Francis Ford Coppola calls Marvel movies “despicable”

_w850
Francis Ford Coppola says Marvel fails to enlighten, teach, or inspire. (Image Courtesy: Japan Today).

Francis Ford Coppola was awarded the Prix Lumiere in Lyon, France (joining the likes of Martin Scorsese, Pedro Almodovar, and Milos Forman as a recipient of the prestigious honor), and he spoke to local journalists about his thoughts on Marvel films, according to Japan Today. Expanding upon Scorsese’s now infamous remarks that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is “not cinema,” going so far as to call their output “theme park rides,” Coppola says the MCU is “despicable.” The Italian American auteur’s next project is Megalopolis, a utopian picture he has been nursing for two decades, which he promises will be even more ambitious than Apocalypse Now (1979).

HBO Max acquires Studio Ghibli library

Warner Media announced Thursday its acquisition of all twenty-one Studio Ghibli films for their streaming service, HBO Max, which will mark the first time the Japanese animation house’s filmography has been licensed to a streaming platform, according to The New York Times. Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away (2001), My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Princess Mononoke (1997), Castle in the Sky (1986), as well as The Wind Rises (2014), to name a few, will be available to stream next fall. Along with NET, PBS, and HBO’s Sesame Street (1969-), HBO Max hopes to compete against Disney Plus and Netflix in the children’s market because family subscriptions are the most consistent.

Chicago theater revives “Sunset Boulevard” musical

2CHHACWEYNE53HNVUPDZTW7SMU
Hollis Resnik stars as Norma Desmond alongside Billy Rude as Joe Gillis. (Image Courtesy: The Chicago Tribune).

Beginning Tuesday night, Porchlight Music Theatre artistic director Michael Weber is reviving the stage adaptation of Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard (1950) at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts through December 8, according to the Chicago Tribune. With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber as well as lyrics and book by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, the two-and-a-half-hour play first opened in 1993 London after leading lady Gloria Swanson spent much of the 1950s fighting to create a musical interpretation. Patti LuPone played Norma Desmond during the production’s London run, while Glenn Close, Petula Clark, Diahann Carroll, and Kim Zimmer were cast in the role stateside.

The fight to make the film industry more green

Emile O’Brien, who founded the environmentalist film and television consultancy service Earth Angel, was inspired to do so after studying production at New York University and seeing how much waste there was on sets, according to Vice. As an example, BAFTA says a single hour of fiction or nonfiction television produced in the UK generates thirteen metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is almost as much CO2 as an American produces on average in a year. To encourage a business which prides itself on its progressivism to put its money where its mouth is environmentally, O’Brien suggests that crews departmentalize “Eco Production Assistants,” and that activist groups host awards ceremonies for sustainability.

Netflix review: A&E’s “Bates Motel” (2013-2017)

Sir Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) is the perfect film. When Gus Van Sant remade it in 1998, it was shot for shot because the only way to make the myth of Norman Bates is the Master of Suspense’s way.

Showrunners Carlton Cuse, Kerry Ehrin, and Anthony Cipriano opened this lightning in a bottle when they adapted a contemporary prequel for Hitchcock’s classic slasher to television.

But, then again, Hitch risked everything, too, when he produced Psycho.

If you don’t know what to watch next, A&E’s Bates Motel (2013-2017) is available to stream on Netflix. The psychological horror drama was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards. One of them was for Vera Farmiga, starring as Mother herself, Norma Bates.

After the death of his father, a teenaged Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) moves from Arizona to the fictitious White Pine Bay, Oregon, to run a motel with his overbearing mother, as well as sickly classmate Emma Decody (Olivia Cooke).

Shortly thereafter, Norman’s half-brother, Dylan Massett (Max Thieriot), arrives unannounced to make a name for himself in the local drug trade.

With all the danger and dysfunction surrounding him, Norman grows more and more unstable, until the final season loosely interprets the narrative of Psycho.

Bates Motel is better than it has any right to be. Norman, the shy, awkward mama’s boy, could lazily be mischaracterized as the quirky, misunderstood boy next door you knew back from high school.

He isn’t.

The series is an unsexy character study of a voyeuristic serial killer with an Oedipus complex.

Conceivably, Norman is cast as the deuteragonist to Norma’s protagonist, the drama revolving around a mother’s (tragically futile) desperation to save her son from himself, and protect the people around him, too.

One could submit Norma is an antihero for much of the show.

She enables Norman’s obsession with her, fails Dylan as a parent, and lies and manipulates her way through the violent, criminal underbelly of White Pine Bay.

This would be a myopic assessment, because, ultimately, she redeems herself.

She institutionalizes Norman even though she’s no less codependent on him than he is on her, she ends up in a healthier relationship with Dylan despite her favoritism toward Norman, and, if the police can’t be trusted, then what choice does she have but to play the game for her family?

Norma is not always likable, but she is always sympathetic. She suffers from many symptoms of borderline personality disorder, and she’s an abuse survivor without constructive coping mechanisms, but her matriarchy is dynamic and adaptable enough to evolve.

Psycho is composed with unspoken undertones that Norman is the true victim, and his mother is to blame for his murders for the crime of being too domineering. Bates Motel lays the culpability where it belongs, squarely at Norman’s feet.

Farmiga’s sensitive tour-de-force is the justice her character deserves, which is why Bates Motel is one of the most ethically written antihero’s journeys in the Golden Age of TV, even going so far as to downplay the incestuous subtext.

The production is as masterful as the drama. John S. Bartley was up for the Emmy for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series, and Chris Bacon, Outstanding Music Composition for a Series. Bates Motel does Hitchcock’s iconic aesthetic proud.

Additionally, the meta-writing subverts modern audience expectations the same way Psycho did for contemporaneous viewers in a world where we all know about the shower setpiece (whether we’ve seen it or not).

Bates Motel finds a new way to shock us, and modernize the misogynistic spectacle for feminist consumption.

It deserves more than its network. Sometimes, the dialogue cries out for a curse word. But that’s only a minor complaint.

Bates Motel, even for a Psycho purist such as this critic, is well worth the stay.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas discusses new film

priyanka-chopra-jonas-abc-jef-191008_hpMain_4x3_992
Priyanka Chopra Jonas opens up about her family with Nick Jonas on The View also, celebrating brothers-in-law Joe and Kevin Jonas as well as sisters-in-law Sophie Turner and Danielle Jonas for the support system they’ve given her. (Image Courtesy: ABC News).

Thirty-seven-year-old Priyanka Chopra Jonas returned to Bollywood for Shonali Bose’s The Sky Is Pink (2019), telling the cohosts of The View during her Tuesday interview about how the production helped her reach a catharsis after the death of her father, according to ABC News. Ashok Chopra lost a years-long battle with cancer in June 2013, but not before raising his daughter to be confident in her opinions and decisions, knowing she had her family to back her unconditionally. Chopra Jonas says his parenting style inspired her activism, which may or may not one day mean a career in politics for her.

Samuel L. Jackson sounds off on Martin Scorsese’s MCU comments

In response to Martin Scorsese’s opinions about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Samuel L. Jackson, who stars as head of SHIELD Nick Fury in ten MCU films, reminds Variety readers the filmmaker’s movies are controversial among Italian Americans, according to The Guardian. Scorsese told Empire that Marvel pictures are “not cinema” after trying and failing to get interested in them. Other industry insiders speaking out against what Scorsese said about the MCU include James Gunn, who directed Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Karen Gillan (who plays Nebula in Guardians), as well as Joss Whedon, the director behind The Avengers (2012).