Thursday, October 6, 2016

"Newtown" is a masterfully subtle indictment of gun violence [REVIEW]


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Just like every year at Sundance, the documentaries stuck out just as much -if not more- than the fiction films this year. "Newtown" is the Sandy Hook documentary that will tear your heart out: simple, haunting and unforgettable. Kim A. Snyder’s searing film is more about the trauma imposed on the small town than the actual graphic detail, as they try to move forward and find a newfound purpose to life. 

Denis Villeneuve's "Blade Runner 2049" has first art


Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling and ... Rihanna? Your "Ocean's 8" cast


We still don't really know anything about the movie. All we do know is that it's a spinoff rather than a remake or reboot, the cast is great though. I'm praying this gets a decent script. Don't fuck it up Warner Bros. We don't need another "Ghostbusters" debacle where the entire online community starts hating on the film before it even screens.

"War For the Planet of the Apes" Teaser Trailer has arrived


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Robert De Niro enters Oscar race with "The Comedian"

Deniro on the set of the recently wrapped "The Comedian"

Given that I'm a diehard Robert De Niro fan and I have been disheartened the last couple of decades by his lack of quality roles, that hasn't stopped me from following whatever projects he signs on to because, well, I'm a hopeful person and I know the man still has it in him to deliver something special. Look what he did in "Silver Linings Playbook," such a comic, resonant and touching performance which earned him a well-deserved Oscar nomination.

Did we really need a "Suicide Squad" Extended Cut? Nope. Has that stopped Warner Bros? Of course not.


This year has got to be a defining turning point for Superhero movies." Batman v Superman," "X-Men: Apocalypse" and "Suicide Squad" were low-quality works. Yes, there was "Deadpool" and "Civil War," .... passable efforts, but nothing to brag home about.

David Ayer has long maintained that the actual theatrical release of "Sucide Squad" was the cut he intended for release, so let's not actually call this a "Director's Cut" it's actually an "Extended Cut." Ah, gotcha. The movie is just extended. 10 extra minutes have been added to this abysmal movie, minutes that will likely not make it any better nor develop any of the inane characters represented onscreen.

It is also quite clear that Ayer lost creative control of the film once reshoots were announced. If I were Warner Bros I'd be very careful releasing all of these "Director's" "Extended" "Final" cuts. People will start asking themselves "Ok, so should I just skip the poorer version of a DC movie, which is quite clearly reserved for theaters, and just wait for the better version of the film on DVD/Blu-Ray."

Terrence Malick’s ‘Voyage Of Time: The IMAX Experience’ Is A More Rewarding Version Of ‘Life’s Journey’ [Review]

Full review for The Playlist can be found HERE
More or less a work in progress for almost four decades, Terrence Malick‘s much-delayed “Voyage of Time” has been a near odyssey to reach the screen. Even years before his masterwork “The Tree of Life,” Malick had tried to develop a film about the origins of earth forParamount in the 1970s entitled “Q.” He eventually abandoned the project, but some of the footage, shot nearly 40 years ago, is employed in the feature-length “Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey.” But as the format in the title suggests, the briefer “Voyage Of Time: The IMAX Experience” is completely shot in magnificent 65mm.

Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy in masterfully crafted "Jackie"


The first trailer for this film is upon us. Here is what I had to say about the film at TIFF:

"Natalie Portman’s performance as Jaqueline Bouvier Kennedy is masterful. If you thought there was nothing else that could be said about that fateful day when JFK was shot and killed in Dallas then you were wrong. Director Pablo Larraín (Neruda) dissects the incident through Jackie’s own eyes. The film takes place in the hours following JFK’s death as the First Lady tries to comprehend the magnitude of the event. Through the use of finely crafted flashbacks, Larrain strips the cinematic conventions that come with bio-pics and gets to the core of Jackie’s psyche at the time. Portman’s performance is a high-wire act of intrigue. She never fully reveals the exact reasons for some of Jackie’s behavior and  though we can never truly know if there was manipulation involved with her grief, this is hinted at. In a way Larrain and Portman are playing with the audience with an immaculate mix of enigma, grief and cynicism. It’s an artfully crafted thing, this “Jackie.”

"Patriot's Day" looks like another "America rah rah" Peter Berg film

"Patriots Day"

If you can go past the "America rah rah" feel of the trailer, and quite possibly the whole movie, there is definite cause for interest. Look at that cast: Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, J.K. Simmons. From what I have been hearing this is more of a procedural film, looking for the bombers, than an actual day-of summary. I like that. Although after "Deepwater Horizon" I have a little more doubt about the final result. "Horizon" didn't delve into the big issues of the BP spill, instead focusing on action-packed mayhem. This movie should be more subtle, layered out and, maybe, hold off on the patriotism a bit, but the trailer is all about that.

"Girl on the Train" doesn't live up to hype [Review]

Emily Blunt is great as Rachel, the boozy, depressed and haunted protagonist that has complete rock-bottom in Tate Taylor’s “The Girl on the Train.” The film is based on Paula Hawkins' ultra-popular bestseller, a twisty, pulpy and feminist murder-mystery that Taylor tries to mold into his own “Gone Girl.”

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

[Interview] "American Honey" star Sasha Lane


Andrea Arnold’s "American Honey" is a polarizing film. A 160 minute road trip to an Americana we rarely see onscreen. It is like a "Grapes of Wrath" or "On the Road" for and about millenials. 

Arnold depicts an American society of millennials that are disconnected with their country. They’d rather sell their bodies than live in a capitalist-run society trying to live the “American dream”. The structure runs constant repetitive circles, and yet we are fully engaged. There’s a sense of unimaginable freedom in Arnold’s filmmaking. It’s a vital and great American movie.

Non-professional actress Sasha Lane plays Star, a lost American soul that decides to hop on-board a bus full of Magazine-selling kids that go cross country to make money by selling subscriptions. On the way to nowhere they argue, fight, make love and have bus-ride sing alongs to Top 40 radio. 

The 21 year-old Lane is a natural and perfectly captures the isolation and resistance that is slowly creeping up with American millennials, more specifically their search for purpose in a world filled hopelessness.

I spoke to Lane about her peculiar, unlikely story:

Bad Idea? "Mad Max: Fury Road - Black & Chrome Edition" Gets a Theatrical Premiere

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George Miller has always stated that the best version of "Mad Max: Fury Road" was the black and white version he first intended for release two summer ago. Speaking with /Film last year he stated:

"We spent a lot of time in DI (digital intermediate), and we had a very fine colorist, Eric Whipp. One thing I’ve noticed is that the default position for everyone is to de-saturate post-apocalyptic movies. There’s only two ways to go, make them black and white — the best version of this movie is black and white, but people reserve that for art movies now. The other version is to really go all-out on the color. The usual teal and orange thing? That’s all the colors we had to work with. The desert’s orange and the sky is teal, and we either could de-saturate it, or crank it up, to differentiate the movie. Plus, it can get really tiring watching this dull, de-saturated color, unless you go all the way out and make it black and white."

The "Black & Chrome" edition of the film will have its theatrical premiere at SpectreFest 2016 in Los Angeles on Monday 11/1 at 7:30pm. 

If it were up to Miller the "Black & Chrome" edition would have been the only version released, but one does have to wonder about the actual colored version, the one that got released last year, and the eye-popping colors and landscapes that were perfectly captured by cinematographer John Seale. It will be hard to top that pop masterpiece. It is almost inconceivable to think of "Mad Max: Fury Road" as anything but a colored film. Its Western vibe fits perfectly with its sandy colors. To take a away color from such an eye-popping experience might to the film a major disservice.

Yes, maybe George Miller did intend for a "Black & Chrome" version at first, but it was such a perfect cinematic display that I wonder if he is actually hurting the original film instead of just letting it be and age like fine wine over time. 

"The Birth of a Nation" is an amateurish portrayal of an important story


Winning the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance was supposed to be a sign that Nate Parker's "The Birth of a Nation" was about to take Hollywood by storm. It was made to piss people off and get them out of their seats shouting, debating, but what happened instead was unexpected. The controversy that arose about its writer-director's past marred any kind of momentum that was created in Park City this past January.

Monday, October 3, 2016

"The Maltese Falcon" turns 75 today



"Hmm, Bogie". That's what Jean-Paul Belmondo's character in "Breathless" silently utters to himself as he spots a "The Harder They Fall" poster on his way out of the cinema. That pretty much explains in a nutshell the influence that Humphrey Bogart has had on cinema. That moment was a kind of passing of the torch. Godard's French New Wave masterpiece is known as the first "modern" movie in the history of cinema. No coincidence it is heavily influenced by Bogart's movies, specifically "The Maltese Falcon."  Directed by John Huston, this 1940 masterpiece featured an astonishing performance from Bogart as Samuel Spade, a private eye that enters a case that involves three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous pathological liar, and a golden statuette that everybody wants a piece of. To find out that this timeless classic turns 75 years of age today is to be reminded of just how ageless the film really is.

Affleck/Batman Solo Film will be Titled "The Batman" and Zack Snyder isn't directing!

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Know what? Zack Snyder is a terrible filmmaker. I used to look forward to a Batman movie ever since I laid eyes on Tim Burton's eye-popping 1989 classic. Of course, Joel Schumacher's "Batman & Robin" doomed it for me, but then Christopher Nolan happened. Those were three great movies, yes even "The Dark Knight Rises."

These are, right now, your 10 likely Best Picture contenders

I do believe that the nominees might also change based on the political climate around Oscar time, but as we stand these 10 seem to be the sure-fire contenders with the most buzz at the moment. Notice, four have yet to be seen, but that will change this week as Ang Lee's "Billy Lynn's Long Haltime Walk" will finally get its world premiere at the New York Film Festival.



"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tale No Tells" teaser trailer reveals same old, same old


My first reaction upon finding out there was a new "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie coming out: "They're still making those movies?" I gave up watching after the second film, one look at Google telling me my "Pirates" Post-Mortem was 2006's "Dead Men's Chest," but these films still make a ton of money and there seems to be demand for it.  The first film was perfectly fine for what it was, it got Johnny Depp a well deserved Oscar-nomination for his role as Jack Sparrow, a playful riff on the question "How would Keith Richards look as a Pirate?" 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

"Miss Peregrine" gets top spot at the weekend Box-Office, "Sully" cracks the $100 million dollar mark and "Masterminds" chokes


Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross will score Peter Berg's upcoming film "Patriots Day" - their first film without Fincher


Director Peter Berg went on Instagram today to let people know that Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor will be scoring "Patriot's Day," his film about the Boston Marathon bombings. Tremendous news as Reznor and Ross are one of the best in the game. Their work with David Fincher, most notably "The Social Network," is top-notch. Nowadays it'd be tough to have a Fincher without both of these musical geniuses contributing a score to this film. 


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