Saturday, November 12, 2016

'Arrival' director Denis Villeneuve on his Filmography

Denis Villeneuve is a director that I've adamantly followed since the beginning of his career in Quebec more than 15 years ago. It took a while for this great director to finally hit it big. In 2010 he released an incredible masterpiece called Incendies. It garnered an Oscar nomination, critical acclaim and then the world finally knew about him. Too bad they haven't seen his earlier stuff.Maelstrom was a sexy, film-noir narrated by a fish and starring the lustful Marie-Jose Croze and Polytechnique was an artful black and white re-creation of an infamous college shooting in Quebec.

On a personal note, I lived through the Montreal film scene when Villeneuve, Jean-Marc Vallee, and an 18-year-old Xavier Dolan among others, revolutionized French-Canadian cinema, and in the process gave themselves a shot at the Hollywood studio system. It was a very exciting time, but it was always Villeneuve that I kept an especially close eye on. 

The fact that Villeneuve is becoming such a hot commodity is not surprising. Before he broke through in the States, he had made four highly impressive French-Canadian films. After each one I thought, “this might break through and get him known”, but it never happened. It’s a tough business, but the films got progressively better, and when his career finally reached its peak with Incendies, his trailblazing 2010 Oscar nominated masterpiece, audiences could no longer ignore the talent.

Hollywood has clearly been impressed by the man. He’s been given the outrageously important task of directing the sequel to Blade Runner, with a script by original helmer Ridley Scott, and Harrison Ford to star. “I don’t have the pretense to say I will do as Ridley Scott. I am totally different.” Of course Roger Deakins will be the cinematographer. Villeneuve has stated that his ”mind is more in America than Europe right now.” We hope it stays that way.

Over the years I have spoken to Villeneuve about his films. Some of the titles on this list will have quotes (in red) from past interviews I've had with him

'The VVitch' director Robert Eggers prepping for "Nosferatu" remake

"The Witch" was seen by me at Sundance 2015 and then at TIFF that very same year. It's a spine-tingler. I wrote back in September: 

"One of the best films is "The Witch," which sadly is only slated for release next year! A real shame if you ask me. Robert Eggers’ haunting and spooky film was far and away the best movie I saw at Sundance 2015 and the one with the most potential to be a total critical darling." It wasn't your typical horror movie. More artsy than gory. More interested in building up dread within its spooky atmosphere. I couldn't have liked it more because of that. Watch out for Eggers, I'm astonished this was his first film. He directs in such an assured, effective, veteran-like way. Go see it right away if you haven't."

Eggers is prepping for his next project and I'm glad to report that he'll be staying in the horror genre with a remake of "Nosferatu." I have long had a fascination with Nosferatu's cinematic history. Sure, there's the original 1922 F.W. Murnau classic, but Werner Herzog did a hell of a job remaking it in 1979 with "Nosferatu the Vampyre." Klaus Kinski played the blood sucker in a way that, well, only Kinski could. Also 2000's "Shadow of the Vampire" had Willem Dafoe earning an Oscar nomination for an astounding performance. In fact, he should have won NOT Benicio Del Toro for "Traffic."  

"Nosferatu" has always been the best possible depiction of a Vampire in cinema. There's hasn't been anything that has come close to it. I'm ecstatic that Eggers has decided to continue working in a period setting, he seems to thrive with creating atmosphere. I'm excited. The fact that he's remaking Nosferatu and not Dracula means he has a vision for this and isn't being pushed by a studio to have the name 'Dracula' in the title. He's set a high bar, but I believe in Eggers. 

Just when 'Nine Lives' existence couldn't get any worse, it's being marketed as "Mr. Fuzzypants" in Australia

"Arrival" Set for $27M weekend Box-Office, exceeding expectations

Friday, November 11, 2016

IMDb sues California to overturn law forcing them to remove actors' ages

Luckily Wikipedia still exists.

This is easily one of the strangest laws in existence at the moment

Further reading from The Guardian can be found HERE

"The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is suing California over a law forcing the website to remove the ages of actors on request, saying it is unconstitutional."
"The law was intended to fight age discrimination in the film industry and had been campaigned for by actors’ groups. The president of the union Sag-Aftra wrote in August that actors “face blatant age discrimination every day as websites routinely used for casting talent force birth dates and ages on casting decision-makers without their even realising it”.
"However, IMDb’s suit (pdf) claims that the law “does not advance, much less achieve” the goal of reducing age discrimination, and that it violates both the first amendments and commerce clause of the US constitution. IMDb also claims it separately violates federal law “because it imposes liability on IMDb based on factual content that is lawfully posted by its users”."

Shia LaBoeuf can kinda rap

Damn boy.

"Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" is a disappointing failure from Ang Lee

** (R)

There's Ang Lee's "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" coming out this Friday. Lee's film is an underwhelming war movie, but ambitious in its scope. It tries to not only look at the battleground, especially a tense, terrific action sequence in Iraq, but also the post-traumatic anxiety the soldiers face when returning home. The film was shot in a higher frame rate per second than we are accustomed to, but it does the film a disservice instead of intensifying the reality of the drama being portrayed on the screen. Call it an ambitious failure for its lack of focus in key moments.

'Citizen Kane' Celebrates 75 Years

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“It’s funny because it’s not that extraordinary in terms of the technique,” he said. “He used a pretty simple technique in many ways. A lot of long takes. The scene goes on, and you don’t notice how long it goes without a cut. That wasn’t that common, though a lot of filmmakers in that period did do shots like that, but not to the degree that Orson did. Years later, I said to him, ‘What do you think is the difference between doing a scene in one shot or in many cuts?’ He said, ‘Well, we used to say that’s what distinguished the men from the boys.’ The whole thing, the construction of the story, the flashback structure — it wasn’t any one thing that was unusual. It was the whole production. It’s a very depressing story. There’s not a shred of hope at the end. It’s all very downbeat, but the style of the film, the way he made it, the overlapping dialogue, the flashback structure, some surprising camera angles — the whole thing made a tremendous impression if you were sensitive to what he was doing.” - Peter Bogdanovich

'Live By Night' - Is the 'Gangster' genre dead?

I am anxiously awaiting my press invite to catch Ben Affleck's gangster epic "Live By Night." We are in need of a good 'Gangster' picture these days. I was not impressed by his Best Picture winner "Argo," but I know Affleck has a great flair for shooting action scenes and is highly influenced by Michael Mann, more specifically "Heat." Earlier in the year I mentioned that I knew  "someone that went to a test screening and came out underwhelmed by the film." Then the trailer came out late summer and I wasn't impressed, but, I have to say, this is a vast improvement and antes up my expectations. I'm not entirely convinced by Ben Affleck "the actor," but maybe this'll change my mind.

These are the films Quentin Tarantino believes are the 'Greatest Ever Made'

His Ballot for the 'Sight and Sound' poll shows us a list rich in American cinema, especially from the 70s as 9 of his films come from that decade. Compare this list to the one he submitted to Empire Magazine in 2008 (pictured above) and there are significant differences. People are allowed to change their minds over time, no? I know my ballot would have changed over that period of time.

'Beauty and the Beast' Teaser Poster

Thursday, November 10, 2016

What Is The Greatest American War Movie Ever Made?

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Earlier last week I had this to say about Mel Gibson's "Hackaw Ridge"

"No, really, this ain't hyperbole, Mel Gibson's latest directorial effort "Hacksaw Ridge" has incredibly realized battle sequences. Probably the best that I have seen since the opening of Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan" and Gibson's very own bloody "Braveheart."

I stand by my statement, it really does have some of the most effective and memorable battle sequences of any war movie ever, but does it make my final cut of the 10 greatest overall war movies ever made? Doesn't look like it.

[Image] Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma, George Lucas, Robert Zemeckis and Francis Ford Coppola at Lucas's 50th birthday

Robert Redford retires from acting

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One of the legends of Hollywood acting has decided enough is enough. Robert Redford, in an interview that will be published by the Walker Art Center, says that after the two projects he has in store are done he's going to quit acting and focus on directing.

"Collateral Beauty" is Oscar-baiting at its worst [Trailer]

This looks awful. Tying to Oscar-bait its way to awards, "Collateral Damage" looks like the kind of picture that was constantly made in the 90s, but gets mocked now today by a more open-minded generation of cinemagoers. 

Michael Keaton will play the Vulture in the 'Spider-Man' reboot

Concept art for "Spider-Man: Homecoming."

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige confirmed in a Toronto Sun interview that Michael Keaton will play the Vulture in the upcoming “Spider-Man” reboot.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

'Deadpool 3' Already In The Works?

God help us all.

Celebrity Tweets about 'President Trump'

I am an unabashed liberal, but, give me a break, this was a vote against the establishment pure and simple. There are a lot of people struggling out there at the moment and this was a protest vote. He hasn’t even been sworn into office and there's people saying already he’s an awful president? “Celebrities” really do live in a different world: Twitter, big money, pc-ness. They don’t know the reality of today’s world. They really need to stop being so full of themselves. The people and delegates voted, and they voted Trump. People feel that he is the one who should be in charge of the country for their own reasons, let's all just stand behind the people please. I have my doubts about his presidency, but why not just see what happens instead of calling the guy "Hitler."

First 'Silence' press screenings announced: November 19th L.A. and November 30th in NYC

According to Jefferey Wells over at Hollywood-Elsewhere, Scorsese's "Silence" was supposed to screen for the New York Film Critics Circle on November 30th. THAT screening has been completely scrapped, or at least, according to Variety's Kristopher Tapley who reported that now Scorsese's film will be screened for critics only in early December.  It seems like they are willing to wait it out with no trailer or movie poster in sight, which is an odd move considering this is supposed to be an awards contender.

Orson Welles and Charles Chaplin walk into a bar ....

This gem of a snap has Orson Welles and Charlie Chaplin having a lunch together at the Brown Derby in Hollywood in March 1947. To be a fly in the wall at that very moment ....

'The Love Witch' Is Some Kind Of New Cult Classic

Note this was originally publised in The Playlist during my coverage of the 20th Fantasia Film Festival. Review can be found HERE

The Simpsons Predicted President Trump 16 Years Ago

I wasn't as shocked by last night's results as many of you might have been. Why? Because I predicted this was going to happen. Still, a very sad day. The anger and restlessness running through this country at the moment is at an all-time high. The votes Trump got were votes of anger and boycotting a system that has been unsatisfying to them. They accepted Trump's inconsistencies over Hilary's more pristine-crafted professional politics. I also believe that Bernie Sanders opened up a whole can of worms with his candidacy for Democratic nominee, Hilary just couldn't recover from that. Trump took advantage of it. The left is now up to Millennials to rebuild.  Does this set the nation back? I Can't say, Trump is too unpredictable. He's not really a token Republican, he's a hybrid of left and right. He won 30 states last night. I don't think I could have predicted it to be that big of a margin. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Raoul Coutard 1924-2016

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The visual innovator of the French "Nouvelle Vague" has passed away at the age of 92. Coutard shot 75 films in his illustrious career, he will always be remembered as Jean-Luc Godard’s go-to guy, photographing practically all of JLG’s Nouvelle Vague work from 1959-1967. This meant lots of black-and-white films, and only a handful in color. During this era, he always insisted on using natural lighting for his work. Coutard’s inventive use of the hand-held camera was incredibly important in the advancement of filmmaking. In fact, his visionary work with the hand-held is just as innovative as Orson Welles’ extended use of deep focus in "Citizen Kane." One can’t also forget his post-Nouvelle Vague work with Costa-Gravas and his incendiary work with his masterpiece, "Z." A legendary cinematographer if there ever was one.

Martin Scorsese's 'Silence' Won't Screen For Critics Until December. 10 Things We Do Know About Scorsese's Epic.

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In Variety awards pundit Kristopher Tapley's latest column, entitled "Martin Scorsese's 'Silence' To Remain Quiet Until December," Tapley tells us that Scorsese's Japanese-set epic will not screen for critics until December. That means it won't be in the mix for the National Board of Review awards,  New York Film Critics Circle awards, Los Angeles Film Critics Circle awards and the Broadcast Film Critics Awards. A strange move for an awards contender, but nevertheless something that has been done before, most notably Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained." We have no trailer, although an internet rumor 'claims' it will be released this week and, hell, not even a movie poster. I have been all over the rumors the last year or so. Here are the most important things that we do know about Scorsese's film.

Joe Manganiello Desciption Of Ben Affleck’s "The Batman" Will Renew Hope In Skeptics

Paul Verhoeven Talks ‘Elle’ [Interview]

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Denis Villeneuve's 'Arrival' Is Stunning

From my TIFF review 9.19.16 for AwardsDaily 

"Toronto was a kind of homecoming for Canadian boy Denis Villeneuve whose “Arrival” had very successful showings at both Telluride and Venice just a week prior. Amy Adams plays Louise Banks, a linguist who is recruited by the military after enormous Alien pods show up across the globe. Many countries are prepared for war, but Louise believes that the visitors might actually be on earth for non-violent reasons. Adams, in one of her very best performances, gives a touching and rewarding performance in a film that feels like a better version of Christopher Nolan’s well-known sci-fi blockbusters. The sentimentality is somewhat stripped down for a more concrete and profound look at the ties that bind us all on earth. It’s a thought-provoking adventure that isn’t about war, but communication instead. Villeneuve once again proves to be the real deal. The 49-year-old Quebecois filmmaker is building up a solid, loyal fan-base that could one day rival Nolan’s. The fact that his next movie is “Blade Runner 2” only gets us more excited about his future.

"Arrival" comes out this Friday, November 11th

Monday, November 7, 2016

New Image Released From 'Logan'

Amy Adams on 'Man of Steel 2': "It's in the works"

It has been three years since Henry Cavill and Amy Adams made Summer 2014 shake with "Man of Steel," but, in all honesty, I was underwhelemed by Zach Snyder's film. It had lots of positives, including Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Superman's parents, but goddamit if Snyder didn't mess up another superhero film with potential. Cavill played the "Man of Steel" and Adams was his love inerest Lois Lane. The reviews were mixed, but its domestic box-office was that of around $225M, not too shabby. 

We all held our breath in approval when George Miller was hired for the job, but then backed away! They were probably trying to suck out any of the creative freedom such a renowned artist as Miller would need to make a cinematic statement such as this. Although no director is currently attached it seems like Adams is confirming that we will in fact be getting a second installment. 

"I read about Man of Steel 2 when you guys did. A lot of times I find out after the fact, which is fine, it's completely normal, it's not indicative of anything. But yeah, I know they're working on a script and I know it's in the works," she said.

Source: The Digital Spy

Oscar Predictions Or The Time 'Fences' Crashed The Race [UPDATED]

Denzel Washngton's "Fences" had it premere this past Saturday for academy members, critics and blogaroonies. The reaction? Overwhelmingly positive.You can read all about it HERE. What's left to screen? Robert Zemeckis' "Allied" (this week!), Ben Affleck's "Live By Night" (next week!),  Stepehen Gaghan's "Gold" (next week!), Peter Berg's Patriots Day (Closing the AFI Fest), Martin Scorsese's "Silence" (WHO KNOWS).

"Fences" is a brave, passionate film that will likely give "La La Land" many headaches on its way to the Best Picture Oscar DITTO Denzel for Best Actor against Casey Affleck. Viola Davis also seems to be the front-runner for the Best Supporting Actress race.

Martin Scorsese's film has NO poster, NO trailer, NO official running time and is STILL being edited as we speak.

'Ghost in the Shell' [Sneak Peek]

Full Trailer Debuts Online This Sunday, but this sneak peek sure wets our appetite for more. Rupert Huntsman directs, of "Snow White and the Huntsman," ahem, infamy, and if that isn't a red flag I don't know what is. Why did he get the job? There are so many more competent directors out there.  What we do know is that Scarlett's casting is gaining much controversy for whitewashing, however the rest of the cast, safe Juliette Binoche, is Japanese so it should be fine plus this is Scarlett freaking Joahnsson. Don't complain.
The film will be released on March 31, 2017 in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D.
Official synopsis:
"Cyborg policewoman The Major (Scarlett Johansson), and her task force Section 9 thwart cyber criminals and hackers. Now, they must face a new enemy who will stop at nothing to sabotage Hanka Robotic's artificial Intelligence technology."

Sunday, November 6, 2016

'Deadpool 2' To Begin Filming in Vancouver in January 2017?

According to What's Filming, "Deadpool 2" is about to start production this January in Vancouver. What does this mean? They already have a confirmed director, most likely David Leitch, and a finished screenplay. This feels all too rushed, but, hey, that's Hollywood for you.

'Doctor Strange' Dominates Weekend Box-Office With $84M Opening

"Doctor Strange" exceeded projected expectations that it would debut with a $60-75M opening weekend. Its tally of almost $85M places it as the tenth biggest opening of any MCU movie, just .8M behind "Thor: Dark World" in sixth place. 

Mel Gibson's "Hacksaw Ridge" proved yet again that fall movie audiences are really looking for smart, story-driven, adult entertainment as its R rating didn't stop it from getting close to $15M this weekend, placing it as a possible awards contender in the process and helping Gibson's comeback in the industry.

"Trolls," the latest animation ditty from DreamWorks racked up a solid $45.6M, placing it just behind "Doctor Strange." Animation has proven yet again how strong, sustainable and a sure-thing it can be for movie execs. 

Source: Box Office Mojo

Denzel Washington's 'Fences' gets critics raving

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