A week after its release in theaters across America, director Ryan Coogler’s new Marvel comic-adaptation, Black Panther, is still setting box office records. The film is the 5th highest domestic debut of all time, and the highest grossing February release in history, with a staggering $202,003,951. It earned more in just 3-days in theaters than any other film featuring a black director and predominantly black cast with an impressive worldwide opening weekend gross of $350 million. The success of the film has not only shattered age-old myths surrounding the “unpopularity” of all-black ensemble movies in Hollywood. It is also changing the way Hollywood, and America at large, view films that deal primarily with black and African American culture. But why is Black Panther such a big deal for America and not simply just another superhero movie with a hero who happens to be black? 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 →
The 16th annual Tribeca Film Festival is once again underway in New York City. Entries in this year’s festival include films from 28 countries, which are being shown from April 19th to April 30th. The festival has already seen a fair share of controversy this year. Photographers and reporters were incensed to find some lesser known actors walking on the red carpet wearing masks of James Franco, Shia LaBeouf, and Greta Gerwig instead of the actors themselves for the premiere of the film Flames. In addition, a commercial for United Airlines, which was originally scheduled to appear at the festival, was pulled from the line up after the controversy surrounding Dr. David Dao being violently dragged off one of their flights. Despite a fair share of controversy, which has always been typical of the Hollywood scene, there have been some impressive displays at this year’s festivities. Continue reading →
Director Amma Asante’s latest project, A United Kingdom, is seeing a limited theatrical release this weekend after premiering at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. Starring David Oyelowo (A Most Violent Year, Selma) and Rosamund Pike (Die Another Day, Gone Girl), the film tells the story of Prince Seretse Khama of Botswana, who caused an international controversy when he married a white Englishwoman in the late 1940s. Their marriage was met with criticism and persecution in both South Africa, which borders Botswana, and Seretse’s family and local Bamangwato chieftaincy elders. At the time, interracial marriage was illegal in South Africa. To complicate things further, Botswana (then Bechuanaland) was a British protectorate, and England was still recovering from World War II, and so relied heavily on supplies imported from South Africa. As a result, the British government declared Seretse unfit to serve as chieftain and exiled him and his wife, Ruth Williams, from Botswana in 1951. Continue reading →
Director Adam Smith’s family-crime drama Trespass Against Us received an Official Selection nod at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), as well as top nods at the British Independent Film Awards and the Zurich Film Festival. Following a number of runs at various film festivals here in the United States, the film received a brief limited release back in January, but as of now we have yet to see it picked up for major distribution in theaters nationwide, but here’s hoping that changes! Written by documentary director Alastair Siddons (Turn it Loose, Inside Out), Trespass Against Us follows a man who comes into conflict with his outlaw father and family after he decides he must find a way out of his own criminal world in order to provide a better future for his own family. Michael Fassbender (Macbeth, The Light Between Oceans) and Brendan Gleeson (Cold Mountain, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) lead the cast as Chad and Colby Cutler, the father and son who come to arms with each other over the former’s desire to break free of his criminal past. Continue reading →
On September 20, 1956, director William Wyler‘s Friendly Persuasion was released in theaters in the United States. Based on the book by Jessamyn West, the story revolves around a Quaker family in 1862, whose faith and belief in non-violence is tested when Confederate troops come sweeping through their land and the family must decide whether to fight or to remain complacent. The film was written by screenwriter Michael Wilson (A Place in the Sun, Planet of the Apes), and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenwriting. It wasn’t until 2002, however, that Wilson would receive legitimate recognition for his work on the film. Continue reading →
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 →
Producer Harvey Weinstein of the Weinstein Company has pushed back national release of his long anticipated drama Tulip Fever, based on the popular novel by Deborah Moggach, to a February 2017 release. The film has already seen several release delays; it was filmed back in 2014 and has since made no debuts at any of the film festival circuits or limited releases here in the States or elsewhere. Now, however, Weinstein seems to have settled on a post-Valentine’s Day release, going up against God Particle from producer J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Sleepless with Jaimie Fox (Ray, Collateral) and Michelle Monaghan (Gone Baby Gone, True Detective). Starring Oscar winners Alicia Vikander (El Machina, The Danish Girl) and Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained), the film follows an artist who falls for a married woman he is hired to paint in portrait in the midst of the tulip frenzy of 17th century Amsterdam. Continue reading →
Veteran actress Madeleine LeBeau (8 1/2, Angelique), who was the last living cast member of 1942’s Casablanca with Humphrey Bogart (The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep) and Ingrid Bergman (Notorious, Autumn Sonata), has passed away at the age of 92. LeBeau starred as Bogart’s mistress, Yvonne, in a role that mirrored her own experience as a European refugee at the height of the Nazi occupation. LeBeau had made her debut in France with a film called Girls in Distress in 1939 before fleeing with her husband to Spain. They eventually entered the United States with temporary Canadian passports and went to Hollywood to find work. Both LeBeau and her husband, actor Marcel Dalio, were cast in supporting roles in Casablanca, and LeBeau would make two more films (Paris After Dark, Music for Millions) before returning to France following the end of World War II. She would continue to work as an actress until her retirement from the screen in 1970. LeBeau died on May 1st in Spain after breaking her hip.
The final trailer has arrived for director Bryan Singer‘s upcoming X-Men feature, Apocalypse. If you haven’t been following, the last X-Men movie was Days of Future Past, which found Wolverine going back in time to alter the timeline of the X-Men movies to prevent the end of the world. This new timeline picks up in what I’m guessing would be at least the the late 1980s, and finds Mystique responsible for training the new generation of X-Men to fight Apocalypse, the world’s first and most powerful mutant, who happens to be immortal. Apocalypse awakes after thousands of years and begins amassing power; having seen what humanity has become, he recruits a team of powerful mutants (including Magneto) to cleanse mankind and create a new world order. Screenwriter Simon Kinberg (Sherlock Holmes, Fantastic Four) wrote the script from a story written by himself and director Bryan Singer (X2: X-Men United, X-Men: Days of Future Past), as well as writers Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris (Superman Returns, Krampus). Continue reading →