The wait is over! Fans of the Star Wars saga are flooding movie theaters across the country today as The Last Jedi makes its nationwide debut. Following 2015’s The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi picks up roughly 30 years after the events of 1983’s Return of the Jedi, and finds a new band of heroes struggling to defeat the evil First Order. But unlike The Force Awakens, which was written and directed by JJ Abrams, The Last Jedi takes on a much darker tone, diving further into character backgrounds and bringing to light the tragic fate of Luke Skywalker and his failed Order of Jedi Knights. That means fans will get to see much more of Mark Hamill in the new film but, given the untimely death of Carrie Fisher, can also expect to see some beloved characters get killed off in the telling. Thus far most critics are hailing writer/director Rian Johnson‘s installment in the series, which is said to be entirely his own, despite what Abrams may have set up with in the previous film. Although The Last Jedi is expected to launch with a worldwide box office haul of roughly $425 million, it will likely not be enough to match the North American Box Office earnings record for 2016. Continue reading →
As you are no doubt aware, the next installment in the latest Star Wars trilogy, The Last Jedi (Episode VIII), is opening in theaters nationwide this Thursday, December 14th at midnight. Whether or not it will be a frame-by-frame remake of The Empire Strikes Back (1980), like The Force Awakens and A New Hope (1977), has yet to be seen, but fans will undoubtedly be packing theaters to capacity from Friday until well into the New Year. If you already have a ticket for opening weekend, then let us know what you think. If not, however, you can still get your Star Wars fix by taking a brief (and by brief, I mean roughly 12-14 hours) refresher course with watching the series in “Machete Order.” Let me explain.
The Machete Order was first suggested by a fan of the series named Rob Hilton in preparation for the release of 2015’s The Force Awakens. According to Hilton, the machete order is a more effective way of watching the previous films, particularly for young viewers who are not familiar with the series. Obviously, with seven feature-length films and an eighth coming out this week, knowing where to start to get the full experience can be an overwhelming ordeal. Should you begin with the original trilogy and work your way up, or should you start with 1999’s The Phantom Menace and proceed chronologically? Continue reading →
Let’s be honest, it was bound to happen sooner rather than later. Four months after JRR Tolkien‘s estate settled a lawsuit with Warner Bros. Studios regarding the profits from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy, Amazon Studios has announced a multi-season LOTR television series is in the works exclusively for the company’s streaming service. The series will reportedly cover stories from Tolkien’s early writings, focusing on material pre-dating the events in the book and film trilogies.
Amazon acquired the rights to the series for a whopping $200 million, but the series is expected to cost a further $150 million in production costs per season. Given the popularity of the content, however, expenses don’t seem to be a cause for concern. A rep for Amazon was quoted in a statement as saying, “The Lord of the Rings is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the imagination of generations of fans through literature and the big screen. We are honored to be working with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins and New Line on this exciting collaboration for television and are thrilled to be taking The Lord of the Rings fans on a new epic journey in Middle Earth.” Continue reading →
As Variety’s Peter Debruge hails The Disaster Artist as James Franco achieving “what could become his most iconic role,” others like The New Yorker’s Richard Brody have claimed it’s a good movie, but Franco missed the mark; The Room is a better movie. Truth be told, reviews are always mixed for any movie, but when you compare a new theatrical film to what’s become known as the worst movie ever made, that’s saying something. The Disaster Artist, which is directed by, and stars James Franco, along with his brother Dave and long time collaborator Seth Rogan, follows the making of The Room, known to many as the worst movie ever made. The Room was a production-disaster-turned-cult-classic that was the lifeblood of two aspiring filmmakers, Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero. The two met and, realizing their dreams of filmmaking, decided to go to Hollywood to make their masterpiece. A $6 billion bill, countless horrendous reviews, and an opening weekend of only 200 ticket sales, however, seemed to literally spell disaster for the young filmmakers. But sometime after the initial release, something unexpected began to happen. Continue reading →
A number of indie projects opened on big screens in New York City this weekend, including visual director Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water and Oren Jacoby’s biographical documentary Shadowman. Both are expected to see nationwide expansions as we get into the New Year, and both definitely belong on your ‘To-See’ list for 2018.
Guillermo del Toro, a visual director known for projects like Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, and Pacific Rim, is once again taking audiences on an imaginative fantasy adventure in The Shape of Water, a Cold War-era drama that won the Golden Lion – Best Film award at this year’s Venice Film Festival. The script, which he co-wrote with Vanessa Taylor, follows a lonely high-security government laboratory employee named Elisa who, along with her co-worker Zelda, discover a mind-blowing, top-classified experiment that changes both of their lives forever. Actresses Sally Hawkins (Layer Cake, Blue Jasmine) and Octavia Spencer (The Help, Hidden Figures) star as Elisa and Zelda, respectively, who are joined on-screen by actors Michael Shannon (Man of Steel, Nocturnal Animals), Richard Jenkins (Step Brothers, Burn After Reading), Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man, Steve Jobs), and del Toro regular Doug Jones. If you’ve ever seen Pan’s Labyrinth then you’re likely familiar with del Toro’s mesmerizing, albeit eccentric method of storytelling, so be sure to check this one out on the big screen if you get a chance. Continue reading →
Writer/director Martin McDonagh’s latest dramatic dark-comedy, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri drew mass acclaim on the film festival circuit this season, winning awards at BIFA, and the Venice Film and Toronto International Film Festivals. McDonagh, along with lead cast members Frances McDormand (Fargo, Almost Famous) and Woody Harrelson (No Country For Old Men, Zombieland) are already expected to receive Oscar nominations for their telling of a mid-Western mother (Mildred Hayes) who abruptly calls out the local sheriffs department for failing to resolve their investigation into her daughter’s brutal murder. Supporting actor Sam Rockwell (The Green Mile, Moon) is also being praised for his role as second-in-command Officer Dixon, in a film Woody Harrelson describes in the Hollywood Reporter as, “Super Troopers meets Seven Psychopaths,” (the latter another of McDonagh’s feature films).
Three Billboards was a huge hit at the British Independent Film Awards, winning for Best Music and Best Editing and receiving nominations for Best Director, Best Actress (McDormand), Best Supporting Actor (Harrelson and Rockwell), Best Screenplay, and Best Cinematography. Additionally, Three Billboards won the Feature Film award at the Denver International Film Festival, as well as Best Screenplay (Venice Film Festival), Gala/Special Presentations for McDonagh (TIFF), Overall Winner (Leeds), and Supporting Actor of the Year for Rockwell (Hollywood Film Awards). The trailer is nothing short of mesmerizing, and all bets say this one will be one of the top contenders of the Holiday season, so be sure to see it on the big screen before all the theaters are teeming with Star Wars fanatics.
Last night during the Vikings-Bears Monday Night Football game, the latest trailer for the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi premiered during the halftime commercial run. The new film, which is written and directed by Rian Johnson (Looper, Breaking Bad), will follow the events of JJ Abrams’ Episode VII: The Force Awakens, and feature veterans Mark Hamill and (the late) Carrie Fisher as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. Fisher had completed filming on the project prior to her untimely death last December, but her role was expected to be expanded upon even further for Episode IX, which JJ Abrams has agreed to return for after Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed, Jurassic World) fell away from the film earlier this year. The Last Jedi will focus Rey’s Jedi training with Luke Skywalker, as well as on other Force Awakens characters like Finn and Poe as they continue their campaign against the evil First Order. Actors Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, and Oscar Isaac are all reprising their roles for the new installment. You can see The Last Jedi on big screens near you this December 18th. Enjoy the trailer!
Harry Dean Stanton, the legendary character-actor who’s appeared in countless Hollywood productions, passed away on September 15th at the age of 91. Stanton got his start taking small roles in television productions like Bonanza, Rawhide, The Fugitive, and Gunsmoke in the 1950s and ’60s. He has since appeared in more than 100 films, including Cool Hand Luke, Kelly’s Heros, The Godfather Part II, Alien, Escape From New York, Repo Man, Pretty in Pink, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and The Green Mile. Now fans will have one more chance to see him in his first (and last) leading role since 1984’s Paris, Texas in what should prove to be a touching tribute.
Lucky is a drama from actor-turned-director John Carrol Lynch (Gran Torino, The Founder) that follows Lucky, a chain-smoking atheist and World War II veteran who must come to grips with his own mortality. The script comes from screenwriters Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja, and reunites Stanton with Twin Peaks creator David Lynch. Also appearing in the film are actors Ron Livingston (Office Space, Band of Brothers), Tom Skerritt (Top Gun, Steel Magnolias), James Darren (Gidget, The Guns of Navarone), and Yvonne Huff. Check your local listings for showings in your area, and if you’re not in the mood for killer clowns or Tom Cruise, make this one your go-to for the weekend. And of course, rest in peace Mr. Stanton!
For some time now, there has been talk of an upcoming biographical drama surrounding the legendary rock band Queen, though no such film has shown up anywhere on the Hollywood film circuit. Now, however, it looks like fans will finally be able to enjoy a new biopic surrounding the events leading up to and including the band’s legendary rebirth at the Live Aid Festival in 1985. The performance was not expected to be anything special: Queen had lost a good deal of momentum by the early 1980s, and the band was just another group of performers scheduled alongside acts like Elton John, The Who, Dire Straights, Phil Collins, and Paul McCartney. But when Queen finally took the stage in-between U2 and David Bowie, the crowd had no idea they were about to witness rock-history in the making.
Lead singer Freddie Mercury, who later died of complications with AIDS, took command of the stage and delivered an awe-inspiring set that even his band mates had never imagined. Through 25 minutes, Mercury jumped from the piano, to the guitar, to front stage with his sawed-off mic-stand, leading the band through a suite of their musical catalogue that included older classics like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions” to recent singles like “Hammer to Fall”. It was all backing members Brian May, John Deacon, and Roger Taylor could do to try and keep up with Mercury, whose passionate and energetic performance ignited the crowd and which is remembered as the definitive highlight of the Live Aid festival. Continue reading →
A new biographical film titled Rebel in the Rye is seeing a limited release in theaters this weekend. The film follows the life of famed author J.D. Salinger as he achieves worldwide fame for his novel The Catcher in the Rye. Writer/director Danny Strong (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, Empire) penned the film from the book “J.D. Salinger: A Life” by Kenneth Slawenski. Salinger was born in New York, and attended several universities before he was drafted into the army to serve in World War II. He participated in both the D-Day Invasion at Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. During this period he continued to write, developing the story for what would become The Catcher in the Rye. Continue reading →