A review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as I quote Mary Pickford(*)...
Latest Blog Posts
A review of tonight's "Community" coming up just as soon as I'm comforted by your shiny hair and facial symmetry...
Last week, I took a drive through hideous rush hour traffic from my house in Northridge all the way to the IMAX theater that used to be called The Bridge, near the airport. And the crazy thing is that I didn't do it to see a whole film. Nope. I did it just so I could see 20 minutes of the new "Mission: Impossible" film on an IMAX screen.
And I regret nothing.
There's a new trailer for the film that is just now launching, and I'll have that embedded for you below. First, though, let's set some of what you're going to see in context.
We saw two full sequences from he film, and producer Bryan Burk was on-hand to set up the two scenes for us. He's Bad Robot's producer on the film, and I think it was smart for Cruise to reach out to Bad Robot even though JJ Abrams wasn't directing this one. Burk and Abrams are very smart commercial producers, and Cruise had a very good experience with them on the last film. Christopher McQuarrie, who also scripted "One Shot," the currently-shooting Reacher adaptation that Cruise is starring in, was the lead writer on the film, and then Bad Robot brought in Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec, writers they loved from "Alias" and a ton of other TV credits. They worked to once again make a "Mission: Impossible" film that feels different than any of the others in the series, something I like about the franchise.
I'll just go ahead and say this up front: I should have done this better.
I don't think it's a bad interview, per se, but I like Zach Galifianakis, both as an actor and as a comic, and I think he's one of those guys with a razor-sharp mind. I also think it's really easy to lose him in a conversation if you're not keeping him interested. When you're at a junket, you're one of a parade of people who trot into the room in what must feel like a blur to the people sitting in that chair, and you don't really have a conversation. You have the illusion of a conversation. You have to hit the ground running and then hope you can get one or two good sound bites before they hustle you out the door for the next person.
With Zach, I feel like I never really found my way into the conversation, and the result is a perfectly pleasant five minutes or so, but that's not what I was hoping for. I was hoping I'd engage him and draw something special out of him. Nope.
Something like 20 years ago, screenwriter John Orloff happened upon an episode of PBS's "Frontline" about the authorship question surrounding the works of William Shakespeare. It was something he had never heard before, so, in those antiquated days of pre-internet, he took to the library for a little research.
There weren't a lot of books out at the time dedicated to the issue. He didn't then and he doesn't now have a definitive idea of who might have written the plays attributed to Shakespeare, even though the film bearing his own signature, "Anonymous," props up the Oxfordian theory (that Edward de Vere penned them). But Orloff is, if nothing else, certainly a believer that Shakespeare wasn't the guy.
"I think it's more about education and life experience, not class," he says. "To me, it's not that a man from a lower class could not achieve all of this. Ben Jonson was from a lower class. So was Marlowe. So were most playwrights of the time. But the difference between those people and Shakespeare is they were educated. And to me, it comes down to education and personal experience. And they’re kind of separate."
Alright, you know the drill. Rifle off your need-to-knows and Anne and I will address as many as possible. Make 'em good! Oh, and FYI, try not to write a dissertation. Make it short and sweet. We don't need a lifetime of background. We have to read these on the air, after all. Now, hit me!
"The Rum Diary" is not a very good book.
It's an early piece of work by Hunter S. Thompson, but anyone who picked it up looking for the voice that distinguished his classic work was likely disappointed. He wrote it in his early 20s, and it went unpublished until 1998. More than anything, it serves as a fascinating glimpse at a raw, unpolished talent, and it offers up some autobiographical details hidden amidst the twists and turns in the story of Paul Kemp, a reporter who moves from New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico in order to kick off his career as a writer.
As a film, "The Rum Diary" is far more interesting, due in no small part to the collision of talent that it represents. First, there's Johnny Depp, whose performance as Thompson in Terry Gilliam's "Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas" is positively inspired, a spooky case of near-possession where an actor absolutely channels a real-life figure. The idea of seeing him play Thompson, or a Thompson stand-in, at an earlier point on his slow slide into self-medicated madness is undeniably appealing. Then there's writer/director Bruce Robinson, whose "Withnail & I" is one of the greatest films of the '80s, and one of my very favorite British films of all time. He hasn't made a movie since "Jennifer 8," a Hollywood misfire that killed his career dead, and from the moment he was announced as the man behind the camera, this became one of those films I almost refused to believe really existed. The idea of Depp reaching out to Robinson, who was always Hunter's first choice to make a "Fear & Loathing" film, and somehow coaxing him out of retirement would be interesting enough even if it were just a straight adaptation of the book.
Film editing is often difficult to judge because we never know what was left out of a feature. That said, the editors play an absolutely pivotal role in filmmaking: setting the pace and length of a film, giving it structure and flow, juxtaposition of imagery, the essence of what makes filmmaking a unique art form.
Last week I commented on how the costume designers are known for their willingness to look beyond a film’s quality, and how it is received in other categories, in choosing their nominees. I cannot grant the same compliment to the editors.
More than any other crafts category, the Best Film Editing nominees are overwhelmingly drawn from the Best Picture contenders. Prior to the expansion of that category to 10 nominees, usually three-to-five of the editing nods came out of the big race (2005 through 2007 being notable exceptions). In the last two years, all of the nominees were Best Picture nominees as well, given the widened field.
Dial-A-Poem poet John Giorno has worked with a number of literary and art mainstays over the years, including Andy Warhol. It seems we have Warhol's continuing influence to thank for R.E.M.'s "We All Go Back to Where We Belong" two music videos.
Actress Kirsten Dunst and John Giorno star in two separate videos, during which nothing happens in either. Really. Nothing warms my heart like an old man smiling as Giorno does in his twice. Dunst sits and plays coy.
The clips were shot in black and white, with high contrast, "an effect that Stipe describes as lending 'gravity and beauty' to the proceedings," reads a release.
Okay, this is not Oscar related. At all. In the slightest. Though maybe it should be. I'm in the tank for "Beavis and Butt-Head." Always have been. Always will be. So you can bet I'll be parked in front of the tube tonight when MTV finally brings the dummy duo back for a new wave of original programming. I've been stoked ever since the announcement was made. And the material that has been released so far, well, it has me in the aisles. And I'll probably even check out the new show that will follow, "Good Vibes." It's nice that the network is at least testing the waters of stuff that isn't wall-to-wall reality programming. With that in mind, Kimberly Potts offers up 14 great Beavis and Butt-Head moments to welcome them back. [The Box]
On Jimmy Cliff's last album, "Black Magic" in 2004, the legendary performer was inspired by sounds outside of his genre, through dance, electronica and punk. This time, punk comes to him, on his turf.
Late next month, the reggae legend is releasing his first new tracks in seven years, the "Sacred Fire EP," produced by Tim Armstrong. The Rancid frontman is also helming Cliff's next, as-yet-untitled full-length, due in 2012.
The digital version of five-track "Sacred Fire" will by out on Nov. 29, while a six-track 12" vinyl version will be out on Nov. 25, as part of Record Store Day's Black Friday indie retailer promotion.
Preceding the release is a free download (well, for the price of your email address) of leading single "Ship Is Sailing"; the sunny, only slightly frail track is a perfect segue into the year's coldest months, and it bodes well for some exciting covers. These include a take on longtime Cliff admirer Bob Dylan's adopted activist anthem "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" and The Clash's classic "Guns of Brixton," which was heavily influenced by reggae music and continues to be associated with the race riots and police activity in Britain during the early '80s.
It could also serve as a nod to The Clash's Joe Strummer, who collaborated with the Jamaican star on his 2002 set "Fantastic Plastic People." Strummer died later that year. And The Clash has an undeniable influece on Rancid, whose last album was released in 2009. Cliff covers that band's former hit "Ruby Soho" on "Sacred Fire EP," as well. It's a mutual appreciation society, eh?
"I knew vaguely about Tim through working with Joe Strummer and wanted to bring something fresh to the marketplace. Us coming from such different musical poles brought a great energy to the songs. I wanted to create something with a fresh sound - that's why we decided to test the waters," said the 63-year-old activist/singer/actor in a statement.
Sacred Fire EP Special Edition 12-Inch Vinyl - Out 11/25 for Record Store Day
1. Guns of Brixton
2. World Upside Down
3. Ruby Soho
4. Ship Is Sailing
5. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
6. Brixton Version
Sacred Fire EP CD/Digital - Out 11/29
1. Guns of Brixton
2. Ruby Soho
3. Ship is Sailing
4. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
5. Brixton Version
So, today is the final day of the London Film Festival -- as well as the final day of Sandra Hebron's long-running tenure as the festival's artistic director. (She'll be missed, but having met her feisty replacement, former Sydney fest director Clare Stewart, on a couple of occasions, I'm not at all nervous about the LFF's future.) The mammoth 16-day affair draws to a close tonight with the UK premiere of Terence Davies's "The Deep Blue Sea," which I saw last month and will review soon -- after the critical hiding dealt out to already-forgotten opener "360," this second Rachel Weisz starrer will end proceedings on a much higher note.
I'll be at the lavish-looking closing party tonight, though the more exclusive ticket -- one I didn't have -- was to last night's festival awards ceremony, where four competitive prizes were presented, as well as BFI Fellowships for David Cronenberg and Ralph Fiennes. The biggest news of the night, however, was the festival's still-young Best Film award going for the first time to a British production -- Lynne Ramsay's "We Need To Talk About Kevin."
As regular readers will know, I couldn't be more on board with this choice: I was stunned by Ramsay's daring adaptation of the Lionel Shriver bestseller in Cannes, and thought it easily the best of the nine films shortlisted for the LFF prize. Among the films it beat: "The Artist," "Shame" and "The Descendants."