Acclaimed filmmaker Jonathan Demme, know to most for directing The Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, passed away last week at the age of 73. Known for his personal approach to filmmaking, Demme left behind an extensive portfolio of work, ranging from documentaries, independent films, cult remakes, and blockbuster dramas. His early work dates back to 1970s satire films like Fighting Mad and Handle with Care. Melvin and Howard made the director a household name in 1980, and Mr. Demme went on to direct a number of films and documentaries before making history in the early 1990s with Silence and Philadelphia. Both were box-office successes and culturally significant films that touched on a number of highly debated issues. Continue reading →
Director Kevin MacDonald (The Last King of Scotland, State of Play) is best known for his work on documentaries like Touching the Void and One Day In September, which earned him an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2000, but his next project will be a return to the motion picture genre with a new suspense-thriller called Black Sea. The film stars Academy Award nomineeJude Law (Enemy at the Gates, Cold Mountain) as a submarine captain who, let go by his former employers, sets out for a voyage amid the depths of the Black Sea in search of a lost Nazi U-boat rumored to have been carrying loads of gold. Also starring in the film are actors Scoot McNairy (Argo, 12 Years A Slave), Ben Mendelsohn (The Dark Knight Rises, Killing Them Softly), and Jodie Whittaker (St. Trinian’s, One Day). Screenwriter Denis Kelly (Utopia, Pulling) wrote the script, and it actually looks like a pretty cool thriller, so keep it in mind when you go to the movies this weekend. You can watch the trailer above.
Having just appeared in Elysium with Jodie Foster in 2012, Matt Damon will be getting behind the camera for another space adventure with director Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator) for The Martian. Coming from a script that was adapted by Drew Goddard from Andy Weir’s book, the story follows an astronaut who ends up stranded on Mars and must play the survival game until he can find a means to get back to Earth. Goddard was originally set to write and direct the project, but his earlier commitment to direct The Sinister Six for Sony Pictures has Scott now in talks to direct, even though Scott is currently finishing up Exodus for release later this year and also has Prometheus 2 scheduled for a March 2016 release. Warner Bros. pictures has also recently announced that a sequel to Scott’s 1982 blockbuster Blade Runner is going to be in the works with Harrison Ford reprising his role as Rick Deckard. According to Alcon Entertainment, who co-produced/financed the first Blade Runner, the screenplay will be written by original writers Hampton Fancher and Michael Green and will, if all goes according to plan, follow Ford’s character several decades after the conclusion of the first film, with Scott once again directing. Considering all of the projects Scott is also involved with as producer, it seems his plate is filling up pretty quickly, but we’ll see how all of this pans out. The Martian will most likely be the first step after Prometheus 2 is finished (assuming Scott does decide to direct), and then Blade Runner will follow that (also assuming it doesn’t conflict with his new Star Wars commitments!).
Elysium opened this weekend to $30.5 million for the three day stretch. It beat out Jennifer Aniston’s We’re The Millers, as well as Disney’s Planes, and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. Elysium is the first release for writer/director Neill Blokamp since 2009, when he received critical acclaim for the sci-fi drama District 9, which pulled in $37 million in it’s opening weekend debut. Like District 9, Elysium has already drawn heavy attention from critics for its reflections on social class structures and the so-called “left-wing agenda,” but that didn’t stop District 9 from scoring big with audiences and becoming an unexpected hit in Hollywood. Elysium also has the celebrity pull that District 9 was lacking, starring two Oscar winners, Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, in the leading roles. The only concern for Elysium now is that it came in somewhat short for a movie with a budget of $115 million, so Sony may be pretty anxious to see the worldwide release results. I have high hopes for this movie though; Blokamp is both a great writer and director, and if Elysium is anything close to District 9, audiences are sure to be in for a big surprise.