Now that Austin Powers has safely moved past its “overexposure through incessant quoting” phase, there’s a lot to love about the movie. The peppy flute theme from Quincy Jones, Myers’ screwloose double-turn as the International Man of Mystery and his pinky-brandishing nemesis, the kitschy ’60s-by-way-of-’90s design, it‘s all a pretty good time. (Not to mention that the tactfully obscured nude scene is a marvel of blocking and composition.) A recent oral history has gotten Myers’ most beloved comic creation back in the public eye, and amidst rumors that a sequel may be in the cards at some indeterminate point in the future, another surprising discovery has been made.
The ennui of suburban life can drive a middle-aged man to do crazy things. Usually, it’s something like having an affair or purchasing a flashy compensatory car. For Kevin Spacey in American Beauty, it meant a return to his teenage habits of blazin’ it and kickin’ out the Guess Who jams. And in E.L. Doctorow’s 2008 short story Wakefield, a family man breaks free from the shackles of everyday drudgery by abandoning his family and then watching them react to his disappearance from the attic of the house next door. But, like, in a poetic way.
Alien Vs. Predator. Freddy Vs. Jason. Kramer Vs. Kramer. Plessy Vs. Ferguson. Soon, a new rivalry shall join the ranks of the great cinematic grudge matches. You saw Bradley Cooper plumb new depths of moral compromise with American Sniper in 2014. Now, he’ll go up against his greatest nemesis yet: it’s American Sniper Vs. American Assassin — Battle of America.
In appearances at film festivals or the occasional blockbuster exhibit at the Whitney Museum, documentarian Laura Poitras gives the impression of a pretty collected, cool-headed woman. Which comes as a surprise, seeing as few people on Earth would have more justification for turning into a raving paranoid lunatic. Poitras wowed the world in 2014 with her Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour, wherein she risked life and limb to gain access to the classified intelligence whistleblower and ran afoul of the United States’ far-reaching surveillance programs in the process. A few years later, and she’s prepared to unveil her latest stunning exposé on the shady business of federal watching, the lightning rod Risk. If you weren‘t feeling uneasy about the virtual eyeballs monitoring your every move, now would be a fine time to get started.
As the director of the poorly-reviewed but highly lucrative Jurassic World and slated helmer for Star Wars: Episode IX, Colin Trevorrow has become Hollywood’s new go-to guy for massive franchises. But when he’s not somehow making dinosaurs boring or giving Star Wars fans nervous breakdowns, Trevorrow likes to reconnect with his roots in the indie world, where he first got his start as the man behind the middling sci-fi/romcom Safety Not Guaranteed. As a little breather between studio tentpoles, Trevorrow’s going back to basics with another small-scale, small-town adventure. And this time, he’s got an adorable secret weapon.
In 2006, environmental conservation advocate and former Presidential candidate Al Gore unveiled his documentary An Inconvenient Truth, a call to action regarding the urgent dangers of global warming. And that was that — viewers recognized the importance of preserving the planet, green technology completely supplanted carbon-emitting fossil fuels, and Earth got back on track towards a clean bill of health. Ha! No, the opposite is true, and we’re all going to get swallowed up by a great deluge sent by Mother Gaia. As our recently inducted Commander-in-Chief prepares to gut the EPA like a trout (and enjoy that analogy, because at this rate, our grandchildren will not know what a trout is), things are getting worse than ever, and it falls to Gore once again to remind us that we are literally killing ourselves.
Five days ago, I denounced the banal evils of the recent trend of running trailers in promotion of trailers when covering the latest buzz for the upcoming Justice League movie. It would appear that the marketing executives at 20th Century Fox have not been reading my daily news writing (I know, I’m as shocked as you are), because they’ve returned today with an 18-second amuse-bouche for tomorrow’s brand new trailer for War for the Planet of the Apes. Give it a look above, it’ll only take a moment. Or, to be precise, 18 moments.
The Americanized remake of anime classic Ghost in the Shell finally crashes into theaters this Friday, like a bodysuit-clad Scarlett Johansson bursting through a glass window, guns blazing. While Paramount has managed to delay advance reviews by cancelling many press screenings (which is, traditionally, a bad sign), that has done little to deter the fans’ many burning questions. What secrets are being hidden from Major Motoko Kusanagi, and by whom? What are the tactical advantages of clothes that appear to be made of shrink-wrap? Will the movie be racist, and if so, how racist is it going to be? Why is English trip-hop musician Tricky in the film? Truly, The Ghost in the Shell is rich with secrets.
Mildred Hayes has had it. It’s been weeks since her daughter was brutally raped and murdered, and the local police force in Ebbing, Missouri don’t have a single perp to show for all their efforts. Feeling disrespected and unheard, Mildred does the only thing an ordinary citizen at the end of their rope can do: she clarifies which cursewords you can put on a billboard and puts a message right where area sheriff Willoughby will see it. Them’s fightin’ words on her billboards, reading “RAPED WHILE DYING. STILL NO ARRESTS. HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?” And in the newly released red-band trailer begins a long, farcical, spiteful conflict between one-woman army MIldred and the local cops.
Pixar’s 2016 was something of a mixed bag, having landed a true-blue blockbuster with Finding Dory but then missing out on the coveted Oscar nomination. They’ll get back in the saddle in 2017 with Coco, a vibrant fantasy about the power of music, family, and remembrance of those lost to us. In the film, a lonely young boy finds a link to the past through an enchanted stringed instrument and sets off on an incredible journey with an animal companion, encountering all manner of dreamlike wonders (along with a monster or two) on the way. It bears mentioning at this point that this film is, in fact, not Kubo and the Two Strings.
As an avowed walker and train-taker, I’m not much of a car guy, personally. But I know a thing or two — I can change a flat tire, correctly identify where jumper cables should be clamped, and I know enough that anyone who offers to sell you a ‘flux capacitor’ is having a laugh at your expense. The auto part was imagineered (a make-believe word for ‘invented’ that the folks at Disney originally imagineered) for Back to the Future, the all-important component that gives Marty McFly‘s Delorean the power to traverse time. And now, you too can attempt to flaunt the laws of metaphysics by souping out your ride of choice (imagine how a silent, time-traveling Prius would freak out people in the ’50s) with your very own flux capacitor.
Unless your name happens to be Kathryn Bigelow (and if it is, then may I say that it’s a pleasure, Ms. Bigelow, big Point Break fan), Hollywood has had a lot of trouble figuring out how to portray the Global War on Terror. The odd movies that have succeeded critically or financially — Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper — take an ambivalent stance on a complicated and nuanced geopolitical situation, but many more have attempted the same and floundered. So it’s with memories of the high-profile failure of one-time Oscar hopeful Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk that we greet the trailer for War Machine, Netflix’s latest foray into this risky genre.
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