<p>For all the chemistry James Deen and Lindsay Lohan have in 'The Canyons,' they could have shot their roles separately against greenscreens.</p>

For all the chemistry James Deen and Lindsay Lohan have in 'The Canyons,' they could have shot their roles separately against greenscreens.

Credit: IFC Films

Review: The Lindsay Lohan freakshow is not enough to make the hollow, ugly 'Canyons' worthwhile

HitFix
F
Readers
n/a
Is this really the best gig Paul Schrader can get these days?

It's funny timing, me running a piece last night in which I responded to the accusations by the filmmakers behind "The Lone Ranger" that critics pre-write their reviews of films. I think those guys are doing damage control, playing a shell game of sorts by saying what they said, but the truth is that certain films do make their first appearance already bloodied, targets painted on their backs in vivid red, and there is no doubt that Paul Schrader's "The Canyons" is one of those films.

The opening credits of the film have a haunting quality that I hoped the film as a whole would possess, stationary shots of abandoned theaters, movie palaces that have been left to the elements. But from scene one, there is a dissonance between Paul Schrader's visual work with photographer John DeFazio and the quality of the performances, and I have to confess, the entire thing just made me sad.

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<p>Contrary to popular rumor, Neill Blomkamp did not play the bad guy in 'Pretty In Pink'</p>

Contrary to popular rumor, Neill Blomkamp did not play the bad guy in 'Pretty In Pink'

Credit: HitFix

Neill Blomkamp talks about how details matter when world-building for 'Elysium'

What is it that makes his worlds feel so real?

One of the things that was immediately apparent when I saw "District 9" for the first time is that Neill Blomkamp has a fantastic eye for detail. Everything about that movie is in service of selling the reality, and when I recently rewatched it, I found myself repeatedly laughing at the tactile sense of place that Blomkamp's films evoke.

In "Elysium," it's even more critical that environment serve as storyteller, and the decision to shoot in real Mexican dumps, using those to double as Los Angeles, is both bold and slightly terrifying. I can't imagine the stress of taking a movie star as well known as Matt Damon to a location shoot in a place where kidnapping is an industry, and there's no way I would have been able to stop thinking about John Wayne's health problems after shooting "The Conqueror" as I was running around that dump amidst toxic materials and wind machines. When you see how it all reads on film, though, Blomkamp made the right call. It doesn't feel like a set, like something put together by a production designer, but instead feels like what it is, a monument of human waste, built over time.

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<p>Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, and Douglas Smith are on a quest for the Golden Fleece in 'Percy Jackson:&nbsp;Sea of Monsters'</p>

Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, and Douglas Smith are on a quest for the Golden Fleece in 'Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters'

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Review: 'Percy Jackson' sequel plays it safe and aims for a franchise

HitFix
B-
Readers
n/a
How great is it that this one was directed by a guy named Thor?

Chris Columbus is, at this point, the movie studio equivalent of an explorer, the first guy to get somewhere, the one who plants the flag and moves on. When he made the first two films in the "Harry Potter" series, he made decisions that resonated through the entire seven movies, no matter how strong a voice anyone who followed him brought to the table.

On the first "Percy Jackson," he was obviously hired to give 20th Century Fox the same sort of franchise that Warner Bros. spun from all things Potter, and while it was nowhere near the same sort of cultural phenomenon, it did well enough, especially when international box-office was considered, and they did indeed end up springing for the sequel, which arrives in theaters tomorrow.

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<p>'But seriously, you liked it, right?'</p>

'But seriously, you liked it, right?'

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

An open letter about film critics to the makers of 'The Lone Ranger'

Depp, Hammer, Verbinski, and Bruckheimer play a strange version of the blame game

First, let me preface this by saying I can't believe you took the bait. That question was designed to get you to crap all over critics in response to their reaction to your movie, and you seem like you couldn't wait to answer the question. That's a shame.

Let's start with the premise that critics prejudged your movie.

I think it is presumptuous to assume that you know why critics reacted the way they did to "The Lone Ranger," other than the actual reasons stated in whatever bad reviews you're talking about. I can't tell you why anyone else didn't like it, but as a critic who really, really didn't like your movie, I feel compelled now to defend my review to you, if only to challenge your comments during a recent interview for the UK release of the film. Besides, if there's any movie this summer that gets to play the "critics just wanted to beat the crap out of us" victim card, it's "After Earth," not "The Lone Ranger."

And if that is how critics decide to beat things up, wouldn't "John Carter" have suffered the same fate last year? Because I think a lot of critics ended up being pleasantly surprised by that, and their buzz was way worse than yours ever was. I know I liked it.

As I said, I'm speaking here for no one but myself. I considered writing this as a short news item about the comments you made, but there are tons of those already, and the truth is, I was personally bothered by the comments. I'm not irritated in the abstract sense, but rather in the specific sense.

After all, I've had many encounters with you gentlemen over the years. When you were building up to the release of the second "Pirates" film, you reached out to me, and that began a series of conversations and encounters, and in the interest of clarity, I'm going to list those, and let's see if this reveals some hidden bias that has just been waiting for the perfect moment to spring it on you.

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<p>Harrison Ford proved his real-life fearlessness by appearing at Comic-Con a second time this year.</p>

Harrison Ford proved his real-life fearlessness by appearing at Comic-Con a second time this year.

Credit: Denis Poroy/Invision/AP Photo

Stallone says Harrison Ford in and Bruce Willis out for 'Expendables 3'

The 'Rocky' icon takes a public shot at the 'Die Hard' star in the process

I love how Sylvester Stallone has embraced the immediacy of the Internet over the last few years. When I was at Ain't It Cool, he first reached out to Harry and did a series of Q&A sessions there that were fascinating because you could see how little filter he appeared to have in discussing his work.

These days, he uses Twitter to update fans on his films as he moves through development, announcing things like casting and even talking about things he'd like to do that aren't set in stone yet. It really doesn't feel like there's a publicist orchestrating things, and I think that's the key for any celebrity using social media. The more "official" something feels, the less interesting it is. People want to see someone like Alec Baldwin lose his shit at someone on Twitter because, more than anything else, it humanizes them. With Stallone, the charm of his social media presence is just how clear it is that he's enjoying this latest act of his career enormously, and he is aware of how tenuous all of it can be.

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<p>Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams get a case of the giggles in our exclusive clip from Brian De Palma's latest film, 'Passion'</p>

Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams get a case of the giggles in our exclusive clip from Brian De Palma's latest film, 'Passion'

Credit: Entertainment One

Watch: Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace size up some lovely ladies in exclusive 'Passion' clip

The latest from De Palma is about to roll out on VOD and in theaters

It makes me sad that Brian De Palma films are not greeted as major events in the film world.

It shouldn't really be a surprise. Even when he was at his career peak, De Palma has always been a polarizing figure, and respect for his work has never been a uniform thing. When I was young, each new De Palma film would be greeted by a huge debate about his talent and the source of much of his visual language, and the thing that people often tried to hang on him was that he was "just" a guy who borrowed from Hitchcock.

The truth is that De Palma was always one of the most visually accomplished guys of his generation, and he was no more a "thief" than Steven Spielberg, who learned just as much from Hitchcock as De Palma ever did. De Palma was a remix artist before anyone fully understood that term, and his movies have aged incredibly well. If you look at "Blow Out" or "Dressed To Kill" or "The Fury" these days, they look great, and there is such a great dark sense of humor underlining his work that I have to believe there is an element of prankery to everything he's ever done.

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<p>Will Poulter, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, and Emma Roberts all seem as confused here as I was walking out of 'We're The Millers'</p>

Will Poulter, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, and Emma Roberts all seem as confused here as I was walking out of 'We're The Millers'

Credit: Warner Bros.

Review: Unfunny and undercooked 'We're The Millers' totally wastes a decent ensemble

HitFix
D
Readers
B+
Have you ever wanted to see a joke-free comedy? Good news.

It does not remotely surprise me that Sean Anders and John Morris are the writers of "Dumb and Dumber To," because I sense a strong admiration for the work of the Farrelly Brothers in the scripts of theirs that I've read. I think the best thing they've had produced so far was also directed by Anders, and that's "Sex Drive," a movie that I expected absolutely nothing from when it was first announced. That movie had a simple hook, and it made the most of its enthusiastic cast, including Clark Duke and James Marsden, who both absolutely killed it in the film.

"We're The Millers," unfortunately, feels to me like an outline for a film instead of an actual film. I can see what the hook is, I can see how all of the various characters should interact, and I can see where the punchlines belong, but as an actual film, I found it very nearly inert. A few painfully obvious laughs do not a successful comedy make, and I'm baffled how you can throw this many relatively funny people at an idea this blatantly down-the-middle and end up with something like this, where it just can't land a punch.

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<p>Josh Brolin was looking particularly Bruce Wayne-like at the LA&nbsp;premiere of 'Gangster Squad' this spring</p>

Josh Brolin was looking particularly Bruce Wayne-like at the LA premiere of 'Gangster Squad' this spring

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles/Invision

Josh Brolin one of many names in the mix as Warner gears up a new 'Batman' search

Why you shouldn't get too attached to anyone at the moment

It is early days as far as the hunt to find a new Batman is concerned, but what is rapidly becoming clear is that Warner Bros. has a very distinct approach in mind for who they would cast to step into the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman.

Understand this… anyone outside the studio who claims to know the full approach of this film is blowing smoke. This is very much a project that is in development, and thinking on the film has been very fluid up till this point. When Warner Bros. made their announcement at Comic-Con, confirming that the "Man Of Steel" sequel would feature Batman, they knew full well that they were throwing red meat to the fanboy press, a question that they can spend weeks and weeks chewing on while Warner sets to work behind the scenes.

For a preview of just how this will all play out, look at this weekend, when early wish list notes became a major story, with people determined to try to spin something concrete out of something that is very much not concrete yet. All Warner is doing at this point is opening the lines of communication, considering types and names and schedules. Borys Kit is doing some very solid reporting, and I like that he's careful to emphasize how early all of this is.

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<p>Josh Gad, seen here at a special screening of 'Jobs,' which features him, will next tackle the role of Sam Kinison for 'Brother Sam'</p>

Josh Gad, seen here at a special screening of 'Jobs,' which features him, will next tackle the role of Sam Kinison for 'Brother Sam'

Credit: Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP

Josh Gad is set to star in long-developing 'Brother Sam' Kinison biopic, but is he right for it?

Larry Charles seems like a best-case-scenario as director, though

I was lucky enough to see Sam Kinison work several times. It's one thing to see someone's comedy special on TV or to listen to an album by them, and I certainly absorbed his work in whatever way it was available, but seeing a comic live, especially over several different nights with a wide variety of audiences is essential if you really want to understand who they are as an artist.

I'm not surprised by talk of a Kinison biopic. It seems inevitable at some point, just like the Bill Hicks movie I'm sure we'll also get from someone at some point. What I learned watching Kinison work the same material over many different nights is that he had learned how to handle a crowd from fire-and-brimstone fundamentalist preachers, and when he was onstage in front of a crowd, he was testifying. The screaming he did around his jokes was not just noise, but was punctuation. He was so caught up in whatever his subject that he couldn't stop himself from letting loose these guttural sounds. It's his version of speaking in tongues, being overcome by the power, and Kinison was a master at reading a room. He knew when something was working, he knew when something wasn't, and he was adroit at modifying his act on the fly to ride out the energy of the audience.

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<p>Sounds like 'Mockingjay' is at the top of Liam Hemsworth's priority list right now.</p>

Sounds like 'Mockingjay' is at the top of Liam Hemsworth's priority list right now.

Credit: HitFix

Liam Hemsworth says his part really doesn't kick in until the third 'Hunger Games' film

'Catching Fire' still has him playing supporting part

Sitting across from Liam Hemsworth at the press day for "Paranoia," it struck me that the thing that he and his brother Chris Hemsworth (aka Thor) have most in common physically are their eyes. Otherwise, they seem like very different types. I have a feeling those differences will serve them well in the long run because they seem to be different enough that they won't be undercutting each other in terms of the roles they want to play.

What the Hemsworths have in common beyond the eyes is a no-nonsense oversized masculinity. I've complained in the past about how most of our lead actors these days are boys, no matter how old they get, instead of men. It's a generational thing. People in my generation never really got tested in any significant way. Not like a Depression or a World War. And so there are a lot of actors who seem soft to me onscreen, even in action roles.

The Hemsworths, though, are just these two charming giants, Australian boys who obviously drank their milk. Liam's been working like a madman for the last few years, and I think it' s safe to say that at this point, the biggest thing he's ever booked was his role as Gale in "The Hunger Games." In that first film, it doesn't really seem like much of a break for an actor, and I asked him when we sat down to talk about "Paranoia" if it felt good to finally jump in for "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire."

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