Demi Lovato joins Will Ferrell’s upcoming comedy vehicle

Yesterday, on her twenty-seventh birthday, no less, Demi Lovato announced via Instagram she has been cast in David Dobkin’s Eurovision (without revealing who her character will be), which has no release date scheduled as of yet, according to People. For the video announcement, fifty-two-year-old costar Will Ferrell presents Lovato with a store-bought cake he says he made from scratch before smashing it into the camera, which then cuts to the songstress blowing out her candles on the set. Costarring Rachel McAdams and Pierce Brosnan, the comedy centers around Icelandic musicians Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdottir at the Eurovision Song Contest.

Forty years since Ridley Scott’s “Alien” (1979), the cinematic extraterrestrial is changing

 

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Sidney Perkowitz, cofounder behind the National Academy of Sciences’ Science and Entertainment Exchange, says Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival (2016) is an outstanding depiction of non-humanoid aliens pursuing intelligent contact. (Image Courtesy: Business Insider).

Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) was released forty years ago this May, and since then, the Hollywood extraterrestrial has evolved into something more scientifically feasible than the xenomorph, according to Business Insider. Before CGI, science fiction films in the 1950s and 1960s dressed actors in alien costumes, and because sci-fi is often an allegory for society’s fears, these humanoids are almost always hostile, even though physicist and author Sidney Perkowitz says no lifeform is evil for the sake of itself. With mosquitoes carrying viruses farther due to climate change, and filmmakers concerning themselves more with box office figures than scientific accuracy, Daniel Espinosa’s Life (2017) realistically posits that alien life will be discovered microscopically, but still villainizes it.

The Obamas produce a Netflix documentary about globalization

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Michael Moore praised American Factory at a recent Museum of Modern Art showing. (Image Courtesy: The New Yorker).

Netflix will upload Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert’s American Factory (2019) on Wednesday, with Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions picking up the documentary after its premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, according to The New Yorker. The subject of the film is a General Motors plant in Ohio that closed in 2008 and reopened as Fuyao Glass America under a Chinese investor, and the culture clash between management and the employees. It marks the first release for the Obamas’ newly minted production company, which has also scheduled a Frederick Douglass biopic, a drama about women and people of color set in post-World War II New York, and an educational series teaching nutrition to preschoolers.

Steven Soderbergh’s “sex, lies, and videotape” (1989) turns thirty

With the thirtieth anniversary for the release of Steven Soderbergh’s sex, lies, and videotape (1989) come upon us, the time is now to revisit the filmmaker’s feature-length narrative debut as well as its place in cinematic history, according to The Independent. It was the first independent film to succeed as much as it did, winning the Palme d’Or for a twenty-seven-year-old Soderbergh, the youngest director to do so, and grossing a hundred million worldwide on a million-dollar budget. Not only that, but it also laid the foundation for Soderbergh’s career, with his eclectic genres ranging from mainstream to arthouse sensibilities.

Peter Fonda’s most profitable pictures

A seventy-nine-year-old Peter Fonda, the son of Academy Award-winning actor Henry Fonda and younger brother of Jane Fonda, died Friday, fifty years after the release of the film that made him a star, Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider (1969), which he co-scripted, according to Fox Business. Easy Rider grossed sixty million dollars worldwide against a budget of less than four hundred thousand, and Fonda went on to perform in: Victor Nuñez’s Ulee’s Gold (1997), sitting at a nine million-dollar gross; James Mangold’s 3:10 to Yuma (2007), with fifty three million dollars at the box office; and Kelly Asbury, Rich Moore, and Walt Becker’s Wild Hogs (2007), which took home four hundred twenty-one million. A nonconformist, countercultural icon, Fonda had forty-five acting credits to his name.

Barbara Stanwyck marathon coming to Criterion Channel

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The New York Times is quoted as reporting that Stanwyck saw as many pictures “as her pennies allowed” during childhood to help her cope with growing up impoverished. (Image Courtesy: Fox News).

Beginning August 16, Criterion Channel will spotlight eleven films Barbara Stanwyck made between 1930 and 1934 before Hays Code-era restrictions censored the silver screen, according to Fox News. Imogen Sara Smith, the historian hosting the marathon, says Stanwyck (born Ruby Stevens in 1907 Brooklyn) was orphaned at the age of four, dropped out of school as a thirteen-year-old, performed for speakeasies at fifteen, became a Broadway star five years later, and found work in Hollywood in 1929. The actress did not retire until her late seventies, with more than eighty movie and television credits to her name when she died from congestive heart failure in 1990.

Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” (1979) rereleased for its fortieth anniversary

On Monday, Francis Ford Coppola debuted his three-hour Apocalypse Now Final Cut (1979), initially edited for the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, at the Hollywood Arclight Cinerama Dome, according to USA Today. Still longer than the original, the runtime is shorter than 2001’s Apocalypse Now Redux, which added forty-nine minutes of extended footage from scenes of the river, French plantation, Playboy Playmates, as well as Marlon Brando, with the auteur calling this latest incarnation “a version that I like.” The final cut will screen in select IMAX theaters Thursday and Sunday, and a home entertainment release is scheduled for August 27.