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MOVIE CHEAT SHEET: Aladdin sounds like a disaster

The live-action version of Aladdin is only in pre-production but already sounds like it could be a disaster. DISNEY

The live-action version of Aladdin is only in pre-production but already sounds like it could be a disaster. DISNEY

BRIAN GASPAREK/ 24 HOURS

THE BIG STORY: TIFF backs the ladies

I'd say TIFF deserves major kudos this week after launching its $3-million "Share Her Journey" fundraising campaign to support female filmmakers. After recognizing the brutally jarring issue of gender disparity in popular film (both in front and behind the camera), TIFF plans to raise $3 million over the next five years that will be used for a wide array of programs for female creators, including a three-month residency program, an ongoing gender equity speaker series and a new producers'accelerator program. How cool is that?

In a well articulated statement by TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey, "Inclusion, accessibility and diversity are central to our work at TIFF. We acknowledge that gender inequity is systemic in the screen industries, so change has to happen at every level. That includes getting more women into key creative roles. We plan to seek out, develop and showcase top female talent in the industry through our festival and year-round initiatives. Our mission is to transform the way people see the world through film. One of the most powerful ways to do that is to foreground the perspectives of women." Way to step up, TIFF. Much respect.

FLICK HITS: Get it together, Aladdin

Even though Guy Ritchie's live-action Aladdin is just in pre-production, it's already starting to sound like a disaster. Aside from Will Smith starring as Genie (ugh), Ritchie can't find a cast. Disney and Ritchie have been hoping to discover unknown actors to portray Aladdin and Jasmine, but according to reports, they're "having trouble finding stars of color who can act and sing." Disney held a global casting call in March, auditioning over 2,000 actors, and they came out with nothing. Um ... have you heard of Bollywood? How is this difficult? If Disney and Ritchie can't pull it together and cast a brilliant unknown, like Lily James in Cinderella or Neel Sethi in The Jungle Book, they should just cast some beloved, established stars. What about Mr. Robot's Rami Malek or Rogue One's Riz Ahmed? Priyanka Chopra would make a fantastic Jasmine. Do not screw this up, Disney. Sigh. Does anyone have a bad feeling that they're going to cast Matt Damon? (FYI: Dev Patel and Freida Pinto's schedules reportedly conflict with filming; rumour has it they were Ritchie's first choices.)

Shaun of the Dead 2 ... sort of

2004's Shaun of the Dead was such a solid flick. The way it fused scares, laughs and love were one of a kind. Naturally, I was over the moon this week when it was announced that its masterminds, Simon Pegg And Nick Frost, are delving back into the horror-comedy genre to create a new film called Slaughterhouse Rulez. The film will apparently take place at a prep school that falls victim to a mysterious sinkhole that releases guaranteed-to-behilarious hell on earth. It hasn't been confirmed whether Pegg and Frost will star in the film, but we should all cross our fingers that they do.

At least it's not Mel Gibson ...

It looks like Suicide Squad 2 has found itself a director. And while we all know that DC's dookie of a super villain flick doesn't actually deserve a sequel, at least its director won't be notorious bigot Mel Gibson, as previously rumoured. Instead, it looks like mediocre-at-best director Jaume Collet-Serra (The Shallows, Orphan, Run All Night, House of Wax, etc.) is going to helm the flick. One thing Collet-Serra has going for him is that his sequel can't possibly be worse than the first. Or can it?

Tarantino's bloodiest yet?

If you're a Tarantino junky that's been impatiently waiting for the announcement of his (alleged) second last film, suffer no more. It was reported this week that Quentin's next movie is going to be "a unique take on the Manson Family murders" from 1969. Good lord, a Tarantino flick reimagining the gruesome Manson murders? That could be his bloodiest, most ridiculous flick yet. And since it sounds like he'll once again be tampering with history ("a unique take" a la Inglorious Basterds), we have no idea how it will be framed. But it will most definitely be bonkers. I can't wait.

BEST AND WORST IN THEATRES:

Epic Finish: War for the Planet of the Apes

Get excited, people. Matt Reeves has done it again. The director's finale to the Apes trilogy is every bit as solid as his lauded 2014 sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Critics are gushing over the film's incredible special effects, strong acting (Ape Andy Serkis still rules in the powerfully emotional narrative.) The trilogy closes in epic fashion, just the way we all hoped it would. It is a must-see this weekend.

Open Wide: The Big Sick

If you're not into the epic Apes battle this weekend, fear not. The Big Sick has finally received its wide release. Silicon Valley star Kumail Nanjiani's critically adored R-rated romcom is being called smart, hilarious and full of heart. It's the best romcom in ages. Go out and see it, now that you can.

DID YOU KNOW...?

Depp's Face/Off pass

John Woo's Travolta/Cage action classic Face/Off just turned 20, and two decades after its release, scriptwriter Michael Colleary revealed that the film could have been terribly different. Originally, Demolition Man director Marco Brambilla was locked in to helm the film and he wanted Johnny Depp to star across from Nicolas Cage. After reading the script, however, Depp, fooled by the title, bailed on the movie because "he was disappointed when he discovered that it was not about hockey." This is not a joke. After Depp left, Brambilla passed (thank god), and the rest is history.