<p>Scarlett Johansson trolls for prey in Jonathan Glazer's hypnotic 'Under The Skin'</p>

Scarlett Johansson trolls for prey in Jonathan Glazer's hypnotic 'Under The Skin'

Credit: A24 Distribution

Review: Scarlett Johansson is riveting in Jonathan Glazer's hypnotic 'Under The Skin'

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It may not be to everyone's taste, but there's no other film this year like it

The first real film festival I ever attended was Sundance in 2001. I remember one of the mornings we were there, we had to get up earlier than normal to drive the hour to Park City so we could then stand in line for over an hour just on the off chance that maybe we could make it in to see a screening at 8:30 in the morning. It turned out to be well worth it, though, when we got to see the first screening of Jonathan Glazer's "Sexy Beast," which seemed to make good on the promise Glazer had shown as a filmmaker when making amazing music videos.

That was twelve years ago, and we're just now seeing Glazer's third film as a director. He seems to be one of those guys who would rather focus on something he loves than just make as many films as possible, and as a result, when he does release a new film, you can count on it being something that he sincerely means as an artist. He doesn't seem remotely interested in courting commercial favor, which must drive the money guys crazy, but as long as he can find people who are willing to pay for his dark and haunting visions, I'll happily line up to see them.

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<p>Here's where Scarlett Johansson tries to figure out why I seem to have developed a stutter while trying to say the word 'porn' in front of her.</p>

Here's where Scarlett Johansson tries to figure out why I seem to have developed a stutter while trying to say the word 'porn' in front of her.

Credit: HitFix

Scarlett Johansson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt on the roles of love and porn in 'Don Jon'

The two stars discuss the big idea behind their new romantic comedy

I'm not entirely sure how I managed to broach the subject of porn during a conversation with Scarlett Johansson without the authorities becoming involved, but it all seems to have worked out in the end.

I hate the term "romantic comedy," because nine times out of ten, the films described with that term are neither romantic nor particularly funny. I have written before about how I feel like most studio "romantic" films sell a disturbing idea of adult relationships, and many of the characters in these films seem to have been dropped onto the Earth from somewhere else, completely untaught in the ways normal human beings behave.

"Don Jon," which was both written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, seems inordinately wise about human behavior, and in particular, I was struck by the way the film draws a direct parallel between the porn that Jon (Gordon-Levitt) watches non-stop and the romantic comedies that Barbara (Johansson) invests in so fully. In both cases, the film argues, the person who watches is giving themselves unrealistic expectations, and they use the entertainment in place of real life instead of working to find something genuine that will fulfill them.

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<p>'Go ahead... tell me again that you didn't like the end of 'Lost'. I&nbsp;dare you.'</p>

'Go ahead... tell me again that you didn't like the end of 'Lost'. I dare you.'

Credit: Rough & Tumble Films

Review: Affectionate Jim Thompson homage 'We Gotta Get Out Of This Place' is criminally good

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Small-scale noir story still manages to pack a solid punch

The last film I saw at this year's Toronto Film Festival is also set to play Fantastic Fest in Austin, with the first screening set for this coming Sunday night. While a festival like Toronto is packed with so many giant titles that are given full publicity pushes by the studios releasing them, frequently drowning out anything anyone might write about smaller films, Fantastic Fest seems devoted to finding and showcasing the small gems. I expect "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" will do very well there, and I hope a canny distributor picks up this smart, brutal neo-noir, because it deserves an audience.

Written by Dutch Southern and directed by Simon and Zeke Hawkins, "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" tells a very familiar story in terms of the broad strokes. Sue (Mackenzie Davis) and B.J. (Logan Huffman) are a couple, which puts Bobby (Jeremy Allen White) in a tough spot. He's best friends with B.J., but he is madly in love with Sue. They all live in a very small Texas town, which means there's not a lot they can do to entertain themselves, leaving plenty of time for bad ideas. Both Bobby and Sue plan to leave for college just as soon as they can, and B.J. is starting to realize he's going to get left behind. One weekend, just for kicks, B.J. steals a fat stack of cash from the safe of Giff (Mark Pellegrino), the guy he and Bobby work for, and that sets off a chain of events that could destroy the fragile peace that they've all been working so hard to maintain.

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<p>Even if you're not crazy about the 3D, the clarity of the IMAX presentation of 'Wizard Of Oz' is dazzling, and a must-see for fans of the classic.</p>

Even if you're not crazy about the 3D, the clarity of the IMAX presentation of 'Wizard Of Oz' is dazzling, and a must-see for fans of the classic.

Credit: Warner Bros.

The renovated Chinese Theater showcases 'Wizard Of Oz' in 3D and IMAX

How does the new theater hold up after being reworked so completely?

Los Angeles has a shockingly bad track record when it comes to protecting its own history, especially when it comes to the grand movie palaces that were built to worship the movies that drive everything else in the city. You would think that if there is anyplace on Earth where theaters would be treated as important historical landmarks, it would be LA, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Even since I moved here in 1990, I've seen major changes, and few of them have been for the better. The Avco Theater in Westwood was used for years as a proof-of-concept house for pretty much every major breakthrough that Dolby made, so it was the first house anywhere with Dolby Stereo, the first house anywhere with Dolby surround, the first house anywhere to use Dolby Digital. Seeing "Jurassic Park" there in 1993, it was definitely the best sound out of any of the big LA engagements, and for some reason, not long after that, Avco cut the giant historic downstairs auditorium in half, creating two smaller theaters that both tilt towards what used to be the center of a giant curved screens. It was so wrong headed that it didn't surprise me when the theater finally closed completely. The National is gone now, despite that being a great house that could have used some renovation instead of just shuttering the place completely.

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Marvel's about to publish a huge crossover event called 'Inhumanity,' but could this all be laying groundwork for the films to figure out a way around the 'X-Men' mutant issue?
Marvel's about to publish a huge crossover event called 'Inhumanity,' but could this all be laying groundwork for the films to figure out a way around the 'X-Men' mutant issue?

Is Marvel planning for 'Inhumans' movies to make an end run around Fox's 'X-Men' rights?

A new rumor would certainly connect the dots on some recent Marvel choices

So far, Marvel Comics and Marvel Studios have been running things separately, and there's been almost no synchronicity between their storytelling. That's great because it means the writers and artists working on the comics aren't being forced to build the work they're doing around someone else's storyline, and it means that movie fans don't have to feel driven to read comics between the movies just to figure out what's going on.

That may be changing, though, and some recent rumors about the plans they have for Phase Three as well as some behind-the-scenes battles that have plagued the studio for the last few years raise some fascinating questions about the future of the studio.

As strange as it sounds, I'm not sure I'd put Stan Lee on the short list of credible sources when it comes to Marvel's upcoming plans. Sure, he has a cameo in everything they make, but I don't think he's consulted on anything they're doing. Still, he made a recent mention of several movies that he says are being developed right now by the studio, including the long-rumored "Black Panther," Kevin Feige's pet project "Doctor Strange," and, to the surprise of many, "Inhumans."

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<p>Right now, I have a feeling this is the only way you can see 'The Good Dinosaur,' but hopefully they'll fix that by November of 2015.</p>

Right now, I have a feeling this is the only way you can see 'The Good Dinosaur,' but hopefully they'll fix that by November of 2015.

Credit: Pixar

Two shuffled dates mean Pixar will go two full years between theatrical releases

'Good Dinosaur' moves to 2015 and pushes 'Finding Dory' back to 2016

Twenty-four solid months without a single Pixar film in theaters seems almost unthinkable.

At D23 Expo recently, Disney seemed like everything was full speed ahead on the Pixar slate, and they announced that "The Good Dinosaur" was set for release on May 30, 2014, with the highly-anticipated sequel "Finding Dory" set for November 25, 2015.

They still have a film set for November 25, 2015, but now it's "The Good Dinosaur," and unless something radical happens, that means "Inside Out" is the next movie the studio is releasing, and that comes a full two years after the release of "Monsters University." While Disney has plenty of major content brands under the larger umbrella of Disney these days, and they seem to be gearing up for something like nine Marvel movies a year, two years without a Pixar film sounds like a genuine crisis for the studio.

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<p>The Black Widow and Nightwing clean up pretty well, all things considered.</p>

The Black Widow and Nightwing clean up pretty well, all things considered.

Credit: HitFix

Gordon-Levitt and Johansson on the difference between superhero franchises and indie films

Is the process really any different for actors in the end?

There are certain faces that seemed to be ubiquitous at film festivals this year, and when one of those belongs to Scarlett Johansson, you will not catch me complaining about the situation.

I saw "Don Jon" at SXSW this year, and it is an uncommonly perceptive directorial debut by Joseph Gordon Levitt. He stars in the film which he also wrote, but it is the way he nails certain observations about the way everyone has their own fantasy they depend on to get them through that impressed me most. It is a very observant point that I would expect from an older writer.

In addition to making a number of smaller films this year that feed certain artistic needs for each of them, JGL and ScarJo both have experience now being part of these giant megafranchise superhero films that are the bread and butter of the Hollywood system at the moment. While Christopher Nolan's final Batman film was more divisive than the first two, I think one of the things that seemed to really speak to people was the work that Joseph Gordon Levitt did as a Gotham City police officer who didn't need a mask and a cave and a limitless arsenal to stand up and do what he believed was right. He was a moral compass in the film in a way I found really surprising, and I think he helped ground that last film.

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<p>'Midway the journey of this life, I became lost in a dark forest and had to use a giant bladed weapon to cut some generic ghost-demon-thingies in half'</p>

'Midway the journey of this life, I became lost in a dark forest and had to use a giant bladed weapon to cut some generic ghost-demon-thingies in half'

Credit: Electronic Arts

Fede Alvarez nears a deal to direct film based on 'Dante's Inferno' video game

Is the 'Evil Dead' director already losing momentum?

If we need a reminder about the place that video games hold in pop culture right now, just look at last night's midnight launch of "Grand Theft Auto V," which was just as big a moment as any of this summer's movie launches. The big titles remain big, and there is a fierce brand loyalty among gamers that has yet to be truly tested by Hollywood. They keep trying, but they keep getting it wrong, and I suspect there's plenty more of that in the future.

A perfect example would be the news today that Fede Alvarez, who directed this spring's "Evil Dead," is in talks now to sign on as the director of "Dante's Inferno." The game, released by Electronic Arts, is a shameless mash-up of "Devil May Cry" and "God Of War," and executed with all the subtlety of a fart in a microphone. Trust me… no one aside from the people who stand to make money off of it is asking for a movie version of "Dante's Inferno." The idea that there was a bidding war for the film rights, and the idea that Universal considers themselves the winners of that bidding war… baffling.

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<p>Anna Faris and Bill Hader return to the roles they played in the first 'Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs' for the very silly sequel.</p>

Anna Faris and Bill Hader return to the roles they played in the first 'Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs' for the very silly sequel.

Credit: HitFix

Bill Hader and Anna Faris get silly discussing their return for 'Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2'

It's safe to call the pair of them 'animated' in this interview

The first "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs" was a delightful surprise. I have since made note of the fact that I should never underestimate Chris Miller and Phil Lord, a mistake I've made enough times now to identify it as a mistake. Those guys are busy with "The LEGO Movie" these days, and they're gearing up on "22 Jump Street" as well, and if you saw last night's premiere of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," they directed that as well.

That didn't leave a lot of time for them to make a sequel to the movie that pretty much launched them as feature directors, so Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn stepped up to direct the sequel, which is more ambitious on a story level, as well as much, much stranger. Considering what a margin for failure there was on the first film, I found myself wondering if they could pull off a sequel. When I sat down to talk to Bill Hader and Anna Faris, it was a huge relief to be able to have enjoyed the sequel as much as I did. It's a different movie, but it builds on the pleasures of the first movie in very smart and enormously silly ways.

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<p>I like it when Arnold plays to his age instead of trying to disguise it, and I can't wait to see how Cameron pictures him for 'Avatar 2'</p>

I like it when Arnold plays to his age instead of trying to disguise it, and I can't wait to see how Cameron pictures him for 'Avatar 2'

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Report: Arnold Schwarzenegger joining Cameron for bad guy role in 'Avatar 2'

It would be a welcome reunion, and opens up some interesting possibilities

Let's say El Mayimbe is correct. Let's say James Cameron has officially told Arnold Schwarzenegger to get ready to spend a year in New Zealand to shoot his role in the "Avatar" sequels as a bad guy in charge of leading Earth's forces back to Pandora to kick some Navi ass. Let's say the deal is done, the dates are set, and it's happening. If we accept all of that as a given, then I'd say this is about as exciting as casting news gets.

I have not been flipping out over the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger to film after his time spent working in California state government. I liked "The Last Stand," sure, but I think he was the single most embarrassing thing about "The Expendables 2." I like many of the films he has starred in over the years, but I don't think he is the same person or the same actor today that he was in the '80s, and I don't think you can just step back in and pick up where you left off after a certain point in life. Arnold is older. He's physically different. He's gone through some pretty major life changes in that time. Why would we want him to try to be the same person he was 20 or even 30 years ago? I'd rather see him work with Cameron in some new way.

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