All posts by Motion State Staff

Best of 2019

Last year, 2018, was the biggest year ever at the domestic box office. There were some great movies, sure, regardless of their financial success, but it still felt like a weird year for Hollywood. The dark pall cast by the Weinstein case revealed the industry to be hopelessly stuck in the past (to understate the matter), run by rich white men and increasingly monopolized media conglomerates. Green Book winning Best Picture did not help.

So, how did 2019 respond? Essentially in two ways:

  • Martin Scorsese refers to Marvel movies as “not cinema”. He goes on to clarify and reclarify his position, which is in turn either refuted or bolstered by nearly everyone in Hollywood. But the point is out there now, whether you agree or not: there’s the Hollywood that cares about money, about starpower, about IP, about all four quadrants, about comic-book fandoms and release calendars and streaming services and cosplay-riddled convention hall trailer reactions; and yet, somewhere, there’s still the Hollywood that truly cares about the movies, quaint an idea as that may be. Partly due to Scorsese’s willingness to speak truth to power, many spent 2019 redefining and rediscovering cinema.
  • Disney, meanwhile, spent 2019 expanding its revenue base by a record $10 billion.

I watched about 100 new movies in 2019 and it seemed like Adam Driver was in most of them. The first one I saw was Alita: Battle Angel and the last one was The Two Popes, both of which were full of guns-blazing action. Chris Evans holds the distinction of starring in the year’s biggest (Avengers: Endgame), one of the year’s best (Knives Out) and also one of the year’s absolute worst (The Red Sea Diving Resort). And just when you thought toxic discourse about Star Wars fandom couldn’t explode any further, The Rise of Skywalker and Baby Yoda brought us to the brink of an Alderaan-level event.

But those aren’t the stats you care about. You just came for the best:

Continue reading Best of 2019

Film & TV News: May 19

News

  • Universal has announced a Robert Ludlum Cinematic Universe, an announcement which would only be more ridiculous if they retroactively incorporated The Osterman Weekend. Dwayne Johnson will star in the first film The Janson Directive, due out sometime in between Dwayne’s other fifteen in-production movies.
  • On the other end of the productivity spectrum is Terry Gilliam’s Don Quixote project, famously trapped in development hell and now (re-)reinvigorated with Adam Driver in a leading role. Stay tuned for another go at the film ten years from now.
  • Comic scribe Geoff Johns and WB Executive VP Jon Berg will be supervising DC’s Cinematic Universe post-Batman v. Superman (post-Justice League, really, as that’s already in production) and hopefully doing for DC what Kevin Feige did for Marvel. Or — here’s a thought — doing something different.
  • And in news unrelated to connected universes or massive franchises…just kidding. Sherlock Holmes 3 starts filming this Fall.

Continue reading Film & TV News: May 19

Film & TV News: May 5

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  • The Director’s Guild of America has named the 80 Best-Directed Films of All Time in honor of the Guild’s 80th Anniversary. In an era when any sap with a WordPress account (ahem) can make a Best of All Time list, the rationality of this one is actually impressive. And major respect for including Birdman.
  • In sad Director-Actor news, AvaDuVernay-Lupita Nyong’o won’t be happening on Intelligent Life due to the former dropping out; in happy Director-Actor news, Andrew Garfield has joined the new film by It Follows director David Robert Mitchell.
  • Kudos to anyone who followed up salutations of “May the Fourth be with you” not with today’s expected “Cinco de Mayo” but instead with “Revenge of the Fifth”. Solidarity, people. Solidarity.

Continue reading Film & TV News: May 5

Film & TV News: April 24

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  • Inhumans has been unceremoniously yanked from the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe slate, which means essentially nothing when all is said and done. Instead of waiting five or six years for the Inhumans movie, we’ll just have to bite the bullet and wait six or seven.
  • The 2016 Independent Film Festival Boston begins this week. Stay tuned for reviews of Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise, the delightfully odd-looking Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and many more.
  • A drove of new trailers premiered this week, which is great news if you’re a lazy Motion Stater who can’t be bothered to assemble an actual News post. Check out our formidable copy-and-pasting below.

Continue reading Film & TV News: April 24

Film & TV News: April 8

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  • The first trailer for the Star Wars anthology film Rogue One took the internet by storm yesterday, providing the first glimpse of the hotly-anticipated pseudo-spinoff. Two new Star Wars movies within a year of each other, both reinvigorating the franchise after years of dormancy and prequel strife — both Force Awakens and Rogue One are led by tiny gutsy British women, and you’re trying to tell me they’re not related?
  • Cillian Murphy has joined Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, marking the fifth collaboration between actor and director following the Dark Knight trilogy and Inception. He’s joining an impeccable cast that includes Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance and a handful of newcomers. If any team can turn a fresh eye onto a very famous part of history, it’s this one.
  • World’s Most Perfect Human Charlize Theron has been cast in the eighth installment of the Fast & Furious franchise, but for some strange reason they’re not calling it Fast & Furiosa.
  • Relax, you guys: Sherlock Season 4 is now filming.

Continue reading Film & TV News: April 8

Film & TV News: March 18

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  • It’s Batman Week on Motion State for several reasons, not least of which is because no self-respecting film criticism consortium would ever be caught dead hosting a Superman Week.
  • Zack Snyder will be tackling the first installment of the Justice League two-parter following Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and now he’s stated that he also wants to adapt…The Fountainhead? Will Howard Roark be the hero we deserve?
  • J.K. Simmons will be taking the role of Commissioner Gordon in that Justice League movie, presumably leaving behind any chance of him playing J. Jonah Jameson again. Gary Oldman’s got some big shoes…
  • In other Batman news, the animated Killing Joke released a teaser photo to mark the start of production. The exciting prospect of adapting Alan Moore‘s comic with Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Bats and Joker is almost enough to wash away that nostalgia for the more endearing animation of Batman: The Animated Series in favor of the new style. Almost.

Continue reading Film & TV News: March 18

Film & TV News: March 13

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  • Fresh off his Oscar win, Leonardo DiCaprio has joined J.J. Abrams in seeking the rights to Killers of the Flower Moon, a tale of the early days of the FBI. This sounds right up DiCaprio’s alley but decidedly not up J.J.’s, which actually makes it more exciting. Of all the zillion things you can do after directing a Star Wars movie, moving out of your comfort zone is definitely one of the more rare options. Let’s hope these guys go for it.
  • In what might be the most surprising news of the week, Amazon has announced a new Tick series (live-action) to be helmed by Wally Pfister, Christopher Nolan’s old cinematographer and director of the much-maligned Transcendence. Cool?
  • Speaking of Nolan, his upcoming Dunkirk is allegedly casting relative unknown Fionn Whitehead in a leading role. Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, and Mark Rylance are already on board in other roles, and you can bet your ass Michael Caine will be making his way in there too.
  • David Fincher’s Netflix series Mindhunter has cast Fringe‘s Anna Torv and Fight Club‘s Holt McCallany in leading roles. The problem is that Fincher will be executive producing and directing the first episode while Scott Buck – of Dexter “fame” (sigh) – will technically be showrunner. Here’s to second chances, right?

Continue reading Film & TV News: March 13

Netflix Picks #6

Shayna: I’ve been in a David Cronenberg frame of mind lately, and after watching Crash — a brutal, totally visceral film experience that you can somehow find on YouTube — I felt like slipping further down the rabbit hole with eXistenZ. While this 1999 film didn’t leave me curled up in the fetal position and near tears like Crash did, it does provide plenty of bleak takeaways about the state of human existence. Plus it stars Jennifer Jason Leigh, who pretty much owns in everything.

Set in a not-so-distant future where people can enter virtual realities and video-game designers are fawned over like rock stars (so perhaps not so unlike today), eXistenZ also stars a young Jude Law and features appearances from Willem Dafoe and Sarah Polley. Leigh is frosty and vaguely menacing here as Allegra, the designer of the not-yet-released game eXistenZ. After someone tries to kill her during a focus group session, Allegra is forced to go on the run with Ted (Law), a security guard/would-be “PR nerd” tasked with protecting her and helping ensure the survival of the game itself.

Admittedly, the plot gets Gordian-knot levels of convoluted very quickly, making it difficult to keep track of characters, corporate espionage subplots and even what reality the characters happen to be in most of the time. But the real attraction in eXistenZ is the atmosphere and the props that go along with it. There’s a gun made of bones, which fires teeth and is dripping with slimy viscera. The “bio-pods” used by players to access the game look like squishy embryos and mew contentedly when rubbed the right way. Once inside the game, Ted and Allegra are compelled by its power to follow game script, which at one point leads to an all-you-can-eat feast on mutated frog parts.

It’s wild. While the film feels very much like a product of its time, more aged and less visionary than earlier Cronenberg works like Videodrome and The Fly, eXistenZ is necessary viewing for body horror and sci-fi aficionados alike.

Continue reading Netflix Picks #6

Film & TV News: March 7

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  • People joining projects: Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey have officially joined The Dark Tower, likely kicking off a new franchise and dragging this particular Stephen King adaptation into the light once and for all after decades in development hell. Elba vs. McConaughey should put a great many doubts to rest.
  • People leaving projects: Joseph Gordon-Levitt is departing Sandman, which he was scheduled to direct and star in, over creative differences with the studio. Very disappointing. Slightly less disappointing is the departure of Eli Roth from the shark thriller Meg, which may or may not result in a better Meg.
  • Sony has announced a Venom movie to be spun out of the Spider-Man franchise that they really don’t seem to even have anymore. How do you make a Venom movie sans Spidey?

Continue reading Film & TV News: March 7

Film & TV News: February 29

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  • The Aussies cleaned up at the 88th Academy Awards last night, taking home a grand total of six for Mad Max: Fury Road. The Revenant and Spotlight won the bigger trophies, though, as did Brie Larson for Room and Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies.
  • Major respect to Alicia Vikander for taking home a well-deserved Supporting Actress Oscar, considering she was pivotal not only in The Danish Girl but also the supremely under-appreciated Ex Machina and the summer’s best popcorn flick The Man from U.N.C.L.E., all of which are from 2015. 2016 better watch out.
  • We somehow failed to recognize that the great Douglas Slocombe had passed away this year until the In Memoriam section of the Oscars rolled out. Slocombe is the man who lensed the likes of The Lavender Hill Mob and Raiders of the Lost Ark and had immense influence on how major motion pictures look today.
  • Best quote of the night goes to Oscar winner Charlize Theron, responding on the subject of the best part of the Academy Awards by simply saying “the hamburgers.” Also, Best Human Ever also goes to Charlize.

Continue reading Film & TV News: February 29