“The Green Knight” Trailer Review!

The epic tale of Sir Gawain And The Green Knight, one of the most legendary stories of chivalry, honor and valor to come out of King Arthur’s court, is absolutely not the sort of thing one would expect to be turned into a surreal horror/dark fantasy thriller, but you know what? It just might work.

Dev Patel stars in the first trailer for this spooky retelling of the Medieval legend, which tells the story of a young knight in Camelot who is challenged to a duel by the terrifying Green Knight, and has to prove his worthiness through a series of tests. The best version of the epic, naturally, is the translation by English author J.R.R. Tolkien. I’m not sure which version director David Lowery is drawing from, or whether he’s taking bits and pieces of all the best translations and then adding mostly new content, but he appears to be leaning into the story’s pagan origins (pagan horror is a genre that has just recently begun to flourish, with the success of Midsommar, and pagan Medieval horror is a genre I don’t know if anybody has touched upon yet), and using this story to highlight just how many Christian traditions and legends are rooted in paganism. At least, I’m guessing that’s why we see kings wearing burning halos in this trailer, and Christian Medieval life threatened by apparitions, spectral visitors and horrors in the dark.

The Green Knight himself, Sir Gawain’s sworn enemy, is a sight to behold: he wields a huge battle-axe, and has a face carved from wood, with a bristly, twiggy beard. Retellings of the tale have always struggled to define what he is: Tolkien called him the “most difficult character” in the entire poem, and other scholars have alternately described him as a version of the Green Man of Celtic mythology, the Devil, an amalgamation of the Greek god Hades and Jesus, or a character rife with homosexual symbolism. So, um…take your pick, I guess?

So will you be going to see this creepy take on a Camelot classic? And what do you think of Dev Patel as Sir Gawain? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

Trailer Review: 7.5/10

“The French Dispatch” Trailer Review!

Director Wes Anderson is back in the game with his boldest, brightest, most bizarre project yet: The French Dispatch, a film anthology of stories from a fictional newspaper (loosely based on The New Yorker) operating out of a fictional French city (obviously based on Paris) in the middle of the 20th Century, playing witness to some of the most explosive moments in the nation’s history. The abstract and absurdist comedy stars a massive cast of A-list talent, and employs a number of curious camera-tricks, as well as being partly shot in black-and-white.

Bill Murray stars as the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, who went on a holiday and never came back to his home-state of Kansas: instead, he turned his travelogue column into The French Dispatch, which appears to be a semi-satirical weekly newspaper chronicling “world politics, the arts (high and low), and diverse stories of human interest”. He is surrounded by a star-studded cast playing his small army of editors, journalists, columnists, sources and the local characters they interact with on the streets of Paris, including Tilda Swinton (wearing a very bright orange wig), Benicio Del Toro as an artist imprisoned in a padded cell, Frances McDormand, Jeffrey Wright, Adrien Brody, Timothée Chalamet already working on his Bob Dylan impersonation, Léa Seydoux as a stone-cold police officer, Owen Wilson, Mathieu Amalric, Liev Schrieber, Elisabeth Moss, Kate Winslet, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Christoph Waltz, Henry Winkler and Saoirse Ronan, among many others. Not all of this cast are comedians, but all of them look like they’re about to be.

"The French Dispatch" Trailer Review! 1
slashfilm.com

This trailer certainly makes it look like The French Dispatch will be a memorable cinematic experience – not only because of its extraordinarily weird cinematography and quirky visuals, but because I can’t wait to see the interactions between this amazing cast: Tilda Swinton and Henry Winkler in the same movie? Timothée Chalamet and Saoirse Ronan reunited onscreen for the umpteenth time? Count me in.

So what do you think? Does The French Dispatch look too weird for your taste, or do you think this looks stupendously strange? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 8/10

“Little Women” Non-Spoiler Review!

A century and a half has passed since Louisa May Alcott first set pen to paper and sat down to write the semi-autobiographical story of four sisters’ journeys towards adulthood, but the tale of the “little women” is still just as relevant and iconic nowadays as it was back in 1868. And visionary director Greta Gerwig has lovingly (and masterfully) crafted an adaptation of Alcott’s classic that is not only faithful to the original book, but more in line with both modern sensibilities and Alcott’s own feminist philosophy than any previous iteration.

"Little Women" Non-Spoiler Review! 2
latimes.com

Gerwig has, first and foremost, chosen to tell the story in a non-linear fashion: while this decision may confuse the unwary (which is why I’m warning you in advance), it is a conscious choice that enables Gerwig to have what are essentially two stories simultaneously playing out onscreen, linked through flashbacks, flash-forwards, and what some may view as a bit of fourth-wall breaking – one story being the first half of the novel Little Women, covering the March sisters’ adolescence and happy, hazy childhood, awash in golden lighting; the other being the novel’s latter half, the grimmer, bleaker post-Civil War era, in which the March sisters have all grown up and gone their separate ways, and heroine Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) is beginning to more closely resemble Alcott herself. But while this might at first appear to be a narrative trick to keep the story compelling, it becomes clear in the film’s final minutes that there’s a shockingly exciting reason for the non-linear structure, one that will make Gerwig’s Little Women a topic for debate for many years to come. Keep your eyes peeled, for Gerwig drops plenty of clues and hints as to what’s coming in the finale, but you still might be caught off-guard if you’re not looking – or you might even miss it altogether.

Little Women is beloved because of its cast of extremely relatable and interesting characters, many of whom are best known to movie-lovers through the 1994 adaptation of the novel that starred Winona Ryder as the rebellious, free-spirited heroine, and a young Christian Bale as her love interest, charming, carefree Laurie. But Gerwig’s Jo and Laurie are slightly more modernized than the prim and proper couple of that film: Laurie, here excellently portrayed by rising star Timothée Chalamet, is a gentle, easygoing, and somewhat gender-neutral character who feels like the perfect soulmate to Saoirse Ronan’s socially awkward but passionate Jo – neither is entirely comfortable within the constraints laid upon them by their gender, but neither can do anything but fight the system in small ways – whether that means marrying for love or trying to establish their own place in the world. To reinforce the essentially gender-fluid relationship between the stars, Gerwig even had Ronan and Chalamet swap articles of clothing onset in order to break down the boundaries between them.

Personally, I’ve always been a huge fan of Jo March: it’s sort of a mandatory thing, I think, for most writers. We love her not just because of how sympathetic her daily struggles are, but because of how she chooses to use the written word as a weapon in her fight – hers is a pen far mightier than any sword.

"Little Women" Non-Spoiler Review! 3
screendaily.com

But Gerwig also allows the other March siblings to have their chance to shine: romantic, idealistic Meg (Emma Watson) is finally given a leg to stand on in her ongoing struggle with her character’s critics and detractors, who have always claimed she’s the least feminist of the sisters, and the most outdated in this modern age. Petty, vainglorious Amy (Florence Pugh) is actually respectable in Gerwig’s film – yes, she’s still a brat, but she’s also forced to grow up too quickly and bear a heavy burden upon her shoulders; she’s the only one of the March sisters who has a chance of marrying well, and for women in Alcott’s era, marriage was a woman’s only respectable method of achieving success. Amy’s speech to Laurie in which she details all the ways in which marriage is nothing but “an economic proposition” is one of the film’s most powerful scenes. Then there’s poor Beth (Eliza Scanlen), who is crucial to the story’s plot but still never quite rises above being the shy, pious outlier in the group without very much to say or do.

On the sidelines, Laura Dern and Meryl Streep have small but excellent performances as Marmee and Aunt March, respectively. Streep, especially, is a delightful addition to the cast with her biting wit, passive aggressive humor, and dainty mannerisms. Louis Garrel has the thankless job of portraying Professor Friedrich Bhaer, one of the most purposefully disappointing characters in Alcott’s novel, but he plays the role as well as he possibly can.

"Little Women" Non-Spoiler Review! 4
cinemablend.com

Little Women is also an exceptionally beautiful film, with a myriad of dreamy, pastel-colored scenes that look almost like they leaped straight from the painter’s canvas onto the big screen (a special shout-out goes to cinematographer Yorick Le Saux, who apparently had the camera follow the Marches like a “fifth sister”, dancing and twirling with them on their youthful frolics and adventures, giving the audience a chance to feel even more connected to the close-knit cast). The production and costume design are superb: every detail of the March family’s dark, cozy homestead and every accouterment of high-society Parisian fashion is lovingly crafted.

Greta Gerwig deserves the Oscar for Best Director, and the fact that just this morning it was revealed that she is one of a multitude of talented women not on the Academy Awards shortlist for that honor is a travesty. What she has designed, directed and delivered is a love-letter to both Alcott’s novel and to Alcott herself, who was forced to play a part all her life and sacrifice her artistic freedom. A century and a half later, Gerwig has finally done justice to this author’s work in a way that seemed almost unimaginable to me, going into the theater. Little Women is an instant classic, despite how hard Hollywood will try to ignore or downplay this incredible work of art.

Movie Rating: 9/10

“Free Guy” Trailer Review!

A lot of people thought Ryan Reynolds’s signature brand of crazy, edgy, meta humor would be suffocated under the Disney label, but the first trailer for his comedy action movie Free Guy proves that Reynolds isn’t going to be easily dissuaded from doing whatever he wants – including poking fun at the Mouse House in the first few moments of the trailer: the opening title cards read “From the studio that brought you Beauty & The Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King, followed after a beat by “Twice”). And from there on out, Free Guy looks like a wildly fun, unabashedly ridiculous movie that fans of Reynolds will love.

Reynolds plays an NPC (non-playable character) named Guy, trying to live his life in the background of a gigantic, action-packed video game filled with explosions, car/motorcycle/helicopter/fighter plane crashes, and daily heists and hostage crises at the bank where he works. But one day, he can’t take it anymore, and sets out to change his tiresome routine by becoming the hero of his virtual reality. So basically this movie is what would happen if Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph and 20th Century Fox’s Deadpool had a baby – or rather, it is what happens when Disney and 20th Century Fox merge and start making movies together.

The trailer looks comedic and entertaining in a 90’s sort of way, with catchy music, bright colors, and a familiar cast of characters. It looks fun: nothing more, nothing less. I had been expecting something a little more unpredictable, but what we’ve got looks good enough for right now.

Trailer Rating: 6.9/10

“No Time To Die” Trailer Review!

Yesterday, Marvel Studios had to abruptly shift the release for their first Black Widow trailer to the middle of the night so as to give themselves ample room to break the internet before the hotly-anticipated first trailer for No Time To Die dropped. And now we can see why. The trailer for Daniel Craig’s final James Bond movie is finally here, and it looks like the sort of film that Black Widow, with its similar spy-thriller vibes, will probably want to keep at arm’s length. But considering that both films are going to be released within the span of a few weeks, they will eventually come head-to-head, and it will be very interesting to see which one comes out on top.

No Time To Die has the advantage of being the latest installment in a well-established franchise, and fans are going to want to see Daniel Craig in the role of James Bond, since he’s made it very clear this is his last time playing the character. Fittingly, the plot of this movie revolves around Craig’s Bond coming out of retirement in Jamaica and being roped into a nefarious conspiracy. But along the way, he will end up passing the torch (sort of) to a new agent 007, this one a young black woman played by the extraordinary Lashana Lynch. Lynch’s character, named Nomi, may be new to the franchise, but she’s already charismatic and captivating in this first trailer, telling the middle-aged Bond to stay in his lane unless he wants her to put a bullet in his knee – “the one that works,” she adds. With her glamour and winning personality (and Phoebe Waller-Bridge writing all of this film’s female characters), Lynch is almost guaranteed to be one of the best things about this new Bond movie, and hopefully she’ll get to stay in the franchise for some time.

As for Rami Malek, his performance as the villain Safin is probably going to be hindered by the ghostly Phantom Of The Opera mask his character is wearing throughout most of the trailer. Hopefully the Oscar-winning actor has something more to do than just deliver villain speeches. Not that he won’t knock those villain speeches out of the park, but still, this is a Bond movie – give him something to do!

All in all, the film looks good: I do want to see more action, however, as most of what we see in the trailer consists of the standard building-blocks of any spy-movie trailer: cars careening over cliff roads? Check. Bicycle chase through a seaside village in Italy? Check. There are a couple of things that Bond has that other spies don’t, however – specifically, an Aston Martin with machine guns in the headlights. Stylish.

So what do you think? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 8.5/10

Bee Gees Biopic In Development At Paramount!

I’ve gotta get a message to you, dear film-aficionado: get your fancasts ready, jive to the sweet sounds of 70’s pop, and rejoice – the Bee Gees, one of the world’s most beloved and recognizable music groups, are finally getting their own movie. Following the huge success of films like Bohemian Rhapsody (the Academy-Award winning Queen biopic), and Rocketman (the Academy-Award hopeful and Elton John biopic), and the promise of more to come (a…Boy George biopic?), the Bee Gees, whose personal lives are a dramatic and compelling story of triumph and heartbreak, accompanied by an upbeat disco soundtrack, were inevitably going to end up on the big screen at some point – nonetheless, it’s very exciting to see it happen in the lifetime of Barry Gibb, the last surviving member of the band (Maurice died in 2003 of medical complications at the age of 53, while Robin died from cancer in 2012, aged 62).

Bee Gees Biopic In Development At Paramount! 5
bbc.co.uk

It’s also exciting that Paramount will be the ones to make the film. While that’s not entirely surprising (they are, after all, the studio that brought you Rocketman, mentioned above), it is especially fitting since it was a Paramount movie, Saturday Night Fever, that helped to turn the Bee Gees into the household name they are today: the film’s soundtrack, for which the group wrote iconic songs such as “Stayin’ Alive”, became the best-selling movie soundtrack of all time upon its release in 1977 and, in the words of music supervisor Bill Oakes, “breathed new life into a genre that was actually dying”. And now, perhaps because of that fateful union of film and music, the Bee Gees themselves will be stayin’ alive in the memory of filmgoers for years to come. It brings a tear to the eye, that’s for sure.

Paramount has bought the rights to the story of Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, and all of their music, and Bohemian Rhapsody producer Graham King is already attached to the film. So, while Paramount searches for a writer and director, it’s time for us fans to start considering who should be cast in the lead roles (since, obviously, that’s the most important question). Share your suggestions in the comments below!

“Bombshell” Trailer Review!

Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie are on fire in the new trailer for Bombshell, which recounts the explosive birth of the MeToo movement out of the wreckage of FOX News founder Roger Ailes’s downfall. And for Kidman and Theron at least, Bombshell could land them some well-deserved Oscar nominations.

The film tackles a difficult subject, with Kidman taking on the role of Gretchen Carlson, the controversial FOX News host who first spoke out about Ailes’ history of sexual harassment – Carlson herself recently revealed that, due to the terms of her settlement with Ailes, she is unable to say much about the upcoming film; but that she thinks it’s “amazing” that projects such as this and the Showtime series The Loudest Voice are continuing the conversation that started in July of 2016 (it’s worth noting that women have been speaking up about these issues long before Carlson, but for whatever reason it was her revelation that sparked a sudden furor in society): but let’s not forget that Carlson has herself made sexist, transphobic, and blatantly racist remarks in the past – and even though she says she doesn’t watch FOX anymore, it’s hard to say whether those were her own opinions or Ailes’. Meanwhile, Charlize Theron is Megyn Kelly, an even more controversial character; Kelly, who came forward with allegations against Ailes not long after Carlson and got into a very public fight with then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump, is not a swell person either – during her time on FOX, she was a divisive and negative influence, and was forced to step down from her brief stint at NBC News after multiple incidents, such as defending racist Halloween costumes and encouraging body-shaming. So any attempt to portray either woman as heroines is inevitably going to court controversy – which may be why Bombshell has invented a third character, a third victim of Ailes’ unwanted advances, this one an entirely fictional young producer named Kayla Pospisil, played by Margot Robbie. While she’s not as prominent in the trailer, I feel certain the movie will make her out to be the emotional core of the complex story.

Regardless, the trailer is stirring and powerful, accompanied by a great song choice (Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy”) and intentionally walking the line between biting satire and intense drama: there are unsubtle parodies of all of FOX’s most notorious hosts and contributors walking the hallways of this newsroom, including Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro and, for whatever reason, Rudy Giuliani. And, of course, there’s Kate McKinnon to provide some of her classic wise-cracks – plus, there’s a brief appearance from D’arcy Carden of The Good Place, who is also a fantastic comedian.

So what do you think of the trailer? Is Bombshell going to be a hard sell with audiences and critics alike, or is it going to earn one of its three leads a Best Actress nomination – or a win? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 9/10

“Dolittle” Trailer Review!

We’ve grown so accustomed to Robert Downey Jr. being a movie-star, it’s hard to imagine him ever losing that status. But Dolittle seems intent on sending Downey back to obscurity, with a lonely January release date, and a poorly executed trailer that showcases bad CGI, and a badly exaggerated British accent from Downey, who is clearly much more comfortable in a suit of iron armor: and can we really blame him? The role of Iron Man was tailor-made for the actor – whereas that of Dr. Dolittle is perhaps better suited to someone like comedian Michael Sheen, who will actually have a prominent voice role in Dolittle.

There is charm in this newly released trailer, and a sense of wonderment that is appropriate for the material: too often, these days, even the smallest, most intimate stories get turned into big-budget CGI spectacles – the first look at The Secret Garden is a good example of a low-stakes children’s classic rudely transformed into a mindless mess of visual effects wizardry. So in that regard, perhaps it’s encouraging that Dolittle is going in a different direction, with shots pulled straight from the pages of a fairytale – specifically, I’m thinking of the adventures of Sinbad, since Dolittle also has a sea-faring journey at its heart, as well as a faux-Indian setting (along with all its traditional, if rather stereotypical accouterments, such as hungry tigers, golden palaces, lavish banquets, and a malicious prince with dark eyeliner played by a non-Indian actor).

Now, it’s worth noting that this trailer, despite being two minutes long, mostly consists of large animals hurrying about without rhyme or reason. It seems that Dolittle will be called upon by the Queen of England to find a cure for a mysterious illness by traveling the seven seas with his menagerie of talking animals, but absolutely none of that is even hinted at in the trailer. Instead, we listen to a rendition of “What A Wonderful World” (a great song, but overused), while Dolittle himself mumbles almost incoherently about how it’s okay to be scared (meanwhile, his sailing ship is literally being torn to pieces by enemy warships, and he’s just crashed out on the deck in a clumsy 19th Century diving-suit: personally, if I were in such a situation, I think I’d be trying to get away as fast as possible, rather than just sitting about, but whatever; you do you, Dolittle).

I mean, one thing to look forward to is the all-star cast: but almost all of them are voice roles, and does Emma Thompson even count? She’s in literally everything these days: it’s almost like we take for granted that “obviously, Emma Thompson’s in this movie too”.

So what do you think? Is RDJ a good fit for the role of Dolittle? Is this movie going to be a hit or miss with modern audiences? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 4/10

“Jungle Cruise” Trailer Review!

I’m just gonna say it, loud and clear: Jungle Cruise will be a billion-dollar blockbuster summer juggernaut next year. Even if the trailer had not been good, it would probably still crush its competition and rake in plenty of cash for Disney – but the trailer is fantastic.

I knew it was going to be good when Emily Blunt, decked out in her most Indiana Jones-esque fashion, came onscreen wielding a gigantic spear, trying to steal an ancient Amazonian arrowhead from a team of archaeologists in London. Having Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as her unwilling traveling companion hilariously trying to swindle her out of £15000 is also exceptionally fun – Johnson is an excellent comedian. We even catch a brief glimpse of Jack Whitehall as Disney’s first openly gay character, though he has no lines just yet. But for me, the main selling point for this film is adventure.

During the interminable wait until Indiana Jones 5, I have been waiting for a new, epic adventure movie: one with high-stakes, danger, action, a dash of humor, and all the thrills that Disney has to offer. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, a movie based off a theme park ride delivers up all that, and more. There’s huge waterfalls, giant snakes, and a warrior god protecting a magical tree in the Amazon Rainforest: is that not what your heart has been secretly hungering for these past few years? I literally breathed a sigh of relief watching this trailer, realizing that I’ve wanted this for so long. Jungle Cruise looks like it will manage to give us all the fun that we expect from classic adventure movies, but with modern sensibilities: including the appropriately diverse cast of heroes.

My only complaint, as of right now, is that the actual cruise boat is a bit smaller than I had imagined – that’s entirely my fault, though: for some reason, I was picturing some majestic Mississippi riverboat sluggishly moving down the Amazon…off the top of my head, I can’t recall whether any such vessels were ever actually built for travel on the jungle waterways, so perhaps for once Disney might actually be kind of historically accurate? Or, more likely, it’s just cheaper and easier to build an itty-bitty little jungle cruise than a gigantic one.

So the real question is not whether you will see Jungle Cruise, because I have no doubt that everyone will at some point, but whether or not you will see it simply because it’s a Disney movie, or because this trailer actually does an awesome job promoting this film. In this day and age, great trailers aren’t necessary to boost a film into the billion-dollar club (looking at you, Aladdin and The Lion King), but Jungle Cruise can’t be hindered by the fact that its marketing campaign is off to a great start. Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 9.5/10

“Charlie’s Angels” Trailer Review!

Months ago, when we got our first look at Charlie’s Angels, as reimagined for modern audiences by director Elizabeth Banks, I had no idea what to expect, no idea what to critique, and what to compliment. I had never watched a single second of footage from the two previous Charlie’s Angels movies, or the 1970’s TV show that started it all. Well, I’m proud to say today that that has changed, and that, thanks to Netflix, who always seem to conveniently release older movies just when they’re relevant again, I have watched both of the original films. They’re bad movies: they’re cheesy, ridiculous, and laughable – they’ve got sexist and racist overtones, and are unabashedly and sometimes even uncomfortably intended for the male gaze: so it comes as no surprise that, unburdened by a male director, the modern Charlie’s Angels is quite the opposite of the two films that precede it.

I completely agree with what Banks is trying to do with the franchise, bringing in more diversity, focusing significantly more on the women themselves rather than their relationships with men, and shaking things up in the general premise of the plot.

Now, on the flip-side, Banks also seems to have gotten rid of one of the more unproblematic elements of the first two films: the crazy, over-the-top action that made those movies actually watchable – there were some iconic and clever fight scenes in those films, made possible through CGI wizardry and a lot of wire-work: the Angels repeatedly verged on becoming superhero ninjas, even defying the laws of gravity – the fact that there are not one, but two scenes in those films where the Angels successfully climb onto a helicopter in mid-air, is proof of that. And yes, it’s so hilariously implausible that it’s hard not to laugh, but isn’t that what made the series fun? But Banks has chosen to focus less on cool action-sequences than on “party vibes”, which is an okay route to go, I guess, but doesn’t compare to the sword-fights, race-car duels and motorbike murder from the first two films. And with actresses like Kristen Stewart and Naomi Scott in this movie, is Banks seriously going to rob us of any cool fight sequences with the two?

And at the same time that the film is straying dangerously far from its roots into uncharted territory, the trailers are also extremely confusing: for one thing, Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus and Lana Del Rey all show up in this new trailer – except, their footage appears to be taken straight from the music video they did for the film’s hit song, “Don’t Call Me Angel”. So, um, are they in the movie…or not? I mean, I guess it makes sense, since the song is pretty much the only thing that has so far captured the public’s attention, so capitalizing on that is a surefire win…but also kind of perplexing, since audiences who haven’t watched the music video are now going to think that those three, popular singers are in the movie – or maybe they are! Who knows?

So, the trailers are almost definitely going to be a miss for many people, and long-range box-office tracking predicts that Charlie’s Angels itself will be a miss: I mean, honestly, it looks decent. What it lacks is brand recognition, action, and cohesion. What do you think? Are you going to see the film, or will this angel’s wings be broken at the box-office?

Trailer Rating: 5.9/10

Robert Downey Jr. Passes On Oscar Opportunity!

As the 2020 Oscars race heats up, and more and more actors throw their hats into the ring for a chance to take home the gold, we can be assured of one thing: Robert Downey Jr., the star of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame, won’t be among the contenders at next year’s ceremony.

RDJ has been one of the most talked-about and hyped-up candidates for the Best Actor award, but despite the anger and outrage of fans, despite all the petitions in the world, the veteran actor has made it clear that he is not going to make a move for the prize: in a recent interview with Howard Stern, Downey rather vaguely suggested that he didn’t feel it was the right thing to do. “There was some talk about [an Oscar campaign], and I said, “let’s not”.”

Robert Downey Jr. Passes On Oscar Opportunity! 6
grist.org

Downey didn’t give any specific reasoning for his choice, and it seems particularly surprising given how hotly anticipated his campaign already was in the media: Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo, along with Iron Man director Jon Favreau, had both publicly given Downey their support in the race, and millions of Marvel fans were completely behind the idea. Whether or not the Academy Awards would have recognized Downey’s position as the figurehead of one of Hollywood’s biggest and most fortunate film studios for the past decade is a question we now have no way of answering: but why? What could have inspired Downey to back away from the finish line when it seemed so close?

Well, obviously, his choice could be entirely personal. It’s possible he has better things to do with his time than try to win a shiny gold trophy. But it’s also possible that Downey recognizes an unfortunate trend in modern Hollywood, and has made his choice to avoid courting controversy and stirring up trouble: what I’m trying to say is that the Academy Awards simply might not want to give such a prestigious award to the star of a superhero movie.

The discussion we are having now has been the subject of a great number of essays, articles and opinion pieces in the past few days: it started a long time ago actually, but acclaimed director Martin Scorsese’s recent comments have made everyone sit up and take notice yet again. While promoting his new film The Irishman, Scorsese claimed that, despite having never watched a Marvel movie (he “tried”, to be fair), he believes that the films are “not cinema”, adding that “Honestly, the closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks. It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.” Scorsese’s controversial comments quickly riled up the internet – Marvel directors and actors responded in various different ways, from James Gunn being “saddened” to Samuel L. Jackson bluntly pointing out that “Everybody doesn’t like his stuff either”. As for Downey himself, he was cool about the whole subject, saying that, while Scorsese’s insult “makes no sense”, he still respects and appreciates the director’s opinion. But he’s also not going to intentionally upset the other filmmakers and Academy members who agree with Scorsese, by campaigning for an Oscar. Because there are others: many others, in fact. And The Hollywood Reporter has turned a spotlight on them in a fascinating new article published just today.

The article has nothing to do with Robert Downey Jr., or even Scorsese: instead, it’s about another comic book movie making headlines right now – that being Joker. A gritty, realistic approach to the genre (and unabashedly inspired by the works of Martin Scorsese, in fact), the supervillain origin story has generated plenty of Oscar buzz already, with critics praising Joaquin Phoenix’s intense performance. But today, Academy Award voters were asked to anonymously contribute their opinions on the film, and on the genre as a whole: and their responses confirm that Scorsese is not alone in his beliefs. Several stated that comic book movies hold zero interest for them, with some even pointedly referencing Scorsese’s comments in their rebuttals of the film – and as for the one who said that we live in an age of “sanitized, shrink-wrapped cinema”, well, I don’t know if he was referring specifically to comic book movies, but I can’t imagine his opinion of those is good. Some of them didn’t even have plans to see the film at all, or were reluctant to see it for a variety of reasons; some logical (security concerns), or illogical (comic book movies suck).

And these are Academy voters: the men and women who will decide who takes home the biggest awards in the entertainment industry. Are they biased? Yes, some of them are undoubtedly biased. A large number of them might be voting against movies that they haven’t even watched. Are they right in their condemnations of modern cinema – do superhero movies deserve to be called cinema at all, or are they nothing more than flashy merchandising ploys? That’s for you to decide. But imagine if Robert Downey Jr. were to step into this arena and even try to launch a campaign for Best Actor. There’s a strong chance he wouldn’t win, and his efforts would most likely be laughed at behind his back – the fact that Joker is still considered by many to be an Oscar darling, even after the reactions from those voters, just goes to show how badly superhero movies are usually treated by the industry. As frustrating as it is, the Academy’s electoral process is not fair; not by a long shot. Downey is probably better off steering far clear of all these shenanigans, and instead focusing on the things that matter to him – such as his plan to help clean up the environment using high-tech robotics.

So that’s that: Downey has made his choice. The Academy will probably end up nominating Joaquin Phoenix for Best Actor in his stead, but it’s not a sure bet that he’ll win either. Avengers: Endgame, which is up for several other awards (including Best Picture and Best Director) is also an underdog going into this highly competitive fight to the death. And so we have to consider whether or not Black Panther, which won a considerable number of Oscars at this year’s ceremony, really was a fluke after all: did it signal a change, as we all thought at the time, or was it merely a cheap publicity stunt?

I leave the question for you to answer: how biased is the entertainment industry against comic book movies? Could RDJ have won an Oscar, if he had run? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

“Knives Out” Second Trailer Review!

In an attempt to resurrect the “cozy” murder mystery genre, director Rian Johnson may have opened the door to something far bigger. The mystery he has crafted in Knives Out looks engaging, twisty, and very much in the style of Agatha Christie – so much so, that it makes one wonder how Kenneth Branagh will respond, in his upcoming adaptation of an actual Christie work: Death On The Nile. With so few of the classic detectives of literature being moved to the big screen (even Sherlock has been suspiciously absent from the scene recently), and with Knives Out looking to be a surefire hit as it lands a Rotten Tomatoes score high in the 90’s, there’s inevitably going to be conflict between Branagh’s Hercule Poirot and Daniel Craig’s new addition to the scene, the enigmatic Detective Benoit Blanc, both with critics and audiences.

There’s also a large possibility that Knives Out is only the first in a slew of Benoit Blanc mysteries: though Johnson would be hard-pressed to match the prolific mystery-writers of days gone by, he might not have such a difficult time at all surpassing the competition in theaters: gritty crime thrillers are popular, as are courtroom dramas on TV, but when was the last time you actually saw a cozy mystery movie?

The only significant difficulty I could see arising is that Johnson’s movie, as of right now, looks to be either intentionally satirical of, or unintentionally derivative of the classics. Leaving aside the dapper British detective with an oddly outdated name (and a killer green suit, with a bold purple tie), we also have:

The Real Estate Mogul – a staple of mysteries, here played by Jamie Lee Curtis in a blue velvet pantsuit (and absolutely rocking that pantsuit, by the way). Her husband, played by Don Johnson, is the Desperate Son-In-Law, drink in hand, dressed as a Texas oil-tycoon version of Professor Plum in all purple attire.

The Playboy – a foul-mouthed Chris Evans, with an amazing fashion sense. Seriously, where do you even buy a scarf like that? Where do you buy pinstripe pants in this day and age?

The Lifestyle Guru – Toni Collette, looking like a Twitter-savvy parody of Democratic Party candidate Marianne Williamson. Again, dressed to perfection in high-waisted purple balloon pants.

And so on and so on; an entire cast of familiar tropes and archetypes spiraling outwards from their dead patriarch (who might as well be Mr. Body from Clue). In fact, speaking of Clue, each of the character posters is deliberately color coded in what appears to be a nod to the classic murder mystery game. They’ve even got a giant mansion with secret passages and the like – and, for whatever reason, they’ve also got something that looks like Game Of Thrones‘ Iron Throne set up in their living room. In fact, if you’d like to see the posters (I could stare at them all day), you can see them all here.

I assume Johnson will subvert expectations and turn these tropes upside-down and inside-out, because he likes doing that – The Last Jedi speaks volumes about his bravery as a filmmaker. Perhaps he’s pulling a Neil Simon and writing a parody: though it looks serious, and the mystery looks rich with detail and layer, even if it appears quite simple on the surface. But while I don’t know whodunnit, I know this much: whoever Johnson’s costume designer is deserves an Oscar nomination at the very least, because…wow.

What did you think of the trailer? Will you see Knives Out in theaters? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 8/10