14 items from 2016
Ryan Lambie Aug 9, 2016
There are some movies whose images and ideas are so indelible, it's difficult to imagine a world without them. Yet films are by their nature delicate things; they're the end-product of months or even years of craftsmanship, and whether they're stored on celluloid or captured digitally, they're as vulnerable to the ravages of time or acts of god as any other artform.
Cinema history is littered with stories of lost and damaged movies. Back in the 1920s, eminent director Erich von Stroheim made Greed, an expensive, nine-and-a-half hour epic that was repeatedly cut until only 140 minutes of its original footage remained. Legend has it that a janitor accidentally threw out the removed footage and, just like that, years of work were gone - seemingly forever. »
Visual-effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull first appeared in Variety on Dec. 17, 1968, in a review of the sex satire “Candy,” for which he created two outer-space sequences. His other movie credit that year was more memorable: “2001: A Space Odyssey,” on which he was one of the masterminds behind the groundbreaking special effects.
Trumbull — also known for his effects work on such films as “Blade Runner” and “The Tree of Life,” and for directing 1972’s influential “Silent Running” — continues to push the boundaries of filmmaking, working on digital innovations and theater design as part of his ongoing quest to create a new and immersive experience for moviegoers. He spoke recently with Variety about how he got his career off the ground by working on the Stanley Kubrick classic.
Your father worked on the effects on “The Wizard of Oz.” Was he an influence on your VFX work?
No, by the time I was born, »
- Tim Gray
On May 9th, 1986, John Badham’s Short Circuit debuted in theaters nationwide. The family adventure film with a sci-fi twist starred Steve Guttenberg, Ally Sheedy, and Fisher Stevens as a group of humans trying to protect a sentient robot by the name of Number 5—as he’s known to the government agencies chasing him—who goes rogue after electrocution causes him to develop a sense of identity and the constant need for “more input.”
Short Circuit was a smash success upon its release, opening number one at the box office and eventually taking in over $40 million during its theatrical run in the spring and early summer of 1986. And while Short Circuit did as well as it did partly because of the actors involved, there’s no denying that it was the film’s robotic co-star that pretty much stole the film and became a huge part of mid-’80s pop culture as well. »
- Heather Wixson
Exclusive: Private demonstrations of the exhibition format to take place over summer.
Director Ang Lee and Sony Pictures are among Hollywood heavyweights invited to attend private demonstrations of VFX guru Douglas Trumbull’s (Blade Runner) anticipated pre-fabricated exhibition format Magi Pod.
The filmmaker, inventor and former vice chair of IMAX, has built a prototype screening room at his studio in Massachusetts and is inviting creatives, studios and exhibitors including Sony and Ang Lee to private demonstrations of the high-tech experimental format over the summer.
“We’ve spent a year building a prototype theatre and I am just at the stage to start individual screenings,” he said. “Sony and Ang Lee are invited as are a lot of important media companies to witness the only option for the future of cinema other than a million dollar projection system.”
According to the three-time Oscar winner, Sony will review the Magi Pod concept for the release of Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn »
Following February’s successful World Premiere at the Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival, Native, starring Rupert Graves (Di Lestrade in BBC’s Sherlock TV series) and Ellie Kendrick (Game Of Thrones and iFeatures backed ‘The Levelling’), gets its European Premiere at the East London Film Festival.
Native is the debut feature film for Liverpool born director and co-writer Daniel Fitzsimmons and his producer/co-writer Neil Atkinson (known to 1000s of football fans as the boundless host of the multi-award winning, independent Liverpool Fc podcast ‘The Anfield Wrap’).
Native is a stylish and cerebral Sci-fi drama about two travellers through space tracking a signal from the other side of the universe. They look like us, but they’re from a race of people who function without a need for feelings, emotions or for experience. Over the course of this arduous journey Native challenges you to consider what it might mean to be human. »
- Stuart Wright
At high school and college track meets, Bruce Dern was known as the guy who came from behind to win the race. Most actors who started out in the 1950s and ’60s faded away long ago, but Dern continues to be a runner — and continues to work as an actor, including his Oscar-nominated performance in “Nebraska” and in last year’s “Hateful Eight.”
Dern, who turns 80 on Saturday, got his professional start by working with Lee Strasberg and Elia Kazan, and his career is dotted with big names that he worked with: John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, Roger Corman, Jane Fonda and Jack Nicholson, to name a few. He also had encounters with such diverse characters as notorious west coast mobster Mickey Cohen and noted pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy.
Dern recently told Variety, “I’ve worked with six geniuses as directors: Kazan, Alfred Hitchcock, »
- Tim Gray
Epic Pictures Group has acquired worldwide sales and distribution rights to the sci-fi thriller “Somnus.” It will launch international sales at the Cannes Film Festival next week, Variety has learned exclusively.
“Somnus” follows the crew of an aging cargo ship on their final mission on the monotonous Earth-Mars shipping route. Malfunctions aboard the ship force a change of course to Somnus, a remote asteroid colony. The crew soon discovers the inhabitants of the colony have a dark past, and troubling plans for the future of mankind.
- Dave McNary
The dirty book of the '60s became an all-star dirty movie with Brando, Burton, Starr, Coburn, Matthau, Astin, Aznavour and Huston all wanting a taste of the Swedish nymphet Ewa Aulin. Camerawork by Rotunno, designs by Dean Tavoularis, effects by Doug Trumbull -- and the best material is Marlon Brando making goofy faces as a sub-Sellers Indian guru. Candy Blu-ray Kl Studio Classics 1968 / Color / 1:78 widescreen / 124 min. /Candy e il suo pazzo mondo / Street Date May 17, 2016 / available through Kino Lorber / 29.95 Starring Ewa Aulin, Charles Aznavour, Marlon Brando, James Coburn, Richard Burton, John Astin, John Huston, Walter Matthau, Ringo Starr, Anita Pallenberg, Elsa Martinelli. Cinematography Giuseppe Rotunno Production Designer Dean Tavoularis Opening and closing designed by Douglas Trumbull Film Editor Giancarlo Cappelli, Frank Santillo Original Music Dave Grusin Writing credits Buck Henry from the book by Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg Produced by Robert Haggiag Directed by Christian Marquand
- Glenn Erickson
The presentation of an 11-minute sequence from the film in its native format (3D, at 4K resolution and 120 frames per second for each eye) electrified the conference in Las Vegas, leaving even experienced pros grasping for superlatives to convey what they had seen. Their praise wasn’t reserved for the technology, but for the film itself as well.
Former Disney exec, now Society of Motion Picture Engineers (Smpte) executive Howard Lukk told Variety moments after emerging from a showing “I’m stunned. It’s a really powerful film, and a really clear presentation. It’s the best 3D I’ve ever seen in my life. The 3D is really, really good on this thing. Absolutely amazing. »
- David S. Cohen
Explorers go where there is no map.
There’s no safe path, no way to know what’s over the next hill. They figure out their route as they go, and blaze a trail in hopes that someday, others will follow.
So it is for director Ang Lee with “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.”
His new movie, about Iraq War heroes whisked back Stateside for a victory tour, is slated for release on Veterans Day weekend (Nov. 11). The picture blends different flavors of high-tech — 3D, 4K and high frame rates — to push filmmaking beyond anything the public has ever seen, even beyond the capacity of the world’s movie theaters. It marks Lee, who turned “Life of Pi” into a surprise global smash (and earned a directing Oscar for it) as one of the boldest explorers in cinema today.
You might expect such a visionary to speak with steely resolve, »
- David S. Cohen
Exclusive: Only a handful of exhibitors will be able to screen Ang Lee’s anticipated drama as the director intends.
When Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk goes on release in November only a handful of exhibitors will be able to screen it as the director intends.
The TriStar Pictures war comedy-drama, starring Kristen Stewart, Vin Diesel, Steve Martin and Screen Star of Tomorrow Joe Alwyn in the title role, is the first to be shot in a combination of 4K resolution in stereo 3D and at 120 frames a second (fps) - a bold specification that exceeds all Dci compliant presentation systems.
The Oscar-winning director, who previously pushed the boundaries of 3D with Life Of Pi, spoke last year at CinemaCon about shooting at 120fps, which was in part chosen as a means to immerse viewers in Billy Lynn’s combat scenes.
“What Ang Lee is aiming for cannot be done on any Dci-compliant »
After years in limbo, the rush to make a Star Trek movie suddely began in earnest on the 28th of March 1978. That day saw a lavish press conference arranged by Paramount president Michael Eisner, chairman Barry Diller and the entire cast of the original Star Trek series. Eisner announced to an assembled group of reporters that a film spin-off from the cult Trek TV show was finally going to be made. Its appropriately grand title - Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
The director, Eisner continued, would be Robert Wise - an industry veteran who was not only a safe pair of hands (he’d directed such hits as West Side Story and The Sound Of Music), but also had a proven track record with science fiction. »
After 63 years somebody has taken a crack at Arthur C. Clarke's monumental sci-fi novel. This interpretation throws the emphasis way out of whack but succeeds too frequently to ignore. Charles Dance is the alarming Overlord Karellen, who comes from the stars to escort humanity through its next stage of development... and to announce the end of the world as we know it. Childhood's End Blu-ray Universal Studios Home Entertainment 2015 / Color / 1:78 widescreen / 247 min. / Street Date March 1, 2016 / 34.98 Starring Charles Dance, Mike Vogel, Osy Ikhile, Daisy Betts, Georgina Haig, Ashley Zukerman, Hayley Magnus, Charlotte Nicdao, Peretta, Lachlan Roland-Kenn, Julian McMahon, Colm Meany, Robert Morgan. Cinematography Neville Kidd Film Editor Sean Albertson, Yan Miles, Eric A. Sears Original Music Charlie Clouser Written by Matthew Graham from the novel by Arthur C. Clarke Produced by Nick Hurran, John C. Lenick, Paul M. Leonard Directed by Nick Hurran
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
This is »
- Glenn Erickson
If you have been living and routinely interacting with other human beings over the last month, you’ve probably heard one or two words involving this year’s Academy Awards and the heated controversy over the startling lack of both films and people of color among the nominees. Personally, I think that the real focus of concern ought to be less on the back end-- awards handed out for films which were financed and/or studio-approved, scheduled for production and filmed perhaps as much as two or three years ago-- and more on addressing the lack of cultural and intellectual and experiential diversity among those who have the power to make the decisions as to what films get made in the first place. This is no sure-fire way to ensure that there will be a richer and more consistent representation of diverse creative voices when it comes time for Hollywood »
- Dennis Cozzalio
14 items from 2016
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