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 →
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!
We’ve been waiting for more news on this project for a while now, and with an August 14th release date slowing coming up, we finally have a full trailer for F. Gary Gray‘s upcoming biographical drama Straight Outta Compton. Based on the story of the iconic group N.W.A, the film chronicles their rise to fame from the streets of Compton, California, and how their music revolutionized popular culture as they exposed the danger and brutality of the ghetto. The film is being produced by Tomica Woods and original members Ice Cube (Friday, All About the Benjamins) and Dr. Dre, with Gray (Friday, Law Abiding Citizen) working from a script by Andrea Berloff (World Trade Center, Blood Father) and Sheldon Turner (The Longest Yard, X-Men: First Class). Making up the cast are actors O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Ice Cube, Aldis Hodge (Leverage, The East) as MC Ren, Jason Mitchell (Contraband, Broken City) as Eazy-E, Corey Hawkins (Iron Man 3, Non-Stop) as Dr. Dre, and Neil Brown Jr. (Fast and Furious, Battle Los Angeles) as DJ Yella, with Lakeith Lee Stanfield (The Purge: Anarchy, Selma) as Snoop Dogg and Paul Giamatti (Sideways, Cinderella Man) as N.W.A manager Jerry Heller. The trailer premiered during this week’s episode of Workaholics, but you can see it here on MADE if you missed out. Enjoy!
Painter Frank Bernard Dicksee’s 1884 oil canvas Romeo and Juliet.
Just when we thought Hollywood couldn’t do anything more to ruin originality, we see headlines like these in the news and just want to lose all hope. THR recently reported that Sony Pictures has picked up a new film adaptation of William Shakespeare‘s Romeo and Juliet that will supposedly be imagined in the likings of director Zack Snyder‘s 300. The project is called Verona and is the first from writing duo Neil Widener and Gavin James. At the same time director Jonathan Liebesman (Wrath of the Titans, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) is also working on a new project at Thunder Road Pictures that will tell the story of King Arthur, Lancelot, and Guinivere in a Western-genre setting. This one is titled Man at War and comes from a script by writer Jeremy Lott, but we have yet to hear when this project will be released in relation to Guy Ritchie‘s upcoming movie Knights of the Round Table: King Arthur. I don’t know how fans of classic literature will take news of a 300-style Romeo and Juliet, or two King Arthur movies being made pretty much simultaneously, but with Disney and Marvel both busy popping out Star Wars and Avengers films for every consecutive year from now until God knows when, I can’t say this comes as very surprising news. Keep an eye out for further updates.
A new biographical film based on the life of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, is in the works from Universal studios, and it looks like they’re interested in having writer/director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, Grand Piano) head up the project. The film will be titled First Man and based on the book First Man: A Life of Neil A. Armstrong by author James Hansen (The Pepsi Signs, A Difficult Par: Robert Trent Jones Sr. and the Making of Modern Golf). Hansen’s book obviously covers much more material than what can fit into a feature-length film, so it is not exactly clear if the movie will go as far back as the astronaut’s time in the Navy and go up to the Apollo 11 mission that saw him reach the moon, or go from that point and extend further into his later years, but whatever the case it should turn out to be a good watch. Screenwriter Josh Singer (Fringe, The Fifth Estate) will be adapting the book for film, but director Chazelle may not be immediately available to helm this project owing to his already busy schedule, but we’ll see how this one turns out. We’ll keep you posted.
We first reported that last month that a biopic about iconic rap group NWA titled Straight Outta Compton (in reference to their first album) was in the works at Universal and that O’Shea Jackson Jr. would potentially be cast to portray Ice Cube in the movie. As far as we can tell that still appears to be accurate, but now we also have news that Lakeith Lee Stanfield (Memoria, The Purge: Anarchy) has been chosen to play the role of Calvin Broadus Jr., otherwise known as Snoop Dog (or Snoop Lion as of last year), who first appeared on the rap-scene around the same time as NWA. That means he and Jackson Jr. will be joining a cast of relatively unknown actors, including Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre, Jason Mitchell as Easy-E, Aldis Hodge as MC Ren, and Neil Brown Jr. as DJ Yella. Other cast members include Paul Giamatti as Jerry Heller, NWA’s manager, and Carra Patterson as Tomica Woods. The film will be directed by F. Gary Gray (Friday, The Italian Job), but this is just another project on Stanfield’s list of upcoming movies. The actor is also scheduled to appear in the upcoming Miles Davis biopic with Don Cheadle, Miles Ahead, and Oprah Winfrey’s upcoming Civil Rights drama Selma, which centers on the marches between Selma and Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. Now that the cast is pretty much all in place, filming on this new biopic should begin soon, but we’ll keep an eye out for an official start and potential release date.
William Safire, a Pulitzer Prize winning author who also served as speech writer for President Richard Nixon in the late 1960s, regretfully passed away back in 2009, but he left us some interesting material from that era of history that saw the Civil Rights Movement, anti-Vietnam protests, and the rock-n-roll fueled British Invasion that brought The Beatles and The Rolling Stones to the American counterculture. A speech by Safire was discovered upon his death, entitled “In The Event Of A Moon Disaster,” which was written for President Nixon in the event that the 1969 Apollo 11 mission that took Neil Armstrong to the moon did not go according to plan. Now the screenplay, which was black-listed back in 2011, is being picked up by director Tate Taylor (The Help, Get On Up) for a feature-film. Former journalist Mike Jones, who wrote the screenplay, will be working with the director on the film, which they hope to be filming early next year.
Check out the new trailer for the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie starring Megan Fox as April O’Neil and Johnny Knoxville as the voice of Leonardo. Golden Globe winner Tony Shalhoub will also be featured as the voice of Splinter, and William Fichtner will appear in the film as The Shredder. The movie is set for release this August and is directed by Jonathan Liebesman (Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Battle: Los Angeles) from a script by Josh Applebaum, Andre Nemec, and Evan Daugherty. Enjoy!