Happy, New, Year: Weekly Round Up

Happy, New, Year: Weekly Round Up

Happy New Year! I’ve been absent from the weekly roundups for a couple of weeks, but fear not, I’m back now, and I’m ready to give you all the movie update goodness that you come here for (presuming that is what people come here for, and not just to read my ever so witty and beautifully written prose… no? Okay then, we’ll continue). If you’re anything like me you gave a big fat middle finger to the clusterfuck that was 2020 and are now excitedly looking forward to 2021 as the year to save us all from the dumpster fire we’ve found ourselves.

You’ll also, again if you’re anything likely, be totally away at how ludicrous and insane that hope is, since COVID-19 doesn’t care about the year change, Boris Johnson is still the PM, and we have magically erased the last four years of America’s big old flirt with fascism, so… feel like escaping to the movies, do ya? I can’t blame you. Okay… what have we got?

Well, first up we have some news about everyone’s favorite best worst director, Michael Bay. After directing several Transformers movies, Bay turned his hand to streaming with the Netflix project 6 Underground, which was met with, er, mixed reviews. Let’s be nice, Christmas wasn’t that long ago.

Anyway, after his brief foray into the world of streaming, Bay is back to the theatrical experience with Ambulance, a remake of the 2005 Danish thriller Ambulancen (which means Ambulance, in case you struggled to work that one out). The film is set to star Jake Gyllenhaal, who has been attached to project since it was first announced, but we recently learned of some new cast members who will be joining Gyllenhaal on his journey.

Perhaps the most interesting of the new casting announcements comes in the form of Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who movie fans may recognize as Black Manta in DC and Warner Bros. big screen Aquaman adaptation, but he also appeared in HBO’s Watchman, although the less said about his role there the better. I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you. His role in the film is currently unknown.

What we do know, however, is that he and Gyllenhaal will be joined by Eiza Gonzalez, who we will soon get to see in Godzilla vs Kong, when it eventually premieres (hopefully on the big screen and not on HBO Max or whatever the UK equivalent turns out to be… probably Sky Movies. Ugh). Gonzalez will take on the role of the ambulance drive, who finds herself held hostage by two fugitive brothers in the film.

Let’s continue on this action path for a moment. No doubt over the Christmas period you were subjected to some for of the argument around Die Hard. Is it or is it not a Christmas movie? Personally, I couldn’t give a shit – if you watch it at Christmas then it’s a Christmas movie, and how very un-Christmassy of you if you tell people they’re beloved holiday traditions are somehow incorrect – but what also interests me is the that other major 80s actions blockbuster set at Christmas that deals in Christmas themes never really gets brought up in the discourse. That’s right, folks, we’re talking about Lethal Weapon!

The Lethal Weapon franchise has long been a favorite for many people, even though one of its stars has since gone on to become… problematic, shall we say, and so talk of a fifth entry to the series has long been thrown around. With the arrival of the God-awful TV reboot not too long ago, however, it seemed that all hope was lost, that is until this week when franchise directed Richard Donner, in an article for The Torygraph… er, sorry, Telegraph (hey! The article’s behind a paywall and yet they still have ads. Fuck them!), revealed that despite likely being 91 years old when he finally yells action, he’s not only willing but ready to take on the reins and return to the series.

Last January we heard from producer Dan Lin that progress on the potential fifth entry was closer than ever, but with these news words from Donner himself, who seems totally unphased by the challenges from bringing a long dead franchise that stars ageing and problematic actors back to the big screen, it looks like the movie is still very much a priority.

Finally, let’s return to the pandemic for a moment. No, not the actual pandemic, the fictional one dreamt up by Steven Soderberg and Scott Z Burns in their 2011 thriller Contagion. Unsurprisingly, Contagion returned to popular culture last year, because apparently, we all enjoy using an escapist media to… watch what is happening outside the window?

Anyway, perhaps it’ll come as no surprise then that Soderberg and Burns have been busy working on what they’ve referred to as a “philosophical sequel” to the 2011 film. As Soderberg himself revealed on the Happy Sad Confused Podcast, “You’ll kind of look at the two of them as kind of paired but very different hair colours. So, Scott and I had been talking about, ‘So, what’s the next iteration of a Contagion-type story?’ We have been working on that. We should probably hotfoot it a little bit.”

What that means I have no idea, but it’s certainly a tantalizing prospect. Contagion, if you remember, starred an impressive roster of A-list talent, including Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jude Law, so expect some big names to sign on to this one too.

I just hope it doesn’t also turn out to be a blueprint for what the future holds.

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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.


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