All you fanfic writers out there on the internet who have been waiting for a movie that pairs Ty Burrell and Scarlett Johansson can take a break now, because Hollywood has finally answered your prayers. Burrell has just been cast in the blue comedy Rock That Body from Broad City executive producer Lucia Aniello. The script, from Aniello and her writing partner, Paul W. Downs, got a coveted Black List designation in 2015, and Sony snagged the rights to it in what Variety characterizes as “an aggressive bidding war.” (Despite having a name that evokes being placed in exile as well as the dark time in Hollywood when alleged communists were being expunged from the entertainment industry, the Black List is actually an annual collection of unproduced scripts that film studio executives have deemed the most desirable.) The sought after property focuses on five friends looking to throw down for a bachelorette party who rent a beach house in Miami for the occasion, and in addition to Johansson and Burrell, it’s also got Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, Zoe Kravitz, and Demi Moore on board to stir up plenty of WTF in this “raunchy comedy.” It seems like an outside chance, but the Modern Family actor could make a great washed up go-go boy bumming around Miami Beach. Here’s hoping!
Let's talk about Jason Bourne — Chinese audiences hate it! According to THR, Hollywood tried a weird trick in an attempt to boost the overseas grosses of the fifth Bourne movie by releasing it as a special 3-D edition in Asian marketplaces. (The film was shot in 2-D, and released in that format in North America and Europe, also 3-D tickets in China cost twice what 2-D ones do.) Now, as anyone who's seen a Bourne movie might have anticipated, that appears to have been a bad choice: Moviegoers in China are protesting the film, complaining the combination of 3-D and the film's handheld cinematography left them feeling sick. According to a viral Weibo post, one screening saw "a line of people throwing up in the restroom." Exacerbating the problem is the relative lack of 2-D screenings. The Global Times says only a tiny fraction of theaters in Beijing and Shanghai are offering non-3-D versions, and those are often on the outskirts of town, or only showing the film in non-peak hours. Universal claims it's working to offer more 2-D screenings of the film and is also delaying its 3-D theatrical release of Metallica's "Enter Sandman" video.
Did you think that you were done with the woods of Burkittsville, Maryland, already? Surprise! As we've known since Comic-Con, Lionsgate's found-footage horror movie The Woods is actually — wait for it — a top-secret follow-up to the 1999 cult sensation The Blair Witch Project. Titled Blair Witch, the film follows a new group of young adults (led by the brother of one of the campers in the original film) who return to the woods in the hopes of discovering what really happened to the leader's sister and her fellow campers all of those years ago. You have until September 16 to mentally prepare yourself for the release of the frightening sequel, which was directed by Adam Wingard. (We're just pretending that Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 never happened.) Witches are very in right now, after all. Watch the new spooky and mysterious trailer above, and, after, revisit the first trailer — also spooky and mysterious, who'da thunk? — below.
Why did the upcoming film adaptation of The Girl on the Train change its setting from London to New York? Money, of course, but also shame. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson says that the project was always intended as an American film — keeping it in Britain was "not even on the table." But now, she says, the different attitudes about drinking in the two countries has added another dimension to Emily Blunt's character's alcoholism. "It's much more of a drinking culture [in England]," Wilson says. "It’s not as shameful as it is here ... In America, [drinking at bars] is all about going into a dark hole where nobody can see you do a bad thing." Upon hearing Wilson's quotes, the people of Britain attempted to jump out of their seats in a rage, noticed the ground moving uneasily beneath their feet, sat back down and muttered, "Sod off."
In the run-up to the release of Noah Hawley's new series Legion, FX has mostly shied away from referencing the X-Men, even if the series itself is based on comics that take place in the X-Men universe. But according to Bryan Singer, the TV show will be a lot closer to the films than we thought. According to The Hollywood Reporter (as noted by the Verge), Singer said that Legion and Fox's other X-Men series "will relate to future X-Men movies." Speaking about Legion specifically, Singer said that the series is "part of the X-Men universe, but when you watched it, you wouldn't have to label it, it could exist completely on its own." Hmmm ... maybe the X-Men TV characters will take over the X-Men movies? Jennifer Lawrence wouldn't mind.
Melissa McCarthy and her real-life husband, Ben Falcone, have ended their quest to cast McCarthy's onscreen hubby for their upcoming comedy Life of the Party. Veep's Matt Walsh has boarded the project in the role, joining Maya Rudolph (the "neurotic best friend" of McCarthy's character), Gillian Jacobs, and Jacki Weaver for the college-set film. All that's known about Walsh's character, named Dan, is that he's very dad-tastic and "always wearing golf pants." Snazzy! The film — written by McCarthy and Falcone and to be directed by Falcone — is expected to arrive in theaters in May 2018, and although few plot details are known, it's described as being "akin in tone to the Rodney Dangerfield hit Back to School." Maybe he'll have a real dog this time around.
In an open letter published on the Root, four former Penn State students have issued what they say is a corrective to "the gross and blatant misinformation campaign" surrounding the case of Birth of a Nation star and director Nate Parker, who was accused and later acquitted of raping a female student at the university in 1999. In the letter, the four alumni, who include Parker's former wrestling mentor Brian Favors, maintain his innocence, arguing that he was the victim of a "racially biased" investigation that threatened and coerced witnesses. They also dispute the woman's charge that Parker and his friends harassed her after his arrest, pointing to the terms of Parker's bail agreement that mandated he stay away from her. (In her lawsuit against Penn State, the female student claimed that Parker and the school simply ignored this; Parker was not named in the suit, and the writers say he was unaware of it until after it had been settled.) And while the signees say they "cannot ignore the deep pain" the woman was in at the time of her 2012 suicide, they also dispute her brother's claims that the trial was a turning point in her life, pointing to her history of chronic depression that predated the allegations.
Read the full letter at the Root.
Steve Rogers is on confirmed hiatus from Captain America duties. Joe Russo, who has directed the last two Captain America movies with his brother Anthony, told the Huffington Post, “I think him dropping that shield is him letting go of that identity ... [It’s] him admitting that certainly the identity of Captain America was in conflict with the very personal choice that he was making.” At the conclusion of Civil War* (spoilers ahead!), Rogers dropped his shield, but then showed up on the floating-raft prison to rescue his captive Avenger friends sans the red, white, and blue suit. But he’s obviously still super and still around, even if he isn’t Captain America. And there was a brief comics arc in the 1970s in which the Cap, feeling disillusioned with the United States, became a hero with no country called Nomad. So that’s a possibility the Russos could explore, because Steve Rogers will definitely be called back into action for Infinity War: Part 1 in 2018 (which the brothers are also directing) when Thanos shows up to rain down intergalactic terror on everything and the whole Marvel universe will likely have to come together to stop him. In the meantime, the Captain wouldn’t have been that busy onscreen. Between now and Infinity War we’ve got Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Thor: Ragnarok, which means one of those three movies should provide just enough screen time for Rogers to debut his new fighting duds in a post-credit sequence before coming back full force — maybe full Nomad? — for the battle against Thanos.
* This post previously identified the third film in the Captain America series as The Winter Soldier; the correct title is Captain America: Civil War.
When I wondered before the release of Ben-Hur if it could be the biggest flop of summer 2016, I ultimately decided that it had a good chance of avoiding the dishonor: The BFG had been a massive underachiever, and Ben-Hur would've needed to come in at the very low end of its projections to outdo Spielberg's misstep.
Last week, when Warner Brothers green-lit a new version of the movie A Star Is Born that will pair Bradley Cooper with Lady Gaga, it was as if a roulette wheel that had been spinning for 20 years had finally, improbably stopped. A Star Is Born has almost never not been in development; the story is as old as Hollywood’s sound era, and its real-life origins even predate talkies. It is a romantic tragedy that the movie industry can’t resist, because on some level it’s a perfect representation of the way Hollywood sees itself, as a world in which public popularity and personal frailty are a lethal cocktail and in which everything — fame, success, awards, love — is a zero-sum game. Gaga may be perfect casting; A Star Is Born is American Horror Story: Showbiz.
On the same day that Gambit director Doug Liman became former Gambit director Doug Liman by taking a job with rival studio Warner Bros. to make a DC superhero movie instead of a Marvel one, the first former Gambit director, Rupert Wyatt, has some employment news of his own. Variety is reporting that the Rise of the Planet of the Apes director will assume the big chair for Captive State, a sci-fi movie that he co-wrote with his wife, Erica Beeney. Since Liman departed Gambit last fall, he has been working on TV projects, most notably Fox’s The Exorcist series, which he is executive-producing in addition to directing. His last feature film was The Gambler with Mark Wahlberg and Jessica Lange from 2014, and considering he is a serial walk-awayer with film projects, we’ll see if he follows Captive State through to the end. He wrote the screenplay with his wife, which probably ups the incentive to stick it out, but only time will tell.
Christoph Waltz could be joining a movie based on a popular manga graphic novel that is being produced by James Cameron and directed by Robert Rodriguez. Color us curious! According The Hollywood Reporter, Waltz is in early talks to co-star in Alita: Battle Angel as Doctor Dyson Ido, a man who finds a female cyborg in a scrap yard and becomes her mentor. That cyborg will be played by Rosa Salazar, whose highest profile project to date is Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. The story takes place in the 26th century, and when Ido finds Alita, the only thing she can remember about her life before is the exceptional combat training that’s turned her into a walking weapon. Naturally, Cameron and company are eyeing the film as the first in a franchise with a major budget attached, and as THR says, “The action-adventure story is meant to serve as a backdrop to themes of self-discovery and the search for love,” which is just so James Cameron. But maybe he should finish that one-billion-dollar franchise before he starts another one? Just a suggestion.
Lifetime is taking on a Herculean task. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the network has optioned the life of Britney Spears for a biopic called Britney Jean, and it is set to star young actress Natasha Bassett, who most recently appeared as Gloria DeLamour in Hail, Caesar! With Britney’s new album, Glory, on the way and a return to live TV with her upcoming Video Music Awards performance this weekend, Lifetime is right on schedule to cash in on all the Brit buzz with its announcement. The movie will be two hours long and track the "'tumultuous true story’ of her rise to fame, fall from grace and triumphant resurrection." The icon’s life story will be recapped (re: dramatized) from Spears's humble days in Kentwood, Louisiana, all the way up to her present return to the Billboard charts and mainstream cultural consciousness. And, of course, it will explore the breakups of her relationships with Justin Timberlake, Jason Alexander, and Kevin Federline. Honestly, two hours doesn’t seem like nearly enough time, considering you could probably make a miniseries just about the conservatorship years, which are still ongoing. So while Lifetime churns out Britney Jean, hopefully Ryan Murphy is getting to work on American Crime Story: Sam Lufti v. The Family Spears.
Well, here’s some good and bad superhero news for you. According to The Hollywood Reporter, director Doug Liman has left the helm of the deteriorating pirate ship that is 20th Century Fox’s Gambit property. Channing Tatum is still attached to star, but he’s been talking about this role since 2013, and now it’s losing its second director. (Rupert Wyatt walked away last fall.) So where is Liman going while poor Channing’s passion project slips back into purgatory? To another super-film, of course, but according to Variety, this time he’s signing on the dotted line with Warner Bros. and DC to direct its Dark Universe adaptation, otherwise referred to as Justice League Dark (which pretty much sounds like the marketing pitch for Suicide Squad). The heroes of record for JLD will be Det. John Constantine (formerly realized on the big screen by Keanu Reeves), Swamp Thing, Deadman, Zatanna, and Etrigan the Demon. They occupy a more magical quadrant of the DC space, much like Marvel is getting into with its Dr. Strange property.
It makes sense why Liman would skip out for DC, because who wouldn’t want to go to the competitor with a clear mission and proven track record of success with putting out critically well-received populist fare that honors iconic source material while creating independently valuable entries into the pop-culture canon? Wait, sorry. We’re not talking about Marvel. Never mind! Stay tuned for more drama.
Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester by the Sea — starring a formidable ensemble cast including Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, and Kyle Chandler — wrecked audience emotions when it debuted at Sundance earlier this year, and the first trailer makes it abundantly clear why. Set in a sleepy New England cape town, Affleck stars as a volatile Boston handyman who's forced to return to his hometown following the unexpected death of his brother, only to receive even more abrupt news that he was made the sole legal guardian of his brother's teenage son. Struggling to adjust to being a "dad" and seeing his separated wife (Williams) once again, his North Shore homecoming is nothing less than devastating. Manchester by the Sea will be released in the U.S. on November 18.
David Edelstein has his eye on the heavy stuff.
Oliver Stone takes on the multi-tentacled story of the multi-tentacled surveillance state and the alleged traitor (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Needless to say, Stone does well with manic, paranoid conspiracy narratives (JFK was insane but wildly entertaining).
The Kickstarter-backed indie film Unlovable has had something of a dream run on the crowd-funding site. On August 20, with one week left to go in its campaign, filmmaker Mark Duplass pledged to match every donation that came in during the final seven days, dollar for dollar. Now today, project creator Charlene deGuzman gets to make a few more big announcements. She hit her $50,000 funding goal and landed Patton Oswalt as an associate producer and Melissa Leo as a star. Unlovable will be based on deGuzman’s own life as a woman dealing with sex and love addiction, and the story will follow the lead character, Joy, who is described as “a twenty-something lost soul with a tiny body and a giant heart” on the movie’s Kickstarter page. Leo will play Maddie, “a powerful, grounded force” who becomes Joy’s sponsor. The project came about after deGuzman sent the Duplass brothers a comedy pilot she had written about the experiences that would become the foundation for Unlovable, and they introduced her to producer Jen Suskind (who worked on HBO’s Animals), which eventually led to her meeting another writer, Sarah Adina Smith, and the film’s director, Suzi Yoonessi. On the film’s campaign page, deGuzman says, “It's important to me to bring awareness to sex and love addiction, and to help people feel less alone. With comedy, music, and a whole lot of heart, I want to make a feature film that shows the world the power of true intimacy and human connection.” And it seems like karma is majorly rewarding her for those efforts.
The BBC has released a list of the 100 greatest films of the 21st century, compiled from ballots from 177 international film critics. And like any ranking, it's bound to make you both annoyed and validated in your taste. I scanned the list ready to be angry at how low the great comedies of the last 16 years were ranked, only to get even angrier when I realized at No. 100 (for which there was three-way tie) that not one comedy made the list. Sure, comedic movies — like Amélie and three from Wes Anderson — are on the list, as well as animated movies — like WALL-E, Inside Out, Ratatouille, and Finding Nemo — but what is completely lacking is capital-C Comedy. Yeah, There Will Be Blood has its moments, but a Comedy it is not. There are none on the list. Zero out of 100 — sorry, I mean zero out of 102.
When you’ve accessed a different spiritual dimension with another person, you’re kind of bound for life. So of course Conjuring 2 co-stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga will be reteaming for another thriller, this one of the action variety. It’s called The Commuter, and it’s already got Liam Neeson on board to star and Jaume Collet-Serra directing. Collet-Serra is just coming off helming the Blake Lively isolated-in-the-ocean movie The Shallows, and has previously directed Neeson in Unknown, Non-Stop, and Run All Night. The Commuter will focus on an insurance salesman named Byron Willinger (Neeson), who is forced by a “mysterious stranger” (Farmiga) to find a specific passenger on the train before its last stop, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson will play Willinger’s friend who helps him with his task, which will presumably result in dire consequences if it is not completed. So it kind of sounds like Source Code, except with Liam Neeson–style intensity.
Frank Ocean may be a master of mystery, but he is also a millennial — and what millennial can resist oversharing in list format? Ocean's Boys Don't Cry zine is many things — a book of fashion, cars, poetry, McDonald's ads — but above all it's an expansive look inside his mind, including the art he cherishes most. In it, Ocean listed both his favorite songs and films, which is essentially his way of saying, "Goddamn, I'm dope." (We know, Frank.) Of course, his taste is impeccable; of course, Stanley Kubrick's all over it; of course, so are most of Blonde's collaborators and inspirations (James Blake, the Beatles, Kim Burrell, Alex G, Daft Punk, the Cure); and, of course, someone already put whichever of the songs are available on Spotify in a handy playlist for you. Dive into both lists, below.
Don’t Breathe Traps You With Its Expertly Crafted Horrors
It’s visually resourceful and honest in how it sets up and delivers on its shocks. There isn’t a single false scare.By David Edelstein
Ironically, Florence Foster Jenkins Hits the Right Notes
Meryl Streep has one flaw: She is a decent singer.By David Edelstein
The New Pete’s Dragon Is Like the Original, Except Not Terrible
Pete’s Dragon lumbers right up to the border of cloying, but doesn’t tip over.By David Edelstein