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Hello and welcome to the movie blog of author John DeFrank - FilmZ and Guy Sobriquet Malone - Researcher

The Old Guard


The Old Guard -- a Review by Guy S. Malone, Researcher

First, let's take it as gospel that when Charlize Theron is in a movie, it's usually worth watching (Aeon Flux notwithstanding).  Not to give our assessment away up front, but just so you know.

Her new Netflix sci-fi superhero flick is directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love and Basketball and Beyond the Lights), the first Black woman to direct a big-budget film, and she proves herself a force for the future. She has fun source material to work with: Greg Rucka's graphic novel series that he is adapting for the screen.  His story is rich in mythology but firmly rooted in today's realities of predatory capitalism and man's inhumanity to man.  Which sets up our vicarious identification with a small band of immortal warriors that rights society's wrongs.

"The Old Guard" is a covert band of immortal warriors.  They owe allegiance to nothing but their own moral rectitude, They are mercenaries who pick and choose where and when to fight good fights.  Andy (Theron), the oldest and leader of the Guard, has tried to be secretive, but her feats have become legendary.  Her closest friend on the team is Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), the youngest but most intelligent--and most troubled--of the immortals.  Rounding out the crew are ancient compatriots and lovers Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli).  Andy feels an obsessive protectiveness of her crew since she lost her oldest ally, Quynh (Van Veronica Ngo) centuries ago, a burden she has carried ever since.  But that is just part of Andy's existential and moral baggage.

The plot engine begins to roll when a CIA operative named Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) hires them for a black-ops mission that goes awry.  Around the same time, another immortal is discovered: Nile (KiKi Layne) is a Marine who has been mortally wounded; miraculously, she not only survives but thrives.  Nile is the first new immortal Andy has discovered in centuries. She believes the botched mission and the newly discovered immortal mean something, but what?

This is a perfect role for Theron.  In quiet moments, she is subtle and pensive, and her easy grace is that of a jungle cat, one always on the watch and poised for action in an instant.  And action there is.  The fight scenes are choreographed things of beauty, though the battles, at times, stop just short of John-Wickian carnage.  The Belgian actor Schoenaerts is inspired casting.  He is a commanding physical actor who can match up to Theron onscreen, yet he also can switch his innate intensity to bare-wire sensitivity that is magnetic on the screen.  Kenzari and Marinelli are able sidemen who carry some humor as well as the film's romantic interest.  Harry Melling (Harry Potter's Dudley Dursley) even shows up in a pivotal role.  The weak link is Layne, who has improved since If Beale Street Could Talk, but placed opposite the likes of Theron, Schoenaerts, or Ejiofor, her line readings are exposed as absolutely oaken.  Unfortunately, it seems that she's been set up as one of the major players as the story moves forward.

And believe me, ladies and gents, if ever a film was set up for at least one sequel, this is it, a well-deserved sequel, in our minds.  The Old Guard is not great art; it's a graphic novel turned film that's fun.  FilmZ, the Czarina, Czarito Number One, and I haggled over a score and give it a charitable
7.0 out of 10

2020's Upcoming (?) Film


2020 Film Preview That May Be Completely Fictional -- by Guy S. Malone, Researcher

So far, 2020 has been a nightmare for the film industry.  Movies that were in theaters when the pandemic struck went straight to video, those in production halted as did those in pre-production, and those ready for release moved their release dates down-calendar.  Below, we've tried to shake down where we are at this moment, but as you know, coronavirus will have the final say, and dates could change drastically.

JULY

10  Greyhound  Action, Historical Drama  [Apple TV+]
During World War II, an inexperienced U.S. Navy captain (Tom Hanks) must lead an Allied convoy through a wolfpack of Nazi U-boats.  Elisabeth Shue, Karl Glusman, Stephen Graham NOTE: Hanks himself is heartbroken Greyhound will not be available on the big screen.

10 The Old Guard  Fantasy Action  [Netflix]
Led by a warrior named Andy (Charlize Theron), a covert group of immortal mercenaries has protected the mortal world for centuries, but when the team's existence is exposed their survival is endangered. Chiwetel Ejiofor,  Matthias Schoenaerts, Harry Melling, Van Veronica Ngo

15  The Sandman  Fantasy  (Audible)
An audio-only release, based on the Neil Gaiman graphic novel, Lord Morpheus (James McAvoy) rises from the land of sleep to rebuild his realm.  Taron Egerton, Michael Sheen, Kat Dennings, Samantha Morton, Andy Serkis, Bebe Neuwirth, Joanna Lumley


AUGUST

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run  Animated Comedy
When SpongeBob's pet Gary is snail-napped, SpongeBob and Patrick go on an odyssey to retrieve him.  Keanu Reeves, Awkwafina, Clancy Brown, Snoop Dogg join the usual gang

12  TENET  Sci-Fi Action
Christopher Nolan, in typical fashion, has kept the lid on the plot, but it seems that an espionage agent (John David Washington) must defy time and space to save the world, fighting with and against Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh

14  Bill and Ted Face the Music  Comedy, Musical
Our titular heroes (Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter) are now grown men with parental responsibilities, yet to be truly fulfilled, they yearn to be hit musicians.  William Sadler plays Death

14  The Secret Garden  Classic, Fantasy
Retelling of the classic tale of an adolescent orphan (Dixie Egerickx) who finds a magic garden at her uncle's (Colin Firth) estate.  Julie Walters

21  Antebellum  Thriller, Fantasy
Veronica Henley(Janelle Monáe) a successful author, is incapacitated by her abusive ex and finds she must face a surreal nightmare that takes her through time. Eric Lange, Jena Malone, Jack Huston

21  Mulan  Action-Adventure, Drama
Live-action remake of one of Disney's most enjoyable and best-animated films in which a young Chinese woman (Lifei Lui) disguises herself as a man in order to fight for her father's life.  Also, Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Tzi Ma

28  The New Mutants  Sci-Fi, Action
As five young mutants (Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Blu Hunt, Henry Zaga) are held in a secret government facility while they hone their skills and get to know each other (and we learn their backstories).  Alice Braga

SEPTEMBER

(ND) Ammonite  Romantic Drama
In 1800s England, Mary (Kate Winslet) sells fossils to support herself. When a wealthy visitor entrusts her with the care of his wife (Saoirse Ronan), she cannot afford to turn his offer down. They initially clash, but an intense bond develops, compelling them to examine the nature of their relationship.

A Quiet Place: Part II  Horror, Family Drama
A followup to the original sneak hit, the Abbotts now confront other survivors and realize the alien creatures aren't the only threat to their survival.  Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Cillian Murphy

18 The King's Man  Action, Comedy
Prequel to Kingsmen, one British agent must stop a plot by history's worst tyrants and criminal masterminds to wipe out millions. An excellent cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Gemma Arterton,
Daniel Brühl, Matthew Goode, Ralph Fiennes, Stanley Tucci, Charles Dance, Tom Hollander

25 (limited)  The Trial of the Chicago 7  History, Political Drama (wide release October 16)
Aaron Sorkin's interpretation of the seven people on trial for plotting the uprising at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Eddie Redmayne, Alex Sharp, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jeremy Strong, John Carroll Lynch, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Mark Rylance, Joseph Gordon-Levitt


OCTOBER

Falling  Drama
Willis (Lance Henriksen), a conservative, headstrong man, leaves his isolated farm to live with his son John (Viggo Mortensen) and his partner, Eric (Terry Chen), and their daughter, Monica (Gabby Velis) in Los Angeles.

2  Tom Clancy's Without Remorse  Vengeance Porn (opens wide on October 16)
John Clark (Micael B. Jordan), a Navy SEAL, is out to avenge his wife's murder only to find himself inside of a larger conspiracy.  Taylor Sheridan Screenplay Jamie Bel

Wonder Woman 1984  Superhero Action
Director Patty Jenkins fast forwards WW (Gal Gadot) in a secret script, in which Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) somehow returns, along with Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), Antiope (Robin Wright), and adds Pedro Pascal and Kristen Wiig

Death on the Nile  Crime Mystery
Kenneth Branagh directs and returns as sleuth Hercule Poirot in the Agatha Christie classic about the murder of a young heiress. Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Rose Leslie, Annette Bening, Letitia Wright, Jennifer Saunders, Russell Brand, Sophie Okonedo

The Witches  Fantasy, Comedy
Robert Zemeckis offers Roald Dahl's 1983 classic about a boy (Jahzir Bruno) who encounters real-life witches, led by the Grand High Witch (Anne Hathaway).  Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci, Chris Rock

16  The French Dispatch  Comedy
Wes Anderson's latest, with his usual cast of zanies: An American journalist (Bill Murray) starts a newspaper in a mythical French city.  Tilda Swinton, Elisabeth Moss, Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet, Léa Seydoux, Edward Norton, Christoph Waltz, Benicio Del Toro, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody, Rupert Friend, Owen Wilson, Liev Schreiber, Frances McDormand, Jeffrey Wright, Anjelica Huston, Lois Smith, Jason Schwartzman, Henry Winkler, Bob Balaban, Tony Revolori

16 Halloween Kills  Horror
Yet another Halloween.  Michael Myers' career lasted longer than Mike Myers' has.  Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Anthony Michael Hall

23 Those Who Wish Me Dead Thriller
A teenage murder witness is pursued by twin assassins in the Montana wilderness with a survival expert tasked with protecting him -- and a forest fire threatening to consume them all.  Nicholas Hoult, Angelina Jolie, Jon Bernthal, Aidan Gillen, Jake Weber, Tyler Perry

NOVEMBER

(ND)  Hillbilly Elegy  Drama
Ron Howard directs the adaptation of the J.D. Vance memoir, a modern exploration of the American Dream, and three generations of an Appalachian family as told by its youngest member (Gabriel Basso). Amy Adams, Haley Bennett, Glenn Close, Freida Pinto, Sunny Mabrey, Bo Hopkins

Black Widow  Superhero Action
Long-awaited origin story of Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) in her quests and a fast forward to the recently-filmed mythology. Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour, William Hurt, Ray Winstone, and maybe Robert Downey, Jr.

Stillwater Suspense, Drama
A father (Matt Damon) travels from Oklahoma to France to help his daughter (Abigail Breslin) who has been charged with murder.

13  Clifford the Big Red Dog  Animated Comedy
A little puppy grows to enormous size, thanks to a little girl's love.  Voicework by Sienna Guillory, Rosie Perez, John Cleese, Kenan Thompson, Jack Whitehall, David Alan Grier

13  Deep Water  Mystery, Thriller
To keep their marriage together, wealthy Vic (Ben Affleck) allows wayward wife Melinda (Ana de Armas)to take lovers, but when her lovers start to disappear, he becomes the prime suspect.  Tracy Letts, Rachel Blanchard, Lil Rel Howery, Finn Wittrock

20  No Time to Die  Spy Action, Thriller
Daniel Craig returns as James Bond, retired until old friend CIA operative Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) asks for help in facing another twisted evil genius. Ana de Armas, Léa Seydoux, Rami Malek, Ralph Fiennes, Christoph Waltz, Naomie Harris

20  Soul  Animated Comedy
A musician (Jamie Foxx) who has lost his passion for music has an out-of-body experience and needs the help of an infant soul (Tina Fey) to find his way back. Other voicework by Daveed Diggs, Phylicia Rashad, Angela Bassett, Richard Ayoade, John Ratzenberger

25  Happiest Season  Romantic Comedy
A young woman hopes to propose to her girlfriend during her family's annual holiday party; problem: her partner hasn't yet come out to her conservative parents.  Alison Brie and Kristen Stewart star, with Dan Levy, Aubrey Plaza, Mackenzie Davis, Mary Steenburgen, Victor Garber, Ana Gasteyer

25  Raya and the Last Dragon  Animated Adventure
In the ancient realm of Lumandra, a warrior named Raya sets off to find the last dragon. Voicework by Awkwafina, Cassie Steele

DECEMBER

11  Free Guy  Action, Adventure, Comedy
Shawn Levy directs Ryan Reynolds as a Bank Teller who finds that he is actually an NPC (Non-Player Character) inside a violent, open-world video game.  Jodie Comer, Taika Waititi.

18  Dune  Sci-Fi Adventure
Denis Villeneuve's adaptation of the Frank Herbert classic story of a young man (Timothée Chalamet) who must protect the most valuable element in the galaxy. Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Rampling, Javier Bardem, Jason Momoa, Dave Bautista

18  Coming 2 America  Comedy
A sequel to the 1988 hit, Akeem (Eddie Murphy) learns he has a long-lost son in the United States and must return to America to meet the unlikely heir to the throne of Zamunda. Arsenio Hall

18  West Side Story  Musical
For some reason, Stephen Spielberg thought it necessary to remake the Broadway and film classic. Ansel Elgort (Tony), Rachel Zegler (Maria), Ariana DeBose (Anita), David Alvarez (Bernardo),  Mike Faist (Riff), Rita Moreno (Valentina)

23  The Croods 2  Animated Comedy
The Crood Family face the Bettermans, a family that claims to be more evolved.  Voice work by Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone Leslie Mann, Catherine Keener, Peter Dinklage, Cloris Leachman, Clark Duke, Joanna Lumley, Kelly Marie Tran

23  Top Gun: Maverick  Action, Drama
It's 30 years later and, yep, Pete Mitchell (Tom Cruise) inexplicably is still flying. Maybe he can strafe West Side Story. Jennifer Connelly, Val Kilmer, Miles Teller, Jon Hamm, Ed Harris, Jean Louisa Kelly, Glen Powell

25  News of the World - Western Drama
A retired military man (Tom Hanks) who travels the West reading the news of the world in scattered towns, agrees to take a kidnapped young girl (Helena Zengel) to her family.  Paul Greengrass directs the adaptation od Paulette Jiles bestseller.
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25  The Last Duel  Historical Drama
King Charles VI insists that Knight Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) settle his dispute with his squire by challenging him to a duel.  Jodie Comer, Ben Affleck, Adam Driver, Harriet Walter

TBD

Antlers Mystery, Horror
Scott Cooper co-wrote and directed this story of a teacher (Keri Russell) and her sheriff brother (Jesse Plemons) who uncover a student's secret, leading them to a horrific ancient creature.  Graham Greene, Amy Madigan

Black Beauty  Drama
A teenager (Mackenzie Foy) grieving over the deaths of her parents bonds with a horse who was taken away from her family.

The Boys in the Band  Drama
A group of gay men at a friend's birthday party begins to drink and expose the weaknesses, grudges, insecurities, and heartaches that threaten their friendships.  Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, Charlie Carver, Robin de Jesus, Brian Hutchison

Cherry Drama
Anthony and Joe Russo step out of the Marvel Universe to direct this story of a drug-addicted Army
medic (Tom Holland) suffering PTSD who resorts to bank robbery to pay off his debts. Kelli Berglund,
Jack Reynor

Let Them all Talk  Comedy Drama
Steven Soderbergh directs this story in which a famous author (Meryl Streep) goes on a cruise with her nephew (Lucas Hedges) and a group of friends. Gemma Chan, Candice Bergen, Dianne Wiest

Mank  Biographical Drama
Follows screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz's (Gary Oldman) hurdles developing Orson Welles' (Tom Burke) 1941 classic, Citizen Kane.  Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, Tom Pelphrey, Tuppence Middleton, Charles Dance

The Midnight Sky  SciFi Drama
In a dystopian future,  Augustine (George Clooney), a scientist in the Arctic, races to stop Sully (Felicity Jones) and her fellow astronauts from returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe.
Sophie Rundle, Kyle Chandler, David Oyelowo

Next Goal Wins Comedy, Sports Action
Taika Waititi directed and adapted from the 2014 British documentary. The story of the American Samoa
soccer team, who suffered the worst loss in World Cup history, losing to Australia 31-0 in 2001.
Elisabeth MossMichael FassbenderArmie HammerRhys Darby, Frankie Adams, Rachel House

Nomadland Drama
After losing everything in the Great Recession, a woman (Frances McDormand) embarks on a nomadic
odyssey through the American West, living in her van. David Strathairn, Linda May, Charlene Swankie

On the Rocks  Comedy, Drama
Sofia Coppola wrote and directed this story of young mother (Jenny Slate) who reconnects with her larger-than-life playboy father (Bill Murray) on an adventure through New York. Rashida Jones, Jessica Henwick, Marlon Wayans, Barbara Bain

Untitled Fred Hampton Project  Biography, Drama
The life story of Black Panther Party member Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya).  LaKeith Stanfield, Jesse Plemons, Martin Sheen, Ashton Sanders, Algee Smith, Jermaine Fowler, Lil Rel Howery

The Woman in the Window  Mystery
Joe Wright directed the adaptation of the A.J. Finn novel in which an agoraphobic woman (Amy Adams) living alone in New York begins spying on her new neighbors, only to witness a disturbing act of violence. Anthony Mackie, Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore, Brian Tyree Henry, Wyatt Russell
 
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