The first preview for Sam Mendes’s “1917” (2019)

IHHE7XVR3RDLTISJUWCYPXZLBE
The film is scheduled for a Christmas Day limited release before playing at theaters nationwide January 10, 2020. (Image Courtesy: Military Times).

The trailer for Sam Mendes’s World War I film, 1917 (2019), dropped this week, revealing details about the plot and the cast for the first time since Mendes’s production for Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners was announced, according to Military Times. Taking place on the Western Front, the picture stars the likes of George McKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, and Richard Madden. Mendes co-produced the movie with Michael Lerman and frequent collaborator Pippa Harris, co-wrote the screenplay with his colleague from Showtime’s Penny Dreadful (2014-2016), Krysty Wilson-Cairns, and hired Academy Award winner Roger Deakins to be the cinematographer.

Amazon Prime review: Adam McKay’s “Vice” (2018)

To quote one of this reviewer’s film professors, “George Bush wasn’t evil. He was just an idiot.”

If you don’t know what to watch next, Adam McKay’s Vice (2018) is available on Amazon Prime. The biographical comedy-drama was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe, and Patricia Delaney won for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

Narrated by Kurt (Jesse Plemons, a fictional War on Terror veteran), the film charts the career of former Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney (Best Actor nominee Christian Bale), as well as his marriage to Lynne Vincent (Best Supporting Actress nominee Amy Adams).

President George W. Bush (Best Supporting Actor nominee Sam Rockwell) only runs for office to please his father, former President George H.W. Bush (John Hillner), and so delegates executive power to his vice president.

Cheney’s Machiavellian political ambition leads to party polarization in America, the rise of ISIS in Iraq, and historically low approval ratings for himself.

McKay is the recipient of three nods from the Academy as co-producer, director, and writer of the original screenplay. In addition, editor Hank Corwin was up for an Oscar.

The two collaborated together on The Big Short (2015), another historical black comedy for which McKay, Corwin, and Bale were nominated (with McKay and Charles Randolph taking home the trophy for Best Adapted Screenplay).

The Big Short also marks another critique of the Bush years, namely the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008.

McKay and Corwin’s creative partnership is as vital as the professional chemistry between Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker, with Corwin cutting satirical meta-references from beyond the fourth wall into McKay’s production.

This stylization underscores the absurdity of the apocalyptic incompetence in the Bush Administration that empowered an Antichrist like Cheney to reign supreme across the post-September 11 geopolitical hellscape.

The cosmetic Oscar is well-earned, as the star-studded cast transform themselves under McKay’s direction into their characters so unrecognizably, the line between “parodical imitation” and “masterful tour-de-force” is crossed.

Bale, Adams, Rockwell, Steve Carrell (Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld), Don McManus (Chief of Staff to the Vice President David Addington), and Camille Harman (consultant Mary Matalin) all characterize Cheney and his inner circle with a gravitas that transcends appearances.

But Vice speaks with Plemons’s voice, and his Iraq and Afghanistan vet is one of many victims of Cheney’s plunder, one of the best candidates to tell this story.

But not the best.

It would have been more morally sound to hear from an Arab or Muslin arbitrarily detained and tortured at one of the U.S. government’s international “black sites.”

Furthermore, the movie’s farcical tone begs the question: is it artistically just to turn eight years of corruption and war crimes into a punchline?

As tempting as it is to make fun of Bush (who once used the word “misunderestimated” in a sentence), his regime’s record of human rights violations is no laughing matter.

“Irregardless,” Vice as an historic document is strikingly relevant to the Trump era, and if that means we learned nothing from our recent past, then maybe the joke is on us.

The director of “The Babadook” (2014) releases “The Nightingale” (2019), a Western

Jennifer Kent, the filmmaker behind the horror film The Babadook (2014), returns to select theaters tomorrow with a revisionist Australian Western feminist revenge fantasy, The Nightingale (2019), according to The A.V. Club. Set in 1825 Tasmania (then known as Van Diemen’s Land), Aisling Franciosi stars as Clare, an Irish convict searching the wilderness with the help of an Aboriginal tracker named Billy (Baykali Ganambarr) to kill the English Lieutenant Hawkins (Sam Claflin) who raped her. Reviewer A.A. Dowd grades the picture with an A-, praising Kent for her tasteful approach to what could have easily been an exploitative rape-and-revenge B-movie.

Andy Muschietti’s “It” (2017) returns to the big screen with sequel footage

Starting Saturday, August 3, Andy Muschietti’s hit adaptation of the 1986 It by Stephen King, It Chapter One (2017), will be returning to theaters nationwide for two nights, according to CNET. This Fandango rerelease comes a month before the September 6 premiere of Muschietti’s It Chapter Two (2019), with a post-credits reveal of eight minutes of new footage from the upcoming sequel. Taking place twenty-seven years after the events of the first film, the now-adult Losers’ Club will reunite once more in It Chapter Two to confront Pennywise the Dancing Clown, who has terrorized the fictitious Derry, Maine, for centuries.

Martin Scorsese’s new movie to premiere at New York Film Festival

Martin Scorsese’s Netflix-produced The Irishman (2019) will premiere as the opening-night picture September 27 for the New York Film Festival at Alice Tully Hall, according to Deadline Hollywood. The crime drama reunites Scorsese with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci for the first time since Casino (1995), and stars De Niro as Frank Sheeran, who admitted to killing twenty-five men – including Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) – for Pennsylvania Mafia boss Russell Bufalino (Pesci). The movie cost Netflix more than a hundred million dollars, and the streaming service anticipates a theatrical release (like they did with Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma (2018)) later this fall.

Study finds more women employed behind the camera this year, but still not enough

Screen Shot 2019-07-24 at 1.17.23 PM
Together, the WMC and BBC America found as part of their collaboration, “The Superpowering Women in Science Fiction and Superhero Film: A 10-Year Investigation,” that eighty-six percent of science fiction and superhero movies have a male lead or co-lead. (Image Courtesy: Ms.).

 

The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film published findings this month which indicate that out of nine hundred seventy independent films, women’s representation among writers and executive producers increased six percent this year, according to Ms. Unfortunately, only thirty-two percent of the writers, executive producers, producers, editors, directors, and cinematographers surveyed are women, and male-directed independent movies are screened twice as often at film festivals as those directed by women. Furthermore, Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem’s Women’s Media Center says just three percent of science fiction and superhero pictures released this decade were directed by women; however, the path to change is clear, as “Indie Women: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women in Independent Film” outlines that seventy-two percent of writers behind female-directed films in 2019 are women.

The top film stories of the past decade

With the 2010s coming to a close, the time has come to reflect back on all the industrial and social progress of the decade which shapes the trajectory film is taking into the future, according to IndieWire. Beginning with Matthew McConaughey’s “McConaissance” in 2011 and ending with the Walt Disney Company’s acquisition of Twentieth Century Fox in March, the last ten years have seen the rise of the streaming wars as well as the first steps toward diversification in representation. Between the Sony Hack of 2014, Netflix carving out its romantic comedy niche in 2017, Universal’s failed “dark” cinematic universe that same year, and the 2019 Writer’s Guild of America strike, the ‘20s are sure to change filmmaking even more from what it is right now.