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.
Not every interview is easy.
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."
One of the things I've heard a few people bring up several times when discussing Guillermo Del Toro's new film "Pacific Rim" is the idea that you need to pilots to make the Jaegers work. I've heard people who readily accepted the premise of giant monsters versus giant robots hesitate suddenly when it comes to the notion of a neural link between the pilots in these things.
There's a new featurette online today that explains a bit more about what they're calling "The Drift," which was one of the big ideas present from the very start when Travis Beacham first pitched the project. While it is definitely a big science-fiction idea, the reason it is part of "Pacific Rim" is part logic, and part emotional opportunity.
The relationship between Lindsay Bluth Funke and her husband Tobias Funke is one of the strangest parts of "Arrested Development," and rewatching the series again right now, I'm struck once again by how gloriously dysfunctional they are.
I think the world of David Cross. "Mr. Show" is a tremendous showcase for his comedy brain, and I think he's a fascinating actor. His work as Tobias is endlessly interesting to me because of the way he finds reality in the person who is by far the broadest persona on the show. Tobias is such a buffoon at times that it would be easy to just play him as a cartoon, but Cross always plays something under that as well, something uncomfortable and genuine and sad, and it makes the funny stuff even funnier. His never-nude fixation, his inability to understand the parade of boners falling out of his mouth, and his painful desperation to become an actor all combine in a performance that I think offers Cross more meat than anything else he's ever done on film.
Portia de Rossi must be completely free of ego to have signed on to play Lindsay, who may be one of the worst people I've ever seen depicted on television. Horrifyingly self-absorbed, her relationship with her daughter Maeby has a few decent moments in the three seasons of the show, but for the most part, her behavior is basically criminal at all times.
When this movie begins in the middle of an over-the-top prison riot in Bangkok that leads to a crazy "Shawshank Redemption" joke, it's the first sign that "The Hangover Part III" is not just business as usual.
The first film, written by Jon Lucas & Scott Moore, featured a very clever hook, and when Craig Mazin, Scot Armstrong & Todd Phillips wrote the script for the second movie, they mirrored the structure of the first film closely. When I spoke with Phillips recently, it was obvious that he loved the reaction of people who were bothered by that, and at first, he and Mazin evidently flirted with the idea of making the third film yet another riff on the same structure. Thankfully, they tried something different this time, and while it may not recapture the exact same giddy thrill as the first film, this film manages to clarify what the overall story of the trilogy is in a way that I found satisfying and quite fitting.
The film opens with Alan (Zach Galafianakis) at his manic worst, driving along a freeway towing a trailer that holds a full-sized giraffe. His joyous song of "I love my life!" had me laughing right up to the moment he does something terrible, leading to a "Final Destination"-like incident that leads to a scene with his father Sid (Jeffrey Tambor) dropping dead in a moment that's played for both laughs and real sorrow, which seems to be something that interests Phillips this time around.
One of the pleasures of seeing where the "Fast and the Furious" series has arrived is looking back at where it started and measuring just how far everyone's come.
Paul Walker is never going to be one of those guys who people talk about in the pantheon of great transformative performers, people whose acting transcends, like Daniel Day Lewis or Meryl Streep. Walker is a fairly limited onscreen persona, but if you cast him correctly and surround him with the right sort of actors, he is capable of a certain charm and charisma.
The great mystery of this series is the chemistry that holds it together. Vin Diesel and Paul Walker would have never been my pick for the core duo in a major action franchise, but something about Walker's slightly wooden earnestness set next to Vin Diesel's "What planet is he from?" machismo works, and the franchise has slowly but surely added more and more players to the mix, and every time, it seems to actually make it all stronger.
Like many people, I had a Doors phase.
In particular, I had a Jim Morrison phase that was kicked off when I read Danny Sugarman's "No One Here Gets Out Alive". Morrison's story is about as archetypical a rock and roll story as there is, and Sugarman was a true believer. Over the years, my feelings about them evolved, and now I find that I love what the Doors meant to me more than I actually love The Doors. They had such a brief moment, and at such a key moment in the overall story of rock'n'roll, that it's hard to even apply a critical opinion to them at this point. They are simply The Doors, part of the foundation. My feelings about them now are far less ardent than even when I wrote this piece 11 years ago, but I meant every word at the time.
When I was at Ain't It Cool, one of the strangest overall things that ever fell into my lap was courtesy of Tim Sullivan, who called me one day to ask if I'd like to go visit a rehearsal space in LA where the Doors were warming up for a reunion tour. Because it's a nightmare finding anything on the AICN archives, and I'm not entirely sure the piece is even still online at this point, I thought I'd reprint some of the piece that came out of that encounter.
I'd just like to frame the story by saying that I wrote a piece of criticism near the end of my time dealing with Ray that seemed to offend him greatly, and we never spoke again. That's a shame. No matter what, though, meeting him and getting to know him even a little bit was a genuine honor, and he was a wry, funny, larger than life persona, everything I would have hoped as a young fan.
I think it's kind of amazing that Todd Phillips is now the guy behind the biggest comedy franchise of all time.
Not because I don't think he's capable of it, but more because of the Todd Phillips I originally met many years ago at this point. The Phillips I got to know at first was so far outside the mainstream that even imagining him working on a studio comedy seemed unlikely.
What I find really impressive about the way he's managed his career is how he's kept his voice intact while working on bigger and bigger films. When I saw "Hated: GG Allin & The Murder Junkies," a deranged documentary about a deranged punk performer, I would have never guessed that director would go on to create a genuine box-office juggernaut. "Frat House," same thing. I think of the early work by him and by Andrew Gurland and Huck Botko, guys who I always think of as part of that same initial creative moment, and they were all so far out that it really seems amazing to me.
Now this is more like it.
I saw a film at Sundance this year called "Toy's House," and I walked away smitten with the film's sense of time and place and with the wonderful young cast. Chris Galletta's script is smart and funny, and director Jordan Vogt-Roberts managed to make it all feel real, like something captured instead of something created.
The main trio of kids in the film, played by Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso and the one-of-a-kind Moises Arias, all do excellent work, and they get great support from an ensemble that includes Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Angela Trimbur, Kumail Nanjiani, and Mary Lynn Rajskub. You can read my full review from Sundance if you'd like.