Moriarty's GEEK STATE OF THE UNION Address!! Plus Sylbert Remembered!! Julia's MONA LISA SMILE!!
Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.
I want to editorialize a bit today, then eulogize a bit, then discuss a few things winding their way through development right now. That's a lot to accomplish, so let's dig right in, eh?
THE GEEK STATE OF THE UNION
Take this moment to stop and look around you. Realize that you are living in a golden age. Appreciate this remarkable time, and understand that it doesn't happen often. The stars don't always align. The wind doesn't always blow just right. It's a rare privilege, this sort of avalanche of realized dreams, and you're up to your neck in right now.
So savor it.
Today, I want to look at just why this moment has the potential to be so great for fans of film, why I feel that we've hit a stretch here that will be discussed and enjoyed and debated for years to come. I want to take the moment for what it is, and no matter what comes to pass, I want to mark this as a milestone of optimism, a vantage point from which the future looks rosy and amazing and limitless in what can be. Right now, today, more than anything, I hope.
I'd be going nuts waiting for the summer to start if I didn't think there was so much worth seeking out in the weeks between now and STAR WARS. For example, I'm excited about both AMADEUS and Martin Scorsese's ass-kicking rockumentary THE LAST WALTZ coming back to theaters this weekend, and plan to make events out of both. The week after that, Lions Gate unleashes a one-two punch that I think furthers the idea that they're the new Miramax, the one indie out there that's really stretching, with THE CAT'S MEOW and FRAILTY offering radically different rides to viewers. USA is finally releasing the debut film from Michel Gondry, HUMAN NATURE, which I'm excited about because of Charlie Kaufman. He's one of those names you'll see again and again in this article because he's one of the guys who makes this such an exciting time for viewers. His is a voice worth paying attention to, and we're very fortunate, because studios seem to have figured this out. And speaking of singular voices, you can also see THE RETURN OF THE SECAUCUS SEVEN by John Sayles in theaters that weekend, a wonderful early film by one of the most integrity-drenched men in independent cinema. Sayles is the real deal, and if you're familiar with THE BIG CHILL but not SECAUCUS, you owe it to yourself to get to a theater and see this while you can. A week later, a very different type of classic gets a rerelease when MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE roars into theaters with a restored print. You jonesing for THE MATRIX or the Jedi action of STAR WARS? Try GUILLOTINE and see if you can handle the kick. Or, if you're in the mood for something else that weekend, you can also try MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING or NINE QUEENS, an indie buzz hit and an Argentine import that are both garnering some serious praise already. You can continue to overdose on eclectic pics like DOGTOWN & Z-BOYS (a phenomenal documentary about skateboarding in the '70s), JASON X (as dumb as fun can be), NIGHT AT THE GOLDEN EAGLE (Adam Rifkin's dark and grimy new indie about life in low places in the heart of LA), THE SALTON SEA (DJ Caruso's kick-ass crime noir thriller that I screened recently at the Egyptian Theater), and VULGAR (A View Askew curiousity about a very filthy clown) as the spring finally wraps up, all in an attempt to cleanse the palette before summer begins.
And isn't this the part of the year where NOTHING is supposed to come out? Looks like things are finally changing for the better.
When May arrives, the very first weekend promises both SPIDER-MAN and HOLLYWOOD ENDING. I'll be honest; I want to see both about equally. SPIDER-MAN looks like damn good fun, but HOLLYWOOD ENDING looks like one of the funniest Woody Allen films in a while. I've been waiting for this Dreamworks deal to yield something special, and it may have finally happened. The nice thing is that these are aimed at such different audiences that I don't think Raimi and Co. are going to poach whatever audience Woody would normally have on an opening weekend, and spillover may actually mean a few extra asses in seats.
So often, I hear film fans complain that the summer belongs to children and is only for the infantilized pop culture cartoons that fanboys adore. Nonsense. One of this year's nominees for Best Foreign Language Film comes out the weekend after SPIDER-MAN, and you can bask in all four hours of LAGAAN: ONCE UPON A TIME IN INDIA for yourself. There's also some actual buzz building for UNFAITHFUL, Adrian Lyne's new film about people who fuck. I don't think it's for me, but WARM WATER UNDER A RED BRIDGE by Imamura just might be.
The weekend after that, it's STAR WARS: EPISODE II - ATTACK OF THE CLONES as far as most of us are concerned, and the more I know and the more I see and the more I hear, the more sure I am that this film is going to rock all serious SW fans in a way that we're just starting to fathom. That soundtrack album is incredible, featuring some of the best work that John Williams has done in a long time. If the film can live up that score, we're up for a real treat. And if you're one of those film fans who aren't interested in STAR WARS (yes, I think they exist) or you just don't feel like fighting with crowds that weekend, then both ABOUT A BOY and THE BELIEVER offer decidedly different choices. I saw Henry Bean's THE BELIEVER at Sundance last year, and I love the film and the lead performance by Ryan Gosling. It's been on Showtime already in the interim, but for a lot of audiences, this theatrical run will be their first chance to see the movie. ABOUT A BOY is from the same producers as FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL and NOTTING HILL, the film that did so well as counter-programming opposite THE PHANTOM MENACE when it was released in '99, and the early buzz on the movie is strong.
Memorial Day weekend means we get a new film from Christopher Nolan, who won over so many hearts and minds with MEMENTO last year, and I personally love the script for the INSOMNIA remake. I think it's a really effective retelling of the same basic story as the original, but with great star turns for Robin Williams and Al Pacino. Family audiences will no doubt embrace SPIRIT, the new Dreamworks animated epic about the life of a horse in the American West. Lorna Cook, the film's director, has been working her way towards this for a long time, ever since her days at Don Bluth's company, and I'm betting she's produced something personal and even somewhat poetic. The nice thing about SPIRIT is that it will speak in large part to an audience that hasn't had an animated film of their own for a while, the young girl audience that has been proven to be a powerful ticket-buying base when properly inspired. There's something timeless about the connection that girls have to horses, and this should connect in a big way.
And the rest of this summer is packed with films that I genuinely want to see. I don't have any sort of deep emotional attachment to the work of Tom Clancy. I think he spins good yarns. As a result, I think THE SUM OF ALL FEARS looks pretty good. Besides, I'm always hoping for a good Phil Alden Robinson film every time he works. If you're a stickler for the details in an adaptation, I'd say you should probably skip this entirely, because it'll just give you a headache, but I love this kind of big action film set against the background of the intelligence community. That's the same reason I hope that Doug Liman's THE BOURNE IDENTITY is a winner. Matt Damon's a good choice for this type of film precisely because it's not what you'd expect. Franke Potente also goes a long way towards convincing me to see a movie... any movie... and the script for this was good, with a lame ending that I hear got reworked extensively before it was shot.
I plan to go see THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE with my buddy Patton, who is obsessed with Robert Evans and does a gaspingly funny impression of him, and am pleased to have a documentary to turn to when I get overloaded on blockbusters like MINORITY REPORT or MEN IN BLACK 2 or Disney's sure-to-hit LILO & STITCH. I am going to wish on every star in the sky that John Woo's WINDTALKERS turns out to be something akin to his classic A BULLET IN THE HEAD, and not the miserable train wreck I've been told it is by people who have seen it. I am going to hope that Warner Bros. is smart enough to somehow cut a film that is nothing but Matt Lillard and the spooky talking dog, turning SCOOBY-DOO into something that works despite Raja Gosnell's presence and the hideous James Gunn script. I am going to pray that Jackie Chan delivers playful fun with THE TUXEDO. I want to have a great summer. I want to be able to enjoy all of these films and more.
As the rest of this year unfolds, much of the class of '99 is back with new films. Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, who worked so well as the creative team behind ELECTION, are back with ABOUT SCHMIDT, a Jack Nicholson film that is quite beautiful and knowing and funny on the page, and which features a Kathy Bates performance that is already building early Oscar buzz for next spring. Likewise, Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman are following up their brilliant BEING JOHN MALKOVICH with the challenging and deranged ADAPTATION, a film that was fearless and terrifying and ferociously funny on the page. And I even confess a desire to see what Jay Roach and Mike Myers have cooked up for the latest AUSTIN POWERS installment. They may not be telling radically different stories each time out, but neither does the Bond franchise, which they're still ribbing mercilessly. Besides, I hear that the MGM maneuvering that forced New Line to drop the GOLDMEMBER title has pissed off Roach and Myers so much that they went back and rewrote the film to be more savage, more pointed. They've turned it up and this time, they're looking for blood. That's when great comedy can happen, fuelled by anger, and I look forward to seeing what they've done. Then there's Sam Mendes, winner of Best Picture that year for his debut feature, AMERICAN BEAUTY. We're going to see if he can do it again, working with Tom Hanks this time on a gangster-era riff on LONE WOLF & CUB, a film with one of the most striking one-sheets I've seen in a while, THE ROAD TO PERDITION. The pressure is on for him to deliver again, just like it is for M. Night Shyamalan, who blew up in August of '99 when THE SIXTH SENSE was released. I had been a fan of his for a while by that point, thanks to my reading of his scripts (thanks again, Den, for pointing the way so early), but no one has had a look at any of SIGNS. He's turned into a security freak now, and is guarding every detail of his crop circles mystery. Are there aliens involved? What do the crop circles mean? On the surface, those questions bore the piss out of me, but it's Shyamalan... I'll give the guy the benefit of the doubt every time out. PTA has been MIA since MAGNOLIA, but he's back this fall with his mysterious Adam Sandler film, and I'm dying to know what the hell it's all about. And, of course, the guys behind the wonderful OUT OF SIGHT are back, both together and apart. Soderbergh's got FULL FRONTAL coming out at the end of the summer, while Clooney's making his directorial debut with CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND, a film that was already long-stalled by '99, and which is just now finally making its way to the screen. Then they're working together again on SOLARIS, a new adaptation of the Stanislaw Lem novel, a film I personally can't wait to see. It's a brutally sad and adult film featuring some strong sexual material that really paints a picture of what it is that we all attempt to find in intimacy. It's less SF than inner journey, and I'm dying to see how they slip this by the mainstream.
It's no accident that I mention 1999, either. That was the last really great year of film that we had, and working here at AICN, I turned out over 400,000 words of coverage that year. I was drunk on movies all year long, in love with what was going on. Picking a favorite film from that year is next to impossible for me. And at this point in 1999, we were just starting to realize what sort of year we were in for. I'm getting that same feeling now, and it's got me excited all over again to be writing this coverage for you.
As for the rest of the year, I have no idea how everything's going to turn out, since much of the stuff is still shooting, but I know that I plan to dunk myself headfirst into BULLETPROOF MONK, STARK RAVING MAD, ONE HOUR PHOTO, ECKS VS. SEVER, TREASURE PLANET, WELCOME TO COLLINWOOD, KILL BILL, REIGN OF FIRE, HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES, SIMONE, and XXX. Will they all work? Who knows? They might all stink. But they've all got something about them... a director, or a writer, or a concept, or an actor... that makes me want to see them, that makes me want to believe they'll be great. At least they're all originals. It's nice to have the choice when we're also getting so many franchise pictures this year. A new Bond film (DIE ANOTHER DAY), a new Jackson/Tolkein epic (THE TWO TOWERS), another visit to Hogwart's (HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS), a new Mariachi action epic (ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO) as well as the return of Carmen and Juni (SPY KIDS 2), and, to top everything off, the final voyage of the Next Generation crew in STAR TREK: NEMESIS.
I am a hopeless sucker for "dream projects." I always root for people when they are finally getting a chance to do their "dream projects." I'm incredibly primed at this point to see Martin Scorsese's GANGS OF NEW YORK. That script by him and Jay Cocks and Kenneth Lonergan is a thing of beauty, and the reports from early screenings have been great. If he delivers with this one, then let's hope Hollywood finally takes the opportunity to reward Scorsese with its highest honors. I think it's insanity that right now, Scorsese and I are tied for how many times we've won Best Director. James Toback has been struggling to make HARVARD MAN for a lot of years, and despite the fact that Toback is a lunatic, he's a talented guy who has made some very good films. He's been carrying this around with himself for a while, and maybe that's paid off in something great. Last year, we watched Steven Spielberg interpret Stanley Kubrick's longtime obssession, A.I., and this year, rising German star Tom Tykwer is bringing the last script of the late, great Kryztof Kieslowski to the screen as HEAVEN, a film co-starring Cate Blanchett and Giovanni Ribisi that premiered to hot debate at this year's Berlin Film Festival.
And I know I've railed about remakes on this site, to the point of starting a column just to discuss them as they're announced. But I have to admit an intense curiousity about Dreamworks's remake of RING, the Japanese horror film. I thought that movie was long on mood and concept, and short on delivery. Who knows? They might actually come up with something that improves on the original. The studio's big holiday season release looks to be Steven Spielberg's CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, and I am curious to see what becomes of this Leonardo Di Caprio vehicle based on a very strong script by Jeff Nathanson. Last time Spielberg did the big summer movie/smaller more personal Christmas films in one year, it was 1993 and the one-two punch of JURASSIC PARK and SCHINDLER'S LIST. If this year is anywhere near as good as that one for him, he'll be on top of the world by the start of 2003.
And what of next year and beyond? Is this going to be one of those cycles that burns out within a year? Or could it be that we've caught a wave that might last? DAREDEVIL kicks off 2003, and I don't care what any embittered fanboy says: I've read the script, I've seen the storyboards, I like the casting, and I think this movie's going to rock. I am sticking my neck out there right now and saying that you are going to change your tunes when you see what Mark Steven Johnson's up to. No matter what you think of his work before now, this is one of those "dream projects" I mentioned. This is a guy who remembers being a kid, sitting outside a local store, waiting for it to open because it's the day DAREDEVIL is due, a guy who's been carrying around this movie for 20 years in his head. Hey... if Kevin Smith is excited about it, I'd say he knows his stuff, wouldn't you?
Lawrence Kasdan is a long time fave of mine, and even when he's off his game, he's better than a lot of guys out there. Working from a novel by Stephen King that's been adapted by William Goldman, I'm rooting for him to turn DREAMCATCHER into something great, just like I'm praying that the casting of Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson pays off in ANGER MANAGEMENT in the same way that De Niro and Stiller in MEET THE PARENTS worked so well. Of course, we'll be seeing MEET THE FOKKERS at the same time, so we'll see which combo audiences embrace more.
That's just the tip of the iceberg for sequels in 2003. There's a new X-MEN film, a new CHARLIE'S ANGELS film, and the combined impact of not one, but TWO big sequels to THE MATRIX in the space of six months. RELOADED is in the summer and REVOLUTIONS is in the fall, at least as far as Warner Bros. says right now. We'll see if the Wachowskis are able to pull off this minor miracle; at least Peter Jackson gave himself a year between films. I don't know what I think about TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES, but I know that hiring Jonathan Mostow, as good a B-filmmaker as there is working right now, looks like a step in the right direction since Cameron's not involved in the thing. Now that Nick Stahl is onboard to play John Connor, I'm expecting them to cast William Mapother as the new Terminator any day. We'll see if Universal can get a franchise out of THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK, Vin Diesel's return to the world that was established in PITCH BLACK. I'm hoping early reports aren't true about how Riddick is facing another alien species that likes the dark. In a limitless SF galaxy, it would be a shame if their scope of vision was so limited, no pun intended. SAHARA is Rob Bowman's attempt to give Paramount a big action franchise by adapting Clive Cussler's successful Dirk Pitt character to the bigscreen. I've always thought these books were borderline parody to begin with, so I'm dying to see how they play them onscreen. And the idea of an EXORCIST prequel didn't mean much to me until I read the script that tells the story of Father Merrin's first encounter with the Devil in the sands of Africa. It could well be a powerful, scary film that's worthy of the EXORCIST name if properly shot, and I've certainly got no complaints about someone trying to make good horror films. And, of course, 2003 closes out Peter Jackson's LORD OF THE RINGS series with THE RETURN OF THE KING, the film I've always thought was going to be the real powerhouse of the three. If the last forty minutes or so don't break your heart into a million pieces, you may not have one. Isn't that worth looking forward to?
If DAREDEVIL works, here's hoping we are also lucky enough to get a HULK that rampages ably and a FANTASTIC FOUR that delivers the goods. Those properties are better known than THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, but sometimes lesser-known comic book titles loan themselves to adaptation more easily. Stephen Norrington certainly has his work cut out for him, and I hope he's able to realize Alan Moore's extravagant and delightful vision of a Victorian world full of adventure and mystery. Hiring someone like Norrington or Ang Lee seems like the first important step in making these projects work. Strong artists have a better chance of giving us something memorable and worthwhile, something worth rooting for.
The same could be said about Anthony Minghella's COLD MOUNTAIN or Kevin Smith's JERSEY GIRL or Terry Gilliam's GOOD OMENS or Darren Aronofsky's THE LAST MAN or Francis Ford Coppola's MEGALOPOLIS or PJ Hogan's PETER PAN. These are films made by filmmakers with singular voices, guys who have proven themselves to be the real deal at some point. In each of these cases, there's passion behind the projects, and that could translate to films that really speak to viewers, the kinds of films that become favorites, dearly loved, hotly debated at times. Knowing that there's a new Pixar film (FINDING NEMO) or a new Aardman film (TORTOISE VS. HARE) or a new Fincher film (RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA) or a new Coen Bros. film (INTOLERABLE CRUELTY) or even a Jim Carrey film that reuinites him with Tom Shadyac and Steve Oderkirk (BRUCE ALMIGHTY) or that pairs him with Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry (ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS SOUL) just makes me giddy. It's the anticipation that makes this fun. It's knowing that these projects are brewing, out there in the ether right now... that's what keeps me coming back to this page and to CHUD and Coming Attractions and Dark Horizons and every other site I visit in my daily rounds. It's hoping for little bits and pieces of info, puzzle pieces that I can add to my understanding of these nebulous celluloid promises.
I look beyond 2003 and see movies like IRON MAN or WALLACE & GROMIT IN THE GREAT VEGETABLE PLOT or HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN or WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE or THE POLAR EXPRESS or Brad Bird's THE INVINCIBLES or Quentin Tarantino's GLORIOUS BASTARDS or even McG's SUPERMAN, and I root for them. I root for this to just go on and on, this warm and fuzzy glow I've been feeling.
I want it to last through 2005 and the release of STAR WARS EPISODE III. I want it to last through the release of KING CONAN: CROWN OF IRON and INDIANA JONES 4 and BATMAN YEAR ONE and TRUE LIES 2. I want to be surprised all along the way by the little films I never see coming. I want to learn more about international cinema each year, and I want to see guys like Takashi Miike and Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Danis Tanovic and Jean Pierre Jeunet and Alejandro Almenebar all grow into their voices even further and continue to challenge us in ways that American cinema can't.
I stand here today, screaming at the top of my lungs like Veruca Salt, greedy for all of this, even as I acknowledge that I'll be lucky if I really love even 20 of the films I've mentioned here. Damn lucky. I know that. Rationally, I know that despite the best of intentions and the best of source material and the best of ideas and financing and creative elements, things can go wrong. Films are magic because they are an imprecise science. When they work, it's effortless, lighter than air, like it was meant to be. And when they don't, there's nothing you can do about it. They just lay there, beached and bloated, and all you can do is move on to the next thing. I know that, but I choose to look at the future through rose-colored glasses. I hope. I hope with every bit of my being. I refuse to be like so many of the people I see littering our Talk Backs and other message boards around the Web. I refuse to be like the people I talk to in town who just can't find anything to like in films. I refuse to be overwhelmed by the casual cynicism that is so easy to embrace within the industry.
And that's because when I see all the things we have to look forward to, I don't see any reason to close myself off to possibility. Instead, I see every reason in the world to open myself up. No matter what changes occur in my professional life in the days ahead, I'll always return to AICN as an outlet to discuss these things I love, these shared dreams in the dark. As far as I can tell, the state of the Geek Nation is healthy, and there's nothing but blue skies ahead.
And maybe all of this makes me the biggest April Fool of all today, but I plan to enjoy the ride ahead. Here's hoping you all decide to join me.
RICHARD SYLBERT REMEMBERED
And now let's turn, having taken a look forward, and take a look back at the career of a truly legendary film artist who passed away Saturday, March 23, finally giving in after a fight with cancer. He was 73 years old, and he's one of those guys whose contribution to film is hard to measure in simple credits. He trained as a painter originally, but was lucky enough to apprentice to one of film's true early visionaries, William Cameron Menzies, eventually becoming a production designer.
He didn't just dress sets, though. Sylbert was one of those collaborators who made every film better by his involvement. His fingerprints are evident on such genuine classics as ROSEMARY'S BABY, BABY DOLL, A FACE IN THE CROWD, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, FAT CITY, CARLITO'S WAY, SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS, LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT, THE GRADUATE, CARNAL KNOWLEDGE, THE PAWNBROKER, WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?, as well as the sizzling six color comic book look of DICK TRACY, the iconic cool of CHINATOWN and SHAMPOO, and the epic winter frost of REDS.
He even spent a brief stint as head of production at Paramount, where he was responsible for greenlighting THE BAD NEWS BEARS. How can you not love this guy?
Sylbert is one of those guys who don't exist in today's film world. He will be deeply missed, and his influence will continue to be felt on films for as long as those movies I listed are available. For that reason, I don't mourn him, so much as I celebrate him, and offer this small testimonial as to how important his influence has been.
JULIA AND HER MONA LISA SMILE!!
I'd like to wrap today up by saying how surprised I was when I read the script for MONA LISA SMILE last week. All I knew going in was that Revolution Studios had purchased the script for Julia Roberts to star in, and a little poking around turned up Mike Newell's name as director. Newell is one of those guys who has been around forever, first working on British television in the '60s. I had no idea what the film was about, though, and the title gave nothing away.
It would be easy to dismiss the script by Larry Konner & Mark Rosenthal as DEAD POET'S SOCIETY in a girl's school, and that's what I started to think as I read the set-up for the piece. Katherine Ann Willis (the Roberts role) is the new teacher at Wellesley, and it's the fall of 1953. Right away, I started thinking of all the cliches in the genre, all the predicatble MR. HOLLANDs and DANGEROUS MINDs that I've sat through, and I wandered for a moment if I even wanted to keep reading.
She's an art history teacher, too, giving her ample opportunity to talk about all of life's big subjects. I decided to read the first 30 pages only and set it aside if the familiarity was too strong.
But after that 30, I read the next 30. Then the next. And before I knew it, I'd burned through all 126 pages, and I found myself genuinely impressed by it as a look at a particular time and place when women were forced to struggle with their roles in the world in a way more direct than anything they face now. The specificity of the setting is what gives this script a real kick, and Julia's role was written smart. Hers is not the journey I thought it would be. She doesn't have all the answers. In a lot of ways, she is learning just as much as the girls in her care, and the fact that she's still young enough to remember being where they were, facing the choices they were, and old enough to regret some of the decisions she made, is what makes her believable, real. She makes mistakes. She tries to live through these girls instead of helping them to find their own way. And eventually, she realizes just how little it is she actually knows, something that many people never achieve. I found myself rooting for Katherine and liking her immensely. I hope the supporting cast around Roberts is filled with fresh faces, actresses who springboard from these great roles into bigger films. It's a true ensemble piece that manages to transcend its subject matter to become more than just "another chick flick," at least on the page. It's a film about how all of us need our particular dreams to survive, and about how unpredictable those dreams can be for anyone else observing us.
On that note, I'm going to take off. I am preparing to try and bring one of my own dreams to fruition a little later this week, and the stress of it has made me a complete freak for days now. Hopefully, I'll be working on some more articles to entertain you and distract me until then. Either that or slamming my head in a door. Whatever does the trick.
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April 1, 2002, 11:26 a.m. CST
no word about Kill Bill? was it an april fools joke or not what you posted today about QT's role about Pei Mei?
April 1, 2002, 11:30 a.m. CST
Awesome update--Right now really is a great time for film geeks. However, please never mention Charlie's Angels 2 again!
April 1, 2002, 11:31 a.m. CST
... the April Foolin'?!? And am I first?
April 1, 2002, 11:35 a.m. CST
Optimism is so much more fun than cynicism. Sometimes.
April 1, 2002, 11:38 a.m. CST
exxcept wheres X4...i thought for sure a film by paul thomas anderson would definately be a must see anticipation builder for 2002
April 1, 2002, 11:43 a.m. CST
April 1, 2002, 11:51 a.m. CST
I can't believe I actually read through all of that. Actually, I thought it might've been a good read since Mori penned it, but BLAZING BITCHES, MAN, that was Long! Anyway - Looking forward to The "YEAR of Great Movies", like you all are. Ah, What the Hell! I'm no Optimist. I'm Biting my Fist to steel myself against Lucas's Latest just like the rest of my Pessimistic, Cynically Glorious and Bastardly like Ilk. God Help us All if we're Right. God Help Us even if We're wrong. God Knows we could use it.
April 1, 2002, 11:57 a.m. CST
....he brings the goods. I really miss these insane Moriarty rants! Also, I'm really fucking disturbed by that damnable 'Chicken Run' Harry up in the corner there, squooting an egg from his posterior. That, my friends, is April Fucked. // e.
April 1, 2002, 11:57 a.m. CST
You mean they're actually going to be releasing movies in May besides Spiderman & Episode II?????
April 1, 2002, 11:59 a.m. CST
by Edward Rooney
HOLY SHIT! that boy can write like a motherfucker. Kick ass way to start my day. And to think I was planning to jump off a cliff and end it all!
April 1, 2002, 12:04 p.m. CST
This was an exhaustive list of things to come. I am harkened back to Moriarty's LOTR:FOTR review and it occurs to me that for a man that said we should "demand better", because of the somewhat mediocre state of the industry, it seems we're poised to receive just that. Or we could be deceiving ourselves. Who's to say? Certainly not I, having failed to get my sorry hide to the indie theater a little more often. Given the list here, I might be playin' a little hooky from my social life to catch up on what I've missed and what is yet to come.
April 1, 2002, 12:06 p.m. CST
Can't wait for all these! "Human Nature" seems a bit TOO bizarre, but "Adaptation" sounds f---ing brilliant. And of course "Dangerous Mind" should be top notch. Kaufman rules. It would've been nice if more actual release dates were included here. I'm not sure when any of these movies are coming out, especially the ones in the next few months.
April 1, 2002, 12:09 p.m. CST
We just got that much in one article! I'm mostly looking forward to LOTR, SW, and CONAN. Thank Peter Jackson for raising the bar on cool movies! (And of course Lucas for raising it back in '77)
April 1, 2002, 12:09 p.m. CST
This sums up what I've been thinking and feeling for a while now, drooling anticipation for a the possibilities of goodness coming our way. Bring it on baby.
April 1, 2002, 12:13 p.m. CST
of telling all the cynics to shove it and love it. You rock Mori.
April 1, 2002, 12:25 p.m. CST
It's not looking like anything special enough to write what basically reads like an annotated calendar, Snoriarty. You keep referring to '99 which by all accounts was a fantastic year for movies, but I just can't see the same potential here. Yes, there's a lot of good movies. But really, how can you look at any of the upcoming releases and say they have the same strength as films like The Matrix, Three Kings, Being John Malkovich, American Beauty, Insider, Hurricane? Please!
April 1, 2002, 12:33 p.m. CST
it was 20 minutes or so longer than the first theatrical release, with better picture and sound. i also think that it will be rated r in the usa because the additional footage features a shot of konstanze webers (i dont know the acresses name) tits. although i havent seen the old version of the movie for a while, i think that the don giovanni opera scene is longer, as well as the scene where the comedians make fun of classical pieces. but the movie would have been a lot more fun without this little moronic bitch sitting behind me, constantly asking her boyfriend when the movie would be over, so that everybody could hear it, starting with that shit at the 90-minute mark, testing my patience for another 90 minutes. during the whole movie, my back was treated by one of her legs because she was pressing it against my seat. but otherwise, it was a perfect movie experience. like moriarty, i also hope that windtalkers will be a fine movie, but i think its unfair expecting a masterpiece like bullet in the head. in his good old hongkong days, woo was the king and could realize most of the things he wanted to do. there is no way mgm allows him to make a movie like that, a hyperkinetic,ultraviolent and depressing action/drama/warfilm without a happy end. instead, we will get a patriotic piece of shit, suitable for the mass audiences, but disappointing for fans expecting a movie as intense as bullet in the head. its all hollywoods fault, they are holding woo back, and everybody who disagrees is an idiot. john woo hasnt lost it, and reading posts here insulting him because his movies are shit makes me angry, most of these people have no idea. if they only know movies like broken arrow, mission impossible 2 and hard target, they should shut the fuck up. he has not made one decent movie in hollywood yet (face off was not bad, but only john woo light in my opinion), not one good movie in 9 years! in hongkong, he made a better tomorrow 1 and 2, the killer, bullet in the head and hard boiled within 6 years and without huge budgets, and all this movies are fucking masterpieces, movies that inspired tarantino and other great directors. look what happened to him, look what happened to chow yun-fat. this man was also a king in hongkong, but just a poor little fuck in hollywood, starring in farces like the replacement killers. fuck hollywood!
April 1, 2002, 12:50 p.m. CST
April 1, 2002, 12:51 p.m. CST
......thanks Mori, for the massive editorial piece. As usual, I take notes and look out for those titles.........You da man!!
April 1, 2002, 1 p.m. CST
by Buzz Maverik
Let's see, there's Kevin Costner's plan to take over Clint Eastwood's old role as Philo Beddoe in WHICHEVER WAY YOU WANT. They're planning to go with an unknown for the part of Clyde and now that Lyle Lovett's been trampled by a bull, who knows who'll get the part of Orville. They'd better cast quickly, or they'll lose Dame Maggie Smith who is playing the Ruth Gordon role of Ma Boggs... Speaking of redneck movies, does anybody really want to see another episode of ASS MCGRAB? That's getting so old, although it could round out a redneck triple feature with David Fincher's MACON COUNTY LIBRARY...And with Episode 2, it is inevitable that we get continuations of bad STAR WARS rip offs. Jake Lloyd in THE LAST STARFIGHTER FIGHTS BACK? Lucas Black in BATTLE BEYOND BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS? I don't think so.
April 1, 2002, 1 p.m. CST
Great rundown, but what about Bad Santa? It's directed by Terry Zwigoff, written by the Coen brothers, and stars Bill Murray. It's supposed to come out around Christmas. Also, what about Shanghai Knights and I Spy, you know Owen Wilson will be hilarious in both.
April 1, 2002, 1:16 p.m. CST
by Carson Dyle
Golly, there sure are lots of big, brightly wrapped presents under the box office tree this year. Most will no doubt disappoint once opened, but the few that don't will keep us coming back for more. For example, I'm pretty sure "Signs" will be a long, dull, anti-climactic stage play about an alien invasion in which all the exciting parts occur off screen -- but maybe I'm wrong... maybe it'll be great!... the best thriller since "The Sixth Sense"! Either way, hope will continue to spring eternal for this particular geek.
April 1, 2002, 1:32 p.m. CST
by Rollo Tomassi
Actually, Spieleberg did the Summer/Christams one-two punch thing one more time after the glorious year that was '93: In 1997, he gave us "Lost World" in the summer, and the underrated "Amistad" at Christmas. Certainly not up there with '93, but "Lost World" was still fun in it's own dumb way, and, as I said, "Amistad" (while of course not as good as "Schindler") is highly underrated.
April 1, 2002, 1:36 p.m. CST
by General Idea
April 1, 2002, 2:08 p.m. CST
by KID AB
It's All About love, new film from Thomas Vinterberg (Festen). Coming May!!!
April 1, 2002, 2:11 p.m. CST
Someone once said Moriatry should have his own site. If thats how he would do it I would be there like a shot. Very eloquent very good.
April 1, 2002, 4:03 p.m. CST
ok... i guess it is a joke lucasfilm plays to the fans. the release date for star wars has now been changed to a tentative december 20. release date says a letter sent to fox employees. jeeesus chrriiiiiist. i think it HAS to be a joke. december 20th...that would mean a direct "competition" to TTT..no it HAS to be a joke...it`s impossible. ohhh i can`t go sleeping without knowing the truth.....aren`t there some INSIDERS who could know anything????
April 1, 2002, 4:31 p.m. CST
I keep forgetting how much is coming out in the next few years, mainly because of my "carrot philosophy" that I contracted from Nordling (pick the next movie that's coming out that you want to see, hang it in front of you like a carrot in front of a mule, find new carrot after movie comes out). It's a sort of tunnel vision that I use to pass the drudgery of work, and it keeps me surprised and always looking forward to things without burning myself out on them, but sometimes you just have to be shocked into all that is coming out. All this, and I heard Richard Linklater might be doing FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (a book any Texan should know), and there's always future work from Wes Anderson to inspire me. Damn, this is a good day indeed.
April 1, 2002, 4:33 p.m. CST
I want both of these films to rock the geek nations, BUT my prediction is that Spiderman, despite the great Sam Raimi behind the camera, will be another one of those souless blockbusters we all complain about. (I hope I'm wrong.) On the other hand, the movie everyone is expecting to fail based on Episode 1, Attack of the Clones will be surprisingly good, and restore the faith of Star Wars fans around the world.
April 1, 2002, 5:06 p.m. CST
Consensus so far : it's a winner. August 2nd, i'm there and so will you be. Is anyone else getting the slightest whiff of another 'Godzilla' with Spidey? Even Raimi admitted to 'Empire' magazine that he may have made 'some mistakes' on the GG character.
April 1, 2002, 6:12 p.m. CST
by Lenny Nero
True, the last two years have been sub-par, but I think every fifteen years there's a huge boost in film. 1985 (most of my favorite films come from this year). 1970 (read Easy Riders, Raging Bulls). 1955. 1940 (1941 is Citizen Kane, nuff said). For a while I thought it started early this time in 1999, but then 2000 and 2001 were major disappointments. Maybe Hollywood has hit something great now with 2002-2005. Who knows? I don't want to build anything up so I can be disappointed again, but here's to hoping for a good time.
April 1, 2002, 6:13 p.m. CST
Master of the flying G is the greatest and rarest Kung Fu movie ever. I'm so fired up about that! As for the slate: If only the golden era began with Episode 1 but The Matrix is the official starting point to the new film utopia. Lots of good stuff on the way. If 25% of them are good I'd be pleased! Let's hope SWE2 is a great redemption! And I'll try to keep an open mind about Daredevil.Collin Farrel as Bullseye? It's hard dude...
April 1, 2002, 6:35 p.m. CST
Mort - Not bad. I will leave the gushing to others, but this is the kind of piece that the site really needs. A lot of folks here lose a lot of perspective and this kind of thing helps. A state of the union was in order. Now then, you will never find a bigger 'Daredevil' fan than me and those are the first good words I have heard about this movie, so it at least gives me hope. Garner at least will be amazing. Thanks, today you contributed something cool to the geek world.
April 1, 2002, 6:37 p.m. CST
Ya, that'll be the day. The people - on this site - optimism - HAhAAh. This is one of the top most pestimistic sites on the web. And the funny thing is, the writers, Harry and Moriarty, are usually optimistic and enthused. But the readers here nearly usually always have something up their collective asses.
April 1, 2002, 6:57 p.m. CST
What? No cunnilingus metaphors or bottled fuck juice? How am I supposed to read this dry tripe? I come here expecting to get frosted face lessons and I get this bullshit about movies. Would someone please pass the clitoris?
April 1, 2002, 7:34 p.m. CST
by Edward Rooney
Far from Heaven. There's a nice little article on it in the new Film Comment with FFCoppola on the cover.
April 1, 2002, 7:38 p.m. CST
Three years ago we were blessed by an anomoly, movies that were not only good, but good in ways that were new and innovative, good in ways that we didn't know movies could be. After walking out of movies like BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, AMERICAN BEAUTY, FIGHT CLUB, MAGNOLIA and RUN LOLA RUN, I felt disoriented, almost stoned, I couldn't focus on things, I had been so absorbed into a new and different world that I couldn't immediatedly come back, instead I sat dazed as the credits rolled, replaying images in my head. That is the power of a good film. The fact that many of the risk taking films of 1999 were financially and critically sucessful (Magnolia exepted), studios and distributer can be more confidant that risk taking films can be succesful (to go out on a limb, I would say that even BLAIR WITCH from 1999 was a boon to film making, a shoe-string indie, filmed intireley in subjective camera, that ended up as a blockbuster). Being that the film production pipe line takes about 2 to 5 years to make a movie from concept to product, it looks like in the next couple of years we will be treated to more risk taking mainstream fare and more distribution for risk taking independent and foreign fare (we have already begun to see this in MEMENTO and AMELIE). 1999 made me feel good about movies. It gave me faith that through all the sludge and waste of the industry pipe line, a movie can still come out the other end fresh and smelling like a rose.
April 1, 2002, 7:59 p.m. CST
Arrogant as usual, but the last timne Spielberg did the Summer/Christmas thing was 1997 (Lost World/Amistad) not '93...
April 1, 2002, 8:25 p.m. CST
If it tops magnolia ill be surprised. He is coming off a real high on magnolia. Hope he does well.
April 1, 2002, 8:42 p.m. CST
...if you're going to do things like this, you really gotta start doing your homework. I need details, dammit, and I need them now! :)
April 1, 2002, 10:06 p.m. CST
Indeed, now is a great time to be a geek. Whenever I'm called a geek by classmates or my sister, I always respond with a ". . .and proud of it!" and Mori, you have captured that feeling perfectly. You're right about the last forty minutes of The Return of the King. That's what I'm basically living for right now. SPOILER! When I finally hear "I will not destroy it! The Ring is mine!" It will be the finest moment in my life as a proud geek.
April 1, 2002, 10:21 p.m. CST
Not a bad rundown. Better than anything I read in print these days. Too bad the site cannot maintain this level of quality all the time. I would drop all of my print publication subscriptions in an instant if it could. No more EW! No more MOVIELINE! No more FILM COMMENT! No more MAXIM or STUFF! Wait a minute. That's taking things too far.
April 1, 2002, 11:44 p.m. CST
by Jack D. Ripper
It's based on the fantastic novel by David Benioff and it's got Edward Norton and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Pick it up if you get a chance because this is material Spike Lee was born to do. It'll be more like "He Got Game" or "Clockers" Spike Lee than say, "Bamboozled" or "Jungle Fever", i.e. reserved instead of over the top. Although Spike's over-the-top stuff has always worked for me.
April 2, 2002, 1:31 a.m. CST
than someone who lives their life release date to release date. Except, possibly, someone with the last name "McWeeny." And I'm not sure whether I mean that as a compliment, or what.
April 2, 2002, 2:28 a.m. CST
cuz that's the only Veruca Salt I know. I saw
April 2, 2002, 2:32 a.m. CST
by Woody Tobias Jr
Starting with 'Hardee Hamburger the Jizz Lolbbing Man', then we get 'Robot Invaders from the Year 3000', followed by the surefire family hit 'My Dog Cries When I Fuck Him' and Steven Spielberg's highly anticipated 'I've Lost My Mind, and I Don't Know Where I Put it (Of Course! It Was Right In Front of Me all Along!)' Then with Christmas tidings comes 'Dancing Midgets: Dark Obsession'(If the last half hour doesn't make you cry, you're not human) and 'The Littlest Wizard Hears the Caged Bird Sing'! You know, about those civil rights workers in Montgomery! And the best of them all? Quentin Tarantino's 'Racism is Funny'! It's so good to be alive!
April 2, 2002, 4:21 a.m. CST
The Scorpion King is coming out April 19! How could you *not* be excited by that? (sarcasam, sarcasam)
April 2, 2002, 11:05 a.m. CST
by James Bond
Veruca Salt was the name of the spoiled brat girl in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory", who wanted everything and wanted it NOOOWWWWW! The former Chicago band you speak of got their name from this movie as well.
April 2, 2002, 2:08 p.m. CST
oh yeah ED209! i live in germany and here i guess it is even worse than in the us...maybe...that`s sad...very sad... and PoliMan4...i aggree with you. i totally aggree with you. being a geek is great..fantastic:) :)
April 2, 2002, 4:35 p.m. CST
was an obnoxious girl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which book became the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Her favorite phrase was, "I WANT IT NOW!!!" The band is named after her.
April 2, 2002, 6 p.m. CST
Not a bad list..but there's something major missing. Moriarty looks forward to the future of cinema but yet doesn't see the whole picture.. and here's why? The grand majority of films he lists are franchise films, sequels, adaptations of books, comic book films and big hollywood blockbusters... What is missing are the independent films that audacious filmmakers, many of them unknown, will make in the years ahead. Also missing, are those films which are pure cinematic endeavors.. not adaptations of best selling books and comic books.. or sequels.. or remakes.. but pure films and projects that have no precedent. Films such as MEMENTO.. THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS.. MULHOLLAND DRIVE..WAKING LIFE... works that can't be prognosticated. If the future of filmmaking is a bunch of sequels, remakes, and adaptations...It's going to be googly eyed future for the multiplex cinemas but a depressing future to cinema as an art.
April 2, 2002, 8:01 p.m. CST
by Brother Putney
I wasn't aware he'd passed. Gosh, the guy was involved with so many great movies, I'm surprised his notice got kinda buried in the middle of a lot of less serious items. Hell, even Dudley Moore got a page to himself and, as much as I liked the guy, in the world of cinema, Sylbert's working a whole different ballgame. Though it wasn't mentioned above, his work in "Catch-22" is truly astonishing.
April 2, 2002, 11:14 p.m. CST
...but I don't have the time, money OR 420 to see them all! How are we going to survive this onslaught of good movies? For the love God! Can't someone please spare perhaps the best unkown writer in North Americana a measily $200,000 so he can see all these great flicks?! Hey, you lika my screenplay, everybody cry, big stars, oscah, oscah. but seriously cowpokes... waittaminute, the new Star Wars movie is coming out this summer?! Geez louise, time must be streaming by here in New York. Ah to be young again and arising from my midtown hotel room at 3:am to room service delivering a latte and hopping a cab to see the opening of TPM , with caffeine and melatonin blending, a moving experience! Actually crying when young Annie leaving his Bergmanesque mother... of course, I went and saw it again a week later, awake, and realized it was a maudlin stump of b-trash, phantomly racist and menacingly cutesy-poo - ok, and everyone's so heard it. Still what a moment and all right I'll see II too. Gravity, may distort time, but Spiderman, Spiderman, does whatever a spider can.
April 2, 2002, 11:46 p.m. CST
I just noticed when I call up AICN on Internet Explorer I get the Harry Gif of him as a chicken from Chicken Run laying an egg. When I call up AICN on Netscape, I get him as Spider Man. What does it all mean?
April 3, 2002, 9:23 a.m. CST
by Johnny Bacardi
Veruca Salt: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory-spoiled little British girl and all around bad egg-screamed "I want it Daddy, I want it NOW" a lot.
April 3, 2002, 10:46 a.m. CST
The first kung-fu movie I ever saw, and it's probably my favorite. Who is re-releasing this? Is it Miramax? Is it going to be all Americanized and f*cked up? I really hope not because it's out-of-print as far as I know. I only have a "archived VHS copy" that I "borrowed indefinitely". It's AWESOME even if it's dubbed. At least it's widescreen and it has Kraftwerk's AUTOBAHN album used as the soundtrack with a great multicolored image punk rock like opening credits.
April 3, 2002, 12:07 p.m. CST
This is the "golden age" of film? I really hope you're being sarcastic because I honestly think we've been set back to the Dark Ages for the past 5 years or so. Toby McGuire as Spiderman?? That's just awful, I'm sorry. "Lord of the Rings" was entertaining but let's not pretend that it's the 2nd coming of the 1977 Star Wars. Obviously there are some exceptions like "Ghost World" and "Sexy Beast" but those get buried and go unnoticed. The way of the American Hollywood blockbuster is just downright embarassing. Golden Age? Maybe Brown.
April 3, 2002, 12:26 p.m. CST
I never saw the 2 80's adaptions but I know that technology has caught up and those films could now be done right-A Gor film has the elements of great sci-fi-fantasy-action-adventure entertainment: It has elements of Conan, LOTR, Indianna Jones, Star Wars/Trek and Gladiator. It would need to be modernized because John Norman was very sexist but The spirit of the books could remain. This could be awesome- The Watchowski's could do this justice.
April 3, 2002, 3:14 p.m. CST
by Billy Brown
Nice piece, Moriarty. Good for you. Look for the best, rather than expecting the worst.
April 3, 2002, 7:33 p.m. CST
by Lenny Nero
April 3, 2002, 7:35 p.m. CST
by Lenny Nero
I'm such a damned geek, but I have a gorgeous woman to call my fiancee. I'm kinda ripping Harry off, because this was a part of his book, but the term "Geek" does not imply a poor social standing and ugliness, such as "Dork" or "Nerd." "Geek" merely means means we have an obsession. Hell, McWeeny has someone. Don't be a pessimist, dude. Live the good life. It does no good to try and make other people feel bad. All you're doing is dragging yourself further down with your esteem.
April 3, 2002, 8:59 p.m. CST
Why is Harry with chicken-feet crapping his pants? Is he trying to lay an egg or something?
April 4, 2002, 1:18 a.m. CST
by m. singer
i thought this may the (clever) way to get your attention. i miss you. i'm leaving soon. only have roughly 2 more months in LA. find me. sincerely, marla singer (you know who)
April 4, 2002, 2:09 p.m. CST
by Lenny Nero
So whatcha gonna do Mori?
April 5, 2002, 11:30 a.m. CST
by Lenny Nero
April 11, 2002, 11:29 a.m. CST
this goes out to all the movie lovers out there (including me): movies rule!
April 11, 2002, 4:55 p.m. CST
Well I can't find a John Milius fan club on the net - so I'm posting it here, 'cause Moriarty is a big Conan fan! John, I hope this message will reach you. Happy Birthday You
April 11, 2002, 5:01 p.m. CST
Well, no. I'll get 13 screens of HARRY POTTER, two screens of SUM OF ALL FEARS, lousy pee-smellin popcorn and that'll be about it...... But goddamn, the rest of you bastards back in the world have some unholy goodness to look forward to!!! So who's pad can I come crash at for, oh, say... 12-16 months? ;) BTW, Moriarty, you and Miz Alexandra DVD Goddess are the primary reasons this movie lover comes back to this site again and again. Keep up the phenomenal work!!
April 13, 2002, 12:08 a.m. CST
And I'm goddamned serious.
April 14, 2002, 1:48 a.m. CST
Why doesn't "countingdown.com" feature Steve The Crocodile Hunter's movie? My man just scored a Subway Kid's Meal Tie-In AND Radio Shack radio-controlled alligator. Stuff that up your jango fett!
April 14, 2002, 12:04 p.m. CST
Last year at this time when some one asked if there were any good movies to see, I could only mention "Amores Perros", "Memento", and "The Dish", and that was only if you could find them in theaters anywhere. Now if someone asked me if there are any good movies out now, I can mention "Panic Room", "We Were Soldiers", "Kissing Jessica Stein", "Monsoon Wedding", "Y Tu Mama Tambien", "Ice Age", "The Rookie", "Changing Lanes", "Frailty" and "Harrison's Flowers". That's 10 good critically acclaimed movies out right now! Last year we were deep into July before you could find 10 movies released in 2001 of equal merit. If half of the potentially great films coming out later in the year actually turn out that way, we are in for one heck of a great year for movies!!
April 14, 2002, 4:15 p.m. CST
You guys suck! I mean how can you call this a Geek manifesto and not say you are looking forward to a Species Star playing Jill Valentine, Zombies, Mila Jovovich trapped in Racoon City, Zombies, Claire Redfield brought to screen along with J, zombies, and perhaps thus far the best video game adapation. ZOMBIES Ugh on all of you
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