Apple Orders Thriller Series ‘Shining Girls’ Starring Elizabeth Moss

Apple has ordered a new series, “Shining Girls,” starring Emmy Award winner Elisabeth Moss, for its streaming service Apple TV+.

A metaphysical thriller based on the 2013 best-selling novel by Lauren Beukes, the series stars Moss as a Chicago reporter who survived a brutal assault only to find her reality shifting as she hunts down her attacker.

In addition to starring, Moss will executive produce through Love & Squalor Pictures alongside Lindsey McManus. Leonardo DiCaprio will executive produce through Appian Way alongside Jennifer Davidson. Author Lauren Beukes and Alan Page Arriaga will also serve as executive producers on the project.

Hailing from MRC Television, the series will be adapted for television and executive produced by Silka Luisa, who will also serve as showrunner.

“Shining Girls” follows Apple’s recently announced a straight-to-series order for “The Shrink Next Door,” a new eight-episode limited series from Civic Center Media in association with MRC Television, starring Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd.

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Apple TV+ is available on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, Mac, select Samsung and LG smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices, as well as at tv.apple.com, for $4.99 per month with a seven-day free trial. The Apple TV app will be available on Sony and Vizio smart TVs later this year. For a limited time, customers who purchase a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod touch can enjoy one year of Apple TV+ for free. This special offer is good for three months after the first activation of the eligible device. For more information, visit apple.com/tvpr.

The Invisible Man (2020)

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Universal;
Horror;
Box Office $64.91 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray, $44.98 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for some strong bloody violence and language.
Stars Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Storm Reid, Harriet Dyer, Michael Dorman, Oliver Jackson-Cohen.

Writer-director Leigh Whannell’s new version of The Invisible Man is a masterfully crafted example of using a relatively simple premise to build suspense while keeping the audience guessing.

The script is centered on the concept of the “invisible man” as a metaphor for the constant fear experienced by someone who escapes a traumatic situation only to wonder if they will eventually be found and hunted by their abuser.

Elisabeth Moss gives a compelling performance as Cecilia, who in the opening scenes carries out an elaborate plan to leave her boyfriend, Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), in the middle of the night while he sleeps. We never see their relationship in play, only hear about it second-hand from her, which immediately puts us in her head and begins the mind games that make the film so effective.

Cecilia gets word that Adrian has died, and begins to ease out of her fears once she learns he left her a $5 million inheritance. Yet she can’t shake the feeling that he’s somehow still haunting her, surmising that as a leading scientist in the field of optics he was able to construct some sort of invisibility suit.

Her friends and family begin to doubt her sanity, and even the audience is left to wonder what’s really going on, and how much of her troubles are either in her head or a result of her losing touch with reality.

Even when the film peels back the curtain about what’s really going on, we’re still left guessing as to who is doing what, who is planning what, and whether there’s another layer of manipulation we have yet to comprehend.

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And to think, the studio’s original plans for the film would have had it be a more conventional remake starring Johnny Depp as the title character, fitting into the shared “Dark Universe” of Universal movie monsters before that franchise became a non-starter after the awful 2017 version of The Mummy snuffed it out.

Instead, it was re-conceived by Whannell, co-creator (along with James Wan) of the “Saw” and “Insidious” franchises, and placed under the auspices of producer Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions, experts at crafting low-budget suspense thrillers for big returns (even before the coronavirus lockdowns cut short its theatrical run, the film grossed $126 million worldwide against a budget o $7 million).

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The Blu-ray includes a terrific solo commentary track by Whannell, which is one of the better examples of such an accompaniment nowadays. Both witty and effusive, Whannell delves into the challenges of shooting the film in Australia to make it look like America, while setting up shots to cover the empty spaces where someone we can’t see might be standing.

The Blu-ray also includes nine deleted scenes totaling about 13-and-a-half minutes. The scenes are pretty good on their own and even inform some of the scenes in the final film, but why they were removed is understandable.

There are also four making-of featurettes that pack a lot of insight into less than a half-hour of screentime. The primary one is the 11-minute “Director’s Journey With Leigh Whannell,” which serves as a basic behind-the-scenes featurette and is a good companion to the commentary.

The four-minute “Moss Manifested” puts the spotlight on Elisabeth Moss and her interpretation of the role, and the five-and-a-half-minute “The Players” focuses on the rest of the cast.

Finally, “Timeless Terror” examines how Whannell reimagined the story and imbued it with modern themes.

‘Invisible Man’ Gets Post-PVOD Digital, Disc Release Dates

The Invisible Man, the Jason Blum-produced thriller whose theatrical run was cut short by the novel coronavirus pandemic, will be released by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment through digital retailers on May 12 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Disc and DVD on May 26.

Viewers for the first time will get the opportunity to see more than 20 minutes of bonus content — including a close-up look at lead actress Elisabeth Moss, feature commentary with writer-director Leigh Whannell, and deleted scenes — which wasn’t available when the film was initially released to digital streaming channels, at a premium “rental” rate of $19.99, after movie theaters went dark.

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The film, in which Whannell reimagines Universal’s classic unseeable character against a backdrop of an empowered woman facing her abusive former boyfriend, was released theatrically Feb. 28 and earned more than $64 million at the domestic box office before theaters were shuttered in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. On March 16, Universal became the first studio to pull its entire movie slate out of theaters and make them available for home viewing at a premium rate.

The Invisible Man stars Moss (from “The Handmaid’s Tale”) as Cecilia Kass, who slowly begins to rebuild her life after the death of her abusive ex-boyfriend (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). But before long, she begins to question whether or not he is truly gone.

The film also stars Aldris Hodge (“Black Mirror,” Straight Outta Compton) and Storm Reid (Don’t Let Go, “Euphoria”).

Bonus content includes:

  • “Moss Manifested” — Star Elisabeth Moss describes the physical and emotional challenges she faced while portraying Cecilia, a woman whose truth is constantly questioned by those around her.
  • “Director’s Journey With Leigh Whannell” — Director Leigh Whannell acts as tour guide through principal photography, from day 1 to day 40.
  • “The Players” — Filmmakers and cast provide an in-depth analysis of each character and how they interact with the unseen terror of the “invisible” tormentor.
  • “Timeless Terror” — A behind-the-scenes look at how writer-director Whannell reimagined the iconic “invisible man” character through the lens of modern technology and socially relatable themes.
  • Feature commentary with Whannell.

Mob Drama ‘The Kitchen’ Due on Digital Oct. 22, Disc Nov. 5 From Warner

The female-driven mob drama The Kitchen arrives on digital (including Movies Anywhere) Oct. 22 and Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 5 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Based on the Vertigo comic book series from DC Entertainment, the film stars Oscar nominee Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, Tammy), Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip, Night School) and Elisabeth Moss (TV’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” TV’s “Mad Men”) as three 1978 Hell’s Kitchen housewives whose mobster husbands are sent to prison by the FBI. The three women take business into their own hands by running the rackets and taking out the competition.

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The film, which earned $12.2 million in domestic theaters, is written and directed by Andrea Berloff, who was nominated for an Oscar for Original Screenplay for Straight Outta Compton.

Extras on Blu-ray include “Running Hell’s Kitchen,” “Taking Over the Neighborhood,” and a deleted scene. “Running Hell’s Kitchen” is included on the DVD.

‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 3 on Disc Nov. 19

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season Three will arrive on Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 19 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The third season of the Award-winning Hulu series is driven by June’s (Elisabeth Moss) resistance to the dystopian regime of Gilead, in which she finds herself once again after opting not to flee to Canada with her baby at the end of the second season. Now, she will struggle to strike back against the regime despite overwhelming odds.

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The season three cast includes Cherry Jones and Bradley Whitford, who each recently won Emmys for guest acting in the second season. The cast also includes Christopher Meloni, Elizabeth Reaser, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Alexis Bledel, Madeline Brewer, Amanda Brugel, Ann Dowd, O-T Fagbenle, Max Minghella and Samira Wiley.

The disc includes the featurette “Power Play: Gilead’s Women Fight Back.”

Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Emerging on Digital June 4, Disc June 18 From Universal

Academy Award winner Jordan Peele’s followup to Get OutUs —is coming to digital (including Movies Anywhere) June 4 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD June 18 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film, which earned $172.9 million at the box office, stars Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o (Black Panther, 12 Years a Slave), Winston Duke (Black Panther), Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Mad Men”) and Tim Heidecker (The Comedy, “Tim & Eric’s Bedtime Stories”).

Set along the North California coastline, the story follows Adelaide Wilson (Nyong’o) who reluctantly returns to her beachside childhood home with her family and finds that she is haunted by unresolved trauma from her past along with a string of eerie coincidences. As darkness falls after a tense day at the beach, the Wilsons discover four figures standing in their driveway. They soon realize this is only the beginning of their troubles as they find that the four figures are terrifying and uncanny opponents: doppelgängers of themselves.

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Special features include:

  • “The Duality of Us,” in which Peele goes in-depth on some of the key themes and imagery in the film, including Doppelgängers, Hands Across America, The Nutcracker dance scene, rabbits and the infamous 11:11 coincidence;
  • “The Monsters Within Us,” which examines how cast members were able to find their characters, whether they were playing one of the Wilsons or their sinister doppelgängers;
  • “Tethered Together: Making Us Twice,” about the difficulties of making a movie where all the main cast members play dual roles;
  • “Redefining a Genre: Jordan Peele’s Brand of Horror,” in which cast and filmmakers highlight what makes Peele so unique, as well as the filmmaker’s own thoughts on his inspirations and the relationship between horror and comedy;
  • “Becoming Red,” a closer look at Nyong’o’s performance as “Red”;
  • deleted scenes;
  • “We’re All Dying,” funny outtakes from the conversation between Duke and Heidecker on the beach;
  • “As Above, So Below: Grand Pas de Deux,” an extended version of the dance sequence from the film.

 

Special features exclusive to 4K UHD, Blu-ray and digital include scene explorations, about the making of three iconic scenes from the film, the Tyler house massacre, Jason’s abduction and Adelaide’s underground flashback.

‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Season Two on Disc Dec. 4 From Fox

The second season of Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD Dec. 4 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The four-disc set will includes all 13 episodes,  as well as two new featurettes: “Season Two: Off Book” and “Dressing Dystopia.”

The second season is shaped by the pregnancy of Offred (Elisabeth Moss) and her ongoing fight to free her future child from the dystopian horrors of Gilead.

The cast includes Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Alexis Bledel, Madeline Brewer, Ann Dowd, O-T Fagbenle, Max Minghella, Samira Wiley, Amanda Brugel, Cherry Jones and Bradley Whitford.

Director Flies Classic ‘The Seagull’ With Star Power

Annette Bening, Saoirse Ronan, Elisabeth Moss and Brian Dennehy are a just a few of the top actors that Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer was able to assemble for the latest film adaptation of the Anton Chekhov Russian classic The Seagull.

The film is available on DVD and digital from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

“Annette literally made the film happen because it was her signing on that made the project attractive to the other actors,” Mayer said. “Also, I asked Annette to do it, and then Stephen Karam could write with her voice in his head.”

Tony-winning playwright Karam adapted the film from Chekhov’s play about the obsessive nature of love, the tangled relationships between parents and children, and the toll of making art.

“We had an idea to do a contemporary feeling film,” Mayer said.

It was a hectic shooting schedule of just 21 days, so “it was helpful to have so many theater actors in these roles,” he said.

Ronan, recently nominated for an Oscar for her lead performance in Lady Bird, also signed on.

“Saoirse did an early reading of the screenplay, and she was incredible,” Mayer said. “I loved working with her. She brings great truth and bravery to her work.”

Moss, currently starring in the award-winning “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “was fantastic to watch and direct,” he said, while Dennehy “is a living legend and gave so much of himself.”

“The whole company was a joy to work with,” he said. “It was fast and furious and great fun.”

Corey Stoll, Mare Winningham, Jon Tenney, Glenn Fleshler, Michael Zegen and Billy Howle also star.

Another character in the film was the setting, a house on a lake that reflected the play’s Russian roots.

“It’s a house on a lake in upstate New York that is owned and operated by Russian Americans,” Mayer noted. “Our production designer, Jane Musky, who is of Russian descent, spent summers at the house when she was a young girl and remembered it when we went scouting.”

Bonus features include the Tribeca Film Festival cast and crew red carpet and a Q&A with Mayer and Bening.

‘The Seagull’ Coming on DVD, Digital Sept. 25 From Sony

The Seagull, starring Annette Bening and Saoirse Ronan, will come out on DVD and digital Sept. 25 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Based on the play by Russian author Anton Chekhov, The Seagull is brought to the screen by Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer and Tony Award-winning screenwriter Stephen Karam.

One summer at a lakeside Russian estate, friends and family gather for a weekend in the countryside. While everyone is caught up in passionately loving someone who loves somebody else, a tragicomedy unfolds about art, fame, human folly and the eternal desire to live a purposeful life.

In addition to Bening and Ronan, the film stars Corey Stoll (“House of Cards”), Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), Mare Winningham (Georgia), Jon Tenney (“Scandal”), Glenn Fleshler (“Barry”), Michael Zegen (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), Billy Howle (Dunkirk) and Brian Dennehy (“Death of a Salesman”).

Special features include cast and crew red carpet interviews and a post-screening Q&A from the Tribeca Film Festival with director Michael Mayer, Bening, Ronan, Stoll, Winningham, Tenney, Fleshler, Zegen, Howle, Dennehy and Karam as well as a City Cinemas Q&A with Mayer and Bening.