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Entries in Visual FX (84)


Stop Hiding Toby Kebbel's Face! 

Why won't Hollywood let us see it?!  

He keeps getting all these big movie jobs wherein you can't see his face. First there was all that hair as Agenor in Wrath of the Titans. Then the motion capture villain Koba in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. He's in theaters right now (well, not for much longer) as Doctor Doom (presumably scarred and metal-masked) in Fantastic Four. He's in the Warcraft movie soon and there are a ton of CG characters in that though I know nothing about that video game so perhaps his character is human?

Toby talking about motion capture acting last yearAnd now he's joined the cast of the King Kong related movie Skull Island. No word yet on his role but if he's invisible via motion capture again, imma be pissed! Stop hiding him, filmmakers. This is vaguely like when people pretend that Toni Collette or Jamie Bell are bit players or that we don't like to look at their faces by hiding them in the background or making them play second fiddle to lesser actors or in Jamie's case, burying that mug under rock man CGI. 

Toby gets to act with his face finally in the Messala role in Ben-Hur. That's the gay part Stephen Boyd so memorably played in the 1959 Best Picture winner. No word yet on whether this version will be as conservative as Charlton Heston thought the original was. He was famously unaware that Boyd and the director William Wyler had teamed up to amp up the homo subtext in their scenes. 

Let's start a petition to unleash Toby Kebbel's face in the movies. No more masks or CGI. 




Miscellania: Mad Munn Mortal Minority Musicians

Newsweek Before Straight Outta Compton: race and the black musician biopic
Awards Daily makes a great case for why Mad Men should win the Drama Emmy
MNPP playing lumberjack with Patrick Wilson
Vanity Fair Katey and Richard survey the summer movie season, get nostalgic for Mad Max Fury Road already
The Envelope talks to Lily Tomlin on her great year "If one looks at years that way."
Instagram Olivia Munn wire training for her superheroic antics as the X-Men's Psylocke. Physicality is getting to be so essential in the CG action age that I hope aspiring actors are taking gymnastic and dance courses

Vox why The Chronicles of Prydain is the best literary fantasy series (when do you suppose they'll try to film it after Disney's 80s botch job?) 
Interiors Film Journal looks at the dance scene in Tom at the Farm
THR looks back at unlikely hit Mortal Kombat when videogame movies were ridiculed
Towleroad Trans bodybuilder Aydian Dowling now a top 5 finalist for Men's Health "Ultimate Guy" cover contest
Self Styled Siren on an old book about a possibly violent but definitely tumultous John Barrymore marriage
i09 gets excited for the Minority Report tv show
Film Stage deleted scenes from Mad Max Fury Road
Starf*cker Matthew Rettenmund's (Encylopedia Madonnica, Boy Culture) new book is available for pre-order 

Today's Watch
On baffling uses of CGI... I didn't know this about 50 Shades of Grey or John Wick and definitely blocked out the "pear" from Star Wars. Repressed memory!  


Review: Pixels

Tim here. There's a good movie to be made out of Pixels, and it would be the easiest thing in the world to get there. First, keep all of the visual effects setpieces from the movie as it exists, for they are surprisingly beautiful and convincing considering how much lower the film's budget than the usual summer tentpole. Second, make exactly the opposite choices that the filmmakers actually did, because there's literally not one thing about the plot, characters, tone, morality, or basic comprehensibility about Pixels in this form that works.

The film began life in 2010 as a lovely little conceptual short by French filmmaker Patrick Jean (which you can watch here, and have a far more enjoyable 2.5 minutes than anything in the lugubrious 105 minutes of the feature), whence it was almost immediately nabbed by Adam Sandler, who wanted to transform it into a feature. And that's really sad, because of all the changes that would have clearly benefit Pixels at some stage in its development "don't make it an Adam Sandler vehicle" is unquestionably at the top of the list. [More...]

Click to read more ...


Misc: Silly Villains, Prequel Genies, Naughty Droids, Creepy Dolls

AV Club Parker Posey cast in Woody Allen's next film. Here's hoping she can graduate to lead muse
Variety Miramax and its 700 film library (all of which were Oscar nominated in the 1990s*) are for sale. Potential buyers balking at the $1 billion price tag.
Guardian Emma Stone on being "the butt of jokes" and learning about whitewashing in Hollywood through that Aloha fiasco of hers


Empire Aladdin added to Disney's growing 'let's make live-action movies based on our animated library' list
Joanna Robinson ...offered my favorite response to this 
Variety Julianne Moore leaves Nicole Holofcener's Can You Ever Forgive Me? - replacement seeking commence (10 bucks on Catherine Keener cuz that's how Holofcener do)
Coming Soon David Gordon Green will direct a Boston Marathon bombing related film with the extremely generic title of Stronger
Harpy annoys me with this article asking us to excuse bad character design in X-Men movies if the movie turns out OK. Let's not lower our standards shall we? 
The Wrap Star Wars unhappy with Amy Schumer's risqué GQ photoshoot 
Screencrush realizes that every Marvel villain is essentially the same guy 
Salon has Hollywood reached a tipping point with sexism? More and more A listers speaking out

Long Read
This piece from The Telegraph won a lot of online attention. It looks back at the then unique Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) and how the filmmakers (Kerry Conran and Kevin Conran) were immediately forgotten by Hollywood despite their process becoming enormously influential.

...and ICYMI Tim's Toons also revisited this Visual FX landmark last year for its 10th anniversary

Off Screen
The Cut "what open marriage taught one man about feminism" - I would argue that this is not about feminism at all BUT it is about one couple's complicated relationship and it's interesting to hear intimate things about people's private lives that you're not usually privvy to. What's even more fascinating (if depressing / expected) is how defensive and hateful the comments are. People just can't handle anything that challenges the norm without excessive judgement - it terrifies them, they lash out. We've seen this over and over with every social battle... and also with every argument about what "marriage" means. Marriage has such a fraught complicated evolving history in legal, political, sexual, religious terms that it's hilarious that conservatives are always claiming that it's this great unchanging sacred monolith since the days of Adam & Eve. 
Smithsonian has a history of creepy dolls
The Verge 'the trolls are winning the internet' - you don't know how often I'm grateful to most of you in our comparatively pleasant comments here at TFE
Pajiba asks that you stop writing, reading, publishing thinkpieces if the people writing them have not seen the thing they are writing about (it's an epidemic, really in this clickbait era) 

*I'm kidding but it feels true. 


SDCC Day 2: Star Wars Episode VII Mixes Old & New

Anne Marie here, delivering the latest Comic Con news. 

And the word of day two was: Star Wars! Any other events that may have taken place Friday were completely overshadowed by the evening Star Wars: The Force Awakens panel, for which fans camped in line over 24 hrs. (Adorably, JJ Abrams bought the Hall H line donuts.)

The panel was a blend of tradition and technology designed to quell fears and excite fan hearts. New castmembers (not Lupita, alas) made appearances on the panel shoulder-to-shoulder with animatronic puppets AND the original trio: Mark Hammill, Carrie Fisher, and (surprise) Harrison Ford himself. Instead of a trailer, Abrams brought a behind-the-scenes look at the The Force Awakens, which stresses even further the blending of old and new. Watch for a first glimpse of Leia, a lot of practical effects, and Lupita Nyong'o (who appears briefly at roughly the 1 minute mark).

So, Star Wars fans: does this video awaken the force within you? Or do you still fear the film's fall into the dark side?


Peggy Link

Theater Mania Juliette Binoche to return to the stage with Sophocles' Antigone
Playbill interviews Laura Benanti 
Variety the charming animated fable Song of the Sea takes Best Picture at the Irish Film Awards. Have you seen it yet? It was very nearly my favorite of last year's animated pictures. 
Guardian interviews Vincent Cassell on his disturbing Australian drama Partisan with a look back at his now-classic breakthrough in La Haine (which might get a sequel)
Variety critics hash out the best and worst of Cannes together with the most fascinating split being on Hou Hsiao Hsien's The Assassin which Debruge finds "impenetrable" and for which Chang expresses rapturous love. (Note: they also seem to admire Carol more than love it - which is why I've always been less bullish than most early Oscar prognosticators in assuming AMPAS's future love for it)
Nick Davis, Tim Brayton, Ivan Albertson and Amir Soltani continue their collective committed Cannes 1995 retrospective hitting films like Shanghai Triad (I loved that one at the time!), The Madness of King George, and Todd Haynes classic [safe]

Sad News
The Guardian reports that 1960s superstar Omar Sharif has Alzheimers
Kenneth in the (212) RIP to Anne Meara aka "Mrs Sherwood" in Fame (1980) but was also a multiple Emmy nominee and Ben Stiller's mamma
In Contention in case you hadn't heard John & Alicia Nash, the subjects of the Oscar winning A Beautiful Mind were died in a car accident Sunday 

Popcorn Season
Coming Soon lists the "15 biggest disaster movies" but skimps on older films with only four movies listed that existed prior to 1996.
CHUD new pics from Ridley Scott's Martian featuring Matt Damon's space suit (the costume designer is Ridley Scott regular, Janty Yates) 
Empire shares new Ant Man images
/Film in more 'franchises never die' news, the Conan series may be revived as The Legend of Conan with Arnold Schwarzenegger back as the barbarian in his older years 
Observations on Film Art on the waning thrills of CGI comparing The Hobbit to Lord of the Rings and Mad Max Fury Road to the general contemporary action film
Pajiba Captain America Civil War is filming and thus, lots of photos from the set
The Dissolve has a long read on genre movies that followed in the wake of Star Wars: Flash Gordon, Superman, and Star Trek and where they went right and wrong
David Johns does a Law & Order style Daredevil edit. Good job 

Showtune to Go...
This morning we chatted briefly about the upcoming Peggy Lee biopic so why not a little Peggy for the afternoon? Enjoy this Peggy Lee & Judy G medley that kicks off with "I Like Men"


'some say Link, it is a hunger, an endless aching need...♪'

The Star is TIFF about to get an "In Competition" slate at their annual festival? They've always avoided it
Playbill Sutton Foster visited "The View" and talked Thoroughly Modern Millie and her new show Younger (which she is typically excellent/adorable/funny in if you haven't yet watched it. No musical numbers yet though, boo!)
Wired has a longform oral history of ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) for its 40th anniversary, the fx house created originally for Star Wars that changed movies. 
The Daily Beast on Flula Borg, the German scene stealer from Pitch Perfect 2
Playbill this always kind of annoys me but non-nominated musicals will be performing at the Tony Awards: Gigi, Finding Neverland, and It Shoulda Been You. Better to spend the time focusing on nominees, I think.
Comics Alliance Vertigo Comics was totally prepared for the world to go wild for Mad Max Fury Road. They already have prequel comics and an art book with pre-comissioned tributes by major comic artists.
Towleroad Nick the Gardener takes you on a behind the scene tour of Magic Mike XXL for Ellen

Cannes Cannes loves Hou Hsiao-hsien’s longawaited epic The Assassin starring Shu Qi. Another Palme d'Or contender? This year seems highly competitive.  But mixed on Youth... which is apparently highly influenced by 8½
Awards Daily Sasha says that Paolo Sorrentino's Youth about two old men in the film industry, one retired (Caine) one still working (Keitel) will be catnip to Oscar voters 
In Contention says Emily Blunt is "spectacular" in Sicario but Benicio del Toro is the MVP
The Playlist [NSFW] has a clip from Gaspar Noé's Love  

"Mad" Must Reads
Because people can't stop writing about the Mad Men finale and George Miller's fourth Mad Max film. These are highly recommended!

Emily Nussbaum on the "existential brilliance" of the Mad Men finale 
Julianne Escobedo Shepherd examines how the meaning of Don Draper --or what we thought the show was about -- seem to have shifted over time
Alan Sepinwall grapples with the two Dons or rather Don & Dick and what we want from a person/character and who they really are
Mark Harris on "Artisinal Macho" and why the Mad Max Fury Road action scenes make recent action films feel so weightless 
Arthur Chu offers up a rundown of the long form feminism and "toxic masculinity" of the Mad Max franchise - the headline and subheader are kind of misleading but the actual point by point content / argument is terrific 

1979 to Go
Criterion Collection got Bette Midler to reminisce about The Rose (1979) for a dvd release!!! Take a look.