Welcome to The Morning Read.
I’m going to be merging the “On The Screen” column into the Morning Read on Fridays from now on. It just seemed to make more sense to us, and while today’s may be a little weird while I figure out the format, I think in the long run, it’ll make for a better Friday read for you guys.
Let’s see what’s going on out there first, before we get into this weekend’s movies. Traditionally speaking, this is the weekend where the studios just plain give up, dumping whatever they don’t mind seeing crushed by the arrival of summer’s first big movies next week. So it’s good we’re trying the new format on an off week, so we can be ready for the onslaught of May.
Great interview with Bret Easton Ellis about his feelings on watching his work get adapted into films. Guy sounds ridiculously well-adjusted about it, even when the end result takes the sort of critical pounding that “The Informers” is.
Also thanks to the fine folks at the A/V Club, there’s a new Michael McKean interview that’s worth a look. I can’t believe how many years its been since “Spinal Tap,” and yet I’m still fascinated, and these stories about how the songs were written are absolute gold.
Call me crazy, but a TV series based on “Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown” isn’t the worst idea I’ve ever heard. If it manages to capture any of the flavor of what Almodovar does on film, it could be a really welcome antidote to 99.9% of what my wife watches on TV right now, but in a way that would actually keep her watching.
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Trust me… Spock saying he’s open to more “Star Trek” appearances? This is a very good thing.
Turns out I do want what I haven’t got. I’m not sure when this latest trend of high-value reissues of older CDs caught fire, but lately, it seems like everyone’s putting out old albums with new bonus material included. And I know it’s a cash grab, of course, but in some cases, I’ll shell out, and based on Pitchfork’s write-up of the live version of “Troy” that’s included in this new edition of “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got,” Sinead O’Connor’s biggest album, I think it’s going to have to be the next thing I pick up. And if you don’t know “Troy” at all, here’s a live version that was linked from that article that I hadn’t seen before. Pretty great.
I wish I were going to France for Cannes this year, but not just for the festival. I also wish I could go check out all the weird and wonderful tributes to Jacques Tati that appear to be going up all over the city right now. This one in particular just slays me:
If you don’t know Tati’s work, he’s a sublime silent comedy filmmaker who just didn’t happen to work in the silent era. His humor is gentle and silly, and even when it is socially pointed, it does it with a sly smile. He didn’t leave a giant body of work, but every single one of his films is ripe for rediscovery by new audiences.
I’m sorry I hadn’t mentioned this yet, but cinematographer Jack Cardiff passed away earlier this week. Cardiff was, simply put, one of the greats. His work on movies like “A Matter Of Life And Death” or “The Red Shoes” or “The African Queen” or even “Rambo: First Blood Part II” marked him as a remarkable visual artist, painting in bright primary colors in some cases, capable of sculpting with shadow in other cases, but always working to help sell not only the look of a film but the feel of a film. He was one of the great emotional cinematographers, and I can only hope that his work continues to influence young photographers coming up in the business.
The guys over at MarketSaw are completely insane about 3D in general and “Avatar” specifically, so how many copies of the new Empire do you think they’ve stuck together so far? Specifically, there’s a layout of new photos from the production of the film and some interview material that has him geeking out.
I didn’t hate the trailer for Rob Zombie’s “H2,” the sequel to his remake of “Halloween,” and that shocks me. I thought his remake was terrible, but I’m actually sort of intrigued by the idea that he’s playing with some radical reinventions this time. That’s the only way the idea has any value, if you ask me, and this seems like Zombie’s figured out that the closer he stays to what Carpenter did, the less scary it’s going to be, and the less interesting it is. I may end up hating this movie, too, but at least he’s bringing something new to the table.
So it just occurred to me… once the “Ghostbusters” video game comes out and I drop off the map completely, who will post this column? Oh, you think I’m kidding? Well, then, you haven’t seen this opening animation from the game, which sets off every nostalgic nerve ending in my body.
It makes me realize that even if “Ghostbusters II” wasn’t great, I still wanted them to continue the series. I think it’s hard to overstate my love for the entire “Ghostbusters” vibe, and this game looks like they nailed it. And I love that there’s a written by credit at the start of the game. Very cool.
I found the woman that my son, Toshiro Lucas, is going to marry. Hope she likes younger dudes.
Does it remotely surprise me to learn that Kim Morgan is a big fan of Cronenberg’s “Crash,” and that revisiting it is her way of saying goodbye to the great J.G. Ballard? No. No it does not. This girl loves her cars.
Finally, to kick you into the weekend, let’s look at what’s playing out there right now.
Paramount and Dreamworks have decided to finally release “The Soloist,” which was set to be one of the big fall Oscar-contender releases until… you know… they saw it. I’ll give them this much… the reaction has been better than I think they expected. There have been some harsh reviews, but our own Greg Ellwood actually enjoyed it and thought it was a solid effort. Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx star in a story based on a truel-life situation where a reporter for the LA Times met, befriended, and wrote about a schizophrenic street musician. Joe Wright, so heavily hyped after “Atonement” and “Pride and Prejudice,” directs.
Disney’s doing everything they can to launch their new Disney Nature label, an extension of what they used to do with the True-Life Adventures, which my kid adores on DVD. The first release from the new imprint, “earth,” is largely made up of footage from the BBC series “Planet Earth,” which is a great BluRay. I’m not sure why they’re building the launch of this new film series around material that’s basically just repurposed from TV, but I’ll bet it looks amazing on the bigscreen.
Gee, I wonder what “Fighting” is about. And more than anything, I wish there was some way for me to find out if there’s any fighting in it. I was talking to Devin Faraci about this one the other day, and I think the truth is that Dito Montiel (the writer/director) just annoys me. There’s this mannered, swaggering, faux-tough guy thing that certain young filmmakers love to indulge that just plain drives me up a tree. It feels thoroughly inauthentic to me. And Montiel’s first film, “A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints,” absolutely felt like that to me. As a result, I backed out of my “Fighting” screening at the last moment. It may be someone else’s cup of tea, and if you want to see a shirtless Channing Tatum make his way through 86 different fights, then you’re probably going to love this movie. And you’re also probably my friend Jeff.
Is it just me, or does “Obsessed” look like seventeen different flavors of awesome? It looks terrible, mind you, but awesome-terrible. Ali Larter is the crazy white temp who decides she’s going to come between married man Idris Elba and his wife Beyonce Knowles. It may be apocryphal, but I’ve heard the original title of the film was “No She Didn’t,” and if they had kept that title, I would be at the theater right now, openly worshipping the trashy genius.
I’m still laughing about how bad the reaction to “The Informers” was at Sundance this year. It sounds like a crazy mess of a film, indulgent and creepy, which is always a possibility when adapting Bret Easton Ellis. With a cast that includes Mickey Rourke, Kim Basinger, Amber Heard, and Billy Bob Thornton, it’s going to take an IMAX screen to hold all the goddamn crazy.
James Toback’s “Tyson” documentary also screened at Sundance this year, and I’ve managed to miss it over and over now. I’m fascinated by Mike Tyson, though, and Toback strikes me as a cautionary tale for how to squander the goodwill of the industry, so I’m dying to see what happens when you stick these two strong personalities together. Love him or hate him, Tyson was a major figure in the world of boxing for much of the ’80s and ’90s, and I’m curious to hear what he has to say for himself these days.
Also hitting screens this weekend, the long-delayed (for good reason) “The Mutant Chronicles,” a low-budge SF film that manages to waste both Thomas Jane and Ron Perlman, “Il Divo,” an Italian biopic about political corruption, “The Garden,” a documentary about the battle over a community garden in South Central Los Angeles, and “Is Anybody There?,” the Michael Caine film I mentioned last week, goes wider this weekend so even more people have a chance to see it.
That’s it for this week for The Morning Read. I’ve got to run shoot an interview now for an upcoming BluRay release of a movie I’ve loved for a loooooooooong time, and then tonight, it’s off to boldly go where no one (except for the gazillions of people who have already seen and reviewed it) has gone before.
See you guys here this weekend with some catch-up columns for the Motion/Captured Must-See Project and more.
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