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This Week in Movie History…

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On September 30, 1948, actor Robert Mitchum (Story of G.I. Joe, Cape Fear) was released from prison following his charge of marijuana possession. Mitchum was an up-and-coming star in Hollywood. He had received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor two years earlier for his role in Story of G.I. Joe, and appeared in four feature films in 1947, including Pursued, Crossfire, Desire Me, and Out of the Past. He also worked with director Robert Wise (The Day the Earth Stood Still, West Side Story) in a western film earlier in 1948 called Blood on the Moon. His recent string of success, however, only made his bust on September 1st that much worse.

Mitchum was found with actress Lila Leeds (Lady in the Lake, Wild Weed) and dancer Vicki Evans. With the 60s still more than a decade out, and public opinion towards marijuana still very much in the light of propaganda films like Reefer Madness (1936), the young actor feared the very public arrest would effectively end his acting career. It didn’t help that industry names like Howard Hughes (Scarface, The Outlaw), David O. Selznick (King Kong, Gone with the Wind), and the press constantly berated him during this period. But his famous bust that could have completely ended his career ended up doing just the opposite. Continue reading

New Sequel ‘Jason Bourne’ Opening In Theaters This Weekend

After nine years away, Jason Bourne is returning to the big screen in the fifth installment in the Bourne series. The new film is simply titled Jason Bourne and reunites original lead Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting, The Departed) with Bourne Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass (United 93, Captain Phillips). Julia Stiles (10 Things I Hate About You, Silver Linings Playbook) is also rejoining the cast as CIA operative Nicky Parsons. She and Damon will be joined on screen by an all-star cast, including Oscar winners Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, The Danish Girl) and Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive, No Country For Old Men). Actors Riz Ahmed (The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Nightcrawler), Ato Essandoh (Blood Diamond, Django Unchained), and Scott Sheperd (Side Effects, Bridge of Spies) are also starring in the new adventure that seeks to uncover the true history behind Bourne’s (aka David Webb) mysterious past. Continue reading

Oscar Winner Steven Soderbergh Returning To Feature Films For New Channing Tatum Project?

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Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh (Erin Brockovich, Ocean’s Eleven) surprised everyone when he announced that he would be stepping away from big-screen features after 2013’s Side Effects. Recent news, however, has him coming out of retirement after spending the last few years on his work in television, like HBO’s Behind the Candelabra. Soderbergh will supposedly come back to direct his long-time friend and collaborator Channing Tatum (Magic Mike, 21 Jump Street) in a new film called Lucky Logan. No information is yet available regarding the script, and Tatum is the only confirmed cast member, although Matt Damon (The Bourne Supremacy, The Martian) was initially rumored to be starring in Tatum’s role. With a script, lead actor, and director already in place, pre-production should get underway fairly quickly, but we’ll keep you updated on further announcements.

MADE Review – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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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.

Director Spike Lee’s New Drama ‘Chi-Raq’ Opening In Theaters Today

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.

New Documentary ‘A Brave Heart’ Now Playing In Theaters

A new documentary called A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story opening in theaters across the country today. The film has been featured at the SXSW Film Festival, the Newport Beach Film Festival and the Lower East Side Film Festival, receiving critical acclaim from fans and critics alike, and securing awards at each festival. A Brave Heart tells the story of Lizzie Velasquez, who has an extremely rare condition that doesn’t allow her body to properly store fat. Lizzie was termed the World’s Ugliest Woman at the age of 17, when an unknown YouTube subscriber uploaded a video of her and set off a storm of social media comments, some going so far as to suggest that she kill herself and “do society a favor”. Lizzie was suddenly faced with a choice: run and hide, or stand and fight. Since the video was uploaded, Lizzie has become a worldwide icon against bullying and has given herself a mission of empowering a more positive online environment for all. The film was scripted by documentary writer/producer Michael Campo (Child 31, The Human Experience) and will be the directorial debut for producer/marketing specialist Sara Hirsh Bordo. It features interviews from Lizzie, herself, as well as others like sociology professor Robert Faris (PhD) and Rep. Linda Sanchez (38th District). The trailer is available here on MADE. Enjoy the weekend!

Filmmaker Antoine Fuqua To Direct Remake Of ‘The Magnificent Seven’

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John Sturges‘s original Magnificent Seven, including Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, and James Coburn (1960).

Filmmaker Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer) is currently working on principle photography for his upcoming remake of the classic 1960 western The Magnificent Seven. The original film was directed by legendary director John Sturges (The Great Escape, Joe Kidd) and featured an all-star cast that included Yul Brynner (The Ten Commandments), Eli Wallach (The Good The Bad and the Ugly), Steve McQueen (Bullitt), Charles Bronson (Death Wish), Robert Vaughn (Julius Caesar), Brad Dexter (Run Silent Run Deep), and James Coburn (Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid). Composer Elmer Bernstein received an Oscar-nomination for Best Musical Score (Drama/Comedy) for his work on the picture, and the film was selected for the National Film Registry by the National Film Preservation Board in 2013. John Lee Hancock (The Alamo, The Blind Side) and Nic Pizzolatto (The Killing, True Detective) are behind the new screenplay, which (like Sturges’s film) is based on the original Japanese script Shichinin No Samurai by Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, and Hideo Oguni. Making up the new crew of gunslingers are actors Chris Pratt (Parks & Recreation, Jurassic World), Matt Bomer (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, In Time), Denzel Washington (The Bone Collector, Inside Man), Vincent D’Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket, Men in Black), Ethan Hawke (Brooklyn’s Finest, Boyhood), Cam Gigandet (Twilight, Easy A), and Peter Sarsgaard (FlightPlan, Jarhead). Considering the movie is not expected in theaters until next September, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it pop up at a few film festivals next year, but we’ll keep an eye out for further production information.

Michael Keaton Taking Lead Role In Ray Kroc Biopic ‘The Founder’

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The original McDonald’s location, opened on April 15, 1955 in Des Plaines, IL.

In case you’re not aware, the internationally-known fast food franchise, McDonald’s, which first showed up in Des Plaines, Illinois in 1955, was the product of salesman Ray Kroc, who took the revolutionary drive-thru restaurant concept of Dick and Mac McDonald and turned it into a worldwide phenomenon. Now a biographical drama titled The Founder is in the works revolving around Kroc’s life and work and his relationship with the McDonald brothers in a new film with Oscar-nominee Michael Keaton (Mr. Mom, Birdman) in the title role. Director John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks) has also already signed on to helm the project, with screenwriter Robert D. Siegel(The Wrestler, Big Fan) providing the script. This one is still very early in production but we’ll keep an eye out for more news as the supporting cast is filled out.

Director David Koepp’s ‘Mortdecai’ Opening In Theaters January 23rd


Director David Koepp (Secret Window, Premium Rush) will see his latest film Mortdecai open in theaters this January 23rd. Starring Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean, Alice in Wonderland) as the title character, the movie is based on a series of novels by author Kyril Bonfiglioli titled Don’t Point That Thing At Me, following the fictional character Charlie Mortdecai. Portrayed as a comical, yet psychotic anti-hero in the novel, the movie follows Mortdecai as he searches for a stolen painting believed to contain the key to a lost Nazi bank account. Gwyneth Paltrow (Seven, Iron Man), Ewen McGregor (Big Fish, The Men Who Stare At Goats) and Paul Bettany (The DaVinci Code, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World) also star in the movie, which was adapted by screenwriter Eric Aronson (On The Line). Check out the trailer here on MADE, and I would at least consider giving this one a shot on the big screen. The novels received critical acclaim when they were released back in the 1970s, and the supporting cast seems strong enough to not have to rely entirely on Johnny Depp for the duration of the movie, but I leave the choice to you.

Banksy Continues “Better Out Than In”

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British artist Banksy continues his New York City residency with yet another piece said to be located in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Getting back to his stenciled roots, the piece depicts a child playing the classic “strong arm” carnival game complete with a bell. After jumping into the pool of multi-media, Banksy brings it home with another creative mark on the city of New York, stay tuned for more as his residency continues.