CODA Review | Sundance Film Festival
2021’s Sundance Film Festival is underway and despite being virtual this year, if the first film I saw is anything to go back it looks like it’s going to be just as packed full of great films as the festival would be in person.
The film’s title, CODA is an acronym for ‘Child of Deaf Adults’ and the film follows teenager Ruby, played remarkably by Emilia Jones, who is the only hearing person in her deaf family. Ruby is torn between her family and their fishing business and following her love of singing in this incredible coming of age film. CODA is actually an English-language remake of the 2014 French film La Famille Bélier and after watching CODA, it really makes me want to seek out the original.
Ruby is vital to her family’s fishing business as she’s the only hearing member of her family but then after signing up for the school choir in an attempt to get closer to Miles, her crush, she ends up finding a passion for music and for singing. Naturally her parents, who can’t even hear her singing to know if she’s any good, aren’t too impressed by this and would rather she stays with them to help support their fishing business instead of going to music college.
It would be very easy to dismiss CODA as being rather formulaic and generic in the sense that it does follow all the usual tropes and it does tick all the boxes of what you’d expect to see in a coming-of-age film, but it also does so much more than your standard film about becoming your own person and finding yourself. The main reason is because of the central characters.
At the film’s heart is Ruby, a CODA and her deaf family- all of whom are actually played by deaf actors. The fact that writer/director Siân Heder is telling a fairly standard story that we all know about the teen girl who has to find herself and break free from her family from a perspective that we never really get to see in many films makes this film so much better.
As well as this, Jones is fantastic in the lead role and really brings the character of Ruby Rossi to life. The film juxtaposes the silent scenes between Ruby and her family that take places in ASL and the scenes of Ruby singing so well taking the film from quite pensive scenes, to louder scenes of Ruby truly finding herself. Despite the fact that there’s a lot of sign language (with subtitles) in this film and a lot of scenes with no spoken dialogue, it’s still a really sincere and heartfelt film
Overall, CODA is a really exquisite film that’s full of heart and emotion and despite the fact it largely sticks to the fairly generic tropes of the coming-of-age film, it’s CODA’s unique and compelling characters that really makes this film as charming as it is.
CODA premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. Dramatic Competition section.
‘1883’ Spinoff Series ‘Bass Reeves’ Adds Dennis Quaid to Cast
Dennis Quaid (Far from Heaven, The Day After Tomorrow) is the latest star to join the cast of Bass Reeves, a new drama series coming from Taylor Sheridan (Yellowstone, Tulsa King) and Paramount+, according to Deadline. Bass Reeves was announced as a spinoff to the Yellowstone prequel, 1883 back in May 2022 with David Oyelowo (Selma, A Wrinkle in Time) attached to star as the legendary lawman.
Bass Reeves will follow Oyelowo as someone who is known to many as “the greatest frontier hero” in American history in his own series on Paramount+. The streamer already houses so many Sheridan-fronted programs, most recently, Mayor of Kingstown starring Jeremy Renner returned for its second season while CIA drama, Lioness added to its cast with Nicole Kidman and Morgan Freeman. Some believe that Reeves served inspiration to “The Lone Ranger” having worked as a peace officer for Indian territory capturing over 3,000 criminals on that land. Quaid will play Sherrill Lynn, a Deputy U.S. Marshall within the show.
Quaid most recently voiced the character Jaeger Clade in Disney’s animated feature Strange World which is currently available to stream on Disney+. He’ll also star in Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming HBO Max series Full Circle alongside Zazie Beetz, Claire Danes and Emmy-winner Jharrel Jerome.
Amy Winehouse Biopic ‘Back to Black’ Adds to Cast with Jack O’Connell, Eddie Marsan and Lesley Manville
Let the casting of music biopics commence! As we’ve been hammered with news of superstar musician biopics each and every week, we have more news of one that is filming currently with Back to Black about the late, great Amy Winehouse. While it was reported back in January that Industry star, Marisa Abela will be leading as Winehouse, we now have details courtesy of Deadline on who will be joining the British pop star’s life story on screen.
The report indicates that Jack O’Connell (Unbroken, ’71), Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread, Another Year) and Eddie Marsan (Ray Donovan, The World’s End) will all appear alongside Abela in Back to Black. O’Connell is set to play Blake Fielder-Civil, the love of Winehouse’s life who she was married to from 2007 until 2009, just a few years prior to her death as their love was unfortunately addled by prescription drug abuse and alcohol as well as multiple stints in rehab for both of them. Marsan will play Winehouse’s father while Manville will play Winehouse’s maternal grandmother in the film.
Back to Black will follow the life of one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all-time in Amy Winehouse. Her sophomore album (which the film is named after) won her 5 Grammy Awards all at the young age of 25 just before her untimely death in 2011 at age 27. The film will focus on Amy’s creativity, genius and upbringing at Camden High School in the UK before she propelled into stardom.
The film will be written by Matt Greenhalgh and directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson reuniting the two of them after their 2009 film Nowhere Boy, which chronicled John Lennon’s formative years and adolescence. Taylor-Johnson is coming off directing episodes of Hunters and Solos for Amazon but is best known for helming Fifty Shades of Grey.
O’Connell had a big 2022 starring in Netflix’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover and MGM+’s new original series, SAS Rogue Heroes. He’ll next star as professional race car driver Peter Collins in Ferrari. Manville most recently starred as Princess Margaret in the recent season of The Crown for Netflix and in Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination. Marsan is best known for playing Ray Donovan‘s brother, Terry in the hit Showtime series but will next appear in the film, Fair Play with Alden Ehrenreich and Phoebe Dynevor.
Anthony Hopkins to Lead Peacock Gladiator Drama ‘Those About to Die’
Peacock is one of the streamers that has yet to break through in terms of their original content getting recognized for awards contention. One such series that might change that fate for the streaming service is Those About to Die and it’s starting to build out its cast. According to Variety, 2-time Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs, The Father) is the first to join the drama series which comes from Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow). Saving Private Ryan screenwriter Robert Rodat will script the series.
Hopkins will play the character known as Emperor Vespasian in the series which is set in the world of gladiatorial battle. It will be an ensemble drama following many different Roman characters that will set forth for violent affairs in the arena among other complexities such as political power and corruption so expect a starry cast for this Peacock drama. Hopkins’ character is described as “despised by the Patricians jockeying for position in the Empire and looking to supplant his heirs to the throne the first chance they get. Vespasian became the Roman emperor after a ten-year civil war. We expect to get more casting news soon as the show will begin filming in Rome in March.
Anthony Hopkins is coming off a terrific performance in James Gray’s Armageddon Time in 2022 after winning his second Academy Award for his role in The Father the year prior. He’ll next voice a character in Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon for Netflix and also will star in British drama One Life alongside Helena Bonham Carter and Jonathan Pryce. Emmerich is coming off directing the sci-fi disaster film, Moonfall in 2022.
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