CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
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Depending on who you ask, the sequel to Terminator: Genisys either died over a year ago or it has just been on life support as everyone involved assessed whether or not it was time to pull the plug. But let’s face the facts: it’s not a good look when even the young stars of your newly rebooted series think it’s time to let go.
So yes, the news that Terminator 6 is in the works is a surprise and yes, the news that The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day director James Cameron is coming back to “godfather” the film and wants Deadpool director Tim Miller to direct is an even bigger surprise.
If you had forgotten that Terminator: Genisys even existed, no one would blame you. The film came and went back in 2015, earning scathing reviews, shrugs from audiences, and lackluster money at the box office. Despite being the first in a planned trilogy, complete with a huge cliffhanger, no one seemed to be crying for another film.
And now James Cameron has to walk into the scene and get my hopes up. Although he offered up some nice words about Genisys around its original release, he hasn’t been directly involved in these movies since part two. However, Deadline reports that he’ll be getting the rights to the Terminator series back in 2019 and intends to be personally involved in the next movie. His exact role isn’t specified, but he won’t be directing (he’s got those four Avatar sequels on his plate). Deadline breaks out the title “godfather,” which implies a producer or executive producer role. In any case, Cameron wants Tim Miller, who surprised just about everyone with Deadpool last year, to helm whatever this movie will be.
A reboot? A remake? A proper sequel? A proper sequel that ignores everything that came after Terminator 2: Judgment Day? It’s not clear at the moment, but it seems that SkyDance’s David Ellison will bankroll the production and is currently “engaging some top-flight science fiction authors” to help break the story. Whatever it is.
We’re staring at a house of cards right now. Cameron could get sidetracked by those Avatar movies. Miller could politely decline the gig. The people who throw money at film financiers may look at the box office haul of the previous two Terminator movies and decide to invest elsewhere. It’s not even clear if Arnold Schwarzenegger will be back (ha), especially since Genisys had to bend over backwards to explain the ageless robot’s aged appearance. Who knows what’s going to happen?
At the same time…how long has it been since you’ve watched the first two Terminator movies? They’re aces. They’re two of the best science fiction movies ever made. I never get tired of them. They’re just about perfect. If Cameron thinks there’s another story here and wants to get personally involved, then damn it, lead the way, sir.
The post New ‘Terminator’ Movie Coming From James Cameron and ‘Deadpool’ Director Tim Miller appeared first on /Film.
It should come as no surprise that M. Night Shyamalan‘s Split features a big twist. It’s kind of his thing. Everyone, even his fans, has poked fun at his penchant for Big Shocking Reveals, some of which work as stunning reversals and some of which fall flat on their face. The twist in Split is a weird one – for every person who sees it and loses their goddamn mind, there will be someone who has no idea what the hell just happened.
In other words, it’s the kind of thing that demands to be discussed. Huge spoilers ahead. Seriously. If you haven’t seen Split yet, I’d suggest not reading on.
Okay, so Split ends with James McAvoy‘s Kevin still very much alive and on the run, with three of his 23 separate personalities still running the show, forcing the other personalities into subservience (the film’s treatment of dissociative identity disorder is admittedly inelegant and will rightfully inspire some think pieces). While they failed to kill young Casey Cook, the dominant personalities accomplished their ultimate goal – they have unleashed the 24th personality, known as The Beast, a bloodthirsty monster capable of superhuman strength and endurance. It’s wild, silly, B-movie nuttiness and I got a kick out of it.
And if Split had ended there, it would have been a perfectly fine and perfectly entertaining thriller that I enjoyed very much. However, the film has one more trick up its sleeve, a quick epilogue that demands you view everything that came before in a new context.
The film cuts to a restaurant, where the Philadelphia citizenry are discussing the strange events of the past few days and the monstrous killer the press has dubbed “The Horde” (because there are many different personalities, you see). As the camera moves past a series of conversations, one diner notes that this whole thing sounds like another guy who stirred up some trouble back in the day. And then Bruce Willis‘ David Dunn appears on screen and notes that they called him Mr. Glass.
There it is. Split is the secret Unbreakable sequel that M. Night Shyamalan has been promising for years. Cut to credits.
What I love about this reveal is that it doesn’t rewrite everything we’ve just seen as much as it recontextualizes them. Split would still be a fun movie without this final scene, but knowing that it takes place in the same Philadelphia as Unbreakable, a Philadelphia that looks an awful lot like the real place while also being home to a security guard who cannot be hurt and his train-derailing nemesis, opens up the imagination. The ending of Split isn’t a period as much as it is an ellipsis – we’re looking at bigger world than we previously thought. Hell, we’re looking at the Unbreakable Cinematic Universe, for better or worse.
When I first watched Split at Fantastic Fest last year, Shyamalan participated in a lengthy post-film Q&A where he discussed the ending in detail (and made us promise to not spoil it, a promise that I believe was mostly kept). He revealed that the character of Kevin was originally one of the villains in an early draft of Unbreakable, but he was soon excised from the script entirely because there wasn’t enough room for him alongside David Dunn and Samuel L. Jackson’s Mr. Glass. Shyamalan recently elaborated on this in an interview with Collider:
Oh, it was always there. Always. This character, Kevin from Split, was in the original script of Unbreakable. The original draft of Unbreakable focused on David Dunn and Elijah as his mentor. Elijah tells him, “You’re a comic book character, go try it.” And instead of bumping into the Orange Suit Man, David bumps into one of Kevin’s personalities and goes to save the girls. So you’d have been watching the girls’ side of it the whole time. That was the outline.
And yes, Shyamalan is already thinking about a third movie that would further solidify the Unbreakable universe. We can talk about that later, maybe after we see Split‘s box office returns.
When I saw Split, I was in a theater filled with diehard movie fans, all of whom knew exactly what this reveal meant. I even spoke to a few people who caught on to the big twist about 30 seconds earlier than everyone else because they recognized Shyamalan recycling James Newton Howard’s Unbreakable score in the penultimate scene. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Bruce Willis popping up on that screen will go down as one of the most memorable moviegoing moments of my life. The audience went nuts. We ate it up. We got it. We were the target audience for Shyamalan’s shenanigans.
So here’s the big question: will ordinary folks, the vast majority of people who buy tickets to see Split this weekend, understand what’s going on? Will they care? Unbreakable came out 17 years and while it was a hit, it hasn’t remained on the forefront of the average moviegoer’s mind like it has with the nerds who fell in love with its low-key comic book world. I can’t help but imagine a lot of very confused people staring at the closing credits, wondering “Why did Bruce Willis randomly show up?”
So here’s what I want from you: go into the comments below and share your thoughts on this big reveal. Did it excite you to your core or fly right over your head? Did your audience get it or were they completely baffled? Let us know.
The post ‘Split’ Ending: A Spoiler-Filled Discussion of M. Night Shyamalan’s Biggest Twist appeared first on /Film.
Superhero Bits: Logan’s MPAA Rating, Inhumans Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Test Screenings & More
Does Vin Diesel still want to make an Inhumans movie even though the property is now becoming a TV series? Will Batman ever pop up on Powerless? Can you guess which Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 character is blowing the minds of test screening audiences? Has Logan been officially rated by the MPAA yet? Want to see what the Baby Groot LEGO minifigure looks like? All that and more in this edition of Superhero Bits.
Here’s the extended trailer for “Who Are You?”, the midseason return of Arrow coming to The CW next week.
Vin Diesel still wants to see an Inhumans movie happen despite the forthcoming Inhumans TV series in the works.
A video posted by Chris Hemsworth (@chrishemsworth) on Jan 19, 2017 at 7:54pm PST
Chris Hemsworth is worthy of wielding Mjolnir, but if there was any doubt, this basketball shot should do the trick.
Production designer Charles Wood talks about what unifies his work on the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Captain Marvel is getting a video series titled “Captain Marvel: Alien Nation” to go with the new comic series.
Gotham star Cory Michael Smith discusses what The Riddler suit will look like when it’s finally revealed.
James Gunn showed off these awesome Gamora shoes that Michael Rooker gave to Zoe Saldana as a wrap gift.
Dan Buckley, a longtime publisher of Marvel Comics since 2003, is now the president of Marvel Entertainment.Continue Reading Superhero Bits>>
Due to the amount of graphics and images included in Superhero Bits, we have to split this post over THREE pages. Click the link above to continue to the next page of Superhero Bits.
The post Superhero Bits: Logan’s MPAA Rating, Inhumans Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Test Screenings & More appeared first on /Film.
Over eight years ago, talk of a Dirty Rotten Scoundrels remake began. Hot Tub Time Machine director and Grosse Point Blank co-writer Steve Pink was hired to write and direct the remake, based on the wonderful comedy starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine, which was itself a remake of the 1964 film, Bedtime Story. Pink eventually departed from the project, which is up and running again with Rebel Wilson and (possibly) Anne Hathaway in the starring roles.
Below, learn more about the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels remake.
This version of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, titled Nasty Women, remains faithful to the premise of two competing swindlers. As previously reported, this new story follows “two female scam artists, one low-rent and the other high-class,” as they compete to “swindle a naive tech prodigy out of his fortune.” The Hollywood Reporter writes that Hathaway is currently in talks to act alongside Wilson, but there’s no mention which of the two roles she’d play.
The remake is written by Jac Schaeffer, who wrote The Shower, which Hathaway will produce and star in for Warner Bros. Schaffer also wrote and directed TiME, a movie our own Angie Han called “likable, if slight.” Schaeffer isn’t occupying the director’s chair on Nasty Women. No director is attached to the comedy at this time.
Wilson is producing the remake with Roger Birnbaum (last year’s The Magnificent Seven). She’s also attached to a remake of another ’80s film, the Goldie Hawn comedy, Private Benjamin. We haven’t heard much about the Private Benjamin remake since its announcement, but with Hathaway possibly joining Nasty Women, this project seems more likely to happen in the near future. The only movie Wilson has coming up this year is Pitch Perfect 3, following her recent appearances in How to Be Single, The Brothers Grimsby, and Pitch Perfect 2.
Hathaway hasn’t starred in too many comedies. The Intern or Love and Other Drug could qualify as comedies, but they’re also not without drama. The last full-on comedies Hathaway starred in were Get Smart and Bride Wars, a mostly forgotten, terribly broad film with her and Kate Hudson. The Oscar-winner is mostly known for her dramatic work, so if a deal works out and she stars in Nasty Women, it might be refreshing to see her bring her talents to a studio comedy. Next up for Hathaway is Ocean’s 8, which is currently filming, and Colossal, which I hear nothing but good things about. Our own Angie Han wrote she had “never seen anything quite like it before.”
The post Anne Hathaway May Join Rebel Wilson in ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ Remake appeared first on /Film.
The black-and-white “Chrome Edition” of Mad Max: Fury Road has been available on home video for several weeks already. But if you’ve yet to check it out, you can get a little taste of it today. A batch of new Mad Max: Fury Road Chrome Edition clips have just hit the web, showing what a difference a total lack of color can make. Watch the Mad Max: Fury Road Chrome Edition clips below.Mad Max: Fury Road Chrome Edition Clips
[via The Playlist]
The Chrome Edition of Mad Max: Fury Road doesn’t change any of the plot points from the theatrical version or anything like that, so you probably won’t make any mind-blowing new discoveries here. But the colorlessness does change the general tone and feel of the film. Miller himself prefers the movie in black and white, as he revealed when the film came out:
We spent a lot of time in DI (digital intermediate), and we had a very fine colorist, Eric Whipp. One thing I’ve noticed is that the default position for everyone is to de-saturate post-apocalyptic movies. There’s only two ways to go, make them black and white — the best version of this movie is black and white, but people reserve that for art movies now. The other version is to really go all-out on the color. The usual teal and orange thing? That’s all the colors we had to work with. The desert’s orange and the sky is teal, and we either could de-saturate it, or crank it up, to differentiate the movie. Plus, it can get really tiring watching this dull, de-saturated color, unless you go all the way out and make it black and white.
The color version of Mad Max: Fury Road looks pretty striking as it is — it’s all burnt oranges and bright teals — and others may or may not agree with Miller’s assessment of the black-and-white edition. But either way, it seems worth a look for fans of this film.
The post ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ Chrome Edition Clips: Here’s the Version of the Movie George Miller Likes Best appeared first on /Film.
T2 Trainspotting (yes, that’s still the title) doesn’t start hitting most theaters until February and March, but it will debut in U.K. theaters on January 27, 2017. With that release date right around the corner, the first wave of reviews for Danny Boyle‘s sequel to his 1996 classic have arrived and they’re mixed but mostly positive. We’ve assembled some highlights below.
As you’d expect, a recurring theme throughout these reviews (even the positive ones) is that the Trainspotting sequel has a hard time living up to the original movie, which was a legit sensation upon initial release. But with the principal cast and crew from the first film all returning, most critics seem to agree that it feels right, with the parade of familiar faces working to harness your nostalgia for the first movie.
While The Guardian’s review acknowledges that the sequel isn’t quite as good as the first movie, their review is nearly a rave:
T2 isn’t as good as T1: it is a little too long and unwinds a bit into caper sentimentality, broad comedy and self-mythologising. But it has the same punchy energy, the same defiant pessimism, and there’s nothing around like it. This sequel was a high-wire act, but Boyle has made it to the other side.
Time Out’s review notes that the sequel can’t help but live in the shadow of its predecessor, but it is otherwise overwhelmingly positive:
Like the original, ‘T2 Trainspotting’ is a winning mix of low living and high jinx, a stylized spin on real life. Music is just as important, and there are familiar tunes, but the tone is less youthful and more maudlin. It’s a darker film, with less humour (although there’s a brilliant comic scene in a Unionist club), and it’s a little grander: the photography is more epic, the look more grown-up, although there’s a familiar anarchy to the visuals.
Scotland’s The Herald was also very positive on the film, noting how it builds on what came before:
T2 doesn’t just recapture the relentlessly addictive energy of the first film, complete with profane language, outrageous sex and drug scenes and horrific bouts of violence, it displays a greater maturity too; one that lends it unexpected poignancy to match its more bravura moments.
The Independent awarded T2 Trainspotting five stars, heaping tons of praise on the performances:
The actors, meanwhile, are all at the top of their game. McGregor has that wildness and grinning delinquency that made him so memorable in the first film. He gets to deliver a “choose life” soliloquy which is even darker and more despairing than the one from 20 years ago. (Now, the references include zero hour contracts, Facebook, Twitter, reality TV and revenge porn.) Jonny Lee Miller’s Simon is charismatic and cretinous by turns. Carlyle manages to make us feel sympathy for Begbie in spite of his monstrous behaviour. As Spud, Bremner plays part of the holy innocent – the only one of the four who isn’t venal and self-serving – in appealing comic fashion.
The Telegraph was mixed but ultimately positive on the film, saying that it does nothing to tarnish the original:
Like the original, T2 is happy enough spending time with its characters whatever they get up to. Very little that happens in the film seems to affect where it’s going, and the few things that do feel dashed off, almost as an afterthought. It’s also littered with callbacks to the first film – some as stirring as they are subtle, others exasperatingly cute.
The Hollywood Reporter was lukewarm in their review, calling out the film for “blokey sentimentality”:
But this scene simply dribbles away to nothing, typical of a screenplay which is much too stop-start to generate proper momentum, oscillating between near-slapstick comedy and interludes of blokey sentimentality. There’s an awful lot of father-and-son stuff being somewhat sentimentally worked over here, with even lion-in-winter Begbie — an irredeemably demonic force-of-nature in the first film, and in Porno, too — finally succumbing to the schmaltz.
T2 Trainspotting hits North American theaters on March 17, 2017.
The post ‘T2 Trainspotting’ Early Buzz: Danny Boyle’s Middle-Aged Sequel is a Worthy Follow-Up to a Classic appeared first on /Film.
Physical media may be slowly succumbing to the digital age, but you can pry my Blu-ray library from my cold, lifeless corpse…a corpse that will have a frozen smile on its bloodless face because I died watching movies that didn’t need to buffer at key moments and actually allowed me to watch the ending credits before smash cutting to a recommendation. And speaking of corpses and physical media, a Blu-ray box set collecting all five Phantasm movies is on the way, just in case you happen to like good things.
The news was revealed over at Entertainment Weekly by Don Coscarelli, the mastermind of the series and the director of the first four movies. The set, which will include 1979’s Phantasm, 1988’s Phantasm II, 1994’s Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead, 1998’s Phantasm IV: Oblivion, and 2016’s Phantasm: Ravager, will hit shelves on March 28, 2017 and Coscarelli promises a bunch of new bonus features:
We are currently in production on new bonus content bringing together cast and crew to look back and celebrate the Phantasm franchise including commentaries and new featurettes. I’m so excited to have all five films included in one box set!
Blu-ray.com has a look at the box art for the set, which features the late Angus Scrimm as the Tall Man, the series’ menacing central villain who menaces the world (and the universe) with his army of brain-sucking silver spheres. Man, I love these deranged movies.
This set arrives shortly after the solo Blu-ray release of the first movie, which was restored in 4K and had a limited festival and theatrical run in 2016. I interviewed Coscarelli about the restoration at SXSW last year, where he told me the story of how J.J. Abrams, a big Phantasm fan, dedicated Bad Robot’s resources to restoring the film as a passion project:
So anyway, we’d stay in touch and he was obviously busy working on some great movies and TV series. And then out of the blue, about a year and a half ago, I got an email from him about wanting to screen Phantasm over at his company, Bad Robot. He wanted me to come do a Q&A. I guess there were a lot of folks who worked there who had never seen the movie and J.J. wanted to share it with them. The problem was that I only had this 35mm print that was pretty scratched and not that great and the old standard def DVD, which looked really good at the time that we made it, but it was not HD. He couldn’t believe that! He said “We’ve got to fix that.”
He got me on the phone with his head of production, Ben Rosenblatt and they came up with a really clever idea. Whenever they had downtime working on their Star Wars and Star Treks and stuff like that, they’d bring me over. They had this really high-end Mystica finishing system and if we could just get a laser scan made of the original camera negative it could go into the workstation. So every month or two, I’d get a phone call: “C’mon! We’ve got time tonight!” The guys would be doing the color correction and the scratch removal.
And it worked out, because I saw the 4K version at Fantastic Fest some months later and was blown away by how great it looked:
And Phantasm has never looked better. Bad Robot’s 4K restoration has made this low-budget, homegrown horror movie look like it was shot yesterday. A handful of pennies rubbed together with a little bit of spit and string now looks like a million bucks. For longtime fans, the remastered version will be a dream come true. For newcomers, this is the only way to watch movie. Even more impressive than the fine-tuned look of the film is the soundtrack, which sounds nothing short of incredible when it’s blasting in your ears.
While I have mixed feelings on some of the sequels, this set is a must-buy for me. The first film is still a nightmarish gem and the follow-ups have more than enough personality to earn additional viewings in the years ahead. And best of all, I won’t have to worry about any of them suddenly vanishing from view because of rights issues! Now get off my lawn.
The post The Complete ‘Phantasm’ Series is Getting a Fancy Blu-ray Box Set appeared first on /Film.
Mankind has always had a predilection towards exploring the unknown, journeying to places that most people have never been and will never go. The Lost City of Z tells the story of a historical expedition taken upon by explorer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) as he ventures deep into the uncharted territory of the Amazon jungle in the 1920s. Though he disappeared in 1925 with no official recount of what he discovered, director James Grey imagines what it might have been like, based on the non-fiction bestseller by author David Grann.
Watch a new The Lost City of Z trailer after the jump.
Charlie Hunnam is joined by Robert Pattinson on this journey, and supported by his wife (Sienna Miller) and son (Tom Holland), the latter of which appears to venture out on his own at some point, perhaps to track down his missing father. This looks like quite the adventure, a movie that Hollywood usually doesn’t make anymore.
The above trailer comes from the UK where the movie will hit theaters in March, but US audiences will have to wait until April before they can catch it. The Lost City of Z debuted at the New York Film Festival last year, and with the 15 reviews counted online so far, it has an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is rather good. That could always change as more critics see it though.
This is a story that went through a long development process and finally ended up in front of cameras, so hopefully it will have been well worth the wait this spring. If you want to see more, you can watch the first trailer right here.
Based on author David Grann’s nonfiction bestseller, The Lost City of Z tells the incredible true story of British explorer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), who journeys into the Amazon at the dawn of the 20th century and discovers evidence of a previously unknown, advanced civilization that may have once inhabited the region. Despite being ridiculed by the scientific establishment who regard indigenous populations as “savages,” the determined Fawcett – supported by his devoted wife (Sienna Miller), son (Tom Holland) and aide de camp (Robert Pattinson) – returns time and again to his beloved jungle in an attempt to prove his case, culminating in his mysterious disappearance in 1925. An epically-scaled tale of courage and obsession, told in Gray’s classic filmmaking style, The Lost City of Z is a stirring tribute to the exploratory spirit and those individuals driven to achieve greatness at any cost.
The Lost City of Z opens in NY and LA on April 14 and expands wider the following week
The post ‘The Lost City of Z’ Trailer: Charlie Hunnam Explores the Unknown with Robert Pattinson appeared first on /Film.
Much like how the Sundance Film Festival itself helps set the stage for every other film festival in the year that follows, the fest’s Midnight category helps to gauge what we can expect from independent genre cinema over the next twelve months or so. While I’m not attending Sundance (our own Peter Sciretta, Angie Han, and Ethan Anderton will be bringing you reviews over the coming week!), this is the section I tend to keep the closest eye on. Sundance has premiered plenty of unforgettable, and often gnarly, movies after the sane people have gone to sleep.
So that brings us to the trailer for Bad Day For the Cut, an Irish thriller that looks like it’ll be right at home with the after-hours crowd. It has everything you need: Revenge! Violence! Thick accents! A Game of Thrones veteran!
The feature debut of co-writer and director Chris Baugh, Bad Day For the Cut stars Nigel O’Neill as Donal, a middle-aged farmer who still lives with his mother and spends his simple days working the land and drinking at the pub. But since this is a Sundance Midnight movie, things go horribly awry: his mother is killed in an apparent home invasion and Donal drives to Belfast to find her killers and claim his revenge. Naturally, he stumbles on something much larger and more awful than he could have possibly expected. At some point, Ian McElhinney (better known to many people as Westeros’ own Barristan Selmy) pops up.
Considering that Baugh’s filmography is otherwise filled with episodes of children’s television shows, Bad Day For the Cut looks like a filmmaker getting a lot of stuff off his chest. The footage here looks violent and mean and troubling, reminding me very much of Jeremy Saulnier’s modern masterpiece Blue Ruin. Yeah, I’m on board for for this one.
Here’s a fuller description of the plot, via Deadline:
Directed by Chris Baugh from a script by Baugh and Brendan Mullin, ‘Bad Day For The Cut’ follows Donal, a farmer who still lives at home in a little Irish village with his mother Florence. Working the fields by day and drinking in the local pub at night, he seems content with a simple, quiet life, the only sense of his wish for something more coming from an old campervan he has lovingly restored. When Florence is killed in an apparent home invasion Donal sets off for Belfast in the little red van, looking for revenge. What he finds is a world of violence and brutality that he can’t understand and a secret about his mother that will shake him to his core.
And you can check out the poster for the film below. Bad Day For the Cut will make its Sundance premiere on January 22.
The post ‘Bad Day For the Cut’ Trailer: Revenge Has an Irish Accent appeared first on /Film.
It’s been well over a year since we heard anything about the new version of Shaft that New Line has been cooking up with screenwriters Kenya Barris and Alex Barnow, but now we know that Tim Story will be sitting the director’s chair.
Deadline has the news about Tim Story being hired as the Shaft reboot director, which indicates the tone we can probably expect from the final film. Although he’s dipped his toe into the blockbuster area before with Fantastic Four and its sequel, Story is very much a comedy director, with credits that include Barbershop, Taxi, Think Like a Man, and the two Ride Along movies. The hiring of Barris and Barnow (the creator of Black-ish and an executive producer of The Goldbergs) only reinforces that we’ll probably be getting a sillier version of the badass private detective originally played by Richard Roundtree back in 1971, with Deadline suggesting that the new film may follow the son of the original John Shaft.
And to be honest, I have mixed feelings on that. John Shaft is one of the great black action heroes of all time, a smooth-talking, fast-thinking, streetwise private detective who knows how to get the job done and looks good doing it. Gordon Parks’ original film retains all of its energy today and there’s a reason it’s the first title on most people’s lips whenever the “blaxploitation” movement is brought up. It’s just a damn cool movie and Shaft is a damn cool guy, a fact that was not lost on director John Singleton when he cast Samuel L. Jackson as John Shaft II (the original character’s nephew) in his pretty good 2000 film.
So I can’t help but think about this 2015 open letter written by comic book writer and novelist David F. Walker (whose current Power Man and Iron Fist book is excellent) where he writes: “We can leave the superheroics to the white guys, but the black hero can only be heroic if he is wrapped in a comedic package. I believe I speak for many people when I say, ‘No thanks, and fuck you.'”
The fact that New Line has hired a black filmmaker to helm the new Shaft is an important step, but I still can’t help but wonder what a comedic take on this character could actually contribute. If you want a silly blaxploitation riff, there’s always Black Dynamite. Why not just let Shaft be Shaft and put him on a case where he, as his theme song goes, won’t cop out when there’s danger all about?
We’ll surely be hearing more about this in the near future.
The post Tim Story Will Direct the ‘Shaft’ Reboot, Can You Dig It? appeared first on /Film.
Sundance is now in full swing, which means those of you at home might be feeling festival envy right about now. But the good news is that we won’t have long to wait until some of this year’s promising features get released. As a matter of fact, we’re less than two months away from seeing Deidra & Laney Rob a Train, which was first announced by Netflix last year.
The film, directed by Sydney Freeland, is exactly what it says on the package: it’s about two girls named Deidra (Ashleigh Murray) and Laney (Rachel Crow) who decide to start robbing trains. They hatch the plan in order to make ends meet after their mother is thrown in jail, and it looks like they turn out to be actually pretty good at it. Unfortunately, their heists are so successful that they catch the attention of a detective (Tim Blake Nelson), who sets out to find these mystery bandits. Watch the Deidra & Laney Rob a Train trailer below.
Deidra & Laney Rob a Train hits Netflix March 17.
Life is moving fast for whip-smart high school senior Deidra (Ashleigh Murray) and her younger sister Laney (Rachel Crow). Graduation looms, their part-time dad is a full-time schemer, and adolescent embarrassments arrive daily — just like the train that rambles noisily through their backyard. But things take a turn for the worse when their mother Marigold (Danielle Nicolet) is thrown in jail for a minor offense after succumbing to the pressure of single parenting. To help her struggling family, Deidra hatches a plan to start robbing trains. Things go off without a hitch, until a railroad detective (Tim Blake Nelson) starts sniffing around.
Directed by Sydney Freeland and written by Shelby Farrell, the Netflix original film Deidra & Laney Rob a Train stars Ashleigh Murray, Rachel Crow, Tim Blake Nelson, Danielle Nicolet, Sasheer Zamata, David Sullivan, Missi Pyle, Arturo Castro, Brooke Markham and Sharon Lawrence. Susan Cartsonis and Nick Moceri serve as producers. Randy Kiyan, Ian Bricke, and Funa Maduka serve as executive producers.
The post ‘Deidra & Laney Rob a Train’ Trailer: Netflix Hits Sundance With Teen Heist Charmer appeared first on /Film.
If you asked me to assemble a list of my favorite comic series of all time, books that I would recommend to anyone, even people who weren’t comic book fans, writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Pia Guerra‘s Y: The Last Man would probably land somewhere near the top of the list. It’s a stirring adventure story, a brutally honest coming-of-age tale, and one of the most politically charged and thoughtful post-apocalyptic narratives ever told. And don’t get me started on that perfect final issue. Seriously. I’ll start blubbering like a baby.
So I greeted the news that FX was looking to develop the comic into a television series with the mix of excitement and skepticism that I greet any upcoming adaptation of something I love. And while it’s still early days yet, we do have an update on the show.
The latest update comes to us from the Television Critics Association press tour (via IGN), where Nick Gad, FX’s President of Original Programming, said that things are coming along:
We’re supposed to get a script in the next couple months […] It’s going to be an ongoing series.
That script is being written by Brian K. Vaughan himself and showrunner Michael Green, who just jumped on board the project back in November. While Vaughan has spearheaded a number of incredible comics (including Ex Machina and Saga), he’s also a veteran television writer at this point, having worked on Lost and Under the Dome. Green is a veteran of Smallville, Everwood, Heroes, Kings, and the upcoming American Gods series coming to Starz. He’s also been blowing up in the feature film world, with credits on Logan, Alien: Covenant, Blade Runner: 2049, and Murder on the Orient Express. He’s also credited on Green Lantern, but it’s probably time we absolved everyone who worked on that movie of their sins.
Y: The Last Man follows a young man named Yorick Brown his pet Capuchin monkey, Ampersand, who are the only male survivors of a mysterious plague that wipes out every living mammal with Y chromosome on the face of the planet. His resulting road trip across an America where 49% of the population suddenly perished is fascinating and funny and weird and tragic and perfect material for an ongoing television series. It’s thoughtful, humane science fiction and if the show captures what made the source material special, we’re in for a treat.
And it’s about time Y: The Last Man got made! It was originally going to be a feature film directed by D.J. Caruso nearly a decade ago. And then 10 Cloverfield Lane director Dan Trachtenberg tried to get it made. TV may be the right place for this material to have the proper amount of stretching room and FX, a network with no shortage of fine, daring television shows, may be the ideal home. Hopefully, this where everything finally comes together.
The post That ‘Y: The Last Man’ Series is Still Trekking Onward at FX appeared first on /Film.
You should go watch The Wailing.
Unless subtitles make your eyes bleed and you hate terrifying movies, you have no excuse. Na Hong-jin‘s sprawling horror epic is currently streaming on Netflix, so wait until it gets dark outside, make yourself a snack, carve out 156 minutes, and hit play. Because man, this movie is something else. I’m not even sure how to begin to describe it, but I feel confident that it’s a movie that could only be set in South Korea and made by South Korean filmmakers.
In other news, it’s currently being considered for an American remake. Huh.
Interestingly enough, the folks currently in negotiations with Ridley Scott‘s Scott Free Productions seem to agree that a Western remake may not be the wisest move. Kim Ho-sung, the head of Fox International Production Korea and a producer on the film, revealed Scott Free’s interest to Screen Daily, noting that a remake wouldn’t be easy that they should just go ahead and hire the original director:
They said The Wailing reminded them of films such as The Exorcist, The Ring and Seven. The locality and sensibility of The Wailing is so strong that I don’t think it would be easy to do a Western remake, and it will be important who directs it. So I told him I think the only director who could do the remake is Na Hong-jin. But we are still in early stages of talks. […] We’re being careful. As you know, there are a lot of remakes out there being developed [that haven’t come to fruition].
There are two reasons The Wailing would a tough nut to crack for non-Korean filmmakers. First of all, the rural South Korean setting is vital the film’s plot and atmosphere. In fact, the beliefs and ideals of the small town where the film takes place are so intrinsically tied to the plot of the film that to take it elsewhere would require some dramatic reworking. Kim himself points out how his nation’s religious diversity is vital to the film, noting how “you see not a Korean Buddhist monk, but a Japanese monk type of person, a shaman, Christianity, Catholicism, and diverse pagan and occult beliefs.” When The Wailing does tap into some familiar horror territory, the various, often conflicting beliefs of those involved inject all kinds of new life into the film.
The second reason is that The Wailing is such a South Korean film in structure and tone, adhering to none of the usual rules you see applied to American horror movies. It’s unashamedly long and takes its time, going where it needs to go at its own pace. And what begins as a Fargo-esque police procedural about dim-witted small town cops dealing with a string of brutal murders soon evolves into a supernatural thriller and a demonic possession movie before transforming into a complex puzzle box that goes out of its way to make you question every single thing you’ve seen before. To adapt The Wailing as it exists would involve burning the very structure of a traditional western movie to the ground. It’s why the movie is so great and it’s also why a remake seems so strange.
So, does this mean we’ll be getting a 90-minute, simplified and straightforward version of The Wailing in a few years? Hopefully not. Go watch The Wailing.
The post Ridley Scott Eyeing a Remake of South Korean Horror Film ‘The Wailing’ appeared first on /Film.
Even if you’re a monster movie aficionado, it’s likely you’ve never seen one quite like Nacho Vigalondo‘s Colossal. Anne Hathaway stars as Gloria, whose charm helps paper over the fact that she’s a total mess. Unemployed and freshly single, she moves back to her hometown and reconnects with an old friend (Jason Sudeikis) who becomes her new drinking buddy.
So far, it sounds like just another quarter-life crisis indie dramedy, right? But Gloria, it turns out, shares a mysterious connection to a giant monster that’s been rampaging through Seoul. As the truth of the situation dawns on her, Gloria must figure out how to stop it from spiraling completely out of control. Watch the Colossal teaser below.
I caught Colossal at TIFF last year and came away impressed by Vigalondo’s ambition and originality:
Colossal is a slippery movie, twisting through several different genres and tones. At some points it feels like an indie dramedy a la Drinking Buddies, or an addiction narrative like Smashed. It’s surprisingly low-key for a monster movie, and it’s got a smattering of sharp feminist commentary.
It’s weird, but not just for the sake of being weird. The bizarre premise dovetails beautifully with the film’s thematic concerns, which gradually reveal themselves as the film goes on. Hathaway is very good playing against type as a messy and troubled soul, while Sudeikis adds new layers to his usual “charming jerk” role. And don’t just take my word for it — Jacob, who saw Colossal at Fantastic Fest, loved it too, raving, “Nacho Vigalondo has finally made a movie as good as his debut (the exceptional Timecrimes).”
Colossal will be in theaters April 7 thanks to Neon, the very recently formed distribution company from Alamo Drafthouse’s Tim League and RADiUS co-founder Tom Quinn. It’s also playing this week at the Sundance Film Festival, if you happen to be around Park City right now.
The post ‘Colossal’ Teaser: Anne Hathaway Is a Literal Monster appeared first on /Film.
Interview: ‘The Founder’ Director John Lee Hancock Explains Why John Carroll Lynch is a Stone Cold Pro
The Founder doesn’t resemble the often feel-good stories of some of John Lee Hancock‘s previous films, such as Saving Mr. Banks, The Rookie, or The Blind Side. At the end of the day, this is a story of the good guys losing. Depending on who you ask, there’s little that’s inspiring about Ray Kroc’s (Michael Keaton) success story.
The Founder is a biopic that doesn’t champion, idolize, or demonize its subject; it’s a warts-and-all portrait of an unimaginative but ambitious (or greedy) man with a hunger for success. He achieved the American dream by destroying Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac McDonald’s (John Carroll Lynch) dream. They’re the heroes of the story — always pure in their intentions — but they don’t come out on top.
In one thrilling sequence, Mac explains how McDonald’s got started over dinner. It’s a lengthy, dialogue-heavy scene that communicates history and backstory, helps strengthen Dick and Mac’s loving relationship, and moves along at such a fast pace. This scene, which was written by Robert D. Siegel (The Wrestler), is where we began our recent conversation with Hancock.
Below, check out our John Lee Hancock interview.
Hancock: I spent a lot of time trying to plan that [scene] out because it’s like you said, it’s a long stretch of an exposition. You want it to become interactive. You want to become excited along with the McDonald’s brothers like they must have been excited when they discovered this.
Did you thoroughly storyboard that sequence? How did you and everyone prepare for it?
No. I really don’t storyboard unless it’s an action sequence of some kind, but I plan carefully. The first part is, I know what’s I’m shooting in the San Bernardino steakhouse we called it. You’re there. You’re getting lots of different sizes, and wides, and tights, and we’re flipping sides, and crossing the line, and all that stuff. Just doing it over, and over, and over again to give myself options. And John Carroll Lynch, who carries most of the weight in that in terms of telling the story, gives you tons of options. He’s such a fantastic actor.
Then from there knowing that I would also pull from actual historic stills and that I would create some old movie footage kind of thing to give that feel because I wanted to very much have the feeling of a little bit of it’s the history channel vibe. You’re inter-cutting between live people talking to you, and vintage stock photos, or whether it’s a Ken Burns documentary, or anything like that. I wanted to have some of that vibe which makes it feel more real like, “Oh, this actually happened.”
Then there was the tennis court, which on the page, I believe, was just a very short little thing that said exterior tennis court, they go through the motions or whatever. It was a little bit more than that, but not much. You see it coming together. First, it’s a mess, and then it’s not and whatever. I said, “I want to shoot this like a Busby Berkley musical,” and everybody went like, “What?” I said, “No. I want it to be like with high shots pulling up. I want it to be choreographed.” That opened up a whole other can of worms which is choreograph. Yes, I want a choreographer, and I want it to be a dance. The employees have to do the dance of the kitchen.
These guys that we hired to be in the kitchen, young actors and things like that, worked for about three weeks with a choreographer named Kiki. They had a click track, and it was like and a one, and a two, and a dun, dun, dun. Everybody dun to dun. Everybody moving until they had it down pat. You were looking at it, and it was miraculous and great.
Somebody asked me, “How long do you think this will be?” It was the script supervisor who said, “I scripted this sequence for like twenty seconds based on what’s on the pages.” I said, “It’s going to be longer than that.” He said, “How long?” I go, “I don’t know. A minute and a half.” It’s much longer than that even, but I enjoy work product. By work product, I mean I love to see the mistakes. I love to see when somebody shows you an old script, and they’ve made their notes in or those kinds of things. In some ways, this was McDonald’s brother’s work product that we were presenting. We’re showing all the mistakes until they arrive at it. It was a moment in time, which some people might say for better, some people might say for worse, that was the invention of fast food because it did not exist before then.
I can imagine some actors finding all that dialogue daunting, but John Carroll Lynch is a great working actor who seems to have done it all.
That [scene] was his first day. When they got into town, he and Nick, I went to their hotel. We sat down, and read through it once and made a few notes, and a few little changes here and there, just terms of phrase and things like that and added a little bit. Then we come in the next day, and John Schwartzman, our DP, comes up and he says, “Look, we’re prepared to shoot however you want to shoot this. In other words, if you want to shoot the close-ups, we’ve got two cameras. We’re going to roll it once. We can shoot the close-ups first.”
A lot of times you’ll do that because if you start… I said I’m going to need lots of this apple because of how I’m intercutting cutting all this. He said, “Well, do you want to shoot the close-ups first?” I said, “Well, let me ask John.” Sometimes actors will say they’re fresh [for the close-ups], and then right when they’re tired you put them in the wide, and it won’t matter.” I went to John, and he goes, “Hey, whatever is fine with you.” I said, “So, you’re fine?” He goes, “No, let’s do it. I’ll do it all day long. I’ve done a Fincher movie. I can do a million takes.” [Laughs]
I went, “Wow. Eight pages of dialogue. Okay.” I said, “Now, do you want to do a rehearsal or roam a wide?” We can do the wide first. You can just ramble through it.” He goes, “No. Let’s rehearse it once.” Without rolling camera, I go, “Okay, fine.” Schwartzman looks and me, and he goes, “Are we going to be okay?” I go, “We’re going to be okay.”
He rehearses it with no cameras, and the crew just all standing around, and he goes through the entire thing. It is absolutely fabulous. Keaton who comes in and sits down, and is expecting to say, “Okay. No. We’re just messing around here, and we’ll figure it out as we go,” and all that. He doesn’t just say pages, and Keaton just goes [clap, clap, clap], just like you are the man. [Laughs] You are the man. He just destroyed it.
Also, it was so good because he said, “I’m going to give you lots of different flavors, and excitement levels, and down and up because it will allow you to cut away in different places to different energies that you’re cutting away too.” He’s incredibly helpful. He’s a stone cold pro.
How did you both prep for the scene?
When the three of us sat down and looked at it the day before there were a few things we said, “Do we need this?” We added a thing. I knew that I was going to be inter-cutting. I said, “Well, I can excise that in the editing room. That’s not that big a deal. Let’s go ahead and go with it, and I’ll see what I mean.” I thought there’s a chance when I look at this in total when I look at this, it’s going to be way too long. I said, “I just know that,” but I can cut into it wherever I want because they go through every chapter of their life. I go, “I can just cut a couple chapters out. It’s fine.”
Then we did it. This is a credit to our editor, Rob Frazen, too. Just the pacing of it because you can’t be just quick cuts like that. It’s got to have a rhythm, and a flow, and a shape to it to go along from chapter to chapter to chapter. Something ends, and you go, “That’s fantastic, and that’s the end.” He goes, “It was completely revolutionizing, and it was a complete disaster,” and you go, “Oh shit! We’re starting over again now.” Rob did a beautiful job editing that. We probably spent more time playing with that steak house and tennis court sequence than any other part of the movie just because there were so many moving parts.
Were there any other sequences that required as much time?
You’re always working on stuff a lot. We worked a lot on the final bathroom scene, but it was a tenth of the time we worked on the steak house and tennis court scene. It’s a world of opportunities. You can do whatever you want here. Do we need one more shot of something else? Do we need a still photo of this? Is this lagging right here? Do we need to quicken the pace? Sometimes by the end, you’re like, “Okay, look at this. Now did something change?” He’ll go, “Yeah. I cut three frames off that.” I go, “I like it. Okay, good.” You’re just pairing it down. It’s really, really fun when you’ve got a great editor like Rob.
Did you lose any scenes in the editing room?
No. You know what? Here’s the thing, when you’re on a very tight, low budget, and you’re on a tight schedule, the last thing you want to do is shoot scenes that are unnecessary because that means you spent a whole day sometimes on something that’s not in the movie. I would rather spend our money on something that’s going to be in the movie to make it better. Now, you can’t always know that, but the more you work with the same people, and I worked with John Schwartzman, and [costume designer] Daniel Orlandi, and [production designer] Michael Corenblith several times now, we answer so many questions in prep.
I continuously question the script, and I love to have the writer there too, and so Rob Siegel was there a lot of the time. Just continually question and continually question. This scene and this scene both kind of do the same thing. Yet if this scene has this one line, is there a way to put that line in here, and get rid of that scene altogether? This scene takes place at a one off place. Is there a way that it can take place at their house? Is it better at their house? Or this scene takes place at their house, why shouldn’t we go back to the bank because we’re going to have an extra half day there anyway when we shoot there anyway? You’re constantly doing all of that. It’s a taffy pull. There’s only one scene in the entire movie that we shot, that’s not in the movie. It was a little scene between Ray and his secretary in his office. It was a 20-second scene.
You shot the film for 34 days, which is a tight schedule. I imagine having a good crew, and people you’ve worked with before, helped.
It’s really helpful. It’s also helpful to have actors that are pros, and that are really on it, and that you’ve had many conversations with. It’s the same with actors as it is with the DP or the Production Designer. The more conversations you have before, and I’m not talking necessarily rehearsal, it’s just conversations about where we’re going with this. The last thing you want is to have to stop in the middle of the day and go, “Okay, we got to figure something out. Everybody walk away for an hour.” That’s an hour you don’t get back.
We’re very prepared, and when you come in you hit the ground running. If you’ve got actors that are game for that, too, that’ll go, “We’re going to be moving fast, and hopefully we’re efficient, and hopefully it’s great.” If we have problems, we will stop and we will fix them. If we need to talk about it, we’ll do it. That said, we’re going to keep moving here because I want to spend … I’ve scheduled it so that there are certain scenes where I’m spending more time. I’m laying out more time just because I know it’s going to take longer.
Were there any other scenes you made sure there was more time to shoot?
I made sure that I gave myself at least a half a day on the bathroom scene between Nick and Michael. It was Nick’s very first scene in the movie, and that’s really dropping someone under the grease. You’ve got a four-page scene in a bathroom, which means you have to do a carefully choreographed dance. John Schwartzman, Michael Corum, and I devised a plan to put mirrors … those are our mirrors up in that bathroom, so that every time you looked you didn’t just see two people, you saw three, sometimes four people. I wanted it to be the James Jesus Angleton thing, a wilderness of mirrors, that Dick McDonald has entered a wilderness of mirrors that is Ray Krock’s lair. It just makes for some really interesting coverage. Sometimes you go, “Am I looking at him or his reflection now?”
I was a little worried that it was going to get confusing to the eye, but when Rob cut it together it wasn’t at all. It was really great. Nick came in, and he was spot on. Great. We got through it quicker than I thought we would. I wanted to make sure that we had time for that.
How did you want to illustrate Ray’s journey visually?
More than anything it’s about the conversations with Michael, and saying this guy is going on a journey. We have the words you say that changed someone. What we need to do is change the behavior as well. We would constantly talk about the Ray in the early part of the movie being more agitated, anxious, moving, come on, come on, come on, franchise, franchise, franchise. He’s that guy with all that wasted motion in a way. He’s selling and selling hard. We want to end on the place where he is silent, still, and nope.
I said let’s gradient this in a way, and try to figure out how your behavior changes, how the way you walk changes, where you put your hands, all these things so that it’s very gradual. Once you’ve done that, and you start to see that on set, then you go, “And here’s why we need to be in here.” It’s not as though we’re trying to fit Michael into the frame. You’re giving Michael an opportunity.
Now, you have a philosophy about how you’re going to shoot the movie. Are you going to barrage them with long lenses, or are you going to be more in your more straightforward lenses? How much movement? What kind of movement? All those kinds of things. There’s a philosophical understanding you had before you make the movie. Then I’d get in there with the actors and rehearse it and go, “Okay. I think that’s it.” While I’m rehearsing John is looking, looking, looking. Then we said, “Okay, what do you think?” I said, “Well, I think muh, nuh, nuh.” We just go back and forth a little bit, and go, “Yeah, okay. That’s it. Let’s put some marks in and shoot it.”
There’s probably going to be varied reactions to Ray. I can easily imagine someone saying, “He got things done, despite the cost.” Someone’s interpretation of his journey could tell you a lot about them.
Thanks for pulling that up because when I went into it, I said I kind of want this to be a Rorschach. I want everybody to bring what they bring into the theater when they watch the movie, and they’re going to have different opinions when they leave sometimes. Some people may say, “Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do,” other people might say he’s a monster. I love it when there are those kinds of disagreements. The worst thing in the world would be to have a movie that is either Ray the angel or demonizing him and having a takedown at McDonald’s or something. Those bore me to tears. I love the fact that he’s a complicated guy, and complex, and yet, but he’s human in terms of his desires. He’s a hard working guy. We’re conflicted somewhat.
He’s frighteningly relatable at times.
That’s the beauty of it. That’s the beauty of Michael Keaton too.
The Founder is now in theaters.
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Sterling K. Brown is having a moment. He won a well-deserved Emmy for playing prosecutor Christopher Darden in American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, a tricky role that required him to radiate intelligence and charisma while also portraying a man who makes all kinds of poor choices. He immediately followed that with a lead role on This is Us, which has become a big hit for NBC. And like any actor having a moment, he’s been sucked into the world of comic book movies with a role in the upcoming Black Panther.
And the hot streak continues with Shane Black’s The Predator.
The Hollywood Reporter has the news of Brown’s casting in the film, a pseudo-reboot of the action/science fiction series that began in 1987. According to their report, Brown will play “a government agent who jails [Boyd] Holbrook’s ex-Marine character, but later needs his help with the Predators.” The article also mentions that the film is set in the suburbs, but Black himself has denied this.
Brown joins an ensemble that is already stacked with talented folks, with Narcos and Logan star Boyd Holbrook taking the lead (in a role that, trivia alert, was originally intended for Benicio del Toro). Holbrook will play a soldier who finds himself battling those ruthless alien hunters and in a display of exceptional taste, Moonlight star Trevante Rhodes and Keegan-Michael Key of Key & Peele will also play former Marines who join the fight. Olivia Munn will play a scientist who is also involved in the story.
But what is that story? We do not know, but The Hollywood Reporter says the film “will feature many of the fierce hunter killers, not just one.” I wonder what the definition of “many” is here, because a single Predator almost killed Arnold Schwarzenegger back in the day. A few of these guys could tear apart an entire continent and make it look easy.
In any case, I’m happy to see Shane Black continuing to showcase great taste in actors and I’m especially happy to see Brown continuing to land gigs in high profile films. After all, he’s got to prove his action movie chops if he wants to land the role of Green Lantern John Stewart in the upcoming Green Lantern Corps movie.
The Predator is currently set for a February 9, 2018 release date.
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Netflix’s adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events is pure Lemony Snicket (a.k.a. Daniel Handler). The author wrote much of season one, based on the first four entries in his 13-part series, and he’s remained appropriately faithful to his melancholic stories. The Netflix series doesn’t shy away from the darker themes found in the Baudelaire children’s journey, but it does go for considerably more laughs than the 2004 film adaptation, making it an entertainingly peculiar mix of slapstick and sadness.
Below, read our A Series of Unfortunate Events review (Spoilers follow).
The story begins with narrator Lemony Snicket (Patrick Warburton) warning the audience about the children’s unpleasant adventures. This isn’t a story with a happy ending, he warns us, or a happy beginning, either. Violet (Malina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes), and Sunny Baudelaire (Presley Smith) are spending a day at the beach when Mr. Poe (K. Todd Freeman), a banker with a neverending cough, arrives to inform them their parents have perished in a fire.
The heartbroken siblings are sent to live with their closest living relative — in the show, that means the relative living the closest to them — and that’s Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris), a terrible actor with an eye on the children’s fortune. The money isn’t available until Violet is of age, but Olaf and his equally untalented theater troupe will kill if they have to in order to steal the Baudelaire fortune.
A few short seconds after Patrick Warburton starts speaking in episode one, “A Bad Beginning,” it’s evident we’re in the hands of an outstanding narrator. Warburton’s deadpan delivery and expert timing works wonders with Handler’s humor and wordplay. You don’t want to miss a word Warburton says. The actor also quickly establishes Lemony Snicket’s signature empathy and sense of sorrow.
Neil Patrick Harris’ performance as the evil Count Olaf is hard to fully judge at first. The tone of A Series of Unfortunate Events and Harris’ performance take some adjusting to. The show is broader than the books, sometimes a little too much so, but showrunner Mark Hudis (True Blood) and Harris eventually finds a way to juggle all the different tones at play.
“The Reptile Room” is when the actor strikes a balance between silly and sinister. As Olaf is chasing the children around with the knife, despite how goofy he in his Dr. Stefano costume, it is a dark moment. The character’s foolishness doesn’t overshadow the fact that this still a guy chasing three kids around with a knife. The danger in this episode brings the series closer to the tone of Handler’s books. Uncle Monty’s body is not easy to see, either. Aasif Mandvi acts every bit as gregarious, lovely, and naive as Uncle Monty is in the book, and the “dramatic irony” joke before his death is, despite its gloominess, executed beautifully.
The show primarily rests on the shoulders of Weissman, Hynes, and Smith, who are comfortable in their roles, capturing the Baudelaire’s bravery, curiosity and resilience. As heightened and as strange as the world around them often is, their performances are always real. Because their performances are real, the outlandish characters, the splashy environments, and conflicts often are as well. A part of their predicament is few adults believe them when they’re in danger, so they must ask questions, speak up, and take action themselves, which isn’t a bad lesson to send to younger viewers. They’re great heroes, always searching for answers and looking out for each other.
The Baudelaire children benefit from the time Netflix has given them. Two episodes cover each of the fairly short novels from the series, and that hour and a half is rarely padded. Except for part one of “The Wide Window” — which is slower in pace compared to other episodes — A Series of Unfortunate Events season one earns its running time. The 45-minute episodes allow more time for the Baudelaire children to gradually develop, for us to spend more fleeting moments with supporting characters, and for Lemony Snicket’s world to expand.
Executive producer Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black), who directed the first four episodes, makes Snicket’s world odd yet accessible. This is a world you go into and don’t forget once you’ve come out of it. The small touches, especially the easter eggs, just make it more specific and tangible. Visually, A Series of Unfortunate Events is a delight to the eyes, with its gorgeous sets and costumes. A tiny bit of the CGI, however, isn’t far off from the uncanny valley. CGI and babies don’t always mix well.
A major part of Lemony Snicket’s world is the V.F.D. organization. Their involvement in season one isn’t always satisfying. The payoff for Will Arnett and Cobie Smulders‘ characters, the Quagmire parents, is a good hook for season two and the next chapter, “The Austere Academy,” nicely teased by a nod to Vice Principal Nero. But after nearly eight hours of buildup to the reveal, since they haven’t really affected the Baudelaire children yet, it’s underwhelming. The Quagmire parents are almost too far removed from the main story. A new character and member of the organization, Jacquelyn (Sara Canning), is a charismatic standout in earlier episodes but ultimately disappears well before the ending. The series raises the right questions about the organization, but their introduction doesn’t always feel vital.
Still, when season one ends, it’s hard not to look forward to what’s next for the Baudelaire children and the V.F.D. organization. It helps that The Miserable Mill ends the season on a high note — more spot-on casting, some earned catharsis for the Baudelaire children (learning the truth about the fire), that final song, and James Newton Howard‘s delightful score capturing the hilarious and horrific repetition of the mill. Like the rest of season one, The Miserable Mill is more often than not a total joy, embodying the tone, spirit, and ideals of the series. A Series of Unfortunate Events is a big-hearted show that’s both goofy and dark.
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‘I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore’ Gives Melanie Lynskey A Bloody, Quirky Crusade [Sundance Review]
Director Jeremy Saulnier has delivered chills, thrills and blood spills at the Sundance Film Festival before. His film, Blue Ruin, featured the relatively unknown actor Macon Blair setting out to track down the people who killed his parents and deliver his vengeance upon them. It appears some of Jeremy Saulnier’s filmmaking style has rubbed off on his leading man as Blair has returned to Sundance, this time as the writer and director of own twisted tale of revenge.
I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (which honestly needs a new title) stars the endlessly charming Melanie Lynskey (Up in the Air, Win Win) as Ruth, a woman who is fed up with people being assholes. It’s that simple. One day, she comes home to find that her house has been broken into, with the thieves having stolen her laptop, a set of silver she inherited from her grandmother, and some prescription medication for depression and anxiety. When it becomes clear that the police are basically doing nothing to help her, she decides to take matters into her own hands.
Read on for our full I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore review.
Ruth doesn’t go on this adventure alone though. You see, one of the assholes that Ruth was fed up with was Tony (Elijah Wood), a guy who lives in her neighborhood and constantly lets his dog shit in her yard without cleaning it up. This is a guy with tinted prescription sunglasses, a rat tail, and a keen interest in martial arts weapons. But with no one else willing to help her, Tony is all she has. So off they go, tracking down the shady criminals who stole all of Ruth’s stuff.
What follows is darkly funny thriller in the same vein of the Coen Brothers, with flairs of The Big Lebowski and Fargo, and an array of violence that is on par with Saulnier’s Blue Ruin and Green Room. The odd humor mixed with the surprisingly brutal violence creates an interesting dichotomy that is never boring, though it is occasionally jarring. The film as a whole is not quite as polished or refined as the grim but amusing thrillers of Joel & Ethan Coen, but the combination of comedy and brutality is clearly intentional and purposeful, even if it doesn’t always mesh well.
Though the movie is absolutely entertaining, it does feel clumsy at times. Some of the action is not shot very effectively, including one vomiting gag that doesn’t quite make the most efficient use of its comedic effect in the scene. It still incites laughter, but I couldn’t help but think that it could have been done a little more smoothly. Blair isn’t clueless when it comes to shooting though, using the camera to set up and deliver some great visual gags, in addition to a very cleverly written script.
What makes the film work better than it otherwise might be is the eclectic cast. Melanie Lynskey is always outstanding, and this movie is no exception. The turn of Ruth from jaded nurse to vigilante seems like an outlandish one, but Lysnkey brings such a genuine performance to the table that the movie never feels overtly goofy. Elijah Wood as her peculiar sidekick is quite the scene stealer, coming through with some impressive physical comedy to accompany his masterful characterization of Tony. And the three criminals played by Devon Graye, Jane Levy and David Yow are endlessly creepy without becoming caricatures.
I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore acts as a parable that beckons for people to just stop being so shitty to each other. But it also cautions us to think harder about how we choose to deal with toxic people who would treat us so poorly. And if society’s perpetual carelessness for how we treat each other results in the same kind of brutally, bloody climax on display in this movie, we should probably heed Macon Blair’s warning.
/Film Rating: 7.5 out of 10
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James Mangold‘s Logan is already looking like one of the most promising superhero movies of 2017, and that’s really saying something in a year that also brings Spider-Man: Homecoming, Justice League, and so many others. The day after 20th Century Fox screened the first act of the movie, I had the chance to sit down with Mangold. He discussed how “exciting” it was to make a comic book movie for adults, what it was like to shoot Hugh Jackman‘s very last scene as Wolverine, what makes Logan original, and more.
Watch our James Mangold interview below.
It’s not that we thought Wolverine was really pulling his punches before, but Logan really doesn’t hold back. There’s just no need to. Not only is it Jackman’s last-ever outing as the mutant superhero, it’s also the first R-rated Wolverine movie. Violence, curse words, life-changing transformations, or even deaths — they’re all fair game. And judging by the first 30 or so minutes we saw last month, Mangold and his team take full advantage of that fact. I asked Mangold if it was a liberating experience. He responded:
Well, it was exciting. What was inspiring, and what we really set out to do more than anything about specific ratings, was just to make an adult film. For me, the rating and the violence level was part of it. But also just raising the maturity level of the film. You know, a lot of these films are essentially made for both 12-year-olds and 20-year-olds, and I thought it would be interesting, even if we got less money to do it, to make one of these films, a comic book film, essentially, that’s for adults.
Logan plays very much like a Western, and less like your typical PG-13 four-quadrant blockbuster. But, Mangold pointed out, there’s no reason grown-up Westerns and comic book movies have to be mutually exclusive:
Comic book movies don’t have an identity. There’s many kinds. There’s Avengers, there’s movies like Guardians, there’s movies like Deadpool, there’s movies as somber as the Dark Knight series. The word “comic book movie” doesn’t define the movie. It’s up to us to bring a kind of genre and a sense of tone. I think that’s what, hopefully, makes Logan original, is that we’ve staked out a new tone, and something you haven’t seen.
Adding an extra layer of poignancy to Logan is the fact that it’s Jackman’s last time brandishing the claws, after nine movies (including Logan) and 17 years. Mangold spoke a bit about the experience of shooting Jackman’s final scene as the character:
To be honest, when we did that — I’m trying to remember the day we did that — we were racing daylight, we were losing daylight. So it all kind of happened and then suddenly, as we finished the shot, I announced it, because I realized that it happened. But the reality is that you can’t be aware of it or it gets in the way of doing the work. But it is powerful. It’s amazing. Because you know, he’s been doing this longer than anyone who’s been playing James Bond. I think he’s the longest-running character, actor in a single character, ever.
While Jackman apparently has no plans to return (well, never say never), Mangold’s future with the franchise sounds more open-ended. When I asked if he might direct another X-Men movie, he responded, “I have no idea what the future holds. But I certainly am looking forward to doing a different kind of film since I’ve done two Wolverine movies back to back.”
Watch my full conversation with Mangold below. Logan is in theaters March 3, 2017.Logan – James Mangold Interview
- 0:00: Was it a relief not to hold back?
- 0:42: Shooting Hugh Jackman’s last scene as Wolverine.
- 1:27: Casting X-23 actress Dafne Keen.
- 2:35: Shooting X-23’s super-violent action scenes.
- 3:45: What does the Western genre bring to superhero movies?
- 5:09: Would James Mangold make another X-Men movie?
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