Let me start out by saying: This ain't the Cruella you know.
That is something I loved about this: It's fresh! Yes, Disney has a knack for reinventing movies and intellectual properties of their own, but this was worth it. Opening in theaters and on Disney+ at the same time this weekend, I want to also say you should see this on the big screen.
The movie is larger than life and tiptoes on the fantasy realm that Disney lives in. Like, I believe this version of London is the same one that Peter Pan and Mary Poppins visits, albeit a much darker side. Emma Stone does a great job of showing us that she borders on genius and madness and early references calling her "Disney's Joker" does not go unwarranted, especially after watching this film. It's actually fairly similar to Joker, but of course in the Disney universe. Let's also be honest, Cruella, is not a character for kids to look up to. The PG-13 rating is warranted for sure and the film is dark in subject matter and esthetically as well. I might even call this the most Tim Burton-esque movie he never made.
The other standout in all of this is Emma Thompson's character, Baroness. I could watch a movie all around her character all day long. Needless to say, the two Emma's chemistry was electric and they sparked off of each other perfectly. The fun part of this movie is it's rewatchability. There's a lot of scenes where you get quick glimpses of the the hundreds, if not thousands, of costumes used. I never thought I'd want to go back and watch a film again to simply admire it's art direction, but it's that good. Again, the reveals of some of Cruella's outfits are needed on a proper silver screen, not Disney+'s at home experience. There of course is a connection to 101 Dalmatians, but it surprisingly doesn't come until the "mid credit" scene, so STAY!
So if you're worried if you think your kids might not "get it," go see it without the kids and you're going to have a good time regardless. Then if you decide to watch it again with them, you'll be happy to do that too. She is so bonkers, you'll love going on the journey with her, and even be rooting for the baddie! I want another movie! I'm just so worried about those puppies...
Well, it's Memorial Day Weekend in 2021 and the movies are back!
A Quiet Place Part II opens in theaters and before the movie is run, writer, director and star, John Krasinski, appears to greet guests and welcome them back to the theaters and welcome them. In a recent interview he said that A Quiet Place Part II had it's premiere last year, two day before the lockdowns, and now "it's not about our movie. Sure, we hope you come and see our movie, but at this point in time it's about movies in general."
If you saw the 2018 original A Quiet Place movie, then you know that this movie is something that I don't want to spoil. So I won't give away anything that you haven't already seen in the trailers. The original was a very much a novel horror film and the sequel builds on it successfully. In fact, like a true "Part II" it takes place immediately after the first one ends. Well, right after they have a "flashback" sequence of what they call "Day One." We get more insight into relationships the family had with the townspeople before the monsters arrive, and gives us crucial context to relationships that come later.
The movie, much like its successor, has it's main success in it's horror and tension in it's superb sound editing. There is no difference in terms of looks of sets, or the world the characters inhabit (other than the kids are obviously two years older). The storyline is something that goes off of the major plot development at the end of the original film and with great affect. It's something that at the end of the first one we are thinking, "Oh, I can't wait to see them kick these monster's asses now." But as we see in this movie, it's not that easy.
There are plenty of scares and moments that will make you gasp. There's a lot more dialogue in this movie than there is in the first one, so we're losing the novelty of a film where there's almost no dialogue, but again, it is a seamless bridge from one movie to another. You could play these movies back to back, take away the credits, and you would have a hard time spotting the split.
Wrapping up this spoiler free review, I have to say that there were two performances that are of big note. Young performer, Millicent Simmonds, is amazing in being able to perform with just a look. You can get such a feeling from her subtleties in her performance that makes it so genius, and is ultimately what makes you believe the terror happening around her. The other standout is Cillian Murphy, who is no stranger to apocalyptic monster movies, a la 28 Days Later. But here he is transformed into someone who you are both afraid of and sympathetic for, he's real. So if you're picturing him from any Christopher Nolan film or the Peaky Blinders series, you won't recognize him here. I will say I feel that Emily Blunt maybe did this role to appease her real life husband, Krasinski, as she is actually only in about half of the movie and has no major developments throughout the movie. The ending is also a bit sudden and is reminiscent of the first film's ending by not giving us the traditional happy ending. And dare I say it? I'll dare. I can't wait to see "Part III."
This movie is honestly, one of the best ones to go back to theaters to see, and see it with people! There is a honest tension that is palpable in the audience and it's that experience that you really should have. After watching movies at home for a year, I can safely say, it's not the same. It's not. Go to the movies, and check out CinemaSafe, which helps show how theaters are being responsible with re-openings. You won't be disappointed.
Well, Oscar picked his favorites from the wackiest year in cinema history. Most of the nominations are spot on, honoring amazing work and performances. But then you think Oscar might still be in quarantine (and possibly still day drinking) with the Borat nominations...
We are thrilled to see that Netflix's Mank get the most nominations (10 in total), as a large portion happens at Hearst Castle, which is a Central Coast icon. Even though the movie's Hearst Castle scenes were shot in sound stages, giving it an old Hollywood vibe, we love how accurate it appears to the real deal (We're looking at you, Production Design award!). So naturally, we're rooting for Mank!
So get ready for an interesting show, with this year's show coming to you from Grand Central Station! The 93rd Academy Awards will air on Sunday April 25th on ABC. Here's the complete list.
David Parfitt, Jean-Louis Livi and Philippe Carcassonne, Producers
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
Shaka King, Charles D. King and Ryan Coogler, Producers
Ceán Chaffin, Eric Roth and Douglas Urbanski, Producers
Christina Oh, Producer
Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey and Chloé Zhao, Producers
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, Emerald Fennell and Josey McNamara, Producers
SOUND OF METAL
Bert Hamelinck and Sacha Ben Harroche, Producers
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
Marc Platt and Stuart Besser, Producers
Actor in a Leading Role
Riz Ahmed in SOUND OF METAL
Chadwick Boseman in MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM
Anthony Hopkins in THE FATHER
Gary Oldman in MANK
Steven Yeun in MINARI
Actor in a Supporting Role
Sacha Baron Cohen in THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
Daniel Kaluuya in JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
Leslie Odom, Jr. in ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI...
Paul Raci in SOUND OF METAL
Lakeith Stanfield in JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
Actress in a Leading Role
Viola Davis in MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM
Andra Day in THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY
Vanessa Kirby in PIECES OF A WOMAN
Frances McDormand in NOMADLAND
Carey Mulligan in PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
Actress in a Supporting Role
Maria Bakalova in BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM: DELIVERY OF PRODIGIOUS BRIBE TO AMERICAN REGIME FOR MAKE BENEFIT ONCE GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN
Glenn Close in HILLBILLY ELEGY
Olivia Colman in THE FATHER
Amanda Seyfried in MANK
Yuh-Jung Youn in MINARI
Animated Feature Film
Dan Scanlon and Kori Rae
OVER THE MOON
Glen Keane, Gennie Rim and Peilin Chou
A SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE: FARMAGEDDON
Richard Phelan, Will Becher and Paul Kewley
Pete Docter and Dana Murray
Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart, Paul Young and Stéphan Roelants
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
NEWS OF THE WORLD
Joshua James Richards
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM
Massimo Cantini Parrini
Lee Isaac Chung
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
Alexander Nanau and Bianca Oana
Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht and Sara Bolder
THE MOLE AGENT
Maite Alberdi and Marcela Santibáñez
MY OCTOPUS TEACHER
Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed and Craig Foster
Garrett Bradley, Lauren Domino and Kellen Quinn
Documentary (Short Subject)
Anthony Giacchino and Alice Doyard
A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION
Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers
DO NOT SPLIT
Anders Hammer and Charlotte Cook
Skye Fitzgerald and Michael Scheuerman
A LOVE SONG FOR LATASHA
Sophia Nahli Allison and Janice Duncan
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
SOUND OF METAL
Mikkel E. G. Nielsen
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
International Feature Film
THE MAN WHO SOLD HIS SKIN
QUO VADIS, AIDA?
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Makeup and Hairstyling
Marese Langan, Laura Allen and Claudia Stolze
Eryn Krueger Mekash, Matthew Mungle and Patricia Dehaney
MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM
Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson
Gigi Williams, Kimberley Spiteri and Colleen LaBaff
Mark Coulier, Dalia Colli and Francesco Pegoretti
Music (Original Score)
DA 5 BLOODS
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
NEWS OF THE WORLD
James Newton Howard
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste
Music (Original Song)
"Fight For You" from JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
Music by H.E.R. and Dernst Emile II; Lyric by H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas
"Hear My Voice" from THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
Music by Daniel Pemberton; Lyric by Daniel Pemberton and Celeste Waite
"Husavik" from EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA
Music and Lyric by Savan Kotecha, Fat Max Gsus and Rickard Göransson
"Io Sì (Seen)" from THE LIFE AHEAD (LA VITA DAVANTI A SE)
Music by Diane Warren; Lyric by Diane Warren and Laura Pausini
"Speak Now" from ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI...
Music and Lyric by Leslie Odom, Jr. and Sam Ashworth
Production Design: Peter Francis; Set Decoration: Cathy Featherstone
MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM
Production Design: Mark Ricker; Set Decoration: Karen O'Hara and Diana Stoughton
Production Design: Donald Graham Burt; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale
NEWS OF THE WORLD
Production Design: David Crank; Set Decoration: Elizabeth Keenan
Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Kathy Lucas
Short Film (Animated)
Madeline Sharafian and Michael Capbarat
Adrien Mérigeau and Amaury Ovise
IF ANYTHING HAPPENS I LOVE YOU
Will McCormack and Michael Govier
Gísli Darri Halldórsson and Arnar Gunnarsson
Short Film (Live Action)
Doug Roland and Susan Ruzenski
THE LETTER ROOM
Elvira Lind and Sofia Sondervan
TWO DISTANT STRANGERS
Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe
Tomer Shushan and Shira Hochman
Warren Shaw, Michael Minkler, Beau Borders and David Wyman
Ren Klyce, Jeremy Molod, David Parker, Nathan Nance and Drew Kunin
NEWS OF THE WORLD
Oliver Tarney, Mike Prestwood Smith, William Miller and John Pritchett
Ren Klyce, Coya Elliott and David Parker
SOUND OF METAL
Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés and Phillip Bladh
LOVE AND MONSTERS
Matt Sloan, Genevieve Camilleri, Matt Everitt and Brian Cox
THE MIDNIGHT SKY
Matthew Kasmir, Christopher Lawrence, Max Solomon and David Watkins
Sean Faden, Anders Langlands, Seth Maury and Steve Ingram
THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN
Nick Davis, Greg Fisher, Ben Jones and Santiago Colomo Martinez
Andrew Jackson, David Lee, Andrew Lockley and Scott Fisher
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM: DELIVERY OF PRODIGIOUS BRIBE TO AMERICAN REGIME FOR MAKE BENEFIT ONCE GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN
Screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Dan Swimer & Peter Baynham & Erica Rivinoja & Dan Mazer & Jena Friedman & Lee Kern; Story by Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Dan Swimer & Nina Pedrad
Screenplay by Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller
Written for the screen by Chloé Zhao
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI...
Screenplay by Kemp Powers
THE WHITE TIGER
Written for the screen by Ramin Bahrani
Writing (Original Screenplay)
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
Screenplay by Will Berson & Shaka King; Story by Will Berson & Shaka King and Kenny Lucas & Keith Lucas
Written by Lee Isaac Chung
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN
Written by Emerald Fennell
SOUND OF METAL
Screenplay by Darius Marder & Abraham Marder; Story by Darius Marder & Derek Cianfrance
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
Written by Aaron Sorkin
With One of the most hardest places hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, New York City, has announced a plan to reopen their theaters in a 25% limited capacity. According to an article by Variety, the plan will go into effect on March 5th. While this is indeed good news for the movie industry, in terms of something going in the right direction for a return for normalcy, it is still far from what is needed for smaller theaters looking to reopen.
Right here on the Central Coast, theaters remain closed and shut. Some Regal theaters are present along the Central Coast, but AMC, the nation's largest theater chain, is not. This leaves all other theaters in the area left to the small and independent business owners, who do not have the financial stability of the large chains. Some theaters have been trying to find creative solutions, such as Park Cinema Theaters in Paso Robles. Even the Parks Plaza Theatre, a site for many Central Coast Film Society events and only theater in the entire Santa Ynez Valley, has quietly put a "For Sale" sign out on the curb in front of the words "We Will Be Back" in their marquee.
Another theater has garnished the support of local elected leaders in Atascadero. Reports show support for the Galaxy Theater's came as the property owner announced they may have to put the property in foreclosure. “Over the past year, too many local businesses have been forced to permanently shut their doors — resulting in unprecedented job loss on the Central Coast,” Said state Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham. “With new programs available to small businesses, I join my colleagues by imploring the bank to halt foreclosures and give businesses who have been able to survive this long a chance at a California small business grant.”
However, with New York City looking at reopening, even in a very limited capacity, all eyes now are focused on the Los Angeles theaters to see if they reopen. Odds are theaters will begin gaining momentum to reopen when that happens with the proper Cinema Safe protocols. Regal has a video featuring Dr. David F. Goldsmith who speaks to how theaters will reopen safely. Most, if not all theaters, will be following the same protocols when reopening finally does happen.
Part of the iconic, beautiful, scenic and downright legendary Pacific Coast Highway, the Bixby Bridge has been traveled across by motorists for nearly 90 years. Since 1932, travelers have marveled at its engineering and beauty nestled among the ragged Big Sur coastline on the way between San Simeon and Monterey. The steep mountains and cliffs dipping into the ocean makes for a truly unique location in the entire country. Perhaps secondly only to the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bixby Bridge is one of the most photographed bridges in the entire state, if not the country.
Tourists from across the globe love traveling up the PCH while sightseeing between Los Angeles and San Francisco. However, recent storms have made it a little more difficult to get to. On January 28, 2021, a one-hundred and fifty foot section of Highway 1 washed out at Rat Creek, almost exactly halfway along the stretch of coast. The Bixby Bridge is located a little further north of the washout, and so people wanting to see it will need to travel to Monterey and continue south towards Big Sur.
Of course, this isn't new to Highway One on the Big Sur Coastline. More than 60 times in its history, the road has been washed away or covered in mud and debris. Most recently in 2017, a landslide was so massive it took over a year to reopen and it actually added 14 acres of new California Coast into the ocean. So while there is no estimate reopening of the historic highway this time, we can all go back and fondly remember what it is like in some of our favorite movies and commercials.
Some of the more famous call outs to the Bixby Bridge is in the television show, Then Came Bronson and in films like Play Misty for Me, Escape to Witch Mountain and The Sandpiper.
Film students at CalPoly SLO are planning a Zoom casting session at 10:00am this Saturday morning. Actors are encouraged to apply by sending an e-mail with a resume and headshot to firstname.lastname@example.org, then they will send an invitation to the casting session. They are looking for a one-minute monologue from actors. Additionally, if actors need more flexibility, they will accept taped, one-minute-long auditions submitted by Saturday.
As far as production details go, locations are still being determined by the production team for each script, but there are numerous shorts being filmed. A complete list of roles and films are below.
These films are being produced by students at Cal Poly SLO, and they are hoping to have these films premiere at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact them at email@example.com.
CASTING LIST w/ SHORT FILM TITLES
Miguel (Male, Age 8-12)- light skinned Mexican boy
Mami (Female, late 30’s) - dark black haired Mexican mother
Sam (Male, Age 8-12) -white boy (larger than Miguel)
Ethan (Male, Age 8-12) - white boy (larger than Miguel)
Cooking with Arlen
Girl (Age 5-10); mischievous
Two boys (Age 9-15); one serious, one playful/eccentric
Kameron (Male, Age 25-35); Iranian, gay, dark hair, dark eyes, olive skin
Jay (Male, Age 25-35); Kameron's fiance, gay, white, strawberry blond hair
Uncle Amir (Male, Age 55-70); Iranian, grey/white-haired, dark eyes, olive skin
Mom (Female, Age 45-55); Iranian, dark hair, dark eyes, olive skin
Cousin (Male, Age 8-12); dark hair, dark eyes
Extras: around 10 extras, preferably darker complected, as this is an Iranian family
A Place in Your Life
Kira (Female, Age 18-23); college aged/recent college grad
Maile (Female, Age 20-25); college aged/recent college grad
Michael (Male, Age 25- 29); working professional
Jennifer (Kira’s mom): (Female, Age 45-55); mom
On the Rocks
Michael (Male, Age 23-26)
Michael as a kid (Male, Age 7-10)
Bella (Female, Age 23-26)
Rescuer (Male/Female, Age 30-50)
Michael's dad (Male, Age 30-50)
Liam: (Male, Age 7-10)
Christopher: (Male, age 30-45); A father, would be good if the father and son were actually related, but not required.
Mrs. Jacobson (Female, Age 40-60)
A Burly Man: (age 30-40); tough-looking, comfortable with smoking or smoking fake cigarettes
Ray (Male. Age 23); charismatic, loyal, very smart but has the appearance of the ‘beach-town guy’.
Tommy (Male, Age 23); smart but not disciplined, charismatic but flaky, loyal but not empathetic, altogether edgier than Ray. Tommy also has the ‘beach town’ look Ray does.
Stacy: (Female, Age 23); long hair, free-spirited, relaxed vibe
Jaimie (Male, Age 16-20)
Jenny: (Female, Age 40-55); Ray’s mother. She tries to be caring toward Ray but is emotionally unstable and has trouble supporting her son.
2020 was the year that lots of things changed. In fact, you could probably hear the voice of Heath Ledger's Joker from The Dark Knight saying that 2020 "changed things... forever." Well, it's true! Lots of things have changed for the movie industry thanks to Covid-19 and the 2020 shutdowns, especially when it comes to the movie going experience.
Fortunately, here in early 2021, we have the vaccines beginning to roll out and hopefully that means a return to normalcy, and perhaps a return trip to the theaters again in a few months. Last year, many films were delayed and pushed to 2021, but some did screen and/or went to an online streaming service, like Mulan or Wonder Woman 1984. But what else were we supposed to see that got pushed back to this year? RottenTomatoes has a whole list of movies, but we have our own list of top 10 anticipated movies that were delayed.
10) West Side Story – Moved from December 18, 2020 to December 10, 2021
Steven Spielberg always wanted to make a musical and so he decided to remake one of the most classic on-screen musicals. But now it seems he will have to wait a little longer to see this must see remake on the big screen. Well, if someone had to remake it, it's in the best hands possible, even if he is a rookie when it comes to musicals.
9) Death on the Nile – Moved from December 18; new date unknown
A sequel (and also remake) to the mildly successful Murder on the Orient Express brings together another cast of talented performers stuck together on a boat in the nile... one of whom is a murderer. Fortunately our famous detective just happens to be onboard and will of course save the day.
8) A Quiet Place Part II – Moved from September 4, 2020 to April 23, 2021
Another sequel but to the sleeper success of the original movie. A Quiet Place stunned audiences with it's fresh take on the horror genre, especially from real life married couple Emily Blunt and John Krasinski. John, who is known for his role in the television show The Office, will return as writer and director of the sequel which will continue to explore this dark world.
7) Black Widow – Moved from May 1, 2020 to November 6, 2020 to May 7, 2021
Speaking of sequels, this film was supposed to be Marvel's first big screen return since the colossal Avengers: Endgame event, which was to begin opening the door to the Marvel Cinematic Universe's (MCU) Phase 4. But as it turns out, we're going to get our first look in the form of Wanda Vision coming to Disney+ in January. Black Widow is a popular character
6) Dune – Moved from December 18, 2020 to October 1, 2021
And now a return to the land of remakes. Dune was one of the most iconic science fiction films (and novels) of it's day. George Lucas has even admitted he took a lot of inspiration from the original film for Star Wars. A trailer for this version of Dune recently released and it still looks amazing and cutting edge. With an all star cast, we're still looking forward to this! That and it also features a Central Coast native, Josh Brolin.
5) Top Gun: Maverick – Moved from December 23, 2020 to July 2, 2021
Jumping back over to the sequels category, this one we are really looking forward to because it features our favorite maverick (pun intended) actually flying a fighter jet. Yes, Tom Cruise is really up there flying around. But with an iconic soundtrack and some amazing footage, this looks like a movie that will have us on the edge of our nostalgic seats.
4) The King's Man – Moved from September 18, 2020 to February 26, 2021 to March 12, 2021
And now, not a sequel or a remake... but a prequel! Threw you for a loop, I know, but this prequel to the unexpectedly popular The Kingsmen movies is set in the spy organizations origin days. Like with the original two films, The King's Man features an amazing cast and returning team of story tellers which is a perfect recipes for a fun (and highly explosive) journey to the movies. This is also slated to be the first of the movies on our list to return to theater, which is still two months away!
3) The Jungle Cruise – Moved from July 24, 2020 to July 30, 2021
Here's somewhat of an original idea. Well, except that Eddie Murphy tried to sell a Haunted Mansion, Haley Joel Osment sung with The Country Bears, George Clooney blasted Tomorrowland and Steve Guttenberg (along with Kirsten Dunst) dropped in at the Tower of Terror. Now we're ready to hear Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson tell bad jokes on Disney's latest attraction movie, The Jungle Cruise. With the trailer feeling more like something cut from the Pirates of the Caribbean style of filmmaking, but we're still going to line up in our best 1930s exploring outfits. And the fact that yours truly was in fact an authentic and certified Jungle Cruise skipper has nothing to do with this excitement.... promise.
2) No Time To Die – Moved from November, 2020 to April 2, 2021
Slated to be released early in 2021, we're so excited to bid Daniel Craig farewell as everyone's favorite spy, James Bond. Daniel Craig has been widely considered to be "the best Bond since Connery." No question, this cinematic film will be filled with action to take up every inch of your screen, and so we want to see it in the largest format possible! Yes, even though is is technically a sequel as well, it's sure to end with a "bang!"
1) Ghostbusters: Afterlife – Moved from July 10, 2020 to March 5, 2021 to June 11, 2021
Ok, so yes, it's a sequel (and to some a remake of a different sequel to cancel that sequels existence and return to the original films timeline/universe). The enigmatic trailer that was released showed what happens when you can still make a movie that doesn't feature any of the original cast, but makes it all feel so awesome. This movie is set to be one of the biggest tentpoles of the first year back in the cinemas. Let's hope we'll all be there soon.
Did we miss a movie you're looking forward to? Let us know.
MANDO CAME TO SO CAL
One thing that the new Disney+ series of The Mandalorian is doing new is that it is the first Star Wars property to not be filmed in England. New technology allows the show to show amazing photo real effects in "the Volume." There's an awesome video from ILM you can (and should) check out about it here. But sometimes there is just too much action to fit into a box studio.
When Chapter 14 of The Mandalorian Season 2, debuted a few weeks ago, we were all treated with a new planet in the Star Wars Universe, "Tython." Many people oddly thought it looked a lot like Southern California... and they were correct! In fact, we can confirm this was shot inside the Central Coast! On Christmas Day, Disney+ released an episode of Disney Gallery, a behind the scenes look at making the new season, it was revealed that director Robert Rodriguez and the production filmed on location in Simi Valley.
Simi Valley lies just along the border of the Ventura and Los Angeles County line, and is a part of Ventura County, which is a part of the Central Coast. This episode was shot using stages and the new "Volume" technology, but the large action scenes involving the Mandalorian (Din Djarin), Boba Fett and some stormtroopers were shot in the hills above Simi Valley and was actually about 500 feet away from being in Los Angeles County. We will still claim it as Central Coast!!
Take a look at a Google Maps look at the area the Boba Fett and Fennec Shand action scenes took place. You can see from the image above the round rock in the upper left corner matches what is behind Boba Fett.
The rocks to the bottom of the image are the same ones that Fennec Shand runs across while the stormtroopers shoot at her feet. You can see in the still below matching holes along the bottom, as well as the round rock on the ridge from the other still. Digital artists we able to simply blur out the San Fernando Valley in the background.
ABOUT THE "STUDIO ZONE"
Many films are shot in Simi Valley because it is in the TMZ. Yes, like the popular show, but the TMZ is an actual term that stands for the "Thirty Mile Zone" and several parts of Ventura County fall within that line. In fact, the Screen Actor's Guild has only two "Studio Zones" which is a TMZ in LA and a TMZ in New York City. You can see that info here. The one in LA is centered at La Cienega and Beverly Blvds.
Productions have been taking advantage of the labor agreements and government tax incentives to produce within this zone since 1934. For example, actors and crew members are expected to transport themselves to these locations and will not need hotel accommodations, which is a huge budget savings. Older major studios regularly purchases "movie ranches" on the outskirts of the TMZ and made them large outdoor studios, most without any formal backlots or stages, and were meant for exterior shots only. You can see in the map below, the MGM Conejo Ranch was to be considered being in the Studio Zone, even though it is further than the actual TMZ.
While Ventura County is the furthest south on the Central Coast, it still is a vital part of the TMZ and is quite literally Hollywood's Backyard. Take a look below.
Christmas came early for some hardcore Disney+ fans! Disney released a massive treasure trove today at their investors meeting, including footage of new Disney+ shows spanning from all corners of the Disney universe. This is obviously a reaction to the news of what Warner Brothers has done with HBO Max for all of their upcoming films to be released in theatrical and streaming as well. As for Disney, they will either (mostly as of right now) be releasing films on their streaming service, Disney+ or traditional theatrical releases. We'll breakdown a little here for you by section.
Just because the MCU had a nice neat button on it, known as Avengers: Endgame, doesn't mean it's over. Far, far from it... but then again we all knew that. Today was huge for Marvel, announcing new feature films such as Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the third feature in the Ant-Man franchise; and Fantastic Four, which introduces Marvel’s most iconic family. Marvel Studios’ upcoming feature films also include Black Widow, Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals, Thor: Love and Thunder, Black Panther 2, Blade, Captain Marvel 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
This doesn't even include what they're doing on the small screen with Disney+. They are making many new shows for the streaming service including the animated series What If...?, a live action series for Ms. Marvel, Hawkeye (with Hailee Steinfeld joining Jeremy Renner in the series), She-Hulk, (starring Tatiana Maslany in the title role alongside co-stars Mark Ruffalo and Tim Roth), Moon Knight, Gaurdians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, and a series of original shorts, I am Groot.
But don't forget about everyone's favorite badguy, Loki, who is also getting his own show. You can see the trailer below.
While, we're here talking about Loki, check out our interview on Take 18 with Central Coast native, Paul Lacovara, the original stuntman for Tom Hiddleston's iconic character in the Thor and Avengers films. You can play the interview below.
Marvel also released its trailers packed with new footage for Wanda Vision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. All three shows show a distinct and vision at what is going on in the MCU, following the events of Endgame and all will be on Disney+. It was also released that these shows will play heavily into what will happen in future MCU movies, including the much rumored about Spiderman-3 with Tom Holland (ok, this is a Sony movie, but we all know the truth), and Doctor Strange Into the Multiverse.
Disney+ will also be getting numerous other MCU connected shows such as
Some of the biggest news came to the Star Wars universe. Again, with the wrap up of the main "Skywalker" saga timeline, it became open season to go hunting for sideline adventures, which has proven to be instrumental with The Mandalorian, one of Disney+'s flagship new shows when it debuted last year. The show also has continued to expand on its global influence with the second season which is currently debuting new episodes.
Star Wars has already begun its spinoffs a long time ago... in a galaxy... well, same galaxy. Alright, same galaxy, but back with the Clone Wars, and animated show, which again has a spin off of that announced called The Bad Batch. The Clone Wars features, James Arnold Taylor, a Central Coast resident as a vocal artist for Obi-Wan Kenobi in the series. But spinoffs aren't limited to animated, even in The Mandalorian there is many cross references with characters coming to live-action form, especially in season 2. One of those characters is also getting their own live action show, Ahsoka, which is Ahsoka Tano, a Jedi from The Clone Wars and Rebels.
Disney+ isn't getting shows that are spinoffs of animated shows. It was announced that the previously announced show, Obi-Wan Kenobi, a "special event series" that features Ewan McGregor back in the title role, will have Hayden Christensen return as his apprentice turned master of the dark side of the force, Darth Vader.
But then, Rogue One, one of the few theatrical Star Wars spinoffs, is getting it's own spinoff (so many spinoffs), which is described as a "a tense nail-biting spy thriller" following Diego Luna's character from the film, Cassian Andor in a show called Andor. You can see the video they released about it below.
But Star Wars wasn't finished there. They also have The Acolyte, a mystery-thriller that will take the audience into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark side powers in the final days of the High Republic era. Lando is also getting an "event series" for Disney+, but no word on if Donald Glover or Billy Dee Williams (or both) will be returning to reprise their characters.
Then there is also a new show set within the timeline of The Mandalorian, which is called Rangers of the New Republic. This new live-action series from executive producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni will intersect with future stories and culminate into a climactic story event. This will probably be about the X-Wing pilots we've seen in the show in both seasons now. But why stop there with X-Wings? Check out this other announcement from Wonder Woman director, Patty Jenkins.
Rogue Squadron is set to come out in theaters around Christmas 2023. Oh and don't forget about Taika Waititi's unnamed Star Wars film that will come out in the future. Honestly, they couldn't be more vague about it. But wait... theres still so much more. There's A Droid Story which will introduce us to a new hero, guided by the legendary duo, R2-D2 and C-3PO. There's also more animated shorts coming. But why stop there LucasFilm?
They also announced they're in pre-production for the next Indiana Jones film, set to begin filming in Spring of 2021 and released in theaters July of 2022, with Harrison Ford back in the fedora. Then other fun LucasFilm news would be Willow getting a series on Disney+ with Warwick Davis returning. They are set to begin filming in March of 2021 and will be on Disney+ in 2022.
Don't forget about these guys. They also have some skin in the game. Pixar's Soul is slated to come out on Disney+ after being delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, going the same path as Mulan. But Disney is not stopping with the live-action remakes showing off titles for Peter and Wendy as well as Pinocchio. Also there's the spinoff movie following Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, a new version of Swiss Family Robinson and Percy Jackson and the Olympians all going to Disney+. More new films for Disney+ include, Hocus Pocus 2, a sequel to the 1993 Halloween classic. Reboots of Three Men and a Baby, with Central Coast Native, Zac Efron, and Cheaper by the Dozen with Kenya Barris and Gabrielle Union, and a new Sister Act film with Whoopi Goldberg returning.
But new shows coming to Disney+ are also interesting. The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, with Emilio Estevez returns as Gordon Bombay and Lauren Graham joins the flock. Other shows include Turner & Hooch, Big Shot and The Mysterious Benedict Society.
However, as I said earlier, Disney is "mostly" releasing their films on one or the other, does not apply to Raya and the Last Dragon, which will debut simultaneously on Disney+ Premier Access and in theatres in March 2021. Premier Access for the title will be priced at $29.99. Today's presentation also included a preview of upcoming feature films such as Jungle Cruise, Cruella and prequels to The Lion King and The Little Mermaid.
Did that seem like a bit? Yes, yes it did. That's just most of what I could find. But what we can all say is that writing does not stop during quarantines and everyone is eager to get stuff rolling. And as consumers, we can't wait... I just hope we are not drinking from a fire hose when it comes out.
What are you the most excited for with all the announcements?
Well I guess we can say, "'tis the season."
The annual onslaught of Christmas movies has begun. In what has almost become an early Christmas present, these movies come at us as soon as Halloween is over. You can find these all over on Hallmark or Netflix. But this year, if you watch Lifetime, you won't be able to miss the Central Coast in a starring role in the film A Very Charming Christmas Town.
These types of movies have become a genre onto themselves, and they bring along a dedicated following of people who love them. During the premiere, almost a million people tuned in to watch this TV movie set in the real famous Danish style village of Solvang. This review might be slightly different than our rest, since we actually had a hand in helping the production, which you may know by now. But we still want to give an honest review of the movie.
There's no spoiler warnings for this movie, because as with this genre, there really is no spoilers. They are so formulaic that you can tell what's going to happen based on just the log line description of the movie. There is going to be a "meet cute" moment, eventual romance, a breakup and then coming back together; all the while there's going to be snow or Christmas lights in every shot possible. This movie does not stray from that formula. But the question is, does this matter? Short answer is, "no!" Because of the skill of the writer and director, we are able to look past the formula and buy into the experience, no matter how familiar it may be. We love to watch happy movies, and this is a happy movie served with danish pastries and chocolate. What's not to love?
I have a personal connection with this film on many levels. Being the official Solvang Film Liaison at the time, I worked with the production company and took them on their first tour of the town and told them all about the history and culture of Solvang. I also explained what Christmas was like as I was the one who would play the Christmas events there, including the parade, tree lighting and tours. So watching this movie hit home, because it follows a reporter from LA who comes to "tourist trap" Solvang to do a story and is taken on a tour by the local community coordinator. It only sounded vaguely familiar. Of course, in the end she falls in love with the town and charming tour guide as it begins to snow.
But what blew me away was how much of the script incorporated the true history and elements of Christmas in Solvang. The Nisse (Danish elves) scavenger hunt, the story about why there are storks on rooftops and even why the architecture is the way it is was all things I loved sharing with guests and they're in the movie! From sampling chocolates and pastries, to walking on candlelight tours and riding the horse trolly, they captured the special elements of the town. Also, the production took care in not hiding or making up names of the businesses. Those are the real names of the stores and not made up. You can actually go there and experience what they did in the movie.
One of the other things that I was blown away by was the credits of this movie. Sure it was nice to see my cameo get a on screen credit and have special thanks shouted out to me, but I was so happy to see the local extras who came out to fill the streets of Solvang get named as well. What production company does that? When CCFS put out the call for extras, I had no idea they were going to do that and it means a lot to us here.
Was it cheesy? Yes. Was it sappy? Yes. Was it a bit jumbled together? A little. Could you tell the snow on the ground was just layers of cotton? Sure. Was it a heartwarming Christmas movie showing off a charming and unique Central Coast town? You bet.
Hopefully this movie will help serve as inspirations of millions of people to visit Solvang in the future in a post Covid-19 world. Solvang is funded 51% by overnight tourism (hotel tax), not including sales tax from all the shops and restaurants. The Solvang hospitality industry, its life force, has been hit hard this year. I personally hope this film helps in some fashion to bring people back when it is safe.
In the meantime, watch this movie and you'll be warmed up by the charm. Have some chocolate while you watch too and it'll almost be like you were actually there. Remember, it's just a Christmas movie... you'll enjoy it.
Overall, 3.5/5 stars from me!
PS: You can also watch this four minute clip below and get a sense of the film.