Tag Archives: Laurence Fishburne

Fall 2017 Movie Preview: Drama Part 2

Sorry for the delay in getting the last part of this Fall Movie Preview finished and published. I live in Florida and things are a little bit crazy with Hurricane Irma preparations. There were just too many dramatic films coming out over the next few months to capture them all in one post.

You can read the first part here. Or read the other sections of the preview : Action/Adventure, Horror/Thriller, or Family/Comedy. I hope you’ll let me know which of these sound interesting to you and which you’ll wait to stream on Netflix.

November

LBJ – 11/10

The story of U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson from his young days in West Texas to the White House.

This was originally scheduled to come out in 2016. I don’t know the actual reason it was delayed, but I can only think that it had something to do with something else going on in the world of politics that was slightly more entertaining than history. There was also another film focusing on this period of time, Jackie. I for one would have never imagined Woody Harrelson as LBJ, and it’s directed by Rob Reiner (Princess Bride, A Few Good Men, and When Harry Met Sally).

Murder on the Orient Express – 11/10

A lavish train ride unfolds into a stylish & suspenseful mystery. From the novel by Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express tells of thirteen stranded strangers & one man’s race to solve the puzzle before the murderer strikes again.

The second film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s most famous story of legendary detective Hercule Poirot. The 1974 film directed by Sidney Lumet is already legendary for its stunning cast and claustrophobic feel. This version looks like it is trying to capture that essence. I’m really excited to see what they do with it, and with a cast featuring the likes of Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Willem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penélope Cruz, Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, and Josh Gad it’s going to have to try really hard not to be at least good.

Lady Bird – 11/10

The adventures of a young woman living in Northern California for a year.

Well, that’s not much of a description to go off. It should say something like, “Jackie from Roseanne (Laurie Metcalf) is raising a teenage daughter of her own played by Saoirse (it’s pronounced “seer-sha”) Ronan. She doesn’t feel like she belongs in the little Northern California town. She feels as though the walls are closing in. She longs to be on the east coast in a city where writers live out in the woods.” That’s a movie I want to watch. It looks funny and sad and warm and rich. Saoirse Ronan is a fantastic actress and is going to bring so much heart to the titular character of Lady Bird. The whole thing is written and directed by Greta Gerwig as something of an autobiography. Man, I love this time of year!

The Darkest Hour – 11/22

Within days of becoming Prime Minister, Winston Churchill must face his most turbulent and defining trial: exploring a negotiated peace treaty with Nazi Germany, or standing firm to fight for the ideals, liberty and freedom of a nation.

A Winston Churchill biopic starring Gary Oldman. Need I say anything else? I mean, just look at that picture. He’s is a master of sinking into a role whether it is Dracula, Sid Vicious, Pontius Pilate, Sirius Black, or Commissioner James Gordon. Watch the trailer and see if you don’t get chills.

Molly’s Game – 11/22

The true story of an Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game and became an FBI target. Her players included movie stars, business titans and unbeknownst to her, the Russian mob.

Idris Elba and Jessica Chastain are great, but I’m excited about this one because Aaron Sorkin is attached to direct. He adapted the book by the real Molly Bloom. Normally he is happy to write and have someone else direct, but this marks his directorial debut. What a cool story. It should be lots of fun and full of amazing lightning fast dialogue.

Call Me by Your Name – 11/22

It’s the summer of 1983 in the north of Italy, and Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), a precocious 17- year-old American-Italian boy, spends his days in his family’s 17th century villa transcribing and playing classical music, reading, and flirting with his friend Marzia (Esther Garrel). Elio enjoys a close relationship with his father (Michael Stuhlbarg), an eminent professor specializing in Greco-Roman culture, and his mother Annella (Amira Casar), a translator, who favor him with the fruits of high culture in a setting that overflows with natural delights. While Elio’s sophistication and intellectual gifts suggest he is already a fully-fledged adult, there is much that yet remains innocent and unformed about him, particularly about matters of the heart. One day, Oliver (Armie Hammer), a charming American scholar working on his doctorate, arrives as the annual summer intern tasked with helping Elio’s father. Amid the sun-drenched splendor of the setting, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will alter their lives forever.

I’ve got this here because it is sure to get a lot of love from the LGBT community. It will be called groundbreaking and monumental. However, when it is boiled down it sounds like the story of a man taking advantage of a kid who is still figuring out who he is for his own pleasure. I just can’t get behind that. I’ll probably see it at some point because it will most likely be nominated for an Oscar but I’m not expecting much.

December

The Current War – 12/8

The Current War is the epic story of the cutthroat competition between the greatest inventors of the industrial age over whose electrical system would power the new century. Backed by J.P. Morgan, Edison dazzles the world by lighting Manhattan. But Westinghouse, aided by Nikola Tesla, has seen fatal flaws in Edison’s direct current design. Igniting a war of currents, Westinghouse and Tesla bet everything on risky and dangerous alternating current.

Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon, and Nicholas Hoult as Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and Nikola Tesla. The battle between alternating current and direct current. The trailer looks great with amazing cinematography playing with the light. If there isn’t at least one song by AC/DC in the film, it will be a missed opportunity.

The Shape of Water – 12/8

An other-worldly fairy tale, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1962. In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of isolation. Elisa’s life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment.

This looks like it could be the best most innovative thing that Guillermo del Toro has done since Pan’s Labyrinth. I’m afraid that the creature (played by Doug Jones, look him up his work is amazing) is going to be too grotesque for mainstream audiences to get behind the love story aspect. It is kinda far out there and I just don’t now if we’re ready for it. Either way, I’m looking forward to it because it’s an original story that we’ve never seen coming from a visionary director with a star-studded cast. What do you think?

The Greatest Showman – 12/25

Inspired by the imagination of P.T. Barnum, The Greatest Showman is an original musical that celebrates the birth of show business and tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.

Apparently this musical based on the life of P.T. Barnum was supposed to come out last year around November or December, but they decided to wait to unleash Hugh Jackman’s vocal stylings on the world in part because of competition with a little movie called La La Land. I don’t think this will do quite as well, but it should be a feel good story with singing and dancing to end our 2017 on a positive note.

Phantom Thread – 12/25

Set in the couture world of 1950s London, the story illuminates the life behind the curtain of an uncompromising dressmaker commissioned by royalty and high society.

This is shrouded in mystery. We don’t have much to go off, but it is believed that Daniel Day Lewis will be playing Charles James. He will be teaming up with Director P.T. Anderson. The last time these two joined forces they created one of the best movies of all time in my opinion, There Will Be Blood. To add anticipation, Daniel Day Lewis has stated that this will be his last film. If that is the case, I sincerely hope he goes out with a bang and wins his 4th Best Actor Oscar.

Others to Watch:

My Friend Dahmer coming on November 3rd. Before Jeffrey Dahmer became a notorious serial killer, he was a shy, alcoholic teen who never quite fit in. Based on the acclaimed graphic novel by Derf Backderf, this is the true, haunting story of Jeffrey Dahmer in high school. This could be the start of a whole cinematic universe of teenage serial killers. Seriously, Ross Lynch looks disturbed as the young Dahmer. It could be a surprise success.

Roman J. Israel, Esq. coming on November 3rd. Denzel Washington stars as Roman Israel, a driven, idealistic defense attorney who, through a tumultuous series of events, finds himself in a crisis that leads to extreme action. Written and directed by the mind behind Nightcrawler, Dan Gilroy. This will be another heavily character driven role, like Fences, that Denzel can sink his teeth into.

Last Flag Flying coming on November 3rd. Thirty years after they served together in Vietnam, a former Navy Corpsman Larry “Doc” Shepherd re-unites with his old buddies, former Marines Sal Nealon and Reverend Richard Mueller, to bury his son, a young Marine killed in the Iraq War. Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, and Laurence Fishburne in a road trip movie directed by Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused and Boyhood). It’s hard not to get a little excited for this.

The Man Who Invented Christmas coming on November 22nd. The journey that led to the creation of Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer) and other classic characters from “A Christmas Carol.” The film shows how Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) conjured up a timeless tale. Looks like it could be a good family film retelling the often told Christmas story through the eyes of the man who created it.

There will be other films that come onto the radar in the final months of the year and some of these will inevitably be pushed to 2018 but I think this is a very good list to work off as you prepare for the season and decide which films are the most enticing. Please let me know which ones sound great and which you will pass on. Now that I’m done with this, I may decide to make a calendar will all of the films I’ve featured listed by their release date. The obvious problem with that is many of these films will be limited releases and so they will likely not be playing outside of major markets for a week or two after their actual premier unless they are tracking very will and the studios believe they can risk a wider opening.

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

This movie should have been great. So, what happened? In a word, Marvel happened.

I don’t get why it took so long for this to become a phenomenon. Comic books have been mixing and blending story arcs and character development for more than 60 years. In the many different comics iterations and timelines, these two Justice League teammates have battled at least a dozen times or more. So why has it taken so long for movie studios to grasp the idea that while stand alone superhero movies are great, comic book characters joining forces or engaging in battle is a golden ticket?

BATMAN V SUPERMANI can understand why and I’m personally glad that 60s filmmakers didn’t attempt to create epic superhero battles. The effects were not ready for it. Unless a talented director like Cecil B. DeMille got involved, the film would have likely never been made or would have been terrible. But since the 80s, we have been primed for some epic showdown. Imagine, instead of Batman Returns, we got Michael Keaton’s Batman joining forces with  as Wonder Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) to defeat a Superman (George Clooney) who falls under the control of Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman). That would have been crazy. But instead, the studios were content to create their sequels.

Marvel came to understand this first. With the crazy success of Iron Man it was obvious to studio execs that even less popular comic characters could drive a story if given the right material and a chance. Since then, we have seen Marvel bet against the house with properties like Thor, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Ant-Man and they have won big. (However, they have had missteps along the way, but most of those came out of Fox. (I’m talking to you Daredevil, X-Men Origins, and the not-so-Fantastic Four.) They learned who their audience was and they played right into their pocketbooks. Not only can these properties hold their own audience, but we go nuts when you mix them together.

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of JusticeThere are just a couple of rules to make sure that this works:

  • Stay grounded in reality. I think that Marvel has a distinct edge here because their comics are set in real cities. Spiderman web slings around New York not Gotham and even though Thor is from Asgard he lands in New Mexico instead of Smallville. This connection to the audience is crucial and shouldn’t be downplayed.

Wes for Publicity

  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. I hate to quote the Joker, but “Why so serious?” Take Batman and Iron Man as examples. They were both orphaned as teenagers, they both inherited vast sums of money and were thrust to the top of their family’s empire, they are both crazy smart and have major character flaws, they both decide to don suits of their own creation to fight crime (albeit one is for revenge while the other is for redemption). So why is there so much difference between the brooding bat, and the playboy rocketman? Maybe you have to chock it up to their personalities, but I will tell you that moviegoers may appreciate a dark and contemplative movie that wrestles with existential quandries. They may even tolerate that from their superhero movie (Thank you Dark Knight) but if every film is like that, it isn’t as enjoyable. The Marvel films have walked this tightrope brilliantly, and I believe that it has made the difference in the success of their films and the detriment of others. In a word, a comic book movie should be, above all, fun.

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  • Tell great stories. This is more of a general principle for all movies and it kinda goes hand in hand with staying rooted in reality. As a movie-goer, if you don’t give me a compelling story that I can follow, I don’t care if you are Stanley Kubrick or Michael Bay, I will not care for your movie, because there is nothing to care about. That means that you can’t give me a movie that is so complex that I need to take notes as I go, and it can’t be so vapid that I feel like it has about as much substance as a balloon. When you have a huge film like Spiderman 3 with 3 newly introduced villains and then you waste precious character development time by throwing in a street dancing emo Peter Parker, the audience says nope, not worth it. On the flip side, you can have Captain America: Civil War with 12 Marvel Characters including a handful that we just met and as long as you give me funny dialogue, awesome special effects, and a believable story arc, they will be with you all the way.

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I will say this, I didn’t hate Batman vs. Superman. It just left me wanting more and less at the same time, if that makes any sense. I wanted to see more depth of character than brooding and contemplative stares. I wanted the movie to be boiled down to a simple plot without DC getting ahead of itself and setting up a whole range of other movies that are in the pipeline. If the movie I’m watching isn’t great, it makes me much less excited about the future movies in the franchise.

This movie was almost enough to push the viewers into clinical depression. it is extremely dark and foreboding. Where was the fun DC? It left me craving Joel Schumacher Batman. I’m hoping that the DC universe is going to be darkest before the dawn, and now that we are after the dawn they will come out of their moody teenage angst. Tell me what you thought.