Sunday Video Essay: Blade Runner’s Noir Influence Is The Essence Of It’s Science Fiction

The Lessons From A Screenplay YouTube Channel spends a satisfying 10 minutes examining the noir roots and tropes behind Ridley Scotts 1982 masterpiece, and soon to be latter day sequel-ized, Blade Runner. This is not just your run-of-the-mill lesson in aesthetics, but rather the core aspects of noir, normalization of crime, police corruption and death. Enjoy it as we are only a few days away from Denis Villeneuve’s spin on the world, and it will be interesting if he and his screenwriters can capture that tone.

Rowthree Staff Summary of TIFF 2017

Our traditional round-up of impressions and reactions to the massive slate of the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival has arrived in its tenth (!) edition, here in the third row. Happy Decade to us! As always, several of the Row Three staff and contributors, along with a few a regular reader or two, provide a tiny capsule – a postcard if you will – of all the films that they saw at the festival. These are accompanied by an identifier-tag: [BEST], [LOVED], [LIKED], [DISLIKED], [DISAPPOINTED], [FELL ASLEEP], [WALKED OUT], [HATED] and [WORST].

Collectively we – Kurt Halfyard, Bob Turnbull, Courtney Small, Mike Rot, and Sean Kelly – saw a sizable chunk of the films shown at the massive public festival. Hopefully this post can act as a ‘rough guide’ for films that will be finding distribution on some platform, whether on the big screen, small screen, or streaming service, in the next 18 months.
 
 

THE SHORT VERSION:

Personal BEST: FACES PLACES [Bob], mother! [Kurt], CALL ME BY YOUR NAME [Courtney], LADY BIRD [Mike], and I, TONYA [Sean].

Personal WORST: The personal low-lights were THE RITUAL [Kurt], THE CONFORMIST [Bob], VERONICA, [MIKE], and FIRST REFORMED [Sean].
 
 
Other Consensus Picks: THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI, THE CRESCENT, THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER, THE DISASTER ARTIST, LOVELESS, THE SHAPE OF WATER and THE FLORIDA PROJECT.
 
 
The ‘MASSIVE’ version is below. All our thoughts and impressions from offerings of the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.

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Friday One Sheet: Ronin

Arrow Video recently gave a deluxe Bluray release of John Frankenheimer’s final feature, and late 1990s adult-action classic, Ronin. While they went with a rather boring de-saturated ‘stack of actors sporting guns’ design for the cover, designer ChungKong released this minimalist, warm toned poster that highlights the French locations while emphasizing the over-sized Macguffin, a large silver case used for transporting ice-skates, at the heart of the ‘late unpleasantness.’

Trailer: Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs

So, well within the vein of Fantastic Mr. Fox, comes Wes Anderson’s Japan-set new stop-motion animated feature. Isle of Dogs was not penned by Roald Dahl, but Anderson and his team certainly made Fantastic Mr. Fox their own when they adapted it for the big screen, and this feels almost like a sequel. Many of the Anderson regulars, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Bob Balaban, Jeff Goldblum, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Fisher Stevens are here, with some new voices added including Scarlett Johansson (who does a LOT of voice work these days), Greta Gerwig, Ken Watanabe, Bryan Cranston and Liev Schreiber. It looks familiar and great, and really, Fantastic Mr. Fox was one of the best things to happen to feature length animation some time, even if Anderson directed it over the phone from Paris to London.

The film gets a wide release date, March 23, 2018.

Friday One Sheet: Wonder Wheel

Woody Allen’s latest takes place in New York’s Coney Island amusement park in the 1950s. And this key art delivers a nostalgic glow on the eponymous ferris wheel in the title. It also foregrounds a stern but relaxed (?) and nearly unrecognizable Kate Winslet writing in a journal on the worlds smallest day-bed. The warm glow of her hair is at odds with the severity of her expression. Thus lending the tension, will this film be swimming in rosy nostalgia, or be a darker, deeper consideration of New York’s most frivolous, and often dangerous districts.

Harry Dean Stanton: 1926 – 2017

Possibly the greatest character actor of the past 40 years, the cantankerous stalwart for the smoking, drinking working fellow, Harry Dean Stanton passed on at the venerable age of 91. The actor has approximately 200 film and television credits dating all the way back to the 1950s, so obviously you might fit into one or more of several camps of HDS. There is the dopey working class performances in Red Dawn, and Alien (Rieeeght). There is the creepy, creepy villain rolls in TV’s Big Love series, Seven Psychopaths, and Wild At Heart. The existential drifter, in Paris Texas, and his last major film to come out, 2017’s Lucky. The mentor and father figure, in Pretty in Pink, Repo Man. As a seedy sidekick in Escape From New York and Cockfighter. Or the witness to events in The Straight Story, The Green Mile, The Avengers, Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me, and The Last Temptation of Christ. Or mood-setting troubadour strumming his six string in Cool Hand Luke, Access All Areas and recently in Twin Peaks: The Return.

His lanky frame and ‘I don’t give a fuck’ posture, which was meticulously achieved with committed performances in even the tiniest of parts, made him one of the recognizable faces in film, and he will deeply missed. Of course, Stanton worked right up to the moment of his death and can be seen acting alongside one of his regular collaborators, David Lynch (he is in the bulk of Lynch’s filmography), in John Carroll Lynch’s Lucky as well as in Michael Oblowitz’s Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner picture, Frank & Ava.

Variety has more.

Friday One Sheet: The Shape of Charcoal

Fresh off its big Golden Lion win at Venice, its hot-ticket premiere at TIFF, and Opening Film slot announcement at the upcoming at Sitges, Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape Of Water gets this handsome charcoal-sketch poster that is a variant of sorts from the water-colour teaser design. Clearly articulating the ‘Creature From The Black Lagoon’-as-a-love-story angle of the film and wearing its festival laurels in the corner, this one will be an eye catcher when it is hung (hopefully on paper, not on a screen) in multiplex lobbies in December. Me, I will be standing in the rush line in Toronto (hey, I’ve been here all week!) at TIFF hoping to see if the film lives up to its praise, or I will be waiting until December like the rest of you.

Friday One Sheet: Valley of Shadows

The Toronto International Film Festival has gotten underway as of yesterday, and I would be remiss if I didn’t offer one of my favourite posters, for one of my favourite films playing the festival. Valley of Shadows is a gorgeous modern version of a classic fairy tale. The story is basically simple: A boy goes into the deep dark woods to look for his lost dog, but discovers unexpected things in his journey. But the construction is impressively formal in how it conveys its images and tone.

The poster emphasizes what much of the film-making language tries tries to impart. Namely, is the lead character dreaming or is this wandering quest a reality? The large moon, and the long winding river both converge on the sleeping form of the lead character, Aslak. The boy, the dog and a boat offer the beginning of the journey at the bottom of the poster. The colours and texture is all gloomy fog, and imposing wilderness. But what is the most eye-catching is how of a piece, the sleeping body of the boy integrates with the horizon. It’s evocative, and original, like the film.

The trailer for the film is tucked under the fold.

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Friday One Sheet: Minimalism and Text

Here is one way to stand out in a crowd. Take the imagery right out of the poster and go almost entirely with text. Looking like a paperback novel from the 1960s, the key art for Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, Lady Bird only graphic elements are a small crow on a white cross and a series of warm colour bars along the sides. It’s bold in its own way for avoiding the usual faces of the stars of the film (Saoirse Ronan has a particular striking visage). I doubt you will ever see this as a trend – note the missing credit block, which makes this more of a teaser poster than the ‘real thing.’ Nevertheless, I applaud the restraint and taste here. It works.

Trailer: 78/52


Alexander O. Phillipe’s compulsively watchable documentary on the 3 minute show sequence from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is finally getting a commercial release from IFC. And here they have cut a wonderful ‘talking heads’ sans talking heads trailer using the re-staging moments from the film. It pulls you in. And as all the critics quotes (curiously mostly nerd sites over more prestigious outlets) say, it is indeed an excellent examination of cinemas most famous murder. 78 Shots, 52 cuts, aka 78/52 comes to theatres and VOD on Oct. 13, 2017.

Friday One Sheet: Orange ‘n Teal

As key art goes, this latest poster for Blade Runner 2029 is about as assembly line as one can get. I only post it here to beat the dead horse of Orange and Teal one final time. For years since the Digital Intermediate became standard in the editing/post-production process, action film directors and producers (ahem, Michael Bay, Joel Silver) have been colour grading their films towards orange skin tones and blue tints, because science (SCIENCE!) says we like it. But we also get tired of it, and it has been falling out of favour (with a few exceptions) since Die Hard 5’s overkill use of it.

This phenomena has worked its way into posters as well, because Photoshop is pretty easy, but I’ve never seen it as prevalent as this one, which literally puts the orange on one half, and the teal on the other. Now this kind of syncs with the art-design of images and scenes we have seen in the movie. Roger Deakins is not really behind the curve here, rather he is actively moving between entire scenes of warm orange, cold blue, and steely grey, much the same way he used Yellow and Blue filters as a guide to where Emily Blunt’s character’s awareness/control was in Sicario. It is more just putting the same two halves (I suspect) of the movie onto one kind of standard one sheet.

Clear as mud? Righto.