Tilda Swinton’s 2001: A Space Odyssey

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Good morning: In today’s edition of The Industry, we look at:

Tilda Swinton’s space odyssey, Quentin Tarantino’s last Trek, Black Mirror, and an Armenian Charlie Chaplin.

Let’s go!


TILDA SWINTON’S 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

Tilda Swinton inhabits all universes of modern cinema.

She’s collaborated with David Fincher, Wes Anderson, the Coen brothers, George Miller, Bong Joon-ho and Pedro Almodóvar.

And those aren’t even her best roles. Watch her break under the burden of mothering an evil child in We Need to Talk About Kevin or ethereally traverse the centuries in Orlando or tender the value of a human life in Michael Clayton.

Yet, her strangest project may be an upcoming adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s (2001: A Space Odyssey co-writer) novel The Fountains Of Paradise from Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Weerasethakul stated:

“[Clarke] lived and died in Sri Lanka, and one of his books, The Fountains Of Paradise, is set in a fictional land based on a Sri Lankan landscape.”

The novel centers on the construction of a space elevator, allowing humanity literal access to the heavens while threatening to demolish a sacred Buddhist mountain.

While Swinton’s role in larger big-budget sci-fi fare (Avengers Endgame, Doctor Strange, Snowpiercer) tends to be perfectly caricature-ish, this new small-budget sci-fi, for which she spent eight months filming in Sri Lanka, could present the best of both universes.

While there’s no trailer or on-set stills available, her previous collaboration with Weerasethakul in the dreamily static Memoria (2021) gives us some idea of what to expect.

Swinton spoke about her collaboration with Weerasethakul:

“We knew we wanted to work together in an atmosphere in a dreamscape… it was about finding an environment as dislocated and connected as [my character] could be.”

While Swinton’s work is marked by her uncanny ability to connect with an array of worlds, her film with Weerasethakul is characterized by disconnection.

That’s something of a compelling paradox that the transcendent Swinton should have no problem achieving in this new odyssey.

For More:

Tilda Swinton’s crippling portrait of a mother’s nightmare is searingly evocative in the We Need to Talk About Kevin trailer.

The stifling hesitation with which Swinton “okays” a hit in Michael Clayton is chilling (scene).

The trailer for Weerasethakul’s Memoria. It’s like a poetic interpretation of the sound design for Inception.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

Quentin Tarantino’s Star Trek film can be added to the Pantheon of unmade projects. Apparently, the director had envisioned the film as a gangster movie set in space. Pulp Fiction levels of violence galore. According to the writer of that script, Mark L. Smith (The Revenant), one thing stopped Tarantino:

“I remember we were talking, and he goes, ‘If I can just wrap my head around the idea that “Star Trek” could be my last movie, the last thing I ever do. Is this how I want to end it?’ And I think that was the bump he could never get across, so the script is still sitting there on his desk.”

It’s a series that’s always been ripe for re-imaging, from Galaxy Quest’s (1999) hilarious parody that examined the dangerously thin membrane between truth and fiction to J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek (trailer), which was a meditation on the burden of legacy to Black Mirror’sUSS Callister(2017) which looked at abuse of authority.

Maybe Tarantino will re-consider this for his 11th film. For now, he’s going to be making The Movie Critic.

Marvel fires Jonathan Majors. The trial has come to an end, with Majors being charged with misdemeanor assault and harassment. While Majors’ career had hit a major inflection point, starting with A24’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019) through to Creed 3 (2023), Marvel, which had centered several films around him playing the villain “Kang the Conqueror,” has dropped him. Their upcoming 2026 film Avengers: The Kang Dynasty will need to be re-cast or rewritten. This might be one of the biggest turns in franchise history because they no longer have their main villain; whether it involves a recast or swapping in another bad guy like Dr. Doom, Marvel will be dealing with the repercussions of this for years.

But this may be a blessing that forces Marvel to pump the breaks and reassess their universe.

Steven Spielberg is adapting Bullitt. The 1968 high-octane cop classic starring Steve McQueen is primarily remembered for its car chase scene, but there’s another moment that holds up better by today’s standards. It’s initiated by McQueen’s girlfriend (Jacqueline Bisset) running out of his car while they’re driving on the highway.

When he chases after her, she delivers the film’s most powerful lines:

“Do you let anything reach you? I mean, really reach you. Or are you so used by now that nothing really touches you? You’re living in a sewer, Frank—day after day.”

Spielberg seems uniquely poised to dial in the proper level of sentimentality for this moment as well as upgrading the car chase scenes but may run into an authenticity issue if he leans into tapping into the original’s visceral depictions of death.

That’s more Scorsese’s fair.

Bradley Cooper will play Bullitt. Josh Singer (Spotlight, Maestro) is writing the script; at the very least, we know it’ll be wildly entertaining.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Mackenzie Davis rescues a drowning Christopher Abbott in her upcoming film at Rotterdam 2024. Davis first made waves with her mousy characterization of a woman ignited by a complex temporal romance in the “San Junipero” episode of Black Mirror.

She’s done some strong sci-fi work since then:

Here’s the official synopsis for her new project, entitled Swimming Home:

A woman invites a naked stranger found floating in the pool of her family holiday villa to help her set those she loves free.

She and Abbott look delightfully lost in this first-look image. It’s nice to see her continue to expand her range, as this feels tonally more art-house quirky than sci-fi.

Eva Green is an action star in Three Musketeers Part 2: Milady. She’s come a long way since crying on 007’s shoulder in the iconic shower scene in Casino Royale. In the trailer for Musketeers, she’s blowing up castles, firing cannonballs into ships, and plunging her sword through the hearts of those who have wronged her. The film is in French, like the original book by Alexandre Dumas. Vincent Cassel is reprising his role from Pt 1, which was released on VOD last week.

It would be excellent to see this film’s reception translate into Green starring in some American action films. She has a unique intensity and charm.


FESTIVALS AND RESOURCES

Dick Van Dyke, best known for playing Bert in Mary Poppins and Rob Petrie in The Dick Van Dyke Show, will be celebrated by CBS in a network special, Dick Van Dyke 98 Years of Magic. The special will honor the beloved performer’s long and storied career. CBS will air the program on Thursday, December 21st, from 9-11 p.m. EST.

Check it out here.

It will also stream live and on-demand for subscribers to Paramount+ with Showtime.

Mary Poppins: Radical Elevation in the 1960s. A fascinating new book by film scholar Leslie Abramson studies Mary Poppins as an antiestablishment film of the 1960s. Read about it here.

The Museum of the Moving Image and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation announced the 2023 Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize and Sloan Student Discovery Prize winners. Justine Beed from USC won the Grand Jury Prize for her series pilot La Forza.

Here’s the logline:

A semi-historical, romantic dramedy about the electric life of physicist Laura Bassi—the first female professor—and the husband who was her assistant.

Lara Palmqvist from the University of Texas at Austin received the Discovery Prize for her feature script The Garden.

Here’s the logline:

The Garden follows a passionate plant breeder as he tries to secure his family’s future by developing genetically enhanced seeds while working for a controlling socialite who wants to transplant an elaborate garden onto her Kentucky estate.

Both winners will each receive $20,000 to develop their science-themed screenplays, along with industry exposure and mentorship.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

Daniel Kaluuya’s directorial debut is a dystopian London drama. The Kitchen, also co-written by Kaluuya, paints a stark picture of displacement and gentrification, highlighting the widening gap between the rich and poor and the erosion of community. While the world-building doesn’t feel particularly unique, The Kitchen effectively delivers its message (trailer). The film gained attention after its premiere at the London Film Festival and is set for a limited theatrical run before its release on Netflix on January 19th.

D. Smith’s documentary won both Berlin and Sundance’s 2023 Audience Awards for Best Documentary. Smith is a tw0-time Grammy nominee and the first black trans woman to appear on a primetime unscripted TV show Love & Hip Hop Atlanta.

She explains the impetus behind Kokomo City. her award-winning doc:

“I created Kokomo City because I wanted to show the fun, humanized, natural side of Black trans women. I wanted to create images that didn’t show the trauma or the statistics of murder of Transgender lives. I wanted to create something fresh and inspiring.”

The trailer presents a stark portrait of the black trans sex worker experience.

Paramount+ and Showtime just acquired the doc for streaming, where it will premiere on Friday, February 2nd.

Robert Eggers is one of the most exciting horror directors. His worlds are realized through macabre attention to detail, like the stark set designs of a 1630s New England farm in The Witch (2015) or the 1890s New England lighthouse to house the black and white mania of Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe in The Lighthouse (2019).

His new project, as detailed in a previous edition, is Nosferatu. Earlier versions of the film have been realized by:

It’s clear from the first images of Nosferatu (2024) Eggers will have no trouble contending with these directing greats. He detailed how he had custom lenses built for the film to filter out certain frequencies of color, tinting the entire image in a blue or orange shade. It’s reminiscent of when Kubrick contacted NASA for Barry Lyndon.

Nosferatu will be released Dec 25th, 2024 by Focus Features.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Wong Kar-wai lit up the international scene with his fractured-dream-like high-intensity cinema. Days of Being Wild (1990), Chungking Express (1994), In the Mood for Love (2000). Each collaboration with esteemed cinematographer Christopher Doyle is a masterclass in cinema aesthetics.

Here’s the official synopsis for his new TV series, Blossoms Shanghai:

The story of a self-made millionaire in Shanghai during the 1990s from a young opportunist with a troubled past to the heights of the gilded city.

Check out the Chinese-language trailer here. It’s an interesting choice of setting.

The post-90s era has been less kind to Wong Kar-wai, and he has not directed a film since The Grandmaster (2013), which had some of the most poetic action sequences committed to cinema but fared less well critically.

We hope this series marks a bold return for the director who gifted so much to cinema. There may be a way to watch it on Tecent on December 27th, but the site is entirely in Chinese.

A Brazilian love letter to movie theaters from Cannes filmmaker Kleber Mendonça Filho. Watching the trailer for Pictures Of Ghosts, one begins to understand how each city’s DNA is expressed through its cinemas. Cannes’ Palais Cinema has a dynamic downward-sloping angle that makes you feel engulfed by cinema’s enveloping experience. Sundance’s Egyptian is the perfect cozy Park City cinema that feels intimate, NYC’s Angelika Film Center has at once terrible and enriching acoustics as the subway rumbles by every 15 minutes, either distracting or enhancing scenes.

Mendonça, whose latest film, Bacurau (2019) took third place at Cannes, has created a map of the Brazilian city Recife in Pictures Of Ghosts.

The film is Brazil’s official entry for Best International Film at the Academy Awards. It is currently in theaters in London and will be available in the US on January 26th.

Ten years of hard labor. That’s the sentence for an unsuspecting American who’s found himself in the middle of Armenia in 1948. The trailer for Amerikatsi is surprisingly funny in a slapstick kind of way that’s rare in current international cinema.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Charlie escapes the Armenian genocide as a boy by fleeing to the United States, but he returns as an adult and is arrested. He watches an Armenian couple from his prison cell, finally learning about his homeland.

The synopsis is heavy, but the film is designated as a black comedy. In fact, Charlie’s prison mates call him Charlie Chaplin.

The film is Armenia’s official Oscar submission. No word yet on the release date.


ON THIS DAY

1971. Stanley Kubrick’s film and cult classic A Clockwork Orange, based on the book by Anthony Burgess and starring Malcolm McDowell, premieres.


See you tomorrow.


Written by: Gabriel Miller. Research by Spencer Carter.

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