Beaming families, teary smiles, mortarboards in the air — it’s graduation season, which means that more importantly, it’s celebrity commencement address season. While some high-profile speakers have received a chillier reception than others, the A-lister speech has long been a reliably amusing diversion in between long-winded orations from dusty academic types. Maya Rudolph took plenty of artistic license with “The Star-Spangled Banner” at my graduation ceremony from Tulane a few years ago, an unforgettable experience that I was too drunk to currently remember. But today brings video of another movie star taking the stage before a mass of fresh-faced students blissfully unaware of how hard getting a job is. Ladies, gentlemen, Will Ferrell is in the house.
The latest addition to the pantheon of mega-flops has been christened. Just as street hooligan Arthur instantly ascended to royalty when he pulled Excalibur from its stone, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword has descended to ignominy by pulling a turd out of the box-office. Perhaps not my best lede work, but it’s Monday. Cut a guy some slack.
Netflix is the future, that much seems beyond debate, but the shape of that future remains very much in flux. The video-streaming giant recently generated some friction with the Cannes Film Festival over the negotiation between theatrical runs and online releasing, a mini-controversy resolved with the edict that Netflix would have to set plans to get their movies into theaters if they want to be included at Cannes moving forward. 2017’s shaping up to be a pivotal year for Netflix, as they prepare to debut more high-profile films than ever and continuously hash out a strategy for best doing that.
In one of the Trump administration’s more agreeable defilings of decades-long tradition, the White House’s ritzy move theater will now be available to those visitors touring the building’s East Wing. Say what you will about the new Commander-in-Chief — that he’s a pudenda-grabbing, fact-resistant demagogue, for instance — but at least he’s going to allow the general public a glimpse of how the most powerful man in the nation took in Finding Dory.
Serious question: does any single entertainer have such complete dominion over their chosen field as Weird Al Yankovic wields over the song parody? Skeptics may scoff that musical spoofery is a stupid thing to become really, really, virtuosically good at, but the point stands that Yankovic has completely and totally mastered his preferred art form. So when the producers behind the upcoming film adaptation of the Captain Underpants chapter book series needed to find a talent for their theme music, of course their choice was obvious. In no insignificant way, Weird Al Yankovic was born to write a peppy pop tune about tightened-whiteys.
See a few of his movies, and you’ll start to recognize the Martin Scorsese style: quick zooms and jump cuts cribbed from the French New Wave, exhilarating tracking shots, the occasional expertly-deployed pop hit, brief breaks from reality straight out of Powell & Pressburger’s playbook. He’s forged an entire career out of synthesizing influences and making their techniques his own, but even as he’s established himself as one of the most distinctive auteurs currently working, he’s never gotten mired in his own aesthetic. He constantly challenges himself to try more (if you need proof, just look at Silence), and in a new interview, he confirms that he’s going for something different with his next picture.
Martial arts expert and outspoken proponent of condom usage Jackie Chan is at it again, raring and ready to kick some enemy buttock even as he ages into his mid-sixties. The actor has kept up a steady stream of feature work (only some of which requires him to play chauffeur to a real live lion) and is currently preparing to re-mount his his kids’ cartoon series The Jackie Chan Adventures, but ever the work-horse, Chan’s just announced another new project. And what’s more, his next mission will pair him with a partner all too familiar to Eastern and Western audiences alike.
The Overlook Film Festival just began its inaugural proceedings last night, inviting cinephiles and horror enthusiasts to take in some film with a singular location for a backdrop: the Timberline Lodge in Mt. Hood, Oregon, better known to you as the Overlook Hotel and the setting of Stephen King adaptation The Shining. One could scarcely imagine a scene more apropos for the revelation that another big King remake is in the works, so Blumhouse (you know, the studio behind every horror blockbuster of the last few years) head Jason Blum and director-writer Akiva Goldsman took full advantage of their unique surroundings for a major announcement. And in the immortal words of Nelly, it’s getting hot in here.
A few years ago, I wrote up a brief item about an incident taking place at Los Angeles’ AFI Film Festival wherein an irate woman maced a man in the face for having the gall to ask her to turn off her cell phone during a screening of Mike Leigh’s J.M.W. Turner biopic Mr. Turner. “Wow, being at the movies sure makes people do crazy things!” I thought to myself. “I wonder how long it’ll be until the next time I get to write about a violent movie theater conflict over petty nonsense.” That day has come at last, and this time [beat to let the moment breathe] the stakes are even higher.
Though he looks like he eats cement and can crack dudes in half like Bane snapping Batman across his knee, John Cena’s just a big ol’ softie on the inside. The professional fighter has always been warm and cordial to his many fans, he loves posting dumb jokes online (the ultimate Celebrities! They‘re Just Like Us move), and he proved himself a game comic performer in 2015’s Trainwreck with Amy Schumer and Sisters starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. In this respect, he’s the perfect choice to voice Ferdinand, a mighty bull with a kind and gentle heart. If the role was any more squarely in Cena’s wheelhouse, he’d be romancing an esteemed comedic actress.
The suit makes the man, and that’s seldom more true than for the superhero set. Batman would be another joe-schmo billionaire industrialist without the arsenal of weaponry built into his armor, Iron Man would literally die without his hardware, and now we can add Peter Parker to the list of superheroes whose own clothes act as unofficial sidekick. In the latest trailer for upcoming threeboot Spider-Man: Homecoming, we get a glimpse of some nifty new modifications (courtesy of Stark Industries) to Spidey’s trademark red-and-blue spandex. A new generation’s Spider-Man needs some modern upgrades, and the latest iteration of the suit includes a detachable mini-drone and what I can only describe as “skintight suction technology.”
There’s no arguing that superheroes currently own the cineplex, but in a slight change of pace, one of this upcoming summer’s cape-clad defenders won’t hail from the pages of Marvel or DC. Kids (and nostalgia fetishists in their mid-to-late twenties) will get a colorful crimefighter of a different stripe with Captain Underpants, the computer-animated adaptation of Dav Pilkey’s long-running line of sophomoric chapter books about a delusional elementary school principal’s adventures in doo-doo derring-do. The first trailer hit the internet today, and if you were wondering if it contains the same Steve Aoki club banger as the War Dogs trailer, then have I got some good news for you!
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