Walt Disney Pictures has come a long way from making full-length animated features like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, and Peter Pan. In the 21st century, the company has reinvented itself with live-action blockbusters like Pirates of the Caribbean, state-of-the-art computer animated films like Cars and Frozen, and adaptations of children’s literary classics like Roald Dahl’s The BFG and Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time (out in theaters this March). In recent years, Disney has expanded into more lucrative markets like comic book blockbusters (ie. Marvel comics) and, of course, the Star Wars franchise. The latest Star Wars entry, The Last Jedi, hit the $1 billion mark in worldwide box office sales barely three weeks after its US theatrical release. With a plethora of material to work with, and plenty of money coming in, one would think Disney is far passed its tipping point, but that might not be the case at all. Continue reading →
I’ve been saying it for years: vinyl is the way to go and Millennials are finally catching on! Best Buy announced this week that its stores will stop selling CDs (compact discs) altogether this July 1. Meanwhile vinyl sales have been steadily rising over the last few years, becoming, once again, a high-demand item for music retailers who have been struggling to compete with digital streaming services and music downloaded from the Internet. According to The Guardian, vinyl sales saw a 53% increase between 2015 and 2016, the highest sales numbers for vinyl since 1991. Although vinyls have always been kept around by independent retailers like Half Price Books and local stores like Cheapo Records and Electric Fetus here in Minneapolis, retailers like Best Buy and Target have caught up with the trend. As some begin to drop CD sales, none seem to have any plans to stop selling vinyl. Continue reading →
The nominations for the 90th Annual Academy Awards were released last week and met with mixed reactions. Some were ecstatic, others were disappointed, but how many were surprised? The Academy has been attempting to present itself in a new light in the years since a slew of all-white nominees was presented in the Best Actor category at the 2015 ceremony. Despite the #OscarsSoWhite movement that followed, the same thing happened the next year, sending organizers into a furor that found them completely revamping the membership list in the hopes of getting more diversified nominations. Although the 89th ceremony saw some changes in terms of the voting body, it seemed more like a desperate attempt to show change rather than a legitimate attempt to actually change. Now, in the age of #MeToo, this year’s nominees also fell shy of expectations. Continue reading →
Kay Graham (portrayed by Meryl Streep in Spielberg’s film) was the acting publisher of The Washington Post at the time. She inherited the role of sole proprietor following her husband’s untimely death by suicide. Graham not only faced a board of all-male stock holders who were ready to oust her at any moment, but also a more hostile-than-friendly editor named Ben Bradlee (portrayed by Tom Hanks), who reportedly informed her that he’d give his left nut to run the Post, himself. Shortly after Graham came into her new position, Martin Weil (Better Call Saul‘s Bob Odenkirk) was sent to meet with Ellsberg to collect the top secret documents in Boston and transport them safely back to Washington. Continue reading →
Despite the new World War II drama Darkest Hour now playing in theaters nationwide, “Who was Winston Churchill?” still sounds like a question you’re likely to find on one of those ‘the dumbing down of America has happened’ videos. While Churchill may not have been American, himself, his influence and importance in the events of the mid-20th Century cannot be overstated. Winston Churchill was elected Britain’s Prime Minister in 1940, a position he held throughout the remainder of World War II and again from 1951 to 1955. Before his career in politics he had worked as a writer and served as a member of the British Army. His election in 1940 came at a time when Britain’s, and indeed the future of the whole of Western Europe was uncertain. Hitler had been elected Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and, by the time of Churchill’s election, was already marching across France, pushing British forces to the shores of the English Channel, where the famous evacuation at Dunkirk took place (if you haven’t seen Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, I highly recommend it!).
With the United States still hesitant to enter the war effort in either Europe or the Pacific, the newly appointed Prime Minister was faced with the choice of either regrouping and rallying national support to continue the war effort against Nazi Germany, or agreeing to sign a peace accord with Hitler and the Axis Powers. As the United Kingdom stood at the brink of invasion, it was up to Churchill to persuade Parliament, King George VI, and the people of Britain that the war could be won and that it was worth fighting, an extremely difficult prospect considering the ever-growing influence of Nazi Germany and the reluctance of the United States to enter the war. Continue reading →
Of all of the old television series that are being rebooted these days (Fuller House, Will & Grace, 24, Roxanne), The X-Files is arguably the only one worth reviving. That’s mostly because even after nine seasons and two feature-length films, the fates of FBI agents Mulder and Scully has never been fully resolved. The poorly received feature film that followed the television series finale, I Want To Believe (2008), did little to appease fans of the series, and even less in terms of providing a definitive conclusion. Then in 2016, creator Chris Carter and the original cast and crew reunited for a 6-episode mini-series that found the agents probing new leads into the fate of their son, William, and former members of the Syndicate. The new series, however, ended with an even bigger cliff-hanger than the original, leaving fans still guessing as to what could possibly happen next. Now we may finally get the answers we’ve been waiting for. The newest season of the series, Season 11, aires tonight on Fox, and picks up exactly where the last episode of Season 10 left off. Obviously there’s a lot to get caught up on if you’ve never watched the series, but if you’re into UFOs or government conspiracies, you should definitely check it out!
The Last Jedi may be doing well at the box office, but it’s not doing much to impress fans and critics. One holiday release that’s been impressing everyone, however, is director Ridley Scott’s adaptation of author John Pearson’s All the Money in the World. The film follows the 1973 kidnapping of Jean Paul Getty III, aka Paul Getty, the grandson of oil tycoon Jean Paul Getty. The latter famously refused to pay his grandson’s ransom, despite his vast fortune in the oil industry, leaving the former’s mother, Gail Harris, in the position of having to convince her billionaire in-law to put family ahead of wealth. All the Money in the World has already received three Golden Globe nominations, including one for Best Supporting Actor, Christopher Plummer. Although his nomination is certainly deserving, it almost didn’t happen. Continue reading →
The wait is over! Fans of the Star Wars saga are flooding movie theaters across the country today as The Last Jedi makes its nationwide debut. Following 2015’s The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi picks up roughly 30 years after the events of 1983’s Return of the Jedi, and finds a new band of heroes struggling to defeat the evil First Order. But unlike The Force Awakens, which was written and directed by JJ Abrams, The Last Jedi takes on a much darker tone, diving further into character backgrounds and bringing to light the tragic fate of Luke Skywalker and his failed Order of Jedi Knights. That means fans will get to see much more of Mark Hamill in the new film but, given the untimely death of Carrie Fisher, can also expect to see some beloved characters get killed off in the telling. Thus far most critics are hailing writer/director Rian Johnson‘s installment in the series, which is said to be entirely his own, despite what Abrams may have set up with in the previous film. Although The Last Jedi is expected to launch with a worldwide box office haul of roughly $425 million, it will likely not be enough to match the North American Box Office earnings record for 2016. Continue reading →
As you are no doubt aware, the next installment in the latest Star Wars trilogy, The Last Jedi (Episode VIII), is opening in theaters nationwide this Thursday, December 14th at midnight. Whether or not it will be a frame-by-frame remake of The Empire Strikes Back (1980), like The Force Awakens and A New Hope (1977), has yet to be seen, but fans will undoubtedly be packing theaters to capacity from Friday until well into the New Year. If you already have a ticket for opening weekend, then let us know what you think. If not, however, you can still get your Star Wars fix by taking a brief (and by brief, I mean roughly 12-14 hours) refresher course with watching the series in “Machete Order.” Let me explain.
The Machete Order was first suggested by a fan of the series named Rob Hilton in preparation for the release of 2015’s The Force Awakens. According to Hilton, the machete order is a more effective way of watching the previous films, particularly for young viewers who are not familiar with the series. Obviously, with seven feature-length films and an eighth coming out this week, knowing where to start to get the full experience can be an overwhelming ordeal. Should you begin with the original trilogy and work your way up, or should you start with 1999’s The Phantom Menace and proceed chronologically? Continue reading →
Let’s be honest, it was bound to happen sooner rather than later. Four months after JRR Tolkien‘s estate settled a lawsuit with Warner Bros. Studios regarding the profits from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy, Amazon Studios has announced a multi-season LOTR television series is in the works exclusively for the company’s streaming service. The series will reportedly cover stories from Tolkien’s early writings, focusing on material pre-dating the events in the book and film trilogies.
Amazon acquired the rights to the series for a whopping $200 million, but the series is expected to cost a further $150 million in production costs per season. Given the popularity of the content, however, expenses don’t seem to be a cause for concern. A rep for Amazon was quoted in a statement as saying, “The Lord of the Rings is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the imagination of generations of fans through literature and the big screen. We are honored to be working with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins and New Line on this exciting collaboration for television and are thrilled to be taking The Lord of the Rings fans on a new epic journey in Middle Earth.” Continue reading →