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Unlikely group drives 'Top Gun 2' success
And more Star Wars news
What to know
Top Gun: Maverick soars… Deep breath: Maverick made $160.5 million over four days, giving Tom Cruise is biggest opening ever and taking the Memorial Day record away from 2007’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. The movie also earned 2022’s first A+ CinemaScore (audience survey measurement) and even most remarkably, the majority of its audience was over 35 years old. That is unheard of for a modern blockbuster, so thanks Gen X! Variety’s got a really smart piece warning Hollywood not to learn the wrong lesson from all this. Yes, nostalgic sequels drive interest but “that age-old tactic only works when the studio and filmmaking team can make a compelling case for a sequel to exist.” From their pages to studios’ ears. 😱
Lucasfilm dropped even more Star Wars news over the weekend… While you grilled in the backyard, Star Wars mania continued to unfold in Anaheim all weekend long. So what else did we learn? A Donald Glover-led Lando series is still in the works, Visions is going global in season 2, there’s a trailer for the next Bad Batch batch, and two more Jedi-focused animated anthology series are on the way. ✨
New York homeowners sue Mark Ruffalo and HBO for an allegedly toxic fire post-I Know This Much Is True shoot… Remember that HBO miniseries where Mark Ruffalo played twins? Some Ellenville, NY, residents can’t forget it as a fire that allegedly broke at a shooting location reportedly spread toxic fumes into their neighborhood. No bueno! 🔥
Bradley Cooper is unrecognizable as an older Leonard Bernstein in Maestro… Start lining up the awards, Cooper’s gone full Leto. Rocket Raccoon looks more like Bradley Cooper than old man Bernstein does here! 🎶
Girls5eva gets faux retrospective at real Grammys museum… This sixhibit is going to be threelightful. 🖐
After TikTok drama, Halsey’s single is on its way… Hals well that ends well. 🎵
Emerald Fennell’s next movie heads to Amazon Prime… Thanks Amazon! 📦
Norm Macdonald: Nothing Special - May 30 | Netflix comedy special | 🍅
Pistol - May 31 | FX/Hulu miniseries | 🍅 53%
The Boys s3 - June 3 | Amazon drama series | 🍅
Fire Island - June 3 | Hulu comedy film | 🍅 100%
What to watch
Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty is not HBO’s next crown jewel. While engaging in its own way, this basketball period piece never rises to the game-changing, zeitgeist-defining levels of the network’s mega hits. Despite having Adam McKay as a producer and director, it’s not the new Succession. That’s OK. What it is, is a crafty, superbly-cast showcase with more ambition than it knows what to do with. All of which is ironically appropriate considering the show is about a crafty, superbly-built team with a lot of ambition.
The most striking thing about Winning Time is its unusual form. If you’re looking for something a little offbeat in its filmmaking, you could do a lot worse. Creators Max Borenstein and Jim Hecht start at the script level by giving series lead Dr. Jerry Buss some Ferris Bueller-esque direct-to-camera asides. McKay then extends the experimentation by mixing media (scenes jump between different film stocks and video on a whim) and then editing in his frenetic style, layering in jump cuts and odd angles. All this technique works in setting up an exaggerated pastiche that is intentionally breaking down the fourth wall to provoke the viewer.
So it’s got style, what about talent? Borenstein, Hecht, and McKay really did go out of their way to assemble an incredible cast. John C. Reilly, Sally Field, Gabby Hoffman, Jason Clarke, Adrien Brody, Tracy Letts, Jason Segel, Julianne Nicholson, Rob Morgan, Michael Chiklis; any one of them could lead a series but here they’re playing roles of various sizes. But this whole thing hinged on the casting of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and in relative newcomers Quincy Isaiah and Solomon Hughes, they’ve have found true stars. Both of them carry the presence of their real-life counterparts in remarkable and vastly different ways.
Winning Time is trying to do a lot. It wants to be a Cinderella sports story (which it achieves), it wants to be a commentary on race and sexism in the early ‘80s (not as successful but making the effort), and it wants to be a gut-punching interpersonal drama (the Buss family drama is the least compelling part). The result is a flashy, fun show, that’s worth the ride, and full of surprises — if you don’t know the real story that is.