I've written at length about why I admire Gore Verbinski as a filmmaker, and I maintain that there are very few guys working in the blockbuster world who have his skill set when it comes to establishing and maintaining a sense of geography during an action scene. He's also great at laying out gags and paying them off, and I think he has constructed some truly marvelous moments over the years. While I agree that both of his "Pirates" sequels are overstuffed, the things that they are overstuffed with are so much fun that I don't care. All you need to do is look at the horrifying mess that is the fourth film to see how much Verbinski's touch matters with that material.
His last film, "Rango," revealed a true love for the Western genre, and a willingness to tweak that genre while also paying homage to it. I think "Rango" is a marvelous little movie, strange and surreal at times and visually witty from end to end. It served as a promising glimpse at what Verbinski might be up to with "The Lone Ranger," particularly with Johnny Depp attached to play Tonto.
One of the things that we lose when we lose physical media is the thrill of discovery.
Yes, you can browse a streaming media site, and yes, you can still see things that are new to you, and there are ways to encounter things you're not already familiar with in our new media age, but anytime you're relying on something that makes licensing deals for content, you're going to be browsing a much smaller overall pool of possibility than you could in the old days, when record stores would stock things from labels both major and microscopic. There was something amazing about that feeling when you'd spend an afternoon going through bins, only to stumble across some album cover that looked like it had been hand-made, a recording of some band you'd never heard of, on a label you'd never seen before. The feeling of taking something like that home and throwing it on and suddenly having the top of your head cracked open by the sound of the genuinely new… that's something we're losing today, and I think we're poorer for it.
It's an interesting weekend. I can't honestly claim to have enjoyed either "White House Down" or "The Heat," but I would say that in both cases, if you look at the trailer and it looks like something you're interested in, go. You'll absolutely enjoy yourself.
If you want to see Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx make jokes and play "Die Hard," you'll get your money's worth. And if you think two hours of Melissa McCarthy wringing variations out of the word "fuck" while Sandra Bullock plays a tight-ass sounds hilarious, "The Heat" is going to be your favorite movie this summer.
I would give "The Heat" a truth in advertising award because they are selling you exactly the movie they made. Paul Feig is a very funny man, and working from the script by Katie Dippold, he's made exactly what he set out to make… a buddy cop film with two women in the leads. Nothing more, nothing less. In its own way, it's sort of quietly revolutionary just because they don't dress it up or pretend it's more significant. I know that when I went to go see "Beverly Hills Cop" or "Running Scared" or "Midnight Run" or whatever… what I was buying a ticket for was the combination of the specific comic personas and some gun play and car chases. It's a pretty simple formula, and "The Heat" plays by the rules, start to finish.
I'm staring at the same press release that a hundred other websites have either posted or that they're getting ready to post, and I am almost unable to summon up the irritation or the outrage or the interest to write, for what feels like the thousandth time, about another unnecessary "Terminator" sequel.
Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier, who are attached to write the film, are two of my favorite people in town. And Laeta in particular comes with what I'm sure would be the hearty endorsement of James Cameron himself, which is as close to being anointed the Keeper of the Flame as you can get. I have no doubt that Laeta and Patrick can write a compelling action film set in the the somewhat strangled continuity that has already been established in earlier "Terminator" projects.
And I don't care.
Please let him be the voice of the raccoon. Please, please, please.
Normally, taking a meeting is not enough to generate a news story, but in this case, Vin Diesel took to Facebook to announce that he had been summoned by Marvel. I think this is good news no matter what, because if there is anyone working in Hollywood right now who looks like they were genetically modified to be a comic book character, it's Vin.
It pleases me enormously that his return to the "Fast and Furious" franchise has brought Vin's career roaring back to life. While I'm not sure I'd advocate casting him in every single film ever, when Vin is used properly, and when he's playing to his strengths, I think he's ridiculous amounts of fun. And from the very first time I dealt with him, at the first Butt-Numb-A-Thon in Austin all those years ago, he has revealed himself to be a genuine, no-apologies fanboy trapped in the body of a superhero. There aren't many action heroes who would give an interview about how much they love to play D&D, but Vin has.
BUCKINGHAMSHIRE - My kids love that the movie "Kick-Ass" exists.
They're not allowed to see the film, and that won't change for many, many years, but they know it exists, and they positively adore saying the title of the film because it's one of the few times they won't get in trouble for using the word "ass." They find ways to work it into every conversation they can, and they can barely restrain themselves from smiling every single time.
They were thrilled when I got the word I'd be going to visit the set. They got to ask me endless questions about it before I left and even more once I got back, and one of the main ones they loved to ask was, 'When you went to watch them make 'Kick-Ass,' did you get to talk to 'Kick-Ass'?" Twice in one sentence? Heaven.
TORONTO - There is something very, very wrong with Charlie Day's eye.
His left eye appears to be filled with blood after every capillary in it burst, and it makes it hard to sit across from him on the set of "Pacific Rim," amidst the smashed and ruined remains of a street in downtown Hong Kong. From where we sit, we can see a hole in the street that was created by a rampaging kaiju that was searching for Dr. Newt Geiszler. Why? Well, it might have something to do with that eye.
"Every time we do something, I go back and look it in the monitors. It's very cinematic in nature and you add that to his imagination… I mean, technically he's a really, really good director. So then you take his love for his creations and the amazing art departments and all that, and it usually makes for something that's visually just stunning."
You know who really surprised me recently at a press day? Benjamin Bratt.
He's always been one of those guys who seemed really solid. A dependable, good, meat-and-potatoes guy on camera. I never had that moment watching something that he did where I went "Holy cow, this guy's AMAZING," but how many actors do you ever really say that about? I think the vast majority of actors play parts that don't really provide those "Holy cow" moments, and that's fine.
One of the reasons a lot of actors don't like the term "character actor" is not just because it seems like a nicer way of saying "can't be a movie star," but also because that's what acting is supposed to be… bringing characters to life. It's calling it "wet water." Every actor should be a character actor, including big giant movie stars and day players alike.
I love the Vista Theater in Los Angeles.
There aren't many stand-alone single-screen theaters left in this city, and I can't think of any other theater that features the kind of luxurious legroom that is one of the Vista's most winning features. When Greg Ellwood proposed the Vista as the site for our special screening of James Wan's new film "The Conjuring," I was thrilled.
Monday night, we had a full house turn out, and the film played beautifully. There are few things I love more as a film fan than being in the theater when a horror film is really working on every level. I reviewed the film last week, and seeing it again only underlined for me just how controlled and carefully built it is. I think Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are really wonderful in it, and it would have been so easy for filmmakers to make the Warrens look silly or to overplay things and really ladle on the special effects.
It's a Roland Emmerich film.
That's pretty much all I'll need to say to most hardcore film nerds for them to know where they'll fall if they see "White House Down," but I'll go a little more in-depth here just to clarify what I mean by that.
As much as any filmmaker working right now, Roland Emmerich is a guy who can be defined by his interests. With the notable exception of "Anonymous," which I thought was overwrought and accidentally hilarious at times, his films all follow a pretty basic model of spectacle, destruction, and big broad character archetypes. He makes junk food, and he does it without apology. What I find fascinating is how much the cinema landscape has changed around him over the years, so while he hasn't changed much at all, everyone else has, and he's gone from looking like a Spielberg fan with ADD to being almost sedate compared to the way most action is shot now. Emmerich's style can be defined largely by the word "more." Whatever's going on in a scene, Emmerich will always ladle on a little more, and then a little more on top of that and then, what the hell, a little more.