Fragile Creatures: The Beauty And Pain of The Rider

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Chloé Zhao’s contemporary western drama, The Rider, starts out with a young man in pain, recovering, as we later see, from injuries sustained during a rodeo.

The following ninety minutes or so explore that pain further: not just the physical injuries, but the mental scars inflicted on someone whose dreams are taken from them and crushed, when he finds his body will no longer allow him to do the thing he loves most.

Shot with a cast of non-professionals (Brady Jandreau, Lilly Jandreau, Tim Jandreau, Lane Scott, and Cat Clifford) who play versions of themselves in an almost documentary style, and with a magnificent eye for beauty (several shots made me literally gasp), Zhao’s film is intimate, harrowing and painful, but also majestic, and sweeping.

Zhao keeps the camera tight on Jandreau for much of the film, and the young, non-actor gives an astonishing performance, with a minimal amount of dialogue we share his joy and pain, as the recovery he appears to make is short-lived. This world of horse trainers and rodeo riders is fragile and fraught with physical peril, but Jandreau’s character, Brady, desperately wants to stay in the saddle.

The film feels like a mixture between a later period Springsteen song and an early period Terrence Malick film (before he became TERRENCE MALICK and disappeared off into the edit suite to cut yet another interminable version of Tree of Life). Malick could benefit from watching The Rider, for while this film could stand to lose a few minutes, even with the extra fat Zhao never loses sight of the cinematic story she’s trying to tell.

So much of The Rider is ambiguous: should we admire Brady as he puts himself through another agonising experience just to keep riding? Should we sympathise when he takes on a stultifying job to make ends meet, or pity him for giving up what he loves? Zhao smartly doesn’t provide pat answers, but allows the complexities of Brady’s path to carry us through.

The Rider is a quiet, purposeful and powerful movie, shot with a true cinematic poetry, whether out on the plains or in a run-down trailer. With her second movie, Zhao has established herself as an exciting voice in cinema.

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Marvel To Go Full Kosmic Kirby With The Eternals

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The long-rumoured Marvel Studios production of Jack Kirby’s The Eternals took a mighty leap forward today with the announcement that The Rider director Chloe Zhao will helm the picture from a script by Matthew and Ryan Firpo, with Kevin Feige producing.

Created during Jack Kirby’s second run at Marvel Comics in the mid-1970s, The Eternals tells a star-spanning tale of cosmic beings known as the Celestials (already mentioned in both Guardians of the Galaxy movies), who perform genetic experiments on humans in the distant past, creating the super-powered Eternals, as well as the villainous race called the Deviants.

This would seem to fit nicely with the cosmic path Marvel has begun with the (now-shockingly James Gunn-less) Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel.

The Eternals were arguably one of Kirby’s last great creations (although I’ll gladly engage you in fisticuffs if you diss my boy, Devil Dinosaur) and provides a truly spectacular blueprint for a franchise movie.

Zhao’s film has been winning plaudits left, right and centre and she stands as an utterly intriguing choice to bring Kirby’s wild creations to the screen.

NIN’s Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross Will Score HBO’s Watchmen

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So, I get it, we’re all pretty sceptical about HBO’s forthcoming Watchmen series. Showrunner Damon Lindelof has a somewhat mixed score card, plus it’s… well… it’s Watchmen.

Still, the cast has been shaping up nicely (including Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Regina King, Tim Blake Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Adelaide Clemens) and now the series has added ace musos Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross from Nine Inch Nails (currently on tour with new album, The Perfect Drug) to provide the soundtrack.

The pair have scored several movies (together and separately, and nabbed an Academy Award for their work on David Fincher’s The Social Network.

Whatever happens with HBO’s Watchmen, at least now we’re sure it’ll sound good!

Bond 25 Gets True Detective Helmer

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In a surprise but very welcome piece of news, EON Productions announced today that Cary Joji Fukunaga will helm the much-troubled Bond 25.

I don’t recall seeing Fukunaga crop up on many of the speculative “who will replace Danny Boyle?” lists circulating a few weeks ago, but this is great news. Fukunaga – the first American to direct a Bond film – was one of the driving forces behind the highly-praised first season of True Detective ( for which he won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series), as well as the 2015 Netflix movie Beasts of No Nation, on which he was writer, director, producer, and cinematographer.

“We are delighted to be working with Cary. His versatility and innovation make him an excellent choice for our next James Bond adventure,” said Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, while probably breathing huge sighs of relief. At least until Fukunaga also walks off the project in a few weeks, of course. Hey, stranger things have happened on Bond 25, right…!?

More news as it comes on Dave Bautista taking over as Bond when Daniel Craig leaves midway through filming. Probably.

Loki, Scarlet Witch And Other MCU Heroes Coming To Disney TV

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In something of what seems to be a jaw-dropping exclusive, Variety are reporting that the forthcoming Disney TV streaming service is loading up some of its big guns to entice paying viewers.

According to their report, the channel will be producing live-action series featuring some of their existing Marvel Cinematic Universe characters, including Loki and Scarlet Witch. As if that news wasn’t exciting enough, it seems these characters will be played by their MCU actors, such as Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen.

While the channel has yet to make an official announcement, Variety seem confident in their reporting, and while further details on the shows haven’t been revealed, suggestions are they’ll have substantial budgets and may run for six to eight episodes each (meaning they’ve hopefully learned valuable lessons from the always-overstretched Netflix/Marvel shows).

Adding further interest, it appears the shows will not be produced under the Marvel TV banner, which has produced variable results with series including Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Inhumans (about which, the less said the better), instead they will fall under Marvel Studios (producers of the MCU).

Disney are betting big with their new service, and with these new shows added to an already impressive line-up (including the Star Wars live-action show, as well as a High School Musical show and a live-action Lady and the Tramp movie), it’s pretty certain they’ll be giving Netflix a run for its money.

As ever, more news as it comes…


Photo c/o Disney/Marvel

Higher. Further. Faster. Now We Have A Captain Marvel Poster Too!

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As if the arrival of the Captain Marvel trailer wasn’t enough excitement for today, Marvel has just released the first official poster for the film.

Taking the now familiar phrase from the Captain Marvel comic books (Higher. Further. Faster) as its tag-line, the imagery has the good Captain very much arriving (through an imposing set of aircraft hangar doors).

And really, there’s not too much more to say here, except that it’s very pretty and March 8th, 2019 looks like it’s going to be a whole heap of fun! It’s time to get excited, Carol Corps!

Captain Marvel Trailer Takes Flight

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Regular readers of this site will know Captain Marvel is high up on our movie-excitement radar, and the long-awaited trailer has arrived:

I’ve gotta say I gave a little geek squeal of excitement at that final shot of our hero in action.

Carol Danvers was created in the comic books (by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan) in 1968 and went on to star in his first solo series (as Ms. Marvel) in 1977. Since then, she has gone on to become a central part of the Marvel Universe, and one of its more powerful and interesting characters, with a fervent following (known as the Carol Corps). Anticipation is running high for Marvel’s first (overdue) female-fronted franchise. 

Captain Marvel is an intriguing turn for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, set in the 1990s (oh look, it’s a Blockbuster video store) and acting as a prequel to everything we’ve seen so far.

As you can see above and here in our earlier photo preview, the film stars Brie Larson, Samuel L Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Algenis Perez Soto, Rune Temte, Mckenna Grace, Clark Gregg, and Jude Law, and follows Carol Danvers (Larson) as she becomes Captain Marvel after the Earth is caught in the center of an intergalactic conflict between two alien worlds.

As an extra treat for comics fans, the story also features the first onscreen appearance for the villainous, shape-shifting alien race, the Skrulls.

Captain Marvel is written (with Meg LeFauve, Nicole Perlman, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Liz Flahive, and Carly Mensch) and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck and the film arrives on March 8, 2019

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Teaser Is, Well… Chilling.

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Regular readers of this site will know that the forthcoming Netflix series of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is highly anticipated around this neck of the (haunted) wood. The brand new teaser trailer has just dropped and it’s rather lovely.

Based on the cult, hit series from Archie Comics, the show tells an updated version of the 90s kid-TV favourite, with less emphasis on humorous shenanigans and more on blood and horror.

The trailer is appropriately spooky and the show,  starring Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina Spellman, who has to decide whether to sign the Devil’s book and become a Bride of Satan on her 16th birthday, looks like a whole heap of horrible fun.

With a great cast including Miranda Otto, Michelle Gomez and Lucy Davis, I can’t wait for this to raise my spirits on October 26th.

Captain Marvel Is Here

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Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, the first official images of Captain Marvel have landed.

Brie Larson will star in Marvel’s first female-fronted franchise movie, Captain Marvel, as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (that’s a whole lotta Marvels, even before we discuss Jude Law).

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Set in the 1990s, making this a full-on prequel to everything we’ve seen before, the story will feature Larson going head to head with some fan favourite intergalatic bad guys from the comic books, the shape-shifting Skrulls. And here they are…

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The film also sees the return (or is it a preturn? Since this is technically speaking, his first appearance) of Lee Pace as Ronan The Accuser, last seen in a dance-off against the gang in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 1.

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Jude Law also features as Mar-Vell (in the comics, the first Captain Marvel, before Larson’s Carol Danvers inherits the title):

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Plus of course, the movie sees Samuel L Jackson as a pre-eyepatch wearing, two-eyed Nick Fury (last seen in the future, at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, dying along with half the universe just after sending out a call for help from Captain Marvel – oh, come on, that can’t be a spoiler by now).

Marvel Studios' CAPTAIN MARVEL Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson)

Captain Marvel  is written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck,  with Meg LeFauve, Nicole Perlman, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Liz Flahive, and Carly Mensch also chipping in to the screenplay, and the film takes flight on March 8, 2019. Skrulls permitting.