We might not get to hear the people sing, but any announcement about Les Misérables is exciting for fans of the classic—musical or not. In the case of the upcoming miniseries by Masterpiece PBS and BBC One, we’re getting an adaptation more closely based on the original novel. First look images were released this past weekend showing stars Dominic West (The Wire), David Oyelowo (Selma), and Lily Collins (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones) in costume for the first time. Check them out here:
— BBC One (@BBCOne) July 16, 2018
Victor Hugo’s visceral, thought-provoking novel explores themes of socio-economic inequality and political unrest. This world, although set in post-Napoleonic France, strikes a particular chord today in our political climate. With this upcoming Les Misérables series staying so close to the source material we’ll likely get up close and personal with these themes in a way unlike with the 2012 hit movie-musical.
Series writer Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice, House of Cards) also plans on giving audiences a more in-depth look at the years-long conflict between ex-con Jean Valjean and tireless police...
After getting a start directing music videos for such icons as Stevie Wonder and Prince, Antoine Fuqua made his feature film debut with 1998’s The Replacement Killers. A few years later, Fuqua hit a home run with Training Day, which grossed over $104 million at the box office against a $45 million budget and earned star Denzel Washington his second Academy Award.
Fuqua has stayed very busy ever since, and he’s had an equal amount of highs and lows in his career — his second outing with Washington, The Equalizer, practically had a sequel in production before it even made it to theaters, but his disappointing 2004 blockbuster King Arthur can only be looked at as a learning experience and a challenge he wouldn’t mind trying to take on again.
While Fuqua can waxes poetic about Akira Kurosawa with the best of them, he’s never been one to pander to either critics or awards. More of his films are ranked rotten than fresh on Rotten Tomatoes (though it’s worth noting that Roger Ebert often had nice things to say), but one somehow can’t imagine him losing sleep over that.
He was, for example, both clear and unapologetic about his desire to remake The Magnificent Seven starring Washington not being about making a statement—unless that statement is “I just wanted to see Denzel Washington on a horse. Everyone else fell in place around that idea.”
Fuqua, both as a filmmaker and in interviews, has a distinct directness in his approach, and that makes for some...
Recent Oscar nominee Timothée Chalamet is about to play the most demanding character of his career. Yes, it’ll be more momentous than the time he played Elio Perlman, quietly breaking hearts in Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name. The role will be more noteworthy than Chalamet headlining the upcoming Beautiful Boy as a struggling drug addict opposite cinema veteran Steve Carell. Heck, I said The King, in which he’s set to play Henry V, would be his biggest opportunity yet. This next one arguably tops that.
Call Me By Your Name and Beautiful Boy have the potential to make us cry our eyes out with nothing more than a trailer in sight. Yet they don’t come close to preparing us for the prospect of Chalamet leading the charge in a sci-fi epic that’s embedded so deeply in literary and cinematic history (albeit less flatteringly in the latter). Because taking on the universe of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” is beyond challenging, and any actor would be shaking his boots. That said, I have faith that Chalamet is totally up for the task anyway.
According to Deadline, the rising star is in final negotiations to topline Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, the languidly gestating cinematic take on Herbert’s influential sci-fi novels. Chalamet is set to fill the shoes of a young nobleman named Paul Atreides, the central character who becomes a Chosen One with a twist.
The heft reality of examining...
Millennials can finally get behind the shows being produced to entertain today’s generation as Viacom is bringing Rugrats back to Nickelodeon for 26 episodes, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The popular cartoon ran from 1991 to 2004 under the control of Arlene Klasky, Gábor Csupó, and Paul Germain, all of whom are returning to the series as executive producers.
Original characters Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, and Lil will return, joined by the introduction of some new, to quote Angelica Pickles, “dumb babies.” However, a return of the series isn’t the only thing fans can expect. Paramount Players is also in the process of developing a live-action feature film with CGI characters.
Revamps are a continuing trend, as Nickelodeon’s Double Dare recently came back with YouTuber Liza Koshy as host. Disney XD also jumped on the bandwagon last year with the new DuckTales series, which turned out to be better than anyone ever expected it to be. Even with modern takes, like a character named “Mark Beaks” being a clear parody of Mark Zuckerberg, the cartoon hasn’t given too much into current culture.
Hopefully, the fact that the Rugrats characters are babies will ensure that texting and internet use similarly won’t be a key part of its own upcoming episodes, as that would ruin the entire ’90s feel of the show.
With the original creators on board, one would think that things would be just like the old days, with Tommy and his trusty screwdriver and Chuckie with anxieties about...
Last year, Wonder Woman ensnared the world with the Lasso of Truth – that is, the fact that superpowered female protagonists deserve their tentpole movie extravaganzas. Brewing alongside her on the sidelines sits Harley Quinn, sowing the seeds of potential within the DC Extended Universe in her own way.
Granted, Harley’s introduction in the DCEU was rocky at best. Margot Robbie carries David Ayer’s Suicide Squad as expertly as she can. She perfectly embodies not only Harley’s effortless wit and artful ruthlessness but also throws in more than a hint of the internal conflict that makes the character so memorable. Unfortunately, that still wasn’t enough to create a congruent film.
Regardless, to later find out that Harley might be an integral part of not one, or two, or three, but four different DC cinematic projects – Birds of Prey, Gotham City Sirens, an untitled Harley/Joker vehicle, and Suicide Squad 2 – has been incredibly exhilarating. According to The Wrap, Birds of Prey is now shaping up further with an epic character list. Black Canary, Huntress, Cassandra Cain, and Renee Montoya are joining the eponymous girl gang alongside Harley. The film will also apparently feature an unnamed antagonist from the Batman comics universe who hasn’t yet made their big screen debut.
We need no further introduction when it comes to the deranged villainess who used to be Dr. Harleen Quinzel; Harley...
In an era desperate for social change, it is often necessary to look to history for inspiration. Champions of equality and soldiers of progress have always walked amongst us, and their impact on our world can be seen from the greatest leaps of legal evolution to the minuscule alterations in daily culture. We need to celebrate their victories while still not ignoring the great wars ahead of us.
Earlier this year, documentarians Betsy West and Julie Cohen unveiled RBG, a film about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Spanning nearly her entire lifespan, tracking her contentious saga through the legal system and into her surreal, memetic existence as the “Notorious R.B.G.,” the doc is essential viewing for anyone struggling to find purpose in our ever-increasing misery spinning out of the political hellscape. Never has the voice of a dissenter been more important.
It should come to no surprise that Ginsburg has stimulated another act of cinematic revolt. Focus Features and director Mimi Leder (Deep Impact) have partnered in an effort to chronicle the gargantuan life of this American legend in dramatic biopic form. Based on the first trailer, On the Basis of Sex looks to recapture the same beats found in the documentary but with a little more Hollywood pizazz. Felicity Jones, who plays Ginsburg, and Armie Hammer certainly go a long way in adding that coat of glam to...
As of late, many big blockbuster comedies have had fairly disappointing results at the box office, relying on an all-too-familiar formula that makes the films feel predictable and riddled with jokes that seem dull and overused. But a few very recent comedies released in the past few years have shown that there is still creative importance and fresh humor to be found in big comedy films. But what is it in these comedies that truly make them different—and what do they mean for the future of comedy?
One of these spectacular, fairly recent comedies is Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s beloved 2014 horror satire What We Do in the Shadows. The film is a mockumentary-style affair about a group of vampires who live together in New Zealand, sharing the ins and outs of their lifestyle with the world beyond. Based on the premise alone, the film sounds somewhat bizarre, yet the movie itself seems to have the ability to evoke endless laughter in its audiences from start to finish. But what is it about this comedy makes it perhaps one of the best of the decade?
Clement and Waititi’s unique senses of humor and charm were definitely a great contributor to this film’s success, but perhaps what made it so spectacular was the vampire narrative itself. It may seem odd...
Film geeks can’t help themselves when it comes to certain fantasies of lost cinema. Will a proper print of London After Midnight ever materialize? What Brazilian dungeon contains the nitrate reels of Victor Flemings’s The Way of All Flesh? Who still holds onto Orson Welles’ first edit of The Magnificent Ambersons? The what-ifs and the never-weres are our Shangri-Las. Their mystery keeps our minds spinning, dreaming of the missing magnum opus that will revolutionize our very concept of the art form.
There have been a few mini-miracles. After 80 years of presumed eradication, several key scenes of Metropolis were discovered in an Argentinian archive. The newly restored version of the film is a revelation and comes closest to resembling Fritz Lang’s original intention for his epic. Watching these new sequences is a surreal experience for the long-time fan, and rekindles hope for those other great riddles hidden away in the cracks of time.
As George Michael said, you gotta have faith.
Another cinematic treasure has been unearthed. What was lost is now found. According to The Guardian, the AWOL Stanley Kubrick screenplay Burning Secret was recently discovered by Bangor University professor Nathan Abrams. As with all Kubrick films, the script is an adaptation. Based on the 1913 novella by Stefan Zweig (the Viennese writer who inspired Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel), the story revolves around a sophisticated, yet fiendish male predator who charms a 10-year-old boy in an effort to bed...
In 1996, Paramount released Mission: Impossible. Directed by Brian De Palma and produced by Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner, the film met with mixed reviews but did well enough to spawn a sequel and, eventually, a franchise. Fallout comes out next month and, I’m, like, really excited.
But more than anything I’m interested in how this 22-year old movie series (the same age as me!) has managed to make it this far without a single continuity reboot or attempt to “relaunch” the franchise. Not only is Cruise’s Ethan Hunt the same actor and character we first met in 1996, but there is a shocking amount of canon to these films and, as piecemeal as it may be, an underlying plot to all of this.
Contrast that with other older franchises, like Terminator or, heck, even X-Men, a relatively modern franchise. There’s no arguing that the process of making a franchise film has become even more complicated since Marvel rolled up to the club with Iron Man and their end credits scenes and interwoven continuities. Execs scrambling to catch up to Marvel have tried every trick in the book to make their own IP cinematic universes take off the same way. Cruise was even involved in one of these; remember The Mummy reboot? And “reboot” is indeed the knee-jerk response that a lot of these franchises go with (see: Terminator Genisys, Jurassic World, X-Men Days of Future Past, and...
“You love dead girls,” a dangerously alive girl says to her sister in an upcoming episode of Sharp Objects, the latest adaptation of a book by the author of best-selling mysteries Gone Girl and Dark Places. And there it is, the nexus of writer Gillian Flynn’s dark-hearted works laid plain in one line: girls, death, love. Except in the worlds Flynn creates, shadowy landscapes traversed by wary bones and unsound minds, it is not really love that we see, but preoccupation, fixation, obsession–all its warped and perverse relatives.
The women in Flynn’s works protect their hardwired obsessions, tending to them like mothers to children. In HBO’s trippily designed miniseries Sharp Objects, fixation settles around the town of Wind Gap, Missouri like a fine dust, unavoidable and deeply atmospheric. For the Preaker family–mother Adora (Patricia Clarkson) and daughters Camille (Amy Adams) and Amma (Eliza Scanlen)–everything from a dollhouse to a razor blade to a long-empty bedroom becomes a point of preoccupation, a worry stone ground down from overuse. Dark Places, adapted underwhelmingly for A24 in 2015, also features a series of obsessions, none more subtle or important than triple murder survivor Libby Day’s (Charlize Theron) obsession with blocking out her own past. Finally and most memorably, Gone Girl’s Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) is an amalgam of brutal histrionics and perfectionistic tendencies, the fruits of her obsessive labor a dose of icy venom delivered–in a stunning six-minute monologue...
We all know there are too many zombie movies being made, but just as George Romero’s Bub was one charismatic flesh-eater in a million dullards it’s also true that the sub-genre features more than a few films that standout from the pack. And now we can add Dominique Rocher‘s feature debut The Night Eats the World to the short list.
Is there anything worse than having to visit your ex to retrieve items from your past life together only to find she’s throwing a party with her new lover and dozens of their shared friends? Sam (Anders Danielsen Lie) certainly doesn’t think so, and after quickly realizing his ex’s new world is one where he doesn’t belong he heads to a quiet room in the flat and promptly falls asleep. He awakes the next morning to find the party is over… for the human race! Yeah, he didn’t see that coming either and is surprised to find bloody walls inside and wandering packs of zombies outside on the streets of Paris.
At least his ex isn’t happy in love anymore.
Rather than venture too far out Sam instead decides to fortify the apartment building and hole up there in an attempt to avoid being eaten, but the freedoms he finds grow to be outweighed by all that he’s lost. Desperate for conversation, he keeps a zombified neighbor (Denis Lavant) trapped behind an elevator gate — the newly undead man doesn’t answer, but...
Walt Disney Animation has cast two new voices for Frozen 2, as Evan Rachel Wood and Sterling K. Brown are in talks to join the sequel’s ensemble, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee will return as directors along with original Frozen stars Kristen Bell (Anna), Idina Menzel (Elsa), Josh Gad (Olaf), and Jonathan Groff (Kristoff). The plot of the film is still unknown, but the release date is set for November 27, 2019.
This past week has been big for Wood and Brown, as they both landed Emmy nominations for their lead performances on the TV series Westworld and This Is Us, respectively. Brown also received a nomination in the Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series category for his appearance on a single episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
This will be Brown’s second voice acting role for an animated feature, as he was recently cast for another sequel, The Angry Birds Movie 2. His only other existing voice work was in a May episode of Robot Chicken. Wood has also done an episode of that show and has voiced characters in the animated features Strange Magic, Battle for Terra, Shark Bait, and Asterix and the Vikings, for which she’s credited on the English-language dub.
Opening a new film with Nietzsche’s eminently familiar quote regarding the abyss and all the looking isn’t the best way to suggest to viewers that they’re in for something fresh and original, but happily Xavier Gens‘ isn’t interested in giving us something traditional. The various parts of Cold Skin might remind of earlier films, but Gens uses them to build a brutal and brittle world where the shape of water is death and despair.
It’s 1914, and Friend (David Oakes) arrives on a desolate island near the Antarctic Circle to replace a recently deceased meteorologist. The only other human soul on the island is a hairy bastard named Gruner (Ray Stevenson) who serves as lighthouse keeper and is wholly disinterested in the newcomer. The lighthouse has been modified with defensive dressing, and Friend discovers why later that night. Humanoid creatures rise from the sea after the sun sets and attack any humans on land.
Friend joins forces with Gruner to fight off the beasts, but he quickly discovers the man’s relationship with the “monsters” has a wrinkle — he’s house-trained a female to be his companion.
Gens’ fourth feature is easily his most accomplished and complete, and while Cold Skin lacks the stylish action of Hitman (2007) or the graphic cruelty of Frontiers (2007) and The Divide (2011) it succeeds where they don’t in crafting a starkly beautiful world both foreign and familiar. This landscape is one most of us will never see...
As the creator of the shows Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon had a significant impact on the way TV is created and consumed. And now, after lengthy break from the small screen, he’s set to return with a new HBO series that will hopefully have a similar effect.
As reported by Variety, Whedon’s The Nevers has received a rare series order by HBO (as opposed to the standard pilot order). And while no air date is set as of yet, a brief synopsis has been released:
“The series is described as a sci-fi epic about a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world.”
So what can we take from this? Well, female-led genre television is certainly familiar territory for Whedon. After seven seasons of Buffy, he’s no stranger to pitting female protagonists against all manner of enemies. Plus, his work on Firefly has given him experience in the sci-fi genre. And with the added wrinkle of the Victorian time period, he still has plenty of new challenges to face.
Whedon went on to describe his new series, calling it “maybe the most ambitious narrative I’ve created.” He also praised HBO for embracing what he describes as his “odd, intimate epic,” stating that he “can’t imagine a better home” for The Nevers. In addition to this, Whedon also said that “It’s been too long since I created...
Last week, after a harrowing three-hour cave dive, the last members of the Wild Boars children’s soccer team emerged safely from the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in the Chiang Rai Province of Thailand. They were greeted by rescue teams, paramedics, and … Hollywood producers?
Unfortunately that last bit is true. As the world watched the dangerous rescue operation play out over the course of a couple weeks, another far less inspiring mission was already underway, one that didn’t include Navy trained divers but probably involved a team of underpaid assistants trying to frantically assemble pitch packets and board last minute flights.
This was the mission to land the film rights to the Tham Luang cave rescue. Hollywood was so eager to adapt the story that they couldn’t even wait to see how it ended before trying to snatch up the rights. The BBC reported that movie producers were on the ground speaking to rescue workers even as the recon mission was still underway.
The high-risk cave rescue that captured worldwide attention has now already inspired not one but two film adaptations currently in development, and the production companies that gave the greenlight seem to be working on two very different movies.
The first project comes from Pure Flix, the maker of faith-based films including God’s Not Dead. According to The Hollywood Reporter, they are developing a $30-60 million feature under their mainstream banner Pinnacle Peak. Four quadrant, inspirational fare is certainly...
There is little rhyme or reason to the box office performance of Dwayne Johnson. His movie choices are all over the place, and his ability to draw crowds to such a variety of projects is inconsistent. Maybe he’s just not a summer release guy. Skyscraper came in just third place in its debut over the weekend, pulling in only 2.8 million people. That’s the actor’s worst opening since his May 2017 comedy tentpole, Baywatch (2.1 million). Or perhaps he just should stop taking gigs looking to the late ’80s and early ’90s for inspiration.
Studios should also probably stop spending so much money on movies without established franchise appeal. Skyscraper reportedly cost as much as $129 million. Still, its appeal and its extensive marketing seemed to be priming Universal for a better showing. Back in May, Box Office Pro forecast its opening weekend attendance as around 4.8 million. Last week, the site lowered the anticipated number to 3.6 million. Everyone predicted Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation to top Skyscraper but not by so much.
Skyscraper may have underperformed because it’s so clearly — and admittedly so — a Die Hard knockoff (or tribute, if you want to be nice). Never mind just being unoriginal in general, the practice of specifically copying Die Hard has rarely been successful enough for it to keep going. But it is an easy formula, and...
Once every four years, nations across the globe come together to celebrate the World Cup, to watch some of the world’s best players do what they do best, and for most, to go home disappointed when their country doesn’t win. But even if your team doesn’t get the result you hoped for, you can still enjoy the types of perfect victories that only come to us via the silver screen. And for those who don’t care for the sport, chances are you’ll find these nine films to be more entertaining than a 90-minute game that can end goalless.Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
In Gurinder Chadha’s coming-of-age comedy, Jess (Parminder Nagra) is obsessed with the eponymous football superstar and the sport itself. Her traditional family forbids her from playing, but Jess joins a women’s team behind their backs. With issues surrounding family, culture clashes, and identity at the forefront, the film has a lot more on its plate than just who wins and who loses the game. But Bend It Like Beckham also understands what this sport means for those who love it. Football isn’t just a sport for Jess, it’s also an expression of her freedom and ambition. Any good sports movie and any good coming-of-age movie often need to have heart and a hero...
In the film industry, new minds are necessary to keep the ball rolling and to foster innovation in storytelling. Magic Hour, the first installment in a new sci-fi anthology series in the vein of Twilight Zone, is a perfect example. The production’s website describes it as such:
On the 200th year anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein,’ ‘Magic Hour’ is a gender-bending retelling of the classic story with a modern twist; in this psychedelic-macabre portrait of a mysterious young woman who wakes up one morning without a soul, and roams the streets of Tokyo in search of one.
This intriguing story comes from the mind of a young, black filmmaker who already has award-winning shorts and a comic book series under her belt. Brooklyn-based writer, director, and TED Talk speaker Che Grayson is delivering exciting new approaches to familiar ideas, as Magic Hour, her NYU thesis project, promises to be. This is the most ambitious production of her career so far and hopefully will be the first of many ingenious stories coming from her.
Grayson provided me with further clarification on the nature of the project by phone, saying the thesis project comes from a 30-page script meant to serve as a concept for a television show. Magic Hour is the intended pilot for this anthology series, which she says will center around the “strange and magical things that happen” during what is known as the “Golden Hour” in...
We can keep this week’s Movies to Watch After… list pretty simple. Yes, you should watch you know what. And given that the obvious title is 30 years old this weekend, there’s a good chance a lot of younger people, which makes up much of Dwayne Johnson‘s fanbase at the moment, haven’t seen it. So let’s not waste any time. Most of my recommendations inspired by Skyscraper similarly involve large buildings as a major element to their plot. And so I’m going to change up the structure a little bit. Here we go.The Obvious and Acknowledged Inspirations
Skyscraper is “Die Hard in a building,” which is sort of ironic since Die Hard is already Die Hard in a building. Writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber is fine admitting that’s what it is. And Johnson went so far as to commission a Skyscraper poster design paying tribute to the much-copied 1988 action movie, which just recently finally was added to the National Film Registry.
I had these ultra cool vintage posters made paying homage to the two classic movies that inspired me and generations, and became the inspiration for my film SKYSCRAPER.
Respect & luv to the GOAT’s Willis, McQueen & Newman.#DieHard #ToweringInferno #SKYSCRAPER JULY 13th
Opening weekend of Fantasia Festival 2018 is upon us, and while I won’t be on the ground in Montreal until Monday the 16th my excitement level is already pretty damn high. I might even try poutine this time! The fest is a highlight every year for film fans from around the world, and this year’s lineup promises to once again deliver an incredible mix of action, horror, drama, comedy, and overall weirdness.
There are 116 features playing this year alongside numerous short films and special events, and while I won’t be able to see them all there are more than a few that I’m most looking forward to.
Tales from the Hood 2 is world premiering at the fest, and while it’s not the only horror anthology playing this year it’s undoubtedly the most long-awaited. Twenty-three years after the original film — an underloved genre classic — the original director/writers have returned with more EC Comics-inspired terror. I’m a horror anthology junkie and am also looking forward to Nightmare Cinema and The Field Guide to Evil, but today’s world being what it is this is the multi-headed monster I’m most hoping to catch.
Any chance you get to see a Takashi Miike movie on the big screen should be gripped tightly in both hands, and that’s just what I’ll be doing with his new film Laplace’s Witch. The film appears to be a more restrained affair from the madman,...