Curtis Hanson: 1945 – 2016

Friend and lover of movies, director Curtis Hanson has passed on to the next plane of existence yesterday afternoon. According to reports from the Los Angeles Police Department, Hanson (71) died as the result of a heart attack.

Hanson is probably best known for his stylistic, neo-noir drama/thriller L.A. Confidential, which won him the Oscar for best writing as well as best supporting actress trophy for Kim Basinger. Not to mention its seven other nominations including best picture and best director.

The director’s last film was “Chasing Mavericks,” a biopic of surfer Jay Moriarity starring Gerard Butler, but Hanson had to leave that production toward the end of shooting in 2011 due to what was said at the time to be complications following his recent heart surgery. Michael Apted completed the film and the two shared credit on it.

His project just prior to “Chasing Mavericks” was the HBO film “Too Big to Fail” — about the efforts to save the U.S. economy from the abyss in 2008 — for which he received two Emmy nominations.

– Variety

For me personally, my first experience with the director was in 1992’s The Hand that Rocks the Cradle; which possibly hasn’t aged very well but at the time was a fairly hearty thriller that I believe audiences cheered for and was a commercial success – and indeed was nominated for a few awards itself. But of all his films, the one I would most certainly like to go to bat for is the 2000 dramedy Wonder Boys starring Michael Douglas.

It’s too bad we won’t get to see more from this director who was kind of an “every three years” kind of film maker. Which is often the sign of someone contemplative and caring about his craft. You will be missed by many sir. God speed.

Sunday Video Essay: The Marvel Symphonic Universe

Generally we try to stay positive and inspirational for our Sunday preaches. But today, I’m in charge instead of our usual poster, Kurt; so this is a little bit more of an affront to mediocre cinema. Also with our video essays they generally tend to be about, well, video. But this is more about audio.

But while this is somewhat of an assault on the scores for the Marvel Universe, it’s still very well put together and gets its point across about how important score can be in a film – even if it’s not totally recognizable or even noticeable at first glance. So enjoy… kinda.

Mondays Suck Less in the Third Row

Check out these links:
Awesome Steve Buscemi poster
Paramount Now Streaming 175 Free Movies
Top Ten Takashi Miike films
Tiny figurines interacting with everyday objects
Why movies still matter
It’s Not Cool to Hate the Star Wars Prequels Anymore
Winona Ryder Forever: How the Gen-X Icon Kept Her Cool
The Strange Reason Nearly Every Film Ends by Saying It’s Fiction
How Children of Men took us through the looking glass
Bizarre ant colony discovered in an abandoned Polish nuclear weapons bunker




Would you like to know more…?

Gary King’s Unnerved Gets Trailer and Poster

unnerved-smallGary King (New York Lately, What’s Up Lovely, Death of the Dead) is one of our favorite indie directors around here. He’s supported us and we’ve supported his talent for years.

So we’re excited when he gets to the point of finalizing another feature film… especially when it’s a genre film releasing pretty close to all hallow’s eve. Unnerved builds the suspense for a couple after the mysterious death of their young son. 

SYNOPSIS: Whatever killed their son continues to haunt Mallory (Katie Morrison) and Frank (Mark DiConzo) no matter which place they go. While hiding out at a remote lake house, Mallory struggles to keep her sanity and save her marriage as the supernatural activity grows more powerful. Finally reaching their breaking point, they elicit the help of Eleanor (Elena Sanz), a local clairvoyant, to end the terror once and for all. But will it be too late?

I know this has been in production for a long time and I know Gary King is very passionate about his work and also borders on the perfectionist end of the spectrum. All of this to say I’m looking forward to seeing what Mr. King does with a horror film.

This one’s designed to be scary as hell folks — a throwback to films from the 70s and 80s.
– Gary King

While his influences are Almodovar and Altman and PT Anderson, I know his true early passions are Carpenter, DePalma and Friedkin. So it will be nice to see these influences come to life with a good dose of chills and thrills.

Check out the newly released trailer below. Also the poster above is a premiere as well. Enjoy.

Trailer: Certain Women

Back in January when we looked ahead at the cinematic year to come, Kurt was pretty excited, rightfully so, about the prospect of the newest Kelly Reichardt film, Certain Women.

from the director of the quiet epics, Wendy and Lucy and Meek’s Cutoff comes this sprawling story following the lives of a handful of intersecting experiences across Montana.

Other than that, I know precious little about the picture. From the trailer, I gather that it is some sort of love letter or maybe better described as a support ticket to women everywhere struggling in what is still very much a (oblivious) man’s world.

Certain Women stars Reichardt regular Michelle Williams as well as Laura Dern and Jared Harris. And I’m not gonna lie; after K-Stew’s last couple three outings (particularly Clouds of Sils Maria) the main draw for me here is Kristen Stewart. Watching her grow and mature to become a powerhouse of an actress has been fascinating and exciting.

Have a look. The trailer is more poem than trailer – which is kind of what Reichardt’s films are – so this is appropriate.

Gene Wilder: 1933 – 2016

wilder-obit

Gene Wilder’s version of “Willy Wonka” is a thing of legend. He made us laugh. He freaked us out (i.e. some of us were scarred for life after that infamous boat ride). He made us feel. Good. If a musical chocolate man wasn’t your thing. Perhaps a Young Frankenstein was more your speed. Maybe it was an aging gunslinger fighting the injustice of racism and greed across the lands. A washed up writer road tripping to California to make it big(ger). A Broadway producer hell-bent on making the worst performance of all time. Or maybe just a simple deaf guy on an adventure with his old blind pal, the late, great Richard Pryor. Whatever your flavor, Wilder seemed to be able to always deliver.

Inspiration, “…my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple.”

Sadly, the time has come for Gene to retire to that great big candy store in the sky. Free from all the Wangdoodles, and Hornswogglers, and Snozzwangers, and rotten, Vermicious Knids. Wilder passed away today at the age of 83 due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease. “He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world.” said his nephew in a press release. Well for me, he should have no fear. There’s plenty of Wilder still on my plate that I haven’t gotten around to yet. And I can still watch Willy Wonka 1000 more times and laugh just as hard as I did the first 1000 times I watched it.

So while there is still more to see, I’m saddened by this passing and the world will certainly miss his entertaining, big-hearted hysterics. Luckily, his legacy will live on and we really have nothing to frown about. You can rest in peace sir, knowing that you made a lot of children and adults very happy very many many years. And will continue to do so.

A Guest Appearance on The Cinereelist Podcast

Probably my favorite movie related podcast at the moment is The Cinereelists show. It’s gotten me back into chatting about lists again and using LetterBoxd for all its worth and glory as well getting to yell at my phone once in a while as the hosts struggle through some games.

This week I got to guest on not one, but two shows! On Monday James and Zach and I chatted for a bit about our Top 5 Litmus Test films – described in a little more detail on the show. And then for release today, we did a games episode that featured “Chain Reaction” as well as “Me, Myself and Irate.” We had a good time and I’m sure Kurt’s influence on me caused me to make this one of their longer shows in the archive.

Stop by Cinereelists.com and subscribe to their show! Or at least have a listen to the two episode I participated in if you’re running low of online movie discussion:

Andrew on Litmus Test Lists
Andrew on Movie Games Friday

litmus-test

A Murderer… and a Lesbian! The Dressmaker (Trailer)

Remember movies like Bottle Shock or The Full Monty or Mrs. Henderson Presents, in which something “scandalous” hits a small town and meets opposition; only to become embraced and eventually adored by the community, changing everyone’s lives for the better, forever? Here is the iteration of that type of film for 2016: The Dressmaker. And this one is in Australia! What, all of it?*

The Dressmaker stars Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth, Hugo Weaving (where has thing guy been?), Sarah Snook and Judy Davis. Directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse who has apparently taken an almost two-decade long hiatus from film making.

Now, this is Winslet and constume design, so I’m all over this thing. But I imagine for others, this will look like pretty safe and uninteresting territory for just about everyone and everything involved.

Thoughts?

 

*old Mark Kermode joke. sorry.

R.I.P. Kenny Baker (1934 – 2016)

Famed British film and television star, Kenny Baker, died today at the age of 81 after a long battle with a respiratory illness and eventual lung failure.

Kenny Baker brought a lot of joy to people throughout the years. Obviously most prominently as the beloved R2-D2 from Star Wars. A role that never even reveals Baker’s face, his body or even his voice. One of only a couple(?) actors to portray a role through all six of the first Star Wars films (episodes IV – VI and episodes I – III). Besides Star Wars though, dude was in lot of films.

And strangely enough, I was just thinking the other day about how much I actually really like R2-D2 – especially as I get older. I appreciate the character’s limitations and how he overcomes them to always come through for his friends. He also seems to be a child at “heart” through all six films. He’s got a unique and interesting way of communicating and even if you can;t understand specifically what he’s saying, we can all understand him perfectly. In other words, he breaks language barriers around the globe. This sort of demeanor and personality mimics Baker’s outlook on life as I’ve been led to believe. Always smiling, always the optimist and always there for people.

Mark Hamill paid tribute to his friend today on Twitter:


As a younger boy, he was told that due to his dwarfism, he most likely would not live beyond puberty – medical innovation has come a long way since then. But here we are 81 years later and Mr. Baker lived a long and full life that brought joy to millions and will live forever in the annals of history. May the force be with you Kenny.