9 items from 2017
A lot has been written about 2017’s live action “Ghost in the Shell” remake. The popular manga series by Masamune Shirow had already seen several successful anime adaptations when Scarlett Johansson stepped into what became one of her most controversial roles to date. Fans of the original and advocates for racial diversity alike were disappointed that a Japanese character had been cast with a white actress, and “Ghost in the Shell” became the latest glaring example in a long line of Hollywood “whitewashing.”
Read MoreHow Video Essays Helped Kogonada Make One of the Most Exciting Debuts of 2017
But that wasn’t the only thing Dreamworks got wrong in their version. A compelling new video essay by The Nerdwriter argues that the latest “Ghost in the Shell” stole images from the anime, but missed the point of the story by dulling their vibrancy and diminishing their power.
A side by side »
- Jude Dry
“Alien: Covenant” didn’t exactly become a cultural phenomenon when it opened earlier this year. Ridley Scott’s latest prequel/sequel in his enduring science-fiction/horror series was met with lukewarm reviews and disappointing box-office returns, which is a shame — it’s the first true “Alien” movie in two decades, and a worthy addition to the xenomorph mythos. In a new video, Jack’s Movie Reviews attempts to diagnose the problem: It doesn’t know what it wants to be.
“I think it’s safe to say that we can learn just as much, if not more, from a movie that doesn’t work than one that works perfectly,” says the narrator as it opens. “For that reason, I believe we can call Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien: Covenant’ a perfect candidate for perfect »
- Michael Nordine
Based on Boris and Arkadi Strugatsky’s novel Roadside Picnic (not to mention the inspiration behind a famous video game series), this 1979 epic is a typically challenging work from Russian auteur Andrei Tarkovsky, but it is worth the effort.
Stalker is ponderous and bleak; demanding without being impenetrable; and guilty of navel-gazing, certainly, but far too intriguing and unsettling to be turned off. Plus, it’s split neatly into two bite-sized parts, so no excuses. The barebones plot involves three men – a Writer and a Professor, led by the titular Stalker – departing the dilapidated city for the forbidden “Zone”, a rural wasteland littered with industrial junk and devoid of people. The Zone is also, perhaps, a sentient entity. The men are searching for the meaning of life. Kinda.
Stalker is true »
- Rupert Harvey
With a seemingly endless amount of streaming options — not only the titles at our disposal, but services themselves — we’ve taken it upon ourselves to highlight the titles that have recently hit platforms. Every week, one will be able to see the cream of the crop (or perhaps some simply interesting picks) of streaming titles (new and old) across platforms such as Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, and more (note: U.S. only). Check out our rundown for this week’s selections below.
Kirsten Johnson brings us her memoirs by way of a videographic scrapbook. Bits and pieces of the numerous documentaries she’s shot in her years as a Dp have been woven together into a travelogue / ethnographic study / commentary on the nature of cinematic framing. What was an establishing shot in one doc becomes, here, a study of the vagaries of a camera operator’s job. Documentary »
- Jordan Raup
“Solaris” is among the most melancholy sci-fi movies ever made, which makes sense given its conception — Andrei Tarkovsky is said to have loathed “2001: A Space Odyssey” for being too cold and unfeeling, and so he sought to make something more humane. The result was as emotional as it was cerebral, and utterly haunting.
A new video essay from Jack’s Movie Reviews focuses on past and present in “Solaris,” arguing that the film’s protagonist, Kris, chooses to ignore his past while on earth — something he’s unable to do on the space station hovering above the semi-sentient ocean planet of the title. That manifests itself in the form of Hari, his deceased wife who appears with Kris on the space station; it isn’t his actual spouse, of course, and attempting to reconcile »
- Michael Nordine
Abbas Kiarostami, the great Iranian postmodernist who died last summer at the age of 76, used to say that he preferred the kind of movies that put their audience to sleep. “Some films have made me doze off in the theater,” he would explain, “but the same films have made me stay up at night, wake up thinking about them in the morning, and keep on thinking about them for for weeks.” So while I passed out (and passed out hard) roughly 15 minutes into “24 Frames,” the fascinating, posthumously completed non-narrative project that will serve as Kiarostami’s final farewell, I suspect that he wouldn’t take my unconsciousness as a criticism or a show of disrespect.
On the contrary, I imagine that he would have been delighted to see the dozens of nodding heads that dotted the film’s final Cannes screening, where the narcotic quality of Kiarostami’s cinema was »
- David Ehrlich
The 2017 summer movie season kicked off last weekend with the strong opening for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which enters its sophomore session this weekend and will once again find itself atop the box office as the week's new wide releases*King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and Snatched*aren't looking to offer much competition. Question is, with the Guardians sequel outperforming the opening weekend of the original by more than 55% (the best opening performance for a first sequel among all Marvel Cinematic Universe films), will the second weekend for the galactic superheroes also outperform the norm? In our showdown featuring Marvel First Sequels you can see the average second weekend drop for the four other films on the list is 57.4%, an average that would have Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 delivering over $62 million this weekend. The best hold among those comparisons belonged to Captain America: Winter »
- Brad Brevet <email@example.com>
My nightly blood sacrifices seem to have finally paid off — or perhaps the world has finally wised up — for Criterion just announced that Russian slow-cinema maestro Andrei Tarkovsky‘s euphoric, perplexing masterpiece Stalker will be getting the 2K restoration treatment it so clearly deserves. (The same restored version will be screening at the Film Society of Lincoln Center for a one-week run starting on May 5, immediately followed by Solaris.)
With this news comes a new trailer, coated in glorious HD that brings tears of unspeakable joy to my eyes. The definition is so crisp, bringing to life Tarkvosky’s singular vision in such vivid presentation, that even a car blasting T.I.’s “Whatever You Like” out the window in full anachronistic fashion cannot stop me from being transported to a dark, strange place known as The Zone.
All personal digressions aside, Criterion’s restoration is a stunning achievement that »
- Mike Mazzanti
Paramount has released 8 new motion posters today for the hotly anticipated live action version of Ghost In The Shell. The anime adaptation, due for release March 31st, has been gradually gaining buzz following its impressive Super Bowl teaser trailer and with just over a month to go until it debuts, excitement is, understandably, quite high.
The new motion posters feature Scarlett Johansson’s Major Motoko Kusanagi, the first “full body prosthesis” cybernetic human, and the seven members of her elite Section 9 special ops team, played by Takeshi Kitano, Danusia Samal, Pilou Asbaek, Yutaka Izumihara, Lasarus Ratuere, Tawanda Manyimo and Chin Han.
The film, which appears to closely hew to the 1995 anime original, follows Major and Section 9 has they hunt for an enigmatic hacker known as the Puppet Master. A cut above most anime, Ghost In The Shell takes an imaginative and intelligent look at identity in an increasingly technologically advanced society. »
- David James
9 items from 2017
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