Perhaps not oddly the most intriguing movie this week premieres on cable, followed by superhero subversion of the form and a few indie screenings.
Fahrenheit 451 has been a work in progress from the very beginning of its literary origin.
The book has never been out of print. Ray Bradbury (1920 – 2012) in a forward to a subsequent paperback edition talks about the short version of the novel he wrote in 1950 for a magazine titled “The Fire Man.”
Bradbury literally rented typewriters in the basement of the UCLA at ten-cents per half-hour to write the text. You popped you dime in the slot and a Remington or Underwood typewriter was at your beck and call, until it malfunctioned with 10-minutes left on your dime.
The story was embellished and published in novel form in 1953. Interesting factoid: the original book was released as a paperback a few months prior to its hardback release. A limited edition of the novel was published with hardback asbestos, or fireproof, front and back covers. Those versions now literally sell for over five figures to serious book collectors.
When Truffaut made his version of Fahrenheit 451 in 1966 he expanded the character of Clarisse played by Julie Christie in a dual role. Bradbury himself oversaw a theatrical reimagining of F451 in the 1970s as a play in progress. Words and characters traits were added to the existing players including the protag Montag and the antagonist Fire Chief Beatty.
Thus it’s no surprise that the HBO version of Fahrenheit 451 helmed and adapted by Ramin Bahrani (99 Homes) adds some topical facts to the established canon.
Fahrenheit 451 has been brought up to date to reflect the influence of the internet. Bradbury predicted wall sized television screens but not the interweb. Character motives have been slightly altered but it’s still the same story of a future society that exists without the printed word. Any books found are burnt.
Another additional fun fact – when Bradbury was doing research for his novel he called the local fire department and asked them at what temperature does paper burn. The guy on the other end of the phone, certainly no neophyte but likewise no expert, gave the guesstimate of four-hundred-and-fifty-one degrees. True story.
Michael B. Jordan plays Guy Montag with conviction, with Sofia Boutella making the most of her mysterious femme Clarisee and Michael Shannon, in a particular bad mood, as Beatty.
In the future almost all books have been destroyed. Forbidden books are sought by government squads equipped with flamethrowers. Bahrani hits all the proper beats of the novel while adding some curve balls plot wise that make the story more relevant to our times.
Fahrenheit 451 premieres this weekend on HBO.
Anything starring John Carroll Lynch, Matt Bomar and Maura Tierney delivers a compelling drama dealing with loss as well as personal identities.
Lynch plays easy-going Mississippi widower Early Landry who finds himself transported to Los Angeles following the death of his wife. His sister (Tierney) has been approved to supervise him after he attempts suicide. Early has issues like drinking and possible other addictions so its no surprise he fits in with the other outsiders at his new low-rent Hollywood apartment.
Early’s next-door neighbor, transgender streetwalker Freda Von Rhenburg seems to be everything he isn’t and yet they tightly related to each other due to mutual attraction. Matt Bomar who was cut and buff as a male dancer in Magic Mike makes an easy transition to a sultry and ravishing brunette. Bomar makes all sexes swoon.
Most of Anything could be easily called a character driven movie as Early makes the rounds at his various drug dependent neighbors and we see how the lower depths are no strangers to the higher realms. Perhaps not oddly, Early seems actualized and as such is able to relate to people different from him with ease.
Despite his sister’s rather uptight apprehension Early forms a strong bond with Freda. The magic of Anything lies in the strength of the writing and the performance of the leads.
Anything unwinds exclusively at the AMC Studio 30.
Deadpool 2 is as funny as a Marx Bothers film. The term meta was invented for what DP2 accomplishes. Even more than the original D2 functions as a well oiled self-referential parody machine.
Deadpool 2 doesn’t really belong in the Marvel universe so much as it begs comparison with films as diverse yet also comically illogical as Duck Soup (1933) and Airplane! (1980). Suffice it to say that this movie is so R-rated cray cray that Deadpool kills himself as he appeared in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and then offs Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern.
Deadpool 2 opens in over 4300 domestic theaters even as you’re reading this.
Not to be outdone Solo: A Star Wars Story opens next week and will smash box office records harder than Jim Adler the Texas Hammer suing a trucking company.
Imagine a greatest hits album by your favorite group but performed by a cover band. That in a nutshell is Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Solo moves a mile a minute with action set pieces and predicaments as if to honor the momentum of B-movies. After all the original Star Wars was based on 1930 serials like Flash Gordon.
Die-hard Star Wars fanatics will argue afterwards until they are blue in the face about the official canon of Star Wars movies, cartoons and novels. Normal sapiens will appreciate the fact that a movie finally tells the story of how Hans met Chewbacca and more importantly how Hans made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs.
By the way, a parsec is a measurement of both time and distance, equal to approximately 3.26 light years.
Solo: A Star Wars Story opens across the universe May 25.