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  • Posted 1/17/17 at 3:27 PM
  • Remakes

White Men Can’t Jump Is Getting a Remake from Black-ish’s Creator

The 1990s were a great decade for sports comedies. There was Major League, The SandlotHappy Gilmore, Cool Runnings, The Mighty Ducks, and so many others. These days, it seems like if it doesn’t star Will Ferrell or focus on the gritty drama of boxing, studios don’t have much interest in what the raucous backdrop of sports can provide. But hey, Hollywood does love a remake, and as such it is resurrecting the legend of White Men Can’t jump, thanks to Black-ish creator Kenya Barris and two pro athletes, Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers and Ryan Kalil of the Carolina Panthers. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the producing trio is developing a re-up of White Men with Barris set to write the script. The original followed a pair of pick-up basketball players, played by Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes, who become an unlikely pair of street-ball hustlers together. No word yet on whether or not Miles Teller and Kevin Hart have had scripts gift-wrapped and delivered to their doors.

Bob Odenkirk Is a Greeting-Card Writer Who Likes Bum Fights in the New Girlfriend’s Day Trailer

You know how in Her Joaquin Phoenix’s character was a mild-mannered guy with a low-key job writing greeting cards? Well, the new movie Girlfriend’s Day also trains the spotlight on a solitary scribe who pens heartfelt sentiments for mass consumption, but Bob Odenkirk’s lead character, Ray Wentworth, looks considerably less Zen than Phoenix’s. This new Netflix original has a lot more violence and misanthropy than you’d expect from a movie about “the Bill Shakespeare of romantic cards,” but that’s probably what’s going to make it something you want to watch. Ray is in a rut, but when the new holiday of Girlfriend’s Day is declared, he decides to tap back into the creative force that made him a world-class card writer once upon a time. Things get more bizarre when he gets tangled in a deadly situation involving a murder that somehow seems connected to the just-created holiday. The movie also features Amber Tamblyn, Natasha Lyonne, Ed Begley Jr., Stacy Keach, June Diane Raphael, and Andy Richter, so there’s a lot to root for here.

If You Want to Hear How ‘Talk, Talk, Talk’ John Lewis Is, PBS’s New Documentary Has You Covered

A quick fact check of Donald Trump's latest feud: Representative John Lewis, who recently sparred with the president-elect on Twitter (Trump proclaimed he was "all talk"), is a civil-rights icon, and he's been working for American equality for his entire life. John Lewis - Get in the Way — a new documentary from PBS and Georgia Public Broadcasting — will prove as much. The film charts Lewis's rise from sharecropper son to SNCC chairman to Congress's conscience. The documentary, which has been in production for several years, features new interviews with Lewis and other politicians and civil-rights activists. "We are thrilled to bring a film that so eloquently captures the legacy of John Lewis to a national audience through PBS," said Georgia Public Radio president Teya Ryan. See all of Lewis's life onscreen when the biography premieres February 10, and decide for yourself who, exactly, is "all talk, talk, talk."

The Director of Die Hard Just Made His First Film in 14 Years, And It’s a Video-Game Commercial

Earlier this month, "The Red Dot," a commercial for the upcoming video game Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands, was quietly released online. For a gaming ad, it features an uncommonly tight narrative: A sniper takes aim at a group of thuggish bad guys who are sitting around a table playing cards. That's when the commercial takes on a playful dimension — a stray cat, who is hanging out nearby, sees the dot of the assassin's laser scope and begins to follow it. Eventually, of course, the baddies wind up dead, but even the bloodletting is told with an uncommon amount of style and storytelling clarity.

The reason for this amount of visual and narrative flair? The spot's director is John McTiernan, the filmmaker behind classics like Die Hard, Predator, and The Hunt for Red October. It's like when you found out that above-average detective novel was actually written by J.K. Rowling. It just makes sense.

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Hidden Figures Soared at the Box Office This Weekend, While Live by Night Died by Wide Release

The Main Story
Hidden Figures topped the box office once again, and not just on any weekend: It was the weekend of MLK Day, which the president-elect spent attacking one of the major figures of the civil rights movementHidden Figures showed a remarkable hold from its wide-release debut, falling just 10 percent in its second weekend, and it comfortably won the four-day with about $25 million, giving it nearly $60 million already. At a mere $25 million budget, the film has already proven a solid return on investment for Fox, and its continued relevance going forward — in case you've forgotten, the inauguration is next weekend — could give it unusually long legs, particularly if a Best Picture nomination comes along with the financial success.

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Michael Moore’s Predictions for Trump’s Presidency: He’ll Absolutely Build a Wall, Ban Muslims

A message from Michael Moore to the rest of the country: Please take the president-elect at his word. Moore — who has a pretty good record as the left's leading Trump prognosticator — told Variety about how he imagines Donald Trump's first days in office will shake out. The good news: Trump has been up-front about his plans (if only we were listening). The bad news: He'll actually follow through with them. "What you’re going to see is, on day one, he’s going to rescind a dozen or more of Obama’s executive-branch regulations," Moore explained. "On day two, Republicans will start printing laws the way you print fliers for a homecoming dance. Before the liberals and the Democrats can get their heads screwed on straight, they’ll have 20 laws passed. Building a wall. Creating a Muslim ban." Everything Trump has promised will come to fruition, Moore said, and the president-elect has shown exactly how he'll make it happen: "He’s going to get away with it by making it a ban on Muslims who come from the following countries. He needs just enough cover for his crowd to say, 'Oh, he’s being reasonable there. He’s not banning all Muslims.'"

On a slightly more positive note, Moore said the time since the election has only energized him for more political organizing. "I’ve taken him literally and seriously since day one," the director said. "That’s why I’ve been able to be active and energized since the election. I went through my five stages of grief months and months ago when I realized he was going to win."

Ben Affleck’s Live by Night Is Low-Energy Noir

Ben Affleck’s adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s 1920s-gangster novel Live by Night is strangely low-impact — the movie brings out all Lehane’s weaknesses and none of his strengths. A big problem is that Affleck cast himself as Joe Coughlin, the reluctant Boston gangster (he preferred life as an unaffiliated outlaw) who turns out to be so smart at playing the long game that he ends up running all the rackets in Tampa for an Italian crime boss named Maso Pescatore (Remo Girone). Perhaps because Joe will never be a “made man” — he’s not Italian — he builds the closest thing you can get to a fair, politically progressive crime menagerie. He hangs out in the “colored” section of Tampa’s Ybor City. He takes up with a kind, beautiful Dominican-Cuban woman named Graciela (Zoe Saldana) who puts much of her money into shelters for women and immigrants. He vanquishes a psychotic Ku Klux Klan leader. Still, Joe burns for revenge against the Irish mob boss Albert White (Robert Glenister) who tried to murder him and caused the death of an Irish moll (Sienna Miller) who was White’s mistress and the woman Joe loved beyond reason. Keeping his head — and moral compass — in a fundamentally violent world is tearing Joe apart.

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Emma Watson Declares Once and for All That Belle Is a Better Disney Princess Than Cinderella

Shots delicately fired: Emma Watson had the chance to star in the live-action adaptation of Cinderella, but the Harry Potter star said she's glad she passed on the role. "I didn't know they were going to make Beauty and the Beast at the time I turned down Cinderella," she told Total Film. "But when they offered me Belle, I just felt the character resonated with me so much more than Cinderella did." Belle is the better role model, Watson explained, and she worked with director Bill Condon to build Belle into a more dynamic character: "There's this kind of outsider quality that Belle had, and the fact she had this really empowering defiance of what was expected of her. In a strange way, she challenges the status quo of the place she lives in, and I found that really inspiring," Watson said. "She manages to keep her integrity and have a completely independent point of view. She's not easily swayed by other people's perspective — not swayed by fear-mongering or scapegoating." So good luck to Cinderella and her little glass slipper or whatever. 

  • Posted 1/16/17 at 11:56 PM
  • Awards

Isabelle Huppert Receives French Cinema Award

Earlier today, Isabelle Huppert was thanked by both her country's Minister of Culture Audrey Azoulay and her peers for positively representing French cinema to the entire world, so, yeah, you should have seen Elle when it was in theaters. Smooth move. The Golden Globe–winning star of Paul Verhoeven's latest thriller received UniFrance's French Cinema Award, and was publicly lauded by the organization's president Jean-Paul Salomé for her willingness to travel extensively to promote the film. Directors Benoit Jacquot, Joachim Lafosse, Mia Hansen-Løve, and Anne Fontaine celebrated Huppert in person, while Michael Haneke, Agnieszka Holland, Brillante Mendoza, and her Elle director Paul Verhoeven sang her praises in a pre-recorded video. “I realized through my trips how much people abroad love French cinema,” Huppert remarked when receiving her award. “Through all the recognition that I have been receiving over the last few months, it’s French cinema which was being celebrated for its audacity, transgression, subversion and ultimately its freedom.” So, what, do you need an engraved invitation? Walk, drive, or fly immediately to a city that's still screening Elle.

Ben Affleck Would Like Us to All Chill With the Grilling Him About Batman

Ben Affleck would really like to stop talking about the upcoming Batman movie. Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, Batfleck was visibly irritated that reporters continue to ask about the upcoming high-profile (and potentially beleaguered) project. "Every time I mention Batman, it's like this huge clickbait. When I was doing [Live by Night], it took me two years to get it together, but nobody ever asked me 'Where's Live by Night?' (First: Relax! You have Leo in your corner. Second: Maybe that's for the best?) Even frustrated and rambling, Affleck promised the new Batman is fine, friends — really, come on, it'll be great. "We're gonna make something really special," he insisted. We're gonna take the time to make it right, we're gonna do it good, we're gonna do it the right way, and the fans are gonna love it." If you say so.

A24 Is Taking a Surprise Sci-Fi Short to Sundance, and It Looks Pretty Mysterious

A few days after A24 (the studio behind Moonlight, American Honey, and 20th Century Women) pushed out a pulsing trailer for a mystery Untitled project, some observant Film Stage readers identified the footage. It's called Toru, a short film headed to Sundance directed by Jonathan Minard and Scott Rashap. In the trailer, between alternating images of an Asian couple and a white teen, title cards read: "Beyond reality, realize feeling, Feel bare, Bear witness, Witness Change, Change identity, Identify questions, Question life, Live beyond." Sundance's synopsis isn't as cryptic: “An infant’s life is transformed by a new technology.” During production in Massachusetts, Wicked Local posted a more detailed summary: "Toru centers on the story of a baby boy, named Toru, born with a fatal lung condition. As he only has a few days to live Toru’s parents sign him up for a trial experiment that would simulate a full life in a matter of days. The film follows Toru’s dream-like life simulation as a boy named Todd growing up in a New England suburb, and concludes in futuristic Japan." The short is 14 minutes long and in Japanese with English subtitles. The trailer's images are stunning — the teen lies motionless on a bed, the adult woman sheds a single tear, and something that looks like an AI pod is suspended in air. Add this to your list of Sundance must-sees.

Chewbacca Makes Like a Sentient Lightsaber and Yanks a Guy’s Arm Off in This Force Awakens Deleted Scene

The Star Wars universe has seen its fair share of limb detachments. But while a lightsaber has a kind of clinically elegant touch, there are some itches that only monstrous brute force can scratch. And so we bring to your attention a shockingly brutal deleted scene from The Force Awakens in which Chewbacca gets fed up and swiftly pulls a guy's arm right out of the socket. The scene in question would have gone down during the stop at Maz Kanata’s castle, when Unkar Plutt, last seen looking mad on Jakku, tries to give Rey some trouble. As Unkar yanks Rey's weapon from her, Chewbacca steps in to respond in kind, yanking the junk boss's arm clean away from its intended. A gentle giant he is not. At least it seems that whatever an Unkar Plutt is isn't much a bleeder.

HBO’s Wizard of Lies Trailer: Robert De Niro’s Bernie Madoff Gets an Abrupt Awakening

You're a wizard, Bernie! The unscrupulous man behind the largest financial fraud in U.S. history is finally getting the HBO film treatment. With Robert De Niro front and center as stockbroker, investment advisor, and financier Bernie Madoff, The Wizard of Lies seeks to examine the infamous Ponzi scheme that catapulted the Madoff family into a scorching spotlight in 2008. Its vaguely surrealist first trailer nice use of fire screensavers! is a far more thrilling affair than the film's tame set photos, that's for sure. The swindler's tale is set to debut on HBO come May. Invest your savings in gold.

Manifesto Trailer: You Get 13 Cate Blanchetts for the Price of One

Prepare yourselves, Blanchettheads, because your queen is going to show up 13 (!) different times throughout the course of her new film Manifesto. The film stems from German artist and filmmaker Julian Rosefeldt's multi-screen video exhibition shown at the New York Park Avenue Armory this past winter for it, Blanchett portrayed 13 unique characters in their own vignettes who all deliver some form of profound manifesto. (You'll get to see her as a homeless man, a mob widow, a construction worker, and a news anchor, for instance. Hooray!) Her entire dialogue is specifically taken directly from famous art-world manifestos, and the reassembled film is described as "an homage to the 20th century's most impassioned artistic statements and innovators." It'll make its world premiere at Sundance later this month.

  • Posted 1/14/17 at 10:58 AM
  • Movies

Is This New Cars 3 Trailer One of the Meanest Things Pixar Has Done to Kids?

As any viewer of Toy Story 3, Up, or Inside Out is well aware, Pixar is quite comfortable when it comes to embracing existential and emotional crises. But even that knowledge did not prepare us for this new trailer for Cars 3, in which our old pal Lightning McQueen appears to ... crash and nearly perish on the NASCAR track? Or, put another way: Is Lightning being Bing Bonged? We picture a parent and child positioned in front of their computer screen, faces alight in excitement for a new Cars trailer, only to fall into a deep malaise a mere 35 seconds later. "Mommy? Daddy?" this newly shaken child might ask, looking for answers. And sure, unlike the first teaser (below), the new footage (above) shows Mr. McQueen surviving his scrape with oblivion, phew. But the reprieve is brief, as Lightning recovers ... only to find his beleaguered, broken self without a place among the shiny young bucks of today. Cold comfort, kiddies.

The Academy Is Changing Up the Way You Find Out About This Year’s Oscar Nominations

This year's Oscar nominees will still be divulged on Tuesday, January 24, as previously announced. However, according to The Hollywood Reporter, presenters like Jennifer Hudson, Brie Larson, Emmanuel Lubezki, Jason Reitman, and Ken Watanabe won't be reading off the names of the lucky few in front of an eager, squirming crowd of journalists and PR people at Beverly Hills' Samuel Goldwyn Theater as tradition would dictate. Instead, they will be reading the contenders' names into the electronic ether, or, more likely, into a room filled with a bunch of empty chairs and a camera guy or two. This year the Academy and its president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, have chosen to produce their own "in-house announcement presentation" with no audience present. The presentation will be broadcast on a livestream starting at 8:18 a.m. EST on Oscar.com, Oscars.org, the Academy’s digital platforms, ABC's Good Morning America, and others via a satellite feed. Looks like your plans to sneak into the announcements and scream, "Nine Lives starring Kevin Spacey was robbed!” just got a little more difficult to pull off. Good luck.

Johnny Depp Is Suing His Former Business Advisors for $25 Million

Last year, Johnny Depp fired his long-time business advisors, the Management Group, and now he’s suing the organization for allegedly fleecing him for tens of millions of dollars. The complaint characterizes Depp as “the victim of the gross misconduct of his business managers — The Management Group and attorneys Joel and Robert Mandel — who collected tens of millions of dollars of contingent fees, purportedly based on an oral contract, all at Mr. Depp’s expense.” The document goes on to say that, “As a result of years of gross mismanagement and at times, outright fraud Mr. Depp lost tens of millions of dollars and has been forced to dispose of significant assets to pay for TMG’s self-dealing and gross misconduct.”

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  • Posted 1/13/17 at 9:17 PM

Lucasfilm Says It Has ‘No Plans’ to Digitally Re-create Carrie Fisher in Future Star Wars Sequels

The digital resurrection of deceased Star Wars actor Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and, well, the same treatment being done on a young Carrie Fisher has spurred a lot of questions about the potential use of computer animation to insert the late Fisher, or rather her character, Leia Organa, into any of the franchise's as-yet unfilmed sequels. According to Lucasfilm, at least for now, that is not going to be happening. “We don’t normally respond to fan or press speculation, but there is a rumor circulating that we would like to address. We want to assure our fans that Lucasfilm has no plans to digitally recreate Carrie Fisher’s performance as Princess or General Leia Organa,” said a statement posted to the official Star Wars site today. “Carrie Fisher was, is, and always will be a part of the Lucasfilm family. She was our princess, our general, and more importantly, our friend. We are still hurting from her loss. We cherish her memory and legacy as Princess Leia, and will always strive to honor everything she gave to Star Wars.” As was previously reported, Fisher had completed her work on the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VIII prior to her death late last month.

Octavia Spencer Bought Out a Hidden Figures Screening for Low-Income Families, So You’ll Be Tearing Up Before Hidden Figures Even Starts

Octavia Spencer is kicking her Martin Luther King Jr. Day off early by being an immensely decent human being today and, if you had to guess, probably every day. The Golden Globe nominee announced yesterday that she had purchased all the tickets to a screening of Hidden Figures at Los Angeles's Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza and that the seats were all up for grabs. "Tomorrow I've bought the 8pm showing of #hiddenfigures the rave Baldwin hills," she wrote on Instagram. "If you know a family in need that would like to see our movie but can't afford it have them come. It's first come first served. My mom would not have been able to afford to take me and my siblings. So, I'm honoring her and all single parents this #mlkweekend Pass the word." Well, you knew Hidden Figures was going to warm your heart, but you didn't know your heart would be piping-hot before you even drove to the theater. That's how good Octavia Spencer is.

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Lifetime to Produce Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland, a Biopic About the King of Pop

So you’re not going to get that Sky TV episode of Urban Myths about Michael Jackson, Liz Taylor, and Marlon Brando taking a road trip together. But according to The Hollywood Reporter, you can get a different dramatization of Jackson’s life on Lifetime, because the network has announced that it’s producing a biopic about the King of Pop. The tentatively titled Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland will focus on the last few years of Jackson’s life, and will be told from the perspective of his security team. Chad L. Coleman — who you know from all kinds of TV shows, including The Walking Dead and Arrow — will play bodyguard Bill Whitfield, and famous Michael Jackson tribute artist Navi will step into the titular role. Searching for Neverland actually has a fair amount of Jackson-adjacent personnel behind it. Executive producer Suzanne de Passe worked with the Jacksons and the Jackson 5 while she was a creative assistant to Berry Gordy at Motown, and it’s based off of the book Remember the Time: Protecting Michael Jackson in His Final Days by Whitfield and fellow bodyguard Javon Beard.