1. He’s back. The wilhelm of whimsy, the crown prince of quirk, Wes Anderson, returns with The French Dispatch – by the looks of things, his most Wes-Anderson-y movie to date.
2. The official synopsis:
“…a love letter to journalists set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20th Century French city and brings to life a collection of stories published in ‘The French Dispatch’ magazine.”
3. The fictional publication is based upon The New Yorker; certain characters and storylines were inspired by figures and articles from that magazine’s past, as outlined here.
From top: Rami Malek; Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw; Lashana Lynch and Daniel Craig: The ‘just dropped’ No Time To Die trailer
What you may need to know:
1.Daniel Craig has no time to die, but he does have time for one last outing as James Bond, despite cash-…sorry categorically stating that he was done with the role following the release of Spectre (2015).
2. He’s joined this time by Lashana Lynch as a fellow MI5 superspy; you may recall mass wringing of hands by the Piers Morgans of this world earlier this year, when it emerged that the role of “007” would be played by a woman. A nifty prank, but also surely a test balloon as to whether the series could and should be fronted for real by a female Bond.
5. You’ve also got Rami Malik in there, fresh from his Oscar winning turn as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody (2018), about which the less is said, the better. He plays a “megalomaniac scientist”, whose dastardly scheme apparently has an environmental angle to it. Topical.
6. I’m not entirely sold on No Time to Die. It looks fun, but more of the same: efficiently packaged stunts, explosions and suits, combined with another personal crisis for the guy to overcome. It looks fun, but fun we’ve all had a zillion times before. Well, twenty-four times before, to be exact. I can’t help thinking if this trailer was for a Danny Boyle-directed Bond film, it would have far more going for it.
7. Finally, while we’re on the subject, have a chuckle with these excellent “Bondagrams”
Release: April 2020
Doug’s Verdict: Let’s have a Ron D movie instead next time.
1. You ever get the feeling there are just too many trailers? There are so many things audiences are expected to get fired up about now that a lot of it just whistles by in the timeline before the next thing comes along. Next, next, next.
2. Well, never mind all that, because DisneyCorp has just “dropped” the final trailer for the final movie (as if) in the Star Wars saga, The Rise of Skywalker. They say final, as in the last in the trilogy of trilogies that George Lucas accidentally kicked off back in 1977, but Star Wars is very much here to stay.
4. For one, it’s only a few weeks until the long-awaited TV series The Mandalorian arrives. No word on when it’ll be available in this part of the world until DisneyCorp confirms its plans for the Disney+ streaming service, but the early word on John Favreau’s space western is very positive.
5. Back to The Rise of Skywalker; what can one say about the plot? Rey and Finn and company blast off across the galaxy on another adventure to apparently visit the wreckage of the Death Star and do something, stop something, start something, etc. Hot on their heels once again is Kylo Ren, who may or may not turn into a goodie by the end, if he and Rey can sort out their differences. He faked her out twice already though, so who knows.
5. Also in there in the most transparent attempt to keep tetchy “fans” on side is one Emperor Palpatine, played by Ian MacDiarmid, who was thrown down a shaft by Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi (1983) and by far the best thing about the wonderfully terrible prequel trilogy (1999 – 2005).
6. I say wonderfully terrible because despite their unquestionable awfulness, those movies have stubbornly refused be forgotten – exemplified by PrequelMemes, the spirited Reddit community that serves as an antidote to the “toxic fandom” that has grown around Star Wars since it was brought back to life in 2012.
7. On that note, I’m looking forward to the debate over which is the better trilogy once all this blows over. A strong case could be made for the prequels.
8. By the way, since they’re visiting the Death Star, does that mean Ewoks will make an appearance? Don’t bet against it.
9. Ahead of the December release date, why not take a trip back to 1976, to the very first Star Wars promo, before John Williams’ famous score was even written.
10. It will be the final screen appearance of Carrie Fisher, who would have been 63 yesterday.
1. The only thing you need to know about The Day Shall Come is that it heralds the return of comedy eminence Christopher Morris, who wrote and directed this farcical comedy thriller.
2. It is unquestionably in the same wheelhouse as Morris’ last big-screen outing Four Lions (2010), about a crew of incompetent wannabe jihadists determined to launch a terror attack in the UK.
3. In the meantime, he has been directing episodes of Veep, while also co-writing the brilliant Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle, but mostly keeps a low profile.
4. Of course, he will always be best known for the still-extraordinary satire Brass Eye, whose “Paedogeddon!” episode was, at the time, the most-complained-about episode in British television history and even got raised in Westminster.
3. Anyway, The Irishman. Lots of Marty’s trademarks are present and correct in this trailer, and the man’s mere association with the genre he helped shape is a selling point in itself. Documentaries aside, he’s got two broad modes that he has bounced back and forth between over the years: the spiritual/personal Scorsese last seen in Silence (2016) and the energetic and confrontational Scorsese last seen in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), which a lot of people seem to dislike but for me is among his best. I like to hope that The Irishman will find itself somewhere in between the two. Scorsese is a master filmmaker; there’s little doubt he will find a way to work his own life experience into the thread. After all, he, De Niro and Pesci (and Keitel) were young men when they first began working together, now they’re wrinkly old codgers, de-aging CGI or no.
4. How great it is to see Robert de Niro back where he belongs. 20 years of dreadful comedies suggest he got bored of acting somewhere in the late 90s (1998’s Ronin, for me was his last confirmed sighting), so to see him understating it as a double-hard bastard is a pleasure. Maybe Dirty Grandpa (2016) was the last straw for Scorsese who simply had to step in and make things right.
5. Meanwhile, Joe Pesci seems to have been retired since 2010; he appears to have lost none of his ability to terrorise the screen just by sitting there saying nothing.
6. The only thing that would give me pause for this movie is the aforementioned use of CGI to de-age the actors as the story plays out over decades. This is apparently the reason for the rumoured €200m budget, another massive gamble for Netflix. That last shot, where de Niro says “whatever you need me to do”, if you play it back a couple of times it starts to look a little hinky. For one thing, the hand holding the phone is clearly not de Niro’s hand, it’s superimposed onto the screen. We’ll have to wait and see.
7. As for Netflix, I’ve talked here lots of times before about the meaning of these A-list actors and directors going straight to the small screen. The studios just are not willing to spend that kind of money on a non-sequel, non-franchise movie, no matter who is in front of or behind the camera. At the same time, you’ve got to admire Scorsese for leaning into the technology (streaming, that is, but heavy CGI as well to be fair). While the likes of Spielberg and Nolan are churlishly gate-keeping, including getting Cannes and Academy rules changed to make it as difficult as possible for Netflix to win any awards, Marty is acknowledging (A) the opportunities it presents and (B) the fact that it is here to stay. As, it seems, is he.
1. I recall reading somewhere that Stephen King has had more works adapted for the big screen than any other author; Shakespeare or Dickens (or Danielle Steel) might disagree, but where multiple adaptations of their works would beef up the numbers, story after story after story by the King of Horror has been adapted – with varying degrees of success.
5. Doctor Sleep reacquaints us with Danny Torrence, now an adult who looks just like Ewan McGregor. Torrence, still traumatised by the events at the Overlook Hotel, works at a hospice using his clairvoyant gifts to provide comfort to terminally ill patients. It’s a peaceful life until he meets Abra (newcomer Kyliegh Curran), a teenager with the same gift being pursued by a ruthless group who want to use “the shine” in their quest for immortality.
6. I love the tone of this trailer. It puts its debt to Kubrick front and centre, mostly avoiding jump scares and any of that “red band” nonsense, instead concentrating on a sense of dread and anticipation.
7. Take the recreation of that shot of Jack Nicholson looking through the smashed door – one of the most recognisable images in all of cinema. Rather than a vain attempt to recreate the moment, it’s done in a detached and dreamlike way, as though it’s something Danny only half-remembers. It’s light-years from Steven Spielberg‘s vandalism of the same film in Ready Player One.
9. Both of those were effective and well-made, if a little derivative, but to be fair to Flanagan it’s practically impossible not to be derivative in the horror genre. He also directed the superb King adaptation Gerald’s Game for Netflix.
10. I’m not familiar with the source material, but despite being overdue and unasked-for, this feels and looks like it might be one of the good ones. It seems that despite the appearances of going back to the well instead of coming up with something new, with Doctor Sleep, King expands and deepens The Shining rather than rehashing it. If this film can do the same thing, it could be a winner.
12. Finally, of the upcoming King stuff, I’m most looking forward to the TV adaptation of King’s apocalyptic 1978 masterpiece, The Stand.
13. No cast or other details have been announced, but done right, the story of the end of the world and what comes next has the potential to be one of the greats, with a strong contemporary resonance in the Trump era through its malevolent villain Randall Flagg.
1. Game of Thrones is kind of the only game in town (for another week or two anyway), so this teaser for HBO’s upcoming small-screen adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel Watchmen got lost in the mix a little bit.
2. In case you’re not familiar, the ground-breaking 1986 original depicts an alternate past and present where crime-fighting superheroes not only walk among us, but were directly involved in major turning points in US history, including Vietnam and the successful cover-up of Watergate. Decades after vigilantism was eventually outlawed, the Watchmen are called out of retirement to investigate the murder of one of their own.
3.It was previously adapted by Zack Snyder in 2009. His version was faithful to a fault, mimicking the source novel’s glacially slow pace and sombre atmosphere. It was also a miracle of production design and overall ambition; Watchmen was one of those novels previously considered “unfilmable”. It also boasts one of the most memorable opening sequences of any film you could name.
4. As you would expect, not a lot is known about HBO’s new version. It’s immediately clear that it’s not completely faithful to the original, being set in a more modern era. According to executive producer Damon Lindelof (Lost, Star Trek), it is set “after” the story depicted in the original. One wonders in that case if it’s a sequel to Snyder’s film, which had a considerably different ending to the book.
5. Despite the modern aesthetic, it looks to remain faithful to the original in other ways. The blocking, colour schemes and camerawork are very reminiscent of artist Dave Gibbons‘ original frames.
6. The cast includes Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Louis Gosset Jr and Regina King, who recently won an Oscar for her role in If Beale Street Could Talk.
7. With Game of Thrones gone (for now), HBO is angling for its next global hit. WestWorld was a pretender to the throne but disappeared in a puff of its own self-importance, while smaller shows like The Deuce and Big Little Lies, while great, just don’t have the longevity.
8. In my opinion, the real test of a series’ potential in the current era is whether it is forward thinking enough to set up its own endgame right from the start. Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones got people addicted on day one by asking “how is this going to end?”
9. It’s not the only way. Mad Men, The Sopranos and The Wire meandered through their seven seasons with multiple storylines and thematic explorations rather than one big buildup.
10. The crucial difference there was that they were much more grounded in reality and a depiction of (relatively) everyday life. The higher the concept, the higher the stakes need to be, so if Watchmen wants to find as wide an audience as possible, it’s going to have to work extra hard to keep viewers interested.
11. After all, the original Watchmen was one big whodunnit, so the stage is set already. Let’s see if I’m right.
3. Yes, it’s the prequel nobody asked for, but despite unfortunately being one of those “teasers” that in fact gives away the entire movie, Joker has suddenly shot up the list of 2019’s most anticipated movies.
4. The question now is, will the Batman – due for yet another reboot after Ben Affleck‘s disastrous turn in the cape – make an appearance ahead of, well, The Batman (2021)?
Doug’s verdict: No laughing matter.
Release date: October (US), TBC (Europe).