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How can a film starring Peter Dinklage, Ryan Kwanten, Danny Pudi and Summer Glau sit on a shelf for two years?
It's popular for writers to grumble about the development process, and I've certainly got plenty of horror stories, both mine and those of my friends, about things that were said or done during notes meetings. Honestly, though, if you're paying a writer, then that's an expected part of things, and it's something that good writers learn how to handle with grace and with wit.
The true enemy right now, especially as the old filmmaking model starts to disintegrate and new models seem to spring up almost weekly, is the shady world of international financing. The absolute worst notes meeting I've ever had doesn't begin to compare to the amoral, unethical, and downright criminal things I have personally observed during the financing part of making a film. One bad deal can haunt you for years, and trusting the wrong person to be part of the financing team can absolutely destroy not only your film, but you as a filmmaker.
We were very proud around these parts back during the Sundance Film Festival as In Contention friend (and former contributor) Chad Hartigan won an award in the NEXT section over some stiff competition for his film "This is Martin Bonner." The film was picked up for distribution last week by Monterey Media, but while you'll have a chance to catch his work as a result of that deal, you might also have another opportunity at the Sundance Institute's Next Weekend Film Festival, should it be a part of the programming (and indeed, it ought to).
'Once Upon a Time' creators debunk spinoff rumors, say they're 'heads of the Sebastian Stan Fan Club'
Based on the billion-dollar worldwide box-office, I felt very alone when I despised Disney's "Alice In Wonderland" a few years ago. The entire thing just made my skin crawl, and it seemed to me to demonstrate a near-total misunderstanding of Lewis Carrol's work. When the first trailers started to arrive for Sam Raimi's "Oz The Great And Powerful," which opens this week, it looked like more of the same to me. I love Raimi, but everything about this one had me worried when I walked into the theater.
Turns out there was nothing to worry about.
While it certainly fits neatly into the generic blockbuster mold that it seems like every studio uses these days, there's enough genuine wonder to make this work where "Alice" failed, and it honors the world that Frank L. Baum first created instead of trying to rebuild it into something it's not. "Oz The Great and Powerful" is the story of a Wizard who does not exist, and the collision of four characters who all need or want him to exist for different reasons. This collision leads to a collusion, an agreement that this symbol is more important than the truth, and this shared lie, this "Wizard Of Oz," manages to change everything as a result.
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
It's at once a slow and busy week for the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast. There aren't any premieres of note, and a lot of network shows are in repeats during the post-sweeps lull (which we explain in the podcast's opening minutes), so we decided to take the opportunity to check back in on a bunch of series we haven't discussed in a while, and also to answer some mail, and also to do one of our periodic Dan's Reality Round-Up segments. So a dead week wound up leading to one of our longest podcasts ever. The lineup:
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
I didn't have a chance to see James Franco's film "Interior. Leather Bar" at Sundance, but I am certainly intrigued by the idea behind it. Co-directed with Travis Mathews, it uses the footage that was deleted from William Friedkin's infamous movie "Cruising" to confront the hypocrisy that exists in the way gay sex and straight sex are portrayed onscreen and in the media.
Heady stuff, but it's pretty clear at this point that Franco loves confrontational art, and that one of the things he is intrigued by is the exploration of human sexuality on the fringe of the mainstream.
Today, Franco is speaking out about the Australian censorship of another movie by Mathews called "I Want Your Love." The unrated film features a six-minute unsimulated sex scene between two men, and it has now been banned from screening at festivals in Australia, which sent Franco running for YouTube so he could weigh in on the decision. I like that Franco seems unconcerned about the giant mega-budget Disney family movie he's got coming out on Friday. There are plenty of movie stars who would steer clear of any controversy, especially one about explicit gay sex, during the week of release, but not Franco.
The first time I met Steve Carrell was on the set of the original "Anchorman."
I wasn't formally invited to the set, but a friend who was working on the film knew how excited I was about it being made, and he invited me to come down and see him while they were shooting on an exterior location. It wasn't easy to find them in the particular corner of downtown LA where they were working, but I eventually made my way there, just in time to see them setting up to shoot the giant rumble between Ron Burgundy and his friends and the rival news teams from around San Diego.
It's one of the craziest moments in the film, and it was even crazier standing there watching it unfold. When I watched them stage the moment where Brick, Carrell's character, killed a guy on horseback with a trident, I was sure we were never going to see that in the finished film. I had trouble believing something this gleefully ridiculous was ever going to make it intact to the screen for release.
Well, Blake Shelton can’t say he wasn’t warned. Should he and Miranda Lambert ever split, he gets a little preview of how his wife will react in Lambert’s crazy cool video for “Mama’s Broken Heart.”
[More after the jump...]
Adam McKay has made many funny films, but I think he'd be the first to admit that there is something special about "Anchorman."
Part of that is the script, which might be the most unfettered bit of madness that McKay and Will Ferrell have put together so far, a celebration of a breed of glorious idiot that is far too rare today. Part of that is the ensemble, packed with actors who were all completely in tune with the weird reality of the film, all of them free to try almost anything in front of the camera. And part of it is because broadcast news is so preposterously silly, especially on the local level, that you barely have to exaggerate to make it work.
I thought one of the best things about the film was the way they suggested the '70s in little details like the non-stop littering or the smoking in public, accentuating some of the worst of the decade with glee. When the sequel arrives in theaters in December, I'm excited to see how they have moved the cast up to the '80s, and it sounds like they are indeed dealing with the rise of the 24-hour-a-day news cycle thanks to the advent of the cable news networks.
Best new artist Grammy nominee and Taylor Swift collaborator Ed Sheeran’s current album, “+” may still have a lot of life left in it in the U.S., but the British singer/songwriter is already thinking of his follow-up. Plus, the "A Team" singer has already set a release date of Feb. 17, 2014.
“My second album has taken full shape recently,” he told Australian outlet Noise11.com. “I don’t know if there will be any collaborations on it yet. I have a name for it but I can’t tell you the name just yet but it doesn’t start with a letter.”
The song titles, thankfully, do start with letters, including “Photograph,” a tune Sheeran expects “will be the big one on the album.”
Sheeran, who plays three nights at Melbourne’s Festival Hall starting March 4, says he isn’t ready to preview any of the new material on stage just yet, in part because he knows it goes out to the world the minute he does.
“Big bands can ease in new songs to their set but my fans are so viral that the moment that I’d play a new song, every one of them would hear it,” he told Noise11.com. “I don’t want everyone knowing what the record is before they get it. I want them to listen to it first.”
We previously reported that Sheeran thinks fans can expect a more mature sound on the set. He'll continue working on it as he hits the road with Swift, whose U.S. tour starts March 13 in Omaha.