All posts by josefhenryrodriguez

Wally’s Wonderland Pits Nicolas Cage Against an Entire Amusement Park

There’s no denying that Nicolas Cage is something of an enigma. He’s arguably one of the best actors in Hollywood (there are arguments to be made for a lot of Cage’s acting choices, but that’s another article), and continuously relegates himself to starring roles in some of the – if not worst – most weirdly misguided projects possible. Many say it’s a result of Cage’s spending habits, which have landed him in deep trouble with the IRS on more than one occasion, but I don’t buy it.

Nicolas Cage is an Oscar-winning actor. A couple supporting roles here, a tour de force there, and he’s back on top where he belongs. Cage could be making beaucoup bucks starring in whatever Marvel movie will have him, but he insists on paying his debts with weird genre movies that get almost no visibility in the mainstream. Granted, not all of these movies are very good. For every Mandy or The Trust, there are three Outcast type projects, but I think he wants it that way. Anyone who’s willing to put that much of themselves into every performance, big or small, must get bored with “serious acting” after a certain point. If Cage wants to rage, he should be allowed to.

And really, do we have any right to complain? Cage’s willingness to dive face-first into the unknown has made for some truly fascinating work, and it almost makes one long for the days when a movie as batshit-bananas as Face/Off could get a $100 million dollar budget and a wide release.

But I digress. 2020 is shaping up to be another busy year for the actor, with six projects already in some stage of production. Among them is an interesting new horror flick from director Kevin Lewis called Wally’s Wonderland. It’ll be Lewis’ first film in more than a decade, courtesy of a screenplay by newcomer G.O. Parsons.

Cage stars alongside Emily Tosta (Mayans M.C.) and veteran character actor Beth Grant (Donnie Darko, Speed, No Country for Old Men), and the film even has a co-sign from Small Soldiers writer Adam Rifkin, who’s credited as an executive producer.

A synopsis from IMDb tells us:

A quiet drifter is tricked into a janitorial job at the now condemned Wally’s Wonderland. The mundane tasks suddenly become an all-out fight for survival against wave after wave of demonic animatronics. Fists fly, kicks land, titans clash — and only one side will make it out alive.

It’s looking like Wally’s Wonderland will play as some R-rated version of Five Nights at Freddy’swith Cage’s janitor subbing in for Freddy’s security guard protagonist. Recently released images from the film reveal a similar style to the phantasmagorical hues of Mandy and Color Out of Space, a style that Cage seems to be vibing with quite a bit recently.

Director Kevin Lewis’ previous films don’t inspire much hope – two of his projects are rocking less than three stars on IMDb – but this is also the first time he’s directing from someone else’s screenplay, and the premise is reliable enough that as long as it’s violent and colorful, there’s not much he could do to screw it up. Having Cage on-board is half the battle, the guy can carry a movie like nobody’s business, but I think this one has the potential to become another cult hit in his expansive and increasingly bizarre filmography.

We’re looking forward to seeing a trailer, a clip, or any kind of footage from Wally’s Wonderland, which is set to debut sometime in 2020.

Images: Foresight, Screen Media, RLJE Films,FX,
Newmarket Films, Saban Films, Entertainment One, 

Martin Scorsese is Finally Making a Western

As distinct as Martin Scorsese’s style is, his filmography reveals a comfort with genre that may surprise the casual fan. Disregarding the gangster pics for which he’s most well-known, Scorsese has traversed comedy, romance, horror, costume drama, documentary, and biopic without skipping a beat. But – and this is surprising considering his list of favorite movies – the one thing we haven’t seen Scorsese do is a western.

Early reports of Scorsese’s latest film confirm that’s about to change. With DiCaprio and DeNiro in tow, the GoodFellas director is set to embark on Killers of the Flower Moon, an adaptation of David Grann’s 2017 book. Grann’s acclaimed non-fiction account details a string of murders orchestrated by a cattleman named William Hale in the early 1920s, who organized the killings against members of the Osage Nation, a Native American tribe who reside mostly in the midwest, for oil that was discovered on their land.

The official description from Penguin Random House reveals:

In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.

Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. One of her relatives was shot. Another was poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more Osage were dying under mysterious circumstances, and many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered.

As the death toll rose, the newly created FBI took up the case, and the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to try to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including a Native American agent who infiltrated the region, and together with the Osage began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.

It’s been reported that Scorsese’s adaptation – which is filming in Tulsa, Oklahoma from a script by Forrest Gump writer Eric Roth – will have Robert De Niro occupying the William Hale role, with DiCaprio’s role still unconfirmed. It’s worth noting that DiCaprio himself has played J. Edgar Hoover in the past, as the lead of Clint Eastwood’s 2011 biopic. It would be interesting to see DiCaprio reprise his role with another director, but it’s more likely that DiCaprio will play Tom White, the Texas Ranger who helped Hoover crack the case.

In a recent interview with Cahiers du Cinema, Scorsese explained his motivations behind making the film. A portion of the interview reported on by Tulsa World reveals:

“We think it’s a Western. It happened in 1921, 1922, in Oklahoma. They are certainly cowboys, but they have cars, and also horses. The film mainly talks about Osages, an Indian tribe with which we gave a horrible territory, but which they loved because they said to themselves that the whites would never be interested in it. Then we discovered oil there and for about 10 years, the Osages became the people richest in the world, per capita. Then as with the Yukon and the mining regions of Colorado, the vultures disembark, the white man, the European arrives, and all that is lost. … There, the underworld had such control over everything that you were more likely to go to jail for killing a dog than killing an Indian.”

He added: “It’s so interesting to think about the mentality that leads us to that. The history of civilization goes back to Mesopotamia. The Hittites are invaded by another people, they disappear and later, it is said that they have been assimilated, or rather, absorbed. … It is fascinating to see this mentality which is reproduced in other cultures, through two world wars. And which is therefore timeless, I think. Finally, this is the film we are going to try to make.”

When Killers of the Flower Moon is released in 2021, it will be the fifth adaptation of David Grann’s work in just five years. The acclaimed journalist has seen his stories on-screen quite a bit recently, with James Gray’s The Lost City of Z and David Lowery’s The Old Man & the Gun garnering particularly positive responses upon release. He’s probably got another hit on his hands now that Scorsese’s involved, and the director’s love of classic westerns will almost certainly have an influence on this new project.

Killers of the Flower Moon is scheduled for a 2021 release.

Images: Penguin Random House, Netflix, Warner Bros. 
Featured Image2006 Peabody Awards via Flickr (cropped)

Gangs of London: Gareth Evans’ Signature Blend of Excitement and Exhaustion

I can still remember going to see The Raid: Redemption like it was yesterday. Spring of 2012 didn’t give genre fans much to talk about outside of The Cabin in the Woods, and moviegoers desperately needed some indie action flick to rave about online. And since Joseph Kahn’s Detention was released on fewer screens than there are seats in the average American movie theater, Welsh director Gareth Evans was able to slide in and gain something of a cult following with his sophomore feature, The Raid.

Continue reading Gangs of London: Gareth Evans’ Signature Blend of Excitement and Exhaustion