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UPDATED WITH THE FORCE AWAKENS TRAILER! News Around the Net

Late-breaking update to my last post — take a gander at this new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens!!

WOW that is a hell of a trailer.  I love hearing Mark Hamill’s voice-over, echoing his words to Leia in Return of the Jedi.  Love the shot of the crashed Star Destroyer… and I love even more seeing the Millenium Falcon fly into what looks like the guts of that ruined Star Destroyer!  And that last shot and that last line… wow.  It’s very weird seeing a very old Han Solo, but I sort of love it.  I still don’t know if this movie is going to be any good, but I have huge love for this trailer.  Pure bliss.

This is amazing.  Just trust me.

This is a great article on Dune from The New Yorker from a little while back.  It is indeed curious that Dune has not penetrated the pop culture the way The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars has.  But for those of us who know and love Dune, it is a treasure.  (And I do love all of Frank Herbert’s five sequels, even though they are imperfect.  Sadly the Dune novels written after Frank Herbert’s death by his son Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson have, for the most part, disappointed.)

Please lord let this be true.  Seventeen additional episodes of Arrested Development??  Let’s do this.

Hey, season two of True Detective is coming!  Can’t wait:

I’m also fairly eager for the third season of Orange is the New Black:

I was surprised by the glum tone of the first trailer for Marvel’s Ant Man.  This new trailer is far stronger, though I’m still a little surprised at how serious they’re making the film look.  Is that really the tone?  I do love that train gag at the end of the trailer, though.

In other Marvel news, this raised my eyebrows: Marvel can’t make a Hulk stand-alone film because Universal retains the rights to any Hulk solo film?  Wow, that is a crazy tangle of legal red-tape.  This doesn’t bug me too much because as awesome and perfect as Mark Ruffalo is as Bruce Banner, I think the Hulk functions best in a supporting role rather than carrying his own movie.  I do hope, though, to someday see a Guardians of the Galaxy/Planet Hulk crossover story-line movie.   I’ve tried to avoid too heavy spoilers for Age of Ultron and the upcoming slate of Marvel films, but various bits and pieces that I have heard and read lead me to suspect that might be coming a few years down the road, and that is awesome.

This new trailer for Terminator: Genisys[continued]

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The Top 20 Movies of 2014 — Part Two!

We’re exploring my favorite films of 2014!  Click here for part one of my list of The Top 20 Movies of 2014!  And now, onward…

LifeItself.Siskel&Ebert.cropped

15.  Life Itself Steve James’ documentary about film critic Roger Ebert is a magnificent love-letter to Mr. Ebert himself, and to his passion: the movies.  The film is a fascinating exploration of Mr. Ebert’s life and career as a movie critic.  We dig into many of Mr. Ebert’s notable film reviews and opinions, and of course there is a lot of great behind-the-scenes details of his relationship with fellow At The Movies critic Gene Siskel.  It’s fascinating to explore Mr. Ebert’s approach to film criticism and to see how that appealed to and/or put off others.  But what makes this documentary extraordinary is that, at the same time as the film tells the story of Mr. Ebert’s life and career, it also follows him and his wife Chaz during the last year or two of Mr. Ebert’s life.  Mr. James and his cameras had impressive access, and we see the extraordinary challenges that Mr. Ebert faced in his last years, as cancer and surgery after surgery left him without the ability to speak, and missing most of the bottom part of his face and jaw.  I’d seen a few photos of Mr. Ebert from those years, but I never understood the depth of what this man went through.  This film presents a wonderfully compelling human story, one that is tragic but also joyful, and it’s all wrapped up in Mr. Ebert’s profound and infectious love for the movies.  (Click here for my original review.)

FADING GIGOLO

14.  Fading Gigolo John Turturro has created the best Woody Allen film in well over a decade!  This film, written and directed by Mr. Turturro, who also stars alongside Woody Allen, totally took me by surprise.  It’s rare to see Woody Allen appear in a film he didn’t write and direct, and it’s wonderful to see Woody give such a fantastic performance, full of life and joy and comedic zest.  Murray (Woody Allen) and Fioravante (John Turturro) are friends.  Murray’s used book store has closed, and he finds himself at something of loose ends.  When his dermatologist (Sharon Stone) mentions that she and her girlfriend (Sofia Vergara) might be looking for a man with whom they can have a ménage à trois, Murray offers to set them up with his friend Fioravante, for a modest finder’s fee, of course.  Fioravante requires some convincing, but eventually agrees to go along.  Thus begins an Murray’s unlikely career as a gigolo, and Fioravante’s as a male prostitute!  Everyone seems happy, but things get more serious when Murray encounters … [continued]

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Josh Reviews Jodorowsky’s Dune

September 22nd, 2014
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The history of the movies is filled with wonderfully intriguing projects that never got made.  A few years back I wrote about the wonderful documentary Lost in La Mancha, which told the tale of Terry Gilliam’s failed attempt at making a Don Quixote film starring Johnny Depp.  (That project collapsed a few days into filming.)  Now, another great documentary has come along to explore another tantalizing Hollywood what-if story.

Back in 1975, director Alejando Jodorowsky got the rights to adapt Frank Hebert’s Dune.  Dune is, in my opinion, one of the greatest science-fiction novels of all time, a fascinatingly complex epic about religion and politics and ecology.  Mr. Jodorowsky spent two years developing the film adaptation, working with such talents as H.R. Giger and Jean Giraud (the French illustrator known as Moebius) on the designs, and with a cast lined up that included Salvador Dali, Orson Welles, David Carradine, and Mick Jagger.  Mr. Jodorowsky and his team created a phone-book sized volume containing lavishly-illustrated storyboards for the entire epic film that they planned to create.  Sadly, just before filming on the project was scheduled to commence, the financing fell through and the film collapsed.  Several years later, Dino De Laurentiis acquired the rights, resulting in the 1984 Dune film directed by a young David Lynch.

That film, while entertaining, is deeply flawed and a poor adaptation of Mr. Herbert’s great novel.  For decades, sci-fi fans have wondered just what sort of film Mr. Jodorowsky might have made from the material.  This richly detailed and engrossing documentary by Frank Pavich explores that question.  Mr. Pavich has assembled an impressively deep array of interviews to tell the story of this film-that-might-have-been.  We hear from so many of the men and women who were involved in the production, including producer Michel Seydoux; designers and phenomenal talents H.R. Giger, Dan O’Bannon, and Chris Foss; we hear from other filmmakers such as director Nicholas Winding Refn and Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz; and we hear from some film-critics such as Devin Faraci and Drew McWeeny (both of whom are wonderful on-line writers whose work I link to often) who help give context to the story.

But the main story-teller of this documentary film is Alejandro Jodorowsky himself.  Mr. Jodrowsky’s is the main voice of the film, and as the movie progresses we hear him tell, in his own words and in incredible detail, the story of the Dune film that he had planned.  We hear what attracted him to the story of Dune and what sort of film he hoped to create.  We hear of his enormous ambition to create a film with a strong spiritual message, one that would affect audiences powerfully.  Mr. … [continued]

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So… has there been some Star Wars news this week…?

Well, let me just say this, which I’m sure I’ll be repeating over and over again ad nauseam between now and Dec 18, 2015.  I would love nothing more than to see a great new Star Wars movie in a theatre at some point during the rest of my life.  I would be delighted and thrilled for Episode VII to be that movie.  I am rooting for it.

Although there are a billion ways for it to go wrong and turn our embarrassing, I like the idea of the original trio of Luke, Han, and Leia (Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher) being involved in the movie.

I am cautiously optimistic that J.J. Abrams is the right director for the film.  I think J.J. understand how to balance nostalgia with telling a fresh story; I think he has a good cinematic eye; and I think he has the muscle in Hollywood to make the movie he wants to make.  On the other hand, his last film was the execrable Star Trek Into Darkness.  So that’s a problem.

There are some really exciting names in the new cast just announced.  John Boyega was phenomenal in Attack the Block.  Oscar Isaac was phenomenal in Inside Llewyn Davis.  Domhnall Gleeson was phenomenal in About Time.  Andy Serkis is the new god of 21st century big-budget fantasy film-making.  (I assume he’ll be playing a mo-cap creature, but I’d be equally happy if he’s performing as himself in the film.)  Max Von Sydow was absolutely BORN to be in a Star Wars movie.  Adam Driver is a surprising choice — I think he’s a terrific actor, but he has a very “modern” feel that I have a hard time imagining translating into a Star Wars movie, but I can hold my judgment for now.  (Interestingly enough, he shared a scene — a GREAT scene — with Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis!)  Like the rest of America, I have no idea who Daisy Ridley is (just that she has a cool name), but I look forward to finding out.

So, so far, I am cautiously optimistic about Star Wars: Episode VII.  This is not a film I think needs to be made.  But since they’re making it, I hope to hell it’ll be great.  Right now, I have plenty of reasons to worry (none of us have to imagine what a terrible Star Wars movie looks like — we’ve all already seen it), but also plenty of reasons to hope.  We’ll all know for sure in just a year and a half.

In other news…

This is a fantastic [continued]