On Sunday night, The Simpsons aired its annual Halloween episode, Treehouse of Horror, which opened with Guillermo del Toro's brilliantly executed title sequence. An extended three-minute riff on the iconic couch gag, the Mexican director's treatment recast the citizens of Springfield into a seamless series of classic horror and thriller references, as well as nods to del Toro's oeuvre, from Cronos to Pacific Rim.
To introduce this year's Treehouse of Horror special, The Simpsons teamed up with a man who knows a thing or two about the genre: Dark fantasy master Guillermo del Toro.
Sean Lennon turns 34 today. Sharon Osbourne is turning 57. Newly retired pro golfer Annika Sörenstam is 39. Former Senator Trent Lott is turning 68. Director Guillermo del Toro turns 45. Tony Shalhoub is 56. Jackson Browne is 61. John O'Hurley of Seinfeld and Dancing with the Stars is 55. Actor Brandon Routh is turning 30. C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb is 68. Singer-songwriter P.J. Harvey is 40. And Randy Spelling—son of Aaron and Candy and brother of Tori—turns 31 today. A few weekend birthdays are below.
Bobby Flay turns 44 today. You can wish him a happy birthday in person: He'll be the featured attraction at the NYC Wine & Food Festival event this evening at Chelsea Market. Also celebrating: Sean Lennon is 33. Trent Lott turns 67. Sharon Osbourne is turning 56. Pro golfer Annika Sörenstam is 38. Actor John O'Hurley is 54. Actor Brandon Routh is 29. Jackson Browne is 60. Director Guillermo del Toro is 44. And Randy Spelling, son of Aaron and brother of Tori, is turning 30.
Whatever your impressions of would-be bank robber and generally overrated fantasy maven Guillermo del Toro, his new long-term pact with Universal can't be the kind of thing that rouses too much confidence in his growth and versatility — even among fans. After his five-year commitment to The Hobbit, the filmmaker will reportedly return back to his Hellboy backers for four films in as many years. And if/when we ever write our book on the End of Ideas epidemic sweeping Hollywood, his unique stretch from this year's sequel Hellboy II to one of three remake possibilities in 2017 may be worth an entire chapter's worth of consideration:
Welcome back to another week of Defamer Attractions, your regular guide to the fresh hell of what's new at the movies. After taking a Hancock holiday weekend to find ourselves, we're back in full-on summer anguish mode as yet another massive comics adaptation hits theaters, Brendan Fraser goes a-spelunkin' and Eddie Murphy returns with... we don't even know. But! We also have our eyes on a few alternatives both at the theaters and in the comfort of our air-conditioned caves, so all is not lost. As always, our opinions are our own and elegantly spot-on — which, of course, you've come to expect and we're happy to oblige!
We know pretty much everyone in the world except a few drones at Defamer HQ can't seem to wait for noted genre waffler Guillermo del Toro's take on The Hobbit, previously reported as a pair of films he'd make over several years in New Zealand with producer Peter Jackson at his side. But last night at the LA Film Festival, where his Hellboy II will premiere Saturday night, del Toro kicked Middle-Earth off its axis by hinting that he wasn't beholden to a second film at all. Not only that, but he confessed an antisocial streak suggesting he might kill the project just to watch it bleed.
We'll take any opportunity we can get for a furlough from our shackles at Defamer HQ, so off we go to the Los Angeles Film Festival, which opens tonight with the world premiere of Angelina Jolie's emaciated-assassin actioner Wanted. Maybe not the gritty, funded-by-credit-cards entry you'd expect from fest organizers Film Independent, but that's what the rest of the event is for; running until June 29, this year's LAFF is enticing enough for us to call in sick at least a few days, maybe even all of next week.
Never saying never might be the smart play for Guillermo Del Toro, who once went off so memorably on the Lord of the Rings franchise ("I was never into heroic fantasy. At all. I don't like little guys and dragons, hairy feet, hobbits — I've never been into that at all. I don't like sword and sorcery, I hate all that stuff") only to commit to directing the godforsaken Hobbit two-fer less than two years later. Alas, he's at it again this month in an interview with Complex Magazine, apparently setting himself up for his first stab at romantic comedy after he returns from New Zealand:
We long ago gave up our illusions about Film Independent's annual Los Angeles Film Festival being any kind of authentic showcase for, well, independent film. Like when Transformers launched the fest last year? Right. But that's the biz, and if it takes Universal to step in on opening night June 19 with its Angelina Jolie action thriller Wanted just so we can see the revelatory Russian entry Cargo 200 on the West Coast, then that's a price we're willing to pay. (And hell, we'll probably even check out Wanted while we're at it.) Follow the jump for a few more highlights, including Universal's other graphic novel adaptation closing the fest.
In a blog post last month, before The Hobbit officially landed a director, Lord of the Rings veteran Sir Ian McKellen was more certain he would reprise his role as Gandalf than he was of his former castmates' sexualities. He was even surer in a recent interview with Empire magazine, in which the 68-year-old confirmed he was coming back for filmmaker Guillermo del Toro. "Yes, it's true," McKellen said. "I spoke to Guillermo in the very room that Peter Jackson offered me the part and he confirmed that I would be reprising the role. Obviously, it's not a part that you turn down, I loved playing Gandalf." And if McKellen's happy, then we're happy — especially when it means we don't have to further wrack our tired, beaten brains conjuring a suitable replacement. Thank God for small favors. [Reuters]
Our dissatisfaction at Friday's news that Guillermo del Toro would inherit the Hobbit reins from Peter Jackson met with a mix of scorn and curiosity over the weekend. "Pony up an alternative, Cochise," wrote a commenter. "Destroy those two GENIUSES and all we will be left with is Lucas and Spielberg. And that is not a world I wish to live in." Us neither! That said, if the Laws of Hollywood Franchises dictate that this goddamned movie must exist, we can think of at least five talented directors off the tops of our heads whom we'd prefer over del Toro, Jackson or any of the other usual fanboy fantasy suspects. Tell us your own ideal hires after the jump.
There's been much to-do over the last day about Peter Jackson's hiring of Guillermo del Toro to direct the two-part Lord of the Rings prequel The Hobbit. Among our favorite dissenting opinions belongs to Salon critic Andrew O'Hehir, who pulls out his Cannes '06 interview notebook to look up del Toro's sentiment at the time: "I was never into heroic fantasy. At all. I don't like little guys and dragons, hairy feet, hobbits — I've never been into that at all. I don't like sword and sorcery, I hate all that stuff." Our sister blog Gawker doesn't like del Toro's selection either, but we're optimistic this is a perfect match for everyone because The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien and Guillermo del Toro all fucking suck. Does it really matter which A-list fantasy/horror fanboy with $300 million of Warner Bros.' money and Jackson's imprimatur is going to spend four years jacking off behind a camera in New Zealand? It's going to be unwatchable. Not only that, but didn't Jackson make this movie three times already? Here's our exclusive script excerpt: "EXT. FOREST — DAY. Bilbo Baggins furrows his brow. Visual effects and soundtrack happen. INT. CASTLE — NIGHT. Ian McKellen cameo. More effects. EXT. FOREST — DAY. The end." It's a hit! [Salon]
· By the WIND, people. Get your minds out of the gutter! Bonus besteverness? Directed by David Fincher. [Creativity Magazine]
· Nerds rejoice! Guillermo del Toro has finally signed on to direct the long gestating LOTR prequel, The Hobbit. He will be spending the next four years (!!!) in New Zealand alternately shooting the film and polishing Peter Jackson's Oscars. [Variety]
· Speaking of hobbits, Elijah Wood's latest movie includes his first on-screen sex scene. Disturbingly, the scene involves spaghetti. No word yet if spaghetti sauce is also involved, but if it were, we hope they used Trader Joe's Organic Vodka Sauce. That's our fave. [Thighs Wide Shut]
· And since we've clearly got sex on the brain, here's video of a topless Mischa Barton straddling what looks to be the poor man's James Van Der Beek. The footage comes from some movie that, thanks to the magic of The Internets, you never have to actually see! [Egotastic]
· And lastly, Amy's Robot asks what could be the most important question of our times (or, at least, the last few hours): "Are you aware that Tina Fey's husband looks like this?" Actually, we did not. [Amy's Robot via Fimoculous]