A One Direction fan fiction adaptation wins big at People’s Choice Awards

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Australian actress Josephine Langford stars in a movie based on a self-published e-book about a college student who falls in love with Harry Styles. (Image Courtesy: BBC News).

Jenny Gage’s After (2019) beat Jordan Peele’s Us (2019) as well as Dexter Fletcher’s Rocketman (2019) at the People’s Choice Awards in the drama category, despite only seventeen percent of critical reviews aggregated through Rotten Tomatoes being positive, according to BBC News. The film, starring Ralph Fiennes’s nephew, Hero-Fiennes Tiffin, is adapted from a piece of One Direction fan fiction first published by Anna Todd on WattPadd in 2013, which has gone on to be read more than six hundred million times and snagged the thirty-year-old author a book deal. Roger Kumble’s sequel, After We Collided (2020), recently wrapped production.

Philip Pullman defends Chris Weitz’s “The Golden Compass” (2007)

Philip Pullman, the author behind the His Dark Materials young adult fantasy series, took to Twitter this morning to speak up for Chris Weitz’s The Golden Compass (2007), an adaptation of his 1995 novel of the same name, according to The Independent. Only forty-two percent of reviews aggregated through Rotten Tomatoes for the Nicole Kidman vehicle are positive, and its underperformance scrapped the two planned sequels, but Pullman, praising the cast (and singling out star Dakota Blue Johnson), says they had not enough time. The televised interpretation, BBC One’s His Dark Materials (2019-), is a critical as well as popular success.

Sharon Stone recreates iconic “Basic Instinct” scene for “GQ”

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Sharon Stone received a standing ovation for her acceptance speech at the GQ Men of the Year Awards, empowering women to celebrate their own life-changing moments. (Image Courtesy: Entertainment Tonight).

Sharon Stone won the Woman of the Year Award on Thursday at the 2019 GQ Men of the Year Awards in Berlin, asking for a chair to be brought on stage to reenact the moment that changed her life from Paul Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct (1992), according to Entertainment Tonight. The sixty-one-year-old star told the audience to cross and uncross their legs along with her, reconstructing the most iconic (or infamous) part of the performance which earned her a Golden Globe nomination. Stone says she had to fight hard for Woman of the Year after being a joke for so long.

Netflix review: Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” (2008)

Between the comic book taking Hollywood by storm in the decade since the release of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008) as well as the embarrassment of pale imitations in its wake, you can be forgiven for growing desensitized to the one that started it all.

Truly, it is easy to forget there was a world before 2008 where the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated only five nominees for Best Picture every year, and popcorn flicks were hardly ever among them.

With Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther (2018) lighting up this year’s Oscars and Todd Phillips’s Joker (2019) generating buzz over next year’s ceremony, we would do well to remember the late Heath Ledger was the first to collect such recognition on behalf of the superhero.

If you don’t know what to watch next, the sequel to the director’s own Batman Begins (2005) is available to stream on Netflix.

In addition to Ledger’s posthumous Best Supporting Actor victory as the Joker, the superhero film was also honored for Richard King’s sound editing, alongside six other nominations.

The director coproduced and cowrote the endeavor.

In this outing, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) strikes up an alliance with Gotham City Police Department Lieutenant James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) to defeat the Falcone Crime Family and retire from being Batman.

Using the Caped Crusader’s vigilantism to their advantage, Jim, Harvey, and assistant DA Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) arrest and charge corrupt Hong Kong accountant Lau (Ng Chin Han) and form a RICO case against mob boss Sal Maroni (Eric Roberts).

Out of desperation, the Mafia hires the Joker (Ledger), a psychopathic bank robber, to assassinate Batman, thus jeopardizing the normal life Bruce strives for with ex-lover Rachel (who is dating Harvey).

Nolan’s commitment to practical special effects is the stuff timeless cinematic spectacle is made of – even at eleven years old, the movie is no less a visual force to be reckoned with than it was back in its day.

On top of its agelessness, it democratizes itself to universality, a majestic blockbuster entertainment as well as a cerebral artistic meditation on the politics of anarcho-chaos, the legal philosophy of good versus evil, and the genre-bending of noir, epic, and comic book adaptation.

Its unpretentious sentiment that the “high” and “low” moviegoing publics need not be mutually exclusive is a feat of popular filmmaking ahead of its time.

And the dramatic power of Ledger’s performance meets the thematic and technical payloads of the production at large. He has drawn criticism from DC fans for his loose interpretation of the supervillain, but if that’s the case, then Ledger’s characterization is superior to the canon.

With dragonfire, he breathes life into one of the most iconic screen antagonists ever, blazing through every shot in which he is and casting a shadow over every frame in which he’s not.

It is a shame that Nolan’s masterpiece purports such a conservative worldview, particularly at a time in American history when conservatism was propagating crimes against humanity on a global scale.

The capitalistic wish fulfillment of a billionaire saving the world with his wealth is even more tone deaf when he invades the privacy of an entire city to do it (even if his surveillance system self-destructs upon “mission accomplished”).

Moreover, the Joker’s terroristic non-motivation subscribes to the Republican myth that al-Qaeda attacked the United States on September 11 because they’re “evildoers,” not anti-interventionists (this is not to rationalize terrorism, but rather to call out against the oversimplification of it).

That said, it does call Batman’s heroics into question, and challenges whether the ends really do justify the means. These shades of gray are what color the greatest film of its genre, its franchise, and its auteur’s filmography.

This revisionist experimentation may fail to a mediocre degree in Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) and Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel (2013), but as Robert Pattinson takes up Ben Affleck’s mantle, the Dark Knight’s most daunting rival will forever be The Dark Knight.

A CGI James Dean has been cast in an upcoming independent film

Using old footage and photos as well as a voice actor, Magic City Films, the production company behind Anton Ernst and Tati Golykh’s Finding Jack, will cast a computer-generated James Dean in their new Vietnam War drama, according to Time. Chris Evans took to Twitter to condemn the digital performance as “shameful,” but Mark Roesler, chairman and chief executive of CMG Worldwide (who licensed Dean’s likeness to the filmmaking team), says CMG represents the Hollywood icon’s family’s interests. Dean starred in Nicholas Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Elia Kazan’s East of Eden (1955), and George Stevens’s Giant (1956) before dying in a car accident in 1955 at twenty-four years old.

New Werner Herzog documentary finds American distributor

Werner Herzog’s Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin (2019), a feature-length documentary which premiered at Tribeca before playing at Telluride, will be distributed by Music Box Films in select cities in the United States next spring, according to Variety. The picture represents the artistic as well as personal collaboration between the filmmaker and the adventurer and travel writer who authored In Patagonia, taking audiences from Patagonia to the Black Mountains of Wales to the Australian outback. William Schopf, the president of Music Box Films, says the movie reveals as much about Herzog as it does about Chatwin, and a home entertainment release is planned also.

“Fantastic Beasts 3” coming to Rio

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(Image Courtesy: Vulture).

Fantastic Beasts 3, the working title at Warner Bros. for the third installment in their Harry Potter spinoff franchise, will eschew France in favor of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, according to Vulture. The film was announced a year after the release of David Yates’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) and will begin production in spring 2020, with J.K. Rowling slated to write the script for this entry as well. Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, Katherine Waterston, Ezra Miller, Alison Sudol, and Dan Fogler are all scheduled to reprise their roles, with Jessica Williams’s part as Professor Eulalie “Lally” Hicks expanded.