A.I. and Minority Report

(Welcome to 21st Century Spielberg, an ongoing column and podcast that examines the challenging, sometimes misunderstood 21st century filmography of one of our greatest living filmmakers, Steven Spielberg. First up: A.I. and Minority Report.)

“What if Peter Pan grew up?” pondered the tagline of Steven Spielberg’s 1991 fantasy Hook. It was an intriguing premise: what would happen if the perpetual child – the boy who refused to get older – embraced the cold, stark, finite nature of adulthood? Of course, the compelling concept of this tagline is all but forgotten in the runtime of Hook, where the adult Peter Pan quickly reverts to childhood in order to save the day. Still, what a notion!

Sometimes, life imitates art. In the 21st century, Steven Spielberg, the perpetual child – the pop culture impresario who found a way to turn childhood and nostalgia into a lucrative, highly entertaining art form – did something remarkable.

In the 21st century, Steven Spielberg grew up.

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Top Gun: Maverick

Tom Cruise has proven to be the ultimate daredevil when it comes to his big screen career. At 57-years old, Cruise is still pulling off death-defying stunts that seem to be getting bigger and bigger, especially when it comes to the Mission: Impossible franchise. Cruise took it another step further with Top Gun: Maverick, because he actually suited up to do some real flying in F-18 jets. Even more surprising, he got the rest of the cast to hop in cockpits too. Cruise said, “There’s never been an aerial sequence shot this way.” Read More »

Top Gun: Maverick Super Bowl Spot

It wouldn’t be the Super Bowl if you didn’t feel a little need for speed. Thankfully, Paramount Pictures is here with a Super Bowl spot for the eagerly anticipated sequel Top Gun: Maverick. The one and only Tom Cruise returns as the titular hot shot pilot, but this time, he’s the one dealing with some new pilots, including Miles Teller as Lt. Bradley Bradshaw, the son of the late Radar Intercept Officer Lt. Nick Bradshaw, aka “Goose.” Check out the Top Gun: Maverick Super Bowl spot for a sneak peek. Read More »

Mission: Impossible Sequels Cast

Just when you thought the cast of the upcoming back-to-back Mission: Impossible sequels couldn’t get any better, director Christopher McQuarrie digs back into the past for a real stunner.

In the original Mission: Impossible, agent Ethan Hunt was framed as a mole in the IMF, and he was pursued aggressively by agency director Eugene Kittridge. He was quite a ruthless character, but only to enemies of the IMF, and once Jim Phelps (Jon Voight) was revealed to be the real mole, all was forgiven. However, something from the past will be bubbling to the surface in the upcoming Mission: Impossible sequels, because Henry Czerny is returning as Kittridge in both of the upcoming movies. Read More »

Mission: Impossible 7 Cast

The cast of the upcoming back-to-back sequels in the Mission: Impossible franchise is already stacked. Tom Cruise is still leading the charge as IMF agent Ethan Hunt, and he’ll have Rebecca Ferguson back at his side as MI6 agent Ilsa Faust. But the sequels will also feature new cast members like Hayley Atwell, Pom Klementieff, Shea Whigham and Nicholas Hoult. Thankfully, it won’t be all new faces in the upcoming sequels though, as one of Ethan Hunt’s most reliable counterparts has been confirmed to return.

Simon Pegg will be part of at least the seventh installment of the upcoming Mission: Impossible franchise, reprising his role as Benji Dunn, the IMF tech guy turned field agent who always has the best gadgets, but doesn’t always use them as efficiently as he should. Read More »

The magnolia is a perennial flower: its recurring bloom signals spring’s arrival and the bark of the tree it grows from can be used to treat anxiety and cancer. Magnolia Boulevard is a street that runs through Burbank, California—the media capital of the world, just miles from Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles. Neither of these things is explained outright in Magnolia, writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1999 opus, but even without awareness of them, the viewer begins to form an intuitive understanding of how the beauty, complexity, and fragility of a flower may relate to the tapestry of lives on display in the movie.

Magnolia is a young man’s movie. It’s a crinkled, wet valentine to the Valley (San Fernando, where Burbank is located and where the film is set). Anderson was still in his twenties when he made it, and juxtaposed with the mature back half of his filmography to date, it pulses like a drop-kicked dog without a leash. Sometimes it barks off into the unknown with elliptical subplots. Sometimes it chases its own tail, looping back on itself with crescendoing crosscuts. Though it all, hangs a persistent storm cloud of emotion, the kind that enslaves hurt people until they’re liberated by a rain of frogs.

After the success of Boogie Nights, Anderson’s exuberant porn-family film, New Line Cinema gave the young filmmaker carte blanche to make an achingly personal, 3-hour drama with an ensemble cast and the biggest budget of his career. Blame the audience, blame the Internet, blame risk-averse studio executives, but Hollywood’s gatekeepers don’t allow many movies like that to enter the multiplex anymore. In Collateral, Tom Cruise’s steely hitman pegged L.A. as a place that was “too sprawled out, disconnected.” In Magnolia, he plays Frank T.J. Mackey, a misogynistic seduction seminar leader whose story intertwines with that of other characters to form the obverse narrative, whereby everything is interconnected despite the ungainly sprawl.

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Mission: Impossible Sequels Cast Adds Shea Whigham

Paramount Pictures surprised the hell out of us earlier this year by announcing back-to-back sequels for the Mission: Impossible franchise being released one year apart in the summers of 2021 and 2022. And they’ve been surpring us even more by adding a few impressive names to the cast.

The upcoming Mission: Impossible sequels cast has officially added Joker co-star and Boardwalk Empire cast member Shea Whigham to the growing ensemble cast. And yes, he’ll be in both of the sequels. Read More »

Cooking Scenes in Movies - Ratatouille

The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.

In this edition, listen as a professional chef reviews cooking scenes in movies like Chef, Ratatouille, Julie & Julia, and many more. Plus, see how Stanley Kubrick‘s family friendly holiday drama Eyes Wide Shut compares to the original 1926 novella on which the movie is based, and hear Richard Jewell co-star Kathy Bates look back at the most memorable characters from her career. Read More »

Top Gun Maverick featurette

It’s not just a fun line from the franchise: Tom Cruise really does feel the need for speed in Top Gun: Maverick. He’s learned that if you’re going to impress audiences with a stunt, it needs to feel as real as possible – so that means actually going up and pulling multiple Gs in a real fighter jet.

Check out this new featurette which shows off some of the actors’ training, and gives us a look at a new camera system that manages to fit six IMAX-quality cameras inside the cockpit. Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

Top Gun Maverick trailer

There are still nineteen months until we see Tom Cruise risk his life for our entertainment in the next Mission: Impossible movie, but next summer, we get to see him take flight in the long-awaited Top Gun: Maverick.

Cruise, who has thus far been very selective when it comes to making sequels to his movies, is finally returning to the franchise after more than thirty years, and if you feel the need, you can check out the movie’s new star-studded trailer below.
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