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 →
Author Stephen King is making a big cinematic comeback in 2017. A new adaptation of his 1986 horror-classic It is opening in theaters this September, and is expected to be a two-part installation with the second film following soon after. Before It hits theaters, however, another Stephen King adaptation will see a nationwide release in the form of The Dark Tower. Based on the final novel in his eight-part series, The Dark Tower, the film follows a man named Roland Deschain, the Last Gunslinger, who faces off with the Man in Black, Walter O’Dim, in an effort to stop him from destroying the Dark Tower, a mystical building that serves as the center of all universes. In writing the series, King drew inspiration from several sources, including the Arthurian Legend, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and the American West. Continue reading →
There were a lot of raise-your-eyebrow commercials at this year’s Super Bowl, and sadly they were much more memorable than any of the traditional, so-called “hilarious” Super Bowl entries. The most controversial entries was the lengthy 84 Lumber commercial where mother and daughter encounter a giant concrete wall on the US border, and the American Petroleum Institutes praise-spot for Big Oil. In addition to the barrage of propagandized TV spots and beer commercials were a number of upcoming blockbuster movie trailers. Among them were those for The Fate of the Furious, Baywatch, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, John Wick: Chapter 2, and Transformers: The Last Knight. The most impressive movie trailer, however, came from up-and-coming director Daniel Espinosa‘s Life with Jake Gyllenhaal (Prisoners, Nightcrawler), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, The Girl on the Train), and Ryan Reynolds (Waiting, Safe House). Continue reading →
The 2017 Frozen Film Festival kicks off today and runs through this Saturday night in downtown Saint Paul. Frozen Film Festival plays host to both feature length and short length features in the categories of drama, comedy, and documentary. In addition, short films by students are also presented at the event. The festival kicks off tonight with a party at Sakura in downtown Saint Paul. The main venues for the event are F.K. Weyerhaeuser Auditorium at 75 W. 5th St. and TPT Street Space at 172 East Fourth Street. Tickets for the event are available on the website, along with a full schedule of films showing each day. If you’re interested, VIP passes are also still available for sale. Continue reading →
Martin Scorsese agreed to serve as producer for an official Grateful Dead documentary back in October 2014. The Dead’s 50th anniversary was coming up the following year, and filmmakers wanted to have the project ready for the celebration. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, and the landmark event was ultimately celebrated with a massive 3-day concert over the 4th of July weekend in Chicago’s Soldier Field. Original members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, and Phil Lesh reunited on-stage for the event, which proved a huge success, despite the absence of Jerry Garcia, who died in 1995. Now, however, the 6-part documentary, appropriately titled Long Strange Trip from director Amir Bar-Lev (The Tillman Story, Happy Valley), is set to premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival before being released on Amazon Prime this May. Continue reading →
James Baldwin‘s (1924-1987) life and legacy can now speak to modern audiences in a new documentary called I Am Not Your Negro. The film is finally getting a long overdue theatrical release from Magnolia Pictures this February 3rd after wowing audiences at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival. I Am Not Your Negro is a film from Haitian director Raoul Peck that envisions Baldwin’s final, albeit incomplete novel Remember This House as an uncompromising and complete narrative of race in America. The unfinished memoir focuses on the authors personal memories and relationships with three enduring Civil Rights leaders: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, and Malcolm X. Peck was allowed access to the entire Baldwin archives and composed the film over a period of 10 years, drawing from the incomplete manuscript and Baldwin’s own personal notes. It won the People’s Choice Documentary Award and, like Baldwin himself, is sure to stand as a vital testament to race in America today. Continue reading →
Happy Halloween! October is traditionally known for the fall season and for hosting Halloween on the last day of the month. Likewise film distributors tend to look at October as a good time to release horror and slasher films for Halloween on fight-seeking audiences across the country, and around the world. October, however, has a long history of major motion picture releases that is not strictly limited to the horror genre. Read on to see our list of impressive October releases, and enjoy your Halloween Weekend! Continue reading →
Director Sydney Lumet‘s 1973 undercover police drama Serpico earned Al Pacino his second Oscar nomination for Best Actor. While it was another in a long-running streak of Oscar nominations for Pacino that resulted in no wins until 1992’s Scent of a Woman, Serpico‘s other Oscar nomination was for Best Adapted Screenplay for screenwriters Waldo Salt (Midnight Cowboy, The Day of the Locust) and Norman Wexler (Saturday Night Fever, Staying Alive). Although Serpico proved to be the last Oscar-worthy project of Wexler’s, Waldo Salt had a much longer, and much darker story in Hollywood screenwriting history.
Waldo Salt was born on October 18, 1914 and grew up in Chicago an accomplished academic. He was so accomplished, in fact, that he graduated from Stanford University at the same time his friends were graduating from high school. Shortly thereafter, Salt was in Hollywood working as a screenwriter for MGM. There he worked on and assisted with various writing projects, but his first solo writing adaptation was with a 1937 film called The Bride Wore Red. The next year, Salt joined the American Communist Party, putting himself on the radar for the House Un-American Activities Committee during the Red Scare/McCarthy era 12 years later. Continue reading →
Writer, director, and lead actor Nate Parker (The Great Debaters, Red Tails)’s The Birth of a Nation is now playing in theaters across the country, but not in the light the young filmmaker was hoping for. The film struggled to reach $7 million in domestic box office sales in its opening weekend. Several factors could have contributed to the surprising low, but the most likely cause of the low turn out is Parker’s 1999 rape allegations during his time at Penn State. Although Parker was exonerated, news that his alleged victim committed suicide in 2012 and his handling of the case back in 1999 have caused a great controversy that has women’s rights and sexual assault advocate groups shouting boycott all across the country.
While Parker’s film may be controversial in its own right, the original Birth of a Nation, which was a silent movie released in 1915, was just as controversial, if not more so. The original Birth of a Nation is remembered for its blatantly racial undertones and simultaneous impressive contributions to filmmaking. Continue reading →
A new independent drama from Oscar-winning writer/director Andrea Arnold (Red Road, Fish Tank) is opening in select theaters across the country this weekend. The film, called American Honey, follows a teenage girl as she joins a group of misfits, or “traveling salesmen” and gets swept up in a life of alcohol, drugs, crime, young love, and all the drama that comes with it while hitchhiking their way across the Midwestern United States. Starring in the lead role is newcomer Sasha Lane, who is supported onscreen by Shia LaBeouf (Lawless, Fury), Riley Keough (The Good Doctor, Mad Max: Fury Road), McCaul Lombardi (Age of the Moon, Mindless), Arielle Holmes (Heaven Knows What, 2307: Winter’s Dream), and Isaiah Stone (Winter’s Bone). American Honey stole the show at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, winning the Jury Prize and securing a Palme d’Or nomination for director Andrea Arnold, whose acclaimed independent films have earned her a big name among the industry. The trailer for American Honey is available here on MADE. If you get a chance, I would definitely put it on your movie list for this weekend. Enjoy!