(Welcome to Cannes Check, your annual guide through the 20 films in Competition at next month's Cannes Film Festival, which kicks off on May 15. Taking on a different selection every day, we'll be examining what they're about, who's involved and what their chances are of snagging an award from Steven Spielberg's jury. We're going through the list by director and in alphabetical order -- next up, James Gray with "The Immigrant.")
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A review of last night's "The Office" coming up just as soon as I stop thrusting at you...
If you followed along with our summer movie countdown over the last few weeks, you saw that Guillermo Del Toro's "Pacific Rim" was #1 on the list. It beat out stiff competition from the likes of "Iron Man 3," "Man of Steel" and "Star Trek Into Darkness," and that's no easy feat given that those are all films derived from intellectual properties with built-in fan bases. "Pacific Rim" is brand new, thought up out of clear blue sky from the mind of screenwriter Travis Beacham. That it was made at all is already a huge win. That excitement is at such a fever pitch is gravy.
My hunch is that the freshness of the concept could hold it back a bit at the box office, though. That's just how these things work. It's part of the "formula" that goes into the Hollywood machine that, ergo, cranks out familiar cookie-cutter product year in and year out. But of course I hope my hunch is wrong, and come what may, nothing will top "Pacific Rim" for sheer scale this year, of that you can be sure.
So it's understandable, then, that Warner Bros. would cook up a bit of promotion that attempts to match that scale. Indeed, the tagline of the film is "Go big or go extinct," and a new banner promotion embodies that spirit, to say the least. I mean…does this thing exist outside of a JPEG? Can you put it on a wall? It's HUGE! If I was Beacham I'd have a room in my house dedicated to just wrapping this thing around all four walls. It's a dazzling piece of promo art to whet the appetite as we await the film's release.
It's time for another "American Idol" pinch-hit "recap" by me (Dan will be back next week), and I use the quote marks because while there are many things I would do for my friend Dan Fienberg, I will not sit through an "American Idol" results show. But if you want to know who went home — and discuss who has the best chance to win of the remaining three — click right on through, and I'll step out of the way as quickly as possible...
So as I blindly predicted last night, Amber Holcomb remained in the bottom two again (this time with Kree replacing Candice beside her), and went home when last week's votes and this week's were combined. Based solely on Wednesday night's performances, that seemed the correct result. Based on the season as a whole, though, do you feel Amber should have gone before Kree, Angie and Candice? And if you had to put money on one of the remaining three to become the show's first female winner since Jordin Sparks, who would it be?
Apologies for the intrusion. Dan is returning very soon — promise.
I'm struggling with using the "Iron Man Three" title, I just noticed. That's how it's written in the film's credits, but is that going to take hold? I'm also curious why the choice. Anyway, way off on a tangent here, so let's get down to brass tacks. Marvel's latest hits US theaters today after already crossing $300 million worldwide. It is likely to dominate the summer box office with ease (I'm betting "Man of Steel" won't touch these numbers and "Pacific Rim" will probably struggle more than people are willing to admit). The reviews are in and they're mostly positive.
We've had tons of coverage here at HitFix, most of it over at Drew McWeeny's Motion/Captured blog. He loved the movie. I was more reserved. We can all agree it's a great way to kick-start the season. If you want something a little more low key, I recommend "The Iceman," starring upcoming Superman baddie Michael Shannon. But if it's octane and high concept you're after, this is your best bet -- though ironically enough, it's not a movie built on set pieces so much as character. (Our picks for Robert Downey Jr.'s best characterizations can be found here.) In any case, when you get around to seeing the film, head on back here with your thoughts. And feel free to vote in the poll below.
"Parks and Recreation" just concluded its fifth season. I reviewed the finale here, and I emailed co-creator Mike Schur a bunch of questions about the finale, season 5 as a whole, the stories he laid the groundwork for in season 6 — which he feels "fairly confident" will happen — and a lot more, coming up just as soon as I convince the school board that napkins are a vegetable...
Before the episode began, I was wondering if we'd be seeing much of Silas, or if his nasty theatrics would be stuck on a back burner until we're a little closer to the season finale on May 16. The good news is that this week, we had a little less of Silas, so that's a relief. The bad news? We had just enough of him to do some damage. Between him and Bad Elena, it was a pretty stressful week for the good people (and vampires) of Mystic Falls. And, you know, us.
Wayne Coyne has fixations, and Flaming Lips co-member Steven Drodz says as much.
"Something must have happened to [Coyne] when he was eight or nine that completely zapped his brain. Wayne goes through phases of working with different types of imagery. In 1989, it was Jesus Christ and God. But the vaginas never really go away," he told Vice, which premiered the extremely not-safe-for-work video to "You Lust" today.
As we've noted before, there's a baffling amount of nudity in the Lips' output these days, with "lust"-death connections all over buzz-killing album "The Terror." "You Lust" is its crown jewel, with a clock time of around 13 minutes. This video is only about four. Guess Coyne and his guest can't have wires connected to their own jewels for too long.
"The nudity in the video isn’t glamorous or sexy. It’s very stark and disturbing. I think that’s a bold move. There are some shots when you go, “That’s an interesting angle to shoot a flaccid penis from...” But Wayne isn’t shy about being naked," he said, shortly before a minor launch into women's pubic hair grooming habits.
I'm not anti-nudity. Sexual violence is worth talking about. But as some short-form art, it feels yet incomplete, more of an exploitative portrait in the theme of lust.
A review of tonight's "Community" coming up just as soon as I write a letter of apology to George Lucas...
Bradley Cooper has been moving right along with his post-"Silver Linings" playbook. He's currently shooting David O. Russell's "American Hustle" and smartly backed away from the on-going circus that is "Jane Got a Gun" this week. Earlier today it was announced that Steven Spielberg will be tackling "American Sniper" with Cooper in the lead role as the most lethal sniper in US military history, while he attached himself to the Steven Knight-scripted "Chef" not too long ago.
On the latter, it's a fantastic script and an unbelievably meaty role. For a time David Fincher was looking into it with Keanu Reeves in the starring role as a high-strung two-time Michelin Star chef dodging drug dealer debts and mixing it up from Paris to New York.
If you consider "Star Trek Into Darkness" to be part thirteen of a larger franchise, you may walk away frustrated and tied in knots if the reactions I saw after a screening were any indication. Conversely, if this is part two of a new franchise in your mind, chances are you're going to have a great time with the continuation of what JJ Abrams and his collaborators began in 2009's "Star Trek." I find myself somewhere in the middle of those two camps, ultimately coming down on the side of the film as a pretty relentless piece of summer entertainment, anchored by what I consider one of the most exciting movie star performances in recent memory. I think they make some missteps in trying to service every "Trek" fan equally, but not insurmountably.
I feel badly for the hardcore "Star Trek" fans who don't like this new version, because I know what it's been like for them in the years where there were no new "Trek" movies in the works, and I know what it's been like for them loving something that was always considered somewhat left of center, always in danger of going away forever. While "Trek" has managed to survive for nearly 50 years at this point, there have definitely been lean times where Paramount didn't see much upside in continuing to throw money at something that just couldn't cross over to be a full-fledged mainstream sensation. And now that it's finally become part of the Nerd World Order in this new age of the Geek, the most devoted of the "Trek" fans seem irritated by the whole thing.