Friday One Sheet: Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella

This is how you get a teaser poster for an existing brand exactly right. Now coy images of pumpkins or mice sewing in the attic. This is marketing that cuts right to the heart of the story, get the princess in her sky-blue dress a bit of a rush to/from the ball with the iconic shoe right beside the title text. The only think that not perfect here is the lazy-typesetting, but you can’t always have everything.

By the way, this is the first I’m hearing about Kenneth Branagh directing a live action Cinderella movie for Disney. It’s a long way from Thor, but on second thought, not that long a way.

Mike Nichols – 1931 – 2014

Comedian, stage director, and one of Hollywood’s great film directors, Mike Nichols has passed away at 83. Blasting onto the movie scene with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf in the mid 1960s, a film that was nominated for nearly all the major Oscars that year (it won for actress, best supporting actress and cinematography), and closing his career with the quite underrated Charlie Wilson’s War, Nicols made accessible satire a specialty, a feat that is not easy to do. Along with Catch-22, Carnal Knowledge, The Graduate, The Birdcage, Working Girl, Closer, Biloxi Blues and the pure paycheck flick Day of the Dolphin, his career made fine use of movie stars, while always finding a way to the take ‘celebrity vehicle’ out of the equation.

Along with Billy Wilder, Preston Sturges and Ernst Lubitsch, before him, Nicols’ voice is already missed as one of the most intelligent human-comedy directors Hollywood has ever employed.

The Guardian has more.

Friday One Sheet: White God

I have yet to see Korn√©l Mundrucz√≥’s White God, but with the poster, and with the description of the story below, I wonder if there is any connection at all to Sam Fuller’s White Dog; other than being an anagram of the title. Either way, it is a compelling poster image, high angle, grim colouring and contrast, and about a hundred dogs at the feat, of what I’m guessing are the two protagonists and always nice to see Hungarian cinema making its way across the pond.

Thirteen-year-old Lili fights to protect her dog Hagen. She is devastated when her father eventually sets Hagen free on the streets. Still innocently believing love can conquer any difficulty, Lili sets out to find her dog and save him.

Some Thoughts on the Worldview of Interstellar

 

Before reading below, it should be noted: THERE BE *SPOILERS* HERE, TOP TO BOTTOM.

One of my favourite quotations from recent science fiction cinema comes from Steven Soderbergh’s shockingly underrated 2002 remake of Solaris. When discussing how mentally equipped mankind is for stellar discovery, the mission-leader, Dr. Gibarian opines, “We don’t want other worlds, we want mirrors.” To be specific however, it was the ghost of Gibarian, or perhaps even a construct from an Alien intelligence projected from the mind of psychologist Kris Kelvin. Maybe it was just a dream. It’s complicated, but you get the idea. We go out into space to learn more about ourselves, finding new life and civilizations is just something that might happen along the way.

In the case of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, we not only want mirrors, we also want old-time agriculture, book-shelves of dead-tree textbooks, battered and well loved pick-up trucks, baseball, and presumably, 35mm analogue film. In other words, apple-pie Americana with minimal materialism or digital devices. The only thing missing in the film’s love of all things twentieth century are the churches; in a way they too show up incorporated heavily into Hans Zimmer’s score. Co-incidentally enough, if the bombastic score were absent the epic organ-chime moments, it would very much resemble the subtle, driven work in Cliff Martinez’s score for, of all things, Solaris. Mirrors, indeed.

There is a bit of classic political head-butting in dusty small town America when former NASA pilot turned farmer, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) goes into his kids’ school for parent-teacher interviews. In what is perhaps the films best scene, the principle and school teacher inform Cooper that the administration has ranked every 15-year old student’s future career path by a computer algorithm, a nanny state decision which must be abided. To add insult to injury, these governmental stewards charged with educating the youth are also moon-landing deniers and take umbrage to Coop’s daughter bringing ‘outdated textbooks’ into the classroom. Cooper, being the more come-what-may kind of cowboy (“alright, alright, alright kids, flat tire be damned, lets harvest and repurpose that old Indian solar wardrone!”) who likes manual-transmission, Morse code, and flying by the seat of his pants. The shackling of the future, and of history for that matter, to the lowest level of ambition, merely surviving, or as he puts it, staring down at the dirt, instead of looking up at the stars, gets his dander up. He’s a believer in technology, optimism, and problem-solving around a fast-ticking clock, in a world which has no interest in engineers or ideas. He funnels this frustration into his relationship with his bright and willful daughter. When the school administrators are looking to him to discipline his daughter, he tells them he is taking her to a ball game, and giving her popcorn and soda-pop. (She gets a suspension from formal schooling his insolence and goes on to eventually save the world. Take that liberals!)

In the mean time, the United States is experiencing a second Great Depression and Dust-Bowl scenario. We don’t know what is happening anywhere else in this inward-looking film (heck, we don’t even know what year it is!) Presumably, either America’s climate change denial, or its preemptive strike foreign policies, possibly even over-subsidizing corn-production to the point of mono-culture, has brought the whole ecosystem to the brink and the human population is merely a fraction of the 7 Billion souls at the beginning of the 21st century. Environmental blight ecological collapse is diminishing remaining oxygen supply to the point where there is only enough time and food for a few more generations. That is the scenario and it is grim, possibly man-made, and quite likely, irreversible.

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Friday One Sheet: Gaspar Noe’s LOVE

Back in 2009, when Enter The Void quickly rose to the top of my ‘best of the year’ list (and likely in the running for ‘best of the decade’ list), I made the blithe comment that the man should just retire himself, because HOW TO DO YOU TOP THAT? Well, 5 years later, I am more than happy to see another film come out, and in fine Noe fashion, it features an eye catching, provocative poster. Body fluids and indulgence and taboo breaking are clearly on the menu here. The teaser poster for Love is not a tableau style bit of marketing, like the recent character and group posters for Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, this is right in close and personal to a threesome. Right in the mouth, in fact. And is that title image saliva or semen? Things could go either way.

Trailer: A Most Violent Year

Last week we featured the stellar white poster for the J. D. Chandor (Margin Call, All is Lost) directed New York City crime flick, A Most Violent Year. Now we have the trailer which shows Oscar Isaac getting a bit freaked out at being accused of criminal behaviour in his ‘honest business,’ and Jessica Chastian shedding single tears on more than one occasion. Albert Brooks is in there too. While nothing exceptional exactly jumps out here, I’m pretty happy there are directors like Chandor makeing films that would be right at home in the 1940s or 1970s. That is to say, I will be there will bells on when the film opens on New Years Eve.

Friday One Sheet: A Most Violent Year

I am kind of in love with all the whiteness in this design. Jessica Chastain’s dress almost fading into the hill below witch she is facing a surprisingly sparse 1981 New York City skyline. At least I think it is Chastain on the poster, it is hard to tell with her back to us. She is there, also presumably with Oscar Isaac who is again likely trudging through the Big Apple in the snow.

I have no idea what the film is about, the large font tagline is vague, but intriguing, but I suspect it will be a chilly affair.

Occultober – Day 31 – The Exorcist

The Exorcist
What more can be said about the undisputed big-daddy of possession horror? The mega-hit that has endured decades, in fact it is still scary as hell; movie magic at its most fine. I won’t belabour the quality of the film, but if you haven’t seen it on the big screen with an audience, you should really get on that.

When young Regan McNeil (Linda Blair) starts behaving very, very oddly, her mother (Ellen Burstyn) enlists the help of a young priest (Jason Miller) and an old priest (Max Von Sydow) to do battle with the demon inside the child. Vomit is spewed, there is masturbation with a crucifix, rattling and levitating beds, near-subliminal devil-imagery, and anything else shocking that wunderkind filmmaker William Friedkin can throw out at the camera. For my money, the sequence where Regan gets a carotid angiography in the hospital, which is shot as realistic as possible, might be the most difficult to watch.

The legacy of The Exorcist is huge, not only the sequels, and lesser knock-offs, but also in terms of kickstarting (with help from Rosemary’s Baby) by way of the huge financial success, the entire occult subgenre in the 1970s, which more than likely planted the seeds in the cultural consciousness for the Satanic Panic hysterias of the 1980s and 1990s. Amongst other things, was an indirect cause behind the West Memphis 3 miscarriage of justice. It was the basis and the tipping point for this series which ran the entire month.

We hope you enjoyed.

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Occultober – Day 30 – The Omen

The Omen
T he ultimate film in the ‘demon seed’ subgenre, has the son of Satan being adopted by an American ambassador to Britain, played by a greying Gregory Peck. Even as a child, this baby-faced anti-christ is willing to exert supernatural influence to murder in the pursuit of grabbing power. The Omen was directed by Richard Donner, just prior to him landing the Superman gig and coming off decades churning out TV episodes in all genres. It was one of many films that made a play to ride the coattails of Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby and William Friedkin’s The Exorcist. Marginally less exploitive than Michael Winner’s gonzo freakshow, The Sentinel, but not afraid of graphic imagery, and disturbing juxtapositions; for instance a woman hangs herself at a children’s birthday party in one scene.

Shadowy satanist organizations, American political powers, and everyones favourite villain David Warner (here playing a shaggy haired photographer who figures out the truth), Rottweiler and Baboon attacks, the mark of the devil 666, and a creepy performance from child actor Harvey Spencer Stephens insured that The Omen was a huge success at the time. Even at the Oscars, it won prolific composer Jerry Goldsmith his only Oscar. The film spawned many sequels (bringing actor Sam Neill over from New Zealand to Hollywood in the process) and a 2006 remake, as well as a plethora of homages. including the church steeple kill in Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz.

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