Review: mother!

Darren Aronofsky’s new film is ultimately a story about two characters who yearn to bring life into an empty space in different ways. Oscar winner Javier Bardem is a supposed writer and poet looking to get unblocked and his wife, played by Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, toils restoring their old home to its former glory. Their endeavors, or should I say, his endeavors welcome unexpected company as people from parts unknown begin to take up space and the two central characters are ultimately witnesses and central players to the madness that unfolds in the space within their home.

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Image by Paramount Pictures and Protozoa

Bearing witness to Aronofsky’s latest venture simply dubbed mother!, I was bewitched by the grandeur and the expertise it took to craft this picture and put it on screen. Going in, I had no idea what I was getting into, watching it, I had no idea where it was going, after it ended, it didn’t dawn on me that the film drew heavy inspiration/was a very radical take on a very familiar book (I won’t spoil it for you) but for all of its mystery, suspense and extensive shock and awe, I can say that mother! is undoubtedly a work of extreme genius and I take my hat of to Darren Aronofsky for writing and directing one of this year’s most elaborate, menacing and heart-stopping pictures.

As someone who has seen almost everything that Jennifer Lawrence has done, I must say that her performance in this film is probably the best she’s done to date. She is completely immersed in this role as the voice of reason, the victim of her husband’s “generosity” and ultimately his power; in the falling action of the film as her house is besieged by her husband’s followers and she navigates through the hell her home has become, going mad in the process and in her condition, she is a powerhouse in this picture.

Lawrence’s co-star Javier Bardem? In my eyes, ever since he debuted as Anton Chighur in the Oscar winning No Country for Old Men, he has always been a powerful performer and he delivers another resplendent performance as this enigmatic and very popular figure. I was on pins and needles watching him because I had no way of knowing what these characters, especially his character, was going to do, where this movie was going to turn; in mother!, Lawrence and Bardem are both Oscar caliber.

The supporting performances of Ed Harris, Michelle Pfieffer, Brian Gleeson, Domhnall Gleeson, Jovan Adepo, Patricia Summersett, Amanda Chiu and so many were fleeting but resonating; the figures once you start to make the connections as to who they are to the two central characters in the grand scheme of the picture, you begin to understand how prominent they are to the development of the film’s and where it was ultimately going.

Matthew Libatique’s cinematography is tense, unnerving but captures Lawrence’s character as she descends into madness so rivetingly and it compliments the spectacular editing of Andrew Weisblum so well.

I cannot recall if mother! actually used a score, which is credited to Jóhann Jóhannsson, but if it did it may have faded into the background of the action. I actually believe it was better without a score because the tension of the picture would have been stolen if it did use music of any kind; I was just so enthralled with what I witnessed, I must have missed the use of a score anywhere in the film.

Phillip Messina’s production design was outstanding, I thought the art decoration and set decoration added to the overall scope of the picture. Danny Glicker’s costumes and the make-up team did a great job as well.

mother! is a must-see movie! The performances by its two leading actors, the unpredictable and gripping writing, the execution it took to accomplish making it, it all culminates to a work of radical cinematic genius by Darren Aronofsky.

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J.J. Abrams returns to a galaxy far, far away to direct Star Wars Episode IX!

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Image By Montclair Film Festival (NEG_6930), via Wikimedia Commons

Last week, the news of Colin Trevorrow exiting as director of Star Wars Episode IX threw the Force out of balance, citing major creative differences and tension between the filmmaker and studios. Since Trevorrow’s departure, Lucasfilm and Disney have searched to find a suitable replacement filmmaker to finish out the trilogy sparked by the events of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens and speaking of The Force Awakens, a familiar face will finish what he started. J.J. Abrams will direct Episode IX and co-write the screenplay with Oscar winner Chris Terrio.

“With The Force Awakens, J.J. delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for, and I am so excited that he is coming back to close out this trilogy,” said Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy.

The decision to return to Abrams to close out this new trilogy seems safe and logical considering Abrams expressed an interest in directing another Star Wars film after enjoying remarkable success with The Force Awakens. Again, I express disappointment that we may not see a Star Wars film directed by a person of color and/or a woman but it doesn’t change the fact that The Force Awakens was a good picture and I think Episode IX is in good hands. Terrio’s credits include Argo and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Star Wars Episode IX now has a new release date.

 

Movie of the Week: mother!

After a thoroughly long dry spell which saw the season of summer come to a close, we’re back with another feature film of the week and this one promises to be a feature to shake audiences to the core. From the man behind Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, Noah and Black Swan, comes a new thriller starring Oscar winners Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, who play a seemingly content couple whose existence is roiled into a frantic frenzy when strangers with mysterious purposes arrive, take up space in their quiet home and invite darkness into the space they all occupy. This is Darren Aronofsky’s latest simply dubbed mother!

Directed and written by: Darren Aronofsky

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfieffer, Ed Harris, Brian Gleeson, Domhnall Gleeson, Jovan Adepo, Amanda Chiu and Patricia Sommerset.

What am I expecting to see?: mother! promises something dark, disturbing, enigmatic and powerful to witness and considering that this is an Aronofsky picture, if it is anything on the level of Black Swan, I believe we’re in for a true treat! I’ve kept up with the news about this picture and about the lengths mother!‘s leading lady went to for this film and I expect nothing less than another Oscar caliber performance from Jennifer Lawrence. mother! better be one of the year’s most powerful films.

Suicide Squad Sequel in the hands of Gavin O’Connor

Last year, DC Comics and Warner Bros. did not have a good year. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad made their way into theaters and though both films enjoyed significant financial success, both film were thoroughly skewered by critics, myself included. To be honest, I thought Suicide Squad was better than Batman v. Superman, but that’s like saying 0>-2; Suicide Squad was more enjoyable but it was mess through and through but Warner Bros. wants to give the team of villains commissioned to do black-ops for the government another shot with a sequel and I think that the sequel is in good hands with Gavin O’Connor.

The movie is a top priority at Warner Bros. and looks to be one of the two DC properties (the other being New Line’s “Shazam!”) to begin production next year. Given the ensemble’s busy schedule, the shoot wasn’t expected to start until fall of 2018. So while there’s still time, the studio is eager to get someone on board to pen a script.

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Image by Matt Baron/Rex/Shutterstock

I remember O’Connor’s name very well. In 2011, O’Connor co-wrote and directed the drama Warrior starring Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte, who gave an Oscar-nominated supporting performance, and the film was very well-done. Over the past few years, O’Connor has directed hit-or-miss films such as The Accountant, starring Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick and J.K. Simmons, and Jane Got a Gun, starring Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor and Joel Edgerton. Hearing that O’Connor’s name associated with this production certainly fills me with confidence based on how I enjoyed Warrior.

Suicide Squad 2 is set to bring back Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto and Joel Kinnaman and aiming for release in 2019.

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Image by Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment

Colin Trevorrow out as Star Wars Episode IX director!

There has been a great disturbance in The Force today! At present, we are 100 days away from my most anticipated movie of the year, Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, which is going to pick up where The Force Awakens left off with Rey, finally face-to-face with the myth, the man, the legend himself: Luke Skywalker. The Last Jedi will set the stage for Episode IX, which was originally designed to give the late Carrie Fisher, her time in the spotlight as General Leia in a more pivotal role and Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow, was set to close out this new trilogy sparked by The Force Awakens; emphasis on the word was. Colin Trevorrow and Lucasfilm have agreed to mutually part ways and Episode IX is in need of a new director.

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Image By Red Carpet Report on Mingle Media TV from Culver City, USA, via Wikimedia Commons

“Lucasfilm and Colin Trevorrow have mutually chosen to part ways on Star Wars: Episode IX. Colin has been a wonderful collaborator throughout the development process but we have all come to the conclusion that our visions for the project differ. We wish Colin the best and will be sharing more information about the film soon,”

This is certainly a surprise! This is also the second time a director has walked away from directing a Star Wars movie; the Han Solo Anthology film was to be directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, known from The LEGO Movie. Lord, Miller and Lucasfilm expressed creative differences in their respective vision for the film, which led to the exit of The LEGO Movie directors and led Lucasfilm to Academy Award winning director Ron Howard.

To be honest, based on how I received Jurassic World, I wasn’t exactly enthused by the choice of Trevorrow directing a Star Wars movie and I was hopeful they would find a better option, but I mellowed with the decision with time. I guess I got my wish for a change, but still surprised that it happened. Apparently, the departure was the result over friction between the studio and Trevorrow’s script, something had to give and Trevorrow decided to walk away. It’s early and unclear regarding who will step into Trevorrow’s director’s chair but frankly, I’m hopeful to see a director of color or maybe even a woman direct a Star Wars movie and with this vacancy, maybe this could lead to something promising. Star Wars Episode IX is due in theaters on May 24, 2019.

What’s In and What’s Out of the DCEU? Who Knows?

Batman perhaps has the most prolific rogue’s gallery in all of comic mythology ranging from the earthy and seductive Poison Ivy, the squatty yet manipulative Penguin, the icy and ruthless Mr. Freeze, to the brilliant and powerful Bane, but there has always been one villain who practically grins to go mano-e-mano with the Dark Knight, every chance he can get!

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Image by DC Comics

Gotham City’s Clown Prince of Crime, simply known as The Joker, has long established himself as the arch-nemesis and complete antithesis to the Batman. Batman carries himself as the serious figure of order, watching over the streets and citizens of his hometown ready to protect them at a moment’s notice, while the Joker is madness personified with a perverted sense of humor, eager to crack a smile and/or a skull whenever he feels the need to do either. The Bat and the Clown have done battle dozens of times in both live-action and animated features and they have always been paired together. That is, until now!

The Joker is getting his own origin story, directed by Todd Phillips, known for films such as The Hangover and War Dogs and the legendary Martin Scorsese is attached to this project in an unspecified role. In a surprising reveal, this standalone Joker picture will not be a part of DC Extended Universe and Jared Leto, who starred as the Joker in Suicide Squad, will have no involvement in this project.

Sources say the story will take place in the ’80s and have more of the look of a gritty crime drama than comic book movie, which had a lot to do with getting Scorsese’s commitment to the project.

I find this a puzzling move for Warner Bros. and DC because I felt that the Joker was very underutilized in Suicide Squad and I was hopeful that Leto would have an opportunity to flex his acting muscles as the purple-clad clown in a future installment of the DCEU, perhaps in a Suicide Squad sequel or in Matt Reeves’ The Batman. Also, it is strange to keep this project isolated from the DCEU since characters in Batman’s canon such as Nightwing and Batgirl are getting their own features but to keep this Joker film separated from this franchise that is appearing to be getting its feet under them is a strange move.

Aside from Haynes and Scorsese, only Scott Silver, who is co-writing a script with Haynes, is attached to this project. No one is currently penciled in to portray the Clown Prince of Crime though, nor is a production schedule or release date confirmed.

Update: A day after this independent Joker movie was announced, a Joker and Harley Quinn movie starring Jared Leto and Margot Robbie was announced.

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Image by Warner Bros. and DC Comics

This film will be a part of the DC Extended Universe and Glenn Ficarra and John Requa the directors of Focus, Crazy, Stupid, Love, and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, will direct this project. This will be Leto and Robbie’s third stints in the roles of Joker and Harley Quinn, following a planned Suicide Squad sequel.

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Image by Warner Bros.

Also, news regarding Matt Reeves’ The Batman is set outside of the DC Extended Universe, has been debunked by Matt Reeves himself.

Questions still abound regarding what the project will entail for the character. If The Batman is a part of the DCEU, it is likely that Ben Affleck is still attached to the project but with the script being tinkered by Reeves, the status of Joe Mangionello as Deathstroke is still up in the air.

Obi-Wan Kenobi Spinoff Finally Underway!

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Image by Disney & Lucasfilm

After a period of speculating, ruminating and waiting for the stars to align, another of Star Wars’ most prominent characters is finally getting his time to shine on the big screen. Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi is finally getting his own installment in the Star Wars Anthology series; the spinoff series that has already produced Rogue One and is currently progressing with the Han Solo spinoff feature starring Alden Ehrenreich and directed by Ron Howard.

At present, the Obi-Wan Kenobi spinoff is in the early stages of development. There is no script yet there is a director involved in Oscar-nominee Stephen Daldry. Daldry’s credits include The Reader, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Billy Elliot and The Hours. The role of Obi-Wan Kenobi was held first by the late and great Alec Guinness in the original Star Wars trilogy. In the prequel trilogy, Ewan McGregor held the role and while there is no confirmation that he will reprise the role, he has expressed interest in returning to the Star Wars universe as the great Jedi master who trained Anakin Skywalker and afterwards watched over and introduced the ways of the Jedi to Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy.

Since there is no script yet and no actors involved at present, it is impossible to determine when the movie is scheduled for release but for a Star Wars fan like myself, I for one would like to know more about this character and when this takes place in the Star Wars timeline.