"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.
"Okay, I can't take you seriously right now because you're dancing with a robot."
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.
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.
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.
Rupert Everett had his breakthrough moment, commercially speaking, when he co-starred in "My Best Friend's Wedding" and stole every single scene he was in. It's a familiar story… someone has a big moment in a supporting role in a comedy and suddenly studios start developing material specifically for them to see if they can carry films on their own. Right now, Melissa McCarthy's having her moment like that, thanks to "Bridesmaids," and so far, thanks to the box-office of "Identity Thief" and "The Heat," it seems like it's working.
For Everett, the summer of 1997 was the moment when it all seemed possible, and one of the biggest projects that was developed for him was what Sony and Everett excitedly described as "a gay James Bond movie." He'd been working before that, and anyone who saw "Another Country" or "Dellamorte Dellamore" already knew what he was capable of, but "My Best Friend's Wedding" was a monster hit, and because Everett played a gay character in the film, that became the hook in trying to find him a big movie to do by himself. I'm not sure who worked on it with him, but at one point at least, Everett was writing it for himself.
When people complain that there are no great horror films coming out this October, they are wrong, because "12 Years A Slave" is flat-out terrifying, a beautifully-made, deeply-felt look at what it would feel like to wake up one morning in chains, your old identity simply wiped away, a life of bondage and servitude ahead, reinforced with brutal, nightmarish physical punishment.
Chewitel Ejiofor has been consistently great over the years, but this is one of those once-in-a-lifetime roles that an actor can't ever fully prepare to play. The opportunity presents itself, and it's either sink or swim. You have to throw yourself into it completely just to see what will happen, and Ejiofor shines here, finding every single grace note inherent to the story of Solomon Northup.
Director Steve McQueen has been revving up to this movie his entire career, and the work he does in this film is transcendent. To put it in a blunt sports metaphor, he doesn't just hit the home run, he tore the cover off the ball and set it on fire. There is a depth of emotion here that is harrowing at times, and yet McQueen exhibits such remarkable control, such a clean, focused sense of what story he's telling, that it becomes far more than the angry "CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS HAPPENED?" that it could have been.
Since the moment they announced that Chloe Moretz was set to star in Kimberly Peirce's "Carrie," I've been wondering about the casting. Moretz is a very talented and intuitive young actor, and I certainly don't think you cast people only to play themselves in films. But I do believe you cast to someone's strengths, and Moretz is so self-confident, so at home in her own skin, that she seems like strange casting for a character who is the very definition of bully-bait.
There's a protracted series of scenes in "Kick-Ass 2" where Mindy, aka Hit-Girl, has to contend with mean girls, a threat her father never taught her to handle. The way she finally handles them seems entirely within character, and she refuses to allow herself to be pushed by someone she sees as weaker than her. That seems like what we've come to expect from Moretz and the characters she plays.
Lars Von Trier is a big fat troublemaker.
That may, in fact, be part of why I love the guy. He seems perfectly happy to roll a hand grenade into a press conference just to see what will happen, even if it means he's going to get blackballed by the Cannes Film Festival. He doesn't seem like he's able to control himself, but that's part of what defines his work, and I don't think he could or should change.
Another thing that makes me love him is that I honestly believe awards are the last thing on his mind when he starts a new piece of work. He seems driven by his own particular sensibilities and his own particular interests, and he seems more than happy to make audiences so uncomfortable that they don't know how to react.
Now that David O. Russell has successfully revived his career and transformed himself into a "serious" Oscar-contender filmmaker, can we stop focusing only on the awards potential of his movies and get back to just enjoying what he does?
Admittedly, it is amazing that the guy who couldn't quite manage to finish the film "Nailed" has managed such a huge rebound. After all, there is no greater sin to the people who fund movies than wasting the budget of a film on something that never gets released and which has no way whatsoever to recoup the investment. For Russell, who already had a less-than-perfect reputation thanks to incidents around earlier films, including the infamous George Clooney scrap on the set of "Three Kings," to not just manage to recover from "Nailed," but manage to turn out a run of movies like "The Fighter," "Silver Linings Playbook," and now "American Hustle," seems like perhaps the single greatest recovery we've seen a filmmaker pull off.
Earlier today, Ellen Page sat down with a small group of reporters to discuss her work in the new game from Quantic Dreams Studios, "Beyond: Two Souls." I just got my copy of the game today and played a grand total of about twelve minutes while I was waiting to talk to her, but I can tell you already that anyone who played the game "Heavy Rain" will recognize many of that game's design ideas in this game, and there is no doubt when you look at it in motion that the lead character is meant to be Ellen Page.
We discussed the game, and I'll run that material for you tomorrow. First, though, I wanted to bring you a short bit from the end of our conversation. Right now, there's such a huge back-and-forth energy between Hollywood and the gaming community that I wanted to know if after this experience she would be willing to play her "X-Men" character for a game adaptation.