'Minari' and 'Body Brokers' coming soon to theaters and more Oklahoma movie and TV news
Oklahoma crime thriller 'Body Brokers' getting theatrical release
Tulsa writer-director John Swab's crime thriller "Body Brokers" will be released in theaters and on VOD/digital platforms Feb. 19 via Vertical Entertainment.
"Body Brokers" filmed in Tulsa in 2019 with an all-star cast, including Academy Award-winner Melissa Leo and former Tulsa resident (“The Fighter,” “The Big Short”), Emmy nominee Michael K. Williams (“When They See Us,” “The Wire”), Frank Grillo (“The Purge,” “Captain America: Winter Soldier”), Alice Englert (“Beautiful Creatures,” “Them That Follow”), Jack Kilmer (“The Nice Guys,” “The Stanford Prison Experiment”), Jessica Rothe (“La La Land,” “Happy Death Day”) and Peter Greene (“Pulp Fiction,” “The Mask”).
According to Collider, Swab ("Run with the Hunted," the upcoming "Ida Red") based "Body Brokers" on real-life events. Brought to Los Angeles for treatment, a recovering junkie named Utah (Kilmer, who is the son of Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley) soon learns that the rehab center he is attending isn't focused on helping people, but instead acts as a cover for a multi-billion-dollar fraud operation that enlists addicts to recruit other addicts.
"I was a street junky for over a decade. During my early attempts at recovery, I went through countless rehabs and detoxes all over the country. In that time, I was 'brokered' and then taught how to broker bodies. This is the true story of the multi-billion dollar insurance scandal within the substance abuse treatment industry," Swab wrote in his director's statement, per Collider. "The FBI recently raided several of the largest treatment centers in Southern California for body brokering and insurance fraud -- with more to come. With the opiate epidemic being a central topic of conversation, people need to know about the predatory nature of the proposed solution to the problem: treatment. This is a film about where capitalism fails addicts."
Among the theaters that will show the film starting Feb. 19 is Tulsa's Circle Cinema. For tickets and information, go to www.circlecinema.org.
Tulsa-grown 'Minari' coming to Oklahoma theaters
One of my favorite films of 2020, writer-director Lee Isaac Chung’s beautifully bittersweet family drama "Minari," which was filmed in Tulsa in 2019, is continuing to garner award nominations and Oscar buzz ahead of its theatrical debut.
A24 is launching a virtual screening room for the film starting Friday, but all digital tickets are sold out through Feb. 21.
"Minari" is opening in Oklahoma theaters Feb. 19. It will be shown in Oklahoma City at the Tower Theatre, Oklahoma City Museum of Art and Rodeo Cinema. In Tulsa, it will be screened at Circle Cinema, the B&B Tulsa Starworld 20 and Cinemark 17.
In addition, A24 is partnering with independent theaters like Rodeo Cinema,Oklahoma City Museum of Art,Tower Theatre and Circle Cinema to allow people to rent "Minari" for at-home viewing through their virtual cinema programs. The distributor will be sharing revenue with these indie theaters for virtual tickets sold on their websites, so go to their websites to get more info or buy virtual tickets.
Chung’s powerful and poetic semi-autobiographical story centers on a Korean immigrant family who relocates in the 1980s from Los Angeles to the Heartland to establish a farm and pursue the American Dream. Although the story is set in Arkansas, the Oklahoma skies, farmland and woods are beautifully showcased in the moving but not maudlin movie.
"Minari" earned both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the January 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Over the past year, "Minari" has steadily and quietly continued to touch audiences and earn acclaim, especially for Yuh-Jung Youn, who plays the feisty Korean grandmother who moves in with the family to help care for the story's lively 7-year-old protagonist, David (Alan Kim).
Along with a controversial Golden Globe nomination, "Minari" has been nominated for 10 Critics Choice Awards, six Film Independent Spirit Awards and three Screen Actors Guild Awards. "Minari" has excellent odds to join "The Grapes of Wrath," "Around the World in 80 Days," "Rain Man," "Twister" and "August: Osage County" as movies filmed (at least in part) in Oklahoma to earn Academy Award nominations when the Oscar nods are announced March 15, ahead of the April 25 ceremony.
Look for my interviews with the film's producer as well as some of the Oklahomans involved in the movie's making coming soon.
Native actor Lily Gladstone cast in 'Killers of the Flower Moon'
Native American actor Lily Gladstone, known for her roles in Kelly Reichardt’s acclaimed independent films "First Cow" and "Certain Women" as well as the Showtime series "Billions," has been cast in iconic filmmaker Martin Scorsese's long-awaited big-budget adaptation of "Killers of the Flower Moon," which is finally set to start filming soon in Oklahoma.
Filming on the eagerly awaited movie - which was delayed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic - will reportedly occur from spring to late summer in the Tulsa, Bartlesville and Osage County areas.
Set to reunite Scorsese with Oscar-winning icons Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio, the highly anticipated film's now also is set to include Gladstone, according to Variety.
Gladstone, who is Blackfeet and Nez Perce, will play the role of Mollie Burkhart, an Osage woman married to Ernest Burkhart, who is nephew of a powerful local rancher. DiCaprio will play Burkhart and De Niro will portray his uncle in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”
"Killers of the Flower Moon" is based on the acclaimed novel of the same name by David Grann, the best-selling author of "The Lost City of Z" and "The White Darkness." “Killers of the Flower Moon” chronicles the mysterious murders of Osage Nation citizens, who in 1920s Oklahoma became the center of a major FBI investigation involving J. Edgar Hoover.
"I think it's so great that they're going to be filming here, that they've had auditions for the Osage and for other Native American actors to be a part of it," Grann told me in a 2020 interview in Oklahoma City.
"When I wrote the book, part of it was to hopefully make sure that this history is part of our consciousness. Because for so many people - and I include myself - we had essentially excised this very important history."
Along with the pandemic delays, the project also worked through some budgetary wrangling last year, with Paramount recruiting Apple to assist in making the movie, which reportedly has a budget around $200 million. According to Variety, Paramount still will distribute the film worldwide, with Apple joining to finance the project, act as the movie's creative studio and then stream the prestigious title on its Apple TV+ service.
Although both DiCaprio and De Niro are frequent collaborators of Scorsese, "Killers of the Flower Moon" will mark the first of his feature films that will star the iconic actors together. They both appeared in Scorsese’s 2015 short film "The Audition," in which they portrayed fictionalized versions of themselves.
deadCenter celebrating Black History Month
Oklahoma City's deadCenter Film Festival is showing the Oklahoma film "Birdie," winner of deadCenter's 2020 AMPEX Audience Award for Best Feature in its virtual cinema starting at 5 p.m. today throughout the rest of February, which is Black History Month.
The feature film director debut from actor Gregory Alan Williams ("Remember the Titans)," who also has a role in the movie, "Birdie" centers on Luke Bellamy (LaRonn Marzett), who is apprehensive about his prospects when he's released from the Oklahoma State Penitentiary after serving seven years for negligent homicide. But one thing is certain: he desperately wants to reconnect to his 8-year-old daughter, Adeline (Kyrie Mcalpin), whom he hasn’t seen for a decade.
When he returns to his small hometown in the hopes of reuniting with her, though, he must somehow convince the parents of his wife - who died in the drunken accident that landed him in prison - to allow him back into their lives.
"Birdie" is part of deadCenter's Continuum year-round programming. Virtual tickets are $10, and proceeds will be split between deadCenter and "Birdie's" filmmakers. Click here for tickets.
Also for Black History Month, deadCenter is streaming a few of the festival's favorite short films from 2016 to 2020 that celebrate Black voices. This virtual program is free to watch by clicking here.
Plus, don't forget that the deadline to submit to the 2021 deadCenter Film Festival is coming soon. Film submissions for the 2021 deadCenter Film Festival close on Feb. 21.
The 21st annual deadCenter Film Festival is set for June 10-20, and virtual passes are now available. For more information, go to www.deadcenterfilm.org.
Alfre Woodard returning to Marvel with animated 'Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur'
Tulsa native and deadCenter Oklahoma Film Icon Alfre Woodard is returning to the Marvel universe with her upcoming role in Disney Channel’s animated series "Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur."
Based on the Marvel comic book series, the series will follow the adventures of 13-year-old super-genius Lunella Lafayette and her 10-ton T-Rex, Devil Dinosaur. After Lunella accidentally brings Devil Dinosaur into present-day New York City via a time vortex, they team up to protect the Lower East Side.
According to Deadline, Laurence Fishburne and Helen Sugland’s Cinema Gypsy Productions (ABC’s "Black-ish"), Marvel Animation and Family Entertainment and Emmy winner Steve Loter (Disney’s "Kim Possible") are executive producing.
TV Line reports that Diamond White ("The Lion Guard") will voice Lunella Lafayette, aka Moon Girl, while Woodard will play Lunella’s grandmother Mimi.
The series also will feature the voice talents of Libe Barer ("Sneaky Pete") as Lunella’s best friend and manager Casey; Sasheer Zamata ("Saturday Night Live") as Lunella’s mom Adria; Jermaine Fowler ("Superior Donuts") as Lunella’s dad James Jr.; Fred Tatasciore ("Marvel’s Avengers Assemble") as Devil Dinosaur; Gary Anthony Williams ("Doc McStuffins:) as Lunella’s grandfather Pops, and Fishburne ("The Matrix) as the enigmatic trickster The Beyonder.
Woodard previously starred in the Marvel Netflix series "Luke Cage," had a small but key role in the film "Captain America: Civil War" and played a voice role in the animated miniseries "Black Panther."
Curbside Flowers to be featured Friday on 'The Drew Barrymore Show'
OKC's new Curbside Flowers, 522 N Classen Blvd., will be featured Friday on "The Drew Barrymore Show."
The daytime talk show airs in OKC at 2 p.m. on KFOR and 4 p.m. on KAUT. In Tulsa, it airs at KTUL in Tulsa.
Open year round, the full-service flower shop is a program of the Homeless Alliance and provides education, employment and training to people transitioning out of homelessness in Oklahoma City. For more information, go to curbsideflowers.com.
Tulsa's Circle Cinema donating Sundance funds to Greenwood Rising
The nonprofit Tulsa theater served as one of 25 satellite locations for Sundance, which helped the festival to continue safely despite a global pandemic. This donation reflects 100% of general admission ticket sale proceeds from the Tulsa venues, according to a news release.
“The opportunity to financially support the work of the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission expands on our impact as we work to bring community consciousness through film,” said Clark Wiens, co-founder and current board president of Circle Cinema, in a statement. “2021 marks an important year of healing for our city and our nation and we want to recognize the important work of the Commission through this donation, which was made possible by the community who supported us during Sundance in Tulsa.”
Circle Cinema identified the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission as the beneficiary of ticket sale proceeds as a part of its commitment to eliminate racism. The commission works to expand knowledge of the Black Wall Street community, create economic and entrepreneurial opportunities for African Americans, and promote community-wide reconciliation in Tulsa.
“The Commission was thrilled to have Circle Cinema choose to donate the Sundance ticket sale proceeds to our work,” said Phil Armstrong, Project Manager 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, in a statement. "Greenwood Rising history center plans to partner with the historic Circle Cinema in racial justice programming through film. We appreciate their generosity.”
Over six days, Circle Cinema screened 14 official Sundance films between its main theater location on South Lewis Avenue, and the local drive-in theater, Admiral Twin. Several films screened won awards during the festival, including the critically acclaimed "CODA" and "Judas and the Black Messiah." Each venue was limited to 20% and 25% capacity respectively to allow for proper social distancing but still welcomed about 2,050 moviegoers and sold out 12 screenings.
Circle Cinema programmed 12 free “Beyond the Film” panels featuring eight short films focused on local filmmaking initiatives, including Representation Matters: Indigenous Filmmakers, Queering Cinema in Oklahoma and Welcome to Tulsa, which shared details about the work of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission. To date these panel discussions, which remain free to watch on Youtube and Facebook, have reached more than 10,000 viewers and counting.
Beginning this Friday, Circle Cinema is offering encore performances of Shaka King’s biographical drama "Judas and the Black Messiah," which premiered at Sundance. Showtimes and ticket information can be found at circlecinema.org.
Several films are in various stages of production in Oklahoma, and many of them are casting extras and other roles. Among them are "American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story," "God’s Not Dead: We the People," "Prisoner of Love" and "Killers of the Flower Moon" (which, according to multiple reports, is also going by the working name "Gray Horse"). For more information, go to okfilmmusic.org/jobs.
Features Writer Brandy "BAM" McDonnell covers Oklahoma's arts, entertainment and cultural sectors for The Oklahoman and Oklahoman.com. Reach her at email@example.com, www.facebook.com/brandybammcdonnell and twitter.com/BAMOK. Please support work by her and her colleagues by subscribing at oklahoman.com/subscribe.