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Future shock: unearthing the most cutting-edge sci-fi movies of 2018

Charmaine Blake

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With films from Steven Spielberg, Duncan Jones and Alex Garland in the pipeline, theres plenty to get excited about beyond the superhero franchises

If the 2017 box office was typified by any one movie, it was surely Rian Johnsons Star Wars: The Last Jedi, a smart, intelligently curated yet ever so slightly soulless example of machine-honed franchise film-making. It ticked every box for fans of the venerable space saga, without ever really pushing the envelope; a movie that eventually made the Kessel Run, but 40 years or so after Han Solo and Chewie had already achieved that legendary feat.

The Last Jedi, like Spider-Man: Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 and Wonder Woman before it in 2017, proved that Hollywood probably has the tools and talent to keep churning out episodic blockbuster fantasy until at least 2050. To complain at this state of affairs would be churlish, especially when studios are delivering substandard and ill-considered material such as Justice League. But it does feel as if the Hollywood zeitgeist has crystallised in recent times, and we are in an era of fabulously made yet increasingly homogenous Marvel and Star Wars flicks that leave us only semi satisfied. Perhaps this is why the years greatest celluloid treasure, Blade Runner 2049, failed to gain traction with modern audiences who had perhaps never seen anything like it.

In that spirit, heres a guide to upcoming films that might just move things on this year. Sequels, remakes and mega-franchise fare are therefore largely banned as we go looking for the films with the best chance of leading us into a brave new world of sci-fi and fantasy in 2018.

First up is Alex Garlands Annihilation, due out in February, which would merit a place solely because the British film-makers last effort, Ex Machina, was a singular example of a cerebral, gripping futuristic think piece. Annihilations premise, on the face of it, is not all that exceptional, with Garland adapting Jeff VanderMeers novel about a biologist (Natalie Portman) who heads into an environmental disaster zone in search of answers after her soldier husband (Oscar Isaac) returns alone injured and close to death from a mission there. A quick dip into the book, however, suggests a discombobulating trip into the heart of darkness, where unknown, unearthly horrors lurk. Could Garlands movie be the Alien on Earth movie we were promised as far back as 1992, but have so far never got to see?

Garland has perhaps taken the mantle of Duncan Jones as the coming man of sci-fi. After the disaster that was Jones adaptation of World of Warcraft, the Moon director is returning to more intimate territory with the futuristic mystery thriller Mute. Described as a spiritual successor to Moon, it is also said to be inspired by the original Blade Runner, which can never be a bad thing and might sate the appetites of those of us longing for yet more mesmeric visions of the android-strewn dystopian future. Word is that Sam Rockwell will return as Moons Sam Bell (or perhaps one of his clones) but the main storyline centres on a mute bartender with a violent past (Alexander Skarsgrd) searching for his lost lover in mid 21st-century Berlin.

Next up is Captive State, in August, from Rise of the Planet of the Apes Rupert Wyatt, the British directors first science fiction movie since leaving the man-versus-simians saga. With a budget of just $25m, it will be fascinating to see how Wyatt delivers a story set 10 years after an alien invasion of Chicago. Neill Blomkamps District 9 was shot for $30m in 2009, while Gareth Edwards completed Monsters a year later for $500,000, so it can be done.

Steven Spielbergs Ready Player One, due out in March, has the unenviable task of trying to convince us to get excited all over again about virtual reality worlds, the best part of two decades after The Matrix gave us the definitive inner digital wonderland on the big screen. Based on Ernest Clines hugely popular novel, early trailers suggest this means swapping out Trinity, Morpheus et al for pop culture stalwarts such as Freddy Krueger, Lord of the Rings orcs, The Iron Giant and Deadpool, which all seems a little corporate. And yet if anyone is due a late-career renaissance it is Spielberg. If he proves he can still cut it in this realm, others will surely follow the three-time Oscar-winner back down the digital rabbit hole.

On to another long-lost subgenre: steampunk. Not since Chris Weitzs ill-fated The Golden Compass a decade ago have we seen a memorable big budget example of the mode in cinemas, unless one counts Martin Scorseses splendid Hugo. Is it time for a renaissance? If so, Christian Rivers Mortal Engines, about a world in which technology has regressed to Victorian levels and wheel-mounted carnivorous cities chase each other across the plains might be the answer. Based on an adaptation of Philip Reeves post-apocalyptic novel by the Lord of the Rings team of Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson, it stars Irish actor Robert Sheehan alongside Rings alumnus Hugo Weaving. Avatars Stephen Lang plays the films main baddie, a murderous cyborg known as Shrike, and there are three more books in Reeves series if audiences get a taste for this future-retro blend.

Finally,only only one superhero flick looks like it will break new ground: 20th Century Foxs The New Mutants. With a fine cast including The Witchs Anya Taylor-Joy and Game of Thrones Maisie Williams, Josh Boones comic book tale will dip its toe into the resurgent horror genre. Its set in a secret facility where several future X-Men types find themselves imprisoned and in imminent danger, and is being talked up as the first in a potential trilogy. With Deadpool and Logan emerged as two of the livelier comic book entries of the past few years, it seems that Fox is finally carving out a place for the X-Men at the more mature end of the superhero spectrum. If we have any hope that 2018 will mark the beginning of a new era in fantasy film-making, this could be a very welcome mutation indeed.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/jan/03/cutting-edge-sci-fi-movies-2018-steven-spielberg-alex-garland

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Picture of Tom Hardy as Al Capone in Upcoming Movie Fonzo

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Infamous mob boss Al Capone has an iconic look, and somehow Tom Hardy is nailing it perfectly.

A recent picture of Hardy surfaced Wednesday that shows the actor in full Capone dress and makeup for his role as the gangster in the upcoming biographical movie Fonzo (which stems from Capone’s full first name, Alphonse — not to be confused with Alfonse).

It’s almost hard to believe that’s Hardy under there.

This new picture comes a few months after Fonzo director Joshua Trank and Hardy himself shared a couple photos of Hardy as old Scarface on Instagram. Take a look:

 
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‘Thailand Cave Rescue: The Movie’ May Be Coming To A Screen Near You

Charmaine Blake

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“It hasn’t even been 24 hours since rescuers pulled the last boy of the trapped Wild Boars junior soccer team from Thailand’s Tham Luang Cave — but there’s already talk of immortalizing their incredible survival and rescue story on the silver screen.

Pure Flix Entertainment, an Arizona-based Christian film studio, said it’s seeking the movie rights to the harrowing mission to rescue the soccer team and their 25-year-old coach from the flooded cave.

“The bravery and heroism I’ve witnessed is incredibly inspiring, so, yes, this will be a movie for us,” Pure Flix co-founder and CEO Michael Scott, who is partly based in Thailand, told the Hollywood Reporter of the studio’s intentions.

No one will likely be surprised by the studio’s swift interest. Social media has been abuzz for days with chatter about the inevitable “Thailand Cave Rescue: The Movie.”

Pure Flix’s co-founder David White told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that the studio had already started talking to…….”

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/thailand-cave-rescue-movie-tham-luang-cave_us_5b45bcc4e4b07aea7545a157

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These tweets Show the Backlash to Casting Scarlett Johansson in a Trans Role

Charmaine Blake

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Did you hear about the latest Scarlett Johansson casting debacle?

Here’s how a good portion of the internet reacted to the news:

In case you missed it, here’s a brief recap:

ScarJo was recently cast as Dante “Tex” Gill, a real-life transgender man who oversaw a massage parlor and sex work business in Pittsburgh in the ’70s and ’80s. A new film about his life, currently titled “Rub & Tug,” is being co-produced by Johansson — and, conveniently enough, stars her as well.

But as the previous tweet not-so subtly suggested, many people aren’t thrilled about Johansson, who is cisgender, portraying Gill, who was transgender. And rightfully so.

But wait! Before you argue, “Well, isn’t that what acting is all about — pretending to be somebody you’re not?” hear what a few trans actors had to say about the news. Because if anyone should be heard on this issue, it’s them.

Jamie Clayton, who starred in “Sense8,” wasn’t thrilled.

Trans actors don’t get nearly the same opportunity as cis artists, she argued, which gets at the heart of the issue.

Trace Lysette, known for her role in “Transparent,” also made a similar argument.

If she were getting a seat at the table, things would be different. But those seats are reserved for cis women.

It makes matters worse when those same cis actors are celebrated for playing trans characters when actual trans actors never even had a shot, Lysette continued in a follow-up tweet.

They make a great point.

Very few transgender characters make it onto the big screen, period. But even when they do, those characters are often defined solely by their gender identities, fall into harmful stereotypes, or serve no purpose to the plot other than to be the butt of transphobic jokes.

In recent years, more fully realized trans characters made it into Hollywood narratives. But when they do, too often they’re still portrayed by cisgender actors, like Matt Bomer, Jeffrey Tambor — and now Scarlett Johansson.

As Lysette and Clayton noted, it’s still rare (read: basically impossible) for trans actors to be cast in cisgender roles. So it’s understandably infuriating when the few opportunities that do arise for them are snatched away by cis Hollywood heavyweights who no doubt have a plethora of scripts to choose from.

Beyond affecting the opportunities for trans actors, though, these casting decisions have real-world ramifications as well.

When cisgender actors are cast in transgender roles, it perpetuates the harmful myth that transgender people are simply “in drag” — that they’re really just pretending or performing, GLAAD’s Nick Adams argued in The Hollywood Reporter:

“Hollywood is having a very difficult time letting go of the idea that putting a male actor in a dress, wig and makeup is an accurate portrayal of a transgender woman. … It’s yet another painful reminder that, in the eyes of so many people, transgender women are really just men. That message is toxic and dangerous.”

It’s a notion, he argued, that attempts to justify bigoted bathroom laws and fuels violence against the transgender community.

Casting decisions on Hollywood sets do make a difference in real life, whether we believe it or not.

But maybe there’s a way out of this latest casting mess.

First, Johansson can apologize for her incredibly insensitive response to the criticism, as well as her defensive alignment with cis actor Jeffrey Tambor’s role as a trans woman in “Transparent” (remember, he allegedly sexually harassed then-assistant Trace Lysette).

Then she can take YouTuber Grace Randolph’s idea and run with it:

“I hope the Scarlett Johansson controversy doesn’t keep the amazing story of Jean Marie Gill aka Dante ‘Tex’ Gill from being told. If Johansson was smart, she’d find a new director, take the role of Tex’s girlfriend Cynthia, and give a trans actor a big break.”

That’s not a bad idea, really. Hopefully someone in Hollywood is listening.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/these-tweets-nailed-why-casting-scarlett-johansson-in-a-trans-role-is-not-so-great

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