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Next year's holiday season has arrived a tad earlier than expected.
Our first look at Ridley Scott's "Exodus" (currently slated to hit theaters on Dec. 12, 2014) is certainly an eye-popping image, as the Biblical prophet Moses (Christian Bale) rides his horse into a scene that appears to feature an under-construction version of the Great Sphinx of Giza. Scripted by Steven Zaillian ("Moneyball," "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") from an earlier draft by Bill Collage and Adam Cooper ("Accepted"), the forthcoming epic will focus on the Biblical exodus of the Israelite slaves from Egypt under Moses's leadership. It also stars Joel Edgerton as Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II, Aaron Paul as Israeli spy Joshua, Sigourney Weaver as Ramesses' mother Tuya, John Turturro as Ramesses' father Seti I and Ben Kingsley as a Hebrew scholar.
In the time it's taken me to process the entire "Duck Dynasty" debacle surrounding Phil Robertson's admittedly inflammatory comments to GQ magazine, A&E has banned the star and reinstated him. Cracker Barrel vowed to stop selling "Duck Dynasty" product and flip-flopped on that, too. In the end, there's been much ado but nothing much has changed.
"Saving Mr. Banks" is currently delighting audiences with its take on Walt Disney, P.L. Travers and the making of "Mary Poppins." But part of the magic of the movie is the recreation of a time and place, and the individual in charge of the art department that brought that world to life is production designer Michael Corenblith.
Corenblith has worked with director John Lee Hancock since 2004's "The Alamo," which was a project of note at the time due to a 51-acre set that was the largest and most expensive set built in North America. Both proud natives of Texas, the two have had a deepening relationship that began on that first feature, which was a personal project for both. "It was amazing – the congruence of the way we saw," Corenblith says with a degree of marvel. "Our processes were immediately aligned. We began to grow in depth and complexity when we collaborated on 'The Blind Side.'"
Happy Monday, boys and girls! It's the last Firewall & Iceberg video show of the year. After a week off due to technical difficulties, Dan and I are back to look ahead to some of 2014's most promising premieres before we get into specific talk about three premieres: "Community," "Downton Abbey" and ABC's "The Assets." (Aka, Firewall & Iceberg: Accent Cops!) Plus, we look back on some of our favorite episodes of shows that didn't make our respective top 10s.
The time breakdown:
- TV Previews 2014
As always, you can send us questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. There's also now a YouTube channel where you can subscribe to all upcoming Firewall & Iceberg videos, at https://www.youtube.com/show/firewalliceberg.
Martin Scorsese's latest film, "The Wolf of Wall Street," hit theaters over the holiday and was met with very interesting reactions. In some corners, it's an unqualified masterpiece, willfully overt and satirical in its depiction of greed and excess. In others, it's an irresponsible culprit that appears to be delighting in the wild ride it depicts.
For the film's producer and star Leonardo DiCaprio, it is a bit of both, as the sheer entertainment of the piece isn't meant to be at odds with its social indictment. That, in some ways, is the horror of it. But it certainly isn't the first Scorsese film to cause a stir upon release and it won't likely be the last.
DiCaprio recently spoke to HitFix about the high ambition of the project, the gobsmacked reaction it has received and how not just his work in "The Wolf of Wall Street," but his involvement in Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby" earlier this year and Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" in 2012 have all been an examination of a shared theme: pursuit of a corrupted American dream.
That the low-rated "Community" is returning to NBC on Thursday night at 8, for a fifth season, with creator Dan Harmon back at the helm a year after he was fired, defies all logic. But then, "Community" has never had much use for logic. The comedy — and the dysfunctional community college that provides its setting — has always operated by its own set of rules, consistently pulling off ideas that have no business working. At its best — and Harmon's first few episodes back get much closer to the show's peak than I was expecting — it is a marvelous contraption fueled equally by a love of pop culture and a commitment to character, that can do kitchen-sink realism one week and a stop-motion animated Christmas adventure the next.
In an age where hype is non-stop and films claim release dates two years away and viral marketing can sometimes eclipse the actual film it is advertising, what does it mean to say that a film is "anticipated"?
In many cases, there haven't even been official stills or images from some of the films that are on this list, and to the best of my knowledge, no one is preparing to camp outside for a month to be at the first show for any of them. We've seen moments in pop culture where the anticipation for something becomes an event all its own, almost always followed up by a moment where people realize the thing they waited for wasn't what they wanted after all, and it can be amazing to see the passions that anticipation stirs up in people.
Sometimes, it's a matter of a track record. If Bennett Miller is making a film, that's interesting to us automatically. There are two films on this list by the same team, Phil Lord and Chris MIller, and while they sound like totally different movies in the end, there are reasons in both cases for us to optimistic.
Sequels are often among the most anticipated films of the year because audiences grow attached to the things they love. People get excited to see Captain America again or the way Godzilla is coming back to the bigscreen because they have affection for earlier incarnations. That's the whole reason studios are in the remake and sequel business right now. They are building brands more than they're making movies more often than ever, so when we made this list, we tried to gauge just how excited people actually are about these films.
When the shortlist of Best Foreign Language Film Oscar contenders was announced before Christmas, the dreams of 67 competing entrants were dashed in one fell swoop -- an unkind cut considering the effort that goes into mounting campaigns for many of them, with no time to spare. In an interesting piece, John Anderson looks at the ins and outs of these low-profile but high-effort campaigns, particularly through those of three films -- from Montenegro, Ecuador and Peru -- that missed the cut. Publicist Kathleen McInnis explains why it's worth the effort, even if you know you have no shot: "It’s also the time of year when Hollywood is paying attention to foreign film. Which means I can get my filmmaker in front of audiences who might otherwise never see his film, get him meetings with agents and managers because he was his country’s official selection. I can get him in front of people, not so much for this film, but to help other films.” [New York Times]
There must be some scifi twist to Savannah. I mean, what else can explain the idea that Porsha and Kenya actually bonded during the girl bonding trip? For starters, no one actually bonds on these adventures, which are really about fueling festering resentments and encouraging the girls to get drunk and pull weaves. Plus, I would sooner think of Kenya stabbing Porsha through the eye or selling the girl's liver to buy a purse. Savannah has to be parked in some supernatural portal, because this was just one of the many, many weird moments in this week's show.
Tomorrow morning, we'll be publishing a piece about the 25 films we are most looking forward to in 2014, and it took quite a bit of back and forth before we decided on the final list. There are titles you'll immediately recognize on there, and a few you might not. Before we get to the main event, we thought we'd explain our thinking on a few high-profile films that you won't see on the list tomorrow.
A Million Ways To Die In The West
In Theaters: May 30, 2014
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Cast: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Liam Neeson, Neil Patrick Harris, Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Silverman, Wes Studi
Why we didn't include it: MacFarlane's certainly got his fans, and "Ted" was underestimated by everyone before it came out. There's a huge difference, though, between a film where you have a movie star and MacFarlane voicing a character a la "Family Guy" and a film where MacFarlane is the actual live-action lead. This is brand-new territory for him, and we remain unconvinced that audiences will buy him as the star. Westerns are difficult to do write even when playing them straight, and until we see a trailer for this, we have no idea what sort of tone they're even playing.