Thursday night trailer: “Real Steel” rocks ’em and socks ’em, I guess

I guess I have a short memory because, since I didn’t read the text by /film’s Germain Lussier‘s, my first thought when I read watched this was: “Boy, they made that stupid ‘Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots’ movie fast.” But it seems that the comparison has been out there since Mattel first launched that sure to be Oscar-winning film.

Anyhow, Hugh Jackman stars in what has to be the most heartfelt tale of pugilistic triumph and tragedy since “The Fighter” and the most entertaining robot fighting production since that thing that used to come on before “The Daily Show.”

  

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The original “Robin’s Big Date”

Via Kevin Jagernauth at the Playlist, we learn that one of the skits for the upcoming, unnamed 17-director comedy anthology film is an expansion of the funny little film below from 2005, which comes as news to yours truly. “Robin’s Big Date” features Justin Long as a sensitive young Robin who has to put up with a supremely overbearing, bearded Batman (Sam Rockwell) who doesn’t seem to realize when he’s not wanted.

Especially with his outstanding work in “Moon” and the upcoming “Iron Man 2,” Rockwell is an actor who has really been growing on me a lot lately — I had previously found him a tad bland but I now see the error of my ways. His work here with Justin Long, also excellent, shows that his way with a comic scene is great stuff. Though I love that the updated version will include not only Rockwell and Long, but also writer-turned-actor Jon “I’m a PC” Hodgeman of “The Daily Show” as the Penguin, this nice little film is going to be hard to top. Enjoy.

Especially with his outstanding work in “Moon” and the upcoming “Iron Man 2,” Rockwell is an actor who has really been growing on me a lot lately — I had previously found him a tad bland but I now see the error of my ways. His work here with Justin Long, also excellent, shows that his way with a comic scene is nothing too new he already. Though I love that the updated version will include not only Rockwell and Long, but also writer-turned-actor Jon “I’m a PC” Hodgeman of “The Daily Show” as the Penguin, this nice little film is going to be hard to top. Enjoy.
  

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No fooling, it’s Thor’s-day at the movies

I don’t usually do these kind of posts on Thursdays, and it’s April Fools’ Day. However, there’s simply too much apparently non-joking, actual movie news to leave for Friday. So, here we go.

* Of course, in Hollywood, it’s not always easy to spot the April Fool’s story from the real thing. That’s why IESB frontloads their big possible, eventual scoop today with all sorts of promises that they’re not joking. Anyhow, it appears that #1 cult creator Joss Whedon, most recently of “Dollhouse” and “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” fame, is supposedly on the short list to direct “The Avengers,” currently being penned by Zak Penn.

avengers

If you’re skeptical about this, you’re far from alone. Just check out the slightly quizzical reaction from Whedon’s robotic and slavishly devoted cult — of which I am a known member — over at Whedonesque. (I’ve even forgiven Whedon for listening too much to Rahm Emmanuel and selling out to big pharma and not fighting hard enough to keep the public option in the health care bill….Oh, wait, wrong blog.) Still, Whedon’s known for staying in touch with his fans. I strongly suspect that, if the story were completely unfounded, he’d have posted something about it by now.

One creative point. Some fans seem skeptical that a collaboration between Penn and Whedon could work. Well, of course, Whedon has actually done any number of rewrites and polishes on other people’s scripts — a lot of folks give him credit for most of the wittier portions of “Speed” — and though Penn has been involved with some pretty conventionally dull flicks in his day, he’s not completely lacking imagination and humor. His little seen 2004 comedy-thriller mock-documentary, “Incident at Loch Ness,” has some remarkably hilarious moments,  most of them courtesy of Werner Herzog, playing himself and also taking a cowriting credit. If Penn’s good enough for Herr Herzog, he’s perhaps good enough for Joss Whedon.

* Speaking of “The Avengers,” the movie about the only actual deity in the group, “Thor,” is currently in production and director Kenneth Branagh talked about the film and his affection for the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby/et al comic books in today’s L.A. Times. This was not some random publicity glad-handing but a deliberate effort to squelch some unpleasant — and, to my ear, unlikely — rumors being reported in the tabloid press which allege open on-set criticism/anger directed at newcomer-lead Chris Hemsworth from venerable master thespian Anthony Hopkins, presumably relating to the 26 year-old star’s relative lack of experience, at least compared to Hopkins.  Hopkins, who’ll be playing Thor’s even more venerable dad, Odin, and Branagh have strongly denied the rumors and painted a picture of a happy set.

I was fairly impressed with Hemsworth’s work in the opening of “Star Trek,” so I tend to lean towards the official story here. He’s also a veteran of an Aussie soap, “Home and Away,” and history teaches us that soap vets tend to become pretty good actors when actually allowed time to learn their lines properly and develop characters. I don’t know much about Hopkins on a personal level except that he’s gotten this far in his career without these kind of incidents being an issue that I can think of. I suspect it would take a titanic lack of talent/ability to visibly annoy him at this point.

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A Chat with Rob Riggle

Given how long Rob Riggle has been doing stand-up, it’s actually kind of funny to think that there are lot of folks who don’t even know that he does stand-up. Then again, given that he’s been on “Saturday Night Live” and “The Daily Show,” as well as in “Talledega Nights” and “The Hangover,” it’s not like you can’t understand why some people only know him for his TV and movie work. On March 5th, however, Riggle will be taking the stage once more for an episode of “Comedy Central Presents,” where he’ll be giving viewers 22 solid minutes of stand-up. I had a chance to chat with him about the special, as well as his work on “SNL,” his two and a half year stint as John Oliver’s officemate, and some of his upcoming film projects.

Bullz-Eye: Hey, Rob!

Rob Riggle: Hey, Will! How are you doing?

BE: Pretty good. Well, welcome back to the stand-up scene on Comedy Central!

RR: I know! I’m excited! Very excited…and I haven’t even seen it yet!

BE: It’s very good. I caught it on the online screening room.

RR: Oh, well, thank you. I’m glad to hear that. I’ve literally only seen a couple of clips, so that’s good. You never know how those things go, because I think I did, like, 34 minutes, and they cut it down to 22, so you’re, like, “Uh, okay, I hope it’s good.” I’ll be very interested to see what they cut!

BE: I can only presume that the 10 minutes they cut were the slowest minutes. (Laughs) So how often do you even get to do stand-up? Because you’ve certainly got plenty of acting keeping you busy.

RR: Yeah, well, actually, I’ve been very lucky with the acting, but I try to get out as often as I can…which, in my humble opinion, is not often enough. But I book gigs whenever I can, and to answer your question directly…I dunno, I’d say probably two times a month. At least right now. There was a time where I was a lot more consistent. It just depends on the work schedule, y’know? If there’s a gap, I’ll get out there and pound it out three or four times a week, but it just depends on my work schedule, that’s all.

BE: So are you forever honing material, just in case you might have a free night for a gig?

RR: Yeah, that’s the constant work, I guess. I’m constantly waking up in the middle of the night and jotting down notes, and I have a stack of notes and thoughts and premises that I am dying to explore… (Laughs) …and I hope to have the time work them out, but I just haven’t been able to get to them yet. But one of these days I will, and hopefully I’ll be able to develop a new set. That’s what everybody’s got to do.

BE: So what was the case with this Comedy Central special? Was it planned out well in advance, or did you just get a last-second phone call saying, “Hey, Rob, come on back to the family”?

RR: No, y’know, I was just very fortunate that they came and saw me do stand-up at…I think it was right there in New York, at Comics Comedy Club. I was doing a weekend there and they came down, saw me, liked what they saw, and asked if I wanted to do it. And I was flattered. I was, like, “Yeah! Count me in!” So that’s how it all came about. And, y’know, I love Comedy Central. The people over there are awesome, and I have a good relationship with them, so…it’s all good.

BE: Well, in particular, the routine during the special that hit home for me was the bit about men’s rooms in stadiums.

RR: (Laughs) Oh, how true is it, my friend?

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President’s Day movie news

It might be a national holiday, but movie news hasn’t been taking anything like a break.

* It’s not really even movie news in the usual sense, but Kevin Smith has been making big Internet news by making a big Internet stink about being ejected from a Southwest Airlines flight for being “too wide for the sky.” The latest: He might go on Larry King or “The Daily Show” to prove his point. Of course, this is movie news if it helps out the grosses for this upcoming buddy police comedy, “Cop Out.”

* This is really interesting and weird. All weekend, we’ve been hearing that Martin Scorsese has announced that he and old friend Robert De Niro would be revisiting the world of the mob in an upcoming film. Secondarily, there are numerous stories — actually not much more than written down rumors that he, together with cinema bad boy Lars von Trier, would be doing a series of remakes of some sort of his classic early collaboration with De Niro, “Taxi Driver,” possibly with the participation of the actor.

taxidriver2

If anyone out there has seen “The Five Obstructions” they’ll have some clue what is supposed to be going on here. It’s a highly entertaining documentary in which the director challenged his filmmaking mentor, Jørgen Leth, to remake an experimental short film of his that von Trier admired five times, each time with some creative limitation thrown in the way. The idea being that creative obstacles can sometimes lead to more interesting work.

Of course, Scorsese and De Niro aren’t going to make five full-length “Taxi Driver” remakes based on the Danish director’s whims, but if there’s anything to this, it’s certainly something I’d pay to see. Peter Hall at Cinematical has the most concise version of this confusing story or non-story that I’ve seen, and likes the idea as much as I do.

* And that’s not all on the Scorsese speculation front. The Playlist passes on word from the paywall encrusted Variety that he may be contemplating making his next film, a movie about movies called “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” in 3-D. It was good enough for Alfred Hitchcock in “Dial M for Murder,” so I wouldn’t be surprised and, for this particular project, it might make sense.

* Can you imagine the Oscars — or any award show — without innumerable thank yous? I can’t. Still if what Peter Sciretta at /Film reports turns out to be for real, it would prevent any more unpleasantness like this.

* Another Oscar institution really does seem to be on its way out: Barbara Walters’ post show interviews.

* Patrick Goldstein quizzes Quentin Tarantino on influences, why he likes them and why he doesn’t like them being used against him.

* The estimates for the entire three-day weekend are out. No huge surprises based on what I wrote yesterday.

  

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