Welcome to The Morning Read.
Man, it’s been a long week. And it’s only Wednesday?
I’m not even sure I can pinpoint what’s responsible. Sure, there’s been some big news today, like the “Avatar 2” and “Avatar 3” confirmation and the “Dark Knight Rises” news, and I’ve been running around doing things that you’ll see soon, like TV interviews for “Tangled” and “Due Date” and “127 Hours,” but that’s every week. Maybe now that the sun’s coming out in LA, I’ll shake it off. I’d better. There’s a ton of stuff waiting to get written about here on my desk and hitting the screen in the weeks ahead.
If Nicolas Cage really is playing both Johnny Blaze and the demon Zarathos in the upcoming Neveldine/Taylor “Ghost Rider 2,” it is going to be a completely lunatic experience. The directors have been posting cryptic hints in their Twitter feed today, promising a “nic cage classic” from the dual performances. I’d be willing to believe them. When Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg told me about what Nic Cage had planned when he was going to be the villain in “The Green Hornet,” including playing the entire film with a broad Jamaican accent, I was almost sad that it didn’t happen. There’s nothing more interesting than the moments where directors let Cage off the leash and he is free to play. He remains one of the most inventive, eccentric performers we’ve got, and it’s genuine. He makes big, wild choices, and that’s the reason he’s remained worth watching for nearly 30 years now.
Did you read my set report for “Faster”? You may have glossed past it if you’re not particularly anticipating a Dwayne Johnson action movie, but do me a favor… take a look. I want to be clear that the problems I outline in the piece aren’t so much CBS Films problems or “Faster” problems, but problems with the idea of what a “set visit” is these days. I used to be able to mount a very clear and confidence defense of the set visit, and right now, I’m finding it increasingly hard to do so. It’s something I may address further, but I wanted to be clear that I’m not picking on “Faster” in particular. This is just an emblematic moment, so this is where I addressed it.
Have you seen the trailer for “Sanctum”? This is going to be an exercise in claustrophobia and primal fears, and when people say 3D can’t enhance an experience or that there’s no particular thematic or visceral point to using the format, “Sanctum” may be one of the films you can use to respond. Produced by James Cameron and based on a true story, this is what my nightmares look like:
I know people who got sort of weak-kneed watching the cave footage in “The Descent,” and I hope this film is enough to actually kill them in their seats. Can’t wait.
Darren Aronofsky’s already looking at what he’ll do after “Wolverine 2,” which appears to be a done deal at this point. If “Machine Man” reunites him with Mark Heyman, his co-writer on “Black Swan,” that’s a good thing. And if it puts the two of them together with the very smart and very funny Max Barry (author of novels like Jennifer Government and Syrup), then that’s a very good thing. I haven’t been reading his online novel Machine Man, but I love his work in general. Considering Aronofsky’s interest in “Robocop” and in Frank Miller’s “Ronin,” it sounds like a film version of “Machine Man” would be right up his alley. I’ll probably wait until the book is published in spring of 2011 before I read it, but I already know enough to be excited for this one somewhere down the road.
It’s amazing to watch how some very big names have adapted to Twitter. For example, Penn and Teller retweeted an article that someone sent to them today, and as a longtime fan of P&T, I really dug reading about these obvious precursors to their act, and the explanation for the Magic Bullet Trick was so obvious it’s annoying.
Judd Apatow, like Steve Martin, appears to have jumped into Tweeting in a major way, and it’s sort of hilarious to watch him go. It’s also fairly revealing, and I think when someone is Tweeting a lot, you get a real picture of what it is that they’re sort of ingesting daily, in terms of media. This interview that just went up on PBS NewsHour is actually one of the best sit-downs with Judd I’ve seen, and really captures the unguarded Apatow I’ve seen in a few moments, as well as a crazy-smart comedy titan who has built an empire in the last decade.
I think I’m going to buy this just so I can completely enrage my iPhone and XBox loving friends who are already irritated by my PS3.
Patton Oswalt’s piece about the “It Gets Better” campaign is one of the best I’ve read because of the unflinching perspective he offers up. Impressive stuff.
Here’s another amazing find by Danny at One Cool Thing A Day, and it almost feels like this is the most aggressive proof of concept piece I’ve ever seen. It’s a crazy style exercise, and hypnotic, like if Gorillaz had made “Akira”:
Have you been watching “Post Mortem With Mick Garris”? Mick is one of my oldest friends in this business, and one of the nicest guys I know. I owe him a lot, and I’ve always been proud that everything I wrote for him went well. One of the things that I first bonded with Mick about was his work as a journalist covering genre filmmaking, and he did some great interviews back on the sets of movies like “The Thing” and “Videodrome”, back when the movies we now consider classics were being made. Mick has been interviewing some big names in horror for FEARnet recently, and it’s a great series. This week is a five-part interview with Frank Darabont about horror in general and “The Walking Dead” specifically. Since you’ve got two of my favorite people having a conversation about one of my favorite topics, this is pretty much the definition of the sort of thing The Morning Read was created to showcase. Check out part one, then follow it over to FEARnet where you can find the others.
Speaking of Mick Garris, check out Nathan Rabin’s latest “My Year Of Flops,” which deals with the 1996 short film “Michael Jackson’s Ghosts.” I’m intrigued by Rabin’s piece because I was aware of all the twists and turns on “Ghosts” as they were happening, years of weird starts and stops, and Rabin just scratches the surface of how strange and revealing “Ghosts” really is. The behind-the-scenes story on that one could probably be a book all by itself.
Joe Lynch deserves to have his next film “Knights Of Badassdom” beat “Avatar” at the box office if for no other reason than because of the good karma he earns for bringing Aiden to my attention and, as a result, to your attention. Aiden? Who’s Aiden, you ask? Well, Aiden is five years old. He loves to wear costumes that makes from paper and crayons. He sells prints of his monster drawings via an Etsy store where you can find some familiar monster images and icons. And you should buy them because when you do, you’re helping pay for the chemotherapy that could save Aiden’s life since he was diagnosed recently with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Devin Faraci ran a piece about Aiden on his site, and I hope more people help spread the word. I’m going today to buy one of Aiden’s drawings, and I’m going to hang it in Toshi’s room for when he comes back from his trip. This is an amazing way to meet a horrible situation head-on, and I hope this kid has a long and creative life that we all can enjoy.
Here’s what you can expect for the rest of the afternoon. Next up, the “Apocalypse Now” contest winners. Then I’m posting not one but two new contests for you, and after that, the latest “Motion/Captured Podcast” goes up. All that before I leave the house for the evening, so you’ll have something to read and I’ll have a clear conscience.
The Morning Read appears here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Except when it doesn’t.