Tag: Comicon

Late night/early morning movie news

I need to keep it brief tonight, but there are a few items tonight that I want to catch up with.

* It nice to lead with some good news. Jailed Iranian director Jafar Panahi has reportedly been released on bail from his imprisonment. The director, who was supposed to sit on the Cannes jury, had been on a hunger strike. The acclaimed film-maker appears to be in trouble because of a documentary about the Iranian protest movement.

Shrek Forever After* The lower than expected box office performance for “Shrek Forever After” had an effect on Wall Street. Moreover, Patrick Goldstein wonders if those inflated 3-D ticket prices might already be starting to backfire. I tend to agree. People may not mind paying a little extra for something that feels like a real event, but 3-D is already starting to feel old hat and, as Goldstein reminds us, there’s a lot more coming.

* This story fell between the cracks a few days back — and Louis Black doesn’t work for me — but Morgan Spurlock (“Super Size Me“) really is doing that comicon documentary that was rumored sometime back. It was originally plugged as a collaboration of some sort with Joss Whedon, but it turns out Whedon is just one of a few geek superstars who will be executive producing. That’ possibly the most elastic job title in show business, so his involvement could be fairly minimal though I’m sure he’ll appear on screen. Accompanying Whedon in backing the film are none other than Stan Lee and Harry Knowles.

* A long time ago, I found the novel, Less Than Zero, oddly compelling reading in that it was a vivid portrait of a human train wreck. That being said, Brett Easton Ellis is certainly not dispelling the widespread opinion that he might be a jackass with his pronouncements about female directors. May he shortly be visited by the ghost of Ida Lupino.

* The real winner at Cannes: Eliot Spitzer.

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Movie news night notes

The lesson for tonight is never rely on the “save and quit” feature of Mozilla to actually, you know, save your tabs. Here’s what I’ve been able to salvage.

* Probably the biggest geek movie news of today was word via Mike Fleming that “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” director Peter Sollett, also of the critically acclaimed “Raising Victor Vargas,” may helm the upcoming comic book adaptation, “Runaways.” Created by Brian K. Vaughn for Marvel, the book deals with the teenage angst of a group of kids who find out that their parents are supervillians and, of course, like all of us, they have some genetic baggage to deal with. Vaughn is also reportedly working on a script.

Another frequently mentioned name in connection with this project, who may or may not still be in the directorial running, is Joss Whedon, perhaps the cultiest of cult creators these days. Whedon is a natural thought given that he’s an accomplished film-maker comfortable with both relationships and action, made his name dealing with teen-angst on “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” and, much more recently, wrote several issues of “Runaways.”

On the other hand, “Playlist” has a bit of a cult following of its own though Sollett hasn’t had to deal with action yet. Christopher Campbell notes that Sollett “did make an indie romantic film, so like Marc Webb he gets a Marvel superhero movie” and gathers the predictably diverse reaction.

* This may not be the most thoughtful reaction, and it sure does sound like some funny people are involved with it, but the news of the animated “Star Wars” sitcom brings one response to mind: “Noooooooooo!!!”‘

* Another item from AICN’s Hercules, much more to my liking — it’s about the latest restoration of what has to be one of the most often restored movies in film history and certainly one of the most important science fiction films ever made, Fritz Lang’s enormously influential silent film, “Metropolis.” The latest version actually brings the film to its original roughly 2.5 hour running time — the 90 minute version of my youth was more recently brought up to about 2 hours — and will be getting a theatrical run before the inevitable Blu-Ray/DVD release.

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Better yet,  for me anyway, is that opening night will be at Hollywood’s Chinese Theater as part of the festival sponsored by my favorite movie cable channel by far, the great and glorious TCM.

Do I sound like I’ve been bought off ? That’s because I have been. Specifically, my press credential has just cleared and it looks like I’ll be at that premiere with a live musical accompaniment, come heck or high water. But why does it have to be running opposite Tony Curtis hosting a showing of probably the best sex farce ever made, “Some Like it Hot“?

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Monday movie news

Just a few items on a warm and sunny SoCal Ides of March…

* David Fincher is really keeping busy. I missed the story late Friday about him putting together a new movie iteration of “Heavy Metal.”

The first attempt to transpose the appeal of the legendary European-based anthology comic magazine is pretty much unwatchable these days — I know because I tried and failed to watch it at Comicon a couple of years back — but that’s all the more reason to give it another try I suppose. Considering that the late seventies and early eighties were pretty much the lowpoint of animation and the high end nature of this project, it pretty much has to be an improvement on most levels.

And that’s not all. Having taken on Facebook with Aaron Sorkin, another upcoming project may possibly involve an equally cinematic undertaking: chess.

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* With John Krasinski apparently out of the running for “The First Avenger: Captain America” (a title I’m not fond of, by the way), the Marvel gang has apparently adopted a “nobody excessively interesting” rule in its prospective casting. The latest name being floated: Ryan Phillipe. Still, he played effectively off of Chris Cooper in the highly underrated “Breach,” one of my favorite films of 2007, so perhaps he can do the same with Hugo Weaving here.

* Ben Kingsley and Sacha Baron Cohen are “in talks” to appear in Martin Scorsese’s ambitious, 3-D, meta-film, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret.”  As a Deadline commenter notes, this one appears to be DiCaprio-free, at last. Kingsley and Coehn could make an interesting buddy film.

* Tim Adler of Deadline|London thinks that the success of 3-D screenings of “Avatar” in Europe is funding the growth of digital movie theaters in Europe.

* I’ve said it before, but the career of director David Gordon Green fascinates me. He starts out like an American Vittorio De Sica by way of Terrence Malick with the neo-neo realist “George Washington,” and then transitions to stoner-frat comedies apparently spoofing eighties sword and sorcery flicks. Attention must be paid.

* If you really wanna know more about “penis trauma” and the MPAA ratings system

* Phrases like “penis trauma” aside, SXSW really does sound like the most fun of the festivals, doesn’t it?

A “Kick-Ass” marketing campaign?

What’s looking to be almost certainly the most controversial comic book movie of 2010 is starting to take its marketing campaign into high gear with the release of posters for “Kick-Ass.” For those of you not in the know, it’s Mathew Vaughn’s adaptation of Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.’s comic book about a teen (Aaron Johnson, who’ll also be playing the young John Lennon in “Nowhere Boy”) who decides out of the blue to be a superhero — only he doesn’t get bitten by a radioactive animal, nor does he spend 10 years turning himself into the ultimate ninja. Following his lead, a few presumably less than stable “heroes,” to be played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse (“Superbad“), Chloe Moretz (“(500) Days of Summer“), and Nicolas Cage, get into the act. Ultra-violent hijinks ensue.

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As you can see, we have four separate posters here that might be together on large billboards (those of us who live in L.A. may well see some huge version of this on the Sunset strip) and can also be displayed separately.

I don’t know the comic book, but as mentioned here before, there’s been definite buzz around this project based on some clips that showed this year at Comi-Con. Moreover, director Matthew Vaughn was once best known as Guy Ritchie’s producer, but he stepped confidently out of his shadow and emerged, in my opinion, the less showy and better director with the 2003 crime thriller, “Layer Cake.” As with 2007’s underrated/underseen romantic fantasy-comedy, “Stardust” the screenplay is credited to Vaughn and English TV presenter Jane Goldman. I also like the fact that so far Vaughan has made three very different movies in three different genres.

According to Peter Sciretta of /Film, comparisons are flying with this one, particularly to “The Matrix” and also, according to a unnamed friend who saw it, “Shaun of the Dead” — presumably in terms of the sense of humor. Still, considering the possibility for social satire and the touchy spectacle of young people and ultra-violence, my mind is going towards Kinji Fukasaku’s film of “Battle Royale.”

I understand a trailer is coming next week. Also, according to Rick Marshall of MTV, there is a web site (iamkick-ass.com), but what I’m seeing there right now is just pure whiteness. Not terribly kick-ass. Stay on the lookout, I guess.

RIP Shel Dorf

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The reaction in the film geek/geek film press has been minimal, but Shel Dorf, the founder of what we now call Comicon but was for years known as “the San Diego Comicon” passed on yesterday from complications of diabetes. While comics blogger Heidi MacDonald covered his passing nicely, for the most part the only coverage has been a terse AP story which has been picked up at a few places.

By all accounts Dorf, whose  reputation was as an relentlessly positive and upbeat booster of the arts of comics, was unhappy with what the con is today — for better a worse a multimedia extravaganza and entertainment biz mecca, emphasis on “biz,” where comics themselvees come far down the list of priorities after toys, videogames, and movies. However, his creation is perhaps the single most discussed media event of the year on a lot of web sites and I would have thought his passing merited a bit more discussion. Anyhow, I can personally attest to the part of the AP story that mentions how he helped new talents in the comics field. One of those cartoonists was my good friend, Randy Reynaldo, with whom he bonded over their mutual admiration for comic strip legend Milton Caniff, for whom Dorf worked as a letterer for many years.

As a grown-up geek who grew up with pretty deep love of the comics form, I have no problem with comics derived movies — in fact, some of them are like dreams come true for my inner 13 year-old. (Others are nightmares.) I just wish the comics themselves from which they came got more respect as something more than a source for movie ideas.

It should also be said that Dorf and his cohorts in the early con days recognized the intimate link between comics and cinema, and included all kinds of movies from very early on. A slightly chubby 13 year-old kid who would take refuge in a back room where 16mm prints of obscure genre films, cartoons, and trailers, played continually remains particularly grateful to Mr. Dorf.

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