Sam Mendes Empire of Light

In today’s Movie News Rundown: We talk with Jamie Lee Curtis about her new scam-inspired short; the Sam Mendes film Empire of Light debuts a luminous trailer; Jason Momoa explains his Fast X character.

‘Return to Sender’: A weird package sent to Jamie Lee Curtis’ sister inspired the Halloween icon her to make the new short film “Return to Sender,” which just played Hollyshorts. Directed by Russell Goldman, head of Curtis’ production company Comet Pictures, “Return to Sender” follows Julia (Allison Tolman), a struggling woman who begins getting very personalized, very mysterious packages. Curtis and Goldman talked with MovieMaker‘s Margeaux Sippell about the scammy reason for that mysterious delivery.

Thanks, Donald Glover: “Everything goes back to Donald Glover for some reason,” says Aubrey Plaza, explaining how her Upright Citizens Brigade friend helped launch her to stardom.

Aubrey Plaza, D.C. Pierson, Donald Gloverm and Dominic Dierkes in Mystery Team

Aubrey Plaza, D.C. Pierson, Donald Gloverm and Dominic Dierkes in Mystery Team

Jason Momoa’s Androgynous Peacock: The actor gave Variety some details about his upcoming Fast X role: “Time of my life. I get to be the bad guy finally. I’ve been the good guy for a while. … He’s very sadistic and androgynous and he’s a bit of a peacock… He’s got a lot of issues, this guy. He’s definitely got some daddy issues.” I suspect some people will not like the proximity of the words “bad guy” and “sadistic” with “androgynous” but also doesn’t Momoa seem like one of those “I love everybody” kind of guys it’s impossible to stay mad at?

Sidewalk: Birmigham, Alabama’s beloved Sidewalk Film Festival is now underway, and running through Sunday. Highlights include the closing-night film, Margaret Brown’s documentary Descendant, winner of a Special Jury Prize at Sundance, as well as the Alabama-made horror feature Third Saturday in October, which follows Third Saturday in October Part V. Yes, you read that correctly: you’re supposed to watch Part V first. The title is a reference to the Alabama–Tennessee football rivalry. “The programming team is incredibly excited about the Sidewalk line-up this year. We feel certain that we’ve once again gotten close to the impossible goal of ‘something for everyone,'” says Sidewalk Film Festival creative director and lead programmer, Rachel Morgan. “And you know us… the parties.” 

Out on Film: In other great Southern festival news, the lineup has just been announced for  the 35th annual Out on Film, Atlanta’s LGBTQ+ Film Festival — one of our 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee.  I’m also delighted that Todd Flaherty’s Chrissy Judy, one of my favorite movies of this year, is the closing-night film. (You can watch the trailer here.) Other highlights include Nicholas Stoller’s comedy Bros, cowritten by and starring Billy Eichner. Spotlight screenings include Micheal Rice’s Black As U R, Connie Cocchia’s When Time Got Louder, Daresha Kiyi’s Mama Bears, and the world premiere of Yuval David’s Wonderfully Made — LGBTQ+R(eligion) from executive producer Mark McDermott, and advocate producers including Lance Bass. The festival runs from September 22 through October 2and the full lineup is here.

Sam Mendes’ Empire of Light: “Show people a picture of a cinema marquee in a snowy beach town and they’ll follow you anywhere” is a storytelling rule that Sam Mendes ruthlessly exploits in the lovely trailer for Empire of Light. The trailer for the 1980s-set story doesn’t tell us much: There’s a projectionist (Olivia Colman), a projectionist (Toby Jones) and a theater employee (Micheal Ward) who at one point is threatened by skinheads. Its shot by Roger Deakins, with music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Even if you never see the film, watch the trailer for the projectionist’s lovely monologue about what cinema is.


Main image: A still from Empire of Light, by Sam Mendes.