It’s hard not to like Armie Hammer. The actor has been a standout since his early days as a television guest star; even when his biggest role was a minor recurring character on Reaper, you got the feeling that he was going to be something special. Not only that, but Hammer comes with one of the greatest what-if stories in the modern history of Hollywood: what if Warner Bros. had allowed director George Miller to make his star-studded adaptation of the Justice League movie and Armie Hammer had become our quintessential Batman? Who knows, man. Who knows.
With the Toronto International Film Festival in full swing this weekend, studios are giving us our first good look at a handful of films and documentaries due to hit theaters this fall. One such film is One of Us, a new documentary from the filmmakers of Jesus Camp that also tries to expose the way a community’s religious requirements affect believers and non-believers alike. And if the film is anything like its first trailer, it’s not going to be a particularly easy watch.
While there are probably those who would describe Daniel Radcliffe as an actor who has never amounted to much after the Harry Potter franchise, I’ve found his decisions over the past few years to be breathtakingly daring, a risky collection of screw-you titles that could only come from a place of supreme financial security. From Horns to Swiss Army Man and everything in between, Radcliffe has proven himself a gifted performer with a voracious appetite for genre films, becoming something relatively unique in the horror genre: an A-list actor with B-list tastes.
For months now, cinephiles have been anxiously anticipating the release of William Friedkin’s documentary The Devil and Father Amorth, the documentation of a real-life exorcism by the man whose film The Exorcist made the practice (in)famous. Last December, Friedkin wrote an op-ed piece in Vanity Fair detailing some of the things he had seen happen during the exorcism of Rosa, an Italian woman who was undergoing her ninth exorcism with Father Amorth. Skeptic or not, the possibility of a true crime angle to the practice of exorcisms — one that explores the science and psychology of the practice, bookended by some shocking footage of the exorcism itself — was a really hard thing to pass up.
In a weekend where no new releases cracked the Top 10 and six movies maintained their exact spot in the rankings, you’d think there would be less news worth sharing. That isn’t quite the case. Sure, as sites like Box Office Mojo have noted, this is a historically bad Labor Day Weekend for movies in theaters, but it’s also a uniquely static weekend for releases, one that even required me to create a second chart just to capture all the data points. Let’s start as we always do, with the box office grosses as of Sunday afternoon:
If there is any upside to James Cameron (again) putting his foot in his mouth — this time by talking about Wonder Woman — it was the resulting conversation about how female action stars should be presented in Hollywood. As our own Emma Stefansky wrote at the time, feminism and depictions of femininity onscreen aren’t a one-size-fits-all equation; creating a false dichotomy between two types of female action stars — where everyone has to be either a Diana Prince or a Sarah Connor — only places limits on the ways women can be depicted in film and television. Filmmakers should be free to find the depictions of femininity that works for their characters.
Here’s a fun question for you: how many evil droids have there been in the Star Wars universe? There was the interrogation droid that tortured Dr. Leia in the original Star Wars; IG-88 and the jet-black C-3PO unit in The Empire Strikes Back; and a handful of trade federation robots in the Star Wars prequels, as well as K-2SO (sorta) in Rogue One. Come to think of it, while both Death Stars have always had a bunch of R2 and MSE units wandering around in the background, the Star Wars series has always been a little short on recognizable droid baddies.
Horror has always had a knack for preying on people’s fears of new technologies. This approach has worked like gangbusters in movies like The Ring to Unfriended, both well-regarded horror films that use new media as a way to scare impressionable teenagers. So keep that in mind when you watch this trailer for Friend Request; yes, the very title itself seems to suggest a movie that is more interested in jumping on trends than breaking new ground in the horror genre, but sometimes these are the movies that end up surprising us. We’ll never know until we watch it, right?
One of the most challenging parts of any Stephen King adaptation is walking that fine line between childhood fears and adult terror. It is a perfect example: how do you take images meant to be frightening to 12 and 13-year-olds and adjust them for an adult audience? This is the formula that King has used to make him one of the most successful authors of all time, but stepping outside of the characters’ heads — and behind a movie camera — only ramps up the challenge of balancing tone just right. That’s why it’s been so heartening to hear It director Andy Muschietti say all the right things in pre-release interviews. For better or worse, it sounds like he really gets it.
If you, like me, find yourself down the rabbit hole of comic book conspiracy theories, you might eventually come across the case of Nightwatch, the Manhattan time-traveling superhero whose costumes and powers bears a striking resemblance to Todd McFarlane’s Spawn. Adding to this speculation is the fact that Marvel introduced Nightwatch less than a year after McFarlane left to start his own comic book company. Did Marvel basically steal Spawn from an ex-employee? Were there ongoing legal battles we should’ve been reading about this whole time? Are we missing out on superhero drama?!
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