Beaming families, teary smiles, mortarboards in the air — it’s graduation season, which means that more importantly, it’s celebrity commencement address season. While some high-profile speakers have received a chillier reception than others, the A-lister speech has long been a reliably amusing diversion in between long-winded orations from dusty academic types. Maya Rudolph took plenty of artistic license with “The Star-Spangled Banner” at my graduation ceremony from Tulane a few years ago, an unforgettable experience that I was too drunk to currently remember. But today brings video of another movie star taking the stage before a mass of fresh-faced students blissfully unaware of how hard getting a job is. Ladies, gentlemen, Will Ferrell is in the house.
Martial arts expert and outspoken proponent of condom usage Jackie Chan is at it again, raring and ready to kick some enemy buttock even as he ages into his mid-sixties. The actor has kept up a steady stream of feature work (only some of which requires him to play chauffeur to a real live lion) and is currently preparing to re-mount his his kids’ cartoon series The Jackie Chan Adventures, but ever the work-horse, Chan’s just announced another new project. And what’s more, his next mission will pair him with a partner all too familiar to Eastern and Western audiences alike.
Oliver Stone gravitates towards controversial figures like a moth to a headline-grabbing flame. He’s taken aim at former and sitting Presidents, serial killers, self-proclaimed warrior-poets, and most recently, a Kermit the Frog-voiced whistleblower by the name of Eddie Snowden. One of the most wanted men on the face of the Earth, Snowden’s a pretty tough act for a scandal-courting filmmaker to follow. Laura Poitras managed to score some precious face-time with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for Risk, her first feature after Snowden doc Citizenfour. Not to be outdone, Oliver Stone landed four interviews with one of the primary architects of what could end up being our next world war.
Much online e-ink has been e-spilled over the question of which actor will take up the mantle of international superspy James Bond for the 25th installment of the perennial franchise. Will incumbent star Daniel Craig return for another go-round as 007, or will he be replaced by the likes of new challengers Tom Hiddleston, Dan Stevens, Emily Blunt, or Idris Elba? Who knows (not us), but as the mission to secure a star has been playing out, another big change-up has unfolded largely in the background.
A few years ago, I wrote up a brief item about an incident taking place at Los Angeles’ AFI Film Festival wherein an irate woman maced a man in the face for having the gall to ask her to turn off her cell phone during a screening of Mike Leigh’s J.M.W. Turner biopic Mr. Turner. “Wow, being at the movies sure makes people do crazy things!” I thought to myself. “I wonder how long it’ll be until the next time I get to write about a violent movie theater conflict over petty nonsense.” That day has come at last, and this time [beat to let the moment breathe] the stakes are even higher.
Adam McKay’s establishing a reputation as Hollywood’s foremost chronicler of the biggest hot-button issues... of ten years ago. He made blackly satirical mince meat of the subprime lending crisis with The Big Short, stepping back into our recent past to expose the avarice still at play in the world of macroeconomics today. And for his next project, he’s going to take aim at a West Wing political player loathed and feared by liberals as a power-mad despot intent on destroying America. No, not him, we’re referring to a different wannabe fascist with the public graces of Darth Vader. To be specific, Dick Cheney.
It was back in July that the news of an impending return from everyone’s favorite B-movie mockery program Mystery Science Theater 3000 first broke. Fans of Manos: the Hands of Fate and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians were atwitter with excitement for a revival of the long-running program last seen in 1999, breathlessly speculating on which schlock gems would get roasted this time around. And while the fodder for the upcoming eleventh season has yet to be named, Netflix has finally announced a release date and included a new press photo of the whole wisecracking robotic gang.
After months of rumormongering and speculating and debating over whether Lin-Manuel Miranda has what it takes to make the jump to the big screen from Broadway, sequel Mary Poppins Returns has finally begun shooting. Disney sent out an official press release yesterday announcing that the production was officially underway at Shepperton Studios in Burbank, California, with a project release date of Christmas Day in 2018. (Nothing gets people in the mood for a movie-musical quite like the holidays, it would seem, as director Rob Marshall’s last film Into the Woods found a release date in late December as well.) And along with the news that the gears are now turning, the press release provided a full cast list and more comprehensive description of the plot as well.
Stocks in magic are down. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was less than fantastic (hey-o), the much-touted stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child won’t come to Broadway for months, and we can assume that the constant onslaught that was 2016 sapped many children of their belief in the wonder of magic. The Harry Potter-industrial complex needs a shot in the arm, and head honchos over at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park may have just the thing to inspire a little excitement.
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