WARNING – SPOILERS!!! Pac Man, Back to the Future, and Blade Runner are only a few titles that make up the 1980s cinematic nostalgia trip in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, now playing in theaters. Based on the novel by Ernest Cline, Ready Player One follows a young man named Wade Watts who lives in a dystopian United States in 2045. Humanity, as Wade knows it, is plagued by a failing economic system, an ominous corporate-governing body, and a tainted outdoor environment, all the result of an energy crisis caused by global warming, corporate greed, and the depletion of Earth’s fossil fuels. Since the real-world is no longer a pleasant place to spend your time, Wade, like most people, spends his days in the OASIS, an interactive virtual reality comprised of games and puzzles from every video game, movie, book, or television show made primarily between 1980 and 1990, although there are a few exceptions. The OASIS is the mind-child of James Halliday (obviously Cline’s own doppelganger) who, prior to his death, left a hidden Easter Egg inside the OASIS that, if found, provides the winner with his massive fortune and control of the corporation running the OASIS, and that’s where Wade’s (or Parzival as he is named in the OASIS) story begins. 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 →
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 →
A new independent drama starring Viggo Mortensen (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, A History of Violence) is seeing a limited theatrical release this Friday. Written and directed by Matt Ross (The Aviator, Silicon Valley), Captain Fantastic tells the story of a man who raises and home schools his six children in the countryside. After his wife commits suicide, however, they are forced to move into the city, and he soon discovers the children are not prepared for the realities of life in the city. The film won Un Certain Regard Award for directing at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and also took home the Golden Space Needle Award at the Seattle International Film Festival. Starring in the film are actors George McKay (Defiance, Pride), Samantha Isler (Sean Saves the World, Dig Two Graves), Annalise Besso (Standing Up, Oculus), Nicholas Hamilton (Long Shadows, Strangerland), Shree Crooks (Ray Donovan, American Horror Story), Charlie Shotwell (The Comedians, Shot Down), and comedic vets Steve Zahn (Saving Silverman, Sahara) and Kathryn Hahn (Step Brothers, Parks and Recreation). Continue reading →
After the limited release that took place on Christmas Day, writer/director Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight is now playing in theaters nationwide. Starring Samuel L. Jackson (Die Hard with a Vengeance, The Avengers) Kurt Russell (The Thing, Escape from New York), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Road to Perdition, The Machinist), Walton Goggins (The Green Mile, Sons of Anarchy), Tim Roth (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction), Michael Madsen (Free Willy, Kill Bill Vol. 2), and Bruce Dern (Django Unchained ,Nebraska), the film takes place in post Civil War Wyoming, where a group of bounty hunters become trapped in a lodge during a snow storm and end up having to survive both the storm, and each other. Tarantino worked with Oscar-winning composer Ennio Morricone (The Good The Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon A Time in the West) on the new project, Morricone’s first Western film score since the mid-70s, making Hateful Eight the first film of Tarantino’s to feature an all-out theatrical score and not simply a soundtrack. Those that were lucky enough to catch it in theaters last week have reported nothing but great reviews, so even if you’re not a Tarantino or Western-genre fan, I would definitely put this one on your list. The trailer is available one more time on MADE. Enjoy!
Now that the Star Wars bubble has burst, it’s time to look forward to this week’s Christmas Day releases. The first up is one we’ve been waiting for since last Christmas, when a version of the script was leaked and writer/director Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained) was urged to file a lawsuit over the incident. The Hateful Eight is the eighth writing/directing project from Tarantino and is another Western outing that takes place in post-Civil War Wyoming, where a group of bounty hunters are forced to seek shelter from a blizzard, only to find themselves in a game of betrayal and deception. This time out, Tarantino’s stylistic approach to filmmaking will be backed by a full score from Oscar-winning composer Ennio Morricone, whose last Western-film score went to 1975’s A Genius, Two Friends, and an Idiot, but he is more famously known in the Western genre for his contributions to films like A Fistful of Dollars (1964), The Good The Bad and the Ugly (1966), and Once Upon A Time in the West (1968). Continue reading →
Director Spike Lee‘s update of Aristophanes’ play Lysistrata set in the violent streets of modern-day Chicago titled Chi-Raq is opening in theaters today. Set primarily in Chicago’s Southside, the film utilizes modern gang violence to tell Aristophanes’ tale of a group of women who decide to keep sex from their male counterparts in order to encourage them to stop the street violence that is destroying their homes and families. Lee adapted the screenplay with writer Kevin Willmott (The Battle for Bunker Hill, Jayhawkers), which features actors Nick Cannon (Bobby, Day of the Dead), Teyonah Parris (How Do You Know, They Came Together), Wesley Snipes (Blade, Demolition Man), Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers, Unbreakable), John Cusack (The Raven, Hot Tub Time Machine), and Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls, Lullaby). For Hudson, the film carries a unique weight: she has lost three family members to the gun-violence dividing the streets of Chicago. Comedy veteran Dave Chappelle (The Chappelle Show, The Nutty Professor) is also expected to make an appearance. The trailer is here on MADE; check it out in theaters today.
After much anticipation and even more promotional hype, the NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton is now playing in theaters nationwide. Directed by F. Gary Gray (Friday, The Italian Job) and penned by screenwriters Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff (World Trade Center), Straight Outta Compton chronicles the rise of the iconic rap group NWA during the mid-1980s. The group’s songs of hardship and racial prejudice in the streets of Compton prompted a national awareness to the ongoing issues still fueled by racial divides between the law and the streets, and revolutionized the hip hop genre for generations to come. Starring in the film as the members of NWA are O’Shea Jackson Jr. (as his father, Ice Cube), Corey Hawkins (Iron Man 3, Non-Stop) as Dr. Dre, Jason Mitchell (Contraband, Broken City) as Eazy-E, Neil Brown Jr. (Fast & Furious, Battle Los Angeles) as DJ Yella, and Aldis Hodge (Die Hard With A Vengeance, The East) as MC Ren. Oscar-nominee Paul Giamatti (Lady in the Water, 12 Years A Slave) also appears in the film as NWA manager Jerry Heller. Reviews have been mixed thus far: some have expressed that the story is exaggerated at points, while other truths have been completely omitted from the story. But one thing that all the critics seem to agree on are the actors’ performances. As with any film adaptation of a real-life story, the plot will tend to focus on the perspective of certain members and not touch upon others, but I’m hoping, for the most part, that this will be a fairly accurate representation of the true account. Original members Dr. Dre and Ice Cube served as producers on the project. So if you don’t have any plans this weekend (and even if you do), I would make a point of seeing this one on the big screen. It’s bound to be the biggest movie release this summer. Enjoy!
Yesterday writer/director Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained) released the first trailer for his upcoming western The Hateful Eight. The film is credited as Tarantino’s eighth film and as many of you know has already undergone its fair share of controversy. The initial screenplay was leaked to the public on Gawker earlier this year and Tarantino’s filing a lawsuit against them was highly publicized in the press (to his own dismay). But since then the director has completed his final written script and with filming complete, he appeared at this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego to showcase the movie with a whole 7-minute clip and a discussion about shooting on 70mm film instead of conforming to the film industry’s shift to digital filmmaking, which he has stated may drive him to leave filmmaking altogether (but nothing is yet set in stone). As for the new movie, it will stand as Tarantino’s second venture into the Western genre and this time will even feature a score (the first of his films to do so) by composer Ennio Morricone, who first achieved fame as a composer for westerns on legendary director Sergio Leone‘s A Fistful of Dollars and The Good The Bad and The Ugly. Making up the cast for Hateful Eight include Tarantino regulars Samuel L. Jackson (Jackie Brown, Django Unchained), Tim Roth (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction), and Michael Madsen (Kill Bill Vol. 1-2), plus actors Kurt Russell (Escape From New York, Death Proof), Walton Goggins (Miracle at St. Anna’s, Sons of Anarchy), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Road to Perdition, The Machinist), Zoe Bell (Grindhouse, Inglorious Basterds), and Oscar-nominee Bruce Dern (Monster, Nebraska). You can see the new trailer here on MADE. The Hateful Eight will be opening on big screens nationwide January 8, 2016, with a limited release happening this Christmas Day. Stay tuned!
The chances of somebody never having seen Christopher Lee in a movie may be virtually impossible. The 93 year-old-actor, who died Sunday in London, was a veteran of the big screen, whose life achievements can easily be seen in his long repertoire of films. Lee covered all of the basics during his career. He appeared in classic stories like Dracula (1970) and The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), and he would carry his villainous streak over to such roles as James Bond‘s nemesis in The Man With The Golden Gun (1974) to Count Dooku in George Lucas’s latest Star Wars trilogy, to the dark-wizard Saruman in director Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings series. Some music fans may even recognize him on the cover of Paul McCartney’s most popular post-Beatles ablum Band on the Run alongside McCartney and Wings and actors James Coburn (The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven), and Kenny Lynch, among others. In later years Lee would also collaborate regularly with director Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns) on such films as Sleepy Hollow and Alice in Wonderland, and he was knighted in his home country of England in 2009. He leaves behind his wife of 50 years Birgit Kroencke and their daughter Christina. May he rest in peace.