Minor League 'Heat' and More
Plus: A classic stop-motion picture assigned.
A quick programming note: I’m flying out west for a funeral (not my own, don’t worry, wocka wocka; thanks for coming out folks, try the veal!) so today’s newsletter will be a bit truncated. Just some links/stray thoughts. I’m sorry, I’ll do better next week.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On joins Lightyear as the second movie in as many weekends that is nominally aimed at kids but that I do not quite think will land with kids. But whereas Lightyear compounded this sin by being a rote, boring piece of filmmaking, Marcel is charming and moving, the sort of movie that adults will love and chuckle along with even as they dread having to explain. Anyway, you can read my review here. It’s a delight! I was charmed.
Speaking of Lightyear, Alyssa, Peter, and I continue to be flummoxed by the fact that we’re supposed to buy this was a movie kids would love. So in the members-only bonus episode of ATMA we looked back at some of the movies of 1995 and tried to figure out which of them would have left a lasting impression.
Speaking of Across the Movie Aisle, on next week’s episode we’re talking about the Netflix original Spiderhead, starring Chris Hemsworth and Miles Teller and directed by Joseph Kosinski (Top Gun: Maverick). If you’d like to read the George Saunders short story on which the movie is based, click here.
Bilge Ebiri has a great piece up at Vulture about the differences between Michael Mann’s Heat and Michael Mann’s L.A. Takedown, the biggest of which, of course, is the cast. I can confirm this from personal experience: a few years back I watched a (possibly bootlegged?) copy of the made-for-TV movie on YouTube that would eventually be reborn as the masterpiece Heat, and it’s fascinating, a bit like watching a high school production of Macbeth after watching Patrick Stewart or Denzel Washington in the title role. Anyway, this will make an excellent chapter in the book Bilge better be writing about Michael Mann.
Always love having Richard Rushfield of The Ankler on The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood. This week we talked about turmoil in the magic kingdom and what it actually takes to be a modern studio head.
Netflix cut another 300 positions. The streamer is describing this as a three percent reduction in staff. But as Matthew Belloni—who keeps popping up in this newsletter; you should really sign up for Puck!—notes in his newsletter, if you include attrition from departures who haven’t been replaced, the staff reduction at Netflix is closer to 14 percent in recent months.
At some point Warner Bros. is going to have some very difficult calls to make about Ezra Miller and their $200 million tentpole, The Flash. Do they scrap it entirely and take the writedown? Do they dump it to HBO Max? Do they spend another $100 million replacing the actor digitally and take their lumps when it inevitably looks like garbage? Do they try an intense PR rehabilitation over the next year?
Westworld is back! Remember Westworld? I do? Kinda? Wait, hold on: I actually need to watch the third season still. Oops. Looks like I’ve got my next binge watch ready to go.
John McNaughton, the director of Wild Things and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, looks like he might be reteamingwith Henry star Michael Rooker for a rough-and-tumble vigilante flick. Here’s hoping this comes together; Rooker, who nerds will remember from The Walking Dead and Guardians of the Galaxy and real nerds will remember from Mallrats, deserves more headline appearances on the big screen.
Assigned Viewing: Coraline (available on VOD)
One of the reasons I liked Marcel is that I’ve always been a fan of stop-motion animation; there’s something appealing about the tactile quality of the materials used to make the story and the thought and care that goes into shooting a feature-length story one frame at a time.
Wes Anderson’s forays into stop-motion, The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Isle of Dogs, are wonderful. But my favorite in relatively recent years is probably Henry Selick’s Coraline. Like Marcel it’s a movie that’s nominally aimed at kids but might be a little hard for them. Then again, it was a little hard for me: button-eyed puppets are the stuff of nightmares. Nightmares, I say!