Review: 'De Palma' is more than just a casual appraisal of a director's work
Credit: A24
A

Review: 'De Palma' is more than just a casual appraisal of a director's work

One of the most pleasurable sits of the summer is a two-hour interview

Brian De Palma taught me the value of film criticism.

The first time one of his films really registered for me actively was when Dressed To Kill was released in 1980. I was starting to get bit by the film bug at the time, still in the early days of the sickness, and there were many ways I would digest films beyond just seeing movies. For films I wasn’t allowed to see, there were still ways for me to get some sense of the movie. Mad magazine, for example. Undressed To Kill was one of the movie parodies that ran in 1980, and it was a beat for beat riff off of the real film. I knew the story and I even knew the twist, since Mad was not shy about spoilers. It was easy to feel like you’d seen the film after you read a Mad parody, and I also started reading not only novelizations, but any film criticism I could find at that point. I started checking every magazine to see if they had a film section. My parents subscribed to Time, so that was the first thing I read every week. At least once a week, we made a trip to the library, and I’d read as many movie reviews as I could during our time there.

Read Full Post
New 'Ghostbusters' trailer showcases more ghosts and more Chris Hemsworth
Credit: Sony

New 'Ghostbusters' trailer showcases more ghosts and more Chris Hemsworth

Behold! Rowan The Destroyer!

I love this trailer if for no other reason than the way the announcer yells “Ghostbusters!” at the end of it.

If you don’t plan to see Ghostbusters, that’s fine. But let’s be clear: I don’t care what you have to say if you simply choose not to see it. Your opinion stops there. You can decide not to see it for any reason you like, and you can feel free to keep it to yourself, because it makes absolutely no difference at this point. Things have been so hostile and ugly around this film so far that I feel like it’s pointless to try to convince anyone of anything. I know what I’ve seen and read, and when people try to convince me that there’s no anti-woman sentiment behind any of the backlash against the film, I just shut the conversation down. I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it. I’ve been screamed at about it. I know what I know at this point, and I find parts of it completely discouraging.

Read Full Post
Director Dave Green explains how he got 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' right
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Director Dave Green explains how he got 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' right

Our interview with the playful filmmaker on how he got the ninja brothers right

The original plan was a little different.

When I saw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows, I talked to Paramount about doing an interview with Dave Green, the director of the film. They had a great idea, though, and proposed having Dave visit the new Woven studios to play action figures with Toshi and Allen, who had a day off of school. It would have been very apt, and while it didn’t come together, it was on my mind when I ended up sitting down with Dave myself.

Read Full Post
Review: Lonely Island hits the bullseye with an easy target in 'Popstar'
Credit: Universal Pictures
A-

Review: Lonely Island hits the bullseye with an easy target in 'Popstar'

A slightly uneven effort still manages to land plenty of big laughs

If you are excited by the prospect of a Lonely Island movie, I have good news for you. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a Lonely Island movie in every way, packed with music and jokes. At 90 minutes, it moves fast, and it offers up some laser-sharp satire. If there’s any overall problem with the film, it is that they’ve made a very specific satire of a target that is so ridiculous it almost resists parody.

It’s easy to just make the comparison to This Is Spinal Tap, the mockumentary that launched Rob Reiner’s career as a director, but Popstar is a reaction to a very different kind of film than Spinal Tap was. You have to go back and look at films like The Song Remains The Same or The Kids Are Alright to understand what the culture was that Spinal Tap targeted, while modern music documentaries have a very different aesthetic and purpose. The Justin Bieber documentary that is this film’s primary target was fascinating because it’s such an obvious attempt to create a mythology around a pop star. The Katy Perry documentary was even better at what it did, but it contained a moment that I found particularly interesting. So much of Katy Perry: Part Of Me is focused on showing what a fun and frothy person she is that including the moment where she learns that she’s getting divorced over a cell phone was almost jarring. It punctured the image completely, and for one moment in the film, we get a glimpse of this real person and her real life and some real pain, and then SNAP! We’re right back into fantasy land. There’s one moment as she’s under the stage, ready to go on, and she has to shake all of it off, that says more about what it’s like to create one of these larger-than-life personae and then have to live it even when you don’t feel like doing it than any think piece could, and it feels accidental, like it snuck through.

Read Full Post
A new report offers the best peek yet at the truth of the 'Rogue One' reshoots
Credit: Walt Disney Company/Lucasfilm

A new report offers the best peek yet at the truth of the 'Rogue One' reshoots

When dueling reports conflict this deeply, what's the cause?

When the first rumors about the reshoots on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story broke, I reached out to people close to the film, and I got back a general “It’s not a giant deal.” I didn’t get much else because the people I know who are close to the film, even the ones I’ve known for a long time, are very careful. Star Wars inspires a certain degree of protectiveness. Many of the people working on the film at all levels are life-long fans of the franchise, and the last thing they want to do is burn a bridge or do something that’s going to hurt the series.

While I was skeptical of the most panicked reports (this one on Making Star Wars struck me as particularly off-base and hyperbolic, no matter what sort of track record Jason Ward has), something was apparently happening. Anthony Breznican, who spent a good deal of time on the set of The Force Awakens and who has been wired deeply into the Star Wars camp overall, has done his own digging, and what he’s turned up is the best-reported and most clear-eyed report yet on what is actually happening.

Read Full Post
Why is the director of 'Dope' the right guy to direct 'The Flash'?
Credit: DC Comics

Why is the director of 'Dope' the right guy to direct 'The Flash'?

What is it about 'Dope' that made DC roll the dice on him?

What I liked most about Rick Famuyiwa’s Dope was the energy of the film. It felt young and authentic and fun, even in its craziest moments. As stories go, it was a little thin, but that didn’t matter. Famuyiwa attacked the material, and he did it in a voice that was his, something that’s not always easy.

And don't be fooled... Famuyiwa's no kid. He's been making films for over 20 years now. Dope was, in many ways, a reinvention for him, a breakthrough after years of making solid films that didn't quite generate the kind of buzz that pushes you to the next level. If you’re the kind of guy who is driven enough to keep getting your indie features made, you’re probably the kind of guy who loves and watches tons of movies. You have to be crazy about them in the first place to want to push that rock up that hill. When you're starting out, you absorb a lot of tricks from other filmmakers, and sometimes, you end up using their film language in a way that is more obvious, more overt. Famuyiwa has been doing this long enough that he has honed his own voice, presumably while shooting fast and making every penny count, and those two things do not always go hand-in-hand.

Read Full Post
The 'Batman v Superman Ultimate Edition' trailer is selling a whole new film
Credit: Warner Bros

The 'Batman v Superman Ultimate Edition' trailer is selling a whole new film

Maybe this really will make a difference

It’s become impossible to write about the DC movies or this title in particular without people getting up in arms for one reason or another, but it remains intriguing to see how they are moving forward. One of the reasons you build your entire marketing plan before you release the movie in any format is so you aren’t playing from a reactive place. After the incredibly divisive response to the film, it would be easy to see this as Zack Snyder and Warner’s way of apologizing… only that’s not the case. This is something they planned to do from the moment they realized how different the theatrical cut was going to be compared to what they ended up releasing in theaters.

Read Full Post
Review: A new director brings some welcome energy and charm to 'Turtles' sequel
Credit: Paramount Pictures
B

Review: A new director brings some welcome energy and charm to 'Turtles' sequel

The characters are first and foremost in this amiable adventure

Dave Green’s first film, Earth To Echo, had some mighty familiar DNA. You could tell that he was a fan of ‘80s Amblin’ films and that he’d absorbed the lessons of the film on a nearly molecular level like many of the film nerd kids who grew up on those movies. More than anything, he got the relationships between the kids right in that film, and it appears he carried that skill set over to a franchise that I have very little personal fondness for, resulting in what may well be the most consistently fun live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie ever made.

It’s easy to dismiss someone’s fondness for something as pure nostalgia, but it’s also reductive and, in many cases, not why someone loves something. I may not personally be a Turtles fan, but I know enough of them (and have fathered a few of my own), so I get the appeal. Under everything else, what fans hold onto from interpretation to interpretation is the relationship between Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), Donatello (Jeremy Howard), Leonardo (Pete Ploszek), and Raphael (Alan Ritchson), as well as their connection to both their best friend April O’Neil (Megan Fox) and their sensei and father-figure Splinter the Rat (Tony Shaloub). If you get that relationship right, you’re ahead of the game. Green, along with writers Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec, takes the time to paint each of the Turtles as an individual, leaning into the things that make them different and the way those relationships work.

Read Full Post
'Rogue One' may be launching into reshoots, but that doesn't mean it's bad news
Credit: Walt Disney Company/Lucasfilm

'Rogue One' may be launching into reshoots, but that doesn't mean it's bad news

Reshoots do not mean the sky is falling, Chicken Littles

Reshoots are one of the most radically misunderstood parts of film production to people who have not actually made movies, and they are often reported in ways that are unfair to the actual production team.

Take, for example, the news that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is going to head back in for a set of “extensive” reshoots. That one piece of information is correct. How that information has been interpreted has been fairly diverse, though, and there’s a pretty hefty degree of panic that appears to have immediately set in.

Relax.

Read Full Post
The 'Mary Poppins' sequel has a shot at being special
Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

The 'Mary Poppins' sequel has a shot at being special

Now's the time to cross our fingers and pray

Now that he has utterly and completely conquered Broadway, it’ll be interesting to see how Hollywood handles Lin-Manuel Miranda. It’s clear that he’s already been embraced by the creative community. He and JJ Abrams had a lot of fun creating that cantina song for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and had apparently even more fun performing the song live for crowds waiting for the daily Hamilton ticket lottery. He’s working on songs for Moana, the Polynesian-themed Disney musical that will feature Dwayne Johnson singing.

His long-rumored connection to the Mary Poppins sequel has finally been verified by an official press release from Disney. While I consider Mary Poppins one of the crown jewels of Disney’s entire filmography, I am not instantly opposed to a sequel. It’s clear now that they are not remaking the original, and considering how much other material P.L. Travers wrote about the character over the years, it’s not impossible to imagine there’s more story worth telling.

Read Full Post