Korean director Bong Joon Ho is no stranger to genre having built a career on such films as Memories of Murder (policer/serial killer story), The Host (monster movie), Mother (murder mystery) and Snowpiercer (science-fiction dystopia). In the process, he has firmly established himself as one of the most talented filmmakers working today. He is back this year with another variation on the monster motif: Okja. And based on the first full trailer, it promises to be another stunner:
Okja stars, among others, TIlda Swinton, Paul Dano, Jake Gyllenhaal and See Hyun Ahn. The movie will make its world premiere later this week at the Cannes Film Festival, where it is screening in competition. Netflix will release the movie in limited theaters and home streaming on June 28th.
Contains a spoiler for the mid-credits scenes of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, plus multiple ones for Infinity Gauntlet and its aftermath.
This past weekend Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 arrived, racking up the box office and leaving fans wondering what was next for the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s cosmic heroes. The immediate answer is Avengers: Infinity War which will involve Thanos, Infinity Stones and some sort of existential threat to life throughout the universe. The question is what comes after all that. Guardians writer/director James Gunn has already confirmed that there will be a Guardians Vol. 3 for Phase 4 of the MCU and that he will be returning to helm it. In his statement, he reiterated Marvel Studio’s party line about Avengers 3 and 4 being a culmination of everything which came prior. He also dropped a hint that, like Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the Guardians will see some status quo shifting post-Infinity: “It will conclude the story of this iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and help catapult both old and new Marvel characters into the next ten years and beyond.” This is a rather broad statement which covers a wide amount of ground. The universe is a vast place and, even with certain character rights tied up at Fox, still well-populated with assorted friends and foes. The following is not in any way a prediction of what Marvel and Gunn are planning but simply an imagining of what one possible avenue could be.
So far, Marvel Studios has had a bit of a sequel problem. Iron Man 2, 3 and Avengers: Age of Ultrondelivered various levels of enjoyment while containing flaws which prevented them from fully hitting the heights of their initial installments. Thor: The Dark World was able to improve on the first Thor outing (an admittedly low bar to clear) and provide an entertaining experience. Still, it is unlikely to make many fans’ favorite lists. Only Captain America: Winter Soldier and Civil War have been able to avoid the sequel curse. Both films were able to deliver bigger thrills while also deepening the characters driving the narrative. The movies, particularly Civil War, drew on the advantages of having a shared universe without getting bogged down in the negative aspects as did Age of Ultron. This pattern is odd, given how successfully Marvel Studios has cultivated their cinematic universe; after all, in a sense, even new properties such as Ant-Man or Doctor Strange are simply further chapters in the unfolding Avengers saga. Fans know sooner or later that all of this is going to tie together. Watching the pieces fall into place can be exciting, but it can also be tiresome when mismanaged (again all that foreshadowing in Ultron). Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 pulls back from some the first film’s more overt seeding (sorry, no surprise Thanos cameo) in order to focus on the Guardians themselves. The result is an entertaining film which delightfully extends the zany vibe of the original.
As part of today’s The Last Jedi panel at Star Wars Celebration, Disney released the first trailer for Episode VIII. As with most initial views it is mostly teaser, but still, it’ll give fans shivers . . .
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, directed by Rian Johnson, opens December 15th.
This review was originally published last October when the movie screened at the New York Film Festival. It opens today in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto; it will expand to additional cities over the coming weeks. For more information on the film’s expansion schedule, please see Dash Shaw’s tumblr.
Over the past several years, Dash Shaw has earned widespread acclaim through writing and illustrating of graphic novels such as 2014’s Doctors. This year he unveiled a new type of project: his first feature length film, My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea. Shaw’s animated movie premiered last month at the Toronto Film Festival before appearing this week at the New York Film Festival. My Entire High School is a thrilling, poignant movie, which demonstrates that Shaw’s skills stretches beyond the printed page.
Film by its nature is a collaborative process. When a movie is successful, it is the result of a variety of talented individuals blending their skills into a final product. At the same time, some filmmakers leave behind more prominent fingerprints than others. Most fans would be hard pressed to distinguish the characteristics of an Andrew Stanton directed Pixar film from a Peter Docter one. This is not a slight on the quality of their movies, which is quite high, but an observation about style. Meanwhile, other recent animated films such as Frankenweenie and Anomalisa are instantly recognizable as the products of Tim Burton and Charlie Kaufman’s idiosyncratic imaginations. Shaw’s My Entire High School fits into this second category. As with Frankenweenie or Anomalisa, My Entire High School is a visually striking, emotionally resonant experience. To watch it is to become fully immersed in the distinct vision of its creator.
The annual Star Wars Celebration kicked off today with the 40th Anniversary of A New Hope. As part of the festivities, participants took time to pay tribute to the recently departed Carrie Fisher. They offered testimonials along with an affecting video honoring both Leia Organa and the actress who brought her to life.
The Star Wars Celebration continues in Orlando through the weekend. Next up tomorrow: The Last Jedi.
Today Marvel Studios unveiled the initial trailer for Thor: Ragnarok. This first footage is solidly focused on Chris Hemsworth’s God of Thunder who it appears is about to undergo another of his periodic humblings. The trailer wisely de-emphasizes Loki (headgear change noted with approval, though) in favor of new characters Valkyrie, The Grandmaster and especially Cate Blanchett’s Hela (who looks fantastic). The trailer also suggests that the film will arrive with Taika Waititi’s signature quirk intact.
Thor: Ragnarok stars Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson & Jeff Goldblum. The movie, directed by Taika Waititi, opens November 3rd.
Looking for a way to celebrate Free Comic Book Day without leaving home? You’re in luck. As reported atDeadline, Hulu has scheduled their original documentary Batman & Bill to premiere that weekend. The film examines the life of Batman co-creator Bill Finger, along with the campaign to have DC Comics officially acknowledge his essential contributions to the hero and his myths. At last year’s New York Comic Con Hulu screened a promising extended excerpt from the movie.
Batman & Bill, directed by Don Argott & Sheena M. Joyce, will debut on the streaming service Saturday, May 6th.
In 2010 Drawn and Quarterly released Wilson, the first original graphic novel by the acclaimed writer/artist Daniel Clowes. Despite this distinction, Wilson possesses a serial vibe, often feeling more like a collection of episodic comic strips than a plot driven narrative. This impression is reinforced by Clowes’ decision to vary his art style throughout so that loose cartoons rest opposite pages of more naturalistic detail. What the book lacks in narrative or artistic unity, it gains in thematic cohesion. Wilson displays a biting, if loving, critique of its protagonist as he stumbles through the tribulations of life. The story and the visuals blend to create a very specific ambiance. This mix of comedy and drama was probably what appealed to director Craig Johnson whose previously film, The Skeleton Twins, was focused on a pair of suicidal twins. On paper, Johnson’s sensibility would appear to be a good match for Clowes’. Unfortunately the film Johnson and Clowes, who wrote the screenplay, have produced is an amusing one which fails to live up to its complete potential.