Christian Bale has, somewhere along the line, picked up entirely the wrong reputation.
Sure, he throws himself into his work with an intensity that can be dizzying to watch, and he's still living down the infamous recording that leaked from the set of "Terminator: Salvation" when he had a meltdown at cinematographer Shane Hurlbut. But the Christian Bale that I've seen when I've interviewed him over the years and the Christian Bale that is spoken of by his collaborators is not the guy who we see in those few human moments that people tend to judge him by.
When we sat down to talk about "Out Of The Furnace," he was positively chatty about his work on this film, and he's obviously very proud of what they've made. He threw himself into his role as the "good" brother in a very sad and damaged story about the way we sometimes carry our family's burdens as our own. He and Casey Affleck are great together, and there's an enormous sadness to the work they do.
Christian Bale has, somewhere along the line, picked up entirely the wrong reputation.
Ben Affleck's been in the midst of a career renaissance lately, and the sheer volume of the reaction to his casting as Batman should serve as an indication of just how high visibility he remains. In the meantime, Casey Affleck's been busy with a Batman of his own, co-starring with Christian Bale in the dark revenge drama "Out Of The Furnace."
It's an incredibly physical performance by Affleck, and I'm not sure I've seen him do anything like this before. When we sat down to discuss the film, I had to ask him about how he approached that side of things, and I was surprised to see that he basically dismissed the challenge of turning himself into a sculpted block of wood. Ultimately, though, he's right; the physical transformation doesn't matter if he doesn't do an equal amount of emotional work, and this is one of the strongest roles he's played.
The worst thing about dying young is the hole you leave in so many lives. Paul Walker's car accident tonight must have shocked and devastated the people he's worked with over the years, and I can't imagine how this feels for the people who are part of the "Fast and Furious" franchise. No one could have predicted that they would be shooting a seventh film right now when the first one opened a mere 12 years ago, and they certainly couldn't have predicted the way the franchise became a family affair over time, both onscreen and off. I can't think of any other action series that is so explicitly focused on the notion of the way we build our families, and I suspect that's a big part of the completely unironic appeal of the films.
More than anything tonight, I am haunted by the idea of someone having to tell his daughter about his passing. Meadow Rain is only 14 years old, and while there is no good age for lose a father, the pain of losing one right as you're entering one of the most confusing, difficult, emotionally turbulent times of life seems profoundly upsetting to me. Whatever reaction I'm having to Walker's passing tonight isn't about the movies he made or the movies he might have made or how I did or didn't feel about his work. It doesn't have to be. More than anything, it's that simple sharp pang of empathy at the thought of how his passing affects the community around him, both personal and professional.
Secrets are a funny thing in this business. When you work in a scoop-based economy, secrets are counter-intuitive. You don't keep a secret; you print it, right?
This summer, when we interviewed Andrew Garfield about his return for "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," there was a spoiler that we discussed off-camera, and it was obvious that he believed it to be the film's biggest surprise. He really wanted me to keep the secret, and I was happy to oblige. I've erred plenty of times on the side of "Wait, you didn't want people to know that?" and I find it's a balancing act that I'm constantly trying to strike. I recently got called to the carpet by a filmmaker I've known since the early '90s who may well be done talking to me because of how angry he was at me for revealing details about his film before he was ready for them to be revealed, and especially because of the way I handled it.
Imagine my surprise this morning then when I logged on and saw a new triptych poster for "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" that quite literally takes that spoiler and makes it the center of the image.
When Paramount announced yesterday that they would be releasing "Friday The 13th" on March 13, 2015, it took most people by surprise.
There have been a number of rumors swirling about what approach they're taking, and while they now have a release date, they're a long way from having a script or even a director. HitFix can confirm that this is indeed the found footage film that has been mentioned, and that it is once again going to reboot the series from the start, which is a very confusing approach considering the 2009 film was also a remake of sorts.
The thing I liked most about Marcus Nispel's "Friday The 13th" was the way screenwriters Mark Swift and Damian Shannon managed to condense the first three films of the franchise into one movie. We got the death of Jason's mother in the opening scenes of the movie, we got a long stretch with deformed hillbilly baghead Jason, and we eventually got the hockey-mask wearing icon version. The film was the first time anyone actually tried to explain the way Jason would get around Camp Crystal Lake so quickly as well as the reason he seems to always know where everyone is. It seemed like a really interesting way to restart things without throwing out the entire franchise.
At this point, I've visited enough sets that there is a sameness to it that has managed to rob the experience of some of its magic. Not all, but some. Sure, I can appreciate amazing craftsmanship and I love watching actors work, especially when something wonderful is happening between them, but there's no real mystery to it at this point.
On the other hand, when I visited the London sets for "The Corpse Bride" and got to spend a few days wandering around the amazing sets they built for the film, it was remarkable. Looking at the way they built everything by hand, looking at the amazing builds they did for the characters, I felt like I was looking at real magic. Watching these things come to life, one frame at a time, I learned once again to believe that there is a miracle that happens in animation. The same was true when I went up to Seattle to visit Laika Studios when they were working on "Coraline." Every single item, every single costume, every single thing that appeared in every single frame, all of it made right there in-house, all of it extraordinary.
Langston Hughes is a modern giant, a significant artist who worked as a poet and a playwright and whose work was an important part of this country's understanding of the black experience. One of his most enduring creations was "The Black Nativity," a re-imagined musical take on the traditional Nativity pageant, complete with music and dance, and it is still being performed all over the world today. Adapting it to film would seem like a strange proposition, but writer/director Kasi Lemmons approached it as an opportunity, not a challenge, and the result is an earnest, heartfelt family drama that is overwrought at times, deeply felt at others, but which certainly feels like one of the more unique things I've seen in a theater this year.
Watching no trailers for something can create the most interesting reactions in a theater. While I was aware of the basic background of the Langston Hughes production, I didn't realize Lemmons had built an entirely new story around it, or that she had made a full-blown musical. The moment the main character, Langston (Jacob Latimore), begins to sing about his experience as a young black man growing up without a father in Baltimore, I realized this wasn't going to be what I expected. Instead, Lemmons built a story that she sets the Nativity into as a sort of central point, an event that brings her characters to an epiphany. Her film is much more about the way people either do or don't live the message of the Nativity in their own lives and their own communities.
One thing was very clear when watching "Django Unchained" last year: Quentin Tarantino was delighted to finally be making a Western.
I don't blame him. The conditions when making a film in the genre can be difficult. I know that John Carpenter has told me several times that the whole reason he's never made a real Western is because of how much he hates horses. You're outside, you're typically on a location, and it's not easy work. Tarantino took to it, though, so much so that it looks like he might be giving it another try.
Tonight, Tarantino was a guest on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," and a friend of mine went to the taping to see what happened. He Tweeted from NBC's studios about a comment that Tarantino made, and it's news even if it's still somewhat vague news. He said the director was sipping moonshine during the interview and that he revealed that he is almost done writing his next film. He also revealed that it's a Western.
The holidays are almost here, and for many people, that means happy family gatherings with warm conversation and time well-spent together. For an equal number of people, that means finding something to watch so no one has to really talk to each other, and the best way to deflect things via movies is to find something everyone enjoys.
The worst way to do it is to throw on "Irreversible" and belly laugh all the way through.
I'm not saying you'd do that. Not you. You're a decent person, not Max Cady from "Cape Fear," and you would never intentionally make everyone in the family uncomfortable. You would never pick a film that would freak out your parents or your siblings or your kids or your spouse. You would never put something on that would stop conversation cold, replacing it with dense walls of silent judgment directed at you, just because you thought it was funny to freak everyone out.
We're nine episodes into the season now. At this point, there's really no point in saying things like "Wait for it to find its voice" or "they're still figuring it out." Sure, things can continue to change, but this is "Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.", and it's time to stop grading on a curve. Besides, this episode is written by Maurissa Tancharoen & Jed Whedon, the creators of the series, so this is a chance for them to demonstrate what the show they think they're making really is.
Heading into the episode, my first question is whether or not they're really going to give us Agent May's full backstory and the explanation of her nickname "The Cavalry" already. If so, then I think it's clear the paradigm in serialized television has changed and become more season oriented than ever before, with set-ups and pay-offs coming closer together, presumably to avoid pulling a "Red John" or a "Lost" or a whatever you want to call the sort of home-stretch fumble that's making "How I Met Your Mother" such a chore as it tries to wrap things up.