16 items from 2014
Imitation of Life: James’ Sci-Fi Thriller Plumbs Dark Recesses of A.I.
While its ingenious ideas are sometimes marred by obvious budgetary limitations, director Caradog W. James’ second feature, The Machine is a highly enjoyable and brooding sci-fi flick in the philosophical vein of Blade Runner, with a smattering of other similarly minded or styled classics, such as Lang’s Metropolis heavy on its mind. Even though it sometimes looks like a film that seems tailor made for the Syfy Channel, James still manages to create an appropriate atmosphere with its cavernous, dimly lit underground bunkers. An arresting and ambient score reminiscent of Vangelis and early John Carpenter is complimentary to its simple yet hypnotic spell.
In the not too distant future, the UK seems to be languishing in the throes of the preapocalypse as the Western world is heavily engaged in a Cold War with China. The government »
- Nicholas Bell
The King and the Mockingbird (French: Le Roi et l’oiseau), 1980.
Directed by Paul Grimault.
A chimney sweep and a shepherdess seek to escape from the clutches of a tyrannical king.
The modern animation industry is very much a business, as opposed to an art-form or creative industry. Looking at recent uninspired projects and unnecessary sequels such as Monsters University and Planes just to name a few, it’s easy to come to some clear conclusions about the state of contemporary animation. If it’s not highly merchandised, franchised or derivative, it doesn’t seem to get made, at least by the likes of Disney or Pixar.
The recent retiring of the masterful Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli fame only helps further cement this uninspired era in animated history. To bring this seemingly irrelevant introduction full circle, »
- Sam Thorne
With almost 40 years of history - encompassing films, TV, comic books, video games and novels - there's a wealth of interesting facts and information about the vast universe hatched by George Lucas.
Here are ten fast facts we've discovered from a galaxy far, far away…
1. Inspired by the swashbuckling Flash Gordon adventures that began in the '30s, a young George Lucas initially wanted to bring that serial to the big screen, but found the rights to the character difficult to untangle. From there he began to fashion his own space epic - a project that would eventually become the Star Wars we know and love.
However, things could have been a lot different as Lucas's first draft script was »
The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya? “A Tale of Two Cities: Rebuilding a Metropolis” — Christopher Runyon at Movie Mezzanine profiles a Japanese descendant of Fritz Lang’s epic sci-fi classic which made a powerful impact of its own. “Do we really need all these set photos?” — We’ve reached a point where studios are faking their own leaked set photos, authorizing unauthorized pics that get sent out into the ether to be copied and pasted all over the place. Matt Singer at The Dissolve asks the natural question and scratches his head over why people are excited by visual spoilers while recoiling at the textual kind. “Whose Brooklyn Is It, Anyway?” — A.O. Scott at The New York Times follows the way a neighborhood full of neighborhood has shifted over a half-century in art. “Spike Lee »
- Scott Beggs
Without prefatory contextualization, Matías Piñeiro’s dreamily conceived Viola doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. We’re dropped into the production of an all-female Argentinian take on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night where the character of Viola is tasked with finding the fancy of Olivia in the name of Duke Orsino, in doing ultimately blurring the lines of emotional truth between the trio. With the production title itself the only given, the implied narrative is something you’re expected to know going in and it’s ultimately the key to the elegantly compounded mystery written within. Strangely, you’ll likely be swept up in its perplexing hypno-theater whether you’re in on the narrative subtleties of Piñeiro’s film or not.
The production soon ends and we find ourselves in the dressing rooms, the cast of women peeling off their fake eyelashes and recounting their awkward eye-locking line deliveries from the night’s performance. »
- Jordan M. Smith
What’s difficult about making this list is finding a balance between a successful Kubrickian film that either predates or pays homage to Kubrick and, for lack of a better term, is a ripoff. Now that we’ve hit the apex, it’s clear that these are, regardless of influence, quality films. What sets them apart is their ability to evoke Kubrick’s greatness (or inspire it), while delivering a stand-alone masterpiece. If Kubrick took the helm for any of these films, the result wouldn’t delineate too much. Still. Kubrick is a genius because he always kept us guessing.
courtesy of theweeklings.com
10. Fitzcarraldo (1982)
Directed by Werner Herzog
What makes it Kubrickian? It’s a film about extreme obsession and the unreasonable lengths a man will go to when consumed by it. Fitzcarraldo is the story of Brian Sweeny “Fitzcarraldo” Fitzgerald (Klaus Kinski) and his entry into the rubber industry. »
- Joshua Gaul
The reemergence of Giorgio Moroder to mainstream prominence over the last year has been one of the great unexpected gifts for music enthusiasts. In the wake of his seemingly inevitable collaboration with dance icons Daft Punk, Moroder has been collaborating, remixing, and working on new material of his own—not to mention DJing live for the first time in his storied career. In the process he has introduced himself to a new generation of fans, rightly receiving his due as an influential producer and sonic innovator. But what has yet to be widely recognized is the thumbprint Moroder has left on modern film composing. His iconic, Oscar-winning scores and songs for many of the biggest films of the late-1970s and ‘80s (Midnight Express, Top Gun) have long since entered the pantheon, but with the recent popularity of nostalgia-fueled films such as Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, Moroder’s influence »
- Jordan Cronk
Written and directed by Caradog W. James
Some maudlin producers must be kicking themselves given recent events, as the post-credits blurb of the new science-fiction future-shock film The Machine sets the context of a near-future Britain locked into a new cold war with China. Can’t we simply revert back to the 1980s-era Soviet aggressor, just like the good old days? In fact, this visually striking but slightly constricted work has clearly been deeply influenced by the selfish decade’s most accomplished sci-fi movies, as Blade Runner and Escape From New York echo through the chrome-plated antechamber, with a deeper umbilical link to the titular feminine form shadowing Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.
Brilliant neural programmer graduate Ava (Caity Lotz) successfully secures a job at a secret government installation after her creation passes the Turing test, impressing senior robotics employee Vincent (Toby Stephens), who has been frantically searching »
Nemo: The Roses of Berlin
Written by Alan Moore
Drawn by Kevin O’Neill
Lettered by Todd Klein
Colored by Ben Dimagmaliw
Published by Knockabout/Top Shelf
Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill have no time for a preamble or set up in Nemo: The Roses Of Berlin, the latest offshoot of their League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series. Within the first couple of pages, they dive right into the story of Janni Dakkar, the daughter of Nemo, and her husband Broad Arrow Jack invading 1940s Berlin to rescue their daughter. When their son-in-law’s airship is shot down over Germany with their daughter inside, Janni and Jack storm Berlin, finding a city that they didn’t expect. It’s not a Nazi driven Berlin (even though Nazis are there.) It’s the Berlin straight out of Metropolis and the imagination of Fritz Lang. Swiftly realizing that it’s all a »
- Scott Cederlund
"Arrow" star Stephen Amell loves his Facebook, and this is a good thing for fans. Because of this love, Amell spent an hour on Wednesday (March 12) answering questions on the "Arrow" Facebook page from fans about Malcolm Merlyn's return, upcoming episodes, kissing Felicity and more.
Check out some of the best answers below:
Amell would never confirm nor deny that an upcoming episode, "Seeing Red," is about Roy. He did, however, say that the episode was "the most emotionally draining episode I've ever been a part of."When asked if Oliver would kiss Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), Amell provided a rather cagey answer: "Like on the forehead, or a sign language kiss... I'm confused, but thanks for asking."Amell confirmed that the characters will discuss Barry Allen, aka the Flash, "at least three or four more times this season."Is the villainous Malcolm Merlyn coming back in Season 2? "God I hope so, »
It turned unknown punk singer Hazel O'Connor into a household name, but that wasn't the only way the 1980 movie mirrored events in the star's own life
Hazel O'Connor, singer/actor
I was a struggling singer-songwriter who had signed to Albion Records for a pound. To make extra money, I also did shifts answering their phones. One day, a casting agency rang up asking if they could speak to someone about Hazel O'Connor. I said: "That's me."
Andy Czezowski, who ran the Roxy punk club in London, had suggested me for a role as an extra in Breaking Glass, a film about a struggling punk singer who makes it big and goes gaga. I'd been reading a book called Bring Out the Magic in Your Mind. So I daydreamed three things: a) at the auditions they go, "My God, she's amazing – let's give her the lead"; b) they ask me to »
- Dave Simpson
This story first appeared in the Feb. 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. It's where Fritz Lang premiered Metropolis and where Leni Riefenstahl premiered Triumph of the Will. When it opened in 1915, it was called Filmpalast am Zoo -- because it was located next to the zoo -- then changed to the Ufa Palast and finally Zoo Palast. By any name, though, it's been the center of German cinema for nearly a century. Story: How George Clooney Faked Da Vinci's 'Last Supper' for 'Monuments Men' Allied bombings flattened the theater in 1943, but it was rebuilt in 1955 and became a symbol of
- Scott Roxborough
Spike Jonze’s critically acclaimed ‘Her’ tells the story of a depressed man who falls in love with the sentient operating system of his mobile phone, as voiced by an especially sultry Scarlett Johansson. The operating system, which calls itself Samantha, soon reciprocates his feelings and – without spoiling anything – refuses to allow such pesky details as her lack of a corporeal form get in the way of some proper mano-a-machina filth.
Jonze’s film is hardly the first time sexy AIs have made their way to the big screen, although is perhaps the most delicately handled representation to date. The movie industry’s fascination with sexually suggestive AIs and robots has been a recurring theme since Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, and continues unabated to this day. As such an essential part of movie history, let’s take a look back at some of the sexiest female artificial »
- Xander Markham
By Mark Pinkert
There was an interesting phenomenon in film this year that deserves a second look: many of the most recognizably “American” films of 2013 were directed by foreigners and, of those films, two feature almost entirely foreign casts.
First, to be clear, when I say “American” films, I’m not referring to stories that simply take place here; rather, I’m looking at films that are germane to the American narrative, to our history and cultural zeitgeist–really, Americana as opposed to just American. Films like The Great Gatsby, 12 Years a Slave, Dallas Buyers Club and Captain Phillips–which bring to life classic American literature, histories, and recent events–are the best examples. (Gravity is a tough sell for this list, but does fit insofar as it deals with the space program, a prominent feature of 20th century, Cold War America.) The second criterion, then, is to have a foreign director, »
- Mark Pinkert
Entertainment Geekly is a weekly column that examines pop culture through a geek lens and simultaneously examines contemporary geek culture through a pop lens. So many lenses!
Measuring time in specific decades is a fallacy, but it’s a fallacy that everyone believes in. There’s no legitimate reason that we should set aside the passage of time between January 1, 1980 and December 31, 1989 as a specific and clearly defined unit of time. 1979 wasn’t too different from 1980; most of the movies released in 1990 were probably shot in 1989. People used to refer to the ’80s as “the MTV Decade” before every decade »
- Darren Franich
Written by Sydney Boehm
Directed by Fritz Lang
Opening with a bang, Fritz Lang’s The Big Heat begins with a carefully placed overhead shot of a hand claiming a small pistol resting atop a fine desk. An off-screen gun shot erupts in the soundtrack, followed by the body of a man crumpling onto the desk, lifeless. His wife (Jeanette Nolan), stunned by the event, notices an envelope on the table addressed to the district attorney, which she chooses to hide after reading its contents. It turns out the man who committed suicide was a Tom Duncan, a cop. Det. Dave Bannion (Glen Ford) is commissioned with investigating the reasons behind his former colleague’s death wish. Perplexed as to the circumstances behind the suicide, information comes to light that may suggest foul play, especially when an informant (Dorothy Green) turns up dead the next morning. »
- Edgar Chaput
16 items from 2014
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