Category Archives:Movie News

Of all the Disney+ original content that has been announced since the platform launched, Godmothered is one of the more intriguing projects. And now that the studio has announced who will be starring in the feature, it’s only gotten more interesting.

Godmothered tells the story of a lackluster fairy godmother who’s determined to prove that she’s capable of more. She seeks out a young girl whose wish was once ignored, only to find out that she’s now an adult — more specifically, she’s a single working mother in need of some big magic in her life.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Jillian Bell (Eastbound & Down, 22 Jump Street) has signed on to play the godmother, and Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers, Inherent Vice) will play the woman she tries to help. Both actresses are known for their comedic talents, but have also proven to have a huge range — so it’s hard to tell exactly what tone the film will strike.

Godmothered’s premise is promising. While the idea of bringing childhood fairytales into adult lives isn’t new, it sounds like it has the potential to be a great blend of fantasy and reality. Tackling issues, like balancing parenthood and work, is a great approach for pulling in a generation of young women who grew up on Disney’s fairytale classics. And the details we’ve gotten about Godmothered — that it’s “gothic, mystical, magical world of fairy godmothers in a parallel universe” — make it sound all the more exciting. Plus, a live action film with new characters will be a nice change of pace from Disney’s current trend of adapting their animated classics.

There is no official release date for Godmothered yet. But in addition to the classic Disney titles available to stream, there is plenty to keep Disney+ subscribers busy in the meantime. The streaming platform has so much original content planned for the future that it’s hard to imagine how we’ll find time to watch it all. Of course, much of the series and films scheduled are extensions of Disney’s biggest franchises, including a Rogue One prequel and upcoming MCU series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, WandaVision, and Loki. The streamer has also brought back fan favorite stories, like High School Musical, in a series about kids performing a production of High School Musical. (So meta.)

So far, we haven’t had much of a glimpse of what the streaming platform is capable of offering, though what we have seen has been impressive. And it may seem like Godmothered could struggle to gain footing in an already crowded line-up. But given that its premise and tone sound quite different from the rest of the Disney+ offerings, the movie could end up being one of streamer’s standout features.

Why Gemini Man’s Junior Had To Be A CGI Character, According To Ang Lee

A common misconception that people seem to be pushing when it comes to director Ang Lee’s latest technical marvel Gemini Man is that the character of Junior is merely a second, de-aged version of Will Smith acting against his present day self. The truth is, the only way that Junior’s character could convincingly be shown in a film that’s meant to be seen in High Frame Rate 3D is if he was a total CGI creation.

There are a couple big reasons behind that necessity, but Lee’s greatest caveat was that in such an advanced film, it’s the only way the effect would have looked believable to the audience. I was in attendance on behalf of CinemaBlend for a roundtable with Ang Lee to talk about Gemini Man and its new methods of pushing the visual envelope that Lee loves to poke and prod at any chance he gets. In that discussion, he explained why Junior had to be a CG character in the following, and greater detailed, answer:

As Ang Lee filmed Gemini Man with a camera rig that not only captured the film at 120 frames per second 4K resolution, but also in a native 3D format, there was a level of bar raising on what the film was going to show its audience. With the increased lighting that is required for the High Frame Rate 3D experience, makeup shows on the screen much easier than it does under traditional lighting.

Instead of traditional methods that merely rely on hairstyling and really good makeup effects to do the heavy lifting, Lee and his team had to craft an entirely digital version of Will Smith that could be dropped into Gemini Man without the audience questioning the effect. Put that together with both a younger physical reference actor and Smith himself providing the performances that would be married together into Junior’s finished product, and you have a particularly impressive effect.

But past the technical pitfalls that required Junior’s completely CGI appearance, there was also another level to Ang Lee’s methodology that led him to believe that the younger clone of Smith’s Henry Brogan needed to be a cutting edge digital illusion. Once again, the subject turned to the aging process, as Lee continued:

Rather than take Will Smith’s face and digitally construct a sort of de-aging mask, much like a handful of Marvel Studios films like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 have done, the whole cloth creation of Gemini Man’s Junior was meant to truly resurrect a younger Will Smith.

Even in terms of Smith’s performance, Lee coached him to act more like his younger self. Combining those acting skills with reference materials from Six Degrees of Separation and Bad Boys-era Will Smith looks, Junior became more than just a composite current era Smith and his old school looks. It’s basically the next step in bringing virtual performers to living, breathing life; and with Ang Lee sworn to providing digital characters driven by real physical performances, the future of this sort of effort looks rather bright.

De-aging technology has certainly pushed special effects methods lightyears ahead of how flashbacks and clone stories like Gemini Man have been told in the past. Now, with Ang Lee’s CGI character work, combined with Will Smith’s physical performance, another big step has been taken in the name of believable spectacle. We’ll see if audiences buy into this next big thing when Gemini Man pits Will Smith against Will Smith this Friday.

Please note that if you’re looking to see the film in the High Frame Rate 3D format, it’s only available in select locations. So check your listings carefully before you head out, no matter what your preference may be.

Godzilla: King Of The Monsters Hid Another Iconic Monster

In the world of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the Titans that roamed the earth were quite bountiful, and had both traditional and modern origins that helped flesh out the landscape of the MonsterVerse’s bestiary. But, of course, with the rights issues being what they are on some classic Toho Godzilla creatures, director Michael Dougherty got crafty when it came to including one of Godzilla’s deep cut characters: Anguirus.

Right now, you’re probably scratching your head as to where Godzilla: King of the Monsters hid this massive friend to the recently crowned Alpha of all Titans. Well, we can tell you exactly where that is, as a seemingly innocuous special feature on the film’s home video release has confirmed that Anguirus is present as a gigantic skeletal remnant amidst all the other wreckage of the underwater city Godzilla uses as a crash pad.

It’s a sort of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it easter egg that occurs, sadly, around the same time Ken Watanabe’s Dr. Serizawa explodes a nuclear bomb as a sort of Five Hour Energy Drink for Godzilla. He kind of needed that pick-me-up after the military launched an oxygen-destroying missile in an attempt to kill King Ghidorah, which went horribly awry and left Godzilla on death’s door.

This isn’t the first we’ve heard about Anguirius being in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, as Michael Doughterty previously mentioned that the Titan may or may not have been hidden in the film during one of his generous info dumps on Twitter. In particular, he stated the presence of this beast in the following capacity:

Again, the rights issues being what they are between Toho and Warner Bros, there may not have been clearance to use Anguirus as a full-fledged Titan in Godzilla: King of the Monsters. First appearing in 1955’s Godzilla Raids Again, the monster has seen itself play both hero and villain to Godzilla’s presence throughout the classic eras of Toho Godzilla movies. And while it may not be able to jump into the fray just yet, the possibility of Michael Doughterty using him as just an easter egg is enough to lay the framework for a potential appearance down the line.

Whether it be a hero or a villain, a version of Anguirus might be lurking somewhere in the world of the MonsterVerse. All it’ll take is the right writing and some legal clearances to bring it back into the spotlight, ready to take on the new Alpha Titan on its own terms.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is currently on Digital HD, as well as 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD. Meanwhile, Godzilla vs. Kong is still set to touch gloves in theaters on March 13, 2020. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more updates concerning the MonsterVerse.

The Little Mermaid Remake Has Found Its Sebastian The Crab

This update comes from Variety, which reports that Daveed Diggs is in talks to play Sebastian in this new version of The Little Mermaid. This is the first piece of casting news to come out concerning Sebastian in this remake, and while it remains to be seen if Diggs will take the role, it was to be expected the crab would be included in the story.

Daveed Diggs rose to stardom for his dual turn as Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette in the hit musical Hamilton, and you can be sure that his extensive musical background will come in handy when belting out Sebastian’s tunes in The Little Mermaid. Diggs’ movie and TV appearances include Zootpoia, Wonder, Blindspotting, Velvet Buzzsaw, Black-ish and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. He’s also set to star as Layton Well in TNT’s upcoming Snowpiercer series.

Since all signs so far point to The Little Mermaid being a straightforward remake of the original rather than take major creative liberties akin to something like Maleficent or Mulan, we can presumably count on this new Sebastian, whether he’s played by Daveed Diggs or someone else, serving as King Triton’s adviser and court composer like his animated predecessor. Whether he’ll be Jamaican is another matter.

Thus far, the only actor Disney has officially announced for The Little Mermaid is Grown-ish’s Halle Bailey, who will play Ariel. However, per the various reports that have come out, we’ve learned that Jacob Tremblay and Awkwafina have been cast to play Flounder and Scuttle, respectively. Variety’s report also stated that Melissa McCarthy and Javier Bardem are definitely on board to play Ursula and King Triton, respectively.

Behind the camera, Mary Poppins Returns’ Rob Marshall is directing based off a script written by David Magee, who also penned the Mary Poppins sequel. The Little Mermaid doesn’t have an assigned release date yet, but production is scheduled to begin early next year.

Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more news on how The Little Mermaid is coming along, but now, you can keep track of what’s heading to movie theaters for the rest of the year with our 2019 release schedule.

Is Anyone Else Kinda Bummed Spider-Man Is Back With The MCU?

Spider-Man: Far From Home Peter crying on the jet

Having Sony and Marvel reunite over the future of Spider-Man movies was, to most, a blessed event. With Tom Holland’s Peter Parker guaranteed for more Marvel Cinematic Universe adventures, as well as his own franchise getting a threequel to continue his solo outings, it felt like the job was done and all was right with the world. And yet, I can’t help but be bummed out about it all.

I mean sure, bringing Spider-Man back into the MCU is something that’ll be exciting to see continue, as it’s worked rather well so far. But with Sony temporarily regaining complete control over Spider-Man, my imagination ran wild with the possibilities. Now, with those dreams dashed for the time being, I’m going to share with you just why Spider-Man returning to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a bittersweet, double-edged sword.

Venom Woody Harrelson smiling as Cletus Kasady

Sony’s Spider-Man Could Have Gotten Weirder Than Ever

In the run up to the eventual reconciliation between Sony’s Spider-Verse and Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, there were so many possibilities that were bandied about in regards to where the future Spider-Man films would go. Potential crossovers with Venom and Morbius, as well as the recently announced Madame Web spinoff, had the potential to head into the really weird, interconnected world that their properties have shared in the comics.

But with a reunited Marvel/Sony partnership, those crossovers might be more sedate affairs involving an evil symbiote, a vampire and a clairvoyant crime fighter. Which, to be honest, is still better than nothing. Though seeing a Spider-Man movie with Tom Holland in the role, and outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s carefully tended garden, is something that was an exciting silver lining.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Spider-Gwen Miles and Peter standing on a building

A Sequel To Into The Spider-Verse Could Be Impacted

As producer/former Sony chair Amy Pascal teased to the world that there was definitely work being done on a Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse sequel, there still hasn’t been a total confirmation or announcement of the potential production start/release date. While it doesn’t feel like a project that would be affected by the Sony/Disney live-action deal, there’s a possibility that whatever this new agreement stipulates could play a role in that film’s production.

Namely, Disney and Marvel won’t want a competing film that could not only see Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse’s cast of characters facing off against the MCU proper, but might also make a ton of money by its mere existence. Much like the live-action films, Disney may also want a say in what Spider-Verse’s sequel and characters can or cannot do under this new agreement, which may stall any ongoing development.

Spider-Man: Far From Home Peter and Quentin shake hands in costume

Building The Sony Spider-Verse Would Be Amazing Competition For The MCU

This is a good time to reiterate that by no means is the Sony/Marvel reunion a bad idea. It’s fantastic that Peter Parker can still continue to be an awesome ally to The Avengers, and seeing him potentially riff with characters like Doctor Strange and Black Panther’s Shuri is something that would be neat to watch unfold on the big screen. And yet, if Spider-Man was forced to compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that might have resulted in bigger and better films.

Spider-Man could have been forced to use the Sinister Six card, finally making Peter Parker’s worst nightmares come true, which in turn could have led Marvel to play the Illuminati card, drawing in the Fantastic Four and X-Men into the MCU once and for all. Now that everyone is in line once again, and everyone’s on the same page, all parties can afford to wait until they feel like using those concepts.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Spider-Gwen unhooded, with a look of question

Spinoffs Like Spider-Gwen Feel Further Off In An MCU Partnership

In another case of the animated world moving faster than the live-action universe, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse’s public acceptance led Sony to announce work being done on a sequel to that film, as well as an “untitled Spider-centric project.” As there are any number of characters, from Spider-Gwen to Spider-Man 2099, who could be used for that film’s inspiration, these sorts of plans could be pushed to the side depending on the roadmap/conditions that Disney and Sony have agreed upon.

What if Marvel Studios wants Spider-Gwen to be a live-action spinoff rather than an animated ass kicker? Could Sony see itself on the receiving end of a deal similar to the one that saw Hulu’s Ghost Rider series get its plug pulled, presumably for some planned Marvel Cinematic Universe action? Those are questions worth asking in light of an agreement that could have seen both studios shrewdly negotiating, with everything and anything on the table.

Spider-Man: Far From Home J. Jonah Jameson points at the audience

We’re Probably Going To Go Through This Spider-Man Drama Again In The Future

Everything mentioned above leads to the ultimate bummer that looks to rear its head yet again at some point in the near future. We’ve already seen Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures stall, balk and eventually pull what could have been an act of corporate theater in order to trigger a renegotiation for Spider-Man’s fate. So what’s to say it won’t happen again?

What if, ultimately, Sony and Marvel potentially get into a bigger, more prolonged war that sees the two parties not seeing spider-eye to spider-eye? It’s a scary thought, but with the success of Spider-Man: Far From Home only promising a bigger return for its 2021 slated sequel, another split would mean higher stakes, and possibly greater tactics to keep this Spider-Family together.

Tom Holland was apparently a key figure in being able to make things work out between Sony and Disney, but he can only do so much. There’s a chance that whatever potential fight awaits down the road, it could be too much for Holland alone to fight.

Spider-Man: Far From Home is currently on 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD, as well as Digital HD. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more updates on the Web-Slinger’s big screen future, and don’t forget to look through our comprehensive guide on what else is coming down the MCU pipeline. You can also keep track of what movies are still to come this year in our 2019 release schedule.

Am I The Only One Bummed About Spider-Man’s Reunion With The MCU?

Blended From Around The Web


Who Decided Hocus Pocus Was A Great Movie?

Sanderson Sisters in Hocus Pocus

Ah, Halloween time! When you think about it, All Hallows’ Eve really is the perfect holiday for movie fans, usually through paying homage to our favorites through pumpkin carvings, decorations, homemade costumes or movie marathons. But, I just have to ask: who crowned Hocus Pocus the on-repeat Pumpkin King of the holiday? Slow the urge to throw your PSLs or cast your witchcraft my way. Try and pry the nostalgia glasses off for a moment. I come from a place of treats, no tricks. I mean no offense to your childhood, only to reflect and encourage a more tasteful future.

I’ll pause. Take it in. Plenty of Halloween fans exist who happily celebrate the season without a traditional viewing of Hocus Pocus. But at this rate, it’s almost impossible to make it through October without hearing Sarah Jessica Parker yell “Amuck” on a television screen in the distance. The Sanderson Sisters really put a spell on a generation. Disney-owned channel Freeform has vowed to play the film 30 times this October. If you were so compelled, you could watch it just about every day this month.

Quick disclaimer: I’m a kid of the ‘90s. So Hocus Pocus was specifically made for me in mind to remember fondly and revisit year after year. I watched it as a kid, probably a bunch of times too. I just don’t think it’s very good. It didn’t stick with me… until I revisited it at a Halloween party last year and again shortly before writing this. Now let’s dig into it:

Thora Birch in Hocus Pocus

The Magic Of Nostalgia Overpowers Hocus Pocus

First, a little background. Hocus Pocus hit theaters back in July 1993. Yes, July. Marketing the Halloween cult classic as a summer movie the same year Jurassic Park made a box office splash certainly contributes to the film’s initial No. 4 rank and $39 million total earnings. Hocus Pocus (which cost $28 million to produce) also suffered harsh critical reception, with an overall 33 percent Rotten Tomatoes score. So to begin, Hocus Pocus wasn’t a big hit. But its prominence would come later.

It wasn’t until 2012 when Hocus Pocus really started to crack the top 10 of October sales, and it has since maintained the trend every year. Without fail, the movie has already done it again, currently and traditionally way ahead of The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s the clear Halloween favorite. The resurgence of the film seems rooted in a generation’s rediscovery of the movie 20 years later. Taking a trip down memory lane of our childhood is sometimes what a holiday like Halloween is all about. So Hocus Pocus is the perfect sugar fix for twenty or thirty-somethings, but that doesn’t mean it’s good.

Sanderson Sisters in Hocus Pocus

Halloween-Themed? Yes. But That’s Literally It.

After revisiting Hocus Pocus, I imagine much of the views Freeform racks up don’t equal active viewings of the movie. It’s the perfect screensaver to have in the background to get people in the Halloween spirit! Hocus Pocus is very high energy and is filled with the aesthetic of the holiday. Witches, various-aged children in costumes nearby candy and the perfect fall-esque location of Salem, Massachusetts! There’s a black cat in it, a singular zombie (played by Doug Jones) and ghosts show up. It checks all the boxes!

But if you were to place Hocus Pocus in a genre, it’d be “Halloween.” It’s not successful at being anything other than this. It doesn’t have an emotional core to check the boxes of family movie and it’s not nearly scary or creepy enough to fall into horror. Hocus Pocus also doesn’t really explore the lore of Halloween enough to be a good classic it’s amped up to be among audiences. Anyone else want to know more about the witches? It ends up feeling like a missed opportunity that could have been better than it actually is.

kids of Hocus Pocus

The Questionable Messages In Hocus Pocus

To expand on the previous point, the Sanderson Sisters could have been incredibly interesting witch characters. What we get is bumbling “Three Stooges” types that are playing for cheap laughs the entire movie. When they aren’t showing off their exaggerated “ugly” features, they are playing dumb or singing about taking children off to their “garden of magic” and such. There’s no motivation at all for us to get behind the three leads of the movie. Yes, they are the villains, but Hocus Pocus doesn’t even try to make them interesting enough to fear or understand them.

Another problematically massive pumpkin in the room when revisiting Hocus Pocus is how obsessed with “virginity” it is. The entire plot leans on how a virgin must light the black candle and save the day and it turns out 15-year-old Max Dennison is the one who’ll do it. The character is subject to a number of lines that shame his virginity, too. Did I mention he is 15? It perpetuates the idea of manlihood being valid after one has sexual experiences, and constantly pokes fun and highlights virginity on young people throughout its runtime. For no real reason!

That being said, I’m quite aware that there are tons of family films with questionable themes. Continue loving Hocus Pocus! Continue your Halloween traditions! The Disney film is a fine movie, in my opinion, that is still watchable and understandably at cult-classic status. But can we agree it’s a bit overrated? Overplayed? A lot more vanilla than pumpkin spice than you remember?

What makes a movie a Halloween classic? Hocus Pocus has Halloween vibes all the way checked and in a child’s eye in may also hit the scary mark too. It wins big on the nostaglia element that does come up around Halloween. The holiday often has us thinking back to our childhood costumes and candy stashes. Considering these elements, Hocus Pocus wins. It’s also a lot less niche than A Nightmare Before Christmas or slasher films like Halloween are. By default, it has become the Halloween for everybody movie.

Okay, the rant is over. Hocus Pocus re-runs will continue – but I’m curious what are your thoughts? Leave a thoughtful comment below!

What’s your opinion on Hocus Pocus?

Blended From Around The Web


How Angelina Jolie Pushed To Develop Maleficent And Diaval’s Relationship In The Sequel

In the original Maleficent, one of the relationships that seemed to catch fans by surprise is that of Angelina Jolie’s tragically misunderstood villain-turned-anti-hero and her shapeshifting raven, Diaval, played by Sam Riley. Apparently that fact really struck a chord with Jolie, as Riley mentioned that with it came time to make Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, his iconic co-star pushed for their relationship to take on a new level of understanding.

In a recent interview, Sam Riley mentioned how this was not only a good move for the Maleficent story, but also how their relationship plays in the sequel, as follows:

Traditionally known as Diablo the Raven, the character of Diaval’s transformation in Maleficent allowed the role to not only take advantage of Riley’s talents as an actor, but also provided Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent with a more effective sounding board/agent of chaos. From what it sounds like, that change worked so well that Maleficent: Mistress of Evil will allow the pair to be even more effective in their battle against Michelle Pfieffer’s Queen Ingrith and her war against Maleficent.

While the phrase “old married couple” does invoke quite a bit of dramatic baggage between Maleficent and Diaval, Sam Riley’s interview with TooFab certainly showed him as being unafraid that their chemistry would lead to any lasting consequences in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. If anything, Riley sounds like he thinks it’ll only make things better for the sorceress previously labeled as evil and her companion previously limited to being a raven. He continues to muse on this fact below:

As Maleficent: Mistress of Evil has already started to screen, the response has been quite fantastic in the limited context the film has been spoken about.

The Lion King Will Pass Jurassic World For A Major Box Office Milestone

The ‘live action’ (not really) remake of the Lion King may have been met with mixed reception during its time in theaters this past summer, but as was anticipated beforehand, it performed tremendously at the box office. So much so that The Lion King is on track to take Jurassic World’s spot on the list of highest-grossing movies of all time.

As things stand right now, Jurassic World stands ranks #6 on this list, taking in $1.671 billion worldwide during its 2015 theatrical run, The Lion King is trailing behind at #7, but as of this writing, per Box Office Mojo, it has collected $1.646 billion. So it’s only a matter of time before Jurassic World is knocked down to seventh place and The Lion King takes the #6 spot. It’s also the only remake that’s part of the Top 10 and the only fully Disney movie, as opposed to coming from a Disney-owned company like Marvel or Lucasfilm.

When exactly that will happen is hard to say. The Lion King opened in theaters in the middle of July, so its theatrical run is almost over. And if The Lion King were only playing in U.S. theaters, then it’s be reasonable to doubt if it could haul in more than $25 million. But when taking into account all the theaters that are still showing it across the globe, then it’s easy enough to envision.

That said, it’s unlikely that The Lion King will go on to become the fifth highest-grossing movie of all time, as that rank belongs to Avengers: Infinity War with its $2.048 billion haul. It’s okay though, The Lion King has plenty of other records to brag about, including overtaking Frozen as the highest-grossing animated film of all time and being the second highest-grossing movie of 2019, trailing behind Avengers: Endgame, a fellow Disney release.

Of course, let’s not discount that the Jurassic Park/World franchise could gain a better standing among the all-time highest grossing movies. While Jurassic World had its time to shine, 2021 will see the release of Jurassic World 3. Granted, last year’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom didn’t fare as well as its predecessor, currently ranking at #14 with $1.308 billion, maybe Jurassic World 3 will fare better, especially since original Jurassic Park stars Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum will be back, which might help with putting more butts in seats.

Rather than heavily deviate from the original animated movie, akin to Maleficent and the upcoming Mulan, The Lion King was a relatively straightforward remake of the 1994 hit, though that’s part of the reason why it took a beating critically. Its main cast included Donald Glover, Beyonce, James Earl Jones, Chitwetel Ejiofor, Billy Eichner, Seth Rogen, John Oliver, Alfre Woodard, John Kani, Florence Kasumba, Keegan-Michael Key and Eric Andre.

For those unable to catch The Lion King during its final days in theaters, it will drop on Digital HD on October 11, and the Blu-ray and DVD copies will follow on October 22. It will also be one of the first films to be available on Disney+ when the streaming service launches next month.

Joe Pesci Had To Be Coaxed Into Returning To Acting For The Irishman

Although Joe Pesci has left his mark on the Hollywood landscape through movies like Raging Bull, Goodfellas and three Lethal Weapon installments, ever since the actor announced his retirement in 1999, he’s only appeared sporadically on the big screen. But this fall marks his biggest emergence from retirement yet, as he reunited with Robert de Niro and director Martin Scorsese for Netflix’s The Irishman, though it took some coaxing to bring him aboard.

Actress Kathrine Narducci, who plays Carrie Bufalino in The Irishman, recently recalled Joe Pesci telling her how persistent Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese were in convincing Pesci to participate in the project. In Narducci’s words:

Kathrine Narducci, who’s no stranger to mob stories through such work as A Bronx Tale and The Sopranos, was asked by Fox News if Joe Pesci talked to her about why he agreed to appearing in The Irishman, resulting in her recalling the above, blunt explanation. I guess we should be glad that Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro and everyone else involved kept bugging Pesci over the phone, otherwise they would’ve had to find someone else to fill his role.

Joe Pesci hasn’t collaborated with Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro since 1995’s Casino, which also starred Sharon Stone and earned various accolades. The fact that we’re getting the three of them together again after more than two decades is a big deal, and if this is going to be the last time they all work together professionally, fingers crossed The Irishman is as excellent as the early reviews claim it is.

In between his retirement announcement and now, Joe Pesci’s most prominent appearance was cameoing in 2006’s The Good Shepherd, which Robert De Niro directed and starred in. Pesci also appeared in 2010’s Love Ranch and provided his voice for 2015’s A Warrior’s Tail.

Joe Pesci appears in The Irishman as Russell Bufalino, the husband of Kathrine Narducci’s Carrie and who Robert De Niro’s Frank “The Irishman” Sheehan works for. This Netflix release (which was originally going to be distributed by Paramount Pictures) will chronicle Sheeran’s journey as a World War II veteran who becomes a hitman for the mob, with particular attention being focused on his involvement in the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, played by Al Pacino.

The Irishman held its world premiere at the New York Film Festival late last month and will have a limited theatrical release starting November 1, although it will not play at any theaters owned by AMC, Cinemark, Regal or Cineplex. It will then drop on Netflix November 27.

You can keep track of when the rest of this year’s big screen releases will arrive with our handy schedule.

Joker’s Ambiguity: 4 Questions We Have After Seeing The New DC Movie

Joker dances on the stairs

SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Joker. If you have not yet seen the film, continue at your own risk!

As long as the character has existed, The Joker has come part and parcel with a certain degree of ambiguity. He’s long been maintained as a villain with a mysterious past in DC Comics, with even the most agreed-upon origin story, Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s “Batman: The Killing Joke,” famously including the line, “If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!”

It’s an interesting thing to consider when reflecting on Todd Phillips’ new Joker movie, but what certainly keeps it within the classic tradition of the Clown Prince Of Crime in that it works hard to create a hazy cloud of question marks that don’t dissipate by the time the story has concluded. There are some big swings taken in terms of ideas that are presented, and the film purposefully aims to have you talking about them as you leave the theater.

Specifically, there are four developments in the movie that leave us scratching our heads, and we’re using this space to talk them out:

Arthur watches Thomas Wayne on TV in Joker

Is Arthur’s dad really Thomas Wayne?

Let’s start with the big one, shall we? One of the most surprising and important plot developments in Joker is the revelation that Arthur Fleck may or may not be the illegitimate son of Thomas Wayne. His mother, Penny Fleck, used to work at the Wayne Manor, and – as revealed in letters that Penny regularly sends to her former employer – she firmly believes that her child was born as a result of an affair she had with the Gotham billionaire.

However, by the end of the movie we are purposefully left wondering whether or not Thomas Wayne is really Arthur Fleck’s father. As far as the ages of the characters go, the timeline works, and Penny certainly seems to be without any doubt – but official documentation tells a different story. Not only are there forms that say that Arthur was adopted, but Penny’s credibility is questionable due to the fact that she was previously diagnosed with delusional psychosis and spent time in mandated institutional care.

Of course, we can’t just be blinded by “official” documents, particularly because of the significant influence Thomas Wayne has in Gotham City. He certainly wouldn’t be the first billionaire in history (fictional or otherwise) to try and cover up a scandal by declaring his accuser mentally incompetent. It certainly wouldn’t have been hard for him to have Penny committed to Arkham State Hospital, and then drugged to the point of brain deterioration. It’s really your basic conspiracy theory, particularly made plausible by the photograph of Penny with the affectionate note on the back: “Love your smile – TW.”

The parentage question is one kept open-ended by Joker, and even the main character seems ambivalent about it towards the end (hence the burning of aforementioned photograph), but it will surely be a topic of conversation among DC fans for years and years to come.

Sophie and Arthur kiss in Joker

What happens to Sophie?

There really isn’t any part of Joker that is meant to make you feel overly comfortable with the relationship between Arthur and Sophie – the young single mother who lives down the hall from him in his dilapidated apartment building. Their first meeting in the elevator is awkward bordering on disturbing, as Arthur’s mock suicide-by-gunshot isn’t quite as funny and cute as Sophie’s when complaining about their living conditions, and their relationship progresses extremely quickly despite the fact that his perceived “courtship” is actually quite creepy.

Because of this, it makes all the sense in the world late in the film when it’s revealed that everything about their relationship is part of a delusion. They didn’t hook up after he killed those businessmen; she never went to see his comedy; they never went on any dates; and she wasn’t there with him in the hospital following his mother’s stroke. It all comes crashing down when Arthur breaks into Sophie’s apartment after his trip to Arkham, and the budding psychopathic serial killer is greeted with fear instead of love.

But what happens after that? The scene has Sophie work hard to keep the situation calm, asking if Arthur knows that he is in the wrong apartment, and Arthur bemoans the bad day he’s had before bringing back the mimed suicide “gag” – but as he leaves there is ambiguity created in regards to whether his departure is peaceful or violent. Sophie doesn’t appear in the rest of the film, and the audience is left not knowing if she is alive or dead.

Again, there’s an argument to be made for both potential answers. On one hand, Arthur doesn’t really have any specific reason to kill her, and is shown later in the movie to demonstrate a degree of mercy to those who are kind to him (like his former colleague Gary, for example). At the same time, though, this is a character who is entirely unpredictable, so it’s a foolish endeavor to take any possibility off the table – particularly because the encounter occurs when he happens to be extremely emotionally vulnerable.

Perhaps Zazie Beetz will eventually shed some light on the matter, and how she perceives the fate of Sophie in Joker.

Arthur in the hospital elevator in Joker

Did Arthur ever actually leave the hospital?

A big part of what contributes to the atmosphere of uncertainty in Joker is the fact that its titular character is what one could call a tremendously unreliable narrator – which is to say that it is his perspective that is driving the plot of the movie, but we as an audience can’t always trust exactly what is being presented. The way things unfold with Sophie, and how we don’t fully understand the reality of the situation until Arthur himself understands it, is a perfect example.

The truth, though, is that the movie goes much deeper with this than just micro examples like that. Examining the film from a macro perspective, it’s not entirely clear whether or not any of the events that are depicted actually happen, or if they are all just bits of creativity from the imagination of Arthur Fleck, who has spent years locked away in Arkham State Hospital.

This idea is something you probably don’t fully recognize until you see Joker a second or third time, because it’s particular details that lend credence to this idea. For example, you’ll notice early in the movie that the clock in Arthur’s social worker’s office is set to 11:11, which also strangely is the exact time that can be read on the wall during the “flashback” when the mentally disturbed man is shown smashing his head against a door while institutionalized. Perhaps a suggestion that the two events are concurrent, and that the “flashback” is actually a peek into reality?

Going from the beginning to the end of Joker, it’s also noteworthy that the film concludes with Arthur back in therapy and surrounded by white walls – laughing at a joke inside his head “you wouldn’t get.” Is the joke the idea that anybody could pin down a specific origin story for the legendary chaotic character? It’s a thought that the blockbuster doesn’t outright dismiss.

Joker puts on a clown mask in the subway

Is Arthur Fleck “The” Joker?

One question that has persisted around Joker long before its release is about the story fitting and co-existing with what we all recognize as the traditional Batman narrative – which is to say having young Bruce Wayne watch his parents get murdered in an alley and grow up to fight crime (and The Joker) as a costumed vigilante. Over the last few months, many have pointed out the odd math that the film introduces, namely that Joaquin Phoenix is 35 years older than Dante Pereira-Olson (who plays Bruce Wayne), and fans have wondered if it would be something that the movie would directly address.

And in a way, it does. There is no questioning that Arthur Fleck goes through a transformative experience, and part of that transformation is wearing clown makeup and committing to a murderous lifestyle – but he’s noticeably not the only one who makes that kind of a leap. Thanks to Arthur’s subway killings, and the rhetoric used by Thomas Wayne, there are many Gothamites who use clown disguises to take part in anti-social behavior, and it very much inspires a wave of class warfare. As he becomes Joker, Arthur is held up as a leader of the movement, particularly after the televised murder of Murray Franklin, but one could imagine that while he becomes a figurehead, he’s not necessarily the one and only who, years in the future, will go up against Batman.

If Dante Pereira-Olson’s Bruce Wayne is 25 when he returns to Gotham after years training abroad, that will mean that Arthur is 60 – and while Joker has never been depicted as much of a match for Batman physically, there is an angle where that showdown has a touch of “beating up an old man.” As an alternative, perhaps this universe is more in-line with the one created by Tim Burton in 1989, and it will actually be the man who is shown killing Thomas and Martha Wayne who becomes the Dark Knight’s most famous foe.

In the case of this particular question, the answer is a bit more ambiguous because it is not really an issue that Joker is ultimately concerned with. This is notably a Joker movie and NOT a Batman and Joker movie, so what could potentially happen in the future with that relationship isn’t the most important thing being kept in consideration.

Where do you stand on any of these questions? Do you think that the evidence presented points more in one direction or another for any of them? How do you feel about the maintained ambiguity throughout the entire film? We want all of your Joker thoughts, feelings, and opinions in the comments section below, and then head back to the theater, see it again, and tell us if you noticed anything different during your second viewing.

Blended From Around The Web