At one point Jeff Nichols was slated to direct Aquaman. Let’s let that oddity sink in for a moment, try to picture a big-budget superhero tentpole in the hands of a small-scale operator, compare it to that one time Edgar Wright was going to direct Ant-Man. Oof — too soon. If you don’t know Jeff Nichols (or just confuse him with Mike Nichols) then there are two movies you have to see. The first is Take Shelter, about a family man plagued by apocalyptic visions. The second is Mud, starring Matthew McConaughey in one of his McConaissance roles, about a backwoods constellation of intersecting characters. If you’re sensing that neither of those exactly scream underwater trident-wielding badass, don’t panic! This indicates only that you are still sane.
One commonality between the films is Michael Shannon, a forceful actor who’s risen to prominence with the likes of Boardwalk Empire and Man of Steel, and yet still the kind of guy who seems underrated. Nichols certainly doesn’t make that mistake, recognizing his talent to such a degree that he can’t seem to make a movie without him. He’s something of a bit player in Mud, but Shannon leads Take Shelter and returns to the fore in Midnight Special, Nichols’ latest film.
Continue reading Midnight Special (2016)
One week from today is the wide release of Jurassic World, the highly-anticipated fourth installment in the dinosaur franchise that began with Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. Early reviews indicate that Colin Trevorrow, World‘s director, has delivered a more worthy successor to the original film than Spielberg’s sequel The Lost World or Joe Johnston’s follow-up Jurassic Park III. If that isn’t enough in and of itself, we might root for World to actually be as good as Park rather than just “better than the crappy ones”.
Short of having actually seen Jurassic World yet (I’d be so biased if I had!), the premise is already more akin to the original tale than to the rehashed visits of the second and third films. We won’t speculate too hard about World, and it will certainly need more than a cool premise to survive sequelitis; still, it’s already obvious that the storytelling mentality is focused on a particular point in time that falls between creation and destruction, and the importance of that theme in the Jurassic franchise shouldn’t be brushed aside. In fact, it’s an significant storytelling element of many of Spielberg’s films, and many of Michael Crichton’s works as well.
Continue reading Jurassic Park (1993)
- Rumor has it that the casting for the new Spider-Man will be announced this week, as the character is scheduled to appear in the already-filming Captain America: Civil War. Also on the Marvel superhero front, the Ryan Reynolds jaunt Deadpool has wrapped filming this past week.
- The Trevor Noah Daily Show handoff will occur on September 28th, less than two months after the late Jon Stewart passed aw…wait, he’s not dead? He left on purpose? Why, Jon, why?
- Kung Fury is pretty hilarious, provided you’re in the right frame of mind (or, I suppose, the wrong frame of mind). The beginning is dumb, but the ending is more or less bliss:
Continue reading Film & TV News: June 1
“There are two wolves,” says Casey of Tomorrowland. “One represents darkness and despair, the other light and hope. Which one survives?” To be sure, the philosophizing throughout Brad Bird’s latest film is never any more subtle than this (or less). Casey, optimist to such a ridiculous degree that we learn that about her before we even learn her name, disregards any need for subtext and instead just states the thing itself: “I’m an optimist”. She answers the wolves question in a similarly matter-of-fact manner. Which one survives? “The one you feed.”
Happily, we put this very quote to work in our review of an episode of The Red Road called “The Wolf and the Dog“. It’s much less of a stretch here in Tomorrowland, and again, you don’t really have to stretch at all. It’s plainly clear that the vast majority of today’s storytelling is geared towards the grim, towards the harrowing action-filled future, towards the Cormac McCarthy-style doom and gloom. This is true of almost every medium and almost every target audience, but since Tomorrowland is so much in line with the present Young Adult craze (and because Casey is a teenager) we’ll deal in that genre. The examples should leap readily to mind: Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, The Giver, Divergent, The Mortal Instruments and Ender’s Game are all youthful dystopias with damn similar plots and damn similar everything else. Even Harry Potter, while not dystopian in any way, was a kid’s story turned dark and brooding on screen (see: everything after Daniel Radcliffe grew up).
Continue reading Tomorrowland (2015)
- The jury at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival (which included the Coen Brothers, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sienna Miller, Guillermo del Toro, Xavier Dolan and a few more) selected champions yesterday as the festival comes to a close. The Palme d’Or went to Dheepan, the Grand Prize went to the Holocaust drama Son of Saul, acting awards went to Rooney Mara and the fantastic Vincent Lindon, and the best screenplay award went to Michel Franco for Chronic. Whew!
- Ex Machina‘s Alicia Vikander is rumored to be in talks for both Assassin’s Creed and the next installment of the Bourne franchise. If she doesn’t get either role, we’ll be more than content to just watch Ex Machina again.
- Empire has released the first pictures from Ridley Scott’s The Martian, starring Matt Damon and everyone else who’s in every movie these days. From the looks of the photo above, The Martian may touch on the theme of man’s singular place in the vast and unknowable universe. Shocking.
Continue reading Film & TV News: May 25
- The Cannes Film Festival is well under way, and buzz is strong on a lot of the films screened thus far. Yorgos Lanthimos presented The Lobster (Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz), Woody Allen presented Irrational Man (Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone) and Stéphane Brizé presented La loi du marché (with Vincent Lindon of La mustache), all of which played favorably. On the other end of the spectrum is Gus Van Sant’s Sea of Trees (Matthew McConaughey, Ken Watanabe), which was met with a sea of boos.
- Jude Law has joined the tentatively-titled The Young Pope, a speculative HBO series about an American pope. That premise would be only vaguely interesting were it not for the presence of director Paolo Sorrentino, helmer of 2013’s The Great Beauty, as Pope‘s showrunner.
- David Lynch does another 180° and says the Twin Peaks revival is happening after all. At this point we’ll believe it when we see it, and even then we might not care.
Continue reading Film & TV News: May 18
- Brad Bird has announced (sort of) that The Incredibles 2 will be his next feature film. Any day Bird announces a new project is a good day, but it’s particularly sweet for him to be returning to The Incredibles. We’re eagerly awaiting his latest feature Tomorrowland (debuts May 22) and also eagerly awaiting any and all arguments about Incredibles being the best Pixar movie. Yeah, we said it.
- Fall television season will mark the cancellation of the likes of Constantine, The Following and The Mentalist and the happy renewal of Better Call Saul and American Crime. Between the renewed series, the new series (Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl), the revival series (X-Files, Twin Peaks, Heroes Reborn) and all those shows we’ve been meaning to watch for years — [head explodes].
- In casting news, Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan have reunited with Kill Your Darlings director John Krokidas for Young Americans, in which they’ll play Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, respectively. Darlings was only okay, but come on — DeHaan as ’70s-era pip-squeak Rove? That’s cool.
Continue reading Film & TV News: May 11
- The first Star Wars spinoff, from director Gareth Edwards and writer Chris Weitz, now has a title and a star: Star Wars: Rogue One with Felicity Jones.
- Star Wars: Episode VIII, written and directed by Rian Johnson, has been scheduled for May 26, 2017, exactly forty years and one day after the release of A New Hope.
- Disney surprised absolutely no one by announcing Frozen 2. “Just let it go, Disney” jokes abounded.
- Eddie Murphy could make a triumphant return to drama in Lee Daniels’ Richard Pryor biopic, playing the comedian’s father. Let’s just hope he doesn’t get too invested in an Oscar this time…
Continue reading Film & TV News: March 16
–The Imitation Game won the 2015 USC Scripter Award this past Saturday, which honors both screenwriter (Graham Moore) and original source author (Andrew Hodges). The other nominees were Gone Girl, Inherent Vice, Wild and The Theory of Everything.
-The Sundance Film Fest Awards were announced, with Me & Earl & the Dying Girl taking a Grand Jury Prize and Robert Eggers collecting the Directing Award for the horror film The Witch.
-In casting news, Rose Byrne will be returning for X-Men: Apocalypse after having sat out for Days of Future Past, the American remake of Sleepless Night announced Jamie Foxx and Michelle Monaghan as leads, and Matthew McConaughey joined Born to Run. Aside from that, it was a fairly uneventful week for casting.
Continue reading Film & TV News: February 2