It's starting to look like 2013 is the year of Ron Burgundy.
It's hard to believe it has been a decade since the making of "Anchorman," and it was flat-out surreal when I was on the set of the sequel not long ago. If you saw me talk to Harrison Ford about his time on the set, he lit up at the mention of the film, and the same was true when I talked to Steve Carrell recently about "Despicable Me 2."
I know that Adam McKay and Will Ferrell are the best-known public spokesmen for Burgundy, but it appears that he's going to be speaking for himself later this year when Crown Archetype publishes "Let Me Off At The Top! My Classy Life And Other Musings," a memoir, on November 19th. That's about a month before the new movie hits theaters, giving audiences a chance to learn more about the real man before we see another film about him.
It's starting to look like 2013 is the year of Ron Burgundy.
We ran the announcement of the first wave of programming for Fantastic Fest 2013, and that was already a pretty promising list of movies. Now they've released their second wave of titles, and it's another great batch of filmmakers and titles.
It's impressive how this thing snaps into focus around this point every year, and at this point, there are filmmakers and actors and companies that I consider to be part of the Fantastic Fest family. I would be shocked if they didn't end up being part of the festival. Ben Wheatley, for example, or Elijah Wood, or Alex de la Iglesia, or Sion Sono. These are guys who all have been here before, and who are all turning out interesting work right now, pushing themselves from project to project.
That seems like the real larger narrative of the various festivals I attend every year now, checking in with people who are creating work that is alive and vibrant and interesting and resolutely not part of the disturbingly stagnant mainstream that seems to suck up such a disproportionate percentage of the conversation in the media. I think it keeps me sane, and I look forward to the highs, the lows, the surprises and the disappointments. At least it all feels promising, like there's room for discovery and for things I haven't seen before, and it's bizarre how little of that there is with "big" movies these days.
It may be impossible to overstate the microscope that Harrison Ford was under when he started production on Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner."
After all, he was both Indiana Jones and Han Solo (twice) by the time he started production on the Ridley Scott film that promised to be the first major shake-up of his newly minted movie star image, and an R-rated existential drama disguised as a science-fiction action film was a pretty bold next step for Ford. Much of his career seems to be defined by major successes, but I always find the moments where Ford tried to stretch and got roughed up in the process to be the most interesting moments.
I remember how brutal the reviews were for "Blade Runner" and how the box-office stories went way past reporting and felt more like bloodsport. It was a weird summer overall. The movie that no one had on their radar ahead of time, Spielberg's "E.T.", had turned into a box office juggernaut, and some of the movies with the best pedigrees were going belly up. It was the summer I learned conclusively that my taste does not always align with the mainstream, as I was head over heels for "Conan The Barbarian" and "The Thing" and "Blade Runner." And it was one of the first times I ever remember reading strange stories about production on a film, in this case reports of a bald Harrison Ford.
Between my time on set, my panel moderating duties at Comic-Con, and a recent press day for "Kick-Ass 2" in New York, I feel like I've had a pretty good chance to ask the three main stars of the movie any and every thing I wanted to.
I decided to try something different when I sat down with Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. If you somehow don't know the name of the character Mintz-Plasse is playing in the sequel to the cult hit "Kick-Ass," I should warn you that there's almost no way for this interview to be 100% safe for work. Even beeped, I think you'll get the idea.
Of the three main returning cast members, I think Mintz-Plasse is the one who really had to push into a whole new direction here. He's growing as an actor these days, and a lot of it just comes from experience. He has an idea of what he wants from his work now, and what he thinks he brings to something, and he seems happy to demolish any sort of niche that people want to put him in as an actor.
If I could snap my fingers and magically see any movie that already exists right now, there is no question in my mind what film I'd watch. I have been fascinated by the stories about the Jerry Lewis film "The Day The Clown Cried" since the very first time I heard about it.
And why wouldn't I be? The premise is fairly audacious, and the idea that Lewis finished it, looked at it, and immediately ordered it to be buried forever only makes it that much more enticing. I am just as interested in art that fails as I am in art that succeeds, because I think those failures can be incredibly revealing about the artists and the decisions they were making. Jerry Lewis is someone I have grown up watching, and my feelings about him have changed repeatedly over the years. There were times I liked him, times I hated him, times I have considered him both overrated or unjustly overlooked, and when you look at his career as a whole, there's almost no way to dismiss that he is a major part of Hollywood's comedy and filmmaking history.
My own kids have been introduced to his work. The first film I showed them of his was "The Bellboy," and they ended up watching it three times in a week, watching certain scenes repeatedly each time they screened the film. It's amazing to see how far ahead Lewis seemed to think at times, and how he also couldn't resist some of the cheapest gags possible. He appears to be at war with his own sense of taste at times, and that only makes it more interesting to watch his work.
"I am Groot!"
If Vin Diesel's not-so-subtle hint today on Facebook is indeed accurate, then it looks like the "Fast and Furious" star could be providing the voice for one of the strangest Marvel characters to make the jump to the big screen so far.
I think it's pretty clear that I've been enthusiastic about James Gunn's film version of "Guardians Of The Galaxy," and I particularly dig the idea that they're playing the film as comedy as much as action or science-fiction. I've seen that Comic-Con footage twice now, and I am just fascinated by the entire production. Gunn is starting to look like an inspired choice for the project, and his casting seems to me to be dead on. I'm not sure Chris Pratt would have been at the top of any list for any Marvel movie for me, but now that I've seen him as Star Lord, I think it's a natural fit. Zoe Saldana is rocking the green, as is Dave Bautista, and I think I could watch a whole movie of John C. Reilly and Peter Serafinowicz just discussing various alien prisoners.
You know, I thought we had gotten past this, but evidently not.
It is a very delicate dance that we all try to engage in when we write about films in production, particularly films where there is a very high desire for information from the fan community. Today, Disney is no doubt debating whether or not they handled all things "Star Wars" correctly at the D23 Expo. I don't think they could have brought anything more than they did, but it is obvious just from looking at Twitter or websites or Facebook that people who attended the event today absolutely expected more than they got.
When I published a piece about "Tomorrowland" earlier this year, I went too far. I said that in the days right afterwards, both on the site and in private communications to the people making the film. It was a case of being surprised to have so much information fall into my lap in the way it did and being aware that because I had it, others would have it as well, and making the judgment call to publish so that I could at least try to set it in a context of sorts.
ANAHEIM - Being in my seat inside the D23 Arena at the Anaheim Convention Center in time for this morning's live-action presentation meant I was out of bed by 6:00 this morning. That was the hard part, though, and now that we're actually here and seated, it seems like Disney's gone out of their way to make sure everything is smooth sailing once you're actually on-site.
Dave Lewis is going to be posting breaking news stories out of the live-action panel this morning, which Disney is calling "LET THE ADVENTURES BEGIN." We know they'll be featuring "Saving Mr. Banks," the film about Walt Disney wooing P.L. Travers so she'll let him make a "Mary Poppins" film, as well as "Thor: The Dark World," Brad Bird's mysterious "Tomorrowland," and beyond that, it's all pretty much a secret. I've heard there will not be a major "Star Wars" announcement, but of course, that could just be smoke and mirrors. We'll see.
I'm not normally a live-blogger, and when I see how good some of our guys are at it during Comic-Con, I know the bar is set high. I'll do my best today to give you some ongoing sense of what it's like to be here, though, and of the highlights as the various presentations unfold.
Just waiting for things to get underway now. Hopefully it will be very close to the 10:30 start time that was stated.
When Sharlto Copley was shooting "The A-Team," there were rumors I heard several people repeat about dailies really upsetting some of the execs at Fox because they had no idea what they were looking at. Sharlto Copley's performance had them allegedly terrified and they weren't sure any of it would cut together. I don't really believe the exaggerated lengths that the stories then went on to describe, but I can imagine that the first time he made a film for someone besides Neill Blomkamp, it must have been a major attitude adjustment.
After all, he and Blomkamp are friends first, guys who share this particular world view, this perspective that is shaped by where they came from, and that absolutely affects how you work with someone. When Blomkamp talks to Alice Braga or Matt Damon, I'm sure he's good at conveying what it is he has in mind, but when he's directing "Sharl," as he calls him, that's a whole different level of communication.
I ran my interview the other day with Matt Damon where he was talking enthusiastically about working with Copley and about how amazing his work in "District 9" was from a performance point-of-view. I don't think I fully grasped how much character work he was doing in that film until I rewatched it recently. Now I can see all the little details, all the choices he made in building that character, and I can appreciate them in light of seeing how he approaches the mad dog soldier of fortune he's playing in "Elysium."
Earlier today, Entertainment Weekly posted a chat with John Lasseter about the way things are divided between the three different animation companies that all work now under the broader umbrella of "Disney." Walt Disney Feature Animation has always been the crown jewel for the studio, and many of the biggest landmarks in the company's history have been thanks to the efforts of WDFA. Pixar, which began as an independent studio, now operates with what seems to be some autonomy, but considering Lasseter is part of everything now, I'm not sure I see why they bother with the distinction. I'll be honest... what I think of as Pixar is really just a loose collection of very talented people who, when collaborating, represented one of the best story departments in the industry.
Then there's Disney Toons, and I would imagine the people working there must feel a bit like the red-headed stepchild, especially when the main message of the press materials so far has been "We started work on this as a direct-to-video quickie, but it looked nicer than we expected, so we decided to squeeze out a few bucks in the theater first."
Is that fair? Is that what you should carry in with you if you go to see "Planes"?