Thursday, May 5, 2016

Jacques Audiard's Dheepan finally comes out tomorrow

Deephan finally hits theaters this Friday. A film definitely worth your time, that maybe shouldn't have won the Palme D'or, but that doesn't diminish the fact that it's an extremely watchable immigrant story that takes place in modern day, racially divided France.
My Review from last September at TIFF:
"Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan won the Palme D’Or this year at Cannes and caused a slight backlash because of it. Don’t listen to the critics; this French film is top notch. It features a great performance from lead Jesuthasan Antonythasan, who plays a former Sri Lankan Tamil warrior fleeing his native country along with two Sri Lankan women, seeking refuge in what they think is a peaceful neighborhood in France. Many refugees in the film have lied to get away from the civil war in Sri Lanka. Dheepan and his companions pretend they are a family of three, but in reality they are not father, mother and daughter. Understandably, there’s ample reason for tension between the three of them, which is clearly felt in every scene.
The film tells what transpires when title character, a former Tamil Tiger, takes a job as a caretaker in a crime- and drugs-ridden apartment block in the Paris suburbs. Many immigrants have fled the strife of their own country, only to find themselves embroiled in deadly struggles of a different kind. As a caretaker of a rundown building, Deephan is faced with problems he clearly doesn’t see coming, since the place has been overrun by gangsters who conduct their business with brutality on a nightly basis. This doesn’t sit well with the main character, who’s clearly dealing with a case of PTSD, so he decides to take matters into his own hands. In the end, the peaceful caretaker Dheepan is forced to become a fierce fighter once again.
The film is raw and one of the very best to address the Sri Lankan Tamil conflict. Audiard has sometimes struggled to give his great films a proper climax (A Prophert, Rust and Bone) and Deephan is perhaps another example of that. The last several minutes may be divisive, but the resonance the film leaves for the viewer is rare in cinema these days. It provokes, asks questions, and provides an emotional experience that is hard to shake."

"Money Monster" very welcome this summer movie season

Jodie Foster directs George Clooney and Julia Roberts in this Wall Street kidnapping movie. It will play off-competition at the Cannes Film Festival this May, which could bode well for the film’s overall quality. In it, Clooney plays a Wall Street guru and Roberts a TV producer, both of whom get taken hostage by a frustrated investor played by "Unbroken" star Jack O’Connell. The cast looks superb, but if there is anything to be concerned about it’s Foster, a two-time Oscar winning actress, directing her fourth feature-film, the last three of which ("Little Man Tate," "Home For The Holidays" and "The Beaver") didn’t get noticed much and garnered mostly mixed reviews from critics. 

Given the abnormal amounjt of special effects, CGI-driven, franchise movies coming out this summer it is a breath of fresh air to know that there will be a socially-driven, character based drama to look forward to. No matter Foster's track record, at the end of the day, all that matters is that true artists are at work here and that, no matter the result, we need more socially-driven movies like this at the movie theater. 

In this newly released clip, the NYPD has had enough and decide to take a more aggresive approach to the hostage taking situation by taking a shot at O'Connell.

The film, hitting theaters on May 13th, also stars Dominic West, Giancarlo Espostio, and Caitriona Balfe. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Fede Alvarez and his follow-up to Evil Dead, "Monsterpocalypse"!

Writer-director Fede Alvarez really turned heads in 2013 with his remake of Sam Raimi's cult classic horror movie, "Evil Dead". It wasn't supposed to work, but it did. He brought a whole new vision to the franchise and definitely set himself up as a director to watch in the near future. The 38-year-old Uruguayan filmmaker actually first became known for a short film he posted on YouTube entitled "Ataque de P├ínico!", which featured giant robots attacking the South American city of Montevideo. The film got more than 7 million views and had a strong following. Sam Raimi was a fan, so much so that he actually produced Alvarez's remake of his own "Evil Dead". Raimi is also producing his follow-up, a horror film entitled "Breath In", which ScreenGems has set for release this August. 

In case Alvarez didn't have enough on his plate these days, according to the Hollywood Reporter he is set to co-write, with writing partner Rodo Sayagues, and direct an adaptation of the popular board game "Monsterpocalypse". Warner Bros. won a heated bidding war for the rights to the movie, beating out high interest from DreamWorks and Sony as well. 

"Monsterpocalypse" is a Kaiju-themed board game that is not unlike Guillermo Del Toro's recently successful and visionary "Pacific Rim". The game pits humans in robot suits against monsters. There was a previously stalled attempt at bringing the board game to the big screen back in 2010. At the time, director Tim Burton and screenwriter John August were attached to the project. It stalled because of Del Toro's "Pacific Rim" and the all too familiar resemblances to that film's visual and narrative palette. 

As Del Toro's film have proven, there is very much an audience for Kaiju films, and Hollywood is listening to the demand. In the next 3 years we will be getting "Godzilla 2""Pacific Rim 2", "Kong: Skull Island", and very likely Alvarez's "Monsterpocalypse"

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

What to think of Bryan Singer's X-Men path

It's become quite clear that director Bryan Singer is, and has always been, the man to direct X-Men movies. With "X2" and "X-Men: Days of Future Past" he not only made the two best X-Men movies, but he also created two of the very best films of the genre. To say that, safe for his 1995 Oscar-winner "The Usual Suspects", those two movies are the crowning jewels of his, mostly hit and miss career, would be an understatement. When he has not directed an X-Men movie the 50 year-old writer-director has opted to direct more critically reviled fare such as "Valkyrie", "Apt Pupil", "Superman Returns" and, yikes, "Jack the Giant Slayer".

For him to just keep on making more X-Men films would be a no-brainer as far as career decisions go and that's just what he's doing. He also does seem to know the characters like the back of his hand. However, trouble has been brewing recently as fans have been complaining about Singer's upcoming "X-Men: Apocalypse", but more specifically the titular villain. Fans have been questioning the inauthentic look of Apocalypse and the unintended resemblance to Ivan Ooze, the villain of  "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie". If you're making a Marvel franchise film the last thing you want to be connected to is Haim Saban and Shuki Levy's live action animated TV series.

To make matters worse once the "X-Men: Apocalypse" trailer dropped nationwide a backlash occurred concerning Apocalypse's size, but more importantly his voice. Oscar Isaac, a formidable young actor, lent his vocal talents for the sound of Apocalypse, but X-Men purists know that Apocalypse does not sound at all like Isaac. In fact his voice is inhuman, godly, almost monstrous.

Singer has had enough and has come out to clarify his side of the story.“What I'm doing is something very unique. It hasn't been done before. We're rerecording his entire performance because the suit's creaky and makes all kinds of noise, you can't really use any of it anyway. But I want his performance. So he's being recorded in ADR using a standard Sennheiser microphone, but also with a bass mic to his right cheek and a bass drum mic to his left cheek. These two microphones have the ability to pull vocal range out of his voice that the human ear cannot hear. And I can take that vocal range that I've now recorded, and I can pull it and use it to augment his voice -- and that with a little digital magic can create a voice that's both completely governed by his performance but is not natural. “It ebbs and flows and moves through the movie, and changes, so he doesn't just have one single voice. He speaks with different voices depending on different moments in the film. So it's really kind of cool. It's the first time I've ever had the tools to sculpt a performance in post-production, that was already given to me on set and chosen in the cutting room."

Alright, X-Men fans is that good enough for you? Isaac is turning into one of the great actors of his generation so it is hard to really complain about his presence in any film. However, with this and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" it seems like he's decided to take a dip into the mainstream for a change. Unlike "Star Wars", the jury is still out on whether or not the decision to be in Singer's latest X-Men will turn out positively for Isaac,  There are people still complaining about his Apocalypse, even after Singer's recent comments, but the true test will occur when "X-Men: Apocalypse" arrives in theaters on May 27th and we'll be able to see Singer's final cut for ourselves.

Drake Doremus' Equals

Drake Doremus' "Like Crazy"was the toast of Sundance back in 2011, winning the Grand Jury Prize and then being snatched up by Paramount Vintage for an impressive $4 million. It also kicked-started the film careers of stars Felicity Jones and Jennifer Lawrence, Sadly, his follow-up entitled "Breath In" didn't fare as well with the critics and was seen as a step back for the promising writer-director.

His latest film, "Equals", had its north American premiere last September at the Toronto International film festival, and it also competed for the Golden Lion at the 72nd Venice film festival. However, reviews were mixed and, as it stands, it currently has a 44% Rotten Tomatoes score out of 18 reviews.

Hopes are still sky-high that this might become a sleeper hit this summer, with a July 15th release date and an all-star cast that includes Kristen Stewart, Guy Pearce and Nicholas Hoult.

The science fiction film takes place in a futuristic utopian society where human emotions are eradicated so that everyone can live in peace.  However, a new disease surfaces, and an illustrator (as played by Hoult) starts to feel and experience things. He teams up with another infected, a writer played by Stewart, as they both escape their imprisoned surrounding in order to survive.

The plot sounds intriguing and the new stills released hint at an impressively created sci-fi world. Doremus seems to be using a lot of white and blue palettes in the film and, if "Like Crazy" and "Breath In" were any indication, he hasn't lost his knack for beautifully rendered-visuals. Consider us intrigued.

Monday, May 2, 2016

As Civil War looms, what are the greatest superhero movies?

I won't count Unbreakab;e, The Incredibles, Kick-Ass etc. Those are great and deserved of such a list, but I'm talking more Marvel/DC genre fare - not much I could come up with. I struggled to find ten.

1) Spider-Man 2 (Sam Raimi)
2) Batman (Tim Burton)
3) The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan)
4) The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan)
5) Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Joe Russo)
6) Iron Man (Jon Favreau)
7) Superman II (Richard Donner)
8) Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan)
9) X2: X-Men United (Bryan Singer)
10) Guardian of the Galaxy (James Gunn)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Voyage In Time FINALLY getting released this October

Terrence Malick’s ‘Voyage of Time’ Set For IMAX Release This October

Terrence Malick's anticipated film about the beginning and end of time, much like The Tree of Life, will be coming out this October. There will be a 45 minute version and a 90 minute version, one of them narrated by Cate Blanchett, the other  Brad Pitt. Since the whole project has been wrapped in mystery we don't even know who will narrate which version.  Or at least that's what a recent press release for IMAX slyly says, without even outright mentioning the miraculous inclusion of the Malick film. Whether it stays there we don't know, but if it does we're looking at a possible Venice or TIFF premiere, unless they just scrap film fests all around.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Bill Maher's segment on "25 Things You Didn't Know About Ted Cruz" is a classic

I haven't laughed this hard since I don't know when ... Although I will be watching Keanu tonight and I do hear it is funny. This is dead-on comedy writing and Maher always has great timing.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Anthony Weiner as Carlos Danger

"My jaw dropped more than a few times while watching Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s Weiner, a behind-the-scenes account of Anthony Weiner’s rise and fall. The film is an examination of how this New York congressman, a front-runner for mayor of NYC, single-handedly shot himself in the foot and got involved in a sex scandal of the highest proportions, by not only getting caught once, but a few other times, thus sabottaging a perfectly constructed campaign by his team. It is not only a story about the times we live in, but a scathing depiction of the mdeia and today’s political landscape." An Excerpt from my Sundance 2016 Review

`Captain America: Civil War is one of the better superhero movies, but aimed primarily for the ADD crowd

Coming out of this morning`s screening at the Bank Scotia theater I was exhausted by the 150 minutes movie that was Civil War. It`s actually the lengthiest Marvel movie yet. So much stuff is jam-packed into this film, both good and bad, that some of the better moments get quickly forgotten once the next showstopper hits.  I don`t mind that, because this movie solely exists as a marketing entertainment, but I wish it somehow had time to just pause, refresh, reboot, breath before the next action battle comes. Thus is the problem with super-hero movies, they are marketed for teenagers, millennials if you will, and they are the generation with the shortest attention span ... ever. No, really, ever since we have existed as species there has never been a poorer attention-spanned bunch of young adults that today. It will only get much worse I fear, but that primarily explains why so much action is packed into this and many, many other superhero movies. The studios and filmmakers fear the audience will quickly get bored, something has to happen or else we`ll lose them. Sad state of affairs if you ask me. Captain America: Civil is entertaining, but it barely has time to pause and have a concrete narrative happening. It's problem-action-problem-action throughout, at some point you have to ask yourself am I watching a movie or am I being inserted into a video game?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bret Easton Ellis decides to direct

"American Psycho"
Bret Easton Ellis has been active in cinema in the last couple of years, even if he hasn't been behind the camera himself. His screenwriting attempts for Paul Schrader's "The Canyons" starring Lindsay Lohan and Gregor Jordan's "The Informers" (which was based on his own book), didn't turn out so hot. Aside from those films, Ellis has been pretty quiet on the cinematic front, opting instead for his books to be adapted by various directors.
Some of these adaptations have been very successful, such as "American Psycho," which has become a cult classic over the years, with director Mary Harron sharpening the satire that made the novel so brilliant (a musical based on the book opened on Broadway last week). Ditto "Less Than Zero," a film that was met with lukewarm reviews in 1987 but has aged very well and features one of Robert Downey Jr.'s best performances. Then there are less successful adaptations, like 2002's "The Rules of Attraction" featuring then heartthrob James Vander Beek in a then-new bad boy guise, though no one seemed to care.
But Ellis will get to call the shots when he gets rolling on his directorial debut. He's set to helm "The Deleted," a thriller about the disappearance of three people in Los Angeles that parallels the story of a group of paranoid twenty-somethings who have just escaped a cult. It is not an adaptation of any of his prior writings and will instead be based on an original screenplay.
"The Deleted" will be released as a series for the streaming serviceFullscreen, which just launched today and will set you back $4.99 per month.

The Shining shot-for-shot remake with figurines

Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" doesn't sound like the most obvious choice for a shot-for-shot remake staged with figurines. But in execution? It kinda works!
Hip-hop artist Aesop Rock is set to release his seventh studio album The Impossible Kid on Friday, but before it drops, the album is being shared in its entirety, presented via a shot-for-shot remake of Kubrick's 1980 horror masterpiece starring, you guessed it, cute, creepy miniature dolls. Directed by Rob Shaw, the 48-minute movie is entirely watchable, especially with Aesop Rock's album serving as a soundtrack.
It would seem that even 36 years after "The Shining" was first released, Kubrick's film continues to have a major impact on pop culture (also see the season finale of "Girls"). Turn up your speakers and watch.

Monday, April 25, 2016

FX's 'Fargo' Creator Noah Hawley To Direct Sci-Fi Feature ‘Man Alive’

The Playlist

FX's 'Fargo' Creator Noah Hawley To Direct Sci-Fi Feature ‘Man Alive’

The PlaylistBy Jordan Ruimy | The PlaylistApril 24, 2016 at 4:53PM

We all had our doubts when we first heard that Joel and Ethan Coen's masterpiece "Fargo" was going to get adapted for the small screen, but if you've yet to catch up on the FX show that bears the same name, then you are quite possibly missing out on the best TV series since "Breaking Bad." The first season was a home run, and the second season was a near-miracle of multiple moving parts. The ambition and sheer scope of the series is groundbreaking. We still have a few unanswered questions from the last season that will likely remain unanswered, but that's part of the “Fargo" TV charm. It casts a dark, almost miraculous spell thanks to its writing, acting, directing, cinematography, music and set design, which are all spot-on and in sync with its creator's artistic vision.
The aforementioned creator is Noah Hawley, also the writer and executive producer/showrunner of the series. While Season 3 is expected to premiere in 2017, in the interim, Hawley will be making his feature-film directorial debut in "Man Alive," which was just acquired by 20th Century Fox in what is being described as a six-figure deal.
Little is known about "Man Alive," but Deadline reports it to be based on an “elevated sci-fi” screenplay from New Jersey native and newcomer Joe Greenberg. Hawley is definitely not an amateur when it comes to sci-fi, as the last season of "Fargo" dealt with an increasingly mysterious narrative that involved the supernatural.
Hawley has several projects in development via his overall deal with FX, including the X-Men-themed pilot "Legion." He will also be tackling Kurt Vonnegut as writer and executive producer for a mini-series adaptation of the late author's 1963 novel, “Cat’s Cradle” — definitely an ambitious task as translating Vonnegut to the big screen has never been an easy ride for anybody who's attempted it. [Deadline]