Spike Lee Chooses Hip-Hop Romeo & Juliet For Next Project

As you are probably all aware, I love BlacKkKlansman from 2018. It’s my favorite movie of last year, and while I’m not a diehard fan of Spike Lee, I cannot deny how fascinating and skilled he is as a filmmaker. So for his next project, I was a little befuddled to learn that he is adapting Prince of Cats, a graphic novel by Ron Wimberly that is a 1980s Hip-Hop version of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.

You know the general story, and Wimberly’s graphic novel source seems interesting, but I don’t see why Spike Lee would want this project immediately following his incredible Best Picture nominee. Personally, I feel like the story of Romeo & Juliet has been told time and time again to varying degrees of success. It’s been done to death. R&J isn’t even all that great compared to his other work.

So this all boils down to Spike Lee having some sort of interesting take on this, but he better create something truly interesting because he’ll be competing with another take on R&J with Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story coming pretty soon as well.

So what do you think? Is this a good next project for Spike Lee or is this project as doomed as its star-crossed lovers? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Beverly Hills Cop 4 Heading to Netflix!

Netflix seems to be enjoying their relationship with Eddie Murphy. Their recent collaboration with him on Dolemite Is My Name has been quite beneficial, and it may end up with a few Academy Award nominations as well.

Now, Variety is reporting that Paramount has licensed Beverly Hills Cop 4 to Netflix. Right now, IP is gold, and this is a big win for Netflix. While the first two Beverly Hills Cop films were solid releases, the third film did not perform to expectations, and with the 25 years since that release, there is concern that the long-awaited fourth film may not be able to attract a big theater-going audience, whereas the home viewing experience should result in more clicks and views.

Netflix seems to be pushing for IP, and not just BHC4. They seem to be going all-in on Eddie Murphy. Their partnership with Adam Sandler has done quite well for them, and this all looks like a solid move for the streaming giant as they try to acquire enough IP to fight studios that have been around for decades.

So what do you think? Is this a smart move for Netflix? Is this a smart move for Paramount? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Uncharted in Talks to Add Mark Wahlberg

Uncharted may actually be happening. After numerous stops and starts, the video game adaptation starring Tom Holland and directed by Travis Knight is starting to gain steam. Now, it seems that the film may be adding Mark Wahlberg to the cast. It’s interesting because Mark Wahlberg is the kind of guy that I would have expected to play Nathan Drake, the lead, but with Tom Holland in that role, so I didn’t know who Wahlberg would play.

Variety’s report states that Wahlberg’s character would be Victor “Sully” Sullivan, an American treasure hunter and mentor to Holland’s Drake.

Having not played the Uncharted games, this seems like an interesting move here with Wahlberg as an Obi-Wan Kenobi to Drake’s Luke Skywalker. I could see the styles of Holland and Wahlberg mixing really well onscreen, so I’m all for it.

Then there’s the question of how much Wahlberg would actually be in the film. There’s still so many factors at play here, but it seems that Sony wants to move the needle pretty fast on this one and continue the great working relationship with Holland, who will also play Peter Parker in a third solo Spider-Man film with the MCU/Sony deal.

As soon as it seemed that Travis Knight was actually set to direct and not depart as so many before had, I became very excited for this whole project, and while the possible addition of Wahlberg doesn’t skyrocket my excitement, it does slightly raise it.

So what do you think? Have you played Uncharted, and is Wahlberg the right choice to play Sully? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

The Addams Family (2019)

Director: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon

Cast: Oscar Issac, Charlize Theron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Snoop Dogg, Bette Midler, Allison Janney

Screenplay: Matt Lieberman, Pamela Pettler, Erica Rivinoja

86 mins. Rated PG for macabre and suggestive humor, and some action.

 

I never really liked the idea of an animated version of The Addams Family. I just always felt like The Addams Family always looked better and worked better as a live-action film, especially when you high-calibre talent like Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) and Charlize Theron (Monster, Atomic Blonde), who could both look and embody the characters of Gomez and Morticia Addams. But I nevertheless went into this new Addams Family with an open-mind because I love the franchise and characters.

The Addams family are not, by definition, normal, but that doesn’t stop the from living life their own special way. As Gomez (Isaac) preps his son Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard, It, TV’s Carmen Sandiego) for the Addams rite of passage, the Mazurka, Morticia (Theron) tries to connect more with daughter Wednesday (Chloe Grace Moretz, Let Me In, Greta) as she feeds her curiosity surrounding the town in which they reside, especially the local school. All the while, local celebrity Margaux Needler (Allison Janney, The Help, Ma) is determined to rid town of the Addams family so that she can keep the town bright, shiny, and unchanged.

First of all, there’s too much going on in a film that’s as short as this one. I didn’t care about the Gomez/Pugsley/Mazurka storyline, and the Morticia/Wednesday plot has been done better. I also felt like the Margaux Needler storyline doesn’t really go anywhere interesting nor does it really end in a satisfying way. There’s just problems abound in this film.

The voice cast is all fantastic except for Nick Kroll (Sing, TV’s Big Mouth) as Uncle Fester. His is a situation of being poorly miscast.He’s a fine and funny voice actor, but I don’t think he worked well for this character.

The screenplay is the biggest fault of the film in that it doesn’t really do anything unique that makes this film memorable. For a movie like The Addams Family, it’s so forgettable.Outside of one sequence involving Wednesday in school doing frog dissection, the movie has no truly interesting scenes. It’s just a mixture of plot points that have been done in better adaptations. There is no new ground covered in this movie.

The Addams Family is a very poor first outing for this new incarnation of the beloved characters. It made enough money for a sequel, so here’s hoping they learn some new lessons here because this first installment is forgettable and very paint-by-numbers. Skip and just watch the old show or Barry Sonnenfeld films.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

Cats May Miss Award Deadlines

Christmas is a tough deadline to hit for major films looking to be under awards consideration. Films like Django Unchained and The Wolf of Wall Street both finished just in time to have screenings before the cutoff. This year, the contentious Cats adaptation from Tom Hooper may miss those award deadlines, which may spell a death knell for the film, which has received some criticism based purely on its first trailer’s reception.

Word from the studio is that the film will not be able to be screened until the middle December, after votes close for the New York Film Critics, the Golden Globes, and the SAG Award.

This has to be very disappointing for the studio and Hooper, who is fighting an uphill battle here. Hooper directed award favorites The King’s Speech and Les Miserables, and I have to assume that they expected to add Cats to that list.

Still, they will continue working their asses off to get it done as quick as possible, hoping to at least get screenings in before the cutoff of some award nominations. This won’t spell wins all around because a late start to awards campaign can be another battle altogether.

So where do you stand with Cats? Does it stand a chance against other films competing for those coveted nominations? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Harriet (2019)

Director: Kasi Lemmons

Cast: Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monáe, Joe Alwyn

Screenplay: Gregory Allen Howard, Kasi Lemmons

125 mins. Rated PG-13.

 

It’s crazy to think that it’s 2019 and we still don’t have a major memorable release about the life of Harriet Tubman. Maybe I’m just not thinking about one or can’t bring one to mind, but I don’t think one exists. In fact, the film we’re talking about today almost didn’t get made at all, sitting on a shelf at Disney for years until they relinquished rights to the script. So with all that, how did it turn out?

When a young slave woman named Minty (Cynthia Erivo, Bad Times at the El Royale, TV’s Genius) escapes and heads for the border, she takes on the new name of Harriet Tubman and joins up with William Still (Leslie Odom Jr., Murder on the Orient Express, TV’s Smash) and the Underground Railroad to become one of the most celebrated slave-rescuers in history. Director Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou, Black Nativity) shows Harriet’s religious views when she has visions giving her direction in saving slaves, and it shows her fearless nature in the pursuit of freedom for her fellow slaves.

Let’s talk Cynthia Erivo here. I really liked what she did with the role, and I think she almost-flawlessly plays the role of Harriet Tubman. Almost-flawlessly. My big problem with the way Harriet is portrayed is that I don’t think the visions of God that she has works very well onscreen. I think there’s a better way to put this on film. It just didn’t work for me. I really think there’s a way to get this element put to screen better, and I keep thinking how, if it were put to film better, then it could be considered a strong film about religion. I kick on religious films a lot because I don’t think they successfully convey religious tones in a strong enough manner, and I think with the strong production of a film like Harriet, this could be something really cool if it were pulled off better. Back to Erivo, though, this film proves without a doubt that Erivo is capable of carrying a lead performance.

Director Kasi Lemmons does some good work in the film, but her presentation is a little formulaic and straight-forward, and what she needed to remember while making the film is that there’s a lot of the same thing happening in the film. That’s not to knock the incredible thing that Harriet Tubman accomplished, don’t think I’m saying that. All I mean is that the notion of her moving slaves to safety could’ve been given something more visual to represent the journey. Outside of her initial escape, I don’t the length of the journey is presented extremely well. It’s serviceable, but not truly accomplished in the movie.

From the supporting cast, I really enjoyed Leslie Odom Jr. as William Still and Janelle Monáe (Hidden Figures, UglyDolls) as Marie Buchanon, a friend to Harriet who gets her on her feet when she makes it to the north. They are both exemplary performers who elevate the material. Joe Alwyn (The Favourite, Boy Erased) also stars as Gideon Brodess, the son of the man who owned Harriet in the south. I didn’t like the way his character was portrayed in the film didn’t make him a fleshed-out character. I think the way to make a powerful villain is more than just being menacing and violent. There are moments early on in the film where he interacts with Harriet about their past and then it is barely mentioned after her escape. I would have liked their childhood past delved further into in the film through flashback to help fuel his character arc. Again, Gideon isn’t a bad villain. He does villainous things in the film, but I don’t think he’s a realistic villain and I think the finale of the film would have been more powerful if he was given more to do than be menacing.

Harriet is a strong enough biopic on Harriet Tubman that is worth your time. It’s far from perfect, but it’s pretty damn powerful nonetheless. Harriet won’t be accepting any Oscars come 2020, but this is still a solid history lesson about an incredible human being and an incredible triumph of the human spirit. This is still one worth checking out.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

John Boyega to Team With Green Room Director on Rebel Ridge

I’m a big fan of Jeremy Saulnier, who directed Green Room, Blue Ruin, and most recently, Hold the Dark. For me, I will remember coming across a truly wacky poster for a film of his called Murder Party, and that one sold me on him. I ended up absolutely loving Green Room, and I always love to see what he’s doing next. Looks like his new project, Rebel Ridge, included casting John Boyega of Star Wars and Attack the Block fame.

Of course, like many of Saulnier’s films, there isn’t much info on the nature of the project, but it’ll probably include his kinetic and frantic violence that he’s known for. A Variety report claims that the film will contain “bone-breaking action sequences, suspense, and dark humor.” So a pretty standard day for Saulnier.

Boyega is rising in stardom with seemingly every film. As stated above, he’s very fresh as Finn in the new Star Wars trilogy, he’s underrated in Attack the Block, and no one talks about the criminally underrated masterpiece Detroit that he did with director Kathryn Bigelow, but his subtle performance is amazing. Then there’s Pacific Rim: Uprising, but we won’t blame that on him. There were many more problems with that film than his performance, and he didn’t have much to work with.

Photo by Stewart Cook/REX/Shutterstock (9473076ba) John Boyega ‘Pacific Rim Uprising’ film premiere, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA – 21 Mar 2018

So yeah, everything sounds great here. We haven’t seen this side to Boyega much. He’s been in several action-based films, but usually those films are more CGI-heavy and less-focused on action from him, so this’ll be an interesting film if everything comes together right. Nothing of concern from this writer, that much I can say. Bring it on.

So what do you think? Is this the right call for Boyega? Is it the right call for Saulnier? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

We May Have an Alfred! Andy Serkis in Talks for The Batman

There’s been a lot of info coming out concerning The Batman casting over the past few days, and I’m not sure I can keep up with all of it. First, I’m hearing that Matthew McConaughey is set to play Harvey Dent (I’ve seen only rumors on this one so far). Then there’s news that Colin Farrell is in talks for The Penguin. Finally, and what should be the smallest of these castings, Andy Serkis is entering talks to play Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s butler and surrogate father-figure.

I just want to unpack the interesting bit here about Serkis. Andy Serkis is an incredible actor, both in Motion-Capture and also in real world performing. People don’t talk about Serkis as a non-CG performer, but he’s great at both. I loved his work in The Prestige, Black Panther, and the cook in King Kong. So hearing him playing Alfred seems so inspired and something I hadn’t thought about. I had been hearing rumors of him as The Penguin, and again, my mind went to CG, and I was very excited. He has previously worked with director Matt Reeves on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and its sequel, so again, I wasn’t surprised by his inclusion in the DC Batman world, but its only that I hadn’t for a single second thought about him playing Alfred Pennyworth.

But now, I can’t believe the thought never occurred to me. It’s such a brilliant translation for the Alfred character after seeing what the DCEU had done with him as a guy-in-the-chair sidekick-like assistant to Bruce when he dons the cowl. It’s so perfect.

So I’m completely on board with Andy Serkis playing any damn role in The Batman, and if that happens to be Alfred, then I’m perfectly happy.

What do you think? Is Andy Serkis right for Alfred Pennyworth or is there a better fit? Let me know/Drop a comment below.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Nigerian Oscar Submission Lionheart Disqualified for Award Contention

So here’s another frustrating story of the Oscars. Genevieve Nnaji’s Lionheart, which was the submitted entry for Nigeria, has now been disqualified from contention for having too much English. Somewhere around ten percent of the film is in the Igbo language, while the rest of the run time uses English. Lionheart was set to be Nigeria’s first Oscar entry, but it was apparently not vetted by the time the officially listing was revealed.

Selma director Ava DuVernay had this to say:

What’s interesting is that this is the first year in which the Academy has named the category International Feature Film from the previously-titled Foreign-Language Film. Even though the title was changed, it would appear the eligibility did not. We won’t hear of the official longlist until December 16, but I would assume this ruling won’t change at that time.

I personally think that it’s bullshit, especially after the title change, to disqualify this film. I’m not sure of all the rules that a film needs to have to qualify for International Feature Film, but changing the title seems to indicate that Foreign-Language is not an issue. This is film, and you are punishing them for using English when Nigeria has some English in with the many other languages around.

So what do you think? Should Lionheart be allowed to compete for Best International Feature Film? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

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