<p>Jessie The Cowgirl (Joan Cusack) teams up with Combat Carl (Carl Weathers) in Pixar's new 'Toy Story Of Terror'</p>

Jessie The Cowgirl (Joan Cusack) teams up with Combat Carl (Carl Weathers) in Pixar's new 'Toy Story Of Terror'

Credit: Pixar/ABC

Review: Pixar's 'Toy Story Of Terror' is a smart and funny addition to the series

HitFix
B+
Readers
B+
It's a short story, but focused and beautifully built

From the opening shot of the wallpaper with the familiar white-clouds-on-blue-sky motif to the exactly-right-genre-parody storytelling in the opening sequence to the way the story builds to a tremendously well-plotted payoff for both story and character, "Toy Story Of Terror" is a "Toy Story" story in every way, and should delight Pixar fans perennially now.

I love that this is now the Bonnie continuity, and I love the detail of watching TV in the car during a rainy drive. Awesome modern detail. Jessie is claustrophobic. That makes perfect sense after what we know from "Toy Story 2," but handled well here. It's easy to forget that she was completely and utterly insane in that film, mentally broken in a very scary way. Joan's work in the special is very, very good, and I always love the moments where things go very subtle.

The way the story unfolds and the way the toys talk about horror convention is fun and simple and makes sure that things don't get too scary for kids. Pricklepants gets to make an impression here since he's the one who knows how things are supposed to work. Timothy Dalton has never met a plate full of ham that he has not gleefully devoured, and I love him for it. He seems to relish the absurdity of playing a character named Pricklepants who speaks in such positively Shakespearean diction.

Read Full Post
<p>I have no idea what Paramount is worried about.</p>

I have no idea what Paramount is worried about.

Credit: Universal Pictures

Reports have Aronofsky and Paramount battling over Russell Crowe's 'Noah'

Whose vision will the final film ultimately represent?

Why would you hire Darren Aronofsky to make a Darren Aronofsky film unless you were ready to have the full Darren Aronofsky experience?

During a recent appearance on the podcast "How Did This Get Made?", I talked about how often we see long-time dream projects finally get realized on film only to turn out to be terrible. I'm not saying that will be the case with "Noah," but any studio that signs on to a film like that has to understand this isn't some mere case of work for hire. This is something that a filmmaker has lived with for decades now, and there are things he's going to have to do, test audiences be damned. When you agree to make a film like that, you have to assume it's going to be a wild ride, and when we hear reports of struggles in this situation, it baffles me because it seems like everyone involved should have seen that coming.

Read Full Post
<p>I'm not sure if Agent Coulson is a clone or not on 'Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.', but I'm 100% sure that Jemma Simmons is played by 23-year-old Jennifer Garner.</p>

I'm not sure if Agent Coulson is a clone or not on 'Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.', but I'm 100% sure that Jemma Simmons is played by 23-year-old Jennifer Garner.

Credit: ABC/Marvel Studios

Review: Is every week going to see Coulson's past come back on 'Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.'?

The fourth episode already starts to cover familiar ground

With the announcement that Marvel has four more dramatic series and a mini-series that it is developing, it is clear that television is the next beachhead for them. They are planning to make a major impact, and so it is fair to look at "Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D." as a first indication of how they think about TV.

One of the main complaints so far is that it feels like a TV show from the '80s, before the recent push towards a greater sense of realism and character writing, and it's true… no one is going to mistake this for HBO's version of a Marvel Comics show, but it seems like they're trying to build something that fits, in terms of tone, neatly alongside the movies. That can't be easy when you realize how much less money they have in general. So far, it is a conventional TV show with just a bit of sass to it, and if they can turn it into something even better than that, I'll be excited. So far, it doesn't transcend that description at all, but I'm not sure I expected it would.

The fourth episode, called "Eye-Spy," kicks off in Sergel's Square in Stockholm, Sweden, when a group of men in red featureless masks and identical suits calmly march into the square, all carrying briefcases. A young woman wearing headphones seems to get some sort of read off of them when they walk by, and she falls in behind them as they head for the subways. When they all file onto a train, she gets on after them. She's openly watching them by this point, and slowly, they all seem to become aware of her.

Read Full Post
<p>Judy Greer wins for 'Most Gleefully Playful Interview' for 2013 for me, I think.</p>

Judy Greer wins for 'Most Gleefully Playful Interview' for 2013 for me, I think.

Credit: HitFix

Judy Greer quotes 'Archer' and confesses her fear of teenage girls in 'Carrie'

Watch how happy this interview makes me

When you discuss "movie stars," the real definition has to do with both commercial bankability and overall appeal, and it's a term that can be abused wildly. I also think it's too restrictive, because there are tons of actors who may not be the name that you put on a poster or the name that gets something financed, but audiences who love them love them wildly because, film after film and show after show, they make choices that stand out, or they take ordinary dialogue and spin it in just the right way, or because we just plain like to see what they do.

That's Judy Greer all over. From her breakthrough role as Fern in "Jawbreaker" to memorable smaller appearances in "Three Kings" and "What Planet Are You From" and "What Women Want" to bigger appearances in "13 Going On 30" and "Adaptation" and "The Village," she built a reputation as someone who could take even a thankless role as "the best friend" and turn it into something that stands out. I've been a fan for so long now that it seems crazy to me that even as recently as 2008, in "27 Dresses," she was still considered something of a discovery for many viewers. It was her work in "The Descendants" that seems to have kicked open some bigger doors for her, and I'm always rooting for filmmakers to give her something great to do.

Read Full Post
<p>I wish SAG had passed a rule demanding that Scatman Crothers be in every film ever during his lifetime, because he was pretty much the best.</p>

I wish SAG had passed a rule demanding that Scatman Crothers be in every film ever during his lifetime, because he was pretty much the best.

Credit: Warner Bros

Review: Stephen King's 'Shining' sequel sees Danny Torrence burning bright as adult

An excellent structure makes this one of King's tighest stories in years

"His daddy had been a scary man, and how that little boy had loved him."

- Stephen King, "Doctor Sleep"

There is something deeply broken at the heart of "Doctor Sleep," Stephen King's sequel to one of his single greatest works, "The Shining." In the early part of King's publishing career, there was a sort of white-hot intensity to it all, like he had to get it out of his head, onto the page, into the minds of his readers.

When I just recently spoke with Kimberly Peirce about her new adaptation of "Carrie," we talked about the voice of that book and the insistent, urgent nature of it. King seemed like these voices were pouring out of him, and when you read "The Shining" today, it is amazing how white-hot passionate it is. There are few books to ever deal more effectively with the way anger and addiction can rot away a marriage, and even without the involvement of the supernatural, "The Shining" would be a powerfully disturbing read.

Read Full Post
<p>I&nbsp;hope 'Encyclopedia Brown' spends most of his upcoming film just quoting the works of Irvine Walsh</p>

I hope 'Encyclopedia Brown' spends most of his upcoming film just quoting the works of Irvine Walsh

Credit: Phase 4 Films

Will Warner's 'Encyclopedia Brown' deal with school shootings and bullies?

The writer/director of 'The Dirties' is writing it now, so it's a fair question

I just recently reviewed "The Dirties," a film by Matthew Johnson, and I thought it was a smart and even-handed look at how easy it is, even in today's more aware environment, for the seriously broken and the deeply angry to plan and execute an attack on others. We love to tell ourselves that after 9/11 and Columbine and every other breach of our public safety in the last fifteen to twenty years that we have changed and we are safer and we are being more careful now. Nonsense, of course, and "The Dirties" was very good about showing the way people play into these breakdowns and the way bullying culture is allowed and even enabled.

To call him an unconventional choice to write "Encyclopedia Brown" is an understatement. I'm not actually sure what name recognition value there is in "Encyclopedia Brown" these days. My third grader reads a similar series assigned by his school called the "Jigsaw Jones" mysteries. Makes sense. Kids still do jigsaw puzzles, so the idea of a puzzle being something you have to piece together is a reference they'll get. An "encyclopedia," though, is pretty much an unknown idea to them. While I enjoyed the Donald Sobol books when I was young, I never really had any illusions about them being great stories or particularly character-driven.

Read Full Post
<p>I&nbsp;don't care what anyone says... Danny McBride's 'Nymphomaniac' poster is the best one.</p>

I don't care what anyone says... Danny McBride's 'Nymphomaniac' poster is the best one.

Credit: HBO

Review: Kenny faces temptation in this week's 'Eastbound & Down'

Are they setting Kenny up for some real pain later this season?

"Okay, I can't take you seriously right now because you're dancing with a robot."

The third episode of what is rapidly evolving into my favorite season of "Eastbound and Down" deals primarily with the relationship between Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) and his wife April (Katy Mixon). From the opening scene in the parking lot after last week's triumphant "Sports Sesh" appearance to the final moments with Kenny and April laying in the early morning sun in a hotel room, everything this week examines why these two people are together and why it works.

One of the things I love most about "Eastbound" is the way they pick the still for each week's opening title, and this week's was a complete winner. Katy Mixon's smile and her brilliantly dismissive "See you later, pumpkin!" in the midst of Steve Little's insane hand-shattering meltdown pretty much sums up right away how much deranged fun this season has been so far.

And if there's not a gallery of every one of those title card images, there should be. Get on that, Internet.

Read Full Post
<p>Regrettably, it seems Nicholas Hoult, James McAvoy, and Hugh Jackman will have to sex you up in regular 24 FPS 3D for next summer's 'X-Men:&nbsp;Days Of Future Past.'</p>

Regrettably, it seems Nicholas Hoult, James McAvoy, and Hugh Jackman will have to sex you up in regular 24 FPS 3D for next summer's 'X-Men: Days Of Future Past.'

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Sources say 'X-Men' will not appear in a 48 FPS 'Days Of Future Past'

It would be a huge moment for HFR if it happened

Despite Ain't It Cool's two sources saying that "X-Men: Days Of Future Past" is set to be released in the relatively new 48 FPS "HFR" process, multiple sources close to the production emphatically refuted those claims this morning. No one was willing to offer us any official comment at this time, but it was quite telling that one person I reached out to had not yet heard the story and another, when I explained it, seemed unsure what HFR was. Even the studio seemed a little surprised and confused by the story overall when contacted about it, hardly the slick denial that they normally have ready when they're not yet prepared to announce something.

To be clear, 20th Century Fox is not planning to release "X-Men: Days Of Future Past" in the HFR process.

If it were true, it would be big news. Right now, Peter Jackson is still the only major studio filmmaker who has been willing to shoot and release something in the format, and the response to last year's "Hobbit" release had me wondering if they were even going to bother putting out the other two films in the trilogy that way.

After all, it's one thing to release your movie in 2D and 3D. The post-production pipeline has been somewhat set up to accommodate those two choices. But 48 FPS is a whole new animal, and a far more aggressive aesthetic decision. I think there's absolutely room for HFR to be a part of big-budget blockbuster filmmaking, and it really does transform the experience completely. I'm personally happy that Dolby Atmos seems to be something the entire industry is starting to embrace, and much more emphatically than with HFR, because it's just as important that we continue to push the sound experience forward.

Read Full Post
<p>Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with the least likely suspect, but she turns out to be exactly what he needs in the new Spike Jonze film 'Her'</p>

Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with the least likely suspect, but she turns out to be exactly what he needs in the new Spike Jonze film 'Her'

Credit: Warner Bros

Review: Phoenix and Johansson make magic in 'Her'

HitFix
A
Readers
n/a
An unconventional romance packs a hefty human punch

One of the reasons Spike Jonze remains so interesting as a filmmaker is because each individual piece of art he creates seems to exist in its own world, and only when you set it all next to each other and consider the full range of what he creates do you get a full picture of just how emotionally rich and complicated his body of work really is. I'm almost glad I hadn't seen all of "Her" yet when we spoke at this year's Toronto Film Festival, because I think I might have been too emotional to fully articulate my reaction at that point.

Jonze can certainly indulge his goofball side with very silly things, but he has also made movies that contain devastating endings, broken-hearted masterworks that clobber the audience with a bracingly direct quality. I would argue that "Being John Malkovich" could be on a short list of the very saddest endings of all time. I remember being horrified by it the first time I saw it and wondering why more people weren't just battered by the suggestion of Cusack's fate, of the hell his daily life would be living silently trapped behind someone else's eyes. "Adaptation" was one of the most complicated and difficult emotional reactions I've ever had to a movie, and it took me a long time to work my way up a second viewing. And then "Where The Wild Things Are"… well, we've said enough about that.

Read Full Post
<p>Moore's all smiles when she's talking about the role, but she is stripped down and intense as the mother of the title character in 'Carrie'</p>

Moore's all smiles when she's talking about the role, but she is stripped down and intense as the mother of the title character in 'Carrie'

Credit: HitFix

Julianne Moore on how she avoided making the horrifying mother in 'Carrie' a cartoon

A frank conversation about how she approached playing such an iconic role

Julianne Moore has made a career out of playing both enormous strength and agonizing fragility. She has a great range, and the role of Margaret White, mother to the damaged and destructive Carrie White, seems like it might test both extremes in that personality.

At the press day for "Carrie" last weekend, I was more than happy to sit down with Moore to discuss how she approached the role. There are so many challenges that are inherent to the material, and so few ways to get it exactly right. For example, Margaret is a religious fanatic, a hardcore fundamentalist whose own worldview is a big part of the reason Carrie is so ill-equipped to deal with the world at large. She is obviously damaged, and so while her beliefs may look extreme or even insane, you can't just make her a "bad guy." It's not that easy, and especially when the role has been played once before by the great Piper Laurie in a way that is positively iconic.

Read Full Post