Joss Whedon

Since audiences feasted their eyes on The Cabin in the Woods earlier this year, many have waited for the day they could listen to the commentary. To hear Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon wax nostalgic on horror and let us in on the secrets behind the making of this highly inventive movie would truly be a joy. Now, the DVD/Blu-Ray has been released for this film that’s sure to be on a number of top 10 lists, and not just those of horror fans. So sit back, click off the lights – your computer should light up enough so you can read – and check out all the things we learned listening to this commentary for The Cabin in the Woods. Cue the harbinger.

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Drinking Games

Earlier this year, Lionsgate finally released the much-anticipated horror deconstruction film The Cabin in the Woods. While Joss Whedon got more press for his involvement in that little independent film known as The Avengers, this project with director Drew Goddard turned the heads of many genre fans. (And for the most part, those heads stayed on their bodies.) The Cabin in the Woods hits DVD and Blu-ray this week, offering some keen insights into this meta-movie about five college kids facing untold terrors on a weekend getaway. Even those who aren’t fans of the genre can find something to appreciate while they watch this film, so drink up, and let’s get this party started!

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What can one truly say about Shakespeare? He’s a writer whose work has survived centuries of history, and his stories are still being adapted, both directly and indirectly. While his dramatic work is what’s most delved into by filmmakers, his comedies are what’s most fascinating. The plot of Much Ado About Nothing centers on Don Pedro (Reed Diamond) serving as matchmaker to a few lovers in waiting. Pedro’s job involves matching not only the compliant, Hero (Jillian Morgese) and Claudio (Fran Kranz), but also the not so compliant, Beatrice (Amy Acker) and Benedick (Alexis Denisof). He sees what many do not and with the use of a few simple tricks to help push each couple in the right direction, he’s able to create a scenario in which love finds its way. Not focused on depth, Joss Whedon‘s take offers comedy gag after gag, and there’s barely any time when a joke doesn’t land perfectly. It helps to have the likes of Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Denisof and Kranz in your cast. The actor spotlight begins early in the film, where a character calls for music, they turn to the iPod and Gregg starts swaying – creating an inextricably funny moment solely from his expression intertwined with his movement. So many comedies are unable to have more than a handful of memorable moments like this, but Much Ado About Nothing has dozens.

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Joss Whedon

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the exact thing that your pop culture obsessed sensibilities needs after a long hard day of talking about the latest iPhone on Twitter. We begin this evening with that picture of Joss Whedon holding Captain America’s shield on the set of The Avengers. Not just because we like that shot, but because Whedon is talking about his SHIELD TV show in a new interview with MTV. He’s talking about new characters who aren’t superheros, but underdogs. Also notable up top is this excellent interview with Chris Evans, who has also been known to hold that shield.

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Omar Little

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly news round-up that is fully prepared for the apocalypse. It watches enough movies to know what’s up. Our night begins with the iPod playlist of Omar Little. More to the point, it’s a playlist that actor Michael K. Williams designed for his character on The Wire. In order to maintain a character’s temperament, Williams often creates playlists that help keep him in the zone. Vulture has his playlist for Omar, which you can also get on Spotify. If you be comin’, that is.

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Avengers Re-Release

Well, it looks like he’s done it. After publicly denouncing the spread of Mike Birbiglia’s Sleepwalk With Me as offensive “to [his] very core,” Joss Whedon asked movie fans to boycott the indie film by requesting it come to their town. While Sleepwalk With Me has yet to expand fully, it did $68,000 in just a single theater last weekend – a fact that most likely burns Whedon to no end. The best per theater average his superhero movie managed was a miniscule $47,000. Point: Birbiglia. So how has Whedon responded? According to /film, he and Marvel are re-launching The Avengers into more theaters this Labor Day weekend in a move that reeks of pure desperation. It’s a Hail Mary pass that points out just how terrified the director is of Birbiglia’s  advancing indie film. It’s tough to see the fight get this nasty – especially when it’s between such good friends. You’ll need to check your local listings for both, but whose team will you be on? Whedon’s, Birbiglia’s or both?  

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Boiling Point

Death is a profound thing. It has long been utilized in the art of storytelling to make the fiercest of impacts. From the first written work of fiction (“Beowulf”) to the works of Shakespeare to the films of Uwe Boll, death has been ever present. When handled correctly, a death can be a haunting memory in a film, a momentous moment that effects the viewer on a very real and very emotional moment. Let’s cut to the jump so we can discuss a lot of spoilery stuff and bitch about how a thoughtless death is cruel to the character and an affront to the audience.

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As those who follow the film industry closely might already know, Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon released a passion project earlier this summer that went by the name of The Avengers. It was a fairly popular film, playing in over four thousand theaters, breaking a bunch of box office records, and making $1,461,891,916 worldwide to date. That’s not to say that it was a complete success though. It still hasn’t broken every box office record, it still hasn’t made all of the money…and now it may never get to because of a cocky young upstart named Mike Birbiglia. You may have heard of Birbiglia before: he’s a stand-up comedian, a writer, and a radio personality who has turned his memoirs entitled “Sleepwalk With Me” into a modestly budgeted indie film that will be given a limited release with minimal promotion. Enough promotion that it’s likely to ruin Whedon’s chances at being declared King of Hollywood though. As the Avengers director explains in this video, Sleepwalk With Me was only supposed to open on thirty-some screens originally, but due to a dogged campaign by Birbiglia and his dangerous, cult-like following, it’s now set to open on over 80. Simply put, this will help push The Avengers out of some of the 500 or so theaters it’s still playing in, and effectively take food out of the mouths of Joss Whedon’s (myriad) children.

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Coming off yesterday’s announcement that Marvel has tapped Joss Whedon to return to their Avengers cash cow for another round of writing and directing on the currently-simply-titled The Avengers 2 comes further clarification on Whedon’s role in the Marvel universe. In short, it’s a big one. The LA Times reports that, in addition to yesterday’s report that Whedon was set to get back into the Avengers world while also helping to develop Marvel’s live-action series for ABC, the filmmaker has also “signed an exclusive deal with Marvel Studios for film and television through the end of June 2015.” Beyond just his work on the Avengers sequel and his development of the new TV series, Whedon will also “contribute creatively to the next phase of Marvel’s cinematic universe,” so expect the next round of Marvel’s films to have some Whedonesque fingerprints all over them (a good thing no matter how you slice it).

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column dedicated to having a bit of fun before sending you off to bed. And we don’t care if you ate your vegetables, we’re always down for dessert. We begin this evening with a first image from Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, in which Tom Lenk and Nathan Fillion play Verges and Dogberry, respectively. It’s that film Whedon just sort of made. He does fun things when he’s not making the highest grossing movie of the year and all that.

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A quick news blast to keep your eyes open this afternoon – Disney has just announced on their Walt Disney Investors Conference Call that Joss Whedon will return to both write and direct their The Avengers sequel. Whedon is also set to be “involved” in their ABC live-action television series that will take place in the Marvel universe as imagined by the Phase One films. So, hurray, duh, duh, hurray. But, really, hurray! More information as it becomes available. [Disney, via /Film]

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Culture Warrior

Part of the appeal of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films is that the basic conceit informing their aesthetic seems so natural. Batman is one of few major superheroes that isn’t actually a super-hero. Batman mythology, then, lends itself to a degree of plausibility more than, say, Superman or Spider-Man, so why not manifest a vision of Batman that embraces this particular aspect that distinguishes this character from most superhero mythologies? But realism has not been a characteristic that unifies Batman’s many representations in the moving image. Through the eyes of Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher, the Batman of tentpole studio filmmaking has occupied either a world of gothic architecture and shadowy noir, or one of schizophrenic camp. From 1989 to 1997, Batman was interpreted by visionary directors with potent aesthetic approaches, but approaches that did not necessarily aim to root the character within a landscape of exhaustive Nolanesque plausibility.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a weeknightly column of various odds and ends from the world of film and television. Did you miss it? How did its cousin Comic-Con News After Dark do as a substitute? Not too well, it hopes. We begin tonight with a remnant of Comic-Con, which ended just over 24 hours ago but will live on in our hearts at least until the last of the articles is written. So sometime in September, just before Fantastic Fest. The above image comes from Jen Yamato at Movieline, who explains How to Bring Your Next-Level Cosplay Game to Comic-Con. It has something to do with cross-dressing, which is apparently what all the kids are doing these days.

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There are many things to be said about director Joss Whedon, especially now that he’s delivered the highest grossing (to-date) comic book adaptation/superhero movie of all-time in The Avengers. But for all his incredible commercial success in 2012, he’s certainly a guy who has not forgotten where he’s come from. Which mostly includes prematurely cancelled television shows. One of which is Firefly, perhaps his most beloved project. This year at Comic-Con, Whedon got together with Nathan Fillion, the rest of the Firefly gang and a room full of Browncoats to celebrate their wonderful show ten years after its lone season. It all ended with a final question for Joss that turned into one of the most emotional moments you’ll see from Comic-Con 2012. And that moment just so happens to have ended up online, where all can view it (just after the jump).

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Channel Guide - Large

Space western Firefly is one of those TV shows that every geek is supposed to have seen—it’s Whedon, it’s shiny, it’s a part of the sci-fi canon. Yet, it was only on the air for one season. The upcoming cast reunion at next week’s San Diego Comic-Con is one of the event’s most anticipated panels, but would this be true if the show had gone on for three more years? Would later seasons be able to match the first? Of course, no one can know the answer to that but I think when you consider the show’s enduring appeal, as well as the appeal of one-season wonders in general, you could say that unceremonious, early cancelation is actually a good thing.  When we’re presented with a show where the writing, acting, and production have achieved what feels like a perfect synergy, and then that’s yanked away, it’s infuriating. But maybe we should celebrate that ending.

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Were you a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer long before Marvel Studios even thought about a summer tentpole release of The Avengers? Do you find yourself swearing in Mandarin when you get angry? Have you made a Facebook post with that image comparing the one-season cancellation of Firefly to the multi-season accomplishments of The Jersey Shore? If you’ve answered yes to these questions, you still might find Morgan Spurlock’s charming documentary Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope entertaining, but you’ll also have ulterior motives for buying it when it hits DVD on July 10. Spurlock’s documentary will be released in a special Collector’s Edition with action figures of both Spurlock himself and geek-hero-turned-billion-dollar-director Joss Whedon. That’s right, you can be the proud owner of the first ever Joss Whedon action figure, and all you have to do is buy Spurlock’s latest film.

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Last week, the utterly shocking news broke that not only was Warner Bros. pursuing a Justice League movie, but it also was in no way at all ever influenced by the unbridled financial success of Marvel’s The Avengers. We can all believe that, can’t we? After all, we read it on the internet. With Man of Steel coming out next year and a no-brainer Batman reboot coming now that Christopher Nolan’s movies are wrapping up this summer, this is an opportunity for Warner Bros. and DC to set a new stage. Plus, with adaptations of The Flash and Lobo, and the potential for a Green Lantern reboot, Warner Bros. and DC have things laid out for them to work out very similar to the pre-Avengers line of films. But this is Hollywood, and so many things can go potentially wrong with a project like this. Here are seven ways Warner Bros. can avoid a potential disaster as they develop this film series.

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Avengers Concept Art

Three is the magic number for The Avengers this week. Not only is it third on the weekend Box Office (behind Snow White and the Huntsman and Men in Black 3), it’s also the third highest grossing movie in the world, and the third highest grossing on the all-time domestic charts. With a continued strong showing, it surpassed The Dark Knight ($533m) to take the spot with $552m. It’s worldwide gross is over $1.3b. In order to take the #2 domestic spot, the Joss Whedon flick would have to take down another $106m to best Titanic – a task that seems equally possible and unlikely. So, it turns out people like this thing. However, Batman will have a chance to answer later this summer with The Dark Knight Rises. Will it be even bigger? [Box Office Mojo]

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Culture Warrior

“If Michael Bay directed Raiders, the Ark would be opened in the first act, and people’s heads would explode through the rest of the film.” I don’t typically seek out wisdom from Twitter, but this below-140-character observation (made by @krishnasjenoi and retweeted by @ebertchicago) struck very close to something that’s been occupying my mind as we enter the fifth week of the summer movie season. Though the statement works better as a fun hypothetical critique than a contestable thesis (in other words, there’s no way we’ll ever really know, thank goodness), the sentiment feels relevant. Though the modern Hollywood blockbuster has been a staple of studios’ summer scheduling for almost forty years, the films that become blockbusters don’t look or feel very similar to the films of the 70s and 80s that somehow paradoxically led to today’s cavalcade of sequels, franchises, adaptations and remakes. Criticizing Hollywood’s creative crisis is nothing new. But with the mega-success of The Avengers and the continuing narrative of failure and disappointment that has thus far characterizes every major release since, it seems that this crisis has been put under a microscope. The moment where unprecedented success is the only kind of achievement Hollywood can afford and the well of decade-old franchises and toy companies become desperately mined for material is something we were warned about. But Hollywood’s creativity-crippling reliance on existing properties is not the only, or even the primary, problem faced by mass market filmmaking’s present moment. The bloated numbers sought after each and […]

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? The Avengers parodies were inevitable, but animator Junaid Chundrigar just won with a fantastic exploration of The Hulk, Spider-Man, Iron Man and other Marvel heroes on their bad days. Instead of a story, Chundrigar relies on quick, slap-stick style comic moments. Venom struggles with an ice cream cone, Spidey meets a helicopter head on, and a city burns when a meatball gets dropped. It’s funny, and the animation has an adorable Saturday Morning Cartoon vibe that makes this short even more agreeable. No surprise that the fine folks at Short of the Week sent it along – they know quality when they see it. I can’t help but think Joss Whedon would love this. What will it cost? Only 2 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve got Time For More Short Films

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published: 12.23.2014
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