Todd Phillips and Martin Scorsese are teaming up for a Joker movie!

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.

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.

Review: Detroit

Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow’s newest picture, or should I dub it a docudrama, is a hard-hitting take on the events that transpired in the Motor City in 1967. Detroit follows the individuals and actions that lead to the horrible shootout that took place at the Algiers Motel, where the police shot and killed three African-American boys suspected of firing shots at National Guardsman and the aftermath of their actions.

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Image by Annapurna Pictures

Detroit is a culmination of three subplots carried by a security guard named Melvin Dismukes, a Detroit police officer named Krauss and an aspiring Motown lead singer named Larry and his friend Fred. Each of them are eventually drawn to the Algiers where bedlam, fear and senseless violence take place after the police arrive and take drastic and dangerous steps to determine who fired the suspected gun.

Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal have worked together to deliver two of the hardest hitting dramas echoing current cultural and societal issues. Detroit is no exception to the standard as it definitely packs an impact upon viewing it, but unlike The Hurt Locker and unlike Zero Dark Thirty, I found Detroit a mess.

I couldn’t get past the constant shaky Steadicam work. The cinematography of Barry Ackroyd was very unsteady to watch; I get that Bigelow wanted to go for authenticity and I respect for that but the camerawork was so over the top, I couldn’t find a way to settle.

I also found flaws in how this was written. Mark Boal is talented but I can’t help but think that he may have overdone it; especially after the film concluded and Bigelow wrote in a statement stating that a lot of the information about the events of this movie was incomplete. I understand how filmmakers can take certain liberties to enhance the appeal of a film, especially if they are based on true events but it just raises the questions how much of this film was influenced by the modern day news stories about black men killed by police for little to no reason at all.

Also I found that the script left some things unresolved by some of their characters like Dismukes, Krauss, Greene and whoever else was involved in this ordeal and managed to survive; this movie, felt incomplete primarily because of how it was written.

Bigelow made her intentions clear in Detroit and I can definitely see why she was drawn to make this movie; the problems relating to race and police violence are just as relevant and important today as they were back then and the system has not made a difference. The problem is that this film has problems and those problems dragged this film down; the writing muddles the impact and the camerawork hinders the editing of William Goldenberg and Harry Yoon, which felt very sloppy transitioning between Dismukes, Krauss, Larry and the guests at the hotel for a while.

What I can’t say is that the cast and the acting were not a problem. John Boyega, Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jacob Latimore, Anthony Mackie, Nathan Davis Jr., Hannah Murray, Kaitlyn Dever and Jason Mitchell all do a fine job with their roles.

James Newton Howard’s music was fine, Jeremy Hindle’s production design was bold, the set decoration by Dennis Colvin and Kathy Lucas was sharp, the art direction by Greg Barry and Jim Wallis was good, the make-up and sound effects was top notch and the costume design by Francine Jamison-Tanchuck was very precise.

There were times where I tried to force myself to pay attention to this movie and that has never happened to me before with a Kathryn Bigelow movie. Detroit is an impactful film, it is, and it is worth seeing because it has relevance but it also has problems that are difficult to ignore and ultimately, it is disappointing.

Movie of the Week: Detroit

The tandem of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal have delivered compelling cinema over the past few years. The Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker was an intense examination of how war can be addictive to man. Zero Dark Thirty was a relentless depiction on the manhunt for the world’s most infamous terrorist and now the two are ready to take audiences back in time to one of the most recent darkest chapters in American history. In 1967, one of America’s most prominent cities was ready to explode due to racial tensions and hostilities toward the police and the incidents which occurred at the Algiers Motel, may as well lit the fuse on those tensions. It’s time to go to Detroit.

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Screenwriter: Mark Boal

Starring: John Boyega, Will Poulter, Jason Mitchell, Jack Reynor, Anthony Mackie, Algee Smith, Jacob Lattimore, John Krasinski, Kaitlyn Dever and Hannah Murray.

What am I expecting to see?: From what I’ve heard going in, this movie is very polarizing; either people will enjoy it or people will see it as a mess, which is strange considering Bigelow and Boal crafted it. The subject itself is tantalizing considering how societally relevant it seems but even the great ones can make mistakes. I’m looking forward to being enlighted, educated and entertained by Detroit considering how much I enjoyed Bigelow’s last two features but I’m bracing myself for the worst all the same.

Daniel Craig is not done as 007 after all!

Eon Productions, the producers behind cinema’s most prominent assassin, have dropped news related to the next installment of the long running James Bond franchise. It was reported that the next James Bond feature, currently titled Bond 25, will bow into theaters on November 8, 2019. Upon the reveal of the release date of the new James Bond flick, news has been put to rest regarding who will be carrying the license to kill: Daniel Craig is reportedly coming back!

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Image by GlynLowe.com from Hamburg, Germany

Craig has been portraying 007 since 2006, when he made his debut in the highly successful Casino Royale. His stint as Bond includes three more features including Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and Spectre, which arrived in theaters in late 2015. After Spectre began its theatrical run, Craig has publicly expressed his exhaustion and frustration with the role, speculating as to whether he will relinquish the role to another actor and walk away. With Bond 25’s release date secured, sources have seemingly confirmed that Daniel Craig will return as the vodka martini-drinking, Aston Martin driving, British spy armed with a Walther, a few gadgets from Q’s laboratory and a gorgeous woman for company.

Mr. Craig’s return is a done deal, according to two people briefed on the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid conflicts with Eon and MGM.

At present, the studio is narrowing down on finalists to direct the 2019 spy thriller, and there is no mention on whether anyone else is slated to star in the picture. Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who have written the previous six Bond movies, are teaming up once more to write the script for the new 007 adventure. Bond is coming back. Craig is coming back. 2019 is not that far off so, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens from here on out!

Review: Dunkirk

The man who gave audiences Memento, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, The Prestige and Interstellar returns to take audiences back in time to a small, but not insignificant chapter in the history of World War II.

Nazi Germany has enveloped 400,000 French and British soldiers to the beaches of Dunkirk and the possibility of escape is practically perilous in every direction. Pinned to just one location, the enemy takes their time picking off their forces and destroying whatever hope of escape in their wake. Land, sea and air, the Allied Forces are in a bind, and the British government at the order of Prime Minister Churchill has little alternative but to requisition and commandeer civilian water craft to travel across the channel and bring their boys home.

Christopher Nolan’s take on these accounts is segmented into three perspectives on this account of history. The Mole follows a young French and British soldier navigating the beaches trying to find someway back home; The Sea features a father and son and a friend in their sea vessel crossing the channel upon hearing the order to rescue as many men as they can; The Air follows two fighter pilots soaring through the skies above the madness, shooting down German fighter planes bent on sinking anything that floats. These three perspectives all tie together to illustrate the power of the human instinct of survival. These three perspectives are the crux of Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk.

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Image by Warner Bros. and Syncopy

Nolan told this story in three parts; I will describe this movie in three words: elegant, explosive and unyielding.

Going into this movie, I was concerned that Nolan’s take on this war story would be too clean and that might hinder its appeal as a war movie when compared to a classic war dramas such as Saving Private Ryan, The Hurt Locker or last year’s Oscar winning Hacksaw Ridge because those movies truly captured the essences of war; the gore, the graphic imagery, the bloodshed, the need to illustrate that war is hell upon seeing it unfold all around the characters for the audiences to witness themselves. Dunkirk was my boom or bust movie of the year and after seeing it, in IMAX which is the way it was intended to be seen, this movie went BOOM! A loud, resonating BOOM upon the senses that did not let up in the slightest!

My concerns going into this movie? Decimated as I watched it unfold before my eyes! Just because Nolan didn’t go excessive on bloodshed, doesn’t mean he hindered this movie; you don’t need blood or grandiose practical effects to illustrate the horrors of war! Every time a bullet fired, I jumped. Every time I saw a bomb go off or a missile or a torpedo down a ship, I was jolted. Every time a dogfight happened in the sky, I held my breath! Every time the situation became more and more dire in these three arcs, the tension just kept building and building and the suspense was as remorseless like the wind and rain in a hurricane! Nolan just brought his strengths as a filmmaker and storyteller to depict a “back against the wall” situation where individuals had to use whatever resources they could to see tomorrow and the need for bodily harm or horror was not necessary in the slightest to accomplish that.

What’s more impressive about Dunkirk is that the enemy’s presence is felt rather than seen. From the first frame, audiences see the little fliers floating from the sky onto the soldiers saying “We surround you!” you don’t see the enemy, but the presence of danger is felt every second and the tension of this film feeds off that tension for strength.

Nolan intended for Dunkirk to be seen as a story of survival and he wrote and executed this core aspect of the picture with extraordinary distinction! The focus of Dunkirk was never about winning, it was about bringing these soldiers home from extreme danger and knowing that in surviving, they were victorious! I had my doubts whether or not he could pull this off but with this powerful script, impeccable execution, the stunning cinematography of Hoyte van Hoytema, the awesome music of Hans Zimmer giving this picture atmosphere where dialogue is scarce, the sound effects, Lee Smith’s editing which came together beautifully as the film went on, Nathan Crowley’s production design, Dunkirk is an outstanding achievement in filmmaking and should become the crown jewel in Christopher Nolan’s body of work so far.

This movie isn’t so much about the actors but what the actors do in the film, in these roles. The collection of Fionn Whitehead, Damien Bonnard, Aneurin Barnard, Barry Keoghan, Mark Rylance, Tom Glynn-Carney, Tom Hardy, Jack Lowden, Kenneth Branagh, James D’Arcy, Cillian Murphy and Harry Styles all do a solid job with the parts they have been given, but the true star of the show is the suspense and the tension that fills up the screen when all of the technical aspects behind the camera come together.

Dunkirk is elegant is how it is shown and heard on screen but the subject matter is brimming with explosive technical execution, resulting in an unyielding cinematic experience that should not be missed! It is the most phenomenal experience I have had this year at the movies!

Movie of the Week: Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan has been one of my favorite filmmakers for years. Whether it is Memento, his prolific Dark Knight trilogy, the ingenious Inception or the spectacular Interstellar, his movies always incite discussion, excitement and fervor among fans, critics and students of cinema. This week, Nolan’s newest project Dunkirk arrives in theaters, attempting to live up to the legacy and adhere to the expectations Nolan has set for himself. In the throws of WWII, 400,000 soldiers are trapped on a beach in Great Britain and the enemy is closing in ready to finish them off. With no way out, there is only one path toward victory: surviving the ordeal before them.

Director and Writer: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, Barry Keoghan, Fionn Whitehead, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, Damien Bonnard, Jack Lowden and James D’Arcy

What am I expecting to see?: It is true that I have been looking forward to Dunkirk, because I am a fan of Nolan’s films, but I believe this is the biggest boom or bust movie of the year because of a multitude of reasons. For starters, as far as war pictures go, this looks clean compared to a film such as Hacksaw Ridge, also I’m unfamiliar with the story of this battle or campaign and it’s significance in World War II. Nolan also claims that this is a survival story but the fact that it is set in war time with war iconography is something I cannot wrest away. I’m looking to be educated and surprised by Dunkirk; it has much to prove.