Is George Clooney's latest directorial effort, The Midnight Sky, worth your time? Reviews for the film (based on 2016 novel by Lily Brooks-Dalton, it debuts on Netflix next week) are now coming online and while critcs admire Clooney's creative ambition, they can't help but feel that his stab at sci-fi is a bit derivative and lacking.
"Gravity, an obvious influence here, was an enthralling movie from first shot to last. The Midnight Sky has a generically functional motor," writes Owen Glieberman for Variety. The Midnight Sky wants to touch us on a human level ... Some viewers will surely be moved. To me, though, The Midnight Sky just proves that a movie that reaches for the stars can still come up empty-handed."
In addition to directing, Clooney also stars as the main protagonist, Augustine Lofthouse, a lonely scientist stationed in the Arctic, who must race against time to warn a ship of astronauts from returning to Earth after a mysterious global disaster.
"Sci-fi fanboys will no doubt find The Midnight Sky too solemn, and its echoes of movies like Interstellar, The Martian, and Ad Astra don't always play in its favor. But others will respond to its contemplative maturity. Clooney tips his hat to a vintage inspiration by catching Mitchell watching the closing scene of Stanley Kramer's On the Beach," posits David Rooney for The Hollywood Reporter. "The director and writers here clearly are pondering the fate of a wounded planet in ways that glance back to that 1959 atomic aftermath drama, nurturing hope for humanity despite the grim outlook."
Penned by Mark L. Smith (The Revenant), the film features an impressive supporting cast of Felicity Jones (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), David Oyelowo (The Cloverfield Paradox), Tiffany Boone (Hunters), Demián Bichir (Alien: Covenant), Ethan Peck (Star Trek: Discovery), and Kyle Chandler (Godzilla: King of the Monsters).
Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt awards the film a "B," writing: "There are several arresting visual set pieces, including a blizzard white-out that feels like the actual end of the world and a memorable lesson on the physics of blood dispersion in zero gravity ... But the film often feels less like its own distinct narrative than a sort of greatest-hits amalgam of movies like The Martian, Gravity, Interstellar, Ad Astra, and all the others that came before; one more long-haul tale of lonely astronauts and contrails in the cosmos."
The Midnight Sky will receive a limited theatrical run this Friday (Dec. 11) before hitting Netflix on Friday, Dec. 18.
Anamaria Marinca (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days), Alice Englert (Ratched), Carloto Cotta (Tabu), Félix Maritaud (Sauvage), and Sara Klimoska (Milcho Manchevski’s Willow) co-star. Focus Features snapped up the worldwide distribution rights to the project, which marks the feature-length debut of writer-director Goran Stolevski. Their short, "Would You Look At Her," won Best International Short Film at the Sundance in 2018.
Production recently wrapped in Serbia. Set in 19th century Macedonia, the plot unfolds in a small village where a young witch has lived a feral existence in the woods. "Curious about life as a human, she accidentally kills a peasant in the village, then takes her shape to see what life is like in her skin. This ignites her deep-seated curiosity to experience life inside the bodies of others," writes Deadline. The role of the witch will reportedly be played by different actors.
"You Won’t Be Alone is a very special project by a very special and talented filmmaker and we’re so proud and excited to be producing Goran Stolevski’s debut feature film," producers Kristina Ceyton (The Babadook) and Sam Jennings (Cargo) said in a statement to Deadline. "And to be collaborating with Focus Features and, for the third time, with Bankside Films, to bring this story to life and out into the world. Making a film amidst a pandemic has certainly been challenging, but with such supportive financiers in Screen Australia and Film Victoria, our post partner KOJO Studios, Head Gear Films, and the dedication of our amazingly committed international cast and the incredible crew here in Serbia, we feel very grateful."
Per Variety, she will direct and executive produce The Baby, a horror-comedy show created by Siân Robins-Grace and Lucy Gaymer. The project is described as “a funny, raw examination of motherhood as an institution: a set of unspoken and often horrifying rules that affect women differently depending on how they’re viewed by society."
The show has assembled an all-female writers' room that includes Sophie Goodheart (Sex Education), Kara Smith (Apple's Tree House), Anchuli Felicia King (Golden Shield), and Susan Stanton (Succession). Ms. Marvel showrunner Bisha K. Ali is on board as a consultant.
“We can’t believe our luck that Nicole’s joining us on The Baby – her body of work speaks for itself,” Robins-Grace and Gaymer said in a statement run by Variety. “She’s a spectacular collaborator and creative, and working with her is an education. Our phenomenal team of writers are bringing the full force of their talent to the story. We’re surrounded by creative and technical brilliance, basically.”
"Embracing comedy AND horror the show catapults us through an incredible adventure all while tackling the real-life explosions that the question of procreation can have on the self, family and friendships. To be working with the powerhouse producers that are Sister, all women whose work and careers I have long admired, is a life-long dream. I’m ever grateful to have Sian, Lucy, and Sister embrace my vision and trust me with their BABY," added Kassell.