Review: Mary Magdalene

Starring Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix

Review: Missing Link

Featuring the voices of Hugh Jackman, Zach Galifianakis, and Zoe Saldana

Review: High Life

Starring Robert Pattinson, Directed by Claire Denis

Review: Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy

Starring Max Zhang, Michelle Yeoh, and Dave Bautista

Review: Hellboy

Starring David Harbour, Ian McShane, and Milla Jojovich

4/24/2019

Elizabeth Olsen Drops Surprising Details For Disney's 'WandaVision' Series


Until everyone knows the fate of Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch and Paul Bettany's Vision after Avengers: Endgame, it would be silly for Marvel to reveal much about Disney+ series WandaVision. All we know is that it will focus on the unexpected love affair between the chaotic Wanda and the gentle android, which we haven't had a lot of time to see on the big screen. But Olsen did spill one detail that is about as unexpected as one of Wanda's hex bolts.

Speaking with Variety at the Endgame red carpet premiere, Olsen says WandaVision will pull from a number of different comic book sources, but it's the series' setting that comes out of left field...

 “It’s going to be Wanda and the Vision, and I think at the Disney+ launch chat they showed a photo of us in the 1950s’ and I think that’s a good teaser. It’s gonna be really fun, I’m really excited.”

So that's probably not what fans were expecting, but there may be some rationale to it. In Tom King's Eisner award-winning comic The Vision, the synthezoid makes a desperate gamble for humanity by building his own robotic family and moves into a DC suburb reminiscent of those in the '50s. Of course, things go spectacularly wrong as Vision goes to extreme lengths to protect his family. If this is indeed the plan, Marvel is aiming extremely high as The Vision is one of the most decorated comics in recent memory.

I'll be curious to see if they pull from any of Scarlet Witch's key stories, as well. With the recent Fox deal they could theoretically adapt anything, including her mutant-centric stories, and not have to change much.  She could easily use her reality-warping hex powers to fashion a new life for her and Vision, one away from threats such as Thanos.

'Long Shot' Trailer: Seth Rogen And Charlize Theron Find Love On The Campaign Trail


Politics and romance make strange bedfellows in the romantic comedy Long Shot, another movie that finds Seth Rogen paired up with an impossibly beautiful co-star. In this case it's Charlize Theron, whose character is not only gorgeous but one of the most powerful women in the world, which of course means she's totally in Rogen's league.

Directed by Jonathan Levine, Long Shot has been getting some of the year's best reviews since it debuted at SWSW. I saw it a few weeks ago and was also charmed by it, won over by their surprising chemistry. Formerly titled Flarsky, the story follows Rogen's character Fred Flarsky, a muckraking journalist who is hired by his childhood crush Secretary of State Charlotte Field (Theron) to be a speechwriter as she makes a bid for President.  It's ridiculous but a lot of fun and should be a solid escape if you've grown tired of all the superhero stuff out there.

Also starring Alexander Skarsgard, June Diane Raphael, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Bob Odenkirk, and Ravi Patel, Long Shot opens May 3rd.

John David Washington & Alicia Vikander Head To Greece For Luca Guadagnino-Produced Thriller 'Born To Be Murdered'


Damn, how's this for a hot project? BlacKkKlansman's John David Washington, Oscar winner Alicia Vikander, Phantom Thread's Vicky Krieps, and Logan star Boyd Holbrook are set to lead Born to be Murdered, which will be produced by Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino.


Behind the camera will be Ferdinando Cito Filomarino (Antonia), with a script by Kevin Rice that centers on a couple (Washington and Vikander) vacationing in Greece who stumble into a violent conspiracy with tragic consequences. It's unclear the roles for Krieps and Holbrook.

Filming is underway in Greece now and given the setting and Guadagnino's involvement this should at least be a visual stunner. [Deadline]

'Catch-22' Trailer: George Clooney Brings The Antiwar Classic To Hulu


You might be thinking that's enough of the WWII dramas at this point, but then you haven't seen anything quite like Hulu's Catch-22. Executive-produced, directed by, and starring George Clooney, the limited series is based on the satirical novel by Joseph Heller which I remember reading in school. It's a personal fave so I have very high expectations. Fortunately, the cast for this one is top notch as Clooney is surrounded by Christopher Abbott, Kyle Chandler, and Hugh Laurie. Yes please.

Abbott plays Yossarian, a bombardier in the U.S. Air Force who is sick of being sent on more and more missions by his crazy commander (Chandler), and seeks to find a way out of service. But due to a wickedly-worded military rule that's pretty much impossible. Here's a synopsis for the six-episode series:

Based on Joseph Heller’s seminal novel of the same name, Catch-22 is the story of the incomparable, artful dodger, Yossarian (Christopher Abbott), a US Air Force bombardier in World War II who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy, but rather his own army which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to avoid his military assignments, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule which specifies that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers which are real and immediate is the process of a rational mind; a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but a request to be removed from duty is evidence of sanity and therefore makes him ineligible to be relieved from duty. 

Mike Leigh adapted Catch-22 into a movie in 1970 starring Alan Alda, but it was overshadowed by another antiwar film, MASH.

Catch-22 hits Hulu on May 17th.

Ben Affleck To Direct And Star In WWII Film 'Ghost Army' From 'True Detective' Creator Nic Pizzolatto


Ben Affleck has already moved on in his post-Batman career, recently starring in Netflix's hit thriller Triple Frontier. Now he's taking the next step which is getting back behind the camera for the first time since 2016's Live by Night.

Deadline reports Affleck will direct and star in WWII film Ghost Army, which has a script by True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto. The story is adapted from the  Rick Beyer & Elizabeth Sayles book which was turned into a Netflix documentary about "a secret force that relied on sleight of hand and illusion to trick the Nazis in 1944."

So...what is this? The Monuments Men meets Now You See Me? Could be interesting. Affleck is just starting to re-emerge after keeping a low profile for a while. Pizzolatto's screen work recently has included The Magnificent Seven and last year's road trip thriller Galveston.

'Brian Banks' Trailer: Aldis Hodge Stars As The Wrongfully Convicted NFL Prospect


On the surface, the inspirational drama Brian Banks may seem like an odd choice for director Tom Shadyac. For years, Shadyac was the guy who delivered goofy comedies such as Liar Liar, Bruce Almighty, Ace Ventura, and Evan Almighty. But in 2007 he suffered a severe trauma and changed his life in a profound way, giving up most of his possessions and dedicating himself to philanthropy. Taking all of that into account, perhaps this isn't such a strange move for him after all.

Brian Banks stars Straight Outta Compton's Aldis Hodge as the titular college football star who had his future stolen from him when a woman falsely accused him of rape. Banks spent a decade in prison before help from the California Innocence Project helped clear his name. Upon release Banks set out to achieve the NFL career that was denied him. Joining Hodge are Greg Kinnear, Sherri Shepherd, Melanie Liburd, and Xosha Roquemore.

Brian Banks takes the field on August 9th.

As The 'Deadwood' Movie Nears, David Milch Reveals Alzheimer's Diagnosis


After appearing for many years that a Deadwood movie would never happen, the beloved Western will return to HBO next month to put an exclamation point on David Milch's creation. It should be a time of celebration, but early on in Vulture's interview with Milch it's noticeable a certain somberness to the proceedings. Milch, who is notorious for his on-the-fly working style, is said to be there to "to watch, not interfere", which is totally unlike him. It isn't long before we find out the reason, and it's that Milch has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

For Milch, the signs came early and from his friends and who began noticing his "short temper" and "imperfect recall". He admits to not going in for a scan right away, but when he did the results were exactly as he feared...

“As best I understand it, which is minimally, I have a deterioration in the organization of my brain,” he says. “And it’s progressive. And in some ways discouraging. In more than some ways — in every way I can think of.”

Milch is putting on a brave face in handling the diagnosis, and taking some lessons from his mentor Robert Penn Warren who suffered a similar deterioration.

 “He was not well toward the end of his life,” he says. “He was every day encountering subtle differences in his condition. But there was an unflinching dignity in the way that he carried himself and a bravery and kindness.”

There's always been a sense of sorrow to Deadwood; all of these aging cowboys and gunslingers in one place hanging on to old glories. That will be compounded in this movie, as well, with Milch's disease referenced as the movie is “suffused with a melancholy acceptance of the passage of time and the certainty of aging and death."  Milch plans to keep on working throughout, but the day-to-day execution of Deadwood has been handed to director Daniel Minahan and Regina Corrado.

Deadwood hits HBO on May 31st.

Marisa Tomei Joins Judd Apatow's Untitled Comedy Starring Pete Davidson


There are few things that interest me less than a semi-autobiographical comedy starring Pete Davidson, but one way to change my mind is adding Oscar winner Marisa Tomei. THR reports the Spider-Man: Homecoming actress will star in Davidson's untitled film directed and co-written by Judd Apatow.

Tomei will play Davidson's mother in what is being called a semi-autobiographical story of Davidson's life growing up on Staten Island, New York.” Davidson's father died on 9/11, which had a major influence on his worldview and was then used to fuel his stand up comedy routines at the age of 16. At the age of 20 he became one of the youngest to ever join the cast of Saturday Night Live. The film's script was co-written by Davidson, Apatow, and Dave Sirius. Others cast in the film include Bel Powley and comedian Bill Bur.

Filming on Davidson and Apatow's untitled film is underway. Next up for Tomei is a return as Aunt May in Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Leonardo DiCaprio May Star In Guillermo Del Toro's 'Nightmare Alley' Remake


A couple of years after he first became attached to it, Guillermo Del Toro's remake of 1947 crime noir Nightmare Alley may have landed a huge star. Variety reports Leonardo DiCaprio is in talks to lead the film, which will be Del Toro's first since winning an Oscar for The Shape of Water.

Del Toro will be adapting William Lindsay Gresham's 1946 novel, which was then turned into a 1947 movie starring Tyrone Power as a con artist working at a second-rate carnival who gets his comeuppance after stealing another's successful mentalist trick. Del Toro co-wrote the new version's script with Kim Morgan and it wouldn't be surprising if he sprinkled in a little bit of the supernatural. I can see this one having a flavor similar to Crimson Peak, if handled the right way.

For DiCaprio this would be him returning to playing a con man after doing so quite well in Catch Me If You Can. It would also be his next role after starring in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which opens later this year.

4/23/2019

Review: 'Avengers: Endgame' Is A Satisfying, Sobering Finale To Marvel's Decade Of Dominance


Avengers: Endgame is NOT Avengers: Infinity War.

I know that should go without saying, but it really must be reiterated here. Infinity War was a double-barrelled, high-powered epic that built up to the ultimate battle against an unbeatable foe...who did indeed prove unbeatable. The Avengers lost. They lost bad.  And Endgame, which has moments of undeniable greatness and some of the most comic book moments in the history of comic book movies, is largely about our favorite heroes coming to grips with their failure. The first half, shy of a startling few moments, is about finding ways to channel the grief and anger...to see if it's even possible to move on with so many loved ones perished.


Endgame is a more sobering film, as directors Joe and Anthony Russo make sure you feel the impact of what Thanos has done. Some characters cope with it better than others; others come close to turning into the things they despise. Some have undergone drastic changes for the better, others for the worse. To give away too much would be criminal, but what you really need to know about the plot is that the Avengers get over themselves and start living up to their name. To do it is going to require a lot of luck, some scientific wizardry, and the kind of loyalty that has been built up over the course of 10 years.


And that's what Endgame is, really; a celebration of a decade's worth of intricate stories, as long dormant plotlines re-emerge and characters are forced to face the consequences of things that have happened in the past. The original 6 Avengers get more time together than we've seen in ages and it serves a dual purpose; to remind us how well these characters and actors interact, but also how far all of them have come. When Captain America gives one of his many encouraging speeches (and they are SO needed here!) it's enough to make you want to take on Thanos. Well, maybe not that. But they are inspiring.


What's missing early on is enough narrative drive to last until the inevitable showdown. There is a LOT of setup here, and while much of it has moments both heartbreaking and comical, it feels like we're stuck in neutral for a very long time before the plot kicks into gear. Anybody who isn't already a Marvel die-hard will be utterly confused by this stuff, too. I don't know why anybody who skipped Infinity War would be at Endgame but if they are...well, good luck.


But hot damn, when Endgame gets going it's like everything a Marvel fan could ever want. There's only one way this could end and that is with a gigantic war ten years in the making. Characters we always wanted to see together, fights we always clamored for, and even some of the jokes we've been thinking to ourselves, it's all here.  While the original Avengers take center stage there's plenty of room for the supporting players, as Rocket and Nebula really get their moments to shine. As for Thanos, he's going to go right up there as one of the most badass movie villains of all-time. We get to see a different side to him here, many sides actually, and I maintain he's the most well-rounded character seen in both chapters. No matter how silly Endgame gets, and it does get very silly very  often in a cheesy sci-fi kind of way, the Russos and their screenwriters never lose sight of the stakes. The weight of what's at stake is almost oppressive at times. Every decision is so crucial, everything must be exactly right. We can't ignore it or forget about it, and that makes the moments when we stand up and cheer all the more fulfilling. 


You will also shed tears. I think it's safe to say that over the years of watching these characters we feel closer to them than we probably should, and if that's true for you then Endgame will hit especially hard. Marvel has built up an incredible amount of emotional currency and Endgame is a very satisfying payoff that will be tough to replicate for at least another decade.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5