This was a strange one.
Not because of the cast of "The East," keep in mind, but simply because of my own scheduling snafu over the weekend. I flew to El Paso, TX, so I could attend a press event for "After Earth," and I was set to fly back to LA on a Friday night. Unfortunately, my flight, the last flight out of El Paso got cancelled, and so when the press day for "The East" took place on Saturday, I was still in Texas.
The only compromise we could find, thanks the way we had the rest of Team HitFix scheduled, was to have one of Fox Searchlight's publicists read my questions for the cast, so technically, this may be my interview, but I wasn't there.
It's a shame, too. I'd like to meet Brit Marling and talk to her about the work she's been doing for the last couple of years. I'm intrigued by the subjects she's drawn to as a writer and by the choices she makes as a performer, and "The East" certainly fits, thematically speaking, with "Sound Of My Voice."
This was a strange one.
This doesn't surprise me at all.
I saw The Wrap's Jeff Sneider recently at a screening of "Star Trek Into Darkness," and as we were waiting to head into the auditorium, we were talking about the tenuous nature of James Bond director rumors.
Team EON is legendarily specific about what they do and how they approach the process of collaboration, and one of the things that has been interesting to watch over the course of the Daniel Craig era has been the evolution of their thinking about who to hire to direct the films. The Bond series has been steered by some workhorses, some modestly respectable industry journeymen, and some guys promoted from other departments on the series who were as close to a Home Team as possible. Until recently, though, they didn't reach out to the A-list with any sort of serious intent.
James Gunn's "Guardians Of The Galaxy" promises to be one of the strangest of the Marvel movies so far, and that excites me.
Drew Pearce, who collaborated with Shane Black on the "Iron Man 3" script, was almost hired to work on the final polish for this film, but it looks like Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely will be doing the final polish on the script that Nicole Perlman and Chris McCoy wrote instead.
Quick side note… is Perlman the first female writer on a Marvel movie?
In a lot of ways, Marvel is treating "Guardians" as the beachhead for a new chapter of the universe, and they're seeding the film with archetypes that have worked well for them. Chris Pratt is onboard as Star-Lord, who is also known as Peter Quill, and they're looking to him to be the Robert Downey Jr. of this franchise. Fast, funny, able to play emotional while still getting big laughs.
I wouldn't say that Rick Linklater and I are friends, because that implies more familiarity than there actually is, but I would say that after spending over a decade going to film events in Austin, we're friendly. There's that moment of recognition when we run into each other, and that certainly made for a nice shortcut when I showed up at the Four Seasons on Tuesday to talk to him about his latest film, "Before Midnight."
The film opens today in limited release in NY, LA, and Austin, and then goes wider on June 14th. It is absolutely one of the best films you're going to see this year, and I think it enriches an already wonderful series by adding the perspective that only comes with time.
Time seems to be something that interests Linklater, and the impact it has on narrative in his work is something that seems to me to be worth closer inspection. The nine years between each of the films in the "Before" series have to pass, because the films only work if there is real life experience that each of the performers can bring to the table when they get back together to start writing each film. The kids we see in "Before Sunrise" have very little in common with the adults who star in "Before Midnight," but because there's that film in the middle between the two, it's possible for us as an audience to see how they've gotten from one point to the other.
Ever since the record-annihilating opening weekend of "The Avengers" last year, I've been hearing speculation and questions about whether or not other studios who have the rights to certain Marvel characters would end up trying to strike a deal with Disney and Marvel Studios to include those characters in some sort of cross-over situation that would allow them to appear in a future "Avengers" film.
At the moment, I would not bet on that happening with 20th Century Fox.
This is not a situation where the two different companies are working together to try and create a sense of a larger shared world. In fact, if either of them could get the other to back off, they would. The thing is, Bryan Singer has designed a sequence that he feels only works with Quicksilver, and Joss Whedon feels that there is a pressing reason for Quicksilver to show up in "The Avengers 2," and so what we're going to see is a legally-negotiated stand-off in which we'll get two totally different versions of one character. While they may act like things are amicable in public, HitFix sources say otherwise.
Michael Cera and Alia Shawkat talk about returning to the roles of loving cousins for 'Arrested Development'
When I first heard about "Arrested Development," the synopsis I read included a description of the relationship between George Michael Bluth (Michael Cera) and Maeby Funke (Alia Shawkat), and my first thought was that it sounded incredibly tasteless and silly.
Now, of course, I'd say the opposite. I think the way the relationship between the two of them has been handled over the course of the show speaks to the way Mitchell Hurwitz and his amazing writing staff handle even the most difficult material. George Michael and Maeby are better people than any of the adults in their families. Maeby is a giant con artist, but is it any wonder? She would rather create one fantasy world after another than deal with the reality of Lindsay and Tobias, who can barely function as individuals, much less as a couple.
When I met Michael Cera for the first time, "Arrested Development" was already in his past, and while many of the cast members have been hounded by questions about the possibility of a return of the show, Cera has always somewhat avoided the issue, building a body of work for himself that stands separate from the show. When you're a young actor and you're known for one thing, I can see why you would want to show that you're able to play a range of things and you aren't just that one role. I thought the most interesting thing about his return to the series was the idea that he was part of the writer's room this time, giving him say in the fate of the Bluths.
I enjoyed the latest chapter in the "Fast and the Furious" series quite a bit, and part of what's finally won me over wholeheartedly is just how earnestly they handle all of the family stuff in the film.
Jordana Brewster plays Mia, the sister of Dominic Toretto, who is now married to Brian O'Conner, and it's because of her that the two guys, enemies in the first film, are now brothers in crime. She isn't involved in every major action sequence in the film, but she does play a crucial role, and towards the end of the movie, she gets a chance to get back into the thick of things.
Brewster looks like a 21st century Ali McGraw, and she is the necessary link between the characters. The clip you see at the start of this interview is an important moment in the movie, and it speaks to the way Justin Lin and Chris Morgan have approached these characters. Mia may have asked Brian to give up the life of crime, but she also knows that they are all stronger as a team.
Not every interview is easy.
In general, I try to treat interviews as real conversations. It's all an illusion, of course. Most real conversations are not arranged weeks earlier by a team of publicists and don't take place in a brightly lit area surrounded by strangers and cameras that you have to pretend aren't actually there, and they don't take place one after another until people begin to blur together.
At a press event, though, that's exactly what happens, and so it becomes hard to make it feel natural. When you are dealing with cast members like Justin Bartha and Heather Graham for a film like "The Hangover Part III," it's exponentially harder. That's not a reflection on either of them, though. It's more a matter of the roles they play in this particular film.
Today, Focus Features released the domestic trailer for "The World's End," the latest film by Edgar Wright, and it's far more revelatory than the UK version of the trailer. My guess is that in the UK, it's enough to sell the film on the names of Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost, but here in the US, the studio feels like they've got to sell the concept and give people enough information that they know what they're getting into before the film opens.
I get that the cast is far better known in the UK. After all, you've also got Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, and Eddie Marsan, and while all of those guys are in plenty of films that play here, including last year's "The Hobbit," of course, they are simply better known at home. I may love Shane Meadows movies, but I am able to admit that they haven't exactly set the box-office ablaze in this country. So you've got a cast that is going to be amazing to watch, but that aren't the names you use to open the film here.
When you go to Vegas to talk about "The Hangover Part III," of course part of your trip has to be a sit-down conversation with The Wolfpack.
Already, I am getting hammered with letters and comments from people who seem genuinely angry with me over my review for the film, and one guy suggested that I go easy on films where I interview the talent.
Let me explain once again the way this works. When I sit down with people to discuss their movie, that is their opportunity to tell me what movie they think they've made. When I write the review, that's my opportunity to explain what movie I think they've made. Sometimes those things line up, sometimes they don't, but one does not affect the other.
In this case, I had a couple of days after seeing it to think about my reaction, and while I'm not sure I'd describe the film as "hilarious," I am sure I'd describe it as "fascinating." This was never meant to be a trilogy. When Jon Lucas and Scott Moore sold their script for the first film, I'm sure they weren't already imagining the way the third film would play, and even when the first film came out, I doubt anyone was immediately saying, "Yes, this demands to be a trilogy."