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2011 in Film.

Ten days into the new year, it’s past time to knock out GitM’s best-of-2011 list. To be honest, last year’s movie crop was somewhat underwhelming, and as always, there are a few more gaps I’d love to have plugged first — Cedar Rapids, Margin Call, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Take Shelter, Warrior — but, for what I saw last year, here’s the best of ‘em…

Top 20 Films of 2011
[2000/2001/2002/2003/2004/2005/2006/2007/2008/2009/2010/The Oughts]


1. Midnight in Paris: Its wry take on the perils of nostalgia notwithstanding, my favorite film of 2011 didn’t aspire to be much more than a fun, low-key time at the movies. And that it was. One of the most carefree films in Woody Allen’s long and storied career, and featuring one of the best Woodster stand-ins in recent decades with Owen Wilson, Midnight in Paris was an amiable lark that entertained with a light touch and without resorting to the occasionally frantic enthusiasm of The Artist. In short, an unmitigated pleasure: In a so-so year for film, we’ll always have Paris.


2. Attack the Block: While this dubstep-fueled blend of sci-fi horror, Occupy London social commentary, and stoner humor may not be to everyone’s taste, Joe Cornish’s impressive debut was also a surprisingly fun movie and perhaps the purest adrenaline ride of the summer. In a year of big budget and often-suspect alien invasions, it was this lo-rent Block that best delivered the goods, bruv. Believe.


3. The Descendants: With carefully modulated performances from everyone involved, this well-observed dramedy about grief, infidelity, and family in Hawaii was Alexander Payne’s most humanistic film yet. And unlike, say, The King’s Speech or Shame, The Descendants for some reason never set off my usual annoyance with “poor little rich guy” tales — a testament to its emotional resonance.


4. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: The Circus has been compromised: With great actors all over the place, Tomas Alfredson’s dark, circuitous and densely plotted adaptation of John Le Carre’s cloak-and-dagger novel, redolent of cigarettes, desperation, and Cold War paranoia, is the 2011 movie I’m most looking forward to revisiting in the future. Give Gary Oldman the Oscar already.


5. X-Men: First Class: In a better year, this movie would probably be hovering around the ten spot. But, in 2011 — a year that saw no shortage of superheroics at the multiplex — Matthew Vaughn’s Mad Men-era reboot of the X-Men universe was one of the more entertaining and successful-on-its-own-terms films to come down the pike, with James McAvoy, Kevin Bacon, and especially Michael Fassbender adding ballast to the proceedings. To me once again, my X-Men.


6. Contagion: Ahem…sorry to cough a fine spray of phlegm all over the keyboard and mouse you’re currently using. Where was I? Ah yes, Contagion, Steven Soderbergh’s highly creepy medical disaster movie, which carries all the more punch for being so grounded in daily reality. With Haywire and Magic Mike heading to theaters this year, hopefully Soderbergh will continue to postpone his much-publicized retirement, at least until the plague comes through.


7. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol: Utilizing techniques honed at Pixar’s impressive animation stable, Brad Bird moved to the forefront of contemporary action directors and managed to revive both Tom Cruise’s waning career and a moribund franchise with this visceral and engaging thrill ride. This was easily the best pure action film of the year, or of the past several years, for that matter.


8. The Muppets: Overburdened with anachronistic 80’s nostalgia, yet leavened by a blissful infusion of Conchords — and, really, isn’t everything better with more Conchords? — Segal, Stoller, and Bobin’s heartfelt reintroduction of the Muppets was another very enjoyable evening out. I wasn’t much for the Walter framing device, but it was definitely grand to see Kermit, Fozzie, and the gang once more.


9. War Horse: Granted, putting animals in wartime peril is an easy way to get an audience emotionally invested. Still, Spielberg’s War Horse eventually overcame its early schmaltziness to become unexpectedly moving. And, if he’s up for more wartime shenanigans, perhaps Joey the wonder steed can get a cameo in Lincoln.


10. Hanna: When first putting this list together, I almost forgot this kinetic fairy tale, which, like Attack the Block, enjoys the benefit of a propulsive 21st-century score (here furnished by the Chemical Brothers.) One of the hidden gems of the spring.


11. Drive: I liked this Lynchian escapade less than a lot of critics. Its great opening scene aside, I found Drive to be all sleek surfaces and very little depth, and unfortunately the gorefest second-half never lives up to the meditative-samurai promise of the first hour. Still, the film looked great, and I look forward to seeing what director Nicholas Winding Refn comes up with next.


12. The Artist: There may not be much there there, and I wouldn’t pick it for Best Picture — but The Artist is a hard film to hate on. This is a movie that works overtime — and without the benefit of sound — to show you a good time.


13. Source Code: While it’s not nearly as layered or as satisfying as his first film, Moon, Duncan Jones’ Source Code is still a small, well-made Twilight Zone episode of a movie. And it shows Jones has the chops to stage more than one compelling science fiction tale — Hopefully, his next, as-yet-untitled sci-fi film will make it a trifecta.


14. Captain America and Thor: I have a sneaking suspicion Joss Whedon’s The Avengers (from which the pic above is taken) isn’t really going to work. Still, veteran hands Joe Johnston and Kenneth Branagh managed to conjure up surprisingly engaging films out of Cap and Thor respectively. In both cases, I had a better time than I had originally expected.


15. Jane Eyre: The first film on the list I didn’t actually see in the theater, Cary Fukunaga’s worthy retelling of the oft-filmed Charlotte Bronte novel succeeds mainly by playing up the Gothic horror elements of the story. It also enjoys some of the most lavish cinematography of the year (this side of The Tree of Life.)


16. Young Adult: Thanks in no small part to Charlize Theron’s praiseworthy turn as “that girl” from high school all thirty-something and curdled, Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman’s darkly funny tale of When Rom-Com Values Go Bad represents a career highlight for them both.


17. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn: Granted, I have a childhood fondness for Herge’s world that predisposed me to enjoy myself at this film — I have no idea how this flick plays for folks who’ve never heard of Captain Haddock or the Thompson Twins. But speaking for myself, I had a grand old time, and was glad to see that mo-cap is starting to move past the dead-eyed trough of the Uncanny Valley.


18. Crazy, Stupid, Love: A smart and tightly-written romantic comedy that I just caught on Netflix this past weekend. Crazy, Stupid, Love doesn’t break any new ground per se, but it’s still quite good for what it is — and given how terrible 21st century rom-coms can be, that is no small thing.


19. 50/50: Here’s another small-bore film that won’t light the world on fire. Still, Jonathan Levine’s cancer dramedy, thanks to Joseph Gordon-Levitt and work in the margins from Angelica Huston and Matt Frewer, works surprisingly well at straddling a delicate balance in tone between Apatowish bro-humor and Lifetime movie-of-the-week.


20. Bridesmaids: For better or worse, 2011 was a year in film that almost relentlessly looked backwards: From Midnight to Muppets to Hugo to The Artist, this was a year that wallowed in nostalgia for days gone by. (The future, it seems, brings either aliens or humanity-destroying plagues.) So, while Beginners, Win Win, The Trip, Hugo, or The Ides of March could’ve gone here, last spot goes to Paul Feig, Kristen Wiig, and Annie Mumolo’s funny, feminist reconception of the gross-out comedy. Let’s hope more mainstream films in years to come, comedies or otherwise, actually manage to pass the Bechdel test.

Most Disappointing: Had I more faith in Zack Snyder beforehand, this would go to his thoroughly terrible Sucker Punch, and, alas, the unfortunately botched Green Lantern came close to taking this spot as well. In the end, though, this goes to Jon Favreau’s misfire Cowboys and Aliens. Cowboys! Aliens! Daniel Craig! Harrison Ford! And yet, this one came out duller than dirt.

Worth Netflixing: The Adjustment Bureau, Beginners, The Conspirator, A Dangerous Method, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 2, Hugo, The Ides of March, J. Edgar, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Tree of Life, The Trip, Win Win

Don’t Bother: Battle: Los Angeles, Blue Valentine (2010), Friends with Benefits, Limitless, Meek’s Cutoff, Shame, Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, Somewhere (2010), Super 8, Water for Elephants

Best Actor: Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; George Clooney, The Descendants; Michael Fassbender, Shame
Best Actress: Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Charlize Theron, Young Adult; Mia Wasikowska, Jane Eyre
Best Supporting Actor: Uggie, The Artist; Christopher Plummer, Beginners, Eric Bana, Hanna; Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Best Supporting Actress: Shailene Woodley, The Descendants; Jessica Chastain, The Tree of Life, Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids, Cate Blanchett, Hanna

Unseen: 30 Minutes or Less, Albert Nobbs, Anonymous, Another Earth, Apollo 18, Arthur, Arthur Christmas, Atlas Shrugged, A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas, Bad Teacher, Barney’s Version, Beastly, The Beaver, Bellflower, Biutiful, Carnage, Cars 2, Cedar Rapids, The Change-Up, Colombiana, Conan the Barbarian, Coriolanus, The Darkest Hour, The Debt, The Devil’s Double, The Dilemma, Dolphin Tale, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, Dream House, Drive Angry, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, Everything Must Go, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Fast Five, Footloose, Fright Night, The Guard, The Hangover Pt 2, Happy Feet 2,The Help, Hesher, Horrible Bosses, I Am Number Four, Immortals, Incendies, In the Land of Blood and Honey, In Time, The Iron Lady, I Saw the Devil, Jack and Jill, Killer Elite, Kung Fu Panda 2, Larry Crowne, The Last Circus, Like Crazy, The Lincoln Lawyer, Margaret, Margin Call, Martha Marcy May Marlene, The Mechanic, Melancholia, Moneyball, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, My Week with Marilyn, New Year’s Eve, Our Idiot Brother, Paranormal Activity 3, Pariah, Paul, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Priest, Puss in Boots, Rango, Real Steel, Red State, Rio, The Rum Diary, Sanctum, Scream 4, Sleeping Beauty, The Smurfs, Something Borrowed, Straw Dogs, Take Me Home Tonight, Take Shelter, The Thing, The Three Musketeers, Tower Heist, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Twilight: Breaking Dawn, The Way Back, Warrior, We Bought a Zoo, We Need to Talk about Kevin, Winnie the Pooh, Your Highness, Zookeeper

    A Good Year For:
  • Jessica Chastain (Coriolanus, The Debt, The Help, Take Shelter, Tree of Life)
  • Electronica Soundtracks (Attack the Block, Drive, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hanna)
  • Film History Buffs (The Artist, Hugo)
  • Ryan Gosling (Crazy, Stupid, Love, Drive, Ides of March)
  • Marvel (Captain America, Thor, X-Men: First Class)
  • Michael Fassbender (A Dangerous Method, Jane Eyre, A Dangerous Method, Shame, X-Men: First Class)
  • Tom Hiddleston (Midnight in Paris, Thor, War Horse)
  • Parisian Nostalgia (Midnight in Paris, Hugo)
  • Scene-Stealing Dogs (The Artist, Beginners, Tintin)
  • The Sex Lives of Depressed People (Shame, Somewhere (2010))
  • Emma Stone (Crazy, Stupid, Love, Friends with Benefits, The Help)
    A Bad Year For:
  • Gimmicks to Fill the Seats (3D, Reserve Seating)
  • Tom Hanks (Larry Crowne, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)
  • Missions in Budapest (MI: Ghost Protocol, Tinker Tailor)
  • Movies starting with S (Shame, Sherlock 2, Sucker Punch, Super 8)
2012: 21 Jump Street, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The Amazing Spiderman, American Reunion, Argo, The Avengers, Battleship, The Bourne Legacy, Brave, Bullet to the Head, Butter, Cabin in the Woods, Casa de mi Padre, Chronicle, Cloud Atlas, Cogan’s Trade, The Cold Light of Day, Contraband, Cosmopolis, Damsels in Distress, The Dictator, Dog Fight, The Dark Knight Rises, Dark Shadows, The Dictator, Django Unchained, Dredd, The Expendables 2, The Five-Year Engagement, Frankenweenie, Gambit, Gangster Squad, GI Joe: Retaliation, The Grandmasters, Gravity, The Great Gatsby, Great Hope Springs, The Grey, I Hate You Dad, Haywire, The Hunger Games, Hyde Park on Hudson, Inside Llewyn Davis, Jack the Giant-Killer, John Carter, John Dies at the End, Lay the Favorite, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Lock-Out, Looper, Magic Mike, The Master, Men in Black 3, Mirror Mirror, Moonrise Kingdom, Neighborhood Watch, Nero Fiddled, Only God Forgives, Outrun, Paranorman, The Pirates: Band of Misfits, Premium Rush, Prometheus, The Raid, Rampart, The Raven, Red Dawn, Red Hook Summer, Red Tails, Rock of Ages, Savages, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, The Silver-Linings Playbook, Sinister, Skyfall, Snow White and the Huntsman, Take This Waltz, This is Forty, The Three Stooges, Total Recall, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Pt. 2, Warm Bodies, The Wettest County, The Wicker Tree, The Woman in Black, World War Z, Wrath of the Titans, and…


No hat, no stick, no pipe, not even a pocket handkerchief! How can one survive?

Thundering Son of a Sea-Gherkin!


Much like Hitchhiker’s Guide in 2005, I should go ahead and admit upfront that my review of Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn probably won’t be much use to many stateside. Growing up overseas in England and Belgium, I was a definite Tintin kid. So I have a pre-existing fondness for the character, and, for at least the first forty-five minutes or so of this film, I had trouble wiping off the huge “Great Snakes, a Tintin movie!” grin off of my face. (When you throw in the trailers for The Hobbit and Star Wars in 3D beforehand, it almost seems like Hollywood is explicitly trying to cater to my inner six-year-old these days. Trailers for an Asterix and/or Mr. Men movie would’ve completely clinched it.)

Point being, I had a different reaction to this film than I’m guessing those unfamiliar with the world of Tintin will. Even notwithstanding the joy of seeing these beloved characters come to life, The Secret of the Unicorn is filled with easter eggs for Tintin-o-philes. Our hero (Jamie Bell) has nods to Cigars of the Pharaoah, The Black Island, and King Ottokar’s Sceptre on his wall. Later we encounter a crab with golden claws, a zero-G nod to Explorers on the Moon, and, as the villain’s “secret weapon,” a cameo by one of Captain Haddock’s (Andy Serkis) more amusing adversaries. And, in the background, Spielberg and Jackson are constantly recreating sight-gags from various Tintin adventures — say, Snowy digging up a ginormous bone in the desert –that continually conjured up ancient memories of childhood laughs within me. If you like Tintin, you’ll almost assuredly have a good time here.

And if you don’t know Belgium’s most famous boy journalist from a hole in the ground? Well, that’s a stickier wicket. The exquistely craftted chase scenes are reasonably engaging, if ever so slightly repetitive, on their own. (And a shout-out to John Williams’ score, which could be my favorite work of his in at least a decade.) But if you don’t know anything about these characters already, I’m not sure you’ll find much of a rooting interest here. For better or for worse, this is pretty clearly a film by Tintin fans for Tintin fans. (If anything, I sometimes wish they’d hewed even closer to the books. Some of the setpieces — say, Haddock and the bad guy (Daniel Craig) dueling with construction cranes — felt like generic action-spectacle filler. I’d rather have seen Tintin do more detective work.)

But, whether you’re new to Tintin or a veteran hand, I’m happy to report that the motion-capture animation here is the most impressive I’ve ever seen — no dead eyes to speak of here. I actually thought the animation Zemeckis’s Beowulf was reasonably well-done back in 2007, but this is better by an order of magnitude. (It helps that Spielberg and Jackson have forgone the uncanny valley by going for a Herge-plus look.) In fact, the two things I was most afraid of not working going in — the motion-capture animation and Snowy — are probably the two highlights of the film. (Tintin’s faithful companion is a scene-stealer through and through.) Conversely, the character who I thought would be an easy slam dunk, Captain Haddock, actually grows somewhat tiresome over the course of the movie. (The swearing plays, but all the alcoholic tendencies that are funny on paper begin to grate in three dimensions.)

Speaking of three dimensions, I caught this in 3D, but I’m not sure it really added much to the experience — especially when you factor in that a 3D movie ticket now costs all of $15.50(!) here in the District. I know I recently hated on the 3D push in my Hugo review, but, still, that price for one ticket to a 100 minute film is verging on the ridiculous. My advice: Take your kids to Tintin, but spend 2D money, and use the savings to buy them one of the books.

A Boy and his Dog.


ComingSoon.Net shows off the spiffy new poster for The Adventures of Tintin. Not groundbreaking or anything, but Tintin et al look better here to me than they did in the trailer.

Red Rackham’s Trailer.


In the trailer bin, a ginger-haired boy journalist and his trusty canine sidekick uncover a clue to a long lost treasure in the first full trailer for Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, with Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Daniel Craig. Hmm…the mo-cap looks even better than Beowulf, but I’m still not sold on the look, and Snowy/Milou in particular conjurs up grim visions of Scooby-Doo. Why not just replicate the traditional Herge style?

Unicorn Spotted.


Blue blistering bell-bottomed balderdash! Along with the spiffy poster above, the teaser for Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn is now online.

Hmmm. As a Tintin kid, I’m really looking forward to these movies. But, for now, I am not feeling the decision to go photorealistic with this at all. Snowy/Milou should not conjure grim memories of Scooby-Doo and Yogi Bear. Here’s hoping a few more rotations in the CGI-machine smooths this out some.

Tintin Takes Shape.


The first part of the film, which is the most mysterious part, certainly owes much to not only film noir but the whole German Brechtian theatre — some of our night scenes and our action scenes are very contrasty. But at the same time the movie is a hell of an adventure.

In the new Empire Magazine, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson talk The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, and show off the boy reporter’s new Final Fantasy-ish look. (The cover above mirrors a famous drawing of Tintin that I have up in my work-cube.)

In the same story, PJ talks about where he might take Tintin after the Secret of the Unicorn/Red Rackham arc covered in Spielberg’s film. “One of my favourites is The Seven Crystal Balls, so that’s the one I’ve always been thinking of,’ he says. ‘I also really like the Eastern European ones, the Balkan ones like King Ottokar’s Sceptre and The Calculus Affair. I think it’s a terrific setting for a thriller, the weird Balkan politics and the mysterious secret service agents. I think the Moon ones are terrific, but they’d be good for the third or fourth Tintin film, if we get that far. We want to keep his feet on the ground just a little bit longer.” As a Tintin kid, I’m really looking forward to these.

Next Stop Wonderland(s).

In the trailer bin of late:

  • She’s given up, stop: Mia Wasikowska, a.k.a. Alice, takes a tumble down the rabbit hole anew in our first look at Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, also with Johnny Depp (frontlined a bit much here), Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, Christopher Lee, Alan Rickman, Matt Lucas, Crispin Glover, Noah Taylor, and Timothy Spall. (Looks like a good start, although clearly there is still much CGI-rendering to do.)

  • In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, where naturally Gary Oldman is up to no good, a Mad Maxish Denzel Washington may be carrying the secret to something-or-other in the trailer for the Hughes Brothers’ The Book of Eli, also with Mila Kunis, Ray Stevenson, Jennifer Beals, Frances de la Tour, and Michael Gambon. (It’s good to see the Hughes, of From Hell and the underrated Menace II Society, back behind the camera. But I’m betting this’ll seem a bit been-there-done-that, coming so soon after John Hillcoat’s The Road.)

  • Kate Beckinsale uncovers something deadly, dark, and dangerous in the furthest reaches of Antarctica in the straight-to-video-ish trailer for Dominic Sena’s Whiteout, also with Gabriel Macht and Tom Skerritt. (It looks like The Thing, with shower scenes. Beckinsale is probably one of my bigger movie star crushes, but lordy, the woman needs a new agent.)

    And, as Comic-Con 2009 is just kicking off:

  • Pushing Neil Blomkamp’s District 9, Peter Jackson talks The Hobbit and Tintin. (Apparently, the script for The Hobbit is three weeks away, and four or five of the 13 dwarves have been front-lined. Spielberg has finished a first cut of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn, and The Lovely Bones comes out Dec. 11, with a trailer Aug. 6.)

  • Jonah Hex gets a poster that is sadly devoid of Malkovich. (For what is here, the scar looks decent enough, Megan Fox in anything gives me pause (but I guess she’s a hot ticket after the Transformers sequel made so much bank), and the lettering looks a bit futuristic for the property…unless they’re going post-Crisis Hex.

  • TRON 2.0, a.k.a. TR2N, is now called the much-more-boring TRON LEGACY. But, hey, at least they’re not abusing the colon…yet. (More TRON news, of sorts, in the post below, and, since the weekend is young, undoubtedly more Comic-Con news to come.) Update: The TR2N footage that premiered last Comic-Con is now — finally — up in glorious Quicktime.

  • A Snowy Christmas.

    Billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles in a thundering typhoon! Steven Spielberg (and Peter Jackson)’s The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn gets a release date — December 23, 2011. “Starring Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot) as Tintin, the intrepid young reporter whose relentless pursuit of a good story thrusts him into a world of high adventure, and Daniel Craig (Quantum of Solace) as the nefarious Red Rackham, the international cast also includes Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Gad Elmaleh, Toby Jones and Mackenzie Crook.

    The Haddocks go Thompson.

    In honor of the character’s 80th birthday (or 560th, if we’re talking about Snowy), fans and future trilogy directors Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson brandish Thompson hats and umbrellas while talking Tintin. Now that Zack Snyder’s Watchmen has come and gone, I suppose it’s Tintin that’s the next “I can’t believe they’re really making a big-budget film version of this” beloved property of my youth. (Which probably means that, sometime around my 40th birthday, David Fincher’s Mr. Men will be hitting the multiplexes as well.)

    Bell Tolls for Tintin. | Unicorn Rising.


    Word comes down today that (as rumored way back in 2004) Jamie Bell will replace Thomas Sangster as Tintin, and Daniel Craig will play the fearsome Red Rackham, in Steven Spielberg’s forthcoming The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, first of the planned mo-cap trilogy. Moreover, Shaun of the Dead scribe Edgar Wright has given Stephen Moffat’s script a polish. (As reported earlier, Andy Serkis is Captain Haddock and Wright’s usual brothers-in-arms are Thomson and Thompson respectively.)

    Hmm. With Spielberg’s first film likely covering Unicorn and Rackham, I wonder if PJ’s contribution will involve Destination Moon/Explorers on the Moon or The Seven Crystal Balls/Prisoners of the Sun. And Toby Jones is now among the cast too, it seems…Professor Calculus?

    Wonder Twins Activate.

    Doctor, doctor, can’t you see they’re burning, burning? I missed this rumor when it first got some run last September, but apparently AICN has confirmed it: Fanboy brothers-in-arms Simon Pegg and Nick Frost of Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz have been cast as the Thompson twins in the forthcoming PJ/Spielberg Tintin films. Now that’s great casting, particularly as they’re pretty much impossible to tell apart.

    In other Tintin news I missed, Thomas Sangster (a.k.a. Tintin) is now off the project due to scheduling conflicts (and writer Steven Moffat also left to pursue Who.) But Andy Serkis is still Haddock, and Jackson and Spielberg are still directing the first two installments.

    Who’s on Fifth.

    “My entire career has been a Secret Plan to get this job. I applied before but I got knocked back cos the BBC wanted someone else. Also I was seven.” Arguably the reincarnated show’s best writer, Steven Moffat will take over as head of Doctor Who for Season 5 (or Season 31, depending on how you’re counting), replacing Russell Davies. That’s a perfect choice…so long as it doesn’t screw up Spielberg and PJ’s Tintin trilogy.

    Thomas meets the Thompson Twins.

    An executive who worked with Sangster in Los Angeles recently told me: ‘Thomas seems to be the one. He was just great, but I’m not certain if anything has been finalised yet.‘” Spielberg and PJ look to have found their Tintin, and it’s Thomas Sangster, formerly of Love, Actually (but I’ll try not to hold it against him.) He joins Andy Serkis as Captain Haddock and…hey, it’s mocap…can we get Berk as Snowy/Milou?

    We Only Wish. To Catch a Fish.

    Dictatorial duck billed diplodocus! Motion-capture veteran Andy Serkis joins Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg’s Tintin trilogy, most likely as the inimitable Captain Haddock.

    From Who to Haddock | The Doctor is In | Creel to Reel | Heroes Fall.

    Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s previously-announced Tintin trilogy finds a writer in Doctor Who scribe Steven Moffat, of the Season 3 episode “Blink.” Speaking of which, I’ve run hot and cold on BBC’s Doctor Who update thus far, and have found showrunner Russell Davies’ campy contributions to be mixed at best. But the second half of Season 3 has been exceptionally good Who. From “Blink” to the “Doctor goes Human” two-parter in pre-WWI England (“Human Nature/”The Family of Blood“) to Derek Jacobi’s turn as a lonely, befuddled scientist at the end of time in “Utopia” to the Master taking Tony Blair’s job in “The Sound of Drums,” I’d say this most-recent run can hold its own with the best of the Pertwee-Baker years. (I haven’t seen “Last of the Time Lords,” the Season 3 finale, yet, but I dig John Simm as the Master, and his evil companion is a real kick.)

    Off-topic, but also on the television front, I’ve recently boarded the 5:23 Mad Men commuter train. It’s a show I’ve been shying away from despite the good reviews, mainly because I feared it’d be 85% Rat Pack kitsch, i.e. its raison d’etre would be primarily to wallow in the unregenerate un-PCness of the early Sixties. But, while I’m still living a few episodes behind present-time, Mad Men makes for pretty solid television, even if, as with Miller’s Crossing, it can be hard to watch without a glass of Jamesons and clinking ice in hand. Jon Hamm’s Don Draper and John Slattery’s Roger Sterling are particularly good, and, as someone noted on The House Next Door, Michael Gladis’ Paul Kinsey is an eerie facsimile of the young Orson Welles. Plus, with all due respect to Officers Bunk and McNulty, it’s a nice change of pace to watch smart, well-written characters in a TV drama that aren’t cops, doctors, or mobsters.

    Finally, I never much cottoned to it anyway, but after the Season 2 premiere, NBC’s Heroes is getting kicked off the DVR. As I said last Spring, the blatant, unattributed ripping off of Watchmen and the X-Men’s “Days of Future Past” in Season 1 was already hard to swallow. And, judging from the first week’s installment, Kring & co. have decided to go back to the well, and have stolen the Comedian storyline straight out of Watchmen too. Given that their poorly-written, overstuffed show is usually as artless as their theft here, count me out.

    Tintin in Hollywood.

    Thundering son of a sea-gherkin! Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are teaming up for a Tintin trilogy! “Sources said Monday that Jackson and Spielberg would each direct installments of the franchise…The movies would be made using motion-capture technology.”

    Destination: Tintin

    Ten Thousand Thundering Typhoons! As has been rumored for good long while, Steven Spielberg officially announces he’ll be producing a Tintin movie. Berk says don’t forget Snowy/Milou.

    The Calculus Affairs.

    In a strange bit of movie news, Steven Spielberg and Roman Polanski may be heading rival Tintin projects. Moreover, the Spielberg version is looking at Rupert “Ron Weasley” Grint or Jamie Bell as the boy detective in question…Not exactly star wattage, but I could see Bell in particularly working out. (And I could also see Spielberg going to the well and putting Tom Hanks or somebody as Captain Haddock.) As for a Polanski Tintin…I’m scared to think about it.

    Destination Moon.

    As Europe goes to the moon (alas, without Tintin), China prepares to choose the first Taikonaut.

    Tintin en Amerique.

    With Indy 4 also on the horizon, will Spielberg’s next project be…Tintin!? Just so long as we don’t get Leo or Haley Jo as the journalist in question, I’ll probably be there on the first day. I wonder which book they’ll do…

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