12 items from 2017
10 August 2017 8:40 AM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
While John Milius' Red Dawn casts little constructive light on modern Anglo-Soviet relations, its rising at the height of our present Olympics-inspired patriotism represents a rather shrewd bit of capitalistic marketing strategy.
Reaction to the MGM/UA's release's depiction of a home-soil invasion repelled by teenage guerrillas may nonetheless prove a resounding nyet. It packs plenty of rabble-rousing ammunition, but its sloppy execution is unlikely to win any merit badges for marksmanship.
The place »
- THR Staff
Poor old Caesar. The genetically-enhanced, intelligent chimp has witnessed the rise of the apes and the fall of humanity; the birth of one civilisation and the gradual death of another.
Through 2011’s Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (directed by Rupert Wyatt) to 2014’s Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (with Matt Reeves taking over directing duties), we’ve seen how humans have succumbed to an outbreak of a deadly virus, and how an uneasy truce between our species and the apes disintegrated thanks to Caesar’s vengeful second-in-command, Koba (Toby Kebbell).
Caesar, played so effortlessly by a performance-captured Andy Serkis, has long been the focal »
Girl Talk is a weekly look at women in film — past, present, and future.
When the “Star Wars” universe imploded earlier this week with the surprising news that Han Solo standalone filmmakers Phil Lord and Chris Miller were leaving the project after completing nearly 75% of principal photography, initial reports immediately fixated on the most likely culprit for the split: disagreements with Lucasfilm head and “Star Wars” super-producer Kathleen Kennedy. While it seems unlikely that the “real” story of what went down behind the scenes — a true “three sides to every story” situation, as producer Robert Evans was fond of saying — will ever come out, Kennedy is at the center of reports about wild demands and on-set clashes.
One thing is clear, however — whatever Lord and Miller were envisioning for their “Star Wars” debut is not what Kennedy had in mind, and while we’re still mourning the “Star Wars” film that will never be, the veteran producer deserves all of the respect that goes with her decision. She’s the one in charge of maintaining the “Star Wars” legacy, and with good reason.
As the head of a massive studio and a high-powered producer with a slew of huge credits under her belt (“Indiana Jones” to “Star Wars,” “Lincoln” to “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” and that’s only scraping the top of a stuffed resume), Kennedy is in a rarefied position. That she’s a woman is even more unique, a gate-crasher who has earned her stripes over decades in the business, only to emerge as the principal brain behind the world’s biggest franchise.
Kennedy first entered the entertainment world in a roundabout way, infamously serving as director John Milius’ assistant after she graduated college and putting in some serious time producing a small local TV talk show in her native Northern California. At the time, Milius was producing Steven Spielberg’s “1941,” and Spielberg soon poached her to be his own secretary, a job she was apparently not great at (as it turns out, she couldn’t really type).
But from the start, Kennedy had a lot of compelling ideas, and Spielberg eventually brought her on as a producer. Just two years after their initial introduction, Kennedy co-founded Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment alongside her future husband Frank Marshall. Kennedy’s intelligence was remarkable, and so were her leadership skills, and she was soon named president of Amblin.
Plenty more big gigs followed, including the launching of The Kennedy/Marshall Company with her husband, big-time producing credits on a number of films (a number of which were directed by Spielberg), and her eventual role as co-chair of Lucasfilm alongside George Lucas. Kennedy’s track record is awe-inspiring, including over 92 film and television credits (an intriguing mix of blockbusters and prestige pictures) and eight Oscar nominations for Best Picture. In terms of pure money-making power alone, she’s behind only Spielberg and Marvel mastermind Stan Lee for domestic box office take (nearly $7 billion as of this writing).
After Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012, she became both president and brand manager. If it’s “Star Wars,” it goes through her. The homogenization of franchise films is certainly an issue in an industry increasingly interested in churning out tentpoles, but a dedication to cohesion and a larger sense of story are essential elements for such wide-ranging series. That’s what Kennedy is tasked with overseeing, and it’s not always easy.
The Han Solo situation remains a weird outlier in an industry that has seen plenty of strange stuff go down; Kennedy and her cohorts are in mostly uncharted waters, though a similar situation did unspool over at Marvel in 2015. When Edgar Wright left his long-gestating “Ant-Man” after nearly a decade of work on the project, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige was believed to have balked at Wright’s burgeoning vision, one that didn’t align with the larger aims of the McU. As with Lord and Miller, Wright left the project due to “creative differences.”
Feige later explained to The Guardian why he made that tough choice: “We sat round a table and we realized it was not working. A part of me wishes we could have figured that out in the eight years we were working on it. But better for us and for Edgar that we figure it out then, and not move it through production.” Feige’s choice was hard enough; Kennedy is almost unfathomable.
As IndieWire’s Anne Thompson noted earlier this week, “Kennedy’s purpose is to stay on course — as Kevin Feige does with Marvel — and keep the ‘Star Wars’ universe humming and intact as it spins into many orbits. She can take responsibility for miscasting in this case, because Lord and Miller are who they are and, once hired, should be able to do what they do.”
She has excelled at that, and while the Lord and Miller exit seems indicative of major behind-the-scenes drama, it may actually point in the opposite direction: that Kennedy is so compelled to do right by the brand that she’ll make a huge change in order to reach the necessary end goal.
Kennedy does still have plenty to learn about navigating the ever-changing waters of franchise filmmaking, in ways that extend beyond whatever led to the Han Solo fallout.
In November of last year, she drew ire over comments about the lack of women directors on “Star Wars” projects. Kennedy explained that, while finding a female director for a “Star Wars” film was a priority, they just hadn’t found someone with the right level of experience just yet — seemingly forgetting how many male directors they’ve employed who also haven’t come to the table with built-in blockbuster credits. At the time, Kennedy said, “We want to make sure that when we bring a female director in to do ‘Star Wars,’ they’re set up for success. They’re gigantic films, and you can’t come into them with essentially no experience.”
Later, she attempted to clarify her comments, responding to a question at the “Rogue One” press conference. “That quote was taken out of context,” she said. “As you can imagine, I have every intention of giving somebody an opportunity. So, if somebody actually moves through the process of making movies and wants to make a ‘Star Wars’ movie, and shows that they have actually stepped into the role on that level, of course we’re going to consider a woman. That goes without saying.” Kennedy’s criteria for a “Star Wars” filmmaker still seemed dead-set on only pursuing filmmakers who meet a criteria that sounds reliant on resume credits over passion and skill.
But Kennedy has both — an enviable track record and an obvious affection for the massive series she’s in charge of shepherding through impossible decisions. She’s already installed Ron Howard as the film’s finishing director, and every press release has insisted that the film will come out on time. Will it be worth it? We’ll have to see, but it’s clear that Kennedy will be front and center for whatever the final product looks like. After all, it’s her franchise.
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- Kate Erbland
Directed by George Lucas.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… young farm boy Luke Skywalker becomes embroiled in a civil war between the heroic Rebellion and evil Galactic Empire. Setting off from his home-world, Luke must rescue a captured princess and learn the ways of the Force from Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi if he is to aid the Rebellion in destroying the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star.
During the production of his debut movie Thx-1138 (1971), young director George Lucas had expressed considerable interested in adapting the adventures of Flash Gordon for the big screen but, after being unable to acquire the rights to the character, Lucas soon set about developing his own space adventure reminiscent of the science-fiction movie serials he had watched as a child. »
Earlier this year, Universal canceled The Legend of Conan, which would have had Arnold Schwarzenegger reprising his iconic role from the original 1982 classic. Also known in some circles as King Conan, the movie was believed to be dead. Not true, says Schwarzenegger. As far as he's concerned, the movie is still happening.
Schwarzenegger was at Cannes this weekend to promote a new underwater documentary. But the talk quickly turned to his impending slate, which includes a recently announced Terminator reboot that James Cameron will be producing and the Twins sequel Triplets. King Conan was almost completely waxed over. But Arnie stopped short for an update, confirming that things are moving forward.
"It's being rewritten...the idea is to do it."
What we don't have confirmed from the action icon is whether or not the sequel is still at Universal. Arnold has been teasing this movie since 2012, which is actually not that long in Hollywood years. »
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s films have grossed $1.9 billion in North America. Among his classics are James Cameron’s 1984’s “The Terminator”; 1991’s “The Terminator 2: Judgment Day”; and 1994’s “True Lies,” as well as such hits as 1987’s “Predator” and 2012’s “The Expendables 2.”
His movie catch phrases such as “I’ll be back”; “Hasta la Vista, Baby”; and “Get to the chopper” have become part of the pop culture lexicon.
But would he have been as big a star — let alone as governor — without his breakout role in John Milius’ “Conan the Barbarian”? The violent, erotic R-rated sword-and-fantasy adventure based on the stories of 1930’s pulp fiction writer Robert E. Howard opened in 1,400 theaters on May 14, 1982. Though reviews were decidedly mixed — Variety »
- Susan King
A while back I wrote a feature in which I looked back at four of what I considered to be great war films, with the main linking theme being that they weren’t Steven Spielberg’s beloved classic Saving Private Ryan.
However, as many of you are likely to agree that those films, while great, are not the only great war films that aren’t Saving Private Ryan, so thankfully my Flickering overlords have granted me another chance to talk about even more films that I feel you all should take a look at.
While I focused exclusively on World War II films in the first feature, this time I’ve added a touch more variety when picking my cinematic depictions of war this time around, so get ready for a trip to the dying days of World War II, »
- Graeme Robertson
Sorry, folks. The long-discussed reboot The Legend of Conan isn't going to happen. The movie was supposed to be a direct sequel to 1982's Conan the Barbarian, which would have seen Arnold Schwarzenegger reprise one of his most iconic roles for a third time. But Universal Pictures has decided to kill the franchise before it could even get started.
Schwarzenegger has been teasing Legend of Conan for years, and fans were quite excited about seeing his return. Arnold first took on the role in the John Milius directed 1982 adaptation of Robert E. Howard's most famous creation. And in 1984, he returns in the less-violent, somewhat disappointing Conan the Destroyer. Legend of Conan was supposed to return Arnold and the Conan character back to its bloody, R-rated roots. The first attempts at a true third sequel never materialized before Arnold became the Governor of California. This resulted in a one-off reboot from Lionsgate, »
We take a look at new Blu-rays of two ’80s classics.
Shout! Factory’s relatively young collectors label, Shout Select, is something of an odd duck. This is less of a criticism than an observation as their releases so far bear no real discernible through line. We’ve gotten well-deserved Blu-rays of eagerly awaited ’80s classics like To Live and Die in La, Road House, and Midnight Run, but the label has also released/announced titles like Death of a Salesman, The Chinese Connection, and Simon Pegg’s forgettable 2012 film, A Fantastic Fear of Everything. So yeah, there’s something of an odd inconsistency across the catalog.
Red Dawn (1984)
A small town in Colorado begins its day like any other until strangers drop from the sky. Soviet »
- Rob Hunter
This Week in Home VideoGet Ready to Fall in Love With the Funny, Sexy, and Beautifully Independent ‘The Love Witch’Plus 13 more new releases to watch at home this week on Blu-ray/DVD.
Welcome to this week in home video! Click the title to buy a Blu-ray/DVD from Amazon and help support Fsr in the process!
Pick of the WeekThe Love Witch
What is it? A witch visits a small coastal community in search of love with a side of unintended consequences.
Why buy it? Writer/director/producer/composer/editor/production designer/art director/set decorator/costume designer Anna Biller delivers a singular experience with this incredibly stylish, sexy, and scathing tale of a witch in search of love. The film is a colorful, stylized nod to the days of Technicolor romance that manages to be both a take down of a patriarchal society and a loose, fun romp.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurette, interview, deleted scenes, dance audition]
- Rob Hunter
Simon Brew Feb 8, 2017
Here's one of those stories that you may have missed over the years. It always makes me chuckle, and if all goes to plan, I'll find a few more short pieces of this ilk over the coming weeks.
The late Patrick Swayze was fond of a practical joke or two on his movie sets - and one in particular lit a fire beneath his director at the time.
Swayze was making the film Red Dawn, for director John Milius. Milius, a man fond of explosives himself, went to answer a call of nature whilst shooting the film. Unbenownst to him, however, Patrick Swayze had got there first.
As the actor recounted in his memoir, The Time Of My Life, "I »
By Sofia Smith-Londono.
War films are often great sprawling stories of sacrifice, heroism, the atrocities and intricacies of war. For many of us, these visceral, telling tales of war are as close as we’ll get, but behind the camera lies an important story of a real life event that has to be told.
Mel Gibson’s new film Hacksaw Ridge out in cinemas on 26th January displays the horror of war and one man’s determination to put a little bit of the world back together again. This is the story of Desmond Doss (BAFTA nominated Andrew Garfield) how he overcame monumental adversity and how he miraculously saved 75 men at the Battle of Okinawa without carrying a weapon
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Steven Spielberg brings to light the reality of one of the bloodiest wars and most brutal scenes in recent history. The film opens on 6th June 1944, D-Day with the allied invasion of Normandy. »
- The Hollywood News
12 items from 2017
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