Who is The Collector, and what the hell is he doing in the middle of the credits of "Thor: The Dark World"?
That question, or some variation on it, has been hammering my e-mail inbox all weekend long, and I was asked it by my kids as soon as the movie ended as well. I've seen a fair number of people complaining that the scene is "pointless." While most of the Phase One post-credits tags were concerned with laying groundwork leading to "The Avengers," Marvel's playing a different game this time around, and one that's not as easy for mainstream audiences to get immediately.
After all, it's easy to understand what it means when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) shows up and asks each of the Marvel characters to join something called The Avenger Initiative. Makes sense, and even if you're not sure what the Avenger Initiative is, you get that there's a program and Sam Jackson's the man in charge and he needs a bunch of superheroes.
Considering how little we've seen of Marvel's cosmic side on film so far, it's not surprising people are unsure what to make of the scene that appears about a minute and a half into the credits for "Thor: The Dark World." From this point on, we're going to be talking in very explicit spoilers with some speculation factored in.
Who is The Collector, and what the hell is he doing in the middle of the credits of "Thor: The Dark World"?
If this is what rock bottom looks like, Kenny Powers may never learn his lesson.
Last week's episode concluded with a brutally ugly implosion between Kenny and April, and I wrote at that point that I can't imagine how this marriage is fixed after something that awful. This week made it clear that while Kenny expects there to be a magic reset button, that does not appear to be the case. April wants out of the marriage, and she wants to try to wrap things up without causing each other any more pain. Kenny, on the other hand, reminds me of a Randy Newman song with the way he's behaving this week.
"I ran out on my children / And I ran out on my wife / Gonna run out on you too, baby / I done it all my life / Everybody cried the night I left / Well, almost everybody did / My little boy just hung his head / And I put my arm, put my arm around his little shoulder / And this is what I said: / 'Sonny, I just want you to hurt like I do / I just want you to hurt like I do / I just want you to hurt like I do / Honest I do, honest I do, honest I do'"
It's not unusual these days for websites that cover comic books to have a fair amount of movie-related material that they generate, but it's less common for gaming sites. I guess we're going to have to get used to that, though, as more and more of the big giant gaming properties start to get adapted and studios try to handle publicity in different ways. I don't mind going to Comic-Con to cover movie news for you guys, but for the next few years, are we also going to have to adapt to going to BlizzCon as well?
Over at Kotaku, one of my favorite gaming blogs, they were covering BlizzCon anyway, and they ended up putting together a pretty great overview of what we might expect from "Warcraft" when Legendary Pictures and Universal release the film in 2015.
Duncan Jones is directing the movie, and I'm eager to see him working on a big canvass. He's a smart director with a strong visual sensibility and an FX-oriented background, and more importantly, he's someone who genuinely loves gaming and that culture and who seems to want to do right by the property he's adapting. At this point, you can't really ask more.
"Out Of The Furnace" opens with an act of casual brutality that is shocking, and it establishes Woody Harrelson as a great white shark, just swimming along, poised for carnage as soon as he smells blood, and there is plenty of blood just waiting to be spilled in this film.
Brad Ingelsby went from insurance sales to working writer when he had a massive spec sale in 2008 for what was then called "The Low Dweller." Ridley Scott was immediately set to direct the film, and Leonardo DiCaprio was the first person attached to star in the film. And while both Scott Free and Appian Way are still listed as production companies on what is now called "Out Of The Furnace," this is something that Relativity Media and Ryan Kavanaugh are personally deeply invested in. Forget the life-changing amount of money they paid to Ingelsby for the spec in the first place, or the bet they're making that Scott Cooper is going to follow up "Crazy Heart" with another awards contender… this is one of those movies that you can tell a company would like to have define what they are and what they'll make.
In just a few minutes of screentime, Adam Driver positively crushes it playing a small role in "Inside Llewyn Davis," and I can't wait to see the film again in no small part because I want to see that sequence again. Driver's been a busy man lately, and I suspect that it's just a matter of time until most audiences have seen him in at least one thing.
"Girls" may be a big hit in terms of coverage, but it has been written about far more than it has actually been watched. More than anything, I'm guessing "Girls" has helped put him on the radar of other filmmakers, and now we're going to start seeing much more of him. He's one of the stars of "This Is Where I Leave You," the ensemble comedy by Shawn Levy adapting Jonathan Tropper's novel, and he was in both "The F Word" and "Tracks" at this year's Toronto Film Festival. He was also seen recently in both "Lincoln" and "Frances Ha," all of which indicates that both major commercial filmmakers and respected indie voices are paying attention to Driver's work.
While "Saving Mr. Banks" is based on the actual events that led to the making of "Mary Poppins," one of the most justifiably beloved films made during the entire time Walt Disney was the actual head of the studio that still bears his name, it is corporate myth-making on a large scale, and some of the choices that were made in telling the story make me uncomfortable. As a piece of entertainment, "Saving Mr. Banks" is very well-made and emotional, but as something that purports to be true, it is disturbing in the way it rewrites actual events.
P.L. Travers, creator of the character Mary Poppins, was a complicated figure by any standards, nearly as complicated as the most famous character she created, and her relationship with Walt Disney was contentious, to say the least. The script by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith covers the broad strokes of their famous interaction and the film makes some very smart observations about the creative process. In particular, Emma Thompson's portrayal of Travers is filled with lovely grace notes, and I'm sure at least part of that is informed by the fact that Thompson is a formidable writer in her own right. She understands the highs and lows of being a writer, and she captures the emotional weather that most writers face in pretty much every moment she's onscreen.
Yes, Jennifer Lawrence has a new haircut.
And, yes, it's freakin' adorable.
One of the reasons people seem to like Lawrence on an almost chemical level is because she seems to present the "real" Jennifer Lawrence in any interview you see, something that is not easy to do. There is a very real and understandable drive to protect some degree of your privacy when you are a public figure, and I don't blame anyone for doing their best to guard parts of themselves.
But Lawrence, simply by virtue of how she carries herself, makes it seem like she's got nothing to hide and no filter with which to hide it. She is outspoken and charming and very direct about things. It helps when she's comfortable, and at this point, I think it's safe to say that she's comfortable when it comes to speaking about anything regarding "The Hunger Games."
What does a December release mean for a "Star Wars" film?
In practical terms, nothing. The film is the film. There won't be any difference in the film just because they're releasing it on a different date. But in terms of sentiment, it's a huge deal for "Star Wars" fandom, and more than anything, this would seem to announce clearly that this is not all going to be out doing everything the same way it's always been done.
Recently, there was word of a behind-the-scenes struggle between Robert Iger and Kathleen Kennedy over the release date of "Star Wars: Episode VII," with the producer pushing for a possible 2016 release. A December date in 2015 seems to be the best possible compromise, giving director JJ Abrams and his entire creative team more room to get the script ready and put the right amount of polish on the universe.
The release of a new film by Joel and Ethan Coen is one of those moments that I like to savor each time it happens precisely because none of us have any idea how many more of them we'll get. I feel like they have been on an amazing run recently, and if anything, they're getting more daring, more controlled, more impressive. Their films have a thematic density that is dazzling, and they never seem to be struggling to make something "important," instead simply following their own peculiar muse to consistently interesting effect.
Oscar Isaac stars as Llewyn Davis, a folk singer struggling at the fringe of the scene in Greenwich Village in 1961, and he's facing a moment that any artist who does not find immediate success must face at some point, the question of whether or not to continue working in a field where you are frustrated. Llewyn survives thanks to a complicated economy based on free cigarettes, sleeping on couches, and showing up somewhere just in time to get invited to stay for dinner, and he seems like he's on the verge of breaking through to real success. After all, he sees it happening to the people around him. His friends Jim (Justin Timberlake) and Jean (Carey Mulligan) are a real draw as a duo, and he feels like he's very close to having a moment of his own if he can just play the right gig.
"Young-adult literature" did not technically exist when I was a young reader, so it's kind of amazing to see just how huge a piece of the publishing pie the broad genre has become. I've been trying to decide what I think the definition of a young adult novel is, and I think the best version of it has to do with fiction that captures that moment where someone is wrestling with their identity and defining their place in the world. It often seems to be concerned with someone learning a sense of personal responsibility, and while the general trappings of the genre can be ridiculous and exaggerated, like zombies and vampires and werewolves, there is something genuine that they seem to address when they're done well.
Meg Rosoff's "How I Live Now" was well reviewed and won several awards, and while it was a success, no one would ever look at this and think that it's going to become the next "Twilight" or "Hunger Games." Wisely, instead of trying to shoehorn Rosoff's small and delicate book into the wrong shape, the script by Jeremy Brock, Tony Grisoni, and Penelope Skinner is a modestly-scaled story, and Kevin Macdonald has made a movie that feels like a largely internal journey, a window into the heart of Daisy (Saoirse Ronan), an angry girl who is on the verge of becoming an angry woman before she is sent for a summer to a relative's farm. It's often melodramatic to call something "life-changing," but that's very true in this case, and it's handled with genuine grace and subtlety.