George A. Romero has fully laid claim to the dominion of all things Dead — whether that’s Night of the Living, Dawn of the, Day of the, Land of the, Diary of the, or Survival of the. The elder statesman of horror cinema has no intention of resting on his laurels, however. Perhaps riding the wave of renewed interest in Night of the Living Dead that accompanied its gorgeous restoration last year, Romero has announced plans for a new addition to the ever-expanding of the Dead universe. And it looks like his new breed of zombies have a need for speed.
Martial arts expert and outspoken proponent of condom usage Jackie Chan is at it again, raring and ready to kick some enemy buttock even as he ages into his mid-sixties. The actor has kept up a steady stream of feature work (only some of which requires him to play chauffeur to a real live lion) and is currently preparing to re-mount his his kids’ cartoon series The Jackie Chan Adventures, but ever the work-horse, Chan’s just announced another new project. And what’s more, his next mission will pair him with a partner all too familiar to Eastern and Western audiences alike.
See a few of his movies, and you’ll start to recognize the Martin Scorsese style: quick zooms and jump cuts cribbed from the French New Wave, exhilarating tracking shots, the occasional expertly-deployed pop hit, brief breaks from reality straight out of Powell & Pressburger’s playbook. He’s forged an entire career out of synthesizing influences and making their techniques his own, but even as he’s established himself as one of the most distinctive auteurs currently working, he’s never gotten mired in his own aesthetic. He constantly challenges himself to try more (if you need proof, just look at Silence), and in a new interview, he confirms that he’s going for something different with his next picture.
Serious question: does any single entertainer have such complete dominion over their chosen field as Weird Al Yankovic wields over the song parody? Skeptics may scoff that musical spoofery is a stupid thing to become really, really, virtuosically good at, but the point stands that Yankovic has completely and totally mastered his preferred art form. So when the producers behind the upcoming film adaptation of the Captain Underpants chapter book series needed to find a talent for their theme music, of course their choice was obvious. In no insignificant way, Weird Al Yankovic was born to write a peppy pop tune about tightened-whiteys.
We owe a lot to scientists — they cured polio, got us on the moon, and they‘re doing their darnedest to stop us from methodically killing the planet. But man, what a bunch of nerds. It seems like every time biologists discover a new species of animal and need to give it a name, they take the opportunity to bust out a reference to their favorite bit of geek-approved pop culture. Lest we forget the velvet worm named after My Neighbor Totoro, and we’d be remiss to overlook the euglossa bazinga, a rare bee with a Big Bang Theory catchphrase as its namesake. And it appears that now the nerds are at it again.
Step aside, Tom Ford, another scion of a vast fashion empire has deigned to make the jump into feature directing. Or rather, a pair — designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy, better known as the sister-creators of the haute couture label Rodarte, want to flex their artistic muscles a little more than the occasional fashion show can allow. Boutique distributor A24 was all too happy to accommodate the young visionaries, and will front their debut Woodshock for a premiere on September 15 of this year. This project has been an intriguing enigma for some time now, but between the striking poster released yesterday and this morning’s dreamy, beguiling new trailer, we’re getting a first look at one of this fall’s most intriguing new offerings.
Johnny Depp needs some public image rehabilitation, and badly. When it came out last year that he had physically abused former spouse Amber Heard, a dark and sickly pallor was cast over the heretofore beloved actor’s profile. It isn’t helping that he hasn’t been in a good movie since 2011 (Rango, though Verbinski’s follow-up The Lone Ranger has its supporters), and hasn’t been in a really profitable one since 2014’s Into the Woods. The guy has to save a little face if he wants to secure his future in this business, and what better way to do that than to play to the only demographic unaware of his unsavory personal life: the youth!
Yesterday, Indiewire film critic David Ehrlich ran an illuminating essay on Netflix’s testy relationship with the original films it releases, explaining how their model of bypassing theatrical release and going straight to streaming ultimately degrades the viewing experience and makes the movies harder to find and appreciate. (This comes hot on the heels of an official denunciation from the Federation of French Cinemas against the Cannes Film Festival for allowing TV into their lineup for the first time ever.) Clearly, his words went straight to the top of Netflix’s corporate office, as the online video giant has issued a letter to their shareholders assuring them that everything’s going to be fine and movies aren’t dead, probably.
Dito Montiel needs a win right now. The noted indie writer/director was the object of some ridicule (from me) when it came out that his latest feature, the Shia LaBeouf-led war picture Man Down, attracted exactly three viewers in all of Britain. The movie didn’t fare so well stateside either, and Montiel’s previous effort Boulevard got lost in the shuffle when star Robin Williams abruptly died prior to release. Montiel’s coming returning in grand fashion this month with a premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival for his latest film The Clapper, an adaptation of the novel he wrote in 2007 titled Eddie Krumble Is the Clapper. And with a new clip surfacing online today, we can make our own judgement on whether Montiel has cause for hope or if he should hedge some of those bets.
A few years ago, I wrote up a brief item about an incident taking place at Los Angeles’ AFI Film Festival wherein an irate woman maced a man in the face for having the gall to ask her to turn off her cell phone during a screening of Mike Leigh’s J.M.W. Turner biopic Mr. Turner. “Wow, being at the movies sure makes people do crazy things!” I thought to myself. “I wonder how long it’ll be until the next time I get to write about a violent movie theater conflict over petty nonsense.” That day has come at last, and this time [beat to let the moment breathe] the stakes are even higher.
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