the florida project

(Welcome to The Disney Discourse, a recurring feature where Josh Spiegel discusses the latest in Disney news. He goes deep on everything from the animated classics to the theme parks to live-action franchises. In this edition: a look at Escape From Tomorrow and the newly released The Florida Project, both of which explore the peripheries of the Disney experience.)

The Disney theme parks are built upon a foundation of agreed-upon lies. We tell ourselves that we can afford a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth even if we should spend that money on more reasonable expenses, because we value our enjoyment or the enjoyment of our family members more than the strength of our bank accounts. We tell ourselves when we walk through the gates of the Magic Kingdom that we’ve been transported into a world of fantasy and future, a land where our real-world problems don’t exist. We tell ourselves that the theme parks are a place where the Cast Members who operate the attractions, shows, and restaurants have no real-world problems — really, no outside lives — of their own. Each winding walkway, each touch of atmosphere, each architectural choice is, in its own special way, a lie. They are mostly beautiful lies, but lies nonetheless.

The beautiful lies of the Disney theme parks, and how those lies have an uglier ripple effect towards the periphery of the cities that house them, are part of the fuel behind two independent, tonally very different, films from the past few years: Randy Moore’s Escape from Tomorrow and Sean Baker’s The Florida Project. Each film deals with the specter of the Disney theme parks in its own way. Moore’s 2013 film built buzz because he and his cast had shot a majority of the Lynchian film inside the parks without Disney’s knowledge. Baker’s is focused on the fraying edges of the community that borders Walt Disney World. Despite being radically different, the directors each attempt to confront the parks and their impacts through these stories.

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a ghost story

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: how a powerful 2017 film helped one writer grapple with tragedy. This post contains spoilers for A Ghost Story.)

People watch movies for all kinds of reasons. For entertainment, for work, just to kill some time. Sometimes, though, the magic of a great movie can work as comfort for pains big and small, like a cinematic salve for what ails you. Whether you’re fighting the flu or missing a loved one, the right movie can do wonders. A funny comedy, a mindless action movie, an all-time favorite – my personal go-to films in these situations run the gamut from Broadcast News to Slugs, and they never fail to get my mind and spirit back on track.

Well, almost never. I’m a generally chipper guy (with a side of cynicism and a dash of indifference), but while the world at large seems more and more intent on beating us down these days, I can typically push forward and weather the storm unscathed. An exception was born over the past few years, though, and it’s only becoming more common. News of particularly horrific mass shootings just devastates me. A Parisian concert hall, an Orlando night club, a Lafayette movie theater – I grow simultaneously furious, numb, and helpless in my grief for lives cut down in moments of joy, and attempts to distract my thoughts with “entertainment” fail miserably.

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13 Reasons Why

Hannah’s story may not over, but it may be delayed for a little while longer.

The production of 13 Reasons Why season 2 has temporarily been halted, due to the forest fires ravaging the Northern California location where the Netflix series is shooting. You don’t need more reasons than that.

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she's gotta have it trailer

She’s Gotta Have It is being touted as a “modern update” of visionary director Spike Lee‘s breakthrough movie, but it feels like less of an update than a story that was always suited for modern, millennial times.

The 10-episode Netflix series remakes Lee‘s debut feature film, which was originally shot over the course of 10 days in a hot summer in 1986. That grimy heat isn’t replicated in the sleek new TV series, but the story is just as sweltering in the first full trailer for She’s Gotta Have It.

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mr robot power saver mode review
(We’re going to kickstart our weekly discussion of USA’s Mr. Robot season 3 by answering one simple question: who had the biggest mental breakdown in this week’s episode?)

The first season of Mr. Robot was one of the most compelling, labyrinthine pieces of storytelling to come out of cable television, but its momentum was nearly derailed by the equally ambitious but discordant second season. Happily, it seems like the third season is a return to form for the hacker thriller series.

The season 3 premiere of Mr. Robot brings the USA series back to its noir-inspired roots, but doesn’t let the mystery envelop the show like it had previously. The narrative momentum is back on hyper-speed, with Elliot quickly regaining his footing while supporting characters soon become more transparent. The stark visual identity that showrunner and writer Sam Esmail brought to the series still threatens to disquiet the viewer, but star Rami Malek brings renewed energy to his role, grounding the series with his wide-eyed vulnerability.

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Call me by your name clip

If you’re having a bad week, and there’s a good chance you probably are, here’s something that might cheer you up: professional handsome man Armie Hammer dancing up a storm in a new Call Me By Your Name clip. It’s Hammer time.

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Tyler Perry Colin Powell

Adam McKay is best known for directing comedies like Anchorman and Step Brothers, but he’s also proven to be one of the most politically-conscious mainstream filmmakers working today. His next project is a biopic about former Vice President Dick Cheney that stars Christian Bale in the lead role, but McKay has just hired a surprising choice to play one of the key cabinet members of the Bush administration: Tyler Perry (Boo 2! A Madea Halloween) will play former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Yes, seriously.

Read more about the Tyler Perry Colin Powell casting below.
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thoroughbreds trailer

Two indie It girls are teaming up in the frenzied trailer for Thoroughbreds, a black comedy about wealthy childhood friends with killer instincts.

Starring The Witch and Split‘s Anya Taylor-Joy and Me and Earl and The Dying Girl‘s Olivia CookeThoroughbreds also features a posthumous turn by Anton Yelchin as the local hustler who unwittingly gets dragged into the conniving girls’ schemes.

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Murder on the Orient Express clip

Kenneth Branagh is pulling double duty in the upcoming film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s famous novel Murder on the Orient Express: he’s directing it and also starring as Hercule Poirot, a Belgian detective who uses his impressive deduction skills to try to solve a murder that happened during a cross-country train trip.

But here’s a mystery that might even stump a sleuth as talented as Poirot: why would 20th Century Fox choose this particular clip to promote their movie? Check it out below and see what I mean.
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Jean-Claude Van Johnson teaser

“My name is Jean-Claude Van Damme. I used to be super famous.”

These are the opening lines of the pilot for Jean-Claude Van Johnson, an upcoming Amazon original series we exclusively told you about early last year. The pilot performed well enough with viewers to warrant a series order, and the first season is officially on the way.

In the series, the action movie star plays a version of himself who takes jobs in crappy direct-to-video movies in far-flung countries as a cover for his real work as a private contractor. As that line of dialogue above indicates, JCVD is certainly willing to poke fun at his own career (see also: the 2008 movie JCVD), and he continues to do exactly that in this comedy series, which is being helmed by Keanu and Key & Peele director Peter Atencio, one of the most versatile up-and-coming filmmakers working today.

Now a new teaser trailer has debuted for Jean-Claude Van Johnson, and it continues to poke fun at itself as JCVD undercuts the primary subject of the teaser. Check it out below.
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