|THE RISE OF SKYWALKERRISE OF SKYWALKERDAISY RIDLEYOSCAR ISAACJOHN BOYEGASKYWALKERSTAR WARSOSCAR|
There’s one particularly telling and effective moment in The Skywalker Legacy, the feature-lenght documentary that’s included on the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker home release that sums up much of the ambivalence and consternation that some had with J.J. Abrams’ return to the Star Wars universe. After showing the intricate construction of a giant, practical snake monster, the doc cuts back to footage of Jabba The Hutt, that old analogue beast that slithered its way into our hearts. The sentiment is clear – we’re making movies like we used to! A celebration of practical effects, the dripping of k-y jelly to give viscosity just like the old costume days, it’s all there. There’s excitement on set, everyone talking about how amazing it looks, how lifelike, how this is how you’re supposed to do movies like this.
Cut to Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett who shatters the myth, letting us know the creature was replaced by a CGI version in post.
Guyett’s resume is mighty. Having made his bones on groundbreaking films like Twister and Casper, he helped Spielberg bring the events of D-Day to screen in Saving Private Ryan, helped bring to life the best looking film in the Harry Potter series, Alfonso Cuarón’s Prisoner of Azkaban, and even made the theatrical version of Rent feel more than a stage production. Guyett has had many collaborations with Abrams – from the Star Trek Reboots through The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker he was even second unit director on the former, as well as working with George Lucas on Episode III to round off the prequels. He’s in a unique position to speak to these changing landscapes of epic filmmaking.
We spoke at length about the apparent contradictions and indulgences in making a Star Wars film, and he made the case for why nothing was wasted and all contributed to the final presentation. He was erudite and open to the discussion, making for a dream conversation with a man who quite literally has helped shape what amazes us on screen for decades.
The following has been edited for clarity and concision.
We see practical effects being championed as almost a marketing ploy with the “postquels” as a mix of nostalgia and an attempt to delineate from Lucas’ second trilogy. In some ways the love of the practically-realized snake undercuts the extraordinary CGI you and your team accomplished, and raises questions about why the need to fetishize the on-set inclusions when they’re replaced anyway. Could you talk about that ethos, that somehow doing stuff on a computer is a “cheat” while doing an effect practically is not?
I think at the end of the day we’re all trying to do the best that we can, trying to make the best, most dramatic or emotional movie we can visually. I’m coming from figuring out how do you get the most...
RuPaul’s Drag Race is coming in hot for season 12 with an all-star roster of guest judges who are ready to sashay and slay the Emmy-award winning reality competition which is set to premiere on February 28 on VH1.
As seen in the trailer for the 12th season, this season’s queens will be pledging allegiance “to the drag” of the “United Queens of Ru-America”. Because it is such a patriotic season, it only makes sense that they have trailblazing politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the judges’ panel this season. Others joining previously announced judge Nicki Minaj include Saturday Night Live alum Leslie Jones, actor Jeff Goldblum, Academy Award-winning actress and View co-host Whoopi Goldberg, music icon Chaka Khan and Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley. Other guest judges include Robyn, Normani, Thandie Newton, Olivia Munn, Rachel Bloom, Daniel Franzese, Jonathan Bennett and Winnie Harlow. The “ru-volution” will be televised with the premiere airing over two consecutive Friday nights.
The 13 queens competing for the coveted title of “America's Next Drag Superstar” and $100,000. will be Aiden Zhane Acworth, GA, Brita New York, NY, Crystal Methyd Springfield, MO, Dahlia Sin Los Angeles, CA, Gigi Goode Los Angeles, CA, Heidi N Closet Ramseur, NC, Jackie Cox New York, NY, Jaida Essence Hall Milwaukee, WI, Jan New York, NY, Nicky Doll New York, NY, Rock M. Sakura San Francisco, CA, Sherry Pie New York, NY, and Widow Von'Du Kansas City, MO.
RuPaul's Drag Race and RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked are produced by World of Wonder Productions with Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, Tom Campbell, Steven Corfe, Mandy Salangsang and RuPaul Charles serving as Executive Producers. Tim Palazzola serves as Executive Producer for VH1 and Jen Passovoy serves as Producer. Last year, RuPaul's Drag Race won second consecutive Emmy for Outstanding Competition Program and Charles picked up his fourth consecutive Emmy for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program to tie Jeff Probst for most wins in the category. The franchise has also expanded to become a live stage show in Las Vegas and has made its way across the pond with RuPaul's Drag Race UK.
Check out a sneak peek below of the guest judges and the queens in this “Ru-volutionary” season!
Paul Schrader‘s First Reformed follow-up The Card Counter has some new cast members. We already knew that Oscar Isaac was set to lead the film, and now Schrader himself has confirmed that Willem Dafoe, Tye Sheridan, and Tiffany Haddish will appear as well. This is not your average cast, and that’s pretty exciting. The Card Counter follows “a gambler and former serviceman who sets out to reform a young man seeking revenge on a mutual enemy from their past.”
During an interview with Metrograph, Paul Schrader opened up a bit about his new film The Card Counter:
“But now, in another week, I’m gonna go back to work. I’ve written a new script and I’m making a new film. We’re cast and we’re financed. It’s an original script, very much in the style I like to do. Nice cast. Oscar Isaac is the main guy. Tye Sheridan and Tiffany Haddish. And Willem [Dafoe’s] in it too. I love Tiffany. I’ve never met her, but I was on the phone with her for an hour. She’s a firecracker. It’s like talking to a live-wire connection. She’s very funny and, of course, she makes you funny. When someone’s sharp, that makes you get sharp because you want to keep up. So that’s all good. In my films, I’ll sort of combine two worlds that seem to have nothing to do with each other. In the new one, it’s the world series of poker and Abu Ghraib.”
The Card Counter “follows William Tell Isaac, a gambler and former serviceman who sets out to reform a young man seeking revenge on a mutual enemy from their past. Tell just wants to play cards. His spartan existence on the casino trail is shattered when he is approached by Cirk, a vulnerable and angry young man seeking help to execute his plan for revenge on a military colonel. Tell sees a chance at redemption through his relationship with Cirk. Gaining backing from mysterious gambling financier La Linda, Tell takes Cirk with him on the road, going from casino to casino until the unlikely trio set their sights on winning the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. But keeping Cirk on the straight-and-narrow proves impossible, dragging Tell back into the darkness of his past.”
While HanWay Films has acquired international sales rights to the pic, there’s no domestic release info yet. Schrader even reveals in the interview that both Netflix and Amazon passed on the movie, which is a bit of a bummer. “My new film was turned down by Amazon and Netflix,” he says. “It’s not a question of, you know, ‘They’ll do anything.’ I’m still outside their system.”
Hopefully, Schrader will find a home for The Card Counter soon.
Now that he’s done with Star Wars, John Boyega is using his clout to get some new projects off the ground. The actor just signed a deal with Netflix through his production company, UpperRoom Productions, to develop non-English language films, with a focus on West and East Africa countries. The streaming service says its all part of a plan to reinforce its investment in African storytelling with projects developed in African countries.
John Boyega’s UpperRoom Productions is teaming with Netflix to “develop film projects based on stories, cast, characters, crew, literary properties, mythology, screenplays and/or other elements in or around African countries, with a focus on West and East Africa.” Boyega, who was recently seen in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, is next set to appear in Chase Palmer’s Naked Singularity. He’s also set for the Netflix film Rebel Ridge, from director Jeremy Saulnier. Boyega previously came aboard the South African crime-thriller God Is Good as an executive producer and will also oversee the movie’s soundtrack.
“I am thrilled to partner with Netflix to develop a slate of non-English language feature films focused on African stories and my team and I are excited to develop original material,” said Boyega. “We are proud to grow this arm of our business with a company that shares our vision.” Boyega set up UpperRoom in 2016 as part of his producing role on Pacific Rim Uprising.
Netflix wants to increase its African created-based content, having recently announced production on its first original scripted series from Nigeria, the still-untilted Akin Omotoso Project. They’ve also announced other African originals, Blood & Water and Mama K’s Team 4, that will premiere later this year and join Netflix’s first Africa Original, Queen Sono, which dropped on February 28.
“Africa has a rich history in storytelling and for Netflix, this partnership with John and UpperRoom presents an opportunity to further our investment in the continent while bringing unique African stories to our members both in Africa and around the world,” said David Kosse, Vice President of International Film at Netflix.