By Jessica Allen - Monday, November 12, 2012 - 0 Comments
Conan O’Brien already did
On Friday, StarWars.com officially confirmed that Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3 screenwriter Michael Arndt will write the screenplay for the next installment. Ever since Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilms, for a cool $4 billion—and since George Lucas himself confessed that “it’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers”—there’s been plenty of speculation about who will direct Episode VII. Die-hard fans would be happy to have a big-name action/epic movie director, like J.J. Abrams, Peter Jackson or Joss Wheden take control.
Until anything is official, though, fans can hope for more fake audition tapes. We’d like to see Woody Allen’s existential Jedi-talk on the meaning of intergalactic life; or a re-imagined gangster galaxy with a septagenarian Luke obsessing over his mother, courtesy of David Chase.
By Peter Nowak - Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 12:24 PM - 0 Comments
Wednesday, January 18, 2012 marked an intriguing confluence of events. No, it’s not some sort of Mayan end-of-the-world situation, but it is the day on which Wikipedia, Google and a number of other big websites posted the Stop Online Piracy Act. It was also the day on which the Adult Entertainment Expo kicked off in Las Vegas.
How on Earth are the two related? Bear with me.
I’ve written before about how SOPA has the potential to kick off the equivalent of an Internet Cold War. If enacted, the legislation would give U.S. authorities power to block certain websites. The target would be file-sharing enablers such as the Pirate Bay, but could also encompass other undesirable websites, which historically has meant porn. But that’s not the tree I’m barking up today.
By Jesse Brown - Friday, January 6, 2012 at 2:15 PM - 0 Comments
Three-dimensional, that is. A layer of schmutz floating around a few feet in front of your nose while a movie plays behind it is not a reasonable simulation of our tactile physical universe. We can sit around arguing about the increasing quality of this floating schmutz in the digital age, but schmutz it remains–distracting bits of pollen hovering around our theaters. For a moment it amazes us, and then we struggle (consciously or not) to ignore it so we can focus on the story.
And the story is at the crux of this. 3D advocates point to early resistance to sound and color in the movies as proof that they are on the right track. But sound and color became crucial elements in cinematic storytelling. We’ve yet to see a 3D film where the floating schmutz is integral to the plot, and which could not be understood if you took the goofy glasses off. 3D is a gimmick, and has been since the days of the drive-in.
Poor Hollywood. The industry’s hopes and dreams were pinned to 3D. It was supposed to be a piracy-resistant bit of spectacle that would levitate teenagers out of their basements, away from their Playstations and smartphones and into movie theatres, where they would gladly pay a hefty surcharge on an already hefty ticket price for an “in-your-face” experience. 3D was also supposed to perpetuate the endless consumer gadget cycle, compelling overcompensating dads to ditch last year’s 52 inch HD LCDs for giant 3DTV flatscreens that let them bring the schmutz home. This in turn would propel the next wave of physical media sales, wherein we all would dump our DVD (or Bluray) collections at yard sales, replacing each classic flick with a new edition, digitally upschmutzed to 3D. George Lucas was moist with anticipation!
In short, 3D was the last best hope for business as usual in both the entertainment and consumer electronic industries. A couple of years ago at CES, the massive electronics trade show in Vegas, 3DTVs were everywhere. A couple of years ago, Avatar made Hollywood salivate. But as CES 2012 gears up, the reality is sinking in: Consumers don’t really want 3D at home, and Avatar was a one-off. Sports fans are lukewarm on floating balls, and people feel ridiculous wearing those goofy glasses in well-lit living rooms where they can be seen by their friends and families. Even gamers who bought Nintendo 3Ds are tiring of the optical illusion and turning 3D off.
There are still a few (hundred million) bucks more to be squeezed out of 3D before consumers grow completely sick of the experience, so we will surely see a slew of schmutzy pictures in the months and years to come. And of course, there will be an Avatar 2.
But this thing is on the wane, and Hollywood may soon have to resort to actually producing movies people want to see on account of their content.
Or they could just bring back Smell-O-Vision.
By Jane Switzer - Thursday, August 19, 2010 at 3:40 PM - 0 Comments
Bill Gates and Warren Buffett plan to give away half of their fortunes
How could giving away at least $115 billion to charity win anything but universal, flattering praise, especially in a post-recession age where many charities are in desperate need? Here’s how.
America’s two richest men, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, plan to give away half of their fortunes (worth a combined US$90 billion), and last week announced they’ve convinced 38 other billionaires to do the same by signing what they’re calling the “Giving Pledge.” The list includes New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, media mogul Ted Turner, film director George Lucas and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison.
By Jaime Weinman - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 3:00 PM - 0 Comments
What Kevin Smith, Helena Guergis, Star Wars fans and Conan O’Brien all have in common
Kevin Smith vs. Southwest
The U.S. airline booted the cult filmmaker off a flight because he was too fat to fit into only one seat. The plane’s employees told the Cop Out director his girth might ruin the experience for his seatmate and prevent “a timely exit from the aircraft.” Smith, a self-proclaimed “fatty,” used his Twitter feed to stir up fan outrage, saying Southwest messed with “the wrong sedentary processed-foods eater!” After hearing from angry Smith fans, airline representatives apologized to him. But they’d never have treated Alfred Hitchcock this way.
White Stripes vs. u.s. Air Force
Rock stars are always protesting when politicians use their songs, but only the White Stripes have the guts to take on the U.S. military. Band members Meg and Jack White decried the U.S. Air Force Reserve’s Super Bowl commercial, which used music eerily similar to their song Fell in Love With a Girl “to encourage recruitment during a war that we do not support.” The air force pulled the ad from its website. Who knew such a powerful fighting force could be defeated by two musicians from Detroit?
Marcia vs. Jan
A planned reunion of the kids from The Brady Bunch was canceled due to sibling rivalry: Maureen McCormick (Marcia) and Eve Plumb (Jan) “did not want to be on the same show.” Plumb is still apparently angry that McCormick’s memoir, Here’s the Story, boosted its sales by implying the two actresses had a brief lesbian relationship. She should bear in mind that the last time she refused to do a Brady Bunch reunion, she was replaced by another actor: Geri Reischl, now known as the “fake Jan.”
Conan vs. NBC
Conan O’Brien’s brief stint as host of The Tonight Show ended with NBC giving him a big cash payment to end his contract, and several episodes featuring expensive props charged to NBC. The catch was, O’Brien could not make disparaging remarks about the people who fired him. But NBC neglected to make such a deal with his sidekick, Andy Richter, who went on Live! With Regis and Kelly to blast NBC’s “short-sighted” planning. Maybe on Conan’s upcoming comedy tour, he’ll be contractually obligated to let Richter do all the talking.
Eric Massa vs. Rahm Emanuel
U.S. Democratic congressman Eric Massa, who resigned his seat for “health reasons” before it came to light he had groped male staffers, claimed he was “set up” by Obama’s ruthless chief of staff. Massa, who voted against Obama’s health care plan, said a naked Emanuel threatened him in the showers at the congressional gym. But when he was invited on Glenn Beck’s show, Massa changed his story, saying he was not forced out. Which can only mean that the Emanuel conspiracy, which has produced so many obsessive articles about Emanuel, has gotten to Massa.
SRC vs. Italians
Radio-Canada aired a comedy sketch in which a stereotypical Italian family, the Jambonis, appears on a game show. The Canadian Italian Business and Professional Association complained to the CRTC and demanded an apology for the “racist” sketch, where the family threatens to put a hit on the host and talk about how influential they are in the Quebec construction industry. CIBPA’s vice-president, Giuliano D’Andrea, argued there must be “limits to freedom of expression.” But don’t take that as a threat.
Helena Guergis vs. Charlottetown
After the federal Tory cabinet minister swore at Charlottetown airport security personnel and said they’d cause her to be “stuck in this s–thole,” an anonymous resident got revenge for the city by publicizing her outburst in a letter, forcing her to apologize. Guergis had been in the P.E.I. capital announcing a federal initiative she claimed would help more women and girls in P.E.I. “reach their full potential.” Which apparently means getting out of there as quickly as possible.
The Fans VS. George Lucas
At last, a movie about how much Star Wars fans hate the Star Wars creator for Ewoks, Jar Jar Binks and more. Alexandre Philippe’s The People vs. George Lucas interviews many disappointed fans, including a band that sings George Lucas Raped Our Childhood. But Philippe, himself a big fan of the original movies, says he still loves Lucas and wants him to “return to his early experimental roots.” You know, like movies about space princesses and robots.
By Brian D. Johnson - Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 3:37 PM - 1 Comment
If you’re not craving a fix of fuel-injected testosterone this weekend—and can resist the lure of Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Michelle Rodriguez re-igniting the Fast and Furious franchise—you can choose between two decidedly less macho alternatives that tap an altogether different vein of nostalgia. Adventureland and Fanboys are both are geek coming-of-age stories set in a pre-9/11 world. And the one I’m recommending, heartily, is Adventureland, a delightful romantic comedy about a shy college grad who puts his virginity on the line while working as a carnie in the summer of 1987. Fanboys is more sophmoric fare—a cute but underwhelming road movie, featuring a whole posse of geeks on a quixotic mission to invade George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch in 1998.
This sweet midway ride through the ageless carnival of post-teen angst comes from filmmaker Greg Motolla, who directed the priceless high school hijinks of Superbad. While still blessed with a healthy measure of adolescent naïveté, Adventureland is Motolla’s own script and it’s more mature piece of work, a romantic comedy that’s tilted toward romance. It’s a smart, believable and genuinely touching movie—the tale of a young man staring into the chasm that lies between him and adulthood. And it’s one of those rare films that lives up to the gold standard set by The Graduate over four decades ago. Motolla’s script is semi-autobiographical, and it shows. He conjures a world, both physical and emotional, with the kind of telling details that cannot be made up. Balancing rough-edged realism with tender sentiment, it rides the rom com formula without succumbing to it. Continue…
By Brian D. Johnson - Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 3:50 PM - 0 Comments
There was the predictable mob scene as the media horde surged between narrow barricades, clamoring to get into Indy IV. I got in without being crushed and can report that the movie went over pretty well with the crowd. But some of those same journalists who fought so hard to get a seat began their exodus as early as 20 minutes before the end of the film—so they could beat the mob scene that would converge on the Indy press conference after the screening. I stayed to the end. I’ll save a full scale review for the eve of the movie’s May 22 opening. But in a nutshell I can say that I enjoyed first half hour, a pastiche of witty touches and old-fashioned chase scenes; I got a bit dozy in the middle as the plot churned through the kind of byzantine details that are de rigeur with this franchise; then I got re-engaged towards the end.
This Indiana Jones premiere marks Spielberg’s first visit to Cannes since he launched E.T. here 26 years ago. At the press conference he said the only two movies people have ever asked him to do sequels to are, in fact, E.T. and Indiana Jones. For some reason, he says, “No one ever asks me if I’m going to make another A.I or 1941.” As Lucas us yesterday, in pushing for a fourth Indy movie, “Harrison was the impetus. Steven was the one who didn’t want to do it. I was the one who couldn’t think of anything to do.” Or, as Spielberg explained it, ““I was the hold out. I was the person saying, ‘I don’t know, I’m in my dark period, making all these historical dramas.’ Then I made Jurassic Park and thought, gee that felt good. It took us a long time to find the story.”
By Brian D. Johnson - Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 6:12 AM - 0 Comments
Today is Indy Day. This afternoon, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will be unveiled for the media horde, followed by the the red carpet premiere tonight. And what’s billed as the biggest blockbuster of the summer, if not the year, will be launched. It won’t be unleashed in commercial theatres until Thursday. But there will be not stopped the floodtide of early reviews. In this case, many critics will break protocol. With a movie this size, a review becomes a news story. They’ll post and publish instant reviews worldwide immediately after this afternoon’s screening.
Which is why Paramount did its preemptive promo interviews early. Usually we see the movie, then interview the stars. This time around, as with The Da Vinci Code, we were asked to interview talent before seeing the movie. That doesn’t necessarily mean the movie is bad. It’s just that the studio wanted to control the media coverage as much as possible before it became overwhelmed by one story: how good is the movie, and just how big will it be at the box-office?
So yesterday I joined selected journalists for group interviews on the top floor of the Carlton Hotel with the stars of Indiana Jones and its writer George Lucas. There were about a dozen of us in our two sessions, which were staged like mini-press conferences in a room draped in black cloth. The first session was with Harrison Ford and Karen Allen, the second with Cate Blanchett, Shia LaBoeuf (who must have a great time in France dining out on that name), and writer George Lucas. I had a seat in the front row, almost awkwardly close to the talent, who sat on a little stage. It felt like a toy press conference. The stars seemed too big for the room.
It was especially odd to be sitting just a few feet away from Cate Blanchett, this luminous creature, and watching her think when the others were talking. Dressed in a filmy black dress that bared her endless legs, she looked amazing for someone who had given birth to her third son just five weeks ago. But she had a faraway look in her eyes. You got the sense that she would rather be somewhere else, with her new baby perhaps.