The nicest thing I can say about Nima Nourizadeh’s American Ultra is that it’s so all over the place, it took me at least an hour to decide it was …Read More
The Oliver Stone-directed Snowden — which hits theaters in December — has released its first teaser. No actual footage from the film, which stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Edward Snowden, is included — just an upside down U.S. flag, which gets imprinted with “One nation, under surveillance, for liberty and justice for all” as the trailer’s climax of sorts.
Last week, everybody got a big chuckle (some more than others) out of The Hollywood Reporter’s scoop that Michael Bay — best known for making movies about cars transforming into giant robots and blowing shit up — is in talks to helm 13 Hours, a political drama about the 2012 attack on the US embassy in Benghazi. And while most of those titters come from the participation of meathead entertainment maker and short-short connoisseur Bay (and from speculating on the various ways in which he could fumble the attack’s narrative, in light of its subsequent status as a political football), there’s also some rightful skepticism about the ability of anyone in Hollywood to make this particular “political drama,” since that’s a subgenre the movie industry seems so inclined to fuck up. So on this most political of days, let’s take a quick walk down that hall of shame, shall we?
Twenty years ago today, moviegoers had their first opportunity to take in Natural Born Killers, Oliver Stone’s bloody, grim, and broadly satiric take on serial killers, celebrity culture, and tabloid media. But those who sought out the film on more obscure grounds were in for a disappointment. Quentin Tarantino was not yet a household name; he was still an acquired taste, thanks to the less-than-stellar box office of his 1992’s Reservoir Dogs (which he wrote and directed) and 1993’s True Romance (writer only). His small (yet rapidly expanding) cult following was thrilled at the prospect of a new Tarantino movie—but by the time Natural Born Killers reached the screen, it was no longer the movie Tarantino had penned. His screenplay had been so drastically rewritten, we were told, that he had elected only to take a “story by” credit. And that, presumably, was the last we’d hear about Mr. Tarantino’s Natural Born Killers.
It’s a bit of a dead day for new releases on DVD and Blu-ray — you’ve got that Robocop remake that nobody wanted, the sixth season of the diminishing-returns HBO vampire drama True Blood, and the wretch-inducing flag-waver Lone Survivor — but there’s one new Blu-ray that’ll make you cock your head and go “eh?”: the “Ultimate Cut” of Alexander, Oliver Stone’s Alexander the Great biopic that was met with mediocre reviews and box office when it was released a decade ago. In spite of that reception (or maybe because of it?) Stone keeps re-cutting the failed picture, endlessly attempting to make it work. And Stone’s not the only one; there’s a whole set of filmmakers who can’t seem to leave well enough alone.