Here’s the new trailer for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood!


I’m having a lot of mixed feelings right now, everyone.

Last night, my DVR overheated and I not only burned my thumb unplugging it but I’ve also probably lost the 265 things that I had recorded on there, including every episode of Twin Peaks: The Return.  I called our provider about it and they are sending over a new DVR, which should arrive in two days.  Personally, I was hoping they would say, “We’ll get someone out to your house immediately” but no.

So, that really sucks.  However, as annoyed as I am by all that, I’m still happy because we have a new trailer for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and it looks really, really good!  As I sit here writing this, I’m waiting to here what type of reception the film got when it premiered on Cannes today.  For now, though, enjoy the new trailer!  Tarantino has said that the film takes place over three separate days in Hollywood and the trailer features Leonardo DiCaprio (as Rick Dalton) returning to Hollywood, Brad Pitt (as Dalton’s stunt double) apparently meeting the Manson Family, and Margot Robbie (as Sharon Tate) watching herself in the Wrecking Crew.  Among the huge supporting cast, Timothy Olyphant, Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning, Luke Perry, Margaret Qualley, and Al Pacino are specifically highlighted.

How exactly Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, which is being advertised as being a bit of a swinging comedy, will deal with the horrific reality of Charles Manson is something that I’ve been wondering around ever since the project was first announced.  Is Brad Pitt maybe going to kill him, just as Eli Roth killed Hitler at the end of Inglourious Basterds?  We’ll find out soon!

For now, here’s the trailer:

4 Shots From 4 Terrence Malick Films: The New World, To The Wonder, Knight of Cups, Song to Song


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

To be honest, it’s always a good day to do 4 shots from 4 Terrence Malick films but today’s specific inspiration was the acclaim that has greeted Malick’s latest film, A Hidden Life, at Cannes.  Critics are saying that A Hidden Life marks Malick’s “return to greatness.”

Personally, I don’t think Malick had to return because he never left.  Even his more uneven works all have moments of greatness and visual beauty.  These four shots below come from four of Malick’s films that weren’t quite as acclaimed as Days of Heaven or Tree of Life.  These are four films that were not nominated for best picture.  They received mixed reviews.  However, regardless of what the critics may have said at the time of their release, there’s a beauty to all four of them and, watching them today, it’s hard not to feel that their statue will grow as time goes on.  All four of them reveal an artist unlike any other.  All of four of them remind us that Terrence Malick is an important and vibrant cinematic force.

As of right now, I am greatly looking forward to seeing A Hidden Life.  Until that film gets released over here in the U.S., here are….

4 Shots From 4 Terrence Malick Films

The New World (2005, dir by Terrence Malick)

To The Wonder (2012, dir by Terrence Malick)

Knight of Cups (2015, dir by Terrence Malick)

Song to Song (2017, dir by Terrence Malick)

 

Film Review: Hamlet (dir by Michael Almereyda)


What if Hamlet was a hipster douchebag?

That appears to be the question at the heart of the 2000 film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s most famous play.  In this adaptation, a young Ethan Hawke plays a Hamlet who is no longer a melancholy prince but who is instead a film student with a petulant attitude.

As you probably already guessed, this is one of those modern day adaptations of Shakespeare.  Denmark is now a Manhattan-based corporation.  Elsinore is a hotel.  Hamlet ponders life while wandering around a Blockbuster and, at one point, the ghost of his father stands in front of a Pepsi machine.  While Shakespeare’s dialogue remains unchanged, everyone delivers their lives while wearing modern clothing.  It’s one of those things that would seem rather brave and experimental if not for the fact that modern day versions of Shakespeare have gone from being daring to being a cliché.

At the film’s start, the former CEO of the Denmark Corporation has mysteriously died and his brother, Claudius (Kyle MacLachlan), has not only taken over the company but he’s also married the widow, Gertrude (Diane Venora).  Hamlet comes home from film school, convinced that there has been a murder and his suspicions are eventually confirmed by the ghost of his father (Sam Shepard).  Meanwhile, poor Ophelia (Julia Stiles) takes pictures of flowers while her brother, Laertes (Liev Schreiber), glowers in the background.  Polonius (Bill Murray) offers up pointless advice while Fortinbras (Casey Affleck) is reimagined as a corporate investor and Rosencrantz (Steve Zahn) wears a hockey jersey.  Hamlet spends a lot of time filming himself talking and the Mousetrap is no longer a player but instead an incredibly over-the-top short film that will probably remind you of the killer video from The Ring.

I guess a huge part of this film’s appeal was meant to be that it featured a lot of people who you wouldn’t necessarily think of as being Shakespearean actors. Some of them did a surprisingly good job.  For instance, Kyle MacLachlan was wonderully villainous as Claudius and Steve Zahn was the perfect Rosencrantz.  Others, like Diane Venora and Liev Schreiber, were adequate without being particularly interesting.  But then you get to Bill Murray as Polonius and you start to realize that quirkiness can only take things so far.  Murray does a pretty good job handling Shakespeare’s dialogue but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s totally miscast as the misguided and foolish Polonius.  One could easily imagine Murray in the role of Osiric.  Though it may initially seem a stretch, one could even imagine him playing Claudius.  But he’s simply not right for the role of Polonius.  Murray’s screen presence is just too naturally snarky for him to be convincing as a character who alternates between being a “tedious, old fool” and an obsequious ass kisser.

Considering that he spends a large deal of the movie wearing a snow cap while wandering around downtown Manhattan, Ethan Hawke does a surprisingly good job as Hamlet.  Or, I should say, he does a good job as this film’s version of Hamlet.  Here, Hamlet is neither the indecisive avenger nor the Oedipal madman of previous adaptations.  Instead, he’s portrayed as being rather petulant and self-absorbed, which doesn’t necessarily go against anything that one might find within Shakespeare’s original text.  Hawke’s not necessarily a likable Hamlet but his interpretation is still a credible one.

At one point, while Hamlet thinks about revenge, we see that he’s watching Laurence Olivier’s version of Hamlet on television.  There’s Olivier talking to Yorick’s skull while Hawke watches.  It’s a scene that is somehow both annoying and amusing at the same time.  On the one hand, it feels rather cutesy and more than a little pretentious.  At the same time, it’s so over-the-top in its pretension that you can’t help but kind of smile at the sight of it.  To me, that scene epitomizes the film as a whole.  It’s incredibly silly but it’s so unapologetic that it’s easy to forgive.

4 Shots From 4 Inaugural Oscar Winners: Wings, Sunrise, The Last Command, Seventh Heaven


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

Today is the 90th anniversary of the very first Academy Awards ceremony!

On May 16th, 1929, a private dinner was held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles, California.  The dinner was largely meant to celebrate the establishment of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  The brainchild of Louis B. Mayer, the AMPAS was founded to help mediate labor disputes between the studios and the unions.  As almost an afterthought, it was decided that AMPAS would also give out annual awards to honor the best films of the year.

12 awards were handed out on May 16th, before an audience of 270 people.  The entire awards ceremony took 15 minutes.  That’s quite a contrast to what the Academy eventually became.

In honor of that 15-minute ceremony, here’s….

4 Shots From 4 Films Honored At The Very First Oscar Ceremony

Wings (1927, dir by William Wellman) Won The Outstanding Production Awards

Sunrise (1927, dir by F.W. Murnau) Won Best Unique and Artistic Picture

The Last Command (1928, dir by Josef von Sternberg) Won Best Actor — Emil Jannings

Seventh Heaven (1927, dir by Frank Borzage) Winner Best Actress — Janet Gaynor

Along with her performance in Seventh Heaven, Janet Gaynor was also honored for her work in Street Angel and Sunrise.  Emil Jannings was honored for his work in both The Last Command and The Way of all Flesh,

Here’s what else won at the inaugural Oscar ceremony:

Best Direction, Comedy Picture — Lewis Milestone for Two Arabian Knights

Best Direction, Drama Picture — Frank Borzage for Seventh Heaven

Best Original Story — Ben Hecht for Underworld

Best Adaptation — Benjamin Glazer for Seventh Heaven, based on the play by Austin Strong

Best Art Direction — William Cameron Menzies for The Dove and Tempest

Best Cinematography — Charles Rosher and Karl Struss for Sunrise

Best Engineering Effects — Roy Pomeroy for Wings

Best Title Writing — Joseph Farnham for Fair Co-Ed; Laugh, Clown, Laugh; and Telling the World.

Lifetime Movie Review: Homekilling Queen (dir by Alexandre Carrière)


Poor Whitney Manning!

As the central character of the Lifetime film, Homekilling Queen, Whitney (played by Kaitlyn Bernard) only wants one thing.  She wants to be homecoming queen!  And really, why shouldn’t she be?  She believes that she’s the most popular girl in the entire school, despite the fact that no one actually seems to like her.  Add to that, she’s rich and serving as homecoming queen is practically a family tradition!  Her mother, Connie (Ashley Jones), was homecoming queen.  So was her grandmother, Evelyn (Jennifer Dale).  Both Connie and Evelyn are determined that Whitney will be the next homecoming queen.  Connie’s even taught her how to do a proper pageant wave.

How determined is Whitney?  She’s so determined that, over the summer, she even murdered one of her rivals!  That’s determination!

Still, things are never quite as easy as they should be.  For instance, Whitney may think that she has the election all sewn up but Natasha Hart (Kayleigh Shikanai) feels differently.  Natasha is sick of the school being run by mean girls like Whitney.  Natasha decides that she’s going to run against Whitney!

At first, Whitney is dismissive of Natasha and her campaign.  Everyone knows that Natasha had a drug problem in the past.  Apparently, she drove her car into the bleachers while high on oxy.  (This automatically makes Natasha cooler than anyone I went to high school with.)  However, Natasha is now clean and sober and looking to make the world a better place.  To Whitney’s shock, Natasha starts to pick up support for her campaign.  Even after Whitney sends everyone in school a nude picture that’s been photoshopped to look like Natasha, Natasha’s campaign continues to build momentum.

Well, if photoshopped nudes won’t knock Natasha out of the race, how about planting drugs on her?  And if Whitney has to murder someone to get those drugs …. well, that’s politics.

It’s an interesting film.  On the one hand, you’re supposed to dislike Whitney, Connie, and Evelyn.  And it is true that Whitney does commit a murder or two.  On the other hand, they’re all so determined to win that homecoming election that you can’t help but admire the level of their dedication.  If it means giving students gifts to win their vote, Whitney’s willing to do it.  If it means seducing the school’s creepy principal to keep her daughter from being disqualified, Connie’s going to do just that.  Kaitlyn Bernard, Ashley Jones, and Jennifer Dale all really dig into their roles and do a great job at capturing the unhinged obsessiveness of their characters.  Jennifer Dale is especially a marvel as the coldy pragmatic Evelyn.  When she glares at anyone who would stand in her granddaughter’s way, you’re left with no doubt that Evelyn is not someone who you would want to mess with.  She’s scary but you would definitely want her to have your back in a confrontation.

Also doing a good job were Kayleigh Shikanai and Krista Bridges, who were perfectly cast as mother and daughter.  Every scene between them rang true and, watching them, I was reminded of the way that my mom and I would relate to each other.  They brought an unexpected sense of reality to a film that could have otherwise just been an enjoyably over-the-top melodrama.

Homekilling Queen was a lot of fun and, given the number of times that Lifetime rebroadcasts all of their films over the year, it’s one to keep an eye out for.

Nobody Can Stop Gina Carano In The Trailer For Daughter Of The Wolf!


Seriously, Gina Carano kicks so much ass!

She managed to survive starring in one of Steven Soderbergh’s worst films and has gone on to become one of my favorite action movie stars.  Though she may be best-known for her supporting roles in Fast & Furious 6 and Deadpool, Gina Carano’s best work is usually found in an underappreciated genre films like In The Blood and Scorched Earth.  For me, there’s little that’s more empowering than watching Gina Carano single-handedly take down an army of mercenaries and evil-doers.

The trailer for Carano’s upcoming film features her doing what she does best.  This time, she’s a mother trying to rescue her child and it would appear that screen veteran Richard Dreyfuss is playing the bad guy.  Carano vs. Dreyfuss?  I wonder who will win that one.

Here’s the trailer for Daughter of the Wolf!

Here’s The New Red Band Trailer For The Dead Don’t Die


I know that I should probably be more excited about The Dead Don’t Die, the upcoming zombie comedy film from Jim Jarmusch.

I mean, after all, Jim Jarmusch has made some brilliant films and I enjoyed his take on vampires, Only Lovers Left Alive.  Add to that, the film is full of wonderful actors, people like Adam Driver, Bill Murray, Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi, and Tilda Swinton.  And yet, for whatever reason, I can’t summon up much enthusiasm for The Dead Don’t Die.  Everything that I’ve seen about it so far just seems to add up to one big “meh.”

Maybe it’s just the fact that there’s seems to be a new zombie movie every week.  Seriously, zombies were a lot more interesting before they went mainstream.

Anyway, The Dead Don’t Die opened the Cannes Film Festival yesterday and the response so far has been rather lukewarm, if respectful of the fact that the film was directed by a very important filmmaker.  Reading the reviews, you get the feeling that it’s a film that the reviewers wanted to like more than they actually did.

To coincide with the Cannes premiere, here’s a new redband trailer!  You can watch it below.  Maybe it’ll leave you with a bit more enthusiasm than it does me.

The Dead Don’t Die comes to theaters on June 14th.