Bond 25 is Back On With Cary Fukunaga!

cary_joji_fukunaga_22beast_of_no_nation22_at_opening_ceremony_of_the_28th_tokyo_international_film_festival_282180611249429

Image By Dick Thomas Johnson from Tokyo, Japan, via Wikimedia Commons

The search is over and Bond’s newest mission is officially back on! Five months ago, producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli tabbed Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle to direct the 25th James Bond feature, starring Daniel Craig, in what is projected to be his fifth and final outing as Sir Ian Fleming’s legendary super spy. All was going well until Boyle elected to leave the film due to “creative differences” with the producers, leaving MGM, Eon Productions and Universal Pictures to find a suitable replacement. Today, Wilson and Broccoli believe they found the right man to helm Agent 007’s latest mission in Cary Joji Fukunaga.

We are delighted to be working with Cary. His versatility and innovation make him an excellent choice for our next James Bond adventure,” said Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.

I’m not exactly familiar with Fukunaga’s body of work but from what I’ve seen and read this is a tremendous opportunity for Fukunaga and his resume must have truly impressed Wilson and Broccoli to land this gig. At first glance, this seems like a breakthrough opportunity for Fukunaga but everything he’s done at this point of his career has culminated in success and acclaim for him.

After helming what critics universally agreed to be the one good season of HBO’s True Detective, Fukunaga continued making a name for himself as an inventive filmmaker with directing Beasts of No Nation, as well as writing and producing The Alienist. He now heads Netflix’s new Maniac miniseries with Jonah Hill and Emma Stone.

New details about Bond’s new film have also been released, such as Neal Purvis and Robert Wade are slated to helm writing the picture; it’s unknown if John Hodges’ script will be used in any capacity since Hodges and Boyle are frequent collaborators and Boyle is no longer directing the feature. Production is scheduled to begin in March 2019 and the film is scheduled to release worldwide on February 14, 2020.

Advertisements

Review: White Boy Rick

In the mid-1980s, a young man named Richard Wershe Jr. was approached by the FBI and the Detroit Police Department to aid in the crackdown on narcotics in the Motor City by acting as an informant. He was ultimately arrested for drug trafficking and sentenced to life in prison shortly before he turned 18. His story is chronicled in the new motion picture White Boy Rick.

whiteboyrick

Image by Columbia Pictures

Newcomer Richie Merritt stars in director Yann Demange’s film, methodically exploring and detailing the many facets of Rick Jr.’s story ranging from his family life in Detroit, with his father, played by Matthew McConaughey, his sister Dawn, his grandparents, friends and how he was roped into becoming the youngest FBI informant in American history-turned-drug kingpin.

White Boy Rick tries so hard to be a big time flick, but ultimately falls utterly short of any and all expectations to be nothing more than a throwaway film that may have been better off for television. Watching this film, I felt so bad for the talents that took part in this bland picture, especially McConaughey and Merritt who are practically wasted in this boring hustler feature.

Demange’s approach to this story is straightforward and he does what he can to give this movie some depth and detail to say the least but there is just no gravitas, no energy and it’s muddled in its execution. The writing, courtesy of Andy Weiss and Logan and Noah Miller, takes the elements of Rick’s history and doesn’t go anywhere exciting with it. The film plays out like a forgettable college lecture.

The acting in this movie, I reiterate, is wasteful. Richie Merritt does a solid job, Matthew McConaughey, the main selling point of this film, tries to salvage this film but can’t, the only other standout performer is possibly Bel Powley, who plays Dawn Wershe, but from Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bryan Tyree Henry, Rory Cochrane, R.J. Cyler, Jonathan Majors, Bruce Dern, Piper Laurie, Eddie Marsan, Taylour Paige, Raekwon Haynes, Kyanna Simone Simpson, this cast just practically phones it in.

With how the plot slowly and achingly drudges along, the performances essentially fade to the boring background with some signs of life appearing every now and then but definitively, it’s so bad that an actor of Matthew McConaughey’s caliber can’t save it; that alone should give you an idea of how easily you will forget about this picture.

Tat Radcliffe’s cinematography doesn’t do any favors to give this film any aesthetic value, Chris Wyatt’s editing is pedestrian, Max Richter’s music doesn’t leave a lasting impression, Stefania Cella’s production design is satisfactory, Audra Avery and Bryan Felty’s art direction is fine, Jon J. Bush’s set decoration is average and Amy Westcott’s costumes design is passable. The overall technical quality of White Boy Rick is sedative to be succinct.

You’re not missing anything when it comes to White Boy Rick. To be honest, if this movie didn’t have Matthew McConaughey, I bet it would a straight-to-digital or television movie or miniseries that may have gained a possible following but ultimately would be just as forgettable.

Henry Cavill Exits the DC Universe!

man-of-steel_01

Image by Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment

Just when you think the DC Universe can’t take anymore hits, especially when this superhero franchise needs another win in the worst way, this happens! In 2013, Man of Steel kicked off the DC Universe and Henry Cavill stepped into the blue suit and red cape for Zack Snyder’s interpretation of Superman and did so again in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016 and Justice League last year. Now it appears that Cavill’s time as the last son of Krypton has come to a close as reports are coming in that he will no longer suit up to play Superman in future movies.

Warners had been trying to enlist Cavill, who most recently co-starred in Mission: Impossible — Fallout, for a Superman cameo in Shazam!, which stars Zachary Levi and will bow April 5. But contract talks between Cavill’s WME reps and Warners broke down, and the door is now closing on other potential Superman appearances.

I’m not going to sugarcoat this: I’m disappointed and surprised, even though I shouldn’t be because the DC Universe is hemorrhaging and the prognosis appears critical because there is no one in sight to save it and turn it around. With Aquaman and Shazam! on the horizon, Wonder Woman 1984 behind them, Matt Reeves’ The Batman in production, Ezra Miller’s Flash movie, Birds of Prey, Suicide Squad 2 and other DC pictures in the works, things appeared to be looking up for this franchise but now, with the actor who played the character who initiated this franchise on his way out, I can’t exactly see anyway this franchise can be saved going forward. Heck, I doubt Kevin Feige can save the DC Universe at this point!

Cavill did a respectable job as Superman, considering the materials he was given to bring this character to life. Snyder’s vision to deconstruct the iconic character in these films, paired with below-average storytelling, not to mention the turbulence that came when Snyder was removed from Justice League, didn’t exactly help the franchise but Cavill did the best with what he was given and it’s a shame that he won’t get the chance to ride out on a high note with this character going forward. He is now the second actor who is projected to phase out of the DC Universe (Ben Affleck is reported to be in limbo as Batman and is trending toward exiting).

There is no word on who will be next to play Superman, let alone if the character will be a fixture in any DC movie going forward. There were reports that a Man of Steel sequel would be in development, but they may as well let that sink with the already sinking ship of this franchise. Just unbelievable! I wish the best for Cavill going forward.

Movie of the Week: White Boy Rick

I’m not back, it’s just I’ve never left considering that there haven’t been any films that have piqued my interest over the past few weeks. This week, we have an “only in America” feature, where we’re introduced to a “remarkable” American youth that rose to prominence and etched his way into history; in this young man’s case, infamy. In the 1980s, Richard Wershe Jr., did something no other 15 year old kid could ever do: became an undercover informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a drug-trafficking hustler and director Yann Demange is moving the details of his story from the pages of history to the big screen in this week’s feature, White Boy Rick.

Director: Yann Demange

Written by: Andy Weiss, Noah Miller and Logan Miller

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Richie Merritt, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bel Powley, Rory Cochrane, R.J. Cyler, Brian Tyree Henry, Bruce Dern, Eddie Marsan, Jonathan Majors, Piper Laurie and Hunter Flannigan

What am I expecting to see?: This movie caught my attention some time ago and I’m game for a movie that promises a solid acting performance from Matthew McConaughey, but going in, I have a feeling that I’m not going to be impressed with the final product. This will be my first time sampling Yann Demange’s work but from what I can tell, he has a solid cast with an intriguing story to tell and I for one am looking forward to going back to the movies with a reasonable set of expectations for White Boy Rick.

Danny Boyle is Out as Bond 25 Director

danny_boyle_red_carpet_t2_trainspotting_berlinale_2017_02

Image by Maximilian Bühn, CC-BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s like we’re seeing a pattern here when it comes to the next James Bond movie. Some time after the release of Spectre, star Daniel Craig has expressed that he has grown tired of playing James Bond and wanted to walk away from the role. Almost a year later, Craig pulled a turnaround and decided to stay on as Agent 007 for one more film. In March, it was announced that Oscar winning director Danny Boyle would helm the next James Bond feature with Daniel Craig attached to star. Now, Bond 25 is back to square one as Danny Boyle will no longer direct the film.

Obviously, this is a blow as Boyle is quite the talented filmmaker as evidenced in his previous works including Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later, Trainspotting, Steve Jobs and 127 Hours and I was quite intrigued to see what he would bring to the Bond franchise. Now, I don’t know where they want to take Ian Fleming’s British Super Spy. Between this and swirling rumors about who may end up succeeding Craig as Bond in future films, the fate of 007 in cinema is certainly looking shaky more than stirred.

With Boyle stepping aside, it remains to be seen if this affects Eon and MGM’s plan to have the film released in November 2019. Who will direct the film now? Your guess is as good as mine.

Review: BlacKkKlansman

It’s been a while since I saw a good Spike Lee joint and his latest flick is based on what he calls, “some fo’ real, fo’ real sh*t!”

bkkk

Image by Focus Features and Legendary

In the late 1970s, Colorado Springs Detective Ron Stallworth, the “Jackie Robinson” of the Colorado Springs Police Department if you catch my drift, is chomping at the bit to make his mark on the force and he sets off a powder keg of an investigation when he finds contact information in the local paper and puts in a call to the local chapter of an organization that is very particular about its members. Ron Stallworth, an African-American police officer, launches an investigation into the Colorado Springs Chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.

His strategy? Establish contact with the chapter president over the phone, then when it is time to meet with the Klansmen-or as they like to call themselves, “The Organization”-his partner, Detective Flip Zimmerman, will meet with the chapter as Ron to infiltrate the chapter, gather information on any possible attacks on the black community and stop it from happening. The course of the investigation even lead to the encounter of none other than the Grand Wizard of the Klan-or as they prefer “National Director of the Organization”-David Duke himself.

This is essentially, the summarized plot of Spike Lee’s joint BlacKkKlansman, one of the most impeccable, stylish, methodical, intelligent, relevant films I have seen so far this year. Lee has probably delivered his best work to date since Do the Right Thing as BlacKkKlansman touches on political and societal topics that are as alive and thriving today as they were more than 50 years ago, if not more, and tells an unbelievable story with expert flair.

The way Lee told this story, the way the film echoed into what modern society in America has become and how the film touches upon the topics of policing in America, what it means to be black, the depiction of white privilege and white supremacy and how these themes have resonated into the modern American landscape, it’s practically genius! He wanted this film to be a movie for our time and he nailed it. Plain and simple.

Lee, Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott adapted Stallworth’s book, recounting how he and his investigative team infiltrated and hoodwinked the Klan and successfully stopped some of their members from carrying out a heinous act and they did more than just alright with it. The skill that went into the writing of this picture? What more can be said than “right on!”

The cast was dynamite! John David Washington, Adam Driver, Topher Grace, Michael Buscemi, Laura Harrier, Corey Hawkins, Ryan Eggold, Jasper Pääkkönen, Paul Walter Hauser, Ashlie Atkinson, Ken Garito, Robert John Burke, Arthur J. Nascarella, Frederick Weller, Harry Belafonte, Alec Baldwin, top to bottom, this movie has an stellar cast of actors who are nothing short of terrific in their roles whether they chant black or white power in the film.

The style and detail that went into the production of this picture is phenomenal to say the least! Chayse Irvin’s cinematography is solid, the editing Barry Alexander Brown is superb, Terence Blanchard’s music is great, Curt Beech’s production design is outstanding, Marci Mudd’s art direction is fantastic, Cathy T. Marshall’s set decoration is great and I loved the costumes of Marci Rodgers.

If you were like me and have been anticipating BlacKkKlansman for months, I can assure you that you will not be disappointed in the slightest! Spike Lee’s new joint should be heralded as his greatest achievement to date and should rest at or near the top of the better films of 2018.

Movie of the Week: BlacKkKlansman

From legendary filmmaker Spike Lee and Jordan Peele, who is fresh off a career year from the highly successful Get Out, comes a truly outrageous tale that I can’t wait to see unfold on the big screen. In the 1970s, Colorado opened the door for African-Americans to enroll in the police academy and Ron Stallworth took on an assignment that no black person would ever voluntarily do: infiltrate the sick and morally bankrupt organization known as the Ku Klux Klan to thwart an imminent terrorist attack. That is the subject of Lee’s new joint, titled BlacKkKlansman.

Directed by: Spike Lee

Written by: Spike Lee, Charlie Wachtel, Kevin Willmott and David Rabinowitz

Starring: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Topher Grace, Laura Harrier, Robert John Burke, Corey Hawkins, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Alec Baldwin, Frederick Weller, Ato Blankson-Wood, Harry Belafonte, Damaris Lewis and Michael Buscemi.

What am I expecting to see?: It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a good joint from Spike Lee and BlacKkKlansman appears positioned to take a place as one of the best films of 2018. I’m looking forward to seeing if John David Washington has it in him to be as great an actor as his father and more to the point, I want to know more about how this investigation played out because the subject matter is very intriguing. I’ve been looking forward to BlacKkKlansman for a very long time and I think I’m in for a treat!