TMR: On The Shelf, Guillermo’s new vamps, and 50 years of Stanley Kauffman

05.27.09 8 years ago 4 Comments

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Welcome to The Morning Read.

Before I got up yesterday, my wife swapped out the chair I was using in my office with an actual office chair for me.  A new one.  A heavenly one.  This, in fact, is the first thing I’ve written completely from the new chair, and already, I feel like I’ve improved tenfold.

Well, okay, it’s just a chair.  But still, it’s pretty sweet being this comfortable at my desk.  And my wife improved my office by a huge percentage in the last few days, helping me streamline my work process.  Or at least, that’s the plan.

Sort of a so-so week for DVDs and BluRay releases overall, I thought.  There are always a few weeks like this each year, where it’s hard to muster much enthusiasm for any of what you see hit the shelves.  There’s “Killshot,” the movie so good that Harvey Weinstein seemed determined to beat the shit out of anyone who bought a ticket to it, hiding it in theaters in three remote cities.  I managed to see the movie, and I thought it was sort of a mild pleasure, a decent Elmore Leonard adaptation that definitely didn’t deserve to get buried.  See it just for the Joey Gordon Levitt/Mickey Rourke stuff, which is actually pretty good.  And because Rosario Awesome is in it.  Which makes everything better always.  “The Sky Crawlers” was also released, an anime title I’ll review later this week, and it may be under most people’s radar, but it’s worth a look, too.  “Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus” came out, which automatically makes this a week worth remembering, but only if you’re a fan of potentially terrible movies that look too crazy to hate.  The shark attacks the Golden Gate Bridge.  I mean, come on.  There were some catalog titles like “Field of Dreams” and “Falling Down” and “True Romance” released on BluRay, too, but other than that, it was a very slim week.

[more after the jump]

Have you guys been following the “We Love You So” blog, where Spike Jonze and friends are discussing “Where The Wild Things Are” and more?  It’s addictive and wonderful and you should bookmark it immediately.

Ping-pong?  Really?  I went through my ping-pong phase when I was 15.  Does this mean Hollywood is less cool than I was at 15?  If so, I suggest the system has collapsed completely.

Did you see the new “Between Two Ferns”?  With Brad Lee Cooper, star of “The Wedding Planner”?  It’s a good one.

Best use of Carrot Top ever.  I love how Zach doesn’t seem to know who Cooper is, despite having just starred with him in “The Hangover.”  I wish “Between Two Ferns” was two hours long and daily.  I love it.

Guillermo Del Toro, Zach’s Mexican twin brother, is busy launching “The Strain,” his vampire trilogy, and the official site is up and running.  There’s an event in Hollwyood next week at Meltdown Comics to premiere the book, and Guillermo’s actually flying in from New Zealand to make an appearance and sign copies that night.


When:  Mon, June 1, 11:59pm – Tue, June 2, 2:30am


Description:  We at Meltdown apologize immediately to you, the human race, as we appear to have made a terrible mistake and we fear that we have doomed you all. A vampire cannot cross a flowing body of water without the assistance and direct invitation of a living human being. In Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s THE STRAIN, this fact of dark fiction is key to understanding the horror that follows in this fantastic and terrifying new novel. Mankind faces extinction in the form of a rogue vampire lord from the old country who, with the help of a human or two, has come to make war on the old way of doing business and repaint the world with a darker palette. A few weeks ago, a representative of Mr. del Toro contacted the store and asked if Meltdown would like to host a signing of this new work. We thought that sounded just fine. We didn’t blink when it was suggested that it be a midnight signing as we are night owls as well. Happier still was that we would have a limited edition hardcover with event-only signed tip in from Guillermo del Toro on hand that evening. It did strike an odd note when they then asked that one of us at the store reach Mr. del Toro at home on his private line (a number that has since been disconnected) and invite him personally to Meltdown for the signing. So now, having read the novel in its entirety, we worry that we have invited a vampire lord who has made a very canny disguise of being a creative type into our home where he plans to begin some kind of viral Armageddon, thereby dooming the entire human race and ruining the book signing. The novel also taught us there is very little we can do in the face of vampire takeover other than avoid shadows and hoard silver (note to self: visit pawnbrokers) so we will be going on with the event as planned.”

I’d like to thank Mike “Trick’r’Treat” Dougherty for my new phobia.

You know, CBS has tried to be a film production company before, but it’s always nice to have one more buyer in town instead of one less.  I can’t say the slate does much for me on paper, but I wish them well, and I hope they can build an identity that helps them hang around.

Fast Company is worried that Google might actually be Skynet.  I’d like to assuage those fears by explaining to them that at this point, the “Terminator” timeline is so deeply fucked that there’s little or no chance we need to worry anymore.

This is nothing but good.

And this is even better.

Dan Aykroyd’s still talking about Ghostbusters possibilities, including this summer’s video game and the potential third film, and he’s making me mental.  I’m desperate to get my hands on the first film on BluRay and also to spend some time with that game, which looks awesome.  Beyond that, I want to sit down with Dan since he’s feeling so chatty these days.  I’d love to spend an afternoon talking about other dimensions and ectoplasm with my very favorite web-toed mutant.  In the meantime, it looks like Ghostbusters is hiring now.

Vern’s been a busy boy.  Aside from his semi-heartbroken review of “Terminator: Salvation,” he’s also recently written about “Thick As Thieves,” the first film from the director of the upcoming spoof “Black Dynamite” as well as Renny Harlin’s baffling “The Adventures Of Ford Fairlane.”

It’s about time.  Now all I need is my robot butler and I’ll officially be living in the future.

As long as we keep heading in the direction we’re heading as an industry, we can expect to read a lot more editorials like this one.

I do think there are solutions, though, and it’s going to require guys like Ted Hope, who seems to have some big ideas that are really little more than common sense spelled out.

I’ve been writing about film for a living now for almost 15 years.  I can’t imagine the body of work that exists after doing it for a full half-century, but I have boundless respect for Stanley Kauffman for all he’s accomplished.  You really should take some time today and sample his work and try to wrap your head around 50 years of writing about movies.  Epic.

Can I see the giant robots now?  I was supposed to have an audience with Michael Bay about a month ago to see “Transformers 2” footage, but it got cancelled at the last minute.  Looks like at least one person was able to reschedule.  Lucky him.

I quite like this piece about dealing with internet comments.  I was contacted this week by a genuine crazy person who used to lurk in a chat room I moderated for Ain’t It Cool, and it was a reminder that no matter what, there will always be people out there who feel entitled to some personal piece of you just because they read words you’ve written.  I was horrified by the presumption and the arrogance of this guy’s e-mails at first, but when I realize how empty someone’s life has to be for them to sit at home obsessing over hidden meanings in throwaway comments I made months ago online, that revulsion gave way to a deep-seeded pity.  I could make a whole list of people I’m glad I’m not, and this guy tops it.  Anytime someone gets under my skin, I should just put on this video with Casey Wilson from “Saturday Night Live” and remind myself just how seriously I should take this stuff…

And finally, I’d like to offer my sincere condolences to Mike Tyson and his family over the loss of his daughter.  It sounds like one of those nightmare accidents that no one could have predicted, and I can only imagine the profound gut-wrenching emotional distress they’re all going through right now.  Crazy.

I’d also like to thank everyone who e-mailed me birthday greetings yesterday.  Even though the California Supreme Court didn’t get me what I asked for, everyone else seemed to be inordinately kind to me.  The well-wishes were all deeply appreciated, and it was a wonderful day overall, capped by a screening of something I can’t discuss yet that is absolutely one of the richest films I’ve seen so far this summer.

It’s going to be a busy 24 hours between now and tomorrow afternoon for me here on the blog.  Look for a new “Kick-Ass” set visit report, as well as my review of “The Hangover” and some other surprises as well.  And then tomorrow, I’ve got a double feature of the new Woody Allen film and “Land Of The Lost” to look forward to, so it’s one of those weeks.

Wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Morning Read appears here every day, Monday through Friday.  Except when it doesn’t.

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