It feels like several years have passed since Christopher Nolan released ‘Interstellar,’ but that’s just because I’m still stuck on that tidal-wave planet where time dilates and stuff. In reality, it’s only been a couple months since Nolan’s latest epic sci-fi film, which opened to positive reviews and, despite its heady subject matter, went on to earn more than $660 million worldwide. Love it or hate it, you have to at least respect the fact that Nolan’s still making huge blockbusters based on original ideas and deeply personal subject matter—as opposed to board games or toys or something.
If you haven’t watched Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s ‘The Interview’ yet, either because you’re too cheap to spend $6 to rent it online, or you were worried North Korean hackers would catch you buying it and share your private emails slagging your boss with the world (I’m sorry Mike! When I called you “a giant goober,” I meant that in an affectionate way, like Goobers candy! Which everyone loves!) you are in luck. As part of their quarterly letter to shareholders, Netflix announced that they will “exclusively” offer the comedy to its U.S. and Canadian customers starting this Saturday, January 24. Sorry Netflix Netherlands! You’re out of luck for now.
‘American Sniper’ had a record-shattering weekend at the box office, grossing an astounding $105 million from Friday to Monday. It’s already the second biggest earner of Clint Eastwood’s entire career after ‘Gran Torino,’ and with six Academy Award nominations (and great word-of-mouth) behind it, it’s posed to become his biggest hit ever.
When Disney bought George Lucas’ company, they got more than the buildings, computers, droids, and the ‘Star Wars’ intellectual property. They also got George Lucas’ unused ideas for future ‘Star Wars’ movies. Though Lucas had insisted for years that ‘Revenge of the Sith’ was his final ‘Star Wars’ film, that didn’t stop him from brainstorming a few other potential stories that could be set after the events of ‘Return of the Jedi’ (and, I assume, mostly involve Jar-Jar Binks wandering the universe and getting into “hilarious” misadventures).
I wonder if Chris Kyle was a Clint Eastwood fan. ‘American Sniper’’s marketing materials describe Kyle as “the most lethal sniper in U.S. history,” but before his military career, Kyle was a cowboy. He wore a hat and boots, and even carried a six-shooter. Eventually, he gave up the cowboy life and decided to serve his country. He was a gifted marksman and trained to be a Navy SEAL. But even as a soldier, Kyle never lost that cowboy swagger—or that sense that someone has to venture out into the frontier and protect the American way of life. That’s what Kyle learned from his father—who raised him to be a “sheepdog,” a watchful protector in a world of sheep and wolves—and from watching violent Westerns like the ones that made Eastwood a major Hollywood star.
Okay, so there was a fair amount of disappointment around the 2015 Academy Award nominations. Everything was not awesome for ‘The Lego Movie,’ robbed of a Best Animated Movie nod, and David Oyelowo’s dreams of a Best Actor nomination vanished when Steve Carell and Bradley Cooper’s names were mentioned instead. ‘Force Majeure’ got snubbed for a Best Foreign Language Film nomination and ‘Selma’’s Ava Duvernay was robbed in the Best Director Category. I just keep looking at the list of nominations and playing “Sad Trombone” over and over again. It’s basically the official theme song of the 2015 Academy Awards.
On the list of uncinematic activities, computer hacking has to rank near the top, somewhere between small-business accounting and taking a nap. It’s tedious, static, and solitary work, and what little’s interesting about it is largely incomprehensible to those without advanced degrees in computer science. In a lesser filmmaker's hands, a hacker movie like ‘Blackhat’ would be terminally boring. But ‘Blackhat’ is in the hands of Michael Mann, and that means it’s also stylish, moody, and punctuated by intense action scenes.
The former CIA operative turned full-time rescuer of his perpetually kidnapped family at the center of the ‘Taken’ series is famous for—as he put it to the men who took his daughter in the first film—a “particular set of skills” that make him “a nightmare” for bad guys. Here now is a partial list of the particular skills Bryan Mills—played by the 62-year-old Liam Neeson—displays in ‘Taken 3’:
As ‘Batman’ goes, so goes comic-book movies. When Tim Burton turned the Dark Knight into a retro-gothic hero, Hollywood followed suit with a slew of heavily stylized pulp throwbacks. (See: ‘Dick Tracy,’ ‘The Phantom,’ ‘The Shadow,’ etc.) And when Christopher Nolan turned the Dark Knight into, well, ‘The Dark Knight,’ it sparked a wave of “grim and gritty” movies, with serious superheroes doing and saying serious things in outrageous spandex costumes that had been reimagined as biker gear or body armor. (See: ‘Man of Steel’ [Or maybe don’t.]) There’s been some pushback, but we’re really only now coming out of the trend toward ultra-serious, uber-dark comic-book movies.
Back in October, it was reported that ‘Lucy’ and ‘Avengers 2’ star Scarlett Johansson had been offered $10 million to anchor the new, American (and live-action) version of the classic Japanese anime ‘Ghost in the Shell.’ It took a while for Johansson to decide (“Hm, do I really want $10 million? This is a tough one!”), but Variety now says she’s made up her mind: Johansson will star in the new ‘Ghost’ for director Rupert Sanders.
Dig this, blockheads: The ‘Peanuts’ gang, originally created by cartoonist Charles Schulz, have appeared in so many incarnations in their 65-year history. They’ve been a comic strip, a series of much-beloved television specials, a Broadway musical, greeting card staples, and even the successful pitchmen for life insurance. Now, for the first time, they’re becoming a 3D feature film, with this year’s ‘The Peanuts Movie.’
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