Fewer trailers

Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising?

This week we go for the gold with Nick Kroll, try to become more of an adult, play that game that many people relegate to their basements, deal with the opioid crisis, and examine modern-day Chile.

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Joker 80th Anniversary Comic Cover

Could Titans and Doom Patrol air first on DC Universe and then go to HBO Max the next day? What did Marc Guggenheim have to do to get Ezra Miller as The Flash in Crisis on Infinite Earths? Ready for the 80th anniversary of The Joker with a 100-page commemorative issue? When and where will Spider-Man 3 be shooting? What comic book movie does Karen Gillan want to direct? All that and more in this edition of Superhero Bits. Read More »

The off-Broadway musical adaptation of Sing Street at the New York Workshop Theatre carries on the starry and head-banging spirit of John Carney’s 2016 indie hit. The stage script is adapted and expanded by Enda Walsh, who also penned the Tony-winning stage musical treatment for Carney’s Once

It’s 1982 in Dublin, Ireland and the family of 16-year-old Connor (a stellar Brenock O’Connor) is among those caught in the waves of economic despair. To conserve their savings, his parents (Amy Warren and Billy Carter) pluck Connor from a fee-required private school and place him into a free Catholic school on Synge Street where he is singled out by a bully (Johnny Newcomb) and the austere headmaster, Brother Baxter (Martin Moran). Later, he spies 18-year-old Raphina (Zara Devlin), an aspiring model, posing coolly against the wall with her flashing sunglasses. On the fly, he forms a band so that she may model in his music video and she happily tags along. Raphina is the catalyst to find his song, but his band isn’t so much about winning the girl as it is finding an outlet for malaise.

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weathering with you review

Makoto Shinkai is a filmmaker whose heart lies with the cosmos. The Your Name director looks at the world through a lens so expansive that sometimes humans can get lost in it — his earliest films more often than not forgot about the character and favored the awe inspired by natural phenomena: meteor showers, typhoons, the unchanging rhythm of the seasons. Like Hayao Miyazaki, who Shinkai has frequently been compared to as the anime legend’s widely regarded successor, Shinkai bows to the might of nature — though his films don’t have quite the deep political messaging as Miyazaki’s.

Shinkai’s strengths lie in his breathtaking animated tributes to the power of nature, rendered in stunning photorealistic animation, and the ripples that natural phenomena send to affect the little people on Earth. It’s why his early films would often feel cold and distant, and his characters vague outlines of people. But with the globally successful Your Name, Shinkai gained a sense of humor. He found a funny bone, a perfect compromise between his cosmic ambition and his intimate character writing. He swings even further in that lighthearted direction with Weathering With You, a whimsical supernatural romance with a pointed environmental message that is even more vibrant than his 2016 mega-hit, but doesn’t quite pack the same emotional wallop.

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Taika Waititi Jeff Goldblum on set

On the January 17, 2020 episode of /Film Daily, /Film senior writer Ben Pearson is joined by /Film writers Hoai-Tran Bui and Chris Evangelista to talk about the latest film and TV news, including Disney killing the 20th Century Fox name, a possible Taika Waititi Star Wars movie, Better Call Saul coming to an end, details about the new Peacock streaming service. Read More »

Willem Dafoe Interview

When the term character actor is used in film discourse, Willem Dafoe is one of the most common actors to come to the collective mind of cinephiles. However, he is, and always has been, a leading man who simply isn’t deterred by the size, or lack thereof, of a given role to which he connects. The Wisconsin native could turn even the most seemingly banal character into something singularly mesmerizing. This intuition to excavate the humanity out of the roles he chooses is part of what makes Dafoe so effective as an actor. Perhaps it’s also what draws skillful auteurs like Wes Anderson, Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader, Lars von Trier, Abel Ferrara, Sam Raimi, and Oliver Stone back to him for memorable repeat collaborations. Whether as a character actor, leading man, or disembodied voice (Vox Lux), Dafoe remains one thing above all: A universally sought-after director’s actor.

One collaboration that evaded Dafoe for nearly three decades was that with legendary Argentinian filmmaker Hector Babenco (Kiss of the Spider Woman). It wasn’t until 2015 when the two longtime acquaintances finally made a film together with Babenco’s autobiographical My Hindu Friend – also titled My Last Friend – in which Dafoe plays a stand-in for the director during a particularly grim period in his life. My Hindu Friend is a thoughtful, honest exploration of death, life, cinema, and unlikely yet timely human connections. Shortly after the 2016 Montréal World Film Festival, Babenco passed away, delaying the film’s release nearly four years.

On the cusp of My Hindu Friend’s January 17, 2020 theatrical release, I spoke with Dafoe about his experience on Babenco’s final film, his aptitude for portraying real-life figures, the existential weight of death in cinema, The Lighthouse, the politics of the Oscars, and his storied career, including his collaborations with Anderson, Scorsese, and von Trier.

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Don't Look Under the Bed

(Welcome to Out of the Disney Vault, where we explore the unsung gems and forgotten disasters currently streaming on Disney+.)

Though not the first thing that comes to mind when you think Disney, there is a long history of horror and horror-adjacent productions in the Walt Disney Company. Many of them resulted in failed attempts at doing something new, due to parents complaining about Disney being a family-friendly company and the horror movies damaging that image.

That being said, many of these horror movies inspired millions of kids to become horror fans, due to the unique blending of the genre and Disney’s traditional family-friendly approach. While the promotional push leading to the launch of Disney+ focused heavily on the big franchises like Marvel and Star Wars, as well as their animated classics, there is a healthy offering of horror movies in the streaming service. This week, we’ll take a look at the last original horror-themed movie made by Disney: Don’t Look Under the Bed.

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Infinity Train Season 2 Review

Owen Dennis’s animated anthology series Infinity Train stretches as infinite as its possibilities. A new world—or restored—order infuses the adventure aboard the Infinity Train after the events of season one. The rollie spherical droid One-One (Jeremy Crutchley as Glad-One, Dennis as the Sad-One) has reclaimed his rightful place as the Conductor. 

As it went in Book One, humans who suffered a trauma like its first protagonist and are in need of life lessons are taken aboard a cryptic train of limitless cars, each housing surreal worlds and inhabitants. Humans are tattooed with a glowing number on their palm that can go up or down. Passengers must do good deeds or mature in emotional understandings to lower their score to zero and activate their exit door so they may return to the normal world as a healed or reformed person. Now that One-One has his Conductor mantle back, he has prepared his human charges instruction videos with more clear-cut guidelines, but his guide isn’t quite clear-cut for some individuals in the ecosystem. The natural order must be that the train denizens must help the human passengers, but one denizen is an individual disruptor of the idea.

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rise of the resistance at disneyland
Rise of the Resistance opens today in Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Yesterday we were invited to a special sneak preview of the new e-ticket attraction before it opened to the public. After the jump, you can watch our vlog from the press preview, which also includes a sneak preview of some new snack and drink options coming to Batuu west.

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A Bug's Life Revisited

(Infinity and Beyond is a bi-weekly series in which Josh Spiegel looks back at the history and making of every feature in Pixar’s filmography. In today’s column, he takes a look at the 1998 film A Bug’s Life.)

As the story goes, documented in the David Price book The Pixar Touch (and mentioned in an early teaser for the 2008 sci-fi film WALL-E), a year or so before the release of Toy Story, there was a lunch. A number of the creatives involved in the making of the first fully computer-animated feature — John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Joe Ranft, and Andrew Stanton, among others — got together to figure out what they would do if the best-case scenario occurred. What if Toy Story became a hit? What would they do next?

A number of important ideas — including that of WALL-E, but we have a long way to go before we get to that story — were pitched during that lunch. One that held a certain appeal was a story all about a colony of ants. The lead would be a nerdy type whose unorthodox manner put him at odds with the rest of his colony, even though he would manage to woo and romance the ant princess and eventually live happily ever after. The idea got the green-light and Pixar proceeded as planned.

But the studio, when they released A Bug’s Life in November of 1998, would seem as if they were a month late with this concept. Because to the untrained eye, it sure looked like another computer-animated film, and another animation studio, beat them to the punch. 

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