Movie Mixtape: Spider-Man Movie Connections

(Welcome to Movie Mixtape, where we find cinematic relatives and seek out interesting connections between new releases and older movies that allow us to rethink and enjoy what’s in our theaters as well as the favorites on our shelf. In this edition: Spider-Man: Homecoming.)

Be honest. What would you have done if you’d seen Sony and Marvel cast someone to play Uncle Ben in Spider-Man: Homecoming? Screamed? Shook your head? Vowed never to see it, only to buy opening night tickets? These are all correct answers.

For the third time in only 15 years, Spider-Man is being introduced to us on the big screen. For the first time, he’s come home to the warm, awaiting arms of the Marvel family so that he can have direct contact with Iron Man and Happy Hogan and some other surprise guests along the way.

Fortunately, Uncle Ben is not one of them. Wisely, the studios, the writers and co-writer/director Jon Watts are letting us shake hands with a new Peter Parker (Tom Holland) after his most formative moment, after he’s fought crime in a funny suit, and after he’s helped Iron Man slap Captain America in the face during Civil War.

Homecoming sees Parker juggling life as an unpopular high school sophomore and life as a superpowered hero who wants to do more than help old ladies cross the street. It’s a spectacular outing for Spidey that smartly avoids most of the tired tropes beaten into our eyeballs over the past decade. It’s light, sometimes dry, and it pairs well with these other films.

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Spider-Man director

Jon Watts got the gig as the new Spider-Man director for Marvel and Sony thanks in large part to his Sundance entry Cop Car, which casts Kevin Bacon as a sheriff on the trail of two kids who have taken his cruise for a joyride. That film shows a great deal of empathy for, and understanding of the young kids at the center of the film. It’s not difficult to see how that empathy, blown up to a larger scale, would be a big plus for Spider-Man.

Still, we don’t know a lot about Watts. And aside from talk that the new Spider-Man movie, with Tom Holland in the title role, will have something of a John Hughes film quality, we don’t even know much about the project at all. In a new interview, Watts talks in general terms about Spider-Man, and while he’s guarded enough to reveal very little, what he says does help build our understanding of the upcoming film. Read More »

Best Stories of the Week

Did Memorial Day weekend throw you off enough that you missed some of the bigger entertainment stories this week? Well, don’t fret, because it’s time to take a look at the Best Stories of the Week.

This week we’ve got updates on Gambit with Channing Tatum, Marvel’s developing Doctor Strange, an interview with Pete Docter about Pixar’s Inside Out, a new director for Jonny Quest, trailers for The End of the Tour and the remake of Point Break, and much more. Hit the jump to get caught up on a week’s worth of the biggest stories.

Update: The news of Disney shutting down Tron 3 broke after this roundup was published, but definitely factors into the big news of the week. We’ve added that below.

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Cop Car trailer

Movies don’t come much more lean than Cop Car, in which two kids stumble across a seemingly abandoned sheriff’s cruiser. One thing leads to another, and soon the pre-teens are off on the joyride of a lifetime. But the car wasn’t abandoned, and the sheriff, who has his own problems to deal with, wants the car back.

Kevin Bacon plays the lawman with a grim squint, and the two young actors at the center, James Freedson-Jackson and Hays Wellford, are terrific in their roles, and Jon Watts directs the film with mean efficiency that had me squirming at the horrifying potential in some of the violent situations.

Check out the first Cop Car trailer below. Read More »

The Best Films of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival

best of sundance 2015

The 2015 Sundance Film Festival ends Sunday but team /Film is already back in Los Angeles. We were on the ground in Park City for eight days, seeing and reviewing as many movies as possible. While there, our aim is to find the awesome films you’ll want to have on your radar later this year. We think we were successful.

Below, Peter Sciretta, Russ Fischer and I have each ranked every single film we saw. I saw 25, Peter and Russ saw 22. We assigned points to our top films to come up with an overall site ranking. We also came up with a bunch of fun stats to to give you an idea of how huge Sundance is, and how our tastes figure into coverage.

Below, read about the best of Sundance 2015, according to Slashfilm. Read More »

Cop Car review

Cop Car has the brutal elegance of old-school crime fiction. Two young kids find a seemingly abandoned sheriff’s cruiser in a stand of trees. One thing leads to another, and soon they’re off on a joyride through the countryside. But the sheriff wants his car back, and there’s another wild card factor, too, which draws a noose around all their necks.

Few deeds go unpunished in this daylight noir. Yet even through the increasingly grim action an innocence is maintained that sets Cop Car apart from recent companion films such as Cold in July, The Guest, and Blue Ruin. Getting reductive for a moment, Cop Car is like an Amblin film filtered through the twisted vision of the Coen Brothers. It’s a midnight movie blast. Read More »