Sports films tend to be excellent mediums for demonstrating the perseverance of the human spirit. They are also an excellent platform for promoting social acceptance and awareness. Think of films like Remember the Titans (overcoming racial barriers), Miracle (the underdogs band together to beat overwhelming odds), and A League of Their Own (women show they can play the game too). Well this week movie-goers will, again, have the chance to see two new sports dramas that focus on the resilience and determination of dedicated athletes.
First up is a film called Stronger from director David Gordon Greene. The film is based on the life (and memoir) of Jeff Bauman, the runner who tragically lost his legs in the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. Following the incident, Bauman underwent intense physical therapy in an effort to learn how to walk and run again with the help of state-of-the-art prosthetics. He famously threw the opening pitch at the Boston Red Sox alongside Carlos Arredondo a few days following his surgery (Arredondo is pictured below in the cowboy hat, helping medics get Bauman away from the site of the infamous bombing). Screenwriter John Pollono adapted the script from Bauman’s memoir.
A new trailer has just been released for the new X-Men sequel/independent-stand-alone feature Logan, once again starring Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables, Prisoners) as the Wolverine. This may very well be Jackson’s last outing with the character. Logan appears to take place in a distant, grim-looking future, where his mutation is failing and he plays guardian for Charles Xavier, now suffering from Alzheimers Disease. While the two cope with the loss of the mutants and the X-Men, Wolverine must battle a corporate conglomerate whose only goal seems to be to destroy the world. Just as the two mutants reach the verge of losing hope, they discover a young girl, or clone, who possesses Logan’s same gift of regeneration, and who may very-well-be their only hope of defeating Essex.
Patrick Stewart reprises his role as Charles Xavier, joining Jackman under the direction of The Wolverine director James Mangold (Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma). Mangold assisted in writing the project with screenwriters David James Kelly and Michael Green (Alien: Covenant, Blade Runner 2049), both newcomers to the X-Men movie universe. Boyd Holbrook (Milk, Gone Girl), Stephan Merchant (Hall Pass, The Big Bang Theory), Richard E. Grant (Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Corpse Bride), and Dafne Keen (The Refugees) all appear in the supporting cast. Sadly, no other familiar faces in terms of X-Men or mutants in general are expected to be seen in the film. Continue reading →
This week’s Memorable Movie Moment takes us back to 1962 and director Robert Mulligan‘s big screen adaptation of author Harper Lee‘s To Kill a Mockingbird. The story of Mockingbird goes even further back to the Depression-era South, and finds white attorney Atticus Finch defending a black man accused of beating a white woman. Atticus Finch has become a name synonymous with racial justice in twentieth-century America. The book was published in 1960 and became an instant best-seller, earning author Lee a Pulitzer Prize. It is regularly read among high school literature classes and has become one of the most famous and successful novels ever written. After publishing Mockingbird, Lee never wrote another book. She did assist author Truman Capote with research for his famous novel In Cold Blood, and the character of Dill is said to be based on Capote, who was a childhood friend of the authors. Lee’s estate also published the original manuscript for Mockingbird titled Go Set a Watchman earlier this year, but the release remains somewhat controversial as Lee’s health was deteriorating and questions arose regarding whether it was her idea to publish the novel or not. Continue reading →
This week will see a number of indie projects open on select screens across the country. We mentioned the Kristen Stewart (Twilight, Snow White and the Huntsmen) drama Equals opening this Friday, about a couple who falls in love as the result of a disease in a futuristic utopia that is devoid of feeling and emotion, and the tension it causes between them and their society. Co-starring with Stewart is Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road, X-Men: Apocalypse), who are led by director Drake Doremus (Like Crazy, Breathe In).
Also opening on the indie circuit this week is a new animated movie called Phantom Boy, which takes place in the 1940s-50s and follows a young boy with superpowers who helps a wheelchair-bound policeman in his efforts to take down a notorious mob boss. The film comes from Oscar-nominated filmmakers Loup Felicioli & Alain Gagnol (A Cat in Paris) and stars French actors Edouard Baer (Chicken with Plums), Jean-Pierre Marielle (Coup de torchon, The DaVinci Code), and Audrey Tautou (A Very Long Engagement, Amelie).
Will Smith‘s next big screen outing, a drama by the name of Concussion, will be opening in theaters this Christmas Day. This time around the Independence Day and Pursuit of Happiness star takes on the role of Dr. Bennet Omalu, a neuropathologist who first discovered CTE, a brain injury related to playing football, and sought to expose the truth behind the condition, despite the efforts of the multi-million dollar corporation that is the NFL trying to keep him silent. Director Peter Landesman (Parkland, Kill the Messenger) worked with author Jean Marie-Laskas to adapt the screenplay from her GQ article Game Brain, which is based on Dr. Omalu’s life and work. Starring in the film are actors Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Beyond the Lights, Jupiter Ascending), Bitsie Tulloch (The Artist, Parkland), Stephen Moyer (Priest, True Blood), Alec Baldwin (30 Rock, The Departed), Luke Wilson (Legally Blonde, Old School), and Albert Brooks (Drive, A Most Violent Year). Check out the trailer here on MADE. We’ll be bringing further news and reminders as we get closer to the Holidays. Enjoy!
A Comic-Con celebration would hardly be complete without an X-Men panel of sorts, and this year definitely had plenty of news to appease fans. First up, original X-Men director Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, Valkyrie) along with actors Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables, Prisoners), Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle, The Hunger Games), Michael Fassbender (Inglorious Basterds, 12 Years A Slave), and Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis, A Most Violent Year) displayed an unexpected trailer for the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse movie. The film will pick up in the 1980s, after the conclusion of X-Men: Days of Future Past and although the story details are still pretty murky, the mutants and Professor Xavier will come face-to-face with the ancient mutant Apocalypse, who has been around since the dawn of time and is intent on founding a new civilization from the ashes of the one we know. Joining the mutant cast include Game of Thrones actress Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler, Alexandra Shipp as Storm, and Nickolas Hoult as Beast. The trailer should be available for public viewing at some point soon, so we’ll keep an eye out for that. Hugh Jackman was in attendance for the Apocalypse panel although Wolverine is not expected to be in the movie, but Jackman will take up the role one last time in a new solo Wolverine movie. Two other mutants are also expected to make their independent film debuts: Channing Tatum is expected to appear in an independent Gambit movie and Ryan Reynolds will also be appearing in a solo Deadpool movie. Keep an eye out for further news on these two projects. The full panel is available here on MADE.
Author Harper Lee pictured on-set with actress Mary Badham, who portrayed Scout in the film adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird with Gregory Peck.
Celebrated Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Harper Lee, has remained quite dormant over the last 50 years of her life, ever since she gave her last interview in 1964 regarding her American literary classic To Kill A Mockingbird. The novel became one of the most powerful and important literary reflections of racism in our modern society, taking place in Depression-era Alabama amidst hard economic times and astronomical segregation laws and practices that would remain in place until the Civil Rights Movement nearly 30 years later. And now, during a time when racial tensions are once again dominating news headlines in this country, Lee will be publishing a long, lost manuscript that she wrote prior to the publication of Mockingbird, titled Go Set A Watchmen. The novel, whose pages ended up being the earliest draft for Mockingbird, follows Jean-Louise Finch (Scout) as a 26-year-old woman living in New York City who returns to her home in the South to confront her father, Atticus, about the issues and lifestyles that people deemed as appropriate and necessary during her childhood. Lee’s writings of the character’s childhood in the form of flashbacks in Watchman became her inspiration to tell the story of Mockingbird from the perspective of Scout as a child instead of an adult, and thus To Kill A Mockingbird was written and published. Much controversy has already been stirred at the news of Go Set A Watchman‘s publication, including concerns about how readers will react to Lee’s writing about the issues, questions as to whether or not Lee is coherent enough to give her permission for the novel’s publication (which reporters and friends and Lee, herself, says she is) and what the reaction will be to Lee’s further development/portrayal of such beloved characters, especially Atticus Finch. Nevertheless the novel will be available on bookshelves this July 14th, and pre-sales have already made the book a Bestseller. So if you are a fan of Harper Lee or of To Kill A Mockingbird, I would definitely put this on your ‘To-Read’ list.
With July getting closer and closer on the calendar, we have already started seeing some new trailers for the upcoming video-game comedy Pixels. The movie comes from director Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) and a script by writers Timothy Dowling (Just Go With It, This Means War) and Tim Herlihy (Happy Gilmore, Mr. Deeds) from a story by Patrick Jean (Tom the Cat, Motorville) about aliens who attack earth using the characters of Nintendo video game characters. Leading the cast line-up is comedy veteran Adam Sandler (Big Daddy, Grown-Ups), Josh Gad (Love & Other Drugs, The Wedding Ringer), Kevin James (The King of Queens, Paul Blart:Mall Cop), Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent, Game of Thrones), Michelle Monoghan (Eagle Eye, True Detective), and Jane Krakowski (Alfie, 30 Rock), along with your favorite Nintendo characters including PAC-MAN, Donkey Kong, and Space Invaders! Although the project seems pretty dumb in retrospect, it may just be the comedy to see this summer, although it did receive a PG-13 and not R rating. We’ll just have to wait for July to see if it’s a hidden gem or not. Stay tuned.
Writer/director Luc Besson at work behind the camera.
French filmmaker Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, The Transporter) is currently in production on his new sci-fi project titled Valerian. Besson is still working on the full cast list, as well as his own script adaptation, based on the comic books by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezieres, but thus far actors Cara Delevingne (Anna Karenina, Suicide Squad) and Dane DeHaan (Lincoln, The Amazing Spider-Man 2) have both been signed on for the film. The full working title for the project is Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, and will follow the time-traveler Valerian and his sidekick Laureline on an all new adventure. We still have some time before we actually see this one in theaters, but a tentative French release is scheduled for 2017. We’ll bring you more details as they unfold over the next few months. Stay tuned!
You’ve probably started to see TV-spots for the upcoming comedy Pixels with Adam Sandler (Happy Gilmore, Big Daddy) and Kevin James (The King of Queens, Grown-Ups) on your flat-screens. We first caught wind of this project about a year ago when it was announced that Michelle Monaghan (Eagle Eye, True Detective) and Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent, Game of Thrones) would also be joining the cast, and with the movie still scheduled to open in theaters this July 24th, the crew is now full-swing in post production. Harry Potter and Home Alone director Chris Columbus is leading the project with a script from Timothy Dowling (Just Go With It, This Means War) and Tim Herlihy (Mr. Deeds, Grown-Ups 2), written from a short by Patrick Jean. If you’ve seen the TV-spots then you get the premise: video-game heros like Donkey Kong and Pac Man come to Earth as an alien species and begin to go “Godzilla” on the human race. Pretty hilarious idea; so much so that I think it may actually be worth seeing in theaters. Enjoy!