Prequels, Sequels & Pandemic Releases
You might call it “mission impossible” – and not the filming of the next highoctane installment that has Tom Cruise on the sidelines yelling at crew members for not following COVID protocols. Hollywood studios are still contending with the unpredictablity of releasing films in a pandemic, which even pushed back the Oscars from February to April. While some studios are going the streaming route, others are banking on people returning to watch movies on the big screen. Warner Bros., for one, made the unprecedented call to release its entire 2021 slate on HBO Max as well as in theatres (though only in the U.S.). When Canadians will be allowed to attend theatres again in large numbers remains to be seen, but early 2021 is still delivering some of the year’s most anticipated films.
Coming 2 America – the sequel to the hit 1988 comedy Coming to America – lands on Prime Video and sees Eddie Murphy, 59, reprise his role as Prince Akeem, who cannot take the throne of the fictional nation of Zamunda until he ventures back to New York to find the son he didn’t know he had. In Nomadland
– the only film to ever win the top prizes at both the Toronto International and Venice film festivals – Frances McDormand (63 and an Oscar favourite) plays a woman who lives in her van and travels across the American West working various jobs. Robin Wright, 54, makes her directorial debut with Land – filmed in Calgary and rural Alberta – in which she portrays a woman who escapes into the wilderness in a search for meaning in her life, while Gabriel Byrne, 70, plays an alcoholic McGill University poetry professor forced to confront his own mortality – all to the tune of a Leonard Cohen soundtrack – in Death of a Ladies’ Man.
Better Call Saul star Bob Odenkirk, 58, trained for two years to get in shape to star in the action-thriller Nobody, about an ordinary suburban dad who releases his pent-up rage when he becomes the target of a violent drug lord. And
62, wrote, stars and takes his first shot at directing in Falling, about a gay man who attempts to move his homophobic, dementiastricken father across the country. And finally, the HBO Max Sopranos prequel, The Many Saints of Newark, tells the bloody story of the mob family’s rise. Most intriguing, however, is that actor Michael Gandolfini – son of James Gandolfini – plays a young Tony Soprano, the role made famous by his late father. —Mike Crisolago