It has often been observed how malleable a character Batman is. Over the past several decades he has found himself equally at home busting the heads of petty street criminals and out-witting cosmic menaces with (new) god-like powers. What unities such diverse plots is a common interest in the humanity of the hero. The tone of the narrative might emphasize oppressive bleakness or optimistic redemption, yet what all the best Bat-stories have in common is an interest in who the man is beneath the cowl. This is true of the movies as well; for example, Christopher Nolan’s masterful Bat-trilogy is as, arguably more, concerned with Bruce Wayne than it is with Batman. In many ways, The LEGO Batman Movie liberally skewers the melancholy tone of Nolan’s films, while sharing with them an interest in the hero’s personality. Amidst the bonanza of gags, Chris McKay’s new film has something to say about Batman’s character.
Continue reading Review of The LEGO Batman Movie
As superheroes continue to win massive profits at the box office and graphic novels strengthen their literary credentials, the amount of comic book adaptation increase in turn. This year’s crowded slate kicks off on Friday with The LEGO Batman Movie. While the majority of these projects remain dominated by capes and tights, there is some cursory interest in exploring other aspects of the medium. What follows is an overview of 2017’s offerings loosely ranked by level of interest.
Continue reading Film 2017 Preview
Well, the first one was set (rather haphazardly) to Johnny Cash’s “Hurt”, so scoring the latest to “Amazing Grace” is a logical progression . . .
Oh and another fleeting glimpse of Stephen Merchant’s Caliban.
Logan, directed by James Mangold, opens March 3rd.
It’s Super Bowl Sunday, which for Cosmo means zoning out the game and keeping an eye on the commercials. And Marvel Studios rewarded him with the most recent look at Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, directed by James Gunn, opens May 5th.
As has been frequently observed ever since her untimely passing on Tuesday, Carrie Fisher’s legacy extends further than her iconic role as Princess Leia. Her autobiographical writing addressed feminist issues, while striving to destigmatize addiction and mental illness. For those interested in these other aspects of her life’s work, HBO will be rebroadcasting her one-woman show Wishful Drinking Sunday January 1st at 9pm.
HBO is also the producer/distributor of this year’s new documentary Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. The potrairt of their complex mother/daughter dynamic premiered to raves at the Cannes Film Festival, before making its way along the festival circuit. (I missed it, along with an appearance by Fisher, when it played at the New York Film Festival. Naturally, I have spent a large part of this week kicking myself for that decision). In the wake of not only Fisher’s passing, but Reynolds’ the following day, HBO has moved up the movie’s broadcast date. Originally scheduled for March, the movie will now debut on HBO next weekend: Saturday, the 7th.
For more information see Indiewire.
Spoilers (but not many)
2016 might have witnessed a fair amount of upheaval, but one thing remained constant: Hollywood’s love of superheroes is as strong as ever. While DC sat out 2015, Marvel saw three of their properties in theaters; this year The Big Two had six combined. Next year that will edge up to seven. In addition, geek-favorite franchises Star Trek and Star Wars continued their multi-year missions through galaxies far, far away. Almost all of them raked the ticket sales (analysists were divided on whether Star Trek Beyond fell short of breaking even or turned a modest profit). Either way, neither profit margins nor quantity of films produced equal quality. 2016 was a very mixed year in terms of artistic merit, as fans could be forgiven for experiencing whiplash when trying to create a double bill for some of these movies. Some films excelled by being able to break new ground, while others entertained with well-executed tried and true formulas. Some were an utter mess (and not simply in their murky CGI sequences). It could have been worse; viewers were denied anything quite as terrible as last year’s Fantastic Four. Then again, that is placing the bar quite low.
Continue reading This Year’s Finest 2016: Film
Just when it seemed comic creator Dash Shaw’s debut film might disappear into cinematic limbo, Gkids comes to the rescue. Shaw’s animated film, My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea, made the rounds of the fall film festival circuit earlier this year, garnering plenty of rave reviews along the way (read Cosmo’s from the New York Film Festival here). However, while other acclaimed films got snapped up, Shaw’s remained unclaimed. Just this past week, the movie site Indiewire included it on their list of best films of 2016 without distribution. Thanks to Gkids, at least one entry can be scratched off that list.
Gkids is a company that specializes in releasing both independent and foreign animated films. Past releases include such stellar features as Sita Sings the Blues, Chico & Rita, Ernest & Celestine, and Up from Poppy Hill. Several of their movies have been nominated for Oscars. They also own the rights to Studio Ghibli’s back catalogue. So, My Entire High School is in very good company.
Gkids is planning a spring 2017 release. For more info see Deadline.
Last night, Marvel Studios unveiled the first full trailer for their upcoming Spider-Man solo film. This initial glance at the movie leans heavily on high-flying acrobatics and Robert Downey, Jr. Also, a glimpse of Michael Keaton’s Vulture.
Spider Man: Homecoming, starring Tom Holland and directed by Jon Watts, opens July 7th 2017.
I am Groot.
Also Mantis, some tentacle creatures and a frustrated Rocket Raccoon. So you know, shoud be good times.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, directed by James Gunn, opens May 5th, 2017.
For a production company that is faulted at times for sticking to a very specific formula, Marvel Studios takes a fair amount of risks. The most obvious of these is a willingness to base big budget movies around B-List characters. However, as Ant-Man demonstrated last year and Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, viewers are eager to embrace heroes who previously had little, if any, exposure outside of fan culture. This combined with a mixing of subgenres (science-fiction space opera, heist caper family drama) has helped keep the formula from growing stale. Yes, the standard tropes are still there, but, in the best movies, they blend with more unique elements. This is definitely the case with Doctor Strange, the most recent entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Its mixture of technical prowess and strong ensemble acting crafts a film which is equal parts awe-inspiring and humane. Central to the movie’s success, same as Captain America Civil War earlier this year, is the conviction that the spectacle must be anchored with compelling character work.
Continue reading Review of Doctor Strange