Post-Turkey Day film news bites

A few items as Hollywood finishes digesting its turkey and stuffing.

* Paramount has picked up “Area 51,” the science fiction follow-up to the ridiculously profitable “Paranormal Activity” from writer-director Oren Peli. Somewhat to my disappointment, this one will also use the “found footage” gimmick, though I guess we can assume that with an exponentially larger budget — $5 million (about enough to pay for craft services on some films) as opposed to $15,000 — Peli will at least attempt to spread his wings creatively. One reason to give him props, however, is that the film has already wrapped principal photography. We can’t accuse the Israel-born former video game designer of failing to strike while the iron’s hot!

Matt Damon and Julia Styles in * It appears that The Playlist broke the story that it appears that the very talented Paul Greengrass has left the helm of “Bourne 4” and if he goes, Matt Damon may not be far behind. Still, at this point it’s a tale without an ending in more ways than one

* Kim Masters considers “Avatar” and Robert Zemeckis’s motion capture and 3-D work as featured currently in “A Christmas Carol.” To me, they’re creatively too different beasts in that James Cameron‘s creations aren’t trying so hard to be realistic, which I think is the real reason for the “ugly” problem with the creator of Roger Rabbit’s more recent work. As for the “Avatar” characters, I’m not sure I’m going to love them yet, either, but we’ll see when the movie’s out. I’m also not at all sure that movies need to be revolutionized in quite this way.

* Over at Film Threat, Gary Morris of the highbrowish Bright Lights Film Journal is interviewed. Among the topics: interviews like this one. Don’t fear the meta. (H/t The Auteurs on Twitter.)

* It technically ended yesterday, but the Boris Karloff Blogathon, hosted where else but at Frankensteinia, lives on with tons of material still coming in submitted by innumerable bloggers about the late, great character actor who originated the role of Frankenstein’s monster in 1931. Definitely worth many looks.

The vocal there is quite obviously reconstructed using the original recording by Bobby “Boris” Pickett. If you want to hear the actual vocal from the 1965 episode of “Shindig” featuring the real Boris Karloff, you may hear it here.


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Fox picks up Matthew McConaughey’s “Rooster”


Fox has teamed with Matthew McConaughey to executive produce “Rooster,” an animated series based on the laid back actor’s brother, Mike “Rooster” McConaughey.

“My brother’s life is so unbelievable, we had to animate it,” McConaughey said. (case in point: Mike’s second son was named “Miller Lyte,” after his favorite frosty beverage)

The series will follow a redneck sheriff who marries a younger Mexican woman, only to inherit her 114-plus relatives.

The show was reportedly part of a bidding war between Comedy Central, TBS and Fox, with the latter emerging as the eventual winner. Matthew will serve as executive producer on the series, via his production company, J.K. Livin’ Production.

This should satisfy fans of “King of the Hill,” the long-running series from Mike Judge which went off the air this year. Since Seth McFarlane’s slate and “The Simpsons” already populate Sunday nights on Fox, we can expect “Rooster” to air during a different night.


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Evangelion: 1.01 – You Are (Not) Alone

One of my first experiences with anime was Hideaki Anno’s beloved 1995 series, “Neon Genesis Evangelion,” which was so good that it ruined just about every anime for me after that. It’s been more than ten years since I last saw “Evangelion” in its entirety, so when Funimation announced that they’d be bringing Anno’s four part re-imagining of the series stateside, I couldn’t wait to watch it all over again. Though much of the buzz surrounding the “Rebuild of Evangelion” tetralogy is due to the addition of new content, the first installment is a fairly straightforward retelling of the first six episodes where 14-year-old Shinji Ikari is recruited by a government organization called NERV to pilot a giant cyborg and fight back against an army of mysterious beings known only as Angels. With the exception of a few minor changes in the story, however, the only thing that’s really different compared to the original series is the animation. The entire film has even been given a digital polish (and the results are astounding), while some scenes have been re-rendered in CG. It’s still the “Evangelion” you know and love, only with a much-deserved upgrade.

Click to buy “Evangelion: 1.01 – You Are (Not) Alone”


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3 questions with Iron Chef Jose Garces

Chef Jose Garces was not new to the Iron Chef brand before he was cast as a contestant on Season 2 of “The Next Iron Chef” on Food Network. He had competed against Iron Chef Bobby Flay in an episode of “Iron Chef America” and had defeated Flay in Kitchen Stadium, something that may have spring-boarded him into his role as the newest Iron Chef after winning Season 2 last week. Garces defeated Jehangir Mehta of New York City in the battle of ribs and racks to win the crown, and he owns and operates several restaurants in both Philadelphia and Chicago.

We had the chance to ask Chef Garces a few questions after his big win last weekend….

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Saul Bass on a Sunday night

Two great titles sequences by the master designer, plus an homage.


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