Sunday, February 19, 2017

If you're a fan of VR, Cyberpunk and Social statements check out Kathryn Bigelow's STRANGE DAYS (1995)

I just re-watched Kathryn Bigelow's prophetic "Strange Days" a couple of weeks ago and the film is an indictment on where we might be headed as a cultural society in the years to come. The fact that the film came out more than 20 years ago is astounding. Also, the racial divisions the film touches upon are still relevant to this day and is actually at the core of Strange Days. Bigelow, writers Jay Cocks and, shock, James Cameron, use the proposed future technology as a vehicle to explore these topics.  It's a great film that tackled the fears of VR before VR became the norm, and has a great cast that includes Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Juliette Lewis.

Correlation between Best Picture winners and nominations in other Oscar categories

Indian Censor Board Butchers MOONLIGHT. Here are the cuts.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Matt Reeves NOT directing THE BATMAN

Why don't they just ask me to direct The Batman? I'll do it for free.
"A week after entering negotiations to direct The Batman, Matt Reeves has exited the talks, The Hollywood Reporter has learned."
"A studio source confirms that negotiations have broken down. The possibility, however, exists that talks could resume when heads cool. The studio is intent on making the movie no matter what, as the Batman franchise has proven to be bigger than one person."

Friday, February 17, 2017

George "The Animal" Steele has just passed away at the age of 79. I always loved his performance as Tor Johnson in Tim Burtons's film Ed Wood.

LOGAN is not only the most violent Marvel movie ever made, but also one of the very best

Logan is a bold, risk-taking superhero film. For the most part, it is a character-driven piece on mortality and past mistakes. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart give the best performances of their careers and director James Mangold takes full advantage of the R rating at his disposal. This is the most legit take on Wolverine, a hard R rating that does the Wolverine justice and possibly the most violent superhero movie I have ever seen or, at the very least, right up there with Blade. 

A vastly different comic book movie simply because it decides to focus on chracter more than action, there has never been a grimmer movie in the Marvel catalogue than "Logan." The film opens with a bang as Wolverine mutilates a Mexican gang in Texas trying to steal his ride. It's in these opening moments that you realize this won't be your average comic book movie. This is a mature take on the genre and the most essential addition to to the X-Men catalogue.

Jackman's performance is incendiary. His Logan is now a alcoholic hermit, forced into solitude and prone to suicidal tendencies. Jackman brings the mentality of an aging Logan that's coming to terms with mortality and it hurts just watching it. There is depth and humanity to his performance which fully fleshes out whatever half-sketch might have been portrayed in past X-men films. You don't just see it, but you feel his physical and emtional pain. Logan’s screams of pain make your cringe, he's not able to heal the same way he used to and one can only assume the worst outcome for him. Dread fills every frame and that's exactly what Mangold seeks in his delivery.

Newcomer Dafne Keen is young, mute mutant Laura/ X-23, she's on the run from evil government agents that want to use her gifts as lab experimentation. Dont be fooled by her appearance, X-23 will rip your head off if you try to do her harm. Keen, in  a star-making performance, is transcendant. Putting a child performance at the heart of any film is a risk, but Mangold has a true talent here, a young actress that can give off emotional resonance through stares instead of words.

Logan and a dying Professor X (Patrick Stewart) are on the run with her to a place called Eden, a sanctuary for runaway teenage mutants. Although we expected Jackman to deliver a monumental performance, Patrick Stewart is every bit as good as Xavier, bringing touching depth, but also small moments of immaculately needed humor amidst the overall grim tone. He deserves an Oscar nomination and might just get it since he is such a well-respected and legendary actor that has NEVER been nominated.

While watching Logan one can't help but feel like they are watching a neo-western film. The fact that there is also, purposeful, partial detachment from the Marvel cinematic universe allows Mangold to have more flexibility to go his own way and create his own vision. Which doesn't mean the action is kept to a minimum. Mangold stages numerous, incredibly-staged action sequences, especially one at a farmhouse where three sides collide in brutal and deadly ways. Mangold gives the R rating at his a disposal a run for its money. He stretches it to its limits with beheadings, disembowelments and countless limb amputations. The action in Logan is, for a better word, insane.
While overlong and poorly-paced, with a weak climax that feels like it's straight out of Spielberg's "Hook," "Logan" earns the buzz it has created ever since its hypnotic black and white, Johnny Cash scored trailer made its debut late last year. It is a film that will be talked about for years to come and will even be welcomed by non-superhero movie fans. Movie fans rejoice, we have an excellent movie coming out in the dire months of March [B+]

MOONLIGHT is 2/3 of a great movie

Moonlight is, quite clearly, the most critically acclaimed movie of last year. There's no disputing that fact. It topped well over 100 critics lists and has been deemed a landmark of cinema by many. Is it a coincidence that Moonlight's acclaim comes a year after #Oscarssowhite? Of course not. Just like it wasn't a coincidence that Birth of A Nation was seen as the second coming at Sundance and was on its way to multiple Oscar nominations UNTIL controversy hit that film's director, Nate Parker, and the film, all of a sudden, was shunned and met with divisive reviews. Moonlight's transition from festival to release was much smoother. Its director Barry Jenkins is a genuinely nice guy who volunteered for many years at the Telluride Film Festival. I met him once and we ended up speaking about director Wong Kar-Wai, an influence that seems to be all over Moonlight. His first film, Medicine For Melancholy, was a well-intentioned, but ultimately failed attempt at the atmospheric cinema of Wong Kar-Wai. It did show promise of a unique voice to come. His second film, Moonlight, came out of nowhere. Unanticipated and not really thought about before it's Telluride debut.
What can be said about  “Moonlight” that hasn’t already been said? Set during three transformative periods in the life of an African-American  gay man, the film is not only a mesmerizing journey into the “African-American experience,” but it also shatters cinematic taboos that not many have dared touch before it. This was the first major film I can recall to feature two black men kissing onscreen. Unheard of, but an incredibly important landmark moment. 

Jenkins splits the film into three different time frames as he follows his protagonist Chiron’s struggle for self-identity in a society that refuses to acknowledge his sexual freedom. The three actors playing Chiron (Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes) were all revelatory and Jenkins molded relevant themes in Moonlight. Tackling masculinity in ways that are both fresh and perceptive, he created a stylized and, sometimes, remarkable, film about a gay black man.

The first two acts are revelatory and uncompromising. They, however, set us up for a third act that fails to deliver on the promise that was built up in the film's first 70 minutes. Now a drug dealer with an overtly muscular build and gold grillz, the vicious circle has been set. Chiron has become Juan, the only father figure he could ever look up to in his childhood. The transition feels almost too facile and Jenkins' approach not very subtle. It's also dramatically flat and doesn't adhere to the first two acts' suspensful intrigue and fascinating dissection of masculinity. Instead of being this deep, heartfelt resolution it ends up feeling contrived and filled with empty, uninvolving words. Hitchcock once said "Drama is life with the dull parts edited out." Something Jenkins clearly hasn't learned that (Thanks, Steve Finkelstein!)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Netflix' latest Sandler opus "Sandy Wexler"


"There was a time when I really did try to defend Adam Sandler. I was trying to get people to truly appreciate and understand the sheer Jerry Lewis-like lunacy of the neurotic Jewish schlub in "The Waterboy," "Billy Madison," "Happy Gilmore," "The Wedding Singer," "Punch-Drunk Love" "50 First Dates," and, even, "Big Daddy." Those days seem to be gone. With the exception of "That's My Boy," which seemed to harken back to his comedic glory days of the '90s, yes I will defend it with every inch I could muster ... I mean, please do watch it, it's a hoot, Sandler has been stuck in the kind of cinematic hell that makes me almost regret defending him some 20 odd years ago."

"His Netflix fare has been unwatchable at best, and he seems to have lost an edge that would almost be instantly recognizable in his more succesful films. Oh well, will I still watch this? Probably. It is, after all, completely sacriligious as a critic to say you like Adam Sandler, but what do I really care. Isn't the whole point of the profession to be honest and truthful? Sandler was good at what he did and he made me chuckle more than a few times. Did I possibly lose a brain cell here and there? I would guess so, but you only live once. Again, please watch "That's My Boy."

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mel Gibson in early talks to direct SUICIDE SQUAD 2

David Ayer helmed the initial outing.

Yikes! "Bloody Mel" is at it again. We all know he never skimps on the violence with his movies: "Braveheart," "Passion of the Christ," "Apocalypto" and "Hacksaw Ridge" are four of the most violent movies I have ever seen. He seems to revel in staging beheadings and grisly deaths.

It has been ten years since Mel Gibson gave us "Apocalytpo," a bloody, surreal, but cinematically brilliant dissection of the Mayan's final days. "Hacksaw Ridge" was his fifth movie as a director. It was also the film that officialized his comeback in Hollywood with a bunch of Oscar noms, especially in the Picture and Director categories. 

What was he going to follow-up "Hacksaw Ridge" with? It certainly wasn't going to be a superhero movie. According to The Playlist he was even quoted as saying “What did they spend on ‘Batman v Superman’ that they’re admitting to?” “And it’s a piece of shit,” “I’m not interested in [superhero movies]. Do you know what the difference between real superheroes and comic book superheroes is? Real superheroes didn’t wear spandex. So I don’t know. Spandex must cost a lot.” 

Well, guess what? According to Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, Gibson is in talks to direct "Suicide Squad 2":
"Mel Gibson is mulling joining the DC Extended Universe … as a director. Warner Bros. is courting the actor-director to helm Suicide Squad 2 and the sides are early in talks, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. No official offer has been made nor has any commitment. Sources say that Gibson is familiarizing himself with the material. But the studio is not being passive and is also looking at other directors, Daniel Espinosa among them."
The only way this would work is if he actually is given an R rating for the project. There is no way Mel could truly get the vision he wants with a PG-13 rating. 


Press release:

The Criterion Collection
May 2017 New Releases

This May, the collection welcomes an offbeat teen comedy from Terry Zwigoff, a Palme d’Or winner from Jacques Audiard, Orson Welles’s take on Othello, and six rarities restored by Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project. Plus, Ozu’s Good Morning and Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman arrive on Blu-ray

"La La Land" continuing to get backlash from PC Police. This time Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says it "Sends a bigoted message."

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Lars Von Trier Was Inspired by Donald Trump For New Film

“'The House That Jack Built’ celebrates the idea that life is evil and soulless, which is sadly proven by the recent rise of the Homo trumpus – the rat king,”

The House That Jack Built begins shooting in Sweden in March, before moving to Copenhagen in May. It will be released in 2018.
[The Guardian.]

In the alley scene in Collateral, Tom Cruise executes this firing technique so well that it's used in lessons for tactical handgun training

LIFE poster should be renamed GOOD LOOKING ASTRONAUTS

There are just so many things wrong with this poster. Oh look, the names don't match the actors. Also, that tagline ("Be careful what you search for") is just weak. The poster looks like a cliche-ridden lesson of how to NOT fuck up a movie poster. As for the film: Alien life form threatens/infects heroic spacefarers. I feel like I've already seen this movie a thousand time before. Finally, Whenever I see the title I keep being reminded of the 1999 Martin Lawrence/Eddie Murphy film of the same name. Couldn't they choose a better title? 

The film opens March 24th, 2017

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