"This is James Caan's character Tim Lockwood being chased by our food animals known as the BananaOstrich."
Well, you just sold me a ticket, "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2."
The first "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs" was one of those lovely little animation surprises, where something came together beautifully. Phil Lord and Chris Miller took the lovely but simple book by Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett and turned it into a very fast-paced and sincere bit of animated surreality, full of wonderful goofball gags and a very sweet and sunny disposition. The first film ended with a victory for Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) and Sam Sparks (Anna Faris) and 'Baby' Brent (Andy Samberg) and Mayor Shelbourne (Bruce Campbell) and Earl Devereaux (Mr. T) and his son Cal (Bobb'e J. Thompson), and it felt like it had done a great job of making all the characters feel like a community.
"This is James Caan's character Tim Lockwood being chased by our food animals known as the BananaOstrich."
One weird part of my job is when I walk into a room to conduct what is meant to be a formal interview, but the person sitting across from me is someone I have an entirely informal relationship with. You can't live and work in Los Angeles for 23 years without making a number of friends in the industry, and it's even harder to avoid if you spend a good percentage of your year attending film festivals.
I first saw AJ Bowen in "The Signal," and in the years since, he's shown up in a number of films that i like, sometimes in main roles, sometimes showing up for one or two memorable moments. Several years ago, though, he and I started to see each other more frequently because of our mutual friend Aaron. Aaron's house is the place I stay any time I go to Austin for a festival, and AJ started coming to many of the same festivals and also staying with Aaron.
By far, the finest moment so far in our friendship came before either Fantastic Fest 2013 or this year's SXSW, when I texted AJ to ask if I was going to see him in Austin. He texted me back, "Already warming up the bed in the master bedroom," which made me laugh. It seemed less hilarious to my wife, who had trouble believing that "AJ" was a dude. Honestly, I'm not sure it helped when I convinced her that he was indeed a guy, because she found that suggestion even more upsetting.
"The Twilight Zone" remains a potent title in terms of the immediate reaction it evokes from people, and while I'm glad the name hasn't been worn down to irrelevance, it does amaze me that they haven't done more with it in the last fifteen or twenty years. It seems like they should always be doing something with it, because more than anything else, it's a suggestion of a certain type of storytelling, and done well, these are stories people really love.
Obviously, they have tried to make "The Twilight Zone" work as a movie before. The anthology film from the early '80s might have successfully kicked off a series if not for the controversy around the real-life death of actor Vic Morrow during production. Even if the Landis and Spielberg stories didn't quite connect, chances are enough people would have dug the Dante freakshow and the George Miller exercise in pure tension that they would have been able to get four different filmmakers to sign up for a sequel. I can only imagine what it would have been like if Warner had been able to make a new "Twilight Zone" movie every two or three years, working with four interesting filmmakers every time.
If both Deadline and the Hollywood Reporter are using the word "divorce" in their coverage of what's going on between Legendary and Warner Bros. right now, I guess it's become pretty apparent to everyone now that this is going to get messy.
It's been very strange to watch the last six or seven months unfold. For the last few years, Warner and Legendary have seemed joined at the hip, and if you'd asked me in 2012 about the future of that relationship, I would have guessed that it was rock solid. So many of the biggest event films from the studio in the last five or six years have been co-produced by the two companies that it seemed to me like things would just keep on heading in that direction.
What we're starting to see now is a battle over the credit for those films, and it seems like it is very important for Legendary to establish what role they've played in the making of these films. "Pacific Rim," for example, was the first film that went from pitch to release with Legendary calling the shots across the board. If you like that film or if you hate that film, you ultimately have Legendary to thank. They were the ones who rolled the dice on the vision that Travis Beacham and Guillermo Del Toro presented them, and they backed the film completely.
It would seem like a given that Edgar Wright would find a way to work Simon Pegg into "Ant-Man," his long-in-development Marvel movie that is set right now to kick off Phase Three of Marvel's world domination.
Honestly, though, I never would have guessed that Pegg would be suiting up for the role of Ant-Man himself, which makes today's Twitter tease by Pegg an intriguing one. If you haven't seen, Pegg appears to be touring Marvel today, and he's sent out several images. There's one of him with the Hulk, another of him holding Thor's hammer, and then one final one where he is standing in front of a painting.
Innocuous stuff, right? Just a fanboy-turned-actor enjoying his tour of the space where they're turning our collective childhood into a whole series of massive franchises, right?
"Paranoia," based on a novel by Joseph Finder, resembles the template for early John Grisham films or for Oliver Stone's "Wall Street," stories in which the young hungry guy who wants to make a name for himself falls under the scrutiny of an older mentor figure who then tempts them down the path of wrongdoing, ultimately leading to a moral crisis for the lead. As directed by Robert Luketic, "Paranoia" is professional in every way, but there's no pulse to it. It is entirely adequate, livened up only by a few supporting turns.
Part of the problem is Liam Hemsworth, who seems like a charming enough guy, but who doesn't really have any onscreen energy. It doesn't help that he's caught between two CEOs locked in a pissing match that's gone on for years, or that those two CEOs are played by Gary Oldman, who savors every bite of the scenery that he takes, and Harrison Ford, who manages to suggest a real inner life for his character with very limited screen time. There's one great scene in the movie where Oldman and Ford come face to face and they play this subtle, funny, furious game of "Which One Of Us Is The Alpha Male?" that leaves poor Hemsworth stranded, standing there between them and completely out of his weight class.
I'm not sure if it's going to happen for Liam Hemsworth, but one thing's sure: he's being given every opportunity to prove himself a movie star.
There are, of course, plenty of famous siblings who have managed to find places in the entertainment industry, but there are also plenty of cases where one person in the family eclipses everyone else in terms of fame and employment. Sometimes it comes down to the luck of the draw. Someone gets the right role at the right moment and they blow up. Sometimes it comes down to charisma. You aren't always photogenic just because your brother or your sister is. And right now, with both Chris and Liam Hemsworth in the early days of their careers, it's hard to tell if they're both going to end up carrying movies.
So far, Chris has been way more high visibility, and it's his work in films like "Red Dawn" or "Star Trek" or "Cabin In The Woods" that has me convinced he's the real deal. Thor is certainly a very high visibility part, but Chris has shown that even in films that don't completely work, he's able to come in and create a magnetic, interesting performance that stands out. "The Avengers" isn't just a gimme, where anyone could have done equally well in the role. Chris Hemsworth makes smart choices as an actor, and he has this great decency that shines through even in short appearances.
I can't believe "You're Next" is actually arriving in theaters this month.
I saw the film the first time at the Toronto International Film Festival almost exactly two years ago, and I thought at the time that it seemed like a natural to get picked up for distribution. At the time, it seemed like a big jump forward for Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, and this was before the two "V/H/S" films raised their profile so significantly. The movie stuck me as an easy crossover hit, the kind of film that mainstream audiences love because it feels so rough and raw and fringe, but it's got a recognizable shape, a hook that works well, and a heroine who audiences can really invest in. It is a commercial film not because it is expensive and heavily marketed, but because it is so good at delivering kicks, start to finish.
Lionsgate has said from the very start that they were all aboard, and they've certainly lived up to that in the way they've tried to reach audiences during those two years. They've kept the film active on the festival circuit, so the buzz built gradually, and it sustained, and they've really kicked it up since about March or April of this year. They had a strong presence at Comic-Con, and I would imagine everyone on the entire team flipped out when Michael Fassbender found one of the animal masks in the podium when he came out for the "X-Men: Days Of Future Past" panel. All of a sudden, one of the most covered events of the entire event turned into a beautiful bit of accidental marketing.
As much as I enjoy the "Kick-Ass" films, and I unapologetically do, what I enjoy more is watching the range of reactions that people have to the movies. The first film was embraced enthusiastically by one crowd I saw it with, and roundly rejected at another screening. I've seen people get spitting mad about these movies and what they mean, and I've heard people enthuse about some truly questionable things contained in the films.
As adaptations, both movies are fascinating exercises in pushing the envelope while also playing it safe regarding a rating. I don't think there was any danger that either one of the films would have gotten an NC-17, but if you were to just treat the original comics by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. as storyboards, the thing you'd get as a result would be an NC-17 no one would bother appealing because it would so obviously deserve it. Matthew Vaughn's movie streamlined relationships and also adjusted certain choices that made Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) a much more conventionally heroic figure. For the new film, writer/director Jeff Wadlow has taken material from the comic mini-series "Kick-Ass 2" as well as material from the spin-off series "Hit Girl" and he has built very carefully off of the end of the first "Kick-Ass" film to come up with something that I think does a good job of expressing the idea that the black and white notions of heroism and villainy that comic books sell to their readers are both ridiculous and dangerous.
There are people I interview every year or so who seem to be basically the same people every time we talk. They may change their haircuts or make some superficial change to their appearance, but they don't really change.
With Chloe Grace-Moretz, though, every time we check in, I am struck by how much she's grown, both in terms of height (she's got to be at least a foot and a half taller now than when we first met) and in terms of maturity. She has become a very poised and confident young woman these days, and each new film she makes seems to expand both her ability and her ambition.
Since the first time we spoke, she has worked with with Martin Scorsese, Kimberly Pierce, and Tim Burton. She has gone toe-to-toe with Alec Baldwin on "30 Rock" to hilarious effect, and she has tackled difficult emotional material in films like "Let Me In" and "Hick." Even so, she is still a teenager, and what I find most encouraging about our chats every so often is that even as she puts together this impressive resume and turns in smart, sensitive performances, she still sometimes seems like a goofy, silly teenage girl, and that's got to be a healthy thing.