One recent Sunday night, I found myself at the premiere of Amsterdam, a film for which the word “starry” is too modest. Having avoided the trailers until then, I didn’t realize what I expected until director David O. Russell appeared on stage to introduce the film and part of the cast. In these events, the younger cast members are usually introduced first. “Please welcome … Timothy Olyphant!” Russel said. Dressed in cowboy boots, a scarf and a cheeky hat, Olyphant took the stage.

Well, if this was the more secondary character, then I was expecting something.

Russell continued to involve the cast. Andrea Riseborough. Michael Shannon. Mike Myers. Rami Malek. Roberto De Niro. (De Niro, and they’re not done yet!) Margot Robbie took the stage in a white lace dress, followed by John David Washington and finally Christian Bale.

“Oh!” I thought. “This is quite the cast!”

Then the film started and I quickly realized that this was only a fraction. Alessandro Nivola is in this film. Chris Rock jumps sometimes. Matthias Schoenaerts is intertwined inside and out, as does Zoe Saldana. Anya Taylor-Joy introduces herself. For Pete’s sake, Taylor Swift is in this movie

The trio, in period clothing, walk down a corridor.

Christian Bale, Margot Robbie and John David Washington are the protagonists of Amsterdambut they are only a fraction of the truly star-studded cast.
Studios of the twentieth century

So far I haven’t told you anything about the film apart from the cast. But it doesn’t matter. Some time ago, the studios realized they could create marketing buzz, virtually without paying it, simply by “leaking” casting news to the press. It doesn’t even have to be accurate; it just needs to be picked up, reminding potential ticket buyers that the upcoming film project exists. In an age dominated by existing IP movies – from comic book universes to reboots of characters you’ve loved forever – the excitement of seeing a new actor in a familiar role is enough to generate a title. Or at least a tweet.

This feeling of colliding worlds has begun to extend beyond IP movies and into the original fare, as long as fans can still experience the thrill of seeing all their famous friends in one place. This has little to do with the actual quality of the film; a lot of fantastic actors have been in abysmal movies. (Remember the deceived cast, led by Michael Fassbender, of The Snowman?)

And Amsterdam it’s pretty good, partly because these actors enjoy being in a period game. It’s the story of three friends (Bale, Washington and Robbie) who met in the aftermath of World War I – yes, in Amsterdam – and formed a friendship that broke when everyone left town. Twelve years later, the wave of fascism is picking up in Europe and the trio find themselves unexpectedly reunited, catapulted into the middle of a world-historical conspiracy. (“A lot of things really happened,” the film’s opening credits proclaim.)

AmsterdamRhythms never completely gel, thanks in part to a reckless flashback structure. But it’s lush, smart, and vaguely relevant to our titles, and overall, it’s a good time in the cinema.

Yet it clearly draws most of its appeal from the familiar faces that appear on screen, like many other films this year. The imminent Glass onion: a mystery chases away is a blast in and of itself, as expected, but it wouldn’t be much anticipated if it didn’t have such a huge cast of A-listers (Edward Norton, Janelle Monae, Kathryn Hahn, Kate Hudson, Leslie Odom Jr., Dave Bautista, Jessica Henwick and, of course, Daniel Craig). This is part of the legacy of some thrillers; it was taken up in noticeably less entertainment See how they run earlier this year (Saoirse Ronan, Sam Rockwell, Harris Dickinson, Adrien Brody, Ruth Wilson, Shirley Henderson, David Oyelowo, Sian Clifford, I could go on).

The full cast of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery seated at a long table.

The cast of Glass onion: a mystery chases away.

High speed trainThe character’s enormous appeal was partly due to his formula, but mostly to his cast (Brad Pitt, Bad Bunny, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Joey King, Logan Lerman, Brian Tyree Henry, Zazie Beetz, Michael Shannon and a lot of funny cameo I won’t spoil). I’ve not seen yet Babylonfrom La La Terra director Damien Chazelle, but in December we will arrive at the cinema and we will see Pitt, Robbie, Jean Smart, Olivia Wilde, Samara Weaving, Max Minghella, Tobey Maguire, Katherine Waterston, Spike Jonze, Jeff Garlin and lots of other actors swimming in the waters of the early decadent decades of Hollywood. And next year, Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer it has such a stuffed cast that I can’t even name them all here.

The “cast of thousands” effect has even spilled over to TV. Recently, the massive, long-lasting Law and order the franchise spawned a three-hour “crossover event” that combines characters and storylines from Law and order, Law and order: SVUAnd Law and order: organized crime. Talk about a great cast.

It’s not that big star movies have never appeared in Hollywood before; take all the iterations of the various Oceans movies, for example. Robert Altman movies, like Nashville, Shortcuts, And Gosford Park, often employed massive casts; his protégé Paul Thomas Anderson likes to do the same in movies like Boogie Nights, MagnoliaAnd Licorice pizza. The last few years have seen anthology films such as The French expedition or the many intertwined story films that have kicked off Current love. Throw a stone in the history of cinema and you will reach a large roster of actors.

Yet, this year, it seemed particularly significant. Some of these, undoubtedly, are for practical reasons. With a huge cast, each actor generally takes up less screen time. With Covid protocols in place, it might seem counterintuitive that a large main cast may be easier to manage, but actors often only show up for a few days to shoot scenes, and then they can leave, which could theoretically reduce the risk. for any actor to come out of the “bubble” and take Covid-19. (And if they do, it might be easier to change the schedule and not waste days.)

Also convenient for actors, even without Covid in mind. Shooting for a few days or weeks is easier than committing to a month of shooting and clears the calendar to resume other work.

For the audience, the effect is more than just fun. You have the sense, watching a movie like Amsterdam, that this whole world is familiar to you. You belong there because you know these people. It’s comforting, relaxing, fun to watch and review. You know, entering, you are in good hands.

But I can’t shake the idea that the plethora of thousands of films right now is the effect of a giant cause and effect relationship. And I think the cause is Avengers: End of the game.

Remember, this was the ultimate crossover event, where all the stars you’ve seen in the big big cycle of the MCU for decades were finally together in one movie. Maybe you remember, or were part of, the cheers that rose when all the characters finally showed up on the battlefield together. By now, even those who weren’t stars when they entered the MCU were surrounded by their own megawattage. The effect was electrifying.

And it translated into dollars, which in Hollywood is what matters. Avengers: End of the game is still the second highest-grossing film of all time (the first being Avatar). It’s a gold standard for blockbusters. In Hollywood, everything that makes money breeds imitations. So you can imagine that even directors who make original films manage to get the green light from the studios by suggesting a high-level cast.

An image of complete dissolute celebration from Babylon.

And then there is Babylon, out in December.
Images of primary importance

Is the phenomenon bad? No, not really. I like to watch Knives out as much as the next person. But one wonders if it is more difficult for the new stars to make their way up the climb when even the minor supporting roles are filled with familiar faces. Many of today’s “stars” are character actors at heart and are good at roles. But the sense of discovering a new face becomes more and more difficult.

All of this can’t detract from the pleasure of watching Taylor Swift strut across the screen Amsterdamor Kathryn Hahn smiles smugly Glass Onion. Movies, after all, have long been talking about stars. Now more than ever.

Amsterdam comes out in theaters on October 7th. Glass onion: a mystery chases away opens in selected cinemas in November and on Netflix on December 23.

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