July 11, 2015

Tag Archives: Entertainment/Culture

Ava DuVernay looks to carve out her own path by turning down Marvel’s “Black Panther”

Last week, news broke that the courtship that Marvel had been engaging in with filmmaker Ava DuVernay had resulted in her turning down a chance to direct one of their upcoming superhero movies, namely Black Panther. For some, it was a bummer of an announcement, as she was clearly the first choice, but for many, it was almost a positive development, showing how DuVernay is committed to developing her own material in a way that suits her and not rushing off to take a paycheck. Would her potentially compromised take on Black Panther have still been pretty good? Almost assuredly, but whatever she’s planning on her own for next time out likely will turn out better.
One needs only to look at her most recent work to see that she’s got a distinct identity as a filmmaker and probably wouldn’t mesh well with Marvel. Both Middle of Nowhere and Selma are very much about the Black experience in America, while also telling universally relatable dramatic stories. Obviously, Selma is based on real events and real individuals, but the fact remains…you can tell it’s something from DuVernay. Films within the Marvel Cinematic Universe don’t specialize in that. To be fair, the homogenization of their directors usually results in big hits with solid critical praise, but the MCU is not where filmmakers should go to exercise total creative control.
In terms of what DuVernay should do next, I’m sure she has no shortage of options. She’s already shot the TV Movie For Justice and has the television series Queen Sugar in development, with an as of now untitled drama about Hurricane Katrina planned as well. It wouldn’t surprise me if she signed on to something far more Oscar bait-y than a Marvel movie, though she’s certainly able to do as she pleases. After all, she did take the Black Panther meetings, so there was some interest at the start. Ultimately though, I’d rather her push forward on that Hurricane Katrina project, which I think she could really knock out of the park.
With regards to Black Panther, which still will star Chadwick Boseman in the title superhero role, I’m sure Marvel and Kevin Feige will cast a wide net, though names like Antoine Fuqua, F. Gary Gray, and Spike Lee seem like wishful thinking. I’ve mentioned here and there that Ryan Coogler (of the recently discussed Creed and Fruitvale Station) could be an interesting choice, […]

Jerry Weintraub – Goodbye Good Friend

“If there’s one piece of advice I can give to young people… it’s this: persist, push, hang on, keep going, never give up. When the man say no, pretend you can’t hear him. Look confused, stammer, say, “Huh?” Persistence-it’s a cliché, but it happens to work.
The person who makes it is the person who keeps on going after everyone else has quit. This is more important than intelligence, pedigree, even connections. Be dogged! Keep hitting that door until you bust it down!
I have accomplished almost nothing on the first or second or even third try – the breakthrough usually comes late, when everyone else has left the field.” -JERRY WEINTRAUB.
So, Movie producer Jerry Weintraub, known for the films “Nashville,” “The Karate Kid” and the remake of “Ocean’s Eleven” in 2001 passed away. We are going to miss him.
Weintraub also produced the HBO film “Behind the Candelabra” starring Matt Damon and Michael Douglas which was nominated for an impressive 15 Emmy Awards. His career includes promoting Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin and managing such talents as Neil Diamond, John Denver, The Carpenters and The Moody Blues, among others. His remarkable list of film hits include Nashville, Diner, The Karate Kid and the Ocean’s Eleven series.

“Creed”: An under the radar Oscar contender?

Ladies and gentlemen, I know it sounds silly, but a sequel/spinoff from Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky films might be in awards contention this year. Yes, the upcoming movie Creed is another installment in the franchise centered around fighter Rocky Balboa, but this one takes a U-turn. Instead of being about Stallone’s pugilist, it’s about former rival turned friend Apollo Creed’s son. Rocky is more the trainer than the protagonist, essentially re-launching this series with a grittier and younger bent to it. A Trailer hit last week and really impressed me (which you’ll see below), leading me to wonder if the Academy might once again be interested in this franchise?
For those who don’t know, the first Rocky with a big time Oscar contender, nominated for ten Academy Awards and winning three (Best Picture, Best Director for John G. Avildsen, and Best Film Editing). Stallone himself was cited two times, for Best Actor as well as Best Original Screenplay. The franchise became a bit sillier each time out, as Stallone stepped behind the camera (except for Rocky V, which had Avildsen direct again) and made his hero a superhero, essentially negating the interest voters had in it. The most recent sequel, entitled Rocky Balboa, brought a measure of respect back to the series, so now Creed hopes to capitalize on that.
This film centers around Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan, best known for Fruitvale Station), the son of former champion Apollo Creed. Fans of the franchise know that Apollo has passed on, so it’s fellow former champ Rocky Balboa who steps in as a trainer to help Adonis follow in his father’s footsteps. Essentially, this looks to be more of the first Rocky than any other in the franchise so far, while also functioning as basically a reboot of sorts. Ryan Coogler (of Fruitvale Station fame as well) co-writes with Aaron Covington and directs, while aside from Jordan and Stallone, the cast includes Graham McTavish, Phylicia Rashad, and Tessa Thompson. Taking the series back to its roots might be just what the doctor ordered.
The main reason to be excited for this one is seeing Coogler and Jordan work together again. They both broke through in a big way with Fruitvale Station, a film that was majorly snubbed by the Academy. This time around, they’re getting to tell a similarly gritty (if fictional this time out) story, just couched around an established franchise. Especially if […]

Channing Tatum returns to the stripper poles – MAGIC MIKE XXL

As he returns to the world of male striptease on-screen in the deliciously named Magic Mike XXL, Channing Tatum tells Vanity Fair contributing editor Rich Cohen not to count out an off screen return to the stripper pole, where his career began. ‘Well, we’re going to start a [Magic Mike] show in Vegas, and I’ll never say never,’ he says. In fact, it may be just a thin strip of fabric that stands in the way: ‘I wouldn’t mind going out there and doing it one more time. Or maybe twice. But, you know, every time I’ve put on a thong and am getting ready to walk onstage again, I’m like, ‘Why do I want to do this? ‘It’s very uncomfortable to be in a thong in front of a thousand people.’
In fact, this quandary was nearly a plot point in Magic Mike XXL: to thong or not to thong? ‘But my wife was like, ‘You cannot have a movie without these guys getting in thongs,’ Tatum says.
Cohen accompanies Tatum on a surreal hike through L.A.’s abandoned Griffith Park Zoo and crowns him ‘the biggest male star since Pitt or Clooney.’ Tatum is riding high off his performance in last year’s Foxcatcher as he prepares to star in films from Quentin Tarantino and the Coen brothers. But Tatum bristles when Cohen suggests he is among the last of the great movie idols, presenting a theory on the nature of modern movie stardom: ?The Brad Pitts, the Leos, the Downeys: Why aren’t there new versions of those guys? I think people just know too much about actors, about everything. Behind the scenes. It’s almost like the world is so with you all the time, people on the phones and blah blah blah, that to go into a movie theater for three hours and lose that time is harder and harder. People watch TV at home and they?re still on their phone, wired. They?re even wired to the actors. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. You feel connected. So that [actor] doesn’t feel as mythic anymore. I used to go see movies to watch people because I didn?t know anything about them. The only time I got access was in a movie. I wanted to go see the movie because I hadn’t seen my guy in a while.
Later, while absentmindedly sketching a clown on a picnic table with a crayon, Tatum divulges that he and […]

SNOWDEN starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto

The TEASER TRAILER for Open Road Film’s upcoming thriller, SNOWDEN, has arrived. Written and directed by Academy Award®-Winning Director Oliver Stone, SNOWDEN features an all-star cast including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson, Rhys Ifans and Nicolas Cage. The script is based on the books The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena.
SNOWDEN stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and is written and directed by Academy Award®-Winning Director Oliver Stone. The script is based on the books The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena.

RELEASE DATE: December 25, 2015
CAST: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson, Rhys Ifans, Nicolas Cage
DIRECTOR: Oliver Stone
PRODUCERS: Moritz Borman, Eric Kopeloff, Philip Schulz-Deyle
WRITER: Kieran Fitzgerald, Oliver Stone
——————–
SNOWDEN Official Social Channels
Twitter: Twitter.com/snowdenthemovie
Facebook: Facebook.com/Snowdenthemovie
Instagram: Instagram.com/SnowdenTheMovie
Snapchat: SnowdenTheMovie
Website: snowdenfilm.com

“MINIONS” – World Premiere in Los Angeles

“MINIONS” – World Premiere, Shrine AUditorium, Los Angeles, CA – Saturday, June 27, 2015
The story of Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures’ Minions begins at the dawn of time. Starting as single-celled yellow organisms, Minions evolve through the ages, perpetually serving the most despicable of masters. Continuously unsuccessful at keeping these masters—from T. rex to Napoleon—the Minions find themselves without someone to serve and fall into a deep depression.
But one Minion named KEVIN has a plan, and he—alongside teenage rebel STUART and lovable little BOB—ventures out into the world to find a new evil boss for his brethren to follow.

The trio embarks upon a thrilling journey that ultimately leads them to their next potential master, Scarlet Overkill (Academy Award® winner SANDRA BULLOCK of The Blind Side, The Heat), the world’s first-ever female super-villain. They travel from frigid Antarctica to 1960s New York City, ending in mod London, where they must face their biggest challenge to date: saving all of Minionkind…from annihilation.

Joining Kevin, Stuart, Bob, Scarlet and the rest of the Minions team is a cast of characters led by JON HAMM (TV’s Mad Men, Bridesmaids) as Herb Overkill, Scarlet’s mod-scientist husband; MICHAEL KEATON (Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Toy Story 3) as Walter Nelson, patriarch of his felonious troupe; five-time Golden Globe Award nominee ALLISON JANNEY (TV’s The West Wing, Finding Nemo) as Madge, Walter’s domestic villainess and purveyor of a number of crimes in the family name; STEVE COOGAN (Despicable Me 2, Philomena) as both Professor Flux, inventor of the world’s first time machine, and the doddering Tower Guard, who is singlehandedly responsible for the protection of the Queen’s priceless jewels; JENNIFER SAUNDERS (TV’s Absolutely Fabulous, Shrek 2) as the surprisingly spry and ribald Queen Elizabeth II; and Academy Award® winner GEOFFREY RUSH (The King’s Speech, Pirates of the Caribbean series) as the narrator who takes us along this fascinating and brilliant journey.
Featuring a soundtrack of hit music from the ’60s that still permeates our culture today, Minions is produced by Illumination founder and CEO CHRIS MELEDANDRI (Despicable Me series, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, Hop, Ice Age series), who, alongside JANET HEALY (Despicable Me series, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax), has produced all of the studio’s films since its inception. The film is directed by PIERRE COFFIN (Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2) and KYLE BALDA (Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax).
BRIAN LYNCH (Hop, […]

Marvel/Sony picks a Spider-Man actor in Tom Holland and a director in Jon Watts

After what seems like one of the longest casting processes in a while, Marvel and Sony have settled on the next actor to play Peter Parker and his superhero alter ego Spider-Man. The search literally took months, involved names both expected and unexpected, but finally concluded yesterday. Putting on the costume will be young Tom Holland, while stepping behind the camera will be Jon Watts. Not familiar with either of those names that Marvel Cinematic Universe godfather Kevin Feige saw fit to hire? Fear not, as I’ll give you the rundown on who they are below, along with who they beat out for their plum new gigs in each case.
First up, I should remind you where the character has gone before. We’re getting our third incarnation of Spidey, with Tobey Maguire as Peter in the first three films that Sony put out (Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, and Spider-Man 3), all of which were directed by Sam Raimi. Money and a sapping of creative energy led to a scrapping of Spider-Man 4 for what was expected to be a younger reboot, this time led by Andrew Garfield in the tights and Marc Webb at the helm. That only lasted for two movies (The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2) before they went back to the drawing board again. Instead of pursuing The Amazing Spider-Man 3, Sony reached an agreement with Marvel to let the character join their cinematic universe in a partnership between both corporate giants. That got us to where we are now.
Alright, so let’s talk about Holland a bit. He’s an up and coming actor, mainly known for an excellent supporting turn a few years ago in The Impossible. He even got some awards buzz for that role, so he’s clearly got acting chops. Who did he beat out to play the web head? The main contender seemed to be Asa Butterfield, though along with Butterfield and Holland, the actual finalists were Judah Lewis, Matthew Lintz, Charlie Plummer, and Charlie Rowe. At one point Nat Wolff seemed to be in the running as well. Rumors had it down to just Holland and Rowe in the last few days, so Holland obviously managed to put himself over the top. Now, he’ll be high school student Peter Parker, but more importantly, he’ll also be teenaged superhero and future Avenger Spider-Man.
As for Watts, he’s an initially surprising pick by Marvel and Sony, […]

R.I.P. James Horner: A top tier contributor to cinematic music

It was with great sadness that we learned yesterday of the death of composer James Horner at just 61 years old. Horner died in a plane crash, piloting a small aircraft that went down a day ago in California. The composer is a multiple Oscar winner, taking home Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song for Titanic, marking just one of his many collaborations with filmmaker James Cameron. All told, Horner was nominated by the Academy ten times, with various other nominations and wins to his credit. He was a well respected musician and giant in the industry, so he will certainly be missed in a big way.
Horner was cited by the Academy for his work on not just Titanic, but also Aliens, An American Tail, Apollo 13, Avatar, A Beautiful Mind, Braveheart, Field of Dreams, as well as House of Sand and Fog. All of the nods came in Best Original Score, except for ones in Best Original Song for An American Tail (the song Somewhere Out There) and with one of his wins for Titanic (for his work making My Heart Will Go On happen). Those Original Score and Original Song noms just scratch the surface of Horner’s talents, but it gives you an idea just how beloved he was in Hollywood. This is truly a loss, and that’s putting it mildly.
Here’s how I’d quickly rank his ten best scores to date, though honestly everything he did was pretty top notch. You can’t go wrong with anything of his, but these scores from Horner really stand out from the rest, at least for me. No list is wrong, but off the top of my head, this is what mine would look like:
10. Windtalkers
9. A Beautiful Mind
8. Braveheart
7. Avatar
6. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
5. Titanic
4. Deep Impact
3. Apollo 13
2. Field of Dreams
1. Aliens
Honorable Mentions: The Amazing Spider-Man, Courage Under Fire, and Legends of the Fall
That list above makes for quite a career, right? Just think, that top ten list doesn’t even include An American Tail, Courage Under Fire, Glory, House of Sand and Fog, Jumanji, The Land Before Time, Legends of the Fall, The Rocketeer, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, or Troy. You could easily go 25 deep on his catalogue and only be talking about scores that you’ll recognize as some of the industry’s best. My honorable mentions merely scratch the […]

KUNG FU PANDA 3 First Trailer

The star-studded cast returns to this franchise with Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, and David Cross; joined by newcomers Bryan Cranston, Rebel Wilson, and J.K. Simmons.
KUNG FU PANDA 3 hits theaters everywhere on JANUARY 29, 2016!
Check out the first trailer and get ready for the hilarious adventure to continue in 2016!

In 2016, one of the most successful animated franchises in the world returns with its biggest comedy adventure yet, KUNG FU PANDA 3. When Po’s long-lost panda father suddenly reappears, the reunited duo travels to a secret panda paradise to meet scores of hilarious new panda characters. But when the supernatural villain Kai begins to sweep across China defeating all the kung fu masters, Po must do the impossible, learn to train a village full of his fun-loving, clumsy brethren to become the ultimate band of Kung Fu Pandas!
KUNG FU PANDA 3 Official Socials
Facebook: facebook.com/kungfupanda
Twitter: twitter.com/dwanimation
Instagram: instagram.com/dreamworksanimation
Tumblr: dreamworksanimation.tumblr.com
Snapchat: dwanimation
Hashtag: #kungfupanda

He Named Me Malala Yousafzai

“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”– Malala Yousafzai
Fox Searchlight Pictures announced today that National Geographic Channel has joined forces with Fox Searchlight Pictures for the global theatrical release of Academy Award winner Davis Guggenheim’s upcoming feature documentary HE NAMED ME MALALA, an intimate portrait of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai, who was targeted by the Taliban and severely wounded by a gunshot when returning home on her school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley.
With this partnership, National Geographic Channel and National Geographic Society will join the global launch campaign to support the theatrical release this October. Additionally, in 2016 the film will air on the National Geographic Channels in 171 countries and 45 languages.
National Geographic will support this important film from theatrical release through the broadcast television premiere with all of the resources of the National Geographic Channels as well as through the National Geographic Society in National Geographic Magazine, National Geographic Digital Media, National Geographic Education Programs, National Geographic Kids, and more.

“This is a film that you leave not only feeling incredibly inspired, but truly wanting to make a difference. As leaders in bringing stories of global importance to the largest audience possible, it is more than just an honor to be part of this project, I feel it is our duty,” said Courteney Monroe, CEO, National Geographic Channels. “That is why we are joining this project as true partners, from the global theatrical release through our eventual television broadcast, and dedicating our collective resources to bring Malala’s important journey and advocacy for girls’ education to millions of people worldwide.”

“We are excited to be partnering with the National Geographic Channels to help bring Davis’ passion and commitment in the telling of Malala’s moving story to audiences worldwide across their extensive media platforms. Davis’ masterful eye captures this inspiring young individual and we are proud to champion her efforts to bring awareness to the critical global issue of the education of girls,” said Fox Searchlight Pictures Presidents Nancy Utley and Steve Gilula.
The documentary offers a look into Malala’s life both before and following the attack. Fifteen at the time of the incident, she was singled out, along with her father, for advocating for girls’ education. The shooting sparked an outcry from supporters around the world. Malala miraculously survived and is now a leading campaigner for girls’ education globally as […]

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