Holy cow! Ava DuVernay may direct Lupita Nyong'o in a new SF film for Amblin
Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Holy cow! Ava DuVernay may direct Lupita Nyong'o in a new SF film for Amblin

This is a pretty exciting combination of talent if it comes together

Here we go.

Right now, as we see conversations ranging from the essential to the ridiculous about diverse voices in film, there are a few key figures who are central to the discussion, and very few of them are being watched as closely as Ava DuVernay. I was flattened by her film Selma in 2014, and she's been a great steady clear voice in this ongoing debate about how best to knock down the conventional walls of who is or isn't "allowed" to tell Hollywood stories. One of the things that I've hoped as she's been circling projects is that whatever she chooses to direct next is something that broadens the definition of what a black woman can or can't do in our industry.

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Joel and Ethan Coen on how they turned Hollywood history into the hysterical 'Hail, Caesar!'
Credit: Universal Pictures

Joel and Ethan Coen on how they turned Hollywood history into the hysterical 'Hail, Caesar!'

A loose and funny conversation with two of our very best filmmakers

I still get nervous about certain interviews.

It's human. I love movies dearly, and have since I was young, and when I talk to filmmakers who I respect enormously, I tend to either talk waaaaaaay too fast or just overcomplicate my questions. Once things start, though, a good conversation is a good conversation, and I relax into things. That's particularly easy when you're talking to someone who give back as good as they get, and that's the Coen Brothers in spades.

Three quick points before we dig in. First, enjoy Backstory, a new video series we're doing here at HitFix in which I pull back the curtain a bit on the stories that went unreported or untold over the last 25 years while I've been working here in LA. While I spoke to the Coens about To The White Sea during our interview, we didn't get into the impact that the film's implosion had on them, something that I heard repeatedly from people close to them at the time. I go into that in further detail in the video.

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Why wasn't the best movie trailer of Super Bowl Sunday shown on TV?
Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Why wasn't the best movie trailer of Super Bowl Sunday shown on TV?

The Jungle Book looks great, but you wouldn't know it from the TV spot on Sunday

To be honest, it feels like the studios just don't care anymore.

There was a time starting in the late '90s where each year, the Super Bowl trailers were bigger and more amazing. The studios really pulled out all the stops to try to dazzle this gigantic captive audience, and this Sunday, on what should have been the biggest Super Bowl show of all time, everything felt perfunctory. Phoned in. Just one more commercial or trailer or spot.

I liked the Jason Bourne spot. "When the world is at war, we need the perfect weapon" seems like a pretty good line to reintroduce Matt Damon's superspy to the franchise that was as much a showcase for Paul Greengrass as it was for Damon. Having the two of them back makes this one of this summer's biggest events as far as I'm concerned. The commercial itself was fine. Didn't knock me out. I thought it was interesting there was footage in the ad that was shot within only the last few weeks (the Vegas stuff), and in general, it felt like a very early announcement trailer. They'll do bigger and better later.

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Review: 'Deadpool' is the world's most violent and vulgar Bugs Bunny cartoon
Credit: 20th Century Fox
B+

Review: 'Deadpool' is the world's most violent and vulgar Bugs Bunny cartoon

The Merc with a Mouth finally gets the film he deserves, and it's ridiculous

To be honest, I can't believe this movie even exists.

It's not like Deadpool is some impossible to decipher art film, or like the plot is impossible to follow. It's more a case of "Fox has never been this loose or this adventurous with any of their franchise superhero properties, and I'm not sure how anyone convinced them to do this," and if for no other reason, I salute the studio for taking this particular chance.

And while superhero films are enormously popular and the X-Men franchise in general has been a steady performer for the studio, make no mistake: Deadpool represents a genuine roll of the dice. Aside from the R-rating, a first for this franchise, it's also just plain weird. Structurally, I can't think of another film quite like it. It's two scenes as well as some flashbacks and connective tissue. That's it. In one scene, Deadpool attacks a bunch of cars to find a guy. The guy gets away and, in the second scene, threatens Deadpool's girlfriend so they fight. That's it. That's the entire story. It is almost preposterous how little "plot" there is in the film.

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What one choice could end Hulu as a company completely?
Credit: Hulu/Bad Robot

What one choice could end Hulu as a company completely?

Time Warner's willing to play dirty pool to keep a broken system

According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, Time Warner is in the early stages of conversations that would see the media giant buy 25% of Hulu. Seems rational enough to me. But in the story, one of the ideas that is floated is that Time Warner is worried about cord cutting and looking to downplay or even end one of the main functions of Hulu as a service by doing away with next-day streaming episodes of current TV shows.

If it's true, then my relationship with Hulu Plus will end immediately after a very happy nine year subscription to the service.

I was an early adopter, first signing up in late 2007, and, yes, I would love to cut the cable cord completely. I have Charter Communications as my cable/Internet provider right now, and my service on the cable side is, in a word, awful. I detest cable. I detest bundling. I actively resent paying for 100s of channels I don't use. I am in many ways a dream consumer for the studios because I am happy to pay for the media I want. I insist on it, actually. But when it comes to paying for media I don't want and that I won't ever use? Well, that's where it starts to seriously piss me off.

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Review: The Coens use 'Hail, Caesar!' to take a silly but smart look at Hollywood's soul
Credit: Universal Pictures
B+

Review: The Coens use 'Hail, Caesar!' to take a silly but smart look at Hollywood's soul

Josh Brolin can't fix everyone, but he's sure going to try

As I was driving home from talking to Joel and Ethan Coen about their latest film, I called my parents, laughing about the way the film folds Hollywood truth into Hollywood fiction. I mentioned that the Loretta Young story was an obvious inspiration for one thread of the film, and my parents seemed confused by the reference. They knew who Loretta Young was, no doubt, but they had never heard the defining story of her personal life because back when Young was still an active movie star, my parents were part of the audience who were protected from the truth to help keep those movie star images squeaky-clean.

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Universal's going full speed ahead with 'Fast & Furious' sequels for 2019 and 2021
Credit: Universal

Universal's going full speed ahead with 'Fast & Furious' sequels for 2019 and 2021

This is the way Hollywood works now

If I could, I would sit in on every single creative meeting between F. Gary Gray and Vin Diesel regarding the next film in the Fast & Furious Saga, as they're calling it now in press releases. Those are some strong personalities, and Disel is, rightfully, very possessive of the movies.

Universal sent out a quick press release late last night announcing that Fast & Furious 9 will be in theaters on Friday, April 19, 2019, with the tenth film set for Friday, April 2, 2021.

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Review: 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' is an agreeably silly mash-up
Credit: Lionsgate
B-

Review: 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' is an agreeably silly mash-up

Burr Steers gets this long-in-the-works film across the finish line and mostly right

First and foremost, I can't believe this movie actually finally exists.

In development since 1921 or thereabouts, this is one of those films that has had roughly 300 different directors attached since it was first announced. At one point, this was going to be a David O. Russell film with Natalie Portman starring, and I'm still not sure what that would have looked like. The thing is, when Seth Grahame-Smith first published his mash-up novel, built onto the skeleton of Jane Austen's classic, I'm going to bet he never imagined how long it would take for this to become a movie, or even that it would be one someday. It felt like a sort of English major goofing around, only to somehow see it become this publishing smash.

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The first 'Green Room' trailer promises skinhead mayhem and crazy action
Credit: A24

The first 'Green Room' trailer promises skinhead mayhem and crazy action

This one's better than any trailer can fully convey

Green Room wasn't just one of the best movies I saw at last year's Midnight Madness. It wasn't just one of the the best movies I saw at the entire Toronto Film Festival. It was one of the very best movies I saw anywhere in 2015, and you're going to get your chance to see it very soon.

"But, wait, if it as so good, why wasn't it on your end of the year list?"

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Is 'Star Wars' the perfect property to usher virtual reality into the mainstream?
Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Is 'Star Wars' the perfect property to usher virtual reality into the mainstream?

Lucasfilm and ILM and Disney certainly hope so, and they'll spend to find out

If I could spend a half-hour looking at an accurate representation of what entertainment is going to look like in, say, fifty years, I imagine I would walk away equally dazzled and confused.

There is little doubt we are heading towards immersive entertainment, created in technical ways that we are just now beginning to see established or even suggested, and that the dream of the Star Trek holodeck is not an impossible one. This year's Sundance Film Festival featured some remarkable demonstrations of what various companies and artists are up to, and it really does feel like new ground being broken. These demonstrations weren't on the traditional movie screens, though, and there's nothing about the examples I saw demonstrated that I would consider typical entertainment.

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