With the huge popularity of the rebooted Star Trek films, I suppose it was inevitable that another go at a series would ensue. Hello to Jason Isaacs!
After the somewhat mediocre response to the last outing with Scott Bakula and company, I can only imagine that the game will be seriously upped for this endeavor. Bigger budget, better effects, higher profile cast and for the love of God get that opening theme song into something that won’t make people put between the sofa cushions!
Star Trek: Discovery has a lot of notable names and familiar faces but honestly… give me Michelle Yeoh commanding a starship and the rest of it can be filled with Tribbles for all I care. I think this is going to be a lot of fun though – and hopefully thoughful as well. Of course it could all end up imploding under the weight of the new movies, but with TV what it has been as of late, I’m fairly optimistic for this new series going
There are too many mediocre music docs. This is definitely NOT one of those. Amazon Prime financed Amir Bar-Lev’s epic four-hour Grateful Dead documentary, which was built almost entirely out of unearthed archived video. And if you have seen the official Grateful Dead archive, it looks (I’m not kidding) a lot like that Area 51 matte painting in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Long Strange Trip starts out when Jerry Garcia is a teenager, and ends with his death in 1995, and in between it (somehow) acts as both a primer for novices, and a very specific set of images and information for experts. I caught it at Hot Docs and it played like gangbusters with an enthusiastic (and greying) crowd. Also, the bands first Tour Manager has a voice that is dead-on Michael Caine, so even in the talking heads segments you are in good hands.
The 30-year odyssey of the Grateful Dead was the most unlikely success story in rock ’n’ roll history. Famously averse to publicity and seemingly incapable of recording radio-friendly hits, they flouted music-industry convention by giving their live music away to a global network of tape traders and becoming the highest-grossing concert act in America through word of mouth alone.
Long Strange Trip is the first full-length documentary to explore the fiercely independent vision, perpetual innovation, and uncompromising commitment to their audience that made the Bay Area band one of the most influential musical groups of their generation. Artfully assembling candid interviews with the band, road crew, family members and notable Deadheads (including Minneapolis Senator Al Frankin), director Bar-Lev reveals the untold history of the Dead and the freewheeling psychedelic subculture that sprouted up around it. The film also provides poignant insight into the psyche of late lead guitarist Jerry Garcia, whose disdain for authority clashed with his de facto leadership of the sprawling collective that kept the show on the road.
With a soundtrack that captures some of the band’s most dynamic live performances as well as unguarded offstage moments and never-before-seen interviews, footage and photos, Long Strange Trip explores the Dead’s singular experiment in radically eclectic music making. Much more than the “behind the music” backstory of an exceptionally talented and beloved group of musicians, the film is at once an inspiring tale of unfettered artistic expression, a heartfelt American tragedy, and an incisive history of the rise and fall of 20th-century counterculture.
Amazon Studios is giving the film a limited release in NY & LA on May 26th, and across the country in select theaters for single night playdates, but if you have Amazon Prime, Long Strange Trip will be available worldwide on that streaming platform on June 2nd.
The rebooted Planet of the Apes series keeps on chugging, and keeps on empathizing with the Apes, while making the human villains more vile with each chapter. Here we have a genocidal Colonel played by Woody Harrelson with his military apparatus, juxtaposed against Ur-Ape, Caesar (Andy Serkis returning) taking in a human orphan. As always the motion capture animation of the Apes is astounding.
After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the Colonel are pitted against each other in a battle that will determine the fate of both their species and the future of the planet.
Oh, and writers, please, let us all place a moratorium on “I didn’t start this , but I WILL finish it.” (blech.)
Directed by the Mulleavy Sisters, Kate and Laura, who made a splash in the fashion world with their Rodarte collection, Woodshock, their first feature promises an impressionistic, acid-trip portrait off loss and grief. The film is getting a release from risk taking production/distribution label, A24. Starring Kirsten Dunst (in full Melancholia mode) shown in super-long-shot, her tiny form up against mighty Redwood trees and endless watery vistas. Woodshock, at first glance appears to be in the space between Sophia Coppola and Jean-Marc Vallee’s Demolition, all lovely anxiety. The ubiquitous Danish actor Pilou Asbaek (Game of Thrones, The Great Wall, Ghost in the Shell) co-stars.
Woodshock is getting a theatrical release on September 15, 2017.
The full trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s epic-scaled Blade Runner sequel has arrived, and it is glorious. In terms of future hologram bespackled cities, Ghost in the Shell, in hindsight was simply an amuse-bouche to the feast that Roger Deakins has prepared for us. Cold grey-blues, Fury-Road oranges, infinite whites, and twinkling Atari lights.
In terms of new cast members Robin Wright and Jared Leto introduced here, as does Ana de Armas (blink at the right point, and you will miss Dave Bautista).
I hope the story is as beautiful as everything on display here. I expect nothing short than greatness, even as I believe that movie will explicitly, in no uncertain terms, finally INSIST that Deckard is a replicant, and likely all of the police force.
“Even madness has its own logic.” I love a good period-procedural, and this London set 19th century serial killer mystery is verdantly populated with character, costume and blood.
Bill Nighy plays the investigator, Eddie Marsan one of the suspects, and Daniel Hays the beat-walking cop (for invisible character actor context, many saw him murdered by Diego Luna in the early minutes of Rogue One, but I like his contributions to the Red Riding Trilogy, Mr. Nobody and several recent Mike Leigh pictures among other things). Olivia Cooke is the central witness and narrator of the picture, which aims to combine a lot of elements into a satisfying old-school kind of whole.
Spanish director Juan Carlos Medina could not quite pull juggling so many balls in his debut feature, Painless, a horror-investation about children in a mental asylum and the consequences of this institution across the years. By all accounts at last Septembers edition TIFF, The Limehouse Golem does not suffer from such muddled narrative confusion.
Set on the unforgiving, squalid streets of Victorian London in 1880, our tale begins in the baroque, grandiose music hall where the capital’s most renowned performer Dan Leno (Douglas Booth) takes to the stage. The whimsical thespian performs a monologue, informing his dedicated audience of the ghastly fate of a young woman who had once adorned this very stage, his dear friend Elizabeth Cree (Olivia Cooke); for the beguiling songstress is facing up to her forthcoming death by hanging, having been accused of murdering her husband John Cree (Sam Reid). Lizzie’s death seems inevitable, until Detective Inspector John Kildare (Bill Nighy) is assigned to the case of the Limehouse Golem – a nefarious, calculating serial killer, murdering innocent, unconnected victims, leaving behind barely identifiable corpses – and his distinctive signature in blood. All is not what it seems and everyone is a suspect and everyone has a secret.
Though it’s now been out for a few days and you’ve most likely already seen it, the conversation behind the scenes here about the posting of The Dark Tower trailer turned into a rather amusing chat about how little a few of us care for the source material.
There’s a lot of love in the world for Stephen King (I’m a fan of a swatch of his work) but from the moment an adaptation of “The Dark Tower” was announced, fans whipped themselves into the kind of frenzy generally reserved for comic book movies and Star Wars. Every announcement and setback were dissected for the smallest ounce of information and the project, which seems to have been in production for years, has morphed from series to movie to some combination of the two.
Idris Elba stars as The Gunslinger, a man who travels through a world that is parts Old West/apocalyptic nightmare/Mordor, in search of The Man in Black (the devil himself apparently – played by Matthew McConaughey in rather great casting) and the mythical Dark Tower which, he hopes, will save the world. Into this mess comes a boy from our world and together with The Gunslinger, the two have to save the Dark Tower in order to save both worlds.
Netflix is releasing Korean master Bong Joon-Ho’s latest science fiction picture, Okja, with Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton, and their unorthodox advertisement takes a page out of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, by presenting a bit of corporate marketing to stand in for a teaser trailer. Watch Tilda Swinton in a white wig try to enhance your calm with the technological wonders of her large, benevolent, pharmaceutical company.
With all of the marketing for the new Alien movie, the so-called sequel to Prometheus, you might have been asking, what of the two survivors from the first film, Elizabeth and David? Well, the most recent prologue answers that question in the most handsome and wonderful way. I cannot be more excited for what Ridley Scott and his creative time of writers and craftspeople come up with, but I’m happy to see Michael Fassbender continue to command center-stage in this, second Alien Trilogy.