Netflix has come a long way from those little red envelopes full of DVDs. Today the movies-by-mail rental company is a full-fledged movie and television studio with an impressive slate of original films, documentaries, mini-series, and cartoons. And they keep adding new content constantly; a week after Season 3 of the acclaimed series House of Cards, they unveiled Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt from Tina Fey; two weeks later they debuted Bloodline starring Friday Night Lights’s Kyle Chandler.
When Bill Pullman dumped that big “We will not go quietly into the night!” speech at the end of Independence Day, he really wasn’t kidding. Even though Will Smith will not return, Independence Day 2 is still moving forward, like an enormous alien spaceship slowly approaching the Golden Gate Bridge. Late last night, Roland Emmerich tweeted the latest original Independence Day cast member to join the film:
Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas won just one Oscar (for supporting actor Joe Pesci) at the 1991 Academy Awards. (The year’s Best Picture winner was Kevin Costner’s Dances With Wolves.) But the film seems to grow more popular and critically acclaimed every year, to the point where it’s now considered one of Scorsese’s masterpieces, one of the best movies of the 1990s, and perhaps the best gangster film ever made without the word “godfather” in the title. Astonishingly (at least it feels astonishing to an old man like me), it’s been 25 years since Goodfellas made its debut in theaters, an anniversary Scorsese and his cast and crew will celebrate next month with a 25th anniversary screening and reunion at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.
For months it’s been rumored, now it’s confirmed: Rian Johnson, the writer and director of Brick and Looper is officially the writer and director of Star Wars: Episode VIII. Disney CEO Robert Iger also revealed to company shareholders today that Episode VIII has its official release date: May 26, 2017 — 40 years and a single day after the release of the very first Star Wars back in 1977.
The name “Disney” brings to mind images of fair princesses, charming princes, magical fairy tales, and simple happily ever afters. In recent years, though, Disney has begun rethinking their classic properties, and releasing more thematically complex versions of their famous films. Sleeping Beauty became Maleficent, which turned a wicked witch into a sympathetic anti-hero; a whole mess of fairy tales turned into Into the Woods, where happily ever after preceded a whole bunch of death and tragedy. The ranks of Disney Princesses grew to include women like Merida, the bow-slinging heroine of Brave, and Anna and Else from Frozen, who rescued each other from an prince, rather than the other way around. Every value and concept that Disney had established and reinforced through decades of repetition was seemingly up for reconsideration and revision.
It’s been a while since we had a really good disaster movie. Roland Emmerich was the last guy to really push the genre forward, but after freezing and then destroying the entire planet (in The Day After Tomorrow and 2012, respectively) there’s not really a lot of ground left to cover (and demolish). Next summer’s San Andreas will attempt to revive the disaster movie by juicing up an old favorite: the earthquake. This version, directed by Journey 2: The Mysterious Island’s Brad Peyton, features a tremor so huge it encompasses all of California from Los Angeles to San Francisco. It’s so big, Paul Giamatti gravely intones, it can even be felt on the East Coast. That’s a big quake.
The news out of Disney’s shareholder meeting keeps on coming. This one isn’t much of a surprise: Disney is making Frozen 2. In a related story, the sky is blue and water is wet (until a princess with freezing powers comes along and turns it into ice).
Here’s something strange in the neighborhood: Deadline reports that Sony isn’t waiting for Paul Feig’s all-female Ghostbusters reboot (with its cast of comedy all-stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon) to debut before planning additional Ghostbuster sequels or spinoffs. They’re already getting to work on what the trade describes as a “guy-themed” offshoot with an all-male cast.
With their new Cinderella just days away, Disney is continuing its streak of turning its animated classics into live-action features with the news, via the Wall Street Journal, that Dumbo is ready to make the transition from animated elephant to ... well, still-animated elephant surrounded by live-action actors. If that idea doesn’t get your ears flapping, maybe this will: the Journal says Tim Burton will be the man who’ll direct the new Dumbo.
After years of complaining from people who didn’t have or couldn’t afford cable (or whose parents refused to give them their HBO Go password), HBO is finally delivering a standalone streaming service, HBO Now. Today, the company announced some of its availability details, including pricing and when and where it will be available.
We have very sad news to report from The New York Times: Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek’s Mr. Spock for almost 50 years, has died. Nimoy’s wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, told the Times the cause of death was “end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.” The beloved actor and director was 83 years old.
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