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Entries in Planet of the Apes (33)

Monday
Jan052015

Art Director's Guild Nominations Stay Focused on the Best Picture Conversation

The Art Director's Guild have named the most well designed and carefully decorated movies of the year. How well do you think they did in terms of Best? This is as good a time as any to tell you that we've begun our annual Film Bitch Awards, now in their (gulp) 15th year so you can see my preferred ballot there.

The guild which represents 2300 industry people like Production Designers, Art Directors, Set Designers, Model Makers and Artists of various kinds (Scenic, Title, Matte, etcetera) voted for the following 15 films, most of which are firmly entrenched in the Best Picture discussion indicated that they didn't watch too many screeners before voting. 

Did Inherent Vice's elaborate last supper joke win it this nomination? Or was it the whorehouse?

Period Film
INHERENT VICE - David Crank
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL -Adam Stockhausen
THE IMITATION GAME -Maria Djurkovic 
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING -John Paul Kelly
UNBROKEN - Jon Hutman 

But what about?: Mr Turner which is more challenging and fascinating and epic in its production scope than most of these nominees; The Homesman which is more memorably designed than some of these; I probably like Unbroken more than a lot of critics but I'm not sure it's more worthy of a WW II recreation notice here than, say, Fury? In short, they've been listening to the Best Picture conversation.

More Nominations & Commentary after the jump

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec092014

Interview: James Chinlund's Evolutionary "Apes" Vision. (Plus a Look Back at "The Fountain")

Production Design James ChinlundThough today's film culture is as as overun with franchises as the decaying cities of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes are with unchecked vegetation, franchise movies do have a few beautiful unique pleasures all their own. Chief among those, we'd argue, is the sheer scale of imaginative spectacle they can provide when the right people are hired behind the scenes. 

James Chinlund, the award winning production designer behind the fantastic world-building in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is one of those people.  Though his filmography was once mostly the domain of scrappy ambitious auteur indies, he's recently experienced a sort of super-size me effect. He credits Marvel's gamble in hiring him to design their biggest blockbuster The Avengers with reinvigorating his film career. This led directly to Dawn of the Apes, one of 2014's most acclaimed giant-sized hits. Though Chinlund undoubtedly has his share of film offers these days, he prefers the mix of small and large scale projects that his still-diverse career provides and opted out of superhero sequels from the time commitment. 

Apes, Avengers, and The Fountain are after the jump... 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Nov212014

Interview: Jason Clarke on Acting with Apes & Terminators

I wonder aloud if Jason Clarke, the still rising breakout star of Zero Dark Thirty, is feeling a little overscheduled these days. Is he scheduled in 20 minute increments at this point? He claims he's taking a little time off to enjoy himself in the days surrounding our 20 minutes on the telephone, but I'm not sure I quite believe him. Which is a strange feeling because onscreen, the fortysomething Aussie is never less than believable whether he's torturing prisoners in Zero Dark Thirty, totally unnerved by talking armed apes on horseback (who wouldn't be?) in Dawn of the Apes, bootlegging with his Bondurant brothers in Lawless, and so on.

Perhaps more surprising than his authenticity onscreen is his modesty. He didn't so much steal his scenes in Zero Dark Thirty as oxygenate then, detailing the emotional and intellectual and moral gaps between his hardened CIA operative and the newbie in his camp with his duet with Jessica Chastain. And though Andy Serkis and Toby Kebbel do amazing work in their motion capture suits as Caesar and Koba, this still human actor is so effortlessly grounding that he anchors the large excellent cast and behemoth fantastical enterprise that is Dawn of the Planet of the Apes without ever drawing attention to himself.

Thankfully Hollywood has seen through the modesty. Jason Clarke is very busy. As unintentional proof he struggles to recall which order he filmed things in "I did a couple back to back. Terminator and before that I shot Everest. [Pause] What did I shoot before that?" Better Angels, a small black and white period indie which just opened in select cities, is so far back in the "before that" list that you know you'll be seeing a lot of him onscreen.  

Our talk is after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Nov192014

FYC for SAG: "Outstanding Ensemble"

SAG ballots go out today (and Globe and BFCA ballots in a week or two) so it's FYC season again. SAG's most unique categories are "Stunt Ensemble" -- may we adamantly remind them that the fight scenes in Captain America: Winter Soldier are better than the ones in Guardians of the Galaxy even if the latter film is more popular and beloved --  and the one we tend to obsess on "Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture"" 

Unfortunately, the older the SAG Awards become the less adventurous their nominations. Rarely do we see the surprise Off-Best Picture nominee as in years past like Hustle & Flow or The Birdcage or what not. We'd love it if their randomly selected nominating committee were not thinking about the Oscars when they went a-balloting. We know, for example, that Boyhood, Selma, Theory of Everything, Birdman, Foxcatcher and The Imitation Game have an advantage do their strong assumed place in the Best Picture race but if you really think about it (which you always should if you have a ballot) are half of those movies all that impressive in terms of group acting? They're impressive in other ways, don't misunderstand. But you can nominate individual performers for prizes so why waste an ensemble spot on the same people!?

The Film Experience would like to make 3 suggestions off the expected path for those voting this year. These are films with impressive large ensembles that are very in sync with each other as well as the film's tone

For SAG's consideration...


DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Jason Clarke does a fantastic atypically peaceful hero job leading the fine human cast but though they're at odds with the apes, their performances mesh extraordinarily well. Keep in mind that they were acting with people dressed up in funny performance capture suits. And the performances those suits captured are special, too!

GONE GIRL 
Though this one is focused on a marriage like the more likely nominee Theory of Everything, the supporting cast has a lot to do and many of them really pop from the TV hosts (Sela Ward & Missi Pyle) to all the family members (Carrie Coon), cops (Kim Dickens) and lawyers (Tyler Perry). SAG could and probably will do a lot worse than selecting this film.

PRIDE 
A loveable underdog but in past years when they latched on to movies as small as The Station Agent, they knew how to throw an adorable indie curveball. And, like, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, this one basically has two opposing sets of actors, at odds, but mixing more superbly than you thought oil and water or, rather, coal miners and urban gays, ever could. 

Films that derive their full strength from the symbiotic contributions or a large diverse talented cast list rather than an acting triump MVP or two (usually leads) ... aren't these the type of films that ought to be considered for "Outstanding Cast" honors?  

Monday
Nov172014

Oscar Prediction Updates. 10 Questions

It's a participatory round! The Oscar Charts are updated in every category but here are ten questions that are on my mind. Try to answer them (or at least some of them) in the comments. 

01. Why am I the only pundit that has faith in Jake Gyllenhaal as a Best Actor nominee?
Many many people were more than wow'ed by his work. I realize that as a non-recovering Gyllenhaalic for many years now my wildcard prediction will be thought of as Wishful Thinking but I've heard so much negativity about Foxcatcher that I'm starting to think only Ruffalo makes it. That makes room for other leading contenders to rise if Carell and Channing are weaker than expected.

02. Can Ava DuVernay and Damien Chazelle both really score Best Director nods? 
The Academy has been notoriously standoffish about female directors. But has the tide turned with all the attention that's been paid to that factoid? Will they admire her grasp of a large canvas or is she still too much of an outsider? Is passion for Whiplash growing or levelling off? I hear it brought up at every industry party like "oh, I LOVED that movie." Or will a Screenplay nomination have to do for 2nd time young director Damian Chazelle? If you think they're missing who do you think would be there instead?

03. Is it insane that I have Birdman leading the nomination tally with 9? 
Divisive formally ingeniuous showbiz meta pictures aren't exactly the norm for the Academy but neither are there all that many of them made. For nominations, passion counts for a lot with #1 placements.  If you don't think it's Birdman, what do you think will lead the pack on Nomination Morning?

04. If Whiplash is not the 5 nomination Best Picture threat that I think it is, does that mean Supporting Actor is an actual race?
Or do you think J.K. Simmons' name engrave on a statue is going to happen regardless? Confession: So rooting for either Ruffalo or Norton to finally win.

Selma's cinematography. Most of it isn't this showy.

05. Can Bradford Young finally get an Oscar nod for Cinematography?
Or will his work on Selma and A Most Violent Year split his support within that branch? 

06. What do you think of TFE's predictions for the Foreign Film 9-wide Finalist List?
Too strong? Too weak? Just right? Which country do you think absolutely shouldn't be underestimated right now?

06. Will anyone remember Dawn of the Planet of the Apes?
That was such a big critical and audience deal this summer and it seems like a likely contender in several categories. But is anyone talking about it? Or will it end up like its predecessor with only a Visual Effects nomination despite its incredible Production Design and so on.

08. Who do you want to see performing our Original Song nominees?
I'm just throwing darts at this category because god only knows with the music branch. Is even "Lost Stars" safe since they regularly shun presumed powerhouses in the category? 

09. Interstellar's Reviews Mean...?
We know that some major directors admire it but Nolan has still not been nominated for Best Director. Does the mixed response mean this is closer to The Dark Knights Rises Oscar nomination tally (0) or Inception's (8)

10. Which movie do you think lands the most Oscar nods without a corresponding Best Picture placement?
I suspect that's going to be either Into the Woods, Interstellar or Grand Budapest Hotel depending of course on which doesn't make the list and how many Best Picture nominees we actually get. It can't really be 9 films every year! 

every Oscar chart 

Thursday
Nov132014

AFI Fest: Weta Digital Celebrates 20 Years with New Technology

Anne Marie here at the AFI Fest with another special event. Weta Digital, the pioneering VFX company behind some of the biggest blockbusters, including the Marvel franchise, Avatar, and The Hobbit, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. In  “State of the Art: The Evolution of Weta Digital," Visual Effects Supervisor Dan Lemmon gave audiences a peek behind the digital curtain of Weta Digital’s latest film, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, to show how the company develops performance capture to assist and augment cinematography.

 Weta Digital is probably best known for its motion capture process (dubbed “performance capture” by James Cameron "because they also capture emotions"). Dan Lemmon explained that this evolved from Andy Serkis filming scenes as Gollum twice for The Lord of the Rings, into a sophisticated system called a “Capture Volume,” a cube of space surrounded by infrared cameras that record the actors’ movements. For Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, director Matt Reeves wanted to shoot the apes on location, so a new “portable” version was developed. The result had a profound effect not only on the technology of performance capture, but also on the look of the film--both digital and real.

Serkis in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Since Avatar won the Oscar for Best Cinematography in 2009, each subsequent winner has been a VFX-heavy film, so the unspoken question was how Weta Digital interacted with Michael Seresin, the cinematographer of Dawn. Shooting on location allowed Seresin to light the ape actors as he would real characters. Then, Weta Digital could match that lighting on the pixelized primates. In addition, Seresin and Reeves developed a look book, pulling images from The Godfather and grittier 70s films. Dan Lemmon explained that Weta’s job was to mimic Seresin’s intentions, for instance digitally creating the vertigo-inducing helicopter shot for the climax. However, Lemmon also proudly pointed out how Weta Digital improved on Seresin’s vision, whether it was by manipulating the light to capture a digital ape’s eyes, or by adding fake “flaws” to the helicopter shot in order to make the synthetic image more real. 

The result of Weta Digital’s collaboration with Seresin is undoubtedly remarkable, and pushes VFX to be accepted as an art, rather than a gimmick. Still, Weta's additions to Seresin's work mark a definite change in the visual landscape of moviemaking. As VFX are integrated from pre-production to filming to post-production and digital effects get clearer, the line between cinematography and visual effects is going to get increasingly muddy.