Category Archives: Coming Attractions

Gretel & Hansel — Trailer and Featurette

Gretel & Hansel — A Grim Fairy Tale”

This looks like good scary fun. From the film’s description: “A long time ago in a distant fairytale countryside, a young girl leads her little brother into a dark wood in desperate search of food and work, only to stumble upon a nexus of terrifying evil.” Sometimes the old stories are the best stories, although I don’t remember the Brothers Grimm ever using the phrase “a nexus of terrifying evil”. Maybe it was in the original German.

Alice Krige, who’s been in everything from Deadwood to Beverly Hills, 90210, plays the Witch.

Here’s a featurette about the movie.

Gretel & Hansel opens on 31 January 2020.

Fargo Returns This Spring

Well, look who’s coming back!

It’s been almost three years since the last episode of Season Three was broadcast.

The show is still called Fargo, but the new series takes place in Kansas City, Missouri, in the 1950s. (Fargo has never cared much about following a  linear timeline. The first season was set in 2006, the second in 1979, and the third in 2010.)

Here’s what FX has revealed so far:

“In 1950, at the end of two great American migrations — that of Southern Europeans from countries like Italy, who came to the US at the turn of the last century and settled in northern cities like New York, Chicago — and African Americans who left the south in great numbers to escape Jim Crow and moved to those same cities — you saw a collision of outsiders, all fighting for a piece of the American dream. In Kansas City, Missouri, two criminal syndicates have struck an uneasy peace. One Italian, one African American. Together they control an alternate economy — that of exploitation, graft and drugs. This too is the history of America. To cement their peace, the heads of both families have traded their eldest sons.”

Chris Rock, in his first lead dramatic role on a television series, plays Loy Cannon, the head of an African-American crime family. Timothy Olyphant co-stars, which should give Judge Gen in The Good Place all kinds of shivers.

Fargo has been nominated for more than 200 television awards, and its Tomatometer rating has never fallen below 93%.

The fourth season will premiere on 19 April 2020.

Little Women — Official Trailer

The 8th? 15th? 147th? film version of Little Women is headed right at us on Christmas Day, and can there be any doubt that this will be a hugely successful movie? From the trailer, it sounds as if Greta Gerwig has brought this staging of Louisa May Alcott’s mid-19th century novel into the 21st century, for better or worse. Probably for better.

Like (almost) all the previous film versions of Little Women, this one benefits from the talents of its superlative female cast, including Florence Pugh (English) as Amy, Saoirse Ronan (Irish) as Jo,  Eliza Scanlen (Australian) as Beth and Emma Watson (English, but born in Paris) as Meg. Laura Dern plays and Marmee and Meryl Streep plays Aunt March, because of course she does.

The male cast is equally impressive, with James Norton (English) as John Brooke,  and Louis Garrel (French) as Professor Bhaer, and Timothée Chalamet  (USA! USA!) as Laurie. It will be interesting to see what Bob Odenkirk, Saul Goodman himself, does with the role of Mr. March.


Out of the Past  —  Some Earlier Versions


Many people consider the 1933 version of Little Women the best.

The Little Women

Joan Bennett as Amy
Katharine Hepburn as Jo
Jean Parker as Beth
Frances Dee as Meg

Notes

Aunt March was played by the great Edna May Oliver who steals every scene she’s in, as she inevitably did in all her movies.
The German Professor Bhaer was played by Paul Lukas, who was Hungarian.
Joan Bennet was 23 and pregnant when she signed on to play 12-year-old Amy.


The next version came out in 1949, 16 years and one World War later.

The Little Women

Elizabeth Taylor (in a blonde wig) as Amy
June Allyson as Jo
Margaret O’Brien as Beth
Janet Leigh as Meg

Notes

Peter Lawford was Laurie.
The German Professor Bhaer was played by Rossano Brazzi, who was Italian.
Mary Astor played Marmee, but she’ll always be Brigid O’Shaughnessy to me.
June Allyson, 31 and pregnant, played 15-year-old Jo.


The 1978 miniseries was bad beyond belief. Oh, was it awful!

The Little Women

Ann Dusenberry as Amy
Susan Dey as Jo
Eve Plumb as Beth
Meredith Baxter as Meg

Notes

The senior roles were played by movie stars from the 1940s: Dorothy McGuire as Marmee, Greer Garson as “Aunt Kathryn March”, and Robert Young as “Grandpa James Laurence”.
None of the actresses playing the March girls was known to be pregnant while production was underway.
The sisters were played by television actresses who were TV-famous at the time, but are now largely forgotten. Their line readings were pure 1978 California-contemporary and their acting would have been just fine in a community theatre production, if the community was home to fewer than 500 people.
It’s impossible to ignore the cast’s ridiculous wigs.
The whole miniseries looked cheap. The sets, the costumes, and the mediocre performances all but shouted out “Low Budget”.

But there’s really only one thing you need to know to comprehend what a disaster this production was:
The German Professor Bhaer was played by—wait for it—William Shatner.
He’s Canadian, I think.


With its first-rate cast, the 1994 remake is right up there with the version made 61 years earlier, in 1933.


The Little Women

Kirsten Dunst as Younger Amy
Samantha Mathis as Older Amy
Winona Ryder as Jo
Claire Danes as Beth
Trini Alvarado as Meg

Notes

Susan Sarandon played Mrs. March and Christian Bale played Laurie.
The German Professor Bhaer was played by Gabriel Byrne, who is Irish.

True History of the Kelly Gang Trailer

A few months ago, I wrote that the trailer for JoJo Rabbit was “The Most WTF Trailer of 2019”.  I might have been wrong.

Here’s the trailer for a new Australian movie called True History of the Kelly Gang.

Those not fortunate enough to be Australian may be unfamiliar with the history and legend of the mid-19th-century Kelly Gang. The gang was headed by Ned Kelly, an outlaw and murderer whose generosity in spreading the loot from his numerous bank robberies has led to his becoming something of a Robin Hood-like figure in the Australian popular imagination. His occasional practice of burning mortgage documents from those robbed banks helped propel the narrative.

His life has been the subject of at least two earlier films, both of which were titled Ned Kelly: Mick Jagger played Kelly in the 1970s movie, and Heath Ledger played him in 2003. This time, he’s played by George MacKay, who seems to be having a breakout year—he’s also starring in the much-anticipated WWI film, 1917. The first-rate supporting cast includes Essie Davis (Phryne Fisher from Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and Amelia from The Babadook), the always excellent Nicholas Hoult, Charlie Hunnam, and Russell Crowe.

The movie was made for Stan, which is an Australian alternative to NetFlix. No US release date has been set so far.

True History of the Kelly Gang is based on a book of the same name by Peter Carey. The book is a fictional account of the gang, written as if it were a memoir by Ned Kelly himself.  It won the 2001 Booker Prize for the best original novel written in English.

From BBC Earth — A Glorious Seven Worlds, One Planet

For the past few weeks, a brilliant new nature series called Seven Worlds, One Planet, has been playing on BBC One. Each of the seven episodes focuses on a different continent; segments of the show were filmed in 41 different countries.

The narrator is naturalist Sir David Attenborough, as if it could be anyone else.

Here’s a sample, in which a Giant Leopard Seal pursues a Tiny Penguin:

Warning. The photography in the show is stunning, but Nature is not always pretty. Some viewers in the UK have responded to parts of the series with tears or nausea.

US viewers will be able to judge for themselves when Seven WorldsOne Planet premieres on Saturday, 18 January 2020, on BBC America, AMC, IFC,  and SundanceTV.


Survivor: Galápagos

From Planet Earth II — View in Full Screen

Remember the famous “Iguana vs Snakes” sequence from the BBC series, Planet Earth II?  When that little iguana made a run for safety as the rocks around it erupted with dozens of hungry snakes, we witnessed the most exciting chase scene in any movie or TV show released in 2016. I’ve reposted it at the bottom of this item. Three years later, it’s as breathtaking as ever.

His Dark Materials Arrives Tonight on HBO

The new adaptation of Philip Pullman’s bestselling fantasy trilogy, His Dark Materials, a collaborative project by the BBC and HBO, premiered in the UK last night, to rapturous reviews and the highest ratings for a new drama on British TV in five years. The Independent called it “A beautiful, brooding vision of Philip Pullman’s universe that is unafraid to air the book’s anti-theocratic messages.” (★★★★★). The Telegraph said it was “…a gorgeously-realised version of Philip Pullman’s novels.” (★★★★). And The Guardian hailed it as “a riveting realisation of Philip Pullman’s magic.” (★★★★★).

American critics have been somewhat less impressed, but the Tomatometer is still 82% “certified fresh”.

His Dark Materials is set, at least at the beginning, in a world that is not quite ours. There’s an Oxford University, but the Magisterium (a thinly disguised Catholic Church) dominates society. Technology is at about the same level as it was during our Victorian Age. And then there are the dæmons….

The eight-episode series will run from 4 November 2019 through 22 December 2019, and has already been renewed for a second season. That suggests the show will take its time covering Pullman’s three-volume epic, and may well extend the scope of the story.

Fourteen-year-old Dafne Keen plays the key role of “Lyra Belacqua”, with Ruth Wilson, James McAvoy, and Lin-Manuel Miranda in prominent roles.

Worth checking out.

The Crown — Season 3 Official Trailer

Back in August, Netflix released a teaser for the upcoming third season of The Crown. and gave us our first real look at Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II.

Today we got the first full trailer.  We’re into the mid-60s now, and the times—and the cast of The Crown—they are a-changin’.

The Radio Times ran a great write-up about the new cast last week, and I’ve gleefully stolen plagiarized borrowed its comparison shots of the actors in the series and the people they portray.


Olivia Colman plays Queen Elizabeth


Tobias Menzies plays Prince Philip


Helena Bonham Carter plays Princess Margaret


Josh O’Connor plays Prince Charles


Marion Bailey plays the Queen Mother

Season Three of The Crown arrives on Netflix on 17 November 2019.