The prevailing message of the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming has been that of novelty. This will be a fresh take on the Peter Parker mythos, making him younger than ever, sticking him in the treacherous social minefield of high school, and assigning him a lovably bratty irreverence more in-step with the comic-book original. Plus, Aunt May is young and hot now! But while Marvel and Sony’s advertising has gone to great lengths to assure audiences that this will not be their father’s Spider-Man (and it definitely won’t be the Andrew Garfield one we’re all psychologically working to repress), there is one respect in which this production is business as usual.
Nearly two decades out from his first film, and the viewing public hasn’t gotten any closer to answering the philosophical quandary of what, exactly, a Sam Mendes film is. He’s hopped from an accented dramedy about suburban malaise to a grim-and-gritty graphic novel adaptation to an off-kilter war drama to a pair of coolly-received literary adaptations to James freakin’ Bond. The most effective method of predicting the subject of a new directorial outing from Mendes involves dartboards, tea leaves, and cloud-reading, and today’s announcement of a new project for the esteemed Brit helmer adds yet another baffling left turn to his eclectic oeuvre.
Those viewers of the opinion that the rebooted Planet of the Apes franchise numbers among the more successful revivals in the recent deluge (and if you disagree, feel free to kindly see yourself to the e-door) tend to credit Caesar as the film’s secret weapon. The intelligent chimpanzee provided the films with a human center, ironically enough, conveying his maturation and radicalization through unprecedented motion-capture technology and acting from Andy Serkis. The upcoming War For the Planet of the Apes will form the final chapter of this trilogy, and according to the film’s producer, may hold bad news for Caesar superfans.
As he’s transitioned into the serious-actor phase of his career, former teen girl fantasy Robert Pattinson has become something a fixture on the film festival circuit. This week, he’ll make the journey to Cannes when his latest starring vehicle Good Time plays in the Competition section, and though we common rabble will have to wait until August 11 for the U.S. release, today brings the first trailer for the A24-fronted project. And from the looks of this dizzying swirl of color and brutality, New York’s hometown heroes Josh and Benny Safdie have brought the heat.
Beaming families, teary smiles, mortarboards in the air — it’s graduation season, which means that more importantly, it’s celebrity commencement address season. While some high-profile speakers have received a chillier reception than others, the A-lister speech has long been a reliably amusing diversion in between long-winded orations from dusty academic types. Maya Rudolph took plenty of artistic license with “The Star-Spangled Banner” at my graduation ceremony from Tulane a few years ago, an unforgettable experience that I was too drunk to currently remember. But today brings video of another movie star taking the stage before a mass of fresh-faced students blissfully unaware of how hard getting a job is. Ladies, gentlemen, Will Ferrell is in the house.
We‘ve only just entered May, but in the first few months of 2017, the year has yielded a surprisingly eclectic array of blockbusters. Survey the biggest earners to date, and you’ll see a socially critical horror flick from a first-time director, a spin-off based on a cross-property licensing deal within a corporate brand expansion, and a tough-as-nails superhero side project with post-apocalyptic Western overtones. The latest Fast and Furious installment looks most at home in the top five so far, but more unexpected still is that it’s been handily defeated by the year’s top earner, Disney’s handsomely mounted revival of Beauty and the Beast. And now, the unlikely box-office behemoth has claimed another record.
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, because you almost certainly haven’t — think The Heat, but instead of tough cookie Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy teams with a street-smart puppet to bust criminal scum. Step aside, Anomalisa, a new puppet comedy has arrived to freak out audiences and challenge the boundaries of what can be considered marketable for a mass audience.
In case you weren’t aware, a pretty major situation has been percolating in the entertainment industry over the past month. Unsatisfied with the conditions of their work and continued employment, the Writers’ Guild of America went to the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers to renegotiate the terms of their collective contract. A bitter standoff summarily broke out, with the possibility of another writers’ strike — you may remember the last freeze-out, which stretched from late 2007 into early 2008 — looming on the horizon. Today brings a resolution to the saga of the last few weeks, and in true Hollywood fashion, everyone’s getting a happy ending.
In the ’70s, Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken starred in the seminal Vietnam War film The Deer Hunter. It ranks among the more harrowing entries in an already brutal genre, unflinchingly depicting the conditions of abject inhumanity in the war zone and then bringing the trauma home to spiritually gut a declining Pennsylvania industry town. A lot has taken place since then, however. We’re now living in a post-Dirty Grandpa world. The news of another collaboration between De Niro and Walken no longer heralds an intense drama with awards potential in its very DNA. They’re now the twin titans of Grandpa Cinema, and their latest project has to reflect that.
People like a legend. When Heath Ledger died of a prescription drug overdose in January 2008, he had just completed principal photography on his Academy Award-winning role of the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s grown-up Batman flick The Dark Knight. With zero foundation in confirmed public knowledge, a narrative sprung up around Ledger’s troubled final days, that the psychological demands of portraying a figure as sick and twisted as the Joker weighed too heavily on the actor. The apocryphal notion that the role ultimately drove Ledger to suicide is way off the mark, however, explains Ledger’s sister Kate.
Never lacking in ambition (at least when it comes to the expanding frontiers of branding and marketing), Marvel boldly announced back in 2015 that the third film in the Avengers series would be unlike those that came before it. At the time of the project’s initial reveal, Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige clarified his plans to split Avengers: Infinity War into two parts that would be released independent of one another. This was cause for great excitement, as moviegoers love nothing more than to shell out for two separate tickets just for the privilege of waiting up to a year to see the conclusion of a self-contained story. Incredibly, however, Feige backpedaled on that can’t-fail proposition shortly thereafter, amending their plans to separate Avengers 3 1 and Avengers 3 2 into the simpler Avengers 3 and Avengers 4.
Yesterday, Indiewire film critic David Ehrlich ran an illuminating essay on Netflix’s testy relationship with the original films it releases, explaining how their model of bypassing theatrical release and going straight to streaming ultimately degrades the viewing experience and makes the movies harder to find and appreciate. (This comes hot on the heels of an official denunciation from the Federation of French Cinemas against the Cannes Film Festival for allowing TV into their lineup for the first time ever.) Clearly, his words went straight to the top of Netflix’s corporate office, as the online video giant has issued a letter to their shareholders assuring them that everything’s going to be fine and movies aren’t dead, probably.
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