By Romeo San Vicente
Kate McKinnon takes the lead in ‘The Lunch Witch’
She already has an Emmy for her work on “Saturday Night Live,” and she’s managed to steal every scene she had in the ensemble comedies “Ghostbusters,” “Masterminds,” and now “Office Christmas Party.” The next step, then, for Kate McKinnon is leading lady. This being McKinnon, however, she will be playing a school lunch lady who is also a witch. Of course. The adaptation of Deb Lucke’s young reader novel “The Lunch Witch” will be directed by Clay Kaytis (“The Angry Birds Movie”) and will star McKinnon as Grunhilda, a witch without purpose – nobody really believes in magic or witches anymore – who decides to unleash her awful cauldron of badness on unsuspecting children in the school cafeteria. Along comes a misfit child who needs a mentor and, well, you can probably guess the rest. This one was just announced, so McKinnon is the only cast member attached, but come 2018 or so, lunch will be served.
The incredibly true adventure of one girl in the afterlife
Maria Maggenti (“The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls In Love,” “Puccini For Beginners”) returns to her Sundance Film Festival stomping grounds in January with the premiere of “Before I Fall.” Maggenti wrote the screenplay, adapted from Lauren Oliver’s 2010 YA novel about a young girl (Zoey Deutch, “Why Him?”) who dies in a car accident, only to relive the experience over and over. As she uncovers the mystery of why she died, she also learns what she might do to change her fate. Or not. Directed by Ry Russo-Young (“Nobody Walks”), this teen “Groundhog Day” of The Dead also stars Halston Sage (“Goosebumps”) and Jennifer Beals (“The L Word”). And though we were hoping the YA trend would wind down, we’re grateful that this one has nothing to do with teens fighting an evil government after the apocalypse. Look for it to fall into theaters sometime later in 2017.
‘Talk Show the Game Show’ is the real name of a real show
You’re already watching gay comic Billy Eichner’s “Billy on The Street” on deep cable channel TruTV, right? Well, you should be. And once you find that one on your cable line-up, you’ll know where to go when another queer comic, Guy Branum, debuts his own new comedic series, “Talk Show the Game Show.” It’s OK if you don’t know this man’s name just yet. He’s one of our favorite stand-up comics, he wrote for “Chelsea Lately,” currently writes for “The Mindy Project,” and he co-hosts a very cool pop culture podcast called “Pop Rocket.” “Talk Show the Game Show” (produced by Branum and Wanda Sykes) will pit comedians and other celebrities against each other in competition to win the title “Best Guest of the Night.” Various talk show-themed challenges will go down – we’re hoping for some kind of contest related to fake enthusiasm, which is mostly the point of most talk shows – and judges will roast the participants. It hits TruTV in spring of 2017 and we can’t wait to watch.
Prolific queer filmmaker Francois Ozon delivers ‘Frantz’
Hey foreign film fans, it’s that time again, when French filmmaker Francois Ozon drops another one in your lap. The prolific queer director makes at least one, sometimes two, movies a year – most of them make it into U.S. theaters, an accomplishment that eludes many European filmmakers – and he shows no sign of slowing down. His latest is “Frantz,” and the critical buzz suggests that its one of Ozon’s better offerings in recent years. A re-imagining of legendary filmmaker Ernst Lubitsch’s 1932 film “Broken Lullaby” (just go ahead and add it to your TCM wishlist), which was in turn based on a French play by Maurice Rostand, it stars French actor Pierre Niney (“Yves Saint-Laurent”) and German actress Paula Beer as two people who meet at the gravesite of a fallen World War I soldier. The soldier was the woman’s fiance, but his relationship to the man remains a mystery. Later in 2017, subtitle enthusiasts will get a chance to solve it for themselves when it opens in, naturally, quite limited arthouse release before hitting streaming services.