Where does the time go? It’s already Summer and the list of summer films has been rolled out for the past month. Are there any good ones out there? Here are a few that caught my eye…
Last Days in the Desert: Ewan McGregor is Jesus & the Devil in this version of Christ’s 40 days in the Desert.
The Lobster made some noise at Film festivals: An absurdist comedy about single people given 45 days to find a mate-or else they will be turned into an animal.
Coming In June:
Genius: Jude Law plays Thomas Wolfe, with Colin Firth as his editor.
Free State of Jones: Matthew McConaughey stars in the true story of the Mississippi farmer, and ardent abolitionist who leads an uprising against the Confederacy during the Civil War.
Coming in July:
The Legend of Tarzan: Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard) has married Jane and moved to England to take up the duties and entitlements due him as Lord Greystoke. But he’s lured back to the jungle and the plot thickens.
Star Trek Beyond is released on July 22nd, with Idris Elba as the villain Krall, and Chris Pine back as the durable James T Kirk.
Florence Foster Jenkins: Meryl Streep returns to the screen in the very intriguing (at least on paper) true tale of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York socialite who wanted desperately to be an opera singer, minus small details such as talent and pitch.
Café Society: Woody Allen directs Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart in a romantic comedy set in 1930’s Hollywood.
The Founder: Michael Keaton stars as the McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc in this story about the early years in the fifties where he began to amass his empire.
Ben-Hur returns to the screen with Jack Huston in the title role of the Jewish prince who is condemned to slavery and culminates in a deadly chariot race.
War Dogs is the true story of two amateur arms-dealers who talk their way into a deal to equip the Afghan military with weapons. Starring Jonah Hill and Miles Teller as the two intrepid war dogs.
I have written many times about the lamentations of critics with endless remakes. However, just as in theatre where the play’s the thing, so it is with film, where the story, a good story, is the thing that matters. So if there is an interesting story, there just may be a good film lurking underneath.
It depends on the director, the cast, the screenwriter, the film editor, and sometimes more obscure things such as timing and marketing and distribution, but of late, it’s been hit or miss when I see big screen summer movies premiere. There really is no there there.
This batch looks rather promising. Woody Allen directs a comedy, Meryl Streep and Michael Keaton and Matthew McConaughey all headline interesting stories. And we haven’t seen as many Ben-Hur’s as Batman’s in the past few decades. Tarzan has had a slight rest.
It’s nice to see some films without CGI leading the way with flying costumed men and an apocalyptic background with huge monsters or truck monsters looming large against a sea of flying saucers. You get the drift. There really isn’t too much that is new under the sun, so if you have a half-way decent story and a great cast and crew, then you might have a little gem of a movie hit. That’s the only reason to keep me, or any of us, going back to the movies.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens premieres December 18th. This one is sucking all the oxygen out of the room! I have to confess that I was never a Star Wars fanatic. I saw the original film when it came out in 1976 and wasn’t impressed. I thought that the sequel, The Empire Strikes Back was superior in every way, but I never became a true devotee of Star Wars.
Since I’ve written a book on film, it’s obvious that the cultural phenomenon and overwhelming impact that Star Wars has had on film-making in general, and also on our culture, is too great to be denied. In 6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in theGlobal Village, the book delves into the history of how George Lucas and his Industrial Light and Magic Company dominated the industry for years and put CGI-Computer Graphics Imaging, and special-effects in the forefront of the movie industry.
When Lucas sold his rights to Disney, many loyal fans were stunned and felt a sense of betrayal. But after reading some interviews Lucas gave, it really did make sense for him to move his ideas and creative themes to Disney. He said in an interview featured in 6 Degrees that “ …I’m not interested in virtual reality at its current level, because it’s just too crude. But if you can program virtual reality or simulator rides with biotech, you will have a very interesting non-world.”
After reading this, it makes sense that Lucas would sell his theme and his mythology to a group that specializes in transferring dreams to paper and making those dreams come true. That’s the Disney mantra and the new theme park being developed by Disney seems to be the natural extension of the Cinematic Universe Lucas created over a quarter of a century ago.
This Fall, Biopic’s abound: One recurring theme seen over and over are the number of films based on true stories. From Everest to The 33, from Black Mass to Bridge of Spies, it seems that the source material is telling us that truth is hopefully, much more interesting to audiences than fiction!
Fem Flicks– The Suffragette & The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2
The Hunger Games returns Jennifer Lawrence to her breakthrough role as Katniss Everdeen in this last installment. The Suffragette stars Carey Mulligan and one of the legends of the screen in a role of Emmaline Pankhurst, founder of the Women’s Movement in turn of the century England. The role seems tailor made for a strong female such as Meryl Streep.
Famous Directors: Oscar winners Ron Howard & Stephen Spielberg present their films, In the Heart of the Sea and Bridge of Spies, respectively.
Best Actors: DiCaprio & Tom Hardy, De Niro & Tom Hanks, some of Hollywood’s finest actors are starring in films this fall. De Niro and Tom Hanks are both featured in upcoming films, De Niro stars with Anne Hathaway in The Intern, and Hanks stars in Bridge of Spies. Michael Fassbender is taking on the role of Steve Jobs in a biopic. Bill Murray returns to Leading Man Status with Rock the Kasbah
And James Bond is back in a much-anticipated film Spectre with Daniel Craig returning to play the iconic role of Bond.
The Tarantino: Genre’s are turned on their heads with Quentin Tarantino at the helm. This much-anticipated Western, The Hateful Eight, stars Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell.
The Holiday season will usher in some of the most-anticipated children’s movies of the year. The Peanuts Movie and The Good Dinosaur will arrive just in time for Christmas.
But of course, on Christmas Day, as keeping with tradition, some of the darkest plots are featured. The Revenant, with DiCaprio and Tom Hardy is the heartwarming story of a man attacked by a bear and left for dead by his friends in the middle of the wilderness. Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight promises to be just as warm and fuzzy, giving us a Western with lots of blood and gore and vengeance.
The Armchair Film Fest: For warm and fuzzy, two Holiday classics will be guaranteed. At some point, Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, one of the best films Capra and Jimmy Stewart made, and Christmas Vacation, which is definitely Chevy Chase’s best work, will be shown on television.
You may see A Christmas Story looped endlessly on cable networks, so it’s easy to just turn it on at any point to lighten the mood. Of course, Miracle on 34thStreet with Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood is another standard that will lighten your spirits-if you are over the age of 40.
I find that Milennials and Gen X’ers don’t bother to watch too many films that were made in black and white. Too bad, as they are missing out on some of the greatest films ever made.
Here’s the Fall Movie List starting in September with:
9/18 Sicario: A female FBI agent (Emily Blunt) delves into a shady drug-cartel task force run by agents from both U.S. and Mexico.
Black Mass– The buzz for this biopic is around Johnny Depp’s much anticipated portrayal of the infamous Boston Gangster Whitey Bulger.
Everest: This Bio Pic is based on the real-life 1996 tragedy that took the lives of eight climbers on Mt. Everest.
Legend: Tom Hardy plays a dual-role of the Kray Brothers, real-life British gangsters of the 1960’s. Hardy plays both Ronald & Reginald Kray.
The Martian: This Sci-Fi Adventure tale stars Matt Damon as an astronaut left for dead by his fellow crew members and forced to survive alone on Mars.
Steve Jobs: Michael Fassbender plays Jobs in this bio-pic which has already garnered Oscar buzz for his portrayal.
Pan: Hugh Jackman stars in this new take explaining the origins of the famed Leader of the Lost Boys, Peter Pan.
Bridge of Spies: Speilberg & Hanks collaborated on this bio-pic based on the real-life Cold War exchange of a Russian spy for an American U-2 Pilot.
Truth: Robert Redford plays Dan Rather and Cate Blanchett is producer Mary Mapes in this film based on a true story. The story that ruined Dan Rather’s career is based on the real-life controversial news story involving George W. Bush and his Texas National Guard records.
Suffragette: The film depicts the suffragette’s fight for women’s rights in England. Meryl Streep stars in the film for only four minutes, but her role as a pivotal women’s rights leader Emmeline Pankhurst is a vital one.
Rock the Kasbah: Bill Murray stars as a burned-out agent stuck in Kabul, Afghanistan who discovers a young talented girl and decides to promote her.
Spectre: James Bond returns to the screen with Daniel Craig back as Bond.
Trumbo: Bio-pic of acclaimed writer Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted by Hollywood in the 1950’s after the McCarthy hearings.
The 33: Antonio Banderas stars in this bio-pic based on the 2010 true story about 33 Chilean miners trapped underground for 69 days after an explosion.
Hunger Games: Mockinjay: Final Installment: The much anticipated final installment of Katniss Everdeen’s (Jennifer Lawrence) fight against the ruling Panem government.
Children’s Animated Films
The Good Dinosaur: From Pixar, the film imagines a world where the dinosaurs didn’t become extinct, and the plot is a unique twist on boy-meets-dog tales; a friendship arises between the dinosaur boy and his pet -a feral human child.
The Peanuts Movie: The film touts the fact they used many of Charles Schulz’s original drawings, such as digital versions of Shulz’s depictions of rain and even Pigpen’s cloud of dirt!
Victor Frankenstein: James McaVoy and Daniel Radcliffe star in this unusual twist to the famous story as the film switches the focus to Igor, Frankenstein’s servant.
I Saw the Light: Yet another bio-pic tells the Hank Williams story featuring his rise to fame, his volatile relationships, his addictions and his spiral downward before his death at age 29.
In the Heart of the Sea: Ron Howard directs this film based on the true story that inspired Melville to write Moby Dick. It centers around the 19th century crew of the whaling ship, the Essex, which battles the elements after a whale destroys their boat in the treacherous deep waters of the Pacific Ocean.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Big Kahuna finally arrives after fanfare including detailed coverage of the Milennium Falcon and even the movie trailer. Star Wars returns to the big screen just in time for Christmas. Buy your tickets early.
12/25:Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight: A Western in the Tarantino Genre with Samuel L Jackson and Kurt Russell.
12/25: The Revenant: DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, who are perhaps two of the greatest actors working in films today, star in this movie, also based on a true story, of 19th Century trapper Hugh Glass (DiCaprio). The plot revolves around Glass seeking revenge after being attacked by a bear and left for dead by his companions.