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Director's Cut: California Dreamin', or How Elizabeth Shue Nearly Ran Me Over

Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Monday, July 24, 2000

It's been one of those weeks.

Right now I'm in Los Angeles, having spent five long, grueling, work-filled days covering the San Diego Comic Convention. Along with me for the trip were Widge, CA's right-hand man, and our latest fearless addition to the team, L.A. amigo Suni Sidhu. In all, we were able to get some great scoops about a ton of upcoming movies including photos of the costume the movie Spider-Man might be wearing; who has a casting offer for Tomb Raider; confirmation on the storyline for the aborted Batman 5 movie from a few years back; and a slew of others you've seen or shortly will.

One of those things was getting to check out a screening of the superhero comedy The Specials with about a dozen of my fellow webmasters and hang a bit with the show's cast and crew. The great news is that not only did the creators of The Specials have their hearts in the right place, but the show's funny as hell too. I'm kinda describing it to people as There's Something About Mary meets X-Men. Suni's working on his review for the picture and it'll be up shortly, and we'll be covering this picture in full as its release date creeps closer. Right now the film only has a limited release planned for it, and I hope that a distributor steps in and picks it up soon. After seeing the box office figures for X-Men, and in the wake of other raunchy comedies like South Park, Mary or even Scary Movie, this film has an audience out there; it's just a matter of getting it to your local cinemas for you to see.

IGN and New Line Cinema presented a panel showcasing three of that studio's upcoming releases including footage from Lost Souls, The Lord of the Rings and The Cell. The biggest audience reaction came from seeing the new material added to the Rings stuff (which does look amazing) and the surprise visit from none other than Sir Ian McKellen. McKellen, dressed in a hip suit, spoke to the crowd about having the wonderful opportunity to actually meet the people who are the biggest fans of his characters, which of course sent the audience into applause overdrive.

However, the coolest film for me and Widge at that panel was the 10 to 15 minutes of footage they showed of The Cell. It looks like someone's fever dream brought to cinematic life; bizarre, surreal, nightmarish beings and scenes fill every frame of that film. The comic book savvy readers will know of a series called The Sandman which was filled with dark fantasy and horror themes; this looks just like it came from Morpheus' world of The Dreaming. After seeing clips from The Cell, Widge is now convinced as am I that the director for that gig has to be Cell director Tarsem. We just posted twelve frames from the picture showing you what kind of freaky-ass stuff you can expect to see when The Cell opens next month, and we're planning on hooking up with the film's screenwriter, Mark Protosevich, to ask him where he got his inspiration for it (as well as the full story on what went with his aborted Batman 5 movie script.)

I was on two panels this year: one about being an affiliate of IGN.com (which was unfortunately positioned against Bryan Singer's X-Men panel for the first part of it!), the other being the infamous movie webmasters panel. Myself, Nick Nunziata from C.H.U.D., Dave Poland from Rough Cut, Harry Knowles from Ain't It Cool, Chris Gore from Film Threat and The New Movie Show, director Kevin Smith and X-Men producer/writer Tom DeSanto all took part in the panel (which was moderated by Den Shewman of IGN Movies). While originally some of the questions might have concerned the future of our industry (which, like it or not, it has become one), the majority of the time spent on the panel was spent on the whole issue of Harry Knowles' contribution to the 'net. Gore and Poland were very vocal with their thoughts and comments, and Harry responded to some of them directly with the way he thinks he should be running his site. For my own part, myself (and Sean Jordan from ZENtertainment, along with Ian Ebright from Fandom) asked Harry a few times to explain himself regarding the whole recent controversy about modifying emails, or how AICN plays up their role in other sites' scoops, or how they incorrectly label some of their scoopers as trusted sources when in fact its been proven later to be an anonymous prankster, or the fact that this sort of backstabing has gone on for a number of years. Harry chose to dodge those questions, which to me is the easy road to take.

On the matter of the editing of the SW2 email notice I sent out, Harry was quick to point out his father as the guilty culprit, who was sitting in the audience videotaping the whole panel. Well, to me that's just an excuse to wash your hands of the matter (and it doesn't settle any of the other occasions when AICN has crossed the line in the past) and besides that, "Father Geek" has never bothered to apologize for his actions to me, so why should I settle for an apology from someone who says it's not their fault? Like I said in my last editorial, I'm tired of waiting for apologies to come from the AICN community, or for them to show the same respect and professionalism to their audience and the other web community members. Harry doesn't see a problem with his direction and anyone who attended that panel knows that for a fact. Perhaps the wisest advice came from the guy sitting on my right, Kevin Smith, when he said to ignore any studio who chooses to not work with the movie sites. Frankly, I'm finding that a lot of the studios are realizing that the Internet isn't just about Harry Knowles or AICN and that there's a huge amount of support for my site and the others out there, and that it's growing. I intend to use Kevin's advice and modify it slightly to include those of the online community to refuse to respect their peers as well as their trust with their audience. However, I'm still going to play the role of a guard dog, and if CA's contribution to a story is downplayed or incorrectly presented online, I'm going to be there with my guns drawn. It's time for all the movie websites to mutate and become something both greater and more difficult, with the result being our readers becoming the true winners.

But that wasn't the whole con experience for me. I got handed a copy of that very cool Episode II fan made trailer right before the panel started. It's an amazing piece of work, and when I was walking around the floor on Sunday I saw the last 30 seconds being played at a booth. A crowd of onlookers had gathered around the monitor, blocking off the flow of passers-by. When the tape ended, everyone was looking around trying to find out if that really was what they thought they saw. It's that good. If you didn't pay close attention, if you didn't have experience with what the fuzzy patches that surround cut-out scenes and actors look like, if you didn't recognize some of the doctored scenes as being from movies like Dune, Braveheart or The Virgin Suicides, you wouldn't have known that this wasn't done by Lucasfilm. It's an amazing thing to see, and now it's up on the web over at TheForce.net. We'll be doing a full story about it later on, so stay tuned.

It's been a hectic week but also a blast. Like I said earlier, the contacts and material we gained while visiting San Diego and Los Angeles will benefit you, dear reader, in the form of better and bigger scoops, contests and coverage of all things film related. It was great shaking hands with the webmasters and matching a face to their online name, and it was great meeting some of CA's fans who attended the comic con. We'll be back next year to the con, and I'll certainly be back in L.A. soon, so whether you're a new reader to the site or a longtime fan, prepare yourself for even more of the same kick-ass content. It's time to make this a 21st century gig, my friends.

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