Cage, Sleep, Anderson: Weekly Round Up

Cage Southern Fury

Cage, Sleep, Thomas Anderson: Weekly Round Up: Last weekend saw the release of Mike Flannigan’s Doctor Sleep. Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, the film acts as a sequel to both King’s original The Shining book and Stanley Kubrick’s film. What with The Shining being one of the most iconic films of all time, Stephen King one of the most successful writers of all time, and Mike Flannigan the man behind Netflix smash-hit The Haunting of Hill House, you might be forgiven for thinking Doctor Sleep was something of a sure thing.

Sadly, it was not, and inexplicably, at least as far as I’m concerned, it failed to resonate with audiences, earning just over $14 million on its opening weekend. There has been plenty of speculation as to why audiences didn’t show up – from the suggestion that opening a horror movie after Halloween leading to audiences not being in the mood, to the rather absurd idea that somehow audiences are suffering from Stephen King fatigue (as if, like, King was a genre and not a guy who has been consistently incredibly popular as a writer for literal decades).

Whatever the reason, one thing is for sure: it’s a damn shame. Doctor Sleep was a big-budget, studio produced original movie, led by one of the most interesting creative voices working in the horror genre today, with lots of grand ideas, some brilliant performances, incredible visuals and a genuinely interesting story. The fact that it did so poorly isn’t just a shame from a “people missing out on a good movie” angle, but that it could actually mean we’ll see less of this kind of thing in the future.

And that certainly seems to be the case already, at least as far as Warner Bros., the studio behind Doctor Sleep, are concerned.

They were planning a film called Halloran, which was announced last week. Based on the title it’s safe to assume that the movie would have somehow focused on the character played by Scatman Crothers in Kubrick’s original The Shining, and Carl Lumbly in Doctor Sleep. Whether this movie will serve as some sort of prequel, set before Kubrick’s 1980 film, or as a sequel is unknown, and now it seems likely we’ll never know, as Warner Bros. have scrapped the project based on the performance of Doctor Sleep.

And with more and more studios turning their backs on interesting projects likes these in favor of blockbusters with built in fanbases and recognizable content, this week on the weekly round-up I’m gone to focus on a couple of projects that deserve your attention far more than Star Wars, Marvel, DC, or any number of the other brands currently eating our cinema-industry alive.

First up we have Paul Thomas Anderson, acclaimed writer/director of such classic movies as Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood and last year’s Phantom Thread.

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As an auteur and filmmaker, Paul Thomas Anderson has been consistently successful with the critics, but less so with general audiences. Regardless, his films remain, in my opinion at least, one of the most interesting, daring and unique filmmakers currently working, and this week we got news that he has a new project on the go.

This new project, which is as of yet untitled, is set to be based in the 1970s, and will, reportedly, be an ensemble piece, leaning closer in tone to Anderson’s earlier films, Boogie Nights and Magnolia, than his more recent output.

The film will, apparently, be based in the San Fernando Valley and will follow a high school student who is also a successful actor. Not much else is known about the movie as of yet, but I’ll be sure to follow it closely and update you as and when. This is definitely one worth watching.

Our second project is a fascinatingly strange sounding one.

We may not be getting another Doctor Sleep style film from Warner Bros. anytime soon, but at least we’ve still got weird films coming from somewhere. And this one stars Nicolas Cage, himself no stranger to bizarre, unique concepts.

Lionsgate, who have always been a relatively decent advocate of original content as far as studios goes, this week won the rights to the mother of all meta films, a drama called The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. But just what the hell is this movie, I hear you ask? Well, let me tell you, because this sounds like a doozy!

The film is reportedly about an actor named Nicolas Cage, who will played by Nicolas Cage if the talks currently underway are successful. Cage, the character in the movie, not the real actor, is desperately seeking to secure a role in a new Quentin Tarantino movie, and finds himself haunted by visions of “and egotistical 1990’s version of himself who rides him for making too many crappy movies”.

No matter how absolutely ridiculous this project sounds, it’s safe to say it’s also one of the most intriguing I’ve ever heard. Seriously. I don’t know if I’ve ever had so much fun simply imagining a film before, based solely on a synopsis.

Cage, who recently appeared in Color out of Space – another movie you should be keeping an eye out for – is yet to sign on, but fingers crossed her does. It is not yet known if Tarantino himself will also make an appearance, but I really hope this all falls together.

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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.