Monday, January 31, 2011

Superman Fights for Truth, Justice and Steak and Kidney Pie

I'm comfortably heterosexual, but that man is hunky.
Word around the playground is that British actor Henry Cavill will be the new Superman. Warner Bros. and Zack Snyder have confirmed that the 27 year actor will be the next Man of Steel in Warner's upcoming reboot.

Cavill is mostly know for his role on The Tudors, where he plays Henry's confidant Charles Brandon, but he has also appeared in films such as Stardust and Tristan + Isolde. However, he's almost more famous for the roles he has been up for, and close to, but didn't quite land. He was strongly considered for the role of Batman that eventually went to Christian Bale. He also was one of the front-runners for James Bond before Craig landed the role. To top it off, this is not his first kick at Superman either, as he was one of the front-runners for that role before it went to Brandon Routh.

Oddly, this means that three of the biggest super-hero characters around are now being played by people whose background comes from the UK. Bale as Batman, Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, and now Cavill as Superman. Hell, even Ryan Reynolds is a Canuck, and he's playing Green Lantern. Thank God for Robert Downey to show people a true-blue, red blooded American super hero, goddammit!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

HBO Takes Sorkin's Latest Idea to Pilot...

Soon after his snagging an Oscar nomination for the script for The Social Network, HBO has announced it will take Aaron Sorkin's latest television idea to the pilot stage, heralding the scribe's return to TV after the spectacular failure of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

The pilot focuses on the behind the scenes at a cable news network. This had long been rumoured to be his next project, especially after he revealed he had been hanging around the set of Keith Olbermann's MSNBC series (from which Olbermann was recently, and publicly, forced to depart).

Sorkin, who had a cult success with the short-lived Sports Night before creating and running the massive hit The West Wing, has not had a television series on the air since Studio 60... and expensive and hugely anticipated series that barely lasted a season before being cancelled. Opinion of that show still sharply divides fans.

I think this news is good news, and news that more closely fits in with Sorkin's style than Studio 60... ever did. While I thought the show was well-cast and well-shot, it was clear that Sorkin had no flair for writing the sketches that were supposed to appear on the show, leaving one with the impression that the show within the show wasn't actually any good. Also, Sorkin likes to tackle real-world issues, and it rang a little false to have them tackled by comedy stars and Hollywood execs.

But a news show? With both the cynicism and the idealism and the possibilities for the patented Sorkin dialogue? Coupled with no-holds-barred HBO? Sounds like a great match to me.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The APC Net

Hi, folks!

Well, as if I didn't have enough trouble keeping up with The Nerd Report, I have decided to launch a new blog - this one dedicated to an analysis of Doctor Who.

It's called The APC Net (after a computer network in the episode The Deadly Assassin). If you're a fan of the show, or are mildly interested in seeing what all the hubbub is about, then head on over and take a look.

Not to worry, I'll still be making it a priority to post here and enthrall you all with shallow observations, thinly veiled sarcasm, overpowering nerdery, and barely concealed contempt.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The 83rd Annual Academy Award Nominations...

The Oscar nominations were announced today and there were a number of surprises that caught more than a few people off guard. No Best Director nom for Christopher Nolan. Andrew Garfield being left off the Best Supporting list, and Ryan Gosling being left off the Best Actor list, as well. But, while some may disagree with who was left off, the question then becomes who would you kick off that is currently on there? Look at the Best Actor category. Hard to deny any of the men who are on there already. Personally, while I admired Tom Hooper's work on The King's Speech, when you compare it to the virtuosity and vision of Nolan, I do feel that he should have taken Hooper's spot. But it's hard to exclude the director of the front-runner, I guess. In any case, the nominees all look deserving, which is a good thing.

127 Hours
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours

Christian Bale, The Fighter
John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Joel & Ethan Coen, True Grit
David Fincher, The Social Network
Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
David O. Russell, The Fighter

Hors la Loi (Outside the Law) (Algeria)
Incendies (Canada)
In a Better World (Denmark)
Dogtooth (Greece)
Biutiful (Mexico)

Another Year, written by Mike Leigh
The Fighter, Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson; 
Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
Inception, written by Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right, written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
The King’s Speech, Screenplay by David Seidler

127 Hours, Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network, Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3, Screenplay by Michael Arndt; Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
True Grit, written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Winter’s Bone, adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dark Knight Rises Against Catwoman and Bane

After years of speculation as to who exactly would be the antagonists of Christopher Nolan's next Batman film, it has been revealed that the Caped Crusdaer will face off against Bane and Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises.

Anne Hathaway will play Selina Kyle, otherwise known as Catwoman. Tom Hardy will play Bane, a criminal given abnormal strength through a powerful and addictive cocktail of drugs.

Below is the press release from Warner Bros. and Nolan:

BURBANK, CA, January 19, 2011 – Warner Bros. Pictures announced today that Anne Hathaway has been cast as Selina Kyle in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. She will be starring alongside Christian Bale, who returns in the title role of Bruce Wayne/Batman.

Christopher Nolan stated, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Anne Hathaway, who will be a fantastic addition to our ensemble as we complete our story.”

In addition, Tom Hardy has been set to play Bane. Nolan said, “I am delighted to be working with Tom again and excited to watch him bring to life our new interpretation of one of Batman’s most formidable enemies.”

Nolan will direct the film from a screenplay he wrote with Jonathan Nolan, from a story by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer. Nolan will also produce the film with his longtime producing partner, Emma Thomas, and Charles Roven.

The Dark Knight Rises is slated for release on July 20, 2012. The film will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Great choices, here. First off, Tom Hardy is great. Watch Inception again, and see how good he is in that flick. And Anne Hathway is perfect for Catwoman. She's sexy, which is a must for that role, but she's a gifted and smart actress, which is a must for working with the calibre of people she's going to be working with. Let's face it, Christian Bale can blow most actors off the screen (am I right, Mark Wahlberg?) and whoever has to face off against him better be able to hold their own. These two fit the bill.

As for the choice of villains, I think it's smart. Frankly, the Penguin or the Riddler are a little too out there to really work in the world Nolan has created. At least not without serious re-imagining that might take away whatever charm they have in the first place. But Bane and Catwoman could work extremely well, mostly due to their more reality-based abilities. Personally, I can't wait to see how they realise these two character for the screen.

Okay...Maybe I'm Officially Old...

So, there are many shows that I watch regularly. Either live or via PVR. and most of them make sense: Doctor Who, The Walking Dead, The Venture Brothers, Glee, Boardwalk Empire, Fringe. I've given Mad Men a try twice, and can't seem to make it past the middle of the first season before giving up. Why? I just don't care about a single character. Odd, I know, because The Wire was filled with unlikable characters and that's one of my favourite shows ever. I still like House, but that's mainly because Hugh Laurie is so great. The show itself is incredibly predictable.

Anyway, all those shows make sense to me. They're firmly in my wheelhouse. They're either a genre show, or a superb drama, or in the best cases a mixture of both. But there's a show that I'm coming to realize that I enjoy more and more every time I watch it, and it really surprises me. That show is Parenthood.

My wife and I have been big fans of Peter Krause ever since Sports Night and Six Feet Under, so that was what initially led to us giving the show a try. At its heart, it's a fairly conventional show; a family drama about the trials and tribulations of raising a family. Normally, I avoid stuff like this for fear of it being nothing but "very special episodes" or unadulterated sudsy melodrama (how's it going, Brothers & Sisters?).

But Parenthood avoids too much of over-the-top soap operatic hysteria. The show is really about raising kids, and most of the conflict comes not from obvious melodramatic issues, but fairly family real-life problems. It skirts the line occasionally, but is saved by smart dialogue, a style of using over-lapping delivery that creates a sense of realism, and absolutely across the board stellar performances. Seriously, it's even made me like Dax Shepard, and I did not think that was in any way possible. There are some real standouts here, particularly from the kids and especially the superb Mae Whitman.

It's rare that a show ends, and you spend ten minutes talking about the choices made by the characters to your co-viewer, and it's in a good way. That happens in Parenthood after every episode. Maybe it's because I'm a dad now, but mostly I think it's just because it's a really well-done show. So, hopefully more people jump on board and give it a shot.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Marvel Is Going Insane With the Photos

So, over at Entertainment Weekly, Marvel has released yet more photos of their upcoming films, this time a new shot of Chris Hemsworth in the title role of Thor, and a crisp and clear version of the previously posted Captain America shot.

Here's the Mighty Thor:

And here's a better look at Cap:

How long before people start photo shopping Avengers team shots now?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Andrew Garfield Spins A Web, Any Size...

...catches thieves, just like flies. Hey, there, there goes the Spider-Mannnnnnnnnn. Ahem.

Anyhoo, there's pictures a-poppin' on the Interwebs today, as Ain't It Cool posted the first official pic of new Peter Parker Andrew Garfield all Spideyed-up. Check it out below:

Looks pretty good. First off, it's nice to see they're going with a lean, lithe body on Spidey. That's way more in the spirit of character as envisioned in the comic (and also the gayest sentence I've written on this blog). It is, of course, a little jazzed up, but I don't mind anything they've done, though that huge Spider on the front may prove distracting. Still, the guy looks solidly like Peter, and that's a good thing.

Next, the site also posted a shot of Chris Evans in full Captain America costume:

While this is a shitty scanned photo from a copy of Entertainment Weekly, it's still a somewhat official look at the full costume, and it looks great. It's bright, which is what it would be in WWII, but it looks functional. The shield looks awesome, Evans gives off a good vibe, and I don't even think there are too many belts. Can't have too many belts.

Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander - Official Shots

As part of a recent stellar article in W magazine that focuses on director David Fincher, the first official shots of Rooney Mara in the role of Lisbeth Salander have been released. Any doubts that the American version wouldn't go as hard core as the Swedish films have been pretty much shelved by these.

The article goes into detail on Fincher himself, who sounds like both an unqualified master film maker, and a sort of a dick. But that's okay. Being an obsessive compulsive dick that makes movies as good as Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac, ...Benjamin Button, and The Social Network is okay by me. I mean, I think working with the guy would be hard, no question, but it would be the good kind of hard. He's so exacting and meticulous that it would make you want to nail it as perfectly as he does.

Here's what the article says about Fincher's version:

The script, which captures the novel’s bleak tone (its original Swedish title was Men Who Hate Women), was written by Academy Award winner Steven Zaillian, who wrote Schindler’s List, and it departs rather dramatically from the book. Blomkvist is less promiscuous, Salander is more aggressive, and, most notably, the ending—the resolution of the drama—has been completely changed. This may be sacrilege to some, but Zaillian has improved on Larsson—the script’s ending is more interesting.

Anyway, the article also goes into detail on the lengths actress Rooney Mara had to go to just to land the role and the further lengths she went to get Salander's look right. I know a lot of people think Noomi Rapace captured her perfectly for the Swedish films, but I always thought that she seemed a little too formidable and mature, and dare I say, mainstream to me.

When I read the book, the picture of Lisbeth that I got was of a young woman with a very non-mainstream look and a deceptively slight build. It is her individuality and her slightness, combined with her intense mistrust of anyone, that allows most of the men in the book to completely underestimate her. To me, Mara looks pretty much exactly the way I pictured her.

Also, I wasn't all that impressed by the Swedish films. While I thought they were entertaining, there was something a little uninspired about them. Rapace's performance was great, even if I felt she didn't quite embody the character, but aside form that I felt they were a little workmanlike rather than thrilling. So, I'm excited to see a truly world class director like Fincher take this on. Even if he makes changes to the story, I feel he will successfully capture the "feel" of the characters and the books, which may result in a more thrilling film.

It all boils down, I guess, to what you want out of a filmed adaptation of a work from another medium. I'm all for fidelity, but if that fidelity is done strictly for the sake of fidelity, without an eye to what makes a movie work (I'm looking at you, Watchmen) that's not great. To me, the film is the film, and the book is the book, and they are two different beasts. As long as the spirit, the heart, the themes, are there, then who cares if Tom Bombadil shows up?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

First Look at the Red Skull

Over at Ain't It Cool, they've put up a couple Art Department renderings of what the Red Skull (played by Hugo Weaving) is probably going to look like in the new Captain America film, and he looks pretty bad-ass. Now, we've seen some shots of Weaving in the role prior to this, notably in the shot below, where we see Weaving's Johann Schmidt in a Nazi-esque costume and with Toby Jones as Professor Arnim Zola. I'm a little disappointed they seem, given the patch on Weaving's shoulder, to be going with more of a HYDRA vibe than a Nazi one, but still, looks cool.

This next shot shows what long has been assumed to be the Cosmic Cube, a Marvel artifact rumoured to be first glimpsed in the upcoming Thor film, and in the comics a long time obsession of the Skull's.

Finally, here's the Art Department renderings. The Skull looks awesome. And based on how close the Captain America renderings were to the actual costume, I imagine we'll be seeing something that looks relatively close to this in the final film.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Phoenix Jones - Seattle's Champion

Okay, so apparently, I am not as connected to the world of super-heroics as a comic book nut should be. This is because I am just now learning about a large group of people across North America who dress up in costumes and, well, fight crime.

Here's the story from a recent news broadcast that clued me in on one Phoenix Jones, a crime fighter in Lynwood, Washington:

Now my first thought after viewing this was that Mr. Jones was soon to be the subject of a major fucking beat-down. But I also thought that this was sort of cool, albeit in a completely deranged and misguided way.

But a little research revealed that not only is Phoenix Jones not the only person to do this, he isn't even the only person in the Seattle area. There's a blog called Heroes in the Night that actually follows the activities of some of these people. And it's a little unsettling.

Look, most of these people seem to be motivated by some pretty noble intentions; a sense of civic duty and concern for their community, a deep moral conviction, a proactive response to apathy. But they are using a set of guidelines that are based wholly in a fantasy world, and that may not be entirely healthy. I don't mean that they're mentally unwell, though some may certainly be. I mean that intervening in criminal activity with nothing more that a mask, some martial arts classes and a taser will probably get you fucked up. This is why cops have guns, body armor and training, because a crack addict breaking into a car will absolutely slash your face with a razor.

Anyway, here's an interview with Phoenix Jones that is both insane and strangely inspiring.