Cranston goes out of his way to talk about his regard for Cox and his work in the film. That's one actor paying lovely tribute to another actor that he obviously thinks highly of, and it's just one more reason to like Cranston.
A clever conceit allows for a bigger body count in the sequel
When "Mission: Impossible 3" was released, the thing I enjoyed most about it was the way it took a convention of the series and spun an entire bad guy plot out of that. In almost every episode of "Mission: Impossible," the team would grab some low-level nobody, knock him out, tie him up, and use their magic elastic masks to steal the guy's face. Hunt's mistake in the movie was doing that to Philip Seymour Hoffman, who decided to pay him back. It would be like a "Star Trek" film where the bad guy was some anonymous red shirt who was pissed off because Kirk left him for dead on an alien planet.
When I look at the trailer for "Taken 2," it feels like the same sort of interesting riff on the conventions of the genre, and I really like the set-up. In the first "Taken," Liam Neeson killed about 10,000 dudes who were all part of the same criminal organization. It's pretty standard action movie behavior, but what seems new is the idea that those guys actually mattered to someone, and so in this film, we see them strike back at him. It's very personal, and unlike a sequel like "Die Hard 2," where pure coincidence is the only thing that brings John McClane back into the action, this is very much a reaction to what John Taken (or whatever the hell Liam Neeson's name was in the first film) did.
Strong revival programming also features heavily in this batch of titles
It's the most wonderful tiiiiiime of the year.
Sure, most people sing that phrase as part of a Christmas carol, but for me, September is the month when I get all my presents, and once again, it's looking like it's going to be a month overstuffed with pleasure.
Last week, we heard the first batch of titles that were announced for the Toronto International Film Festival, an amazing overabundance of movies I am absolutely dying to see. That's what Toronto normally is for me, a collection of things I've already heard about that I'm eager to finally lay eyes on, while Fantastic Fest tends to be the opposite. That's more about me discovering films I've never heard of and would otherwise never see, and I simply trust that the programming team, which has done an amazing job each and every year so far, is going to once again lay out a buffet of amazing treats that I'm going to savor.
This morning, we've got the official announcement of the first wave of titles, and while I don't recognize many of them, it sounds like a really weird batch of titles. Sure, they announced that "Frankenweenie" would open the fest recently, but there's a lot of truly low-budget and obscure titles mixed into some amazing revival titles in this announcement. In other words, it sounds like Fantastic Fest.
Have I mentioned that I can't wait?