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With Avengers: Endgame set to bring the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it to a close, we’ve all been wondering what the fates of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes will be heading into Phase 4. We already know that Iron Man and Captain America won’t be returning (at least that’s what they’re telling us), but that’s not the case for the entire roster.

At the recent Disney Investor Day presentation, Kevin Feige discussed plans for some of the remaining characters. In short: a few of them are heading to Disney+ in the near future. And if that’s not enough to sell you on the streaming service, Feige also revealed that story developments in their Marvel shows will be intertwined with events in MCU theatrical releases.

“These will be both new and continuing stories and one of the things we’re most excited about is that these will be major storylines set in the MCU with ramifications that will be felt both in the Disney+ shows we’re producing and our features on the big screen.”

Feige’s words suggest that Disney+ is going to be an essential purchase for Marvel fans. Clearly, the small-screen adventures will have a significant impact in the grand scheme of things. That said, I doubt a big corporation like Disney will risk alienating moviegoers who don’t pick up a subscription, so don’t be surprised if these shows are still quite independent from their cinematic counterparts.

As for the future of the MCU on the big screen, it’s already common knowledge that a few Avengers have continued adventures in development as well. With this in mind, here’s a list of the announced projects that will feature the superheroes.

Spider-Man

The cinematic fate of the wisecracking web-slinger has been known for a while now. Last summer, Tom Holland revealed that Spider-Man: Far from Home will be Spidey’s second standalone movie in the MCU. The sequel will be released this July. While I’m not complaining about getting to see a new Spider-Man movie this summer, I do wish its existence was kept top secret and sprung on us after Endgame. The film’s announcement more or less confirmed that Spidey’s “death” in Avengers: Infinity War was temporary.

Not much is known about the movie yet, but Jake Gyllenhaal will make his Marvel debut as Mysterio, which is genius casting. While the character has mostly served as an adversary to Spidey in the comics, the first trailer suggests that there might be more to him this time around. We shall see.

Spider-Man: Far From Home opens a few months after Endgame on July 5, 2019.

Black Widow

This one is hella exciting. Fans have been clamoring for the MCU’s master spy to receive her own movie for years, and now it’s finally happening courtesy of screenwriter Jac Schaeffer and director Cate Shortland.

The cast is also shaping up to be top notch. In addition to Scarlett Johansson as the eponymous ass-kicker, Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, and David Harbour will also appear. Marvel has yet to confirm which characters this impressive ensemble will bring to life; however, our very own Sheryl Oh has some fantastic ideas as to whom they could play.

Black Widow has no release date yet, but it begins production this summer, and word on the street is it’s due in November 2020.

The Guardians of the Galaxy

Another guaranteed sequel we can expect in the post-Endgame world is the third installment of the space opera saga Guardians of the Galaxy. Furthermore, James Gunn will return to helm proceedings for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 following his unexpected and controversial firing from Disney last year.

We’ll have to wait a while for this one, though. Before Gunn returns for another adventure with these spacefaring heroes, he’ll be focused on the upcoming Suicide Squad reboot for DC. That said, it’s just good to know that this movie is actually happening and it’s being helmed by the filmmaker who made the franchise so beloved in the first place.

Black Panther

Given that the first movie was a huge success, a cultural phenomenon, the best movie of 2018, and an Oscar-winner, a sequel was always going to happen. This is another one that should have been kept under wraps until after Endgame, but knowing that we’ll see more of Wakanda down the line nonetheless gives us something to look forward to.

At this time, we know for sure that Ryan Coogler has signed on to write and direct the film. Elsewhere, Letitia Wright will reprise her role as Shuri, a badass who also deserves her own movie. Of course, the story is being kept close to the chest for now, but Coogler has previously stated that he wants to explore T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) evolving as a king in future films. His reign has really only just started in the MCU after all.

Additionally, there’s also been rumblings of a solo Killmonger movie. The popularity of Michael B. Jordan’s character likely means that we haven’t seen the last of him, so don’t be surprised if he returns for the sequel in some capacity as well.

Black Panther 2 is most likely to return with another February release date, probably in 2021.

Doctor Strange

After Doctor Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) strong outing in Infinity War, the Master of the Mystic Arts has established himself as one of the most intriguing characters in the MCU. It would be a shame if we didn’t get to spend more time with the doctor-turned-magician. Fortunately, a sequel is in the works and Scott Derrickson is back on board to direct it.

Right now, the movie is still in the early development stages, so we don’t know much about it. However, since Phase 4 is expected to focus on the cosmic side of Marvel mythology, Strange will no doubt play a key part in shaping the MCU’s future.

Doctor Strange 2 is expected to arrive in the Fall of 2021.

Loki

One of the earliest announcements to entice fans to subscribe to Disney’s upcoming streaming service was the news that Tom Hiddleston will reprise his role as Loki in a limited series about Asgard’s mischevious son.

Like most of the planned Disney+ Marvel shows, details about this one are scarce beyond its existence. Given that the character was subject to an unfortunate demise in Infinity War, it remains to be seen how he’ll be brought back into the fold. Some people think he’s alive, though, and it’s not as if being resurrected in Marvel’s world is impossible.

Loki is due on Disney+ within the second year of the service, so either late 2020 or early 2021.

Hawkeye

Variety recently broke the news that Jeremy Renner will return to spearhead a Hawkeye limited series for Disney’s streaming service. According to the report, the project will be an adventure series in which the titular archery master will pass the torch to his protégé, Kate Bishop.

In the comics, Bishop adopted the Hawkeye mantle after Cliff Barton. She is also a member of the Young Avengers, so perhaps this series will pave the way for onscreen outings involving her heroic comrades in the near future. Disney has not confirmed the Hawkeye series and so it’s unknown when it will premiere.

Vision and Scarlet Witch

After months of rumors, Disney finally confirmed that Vision (Paul Bettany) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) will receive their own streaming series. The show has also been given the much snappier title of WandaVision, which is much better than Vision and Scarlet Witch.

Jac Schaeffer will write and produce the six-episode series, though there’s been no information about what the story entails or when it will take place within the MCU timeline.

Of course, since these spinoff shows will focus on adding more depth to various MCU characters, we assume that WandaVision will explore the romantic relationship between the pair and how it came to be. There’s certainly no shortage of source material in the comics to mine from either.

WandaVision is due on Disney+ within the second year of the service, so either late 2020 or early 2021.

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier

One of the most exciting shows to be making its way to the Disney+ small-screen lineup is Falcon and Winter Soldier, which will see Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan return to play their respective roles as the titular heroes. Once again, we know basically nothing about this show apart from the fact it’s happening with the two actors on board. A few months ago, however, Variety revealed that Empire’s Malcolm Hellman had been tapped to write it.

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier debuts on Disney+ within the streaming service’s first year, so either 2019 or 2020.

Thor

Chris Hemsworth is contractually done with Marvel after Endgame, which leaves the future of the character he’s played for seven movies up in the air. Despite his Marvel tenure seemingly coming to an end, the actor remains open to more Thor movies if a good idea presents itself. Should another sequel happen, it will be the first time that an Avenger has been given four solo movies.

Still, should he survive Endgame, perhaps he’ll show up in the Loki series? He has to, surely! Until then, he has Endgame to get through, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up being a casualty of the final battles.

Ant-Man

There’s been no word of a second Ant-Man sequel yet, but Marvel’s tendency to turn their individual franchises into trilogies bodes well for the future. According to director Peyton Reed, there is another story to tell, and he remains hopeful that they’ll bring it to life someday.

The Incredible Hulk

Sadly, the angry green giant is destined to remain a supporting player for the foreseeable future. Mark Ruffalo stated that another standalone Hulk movie is out of the question because Universal owns the rights to solo Hulk outings and won’t make a deal.

Hopefully, the character continues to play a part in the MCU post-Endgame. As Thor: Ragnarok proved, the monster is an entertaining companion. I doubt he’ll die in Endgame since the movie will probably focus on Bruce Banner rediscovering his inner beast. Marvel isn’t sick enough to kill him off after all he’s been through.

Captain Marvel

It’s only a matter of time until we see Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers in solo action once again. Captain Marvel ended with her having some unfinished business with Ronan the Accuser and the Kree’s Super Intelligence. Those missions demand at least one sequel.

Additionally, the character’s history with the X-Men makes her a perfect catalyst for introducing them to the MCU. We all know that’s going to happen eventually.

New Characters

While the established characters are great and all, the MCU also needs some fresh blood to keep things unpredictable and exciting. The good news is that we can expect some to arrive in the near future.

Up first is the Chloe Zhao-directed The Eternals, which follows a group of superpowered, immortal beings created by cosmic gods known as the Celestials. Angelina Jolie is in talks to star in this one, along with Kumail Nanjiani, and filming is scheduled to commence later this year.

Another deep dive Marvel hero who’s receiving a future solo movie is Shang-Chi, and Destin Daniel Cretton has been tasked with transforming the Bruce Lee clone into a relevant box office sensation. The movie will also introduce some epic martial arts action to the MCU, which is an exciting notion for sure. It’s about time Hollywood gave us an authentic Asian blockbuster, and this will make waves for representation as Marvel seeks to tell even more diverse stories. A Shang-Chi release date hasn’t been announced yet.

The post Everything We Know About What Happens After ‘Avengers: Endgame’ appeared first on Film School Rejects.

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Mentioning the Harry Potter film franchise to fans of J.K. Rowling‘s original seven-part novel series can be quite the polarizing activity. Truthfully, the books and movies have decently solidified their status as indelible popular cultural milestones. But back in the day, as the Harry Potter movies continued to develop and change in tone over the course of 10 years, they faced their fair share of criticism.

Mainly, the issue of fidelity in these films — or lack thereof — frequently bothers book aficionados. Honestly, I can actually see why. Even as an avid fan of this franchise, I can’t help but notice that the adaptations strayed further and further from their source material with each passing installment.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is arguably one of the most divisive installments of the franchise for this very reason. For clarity’s sake, it’s important to point out that film critics absolutely adored the movie. It even earned Bruno Dilbonnel an Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography among its many accolades.

That said, the movie version of The Half-Blood Prince trades the darkly reflective narrative of Rowling’s literary original for an emphasis on fluffy humor and a largely pared-down plotline. And considering how the Harry Potter book series is chock-full of tiny but vital details, the act of glossing over any of them in the name of spectacle and broader entertainment is ostensibly rather annoying.

Each Harry Potter book deconstructs the typical expectations of heroism and allyship and this is made increasingly apparent as the series approached its end. In particular, The Half-Blood Prince tasks its eponymous boy wizard protagonist to confront the people closest to him, as well as those he assumes to be his enemies.

By the events of The Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter’s coming-of-age journey grows ever murkier. He has now witnessed and been further scarred by death. Meanwhile, he still bears the unrelenting responsibility of being a symbol of hope. Harry and his best friends are going through the more normal yet equally frustrating shenanigans of growing up, too.

Most notably, The Half-Blood Prince is also a necessary stepping stone in Harry Potter lore overall. The novel provides essential backstory and context through the use of memories and flashbacks, filling in the gaps about the origins — and potential weaknesses — of Harry’s archnemesis, Lord Voldemort.

Unsurprisingly, Rowling’s text is rich and convoluted; delightfully so, in fact. However, the film adaptation of The Half-Blood Prince still does well to take a more freeform and emotionally-driven approach to the narrative.

Now, I’m not saying that destroying the Burrow was necessarily the best choice on the part of director David Yates. That said, even after shaving a ton of subplots and characters for a more evocative story, The Half-Blood Prince retains both the sense of bleakness shrouding Harry’s future, as well as the sparkling wit and buoyant youthfulness that has characterized the series from day one.

Delbonnel’s brilliantly moody cinematography does plenty of the heavy lifting in The Half-Blood Prince. The movie deliberately steers clear from the warmer, more vibrant hues that have pretty much been a staple since Chris Columbus opened the franchise with The Sorcerer’s Stone. Instead, metallic washes of color make The Half-Blood Prince appear either steely or softly sepia-toned, depending on how a scene is set up.

Moreover, there’s a haziness to every image that can skew unsettling or tender. This technique works well in multiple scenarios. It adds a sense of anticipation when Harry, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger cautiously spy on schoolmate Draco Malfoy in a dodgy shop in an even dodgier alleyway. The soft focus communicates the heady effects of a Potions class about love potions. And of course, once the movie really begins to dig into the darkest depths of death, Delbonnel’s images are frighteningly icy.

I like to call The Half-Blood Prince a great representation of our One Perfect Shot ethos because its obvious prettiness is very much functional. The gorgeous camerawork that netted Delbonnel the Oscar nomination operates in service of an adaptation that actually needs more than words to tell. Visually, The Half-Blood Prince has always prepared audiences for emotional devastation.

How then should we read the fluff that’s present in the film? No one can escape the highly amusing travails of young love whenever Harry and his friends remember that they’re actual teenagers and have to deal with crushes and infatuations.

Perhaps these are comparatively silly endeavors for anyone thinking about saving the entire wizarding community from a tyrannical fiend. The focus on humor and romance doesn’t prove to be much of a distraction from the overarching story in The Half-Blood Prince, though. As it turns out, these concepts, which largely juxtapose such ominous images, powerfully illustrate the heavier themes of the narrative.

On the surface, the relationships cultivated between Harry and his peers can sometimes come across as cringey puppy love. Furthermore, not all ships are created equal in this magical universe. Many pairings are drastically simplified and some are merely hinted at compared to their book counterparts.

So why include them at all? Well, when fluffiness is cleverly placed alongside something potentially dire, these scenes play much differently.

Harry tries to cure Ron of the comical effects of an irritating, unwanted love potion, only for the latter to drink poisoned mead by accident and come dangerously close to death. After a duel that leaves Draco Malfoy literally sliced up, Harry’s quiet romantic moment with Ginny Weasley in the Room of Requirement recenters him greatly. Finally, the most memorable comedic scene in the movie — Harry blitzing through Hogwarts high on Liquid Luck — is contrasted with the grimness of an animal death on the school grounds as well as the difficult task of unveiling more about the seemingly impenetrable Lord Voldemort.

Such a tricky marriage of buoyancy and trepidation in The Half-Blood Prince is effectively facilitated by these contrasting visual cues and storytelling devices. The film is an emotional rollercoaster amplified by visual prowess. It would seem a little wrong to call Delbonnel’s images “dreary” due to how beautiful they are, but they certainly effortlessly establish the film’s gloomy tone nonetheless.

Still, alongside The Half-Blood Prince‘s visual and thematic somberness, moments of true levity serve as potent anchors in the story, even when laughs and fluff are fleeting. Hence, the delicate balance that lies at the heart of Rowling’s book is retained in spite of the numerous striking differences between the film and its source material. Simply put, The Half-Blood Prince is streamlined in all the right ways.

The post How Humor and Dread Go Hand-in-Hand in ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ appeared first on Film School Rejects.

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In 2002, the American political landscape and the popular television landscape looked like they could have come from two different realities. While American politics were melting down over the failures of 9/11 and the Bush Administration was doing all it could to pin those failures on an outside other rather than the institutional failures of the American imperial system, television was giving American audiences what they wanted, and they wanted fodder. Mind-numbing, forget-your-troubles, easy-to-digest fodder.

Of the top 10 highest-rated television programs in the 2002-2003 season, half were unscripted television, and the other half were simplistic, episodic multi-decade shows like CSI and Friends. There were no streaming services to offset the network filler with inventive niche TV either, and arguably audiences didn’t want it. That was what made HBO’s The Wire stand out. They didn’t try to make everyone forget what was going on. They leaned into it.

“Greatest television show of all time” is a title applied to The Wire a lot. It’s also a reductive description of culture because to decide that, you would need to be looking at a show through multiple lenses; past, present, and future. That being said, continued revisits to The Wire in the two decades since it first aired reveals a nuanced, honest show that intuited the split in the American psyche before it even seems possible to have consciously understood it.

The pilot episode, “The Target,” is a cultural landmark in television. Starting on blood-streaked pavement and flashing police cruiser lights, “The Target” cold-opens with Detective Jimmy McNulty (‌Dominic West) talking to an unnamed West Baltimore resident about the corpse in the foreground, the strangely named Snot Boogie, who was shot trying to rob their back-alley craps game. When McNulty says Snot probably didn’t like that nickname, the witness says, “Life just be that way I guess.” McNulty asks why, after all the times Snot Boogie tried to rob them, they kept letting him back in the game, he responds, “Got to. This America, man.”

It’s a quick and dirty scene that is a textbook example in a lot of screenwriting classes for “getting in late and getting out early,” but it’s also a great primer for the entire series. Snot Boogie didn’t want his nickname and didn’t do anything to deserve it; it’s just a reality he was born into. School failed him, society failed him, his city failed him. It’s his place in the world (like it or not), and he doesn’t see any way out of being Snot Boogie other than ripping and running from the alley dice game.

Do his friends tell him he can’t join them because his name’s Snot and he’s got a problem? No, because this is America, and in The Wire‘s America everyone has to have a chance to get that paper. It shows that the spine of the entire series is not drugs or policing, or the vague concept of “crime,” but the Janus-faced god of money and power, and the institutions that corral that money and power away from the people they’re supposed to protect into the systems that oppress them.

The Wire‘s primary story writers, creator David Simon and Ed Burns, both have unique professional experiences to lend to the series, but it was the latter’s experience as a Baltimore Homicide Detective that most influences the pilot episode. Instead of following McNulty as he investigates an unsolved murder or learning about his interpersonal relationships, the pilot sees him navigating the ins and outs of what he sees as a bureaucratic nightmare, the Baltimore Police Department.

After watching D’Angelo Barksdale (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) get off on a murder charge because of witness tampering, McNulty goes over his supervisor’s heads and directly to a judge, who facilitates an investigation into the leaders of the Barksdale crew, D’Angelo’s uncle Avon Barksdale (Wood Harris) and the second in command, Stringer Bell (Idris Elba). This interaction has two results: it begins the wiretap investigation that will encompass most of the first season, and it also paints McNulty with a bullseye in the eyes of his superiors and coworkers, one that will follow him for the entire series.

The focus in the pilot is not on the difficulties or drama of investigation, but on the political slog required to get anything done. It was a groundbreaking approach to a television show ostensibly about policing. In a scene filmed only a few weeks after 9/11, while speaking with a friend at the FBI, McNulty is told that the Bureau can’t be much help as they were redirecting their focus toward the War on Terror. This scene is prescient in ways that are still impressive to behold.

The failure of institutions writ large is something that’s relatively easy to write about, whether it’s police departments, municipal governments, public schools, or the press. But writing an hour-long drama about how those institutional failures trickle down to cause, say, the son of a laid-off steelworker to drop out of college and become a cop because of the financial implications of a pregnant girlfriend, or a black kid from Baltimore to leave a school that doesn’t care about him and start slinging heroin on the corner, is more impressive.

Criticisms of police shows that show police in a perpetually positive light are valid, and The Wire manages to show what is both admirable and abhorrent about modern policing. Rather than a television show about police, The Wire becomes, in retrospect, a show about the failure of the Drug War, just as the War on Terror was ramping up to be a similarly disastrous policy decision that would disproportionately impact persons of color. In a genre that usually venerates the institutions it depicts, The Wire sets them up in its pilot to be a series of failed experiments in power brokering that leaves the most vulnerable and powerless people in its stories left to pick up the pieces.

The post This America, Man: Institutional Failure and The Pilot Episode of ‘The Wire’ appeared first on Film School Rejects.

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The Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the most foolhardy and formidable efforts in modern cinema. A game-changing nine and a half hours that set the precedent for the 21st-century blockbuster.

Photography on the trilogy was overseen by the late Andrew Lesnie, hot off his second Babe project with fellow Aussie George Miller. Lesnie’s work has a painterly quality to it. It’s flush with compositional confidence that unites nine camera units across three films. Much like the titular fellowship, the trilogy works because of a group effort.

Lesnie’s contribution was capturing both the intimacy and grandeur of Middle Earth, an all too important balancing act to tell a story this big and this human. It’s no small feat: to give attention to individual moments in one frame and to pan out to the big picture in the next. To capture personal heartbreak and military upset with equal care. To ground and guide us as we whip across the open plains, craggy hilltops, and lush forests of Middle Earth.

Much like Howard Shore’s leitmotifs or the delicate regional stitches of Ngila Dickson’s costume work, Lesnie’s cinematography is tremendously rich with a sense of place and feeling. It transports us, there and back again. To testify to this fact, we’ve selected 50 of the most beautiful shots from the trilogy. We pulled primarily from the theatrical cuts but made sure to note when the Blu-ray releases were consulted (look for the asterisk). And with that, fly you fools: enjoy the shots!

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Cinematography by Andrew Lesnie
Directed by Peter Jackson

The post The Most Beautiful Shots of ‘The Lord of The Rings’ Trilogy appeared first on Film School Rejects.

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The word “soundtrack” doesn’t feel right when describing the music featured on The Leftovers. The show has musical currents running through its DNA, entirely apt for a series that enveloped itself with the full spectrum of human feeling. Music offers the same range of emotion, and even with a haunting score from composer Max Richter, The Leftovers makes spectacular use of hundreds of tunes. But none of these choices are inconsequential to the narrative; in fact, the music itself is an invaluable part of the storytelling. In that regard, it’s almost diminutive to claim that the show’s best moments have great music. They are the show’s best moments because of the great music that was weaved into their fabric.

The Leftovers boasts a range of musical choices from across genres, experimenting with juxtaposition often and to great effect. In the pilot, a bone-chilling instance of this contrast occurs during a scene in which a violent cult, The Guilty Remnant, arrive at a town parade. They’re there to disrupt a commemorative service for those lost during “The Sudden Departure,” a mysterious phenomenon that saw two percent of the world’s population abruptly disappear. The townspeople descend into chaos, driven mad by the sight of the occultists denying their grief. As the two groups clash, “Sweet Love for Planet Earth” by Fuck Buttons plays feverishly, heightening the anxious pandemonium. A sudden musical transition decelerates the pace of the scene: “Piano Sonata in A, D. 959: II. Andantino” by Seymour Lipkin tinkles as the scene descends into slow motion. The town’s police chief Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) pulls the angry locals away from each other as the piano lilts. It’s the perfect introduction to music done The Leftovers style.

Kevin listens to music frequently in the show, popping earbuds in when he’s jogging or doing work around the house. The show makes ample use of diegetic sound, giving the viewers a chance to understand the characters in intimate ways. In one unforgettable moment during the second season finale, Kevin performs a karaoke version of “Homeward Bound” by Simon & Garfunkel. Earlier in the season, he blares “Where Is My Mind” by The Pixies while confronting a hard truth: he might be losing it, judging by the near-constant visions he has of former Guilty Remnant leader Patti Levin (Ann Dowd). An instrumental cover of this song plays again throughout the series. The Leftovers is unafraid of putting tracks on repeat and in doing so establish a sound-driven thematic design.

The Leftovers - Where is my Mind - Pixies - YouTube

With striking results, The Leftovers sometimes makes unexpected song choices that contrast its sad images with chirpy tunes. The season two opening credits were changed from Richter’s solemn theme to Iris Dement’s bright “Let The Mystery Be,” and that switch sets the tone for the rest of the series. In episode five (and briefly before that, in episode two), “Let Your Love Flow” by The Bellamy Brothers is used in a montage that shows town priest Matt (Christopher Eccleston) caring for his wife, Mary, who was rendered catatonic during The Sudden Departure. The song stops and starts repeatedly, as Matt plays it when he wakes up each morning. By the third play, it’s eery and exhausting as we watch how despondent Matt has grown, going through the motions to care for his unresponsive wife.

The Leftovers - Matt and Mary, Amazing Scene - The Bellamy Brothers - Let Your Love Flow - YouTube

The perfectly mismatched tunes continue in season three, culminating in an iconic use of a-ha‘s “Take On Me” during the fourth episode. Engrained in the pop culture blueprint is a shot of Nora (Carrie Coon) sitting in a hotel room alone after sparring with Kevin. Water pours from her eye in one long, unbroken tear as that cheery ’80s synth blasts: “We’re talking away / I don’t know what / I’m to say, I’ll say it anyway.” From that point, the song re-entered the canon and became a bittersweet anthem, breathtakingly reappropriated by The Leftovers in tribute to Kevin and Nora’s difficult romance. Sometimes the unexpected choices are the most evocative, and that’s part of what makes The Leftovers work so well.

This show’s penchant for risk-taking is exemplified in the first episode of season three, which begins with a thematic overture set during the pre-industrial era. Larry Norman’s “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” plays over a wordless sequence in which a fundamentalist community awaits the divine rapture with bated breath. But the day never comes, and the crushing disappointment breeds resentment between a disillusioned husband and faithful wife. The Christian song is a quintessential inclusion in The Leftovers, its lyrics a remorseful lament for those who’ll be “left behind” when the rest are taken for the rapture.

The Great Disappointment - I Wish We'd All Been Ready - The Good News Circle - YouTube

The repurposing of “Va, Pensiero” from Giuseppe Verdi‘s opera Nabucco is one of The Leftovers‘ great triumphs. In season two’s brilliant “International Assassin,” this chorus is repeated throughout, loaning the episode a melodramatic absurdity. It’s difficult to imagine this installment in the series without thinking of the music that defines it; it would be like imagining the show without Theroux or Coon. When the spiritual sequel to this episode aired in season three, episode seven — “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)” — the Nabucco refrains returned too. It was yet another reminder of how The Leftovers excels at using music to tie its episodes together.

More than anything, The Leftovers understands how losing loved ones could warp a person’s sense of self. It channels that heartache into its music until the very end. When Kevin and Nora dance to Otis Redding‘s “I’ve Got Dreams To Remember” in the series finale, the show’s masterful musical design reaches a peak that it manages to hit over and over again throughout its three-season run. The Leftovers is a testament to the powers of the cinematic song: music isn’t just a supplement but is sometimes a necessary ingredient for great storytelling.

The post How ‘The Leftovers’ Hid Its Message In The Music appeared first on Film School Rejects.

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Over the course of Agents of SHIELD., Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet) has emerged as one of Marvel’s best female characters and superheroes. Her development has come out of many points of evolution, including her gaining powers, experiencing family drama, and struggling in her work as a member of a team as volatile as SHIELD. Through it all, she has managed to capture the perfect combination of relatability and aspirational qualities, making her someone who is easy to become invested in.

When we first meet her in season one, Johnson isn’t anywhere near the hero she has become. She has given herself the name “Skye” and is living out of her van, wisecracking and hacking her way through life. She doesn’t trust SHIELD but finds herself involved with Phil Coulson’s (Clark Gregg) team of agents while maintaining her connection with the conspiratorial hacking group Rising Tide. When we meet her, Skye is essentially a plot point waiting to blow up.

That’s the real magic trick of Agents of SHIELD: the show manages to take this anti-establishment character and, over the course of a few seasons, transform her completely. She’s got powers and becomes a great superhero, but more importantly, she’s a great hero based on who she becomes as a character. She’s not deified, she’s never perfect, and sometimes, she’s not even on the right team. But the show never lets Johnson devolve into being less than the sum of her parts. Every experience plays into who she becomes and, at the heart of it all, the Skye we know and fall in love with from the beginning is never lost.

It isn’t long before this Skye we start with is part of the team. Coulson becomes something of a father figure for her, her teammates come to be her closest friends and SHIELD? Maybe they’re not so bad after all. In this team (and on their tricked-out plane), Skye realizes that she can work with people instead of against them, that she can stop running and settle down. You know, as much as a SHIELD agent can settle down.

That’s going well right up until the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier when HYDRA is revealed to have infiltrated SHIELD. The events of that movie brought major repercussions to the show’s narrative and the threat of traitors to Skye’s newfound team. This is the first time we get a real sense of Skye’s values and loyalty. It’s a moment when she could remain true to the organization she chose to believe in, she could choose the wrong side, or she could just quit. Spoiler alert: she makes the right decision, and that speaks volumes for the person we know her to be. She’s not someone who takes the easy way out, though she was presented with the perfect opportunity to. She’s in it for the long haul.

The most profound change we see Skye go through is with her acquisition of powers. The central storyline of season two involves Skye’s hunt for her parents, which leads her to discover that she is an Inhuman (perhaps her Kree origins remind you of another female Marvel superhero…). Skye has a lot thrown at her: the discovery of her parents, the fact that she’s of an alien race, and the fact that there are more like her. Although we don’t want her to, it’s hard to blame her when she decides to live with her mother and the Inhuman group. She hasn’t given up on SHIELD, but there’s something irreplaceable, to her, about being with her own.

Of course, this choice isn’t without its conflicts. Skye makes every attempt to mediate between her SHIELD family and her real one, but the Inhumans want more than just acceptance. They want domination. The girl who had no family suddenly finds herself having to choose between two, both of which believe they have her best interest at heart.

Illustrating the divide between SHIELD and HYDRA on a more personal level for Skye, the choice she has to make is one that shows her independence and her ability to not only follow her heart but to also follow her head. That sensibility isn’t exactly something we’re used to getting from female characters; we’ve thankfully moved away from the emotional female characterization, but it’s not often that you see a female character have to independently and pragmatically go against their emotions. Skye facing this choice explicitly paints her as someone who is more than her emotions and knows it. Way to go, Agents of SHIELD!

When we find her on the tail end of that decision in season three, she’s a changed person. She doesn’t simply revert back to the Skye she was before; she’s now taken to her real name, Daisy Johnson, and she fully embraces her seismic powers. She’s on a mission to find and help Inhumans as their powers emerge, reflecting her individual beliefs that Inhumans are not all bad, that they shouldn’t be eradicated, that she can be a leader to help them.

Coming from the Skye we meet at the start, Johnson’s shift to being a hero is one the show smartly follows through every step of the way. She’s got plenty more shifts to go through between season three and where we find her at the end of season five, which I’ll let you discover on your own, but Johnson’s characterization is strong. She’s never strictly good or bad, never just a hero or a superhero or a leader or a follower. She’s all of it, all the time.

In all the character development and changes in team alliances we see Johnson go through, it’s evident that what she is searching for is a family. She finds it over and over again, from SHIELD to her real family to a group of Inhumans like her, only to have something tear at their unity. What she’s looking for is stability, but she’s a misunderstood species aligned with SHIELD; stability just isn’t in the stars for her. She’s a bit of a tragic character.

But the show doesn’t let her wallow in her misery. She never becomes someone defined by her failings or by the tragedies she has to face. Johnson is defined by what she decides to do next. We might not all have seismic powers or a team of SHIELD agents behind us, but we can certainly take something away from who Johnson is as a person: someone who is always committed to the causes she believes in.

The post ‘Agents of SHIELD’ Has One of the MCU’s Best Female Superheroes appeared first on Film School Rejects.

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Star Wars Celebration took place this past weekend, showcasing all the exciting upcoming projects from the Galaxy Far, Far Away and reminding us how much of our lives we’re going to be dedicating to this franchise in the near future. We got a tantalizing teaser for the newly titled The Rise of Skywalker, a look at Disneyland’s upcoming Galaxy’s Edge attraction, and a peek at the single player Jedi game we’ve been anticipating for years.

But for many fans, the real highlight was The Clone Wars‘ final season panel and the trailer that came with it. From which we began to get a sense of what the forthcoming batch of episodes will feature, including connections to Star Wars Rebels and previously unfinished episodes, along with other unused concepts.

The chance to see a genuine conclusion to Clone Wars is something many fans had long given up hope for after the show was unceremoniously canceled following the Disney acquisition. The sixth season, dubbed “The Lost Missions,” did attempt to offer some closure, but was more a collection of what was already finished than a final season proper. So when it was announced at last year’s Comic-Con that the show would return for one more season on Disney+, fans were understandably ecstatic. And now, almost a year on, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the seventh and final season. So buckle up and prepare to go to lightspeed, as we break down everything we learned from the Star Wars Celebration Clone Wars panel.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Panel at Star Wars Celebration 2019 - YouTube

The trailer opens with a flashback of Ahsoka Tano leaving the Jedi Order from Season 5’s “The Wrong Jedi,” while her final conversation with Anakin Skywalker plays in voiceover. We then see her taking a ride on a speeder, approaching the entrance to the lower levels of Coruscant where she’ll meet new characters Trace and Rafa. Trace, as creator Dave Filoni mentioned in the panel, is from level 1313, which got a cheer from the crowd due to the connection to the canceled game of the same name.

This arc was described in the panel as Ahsoka getting a taste of what life is like for the “everyday” people of Coruscant, that’ll see her having to rediscover herself after her ordeal with the Jedi and gaining a different perspective on the way of life she’d grown accustomed to. These episodes are said to bridge the gap between the younger, less self-assured Ahsoka from Clone Wars and the wise mentor version we see years later in Rebels.

Filoni also stated that these episodes are based on previously unused scripts from before the show was originally canceled, tweaked (for the better, he says) to reflect the character’s development in Rebels.  Earlier in the panel, the crew also showed off a clip of Ahsoka’s journey down into Coruscant’s underbelly, as her speeder begins to give out on her and she’s forced to improvise to keep from plunging down to the ground.

Ahsoka is, of course, no stranger to the lower levels, having taken refuge down there while on the run in the Hitchcock-inspired final arc of season 5, but this will be her first time experiencing them not as an outsider. And from the looks of things, she’ll start to understand the hypocrisy that leads to the Jedi’s downfall, as Trace and Rafa harbor the kind of resentment towards the Order that the show’s only hinted at in the past. This arc will see Ahsoka having to “act her age” for the first time in a long time, which is also tied to her costume change, as she reckons with her old life and what lies before her.

Next, we see Captain Rex lamenting the losses he’s faced during wartime, as we get flashbacks to the deaths of his closest friends. We hear Yoda discussing the enlightenment he achieved at the end of season 6—”No longer certain that one ever does win a war, I am,” he says as destruction rains down on the Republic forces. Ahsoka and her new friends are chased through the bustling Coruscant streets when a mysterious figure, likely the returning Bo-Katan, takes notice.

Katan, voiced by Katee Sackhoff, emerged as the breakout Mandalorian character during their numerous storylines on the show and even came back to play a pivotal role in the fight against the Empire in Rebels. Her return was also teased in the panel, with an image shared of her standing side by side with Ahsoka and slight design adjustments highlighted to show how far the animation has come.

The next big detail in the trailer is the appearance of Clone Force 99, otherwise known as the Bad Batch. This is a group of experimental soldiers, whose imperfections were allowed to flourish in the cloning process, making them uniquely suited to certain combat situations. We see them kicking plenty of droid ass, fighting alongside Rex and what looks to be Anakin. A clip was also shared during the panel of them surprising Rex with their daring battle tactics and using experimental weapons to fight off a horde of droids.

Like the Ahsoka arc, this story was in the works long before Clone Wars‘ initial cancelation, with the unfinished animation even being released online when it seemed as though the show was gone for good. And while hardcore fans may know their way around this story, Filoni again said that the scripts had been reworked to fit with newer additions to the canon, so we can still expect a few surprises as we tune in to these episodes. He also stated that this story, in particular, would be the “most authentic” to the Clone Wars of old, having been almost completed during the original run.

And if that wasn’t enough for longtime fans, we get a glimpse of one of the most hotly anticipated of the unfinished Clone Wars stories—The Seige of Mandalore. For context, when Ahsoka comes face to face with Darth Maul in Rebels, the two appear very familiar with each other, referencing a past encounter that fans were not aware of. And, as it turns out, neither was the cast. Sam Witwer (Maul) joked that the ever-secretive Filoni refused even to tell him what their history was, but at Celebration London in 2016, that all changed.

At a panel (which I was at), Filoni revealed pages of storyboards and unused concept art, going through story ideas that he’d worked on with George Lucas himself. Hearing about these episodes that were never to be was an emotional experience for the cast, as Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka) recalled at this year’s panel. And seeing these storyboards directly translated to animation is pretty remarkable, especially when we’d all accepted long ago that we’d never get to see it.

This particular arc will see Ahsoka reunited with Anakin and the Clones, as she heads to Mandalore to take the planet back from Maul’s clutches. The trailer, along with a longer unfinished clip, shows her emotional reunion with Rex, whose entire Clone outfit has her distinctive facial patterns painted onto their helmets. Filoni described the story as one of the most important of the show’s run and even gave details of a surprise return. 

That’s right, the original Darth Maul himself, Ray Park, will be back to provide motion capture for Maul’s showdown with Ahsoka. Park has been a huge part of the fandom for years, attending multiple Celebrations and always showing a level of gratitude and enthusiasm for the fans. So to have him return in any form is great, especially when it’s to inform what Filoni described as one of the biggest duels the show has ever done. He also revealed that the character of Maul has also undergone a slight design change to align with the version we saw in Solo, also played by Park.

But before the trailer gets to that showdown, we see Ahsoka acquire the lightsabers that she went on to wield in Rebels. How they go from blue to white is unknown at this time, but if dark side users can turn theirs red to show their changed allegiances, it makes sense that someone who no longer associates with the Jedi could do the same to reflect a more middle ground approach.

We see what looks to be Ahsoka’s homeworld of Shili, along with Bo-Katan, and the nightmare-inducing Admiral Trench—last seen in season 6. But it’s the end of the trailer that’s most exciting, as Ahsoka fights off numerous Mandalorians in a single sweeping take, before coming face to face with Maul. “I was hoping for Kenobi,” he spits out, as the two face off in the throne room.

And that about covers all the important info we learned from this weekend’s Celebration panel, the full version of which (including the trailer) can be watched above. Even though Clone Wars is only returning for 12 more episodes, it’s exciting to know we’ll finally get a sense of closure that the last season just couldn’t offer. And while there’s still plenty of stories that Filoni and co. will likely never get to tell, the chance to see the show return for some of it’s most important installments is certainly worth celebrating.

The post Everything We Know About the Final Season of ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ appeared first on Film School Rejects.

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Michael Bay‘s filmography is filled with big blockbuster hits, and of his thirteen feature films all but two of them grossed more than twice their budget — with most earning 3 – 5x the budget. 13 Hours (2016) failed to find an audience, but before that gung-ho military debacle Bay’s only real box-office misstep was 2005’s The Island. It’s a shame too as it’s a fun movie. Seriously. Sure it’s over-edited, illogical, and fairly cheesy at times, but the action is stellar, the score is fantastic, and it has just enough of an ethical argument at its core to make it thought-provoking. And again, it’s fun!

Keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary track for…

The Island (2005)

Commentator: Michael Bay (director)

1. “I was adamant that we do this bizarre dream sequence,” he says referring to the opening scenes showing Lincoln (Ewan McGregor) on a boat before being tossed in the water and drowned by unexplained mutants.

2. The opening landscapes were filmed off New Zealand while the boat scenes were shot near Italy.

3. That’s a real boat called the Wally Power. It came from Italy and cost the owner $25 million. “A little too modern for my taste, but at least I got it before Michael Mann got it for Miami Vice.”

4. “Art, story, and design have very much to do with when I’m working on a script,” he says, adding that they worked to develop a visual language and studied architectural references from Japan and futuristic designs.

5. Bay “called in a favor” to get Michael Clark Duncan in the film for two days of filming. “I figured since I discovered him in a gym and put him in Armageddon, and he went on to do Green Mile and get an Academy Award nomination.”

6. Part of his sales pitch to Duncan when casting him in Armageddon apparently involved the line: “You are going to be the first black man that does not die first. You are not going to die, and that is a twist.” It’s unclear if this is Bay being funny or if he really just needs to watch more movies.

7. The underground compound design is based on ideas regarding bunkers made to keep the president and other government officials alive after an attack for up to two years. That bled into the story too as the company is meant to be in business with the Pentagon studying how to clone an army. “You’ll see little references to that fact in the movie later.”

8. He told the actors playing the clones that they were essentially children. “That’s why a lot of them have this kind of childish innocence here, and it was something fun for the actors to play.”

9. Bay’s office kept getting yachting brochures sent to them for some reason. “I’m not going to go on a yacht trip and rent it for a quarter million dollars for a week, you gotta be out of your mind.” They weren’t for him, but it did make him recognize how beautiful the boats were and decided to make Lincoln a boat designer. “That’s how you get ideas in movies, they just right from your real life.”

10. The shot starting at 15:53 of the nano trackers crawling into Lincoln’s eye was accomplished with a special bellow lens that required a tremendous amount of light. The closeup on his eye being held opened involved ILM digital work and string glued to McGregor’s eyelids and then pulled. “Quite painful process, fun scene to do though.”

11. “Certain people” at Dreamworks wanted him to take out the scene with Jones (Ethan Phillips) showing Lincoln his scribbled conspiracy notes. “I opted to keep it in because to me this is the One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest scene. This is the patient trying to figure out that something is wrong here, and I couldn’t have Lincoln be the only guy wondering.”

12. The scenes with Lincoln visiting James (Steve Buscemi) in the bowels of the facility were filmed in an old and unused power plant in Los Angeles. “Wouldn’t you know, the day we start shooting there, LA has some power outages and they called this generator plant to provide backup power.” It all powered on, and in addition to becoming so loud they had to wear “ear muffs” it also raised the interior temperatures to 110 degrees.

13. Bay felt that Caspian Tredwell-Owen‘s original script was missing a scene showing how the clones are birthed and grow. “He thought it would be opening up Pandora’s Box to show that stuff, but I just think as a viewer it’s some of the cooler stuff to see.”

14. He credits Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, who came on for rewrites, with adding a lot of great work to the second and third acts. The only specific example he gives, though, is the butterfly bit in the first act.

15. Some people seemed to think that all the product placements meant they “were whoring out the movie and making a commercial, but let’s face it guys, the world is focused on products. Products surround us, and for us to think in the year 2019 that we’re not going to still be focused and have products and labels flying at us from every different vantage point is just unreal.” That’s his official statement on accusations that he’s a whore.

16. The club scene took four hours to light, but when Bay arrived on set he felt it was “the unhippest place I’ve ever seen in my entire life.” The gaffer (Michael Bauman) and cinematographer (Mauro Fiore) were both new parents and were apparently unfamiliar with clubs. It’s at this point where Bay proceeds to mimic Fiore’s Italian accent.

17. The “dude” bit was an improv at his suggestion after realizing that the word has more than a dozen meanings.

18. Steven Spielberg said McGregor “looked like a young Harrison Ford when he saw the dailies.”

19. He thinks Scarlett Johansson is going to have an amazing career. “Not only is she a pain in the ass to work with, and I mean that in the best way, she is classy, she’s feisty, she’s just very daring.”

20. The original script was set one hundred years in the future, but they kept bringing it closer to the present for budgetary reasons.

21. The location where they filmed the medical hallways were shot in an unused headquarters built for a high-tech company for $250 million. They presumably went bust before being able to use the building.

22. The post-birth scene — the clone has given birth and the doctors are taking the baby and euthanizing the woman — was a major reason why Bay took on the film.

23. Editors for the airline version wanted to cut the scene above, but Bay said absolutely not. He insisted it stay, and they said at least remove the stirrups. He again said no, and they compromised by blurring them out.

24. McGregor improvised the slide along the floor at 40:23.

25. He was “the first guy in the country” to have the compact Arriflex 235, and he goes on to sing its praises for handheld shots.

The post 50 Things We Learned from Michael Bay’s ‘The Island’ Commentary appeared first on Film School Rejects.

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This article was co-written with Meg Shields 

All things considered, the season 8 premiere was a rather pleasant, happy affair. There were reunions galore: Jon and Arya compared swords, Sansa and Tyrion caught up, Bran waited outside for like three days to make sure he was first in line to greet his old pal Jaime. Things got heated in Winterfell’s forge with some serious flirting between Arya and Gendry. Theon rescued Yara from Euron with less hassle than going through a TSA checkpoint. Sure, poor little Ned Umber got wreckt, but honestly did you even remember he existed before this episode? All this to say that in classic Game of Thrones premiere fashion, “Winterfell” had very strong “calm before the storm” vibes. So we hope you enjoyed that because the night is dark and full of terrors and it’s fucking dusk, people. We’ve seen the silver lining and now we’ve got the storm cloud, so fasten your seatbelts because it’s going to be a bumpy night indeed.

Some of our predictions from our season-wide sweep have already come true. Jon rode his dad’s namesake Rhaegal, Gendry is the point person for smithing dragon glass, and, as mentioned earlier, he’s also making his dad’s ghost pretty proud by romancing a Stark. We don’t claim to have Bran’s…whatever Bran has, but we have a pretty good idea of how this cookie might crumble.

Join us as we completely ruin horses for you, and take a stab at what’s on the horizon for the upcoming episodes of the final season of Game of Thrones.

THE NIGHT IS DARK AND FULL OF SPOILERS IF WE’VE DONE OUR JOBS WELL.

ALL EYES ON WINTERFELL Jaime’s ass will be saved by impending doom.

Based on the sneak preview for episode 2, things don’t look great for Jaime—which is, admittedly, not surprising, considering the whole “Kingslaying Daenerys’ dad” thing. But we don’t think he’s going to get roasted Tarly-style; at least, not yet. Here’s why: the preview for Episode 2 shows Tormund, Edd, and Beric at Winterfell, and indicates they spread the word about what happened at Last Hearth. And when Jon and Daenerys realize the Battle for the Dawn is real fucking nigh, they just might be convinced to reprioritize, and do things like not kill a living man willing and able to hold a sword when they are already facing terrible odds against the army of the dead. Of course, if this is how the situation plays out it means Jaime only has to survive the Night King’s army (and then also Daenerys). Easy peasy.   

Jaime is going to push Bran in his wheelchair.

This probably won’t happen but could you imagine.

Jon will probably get pissed off that Daenerys killed Sam’s family

Sure Jon is all in for “sometimes monarchs have to execute douchebags,” but Sam’s got those puppy eyes and that earnest tenor and you just know Jon’s going to hold Daenerys’ itchy trigger/”Dracarys” finger against her. Which isn’t going to help their diplomatic relations when…

Daenerys will probably get pissed off that Jon has more of a right to the throne than her

They gon fight. Now that “Jon Snow’ died in the Stark crypt with the knowledge he’s hot Targaryan shit, he’s probably going to hurry off to tell Daenerys. Because listen, if nothing else, Jon is his uncle’s nephew and his good heart will absolutely compel him to share a potentially dangerous truth with someone more powerful than he. Daenerys will take the news poorly, which will put a stopper in his proclivity to bonk women in proximity to dramatic water features. Then Beric and company will show up to raise the stakes for Daenerys and Jon to settle their inter-familial differences.  

Only death will stop Gendrya from happening at this point

The reunion between the former companions was not even a little bit subtle. We’ve all seen The Princess Bride, we know what “as you wish, milady” means. Unless one of them dies first (admittedly, a definite possibility), this ship is absolutely sailing. Oh, happy days. *Twirls away flirtatiously.*

Might Arya kill a dragon (and/or a dragon rider)?

Based on the sketch that she gives Gendry, Arya’s upcoming weapon appears to be a double-headed spear where one blade would be her Valyrian steel dagger and the other would be dragonglass that also can also detach and be used separately as two knives. It’s almost certainly the weapon we see her twirling in the promo. It looks absolutely badass, and we can’t wait to see more of it.

But in bigger fan theory news, Arya’s new spear has sent some speculating into what Big Bad she’s going to kill with it. You just don’t go to the trouble of inventing a new weapon unless it’s going to do something with serious plot relevance. Some on the internet are suggesting that the spear design hints that Arya might be the one to kill ice-Viserion, because spears are a traditional Dornish weapon and the Dornish were the first to kill one of the Targaryen dragons after Aegon the Conqueror and his sister-wives showed up in Westeros. Admittedly, that dragon was killed with a Scorpion, like the one Bronn used to attack Drogon before said dragon incinerated it, so the connection is a bit of a stretch, but it is a cool thought. Others think she’ll use her new weapon to take out the Night King himself (so suck on that, Azor Ahai).

Jon gained more traction in the Azor Ahai forecast

We don’t know who the prophecized hero Azor Ahai/The Prince(ss) Who Was Promised is—or even are, potentially, considering it’s unclear whether or not the two actually refer to the same person—and, as we broke down last time, there are a whole lot of theories out there. But presuming Game of Thrones is following the traditional “Chosen One” formula, Jon and Daenerys are the most likely candidates. While they were pretty neck and neck going into the final season, with Daenerys even potentially having a slight lead, Jon learning about his parentage in the crypts of Winterfell has significantly increased Jon’s odds, as the discovery in that particular context fulfills the “wake dragons from stone” element of the Azor Ahai prophecy; the waking dragons being Jon’s “awakening” to his Targaryen identity and the stone being the statues in the crypts. Meanwhile, Daenerys’ more mercurial tendencies were on full display (see: her comments about dragons eating “whatever they want”), which does not necessarily bode very well for her being the Great Big Hero of our story.  

Remember that scene of Arya running from something in the trailer?

Yeah, our spidey senses are tingling and we think there’s a non-zero chance that scene might come up in the next episode. Why? First of all, because we’re pretty sure most if not all of the trailer footage is going to end up being from the first half of the season, and we know from the episode 2 promo that the episode will feature Arya’s “death, it’s got many faces” line—and her going from “looking forward” to the experience to regretting her choice of words immensely (terrified running) seems like the sort of narrative arc that would happen over the course of one episode.

KING’S LANDING, SANS ELEPHANTS Can Euron do math?

The answer is absolutely not. Based on their post-coital discussion, Euron is clearly not aware that Cersei’s eggo is already preggo. While admittedly the Game of Thrones timeline has gotten especially fuzzy as of late, it seems Cersei should probably be at least a few months along by now, which means if Euron falls for the “it’s yours” ploy then he’s the dumbest man in Westeros. That said, we’re still pretty certain this baby is not going to make it to the actually-getting-born stage, so this might end up being a non-issue.

Yara might murder Euron

He is very fun but he definitely deserves it. Then again, maybe Yara will let Cersei know all about Euron’s “then I’ll sail the Iron Fleet somewhere else” comment. They can share.  

Bronn abandons his Cersei duties to fight for Winterfell

Bron loves money but we’re pretty sure he’s done being dicked around by his least favorite member of “that fucking family” and their fucking crossbows. Quote one Redditor: He’d do anything for gold but he won’t do that. Maybe Tyrion will cash in another “whatever she’s paying I’ll double it” chip and Bronn’ll get two more crossbows. Or one big crossbow. After all, he didn’t miss Drogon the first time around, and maybe with that practice, he’ll have better aim when it comes to Viserion.

THEON GO HOME Theon’s going to die doing a heroism

We give him like 2 more episodes max. Our money is on him meeting some rather honorable, heroic end once he makes it back to Winterfell. And he’s absolutely gonna die at Winterfell. Honestly, the only real question left at this point is “how?” and we’re probably going to find out the answer sooner rather than later.

Yara is going to host Daenerys en-route to the War of the Two Queens

Our salty gal has a point: the Iron Isles are dead-proof, and Daenerys is going to need a pit stop en route to the Red Keep after the Winterfell shakedown. After all, she may need somewhere to collect herself after the fallout of fighting the dead (cough…aka Jon Snow dying…cough).

BERIC “VOICE LIKE SMOOTH SILK” DONDARRION AND COMPANY What does the spiral sigil mean?

Well, it doesn’t mean “we come in peace,” that’s for sure. There are Subreddit whispers that the dead enjoy vortices because the Children of the Forest did, and a perverted form of their love of geometric spirals carried through to their undead weapon. Others have commented that the spirals seem to have some resemblance to the Targaryen sigil, and that that will end up being significant in some way, but in what way exactly remains unclear.

THE REST Next week is episode number 69 (nice) and there is gonna be a sex scene

As in a proper sex scene between two actual characters with names and stuff. Not filler to set up some plot development (see: Bronn and his pox women). It’s just too good an opportunity to pass up. So, who’s gonna bang? Well, our money’s on Brienne and Jaime. Stay with us: the “Jaime sees Bran” parallel between “Winterfell” and the series premiere underline just how much Jaime’s character has changed since we first met him. And, since the very beginning, one of Jaime’s defining characteristics has been his devotion to Cersei. In seasons past, there have been multiple occasions where Jaime has brought up having never slept with any other woman but Cersei and that exclusive devotion is a fundamental component of who Jaime Lannister was—but is no longer.

Nothing would go further to prove Jaime’s total 180 than for him to have sex with someone who is not Cersei, and there’s been a lot hinting towards him and Brienne. Also, we feel there’s a good chance Jaime’s headed for a tragic hero’s death, so presenting the possibility of him actually having a chance of a happy future before any future is taken away from him would be a great way to make that outcome even more painful. All things considered, we think their relationship is very likely, even if it doesn’t happen next episode. But also, it’s episode 69. There should be a sex scene that’s a big fucking deal (high five), and Brienne and Jamie bonking would be a big fucking deal.

More reunions will happen

There are like two degrees of separation, max, between any two given characters at this point in the show. So, considering everyone left alive is converging on one of two locations—King’s Landing or Winterfell—all reunions and meetings that can happen pretty much will happen. The season premiere got many of the most highly anticipated ones out of the way (read: Jon and Arya), but there are plenty important meetings left that haven’t happened yet, including a number of which are due to happen soon.

Here’s our forecast for the meetings/reunions most likely to appear in episode 2:

  • Tormund and Brienne: Their children would be monsters who conquer the world, and Tormund totally ships it. Brienne’s feelings on the matter are unclear. But on his side, the forecast is definitely heart-eyes with 100% chance of flirting.
  • Jaime and everyone at Winterfell: From the preview, Daenerys is made aware of the Kingslayer’s arrival, as are all of the Starks, because it’s Winterfell. However, other interactions not shown in the promo that will almost certainly feature in the episode include Jaime/Tyrion and Jaime/Brienne.
  • Jorah and Lyanna: The last surviving Mormonts are both in Winterfell. Considering Jorah was disowned by his family for getting involved in slave trading and Lyanna is a force to be reckoned with amongst the Northern leadership, this is an important meeting that really needs to happen. Sooner rather than later.
  • Former Crow Bros: Edd reunites with Jon and Sam. Apologizes for accidentally knocking down the Wall while they were gone, but points out Jon totally jinxed the situation when he joked about that happening in the first place.
Where the fuck is Ghost?

We don’t know, dude. And we’re not getting any elephants either, and the giant ice spiders are still MIA… it really does feel like this show has forgotten about every animal that isn’t a dragon or a horse. It’s tragic, really.

There is no proof that Varys isn’t a merman

None at all.  

The post Game of Thrones Final Season Forecast: ‘Winterfell’ Edition appeared first on Film School Rejects.

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On stage at Coachella this past weekend, Donald Glover upended expectations for the Instagram-ready festival in more ways than one. At one point, he took time out of his set performing as Childish Gambino to talk about death. “What I’m starting to realize,” he said, citing the recent death of his father along with musicians Mac Miller and Nipsey Hussle, “[is that] all we really have is memories…while you’re here, while we’re here, feel something and pass it on.”

The multi-talented artist is known for expounding on the big picture, but this particular focus on mortality and personal impact is a raw nerve that he strikes at again and again with his work. Although danger looms over his 55-minute film Guava Island — which premiered both at Coachella and on Amazon — the island-set folk tale is also his most vibrant and hopeful collaboration with Atlanta’s Stephen Glover (Donald’s brother, who gets the writing credit for Guava Island) and Hiro Murai (also the director of episodes like “Teddy Perkins” and music videos like “This is America”).

The spirit of music is alive and pulsing on Guava Island, where local musician Deni Maroon (Glover) works for the corrupt ruling business Red Cargo, romances his childhood sweetheart Kofi (Rihanna), and dreams of “one day writing a song that would unite the people of the island.” Deni is planning a music festival, but Red (Nonso Anozie) wants to suppress his performance and any unity it might inspire, saying that a party one night will result in his exploited employees skipping work the next. Music, though, seems to flow through the island of its own will, tapped out in alleyways and on beaches by the young and old alike, and it refuses to be stamped out by any one man.

Not much actually happens in Guava Island, and what does seems set in stone from the start. But, as with Murai and Glover’s other artistic collaborations, that’s completely beside the point. Every moment of the way Deni and Kofi’s story unfolds, from the vibrantly animated creation myth-turned-love-story that introduces them, to the lush and dreamy 16mm-like aesthetic (Atlanta cinematographer Christian Sprenger also lends his talents here), is imbued with a dazzling mix of grandiosity and intimacy. A dizzying collection of songs, colors, and bodies, Guava Island is a gift for the senses. Any sense of spiritual or communal connection is intentional, as shots of hard-working people all over the island listening to Deni’s radio show culminate in an event that ripples through the small island. Even as a sun-soaked day turns into an overcast night, the camera still maintains a sense of warmth, especially when trained on Rihanna’s controlled but excellent performance.

Familiarity is key to Guava Island, making it a richer viewing experience for Glover fans. Beyond the obvious meta factor of his role as a musician about to perform at a music festival, there’s the industrialized arrangement of “This Is America,” which Deni performs in a moment of musical surrealism when a coworker insists that America is a land of opportunity. Later, specific imagery like a white cloth bag placed over a character’s head and Glover running in the dark calls to mind the song’s hit music video. Masks, a recurring motif used to unsettle viewers and characters alike in Atlanta, pop up more than once here as well. Perhaps most tellingly, Deni himself bears more than a passing resemblance to Atlanta’s protagonist Earn; he’s often late, bored by routine, resistant to taking the easy way out, and occasionally corny. Both men are hustling in a system set up to keep them down, and while Guava Island doesn’t directly comment on race relations and politics the way Atlanta does, it does feature color-coded workspaces–the women sew and wear blue, while the men work with cargo and wear red–and obvious class disparity. These similarities between the Glovers’ works don’t come across as redundancies, but rather natural continuations, different riffs and takes on these a few themes which clearly haunt the artists.

In music, acting, and writing, Glover and his collaborators tend to favor the surprising and uneasy; his best works all feel a bit like tilting back in an uneven chair, exciting and nerve-wracking up until the moment of that swift and unexpected thrill that could very well end badly. Guava Island’s biggest surprise may be that it doesn’t play with tension as thoroughly as Atlanta or Gambino videos, instead choosing to dig for something more earnest and tentatively hopeful that matches Glover’s Coachella speech. “We’re too afraid to plant a tree that we know we’re not going to eat from,” he told audiences Saturday night, about a generation that’s grown up in an era of uncertainty. If Guava Island and his Coachella performance are any indications, Glover doesn’t need or expect any of us to get a happy ending; he just wants us to chase this perfect moment.

The post Donald Glover’s ‘Guava Island’ is A Lush and Sincere Folk Tale appeared first on Film School Rejects.

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