By Romeo San Vicente
Kate Beckinsale and ‘The Chocolate Money’
Her flamboyance may remind you of Willy Wonka, but chocolate heiress Babs Ballentyne has zero plans to give away any of her fortune to some random kid in “The Chocolate Money.” The latest from “Hairspray” director Adam Shankman, based on the popular novel by Ashley Prentice Norton, “Chocolate” follows the wild ’80s rock star lifestyle of Babs (Kate Beckinsale), inheritor of the fortune and mother to attention-starved and bookish daughter Bettina. As Bettina grows up, her need for mom’s love leads to serious complications in everyone’s lives. That’s all we know right now, and there’s no other cast yet, but this seems like just the kind of high-style comedy Shankman could sink his camp-loving teeth into. We’ll be waiting, in chic vintage outfits, for this one to arrive sometime in 2018.
Travis Mathews’ ‘Discreet’ finds its way to Berlin
By the time you read this, Travis Mathews’ latest film, the ominously titled “Discreet,” will have been seen first by audiences at the Berlin Film Festival, and it’s most likely coming to a festival or arthouse near you very soon. An examination of masculinity in crisis, starring a cast of relative unknowns, “Discreet” is the story of a drifter who returns home, after years in hiding, to discover that his childhood abuser is alive. The young man then begins plotting revenge, and it’s a safe bet that happy endings aren’t in store. Mathews is already known for pushing the boundaries of safe cinema, with films like “I Want Your Love,” as well as “Interior. Leather Bar.,” and he has described this one as a moody exploration of the anxious U.S. as it is right now. Sounds like just our kind of dark entertainment.
‘M. Butterfly’ Broadway revival to star Clive Owen
David Henry Hwang’s “M. Butterfly,” the 1988 Tony Award winner for Best Play, is getting its first Broadway revival, with Julie Taymor at the wheel and Clive Owen in the lead. Owen will play a French diplomat who has a 20-year-long affair with a male Chinese Opera performer who is also a spy (Owen’s romantic lead partner has not yet been cast). Shaking off the fiasco of that musical about the superhero who slings webs and moving in a more seriously dramatic direction seems like just the right change of pace for Taymor. And this stage revival will also allow audiences a fresh chance to experience the heartbreak of Hwang’s material – which is based on a real story – without resorting to David Cronenberg’s very strange film adaptation. The revival opens this fall, so let’s all agree not to tell Mike Pence what it’s about so that it’s a fresh surprise for him when he shows up.
Trans filmmaker Sydney Freeland scores Netflix debut
Sydney Freeland doesn’t yet have the name recognition of, say,
Quentin Tarantino, but when the day comes that she does, you can say that you were there when she was just getting started. The Native American trans filmmaker already has one feature film on her resume, 2014’s “Drunktown’s Finest,” and she helmed episodes of the web series “Her Story,” but now her latest, called “Deidra and Laney Rob a Train,” will take a bow on Netflix on March 17. A crime comedy in the tradition of “Raising Arizona,” it’s the story of two teenage girls (Ashleigh Murray, “Riverdale”; and Rachel Crow, “Invisible Sister”) who turn to the crime of robbing trains in order to support their families after both their mothers go to prison. In other words, the good kind of underdog crime you root for, only in movies. We’re ready for this teen Thelma and Louise, and we hope they manage not to drive off a cliff at the end.