Welcome to The Morning Read.
Wow. There’s no slow down at all right now. I keep expecting to hit that holiday lull, and instead, every time I sit down to write up one of these Morning Reads, I’m faced with enough options to make me dizzy. It’s good, I guess… a sign that the industry is healthy. But it means that these are always tough to compile, and so instead of whining about it, let’s just jump right in and see what’s going on out there.
Over at The Playlist, they broke the story that Paul Greengrass was dropping out of the development of the next film in the Jason Bourne franchise, and the story escalated when Greengrass released a statement confirming that he would no longer be the man steering the series forward. I’m sorry to hear it because I think Greengrass took a decent franchise and made it great, but at the same time, I don’t really believe we need another film in the series. Just because the third one made money, there’s no reason to automatically do it again. The law of diminishing returns will kick in eventually, and I have to think that the creative team on the series would rather go out on a high note, while people still like the character, instead of wearing out the welcome completely. The assumption is that Universal is now going to start talking to other filmmakers, but unless they lock down a script that makes Matt Damon want to do the film, what point is there in talking to directors? There is no series if Matt Damon moves on, and there’s no Matt Damon unless the studio comes up with a compelling reason for him to return, so I think we’re a long way from worrying about who sits behind the camera next time.
Rumored last week and finally confirmed this week, I’m very excited about the possibility of seeing “Jackass 3D” sometime next year, and I’d kill to see the tests that Jeff Tremaine is shooting. Frosty over at Collider recently opined that the camera tech just isn’t there yet to make a film like “Jackass” in 3D, but I disagree. I think that’s exactly where we are at this point, and once documentarians start using these new lightweight 3D rigs, I think we’re going to see some really outside-the-box applications of the process. Studios are going to mainly use 3D to try and turn films into events, as with the upcoming “Zombieland 2: 3D”, which makes a lot of sense. I think Ruben Fleischer, who has repeatedly said that he’s not a fan of horror films, could end up making something really fun working in 3D, and I’m guessing he’ll emphasize the fun and the humor, which is probably right for that series. What really intrigues me is all the talk from the screenwriters about how they initially planned for “Zombieland” to be a series, so they have material for several movies already blocked out, and they could end up building a really unusual film franchise out of this initial jumping-off point. We’ll see.
Holy cow, this dude freaks me out.
One thing I’ve always heard about Jeff Bridges is that he speaks his mind, and with him doing press right now for “Crazy Heart,” he talked to Kris Tapley a bit about the process of making “Iron Man” and how loose the script really was as they were filming. I’d heard much the same thing about not just the first film but the sequel, and hearing Bridges speak so frankly about it is a little surprising. Still, if you look at how well the first movie turned out, it gives you some faith that whatever the process is, as long as Downey and Favreau are involved, things should turn out well. There’s a lot more to the interview, of course, and you really should read it if you like Bridges and his work. It’s a heck of a good read.
And speaking of good reads, Kim Morgan’s posted yet another hellaciously great piece, this time looking back at “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” You know how I know Kim Morgan’s the real deal as a film writer?I don’t care what she’s writing about… I’m interested. She has that innate ability to make me feel like her interests are my interests while I’m reading something she wrote. She communicates her passions as clearly as anyone writing about film anywhere online today, and that’s why she’s got fans that include Roger Ebert among their number.
Ebert has, of course, become a prolific Tweeter and blogger in the past year, and it’s amazing to watch this guy who paved the way for so many of us writing about movies today as he happily adapts to the new landscape of social media and online publishing. He’s had a few speed bumps, but for the most part, he’s as Tweet-happy as anyone I’ve seen, and he loves to publish links to all sorts of things, like this list of the ten most amazing long tracking shots, which is of course incredibly subjective but which serves as a great conversation starter.
Ebert may be part of the last generation of conventional critics, where their relationship with the audience is clearly defined, but that doesn’t mean criticism is dead, no matter what newspaper editors across America would want for you to believe. I think the role of the critic has never been more heavily debated, and if there’s any unprofessionalism, or even the hint of it, on the part of the critic, then it makes the debate even more difficult. Then again, maybe being the worst critic in the world has its own appeal for some readers. Not me, but for some readers. Personally, I’d rather find people like Kim Morgan, who I simply enjoy reading whatever the subject. It’ll be interesting to dig into the end-of-the-decade lists that many people are preparing and publishing right now, because I think writing about that broad a span of time really forces a critic to reveal what’s important to them. Some lists I find fascinating, and some smack to me of trying too hard to impress. Personally, I love it when filmmakers make lists, like the one John Waters just published of his favorite films this year, or like Geoff McNab’s upcoming book where filmmakers talk about the movie that made them want to make movies. That’s illuminating, and that’s why I read criticism in the first place… it teaches me about people as much as it teaches me about movies.
Don Bluth may have flamed out in the second half of his career, piling one terrible film after another onto his resume, but there’s no denying how much he cared about animation when he started his career, and when he’s got something to say about the art and the business, any animation buff owes it to themselves to listen:
I spent many of my formative years in Tampa, within easy driving distance of Walt Disney World, but just as I was moving away is when the Orlando Universal Studios opened. I’ve still never visited the park, but I’d like to just to see how they incorporated all the Marvel characters into their park with the World of Adventure stuff. Whatever it is, I’m guessing that the proposed Marvel theme park in Dubai (which most likely will not happen now) would have blown it away. Don’t believe me? Disney And More uncovered some design work, and it’s just gorgeous. Could they have pulled it off? Beats me, but I would love to see them try.
Derrick Comedy has had a pretty tremendous year, and I love that they’ve gotten back to making short films now as they roll out “Mystery Team,” taking it town to town and really engaging with their audiences. These guys are the real deal, and every new things of theirs I see convinces me that we’re going to be seeing a lot of them in the years ahead, a development I welcome. Their new short is profoundly not safe for work, as should be clear from the title:
Well, okay then.
As Empire celebrates their 20th year of publication, they put together a portfolio of images of people reproducing iconic moments from the films that have come out during those 20 years, and it’s worth a look.
As video games and the industry mature, we’re starting to see people taking risks on new genres, and that’s exciting. There’s never been a truly great Western game, although “Red Dead Revolver” certainly tried. Now Rockstar is finishing up work on the sequel, and it looks like this is finally the experience that Western fans have been hoping for all this time:
Why do I suddenly crave spaghetti?
Finally, if you’re a fan of reading screenplays, there is a glut of them available legally right now online, pretty much covering most of the Oscar hopefuls, and Ray Pride rounded them all up for you in one easy to use article. I’m interested in reading several of those, if only because I’m curious what a Haneke script looks like or how they handle the Harry Potter scripts these days. Dig in, folks. It’s Christmas.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m still wrasslin’ with whatever this viral ick is, and I’m going to go collapse in my bed for a while to try to fight it off a bit more. I’ll be back with more for you tomorrow, including a review of “Crazy Heart,” the return of the Motion/Captured Must-See list, and more. Talk to you then.
The Morning Read appears here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Except when it doesn’t.
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