Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Tag: Emily blunt

“A Quiet Place II” Is Terrific Sequel to the 2018 Original Film

Director John Krasinski said, on an appearance on Seth Meyer recently to promote “A Quiet Place 2,” “If you’re a fan of the movie, I wanted to bookend the pandemic for you.” He was talking about the delayed release of one of the season’s most anticipated sequels, “A Quiet Place 2.” It actually premiered in New York City on March 8, 2020, and we all know what happened after that.

I remember the premiere of the original film at the Paramount Theater in Austin, Texas, as opening night of SXSW 2018 and how amazed the audience and I were at the film we had just seen. It was great! Original. Fresh. Scary. Thrilling. Well-acted. The audience gave it a well-deserved standing ovation.

All those adjectives can be used for the sequel, and, thanks to jump scares and a terrific Marco Beltrami score coupled with great special effects and convincing acting, you’re in for a wonderful time scaring yourself silly viewing “A Quiet Place 2.”

The boys from Bettendorf, Iowa, who thought up the fresh idea (which languished on the Black List of great movie scripts for 10 years or more before Krasinski became involved as a vehicle for his wife, Emily Blunt) now get an opening credit as the creators of the original characters, but Krasinski has taken over with expert help from his cast, Marco Beltrami’s heart-pounding score, and the special effects genies of Industrial Light & Magic and Lucasfilm.

There is a brief flashback involving John Krasinski as Lee Abbott, who died at the end of “A Quiet Place, #1.” His real-life wife, Emily Blunt, reprises her original role as Evelyn Abbott and the surviving children, Millicent Simmonds as Regan and Noah Jupe as Marcus, plus her new-born baby are all back. Co-stars, this time out, are Cillian Murphy as neighbor Emmett and Djimon Hounsou as a man on Long Island (who is given too small a part).

The film opens in the very same pharmacy/general store that we know from the first film, and Lee (John Krasinski) is quickly picking up some water and some snacks to take to a baseball game that is ongoing. (I noticed that he must have a running tab at the store; at no point did he pay for the goodies.)

While the baseball game is underway some sort of strange aerial event takes place, which, even now, I cannot explain properly. Is it the arrival of aliens? Is it a bombing? Not sure, but the baseball game is quickly abandoned. It must have been an invasion, because the spectators in the small town are suddenly being picked off on Main Street by the creatures we know from the first film. Chaos ensues.

It was this scene, with Emily Blunt trying to flee in her vehicle, that Krasinski talked about shooting early in the film. It took six weeks of planning and 3 weeks with stunt people to make sure that Blunt would be able to do the action-packed scene without injury. A pod was built on top of the vehicle she is shown to be driving, and it was operated by an expert stunt driver who, according to husband John, reassured her, “Don’t worry, Miss Emily. I’m the best.” They did the scene one time. It is truly terrifying and is completely thrilling.  Krasinski described it as “definitely the hardest scene” to film.

As the film proceeds, the surviving Abbott family (post Film #1) must abandon their home, which is both flooded and on fire. They begin walking, barefoot, to one of the neighboring homes where signal fires have been burning at night.

The neighboring residence turns out to be occupied by Emmett, played by Cillian Murphy (“Inception,” “Dunkirk,” “The Dark Knight Rises”), whose own children died the day of the invasion and whose wife is also dead. He has holed up in what appears to be some sort of abandoned steel furnace that has a soundproof  interior. It has a secure door and one must climb down to enter it, so it is relatively safe from the creatures.

Shooting inside the steel furnace set as a bunker for the Abbott family proved difficult because of its small size. Production designer Jess Gonchor built three different sizes, with removable front and back and sections that pulled out.

“Often we were on a jib arm with small remote heads on the end of it,” added Morgan, “and we would literally push in and out through the tube with the characters as they entered and exited. It was like a scene out of ‘Alien.’”

Emmett is not thrilled that he has been joined by a woman with three children in tow.

Emily Blunt and Noah Jupe in A Quiet Place Part II.
Emily Blunt and Noah Jupe in A Quiet Place Part II. Photo: Paramount Pictures

At first, despite Marcus’ injury in a bear trap as they approach, Emmett insists that they must leave in the morning, but that soon gives way to an actual rescue that Emmett attempts, when the deaf older child, Regan (Millicent Simmonds), deciphers the message of non-stop playing of “Beyond the Sea” by a radio station as a message. They must go to the sea, she reasons.  She sets out to do this over the objections of younger brother Marcus (Noah Jupe of “Ford v. Ferrari”and “Honeyboy.”) and without her mother’s knowledge or permission.

The map that we catch a brief glimpse of clearly says the island is Long Island. Thanks go out at film’s end to Buffalo, Akron, Dover and Pawling as some of the sites used in filming AQP2.

The film ends in a way that screams: SEQUEL. Krasinski said, initially, that he did not know whether a third Quiet Place would happen, but he made plans just in case. “I set up a couple of tiny little Easter eggs in [Part II] that not only explain more about [the original], but would allow for more mythology,” Krasinski shared last year.

“I haven’t heard from the studio that they want a third one,” says Writer/Director John Krasinski, “But the good news is that the studio and I are on the same page in that this isn’t one of those franchises where we keep pumping them out if they make money. I think we’ve proven that this is an original idea that is really beloved by people in a way that… I don’t want to break that promise to people.”

Later, it was revealed that “A Quiet Place 3” is officially a go. Paramount Pictures has announced that the franchise is set to continue with a third movie, which is to be written and directed by Jeff Nichols (MudMidnight Special).

Krasinski got able help on #2 from a new (female) cinematographer, Polly Morgan, and the editor, Michael Schaever, had his work cut out for him as there are multiple quick cuts between action going on in the steel furnace, with action going on at the dock or on the island. Long shots with real film were the name of the game, an homage to the films of Steven Spielberg and to such influences on Krasinski as “There Will Be Blood,” westerns of yesteryear, and Steven Spielberg’s films, which, said Krasinski, kept the focus on the protagonist in peril.

In this film, it is the teen-agers who must cope with the monsters and with their loss of their father in the first film. Millicent Simmonds plays a much bigger role than in the first film and does a great job.

All-in-all, it’s one heck of a great film.  I look forward to seeing #3, when the survivors back at the steel furnace have to be transported to safety on the island, (as well as any other adventures the creative minds of the Paramount team come up with).

It’s great to have a “new Spielberg” coming out with novel, crowd-pleasing material, and I only hope he can keep up the level of cinematography, music, writing, acting and directing in the inevitable follow-up(s).

Things I Learned at the Nail Shop: Annette Bening as Super Hero

When you go to the nail shop in Austin, you are surrounded by technicians who mainly speak to one another in Vietnamese (at least, I think it’s Vietnamese). Otherwise, you have only the large flat-screen television to occupy you. I learned that Annette Bening is going to be a Super Hero in the Marvel franchise—or, at least, that’s what the talking heads said, and it set off a fair amount of discussion amongst the three women and two men onscreen at the time.

 Annette Bening is being touted as a Super Hero for a Marvel movie. This caused a phenomenal amount of interest on the program I was watching (don’t know the name of it; think it’s local). The African-American young man, who had been talking about tickets to go backstage at a Justin Timberlake concert by signing up somewhere, posed the rhetorical question, “Which would you rather see? Annette Bening in a Marvel movie or Justin Timberlake?” (Please… May I phone a friend?)

It could be a very funny “riff” for “SNL” to take on this rumor, as all the icons of yesteryear seem to be fading into oblivion, since “Vanity Fair’s” Editor for decades,Graydon Carter, recently retired and the rumors are also rampant that Anna Wintour (memorialized, fictionally, in the film featuring Emily Blunt,  “The Devil Wears Prada”) may have just attended her final Met Gala. (Oh, the humanity!)

When you couple the above news with Elton John announcing that he is not going to tour any more after his final tour and the many headline names (Tom Petty, to name one) who shuffled off this mortal coil, often very unexpectedly, you begin to see the future. It is filled with Kanye (West) moments. And Justin Timberlake, who gave up bringing sexy back to going all woodsy on us and giving us a perfectly forgettable Super Bowl Halftime Show. [If my choices are watching Annette Bening in anything and Justin’s Super Bowl show, I’m going for Bening. (Sorry, Justin.)]

I was recently offered a deal where I could stream old classic movies for a monthly fee. It was suggested to me, in particular, because I review film, and, of course, how could I be “up” on ALL the movies of the past. (How could ANYONE be “up” on all the movies of the past, is more like it; I think I’m pretty solid on anything from 1955 on, but I’ve been outsourcing the Marvel epics.)

I need to make you aware of the soy bean crisis and the teacher crisis, so pardon me while I leave you with these images of the potential Super Hero at Sixty (birth year: 1958) and the interesting fact that her parents, staunch Episcopalians, were from Iowa. I wonder what they thought when they heard she was marrying Warren Beatty, then known as the World’s Biggest Womanizer?

Colin Hanks Q&A: “The Great Buck Howard” on Oct. 27 at the Chicago Film Festival

Colin Hanks and MeQuestion #1: How long did it take to get the film made? A: “It took us 3 years to get the financing and 2 years to make.”

Question #2: Is Buck Howard like the real-life character of Kreskin upon which Buck is based? A: “The handshake thing is for real. I’ve actually never met Kreskin,” said Hanks. “I hear Malkovich’s portrayal is pretty amazing.”

Question #3: Do you think you’ll ever do more movies like (2002’s) “Orange County?” A: “I think I’ve pretty much done all I can in that genre.”

Question #4: Where did this story come from? A: “The Great Buck Howard…at least about the first 15 minutes of it…is all about the experiences of the writer/director Sean McGinly. He’s the one who worked for Kreskin. I just liked the story. I just think this is a really cool story and it is just a great little movie that can get a few laughs and tell a story.”

Question #5: How did you get all the people to do the cameos in the film? “Most of the cameos were written into the script. I have some mutual friends with
Jon Stewart and Conen O’Brien. Martha Stewart was the one I was surprised to get, but all of them were petrified to have been performing with John Malkovich. I’ve actually thought it would be cool if John would dress up as Buck Howard and go back on the same shows to promote our film. We also got Ricky Jay (Gil Bellamy in the cast, as Howard’s manager), because he’s kind of a historian of magicians. He was too busy to consult, but he came in and said, in a matter of seconds, ‘This is about Kreskin, isn’t it?’”

Question #6: What was John Malkovich like to work with? A: “Malkovich was extremely friendly, very very funny, a pleasant surprise, because, obviously, you don’t always like the people you work with and people say, ‘That dude is supposed to be the weirdest man ever.” I asked John about his weekend one day. He said, ‘I woke up on Saturday. I read the paper, even though it’s all bullshit, but I read it, anyway. I hung around the house and went to the park and played in a pick-up game of basketball.’ Anywhere he is filming, John Malkovich will be taking part in a pick-up game of basketball. The thing that makes John such a great actor was his adding little touches like the Captain & Tennille and telling me, “Those flowers are expensive. Take the flowers.”

Question #7: What was it like working with your dad? A: A lot of fun. It was good. He makes it easier, more enjoyable because he’s so good at what he does. With Malkovich, as well, it was a trifecta, a sandwich of joy.”

Question #8: Did you always know you wanted to be an actor?” A: “If my team was in the play-offs in sports, then I often wanted to be whatever sport that was. I always enjoyed acting, though, and I always did it. It was not until I got to college that I realized I had to figure out what I wanted to do. I love what I do and actually there is nothing else I would really rather do. The truth is, I love what I do. I have genuine passion for it.” (*The younger Hanks had a production assistant job on “Apollo 13” and most recently had a story arc as Father John Gill on AMC’s “MadMen” televsion show, with Jon Hamm. He also starred in 2005’s “King Kong” as Preston, Jack Black’s assistant and in 2002’s “Orange County’ as Shaun Brumder, Jack Black’s scholarly brother. He had a role as 2nd Lt. Henry Jones in the television mini-series “Band of Brothers,” which his father helped produce, and had a small role in “That Thing You Do” in 1996, as a male page, a part which he got using a fake last name to avoid trading on his father’s fame. Colin Hanks also has a small part as Speechwriter #1 on Oliver Stone’s “W” out now.)

Question #9: What is your next project? A: “To be honest, I’m not working on a whole lot right now. I just had a story arc on “MadMen” and a bit part in “W.” I’m directing a documentary on Tower Records, which could take a while.”

Question #10: Do you have any other idols, other than your dad? A: “No, not really. I do like Jeff Bridges in “The Big Lebowski.”

Question #11: What have you been doing while you have been in Chicago?” A: “Well, I just killed an hour in the bowling alley that’s attached to this place and I was hoping to go to a World Series game while here. I saw a BlackHawks game. I heard some good comedy at Second City. I ate a buffet at the John Hancock building (not so good). I saw some great art.”

Question #12: Did you visit any bars? A: I’m gonna’ plead the fifth on that one? Well, okay: Timmy O’Toole’s.

Question #13: What is your favorite Tom Hanks film? A: “I really can’t pick ‘a favorite,’ but I can tell you that I can’t watch ‘Philadelphia.’”

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