The Morning Read: Gondry tackles Philip K. Dick’s ‘Ubik’ and ‘Men In Black 3’ takes a break

Welcome to The Morning Read.

Holy cow… Michel Gondry adapting “Ubik” as a film is one of those things I wouldn’t even dream of asking for, because I’d figure there’s no way anyone would actually pony up the money to make that real.  Yet that’s the word this morning, and if Gondry really does end up making that film, it could be the Phillip K. Dick adaptation that Dick deserves.  His literary legacy has been deeply abused by Hollywood over the years, and if you only know him from the movies that are loosely based on his work, you’d think he was a guy who had big ideas and wrote a whoooooole lot of stupid action scenes.  The truth is that movies have rarely done well by his work.  There’s a spiritual component to his books and stories that is often intentionally overlooked, and the surreality of his best work is often abandoned in favor of empty explosions.  Gondry would be a perfect filmmaker to adapt “Ubik,” one of the headiest of all of Dick’s novels, and I can honestly say that it sounds like such a perfect marriage of filmmaker and material that I can’t believe it will ever come to pass.  Please, Gondry, prove me wrong.

It feels oddly appropriate this morning as I look at the window at the gloriously rainy day in Los Angeles that there is finally a title for the “Sherlock Holmes” sequel, and I like that they’re not going to be using numbers.  Doyle’s stories always had great titles, and “Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows” is  a fun title for what I assume is the first head-to-head confrontation between Guy Ritchie’s take on Holmes and the infamous Professor Moriarty.  It looks to me like the “Holmes” sequel is nothing but confidence, but making a mega-sequel is a high-pressure game and sometimes it can lead to some creative second-guessing that can be dangerous.  Right now, “Men In Black III” is on hiatus, with half of the film already in the can.  This one’s a strange case, because it really is two totally different films married into one movie, with half of it taking place in the past, and half of it taking place in the present.  There have been ongoing delays on this film, and the break, which was built into the original schedule, was supposed to be over already.  Instead, it looks like they’re not going to be back in front of the camera until March 28th, with more script work happening in the meantime.  I’m curious to see if any of this ends up showing when the film is finally assembled, or if the delays will allow them to really get the script into great shape.

This disturbs me greatly.  I’ve never been hassled in this sort of way while flying, and I doubt my half-baked opinions on proposed “Terminator” sequels are going to get me put on a government watch list, but the idea that any journalist is being forced to give up his notes and his computer and his camera so everything can be copied by U.S. Customs seems to me to be completely against the free press we claim we have in this country.

Of course, that’s one level of annoyance, and what happened to Lara Logan in Egypt was a whole different level of violation.  It’s a ghastly story, and I find it hard to believe Nir Rosen honestly thought it was okay to joke about it in any context.  He was hardly the only offender, though.  It’s sort of terrifying to see how willing people are to make the victim responsible even today in 2011, after what I would have thought would be a cultural shift towards understanding how and why these things happen, both here and in other cultures.  There’s nothing funny about the situation, and I really don’t understand why wishing the same on Anderson Cooper counts as a joke.  It’s an example of the sort of poor judgment that social networking media sometimes encourages in people, and a reminder that your words, no matter how bite-size the delivery system, do matter, and you are responsible for what you say.

I think we will see more and more crowdsourcing of film financing in the future, and I think it’s a good thing if people are able to find new ways to raise money to bring their movies to the screen. I will say, though, that I get tired of being pitched certain of these “help us finance our movie” stories over and over because that’s not news.  It is not my job to help any movie get financed.  It becomes news when you’ve successfully done it and actually made the film, or when you produce something intriguing like that “Iron Sky” teaser from a year or so ago.  Until then, don’t expect the press to do the heavy lifting for you.

I’ve always wanted to have my sitcom cancelled, and now, thanks to “Arrested Development” creator Mitch Hurwitz, I can make my dream come true.

This is a touching piece about Liam Neeson, and while I kid about his late-career rebirth as an action star, it’s good to hear that he’s found some solace after his wife’s death in his work lately.  He’s one of those guys I forget how much I like until I see him in something, and I wish him some peace as he moves forward with his life.

Five years of Film School Rejects?  It’s not too late to pull the plug, Neil! Run while you’re still sane, Cole!  Or stay and accept my congratulations on what you guys have built… either/or.

Wow.  I’d never seen The Dark Room before, and I’m a big noir fan.  Consider me intrigued.

Hey, Steven Scholzman, don’t go telling everyone all the secrets about why horror films work on audiences.  The moment you explain the magic trick, you risk not being able to make it work anymore, and you make some cogent points on what it is that really unsettles an audience.  That’s my bread and butter, man.  Let’s keep your insights on the hush-hush, okay?

The first time I heard from Fillip Tegstadt, it was because he wanted to let me know about this Swedish film in production that he felt was going to turn out well.  He’s Swedish himself, and I thought at first that he was just beating the drum for this film because it was from Sweden, but when I finally laid eyes on “Let The Right One In” myself, I realized Fillip had been telling me the truth for about a year at that point, and that he had an eye for genre.  Now he’s got a film of his own on the way, and Twitch just did a great run-down of what you need to know about “Marianne.”  I love that poster, too.  Looks like the European release art for an Argento film from 1984.  Awesome.

Makes sense that Hitler was a 3D fan.

Speaking of Hitler, Devin Faraci is a big fan of “Supernatural,” and when he first mentioned that he was going to go attend a “Supernatural” convention, I figured he’d be able to write a wildly-enthusiastic piece about the event.  That’s because I forgot Creation was the organizer of the show, and Devin’s piece, published yesterday, reveals some basic truths about the way fandom is exploited and the way they let themselves be exploited.  It’s a gross scene, and there’s a reason I don’t attend events like this which Devin more than explains in his story.

Jesus.  Plastic rice?  How long does my list of phobias need to be before you’re done freaking me out, world?

I like this idea for a regular feature from The Wrap, and I hope they keep it up.

The more I read, the more I feel like Eva Gabrielsson really should be the keeper of Stieg Larsson’s legacy, no matter what the strict reading of the law might suggest.  I’m not a big fan of the Salander books and films, but I think they are personal in many ways, and Gabrielsson appears to have been a major part of their conception.  If Larsson was alive, his family would have nothing to do with the work, and that should be considered when assigning the rights to any future use of his work.

This is a very sad commentary on the state of toys right now, and how hard it is to interest kids in anything less than the highest of high-tech, and I see it even in my own house.  We really work to challenge the kids to use their own imaginations and to enjoy the simple pleasures of running and bike riding and being outside.  The kids don’t play video games yet, and I’m not sure what age I think would be appropriate for them to begin.  I do like that Kotaku will run material like this, even when it’s not a glowing endorsement of the video game industry over all else.

You have to admit, though, that technology makes for some really wild toys these days, right?

When you’re a parent, it feels like this is exactly how fast your kids age:

I want to do this.  I’m too afraid of heights to ever actually do it, but I want to, nonetheless.

Everyone’s talking about the recent episode of “This American Life” which purports to have finally revealed the secret recipe for Coca-Cola, and it’s a great listen, but G4 may have uncovered some of the missing ingredients.

Scott Weinberg seems gruff and even abrasive sometimes, as anyone with passionately held opinions can, but I’ve gotten to know him well on the festival circuit the last few years, and he’s a sweetheart.  A genuinely good guy who loves animals, and his piece about the inconsistency of the MPAA when it comes to the portrayal of animal cruelty in films has attracted comments that are all over the place.  It’s worth a read.

Smoking cigarettes is a terrible habit, but there is a sensual pleasure in the act that can’t be denied, and for something so disgusting, it sure does look great when you take pictures of it.

Love makes idiots of us all.

I think it’s great that not only did “Parks And Rec” get better after its weak first season, but that one of the key things they did to make the show better was turn Leslie Knope from a Michael-Scott-like bumbler into someone who is so good at what they do that it’s annoying.  I wish we had more Leslie Knopes in local government, and this article explains just why that would be a good thing.

And speaking of shows that got better…

In the interest of full disclosure, I am close friends with one of the creators of “Cougar Town,” and I root for that show without apology.

I have tried several times to make it through the Peter Sellers film “The Fiendish Plot Of Dr. Fu Manchu” out of curiosity, but it’s one of the most painful, awful things I’ve ever seen, and Nathan Rabin deserves a medal for not only watching it but turning it into this wonderful review.

I’ll leave you today with this trailer for a new game called “Dead Island,” which is like a zombie survival horror version of “Irreversible”:

Speaking of “Irreversible,” I’m going to have Scott Swan over tonight to record the new Motion/Captured Podcast, where we’re going to be talking about “Enter The Void,” among other things.  Sorry for the delay on this one, but I think we’re pinning down a new schedule that should make you guys happy.  Unless you hate the podcast.  In which case, you’ll be furious.

Either way, plenty of good stuff still to come this week.

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