Welcome back to The Morning Read.
Let’s not make a big stink out of this, and I’m not going to make any grand claims, but thanks to some major work behind the scenes by our great tech team, I may be ready to publish The Morning Read again on a regular basis. It’s all about making it an effective part of the work week, and the only way to test that is by giving it another try.
One of the strangest things about a month like September, with back-to-back film festivals, is the way it makes you feel totally disconnected from the news that’s going on. I’m not sure that’s been a bad thing in the last month, though, because when I scan back over recent headlines, it’s like someone’s playing an elaborate practical joke on Hollywood and film fans alike. For the past four years or so, we’ve been promised a Spielberg-directed, Tony Kushner-scripted film about Abe Lincoln starring Liam Neeson, and instead, it now appears that “the hottest project in town” really is a 3D movie in which Lincoln kills vampires, produced by Tim Burton and directed by Timur Bekmembatov. Irony has eaten our pop culture when this is “the hottest project in town,” and while I’m sure it’ll be a gas, I’m a little amazed reading accounts of how far 20th Century Fox went in their pursuit of the property. If Liam Neeson did end up playing Lincoln in this film instead of Spielberg’s, it would be one of the most bizarre punchlines to a public development process of all time.
I’m also getting weary from the sheer number of times everyone ends up reporting a story these days. If Emma Stone is indeed Mary Jane in “Spider-Man Redux,” that’s great. I’m not terribly surprised, based on how enormously appealing she is in “Easy A.” But has it really gotten to the point where we now run a story when someone’s considered for a role, when the studio is going to offer them the role, when they’re considering the role, and when they accept the role? Is the process really that fascinating? I’m not denigrating anyone’s reporting abilities… I’m just saying that it’s sort of exhausting, and it seems like the real story is the moment when someone is actually cast. We all participate on this particular hamster wheel, and it’s only when you’re outside it for a few weeks that it starts to look… well… crazy.
It’s not just casting where we beat these details to death. By now, I think it’s probably one of the worst-kept secrets in Hollywood that “The Hangover 2” is set in Thailand. Until a trailer arrives, though, my guess is we’ll keep treating it like news every time Todd Phillips mentions it. And we’ll treat it as news every time JK Rowling mentions even a hint of a possibility of a chance of a suggestion of a rumor of a future for Harry Potter. I think part of that is the optimism that is built into the DNA of every film fan. It’s the same optimism that a junkie’s got… “this next hit, this is gonna be the one!”… only with film fans, sometimes we’re right, and those moments are so blissful that we’ll accept a hundred rumors that don’t pan out in the search for that one that does.
Take, for example, the uber-vague report that was run over on Bleeding Cool that suggests Marvel Studios is already looking ahead, past “The Avengers” to whatever their next mega-event would be. Bleeding Cool quotes a source who says 2017 is the next target date, but without specifying what would arrive that year. It’s been such a crazy process for them to get everything in place for “The Avengers,” and I still think the general public doesn’t get exactly what’s going on. This weekend, I was watching “Iron Man 2” with my sister-in-law and my mother-in-law, and they started asking me questions about Nick Fury and Black Widow and the hammer in the desert, and by the time I answered all their questions, they had another dozen questions for me. They were amazed by the ambition of what Marvel’s trying, and they’re onboard now. They want to see all the connections, all the pieces of the puzzle assembled. If you engage an audience with this sort of thing, it’s addictive, and if Marvel does pull it together in 2012, then they’ll want to assure audiences that they can do it again. Building towards a second giant event like a “Civil War” would be really challenging, but the right way to follow up something as (hopefully) huge as “The Avengers,” and I guess it’ll be a while before we have any idea if this report is grounded in reality.
One of the reasons I’ve wanted to bring back The Morning Read was so I’d have an excuse to link out to film writing I love again, and Dennis Cozzalio’s gotten a lot of love from me in the past. He just published a piece about one of my favorite film performances of the ’80s, Albert Brooks in “Broadcast News,” and it’s such a good read, with so many great embedded Albert Brooks video clips, that you’ll be able to lose your afternoon to it if you let yourself.
I’ve got a buddy who still religiously watches “The Simpsons,” and he sent me a particularly sharp clip from the show. I particularly love their version of the Giacchino score…
And while we’re embedding things worth embedding, have you seen the new full-length “True Grit” trailer yet?
I haven’t written a lot about “True Grit” yet. That time is coming. Suffice it to say the Charles Portis source material is one of the strongest pieces of material the Coens have ever had to play with, their script nailed it, and that cast looks incredible. I know the original John Wayne take on this is beloved, but there’s so much room to make something new, and the language of that screenplay is just a joy. Fingers crossed this one delivers on all of that promise.
And speaking of delivering, now that Amy Adams is finishing her maternity leave, there are a number of films she is evidently circling, and two in particular that she would be great for. The idea of her playing the female lead in the new Jason Segal Muppet movie is perfect. Even in the otherwise miserable “Night At The Museum 2,” Adams played the exact right tone as Amelia Earhart, and not every actor would be right opposite an all-Muppet cast. Adams is also in contention for the new Cameron Crowe film, “We Bought A Zoo,” and would probably be a real asset to that one as well. Both are set for release in December of 2011, so it will most likely be an either/or, and there’s always the chance something totally different will end up catching her eye instead. Whatever the case, it’ll be nice to have her back onscreen soon.
More reviews this afternoon, and then tomorrow, I’ve got the start of my coverage of one of the best set visits I’ve ever been part of. You might want to pack, because we’re going to Ireland.
The Morning Read appears here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Except when it doesn’t.
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