R.I.P. Batgirl; Marilyn Monroe, Inc.; A Night With Not Garth Brooks

By Tim Molloy • August 03, 2022

Batgirl will never see the light of day; the owners of Marilyn Monroe are impressed with Ana de Armas; a new film imagines a wild night out with a country superstar who kind of resembles Garth Brooks. Also: Juliette Binoche can drive a massive truck., and The Bear is very good. All in today’s Movie News Rundown.

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Juliette Binoche Drives a Truck: While other actors gain a little weight for a role, or wear prosthetic noses, Juliette Binoche went all in and learned to drive a big rig for her latest film, Paradise Highway. She talked with Margeaux Sippell about how she learned trucking from Desiree Wood, founder of a non-profit organization called REAL Women in Trucking. Paradise Highway, directed by Anna Gutto and out now in theaters from Liongate, is about trucking and the hideous realities of an industry that runs alongside it: human trafficking.

NOO THE BRENDAN FRASER RENAISSANCE TOOK A HIT: Tweeted this guy in response to a New York Post report, later confirmed by more reputable outlets, that the planned HBO Max movie Batgirl has been shelved and won’t ever be released anywhere, even though it is pretty much done. The film was to star In the Heights’ Leslie Grace in the lead. Fraser was to have played a villain. “The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC Universe and HBO Max. Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actor and this decision is not a reflection of her performance,” a Warner Bros. spokesperson said in a statement to TheWrap‘s Umberto Gonzales, who also reported that the film’s budget, originally around $70 million, had ballooned to $90 million. 

How Does This Sort of Thing Happen? The film was greenlit under the previous Warner Bros. regime, and new Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav reconsidered. Gonzales wrote: “The leaders of the studio determined ultimately, in spite of reshoots and increased budget, that the movie simply did not work, according to insiders.”

Variety Has Another Explanation: “Taxes.” Adam B. Vary and Brent Lang report that Warner Bros. will likely try to recoup costs by taking a tax write-down on Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt, which it also shelved yesterday.

First Batgirl, Now Scoob! Holiday Haunt? I know right? We should have mentioned that part earlier.

Recommendation: The Bear is as good as everyone says. The FX series stars Jeremy Allen White as a Chicago guy who aspired to culinary greatness but inherits his dead brother’s meat shop and tries to turn it around. But everything happens so frantically that it may take you a little while to understand that’s the plot. My first instinct when I watched was to interview its creator, Christopher Storer, but honestly I couldn’t do a better interview than this one with Esquire‘s food and drinks editor, Jeff Gordinier.

Shut Up, Twitter: Marilyn Monroe’s estate is shrugging off online cranks who don’t think Ana de Armas nails Marilyn Monroe’s trademark breathy delivery in the trailer for Blonde. “Marilyn Monroe is a singular Hollywood and pop culture icon that transcends generations and history,” said Marc Rosen, president of entertainment at Authentic Brands Group (ABG), which owns the Marilyn Monroe Estate, in a statement to CNN. “Any actor that steps into that role knows they have big shoes to fill. Based on the trailer alone, it looks like Ana was a great casting choice as she captures Marilyn’s glamour, humanity and vulnerability. We can’t wait to see the film in its entirety!”

May I Editorialize? Interesting that he refers to Marilyn Monroe as a “that” rather than a “who.”While I agree with Authentic Brands Group (ABG) that people should relax, I’m still weirded out by the concept of a person being reduced to IP to be bought and sold. Of course, that reality comports very nicely with the premise of the Blonde trailer, which is that Marilyn Monroe was a fictional entity created and inhabited by Norma Jean Baker — and that she soon lost control of that entity. I’m especially taken with the brief moment at the 30-second mark in the trailer when Norma Jean notes the game trophies on a Hollywood exec’s walls, and her look conveys the question: Is she just the next trophy?

Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde

Ana de Armas as Norma Jean Baker aka Marilyn Monroe in Blonde

Country Gold: I love the films of Mickey Reece, the Oklahoma City-based writer-director-actor who has released a film or two a year for more than a decade. His latest, which I delightedly caught at the Fantasia Film Festival, is Country Gold. The film stars Reece as Troyal Brooks, not to be confused with Oklahoma country legend Garth Brooks… though, okay, Garth Brooks’ full name is Troyal Garth Brooks. And, okay, Troyal Brooks does resemble Garth Brooks in many ways. (Wait, who owns his likeness? Do they know about Country Gold?) Anyway, in the film, Brooks is summoned to meet one of his heroes, George Jones, played by Reece’s frequent collaborator, the magnetic Ben Hall. Jones is about to be cryogenically frozen, you see, and wants to meet the new king of country. I really can’t compare Mickey Reece’s films to anything else. Here’s the trailer for Country Gold:

Main image: Leslie Grace in one of the only images you will ever see of her as Batgirl.

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