Comic-Con is Upon Us — Just Don’t Get Too Crazy

I’m late because of the I-80 tractor-trailer crash — an hour in that slop — so let’s get right to it:

ok, so maybe there is a reason to go to comic con

ok, so maybe there is a reason to go to comic con

Time for Comic-Con! For the next five days, you will be deluged with news from movies and TV that come out of the celebrity panels, and don’t think for a second any of it off-book or accidental. Every bit of news, however big or small, will all be carefully crafted by dozens of publicists and PR flacks hoping to get a little extra publicity for whatever they’re pumping. There will be no casting decision is too small, no sequel announcement too trite, no trailer unveiling too minuscule to appear in BOLD CAPS on Collider or wherever with what might look like big news — but it might just be an announcement with Jim Parsons confirming he’ll leave Big Bang Theory in 2020. Since I’m off Friday, we’ll take a step back, let you find the news in other ways, and come back Monday with the news from Comic-Con that actually is big.

Luckily, this has never happened to me, where someone came to me and strong-armed me to give up a source. Wanna know why? Because I’ve never used an anonymous source! It only leads to trouble. In fact, I even had the opportunity to use one in a story I wrote Saturday, an anonymous source that would have completely cleared up a complicated story I was writing where I was receiving no cooperation and was under severe time limits, but decided not to. It’s just lazy. Some people — people I love as writers and completely respect as journalists — routinely use anonymous sources, and in their specific line of work, maybe it’s necessary. But it always makes me cringe when a baseball writer like Jayson Stark — my favorite baseball writer, just to clarify — says something like, “One American League GM said …” That kind of journalism doesn’t fly around here. It’s only when you’ve exhausted every other source you have, when that anonymous source can be completely and 100 percent trusted beyond all doubt (not reasonable doubt, mind you, but all doubt) and your only other option is to put a gun to your head and consider pulling the trigger because you’re so frustrated that a great story is going to get blown out of the water. I have no idea whether this Jon Lovitz look-a-like guy ever called Sumner Redstone’s people to find out if the source was telling the truth or not, but if he didn’t, then he should be ashamed. Then he should be fired from whatever this Daily Beast website is. Sure enough, there is no mention in the original article of any Redstone representatives refusing comment. Redstone, from all accounts, is a cold-hearted businessman who might just be getting cold-cocked square in the teeth by a double-fisted dose of karma. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve good journalism. Looks like we hit a sore spot! I’m taking two giant steps down from my soapbox now.

keep 'em comin' sweets, i got a long drive.

keep 'em comin' sweets, i got a long drive.

Actually, I’m getting back up, just for a second. My wife and I had an extended discussion yesterday about the Bill Murray interview in GQ, about whether he’s a good guy or not. First off — I’m a huge Bill Murray fan, both his work and his philosophies. He’s the star of at least five movies that have embodied my definition of comedy at one time or another (Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, Kingpin and Rushmore). His transformation into a respected dramatic actor — robbed of an Oscar for Lost in Translation — is nothing short of remarkable. But in that interview, he came off as the condescending bully from college who’s too smart and cool for everything. He’s just seems to be too smart for his own good. I know people like this — actually, I’m sure I am that person sometimes — and they’re just annoying. Other than that, he completely lost me talking about how great Kung Fu Hustle was. Maybe I just didn’t get the joke, but I didn’t think it was any kind of comedy masterpiece. Had some laughs, yeah, but nothing that makes me think no other comedy can ever reach that level. Weird. At the same time, I feel like a hypocrite because it’s completely refreshing to hear a Hollywood person be so open and honest with the “I could give two s—, this is how I feel” attitude in an interview. It’s what I’ve begged people to do, and it’s the attitude I’d hope any Hollywood person would have if they were ever talking to me (fat chance). So I’m torn. Feel free to read it and fill up the comments on the subject. But first watch this and try and come up with five better comedic actors of the last 30 years. You can’t do it.

There are very few true “maverick” directors out there any more. The days of directors who completely played outside the studio system and made whatever movie they wanted to, refused to take notes from the bosses and basically told everyone in their way to eff off are over. Young directors beat the bushes with their first independent film, then they immediately look for the big paycheck. Who can blame them? It’s why they got into the business in the first place. But the mavericks are still out there, and leading the way is probably Todd Solondz. Not because he’s doing things like walking around Los Angeles flipping people off and telling them exactly where they can stick their iPhones, but because he makes uncomfortable, provocative movies that could never, ever be studio movies. Think American Beauty turned upside down on crack while coming down from a heroin high. Tearing through the Solondz filmography in a day or two would probably drive a person to suicide contemplation, so it’s not recommended. But if you’re looking to experience the inner workings of one of the weirdest movie minds still somehow allowed in the industry, then Solondz is your guy. Just know this isn’t a recommendation, because I would never tell anyone I didn’t know to watch his movies. It’s only a suggestion to movie fans if you’re not familiar with his work.

can there even be another like him? not counting the last indiana jones, that is

can there even be another like him? not counting the last indiana jones, that is

On the other hand, there are still directors within the studio system making brilliant movies. They’re just tough to find when you’re sifting through the rubble of the Michael Bay clones that pop up quicker than cockroaches. They’re all chasing that Dawson dream, of becoming The Next Spielberg, the guy whose movies can make $300 million and still get Oscar nominations. Even though James Cameron may have usurped Spielberg as the most profitable, technologically gifted and critically loved director of this age, Spielberg still is the gold standard by which every director is judged. There’s only one guy out there right now who can lay claim to TNS title, and that’s Christopher Nolan. The guy just makes incredible all-around movies that make a ton of money. He’s got his own franchise (Batman), is godfather to another (Superman) and still has time to make the kinds of movies he finds interesting. If anyone is going to be TNS, it’s Nolan.  

Must have missed this a couple weeks ago, but ABC is going just as bland as Fox and NBC with its fall premiere dates, employing a standard “premiere week” type format. The only difference is bringing out No Ordinary Family a week later to make room for a two-night Dancing with the Stars premiere the week before. Great idea! Give Glee fans an extra week to completely tune out of your show. Nice. CBS still hasn’t announced its fall premiere dates, but I’m not sure people would know what the difference is between a repeat and a new episode of CSI.

Fans of low-rated, niche programming on HBO rejoice! Bored to Death and Eastbound and Down come back to HBO Sept. 26. I wish I felt a stronger need to get Kenny Powers back into my life, but I don’t. He’s been gone for too long. While we’re at it, the second half of the first season of Caprica comes back in January. It got lost in my OnDemand schedule after about the fourth episode or so, and I don’t regret it for a second.

This entry was posted in Movies, Pop Culture, TV and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form.