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OMG! Brad Bird giving up animation under extreme duress!!! I repeat, “OMG!!!!”

The first 4.5 minutes of this awards video of Brad Bird’s extremely well deserved Windsor McKay Award from the Annies is pretty much your standard career retrospective about the former “Simpsons” creative turned writer/director of the instant classics, “The Iron Giant,” “The Incredibles,” and “Ratatouille.” In the second half, Bird himself appears. He’s presumably somewhere near the set of his live-action debut, the next “Mission: Impossible” installment, which will star Tom Cruise and Simon Pegg, among others.

The weird part is that he says he’s giving up animation forever, but then it gets weirder and more worrisome.

H/t Mike Fleming.

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RIP Peter Graves

We were very sorry to hear of the passing at  83 of Peter Graves this morning, best known to older generations as the ultra-stoic Mr. Phelps of the “Mission: Impossible” TV series. He didn’t do that many movies, but the passing of Peter Graves is still notable for the movie world because of his appearances in two great films. Yes, of course, his perfect turn in “Airplane” but also “Stalag 17.” (And why does every article except the brief one I linked to contain a fairly major spoiler for the film about Graves’ character?)

Unfortunately, I can’t find any good clips from “Stalag” and, well, there’s one thing most of you want to see at a time like this. So, with apologies to the late Mr. Graves, who initially found these scenes in poor taste for some reason, we have the moments I know you want to see. I hope he appreciated how brilliantly he sold these jokes. It was worth the stretch.

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Wednesday movie quickies (a bit quicker than usual)

If you’re on the lookout for new and wholly original ideas from mainstream Hollywood, like almost all days, today ain’t your day.

Tom Cruise saves the day in * Mike Fleming has the news that ol’ Tom Cruise will be back for one more round of “Mission: Impossible” derring-do as earnest super-agent Ethan Hunt. On board is co-producer, J.J. Abrams, whose “MI:3” was to my mind by far the best film in the series (actually, the only good one, despite the involvement in past outings of such greats as Robert Towne and John Woo).  The franchise had been somewhat in doubt prior because of certain comments during the ruckus and bad blood raised by Mr. Cruise’s Oprah couch-hopping incident and Scientology-inspired public statements:

Gee, remember the bad old days when Cruise and Paramount parent company Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone were on the outs? Guess that old Hollywood saying is as true as ever: “I’ll never work with him again — until I need him.”

* Darren Aronofsky remains involved with the proposed “Robocop” remake/reboot.

* Fresh off the success of “The Book of Eli,” the Hughes Brothers will be directing the long-discussed live-action film version of the manga that probably made more converts for Japanese comic books than any other work during the eighties comic book boom, “Akira.” So says Vulture (via /Film). Meanwhile, Simon Dang over at The Playlist provides us with his thoughtful take on the career of the brothers Hughes (and a funny video which I may steal later).

akira2

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“Inglourious Basterds” DVD launch: A less deadly Operation Kino kicks some Nazi ass

So, while I was procrastinating conducting in-depth research for this post, covering a promotional screening for the rather glorious “Inglourious Basterds,” I found myself going over numerous reviews and think pieces. One piece for a very respectable and staid looking website started out normally enough but, while praising “Pulp Fiction” and other older films in the Quentin Tarantino catalogue, it quickly became unusually vicious. Tarantino is a filmmaker who has a special gift for generating a certain degree of critical anger, the cinephile hubbub kicked up by critic and film historian Jonathan Rosenbaum over the film’s non-portrayal of the Holocaust being one prominent example, but this was different.

As I noted the attention this particular review seemed to be paying to the ancestry of the cast, crew, and characters, I realized that the hate was not over anything so conventional as concerns that “Basterds” might be trivializing the Holocaust or World War II. I was reading a “white nationalist” web site. Yes, even more than some overly sensitive liberals, Nazis hate “Inglourious Basterds.” Considering it’s a movie in which a bunch of Jews, a part Cherokee good ol’ boy lieutenant, an African-French projectionist, a traitorous movie star, and a few odd others defeat the Third Reich in a painful and fiery manner, displeasing Nazis is kind of the whole idea.

IB Cast LR

Certainly, no one was feeling conciliatory towards facists or racists of any stripe as a good portion of the “Basterds” cast and crew turned up at the last of L.A.’s revival houses, the legendary New Beverly Cinema, to celebrate the DVD/Blu-Ray release of the the award-winning, genre-blending war flick. Indeed, as neighbors from the heavily Hasidic West Hollywood-adjacent neighborhood ignored the commotion, a few of us less observant entertainment scribes got the chance to talk to a select group of not-quite superstar basterds, including players in two of the more acclaimed sitcoms of all time, a personable musician and Tarantino-buddy turned actor, and a passionate producer who is not about to let any conservative climate deniers take away his Oscar…but that’s all ahead.

Read the rest of this entry »

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This Tuesday in TV-DVD – Nov. 3, 2009

* The Rockford Files: Movie Collection, Vol. 1: It’s like I said in my review: if these movies aren’t necessarily up to the standards of the original series – and let’s face it: they often aren’t – it’s so good to see James Garner, Stuart Margolin, and Joe Santos back in their familiar roles that it hardly matters.

* The Shield: The Complete Series Collection: Similarly, I’ll let Jason’s review speak for this set. “From its great ensemble cast and the memorable group of characters they portrayed, to the writing team’s ability to consistently hammer out quality and controversial storylines, ‘The Shield’ is by far one of the best cop dramas ever produced. Nay, one of the best dramas, period. It may not have gotten the attention it deserved during its seven years on the air, but its release on DVD will ensure that the legacy lives on for many years to come. If nothing else, you can expect it to be heavily referenced when the next great cop drama arrives on television, because while ‘The Shield’ may not have invented the wheel, it definitely burned the rubber off the tires enough times for people to take notice.” I have no doubt that he’s right. And one of these days, maybe I’ll even get a chance to sit down and watch it myself.

* Will Ferrell: You’re Welcome, America – A Final Night with George W. Bush: Adam McKay described Ferrell’s one-man Broadway show as “one of those great projects where you really walk in not at all caring about what the critics are going to say.” That’s probably a good thing, given what Jeff Giles, has to say about it. (To be fair, though, even McKay admitted that, although “the director of our special, Marty Callner, did an amazing job, nothing ever matches the live experience. The people who saw it live had a totally different reaction to it.”)

* Mission: Impossible – The Final TV Season: By the time this, the show’s seventh season, rolled around, you needed a formal checklist to cite all of the people whose departure left fans saying that it “hasn’t been the same since.” There’s no Martin Landau, no Barbara Bain…even Leonard Nimoy was gone by this point. But, hey, the big three – Peter Graves, Greg Morris, and Peter Lupus – are still around, with Lynda Day George serving as the season’s predominant femme fatale. Now that the whole series is available, when are we going to get the 1988 revival released on DVD?

* Spin City: Season Three: Shout Factory must’ve blown its whole bonus-material budget for the show on the Season 1 set, because we haven’t seen a single special feature since, but at least the comedy keeps on coming.

* Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Complete Season One: Your mileage on this show varies by how much you can stand of George Lucas’s prequels, but at the very least, it looks and sounds good.

* Walt Disney Treasures: Zorro – The Complete First Season / Walt Disney Treasures: Zorro – The Complete Second Season: Once upon a time, when Antonio Banderas was merely a twinkle in his father’s eye, Guy Williams was dressed in black and bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase “cutting Z’s.” As usual, you can count on Disney to hook you up with a plethora of classic bonus material.

* Doctor Who: The War Games / Doctor Who: The Black Guardian Trilogy: What the…? Our man Ross has written full-length reviews for both sets? I am shocked. Shocked. Sounds like “The Black Guardian Trilogy” might be pretty good if you just skipped over the middle part of the trilogy. As for “The War Games,” while Ross says it’s “difficult to recommend…to people unfamiliar with it,” it’s a fantastic set for fans, and “the transfer and restoration work are just freaking gorgeous.”

* Fraggle Rock: The Complete Series Collection: Dance your cares away, worries for another day, and let the music play down in Fraggle Rock for as long as you can stand to watch. But given that it’s a Jim Henson production, you can probably stand to watch for a very long time, indeed. Actually, this isn’t the first time we’ve been offered a complete-series set for this show, but as someone who owns the notebook-styled version that came out last year, where the DVDs fall out way too easily, I can assure you that you’ll be a lot better off if you pick up this one instead.

* G.I. Joe: Resolute: I haven’t seen this Cartoon Network series, nor have I seen the new movie, but I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb to suggest that this might be better than the movie. Or, at least, that’s the buzz, anyway.

Other releases this week:

* Ruby-Spears Superman:
* Here’s Lucy: Season 2:
* The Donna Reed Show: Season 3
* Art 21: Season 5
* Edge of Darkness: The Complete BBC Series

And – ho, ho, ho! – a trio of holiday releases for the kiddies:

* Dora the Explorer: Dora’s Christmas Carol Adventure
* Thomas & Friends: Holiday Express
* Merry Sitcom! Christmas Classics from TV’s Golden Age

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