Saturday, February 4, 2017

Where is Jonathan Demme?

Jeffrey Wells over at Hollywood Elsewhere has asked an interesting question: what the hell happened to Jonathan Demme.

"Demme’s key period lasted about 13 years — Melvin and Howard (’80), Swing Shift (’84), Something Wild (’86), Swimming to Cambodia (’87), Married to the Mob (’88), The Silence of the Lambs (’91 — his biggest success) and finally Philadelphia (’93)"
My response: Yeah, more or less until Philadelphia, although I find the latter hasn't aged well over the years. Also you have to add Stop Making Sense, one of the greatest shot concerts of all-time. As far as latter-day Demme goes, along with the aforementioned Rachel Getting Married I'd say The Manchurian Candidate remake was pretty solid and highly underrated. There is nothing else worthy of mention. He definitely failed with his last film, Ricki and the Flash, and his next release seems to be a TV episode he directed for the show "Shots Fired."
Something Wild will always be my favorite Demme. There has never been anything like it, before or after its release. I'd probably rank it in my top 20 of the 1980s.

I still hold out hope with Demme, whose been concentrating mostly on non-fiction documentaries the last 15-20 years.

Friday, February 3, 2017

IMDB getting rid of its message boards on February 20th








Something tells me that it doesn't just have to do with it not "providing a positive useful experience." Anyway, the backlash is here and people are not happy. No kidding, taking away the most popular way to chat about movies online. Nothing comes close, not even reddit. It would happen that after I watch a movie, I would sometimes head over to those boards to read other's interpretation of it. There is good stuff to be found, yes some trolling, but I always thought there was much more good than bad, oh well.

Do we actually need a second season of Stranger Things?



I dug Netflix's Stranger Things for what it was last year: an homage to '80s Spielberg-ian, youthful, adventure yarns. It worked, it gelled, the plot was outrageous and silly, but that's what you'd expect from a show whose greatest influence was 1985's extremely likable, but silly "The Goonies." After the first season ended, I was like "Ok, good stuff, don't really care what happens next." Well lo and behold we have a second season on our hands. A Super Bowl ad will appear during this coming Sunday's telecast. It is highly anticipated by the lore of fans it garnered in its first season, nostalgiasts, people that clearly did not care about the message that "Midnight in Paris" was conveying, that the past always gets romanticized, but that we should be living in the present. People will eventually look through this shows plot holes and go to the next big thing. It's bound to happen.

Petition circulating for Zack Snyder to direct THE BATMAN

Change.org can really make the world a better place, but I don't think this is any kind of exampe to go by.  Jennifer Huneycutt has started a petition for Zack Snyder to take over Ben Affleck's directing duties and helm "The Batman." She has, so far, 3,200 signees which is close to the goal of 5000. Snyder has had his day as far as I'm concerned. He made the DC films succesful money-making blockbusters, but the decidedly mixed reactions to the films have concerned DC and WB enough for them to not include Snyder in any upcoming films post-Justice League.
Her petition goes something like this:
"Snyder has a stellar record with comic book and graphic novel properties. Starting with 2006’s 300, and followed by Watchmen in 2009, he has shown his skill with, and commitment to, being incredibly faithful to iconic source material. Many scenes in both films are panel-for-panel recreations of the graphic novel pages. He doesn’t try to stick his two cents’ worth in every movie, putting his own spin on things (they like to call it “artistic license” in the biz) just because he can. He knows how much these stories mean to their fans, and that goes a long way in my book. He has my respect for that."
"Another reason is continuity. Aside from the abysmal Suicide Squad, Snyder is pretty much in the driver’s seat for the whole DCEU. He directed Man of Steel, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; and is also slated for Justice League: Parts 1 & 2. So it only makes sense to let him remain in control, for the sake of the integrity of the film universe itself. Having a bunch of different directors work on a single series is just asking for trouble, both in continuity and in the dreaded “creative differences.” (Yes, it has mostly worked for Marvel, but the MCU is lightning in a bottle. Let’s not pretend that makes it a foolproof formula.) He’s already familiar with all the principal characters and their respective portrayers, so he isn’t going to go screwing with established canon or pissing off his stars."
Source: JoBlo

The next three months of movies

I've concluded these are the films that will likely get some kind of traction on my part, but many are still a question mark. I'm watching four of them in the next week so answers are forthcoming.

  • The LEGO Batman Movie 
  • John Wick: Chapter 2 
  • Get Out 
  • Logan
  • Kong: Skull Island
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • The Circle
  • Ghost in the Shell
  • Song to Song
  • The Fate of the Furious

Seen 

  • Personal Shopper
  • A Cure For Wellness
  • Raw
  • Before I Fall
  • Graduation
  • Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragc Fall of a New York Fixer
  • The Lost City of Z
  • Free Fire

Extended synopsis for LOGAN makes it sound like a futuristic chase-movie ala BLADE RUNNER

It's kind of exciting to have a movie to look forward to in the desolate months of January to April, but that's just what "Logan" is doing with its, what is being touted as, unique take on the superhero genre.
"In 2024 the mutant population has shrunk significantly and the X-Men have disbanded. Logan, whose power to self-heal is dwindling, has surrendered himself to alcohol and now earns a living as a chauffeur. He takes care of the ailing old Professor X whom he keeps hidden away. One day, a female stranger asks Logan to drive a girl named Laura to the Canadian border. At first he refuses, but the Professor has been waiting for a long time for her to appear. Laura possesses an extraordinary fighting prowess and is in many ways like Wolverine. She is pursued by sinister figures working for a powerful corporation; this is because her DNA contains the secret that connects her to Logan. A relentless pursuit begins…"
"In this third cinematic outing featuring the Marvel comic book character Wolverine we see the superheroes beset by everyday problems. They are ageing, ailing and struggling to survive financially. A decrepit Logan is forced to ask himself if he can or even wants to put his remaining powers to good use. It would appear that in the near-future, the times in which they were able put the world to rights with razor sharp claws and telepathic powers are now over."
Thanks go to JoBlo and The Playlist
I will be watching "Logan," at a press screening, on the 16th and it will have its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival on the 17th. It goes wide on March 3rd.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

If O.J.: Made in America wins Best Documentary at the Academy Awards this year, it will be the longest film to ever win an Oscar.

For those asking, but what about Shoah? That film never even got nominated for Best Documentary! And we still follow the Oscars because?

Sundance 2017 recap and thoughts

Here is something I wrote for Awards Daily about the 39th Sundance Film Festival (HERE)
Over the past 10 days, the Sundance Film Festival proved, once gain, that American independent cinema is in good hands. Over 200 movies screened here at Park City, and the quality was, once again, something to behold.
People were still raving about last year’s lineup, one of the very best in the festival’s 39 year history, which gave us Manchester by the Sea, OJ: Made in America, Love & Friendship, Sing Street, Certain Women, Hunt For the Wilderpeople, The Fits, Swiss Army Man, Weiner, Captain Fantastic, Little Men, Indignation, Camerperson, Green Room, and even Nate Parker’s controversial The Birth of a Nation.
The more Hollywood goes into crass commercialism, the more likely a film festival like Sundance will matter. It’s as simple as that. This year there was a record number of films by women and people of color. In fact, many of those films were the highlights of this 39th edition.
Matt Ruskin’s Crown Heights won the prestigious dramatic audience award. The film, a true story of Brooklyn teenager Colin Warner, wrongfully convicted of murder in 1980s New York, was a by-the-books, but powerful indictment of the American justice system, and reminded me of a more condensed version of Norman Jewison’s The Hurricane. It’s the kind of movie that can stir you up, and get you riled for change.
Over the past 5 years, the Grand Jury Prize has gone to future Oscar nominees: Whiplash, Winter’s Bone, Precious, and Beasts of the Southern Wild. Don’t expect this year’s winner, Macon Blair’s I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, to do any damage come Oscar time, not to diminish its impact as a fantastic film. Blair has been an actor I’ve been keeping a watchful eye on the past few years, with him being Jeremy Saulnier’s muse in both Green Room and Blue Ruin. Suffice it to say that he takes quite a bit from Saulnier’s visceral style of filmmaking for his feature directing debut, I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, which loosely borrows its name from Woody Guthrie’s song of isolation, I Ain’t Got No Home. Melanie Lynskey and Elijah Wood make a formidable team in this tale set in the ever-growing “me, me, me” generation. Lynskey’s home is broken into with personl belongings stolen. Wood is the weirdo neighbor that she teams up with to find the perpetrator of the robbery, and he’s the highlight of the film — engrossing, comic, frightening, lonely and armed with nunchucks, you have to see this performance to believe it. They make a formidable, comic team, but the film’s crossings through many genres make it difficult for it to be pinpointed as a comedy. Blair is clearly influenced by David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, which depicted a dark underbelly of Americana that this film seems to wholeheartedly embrace almost religiously. It isn’t a perfect film, pacing issues, including an over-stretched finale, could have used a bit of trimming, but there are many surreal and memorable moments in Blair’s film that will stick with viewers when the film gets its Netflix premiere on February 24th.
Sundance still feels vitally important. Having premiered 9 Best Picture nominees in the past 7 years, it’s a continuous hotbed for low-budget indie filmmakers whose vision is uncompromised by greed. Here are 10 more films that will likely be heard from in the next year or so.
1) A Ghost Story (David Lowery)
David Lowery’s film is one of the most audaciously original narratives I have seen this decade. Shot with friends Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck as a personal side project while he was filming Pete’s Dragon, the film is not necessarily supposed to be scary as much as an engrossing meditation on life and death. The less you know, the better, but the film’s official synopsis is perfectly put together to tell you all you need to know: “This is the story of a ghost and the house he haunts.”
2) Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino)
The romance between a seventeen year-old Italian boy named Elio (Timothée Chalamet), and an American summer guest Oliver (Armie Hammer) staying at his parents’ cliffside mansion in southern Italy, Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name was the film most people believed would survive through next year’s Oscar season, and for good reason. Guadagnino has made one of the year’s best movies — sensual, sexy, and touching, it’s a film that is simply told, but packs a wallop by the end of its 130 minute running time.
3) The Big Sick (Michael Showalter)
All hesitations you might have had about this Judd Apatow-produced film is thrown out the window once Kumail Nanjiani appears in Michael Showalter’s The Big Sick. The film, a touching and heartfelt personal account of the real-life relationship between Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon (played beautifully by Zoe Kazan), is one of the best romantic comedies to come around in ages because it makes us actually care about the outcome. This is the best Judd Apatow movie and it wasn’t even directed by Apatow.
4) Mudbound (Dee Rees)
A messy, complex and invigorating account of post-WWII racial tensions in 1940’s Mississippi, Dee Rees’ Mudbound is about the timeless racial struggles that are still happening in America. Rees, whose Pariah is one of the most underrated films of this decade, tells the story of two army men, one white and the other black (Gareth Hedlund and Jason Mitchell), returning home to rural Mississippi, having seen the horrors of war and struggling to deal with the racial injustices at bay. They form a friendship that gets the townspeople talking: neither man cares about the other’s skin color, they just need comfort in each other’s bruised souls, and Rees nails the touching friendship they build.
5) Patti Cake$ (Geremy Jasper)
I called Geremy Jasper’s Patti Cake$ a hip-hop Whiplash, and that’s an apt description for a familia film that also feels like it’s directed by a new, exciting talent. The film’s breakout star, Australia’s Danielle Macdonald, plays Patti, an overweight, extremely white Jersey-born aspiring rapper who can win any free-style battle, but can’t find a way out of her miserable, blue-collar town. Jasper directs the hell out of the film, and his visually exciting style breaks through the film’s familiar tropes by making you care about Patti and her road to a better life. Jasper pulls off the impossible: although you feel like you have seen a film like this one before, you can rest assured that there has never been anything quite like Patti Cake$.
6) Novitiate (Margaret Qualley)
Maggie Betts’ feature film debut, for the most part, does not feel like the work of an amateur. The shot selection, framing, and tone are all top-notch. Set in the early 1960s and during the era of the reform that would be known as Vatican II, a young lady, perfectly played by Diana Agron, decides to join the nunhood due to her unadorned love for God, but things get complicated. A changing, more progressive church, and sexual desire for her peers starts to interfere, leading her to question herself. Novitiate is a messy, sprawling 123 minute film that leaves you truly shaken by its final frame. Melissa Leo, stunning as the conflicted nun from hell, is a particular standout.
7) Icarus (Bryan Fogel)
Given all the attention that Russia’s Vladmir Putin has been getting of late, it would be very hard to find a more relevant film than Bryan Fogel’s documentary Icarus, which deals with the Russian government’s Olympic cheating scandal. The scandal was uncovered by accident by Fogel, who was following a Russian scientist for a doping documentary, but found out he had a much bigger story at hand. This is the kind of film where a twist happens in almost every frame and the filmmaker, Fogel, seems to have stumbled upon a goldmine of a narrative.
8) City of Ghosts (Matthew Heineman)
Another documentary, this one about ISIS stronghold Raqqa, Syria, might be the most definitive document thus far about the Syrian civil war. Director Matthew Heineman gets frontline access to the citizen journalist collective of “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently” as they try to defy threats against their lives by the terrorist organization and fight the misinformation and indoctrination of their people at the hands of evil. Another great Syria documentary, Last Man in Aleppo won the World doc prize. Both are unflinching and unforgettable.
9) Ingrid Goes West (Marti Spicer)
If there ever was a film that dealt with our craze for social media in the most intelligent and assured way, it would be Matt Spicer’s Ingrid Goes West. Thee film has a career-making performance from Aubrey Plaza as an emotionally unbalanced, celebrity obsessed millenial (Aubrey Plaza) who decides to head out west and stalk an Instagram celebrity (a pitch-perfect Elizabeth Olsen) to the brink of martyrdom. It’s one of the best dark comedies to come around in ages and smartly updates the stalker genre for the social media generation. A perfect fit if you ask me.
10) Thoroughbred (Cory Finley)
If Heathers was more artsy and minimalist, you’d get Cory Finley’s finely attuned Thoroughbred. A theater veteran, Finley brings out the best of his two leads, here played by Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke, as they get themselves involved in a murder plot that is as highly unpredictable as it is stark and pitch black. It’s a sleek and stylish film that sneaks up under you and never lets go.

Official: DUNE Reboot Has A Director. It's Denis Villeneuve.











"It has been rumored for a while that Legendary Pictures had been courting Sicario and Arrival director Denis Villeneuve for their upcoming Dune reboot. Now in under 140 characters, Brian Herbert (son of Dune author Frank Herbert) has confirmed that the contracts have all been signed, and Villeneuve will be directing."

Chris Terrio rewrote Affleck's 'The Batman' script for WB



















Neat. I can get behind a script worked on by Ben Affleck and Geoff Johns, then rewritten by Chris Terrio. Once we know who Ben gets on to direct we can have an idea of the outlook for this. The rumoured shortlist of Matt Reeves, George Miller and Denis Villeneuve looks pretty damn promising though.

Source: Deadline

Monday, January 30, 2017

Ben Affleck Out as Director of 'The Batman'

Ben Affleck Batman
Affleck stll onboard to play the caped crusader, but as director? Nope. Something tells me he and DC just didn't see eye to eye in terms of the creative freedom needed to make a higher-than-average Batman film. Affleck's statement is as follows:
 “There are certain characters who hold a special place in the hearts of millions,” Affleck said in a statement. “Performing this role demands focus, passion and the very best performance I can give. It has become clear that I cannot do both jobs to the level they require. Together with the studio, I have decided to find a partner in a director who will collaborate with me on this massive film. I am still in this, and we are making it, but we are currently looking for a director. I remain extremely committed to this project, and look forward to bringing this to life for fans around the world.”
Source: Variety

First on-set picture of Paul Thomas Anderson/Daniel Day-Lewis 1950s Fashion Drama



Source: Vulture

Hugh Jackman on playing Wolverine in the first 'X-Men' movie: "I was average, to be honest, at best. No one was saying anything and I sort of thought I was getting away with it, but I wasn't."

Wolverine, Hugh Jackman

"I was kind of struggling, to be honest," Jackman said. "It was the first movie I had ever done in America. I was pretty tight. I was nervous. I was average, to be honest, at best. No one was saying anything and I sort of thought I was getting away with it, but I wasn't."

Source: Eonline

John Hurt's best performance?



I was saddened by the news of John Hurt's passing. I knew he was suffering from some form of terminal cancer, but I didn't believe he could actually leave this world. We last saw him as the pastor in "Jackie," a great turn from one of the greatest character-actors that ever lived.

These will be the 5 defining performances of Hurt's career:

Max in "Midnight Express" (1978)

Kane in "Alien" (1979)

John Merricks "The Elephant Man" (1980)

Winston Smith in "Nineteen-Eighty-Four" (1984)

Giles De'Ath in "Love and Death in Long Island" (1997)

First OCEANS EIGHT photo starring Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna



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.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Denzel Washington shocks by winning SAG award, is now Oscar Best Actor frontrunner

SAG Awards Film Analysis: 'Hidden Figures,'
Move over Casey Affleck. Since 2004, every single Leading Actor that has won the SAG award went on to win the Best Actor Oscar. This officially makes Denzel Washington the frontrunner to win on February on February 26th.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE: Denzel Washington, Fences
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE: Emma Stone, La La Land
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: Viola Davis, Fences

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