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By Max Covill

Delve deeper into the stories that influenced this season of Black Mirror.

Black Mirror season 4 has inspired more conversation than perhaps any of the previous seasons. Everyone has got their own favorites, despite this being the ultimate ranking. There have even been numerous articles that even looked into the technology introduced in the series and how our own technology at CES matched the ambitions of the franchise. In some cases, it came really close. Now Netflix has offered a behind-the-scenes look at each episode of season 4.

Each video is about a minute long and features creator Charlie Brooker talking about each episode.

USS Callister:



Hang the DJ:


Black Museum:

If you just can’t get enough of Black Mirror, these videos add a little more insight into the various creations that were seen in season 4. Netflix has made no mention yet of whether or not they are continuing Black Mirror, but given the feedback of the current season, it seems likely that will hire Charlie Brooker for some more stories of how technology makes our lives just a little bit worse, even if its intentions are for the best. For more on Black Mirror visit the site Netflix has put up for the...

By Christopher Campbell

The director went up against his former star and topped all new wide releases.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Schindler’s List, a film that remains the best-reviewed of both writer/director Steven Spielberg (according to Metacritic) and actor Liam Neeson. Since then, the two have gone their separate ways. Neeson nearly starred in Lincoln, but that didn’t pan out. Instead, he became an action hero, starring in stuff like the Taken trilogy, The A-Team, and a slew of thrillers by Jaume Collet-Serra. Over the weekend, for the first time, Neeson and Spielberg went head to head at the box office. Spielberg won.

Technically, the filmmaker’s latest, The Post, opened on Christmas, but the movie finally went wide on Friday, showing on nearly as many screens as the new Neeson and Collet-Serra collaboration, The Commuter. Spielberg’s, a historical drama about the publication of the Pentagon Papers starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, added an estimated $19.3M to its gross ($23.4M, including the Monday holiday), while Neeson’s, about guy who gets mixed up in a murder conspiracy while riding the train, bowed to an estimated $13.5M ($16.4M with the holiday). They came in, respectively, second and third place.

In terms of subject matter, it would have been more notable if Neeson’s previous movie, the Watergate-focused “Deep Throat” biopic Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House, was the release that went up against The Post. Both of these deal with the Washington Post, the Nixon White House, and government...

By Max Covill

Get ready to sing the Happy Working Song all over again.

Director Adam Shankman was at a Television Critics Association panel over the weekend talking about a YouTube Red series he is putting together called Step Up: High Water that is based on the Step Up films. That isn’t the most interesting news about the panel though. Slashfilm is reporting that he talked about the script for Enchanted 2. He is in position to direct the feature which they now are calling Disenchanted.

Shankman said, “We are handing in a script in a couple weeks that I’m super happy with. Then gotta get the music written.” Apparently, Disenchanted has been in development for 2010. That’s an awful long time to put something together considering the last entry came out in 2007. The film launched Amy Adams to international stardom and was nominated for numerous Oscars. Adams would be reprising her role as Gisele, who is now becoming less enamored with the human world. That remains the direction of the movie even thus far in development. “The fundamental story has changed a little bit, but not from the base story of it,” Shankman said. “It’s about Giselle 10 years later going, ‘What is happily ever after?’”

There will be a lot of new songs for the sequel as well. The previous movie had five songs, but Shankman expects to be more this go around. And like Mary Poppins, Enchanted mixed animation and live-action in the story and there...

By Meg Shields

Is your video essay watchlist a bit of a boys club? Don’t worry. We’re here to help.

I watch a lot of video essays. You probably do too. They’re the hot new thing in film analysis and with good reason: they’re engaging, informative, thought-provoking, and tend to make their viewers more critical and appreciative cinema-goers.

They’re also — to quote critic and video essayist Lindsay Ellis — “a sausage fest.”

The gender disparity present in video essays is nothing new. It reflects a wider cultural disparity in film culture that will hopefully one day crumble into the sea.  

When I pitched this article, one of my senior colleagues asked me if I knew of any “good” female video essayists. It was an offhand comment, and it points to something important. Male creative types get to be popular and worthy of our attention without their value being called into question. They don’t get asked upfront “but are they any good?

Written essays have been a “feminine” medium for ages, from Joan Didion, to Susan Sontag, to Zadie Smith, to Roxane Gay. But video essays seem to take after the film industry’s gender bias. Which is mighty. And probably (read: definitely) not helped along by the internet’s hostility towards visible, opinionated women

By Sheryl Oh

Explore the world outside the state of Gilead.

Lots of news for Hulu’s hit dystopian drama The Handmaid’s Tale dropped over the weekend, including a brand new teaser trailer, first-look photos, some storyline details of the upcoming second season, and a premiere date.

The marketing for The Handmaid’s Tale has always been on point, and this new trailer is no exception. It captures the eerie unknown in Margaret Atwood‘s version of the United States so perfectly in just a minute of footage, showing the vast scope of the authoritarian state of Gilead. Everything from the utterly chilling cover of “For What It’s Worth” to the sweeping visuals of a mysterious land of pollution known as “the colonies” places an emphasis on terror. That comes in both those escaping Gilead — as is the case for Samira Wiley’s Moira — and being sent off out into the unknown of a place that was only mentioned in Atwood’s novel. “It’s a pretty forbidding world,” said executive producer Warren Littlefield of the colonies.

The cast and crew were obviously elusive during their slot on the Television Critics Association press tour on Sunday. However, they were quick to reassure fans that Season 2 of The Handmaid’s Tale would, in fact, build on Atwood’s novel, expanding the world within it: “We’re not exiting that world [of the novel] at all.” According to creator Bruce Miller, Season 1 “diverted quite a bit from the book, in ways people did not notice,...

By Karen Gomez

Plus a new David Attenborough miniseries and a Netflix home-invasion thriller.

This week’s TV has both new beginnings — a new vigilante joins the ranks of The CW’s DC Comics superhero roster — and endings, as a beloved sketch comedy premieres its final season. Intrigue also abounds: the second season of an acclaimed true crime anthology drama looks into the murder of a fashion icon, and Netflix delivers a home-invasion thriller. Also, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin get back to golden-years shenanigans and a mesmerizing David Attenborough documentary miniseries finally arrives on American channels.

To help you keep track of the most important programs over the next seven days, here’s our guide to everything worth watching, whether it’s on broadcast, cable, or streaming for January 14th – 20th (all times Eastern):

Black Lightning (The CW, Tuesday 9pm)

A new hero comes to town The CW’s roster of DC Comics series. Even though he will not be part of the shared Arrowverse, the channel’s producer extraordinaire Greg Berlanti brings DC’s first African-American standalone superhero to the screen. The show follows Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams), retired masked-vigilante-turned-high-school-principal with the power to control electricity. Almost 10 years after hanging up the suit, Pierce is compelled to don the Black Lightning guise once again, as a new gang threatens his city and his family. Jill Scott, China Anne McClain, Nafessa Williams, Christine Adams, James Remar, Damon Gupton, and Marvin “Krondon” Jones III also star.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American...

By Christopher Campbell

We recommend the films that inspired Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest, plus other picks.

Inspiration can come from anywhere, and from multiple places, but Paul Thomas Anderson tends to be simply linked to single sources with a lot of his movies. Boogie Nights is like Goodfellas set in the porn industry, Magnolia is reminiscent of Altman’s Short CutsPunch-Drunk Love stems somewhat from Altman’s PopeyeThe Master is clearly based on the life of L. Ron Hubbard, and There Will Be Blood and Inherent Vice start out of course as actual adaptations, of Sinclair and Pynchon respectively.

Now, there’s the story about Phantom Thread, how its inception was with a personal experience of being sick and cared for by his wife, Maya Rudolph. “I remember seeing how much my wife was enjoying having me relatively helpless,” he told the Chicago Tribune, “Then I started thinking, wouldn’t it kind of … suit her to keep me this way, you know, from time to time?”

There’s much more to the origins and development of the movie, however. Some of the other sources of inspiration include other films, which are found in this week’s list of recommendations joined by a couple relevant documentaries and a short subject starring Phantom Thread‘s breakout lead actress.

Beau Brummel (1924)

The character of Reynolds Woodcock, played by Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread, is loosely based on a number of actual fashion designers, such as Charles Frederick Worth, Charles James, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Christian...

By Rob Hunter

‘Inside’ is no ‘Inside.’

I’ve said it before, and will most likely say it again, but when it comes to remakes there are two points worth repeating. First, they aren’t inherently bad simply because they’re remakes. There are numerous examples of great ones that sometimes even improve on the original. And second, that outcome should always be the filmmaker’s goal going into one. Ideally they should believe that some aspect of their film, one that’s hopefully home to something new, will improve upon or at least manage a similarly compelling experience. If none of that is true then why bother?

2007’s Inside is a gory shocker from France that delivers more than a few memorable set-pieces on its way to an equally brutal ending. A remake would hopefully deliver a similar degree of intensity and bloodletting while improving on the film’s most significant flaw — its incredibly stupid characters. It took a decade, but a new Inside has finally arrived.

You may be better off just re-watching the original.

Sarah (Rachel Nichols, P2) is pregnant, in love with her husband, and driving her family home in the rain. Only two of them will make it. A short time later the recently widowed Sarah is spending a lonely Christmas Eve night in the house she had hoped would be their family home, but now she plans on selling it after the impending birth of her child. A knock at the door reveals an uninvited guest, but while Sarah...

By Max Covill

Tarantino and DiCaprio are partnering up once again.

Quentin Tarantino is in the news a lot lately. Not only does he have Star Trek script being fast-tracked by Paramount, but he has his ninth picture in the works for Sony Pictures. The as of yet untitled ninth picture by Quentin Tarantino about Charles Manson has picked up a huge actor for its roster. Leonardo DiCaprio has said yes to appearing in the film and this will be DiCaprio’s first film since winning the Oscar for The Revenant.

Undoubtedly there were fears that once DiCaprio won his prized Oscar he would pick projects that weren’t as prestigious as before. Those fears can be put to rest now that working with Tarantino will mark his return. The last time the two worked together was for Django Unchained and that earned DiCaprio an Oscar nomination. The untitled film already has a date set for August 9th, 2019 and would mark almost four years since audiences last saw DiCaprio on screen (he does have other projects in the works, but this will likely be the first one to make it to completion).

DiCaprio would join a would-be star-studded cast, as Tarantino has already been talking to Margot Robbie, Tom Cruise, and Brad Pitt. According to Deadline, DiCaprio will play an aging actor in the story that is being kept under wraps but is a Pulp Fiction-esque movie set during the time of the Manson murder spree in Los Angeles. The release date...

By Max Covill

I’m thinking he’s back. This time on television.

A new John Wick television series is in the works at Starz according to The Hollywood Reporter. After the launch of John Wick Chapter 2, it was speculated that there might be a television series that would go deeper into the world of John Wick, but now we have confirmation. The Continental will explore the inner workings of the Continental hotel. There is no word on whether or not this will affect (possible title) John Wick Chapter 3, but we’ll know soon enough.

The Continental will be executive produced by the same team behind the motion pictures, so there shouldn’t be any fear that the show will stray that far from the features. Chris Collins (Sons of Anarchy) is putting together the script and would be the showrunner should the show go to series.  Chad Stahelski, director of the John Wick motion pictures, would direct the pilot. Keanu Reeves is only currently involved as a producer and currently has no on-air parts written for his famous character.

Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said, “This series is truly unlike anything else on TV. The Continental promises to include the thunderous fight sequences and intensely staged shootouts between professional assassins and their targets that fans have come to expect in the John Wick movie franchise as well as introducing some new, darkly compelling characters who inhabit this underground world.” There are a lot of different series that hope to have reboots or spinoffs make waves on...

By Max Covill

Natalie Portman has wasted no time lining up her next project after Annihilation.

Legion showrunner Noah Hawley has a female astronaut picture set up with Fox Searchlight and they might’ve found their star. Natalie Portman is in negotiations to star in Pale Blue Dot, a spaced theme romantic triangle. Originally, Resse Witherspoon was set to star in the picture, but given her upcoming responsibilities, she is instead producing the picture.

Pale Blue Dot focuses on a married astronaut who has just returned from a mission. She had begun an affair in space with another astronaut and when she comes back to Earth she finds that her family dynamic has shifted significantly. Even more so when she realizes her new space lover, also has another love interest on the side. The Hollywood Reporter says that it is based on a true-life astronaut love triangle in which a female mission specialist tried to kidnap a rival in 2007.

Despite Fox Searchlight being on the cusp of being owned by Disney, they are continuing work as usual as well. During the Critic Choice Awards, the team behind Best Picture winner The Shape of Water made clear their enjoyment of working with Fox Searchlight and the hope that Disney leaves the studio to operate normally. The Shape of Water producer J. Miles Dale said, “Thank you so much to the critics and thank you to Fox Searchlight. [Del Toro] said it before, but they’re making the kind of movies that...

By Brad Gullickson

In part 2 of our odyssey towards Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel forgets to choose sides in the Banner vs. Hulk grudge match.

“Don’t make me…hungry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry.” This silly send-up of Bill Bixby’s iconic line, uttered early on in The Incredible Hulk, perfectly captures the character’s desperation to break back into the public consciousness. In 2008, Hulk was the hungriest franchise of them all. Spider-Man and the X-Men were obese with our affection, and even Blade got in three good gobbles, but poor Hulk was still begging for seconds. He wanted a piece of that pie, and as the first Marvel comic book character to have any serious kind of pop culture impact, Kevin Feige believed they needed him to secure their Avengers banquet.

17 films later, the Hulk is still starving. While not necessarily a total box office bomb, The Incredible Hulk failed to ignite the fanboy enthusiasm like their previous Iron Man, and currently rests as the lowest grossing entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Why? Is it a terrible film? No. It may not be your favorite flick in the franchise, but it’s certainly superior to Thor: The Dark World (can’t wait to chat that one up in Week 8 of this series). Is director Louis Leterrier to blame? The Frenchman responsible for the first two Transporter films, and the highly underrated Unleashed, brought a lot of energy to the action, and certainly doesn’t get...

By Ciara Wardlow

Why do films so often hold women responsible for men’s behavior?

I have mentioned one of my least favorite tropes—the Dead Wives Club/Avenge-the-Woman-Murderquest™—on several occasions over the past year or so, but I realized recently that I have never written an article for FSR fully dedicated to the subject.

It’s time to fix that.

That said, the Avenge-the-Woman-Murderquest™ is actually part of a much greater whole that I like to call the Myth of the Humanizing Woman. Add a Humanizing Woman, and a cold-blooded criminal/monster/shell of a man becomes a “real human being and a real hero” (here’s looking at you, Drive), subtract a humanizing woman and an average Joe/family man becomes a vengeance-driven rage monster (Star Trek 2009) or Frankenstein (Frankenstein). The former case occurs when the Humanizing Woman is removed from the equation by factors outside of our protagonist’s control, the latter when he removes himself from her humanizing presence by choice. I name Frankenstein because he is the most famous example, but the general trajectory was more truly introduced as a narrative staple, particularly here in the U.S., by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Unlike Shelley, Hawthorne did not craft one iconic example but instead made the trajectory something of a signature move, as described by cultural historical Taylor Stoehr: “Hawthorne’s stock figure … is an isolated man whose mentality and special pursuits tear him away from the warmth of (usually female) society until he hardens into a frozen or petrified monster.”

When it comes to tropes...

By Sheryl Oh

Guillermo del Toro’s otherworldly romance led with the most nominations and now, the most wins.

The Critics’ Choice Awards went in a similar vein to the Golden Globes earlier this week, solidifying the status of many highly-anticipated Oscar contenders. Guillermo del Toro‘s The Shape of Water didn’t exactly sweep all of its 14 nominations, but still won big with four awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Del Toro’s chances of joining filmmaking friends Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro G. Iñárritu as Oscar winners continue to increase.

Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri dominated the acting categories, increasing Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell‘s Academy Award chances. I, Tonya‘s performances earned the movie a couple of wins too (yay for Allison Janney!). In an unexpected (although still deserved) turn of events, Margot Robbie, who was up against awards season favorite Saoirse Ronan, picked up the award for Best Actress in a Comedy. It was a big surprise for her too. Just ask Christopher Campbell, he was there.

Get Out thankfully wasn’t completely snubbed, taking home a couple of awards for Best Sci-Fi or Horror Movie and Best Original Screenplay for Jordan Peele. Call Me By Your Name sadly fizzled out as Gary Oldman pulled ahead of Timothée Chalamet yet again. However, James Ivory‘s enchanting script at least...

By Sheryl Oh

Good and bad news for those looking forward to new ‘X-Men‘ content in the next couple of years.

Fox has decided to shake up the X-Men release schedule with several date changes for the franchise. Deadpool fans get to rejoice, but other anticipated fare is being pushed back too.

Deadpool 2 has abruptly been pushed forward from June 1 to May 18. This crucially keeps the film a week ahead of Disney’s Solo: A Star Wars Story. While Star Wars movies tend to have strong second weekends, fans aren’t the most excited about the Han Solo standalone, which could translate to a lukewarm opening weekend. That coupled with Deadpool’s popularity ensures that Fox would get even bigger returns with the new premiere date.

However, on a less exciting note, Fox’s horror-based X-Men film, The New Mutants, is being pushed back ten whole months. The New Mutants is making the jump from April 13, 2018 to February 22, 2019, seemingly to avoid clashing with other X-Men films as they premiere in other worldwide markets. Frustratingly, it’s one of the more exciting mutant offerings on the upcoming slate. Director Josh Boone tapped into many horror influences and the film could potentially take the X-Men franchise to a whole new level.

Finally, Gambit will apparently never catch a break. I reported on Gore Verbinski’s involvement in the project last year, which seemed to get the ball going for the Channing Tatum starrer. Now that Verbinski is out (but Tatum is still...

By Natalie Mokry

Amazon’s newsroom drama rooted in a historical part of the women’s movement is exactly what we need right now.

The Amazon original show Good Girls Revolt has been making some headlines recently, now that hopes for its comeback have basically gone away entirely. Premiering its pilot episode in 2015, and then its full first season in October of 2016, the show ran for one full season and was quickly dropped by Amazon, in spite of it receiving positive reviews and growing popularity. And more specifically, it was dropped by then-Amazon Studio Head Roy Price, who wasn’t too keen on the show, and was later suspended from Amazon, and then resigned, due to sexual harassment charges against him. After its cancellation, a campaign emerged from fans, some of the cast, and creator Dana Calvo, for the show to return, with many using the hashtag #SaveGoodGirlsRevolt. For a while, there was word that Sony, who produced the show, was looking to possibly bring it back, but as of recent, it’s been announced that the show will not be returning for a second season. However, it really deserves one.

Good Girls Revolt is based on Lynn Povich’s book titled “The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace.” Inspired by the real-life events described in the book, about the 46 women who sued Newsweek for the right to be...

By Sheryl Oh

A Jane Fonda documentary and a new Ronan Farrow series will be part of HBO’s non-fiction slate.

HBO has boosted its documentary slate by adding some strong Hollywood and journalistic personalities to the network’s line-up. Deadline reports that Susan Lacy’s Jane Fonda documentary, Jane Fonda in Five Acts, will be broadcast on HBO after the film’s upcoming premiere at Sundance. Meanwhile, Ronan Farrow has signed a 3-year deal with HBO to develop and lead a series of investigative specials.

Jane Fonda in Five Acts puts Fonda’s life under the microscope. Born out of over 21 hours of interview footage, award-winning documentarian Lacy pieces together an honest, candid picture of Fonda despite covering some darker aspects of her life. Jane Fonda in Five Acts seems to cover similar ground to many celebrity documentaries, giving context to Fonda’s life using home movies as well as capturing her day-to-day activities verité style. The film will also include interviews with friends and family such as Robert Redford, Lily Tomlin, producer Paula Weinstein and Fonda’s former spouses, Tom Hayden and Ted Turner.

Farrow’s investigative series comes in the wake of his searing reporting at The New Yorker which helped kickstart a movement against sexual abuse and harassment in the entertainment industry. Basing his first piece on a revelatory New York Times report by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, Farrow wrote several exposés back-to-back about Harvey Weinstein’s assaults and the culture of violence against women in the film industry. His deal with...

By Max Covill

With the nominees for all the guilds in play, do we finally have an idea of the Best Picture winner? Perhaps.

Those fearing that the Directors Guild of America (DGA) would forget Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird can now put their fears at rest. Following the lead set by PGAs and WGAs, we can now get a general sense of what will be competing for the Oscars. A sure-fire way to tell is to see which films have been nominated in all three guilds. That would include Lady Bird, Get Out, and The Shape of Water. That means that four of the DGA nominees are first-timers with Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water), Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird),  Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards) and Jordan Peele (Get Out) being nominated, along with fellow nominee Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk). It is extremely likely that those will be the five nominees for Best Director come Oscar time. These five should also be a lock for Best Picture nominations from the academy.

That isn’t the only thing that the Directors Guild of America chooses to award yearly. They also award for the best first film by a director. Jordan Peele is included in that group as well, as is Geremy Jasper (Patti Cake$), William Oldroyd (Lady Macbeth), Taylor Sheridan (Wind River), and Aaron Sorkin (Molly’s Game). For those asking why Gerwig is not included in this lineup as well, she actually has a 2008 feature credited to her name entitled Nights and Weekends. Results for the...

By Liz Baessler

‘The Good Place’ is back for the second half of its second season, and everything has changed.

Sort of. It’s no shift like the one between the first and second seasons, when 13 episodes worth of material was wiped clean. But this change is in its own way more important, with a more lasting effect on the fate of the characters and the function of the show.

Until now the thing that’s defined The Good Place is just that — a place. The series has, by virtue of its format, always existed in one spot. (Medium Place included). In fact a lot of the intrigue and comedy has come from our familiarity with that spot. This shines in the first half of the second season, especially, in the little tweaks with the reiterations of the town —  think all those shifting frozen yogurt/clam chowder/thing on a stick restaurants.

But while the town has remained more or less the same, the characters themselves have undergone so many changes that no one can keep track of them anymore. For the first half of the season, this familiar disorientation has been the show’s MO, and it’s been used to excellent effect.

Now those days are gone. What we’re promised now is uncharted territory: static characters like in season 1, but with a changing landscape. We can’t help but share in Eleanor’s nostalgia as she looks out the train window at that beloved...

By Max Covill

With Chadwick Boseman and Ryan Coogler, the revolution will sure as hell be live.

Now that Marvel knows that presale numbers are through the roof, they can leisurely continue their onslaught of Black Panther media (yes, that means more tickets presold than previous champion Captain America: Civil War). Following up on the recent TV spot during the National Title Game, Marvel has dropped an interview with Black Panther himself, Chadwick Boseman.

Boseman uses the spot to talk about where on the timeline Black Panther takes place. It is after the events of Civil War, and how T’Challa has to be more than a superhero, he has to be king of a people. The loss of his father was immense to him, but his people as well.

It also showcases the struggle for power in Wakanda. Wakanda is the most technologically advanced civilization on the planet and whoever has control, has immense potential. Whatever happens there can quickly affect the rest of the world.

While we are still waiting for a more substantial look into the movie, perhaps Marvel is keen on leaking details slowly, piece by piece. There didn’t seem like that much new footage in either the TV spot or this featurette, but Marvel keeps supplying that good Black Panther footage, and we keep getting excited about it.

The article ‘Black Panther’ Featurette ‘Good to...