What a difference six months makes. Back in the summer, the world of film was all gloom and doom. Television was great; the movies were terrible. One respected critic even speculated that someday the world would look back at 2016 as “the year that movies died.”
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2016 began with a new Terrence Malick movie then gave us two versions of his first documentary effort. Then we got not one but two versions of his first documentary effort, and New Yorkers were treated to special screening of The Tree of Life accompanied by a live orchestral performance of Alexandre Desplat’s score. And now, Christmas has come early for Malick fans: we’re getting a third version of Voyage of Time this weekend.
2016 has already been a bastard of a year: beloved public figures died, Nazis became a thing again, America began its slow skid into fascism, and Bones got cancelled. When do the hits stop coming? Is there no respite from the barrage of tragedies that this monstrous year has heaped upon us? No, no there is not. Because throughout the seemingly unending cluster-F-word of 2016, one light on the horizon has held us up, both as a nation and as a human species. From indignity to indignity, we’ve always been able to pin our hopes on the glorious day of May 19, 2017 — known to you and I, of course, as the release date for the Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson-led reboot of beloved ‘90s lifeguard soap opera Baywatch. But even after this year’s parade of tragedies, [Don LaFontaine voice] there is one tragedy more.
From the time that the first images of Zhang Yimou’s upcoming historical epic The Great Wall came to light, the thorny matter of identity politics has hounded the film. In the period piece, confirmed white man Matt Damon portrays a heroic warrior that protects the Middle Kingdom’s greatest architectural and strategic achievement from an encroaching menace, and many frustrated online commentators have questioned the place of a non-Asian actor in a wholly Asian film. The term “whitewashing” cropped up all over, referring to the continued practice in the film industry of casting Caucasian actors in roles that could (or should) have otherwise gone to non-white performers. With a problematic pall still cast over the production and the February 17 release fast approaching, Damon spoke out on the issue in a new interview with the Associated Press, via The Hollywood Reporter, and attempted to assuage some of the public’s misgivings.
The long countdown to the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16 has at last hit the ten-day mark, and with buzz now at a nearly deafening roar, each day has demanded fresh preview material to keep the hordes of fans docile. It’s like an advent calendar, but instead of delicious chocolates and trinkets symbolizing holiday cheer, we get fragmented, context-free snippets symbolizing the insatiable will of America’s pop-culture mavens. It’s the reason for the season, and by “it,” I mean “the inability to allow one’s self to be pleasantly surprised by a blockbuster.”
What’s more relevant right now than tech thriller about privacy and the dangers of the digital age? After the latest season of Black Mirror continued to explore the tech terrors of the not-so-distant future, James Ponsoldt’s latest film is all about how much a social media platform called The Circle can help humanity and potentially harm it.
Happy holidays! You have absolutely no time to yourself, with all the gift-giving and card-mailing, and whatnot. So how are you going to find time to pick out something to watch? That’s where our new series, On Demand With ScreenCrush, comes in. Every two weeks, ScreenCrush Editor-in-Chief Matt Singer joins you to recommend three handpicked new titles you can watch at home right now from Movies on Demand. These are big new releases you won’t find streaming on Netflix, and the choices run the gamut from indie favorites, to major blockbusters, to insightful documentaries, and everything in between — all available with your remote.
It’s big, it’s loud, it’s here: feast your eyes on the first trailer for Transformers: The Last Knight! After a truly weird production period that involved dragons, King Arthur, igniting the ire of British vets by dressing up Winston Churchill’s childhood home as a Nazi headquarters, and the usual level of Bayhem, we finally have our very first glimpse of the fifth installment in the inexplicably popular franchise.
More often than not, schoolteachers have just as much beef with each other as the students they teach. Acting like models of excellence in front of 30 or 40 kids a day has got to be exhausting, and sometimes we all just need to let off some steam. A movie starring both Charlie Day and Ice Cube — not to mention Tracy Morgan, Jillian Bell, and Christina Hendricks — hardly has to be marketed, but Warner Bros. has just released their second trailer for next year’s Fist Fight.
After that stunning teaser came out in early August for Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, we haven’t heard much more about the movie, aside from its prospective early showings in 35mm and 70mm formats. It’s kinda nice not knowing that much about a movie before it premieres (aside from the fact that we all kinda know pretty much how Dunkirk went). But fans of both Nolan and Star Wars are getting an early Christmas present this year: apparently many outlets have heard that a whole seven minutes of Nolan’s new film will be screened before Rogue One, only in IMAX 70mm theaters.