TMR: James Cameron underwater in 3D and Natalie Portman on horseback in Ireland

08.24.09 8 years ago 5 Comments

Universal Pictures

Welcome to The Morning Read.

Over the weekend, I was at a junket, and someone asked me how long I’ve been with HitFix, and it sort of startled me to realize that it’s been almost nine months now.  Nine months of Morning Reads and new columns that went nowhere and festival coverage and reviews and interviews and TV Q&As and “Lost” recaps… and I feel like I’m still just now starting to get a hang of this particular format, of this particular site.  I’m hearing from more and more people that they’ve found the site and they’re enjoying it, but I feel like there’s so much more I want to do, and like there’s so much I have to master before I’m really good at it.  I’m just pleased that you guys are taking the time to let us know what you’re enjoying it so far, and I really do think we’re still warming up.  Our best is yet to come.

All the James Cameron talk over the weekend has focused on the premiere of the “Avatar” trailer and the big “Avatar” Day event they held at IMAX screens, but there was another bit of news over the weekend that’s just as exciting in my opinion.  It looks like “Sanctum” has gotten the go-ahead.  If you aren’t familiar with the project, it’s based in part on a true story, and it’s about a dive team led by a father and son who are in an underwater cave with there’s a freak collapse, sealing them inside.  It’s meant to be a harrowing adventure story that is about the way people’s character really defines itself when you’re in a situation like that as a group.  It’s also meant to be shot in the same digital 3D process that Cameron is using on “Avatar.”  He’s producing the film for Alister Grierson to direct.  Who?  Well, if you saw “Kokoda,” you have a pretty good idea of what sort of toolbox he’s bringing to the table for a film that I assume will largely be shot underwater for real.  In 3D.  Which sounds sort of amazing, frankly.  Like a deep blue “Descent.”  I like that Cameron is putting his full weight as a producer behind Grierson, who has a muscular, grounded filming style that should produce some really great tension onscreen.

[more after the jump]

So is this Natalie Portman in “Your Highness,” the new Universal comedy from director David Gordon Green?  That’s what one Portman fansite is claiming.  It certainly appears to be a shot from the set, and although she’s got her back to the camera, Portman’s got one of the most distinct necks in film since Audrey Hepburn, and that does indeed appear to be her.  Can’t wait until we start to see what sort of look and feel Green’s going for with this comedy about two royal brothers (James Franco and Danny McBride) who are forced into a quest in a fantasy world replete with boner-waving minotaurs, bloodthirsty knights, and really good weed.  Zooey Deschanel and Portman play Franco and McBride’s love interests, respectively, and the script is by McBride and Ben Best, and sounds like heaps of demented fun.

Last week, I posted all the great “Mighty Boosh” coverage that BoingBoing did, and this week, they’ve got what could be called the definitive exit interview with David Tennant and Russell T. Davies talking about “Dr. Who”:

If you’re a big “Who” fan, that is pretty much bliss.

Either this one will hit your nostalgia center hard, or you’ll wonder why I embedded it at all.  I doubt there’s much middle ground on this:

Wow.  I love it, and I question the sanity of the guys who made it.

I dig this for the same reasons I dig this.  I love anything that undermines the idea that perfection is attractive or that we need to aspire to perfection.  I find the imperfections in people to be the things that most interest me, and age is actually a process I find quite beautiful on most people.  Age and experience leave their marks on us, and I am a firm believer that we earn the faces we wear more with each passing year.  Anything that helps tear down the tyranny of the unreal in terms of self-image in our culture is a good thing.  A very good thing, indeed.

I was in the theater with Kim Voynar at Sundance this year when she saw “Grace,” and she was visibly unsettled by the picture afterwards, looking for someone she could talk to as she calmed down.  As a result, I’m doubly intrigued by her take on feminism in horror in general.  It’s a good read.

I wonder, though… is simply treating women as human beings and not as something less enough to be considered a feminist?  Because I love the screenwriting of James Cameron, but I’m not sure I’d call him a feminist in particular.  Yes, he loves strong female leads… but does that automatically make it a social agenda?  Or is it just a dramatic choice he finds gives him more options or that gives his work a different flavor?

And speaking of Cameron, here’s the “Avatar” game trailer:


I like how much of the world of Pandora the game looks set to allow you to explore.  Can’t wait.

If there’s anyone online who matches my passion for the work of Terry Gilliam, it’s Brendon Connelly over at /Film, who just sat down with the legendary filmmaker for an on-camera chat about “Parnassus” and other subjects:

Good stuff, and there’s more coming, evidently.

CineMash, sponsored by MSN and Mean Magazine, just finished up their “season” of strange and occasionally inspired tributes to older films, and they picked one of the strangest of the whole bunch to go out on.  It’s Will Arnett as “Carrie,” complete with prom dress, pig’s blood, and… animation?  No, seriously… check it out:

I could have gone the rest of my life without seeing Arnett in a dress.  And yet I’m glad I saw that.  Obviously,

Maybe I’m a dunce.  Maybe I simply accept things at face value.  Or maybe it’s not some giant mystery why Quentin Tarantino misspelled the title of his latest film, and trying to turn it into one is sort of idiotic.  In the movie, you see one of the Basterds has carved the words into the stock of his gun, and he’s spelled the words wrong.  That’s it.  That’s pretty much all the explanation you need.  There were a lot of bodies called into service in WWII, and not all of them had a formal education.  I don’t really think there needs to be a deeper hidden meaning behind the title, and if I were QT, I’d get annoyed by being asked to explain it, too.

I think this may well be the single best video blog from the set of “Scott Pilgrim Versus The World” to explain why Michael Cera was cast in the part.  As a huge fan of the books by Bryan Lee O’Malley, I can see Scott in Cera’s enthusiasm for the simple pleasures of hula-hooping, and in the way everyone else (particularly Stephen Stills) responds to that enthusiasm. 

*Bonus* Blog – Hula – Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World from Scott Pilgrim The Movie on Vimeo.

This is Scott Pilgrim in full effect, and although it’s just a simple silly behind-the-scenes thing, it really does indicate to me just how dead on Cera’s personality is in terms of him becoming Pilgrim on film.

That’s it for today.  Lots more coming this afternoon and evening, and all week long, so keep checking back.

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

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