I start this week with an apology. I did intend to put together a news round-up last week, but sadly I did not have time around a holiday to the sunny Isle of Wight. Nevertheless, I’m back this week with a story that makes you wonder whether anyone has told Leonardo DiCaprio that he has already won an Oscar and can stop trying so hard.
Elsewhere, there are a couple of trailers worthy of talking about and some interesting announcements of forthcoming projects for directors at different ends of the cinematic spectrum.
Here is your movie news round-up…
DiCaprio and Scorsese back for Roosevelt biopic
The announcement of a new screen venture for Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese is always worthy of celebration. Deadline revealed this week that Scorsese has been hired by Paramount to direct Roosevelt – a biopic of US President Teddy Roosevelt – as a star vehicle for DiCaprio. The film’s plot will follow Roosevelt’s interesting military career, as well as his presidential achievements in the arena of conservation and environmental issues – no doubt a major selling point of the project for DiCaprio’s activist side.
On the one hand, this is DiCaprio and Scorsese working together for the first time since The Wolf of Wall Street became perhaps their best ever collaboration. On the other, though, this seems as if it could easily be the sort of project audiences file away with J Edgar as an awards-grabbing failure. Hopefully, though, this Hollywood dream team has another slice of magic in their back pocket.
Michelle Williams in talks for Venom role
Despite the cynical nature of its creation, Sony’s Venom movie is making its name with unconventional casting choices. Tom Hardy signed on to play the title role a few months ago and now, per The Hollywood Reporter, blockbuster-phobic star Michelle Williams is in talks to join the cast. No details have yet been revealed about Williams’s character or the role she will play in the movie’s story.
Williams is good casting for any movie and is one of the most compelling performers working today, most recently with her viscerally emotional turn in Manchester by the Sea. She will be an interesting addition to a superhero movie that already looks as if it will be decidedly less conventional than the films that have dominated Hollywood for the last decade or so. Venom is due in cinemas in October 2018.
Portman explores in Annihilation trailer
Alex Garland spent years carving out a niche for himself as the writer of intelligent sci-fi/horror films, including 28 Days Later and Never Let Me Go, before making his directorial debut with the wonderful Ex Machina. His next film is Annihilation and, based on the first trailer for the film, it’s another fantastical tale with a brain. The story follows Natalie Portman as a biologist venturing into an environmental disaster zone, shortly after her husband disappeared investigating the same site.
This is an enigmatic trailer that wisely holds back much of the plot, while giving us enough of a glimpse of Annihilation to be excited for what Garland has in store. Portman has been shrewd in her movie choices in recent years and Garland has an enviable record, so the material must have had real strength for her to get involved. The combination of Portman’s performance and Garland’s flair for clever sci-fi should make this a film worth seeing. Annihilation lands in cinemas in February 2018.
Lord and Miller on for sci-fi tale Artemis
It seems directorial duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller are moving quickly to put the Han Solo controversy behind them, having already lined up their next project. According to Deadline, the pair have been given the nod by Fox to make Artemis – based on the as yet unpublished new book from The Martian author Andy Weir. It’s a sci-fi crime caper set in a small town with a difference, in that it’s on the moon.
The tone of The Martian seems like a perfect fit for Lord and Miller. That film was an irreverent sci-fi that seems like it could be rather similar to what Lord and Miller had planned for Han Solo before Lucasfilm intervened. It’s good to see the duo moving on quickly and to a project that should be ideal for their style, rather than shoving their quirky round peg into a square-shaped blockbuster hole.
Denis Villeneuve eyes epic Cleopatra movie
Sicario and Arrival director Denis Villeneuve is currently attracting the best reviews of his impressive career for Blade Runner 2049 and he’s capitalising on the hype to put himself in the frame for a potentially huge project. Deadline reported this week that Villeneuve is in talks with Sony to potentially direct an epic take on Cleopatra, which may or may not see Angelina Jolie play the iconic Egyptian queen. Many of Hollywood’s biggest directors have been in the frame for this and Villeneuve is now certainly within that category.
This would be a great next step for Villeneuve, whose career has rapidly progressed from dark indies like Enemy to the big studio heights of the Blade Runner sequel. He is also one of the final trio on the shortlist to make the next Bond movie. If you haven’t heard of him yet, you’re certainly about to because Denis Villeneuve is quickly becoming the buzziest director working in the film industry today.
Stewart and Nyong’o up for Charlie’s Angels
With the recent trend for female-led blockbusters, it’s almost surprising that it has taken so long for the notion of a Charlie’s Angels reboot to come to the fore. This week, Variety reported that Sony is working on a reboot with Kristen Stewart and Lupita Nyong’o among the names being considered to form part of the central detective agency. Elizabeth Banks, who made her directorial debut with Pitch Perfect 2, will helm the movie.
This is interesting and unexpected news. Stewart is an actor who has mostly eschewed blockbuster cinema since Twilight ended and Snow White and the Huntsman attracted poor reviews. Nyong’o, meanwhile, is an Oscar winner who is about to catapult into the Marvel cinematic universe with Black Panther. If both of these performers were to sign up, that would be a terrific foundation on which to build a potentially major action franchise. Charlie’s Angels is targeting a release date in summer 2019.
Abrams producing remake of anime Your Name
Regular readers of this site will remember that, last year, I spent a lot of time raving about Makoto Shinkai‘s masterful anime romance Your Name and I was pleasantly surprised when it got an IMAX re-release this year. It was altogether less surprising, given the film’s critical success, when I read in The Hollywood Reporter this week that an English language live-action remake is in the pipeline. Shinkai has said he is looking forward to the remake with “excited anticipation” and there’s a talented team involved, with JJ Abrams as producer and Arrival scribe Eric Heisserer penning the script.
I try not to get too angry about remakes, but I can’t think of a single reason beyond naked financial ambition for an English take on a film that was already perfect in its Japanese animated form. Knowing the way Hollywood works nowadays, Abrams’s involvement presumably means it’s going to turn out to be a stealth Cloverfield sequel or something like that. But at least us poor English speakers won’t have to make the effort to read subtitles. That would be awful.
Are you looking forward to DiCaprio and Scorsese’s latest joint venture? What did you think of the trailer for Annihilation? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.