20 | The
PAPER | November / December 2017 | www.thecowetapaper.com _____________________________________________________________
The Film Fix with Jonathan W. Hickman Jonathan W. Hickman is an entertainment attorney, filmmaker, college professor, and novelist. More about Jonathan can be found by visiting http://filmproductionlaw.com/
What to Binge: Marvel’s “The Runaways”
What to Binge: If you’ve not already absorbed all of season two of “Stranger Things,” which I highly recommend, there’s a dark new superhero series of note to check out. Marvel’s “The Punisher” Marvel is everywhere these days, and as noted below, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the “MCU”) scores a major success with the new “Thor” installment. “The Punisher” has been around for decades, dating back to 1989 when Dolph Lundgren first cut an imposing figure in the role. Unfortunately, the 2004 Thomas Jane version left much to be desired mainly due to an unhinged, villainous performance by John Travolta. Then in 2008 “Punisher: War Zone” with Ray Stevenson in the lead charmed fanboys but failed to ignite the franchise. This new Netflix take on the character is part of the street level collection of supers that reached a new level with “The Defenders.” And this spin-off from “Daredevil” looks promising, especially the casting of “The Walking Dead’s” Jon Bernthal. Look for “Marvel’s The Punisher” to drop episodes on November 17. Which Movie to Watch: Mudbound Word is that this Netflix original film is really award-worthy (regardless of its presence on the streaming platform). I’ve not seen it, yet, but, as of my deadline, it’s charting at a very solid 95% on RottenTomatoes. From director Dee Rees, who gave us the significant 2011 film “Pariah” and 2015’s HBO feature “Bessie,” “Mudbound” tells the story of two families struggling to make a place for themselves in rural Mississippi in the time after World War II. Share-cropping, racism, and the realities of economic scarcity threaten to tear the families apart. An attractive cast with Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke, Jonathan Banks, Mary J. Blige, and Rob Morgan certainly make this one worth checking out. What to Avoid: Chappie From writer/director Neil Blomkamp (“District 9”), this uneven science fiction entry was a definite miss. The near future story concerns the future of law enforcement involving the use of robots. When a designer (Dev Patel) programs a police droid (Chappie) to think for itself, the powers that be want to eliminate it. With a hammy supporting performance from Hugh Jackman, this film should have been lighter and less violent in order to capture a broader audience of younger kids that might buy the ridiculous tale.
Spreading the love around, lesser Marvel comic properties can be seen on a myriad of platforms. This one sounds somewhat familiar and may attract the same audience that has made “Riverdale” a bit of a teen fascination. “The Runaways” has a group of teens banding together to right some wrongs when they discover that their parents are really super-villains. Expect the first season to set up the world and provide multiple origin stories in hopes of launching an on-going series. Which Movie to Watch: Spaceballs / Punch Drunk Love Hulu is positioning itself nicely for the holidays with a fairly extensive selection of James Bond films (even including “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”). But if you’re not in the festive mood to be shaken, yet, not stirred, might I recommend some Mel Brooks slapstick with “Spaceballs,” or on the other end of the spectrum, a decidedly serious turn from funny-man Adam Sandler in “Punch Drunk Love.” No one can avoid the chuckles as “Spaceballs” spoofs “Star Wars” perfectly. But it was “Punch Drunk Love” that gave critics hope that we would avoid the endless stream of snarky comedies from Sandler. However, that was not to be (exhibit “A” see his Netflix offering “The Ridiculous 6”). Still, his recent performance in another Netflix film “Meyerowitz Stories” is in the nature of award-worthy. What to Avoid: Rollerball (2002) This failed remake of the 1975 semi-classic is wrong in so many ways. While the attractive cast is strong (led by Chris Klein of “American Pie”), it has none of the campiness or social commentary that helped the original overcome clunkiness. The science fiction storyline revolves around the increasingly violent sport of Rollerball that is used in the future to control and appease the masses. Skip this one and watch the original Norman Jewison directed “Rollerball” starring James Caan, which is also available this month on Hulu.
What to Binge: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Amazon has struggled to find its footing with original material and has had problems with the waive of sexual harassment revelations resulting in the resignation of key content executives. Enter “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” a women empowerment narrative of sorts set in the 1960s. Rachel Brosnahan (“House of Cards”) plays the title character Mrs. Miriam “Midge” Maisel, a housewife who finds herself blamed for her husband’s failure as a standup comic. But when she discovers her own talent for comedy, Midge is forced to choose between her perfect life as a housewife or a risky one in comedy during a time when women are still expected to stay at home.
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