‘Life Itself’ Film Review: Canned Tear-Jerker About Destiny Is a Jaw-Dropping Mess

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

If all you need from a love story are two people smiling at each other and a narrator saying they’re in love, then “Life Itself” is for you. If all you require to show the passage of years is a CG montage or some cheap makeup, then “Life Itself” is for you. If the only way you’ll know things are tough is if everyone dies, then “Life Itself” is for you.

For everyone else, though, writer-director Dan Fogelman’s “Life Itself” is a glib, noxious, airplane-unworthy melodrama so insecure about its time-hopping, tragedy-strewn events and heart-stricken characters that, in its naked manipulation and narrative condescension, it resembles anything but the words of its title. One is likely to find more clarifyingly human drama in a 30-second Hallmark ad than in nearly any scene of this jaw-droppingly performative schmaltz.

Fogelman is the creator of NBC’s hit, award-winning, multigenerational soap “This Is Us,” fans of which readily accept that a cadre of writers, actors and directors have targeted their tear ducts with forensic zeal. But the two-hour movie version of interconnected highs and lows represented by “Life Itself” withers under the weight of so much forced emotion and storytelling trickery. Not to mention there’s a full-bore campaign to canonize Bob Dylan’s song “To Make You Feel My Love” as a shelter of squishiness inside the maelstrom of existence that feels practically unseemly.

Watch Video: ‘Life Itself’ New Trailer: Dan Fogelman Brings Together All-Star Cast in Tearjerker Movie

Before one can even get to the movie’s softest center, however, there’s an artificially edgy outer shell in which Annette Bening’s serene therapist listens to Oscar Isaac’s caustic Will bemoan the end of his marriage to perfect wife Abby (Olivia Wilde, beatified to a fault) by way of brusque one-liners, flights of fantasy, “Pulp Fiction” shoutouts (not kidding), and flashbacks to a romcom-idealized courtship in which Will — in the same frame! — tour-guides the proceedings. (The first sign you’re in shaky hands: the effects gimmick that reads “Nifty!” instead of “Illuminating!”)

Aside from the uncharitable notion that Will was institutionalized for being unfunny, this mini-portrait of a broken man is so facile and grating (Isaac looks like he’s selling something out of the trunk of his car, hoping not to get caught) that the mushy idiocy of the rest of the movie is almost a balm. Almost.

“Life Itself” is two other stories, as well. There’s angry young musician Dylan (Olivia Cooke), whose band name is PB&J. So when Dylan, still not over the childhood loss of her parents, picks a fight in the club, that means a punch and a gooey sandwich in the face. (Also, her thrash version of the Dylan song is … unfortunate.)

Also Read: ‘This Is Us’ Creator Says Season 2 Finale Flash-Forward Is as Far Into the Future as We’re Going

How does Spain sound? That’s where Fogelman’s heart-juggling attention-deficit movie goes next, for a subtitled romance between olive picker Javier (Sergio Peris-Mencheta, “Snowfall”) and smiling waitress Isabel (Laia Costa, “Victoria”), not to mention some ham-fisted tension between serious-minded Javier and his benevolent boss (Antonio Banderas, coolly watchable).

By now, “Life Itself” is beginning to feel as if three earnest-but-rejected short stories had been Frankensteined in a lab to create one crazily ambitious, but still unpublishable, novel. Not helping is that terrible scripter’s crutch: incessant narration explaining who everyone is and what they’re going through instead of letting the actors show us. On top of that, the movie keeps nudging us with references to the literary device of the unreliable narrator — Abby’s line of study in college — as if we haven’t figured out already that the movie thinks “unreliable” means going left instead of right, tossing in a twist, shifting the action overseas, or making a character we like into someone we don’t.

Sorry, that’s just storytelling. And in this case, the cringeworthy kind that Fogelman needs to justify by repeating the phrase “unreliable narrator.”

Also Read: Olivia Wilde’s ‘A Vigilante’ Picked Up by Saban Films and DirecTV

By the end, when the connections are revealed (although easily predicted), and people have stopped getting hit by buses (also not kidding), here are many of the things “Life Itself” has ruined: Mandy Patinkin and Jean Smart as grandparents; the seriousness of mental illness; sassy baristas; Samuel L. Jackson (all over again); movie references; flirty post-coital talk; profanity; people-growing-old-in-seconds sequences; chapter titles for movies; olive oil. And to reiterate (a favorite tactic of the movie’s): Dylan; flashbacks; narration; love; death; your two hours.

It’s no artistic crime to see life as a grand canvas upon which the big emotions play, even if the unremarkable cinematography is pre-peak-TV flat. There’s arguably too little real feeling in movies these days, anyway, so Fogelman’s desires for “Life Itself” are understandable. But the way he reverse-engineers the story to sell the rollercoaster of life isn’t genuine; it’s a menu of stylistic distractions that feels at-you, instead of with-you, its meshed destinies like some kind of scorekeeping. Its actors are representations, not flesh-and-blood people. It treats tragedies the way a horror movie relies on jump scares. And it practically chomps at the bit to kill off its characters, so it can get to its cloying platitudes.

The biggest question you’ll leave thinking isn’t “How is life so mysteriously wonderful?” but “Who walks backward onto a street?”

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‘Life Itself’ Stars & Director Dan Fogelman On Pic’s Vital, Hard-Edged Heart – Toronto Studio

Read on: Deadline.

Busy times are afoot for Dan Fogelman—well, busier than usual. Preparing to launch the highly anticipated third season of his NBC family drama This is Us in a matter of weeks, the series creator is currently in Toronto on behalf of his second fea…

‘Life Itself’ New Trailer: Dan Fogelman Brings Together All-Star Cast in Tearjerker Movie (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

A new trailer for Dan Fogelman’s “Life Itself” has been released in which the “This Is Us” creator examines life’s perils and rewards.

“When I ask you out, it’s going to be the most important moment of my life — and I just want to make sure I get it right,” Oscar Isaac’s character tells Olivia Wilde’s.

The trailer is full of love, anger, tears — and a whole lot of punches.

See Video: Dan Fogelman’s ‘Life, Itself’ Trailer Debuts During ‘This Is Us’ Finale

“Life Itself” weaves together the stories of multiple characters who interact with one another stretching from New York to the Spanish countryside.

Directed and written by Fogelman, the movie stars Isaac, Wilde, Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening and Olivia Cooke.

Also Read: ‘This Is Us’ Creator Dan Fogelman’s ‘Life, Itself’ Heads to Amazon in $10 Million Deal

“Life Itself” was produced by Temple Hill’s Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey, along with FilmNation Entertainment’s Aaron Ryder and Fogelman.

“Life Itself” will hit theaters on September 21.

Watch the trailer above.

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‘Vanity Fair’ Trailer: First-Look At ITV & Amazon’s Adaptation Of The Classic Napoleonic Novel

Read on: Deadline.

ITV and Amazon have unveiled a first-look at the forthcoming adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s classic 1848 novel Vanity Fair.
The partners have debuted a short trailer that features Ready Player One star Olivia Cooke with her foot all over a…

‘Ready Player One’ Surpasses $500 Million at Worldwide Box Office

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” has crossed the $500 million mark at the worldwide box office, Warner Bros. announced Saturday.

Domestically, the film has hit $120.6 million to date since its opening on March 29. Internationally, the film has grossed $379.5 million, earning more than $200 million in China alone.

Also Read: Steven Spielberg Is Back! ‘Ready Player One’ Scores His Best Box Office Debut in a Decade

“Ready Player One” stars Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Mark Rylance and Simon Pegg.

Spielberg directed “Ready Player One” from a screenplay by Zak Penn and Ernest Cline, based on the latter’s novel of the same name. Donald De Line, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Dan Farah and Spielberg produced. Adam Somner, Daniel Lupi, Chris DeFaria and Bruce Berman served as executive producers.

Also Read: Steven Spielberg Becomes First Director to Top $10 Billion at Worldwide Box Office

The film follows a young man who lives in a dystopian future where almost everyone escapes their horrid reality through a virtual world called the OASIS. With the help of his friends, he sets out to complete a quest created by the OASIS’ late creator before the head of an evil corporation can finish it and take over the virtual system.

Earlier this week, Spielberg became the first director to ever gross more than $10 billion at the worldwide box office, with “Ready Player One” becoming his highest-grossing film in the last decade and nudging him into eight figures in all-time career grosses.

Spielberg’s all-time top performer was 1993’s “Jurassic Park,” which grossed $983.8 million worldwide. That was followed by 2008’s critically reviled “Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull” ($786.6 million) and the 1982 classic “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” which earned $717 million — without adjusting for inflation.

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MipTV: Global Broadcasters Snap Up ITV and Amazon’s ‘Vanity Fair’

Read on: Variety.

A raft of global buyers have snapped up “Vanity Fair,” the ITV and Amazon adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s literary classic with “Ready Player One” star Olivia Cooke. ITV Studios Global Entertainment is selling the series and gave buyers a sneak peek at a spring preview earlier this year. As MipTV opens, the distributor has […]

‘Ready Player One’ Review: Steven Spielberg’s Dizzying, Dazzling VR Fantasia Of Pop Culture Is Something To Behold

Read on: Deadline.

It is virtually impossible to see Ready Player OneSteven Spielberg’s wild ride into the world of virtual reality, just once. There is so much going on in this movie, both retro and futuristic, that it is hard to compute in one sitting. A pop culture treasure hunt of the past 30 years as seen through the prism of a VR Disneyland called Oasis, Ready Player One rotates from the real world of 2045 to a virtual one filled with references to movies, music, personalities…

‘Ready Player One’ Film Review: Spielberg’s Weaponized Nostalgia Is an Exercise in Overkill

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” might mark the beginning of a new era in filmmaking or the end of an old one, but either way it feels like a failed experiment in building a new story on the carcasses of old movies, TV shows and video games.

Granted, I’m also not sure if this movie is aimed squarely at me or if I’m the last person who should see it: the screenplay by Zak Penn and Ernest Cline (based on Cline’s novel) seems to be weaponizing my own personal nostalgia for John Hughes, Monty Python, “Buckaroo Banzai” and other objects of obsession from my late teens and early 20s. On paper, I’m this movie’s target audience, but in practice — to put it in terms of the film’s endless quoting and referencing — it’s like being trapped in the “Ironic Punishment Division” on “The Simpsons,” only I very quickly got sick of being force-fed all those delicious donuts.

“Ready Player One” takes a fairly recognizable through line right out of “Charlie”/”Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” — eccentric creator uses a contest to search for the heir to his cuckoo kingdom — and buries it in virtual reality simulations and a hodgepodge of pop-culture nostalgia. The results are a murky mishmash that reminds us that, for all of Spielberg’s many appreciable strengths as a filmmaker, comedy and animation aren’t necessarily at the top of the list. (By the same token, if you love “1941” and/or “Tintin,” this might be the movie for you.)

Watch Video: Steve Spielberg’s ‘Ready Player One’ Trailer Dives Deeper Into the Oasis

Our Wonka is Halliday (Mark Rylance), who created a vast and intricate virtual world known as Oasis, which has become a respite for residents of the grimy post-apocalyptic 2045. (Oasis is supposed to be a global phenomenon; we’re apparently not meant to notice that, in the non-virtual world, all of the characters in the film live in or near Columbus, Ohio.) Upon his death, Halliday announced that he hid three keys in the recesses of the Oasis, and whoever finds them will inherit ownership of the whole kit and caboodle.

While the evil IOI corporation enslaves workers in an elaborate attempt to solve the clues and find the keys, Oasis is also full of independent treasure hunters like young Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), who is known in the virtual world as “Parzival,” or “Z” for short. When he and pals H (Lena Waithe), Sho (Philip Zhao) and Daito (Win Morisaki) aren’t playing Halliday’s games — including a virtual road race through Manhattan where the obstacles include dinosaurs and King Kong — they’re studying Halliday’s memories and his cultural obsessions for hints and guideposts.

Also Read: Why Ben Mendelsohn’s ‘Ready Player One’ Baddie Won’t Be Faithful to the Book

Along the way, Z. falls for fellow treasure hunter Art3mis (Olivia Cooke, “Thoroughbreds”), although she is at first hesitant to let him get to know her in the real world as Samantha. But the closer that Wade/Z. and his friends get to Halliday’s treasure, the more that IOI bigwig Sorrento (an entertainingly hammy Ben Mendelsohn) tries to destroy them and take over Oasis for himself.

The main selling point of “Ready Player One” has been the plethora of pop-culture icons from anime, TV, video games and movies that are woven throughout the movie; there will no doubt be a fascinating Blu-ray extra in which “Pop-Up Video” bubbles appear throughout to point out all these hidden nuggets, but the camerawork is so hyperactive and the Oasis scenes are so often muddy that most of these details were lost.

Part of why we’re supposed to hiss Sorrento is his inability to tell “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (while, presumably, we notice that both “Watts” and “Samantha” are characters from “Some Kind of Wonderful” and “Sixteen Candles,” respectively). But “Ready Player One” doesn’t do much with its trove of references beyond baking a Memberberry Pie. It certainly doesn’t earn the right to have its characters blunder through a Stanley Kubrick movie at one point, although if that segment plays for you, so will the rest of the film.

Also Read: Steven Spielberg Reveals ‘Indiana Jones 5’ Production Start Date

And as someone who was an architect of so much 1980s pop culture (as both a director and producer), maybe Spielberg wasn’t the right fit to examine these obsessions from a fanboy perspective. (Z. drives around in the DeLorean from the Spielberg-produced “Back to the Future,” for example, and at one point he purchases a “Zemeckis Cube” that allows him to reverse time.) It’s like when a “Saturday Night Live” cast member does a devastating impersonation of a celebrity, and then the real-life celebrity shows up to stand next to the impersonator, effectively killing the joke for all time.

Spielberg is too much of a craftsman not to create at least a little delight, and “Ready Player One” comes alive every so often, whether it’s a band of player-less instruments heralding the finding of Halliday’s first key or the chemistry between Sheridan and Cooke in those rare moments that they’re interacting as flesh and blood rather than ones and zeroes.

But overall, the movie left me feeling bombarded with images, bored by the lack of an interesting story, and irritated with my own cultural past. I’ve never been much of a video-game player, but by the finale, I was ready to “Leeroy Jenkins!” my way out of the theater.

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Steven Spielberg finds fun and maybe even a soul in the pandering pastiche of Ready Player One

Read on: The A.V. Club.

Is it possible for a Hollywood blockbuster to look both soulful and soulless, depending on where the light strikes its gleaming surfaces? Ready Player One, based on the bestseller of the same name, is a pandering, crassly commercial victory of intellectual property law that’s also, in its best moments, a grand popcorn…

Read more…

Dan Fogelman’s ‘Life, Itself’ Trailer Debuts During ‘This Is Us’ Finale (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Amazon released the first look at “This Is Us” creator Dan Fogelman’s upcoming film “Life, Itself” during Tuesday’s season finale of his hit show “This Is Us.”

Directed and written by Fogelman, the movie stars Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening and Olivia Cooke.

It weaves together the stories of multiple characters who interact with one another stretching from New York to the Spanish countryside.

Also Read: ‘This Is Us’ Showrunners Isaac Aptaker, Elizabeth Berger Sign With CAA (Exclusive)

“Life, Itself” was produced by Temple Hill’s Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey, along with FilmNation Entertainment’s Aaron Ryder and Fogelman.

Fogelman’s most recent credits include serving as the writer and creator of NBC’s “This Is Us,” as well as being a producer on “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” in which Cooke starred as well.

His screenplay credits also include “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” “Last Vegas” and “Tangled.”

Also Read: ‘This Is Us’ Creator Dan Fogelman’s ‘Life, Itself’ Heads to Amazon in $10 Million Deal

He previously directed the Al Pacino-Annette Bening dramedy “Danny Collins.”

Fogelman is represented by WME and Management 360.

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Steven Spielberg’s ‘Ready Player One’ Sneak Screening Gets Standing Ovation at SXSW

Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” debuted at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival on Sunday night, and fans who scored a ticket to the sneak screening erupted in a standing ovation after the film ended well past midnight.

The Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas, was packed Sunday night as fans of the filmmaker as well as fans of the novel by Ernest Cline flocked to the theater. As soon as the lights dimmed, the theater burst out in cheers, which only got louder when the legendary filmmaker himself came onto the stage to introduce the film.

“We made this with a lot of ambition to really fill the screens, and I hope I can do that tonight,” Spielberg said. “I made ‘Ready Player One’ because like a lot of you here, I loved the book by Ernest Cline.” Spielberg added that he also wanted to make the film for “people who don’t play video games, who may have never played a video game. This isn’t a film that you must have gotten into the gaming world in order to really get involved with. So this is not just for gamers but this is also a movie that has so many cultural references.”

Also Read: ‘Ready Player One’ World Premiere Screening Stopped Twice for Technical Troubles

“Ready Player One” has a sprawling cast of Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Lena Waithe, Ben Mendelsohn, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance and T.J. Miller. It is set in the year 2045, when much of the planet has succumbed to overpopulation, pollution and climate change. To escape, people turn to the virtual reality world of the game OASIS. When the game’s creator dies, he sets the world up for one last game — to find the Easter Egg, and inherit the entire fortune of the OASIS.

Most of the cast, and Cline himself, welcomed the audiences to the auditorium, telling fans they would now be a part of their family as they were the few lucky ones to see the film this early. Notably missing was T.J. Miller, who plays avatar i-R0k in the movie. Letitia Wright and Mark Rylance were also absent.

Throughout the two-hour-20-minute film, fans laughed and cheered consistently through ’80s references and wild stunts and special effects.

About an hour and a half into the movie, however, the film suffered a technical difficulty as the film’s sound just stopped working. Following audience moans the festival organizers resumed the film… but the glitch happened at the exact same spot again, which by that point prompted laughter. When the film resumed again, fans held onto their armrests to see whether they’d be able to finish the film — and when everything transitioned smoothly this time, the audience erupted in loud applause and jumped up from their seats.

Also Read: ‘Ready Player One’ First Trailer Released (Video)

The actors themselves were scattered throughout the audience, and at one point in the movie, Ben Mendelsohn got up from his seat to cheer what was happening on screen. When the credits rolled and the theater lit up, everyone in the auditorium erupted in cheers as Spielberg and the cast came back onto the stage. There was a standing ovation, and fans started chanting “Steven! Steven!”

Positive reactions flooded social media early Monday morning. It will hit theaters on March 29.

So yeah, I LOVED Ready Player One. It’s perhaps the geekiest movie ever made. So so so happy right now!

— Eric Vespe (@EricVespe) March 12, 2018

#ReadyPlayerOne is classic Steven Spielberg. It’s got the references, the ferocious effects and the great ‘80s soundtrack, sure, but also the charm, the heart, the humor and a fantastic Alan Silvestri score. I loved it & so did this #SXSW crowd. Be excited for it! pic.twitter.com/xwPOGwXDxd

— ErikDavis (@ErikDavis) March 12, 2018

Ready Player One is a whole lot of fun. Those who are stuck in pre-release hate mode better prepare to be disappointed. #sxsw

— Scott Weinberg (@scottEweinberg) March 12, 2018

READY PLAYER ONE feels like Spielberg watched a ton of Luc Besson movies and decided to outdo them. In terms of pure spectacle, it’s the most astonishing thing he’s done. Never underestimate Steve. #SXSW

— erickohn (@erickohn) March 12, 2018

TOTALLY engrossed in every second of @readyplayerone. It is one of the most technically brilliant things I have EVER seen. Spielberg is one of the few directors who could orchestrate this kind of visual symphony that SO many people will enjoy. Pretty amazing.????

— Grae Drake (@graedrake) March 12, 2018

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‘Thoroughbreds’ Film Review: Preppie Girls Go Homicidal in Taut, Toxic Comedy

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Anya Taylor-Joy’s compellingly incongruent face is the best effect in the new thriller “Thoroughbreds.” Best known for playing the Puritan teen accused of practicing dark magic in the 2015 arthouse horror hit “The Witch,” the British actress has the eyes of a prim toddler and a full, sensual mouth somehow made up of sharp angles. Those mercurial features comprise a microcosm of writer-director Cory Finley’s debut: a cold, twisty mystery that keeps delivering surprises.

Imagine if the creepy twins from “The Shining” were separated at birth, adopted by upper-crust Connecticut families, became friends in school, had a falling out, were reunited by an SAT tutoring sesh, and decided to kill one of their stepdads instead. Unlike in ninth grade, the two girls aren’t exactly pals this time around — it’s hard to definitively say they even like one another — but they are allies and confidantes.

A long, close hug they share at the film’s start encapsulates their relationship: Lily (Taylor-Joy) in grudging discomfort; Amanda (Olivia Cooke, “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”), recently diagnosed as an emotionless sociopath, with eyes deader than disco.

Also Read: ‘New Mutants:’ Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams Set to Star in ‘X-Men’ Spinoff

On break from boarding school, Lily agrees to tutor town pariah Amanda, an object of intense, horse-related gossip. In her crisp, office-ready blouses and with her preternaturally neutral demeanor toward her dickish stepfather Mark (Paul Sparks), Lily appears the very picture of the young American oligarchy learning how to settle into their perch atop society. But when Amanda suggests they kill Mark — or better yet, have him killed, while they enjoy an airtight alibi — Lily agrees in less time than it’d take a J. Crew order to arrive at her door.

It turns out good help is hard to find. In his last performance, Anton Yelchin plays a drug dealer with grandiose dreams and exclusively underage customers. Yelchin’s Tim is the most believable figure in this otherwise stylized drama, a pathetic, delusional lowlife who still deserves better than what’s coming to him.

Also Read: Steven Spielberg Picks Olivia Cooke as Female Lead for ‘Ready Player One’

The girls’ attempt to blackmail him into killing Mark is the first time we truly understand that they’re much more terrifying than we’d thought. It’s not insignificant that Tim’s family belongs to a much more modest income bracket than Lily’s or Amanda’s. But Finley declines to push the class angle here, which endows “Thoroughbreds” with a disappointing weightlessness.

Most of the action takes place in the mansion that Lily and Mark share with her widowed mother (Kaili Vernoff), and the patronizing, casually contemptuous way that Mark talks to his wife is genuinely gutting. But, intriguingly, Mark never says anything overtly abusive — a lack that contributes as much to the tension as the plunky, percussive, quasi-experimental soundtrack (by Erik Friedlander, “Oh Lucy!”) and the protracted, unsettling stares that Finley gets out of Taylor-Joy and Cooke. Needless to say, both actresses are fantastically affectless while suggesting a simmering wrath or a malign curiosity under the placidity.

See Video: ‘Thoroughbreds’ Director ‘Grateful’ for Chance to Work With the Late Anton Yelchin

Even with its measured pace and sparse plot, the film’s indulgence in stillness is one of the best things about it. An early scene in which Amanda eats cereal at her desk, looking blankly at the computer screen, is both alarmingly disquieting and profoundly relatable. (Is there anything more adolescent than killing time and being unhappy without having any idea what to do about it?)

As “Thoroughbreds” slithers toward its fitting yet convenient ending, it feels increasingly like we’re missing a key scene or two about Lily, especially when Mark gives her the talking-to she’s clearly been dreading. But if you don’t mind your movies nasty, brutish, and slight, you couldn’t ask for a more delectable chocolate-covered razor blade.

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Film Review: ‘Thoroughbreds’

Read on: Variety.

Remember the name Cory Finley. The astonishingly gifted writer-director of “Thoroughbreds” is going places, which could also be said for Olivia Cooke (“Vanity Fair”) and Anya Taylor-Joy (“Split”), the two note-perfect lead actresses who star in Finley’s icy psychological thriller — a refined, upper-class riff on “Heavenly Creatures,” “Fun,” and the entire wicked subgenre in which two […]

Two teen girls forge a dark friendship in the tense, blackly comic Thoroughbreds

Read on: The A.V. Club.

Given that it begins, essentially, with two teenage girls studying vocabulary in preparation for the SATs, maybe it’s not such an unfair nitpick to complain that Thoroughbreds should have stuck with its original title. When the film premiered at Sundance some 14 months ago, it went by just Thoroughbred, singular—an…

Read more…

‘Ready Player One’: All the Easter Eggs From the New Trailer (Photos)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Ernest Cline’s sci-fi bestseller “Ready Player One” is less a novel and more a love letter to the 1980s wrapped around a plot. Easter eggs and pop culture references abound throughout the novel, and Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster adaptation appears to have ripped a couple of pages from the book.  Here are all the easter eggs we were able to spot in the new trailer.

Remember Madballs? No? You may not be alone, but these rubber bouncing balls were pretty popular in the 1980s and well into the next decade. As the audience is treated to a look at how crummy and bleak the world has become, we see that a graffiti artist has tagged the side of a trailer with one of these weird-looking objects.

There’s definitely a huge race coming up in the film, judging by the sheer number of cars, bikes, and other vehicles. Among the ones we’ve been able to spot include Mach 5 from “Speed Racer” and the original Batmobile from the “Batman” TV series, as well as Ryu from the “Street Fighter” video games. Some have even claimed to spot Mad Max’s Interceptor from “Fury Road.”

Protagonist Wade Watts, aka Parzival (Tye Sheridan), will participate in the aforementioned race by driving the DeLorean from “Back to the Future.” Fans were caught off guard with the brief glimpse of the iconic vehicle in the original trailer, and now it feels like it’s getting the attention it deserves.

During the race, King Kong looks to make an appearance, perched atop his own Empire State Building with biplanes circling overhead.

In the “we need to let the audience know what a big deal this is” section of the trailer, we see a newspaper that references “Oasis Coin,” a clear reference to Bitcoin.

As we get our first good look at Parzival’s competitor/love interest, Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), we’re treated to a cameo appearance by Commander Shepard from “Mass Effect” and Blanka from “Street Fighter” (nope, we’re not done with those yet).

Heck, there’s too much going on in this shot for just one slide: on the other side of the screen, a bartender wearing a Devo hat is seen to be taking an order from Lara Croft (we’re not done with her yet, either).

Fans were quick to notice Harley Quinn in the Comic-Con trailer, and now we’ve gotten a look at this rather dapper version of her beau, the Clown Prince of Crime.

One of the classic vintage relics of the era that “RP1” cherishes, the boombox also calls to mind a certain movie…

Here’s Parzival, pulling a full John Cusack from “Say Anything…” as DC supervillain Deadshot and Sagat from “Street Fighter” help lead the charge into the final battle between Oasis users and the sinister IOI corporation.

As part of the final battle, we can make out the early 1990s video game characters Battletoads, as well as a flying ostrich from the arcade game “Joust.”

This battle is going to be massive.  In this one shot, we can make out Tracer from “Overwatch,” Chun-Li from “Street Fighter,” FemShep from “Mass Effect” and Lara Croft.

No, you were not imagining things. You really did see 1980s horror villain Chucky pulling a full-on, CGI Yoda and kicking some serious butt in the process.

One of the most popular franchises in Japan, “Gundam” plays a pivotal role in Cline’s book, and we’re happy to see that Spielberg kept the giant hero robot.

Arguably the biggest shocker from the Comic-Con trailer was the inclusion of Iron Giant.  Nobody saw him coming. Spielberg was quick to point out that the robot was not just to make fans feel good, but he would be an important part of the story. Here he is now, diving headlong into the final battle.

Just when you think you’ve had all you can handle, Spielberg and company throw you one last treat: the instantly recognizable musical twinkle from “Back to the Future.”  March 30 can not come soon enough.

‘This Is Us’ Creator Dan Fogelman’s ‘Life, Itself’ Heads to Amazon in $10 Million Deal

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Amazon Studios has acquired the U.S. rights to Dan Fogelman’s upcoming feature “Life, Itself” for a whopping $10 million, an individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.

The completed film is directed and written by the “This Is Us” creator, and stars Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening and Olivia Cooke.

The film weaves together the stories of multiple characters who interact with one another stretching from New York to the Spanish countryside.

Also Read: ‘This Is Us’ Creator Dan Fogelman Pens Open Letter to NY Giants Fans’ ‘Beautiful Boy’ Eli Manning

“Life, Itself” was produced by Temple Hill’s Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey as well as FilmNation Entertainment’s Aaron Ryder and Fogelman.

Fogelman’s most recent credits include serving as the writer and creator of NBC’s “This Is Us,” as well as being a producer on “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” in which Cooke starred as well.

His screenplay credits also include “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” “Last Vegas” and “Tangled.”

Also Read: ‘This Is Us’ Star Chris Sullivan on ‘Difficult’ Path for Kate and Toby, Fall Finale’s ‘Cliffhanger’

He previously directed the Al Pacino-Annette Bening dramedy “Danny Collins.”

Fogelman is represented by WME and Management 360. Representatives for Fogelman have not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.

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Ratings: ‘This Is Us’ Grows With Drama, Drama, Drama-Filled Fall Finale

‘This Is Us’ Stuns Fans With ‘Devastating’ Last-Second Twist

‘This Is Us’ Producers Reveal Why Kate’s Pregnancy Will Be ‘Tough’

‘Thoroughbreds’ Trailer: Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy & Anton Yelchin Find A Murderous Solution In YA Drama

Read on: Deadline.

“The only thing worse than being incompotent, or being unkind, or being evil, is being indecisive,” according to Focus Features’ newly released trailer for Thoroughbreds, which will hit select theaters March 9. The drama, which Focus picked up at Sundance, stars Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Paul Sparks, and Anton Yelchin in what marks one of the final performances from the late actor.
Written and directed by Cory Finley, the pic follows two teenage girls, Lily and…

‘Vanity Fair’: Suranne Jones, Michael Palin Join Olivia Cooke In ITV/Amazon Drama

Read on: Deadline.

Shooting has begun on ITV and Amazon Studios‘ new adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s classic 1848 novel Vanity Fair. The seven-part drama stars Olivia Cooke as Becky Sharp and Tom Bateman (Murder On The Orient Express) as Captain Rawdon Crawley. Doctor Foster‘s Suranne Jones has now boarded as Miss Pinkerton with Michael Palin set to play Thackeray himself. ITV Studios’ Mammoth Screen (Poldark, Victoria) is producing. Check out a first-look image of Cooke and…