Daily Call Sheet: John Wayne vs. Clint Eastwood, My Top Five Most Anticipated Films of 2012, and Blu-ray Sales Explode

WC Fields

CHRISTOPHER NOLAN UNVEILS ‘DARK KNIGHT RISES’ PROLOGUE

Things I miss about living in Los Angeles:

Nolan was on hand himself to introduce the nearly seven-minute clip, which he described as, basically, the opening sequence, with a few out-of-order bonus shots thrown in at the end. The director also emphasized his love for IMAX technology, explaining that even though it was probably developed before he was born, it is “far and away the best imaging format created,” and it’s one that allows fans to experience the grandeur of old Hollywood films, which Nolan said is “slowly being chipped away.” At the special screening, he encouraged fans to seek out official IMAX screens for a fully immersive experience when “Rises” opens next summer, but not to inquire about the plot of the film.

Truth be told, though, I don’t want to see this stuff beforehand. Until the film comes out, I don’t want to know. No doubt, the prologue will be released online before “Dark Knight Rises” hits theaters next summer, and hopefully, work or my own lack of discipline won’t force me to view it.

STREISAND: ‘IT’S TIME FOR GENDER EQUALITY IN TREATMENT OF HEART DISEASE

Just once I’d like to see some insufferable leftist celeb write about “gender inequality” in defense of men over something… anything.

Just writing the words “gender inequality” makes me feel dirty and stupid.

BLU-RAY DISC SALES UP 35% IN 2011

A break in the clouds?

Sales of Blu-ray Disc movies in the last four months of the year have skyrocketed, eclipsing what had been a sluggish year for the high-definition packaged media format, an analyst said.

BD disc sales in the United States will reach about 115 million units in 2011, compared with 85 million units in 2010 — spearheaded by the Star Wars: The Complete Saga boxed set release, Jim Bottoms, analyst with Futuresource in London, told Home Media Magazine.

In Europe, BD disc sales will balloon 42% to 63 million units, compared with 44 million units last year — driven by strong adoption in Germany.

Global BD disc sales will increase to 234 million units, up 45% from 161 million units in 2010.

In other news: Analysts Cut Fourth-Quarter Box Office Estimates


8 MOVIE SPECIAL EFFECTS YOU WON’T BELIEVE AREN’T CGI

Awesome:

The flipping of the semi was accomplished with a technique known in Hollywood as flipping a real goddamned semi.

Awesomer:

The big-budget project was to have a stylized, surreal look in every frame. The studio, going through a CG craze, dropped its top visual effects artists in the director’s lap so they could paint everything in pixels and Phantom Menace that shit.

In response, Coppola fired every one of them and replaced them with his 29-year-old son, Roman. The result is a movie with effects that were 100 percent done “in camera.”

Awesomest:

So they grabbed their model of New York, which had been used for various other shots, and bought a roll of green tape and a black light. That’s it — this cutting-edge effect was done with five bucks and a trip to the hardware store.

My opposition to CGI isn’t based on some old-fashioned nostalgia. Too often, it hurts the storytelling.

CINEMA STANDOFF: JOHN WAYNE VS CLINT EASTWOOD

This is a great article, well worth a read. And as the Duke’s biggest defender, I say without any reservation that Clint Eastwood is more than worthy of this comparison. However, I do have a few quibbles:

Within [the Western] genre, Eastwood and Wayne are clearly at opposite ends of the spectrum; the former famed for playing a secretive loner in slow paced and gritty films which blur the lines between good and evil, right and wrong; the second finding fame through roles as a trailblazer, fighting predominantly for good with quick quips and an even quicker draw.

I couldn’t disagree more that Wayne’s Western legacy is that one-dimensional and simple. In “The Searchers,” arguably the finest Western ever made, Wayne plays a stone-cold racist. In “Red River,” he’s a psychopath, and in “The Sons of Katie Elder” he’s a gunslinger. In “Stagecoach,” Wayne plays a fugitive and one of the first Western anti-heroes, and in his final film, “The Shootist,” Wayne’s a killer dying of cancer who wants to go out as a killer.

These are far from simple characterizations, and if you dig even deeper into the Wayne canon, you’ll find titles like “Fort Apache” and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” — two masterpieces that deconstruct the mythos behind the Old West. They’re just not as famous for doing so because the message is subtle, not proud of itself.

The author should also give “Shepherd of the Hills” and “The Train Robbers” another look. Both contain a fascinating and bizarre quality that’s just now starting to be appreciated.

John Wayne’s involvement with war is, in a word, complex. He never fought during World War II, although he was capable and eligible to do so; instead, his studio constantly intervened and had his conscription deferred until 1945, by which time the war was over. In this sense, Wayne never illegally avoided conscription; however he never took active steps to enlist either. His widow has since argued that this was the reason for his seemingly hypocritical pro-war stance – she claimed that his patriotism and militarism came from the guilt which he felt more than anything else. Hmm.

That’s just false, but when the legend becomes fact, print the legend, I guess. Moreover, the author uses that false notion as a rationale to give Eastwood the edge in the genre of war movies, which is absurd.

Eastwood starred in a couples of terrific war films, but “Where Eagles Dare,” (the pretty dumb) “Kelly’s Heroes,” and “Heartbreak Ridge” can’t touch “The Sands of Iwo Jima,” “They Were Expendable,” “The Longest Day,” “In Harm’s Way,” “Operation Pacific,” “Flying Tigers,” or “Back to Bataan.”

Finally, the author again gives Eastwood the edge in “other genres” but seems to ignore how much more effective Wayne was in romance pictures “The Quiet Man” and in comedies such as “McLintock!” and “North to Alaska.” And then there’s “The High and the Mighty,” “Island In the Sky,” “The Long Voyage Home,” and “Wake of the Red Witch.”

In the detective genre, however, Eastwood wins hands down. And I also have no doubt that after the unthinkable happens, Mr. Eastwood will, for decades to come, poll posthumously as one of America’s favorite movie stars, a feat only ever achieved by John Wayne. Before he died, Wayne said that Eastwood would assume his mantle, and he was right.

JAMES CAMERON SLAPPED WITH LAWSUIT OVER ‘AVATAR’ PLOT

By the writers of “Dances With Wolves” and “Pocahontas”?

That joke will never get old.

VARIETY REVIEWS ‘SHERLOCK HOLMES 2’

Among recent reworkings of the Sherlock Holmes mythology, Warner Bros.’ bigscreen version starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law was at best a middling effort. Its success, however, made a sequel inevitable, and this one, subtitled “A Game of Shadows,” actually has the significant advantage of featuring Holmes’ preeminent adversary, Professor Moriarty, as played with reptilian charm by Jared Harris. So while director Guy Ritchie’s excesses and modern concessions — among them a lot of explosions — remain intact, the parts of this second “Sherlock Holmes” are considerably more rewarding, promising a healthy run through its holiday window.

INDIEWIRE REVIEWS ‘MI:4’

Worth a reminder that “Incredibles” director Brad Bird helmed this one:

…Bird does a wonderful job of executing these action scenarios in ways that communicate energy and drama but never succumb to undue self-seriousness. The opening scene where Hunt breaks out of prison is a marvel of storytelling economy, as Bird uses almost no dialogue to communicate what’s happening and why, but the audience is never at a loss for what’s happening or how they’re meant to feel about it. And later – and certainly augmented by Cruise’s own commitment/ fearlessness – his photography of Hunt scaling the outside glass of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa some hundred or more stories in the air is truly a breathtaking, palm-sweating spectacle to behold. In fact, the only problem with these sequences is that they’re a little too slight: in an earlier cut shown to reporters of the Burj Khalifa scene, there were a few more shots, or perhaps just longer ones, and the immediate impression one came away with was that this was going to be a defining, unique moment in action moviemaking. In the final theatrical version, the editing is much more aggressive, and as a result it doesn’t climax with the same sense of exhilaration it previously did, and resonates only superficially afterward.

MOST ANTICIPATED FILMS OF 2012

My Top 5:

‘Dark Knight Rises” — July 20

“Resident Evil 5” — Sept 14

“Taken 2” — Oct 5

“Django Unchained” — Dec 26

“Expendables 2” — August 17

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LAST NIGHT’S SCREENING

Hoping against hope to review this one today.

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FOX SEARCHLIGHT SETTING UP ANOTHER ALFRED HITCHCOCK BIO, THIS ONE ON THE MAKING OF ‘PSYCHO

THREE NEW (KIND OF HILARIOUS) POSTERS FOR ‘THE REVEREND’

LIONSGATE WANTS TO REMAKE ‘AMERICAN PSYCHO

7 RANDOM CAMEOS BY DIRECTORS IN FILMS THAT THEY DIDN’T DIRECT

FILMMAKER JOHN WATERS: CAPITALIST

CLARK GABLE’S GRANDSON PLEADS GUILTY IN LASER-POINTER CASE

AKIRA’ VS. ‘OLDBOY’: WHICH REMAKE IS THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS?

BAD CHRISTMAS MOVIE POLL

A LOOK AT THE CAREER OF DIRECTOR FRANKLIN J. SCHAFFNER (‘PATTON’, ‘PLANET OF THE APES’)

5 CANCELLED HORROR TV SERIES WORTH UNEARTHING

THE 10 BEST WORST MOVIES

IMDB EXPLAINS WHY 40-YEAR OLD ACTRESS SHOULDN’T FEAR BLACKLISTING

10 FILMS THAT AVOIDED AN NC-17 RATING AND SUFFERED FOR IT

WALT DISNEY’S 5 GREATEST INNOVATIONS

ARE MOVIE TITLES TOO LITERAL?

25 FACTS ABOUT ‘OCEAN’S 11’ (2001)

RAY BRADBURY AND OTHER SCI-FI AUTHORS EXPLAIN THEIR SYMBOLISM

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CLASSIC PICK FOR SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10

TCM:

7:30 AM EST: Bank Dick, The (1940) — When he foils two robberies in one day, the town drunkard is hired to guard the local bank. Dir: Edward Cline Cast: W. C. Fields, Cora Witherspoon, Una Merkeli . BW-72 mins, TV-PG, CC.

Still one of the funniest, laugh-out-loud comedies ever made. Fast-paced, brilliant, and edgy in a good way, not that phony way Hollywood uses “edgy” today as a crutch.

Perfect for the kids.

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