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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd


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Dreamworks Animation Pt 2: The Fall

"I loved this article. It reads like vintage EW, back when they relished the behind-the-scenes stories of Hollywood and the studios." -John T

"Dreamworks should not have oversaturated the animation market. Home is Dreamworks 31st animated film. Do you know what is Walt Disney Animation's 31st film? Aladdin. It took Disney over 5 decades to get there." -Chinoiserie

Part 1 here if you missed it



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Yes, No, Maybe So: "Zero Dark Thirty"

Time and the finite nature of it is an essential ingredient in all suspense films. So I need to get myself on the clock when it comes to Zero Dark Thirty. I was shocked at how quickly we knew of its existence post Hurt Locker but then... it never seemed to come. It still feels like something off in the very distant future set in the very recent past. But it actually opens in 66 days. Tick tock.

Let's break down the trailer...


  • At the very least it'll make an interesting comparison point to Showtime's "Homeland".
  • Jessica Chastain gets her first high profile lead role!
  • Joel Edgerton
  • That hot soldier with the glow stick
  • I've been with director Kathryn Bigelow since Near Dark and I'm not going anywhere. I tend to love her work. And even when I don't, it's interesting.
  • It looks far more beautiful, visually, than The Hurt Locker... which wasn't really going for beauty but there's so many frameable stills in the trailer and a rangier color palette. In short: I'm glad it's not Hurt Locker 2. As much as I love The Hurt Locker it requires no sequel.


Click to read more ...


LFF: Black Rock

Craig here with a look at another film showing at the London Film Festival: Kate Aselton's survival thriller Black Rock.

It’s certainly a bad day at Black Rock for Kate Bosworth and her two BFFs. Director/co-star Kate Aselton and Lake Bell both cherish Bosworth’s friendship  but they have their own shaky history festering between them like an open sore. The three women go for a ‘last hurrah’ camping trip to the titular retreat with treasure hunts and restorative bonding in mind. That’s until they chance upon a trio of ex-soldiers, not long back from Helmand Province, on a suspicious shooting trip.

More often than not island settings immediately instil narrative suspense. Indeed, once the women shore up on a deserted beach the potential for drama reveals itself in fraught chatter and mention of either lack of provisions, isolating distance from observable humanity (in the form of, uh-oh, NO MOBILE PHONE RECEPTION), or, as here, all of the above.

Click to read more ...


RIP Harris Savides

Truly sad to hear about the passing of one of the great cinematographers, Harris Savides. Given his visual craft and my lack of a free moment at this very moment, a video tribute seems more appropriate than any words I could hastily write so I'm sharing this beautiful visual essay from Press Play.

Press Play VIDEO ESSAY: In Memory of Harris Savides (1957-2012) from Nelson Carvajal on Vimeo.



I knew they'd use the Birth score. How could they not? We've lost a great.

RIP Harris Savides and thank you most especially for your work on Birth, Milk, and Zodiac and your gorgeous record-breaking* work on haunting music videos like these...

*little known factoid: Harris Savides has won more "best cinematography" awards at the MTV Music Video Awards than any other DP. He won three for those two videos and R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts"


Oscar Horrors: "Goodbye, Little Yellow Bird"

In 'Oscar Horrors' we look at those rare Oscar nominated contributions in the horror genre. Daily all October long. Here's Andreas on an actress who is still very much with us and where is her Honorary Oscar, we ask?

HERE LIES... Angela Lansbury's chanteuse "Sibyl Vane," sent to an early grave by her love for Dorian Gray and trampled by National Velvet in March 1946

For The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945), Angela Lansbury received her second Best Supporting Actress nomination in as many years. (Her previous one was for Gaslight, another Victorian horror-melodrama. Talk about carving out a niche!) She plays a working-class British girl in both films, but Sibyl Vane is the polar opposite of her snippy maid in Gaslight: demure, wholesome, and tender.

These qualities captivate the still-redeemable Dorian, as does her signature song "Little Yellow Bird".


Good-bye, little yellow bird.
I'd rather brave the cold
On a leafless tree
Than a prisoner be
In a cage of gold...

Lansbury's delivery transforms the song into a leitmotif of innocence, a status it retains long after her character's death. For although the actress herself departs the film about 40 minutes in, she leaves a huge impression. This is a true supporting performance, affecting the whole rest of the film despite scant screen time. Dorian Gray is a chilly movie, preoccupied with the smooth surfaces of Dorian's mansion, and Lansbury supplies it with warmth. Her heartbroken face pierces Dorian's hardening soul, and her melancholy song haunts him all throughout his later debaucheries.

Even when he's corrupted through and through, Dorian Gray can't escape the "Little Yellow Bird." That's the lingering power of Angela Lansbury's onscreen vulnerability. With that gentle face, opening into a smile like a flower into bloom, she changes what could've been a throwaway ingenue role into something bigger—into the emotional core of the film. The Oscar may have ultimately gone to Anne Revere for National Velvet, but Sibyl remains unforgettable, a pure songbird devoured by Dorian's caprices.

More Oscar Horrors 
Monster's Inc - Animated Feature
Pan's Labyrinth - Art Direction
Them! - Visual Effects
American Werewolf in London -Makeup
Addams Family Values  -Art Direction


Secret Messages: "Come at once if convenient..."

secret messages from the movies...

Can you identify this motion picture?



LFF: Blood

Craig here with a report on a new British film showing at the 56th BFI London Film Festival.

Paul Bettany in "Blood"

Nick Murphy’s Blood (showing in the festival’s "Thrill" strand) explores the secret cost of human damage on a small group of people in a north of England town. Bodies are invaded and battered; the red stuff is in plentiful supply. Cops, criminals and their families all reach the end of the tethers in this stern, cold police drama about the murder of a teenage girl and its aftermath. Police detective brothers played by Paul Bettany and Stephen Graham investigate the crime. When they begin to question a local man with a shady past things turn grim and complicated. Blood follows Murphy’s previous film The Awakening (which David and I discussed here) as a LFF selection and, as in that spooky throwback, there are ghostly appearances albeit in more subtle ways. Murphy’s direction is as suitably restrained as before, but he adds a touch more immediacy and grit to this contemporary story. The precise, stripped back tone matches the heavy severity of the material, making the most of the script’s gloomy turns. Tough, thankless work is carried out in chilly conditions (both literally and emotionally) by Bettany and team. Every character appears to be on tenterhooks twenty-four-seven, either harbouring grim secrets or desperately striving for unsavoury answers.

However, the ominous intriguing central mystery eventually gives way to some rather wearing British drama clichés. Rote police dialogue – all hard words spouted with brash perplexity – dominates the script and too-familiar character types come and go as the plot plods to its final stretch. Bettany gives an intermittently sly lead performance and a fraught late encounter with Brian Cox as his dementia-ridden dad is moving. But Blood lacks the kind of searing character interaction and enduring mystery that these kinds of gritty dramas thrive on. Perhaps if I hadn’t recently seen Charlie Brooker’s very funny and spot-on police-drama parody A Touch of Cloth (think Inspector Morse meets Frank Drebin) I might have felt more of a connection. (Coincidentally, Cox appears in both Blood and Cloth and plays strangely similar roles) Even just a dash of levity here and there might have made Blood a more invigorating and less brusquely dour experience. C-


Thoughts I had looking at The Guilt Trip poster

presented without self censorship or editing as they come to me...

  • Initially I kept comparing this to Something's Gotta Give (2003) as to its awards chances -- Oscar Best Actress Nominee -- and now I'm embarrassed about that and wish I had compared it to Mother (1996) -- Golden Globe Best Actress Nominee.
  • Babs still gets top billing. As it should be but she hasn't made a movie in how many years?
  • those Focker movies don't count.
  • How much would your typical Barbra Streisand fan(atic) pay to have their cheek pinched by her? I'm guessing thousands because the prices they'll pay to see her in concert. Yeesh!
  • People who do not think Barbra is a brilliant actor have not seen Funny Girl or The Way We Were. They have maybe seen Prince of Tides or Meet the Fuckers.
  • Who else is in this movie? Wouldn't it be so weird if it was all Sleuth like two-hander?
  • My whole life I've loved the tradition of seeing a movie on Christmas day with family & friends. But now every movie opens on Christmas and it's so annoying! I'm buried in prezzies and I'd prefer them metered out a bit.
  • Do you think Abbas Kiarostami is totally dying to see this? Road trip!