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Holiday Movie Preview

Charmaine Blake

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Well, weve made it this far.

Nearly 10 and a half months into the Trump presidency, one marked by scandals, snafus, and snide tweets, and in the midst of a long-overdue celebrity creep purge, comes a unique holiday movie season. Tis a season devoid of Harvey Weinsteins cloying Oscar bait and one with precious little tolerance for petty bullshit. And there are plenty of must-see movies, too.

If epic blockbusters are your thing, youve got Rian Johnsons supercharged Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which hopes to be the Empire of the new trilogy. In the mood for an expertly crafted prestige picture? Phantom Thread, the Paul Thomas Anderson-Daniel Day-Lewis collaboration about a 1950s couture designer, is just the ticket. And if its mindless laughs youre after, the Dwayne Johnson/Kevin Hart vehicle Jumanji should do the trick.

So without further ado, here are the most anticipated movies hitting theaters this holiday season.

THE DISASTER ARTIST (Dec. 1)

The Room, Tommy Wiseaus 2003 passion project, is widely regarded as one of the best-worst movies ever made; a tone-deaf disasterpiece of hilarious proportions, but this film chronicling the making-of is the best comedy of the year, anchored by a cheeky, committed turn from James Franco (who also directed) as Wiseau. More so than last years tap-dancing La La Land, here is a tender ode to the ones who dream, foolish as they may seem.

THE SHAPE OF WATER (Dec. 1)

Guillermo del Toro (Pans Labyrinth) has essentially fashioned his own genre of cinema: gothic science fiction. A master of fantastical creatures inhabiting dark, phantasmagorical worlds, his latest is his sweetest film yet. Its a 1960s-set fairy tale love story between a mute cleaning lady (Sally Hawkins, wonderful) and a creature from the deep. Throw in Michael Shannon as a sadistic government agent, Richard Jenkins closeted artist, Michael Stuhlbarg as a compassionate scientist, and a scene-stealing Octavia Spencer, and youve got a recipe for greatness.

WONDER WHEEL (Dec. 1)

Vittorio Storaros lensing and Kate Winslet are exquisite in this Woody Allen fable, about a jaded wife (Winslet) in 1950s Coney Island who finds herself involved in a love triangle with a handsome young lifeguard (Justin Timberlake) and her stepdaughter (Juno Temple). But the film also, at times, seems to function as justification for Allens romance with his own much-younger stepdaughter, Soon-Yiin addition to, you know, the disturbing Dylan Farrow controversy.

I, TONYA (Dec. 8)

There are some serious tonal deficiencies in I, Tonya, which my colleague Kevin Fallon did a great job of summing up here, but Margot Robbie is absolute dynamite as embattled figure skater Tonya Harding, capturing her fears and idiosyncrasies with expert precision. She is matched step-for-step by Allison Janney as her chain-smoking terror of a mother. This would be a good double-bill with the excellent Lady Bird, showing two very different mother-daughter relationships.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (Dec. 15)

No members of the press have seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi yet, but really, what do you need to know? Its a freakin Star Wars movie that brings back the surviving cast of The Force Awakensincluding the legendary Carrie Fisher, in her final film performancealong with newcomers Laura Dern, Benicio del Toro, and Kelly Marie Tran. Oh, and Princes Harry and William cameo as stormtroopers. And its directed by the talented Rian Johnson, the man behind Brick and Looper. Who are you kidding? Youre gonna see this.

THE RAPE OF RECY TAYLOR (Dec. 15)

A powerfuland vitaldocumentary by filmmaker Nancy Buirsky that captures the story of Recy Taylor, a black woman who in 1944 was kidnapped while leaving church and gang-raped by six white men. The men were never indicted, a tragic miscarriage of justice which brought shame to the nation. The incident served as a precursor to the Montgomery bus boycott that occurred nearly a decade later. Taylor, by the way, is still alive at 97, and paid a visit to the White House in 2011, where she was greeted by the first black president.

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN (Dec. 20)

Bill Condon knows a thing or two about movie-musicals, having helmed Chicago, Dreamgirls, and the recent Beauty and the Beast, and here hes back with a sweeping musical inspired by P.T. Barnum and the renowned Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Hugh Jackman plays Barnum, and hes joined by Zac Efron (Hairspray), Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, and Zendaya. Expect plenty of fireworks and high-wire activity.

JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (Dec. 20)

This sequel to the 1995 Robin Williams flick is set 20 years after the events of the first film, only now, the swashbuckling board game has somehow transformed into a video game, and somehow sucks in four teenagers who then play the game as their avatarscoming in the form of Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, and Jack Black. Pop star Nick Jonas also pops up as a supporting player, as does Bobby Cannavale as the Big Bad.

ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD (Dec. 22)

Theres quite a bit of curiosity surrounding Ridley Scotts latest because, when the sexual misconduct revelations came to light against star Kevin Spacey, the filmmaker took it upon himself to recut the film in a matter of weeks, replacing Spacey with Christopher Plummer. The film, meanwhile, dramatizes the real-life abduction of heir John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) and his father John Paul Gettys (Plummer) refusal to pay his ransom. The film also stars Michelle Williams as the kidnapped boys desperate mother, and Mark Wahlberg as a former CIA agent tasked with finding the boy.

DOWNSIZING (Dec. 22)

Every film by Alexander Payne is worth your time. After all, hes the man behind modern American classics like Election and Sideways. Here, he takes his first step into the realm of science fiction, envisioning a future world where environmentally conscious (and cost-efficient)humans choose to shrink themselves down and live in miniature communities in order to create less wasteand live in the lap of luxury. Unfortunately, when Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) decide to get downsized, she backs out of the procedure at the last-minute, leaving him to navigate the world of little people alone.

FATHER FIGURES (Dec. 22)

This looks like a very silly holiday comedy, but hey, laughs are in short supply these days. It centers on two wacky brothers (Owen Wilson and Ed Helms) who, after realizing their mother (Glenn Close) lied about their fathers death, go on a cross-country trip to track down moms ex-suitors and discover who their real dad is. The suspects are played by the likes of J.K. Simmons, Christopher Walken, and Terry Bradshaw, and the cast is rounded out by Ving Rhames, Katt Williams, Harry Shearer, and Katie Aselton.

PITCH PERFECT 3 (Dec. 22)

The second Pitch Perfect was not nearly as good as the first, but for those who need some pitch-slappin cheer, the third and final installment in the a capella franchise sees the Bellasnow struggling looking for jobs post-collegeembark on a USO reunion tour. Plenty of hijinks, of course, ensure. Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, and the gals all return, and are joined by newcomers John Lithgow, Ruby Rose, and the inimitable DJ Khaled.

HAPPY END (Dec. 22)

Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke is responsible for some of the finest films of the past 20 years, including Amour, The White Ribbon, and Cache. Hes reunited with his frequent collaborators Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant for a bourgeoisie-skewering satire touching on issues ranging from familial dysfunction to the refugee crisis. And with Haneke at the helm, you can expect this one to cut deep.

HOSTILES (Dec. 22)

Filmmaker Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) has joined forces once more with his Out of the Furnace star Christian Bale for this period Western that traces the journey of a U.S. Army captain (Bale) in 1892 America who reluctantly agrees to escort Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi), a dying Cheyenne chief, and his family back to their tribal lands in rural Montana. The $55 million film also stars Rosamund Pike, Jesse Plemons, Adam Beach, Ben Foster, and It boy Timothee Chalamet, of Call Me by Your Name fame.

THE POST (Dec. 22)

Directed by Steven Spielberg from a screenplay co-written by Spotlight scribe Josh Singer, this timely political thriller casts journalists as real-life superheroes in telling the true story of The Washington Posts publication of the Pentagon Papers, which exposed the Johnson administrations various lies concerning the Vietnam War. The Oscar bait flick features the incomparable Meryl Streep as Post publisher Kay Graham and Tom Hanks as Post editor Ben Bradlee, alongside Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Carrie Coon, Bruce Greenwood, and Matthew Rhys as famed whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

MOLLYS GAME (Dec. 25)

Marking the directorial debut of Aaron Sorkin, the Oscar-winning screenwriter behind The Social Network and the TV series The West Wing, it tells the real-life story of Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), an entrepreneur who set up a high-stakes private underground poker game for A-list celebrities, including Tobey Maguire and Ben Affleck, only to eventually have her game raided by the FBI due to its Russian mob ties. The film, boasting plenty of Sorkin-y monologues, also stars Idris Elba as Blooms attorney, Kevin Costner as her father, and Michael Cera as Player X, aka Tobey Maguire.

PHANTOM THREAD (Dec. 25)

Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood) may be the finest American filmmaker right now, and his latest may serve as the swan song for star Daniel Day-Lewis, who has claimed it is his final acting role. Day-Lewis is Reynolds Woodcock, a coveted couture designer in 1950s London whose exquisite dresses contour the bodies of the rich and famous. His precision and exacting nature, however, torments those in his inner orbit: sister Cyril (Lesley Manville, never better) and romantic partner Alma (Vicky Krieps, subtly magnificent). With direction, acting, and a score as fine as Woodcocks divine frocks, its truly a sight to behold.

IN THE FADE (Dec. 27)

One of the biggest surprises out of this years Cannes Film Festival was this gut-wrenching German drama by Fatih Akin (The Edge of Heaven). After losing her Kurdish husbanda former drug traffickerand their daughter in a bombing attack, Katja (Diane Kruger) slides into despair and decides to take her own life before changing her mind and pursuing justice, convinced that the authorities have it wrong when it comes to those who murdered her family. Kruger was awarded Best Actress at Cannes, and Akins film was selected as Germanys entry for the Best Foreign Film Oscar.

FILM STARS DONT DIE IN LIVERPOOL (Dec. 29)

The always wonderful Annette Bening stars as screen siren Gloria Grahame, who in the final years of her life engages in a passionate affair with a young Liverpudlian fellow named Peter Turner, played by Jamie Bell. Its a charming, lovingly crafted period piece, boosted by supporting turns from Vanessa Redgrave, Julie Walters, and Stephen Graham.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/holiday-movie-preview-star-wars-the-last-jedi-daniel-day-lewis-swan-song-and-more

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Apple and Oprah sign a multi-year partnership on original content

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Apple announced today a multi-year content partnership with Oprah Winfrey to produce programs for the tech company’s upcoming video-streaming service. Apple didn’t provide any specific details as to what sort of projects Winfrey would be involved in, but there will be more than one it seems.

Apple shared the news of its deal with Winfrey in a brief statement on its website, which read:

Apple today announced a unique, multi-year content partnership with Oprah Winfrey, the esteemed producer, actress, talk show host, philanthropist and CEO of OWN.

Together, Winfrey and Apple will create original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world.

Winfrey’s projects will be released as part of a lineup of original content from Apple.

The deal is a significant high-profile win for Apple, which has been busy filing out its lineup with an array of talent in recent months.

The streaming service also will include a reboot of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Storiesa Reese Witherspoon- and Jennifer Aniston-starring series set in the world of morning TVan adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation books, a thriller starring Octavia Spencer, a Kristen Wiig-led comedy, a Kevin Durant-inspired scripted basketball show, a series from “La La Land’s” director and several other shows.

Winfrey, however, is not just another showrunner or producer. She’s a media giant who has worked across film, network and cable TV, print and more as an actress, talk show host, creator and producer.

She’s also a notable philanthropist, having contributed more than $100 million to provide education to academically gifted girls from disadvantaged backgrounds, and is continually discussed as a potential presidential candidate, though she said that’s not for her.

On television, Winfrey’s Harpo Productions developed daytime TV shows like “Dr. Phil,” “The Dr. Oz Show” and “Rachael Ray.” Harpo Films produced several Academy Award-winning movies, including “Selma,” which featured Winfrey in a starring role. She’s also acted in a variety of productions over the years, like “The Color Purple,” which scored her an Oscar nom, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” and Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time.”

Winfrey also founded the cable network OWN in 2011 in partnership with Discovery Communications, and has exec produced series including “Queen Sugar,” “Oprah’s Master Class” and the Emmy-winning “Super Soul Sunday.”

The latter has a connection with Apple as it debuted as a podcast called “Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations” and became a No. 1 program on Apple Podcasts.

Winfrey recently extended her contract with OWN through 2025, so it’s unclear how much time she’ll devote specifically toward her Apple projects.

Apple also didn’t say if Winfrey will star or guest in any of the programs themselves, but that’s always an option on the table with a deal like this. CNN, however, is reporting that Winfrey “is expected to have an on-screen role as a host and interviewer.”

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/06/15/apple-and-oprah-sign-a-multi-year-partnership-on-original-content/

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Tom Cruise Day #1 Set of Top Gun 2

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(CNN) “It wasn’t “Top Gun” Day, but Tom Cruise still managed to thrill fans.

The star posted a photo that appears to celebrate the planned sequel to “Top Gun.”
The picture shows Cruise in character as Navy pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell looking at his aircraft with the words “Feel The Need” superimposed over the image.

A post shared by Tom Cruise (@tomcruise) on

The caption reads “#Day1.”
Three years ago, David Ellison, chief executive officer of the Skydance production company, confirmed that a sequel to the hit 1986 film was in development.
The following year, the original film’s producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, raised the stakes when he tweeted a picture with Cruise captioned: “Just got back from a weekend in New Orleans to see my old friend @TomCruise and discuss a little Top Gun 2.”
Last May, Cruise’s co-star Val Kilmer shared his excitement for the forthcoming sequel on social media.

friends said it’s official – #TOPGUN2 was announced today. I’m ready Tom- still got my top gun plaque! Still got the moves! Still got it!

A post shared by Val Kilmer (@valkilmerofficial) on

“Friends said it’s official – #TOPGUN2 was announced today,” Kilmer wrote in the caption of a photo he posted on Instagram that showed him wearing a t-shirt with a drawing of his Iceman character on it. “I’m ready Tom — still got my top gun plaque! Still got the moves! Still got it!”
The plot is being kept tightly under wraps. However, in October, director Joseph Kosinski told ComingSoon.net, “The Navy is very different now than it was in 1986.”
“Back then, they hadn’t been in any war for 15 or 20 years at that point,” he said. “The tone of that movie and what those guys were doing was very different. Now, here in 2017, the Navy’s been at war for 20 years. It’s just a different world now, so you can’t remake the first movie.”
According to Kosinski, the sequel has to “adapt.”
“That being said, I certainly want to recreate the experience of that movie, which gives you a front-seat into the world of Naval aviation and what it’s like to be in a fighter jet,” he said. “The approach is going to be appropriate for the times we live in.
For the record, “Top Gun” Day is May 13 — the unofficial holiday when fans of film are encouraged to celebrate it…”

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/31/entertainment/tom-cruise-top-gun-sequel/index.html

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Roseanne cancelled: ABC scraps sitcom after star’s ‘abhorrent’ tweets

Charmaine Blake

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“Roseanne Barrs revived sitcom has been cancelled after she posted a racist and Islamophobic tweet that attacked former Obama White House adviser Valerie Jarrett.

The sitcom star falsely alleged that Jarrett, who was born in Iran to American parents, has connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, and compared her to an ape. Barr wrote Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj, using Jarretts initials.

ABC swiftly announced the shows cancellation. The network said in a statement: Roseannes Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show.

Bob Iger, the chief executive of Disney, which owns ABC, supported the decision. Iger wrote on Twitter: There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing….”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2018/may/29/roseanne-barr-tweet-valerie-jarrett-ape

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