Trailer: Fences

Bring on the Oscar bait!

OK, perhaps this is not fair, when you have performers this good, namely Denzel Washington, and the incomparable Viola Davis, well, then I am certainly down for a ‘lay its cards on the table’ period family melodrama. Judging form the trailer below, one can likely expect to be told how to feel by the music and pointed dialogue alone, even those these actors could comfortably pull this off without all the cinematic excess. Both of them did, indeed, accomplish this in 2010, during the award winning Broadway revival of August Wilson’s Fences stage-play.

Troy Maxson, is a strong man, a hard man. He has had to be to survive. Troy Maxson has gone through life in an America where to be proud and black is to face pressures that could crush a man, body and soul. But the 1950s are yielding to the new spirit of liberation in the 1960s, a spirit that is changing the world Troy Maxson has learned to deal with the only way he can, a spirit that is making him a stranger, angry and afraid, in a world he never knew and to a wife and son he understands less and less.

Fences gets a limited theatrical release on December 16th before a wide release December 25.

Sunday Video Essay: Swearing In Film

Here is a pithy, but intelligent survey of how swearing can be, and is, used in various classic and contemporary cinema brought to us from Youtube channel, Now You See It. Whether it is Rhett Butler not giving a damn at the end of Gone With The Wind, or just about every character in Fargo dropping F-Bombs on that most dangerous of fools, Jerry Lundegaard, or Jules Winnfield’s reaction to the idea of giving a guy a foot massage in Pulp Fiction, I think this essay elucidates a lot of intrinsic notions of how to swear on screen.

Girls on Pop – Episode 9: So Many Movies!

Not soon enough

Not soon enough

After a few weeks of hiatus where one of us organized a festival and attended another while the other one went back to school, Sarah (@iBrockely) and I (@themarina) finally managed to carve out a bit of time this week to record another episode of the podcast.

With so many great movies playing at the moment, we skipped over much of our usual trailer talk to dig into a couple of recent movies while still finding time to fangirl just a little about the new Beauty and the Beast trailer!

Would you like to know more…?

Friday One Sheet: Alien Covenant

One simply cannot argue with the simplicity of the teaser poster for the latest (8th?) entry in the Alien franchise.

Lots of negative space, the Alien hiding so close in the dark, this could be an image taken directly from the first, and still classic, film. When Ridley Scott went the prequel route with Prometheus, the marketing was very coy about whether or not the film was connected to the franchise, and in this prequel-sequel (second prequel?) they are being as clear as possible. The Xenomorph outside of perhaps Frankenstein, Dracula, and Godzilla, is the one of the most iconic creatures in popular culture, and it certainly makes a lot of sense to maximize its use at this point.

Also, most succinct tagline ever: “Run.”

Blu-Ray Review: Napoleon (1927)

Director: Abel Gance
Screenplay: Abel Gance
Starring: Albert Dieudonné, Vladimir Roudenko, Edmond Van Daël
Country: France
Running Time: 332 min
Year: 1927
BBFC Certificate: PG


Abel Gance’s Napoleon is a late silent feature that is famed for being a masterpiece of cinematic invention, but it has endured a troubled history. You should look it up to get the full story (or watch the well stocked set of features included with the Blu-Ray/DVD), but basically, although Gance had high hopes for his epic film (9 and a half hours long in its fullest form), planning on it being the first part of a 6 film series, it performed poorly on its initial release and pretty much disappeared for many years. In the 50’s and 60’s some reels were found and released, but it wasn’t until the late 70’s, when film historian Kevin Brownlow presented a restored version, that interest was reignited. He’d bought a couple of reels of Napoleon as a boy and had been obsessed with it ever since. His work didn’t stop in 1979 either, he’s continued to work to reconstruct the film as fully as possible and now we are finally presented with (probably) the most complete version of the film we’re ever likely to see. The BFI have screened this at festivals and special screenings over the last few years and now it is finally being made available on Blu-Ray and DVD in the UK.

As you might imagine, the film is a biopic of the French military and political leader Napoleon Bonaparte. Being originally intended as part of a six part series though, the film focuses solely on his early years, beginning with Napoleon as a boy, leading a large scale snowball fight and being bullied for his stony countenance. It follows his movement up the ranks in the military and politics during the birth of the French Revolution, up until he is put in charge of the French army of Italy and advances towards taking the country for the French.

I mentioned Napoleon’s reputation as a cinematic masterpiece and this is largely down to the extraordinary volume of groundbreaking techniques Gance throws into the mix. Multiple exposures are used for various effects, including creating a split screen kaleidoscopic look a few times. There’s some wildly kinetic camera movement aided by a substantial number of handheld shots, which were little used at the time. There’s some stunning editing on display too, from rapid cutting techniques, thrillingly fast paced action scenes & some striking use of intercutting. The best example of the latter sees political upheaval cutting with Napoleon on a small boat in a mighty storm (which utilises a French flag as a sail).

Would you like to know more…?

Trailer: Martin Scorsese’s Silence

For this Thanksgiving, we are thankful that Martin Scorsese can still make these kind of pictures. The director has been working at getting Shūsaku Endō’s novel, Silence turned into a film for decades, and now it is here. Set in the seventeenth century, the story involves two young Portuguese Jesuit priests who face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor and spread Christianity. Things do not go well, as Japan was in an era of deep isolation, and Christianity was illegal to practice in this time period. The Japanese had however been working on ‘Water Crucifixion’ (Mizuharitsuke) for a while, and certainly strung up a few worshipers – images that appearance in this trailer.

Adam Driver, Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson, Tadanobu Asano, Shinya Tsuakmoto(!), and Ciarán Hinds star in the film which is getting released on December 23, 2016.

Get Your Cast to Mars – Pre-Enactment

Get Your Cast To Mars was originally a three part (+ bonus episode) micro-podcast focusing on the planet Mars in the movies. Matthew Brown and Kurt Halfyard considered the red planet as an image, an idea, and a somewhat rare place visited in the cinema of the past 100 years.

We are back for a second season focusing on Mars on Television – specifically, the Ron Howard/Brian Grazer produced six part mini-series that began airing on National Geographic and FX in November 2016. We are sticking with the three part format again for the purposes of this podcast, looking at the series in pairs. Here we look at the unusual nature of the show (hybrid doc/fiction) and its aspirational tone.

As always, please join in the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section and again, thanks for listening!

 

The Complete First Season of Matt and Kurt getting their Cast To Mars:

 
 

The Second Season:

 
 
Would you like to know more…?

32nd Annual Independent Spirit Award Nominations

So it appears I have some catching up to do this year. In the past, I’d seen about everything by the time the nominations rolled out. I’m certainly not complaining however; quite the opposite in fact. I’m really looking forward to seeing all of this stuff that either hasn’t been released or my schedule didn’t allowed for it.

The Film Independent Spirit Awards stand for something much deeper: championing creative independence in visual storytelling and supporting a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision—a mission that is more relevant now than ever before.

So today we’re honored to announce the nominees for the 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards, revealed at a press conference this morning at the W Hotel in Hollywood by presenters Edgar Ramirez (Zero Dark Thirty, Joy, Carlos) and Jenny Slate (Obvious Child, The Secret Life of Pets). This year’s Spirit Award nominees are yet another esteemed group of diverse, outspoken and boundary-pushing performers and filmmakers, representing the very best and most vital independent movies of the past 12 months. So without further adieu, let’s get to the nominees!

 


Sizing up the nominations:
American Honey = 6
Moonlight = 6
Manchester By the Sea = 5
Jackie = 4
BEST PICTURE
American Honey
Chronic
Jackie
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight

BEST DIRECTOR
Andrea Arnold, American Honey
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Pablo Larraín, Jackie
Jeff Nichols, Loving
Kelly Reichardt, Certain Women

BEST ACTOR
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
David Harewood, Free In Deed
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Jesse Plemons, Other People
Tim Roth, Chronic

BEST ACTRESS
Annette Bening, 20th Century Women
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Sasha Lane, American Honey
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Ralph Fiennes, A Bigger Splash
Ben Foster, Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Shia LaBeouf, American Honey
Craig Robinson, Morris from America

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Edwina Findley, Free In Deed
Paulina Garcia, Little Men
Lily Gladstone, Certain Women
Riley Keough, American Honey
Molly Shannon, Other People
Would you like to know more…?