by Hunter Bush
You know gang, I just cannot wait for August to end, which it will right around the time y'all are reading this very installment of Everything Old is New Again! My reasons why are personal, and of the type of personal that isn't even interesting, incendiary or uncommon, really. Regardless, I can't wait.
If you're new to EOINA, this is my bi-monthly column (every other month) that covers the Remakes, Adaptations and Long-Gap Sequels (also called Legacy Sequels) arriving for public consumption. I try to give a little history about where these new installments are coming from and speculate, based almost entirely on the trailers (when there ARE any) on what I think of the finished product. Yes, it's largely conjectural and yes it's heavily influenced by my personal biases, but it is also a jumping-off point for you. I hope you find something that interests you and I hope you enjoy it!
In this September & October round-up we've got entertainments based on movies, books, magazine articles and musicians! So let's get started…
WU-TANG: AN AMERICAN SAGA - This Hulu series looks pretty intriguing. This isn't a traditional EOINA candidate because there's no specific source material for them to take the information from...unless you count The actual RZA himself! (The surviving members of the Wu-Tang Clan are executive producers as well, FYI) And that's why I'm so psyched for it. The cast doesn't hurt: Ashton Sanders plays RZA's avatar with Shameik Moore, Siddiq Saunderson, Marcus Callender, Zolee Griggs & Erika Alexander rounding out the main cast. With co-creator Alex Tse and executive producer Brian Grazer adding to the BTS pedigree, I kinda can't wait for this one. I don't know the number of episodes just yet, but I hope it doesn't overstay its welcome: get in, tell this singularly American success story and get out.
IT CHAPTER TWO - Is there anything I could possibly say in one mere paragraph that would sway you one way or the other on seeing the back half of Andy Muschietti's adaptation of Stephen King's door-stopper of a horror novel? If you saw and enjoyed Chapter One, this looks to be thoroughly upping the ante. The effects looks great, the visuals look insane and I get the feeling we might be getting some sort of more easily-digestible Pennywise origin? For folks who haven't read the book, the origin we're given for Pennywise is... high concept to say the least and while I will be a little disappointed not to see it visualized (if it is in fact changed) I would understand. It's a lot and Chapter One showed that Muschietti (as well as screenwriter Gary Dauberman) isn't afraid to make smart changes to the novel in service of making a better movie. For instance, the trailers for Chapter Two showcase a funhouse sequence (which it might shock inconstant readers to know was not a part of the novel though it would make sense for a story involving a malicious clown). The kiddos from Chapter One are all grown up now and played by Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean and Isaiah Mustafa, with Teach Grant playing a grown up Henry Bowers and Bill Skarsgård returning to menace them as the titular IT, also called Pennywise the Dancing Clown. While Chapter One kept Pennywise's malevolent antics to a relatively small scale, he seems to be running wild throughout the unlucky town of Derry in this footage, though that doesn't necessarily mean much as Derry residents have a peculiar habit of looking the other way whether they know it or not.
ZEROVILLE - The only trailer for this that I could find was of absolutely garbage quality, so I'm not 100% this will drop on time, but regardless: Zeroville is based on a 2007 novel of the same name by Steve Erickson. James Franco directs and stars as "Vikar", a socially withdrawn outsider who comes to Hollywood in the early 70's and ends up a film editor for a major studio apparently. Franco is applying his Disaster Artist formula to Zeroville by populating the cast with his friends playing era-appropriate celebrities and film folk (Horatio Sanz as Francis Ford Coppola for instance). I'm not familiar with the book but I get a real Under the Silver Lake Tinseltown intrigue vibe, but played more for laughs and with a bizarro edge (Vikar has a large tattoo on his shaved head of Montgomery Clift & Elizabeth Taylor from A Place in the Sun for instance). Intriguing but it will have to stick the landing and I'm not sure what the landing is.
DEPRAVED - The trailer for this modern update of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein concept is like 50 seconds long, but don't let a lack of details dissuade you. Depraved comes to us from Larry Fessenden, who has a long list of credits as an actor, writer, producer and director of some of the most notable yet lesser-known horror flicks of recent years. There's a lot of flashbacks (?) to modern war footage in this brief trailer. So, presumably, either the "Dr. Frankenstein" character, the monster or both are Iraqi War vets, which could be an interesting angle to approach this story from. I'm not sure who's playing what but Joshua Leonard (Josh from The Blair Witch Project!) is playing someone named Polidori, which could be a good Dr. Frankenstein character name, while the character Adam (Alex Breaux) almost HAS to be the monster, right? I don't know what kind of release this will get but I'll be keeping an eye out for it.
THE GOLDFINCH - Based on the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winning novel by Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch follows Theo who survived a terrorist bombing at an art museum, an event that killed his mother (Nicole Kidman) and set him on a strange path involving art theft in this apparent coming-of-age story. Theo (Ansel Elgort) narrates the trailer (though he is played by Oakes Fegley in flashbacks) that has him taking a ring from a dying man (injured in the explosion), meeting the man's partner (Jeffrey Wright) under whom Theo begins to possibly intern as a furniture repairer and antiques dealer. He also meets Pippa (Ashleigh Cummings) whom Theo is sure to fall in love with. There's also an, as I mentioned, art theft subplot with the titular Goldfinch at its center, and appearances from Luke Wilson and Sarah Paulson. This seems like dramatic Oscar-bait but, though I've never read The Goldfinch, I have read Tartt's The Secret History, which I loved. So I'm definitely intrigued. Also, due to the back-and-forth nature of the flashback timelines in the trailer, I got a real "Is his mom actually dead?" vibe from it (or maybe he talks to her ghost or memory?) (or maybe she just gave him some extremely prescient advice before dying?) and I'm curious to see how that all shakes out.
HUSTLERS - Based on the New York Magazine article "The Hustlers at Scores" by Jessica Pressler, this stars Jennifer Lopez and Cardi B as strippers who drug Wall Street types and, along with their Ocean's 11 crew of also-strippers and prostitutes, get thousands of dollars out of them. Which they donate to charity in a Robin Hood-like effort to "give to the poor".....oh wait no, they just keep it and we're supposed to root for them because of a combination of "fuck Wall Street" / "girl power" sentiments. I'm sorry but this is fucking gross. This "it's okay to do whatever as long as the victims are bad people" point of view doesn't hold water with me and in an era when we're trying to normalize the concept of sex work as just another career path, we're presented with this dunderheaded narrative that seems to lack any kind of moral center? That dog won't hunt, monsignor!
16th - 19th
3 FROM HELL - So I've never seen The Devil's Rejects and only saw House of 1000 Corpses once, in theaters, and in general I tend to enjoy Rob Zombie's film output more conceptually than in execution. Having said that, RZ knows how to make something that stands out visually. So I guess the titular 3 (Sheri Moon Zombie, Sid Haig & Bill Moseley) seemed to have died at the end of Rejects but did not, in fact, do so and have now returned to their life of touring the American southwest for murderous and criminal reasons. The trailer didn't lay a lot of track, plot-wise but there does seem to be a rival criminal cartel wearing luchador masks. So maybe this takes place in Mexico as well? I get a Natural Born Killers vibe from moments of the trailer (which could, in all fairness, just be the editing) but I wonder what kind of societal through-line RZ will be bringing to the table here. It also has notable real life hero Danny Trejo, which definitely sweetens the pot for me.
THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH - There's no trailer for this but it's an animated series based on the illustrated kids novels written by Max Brailler and illustrated by Douglas Holgate, which follow the misadventures of Jack and his crew of fellow kids existing and thriving in a cartoonish post-apocalypse that includes zombies (of course) but also something called "The Nightmare King" among other monstrous spookums. The series, coming to Netflix, features a voice cast including Nick Wolfhard as Jack, with Bruce Campbell, Keith David, Catherine O'Hara, Rosario Dawson & Mark Hamill also voicing characters! The tone of the books is supposed to be lighthearted rather than horror-based so this could act as a good gateway for young prospective horror fans or as a cool-down after a particularly scary flick for even we seasoned veterans.
BETWEEN TWO FERNS: THE MOVIE - Also coming to Netflix, also sans trailer. As with my The Last Kids on Earth entry above, I'm just tossing it in here so y'all know about it. If you've never seen any episodes of Funny Or Die's Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis, it's hard to describe. The show, on which this movie will somehow be based, is designed to resemble a no-budget basic cable public access interview show where host Zach Galifianakis interviews a guest on a stage decorated with the two titular potted plants. The on-screen graphics are frequently misspelled, Zach also frequently interrupts the guests with non sequiturs or product placement spots... it's aggressively amateurish on purpose and only works thanks to an alchemical combination of Galifiankais' charm and the guests' good humor. I literally cannot imagine what a The Movie version of this could look like.
BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE - Based on the book of the same name by Fredrik Backman, this Swedish film was released there in January but is getting its wider release now. Pernilla August stars as Britt-Marie, a 60-something newly divorced woman who begins coaching a local youth soccer group while seemingly also getting back into dating? I'm honestly not 100% on the details because the trailer I watched was untranslated and lacked subtitles, yet *through the magic of film* (Long Live the Movies) I was able to get the gist of it so much so that when I cross-checked against the source book's synopsis, I was pretty darn close. This looks very sweet and honestly kinda fun, so as long as the theatrical version has subs (it will), I'm there. Fun fact: star Pernilla August played young Anakin Skywalker's mom, Shmi Skywalker in The Phantom Menace, but don't let that deter you from seeing it.
DOWNTON ABBEY - Y'all. I've never watched any Downton Abbey, despite knowing that my dude Dan Stevens is somewhere in there just being handsome and charismatic (I'm sure). With that in mind, I think I get it, yeah? Upstairs / Downstairs; Haves / Have Nots and how we're all just people underneath? Anyhoo, the Downton movie looks like exactly what I expect. The Crawley family are hosting what may be their last great party and who's supposed to make an appearance but the royals, and since they're all high-society types it's supposed to be very charming that the Crawleys don't bend over backwards for them like us normal, non-royalty. Listen I have nothing against Downton Abbey, but having never seen any of the series, this holds zero interest for me. If you get down with Downton, this might be just perfect and I hope you enjoy it! Drop a line in the comments & tell me what you think!
RAMBO: LAST BLOOD - The Rambo franchise is a strong, STRONG contender for the Most Incomprehensible Franchise Titling award. Starting with First Blood (1982), then continuing with Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), Rambo III (1988) & finally Rambo (2008), the franchise has finally found new life new blood. At least enough of it to put forth Rambo: Last Blood, where we see Rambo defending his ranch from invaders of some kind? He keeps saying things to the effect of "they're coming for me" but I have no idea who "they" are and since the most recent installment is 11 years old, I cannot imagine it has anything to do with my never having Rambo'ed before. Having said that, he does set up a fair amount of booby traps in and around his place and if there's one thing that will always capture child-of-the-80's me's heart, it's a good booby trappin'! I have read that while Stallone (reprising the role of Rambo, natch) pretty obviously intended for this to be the final chapter, he has since made statements to the effect that he would be interested in doing more if the audience demands it. Rambo has never been my jam (except when he showed up in that Green Jelly song to rescue the Three Little Pigs) so I have no idea how strongly the cultural zeitgeist or theater goers at large may be clambering for his continued adventures. But if I may be so bold as to suggest further titles: the obvious move is Last Blood Part II, but I say skip that and lean into the blood imagery with something like or Rambo: Transfusion or Type Ramb-O Negative or even Rambo: Good to the Last Drop.
JOKER - Based on the comic book villain created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane & Jerry Robinson in 1940 to menace Batman, Todd Phillips' Joker seems to be an origin story for the character. Thing is, to the best of my knowledge (having fallen out of regular comic reading some time back) The Joker's origin was always something of a mystery. Another thing worth noting is that DC comics has a tradition of what are called Elseworlds tales (just parallel universe / timeline stories featuring their characters in unusual scenarios like a Victorian version of Batman hunting Jack the Ripper for instance) and it kind of seems like Phillips is implying that's what Joker is: a possible but not definitive story of how the Joker might come to be. The thing I find worrisome about that pretty obvious bit of bet-hedging is that it seems designed to fend off vitriol from one of the worst subspecies of modern fandom: DC Film Bros. The fact that the filmmakers are worried about disappointing these jabronis is both a positive and a negative for me. It means that while I will not be seeing this in theaters because I choose not to associate with said jabronis, I will probably enjoy the film whenever it makes it into my Letterboxd diary. I had a sneaking suspicion because: the footage I've seen looks really good! If you were somehow able to divorce it from all the comic book movie market oversaturation and expected "fan" outrage, I think this looks like a good time. I'm getting a Taxi Driver meets The King of Comedy vibe from it and, though not especially original, it still seems interesting. I love the look of it all. The palette, the cast (Joaquin Phoenix as the man-who-would-be-Joker seems like he's really going for it and I will always admire that whether it ultimately works for me or not) and even the fact that there's very little of the larger DC universe present in the trailer. It more or less looks like Phillips & co just wanted to make a movie about a man pushed well past his breaking point and just happened to find the financial means to do so in the DCU coffers. More power to 'em.
JUDY - Renée Zellweger stars as Judy Garland in this Rupert Goold directed adaptation of the Broadway / West End play End of the Rainbow by Peter Quiller which follows Garland as she performs a five week engagement of sold out shows at the Talk of the Town nightclub in London. While Garland deals with the pressure of performing and being so far away from her family, she also meets Mickey Deans (Finn Wittrock) who would *SPOILERS* go on the become her 5th husband. Rufus Sewell and Michael Gambon also appear, as well as (most exciting for me) Bella Ramsey (Lyanna Mormont child-ruler of Bear Island from Game of Thrones!) as Garland's daughter Lorna Luft! This looks very, very good with a lot of heart and a light touch and it must be said that Renée Zellweger's singing sounds great!
THE ADDAMS FAMILY - Based on the characters Charles Addams created in 1938 (!) the creepy, kooky, mysterious & spooky Addamses are back in a CG animated feature that has me kind of divided and not in an altogether ooky way. While I admire the adherence to Charles Addams' original character designs, I don't think they translate well to animation, or at least to this kind. Also, the voice cast all sounded just incredibly bored. Oscar Issac as Gomez? Bored. Charlize Theron as Morticia? Bored. And on and on. Overall I just wasn't feeling this one at all. In fact the best thing about it was the trailer's introductory narration breaking down that there is no such thing as a "normal" family, but even in a world where a family is whatever you define as one, the Addamses are still...odd. For what it's worth, the voice cast also includes Finn Wolfhard, Pom Klementieff, Chloë Grace Moretz, Catherine O'Hara, Allison Janney, Nick Kroll, Martin Short, Bette Midler (!) and Titus Burgess among others, so that's definitely impressive!
JAY AND SILENT BOB REBOOT - I like Kevin Smith. As a person. I really do and I'm sure were I to rewatch some of the early films that first made me a fan, I'd still enjoy them, but I just do not like most of his more recent output. Red State is an exception, but beyond that not a lot has really blown my hair back. I'm sorry to say that Jay and Silent Bob Reboot is no different. If you liked Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, you might dig this and if that's the case more power to you, but a never-ending self-referential parade of Smith's pals reprising their roles from his View Askew-niverse just does nothing for me (the cast does feature newcomers as well). I sincerely hope that one day he'll make a movie that can translate the love and goodwill that he presents online (which makes me reflect those feelings back at him) into a flick, cuz that one I'd show up for.
JOJO RABBIT - I legitimately have no idea what to make of this one, gang. Yet I absolutely cannot wait to see it. Taika Waititi brings us this tale, based on the novel Caging Skies by Christine Leunens, of Jojo Betzler (nicknamed Rabbit because he's kind of skittish) who is a Hitler Youth during WWII and eventually has to question his Nationalism when he finds out his mother (Scarlett Johansson) has been hiding a young Jewish girl in their home. That's not the weird thing tho, folks. Taika Waititi plays Jojos' imaginary friend: a dimwitted version of Adolf Hitler. Anticipating the obvious potential for backlash, the poster reads "An Anti-Hate Satire" which is, wow, SUCH a fine line to walk and props to Waititi for going for it. I will 100% see this, and I should say that while I'm sure this will get its message across I'm very curious how this will be received. Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant and Alfie Allen round out the cast.
LOOKING FOR ALASKA - Before doing any research into this flick, I was already annoyed with it. Some combination of my search history or cookies or whatever has meant that my phone thinks it is imperative I see every Looking For Alaska update possible. It may shock you to learn that maybe my smartphone isn't actually smart. Based on a YA novel by John "The Fault in Our Stars" Green this Hulu series follows Miles Halter (Charlie Plummer) a Very Teenage teenager obsessed with famous last words who leaves his home state of Florida to attend a Prep School in Alabama "to seek a Great Perhaps" (last words of French Renaissance man François Rebelais). The book has apparently been challenged for its sexual content since being published in 2005 and it was definitely screaming coming-of-age at me for their entirety of the trailer. While I would normally just not be interested in this (not really made for me in so many ways) I'm actually annoyed at Alaska. The characters seem annoying and pretentious, yes like real teenagers, but why I would willingly subject myself to that I have no idea. Also, visually, it is garbage. The trailer is awash in awful post production tint filters that make my eyes... just so goddamned angry. I cannot wait to never, ever watch this.
MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL - Back when the original Maleficent came out (ages ago, in the year 2014) I remember thinking that it was largely unnecessary but, all things considered, pretty well executed. Now, seeing the direction these Disney Remakes are going, I long for those innocent, halcyon days. The thing about a Maleficent spin-off (the character originated in Disney's Sleeping Beauty in 1959) is that at least it wasn't a story we'd already seen. I didn't personally feel a strong need to explore Maleficent's backstory, but if you did, that's great and I hope that thirst is not yet quenched because you're getting even MORE. Angelina Jolie returns as Maleficent though, as with 2014's original installment, her cheekbones should have gotten top billing. This time, she and her goddaughter, future Sleeping Beauty herself Aurora (Elle Fanning) apparently try to untangle their confusing shared history and lineage before Aurora's impending marriage to Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson) can go through. All of this gets even more complicated somehow by the appearance of more of Maleficent's specific flavor of fairy lead by Connal (Chiwetel Ejiofor). I'm not saying that Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is going to be good or even that it should have been made, but I wouldn't have minded that dumb Lion King remake if it had instead focused on, like, Scar's hyena minions instead.
ZOMBIELAND 2: DOUBLE TAP - I really really liked the original Zombieland, and even though I was wondering what a 10 years on sequel could possibly add, I was cautiously optimistic. The original took some really fun turns that I didn't see coming and was, as I said, overall an enjoyable experience. Bad news is that the trailer for the sequel doesn't present a very strong argument for this sequel's existence. The Zombieland crew are back, only now they live in the abandoned White House and the White House lawn is now a wheat field (btw, if I never see another character drag their fingers across the waist-high wheat again in my life it will be too soon). I'm not sure exactly what the overall plot is. Having to save Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) is mentioned, I believe, but doesn't seem all that important? At one point they do a bizarro-doppelgänger bit when Albuquerque (Luke Wilson) pulls up in a monster truck to out-Tallahassee Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) with Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch) as his flustered co-pilot counterpoint to Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg). I'm sure this will be fun, but do we need it? Time will tell.
THE IRISHMAN - Speaking of underwhelming trailers, The Irishman's does nothing for me that a batch of bullet-points wouldn't have accomplished.
- Scorsese: check.
- Mafia-adjacent crime drama: check.
- Marty regulars like De Niro, Pacino, Pesci & Keitel: check.
- Relative newcomers Anna Paquin, Jesse Plemons, Bobby Cannavale and Ray Romano: check.
What the trailer fails to do is make clear anything about the movie really. I know De Niro plays the titular Irishman, who recounts via flashback his organized crime career where he is either hired BY someone to kill Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino) or the reverse. The thing the trailer did the best job of showcasing was the digital de-aging technology that will be all over the flashbacks. Again: not the story, not even really the movie itself (as in, there are no standout scenes in the trailer that grabbed me in any appreciable way). But I'll say, the effects look pretty good. Maybe it was purely the shot selection in the trailer, or maybe it will look that solid the whole time when The Irishman comes to Netflix. Who can say?
I think film trailers are becoming a lost art. With the rise of direct-to-streaming original content, there's less of an incentive to spend money to advertise something that will be inescapably placed directly on your interface whether you like it or not (I'm looking at you, Netflix!) and that just kind of bums me out. I know plenty of people who love the trailers and I'm one of them! If I seem to grouse and complain about them a lot, it's just because I've seen how good they can be and I just wish more of them hit those heights.
I love movies, I really do (Long Live the Movies), as does everyone here at Moviejawn and I'd wager you reading this as well. It bums me out to think that something I think of as an integral piece of the film formula may be slowly fading away. Obviously trailers will never totally disappear, but if there's less and less importance placed on them (and money placed into them) then there'll be a lot less competition to make a great one. And we'll all miss out.
What's a recent Truly Great trailer you've seen? Drop a comment below, even if the movie wasn't really on the trailer's level. Once again, thanks for reading and let me know if any of the movies covered here look like your cuppa tea. Please follow Hate Watch / Great Watch, the podcast I co-host right here on Moviejawn (in the navigation bar under Podcasts) and as always Long Live the Movies!