Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill

Not really big news, but you gotta see this. We’ve been saying for years how chameleon-like Gary Oldman is. He’s played so many varying characters with such truth and/or flamboyance that it’s almost unbelievable. But this one takes the cake! Here is Gary Oldman playing former British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill for the upcoming film, Darkest Hour, directed by my man Joe Wright. The film also stars the talents of Lily James, Ben Mendelsohn, John Hurt and Kristin Scott Thomas. See you in the theater seats.

gary-oldman-churchill-640

Trailer: Star Trek Beyond

As if you need further proof that the rebooted Star Trek universe is flash-in-the-pan pop cultural action-blockbuster-mush instead of boldly attempting any kind of science fiction or social ideas — something more or less ended with Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country — here is Rihanna fiddling while Rome burns.

While the nerd collective throws an over-the-top hissy fit about the all-Female Ghostbusters, I continue to quietly lament the Star-Wars-Too-Fast-Too-Furious-ification of this third go-around on Trek in the multiplex.

(Also, on a serious, perhaps inappropriate note, at least a more morbid one, this is twice now that Justin Lin inherits a big budget franchise, one of the leads dies tragically via car. Two data points doesn’t make a trend, but I wonder if Star Trek Beyond will have a Yelchin-bump in terms of audience interest in the same way the Furious Franchise did with Paul Walker.)

Trailer: The Shallows

American Honey

I wish more trailers were cut this good. Somehow we missed Sony’s colour-saturated, tiny shark survival movie starring Blake Lively, when it first popped up online. But with its soundtrack, voice-over and smooth edit, this is one of the best trailers I’ve seen this year, and too damn good not to post; hence, we offer it now. The film, at least in Canada, opens this weekend, even if the trailer says June 29th.

The Shallows is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who was responsible for two underrated Liam Neeson action flicks (I know, I know, there is a glut of these), Non-Stop and Run All Night

Trailer #2: The Birth of a Nation

birthofanation

Nate Parker’s ‘taking back the title’ historical drama, The Birth of A Nation is an important corrective measure in American cinema, coming to cinemas 100 years after all the damage that D.W. Griffith’s epic blockbuster of the same name enabled back in 1915 — not the least of which is resurrecting a near-extinguished KKK. Griffith’s film also is considered the first mega-sized film produced, and kicked off the ‘bigger is better’ mentality that has been the rhythm of Hollywood almost ever since.

If 2016’s The Birth of A Nation looks like Oscar-bait, that is because it is. But not the cynical, play the game Hollywood boutique kind, that of an earnest, passionate voice looking to come to the table on his own terms. This is what Oscar-bait should look like if we are to take the derogatory connotation away from the phrase. The challenge of this picture is to come out from the long shadow of Steve McQueen’s extraordinarily shot and acted, 12 Years A Slave.

The Birth of a Nation won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival before being picked up by Fox Searchlight. The film hits theaters stateside on October 7, 2016. And the second trailer is below.

Trailer: Andrea Arnold’s American Honey

American Honey

I like the word “Youthquake” that critic Owen Gleiberman applied to the film when he caught it at Cannes this year. American Honey gives the vibe of what you would get if Spring Breakers was directed by a Brit instead of an American. That’s my two cents, but don’t let me oversimplify, there is some incredible energy, cinematography, intimacy and overall film-making going on at work here. I can’t wait to see the latest film from the director of Fish Tank and Red Road. In fact, I’m due for a full Andrea Arnold marathon pretty soon.

Trailer #2: Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters

Less Kate McKinnon (sad-face), more ghosts (happy face). The new trailer continues the aspect of the marketers addressing the online imbroglio about gender (and concert stage diving in the 21st century). If you have not had the pleasure, it seems that conversation on the internet about this forthcoming Ghostbusters reboot quickly veers into mass hysteria; please keep it civil in the comments section, folks.

Trailer: Hell or High Water

I love a good modern western, be it No Country For Old Men or A History of Violence, films that take a lot of the themes of the genre and yet are set in modern times, with a contemporary look. Here we have Chris Pine and Ben Foster playing brothers with some financial problems they feel can be solved by robbing banks. Jeff Bridges plays the aging sheriff looking to get to the bottom of the mystery. It’s all soaked with honeyed cinematography, masculinity (facial hair, and crude language abound) and a fair amount of desperation. Nothing particularly original here, but the pleasure of this kind of movie is in the details.

Hell or High Water is written by Taylor Sheridan, fresh off Sicario, scored by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, and has a lot of pedigree for a simple story. Just the way I like it.

A story about the collision of the Old and New West, two brothers—Toby, a straight-living, divorced father trying to make a better life for his son; and Tanner, a short-tempered ex-con with a loose trigger finger—come together to rob branch after branch of the bank that is foreclosing on their family land. The hold-ups are part of a last-ditch scheme to take back a future that powerful forces beyond their control have stolen from under their feet. Vengeance seems to be theirs until they find themselves in the cross-hairs of a relentless, foul-mouthed Texas Ranger looking for one last triumph on the eve of his retirement. As the brothers plot a final bank heist to complete their plan, a showdown looms.

Trailer: Studio Ghibli’s The Red Turtle

The Red Turtle

It seems now that Japan’s Studio Ghibli is awaiting auteurs to step up on native soil, they have turned to some international co-productions to keep the lights on. If Dutch director Michaël Dudok de Wit is any indication of this new collaboration arrangement, I am happy to see the direction things go. The Red Turtle looks gorgeous, has a hand animated aesthetic, with a flair for visual and emotional storytelling. The film premiers at Cannes this week. The trailer is below.

Trailer: Hell or High Water

I love a good modern western, be it No Country For Old Men or A History of Violence, films that take a lot of the themes of the genre and yet are set in modern times, with a contemporary look. Here we have Chris Pine and Ben Foster playing brothers with some financial problems they feel can be solved by robbing banks. Jeff Bridges plays the aging sheriff looking to get to the bottom of the mystery. It’s all soaked with honeyed cinematography, masculinity (facial hair, and crude language abound) and a fair amount of desperation. Nothing particularly original here, but the pleasure of this kind of movie is in the details.

Hell or High Water is written by Taylor Sheridan, fresh off Sicario, scored by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, and has a lot of pedigree for a simple story. Just the way I like it.

A story about the collision of the Old and New West, two brothers—Toby, a straight-living, divorced father trying to make a better life for his son; and Tanner, a short-tempered ex-con with a loose trigger finger—come together to rob branch after branch of the bank that is foreclosing on their family land. The hold-ups are part of a last-ditch scheme to take back a future that powerful forces beyond their control have stolen from under their feet. Vengeance seems to be theirs until they find themselves in the cross-hairs of a relentless, foul-mouthed Texas Ranger looking for one last triumph on the eve of his retirement. As the brothers plot a final bank heist to complete their plan, a showdown looms.

Trailer: Tickled

We have talked about Dylan Reeves and David Farrier’s investigative documentary Tickled several times on this site. I caught it at Hot Docs and loved it. Magnolia have cut a very minor spoiler-ish trailer for the film that gets you to the mouth of the ‘tickling rabbit hole’ that the film takes you down. It’s not the best trailer in the world, but the film presents unique challenges in how to cut a trailer to get bums in seats without spoiling all the surprises. Watch at your own risk.

Tickled will be in theaters June 17, 2016.

Blood Meridian negotiations announced… and collapsed.

bloodmeridian

In what might be one of the stranger things I’ve seen recently, The Hollywood Reporter published an article detailing a deal with James Franco to direct an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian with Russell Crowe, Tye Sheridan, and Vincent D’Onofrio all in talks to join the cast.

By the time I made it home from work though, the story had changed significantly. According to Deadline:

The mooted Russell Crowe-James Franco collaboration on Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridien has been shelved mere moments after details of it first became public after it emerged that the filmmakers had not yet secured the rights to the novel. … [I]n a situation that highlights the precariousness of conducting film business in a instantaneous online media climate, the breaking news reports about the project appear to have derailed the fragile discussions taking place with the rights owners and the cast. This is a deeply regrettable situation. No one ever wants a story to get in the way of deals being done.

Literature buffs are either letting out a collective groan… or a sigh of relief. Some call Blood Meridian simply unfilmable and considering Franco’s lack of success on two other adaptations of “unfilmable” novels–William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying and McCarthy’s Child of God–his name being attached likely didn’t inspire much confidence from fans of McCarthy’s work, even if the idea of D’Onofrio as the Judge would be pretty damn exciting.

As for Blood Meridian, it’s had an interesting history. As far back as 2008, we wrote about the film being adapted by Ridley Scott and then later Todd Fields (and interestingly, I speculated in another article that Scott might try to bring on board Crowe). And another director bites the dust.

What say you, internet?

See also: Mike Rot’s 2008 Cormac McCarthy Mix-Tape and my review of 2011’s McCarthy adaptation The Sunset Limited.