One of the frustrating things about streaming movies is that you can never really be sure that you're getting the proper aspect ratio, not unless you go and look it up later. HBO is particularly bad about this, but I recently watched Gangs of New York on Amazon and discovered that it was streaming in 16:9 instead of the much wider 2.35:1 theatrical format it’s supposed to be in.
I was pretty frustrated by this, but it turns out, Gangs of New York is a very odd exception to the rule. Rather than its 16:9 "crop" cutting down on the image, it actually opens up the image to reveal even more (see: 2.35:1 vs. 16:9). This isn't ideal, because the film was framed for the narrower format, but it means you at least aren't missing anything.
It's actually a pretty fascinating approach. My colleague found this 2003 article in American Cinematographer where the cinematographer behind this film explained that he purposefully shot the movie in 16:9 and then cut down for the theatrical release so that he wouldn't have to destroy the shot for the movie's inevitably cropped home release. Obviously, this could all be avoided if cropped releases just weren't a thing. But as far as cropped releases go, this is a pretty clever way to go about it.
Check out nine trailers from this week below.
We got a first trailer this week for the ridiculously star-studded Ocean's Eleven spin-off, Ocean's 8, which replaces the all-male heist team with a team composed entirely of women, including Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Helena Bonham Carter, and — perhaps the most exciting of the many big draws — Rihanna. So far, everything's looking good. Ocean's 8 seems like a fun and energetic heist movie filled with lots of big characters and big stakes, which is exactly what it ought to be. The film comes out June 8th.
Sicario 2: Soldado
I don't think I can express how skeptical I am about the ability to make a good sequel to the well-reviewed original Sicario (especially since that film's main character isn't involved), but the original writer is back to do it. This first trailer for Sicario 2 looks grittier and a whole lot more action packed than the original, but it's clearly playing up all the same themes — namely, federal agents making a huge mess of things. It comes out June 29th.
Disney's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
I had no idea Disney was making this movie, but I'm suddenly really drawn in. The footage here is absolutely beautiful, with a big and busy style filled with lots of strong, piercing colors. It looks really dark in places, too. That said, the movie is directed by Lasse Hallstrom, who most recently made A Dog's Purpose, and it’s about to undergo very extensive reshoots from a different director. That suggests the movie isn't quite working as planned, but Disney has a while to go to patch things up. The film comes out late next year, on November 2nd.
I think this is one of those cases where it's best to just provide a straight description of what's happening here: this is a Peter Jackson produced movie about giant vehicles with cities on top of them that fight each other in a dystopian wasteland. This teaser opens with "London" swallowing a smaller city/vehicle thing. Also, it's steampunk. The film comes out a full year from now, on December 14th.
Half Magic is the first film written and directed by Heather Graham, who's long popped up in comedic roles on film and TV. Given the parts she usually takes, it probably shouldn't be surprising that this is a very raunchy but also very strong and sarcastic-looking comedy focused on women trying to avoid selfish men. It comes out on February 23rd.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
I don't really understand the whole ABBA thing, but I definitely do understand why there's a sequel to a musical starring Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, and Pierce Brosnan, among many others. This sequel flashes back and forward in time to explore the past and future of the characters from the original musical, and, obviously, just looks like it's going to be a good time. It comes out July 20th.
Mary and The Witch's Flower
After Studio Ghibli shut down (and before it reopened), many of its animators went off and created their own studio, Studio Ponoc, and this is their first picture. Mary and The Witch's Flower is so, so clearly a direct descendant of Ghibli's style, feel, and storytelling, and it'll be exciting to see if it can recreate the kind of magic we expect from a film with this kind of look. It comes to the US on January 18th.
A Futile and Stupid Gesture
David Wain has brought together a huge group of comedians for a movie about a huge group of comedians. A Futile and Stupid Gesture is about the rise and fall of National Lampoon and the life of its creator, Doug Kenney (who, despite dying in 1980, is depicted here as an older man). While I feel like this movie runs a huge risk of just explaining 40 year old jokes over and over again, the cast and tone here might be enough to get past that. It comes out January 26th on Netflix.
The China Hustle
Financial firms would never bet large sums on money on incredibly risky investments they haven't verified the quality of, right?