Writer, director, and lead actor Nate Parker (The Great Debaters, Red Tails)’s The Birth of a Nation is now playing in theaters across the country, but not in the light the young filmmaker was hoping for. The film struggled to reach $7 million in domestic box office sales in its opening weekend. Several factors could have contributed to the surprising low, but the most likely cause of the low turn out is Parker’s 1999 rape allegations during his time at Penn State. Although Parker was exonerated, news that his alleged victim committed suicide in 2012 and his handling of the case back in 1999 have caused a great controversy that has women’s rights and sexual assault advocate groups shouting boycott all across the country.
While Parker’s film may be controversial in its own right, the original Birth of a Nation, which was a silent movie released in 1915, was just as controversial, if not more so. The original Birth of a Nation is remembered for its blatantly racial undertones and simultaneous impressive contributions to filmmaking. Continue reading →
After months and months of anticipation, fans can finally rejoice! As of today, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is now playing in theaters nationwide, and if you haven’t already secured a ticket, you might have to wait at least a week or two before braving the storm of people waiting in line out the door. Director JJ Abrams (Mission Impossible 3, Super 8) took leave of his Star Trek obligations in order to direct the film, which reunites original stars Mark Hamill (Commander Hamilton, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back), Harrison Ford (Blade Runner, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc), and Carrie Fisher (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, The Blues Brothers) with an all new generation of actors, led by Daisy Ridley (Blue Season, Scrawl), John Boyega (Junkhearts, Imperial Dreams), Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis, A Most Violent Year), Domhnall Gleeson (Unbroken, Ex Machina), Adam Driver (While We’re Young, This Is Where I Leave You), and Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey). The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi Oscar-winning screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan (The Big Chill, The Accidental Tourist) worked on the new project’s script with director Abrams and fellow Oscar-winner Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3), about a new threat to peace and justice in the galaxy that occurs 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi concluded. Little more needs be said; all I ask is that you not be an asshole and spoil the plot for everybody in ear-shot of your conversations! Enjoy.
With the release date for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens drawing ever nearer, fans and movie-buffs alike are jumping for joy with the release of the new full-length trailer. Written by director J.J. Abrams (Armageddon, Super 8) and Oscar-winning screenwriters Lawrence Kasdan (Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back) and Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3), the film picks up 30 years after the fall of the Galactic Empire in Return of the Jedi (1983) and finds the heros of the Rebellion facing a new evil that has risen again. Starring in the film are original Star Wars actors Mark Hamill (Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Kingsman: The Secret Service), Carrie Fisher (The Blues Brothers, When Harry Met Sally), Harrison Ford (Blade Runner, The Temple of Doom), Peter Mayhew (A New Hope, Revenge of the Sith) as Chewbacca, Kenny Baker (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones) as R2D2, and Anthony Daniels (Droids, I Bought A Vampire Motorcycle) as C-3P0, who will be joining a new generation of actors including Domhnall Gleeson (Unbroken, Ex Machina), Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis, A Most Violent Year), Gwendoline Christie (The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay), Daisy Ridley (Blue Season, Scrawl), Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Adam Driver (What If, This Is Where I Leave You), and John Boyega (Junkhearts, Imperial Dreams). The movie is due out in theaters this December 18th. Enjoy the new trailer!
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. Continue reading →
Writer/director Kevin Smith (Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Tusk) seems to be making some solid progress on his announced upcoming sequel to Mallrats. Smith tweeted on May 11th that he has completed a 113-page draft for Mallbrats (the new title for the project) and will be dedicating it to original Mallrats producer Jim Jacks (Raising Arizona, The Mummy), who passed away just last year. Production on Clerks 3 has also been pushed back while the Mallbrats crew works on the set-production in the currently empty mall that will be used for filming. Returning for the new movie are original actors Jeremy London (Breaking Free, Levitation), Claire Forlani (The Rock, Meet Joe Black), Ethan Suplee (My Name is Earl, The Wolf of Wall Street), Joey Lauren Adams (Dazed and Confused, Big Daddy), Brian O’Halloran (Clerks, Dogma), Sven-Ole Thorsen (Lethal Weapon, Gladiator), Renee Humphrey (French Kiss, The Sex Monster), as well as Smith’s long time collaborator, actor/producer Scott Mosier (Chasing Amy, Good Will Hunting). Thus far there is no news as to whether or not Jason Lee (Almost Famous, Dreamcatcher) or Ben Affleck (Argo, Gone Girl) will return to reprise their roles, but we’ll keep you posted. Stay tuned!
Comedy veteran Kevin Smith seems to be caught up in the sequel-binge that’s happening in Hollywood right now. The director is not only preparing to begin filming Clerks 3 in Philadelphia this May, but now he has also confirmed he is working on a sequel to his 1995 comedy flop Mallrats. Clerks 3 will bring back Smith and Jason Mewes as Jay and Silent Bob, as well as Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson as clerks Dante and Randal, plus Clerks 2 star Rosario Dawson, and Marilyn Ghigliotti (Clerks, Starship:Rising) as Veronica. While fans of Smith and his View-Askewniverse characters will be probably welcome the Clerks crew back to the big screen, many are surprised to hear that he is returning to Mallrats. The movie virtually flopped at the box office when it was released in ’95 (it was Smith’s first release since Clerks a year earlier), but Smith has said he will make the movie in a long-delayed honor of Mallrats producer Jim Jack, who always supported Smith over the years and died with an unrelenting desire to see Mallrats 2 on the big screen. Whatever the reason, Smith already has half of the script completed and if all goes well principle photography should begin as early as May 2016. In the meantime, check out this 1995 trailer for Mallrats, and if you haven’t seen it you should definitely make a point to.
Even though he was once considering retiring from filmmaking, director Kevin Smith is showing no signs of slowing down, and, in fact, seems to be taking on even more than one would expect from someone preparing for retirement. Smith is currently involved in a recent rumor that has him writing a ‘fake’ script for Warner Bros. upcoming Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice that was meant to conceal the actual script director Zack Snyder will be adapting for the film. He is also still prepping his upcoming horror movie Tusk for release along with a spin-off for that project which will follow several characters from Tusk in a more concentrated setting. To top it all off, fans are still waiting for Smith to get some momentum going on production for Clerks 3, which will most likely be the last installment in that series. The original Clerks was released twenty years ago this year and brought Smith into the Hollywood spotlight, while simultaneously kicking off his series of Askewniverse films revolving around the iconic characters Jay and Silent Bob. Clerks 3 has already been pushed back for Smith to produce Anti-Claus, and he is still looking for a way to finance the film since the Weinstein Company has only agreed to provide distribution. With the reputation of Smith and the Clerks franchise, I’m sure finding some financing for number three won’t be too difficult, but we’ll have to wait and see.
A few weeks ago we informed you that an IndieGogo campaign had been launched to raise money for a new biopic on iconic jazz musician Miles Davis with actor Don Cheadle. The goal was to raise $90,000 in just a month for the production to begin in July, and with the cut-off date quickly approaching production will now be moving forward in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cheadle recently did an interview with Entertainment Weekly about the film, which will focus on the period of Davis’ career around the release of his 1969 rock-jazz album In A Silent Way. Ewan McGregor, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Emayatzy Corinealdi are also set to take roles in the film, which has been in development now for the better part of a decade. You can see a picture of Cheadle in full costume as Davis above. If all goes as planned we could see the film hit theaters as early as 2015, so keep your eyes open for more news on this one.
Director Kevin Smith has been doing a fairly good job of staying on the low recently. The director had recently announced plans to retire from filmmaking following his next project, Clerks 3, which is scheduled to begin filming this May. Following Clerks 3, however, the director will be taking his filmmaking talents in a new direction. Clerks 3 will (for now) be his last project with his View Askew characters, namely Jay and Silent Bob, and Dante and Randall, and the director is already looking ahead to plan his next project, a film called Helena Handbag. Smith is currently nearing completion on his most recent film, Tusk, which was inspired by a SModcast episode titled The Walrus and The Carpenter and concerned a tenant receiving free rent in exchange for dressing up as a Walrus to keep his landlord company. Strange, I know, and it’s also a bit surprising to see Smith coming out with a horror movie, but Helena Handbag will be an endeavor back into the realm of comedy.
The plot, according to Smith, involves humanity joining forces with hell to prevent mankind’s extinction by a “Rapturing giant Jesus.” I’m sure, after reading that, that you automatically have mixed feelings about it, but don’t worry, our director is not so ignorant that he thinks this will be an easy film to make. Smith has stated that he knows there’s a chance the film won’t even get picked up at all because it is sure to cause some controversies with religious fanatics and organizations, but we’ll see what happens. Maybe he can work it out so that the humor will be good enough to see passed the religious implications behind the plot! Tusk is due out sometime later this year, so keep an eye out for a movie trailer; with production wrapping up, they’re sure to release one soon.
When Clerks was released in 1994, no one, not even writer/director Kevin Smith, was prepared for the success the film experienced. Winning awards from both the Cannes and Sundance Film Festivals, the movie gained enormous popularity and became the first installment of the View Askewniverse movies, all incorporating various characters and plot lines, but held together by the hilarious worry-free antics of Jay and Silent Bob. Clerks 2 was released in 2006 and although Smith took some initial beatings for making a sequel instead of releasing a fresh project, the film was just as fresh and outrageous as the original. There have been talks recently of Smith aiming to do a third film and even claims that a script is ready, but we’ll have to see if the Weinstein brothers decide to get behind the project.