The Morning Read: Russell Brand and James Marsden ‘Hop’ in with new trailer

Welcome to The Morning Read.

I’m intrigued by the prospect of the Coen Bros. making a horror film.  For years, my buddy Scott and I have wished for a haunted house movie from the eccentric brothers, just because of the inherent potential in an idea like that.  When I woke up today to the news that they may actually be finally working in horror, I’ll admit it… my entire day got better right away.  That’s how Pavlovian my love of film is, and that’s how much I’m confident that they’ll bring something fresh to the genre, no matter what story they end up telling.  To be fair, the comment is just one passing remark in a larger interview, and it sounds like they’re working on a few different things right now, so there’s no telling if the horror film ever ends up being made.  One thing is for sure, though:  Tara Reid is crazy.

Are you familiar at all with Brian Lynch?  He is a strange, funny man, and he’s been an online presence for a long time now.  He’s written comic strips like “Angry Naked Pat” and “Monkey Man,” he’s made crazy little films like “Big Helium Dog,” he sold a Muppet script to Henson’s company at one point, and now he’s the screenwriter of the Russell Brand Easter Bunny movie, “Hop.”  I can guarantee I’m going to end up seeing this because as soon as my kids get a look at E.B., the CGI character who Brand voices in the film, I will not have an option.  They’re going to demand to see this film in the theater, and I am going to be the one who ends up taking them.  Thankfully, James Marsden is the live-action lead, and I’m convinced that guy can do no wrong in comedy.  It took a while for him to become the comedy leading man he is now, and there were a lot of films where no one quite knew what to do with him, but these days, Marsden is one of those people I innately trust, because he’s more than proven that he will do anything for a laugh, and he’ll most likely do it well. 

Want a look at “Hop”?  Universal just released the new trailer this morning:

And if that makes you curious about Lynch’s other work, he also released an “Angry Naked Pat” cartoon online this week that is far less safe for work than the “Hop” trailer.  Consider yourself warned:

I’m intrigued by the description of the new J. Michael Straczynski script, “Voices From The Dead,” a thriller that uses the real-life friendship between Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle as a way into a murder mystery set in 1920’s New York.  That could be so much fun, and those are two wonderful, rich, fascinating people to write about.  Either one of them could give you enough material for several films, so putting them together could be great.   Now it’s all about casting, isn’t it?

So much of this seems so simple and obvious, but in the wake of this week’s AOL/Huffington Post deal and with the always-shifting media landscape that made my viewing of “Broadcast News” last night seem quaint because of the ethical dilemmas they were wrestling with, you can never state these things often enough.  I hope I live up to the standards mentioned in this piece at least occasionally, and I swear I am always trying to live up to them more often than not.

In the last Morning Read, I included that pitch reel for “Defying Gravity” done by one Disney animator, and I talked about how your fandom doesn’t end when you start working professionally.  You just have a different skill set you can apply to your fan-art, and to prove just how true that is, we’ve got the remarkable “Superman Classic” for you today, an animated piece by Rob Pratt that is gorgeous and really taps into what I love about vintage Superman:

I find it impossible to mention “animation” and “Superman” without thinking of Brad Bird’s awesome “The Iron Giant,” and it’s obvious that Brad’s impact on the animation industry is profound.  When he picked up his Windsor McCay award at this year’s Annies, his speech is… well… legendary.  Check it out:

I’ve known Brad since 1991 or so, and when I first met him, “Family Dog” was his calling card, the thing he was known for if he was known at all, and watching his career since then has been a constant pleasure.  I know he’s not really done with animation… it’s so ingrained to who he is that I am sure he will never leave it behind completely… but it is going to be exciting to see him and Andrew Stanton both venture into live-action this year, and knowing how smart and film-savvy Bird is, I’m betting this new “Mission: Impossible” is going to be something special.

Have you read the New Yorker‘s piece on Paul Haggis and the Church Of Scientology?  I’m not bringing it up just to take some cheap shots at Scientology or to rant about what they are or what they aren’t.  Frankly, my overall position on religion and its impact on society is such that picking on one faith, no matter what its origin, would feel unfair.  I’ll just say this… the thing I find most impressive about Lawrence Wright’s piece is that he really dug in to try and identify what it was that Haggis got from his religious experience, and what he was looking for, and it’s only when you get to those questions that you can really start to understand how someone spends thirty years as part of an organization without asking the hard questions.  We are all looking for certain things, and it’s poor taste to knock someone who is trying to find those answers, even if you don’t agree with where they’re looking.  It takes a real writer to remain clear-eyed and fair when writing about a faith they don’t like, and I think that’s what Wright did beautifully here.

Darren Bousman’s blogs about the production of his next film, “11 11 11,” are either fiendishly smart viral advertising, or bread crumbs we’ll be able to follow after his eventual disappearance.

Karina Longworth has me nervous about the future of revival exhibition in Los Angeles. If it can’t work here, can it really work anywhere?

And why does it matter if we have access to these classic films in theaters?  After all, we can always just watch them on video, right?  Well, this piece sort of speaks to the larger idea of what it is that we get from revivals and the tracking down of films in certain ways and contexts.  It’s an amazing read.

Do you consider Batman to be science fiction?  Don’t answer until after you read this piece.

Are you watching “Community” these days?  I love the show, and I love how it manages to embrace geek culture without pandering the way “The Big Bang Theory” does.  Their last episode was crazy role-playing-game bliss, and this blooper reel from the episode just makes me like the cast even more:

With “Last Tango In Paris” on its way to Blu-ray in the next few weeks and with the passing of Maria Schneider last week, it’s probably time for Eric D. Snider to ask about the film, “What’s the big deal?”  His answer’s pretty great.  Make sure you’ve got some butter handy while reading it, too.

Now this is a kind of Hollywood tourism I can get behind.

I agree with this piece wholeheartedly.  If you want to work with screenwriters, you should probably memorize this entire thing.

I ran a piece last time in which someone wrestled with the question of how many days or years passed in the film “Groundhog Day,” and today, we’ve got an equally hard-hitting piece of investigative journalism:  which baseball game did Ferris Bueller see on his day off?

Warren Ellis, dropping some James Bond knowledge like a mind bomb.

I’m not sure I’d admit that this almost worked.

I’m a fan of the original “The Wicker Man” by Robin Hardy, and he’s been threatening to revisit the material for years now.  And now there’s a trailer for “The Wicker Tree,” and it looks flat out mental.  I’m in.  I have no idea what to make of this crazy NSFW trailer, but I’m in:

And if we’re talking about things where we know we’re already pre-sold, then “L.A. Noire” would have to be the one game I genuinely need to buy this year.  Rockstar has become the most trusted name in gaming for me after their “Grand Theft Auto” series and last year’s awesome “Red Dead Redemption.”  Those guys working in the language of classic film noir in period Los Angeles?  That’s like someone reached into my head, and this trailer is the result:

What’s that?  It comes out nine days before my birthday?  Ooooooooh.

You know what they love over at Film School Rejects?  Columns.  And they’ve just added a new one about sex in the movies.  Check it out.

Yay! “Between Two Ferns” is back! I don’t even care who the guest is.  Just click play! Do it!

Scott Aukerman, who produces “Between Two Ferns,” is also the mastermind behind “Comedy Death-Ray,” and one of those just plain nice guys who seem to be so rare in this business.  He tweeted a link last night to a prank phone call which he pointed out fools nobody at any point in the call, which is exactly what cracks me up about it.  Worst prank call ever… or the best?

I can only imagine the hell this guy caught when his wife finally got home.

I think the producers of “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark” should worry less about WHAT people are writing and more about WHY they are writing it.  At this point, they’ve delayed their opening enough times while still selling full-price admissions to audiences that complaining about being reviewed seems downright rude.  I know what the tradition is in terms of reviewing pre-opening Broadway shows, and I’m sorry… we live in a different age, and media works differently, and you cannot reasonably expect people to remain silent while you workshop your piece in front of people who paid over $100 a pop to be there.  Stop whining.  Fix your show.  And stop breaking your cast member’s bones.

Kim Voynar’s been rocking it lately, and this latest piece of hers is just one example of why you really should be reading her.

This is a real news story, right?  And I can apply for this job, right?

If not, maybe I’ll apply for this one instead.

Is Jamie Masada trying to destroy stand-up comedy?  You can’t help comedians work out their issues… if you do, you’ll take away the very thing that drives them.  I agree that there are many tragic endings to the stories of some very funny people, but the moment you start to pull apart whatever deeply-seeded traumas they are carrying around with them, you risk ruining them as performers.  No joke.

I don’t even know how to describe this, but it’s lovely, and it’s so totally worth 17 minutes of your day.  Minimal animation, maximum WTF?

The External World from David OReilly on Vimeo.

Next time you hear someone spew some small-minded garbage about the “gay agenda,” feel free to print this out, wrap it around something appropriate, and force feed it to them.

Finally, let’s wrap things up with the big-brained Peter S. Hall, who is indeed as professional as a professional gets, and whose questions about “Sanctum” would make for a great conversation with James Cameron.

On that note, I’ve got lots more to write this week, and I feel like I’m still just getting back up to speed.  One week off, and I went soft in the middle.  That’s no good.  Not when I’ve got so much great stuff to share with you.

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