A few years ago, I wrote up a brief item about an incident taking place at Los Angeles’ AFI Film Festival wherein an irate woman maced a man in the face for having the gall to ask her to turn off her cell phone during a screening of Mike Leigh’s J.M.W. Turner biopic Mr. Turner. “Wow, being at the movies sure makes people do crazy things!” I thought to myself. “I wonder how long it’ll be until the next time I get to write about a violent movie theater conflict over petty nonsense.” That day has come at last, and this time [beat to let the moment breathe] the stakes are even higher.
Quick, without thinking: greatest American film of the ’90s? Martin Scorsese’s decade-spanning gangster epic Goodfellas is probably the answer that pops into most heads, and rightfully so. It was a success under every criterion, amassing a tidy profit that‘s only grown through infinite televised syndication and home-video releases, earning Joe Pesci an Academy Award for his turn as the short-fused Tommy DeVito, and leaving a titanic influence on pop-culture in the years to follow. It has earned the distinction of “masterpiece,” right in the thick of any conversation on Scorsese’s finest accomplishment. But man, at first, people hated it.
If you grabbed some random schmo of the street and demanded they name a composer of film scores, they’d probably name John Williams if they could come up with any answer at all. (Unless you ended up with some smart-aleck in the know who busted out Alexandre Desplat or Mica Levi or something.) Williams is responsible for pretty much every movie theme hummed by general populace over the last four decades: as you read these words, I know you’ll hear the triumphant fanfare of the Star Wars score, or the ominous duh-dum of the Jaws theme. And today, Hans Zimmer can go right ahead and eat his heart out, because Williams’ most famed compositions will soon be immortalized in one essential compilation.
After months of rumormongering and speculating and debating over whether Lin-Manuel Miranda has what it takes to make the jump to the big screen from Broadway, sequel Mary Poppins Returns has finally begun shooting. Disney sent out an official press release yesterday announcing that the production was officially underway at Shepperton Studios in Burbank, California, with a project release date of Christmas Day in 2018. (Nothing gets people in the mood for a movie-musical quite like the holidays, it would seem, as director Rob Marshall’s last film Into the Woods found a release date in late December as well.) And along with the news that the gears are now turning, the press release provided a full cast list and more comprehensive description of the plot as well.
About a month and a half separate the viewing public from the much-hyped live-action remake of Disney’s essential fairytale Beauty and the Beast. While regular TV viewers and net-surfers can look forward to an uninterrupted stream of commercials and ads until then, Disney has given one last push of publicity today with the final trailer promoting their handsomely-appointed new film. And as if to sweeten the deal, they included a snippet of the previously announced re-recording of the majestic theme tune, as sung by La La Land jazz-diluter John Legend and travel-size pop starlet Ariana Grande.
Forcing audiences to watch a movie in which a dog lives, finds true happiness, and then dies over and over again would’ve been an act of sadism all on its own. But the crew of the upcoming family film A Dog’s Purpose have recently been outed as sadists of another, more stomach-churning sort. TMZ posted a shocking video from a second-unit shoot for the film in which an animal handler forces a reluctant German Shepard into rushing waters, the dog begins drowning, and handlers rush to retrieve the animal amid cries of “cut it! cut it!” PETA has already called for a boycott of the film, with the most shame heaped upon the industry supplier Birds & Animals Unlimited, and the rest of the fallout has been swift.
Because we tend to think of him more commonly as “slick neo-soul songbird” or “La La Land’s chief threat to the integrity of jazz” or “husband of Chrissy Teigen,” it can be easy to forget that John Legend’s got an Oscar under his belt. The musician and composer took the golden statuette for Best Original Song with his original tune “Glory” from Ava DuVernay’s thunderous Martin Luther King biopic Selma, and ever since, he’s been Hollywood’s go-to guy for poppin’ fresh (is that still what the kids are saying?) theme music. And today, a new announcement from Disney reported by Deadline lines up Legend’s next big gig.
Walt Disney exerted an almost dictatorial command of the authorship behind the early films of the Mouse House; they were all to be Walt Disney productions, unmistakable for any other. But plenty of phenomenally talented artists went unrecognized for years, even as their handiwork became world famous and molded the childhoods of millions of viewers. Tyrus Wong was one such artist. Deadline confirms that he died at the age of 106 on Friday, leaving behind a legacy woven into the fabric of children’s entertainment.
More streaming services than you can shake a virtual stick at have cropped up over the past year, which makes it all the more aggravating when that one movie you want to watch is nowhere to be found. You shell out every month for Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Shudder, Filmstruck and a dozen more, and yet once that craving to rewatch The Lion King hits, you’re plum out of luck. What’s the point of having countless hours of programming at your fingertips for your immediate enjoyment if that doesn’t include The Little Mermaid?
The Internet Movie Database is a fount of helpful information. With a few simple clicks, users can learn who shot the Miley Cyrus vehicle So Undercover (Things to Come cinematographer Denis Lenoir), which sequel in the Hellraiser franchise featured a performance from a young Adam Scott (the fourth one), or how old Taraji P. Henson is (who looks that good at 46?!). As a repository for loose factoids from in and around the world of screen entertainment, it can’t be beat. As a source for critical perspectives on those same films, however... hoo boy. Just take a gander at any comment section for a movie’s page and marvel at the IMDb is the site where rabid anti-Ghostbusters zealots congregated to downvote Paul Feig’s movie into oblivion weeks before its actual release, and the newly-released IMDb Top 10 provides an even clearer view of its user base.
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