The 67th Berlin Film Festival, better known as Berlinale, kicks off each year shortly after the Sundance Film Festival ends, and continues with an impressive line-up of independent films, ranging from comedy to drama and even science fiction. This year the festival closed with the premiere of James Mangold‘s R-rated comic entry Logan, which will see the last outing of Hugh Jackman as the immortal and tormented Wolverine, opposite Patrick Stewart reprising the role of Professor Charles Xavier. In addition, director Danny Boyle‘s long-anticipated follow-up to Trainspotting also debuted at the festival, and saw the original cast return for a look at how the characters are dealing with the realities of life 20-years after the drug-induced original. The festival also played host to a solid line-up of independent films. Unfortunately we’re not able to afford the trip (or take the time off) to make it to Berlin for the 10-day celebration, so this all based on reviews and speculation, but here are just a few noteworthy entries we figured were worth mentioning… Continue reading →
William Monahan (The Departed, Body of Lies) is taking his second jab at directing his own script with a new thriller called Mojave. Starring Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Garret Hedlund (Four Brothers, Tron: Legacy), the film follows a rich, suicidal artist as he ventures into the Mojave Desert, only to encounter his doppelganger: a homicidal drifter. Appearing in the supporting cast are actors Walton Goggins (Shield, Sons of Anarchy), Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter, Lone Survivor), Dania Ramirez (X-Men: The Last Stand, American Reunion), and Matt Jones (Breaking Bad, Red State). Monahan’s last writing/directing project was a film called London Boulevard in 2010, but since The Departed opened in theaters in 2004 the writer has really failed to attain a solid following in terms of highly popular projects, like Edge of Darkness (2010) and the remake of The Gambler in 2014. The trailer does look pretty wild, though, making the film read more like a modern Western thriller with a plot of cat and mouse cowboys. Hopefully it will be enough to get Monahan back on the Oscar-worthy list, but we’ll see. The trailer is here on MADE. Enjoy!
We wanted to give it a little time so that nothing would be spoiled for anybody, but if anyone is reading this that hasn’t seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens yet, I suggest you either stop reading or be prepared for plot spoilers! To begin with, this was easily the best Star Wars film since Return of the Jedi was released in 1983. Director J.J. Abrams (Super 8, Star Trek: Into Darkness) brought legitimate filmmaking back to the series with this film, which looks more like old-fashioned Star Wars than anything we saw come from George Lucas in the early 2000s. His stylistic approach to filmmaking was the perfect merging of special effects and on-set principle photography, made better with the appearance of props and effects that appeared in the original film, such as the targeting view attached to the gun in the Millennium Falcon. The screenplay, written by Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi writer Lawrence Kasdan (Raiders of the Lost Arc, The Bodyguard), was also much better in terms of actual dialogue on the part of the actors, but the overall story imitated that of Jurassic World earlier this year, in the sense that it read almost as a mirror image of the original Star Wars in 1977, with the updated story-line in play, of course. Abrams also did a great job of resurrecting the original Star Wars universe by bringing back a lot of the old designs and symbols representing the Rebel Alliance and the Imperial Star Fleet. I also have no complaints regarding the new lineup of actors. Daisy Ridley and John Boyega had a perfect chemistry between them, and Oscar Isaac did great as the Resistance pilot Poe Dameron. Adam Driver, however, as both the bad guy AND Han Solo and Leia’s son, was not necessarily bad, he was simply miscast, and Abrams didn’t do him any favors by taking off his helmet and showing his face. And if you are wondering about Luke Skywalker, he was pretty much absent the entire movie. He literally showed up for a few seconds at the very end, having evidently pulled a “Yoda” and gone into hiding after Han’s son decided to pull an “Anakin” and join the Dark Side. Needless to say we won’t really know what Luke’s deal is until the next movie in 2017, which will coincide with the 40th anniversary of the original release in 1977. All in all, it was a great movie and gave us some glimpses into the upcoming films and how the characters will continue to develop. Some stories were closed, but many more were opened, and now we have to wait another two years to find out what happens next. Stay tuned.
Back during the Holiday 2014 season director J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Super 8) released a teaser trailer for his upcoming and long-awaited sequel to Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Now with production well underway and the Christmas 2015 release date slowly (but surely) approaching, Abrams has graced us with a new trailer, revealing some impressive cinematic backdrops linking this sequel to George Lucas‘ original series, and bringing back some familiar series-faces to the screen. Making cameo’s in the new trailer is the droid, R2-D2 (who has appeared in every Star Wars film since the original in 1977), and Han Solo and his Wookie companion, Chewbacca, portrayed once again by Harrison Ford (Blade Runner, Clear and Present Danger) and Peter Mayhew (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back). Actor Kenny Baker (The Elephant Man, Time Bandits) is also back to play R2-D2, along with Mark Hamill (Slipstream, Midnight Ride), Carrie Fisher (The Blues Brothers, When Harry Met Sally), and Anthony Daniels (Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith). Abrams co-wrote the new film with screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan (Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Bodyguard) for Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm Ltd. Fans will have to wait until December 18th, but I’m sure there will be plenty of trailers released before then to appease their appetites!
Leonard Nimoy as Spock in the original Star Trek television series.
Actor Leonard Nimoy, who portrayed Spock in the original Star Trek television series in the 1960s, died this week at the age of 83 in Los Angeles. Nimoy began his career as a regular guest on popular TV shows in the 1950s and early 60s, including The Untouchables, Get Smart, and The Twilight Zone. His breakthrough role came when he was noticed on an episode of The Lieutenant, which earned him the role of Spock in Star Trek, which he would be bound to for the rest of his life. Nimoy portrayed the character of Spock virtually for the rest of his career; he starred in the original TV series and the motion-picture series, even directing the third and fourth films, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The actor was also an avid photographer and studied at UCLA, later publishing several controversial photography collections titled The Shekhina Project and another called The Full Body Project. His final acting role was as scientist William Bell on the Fox-network drama Fringe, but he also made a special appearance in director J.J. Abrams‘ 2009 re-boot film Star Trek, and again in Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013). Nimoy leaves behind his wife Susan and his son and daughter Adam and Julie; may he rest in peace.