After stops and starts and leaks and reversals, Quentin Tarantino’s 70mm Western ‘The Hateful Eight’ is now, finally, officially, definitively, happening. The Weinstein Company announced today that production has begun in Telluride, Colorado.
If you haven’t watched Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s ‘The Interview’ yet, either because you’re too cheap to spend $6 to rent it online, or you were worried North Korean hackers would catch you buying it and share your private emails slagging your boss with the world (I’m sorry Mike! When I called you “a giant goober,” I meant that in an affectionate way, like Goobers candy! Which everyone loves!) you are in luck. As part of their quarterly letter to shareholders, Netflix announced that they will “exclusively” offer the comedy to its U.S. and Canadian customers starting this Saturday, January 24. Sorry Netflix Netherlands! You’re out of luck for now.
When Disney bought George Lucas’ company, they got more than the buildings, computers, droids, and the ‘Star Wars’ intellectual property. They also got George Lucas’ unused ideas for future ‘Star Wars’ movies. Though Lucas had insisted for years that ‘Revenge of the Sith’ was his final ‘Star Wars’ film, that didn’t stop him from brainstorming a few other potential stories that could be set after the events of ‘Return of the Jedi’ (and, I assume, mostly involve Jar-Jar Binks wandering the universe and getting into “hilarious” misadventures).
‘American Sniper’ had a record-shattering weekend at the box office, grossing an astounding $105 million from Friday to Monday. It’s already the second biggest earner of Clint Eastwood’s entire career after ‘Gran Torino,’ and with six Academy Award nominations (and great word-of-mouth) behind it, it’s posed to become his biggest hit ever.
Okay, so there was a fair amount of disappointment around the 2015 Academy Award nominations. Everything was not awesome for ‘The Lego Movie,’ robbed of a Best Animated Movie nod, and David Oyelowo’s dreams of a Best Actor nomination vanished when Steve Carell and Bradley Cooper’s names were mentioned instead. ‘Force Majeure’ got snubbed for a Best Foreign Language Film nomination and ‘Selma’’s Ava Duvernay was robbed in the Best Director Category. I just keep looking at the list of nominations and playing “Sad Trombone” over and over again. It’s basically the official theme song of the 2015 Academy Awards.
On the list of uncinematic activities, computer hacking has to rank near the top, somewhere between small-business accounting and taking a nap. It’s tedious, static, and solitary work, and what little’s interesting about it is largely incomprehensible to those without advanced degrees in computer science. In a lesser filmmaker's hands, a hacker movie like ‘Blackhat’ would be terminally boring. But ‘Blackhat’ is in the hands of Michael Mann, and that means it’s also stylish, moody, and punctuated by intense action scenes.
It’s been one heck of a journey for Richard Linklater and his movie ‘Boyhood.’ Shooting on the film began over a dozen years ago; each and every year since, he and his cast and crew would reunited to add a new chapter to the story of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his family. Imagine the kind of dedication and commitment that sort of project takes. I had a hard time focusing for the 30 straight minutes it took to write this blog post.
The former CIA operative turned full-time rescuer of his perpetually kidnapped family at the center of the ‘Taken’ series is famous for—as he put it to the men who took his daughter in the first film—a “particular set of skills” that make him “a nightmare” for bad guys. Here now is a partial list of the particular skills Bryan Mills—played by the 62-year-old Liam Neeson—displays in ‘Taken 3’:
In the fall of 2013, APCO Worldside surveyed 70,000 people about the world’s biggest brands. They measured their responses in eight different ways—“understanding, approachability, relevance, admiration, curiosity, identification, empowerment, and pride.” The number one most loved company out of 600 choices: Disney.
Full details are still forthcoming, but it looks like ‘The Interview’—Seth Rogen’s ultra-controversial comedy about an American assassination attempt on North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un—will open on Christmas after all. Sony initially cancelled their planned December 25 release after hackers threatened theaters that dared to show ‘The Interview’ with terrorist attacks, and many of the biggest exhibitor chains in the country (including Regal and AMC) subsequently decided not to run the film.
I know one reaction I’ve had to the (allegedly) North Korean hackers and their attack on Sony and their movie ‘The Interview’ is “Why now?” Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are not the first American filmmakers to make fun of North Korea, or even its real-life leaders. ‘Team America: World Police,’ for example, featured a marionette-version of late North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, who wants to destroy Western Civilization (but is also very lonely); the 2012 ‘Red Dawn’ remake actually changed its Asian invaders from Chinese to North Koreans in post-production because at the time that seemed like the more politically and financially safe choice. That’s not going to happen again anytime soon.
J.J. Abrams is famous for keeping secrets. His whole schtick as a director is the “mystery box”—finding pleasure in the unknown, and in the tease of that uncertainty. He didn’t show the monster in the trailer for ‘Cloverfield’; hell he didn’t even show the title of the movie in the trailer for ‘Cloverfield.’ If J.J. Abrams could release a movie without telling you anything about it, he probably would.
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