Jussie Smollett is sentenced to five months in jail for carrying out a hate crime hoax in 2019; Al Pacino gets very candid about The Godfather on its 50th anniversary; Dune: Part Two looks to add another buzzy star to an already-buzzy cast. All in today’s Movie News Rundown.
But First: Fictionalized retellings often cut, combine and just flat out make up new scenes, but our own Margeaux Sippell reports that Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes did in fact meet future boyfriend and Theranos president Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani while in Beijing for a high school program — events dramatised in Hulu’s The Dropout.
Elvis Needs Spice: Elvis star Austin Butler is in talks to join the cast of Dune: Part Two as Feyd-Rautha. “In the novel, he is the younger nephew and heir of the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, and is depicted to be as similarly cruel, treacherous and cunning as his uncle,” Deadline reports. Sting played this role in David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel. Butler joins Florence Pugh as likely new additions to Dune: Part Two.
Only in Theaters: Truly applies for Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria, which will never see a traditional home video or VOD release. Instead, the film — which stars Tilda Swinton as a woman in Colombia suffering from Exploding Head Syndrome — will tour theaters around the U.S. beginning on April 1st. Find dates and tickets for your own city here.
A Sentence for Jussie Smollett: Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett was sentenced to five months in jail for orchestrating a hate crime hoax in 2019. Variety reports that Smollett was also ordered “to pay $120,000 restitution to the city of Chicago, plus a $25,000 fine, and to serve 30 months of probation. After the sentence was announced, Smollett stood up and said, ‘I am innocent and I am not suicidal.’ Smollett continued to shout as he was led out of the courtroom and remanded to custody.”
A Quick Refresher: Because a pre-pandemic 2019 feels like a full decade ago, let Variety refresh your memory: “Smollett told Chicago police on Jan. 29, 2019, that he was assaulted by men who put a noose around his neck, poured a chemical substance on him, and yelled ‘This is MAGA Country.’ The Chicago Police Department committed significant resources to the subsequent investigation, racking up more than 1,000 hours of overtime, before ultimately concluding that Smollett had paid two brothers — Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo — $3500 to stage the attack.”
Are The Ads Coming For Us?: In the wake of Disney Plus adding a lower cost tier with ads, many are pondering whether other streamers will follow suit. Adding fuel to the speculative fire for one streamer is Netflix CFO Spencer Neumann, who said on Tuesday: “For us, it’s not like we have religion against advertising, to be clear,” IndieWire reports.
My Proposal: Negotiating for millions of users in this case, I will allow a single ad promoting another movie or TV series from the same streamer to play before whatever I’ve just started watching. HBO does this sometimes and it’s fine. You don’t have to pay attention and they’re never too long. Glad that’s settled. To be clear, my first stance is no ads at all, but in the event that this position becomes untenable, this is where I’ve landed.
Speaking Of: Need help deciding what to stream this weekend? Variety has you covered with this list of all the best movies headed to streamers in March. This includes Dune, which hit HBO Max yesterday, and Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, which arrives on Netflix tomorrow. Also important to your decision: Harry Styles is in Dunkirk. Timothée Chalamet is in Dune.
In Austin for SXSW this Weekend?: Might I recommend the documentary Diamond Hands: The Legend Of WallStreetBets? This entertaining, zippy doc looks at how the subreddit r/WallStreetBets disrupted the entire financial industry when redditor investors decided to purchase Gamestop and AMC stocks in high volumes, initiating what’s known as a short squeeze. If that sounds like gibberish to you, I promise the film does an excellent job explaining these financial concepts in layman terms. And the editing showcases the filmmaking team’s strong understanding of Reddit’s meme-heavy aesthetics. It’s a lot of fun.
More SXSW Picks: IndieWire has this helpful list of 20 movies and TV series to track at the festival. Diamond Hands makes their list along with a documentary on Tony Hawk. Also of note: Soft & Quiet, a horror film lensed in one shot, which now has Blumhouse on board as producers.
Al Pacino Reflects on The Godfather: Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather turns 50 next week and The New York Times’ Dave Itzkoff has a wonderfully candid interview with Al Pacino. Pacino had just one major film role (The Panic in Needle Park) and a Tony award to his name when Coppola pushed Paramount hard to let him have the role of Michael Corleone. For those of us eagerly awaiting Paramount Plus’ The Offer, parts of the feature act as a window into some of the film’s notorious production difficulties.
When Pacino Realized He was Part of Something Great: “So I’m going back to my camper. And there, sitting on a tombstone, is Francis Ford Coppola, weeping like a baby. Profusely crying. And I went up to him and I said, Francis, what’s wrong? What happened? He says, ‘They won’t give me another shot.’ Meaning, they wouldn’t allow him to film another setup. And I thought: OK. I guess I’m in a good film here. Because he had this kind of passion and there it is.”
When Asked: If he get self-conscious about watching his own films, Pacino responds: “No. I enjoy watching films I’ve been in. Sometimes I show them. I say, ‘Hey, come this way! Here it is! Hey, it’s me, yes! Take a look at this!’ Well, I don’t go that far. But I would if I could.”
Pacino Skips The Oscars: Pacino was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his The Godfather role but skipped the ceremony (the award went to Joel Grey for Cabaret). “I was at that stage in my life where I was somewhat, more or less, rebellious,” he reflects. Pacino later won an Oscar for 1992’s Scent of a Woman.
View At Your Own Pleasure: Pleasure is an inside look at the porn industry in Los Angeles, from the eyes of a fresh-off-the-LAX-tarmac Swedish woman named Bella Cherry. As you might expect, the film is pretty explicit. But there is now a greenband trailer (see below) and a redband one you can view here.
One More Trailer: My love for the erotic thriller genre is no secret, and master of the genre Adrian Lyne makes his return with Deep Water, an adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith novel. I read this novel in 2020 and it’s fantastic. One of author Gillian Flynn’s favorite books, you can see its influence plainly on Gone Girl. This film hits Hulu next Friday, but you can watch the official trailer today:
Main image: Sting as Vladimir Harkonnen in David Lynch’s Dune