The trickle of trailers hyping Sundance premieres continues with a new glimpse at The Discovery, an enigmatic sci-fi project that Netflix snatched up back in the summer. As we say in showbiz, there’s a lot of heat behind this one: the stacked cast collects endearing goof Jason Segel, Rooney Mara (how dare she look this good with bleached-blonde hair), Kirsten Dunst spouse Jesse Plemons, starlet on the rise Riley Keough, and how about that, Sundance king Robert Redford. Director Charlie McDowell also arrives with a handsome pedigree, having last helmed the metaphysical romance The One I Love, and it looks like he’s going high-concept once again for his new feature.
Every movie lover in the world has heard of the Sundance Film Festival. But did you know the festival was originally called the Utah/US Film Festival? When it was founded in 1978, it was located in Salt Lake City. The first year’s lineup included classics like Mean Streets, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Sweet Smell of Success. The festival moved to nearby Park City in 1981, and a decade later officially switched its name to the Sundance Film Festival. That’s just one of the Sundance facts featured in the newest episode of You Think You Know Movies!
You gotta respect Robert Redford’s style. He’s not one of those interminable wafflers like Quentin Tarantino or Michael Jordan, constantly announcing and then un-announcing retirement every few years to shore up relevancy when necessary. Robert Redford says he’s gonna do a job, he does the job. He says he’s gonna finish up the two acting gigs he’s already taken and then shift to full-time direction, you can be sure he’s not gonna pop up in a couple years with a “gotcha!” and news of a new role.
This has been an underwhelming summer (to say the least), but there’s still hope that August will end this movie season on a positive note. One of our most anticipated releases of the month is Pete’s Dragon, which our own Erin Whitney calls a “worthy remake” and “one of the most stunning live-action animation hybrids Disney has made in years.” That’s the sort of praise that could really get you excited for Disney’s latest reimagining, but just in case you needed a little extra convincing, this new trailer is pretty persuasive.
Disney’s 1977 musical ‘Pete’s Dragon’ was my favorite movie as a kid, one I watched obsessively on VHS. In retrospect, I can now look back on it as an adult and admit it was a pretty awful movie — it was about an orphan whose adoptive family chased him while gleefully singing songs about abusing him. The songs were bad (though my 6-year-old self enjoyed them), the acting was as campy and mawkish, and the shoddy animation looks laughable today. But as much as the movie was a dated element of its time, it still told an emotionally relatable story that, when handled by Disney, can become timeless. It only makes sense that the studio remade ‘Pete’s Dragon,’ keeping that same sentiment, but without the hokey songs and with more impressive visual effects.
It’s been decades since I saw the original Pete’s Dragon, but from what I remember, I don’t get a lot of it in this trailer for David Lowery’s remake of the 1977 Disney film. Instead, it feels a lot more like The Iron Giant mixed with E.T., How to Train Your Dragon, and even the recent live-action Jungle Book directed by Jon Favreau. There’s not much in the way of wacky mischief and wild antics from an invisible dragon, and much more wonder and melancholy about the tender relationship between a boy and his amazing dragon, and the close-minded adults who want to destroy him.
As a television company, Netflix has already established itself as one of the best and most important studios in the business. As a distributor of documentaries, they also have an impressive track record. But when it comes to feature films, Netflix still hasn’t quite put itself on the map. True, its Beasts of No Nation received good reviews last fall, and Pee-wee’s Big Holiday was a fairly entertaining trifle. But much of the rest of their feature film slate has been met with bad to oh-my-god-how-in-the-world-did-this-happen? reviews. Their Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel was delayed and then mostly ignored. Ricky Gervais’ Special Correspondents was nowhere near the heights of his TV work. And two movies in, Adam Sandler’s four-picture deal with Netflix seems like an experiment designed to test Netflix’s customers willingness to maintain their subscriptions.
When last we saw Pete’s Dragon he (and it) looked like this:
The first official teaser for Disney's remake of Pete's Dragon arrives on Sunday evening, but you can catch a glimpse of the friendly new dragon with a new poster and motion poster for the upcoming film. You can't see the big green guy's face, but these posters do give us a sense of where Disney and director David Lowery are heading with their reimagining of the 1977 fantasy classic.
Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford‘s latest drama, Truth, about a controversial CBS News segment, is already garnering a large amount of its own controversy. The film opens in theaters this Friday, but you won’t see any trailers for it on CBS.