Jessica Walter is all sorts of awesome.
First, she is part of one of my favorite animated shows, and not just of recent vintage, either. I think "Archer" belongs in the pantheon of animated comedy. That show is funny on so many simultaneous levels that it makes me dizzy. I love it as a spy comedy, as a comedy about a stunted manchild and his relationship with his mother, and as a non-stop barrage of some of the dirtiest things that have ever made me laugh.
Second, she's the mother of the Bluth family, and that alone would secure her place in the all-time hall of fame. Her work as Lucille was a major part of what made the show special. Watching her manipulate her children and grapple with the ethical vacuum that is her husband and somehow never spill a drop of any of her martinis… well, that's talent.
Beyond that, I wonder how many younger fans of her work in those shows are familiar with the role that first made her an icon to me, Clint Eastwood's "Play Misty For Me." She is outstanding in that film as a woman who is completely obsessed with a radio disc jockey played by Eastwood. It was his first film as a director, and it's still one of the best roles he's ever given an actress in his work.
Jessica Walter is all sorts of awesome.
At this point, it's just funny that I've never done a formal sit-down interview with JJ Abrams.
After all, we've been colliding now for years. For a while, I made an accidental habit out of busting his biggest secrets wide opens months before they were supposed to be revealed, and in the case of his Superman script, before film had even rolled.
It was during the production of the first "Star Trek" that we called a truce, and since then, our e-mail correspondence has been somewhat cordial. Abrams is still playing the game, though, as should be perfectly clear to anyone who goes back to read this article after they see "Star Trek Into Darkness."
I don't blame him at all. That's what the modern world of film marketing is all about. These days, there is an illusion of transparency as the studios have created a system that brings journalists to almost every set and where the entire process is being written about, from development to release. There's still a ton of control being exerted over every part of that presentation, though, and in the case of the films that Abrams has been making, he has gone above and beyond in his quest to keep certain elements of his films secret until they are released.
I'm really sorry I couldn't get away to be the one in London interviewing the cast and crew of "Star Trek Into Darkness" for HitFix, but if we had to send someone else, I'm glad we sent Guy Lodge.
I got to spend some time with Guy earlier this year at Sundance, and one of the many reasons I'm proud to be a part of Team HitFix is because we've got Guy writing film reviews for us. Guy is a very smart, very English critic, and having his voice in the mix with mine and with Greg's and with Kris Tapley's is part of what makes our site what it is. Guy will be handling a lot of our Cannes reviews this year (I won't be making the trip, unfortunately) and Greg Ellwood will also be there.
Guy sat down with, among others, the one-two punch of the day, Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine. I look at these guys and it seems to me like someone grew them in a lab, specifically to be the stars of "Star Trek."
That is how you cut a teaser trailer.
I would be perfectly happy if I didn't see another frame of footage from Alfonso Cuaron's upcoming film "Gravity" until it opened in October. Until today, we've managed to go without seeing any moving images, and I already knew I was desperate to see the film.
Now, though, after that trailer? Holy cow. "Gravity" tells the story of two astronauts, played by George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, who are in the middle of a space walk when their craft is hit by debris and Bullock becomes separated from the ship.
There is no more humbling concept to me than being adrift in space, alone and without any protection beyond the space suit you're wearing. If you want to feel very small, just looking up into space will do that, but to actually be lost in it, not sure if you're ever going to see another person again… I would imagine there's no easy way to express the horror that would set in.
One of the keenest pleasures of "X-Men: First Class" was seeing how Matthew Vaughn treated the styles of the '60s while also making a heightened-reality X-Men movie. I thought they walked the line very carefully, and the costume design work by the great Sammy Sheldon was immaculate and often very cheeky.
Bryan Singer has been tweeting all sorts of things from the set of "X-Men: Days Of Future Past" so far, and they're still just gearing up. I'm glad to see they didn't just jump right to shaving James McAvoy's head and that, if anything, Xavier's looking a little shaggier this time.
I'm curious to see how this one works. I still don't know if it's more of a sequel to "First Class" with cameos from the other timeline, or if it's a return to the Singerverse with cameos from the "First Class" team. Either way, it's such an interesting collision of actors that it's going to be thrilling to see it play out.
Our own Alan Sepinwall has spoken very highly of "The Two Escobars" by Michael and Jeff Zimbalist. You can see that film on Netflix Instant right now as part of ESPN's "30 By 30" series, and I highly recommend you do so. Alan was right about how good it was, and it's one of the few documentaries from this series that I've seen more than once. It's that dense and rewarding a piece.
Here's the first thing you need to know about Michael and Jeff Zimbalist as filmmakers. They get soccer. Football. Whatever you know it as, they understand the drama of the game, and they understand the world's relationship to it. More than that, they understand the drama of the life story of a person, and that's a hard thing to do right.
There are any number of biopics that are technically proficient, well-acted, well-cast, and utterly stiff. To tell a story using the highlights of a real person's life is very difficult, much more difficult than it seems. You can't just make it a greatest hits montage. It takes a deft touch to turn that into something really affecting, and the remarkable part of "The Two Escobars" is seeing just how good they are at all of it. They tell a hell of a story, they make it human and emotional, and they dig deep to try to show how soccer affects these countries.
The press day for 'Star Trek Into Darkness' took place in London last weekend, and we sent Guy Lodge to talk to the cast and to director JJ Abrams about what they've done with the sequel.
However, there's something hanging over the press for "Star Trek Into Darkness," something unavoidable, and I'm willing to bet every single time the conversation digresses, Paramount's publicists want to climb the walls out of frustration.
That's what happens, though, when your director is announced as the director of "Star Wars Episode VII" before his current film is released. Suddenly, that's the thing everyone wants to talk about.
Guy broached the subject with Abrams in the middle of the interview, and while he doesn't reveal anything about the content of the film (and certainly no one expected him to), he did talk about his approach. What he said mirrored something that Simon Kinberg recently said to me when I ran into him at the Arclight at the "Elysium" event. Kinberg is one of the writers who has been brought in to work on the spin-off films, and when we spoke, he talked a bit about how Lawrence Kasdan has been approaching every conversation about "Star Wars."
I've been asked repeatedly about when I would finish my coverage of the first Film Nerd 2.0 Film Festival, an event that came together at the very last possible moment, and it's taken me this long because of other publishing obligations that have come up in the meantime. I love writing these articles, but they are among the most demanding for me because of what they deal with, and because I work very hard to capture the truth of these exchanges and these moment with my kids. There will come a time when I look back and these will be the one record of these times, and I want it to be as complete and unflinching as it can be.
One of the truths about film festivals is that whatever plan you make before one begins, you will not follow it for any of a thousand different reasons. That certainly held true with the concluding day of the Film Nerd 2.0 Summer Film Festival, which I threw for my two sons, Toshi and Allen, at the end of this year's spring break vacation from school.
Part of what complicated the weekend was Toshi's baseball schedule. He had a two hour practice on Friday night, a game on Saturday, and a game on Sunday. That's a whole lot of baseball to build a schedule around, and it had a real impact on the plans. The other part of what made it impossible to keep to our initial schedule was something I didn't really count on… my wife.
My manager was the one who first turned me on to "Spaced." This was in the days way before there was a "Shaun of the Dead," and while music rights kept anyone from picking the show up for US distribution, Edgar Wright was being discussed by agents and producers and development execs all over town. My manager passed off some tapes to me, and my friends and I watched pretty much every single episode in a weekend, then again over the following week.
He put me in touch with Edgar, and we chatted back and forth in the ensuing years. When he was starting work on "Shaun," he reached out to me to put something about extras casting up on Ain't It Cool, and as a result, several of our Talkbackers ended up playing zombies in the film. When Edgar first finished the film, he brought it to the US and I flew to Austin so he could show it to us at one of the Alamo theaters after everyone went home for the night. There was no US release date yet, and most of the people who came to the theater at Harry's invitation that night had no idea who Edgar was.
When I was working at Dave's Video, back in 1991, I got to know people from a wide array of crafts in the film industry, and I loved meeting the wizards behind some of the most magical moments in movie history.
Jim Danforth and his wife Karen were two of our regular customers, and you seriously couldn't ask for nicer people. Jim began his work in the industry working for Art Clokey, who created "Gumby," and when Ray Harryhausen worked on "Clash of the Titans," Danforth worked with him.
One particular afternoon, Jim and Karen came into the store, and they had an older English gentleman with them. They walked around the store browsing for a while, and at one point, I helped their friend find a couple of discs. After a while, they came up to the counter, and he set down the stack of movies he'd picked out. He handed over his credit card, and I glanced at the name.