Avatar-mania, Oscar possibilities, the Obamas’ guest list, and cinegeeks bossing Stephen King around

I had a nasty case of food poisoning yesterday. Not that you care, but a lot has been happening while I spent a day catatonic before TCM and IFC.

* There’s a new “interactive” trailer for “Avatar” that you can download if you don’t mind also downloading some new Adobe software (at least I had to on the computer I’m using right now). The reason “interactive” is in quotes is that the only thing unusual about this longer trailer is that it pauses and allows you to watch additional short promotional films based around the various characters and some of the hardware, etc. It also allows you to buy tickets early.

I’m not sure what “interactive” really means because just about everything is interactive to some degree and this does not particularly impress me as anything new or different. Maybe we can think of a new buzzword.

Avatar movie image (3)

* And’s that’s not all. Anne Thompson has the scoop that “Avatar” may premiere at Harry Knowles’ annual, 24-hour invitation-only Butt-Numb-A-Thon despite some issues between Knowles and Fox. Also, you’ve probably heard about/seen this already, but the movie and writer-director James Cameron got the “60 Minutes” treatment Sunday night. Nothing earth shattering in the arguably slightly puffy Morley Safer piece, though it’s nice to hear Cameron admit that when it comes right down to it, amazing CGI/3-D or not, it all comes down to the story and what’s happening in the actors’ eyes. On the other hand, I really don’t need or want to see 3-D news stories. Will I will wind up doing so anyway?

* I’m really starting to wonder what movies are going to be big Oscar contenders this year. The early reviews that came out today for “The Lovely Bones,” based on the novel by Alice Siebold, are surprisingly weak for a director whose heretofore been a critical darling.  Among the reviews collected by /film, most are mixed-to-negative, with two unqualified raves, one from the aforementioned Harry Knowles.

Viggo Mortenson in Moreover, if people are worried about the tough subject matter of Alice Siebold’s book, by all accounts Cormac McCarthy’s The Road makes pretty much everything, including his own No Country for Old Men, seem like “Mary Poppins” on nitrous oxide. In any case, the result over at Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t seem quite resounding enough for a big Oscar favorite, especially if you look at the reactions of the “Top Critics.” Our own David Medsker and the L.A. Times Kenneth Turan reflect one consistent strain of thought:  the movie doesn’t offer the audience any particular reward in return for being so incredibly bleak. Others, like Ty Burr, miss McCarthy’s prose and also paradoxically feel the film doesn’t go far enough into the bleakness. You can’t please everyone.

At least three highly touted movies (Rob Marshall’s Fellini-spawned Broadway adaptation, “Nine,” and Clint Eastwood‘s “Invictus,” not to mention “Avatar” — though being sci-fi never helps with Oscars) are still left to screen. However, if none of those have enough of us reaching for superlatives, you have to wonder what is going to be the battle at Oscar time: “Precious” vs. “Inglourious Basterds“? Stranger things have happened.

* Nikki Finke, whose always had an interesting take on the Hollywood-Washington connection, has been breathlessly covering the H-wood portion of the guest list at tonight’s first official official state dinner of the still fairly new administration. Definitely worth a look for those of you into power porn, and who among us is totally immune?

* It’s an old writer’s truism/superstition that you’re not supposed to talk too much, to too many people, about something you haven’t even started working on yet. The idea is that you might talk it out of your system and kill your book before a word has been written. And Stephen King has even admitted that might be why he’s been talking up his contemplated sequel to his 1977 novel, The Shining, in his public talk with director David Cronenberg. The book, very tentatively titled Dr. Sleep, would take up the young hero of the original at age 40 and involve his use of his psychic powers to help the dying at a hospice. The reaction from such fellow online cinegeeks as Screencrave’s Krystal Clark and  /film’s Peter Sciretta is a predictable “oh noes!” You see, a film might be made that they don’t like as much as much as the now widely acclaimed 1980 Stanley Kubrick movie version.

Leaving aside my own feelings about the Kubrick film, which has never been a personal favorite, this is just silly. Many great and not-so-great authors have revisited characters at various stages in their lives with no particular damage to previous books if the new book turns out to be less awesome than the first one. I don’t see any reason why movies should be any different. It’s true that some stories should not be revisted, but I don’t see how one where a major character is still a young child at the end is in any way one of them. Or maybe you wish that Mark Twain had never written that stupid sequel to Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn. God, when will these writers learn to leave well enough alone?

  

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