NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine took to Twitter on Tuesday to confirm that Tom Cruise will shoot his next action blockbuster on the International Space Station, according to Business Insider. Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which has been making strides toward sending private citizens to space (including the launch date for its first crewed mission to the station on May 27), will provide the flight, while NASA will charge a fee for independent astronauts to come aboard; Russia is the only country that can ship people to and from the station, where private citizen access will be granted to its facilities. No studio has officially greenlit the project as of yet.
Natasha Gregson Wagner, the filmmaker behind Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind (2020), was eleven years old when her mother drowned off the coast of Catalina Island on Thanksgiving weekend, 1981, according to The Guardian. Natalie Wood died at forty-three years old, but the movie star, born 1938 in San Francisco to Russian immigrant parents, began acting as a five-year-old before earning an Academy Award at fifteen for Nicholas Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause (1955). While her daughter’s documentary does confront the suspicious circumstances surrounding Wood’s drowning, Wagner’s goal is to celebrate the life and career which have been overshadowed by it.
Between the programming on Turner Classic Movies, the Columbia Noir series currently streaming on the Criterion Channel, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, film noir has found itself part of the contemporary critical conversation again, according to The New York Times. It is difficult, if not impossible, to define noir, if for no other reason than that it transcends genre, but critic Ben Kenigsberg says Nicholas Ray’s In a Lonely Place (1950), which is streaming on Criterion’s Columbia Noir series, is a “place for getting a handle on what noir is.” Kenigsberg writes, “It has elements of murder mystery, melodrama and Hollywood insider scoop.”
With Irvin Kershner’s Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) released forty years ago this month, BBC critic Nicholas Barber writes that he finds the Star Wars film considered as the best to be “slower, stodgier, more contrived, convoluted, and repetitive.” Indeed, Barber is not alone in his opinion – notable reviewers such as Vincent Canby at The New York Times were also underwhelmed with the first sequel to George Lucas’s Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977). Instead, Barber argues that the original is the greatest entry in the franchise, “with its wealth of history, mythology, politics, and technology.”
At five hundred twenty-eight pages, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins is scheduled for publication May 19 from Scholastic Press, with Lionsgate set to release the film adaptation, according to The Birmingham News. Set sixty-four years before the events of The Hunger Games, the prequel will follow an eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow, before he becomes the villainous President of Panem, as he mentors the female tribute from District Twelve at the tenth annual Hunger Games. Franchise alumni Francis Lawrence, Michael Arndt, as well as Nina Jacobson will return as director, screenwriter, and producer, respectively, for The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences adjusted its eligibility rules for the Academy Awards to include films that didn’t play in theaters, according to Variety. The board of governors convened Tuesday to approve the temporary hold on the mandate that a movie needs to run for seven days in a commercial Los Angeles theater to qualify for the Oscars. While digital releases will be eligible, the streamed picture must have already had a planned theatrical release, in addition to being made available on the Academy Screening Room member-only site within sixty days.
With most of the world on lockdown due to coronavirus, filmmakers are finding themselves forced to pitch electronically for industry events such as Visions du Reel, Frontieres, as well as Sheffield Doc/Fest, which have all moved online, according to Screen Daily. United Kingdom-based script consultant and screenwriter David Pope says the COVID-19 pandemic will be an opportunity for more industry insiders to connect internationally. However, Annick Mahnert, the newly appointed market director at the Montreal-based genre forum Frontieres, says in-face meetings will still be crucial to collaboration, but online pitches will allow professionals to forge new relationships and discuss new content.
The production for Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World: Dominion (2021) may have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the filmmaker has still offered fans a behind-the-scenes sneak peek, according to /Film. The new set photo features Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) – the cloned daughter of the late Sir Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) – in a snowy environment after freeing all the captured dinosaurs at the end of J.A. Bayona’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018). Franchise alumni Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, as well as Laura Dern will all be returning to Dominion.
The “thriller” is difficult to differentiate from the film noir, horror, action, or suspense, according to The Manual. In an effort to define the parameters of the genre, writer Eric Shorey listed some of the best movies considered to be thrillers. The website’s ten best thrillers are: Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs (1991); Paul Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct (1992); Christopher Nolan’s Memento (2000); Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite (2019); David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive (2001); Park Chan-wook’s Lady Vengeance (2005); Rob Reiner’s Misery (1990); Nicholas Winding Refn’s Drive (2011); Sir Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945); as well as Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (1999).
Swedish film and stage star Max von Sydow, known for his collaborations with filmmaker Ingmar Bergman on stage as well as onscreen, has died at ninety years old, according to The Guardian. Born Carl Adolph Von Sydow to a family of academics in Lund, he was a Catholic school student before serving in the military, after which time, he attended the acting school at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm from 1948 to 1951. He would go on to be nominated for two Academy Awards, for Bille August’s Pelle the Conqueror (1987) and Stephen Daldry’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011).