Just about six months ago, I wrote my very first ScreenCrush news item about actor Michael Sheen stepping into the director’s chair for Green River Killer, a film about the notorious Washington state serial killer and his decades-long exchanges with local police officers. I never would’ve guessed back then that my career as a news item writer would outlast Sheen’s career as an actor, but today, news broke that the actor would be stepping away from Hollywood indefinitely to shift into political organizing in his hometown of Port Talbot.
A few weeks ago, I attended a holiday party where Nick Offerman’s ‘Yule Log’ played in the background for the entire evening. As people milled about the living room, passing appetizers and making polite introductions, the wise face of Nick Offerman beamed forth from the television, taking occasional sips from a glass of whisky and listening to the crackling fire. And despite years spent listening to Mannheim Steamroller and Frank Sinatra around the holidays, it was the silence of Nick Offerman’s fake living room that now sounds the most like Christmas to me.
With all due respect to the major acting and directing categories, I’ve come to really appreciate the Academy Awards’ technical categories in recent years. Whereas the performances and movies at the top of the program are often culled from a predictable pool of art films and auteur projects, the VFX Oscars tend to be a bit more egalitarian in nature, honoring whatever movies are the most impressive regardless of overall quality. This is often how populist film genres not typically noticed by the Academy — action, science-fiction, fantasy — slip into Oscar contention.
As times change, standards change, and we occasionally find ourselves bumping up against old traditions that need to retire. Even some of our most beloved childhood movies feature behavior and activities — smoking, strong language, casual misogyny — that went unnoticed and unappreciated by our older selves. Given the well-established health risks that smoking poses, one person recently took it upon himself to sue Hollywood in an attempt to get onscreen smoking banned. I’ll give a moment to guess who won.
The way I see it, I’m kind of the target audience for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I’ve seen all of the movies but read none of the books, which puts me on a kind of level playing field with everyone else tackling J.K. Rowling’s original screenplay. Granted, a lot of people might know about the history of Newt Scamander or how the events of Fantastic Beasts fits into the Harry Potter universe as a whole, but I don’t mind being left out. I spent years of my adolescence being a Star Wars book snob; as an adult, it’s kind of nice to just be able to show up to a franchise and learn as you go.
Any Star Wars fan knows that nobody speaks as bluntly about the franchise as Carrie Fisher. While Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill might be counted on for the occasional funny soundbite or bit of interesting backstory, if you really want one of the Star Wars actors to lay their chips on the table, it’s Carrie Fisher you need to listen to. The actress and writer possesses one of the most acerbic wits in all of Hollywood and has never shied away from trying to spin her sense of humor into backdoor Star Wars cannon.
Happy Batman Day! Ever since everyone’s favorite orphan superhero celebrated his 75th birthday back in 2014, fans have kept Batman’s anniversary alive with a series of events and celebrations at comic book shops around the world. If it caught you by surprise this year — and don’t worry, I had no idea of the significance of today until about two hours ago — now might be a great time to circle September 17, 2017 on your calendar so you can do it up right next year.
Time is a flat circle. When Matthew McConaughey’s character spoke these words in True Detective’s first season, he probably didn’t have the Batman character in mind (although, maybe he did, there’s a lot about that show I didn’t quite understand). And yet, here we are, in the year 2016, and many people are legitimately as or even more excited for an animated Batman movie starring Adam West than they were for the blockbuster Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. What was once camp is now mainstream, and vice versa
I don’t think it’s a particularly bold statement to say that Justin Timberlake is one of the great all-around talents currently working today. Everyone knows his music and his hilarious appearances on Saturday Night Live, but with a filmography that includes everything from Inside Llewyn Davis to The Social Network, Timberlake has also proven himself several times over as an actor. Whatever Timberlake decides to do, odds are he will do it very, very well.
These days, if you reboot a franchise, you give the original cast members a couple of seconds of screen time. It’s pretty much a win-win scenario as far as producers are concerned. Fans who believe that sequels and remakes are heresy will be somewhat satiated by the involvement of original cast members, while newcomers won’t have any idea why the crowd around them is cheering for that background character. Sure, it’s fan service, but let’s be honest: some properties need a little bit of fan service more than others.
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