"So, are they going to kill a mockingbird?"
"Dad, what did the bird do?"
This was the first response from Toshi and Allen, verbatim, when I was picking titles with them for this year's Film Nerd 2.0 line-up, and I stopped to look at the discs for "To Kill A Mockingbird," the 1962 film adaptation of Harper Lee's classic novel.
Toshi takes titles literally. The idea of metaphor is beyond him. It is not something he fully gets yet, the double-meanings of things. And so when we're talking about movies, he asks for title, plot, and an explanation if necessary. I like that he thinks that way, that he knows what it takes for him to understand something, and he knows how to interrogate me to get it.
It reminds me of the bit on "The Simpsons" where it shows Bart Simpson walking out of a theater showing "Naked Lunch" and he says, "I can think of at least two things wrong with that title." I remember as a kid when I would try to see movies that were forbidden to me, and I would sometimes succeed in my quest only to be confused and irritated by the result. Nine year old kids really aren't the target audience for "An Unmarried Woman," but I was sure I wanted to see it because it was rated R. I wish I'd had Paul Mazursky there to ask questions afterwards, because I had plenty of them.
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"So, are they going to kill a mockingbird?"
Ben and the girls are off to Belize, and Ben is so excited! I'm less excited because Courtney is still on the show. This girl practically defines the word simpering, and with the baby voice, the lip sucking and the general childishness, I can't quite wrap my head around the idea that Ben has an interest in this manipulative, catty airhead. Each week that passes that doesn't result in her getting the boot just convinces me that Ben is 1) stupid 2) completely superficial and/or 3) an insecure little boy who's looking for someone as close to simple minded as possible so he can feel better about himself. In any case, I'm beginning to think that any of the girls who seem the least bit funny, smart or bubbly will really be better off getting kicked off the show at this point. Increasingly, it seems like dodging a bullet.
It’s a cold, cold world out there, but Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars will be there to protect us. In the video for “Safe & Sound,” from “The Hunger Games,” the threesome vow that “no one can hurt you now,” but it looks like our odds aren’t good.
The video, which has a bleak, winter chill feel to it, even though Swift is dressed in a billowy white summery dress, opens with The Civil Wars’ Joy Mitchell and John Paul White in a cabin with a roaring fire. So they’re fine, but what about Swift, who seems destined to roam the plains with no shelter? Even the trees are barren. She seems slightly bothered, but mainly she’s looking beatific as she walks the land as if she’s the last person left on earth. She does see a deer, but the deer comes to an untoward end.
[More after the jump...]
It's a little hard to believe this is Mars Volta.
"The Malking Jewel" is a murky garage growler with a dash of late '70s jam, not the psych space journey we've all come to know and love. This is like inviting your weed-selling neighbor over to party, and instead his scuzzy-but-awesome cousin shows up, borrows your bowl and asks too many weird questions about your turntable.
A review of tonight's "Smash" coming up just as soon as I get you to understand p orbitals...
It's time for another two-hour shot of blind auditions. What we don't know? Whether Cee-Lo will bust out the cat again. We can only hope.
When word broke that Guillermo Del Toro is developing a remake of "Beauty and the Beast" to star Emma Watson, it reminded me of an April Fool's Day joke, and I couldn't pinpoint why.
It took me almost an hour to finally pull up the 1998 article that Harry Knowles ran on Ain't It Cool, in which he gloated about how many people had fallen for his April Fool's Day jokes. He printed that Luc Besson was attached to remake "Beauty and the Beast" and that Guillermo Del Toro was about to go to Cannes with a secret remake of "Curse Of The Demon." As he notes in the article, I was the one person who wrote in that year, still early days in my friendship with Harry, to call B.S. on his stories. I had that collision of pranks in my head, and this news set that off for me for fairly obvious reasons.
This seems like a very natural fit of filmmaker and material, and it certainly answers the question of whether or not other filmmakers will hire Emma Watson. I think she's earned her starring roles in films, and I'm mystified by anyone who doesn't think she's developed into an interesting and distinct young actor, maybe the strongest of the young "Harry Potter" cast. I think the only way we'll ever really see what else she's capable of is for directors to roll the dice and try. "Portrait Of A Wallflower" sounds intriguing, and I thought she was fine in a very small part in "My Week With Marilyn," but this film and her possible collaboration with David Yates on "Your Voices In My Head" both sound like they're going to test her more than anything else we've ever seen her do.
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
It's later in the day (or night) than usual, but we got in a Firewall & Iceberg Podcast just under the Monday wire. Dan and I talk a bit about the experience of watching last night's Grammys, review the return of "Cougar Town," the HBO debut of Gervais and Merchant's "Life's Too Short" and Netflix's original wiseguy-in-Norway series "Lilyhammer." We also answer some of your mail, which gives us a chance to check in on some freshman series we haven't discussed in a while, and also for me to gush over Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin. (Apologies in advance for that segment.)
I may have been a little slow on the draw putting this one up today, but in my defense, that's because I was laughing so hard.
I have to assume that's okay with Timur Bekmembetov and Tim Burton and Seth Graeme-Smith, because no matter how straight-faced this trailer plays it, the entire notion of successfully convincing a studio to pay big money to make and release a film called "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" has got to be one of the biggest "Holy crap, we were kidding BUT THEY REALLY DID IT" moments in the history of film.
The only way you make that film work once you decide to make it is to go all in. No half-measures. You can't be embarrassed to be making it. Noooo… you have to go the other direction. You have to pack more "f**k yeah" into every single minute of running time than has ever been attempted before. You have to crank it up and let it run hot. It is patently absurd, so embrace that. Be absurd. Be big and crazy and supercharged with lunacy. Don't just have Abraham Lincoln kill vampires. Have him kung-fu fight them in slow motion while dual-wielding deadly axes. Go for it.
"Cougar Town" season 3 makes a very belated debut tomorrow night at 8:30 on ABC, and the guerrilla marketing campaign being waged by creators Bill Lawrence, Kevin Biegel and their stars seems two-pronged in its goals: 1)To remind existing "Cougar Town" fans that the show still exists and will be back on Valentine's Day, and 2)To convince people who either gave up on the show after a handful of episodes, or who simply refused to watch a show called "Cougar Town," that it has nothing to do with its horrible, horrible title anymore. (Biegel explained to me last month why they unfortunately can't change it.)
I've written a lot over the last couple of years about the ways the show transformed itself from the story of Courteney Cox's Jules living up to the cougar archetype into the story of Jules becoming the unofficial leader of a collection of oddball friends and relatives who live on her cul-de-sac. As I wrote last week, it's an incredibly goofy, incredibly charming comedy about friends and family, about red wine and running gags and boredom, and while it's certainly not for everyone, it's for far more people than anyone might suspect from thinking it's about Courteney Cox having sex with younger guys.
But no matter how many words I write, a picture will be worth 1,000 of 'em, and a bunch of embedded videos will be worth even more. So I've gathered together a collection of scenes that I feel capture the show that "Cougar Town" became over time, and that should be a good barometer of whether you want to watch the season premiere tomorrow. Lawrence's sense of humor is idiosyncratic, not universal. But if you find yourself laughing at one or more of these clips, chances are you'll want to spend more time with the Cul-de-Sac Crew this season. (And, yes, the gang's nickname is also terrible, but more intentionally so.)
BERLIN - You may have noticed a lack of Berlinale updates over the weekend – to apologize for that would be to suggest, presumptuously, that you missed them, but please accept my excuses for slacking off anyway. Between a flurry of screenings – which finally, after a tepid start, unearthed some B-plus-plus efforts, though from exactly the sources I’d been expecting – a flurry of snow, a blurry of BAFTAs and an awful lot of queuing for tickets, there weren’t too many waking hours to process what I’d actually seen.
Plus, you know, there was the “Iron Sky” party to attend. In a festival starved for silliness, the sci-fi flick, a sci-entry in that hoary old what-if-the-Nazis subgenre, was a hot ticket right up until the moment it screened – so much so that I, along with many other journalists, was shut out of the Saturday press screening. This prompted enough collective vocal dismay that the festival steward manning the door told us, with customary German delicacy, to “disband before I call security.” Being a critic has never felt so righteous.