Adventures in Los Angeles: Living the Life of a Journalist
by Alex Billington
June 1, 2008
I thought I'd take this opportunity to let you know why updates have been a bit staggered this weekend. Right now I'm sitting in LAX watching droves of people walk by, both coming and going. I'm waiting to catch my own flight back home to Colorado after a long weekend in Los Angeles. You may have noticed that updates as of Thursday were a bit slower than normal - that's because we're not up at the normal speed of those like Peter over SlashFilm because we've been covering press junkets, seeing movies, and dodging studio fires. That doesn't mean we won't be back up at full speed by tomorrow morning, but I thought I'd give everyone an update. In fact, I've got some great stories to tell, including interviewing Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard as well as seeing four new movies.
I flew out to Los Angeles on Thursday primarily to cover the Get Smart and Kung Fu Panda press junkets that were taking place this weekend. As planned, I did see Get Smart and I interviewed director Peter Segal again, but that's not all. I love Los Angeles and will be moving here later in the year, but I always use my time to take advantage of all that's going on. This involved catching showings of The Foot Fist Way, The Fall, and The Visitor as well as interviewing The Dark Knight composers Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard at their studio in Santa Monica.
First things first, while I'll be saving my full reaction to Get Smart until we near the release date in late June, I will say that it is definitely a solid action comedy. In short, it truly is a comedic version of The Bourne Identity and it does deliver, but it's not perfect. I won't say I loved it by any means, but I did think it was pretty enjoyable. At the press junket on Friday I met up and interviewed director Peter Segal for a second time after I talked with him in Las Vegas at ShoWest (you can read that interview here). He was a delight to talk with the second time and remembered me from Vegas. If you're curious, there aren't any major updates on Shazam!, but look for his interview and a special feature in a few weeks.
The highlight of my trip had to be my interview with Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. On Thursday I was asked if I wanted to do a phone interview with the two on Friday, but unfortunately realized I wasn't able to given I was already in LA. Instead, I quickly asked if it was possible to do it in person and thus an afternoon interview was setup. I drove down to Santa Monica where Zimmer's studio was and met the two and talked briefly with them (that transcript will be out later this week). Lastly, I was shown about a 10 minute selection of music from The Dark Knight, which was amazing. I was one of the first to hear any of the finished score and was blown away by what I heard.
Let me preface by making a bold statement. Batman Begins is probably my all-time favorite soundtrack. I know it's not as classic as countless others, but alas, it's a soundtrack I usually listen to almost every day when I'm working. This explains why I was incredibly excited to meet Zimmer and Howard, who both worked together on Batman Begins and recently finished The Dark Knight. The room at the studio where I interviewed them was incredible. It was a huge living-room like area, completely constructed out of wood. It felt very dark and warm, with red velour furniture everywhere. One entire wall was covered with sound panels and switchboards, while the other featured a screen. The remaining two walls were filled with audio books galore. Right smack in the middle was a giant computer setup with multiple monitors and sound equipment. This was Zimmer's head office and workstation and it was simply lavish. Now I understand how this guy puts together some of the best cinematic scores ever!
I'll be working on getting that interview up sometime this week - so look for it in the next few days. Lastly, I made my way to the Arclight this weekend to catch a few showings of some new indie movies. First up was The Foot Fist Way, a comedy hit from Sundance 2006. It was pretty funny, but still felt like a lightweight feature best suited for Sundance. Second, I saw Tarsem's The Fall, which surpassed all of my expectations. I was annoyed by the little girl, but overall it was a beautiful and powerful film that I'd definitely suggest. And last, earlier today I caught The Visitor, another Sundance flick that I missed in January. It was solid, but nothing I'd watch again and nothing I'd say was that amazing. Overall, a solid weekend of new flicks, but besides The Fall, nothing really stood out.
Now it's time to pack up my laptop and board before I miss my flight home. We'll be back up to full speed the moment I get off the plane, so expect the regular amount of updates all week long. Although trips like this are fun, it's often hard to update constantly, especially when there is so much going on and so much news worth mentioning. But alas, the experiences are what count the most and we'll have a whole bunch of great features and interviews over the next few weeks. Thanks for your patience and keep reading!