Weekly Round Up: Portman, Home Alone, Cats

Annihilation (2018) With Natalie Portman

New Coen Brothers movie, folks! That’s it. That’s all the movie news you need this week. See you later.

Okay, okay. You probably need more than that. Fair enough. So, previously thought to have been six part mini-series for streaming giants Netflix, the Coen’s new project – titled The Ballad of Buster Scruggs in suitably Coenesque fashion – was revealed to be a movie under the same titled when it was announced as part of the line-up for this year’s Venice Film Festival.

The film is set to be a sort of anthology, with the Coen’s themselves issuing a statement; “We’ve always loved anthology movies, especially those films made in Italy in the Sixties…” The cast includes Tim Blake Nelson, who previously worked with the Coens on their excellent adaptation of Homer’s Oddysey, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, who will be joined by Zoe Kazan, Liam Neeson and Tom Waits. 

And while we’re on the subject of the Coens…

The competing identical twin columnists who inspired Tilda Swinton’s characters in Hail, Caesar! are getting their own biopic, of which Natalie Portman is currently in talks to both direct and star in as both roles. It’ll make for an interesting story, regardless of who ends up in the director’s chair or, indeed, in front of the camera, although Portman certainly has the talent for either, her directorial debut – 2015’s Israeli drama A Tale of Love and Darkness – received good reviews upon release.

And that’s about all the major news we got this week that concerns original movies, so now let’s get onto the ever-increasing slate of reboots, remakes, re-imaginings and so on.

First up, none other than the legendary Robert De Niro is in talks to join the Joker standalone movie. No, not the rumoured one with Jared Leto doing a thing like he did in that other stupid movie, the other one, with Joaquin Pheonix in the title role, directed by Todd Philips (as in… The Hangover…). 

De Niro is apparently up for the role of a talk show host who is “integral to the birth of the Joker”, which makes me wonder if this is going to somehow tie into The King of Comedy, the underrated Scorsese film also starring De Niro. I mean, why not? Everything’s a movie universe, these days, right? So why not utilise some of the classics… ugh.

Supposedly joining De Niro in the cast is Six Feet Under’s Francis Conroy, who will appear as the Joker’s mum (if you say so), and Zazie Beetz, who starred in Deadpool 2 as Domino, and will be playing The Joker’s potential love interest. This movie is confusing me already.

And speaking of Deadpool 2, director David Leitch is in early talks to direct an upcoming reboot of the Bruce Lee classic Enter the Dragon. Having started his career as a stunt co-ordinator, Leitch seems like a sensible choice to helm the reboot, if you really have to do a reboot which… let’s be honest, you don’t, right? I, for one, would prefer to see him working on the Atomic Blonde sequel, but that appears to be just another one of these things I’ll never get to see. I’ll sadly put the blu-ray on the shelf next to Tintin.

Warner Bros. have been trying to get the reboot off the ground for some time now, with a revolving door of directors joining and then exiting the project, but it looks like this could be it this time round, so… yay, I guess.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Banks’ long rumoured “update” (it’s a reboot, they just don’t want to call it that because of all the others) of Charlie’s Angels is finally getting some movement with the announcement that everybody’s favourite Kristen Stewart (…) will be joining the cast as one of the Angels. Rounding out the cast will be Power Rangers’ Naomi Scott and British actress Ella Balinska, while Elizabeth Banks will be voicing Charlie herself.

This take on the iconic characters will rework the basic premise, and no longer will the Angels be private investigators, instead they’ll be super spies. I’ll be honest, this is actually one reboot (and it is a reboot, Hollywood, let’s be honest here) that I am actually sort of looking forward to seeing.

Banks is a solid director and seeing the premise told from a female perspective will be interesting, especially since it has such potential as a premise anyway. Both the television show and the previous movie adaptation starring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Lui were little more than scantly clad women kicking ass, so this gives someone a chance to make a film that does more than simply ogle over the leads.

We round-off this weeks’ movie news with the exciting announcement that Ryan Reynolds is planning to sort of pseudo-remake Christmas classic Home Alone, this time called Stoned Alone, and will tell the tale of a stoner who misses his ski trip and instead gets stoned at home, alone, when robbers break into his house.

I mean, why not? Sure. It sounds stupid and it probably will be, but Reynolds tries so hard let’s just let him get on with it. If you are interested in a more modern take on the Home Alone idea, and also just a generally good movie in and of itself, might I suggest Better Watch Out, the grossly underrated horror flick from last year. In fact, you should probably just watch that instead anyway.

Oh, also, they’re remaking Cats, although I wasn’t aware that anyone has asked. It has Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson and Ian McKellen in it. Directed by The King’s Speech’s Tom Hooper, Cats will be a terrible addition to whatever year it gets released because it will also feature James Corden. And nobody wants that. Just, trust me on that one.



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Alex Secker is a writer/director/editor. His debut feature film, the micro-budget thriller Follow the Crows, won Best Independent Film at the Global Film Festival Awards, while his stage-play, The Door, won the People’s Choice Award at the 2017 Swinge Festival. He enjoys watching and writing about movies, having loved the medium since a young age, as well as discussing them on his weekly podcast, Cultish: A Movie Podcast. He lives in Wiltshire with his partner and two children.

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