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Wednesday
Sep092015

Belated Thoughts / Wide Eyes: Mad Max Fury Road's "Best Shot"

Nathaniel, reporting, one sleep before TIFF screenings drag me into the darkness and swallow me up...

one of the scariest images ever onscreen. one of the best title card intros, too.

Have you finished reading the previous choices for Mad Max Fury Road's "Best Shot" in the visual index? It's one of most perfect subjects for this series we've ever chosen, in no small part because the movie's gargantuan pleasures stem so specifically from the visual storytelling, rather than from dialogue, performance or sound --though those bring their own pleasures, of course. In fact, there is not a lot of dialogue in the film. Neither is their any exposition for expositions sake. The story is all there in the imagery, a grand adventure which can be enjoyed on multiple levels, provided you're really looking at it. Unlike many fine films we see each year, it's impossible to imagine this one in another form. It's neither a novel with pictures nor possible to conceive of as a stage play; Fury Road is pure cinema. 

For this, we cinephiles, must raise our hands in that pyramid shape the War Boys are so fond of and pay respects. Not to Immortan Joe who claims himself the "Redeemer" who saved his slave-like masses but to director George Miller and his cinematographer John Seale who are saving the action picture. (At least for now. Miller, like fellow rare action genius James Cameron, works too infrequently to actually do permanent rescue.) More... 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Sep092015

The Best Part of That 'Our Brand Is Crisis' Trailer

Glenn here, asking if you have watched the trailer for Our Brand is Crisis? It's the new Sandra Bullock movie that was meant to be the new George Clooney movie that, somewhat infamously, came to be after the gender was flipped on the lead character. Bullock plays a political strategist who gets hired to spearhead the campaign of a contender in the 2002 Bolivian government elections and finds herself battling against both rival Billy Bob Thornton and the native language. What a predicament!

The film is based on a 2005 documentary of the same name and is directed by David Gordon Green who, let's be honest, is peculiar. His whole career is made up of peculiar choices so we'll go with it for now.

The trailer is... interesting. It certainly presents as being in the same vein as Argo, a movie that is quite largely name-checked, albeit perhaps a bit more overtly comedic in tone. It's also got more than a hint of the "nice white lady" routine that made Bullock's 2009 Oscar-winning vehicle The Blind Side such a lightning rod. It is great to see the likes of Anthony Mackie and Ann Dowd with such (apparently) prominent roles, although I would have preferred more than just a passing glance of my beloved Scoot McNairy (he's there at the one-minute mark).

Consider this another BYOYNMS (remember, we introduced that new blog acronym last week) and pipe up in the comments about what you think.

I did, however, want to make mention of what is clearly the best moment in the trailer. It comes right at the start and actually made me scream with glee. Can you pick it by watching the trailer?

Why yes, they have used an old screenshot of The Net to represent Bullock's character in the '90s as a whiz! The Net! The 1995 Irwin Winkler-directed cyberspace thriller starring Sandra Bullock that is, just quietly, one of the most pleasurable of guilty pleasures. Mozart's Ghost, man! Pi! Praetorian! Mainframes and the world wibe web! I'd recognize that shot of Bullock frantically reaching for her floppy disc as she hacks anywhere.

How deliciously ridiculous. We should all see Our Brand is Crisis just because they were inspired enough to include that in the trailer.

Wednesday
Sep092015

Bonus Podcast: We're All Headed To TIFF

Katey, Joe, Nathaniel and Nick will all be in the same place at the same time (literally the first time it's ever happened!) for the Toronto International Film Festival which starts Thursday. As we pack up to head out for 10 days of constant cinephilia, we thought we'd share five picks, chosen somewhat randomly, that we're each excited about. It's free flowing festival fever and we're dropping you right into the conversation. 

32 minutes 
Topics include but are not limited to what Charlie Kaufman's been up to, Frederick Wiseman's super ass long documentaries, Oscar positioning, Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years, Midnight Madness, Cary Fukunaga's Beasts of No Nation, Sandra Bullock in Our Brand is Crisis, how we choose and much more...

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes. Have you ever been to a film festival? If so how do you choose your movies? 

Here we come TIFF

Wednesday
Sep092015

What's Next for Nolan

Kieran here. It was announced yesterday that Christopher Nolan's next feature film will be released on July 21, 2017.  Very specific release date for a project whose title/plot/cast have yet to be revealed, but this is Christopher Nolan after all. I can't think of too many directors who could announce a new project with very few details well over a year in advance and generate this kind of excitement. He's the "arthouse" director of choice for moviegoers who generally scorn the arthouse and yet he's often the fulcrum of the problematic "the Academy doesn't respect populist fare" argument. Quite an odd space to occupy in the consciousness of the cinematically minded.

With this new project, speculation about plot details and recitations of an ideal roster of actors are sure to follow. Questions of genre definitely loom in the back of the mind when you consider Nolan. He tends to work within some combination of sci-fi, mystery and thriller, though it's certainly not on every director to stretch, genre-wise. 

We're much more interested to see if Nolan's characterizations of women (or lack thereof in some cases) changes at all. Regardless of one's opinion about Nolan's overall output, it's hard to refute with any sincerity the argument that female characters in his films often get short shrift. Will this new project be any different? Interstellar, his most recent effort, is the closest he's come to handing the reins of a movie over to a female character. He does ultimately opt for following Matthew McConnaughey drifting solo through space, but you do still get what appear to be the first glimpses (with Jessica Chastain and Anne Hathaway) of Nolan attempting to imagine female characters from the inside out. Sure, you  could argue that these two women were motivated by their relationships to men, be it paternal or romantic. And yet there was an interest, however marginal, in women that's just not present in his other films.

I instantly thought of Viola Davis, who fit so well into the cold, eerie aesthetic of Steven Soderbergh's Solaris and how rarely she's given front-and-center focus in her non-televised projects. I would be fascinated to see what Davis could do at the center of a Nolan-helmed sci-fi outing. At any rate, aren't you curious to see if Nolan continues to improve his female characters after Interstellar or do you suppose we're in for more spectral wives and asexual audience surrogates?

Will Nolan ever give us a female protagonist?

What would you like to see from Nolan? Which actress could ignite his curiosities in an interesting way? Discuss in the comments.

Wednesday
Sep092015

HBO’s LGBT History: All Aboard! (2006)

Manuel is working his way through all the LGBT-themed HBO productions.

Last week we looked at a couple of mid-2000s HBO comedies to discuss various gay stereotypes in Da Ali G Show, The Comeback and Entourage, a mere week after discussing complex characters in HBO dramas. Today we look at quite possibly the most surprising entry in this history: All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise. Yes, this is a documentary about the maiden voyage of Rosie O’Donnell’s all-inclusive (pun-alert!) LGBT family cruise. I dreaded watching this. I mean, that promotional image alone was enough to make me queasy and that was before I even pressed play.

Well, color me surprised. Not only is All Aboard! a pretty decent documentary but it is a fascinating document of LGBT life and politics in the early twenty-first century.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Sep092015

Good Morning, World

Howdy folks, it's Jason from MNPP here -- over at MNPP I do these posts pretty much every day that are titled "Good Morning, World" or some variation thereof (click here for some NSFW-ish examples) where we take a look at a moment of actorly exposure, morning-themed, in a movie. You know, something to wake us up, get us going, in the day. Well this morning I was just now staring at the first picture of Matt Damon on the set of the next Bourne movie, which just began shooting yesterday, and I felt incredibly bright and bushy-tailed, I tell ya what. So here's that!

 

Here's the sitch though: I have never seen a single Jason Bourne movie. Not one! Not even the one (ones?) with Joan Allen. I love Joan Allen. I adore and worship Joan Allen. So this post is two-fold: 1) Wowza look at Matt Damon (do you think him and Ben Affleck are in some War of the Pecs?), and 2) Yell at me to watch the Bourne movies... but give me some good reasons. Yes you can just say "Joan Allen," I will accept that answer.