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For any true-blue movie buff, cinematography is actually a sexy subject — it’s not just about how movies look, it’s about how they flow and feel, about how they live inside our mind’s eye. “Close Encounters with Vilmos Zsigmond,” a French-made documentary that explores the life and artistry of one of the virtuoso founding fathers of contemporary cinematography, the Hungarian-born neorealist Vilmos Zsigmond (who died, at 85, this past January), has some lively and resonant anecdotes that testify to what the highly cultivated craft of lensing a movie is really all about.
Peter Fonda, who hired Zsigmond early in his Hollywood career to shoot a film that Fonda was directing, “The Hired Hand” (1971), recalls how he showed John Ford’s “My Darling Clementine” to Zsigmond several times, all to draw attention to one interior shot in which it was all too obvious that the lighting was done by lamps. »
- Owen Gleiberman
It felt like a match made in heaven when it was announced that Steven Spielberg would be adapting Roald Dahl’s The Bfg for Disney. Having this trifecta of renowned storytelling “giants” coming together for its first live-action feature film seemed almost too generous. Like as if the Movie Gods were shining down on us – so do take a moment to thank them in your own time.
Of course, there was a cartoon TV musical back in 1989 that managed to strike a chord with audiences. But beyond the realms of animation, it’s understandable why it’s taken so long for arguably one of Roald Dahl’s most beloved books to make it to the Silver screen.
The story presents itself with some gargantuan cinematic challenges. For one, its titular character Bfg (an acronym for Big Friendly Giant) is a 24-foot Giant who spends most of his time paired with a young girl named Sophie. »
- Luke Hearfield
Steven Spielberg has gotten some exceptional performances out of child actors throughout his career. Rarely does a child’s performance in a Spielberg film ring false. Empire of the Sun, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, Jurassic Park, and The Temple of Doom star kids giving naturally charismatic and completely present performances. The director’s goal […]
- Jack Giroux
“There will soon be nothing more than self-communicating zombies, whose lone umbilical relay will be their own feedback image – electronic avatars of dead shadows perpetually retelling their own story.” —Jean Baudrillard in Telemorphosis Around 1979 the American filmmaker Robert Kramer and the French schizo-analyst Félix Guattari started working together on a film about two Italian fugitives from the Italian Autonomia Movement, Latitante. The film, which was to star Pier Paolo Pasolini's regular actress Laura Betti, was meant to be a sort of first person collective reflection on the finitude and fragility of the body, “opposing the enormous weight of things-as-they-are, systematically defined by vast power.” A film about the intimacy of resistance. Somewhere along the way the film morphed into a significantly different creature, the science fiction flick A Love of Uiq, a formal shift (sub)consciously informed by the wider political changes taking place off screen: from the grand »
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
One of the best-remembered dramas of the '70s gives us controversial actresses, a lavish production and a story by the even more controversial Lillian Hellman. Director Fred Zinnemann makes it into a suspenseful, deeply affecting experience. Julia Blu-ray Twilight Time Limited Edition 1977 / Color / 1:85 widescreen / 118 min. / Ship Date April 12, 2016 / available through Twilight Time Movies / 29.95 Starring Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Jason Robards, Maximilian Schell, Hal Holbrook, Meryl Streep, Rosemary Murphy, Dora Doll, Elisabeth Mortensen, John Glover, Lisa Pelikan, Susan Jones, Cathleen Nesbitt, Maurice Denham. Cinematography Douglas Slocombe Film Editor Walter Murch Original Music Georges Delerue Written by Alvin Sargent based on the story by Lillian Hellman Produced by Richard Roth Directed by Fred Zinnemann
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
Fred Zinnemann was a cinema activist from way back, a filmmaker of uncompromising convictions. His most frequent theme is anti-fascism, although he began with a very Soviet-styled pro-union film in Mexico, Redes. »
- Glenn Erickson
Anticipation for Midnight Special was high heading into the film’s release. Perhaps, even a little too high. So much had been said about director Jeff Nichols and haunting muse Michael Shannon that the Internet had many thinking it would rocket off into another dimension of quality. That it would be this generation’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), E.T. (1982), and Starman (1984) wrapped up with a nice little indie bow on top. Midnight Special is not that at all – or rather, no film deserves to be lauded with such a level of pre-screen expectation. But it’s important to get this stigma out of the way, for Nichols and Shannon have still managed to craft a project that’s both entertaining and impressively assured.
Opening on the undeterminable decor of a hotel room, viewers are thrust into a situation they know little about with lots to learn. Roy (Shannon »
- Danilo Castro
Since any New York cinephile has a nearly suffocating wealth of theatrical options, we figured it’d be best to compile some of the more worthwhile repertory showings into one handy list. Displayed below are a few of the city’s most reliable theaters and links to screenings of their weekend offerings — films you’re not likely to see in a theater again anytime soon, and many of which are, also, on 35mm. If you have a chance to attend any of these, we’re of the mind that it’s time extremely well-spent.
You’ve read of Rainer Werner Fassbinder‘s ten favorite films — now you can see them. The German titan’s beloved titles are celebrated in a new series: Johnny Guitar screens this Friday; Saturday offers Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Night of the Hunter, and the rarely seen The Red Snowball Tree; on Sunday, one can »
- Nick Newman
Filmmaker and self-pronounced cinephile Jacob T. Swinney has a new video essay called 100 Years/100 Shots. The title’s pretty self-explanatory. It’s about the history of Tequila in the 21st century.
Swinney has chosen his most memorable shot from each year in the last 100 and placed them next to each other in chronological sequence. Not only does it fascinatingly chart the evolution of the medium, it also reaffirms why we devote so much of our spare time to the movies. See beneath the video embed below for the full list (in order) used.
100 Years/100 Shots from Jacob T. Swinney on Vimeo.
Birth of a Nation
A Dog’s Life
The Passion of Joan of Arc
- Oli Davis
London — Pay TV operator Sky has signed its first pan-European movie deal. The exclusive pact with Sony Pictures covers the countries in which Sky operates, which are the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy.
Sky has already struck pan-European deals for TV series with HBO and Showtime, but this is its first pact with a Hollywood studio for movies. Sky’s movie deals in the past have been made on a country-by-country basis.
The Sony Pictures agreement, which covers Sky’s subscription and transactional movie services, allows it to deliver new movies to its 21 million customers more than a year ahead of any other subscription service and only a few months after they have been released in movie theaters. The package comprises all new and future Sony releases, including “Ghostbusters,” “Angry Birds,” “Money Monster” and “Inferno,” and also includes library titles such as “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Philadelphia” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind, »
- Leo Barraclough
Jesse Moss’ “The Bandit,” which will screen at the Nashville Film Festival in partnership with Country Music Television (Cmt) and Variety magazine, combines two themes: the making of the enormously successful film, “Smokey and the Bandit,” and the long-time relationship of its two principals, director Hal Needham and star Burt Reynolds, who played one of the two title roles opposite Jackie Gleason.
The filmmaking tandem were longtime acquaintances and collaborators, with Needham standing in for Reynolds on many of the hair-raising stunts that were emblematic of Reynolds’ films. When Needham came to Reynolds with a script he had written about beer smugglers, the actor had his doubts but eventually agreed to take the lead in his best friend’s film, resulting in one of the top-grossing releases of 1977, hauling in approximately $127 million, and bested only by “Star Wars” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”
“Bandit” is one of two »
- Michael Kosser
The Guardian talks to Jessica Chastain and she is fired up about gender in Hollywood - as a cool non-competitive 'everyone wins' take on Best Actressing awards that's pretty cool to hear.
Kenneth in the (212) a protest of the Cats musical revival. Lol
Tracking Board Judy Greer is moving behind the camera! She'll direct A Happening of Monumental Proportions. The cast is now coming together
Girish Shambu on recent excellent micro-budget indie cinema
Gothamist Netflix is upping the prices for its longtime subscribers. Okay, cool Netflix. I guess this means you're going to add good movies to streaming again? Hello? Hello? [dial tone]
Mnpp which is hotter, annual Taylor Kitsch fetish-wear edition
W Magazine for some reason Disney thought a fashion collaboration with Kenzo was smart marketing for The Jungle Book »
- NATHANIEL R
Intensely gripping drama full of smart, thoughtful, personal twists on some familiar sci-fi ideas. Hums with the hope that a better world is within reach. I’m “biast” (pro): love Michael Shannon; big sci-fi geek
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
There’s some very good storytelling advice that applies no matter what medium you’re telling your story in (film, novel, comic book, whatever): Jump into the action as late in the game as possible. And wow, did Jeff Nichols take that advice to a delicious extreme with Midnight Special. We are dumped right into the middle of what would be, in a more conventional movie, the third act — that is, the final sequence that is racing the story toward its resolution. There is no setup here because we don’t need it: we’ve seen enough stories »
- MaryAnn Johanson
The films of writer-director Jeff Nichols are all about characters, ordinary men and women pushed to the limit by forces outside of their control. Again and again, Nichols trains his eye on the themes of family, its bonds and hardships: his films often about not only what it means to be a father, but also what it means to be a son or daughter. The setting is usually classically American small towns and back roads, where a person can look up at the sky and find an ocean of stars. Under those stars, Nichols lets his dramas —Mud, Take Shelter, and Shotgun Stories — play out, some darker and more bloody than others.
His newest film, Midnight Special, is out this week in limited release. Its plot follows a father forced to go on the run with his young son, a boy possessing mysterious powers, to escape a team of ruthless government agents. »
- Tony Hinds
It started with a single mental image: Two men in a car, driving down dark Southern backroads in the middle of the night, with no lights on. "I couldn't get it out of my head," writer-director Jeff Nichols says, squinting as the sunlight pours through the picture window in his Berlin hotel room. "It was this out-of-nowhere vision of guys going very, very fast, just booking it in a muscle car in the dead of night. It felt cool, you know, but for some reason, I thought: Well, this is a very sci-fi image. »
This week, Jeff Nichols releases his fourth film, Midnight Special, a sci-fi chase film that melds Starman- style meditations on human nature, car chases straight out of Vanishing Point, and Nichols’ own pet themes: the sacrifices made for family and impending fears about fatherhood.
Nichols’ sensibility as a director is a study in contradictions. He’s a fiercely personal filmmaker, yet the work values thematic complexity over sprawling narratives. And while he’s incredibly confident in his own visions (Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, Mud), he’s just as likely to admit that he likes the unpredictability that emerges from muse Michael Shannon or idiosyncratic performers such as Matthew McConaughey or Jessica Chastain.
It’s not his ability to build characters so much as his abilities to build worlds that makes Nichols one of the best contemporary American directors. Nichols, an Arkansas-born filmmaker, writes stories that possess a deep sense of the south, »
- Michael Snydel
“Midnight Special,” opening March 18, is the fourth collaboration between director Jeff Nichols and actor Michael Shannon. A studio movie made with the resources a genre story demands, it’s a far cry from the shoestring budget beginnings of their first effort, Nichols’ 2007 debut “Shotgun Stories.” But it’s also unusual in that the director maintained an independent writer-director voice within a Warner Bros. system that, of late, is focused on cranking out franchise blockbuster fare. That began right at the top with casting choice.
“There’s a lot of this that is a culmination of a relationship that has grown and flourished,” says “Midnight” producer Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, who represented Nichols as an agent on his first film. “I don’t think there’s been a bigger metamorphosis of a filmmaker from uber-indie and scratching it out, to being able to make a studio movie while not getting stuck in the financing bubble of, »
- Kristopher Tapley
Midnight Special is a well-crafted science fiction mystery akin to the seventies classic, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It doesn't nearly reach that level of greatness, but is a good effort. The film has excellent pacing, keeping you on the edge of your seat as the plot unfolds. It has an ominous tone that boils like a pressure cooker to the climax. My issue is that the big reveal leaves many questions unanswered, and unfortunately, isn't that amazing. In fact, it was kind of a letdown as we've seen similar endings in other films. I was hoping for something more creative, or at least different, to be worthy of the fantastic exposition to that point.
Midnight Special opens with Roy (Michael Shannon), on the run with his son - Alton (Jaeden Lieberher), in rural Texas. They're accompanied by Lucas (Joel Edgerton), a bodyguard of sorts, armed to the teeth and with military training. »
J.J. Abrams has made a name for himself in Hollywood by successfully rebooting dormant franchises. Before turning Star Wars: The Force Awakens into a blockbuster phenomenon, he also relaunched Star Trek as a viable commodity and helped get Mission: Impossible back on the right track. But before any of those happened, he almost had a hand in resurrecting Roger Rabbit for the big screen.
J.J. Abrams recently appeared on the Nerdist Podcast to discuss his latest producing endeavor, 10 Cloverfield Lane. During the interview, the filmmaker recalled a time when he actually met with original Who Framed Roger Rabbit? producer Steven Spielberg to discuss Roger Rabbit 2. It actually turned out to be the first time he ever met with the man behind such classics as Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. He explains.
If Terrence Malick ever made a science-fiction film for a major Hollywood studio, it might resemble Midnight Special, which is the latest effort from Jeff Nichols, the writer-director of such acclaimed movies as Mud and Take Shelter, films that have earned Nichols comparisons with the brilliant but reclusive Malick.
Although Nichols has described Midnight Special as a “sci-fi chase film” inspired by elements of such genre classics as Close Encounters of the Third Kind and John Carpenter’s Starman, genre is secondary to the director, who places his main emphasis on character and plot and was inspired to write Midnight Special – which tells the story of a father, played by Michael Shannon, who discovers that his eight-year-old son possesses special powers – by his own experiences as a father.
Before Christmas, we had the chance to talk to Nichols about Midnight Special, his genre influences and his inevitable progression to big studio filmmaking. »
- David Grove
1-20 of 55 items from 2016 « Prev | Next »
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