When an actor works with Terrence Malick it means throwing out everything they’ve ever learned in drama school or on a film set. Whatever script they might have initially read goes out the window, and Malick asks his performers to just, be. Maybe he’ll hand an actor a scrap of paper with am aphorism written across it. Maybe he’ll give them some minor stage direction, then let the camera follow from there. Michael Fassbender recently described Malick’s style as giving his cast “flavors as opposed to direct commands or instructions.” Some actors love it; others notoriously hate it.
Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write: The new Terrence Malick film opens with a Die Antwoord song. The past several years have been the most productive of the reclusive filmmaker’s career as he’s been churning out more movies now than in the first three decades of his time as a director, but they’ve also been his most surprising.
“My mantra has always been to scare the living s— out of you.” Those were Ridley Scott’s final words before he unleashed three scenes from Alien: Covenant to a packed theater at SXSW last night. Scott was joined by stars Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender and Danny McBride at a special screening of his original Alien, preceded by a sneak peek at footage from Covenant. You’re warned of potential spoilers from here on out, but it’s doubtful that Scott, who seems very confident about his “quite clever” prequel, would allow us to see footage that gave away too much.
If you’ve seen 300, then you’re very familiar with the Spartan soldiers’ costumes: A helmet, a cape, a shield, and not a whole lot else. Among those Spartans, only one, Gerard Butler’s King Leonidas, has a helmet with a plume on it. Did you know that the real historical Spartans all had plumes on their helmets? Director Zack Snyder decided to change that detail in order to make Leonidas stand out, and easier to identify in the midst of the film’s battle scenes. That’s just one of the facts featured in the newest episode of You Think You Know Movies!
With every new studio release, Ridley Scott likes to remind us all of his background in advertising. The director behind the canonized “Nineteen Eighty-Four” Macintosh commercial tends to mount an inventive promotional campaign for each of his motion picture efforts — both Prometheus and The Martian showed off their elaborate, space-ready production design through early faux-featurettes, and Scott has pulled the same move today. This morning saw the release of a “prologue” video titled “The Last Supper” in relation to the upcoming sequel Alien: Covenant, and while it gives viewers a chance to familiarize themselves with the crew of a major interstellar colonization effort, it’s also a chilling bait-and-switch unto itself.
We haven’t seen much from Alien: Covenant since the red band trailer dropped late last year and a few photos here and there. But today brings a brand new photo of the colony ship’s crew (and a guest cameo), which finds everyone smiley and free of danger.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s a great time to be a Terrence Malick fan. After making only six films between 1973 and 2012, the reclusive filmmaker released two films last year (one of which has three different versions) and has two more on the way this year. The first up is his much anticipated rock and roll-infused drama Song to Song, starring Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender and Natalie Portman.
Because Hollywood continues to keep him employed and because he’s got a symmetrical, reassuring face, it’s easy to forget that Michael Fassbender’s had something of a rough year. He started 2016 off by losing the Academy Award in February, having been nominated for the already-aging-poorly Steve Jobs. He then served up a hat-trick of dismally-reviewed starring roles in X-Men: Apocalypse (yikes), The Light Between Oceans (double yikes), and Assassin’s Creed (inadvertently fun in a goofy way, but mostly yikes). He‘s geared to get back on track in 2017, however, with the festival-vetted family crime drama Trespass Against Us slated for a release later this month and the more hotly anticipated The Snowman on the way as well.
Austin, Texas native Terrence Malick shot his latest movie in and around the Austin music scene. And earlier this week, news broke that the film, freshly retitled Song to Song, was ready for release and coming to theaters in March. So we probably should have seen this announcement (via The New York Times) coming: Song to Song will open the 2017 South by Southwest Film Festival. So you know what this means: A glitzy opening night red carpet, complete with Terrence Malick posing for lots and lots of photos and interviews. Or the exact and total opposite of that.
Crime fiction has a long, rich legacy of stories pitting one character’s allegiances against each other. Internal conflict is the engine that generates drama for criminals; torn between conscience and instinct, between right and wrong, or in the case of upcoming British import Trespass Against Us, between family and the law. Which is a long-winded way of saying that a good deal of crime thrillers boil down to “protagonist would rather not do crime, but someone else wants him to do crime, so he must.” And when Michael Fassbender’s your protagonist and Brendan Gleeson is your someone else, you’re off to a pretty strong start.