Film Nerd 2.0: What 'War Of The Worlds' and 'The Parent Trap' have in common
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Film Nerd 2.0: What 'War Of The Worlds' and 'The Parent Trap' have in common

This is not what I expected when I started showing the boys Tom Cruise movies

I am not sure I expected that watching "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" would lead to my deepest conversation so far with my kids about divorce.

Leave it to Tom Cruise.

Not long ago, Toshi was pushing for more movies about spies. Anything, really. He has been reading about spies since I showed him his first Bond film almost two years ago, and since most of that series is inappropriate for him, he's been chafing, desperate to see something new.

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POS/OMG

When I was picking up my screeners from the HitFix office yesterday, I started to sort them to try to decide what I would watch first, and I put "Locke," Steven Knight's film starring Tom Hardy, near the top of the stack.

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Sixteen and counting...

Things change quickly sometimes, and that was certainly the case this week for me. Instead of heading to London, I found myself stymied when it came to actually laying hands on my passport. Even now, two days later, I have no idea where it went, so I am in LA enjoying the rains and making my last big push to catch up on films before we lock our top ten lists for the year here at HitFix.

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Warner sets a superstar cast for the decidedly risky 'Suicide Squad' movie
Credit: Alex Ross Art

Warner sets a superstar cast for the decidedly risky 'Suicide Squad' movie

While Zack Snyder is busy playing with the most recognizable action figures in the Warner Bros. playset, it appears that David Ayer is the one making the most unlikely DC film announced so far, with a cast that is, frankly, insane.

There have been rumors about who might play what for several months now, but today, it appears to be official, and I am genuinely surprised. I know that there are three names that end up on any short list at Warner at this point, and I assumed that's why we heard their names in the mix on this movie. Instead, all three of them are actually in the film, and Ayer is suddenly the guy in charge of what could be one of the biggest and strangest movies of the modern comic book era.

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Ryan O'Neal and Malcolm McDowell butt heads over memories of Stanley Kubrick
Credit: HitFix

Ryan O'Neal and Malcolm McDowell butt heads over memories of Stanley Kubrick

Video interview on 'Masterpiece Collection' box set

Every once in a while, I open an e-mail and just start laughing at what kind of opportunities I'm given.

When someone asks if you want to spend time with Ryan O'Neal, Malcolm McDowell, and Leon Vitali to discuss working with Stanley Kubrick, there's only one correct answer to that. Of course. Absolutely. The interview was arranged to help promote the release of "Stanley Kubrick: The Masterpiece Collection," a new Blu-ray box set that includes eight of his films, a new documentary about the legendary filmmaker, a new hardcover book, and a whole mess of extra features that have been assembled from other earlier releases.

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Good girl movies are hard to find

One of the hardest things to find to recommend to people are films that impart genuinely good messages or role models for girls. One of my best friends is raising a daughter who is an engaged film fan, and it was a real treat to be able to invite them to the "Mockingjay" premiere recently. For the most part, though, it doesn't feel like Hollywood has them in mind when its creating most of the big genre fare that's released each year, and finding something that I can pass along can sometimes feel like an exercise in futility.

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Review: Angelina Jolie's 'Unbroken' is beautifully made but oddly hollow
Credit: Universal Pictures
B-

Review: Angelina Jolie's 'Unbroken' is beautifully made but oddly hollow

Nuclear force talent, struggles to survive, mundane telling

When Angelina Jolie got the job directing "Unbroken," the new film about Louie Zamperini and his WWII experience, she immediately started hiring the very best people she could possibly hire. Roger Deakins is her photographer. The score is by Alexandre Desplat. William Goldenberg and Tim Squyres cut it. Designed by Jon Hutman. And the list of screenwriters who share final credit for adapting the book by Laura "Seabiscuit" Hillenbrand? Amazing. A murderer's row. Joel and Ethan Coen. Richard LaGravenese. William Nicholson. Nuclear force talent.

Here's where I tell you that I have not read Hillenbrand's book, nor was I especially familiar with Zamperini's story before I sat down in the theater yesterday. Anything I write, I'm writing about the film and the way his story is presented here, not about the real guy, who evidently touched a lot of lives. I want to be clear about that because it always feels like a tricky line to walk when you're talking about based-on-a-true-story movies. When I look at the collaborators that Jolie put together or I read any interview she's given about the film, her passion for the material is clear, and she seems to genuinely adore Zamperini. No doubt about it.

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The real star of 'American Sniper' is a creepy robot baby

We recently brought a new editor-in-chief in here at Hitfix, and when we were talking in our first meeting, I mentioned the idea of doing more short-form blogging. He responded immediately, and I gave him examples of things that were worth discussing , but that aren't really enough for a longer article.

One of those examples was something I meant to write up the next day, and I forgot completely until "American Sniper" showed up in the stack of screeners I've got here at the house. I immediately put the movie on and then fast-forwarded through the film to find the scene that totally took me out of the movie when I saw it at AFI Fest.

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Review: 'Battle Of Five Armies' brings troubled 'Hobbit' trilogy to dignified end
Credit: Warner Bros/New Line
B+

Review: 'Battle Of Five Armies' brings troubled 'Hobbit' trilogy to dignified end

My first review for a Peter Jackson film about Middle-Earth was published on December 13, 2001. I was a wee bit enthusiastic.

There was a moment during the opening act of Jackson's latest film, "The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies," where I just sat dumbfounded by how effortless Jackson makes it look as he summons up whole worlds with millions of moving parts. My kids are being spoiled by the sheer density of the fantasy world that Jackson and his collaborators summoned up, and with this final chapter in this latest trilogy, he not only marries this to the earlier "Rings" films, but he also brings together in a way that makes all three of the Hobbit films feel more cohesive.

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A gentle kick in the crotch

Earlier tonight, I mentioned that I was going to put on "The Overnighters," one of the films I still hadn't seen from the stack of screeners that's been sent to me, and while I'm not sure I'm ready to write a full review of it right this minute, I wanted to tell you to try to see it the way I did.

It's a documentary by Jesse Moss, and it's a sledgehammer. The thing is, I had no idea what I was putting into the player. All I knew was "It's a documentary," and so as I was sitting here, watching the movie unfold, the surprise impact of it came from the fact that the film doesn't really tell you upfront what it is. The story is not immediately apparent. And by the time you realize what film you're watching, you're almost at the end.

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