Remember Flatliners, Joel Schumacher’s 1990 sci-fi/thriller about a group of medical students trying to cross over into the afterlife? They stop one another’s hearts just long enough to enter the great beyond, and then jolt them back into the land of the living before too long. Perhaps you noticed a fleeting reference to the film in last summer’s Popstar, wherein Bill Hader is relieved to learn that he has not pooped himself after a soft-goth Joanna Newsom artificially halts his heartbeat in a hobby he refers to as ‘flatlining.’ Ready or not, here comes a remake!
Do you wanna build a snowman... again? Disney sure hopes so, as they announced in a new press release today that their mega-successful Frozen would gain a sort of mini-sequel in an upcoming short to be bundled with Coco. But Olaf’s Frozen Adventure is no ordinary lead-in to the main event; it sounds like quite a bit has gone into the short that Disney repeatedly refers to as a “featurette,” running at 21 minutes and including four new songs, as well as returning cast members Josh Gad, Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, and Jonathan Groff. Parents, batten down the hatches, for a new ‘Let It Go’ is close at hand.
As we all learned from Sully, planes are not to be trusted. The massive, sophisticated machinery in these multi-million dollar aircrafts can be completely undone by something as small and minor as an errant bird, sending the passengers into a screaming spiral of terror. As pilot Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger, Tom Hanks heroically guided an airliner into the Hudson River for a safe crash landing, and Harrison Ford survived a similarly perilous plane crash while giving his amateur pilot’s license a workout not too long ago. Another day, another celebrity-adjacent story pertaining to aircraft engine failure.
From the earliest announcement of its premise, Disney/Pixar’s latest project Coco has sounded a little derivative on paper. The angle of “boy uses enchanted stringed instrument to contact family members from beyond the grave during fantastical journey” bore an unfortunate resemblance to last year’s outstanding Kubo and the Two Strings, and moreover, the recent animated film The Book of Life also imagined a vibrant hidden world behind the culture surrounding Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. But today brings the first real taste of Coco with an official trailer, and I am pleased to report that in practice, it sure looks like its own thing.
Tom Cruise has made it a professional point of pride that he does all of his own stunts. 54 years old, still ripped, and with nothing to lose, he’s made headlines and earned respect by jumping out of every structure imaginable, developing proficiency with various firearms, and most recently and notably, clinging to the side of a aircraft in active flight like a little gecko with a death wish. It would appear there’s nothing the man won’t do (aside from keep his shirt on for the full duration of a studio film), and a special report from the set of his upcoming thriller American Made has raised the bar even higher.
Aside from the unceasing public scrutiny, being an A-list actor doesn’t seem so bad. You get paid obscene amounts of money, meet interesting people, and get to travel all across this green Earth in the name of work. And today, you can share in that last part with none other than professional shirtless runner Tom Cruise! Universal will unwrap The Mummy a week from this Friday, and to further stoke excitement for the launch of their new, hilariously-named Dark Universe, the studio has unveiled a video featurette in which star Cruise brings the viewer on a tour of the far-flung locations on which the film was shot.
To paraphrase baseball great and latter-day Confucius figure Yogi Berra: it ain’t over ’til David Lynch states in non-ambiguous language that it’s over, and even then, you can never be too sure. As if from on high, the esteemed filmmaker has handed down to we mere mortal a new season of his cult-beloved TV series Twin Peaks, but his fans know full well that the good Lynch giveth and the good Lynch taketh away. For even as he was givething us new TV, the fear persisted that he had takethed away any hope of another feature film in the future.
Is Johnny Depp somehow Johnny Depp-proof? With the early receipts for the latest installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise now promising another blockbuster in the bag, it would appear that the actor’s somehow invulnerable to his own noxious public profile. Though the revelation that he had physically abused longtime partner Amber Heard came to light last year, it apparently hasn’t diminished his earning potential, and frustrating as that may be, it means we’re in for a whole lot more Depp. And if producer Jerry Bruckheimer has anything to say about, more Jack Sparrow in specific.
As noted in a new item at Variety today, Sony has been on something of a roll when it comes to getting female talent behind the camera. They’ve put together a respectable slate of films directed by women: Catherine Hardwicke was tapped to translate narco thriller Miss Bala for American audiences, Broad City mastermind Lucia Aniello wrote-directed the upcoming bachelorette-shenanigans comedy Rough Night, Michelle MacLaren landed the Sam Claflin-led thriller Nightingale, and perhaps most intriguingly of all, Elizabeth Banks has taken her next directorial project with a reboot of Charlie’s Angels. And for the latter two, today brings concrete news of impending developments.
The prevailing message of the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming has been that of novelty. This will be a fresh take on the Peter Parker mythos, making him younger than ever, sticking him in the treacherous social minefield of high school, and assigning him a lovably bratty irreverence more in-step with the comic-book original. Plus, Aunt May is young and hot now! But while Marvel and Sony’s advertising has gone to great lengths to assure audiences that this will not be their father’s Spider-Man (and it definitely won’t be the Andrew Garfield one we’re all psychologically working to repress), there is one respect in which this production is business as usual.
Aside from behaving like a normal, un-intimidating human being, there’s nothing Michael Shannon can’t do. When stuck in waiting rooms or the like, a fun way to pass the time is imagining Shannon taking over the lead role in any movie. It’s a can’t-fail formula for success: Jaws, but the shark is Michael Shannon? I’m there. Mulholland Dr., but Michael Shannon takes over both of Naomi Watts’ parts? Two tickets, please. A Transformers movie where Shannon appears in place or the giant alien robot? That would actually somehow make more sense. So when you see a headline that says “Michael Shannon bigfoot dramedy,” you can pretty much stop reading.
Nearly two decades out from his first film, and the viewing public hasn’t gotten any closer to answering the philosophical quandary of what, exactly, a Sam Mendes film is. He’s hopped from an accented dramedy about suburban malaise to a grim-and-gritty graphic novel adaptation to an off-kilter war drama to a pair of coolly-received literary adaptations to James freakin’ Bond. The most effective method of predicting the subject of a new directorial outing from Mendes involves dartboards, tea leaves, and cloud-reading, and today’s announcement of a new project for the esteemed Brit helmer adds yet another baffling left turn to his eclectic oeuvre.
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