God, it feels like I’ve been up forever already today, and yet it’s 9:30 and I’m just sitting down to the Morning Read. The more astute of you noticed yesterday that there was no Read of any kind, morning or afternoon. Blame that one on a day that started really late, because my alarm simply didn’t go off near me. It may have gone off. It may not have gone off. We’ll never know, since tiny monkey hands carried it far, far from my bedroom, well before that hypothetical moment of going off. It’s amazing to me what I have to explicitly explain to my sons is “against the rules.” I didn’t realize there were as many rules as there are, but I’m learning more of them every… single… day.
Did you check out my “Lost” recap from last night? Great episode.
How about that new trailer we premiered for the Mike Judge film “Extract”? Best use of CGI bong smoke ever.
Or how about a fistful of new stills from Fox’s summer line-up?
[more after the jump]
I love the poster for Ang Lee’s “Taking Woodstock,” which I saw for the first time as Jeff Wells was talking about it this morning. I’m intrigued by everything about this film, including the casting of Demetri Martin in the lead. Bold move, but I’d expect nothing less from Lee, who continues to push himself, film after film. I’m curious to see how they recreate Woodstock, and to what extent. I know from personal experience how difficult the rights are to the music and imagery from the festival, and expensive. This isn’t a giant budget movie, so Lee’s going to have to really be clever to make you believe it’s this giant sprawling music festival/natural disaster that we all know so well from Wadleigh’s documentary.
I am puzzled by the trailer to the new Robert Rodriguez film “Shorts.” I’m puzzled because it just looks cheap and garish and loud. Even if that’s the movie, there had to be a better way to cut the trailer. I was under the impression that the point of a trailer is to entice you to see something, not to give you a twitch every time someone says the title.
So Vin Diesel’s been making noise about a third Riddick film again, eh? Well, I’m on record as being a fan of both of the films that have featured the character so far, and I think the end of “The Chronicles Of Riddick” was one of the best set-ups for a next movie I’ve seen in a while. If Universal looks at last weekend’s opening of “Fast and Furious” as any sort of vote of confidence in Diesel, then now’s the time. Let’s see more “Riddick.”
You guys don’t really care how the information that gets to you gets to you, do you? Do you want to know how the sausage is made, or do you just want to eat some delicious sausage? The internet has not just changed the business of news gathering and news distribution in terms of speed and availability, it’s also changed it (for the worse, I think) in terms of accuracy. And part of the problem is the echo chamber effect, something I’ve written about in my occasional “Buzzkill” column both here and at AICN. Rumors get started and then they bounce around like bullets in a vacuum, never losing momentum. Case in point: last year, when websites insisted on reporting that Michael Caine knew that the new Batman villains were going to be Johnny Depp as the Riddler and Philip Seymour Hoffman as the Penguin, we kept saying that not a word of it was accurate, no matter what was coming out of Michael Caine. And now, MTV has Caine explaining that he was just repeating what he read in the newspaper, meaning the same British tabloid scumbags who continually print blatant falsehoods to goose circulation, leaving people who actually know things to try to explain the truth for the next six months or however long. That was September that the Caine thing happened, and I’m still hearing Depp and Hoffman’s name from fans who never got the memo that it’s not right. Amazing.
I know that Pete Sciretta over at /Film has been keeping a fairly comprehensive running list of celebrities or filmmakers who are on Twitter, and it’s a nice resource. I would just caution people that for a lot of the big names you see there, it’s just publicity, and you’re reading something filtered through an assistant or a publicist. This Hugh Jackman Twitter gaffe is a nice example of what I mean. Now, a lot of the accounts are exactly who they say they are. I love that Aziz Ansari’s spent his entire morning printing fake reviews for “Parks and Recreation.” Like I wouldn’t watch anyway, Aziz. It looks fucking delicious!
You know what, Film Drunk? If I want to have nightmares about man-sized teddy bear creatures with Robby Coltrane’s voice, or if I want to feel bad for Eugene Levy, that’s my business. I don’t need you posting “Gooby” trailers to try and help, okay? You think that’s going to be easy to get out of my brain? Well, DO YOU!?
Man, I wish I was going to be in Toronto this coming Sunday the 12th. I have a real fetish for any time you stage the Apocalypse for $38, and especially if you do it in Canada. So a double-feature of “The Brood” and “”Last Night” at the Bloor Cinema with Edgar Wright hosting? Sounds like bliss. This closes out Edgar’s run at the Bloor, but he’s going to be in Toronto for a while. I’d be shocked if they didn’t manage to talk him into another event while he’s there. And of course, while you’re at Edgar’s site, poke around and check out all his recent blog photos from the “Scott Pilgrim” set. There’s one in particular of a certain jacket that made me smile a lot.
One of the biggest conversations there is to be had about media and our relationship with it is the way it affects us. Obviously, movies and TV and the news and what we read… it all has some impact on who we are. And I have railed in the past against people who want to blame things on movies reflexively, or who want to demonize games, or who think violence comes from TV. I think a lot of that is scapegoating, convenient finger-pointing when bad things happen. But I also think it’s dangerous to pretend that media has no influence over people. I think we have to be responsible for the message we put out, each of us, and it doesn’t matter how you’re getting that message out to people… you need to be held accountable for what you’re contributing to the culture. I don’t run a lot of political material in my work because I’m not a very partisan person. I think our problems stem in large part from the curdled two-party system. So when I say that Glenn Beck and Alex Jones and the mainstreaming of conspiracy theory scare me, it’s not because I politically disagree… it’s because I think it symbolizes something larger, a fear that’s setting in, stirred by a fear-based news culture that has been selling people paranoid hate for so long that eventually, something’s got to go off. Something has to erupt. And people are going to get hurt when it does. A lot of people. More people than we anticipate right now. Tim McVeigh didn’t happen in a vacuum, and neither did Richard Poplawski. No one made them do what they did, but there were certainly plenty of people to encourage them along the way.
And while we’re on the general subject, Roger Ebert’s got a few things he wants to say to Bill O’Reilly. Ouch.
And on the idea of how much we’re influenced by what we watch, it’s an ongoing debate in my own house because Toshi is starting to really get movie-crazy. We limit how much time he can spend watching DVDs, but he’s always ready to put something on if we’ll let him, and right now, I’m pushing a lot of “Electric Company” and “Sesame Street” on him, while he keeps trying to negotiate his way into some superhero movies or some “Transformers” cartoons. Right now, he doesn’t really know there are “Star Wars” movies. He knows the general iconography, and we’ve got several lightsabers in the house that we play with, but I think he thinks “The Clone Wars” cartoon is it for “Star Wars.” We’re saving the films until he’s a little older, so they make more sense. My writing partner, on the other hand, has immersed his daughter in “Star Wars,” and she seems to love it. Kids love “Star Wars.” It seems to be universal. And on Slate, there’s a good article about what it is that gets a grip on them.
Okay, what is it about “The Boat That Rocked” that has critic after critic writing think pieces about how British cinema is the butthole of the film world? It’s in the air right now, and I think it’s a little silly… an overreaction. But still… I’m seeing this same basic sentiment expressed from a multitude of sources now. What’s going on? Do Shane Meadows and Edgar Wright and Paul Greengrass and Matthew Vaughn not matter? I mean, do we throw out all of what’s happening in a country’s film scene because someone doesn’t like one guy or one particular trend?
I will say this in Rob Zombie’s favor: he is definitely working overtime to make “Halloween: H2” his own film, and not a retread of what’s come before. I was already a little puzzled by his choice to have Michael’s mother and his younger self serve as a sort of greek chorus throughout the film, but now we hear that Michael spends much of the movie without his mask. It’s a big choice. I’m not even going to say it’s a bad choice, because I have no idea how it works in the movie. I just know that he’s not doing the same safe silent hulking stalker take on the character that we’ve seen before, and as much as it makes some fans angry, I can respect that there’s nothing interesting about doing the tenth version of the same old thing. At least this promises to be new. Will it work? I didn’t think the first one did at all, but I do think Zombie has the potential to really pull off something raw and ugly. Maybe he’ll really rise to the occasion.
“Year One” is still rated R, even after Judd Apatow and Harold Ramis made an appeal for a PG-13. Curious to see if this means they cut it now, or if the studio lets them have the rating.
This entire thing not only blows my mind, it also gives me faith that people are, at heart and as a whole, very, very silly.
I like Devin Faraci because he seems to be able to irritate people on the Internet even more than I can. That’s impressive. Yesterday, I watched him work his Twitter feed like King Kong on top of the Empire State Building, all because he tossed out the assertation that video games are not art. Today, he’s editorializing about it, trying to better articulate what he was saying yesterday. I don’t think it matters to me whether or not anyone considers video games art… I just want the medium to grow up a bit and take some chances and use the amazing technology that’s developing to really try some unusual things. The potential is certainly there. We’ll worry about whether or not it’s art later.
Finally today, there’s a great interview with Glenn Kenny on the subject of serving as editor for David Foster Wallace at Premiere magazine. It’s just a damn good read in general, but for a Wallace fan, it’s equally uplifting and upsetting. I miss him, and I am livid at all the work we lost with him. His voice was so great, and this glimpse inside his working process with Kenny really captures something about what attracts me to his work in general. Good stuff.
The Morning Read appears here every day, Monday through Friday. Except when it doesn’t.
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