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"Steve Jobs" is "Citizen Kane" meets "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" for the social media age. But by structuring his adaptation of the Walter Isaacson biography around three product launches, Aaron Sorkin has conjured a unique backstage biopic, exploring Jobs from the inside out with theatrical flair. The trick was to come up with a bold visual style, so director Danny Boyle and cinematographer Alwin H. Küchler ("Sunshine") decided to shoot three distinct looks for each launch (16mm for the Macintosh in 1984, 35mm for the NeXT in 1988 and digitally for the iMac in 1998). Thus, style becomes content as Jobs confronts his past (both publicly and privately) while plotting his grand tech vision for the future. "I like films which feel internal, which are subjective...and it was very much on Danny's mind to get inside the brain of Steve Jobs," explained Küchler. And one of the very early things that. »
- Bill Desowitz
Director Danny Boyle got his start in theater and then moved into filmmaking. But for all his experience with actors and the stage, he’s made his name as a propulsive and relentless visual stylist with a knack for kinetic viscera. Having directed “Trainspotting,” “28 Days Later,” “Sunshine” and the Oscar-winning “Slumdog Millionaire,” Boyle’s omnivorous taste has seen him jump from genre to genre, challenging himself with each picture with restless verve. But for his latest drama, the unconventional biopic of Apple founder “Steve Jobs,” Boyle was faced with an entirely different challenge: how to reconcile his dynamic visual style with 185 verbally dense pages of Aaron Sorkin screenplay. With so much electricity coming off the script, Boyle made a counter-intuitive but wise move: the film's energy emanates from through the dynamism of performances, rather than his signature visual verve. In the symphonically-charged “Steve Jobs,” Michael Fassbender plays Jobs, Kate »
- Rodrigo Perez
For a big budget movie about a lone astronaut who gets stranded on Mars, the spacesuits in The Martian are surprisingly sober in terms of design. There is an attempt here to make everything seem as plausible as possible, costume design especially. Director Ridley Scott’s regular costumer Janty Yates has created possibly the sexiest spacesuits ever seen on screen, and what’s more they are functional. To paraphrase a line in the film, she had to “science the shit out of them”.
Yates collaborated with Nasa looking specifically at their Z1 and Z2 prototypes to create an Eva (‘Extravehicular Activity’ – any time the crew must go outside) suit and surface or ‘bio’ suit (worn on Mars). The surface suit is similar to the blue under-suits she created for Scott’s near future set Prometheus in 2012, although further grounded in reality. The Prometheus under-suits could, in theory, monitor functioning levels of the human body, »
- Lord Christopher Laverty
Taken as a straight-faced, just-the-facts account of one great man’s amazing achievements, Steve Jobs is a bit daft. For as much as the structure of Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin‘s biopic — divided into three sections, each set backstage right before a product’s announcement (those being the Apple Lisa in 1984, the NeXTcube in 1988, and the iMac in 1998) — is receiving attention, that bit of pre-release hype, like all pre-release hype, should be questioned. To my mind, this is all a reductive bit of enthusiasm: what happens when anyone does anything different with the format, thus saving us from having to (gasp!) sit through “yet another biopic.” The reaction is premature, surely, but none too surprising. There’s a vocal and too-large section of viewers for whom the genre indicates that what they’re seeing — no matter the talent of its creators or the fascination that comes with its subject — is unquestionably an inferior product, »
- Nick Newman
You’ve seen actor Cliff Curtis slip into the skin of countless characters before, taking on numerous ethnicities as a true chameleon of the big screen. The New Zealander is one of the most prolific and accomplished character actors of his generation, having wracked up a list of filmmaker collaborators that would make any colleague jealous.
The list is impressive, probably because great directors know what they’re going to get out of the actor: David O. Russell (“Three Kings”), Martin Scorsese (“Bringing Out the Dead”), Michael Mann (“The Insider”), Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”), Frank Darabont (“The Majestic”), Darren Aronofsky (“The Fountain”), Danny Boyle (“Sunshine”) — each presenting a unique opportunity to stand out in an ensemble cast.
- Kristopher Tapley
With ideas like cryogenic sleep and warp speed, the movies have a tendency to make space travel look easy. Not Ridley Scott’s “The Martian,” an enthralling and rigorously realistic outer-space survival story in which Matt Damon plays a Nasa botanist stranded on the Red Planet after a sandstorm forces his crewmates to abort mission. Like Robinson Crusoe on Mars, Damon’s “right stuff” hero has to get by on his own wits and “science the sh–” out of his predicament. It won’t be easy, but it is possible — and that’s the exhilarating thrill of both Andy Weir’s speculative-fiction novel and screenwriter Drew Goddard’s “science fact” adaptation. Considering that the United States hasn’t launched a manned space mission since 2011, “The Martian” should do far more than just make Fox a ton of money; it could conceivably rekindle interest in the space program and inspire a new generation of future astronauts. »
- Peter Debruge
Telluride, Colo. — Seven years ago I sat down with Danny Boyle to discuss “Slumdog Millionaire,” at the time on its way to a release and, eventually, an eight-trophy tally on Oscar night. I wanted to know what he felt he had learned from each of his experiences as a feature film director, to chart his growth as an artist.
With a new film on the way (“Steve Jobs”) and with Boyle being feted at the Telluride Film Festival this weekend, I caught up with him so he could bring us up to speed. We’ve seen “127 Hours” and “Trance” in the years since (as well as an Artistic Director stint with the 2012 Summer Olympic Games), while his latest marks a remarkable departure from what we’re used to out of the filmmaker. Naturally, he admits — two decades into a career in features — he’s still learning.
“Shallow Grave” (1995)
“I was »
- Kristopher Tapley
As the ending to one of the best films ever says, "Nobody's perfect", and the same goes for cinema, as these 12 great movies with bad endings prove.
Spoiler avoiders, beware, however: there will be in-depth discussion of several twisty movies below, so if you're of a nervous moviegoing disposition, click away now.
What went right: There's a lot to love in Jedi: one of the best lightsaber battles in the series, the Jabba's palace break-out sequence, top notch SFX – the speeder bikes alone – and finally, victory for the good guys. And yes, Princess Leia's bikini, if you're into that sort of thing.
What went wrong: George Lucas. In fiddling with the ending again and again, it's hard to work out what is the "definitive" version is, but however it officially ends – goodbye old Darth Vader, hello young Darth Vader – the final minutes »
If “Ex Machina” isn’t one of the best sci-fi films of the year, then I have no idea what is. Hell, remove the “sci-fi” distinction. “Ex Machina” is one of the best films of the year. Alex Garland’s directorial debut outing (before this, he wrote, among other things, the screenplay for Danny Boyle’s 2007 space-traversing thriller, “Sunshine,” which full disclosure, is also counted among my favorite films) is a gorgeous, tense, mind-blowing 108 minutes that sets the bar for sci-fi way higher than it had been prior. As much love as critics and audiences and awards proffers heap upon Garland and his cast, we can’t neglect to consider the achievements of other artists, whose work went into making “Ex Machina” the benchmark film that it is. One such contributor is composer Geoff Barrow (Beak, Quakers, Portishead) whose score subtly yet perfectly haunts the entire film, constructing a level »
- Zach Hollwedel
Think back to the science fiction cinema of the 1990s, and some of the decade's biggest box-office hits will immediately spring to mind: The Phantom Menace, Jurassic Park, Independence Day, Men In Black, Armageddon and Terminator 2 were all in the top 20 most lucrative films of the era.
But what about the sci-fi films of the 1990s that failed to make even close to the same cultural and financial impact of those big hitters? These are the films this list is devoted to - the flops, the straight-to-video releases, the low-budget and critically-derided. We've picked 50 live-action films that fit these criteria, and dug them up to see whether they're still worth watching in the 21st century.
So here's a mix of everything from hidden classics to forgettable dreck, »
A new sci-fi classic Ex Machina: Ex Machina is perhaps one of the most challenging science fiction movies in recent years, not because it contains some kind of Primer-esque plot that's going to require charts and diagrams to figure out, but because so much of the movie is affected by what baggage and preconceived notions the audience brings to it. On the surface the directorial debut of Alex Garland (who wrote Dredd, Never Let Me Go, and Sunshine) is about a brilliant billionaire (Oscar Isaac) who invites one of his employees (Domnhall Gleeson) out to his gorgeous, secluded estate to test out a mystery technology that just so happens to be a robot (Alicia Vikander) with a high level of artificial intelligence. Below the...
- Peter Hall
Two guys and a robot girl. That's all you need to make a killer sci-fi movie. Oh, and the brain of Alex Garland, who cooked up the smart, engaging, often stunning Ex Machina as his directorial debut. If you haven't seen it yet, you can fix that now that the hit movie about two men testing an artificial intelligence is out on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD. We spoke to Garland, who also wrote The Beach, Sunshine, 28 Days Later, and Never Let Me Go, earlier this week for the Ex Machina home video release and couldn't help but bring up the last time we spoke, which happened to be on the eve of the release of Dredd, the last movie he wrote and produced. That movie has since found its following, but even he'd be the first to say that audiences just were not there for it...
- Peter Hall
If you want to discuss contemporary sci-fi touchstones of the last 15 years, probably somewhere near the epicenter of that conversation has to be writer/director Alex Garland. The writer behind “28 Days Later,” “Sunshine,” and “Never Let Me Go,” Garland has carved out a niche of intelligent thrillers with thoughtful yet visceral edges and made his directorial debut earlier this year with the well-received “Ex Machina.” One of the biggest indie hits of the year and A24’s highest grossing film to date, “Ex Machina” continues Garland’s moody exploration of dystopian ideas, and how they affect mankind. Featuring a trio of up-and-coming stars —Oscar Issac, Domnhall Gleeson (both of whom are in the upcoming "Star Wars: The Force Awakens") and Alicia Vikander— “Ex Machina” plays with the notions of empathy via artificial intelligence in a futuristic milieu (our review). More specifically, “Ex Machina” centers on a gifted computer programmer (Gleeson) who wins a. »
- Rodrigo Perez
“Isn’t it strange, to create something that hates you?”
It’s hard to find smart, thought-provoking science fiction stories these days, with current trends dictating bigger is better. Writer-Director Alex Garland’s Ex MacHina, released this past April, was small-scale, slow-paced, and breaks no new ground in terms of ideas. Yet thanks to a terrific script, exceptional characterizations, and one super-sexy robot, it was the best new science fiction film I’d seen since Under The Skin. Like Garland’s earlier scripts, which gave us fresh takes on the zombie genre (28 Days Later) and the space-flight-to-save-the-earth genre (Sunshine), Ex MacHina took a familiar sci-fi concept, in this case the replication of human presence via artificial means, and makes it new.
- Tom Stockman
Alex Garland is a beast when it comes to modern science fiction, and the great thing about his filmography is that no two of his movies are quite the same. The restart-the-sun spaceship thriller Sunshine is a much grander scale than the meditative clone drama Never Let Me Go, which is wildly different from the angry rage virus that is 28 Days Later, which is far more action-packed than his most recent sci-fi outing, the terrific Ex Machina, but also isn't anywhere near as weird and violent as Dredd. If you were afraid Garland's next movie would see him leaving the sci-fi genre, we're happy to report there is nothing to fear. He's sticking around science fiction for the foreseeable future. His next project is an adaptation of a recently published book called...
- Peter Hall
Alex Garland, a hell of a writer behind terrific contemporary genre and sci-fi films like 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Never Let Me Go and Dredd, recently made his feature debut with Ex Machina, which introduced a hell of a director as well. The thoughtful, sleek and unsettling tale of A.I. has wowed many since spring release and anticipation is high…
- Samuel Zimmerman
With both “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” gone, “The Walking Dead” is AMC’s default flagship show. This year not only finds the popular zombie series in its sixth season, it will also bring a spin-off from the cash cow. Because it’s San Diego Comic-Con weekend and there is such a huge overlap between attendees and fans of the show, the basic cable channel has released a pair of trailers for both the sixth season of “The Walking Dead” and its spin-off, “Fear the Walking Dead.” First up, let’s talk about that spin-off. Originally announced two years ago with no details, now we know that “Fear the Walking Dead” is set in Los Angeles during the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. It stars Kim Dickens (“Gone Girl” and “Treme”), Cliff Curtis (“Whale Rider” and “Sunshine”), Rubén Blades, and Elizabeth Rodriguez (“Orange Is The New Black”), among others. The »
- Cain Rodriguez
The migration of filmmakers from the big screen to the small one is not a new phenomenon, but another team was formally inducted this weekend, with the Wachowskis’ Netflix series Sense8 making its debut. The duo join the ranks of others such as Steven Soderbergh, and they are far from the last ones, as Steve McQueen, Baz Luhrmann, and Amy Seimetz are among those who are poised to make the creative leap as well. There are some filmmakers, however, who have displayed a set of talents that make the idea of them moving to television an exciting one. Here are ten filmmakers who would be a great fit on the small screen in charge of a tv show.
1) Alex Garland
- Deepayan Sengupta
Never mind little green men, there's only one man we need to worry about in "The Martian": Matt Damon's astronaut Mark Watney. During a manned mission to Mars, he's left behind and presumed dead. But he's not dead. He's just stuck there. So he's forced to use Bourne-level smarts to survive and signal home that he's still alive.
20th Century Fox just released the first 3-minute, 17-second trailer for "The Martian" and -- prepare to cringe at this, but dammit it's still true -- it's out of this world. Just watch:
"The Martian" is directed by Ridley Scott, so it's already off to a great start, and it's based on the novel by Andy Weir. Matt Damon is the headliner, but he's joined by A-listers Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Michael Pena, Donald Glover, and ... Kristen Wiig? Yeah, she's branching away from just comedies, »
- Gina Carbone
Writer/Director Alex Garland, coming off the success of "Ex Machina," is not a major fan of sequels. Yet one of his earliest writing efforts, Danny Boyle's acclaimed zombie drama "28 Days Later," may be getting another one it would seem.
Garland was not involved in the first sequel "28 Weeks Later" and had no interest in a third for several years. However, he now tells The Playlist that a third film is moving forward with producer Andrew McDonald and it came about due to a random idea:
"The rights to '28 Days' were frozen, effectively, because they were shared between Danny [Boyle], [producer] Andrew [McDonald], myself, and Fox. After the second one, none of us really wanted to do another. Fox may or may not have, I don't know.
[Then] about two years ago, Danny [Boyle] started collaborating on the potential to make 'Trainspotting 2,' another sequel. In that conversation, an idea for '28 Months' arrived. »
- Garth Franklin
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