- Obviously, the big news is that Peter Jackson's now-greenlighted adaptation of The Hobbit announced much of its cast this week, most notably Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins. Having never read "The Hobbit," I'm not sure how closely the cast resembles what fans had in mind, but Freeman does bore a striking resemblance to a young Ian Holm, who played Bilbo in Lord of the Rings. I've liked his work in the UK version of "The Office" and his brief turn in "Hot Fuzz," so I have no problem with giving him the keys to a movie this big. I called Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy last decade's biggest cinematic achievement, so I'm eager to see him take another trip to Middle Earth. Some have given Jackson flack for his post-LOTR career, but I found "King Kong" to be a highly entertaining, if overstuffed, ride and have yet to see "The Lovely Bones" for myself.
- Other big news is that The Hangover 2, currently shooting in Thailand, has reportedly nixed the Mel Gibson cameo. It was reported last week that Gibson was going to appear as a tattoo artist, but this week director Todd Phillips stated that the cast and crew couldn't agree on the actor taking the role. I can see why--the jury's still pretty much out on Gibson's recent behavior. Those voice mails were pretty appalling and paint a dark picture of an actor whose persona was already pretty stark. Still, some have brought up the question as to why it was okay for "The Hangover" to feature convicted rapist Mike Tyson in a prominent role, but it's wrong for the sequel to feature Gibson, who has not been convicted with anything. That's a good point, although I agree with those over at www.ew.com who seem to think that it's the time element. People have had time to turn Tyson into a punchline while Gibson's offenses are still fresh. I do hope Mel can get it together and eventually be a respected actor-director again. But for now, he probably needs to lay low.
- Still, I'd kill to see him on "Between Two Ferns" with Zach Galifianakis.
- Back to the Future seems to be everywhere right now. "Entertainment Weekly" featured Michael J. Fox and Lea Thompson in their recent reunion issue, Fox re-shot the film's famous teaser trailer for Spike TV's Scream awards and the trilogy will be released this Tuesday on Blu Ray. This is all in celebration of the film's 25th anniversary, of course, and AMC Theaters is offering screenings of the movie today at 12:30 p.m. and again on Monday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. I'm heading out in a bit to catch the film, and I'm hoping to write it up later this weekend as a look back at one of my generation's most beloved films.
- It was announced just yesterday that Steven Spielberg will direct Robopocalypse, based on an upcoming science ficton novel. Spielberg has been fairly quiet since Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but it looks like we'll be seeing quiet a bit from him in the next few years. His motion-capture Tintin movie comes out next December the same day, actualy, as his WWI drama The War Horse, which appears to be his return to the serious fare such as Saving Private Ryan and Munich. I do love those films, but I have to admit that I miss old-school Spielberg, the man who brought us Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. Popcorn Spielberg has been missing over the past few years--even his science fiction films AI, War of the Worlds and Minority Report are tinged with a darkness that wasn't in his earlier work. I have no idea what the tone is for Robopocalypse (which I assume deals with a robot uprising) but I hope it's in line with the Spielberg I loved in the 1980s.
- Box office news from last weekend was, of course, Jackass 3D's unbelievable $50 million haul. There really aren't words for that.
- This weekend brings Paranormal Activity 2. I had no plans to see this movie and was prepared for it to be a "Blair Witch 2" clone, but the early reviews I've read are promising. Now it just comes down to whether or not I'm brave enough to see it.
- Work at my day job kept me busy this week so I had to miss screenings of Hereafter and Conviction. Stone also opened out here and I had to miss the screenings for that as well. Hopefully before I have to vote on the year's best I'll make up for that.
Okay kids, that's about it!