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This is a reprint of our review from the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Working closely under the tutelage of Terrence Malick for several years now, editor and second-unit director turned writer/director A.J. Edwards (who has logged time on "The New World," "The Tree of Life," and "To the Wonder"), might have been better advised to get out from under the shadow of his mentor for his feature-length debut, “The Better Angels.” Instead the fledgling filmmaker is content to bask adoringly in the shadow of his teacher to the deal-breaking detriment of his first film. Perhaps intended as loving homage, “The Better Angels” instead borders on self-serious parody, utilizing a virtual checklist of every stylistic trope Edwards’ cinematic maharishi uses—hushed ponderous voice-over about the nature of life, that gliding camera, expansive wide-angle shots, jump cuts, dancing in fields, a spiritual connection to nature—and one by one employing them all without. »
- Rodrigo Perez
Edwards Breathes Malickian Verve Into Lincoln’s Youth
It’s impossible to discuss director A.J. Edwards’ triumphant debut without first acknowledging his association with Terrence Malick. Having worked with the singular filmmaker for over a decade, from documenting the making of The New World, consulting on The Tree of Life and having edited To The Wonder, Edwards seems to have transformed from resolute disciple to artistic descendant, sponging both formal technique and spiritual inflection to create a film that looks, sounds and feels like the work of Malick, yet stands as something new, fresh and fully formed, if not stylistically original. In development since 2007 and still debuting in the wake of a handful of other recent Lincoln films, The Better Angels breathes refreshing verve into the little known story of Abraham Lincoln’s brief, but formative years spent in Indiana.
Exhaustively researched, young Abe’s story is told with an »
- Jordan M. Smith
Whether it is unabashed idol worship, plagiaristic mimicry or two directors who happen to be cut from the same cerebral cloth, there is absolutely no denying the countless permutations of Terrence Malick's influences permeating every single frame of A.J. Edwards' The Better Angels. Undeniably referential and reverential of Malick -- especially his last three films (The New World, The Tree Of Life, To The Wonder) -- Edwards' impressionistic visual poem captures Abraham Lincoln (Braydon Denney) at around ten years old, as he grows up in rural Illinois. Lincoln's humble upbringing is captured with a moving slideshow of one idyllic image after the next; even young children toiling the land are made to look absolutely glamorous. Photographed by Matthew J. Lloyd with sharp depth of focus and perpetual magic hour lighting, the ever-bedazzling sunlight dances across the images, sublimely showcasing the magical qualities of living a simple existence. The »
- Don Simpson
Movies can be bad for a myriad of reasons. They can be sloppily made, poorly acted, incoherently written, or just offensively stupid. However, I think the biggest sin you can label a film is "boring". I have opted to spend ninety minutes with someone's creation, and if I am not engaged, even in a negative way, that is the biggest failing I think a film can manage. I would much rather a film be aggressive in its badness than to lull me to sleep. It would at least spark some kind of passion in me. Art should bring about a reaction. This brings me to The Better Angels, which is a prime offender of the boring moniker. It is a class one Terrence Malick knock-off devoid of story and had me fighting to stay awake from the first minute. It just goes to show you pretty pictures are not enough. »
- Mike Shutt
Remember when Disney announced that J.J. Abrams would direct Star Wars: Episode VII and all of Twitter lit up with lens flare jokes? (Not me. I made a Felicity joke.) Jacob T. Swinney thinks that (possible) overuse of the camera effect has led to an unfair devaluation of the camera effect. He writes,
Lens flares seem to catch a bad rap. While some are simply a stylistic element (and some are even mistakes), there are plenty of thoughtful and symbolic uses of light scattering through the lens. Here is a compilation showcasing the many different types and uses of lens flares in a variety of films.
To prove that, he has made this compilation of purposeful, thoughtful lens flares throughout cinematic history. Or actually, mostly recent films with a few older ones thrown in for cred. Still, he makes a compelling case. Abrams even makes the list. The supercut is »
- Mily Dunbar
The Better Angels has released a trailer.
Terrence Malick produced the film about the early life of President Abraham Lincoln (via The Playlist).
It charts Lincoln's humble beginnings and his relationship with his parents and, later, his stepmother.
Malick's Knight of Cups and another untitled film are expected in 2015.
The Better Angels will arrive in Us cinemas on November 7. A UK release date is yet to be announced. »
After averaging around one film per decade during his 40-plus-year career, beloved director of ethereal freeform dramas and whispered voice-overs, Terrence Malick, recently decided to increase his productivity by a factor of ten. Previously, he waited between five and 20 years between projects. However, he releases the mostly disappointing “To The Wonder” in 2012, a mere year after his masterwork “The Tree of Life." The Christian Bale-led “Knight of Cups” will presumably hit theaters in 2015, while Malick has another untitled movie cooking too. Two Malick films in the Same year!? Cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria! (And oh, we failed to mention his brewing documentary "Voyage Of Time" too). Along with his newfound directorial speed, Malick has been working hard as a producer recently as well. He has his name attached as producer on five features to be released in 2014 and 2015. In fact, the trailer for “The Better Angels," »
- Oktay Ege Kozak
I am not a fan of Terrence Malick. His lyrical, ponderous style of filmmaking has never been one I have connected with. Well, Malick has lent his art house credentials to the directorial debut of his To The Wonder editor A.J. Edwards, which premiered at Sundance this year. The Better Angels does sport a rather impressive cast, including Jason Clarke, Brit Marling, and Diane Kruger, so that gives me some reason to be interested in it. Today a the official domestic trailer arrives, which you can watch below, and I am unsurprised by how gorgeous the cinematography is, coming from a guy who has worked with Malick several times. As much as I do not like Malick's films, I cannot deny they look phenomenal. The film will be released on November 7th and I will have a review up soon. Personally, I hope Edwards' film is at least a little »
- Mike Shutt
They’re a tricky thing, voiceovers, and arguably no one utilizes them as frequently and as effectively as Terrence Malick. Where many filmmakers deploy them as an expository device, Malick allows voiceovers to deepen his characters’ perspectives through literal and abstract observations. This video essay from Kevin B. Lee and Scott Tobias at the Dissolve analyzes the evolution of voiceovers in Malick’s films, from a young Sissy Spacek and Linda Manz in Badlands and Days of Heaven to the layered choruses of The Tree of Life and To The Wonder. »
- Sarah Salovaara
Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
His use of natural lighting, the gorgeous compositions he creates often on the fly, those long takes. This is what we talk about when we talk about Emmanuel Lubezki, the Mexican cinematographer responsible for such arresting imagery in the films of Terrence Malick (The New World, The Tree of Life, To the Wonder), Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Y tu mamá también, Gravity), the Brothers Coen (Burn After Reading), and Alejandro González Iñárritu (“Anna”, a short in the anthology To Each His Own Cinema). He is the only cinematographer in recent memory, possibly next to Roger Deakins, that pushes the form to its limits and has name recognition for such. The naturalistic beauty of The Tree of Life was nothing compared to the – wait for it – physics-defying work in Gravity. And here he is again, »
- Kyle Turner
Ever since they wrote Good Will Hunting 18 years ago, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have been one of Hollywood's most well-known bromances. But no bromance is complete without some healthy competition, which is why we've gone back through the years since their first Oscar win and looked at their careers. With Samantha Highfill representing Matt Damon in one corner, and Joshua Rivera representing Ben Affleck in the other, here's how the fight breaks down: 1997 Damon: Good Will Hunting Sure, both Damon and Affleck won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, but only one of them was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor, »
- EW staff
Ben Affleck has been tough to miss these past 20 years, and he's not slowing down anytime soon.
Since having early success as a child star in the '80s, Affleck reinvented himself alongside lifelong friend Matt Damon in "Good Will Hunting" (1997), not only starring in the film, but also winning an Oscar as co-screenwriter. After the life-changing experience, the young actor found offers piling in and soon starred in blockbusters like "Armageddon" (1998) and "Daredevil" (2001), just to name a couple. The actor has since found his stride as a director, but this fall, he's back in front of the camera in David Fincher's critically-acclaimed thriller "Gone Girl."
2. His mother was »
- Jonny Black
Russell Crowe finally takes a directorial stab at the wartime period piece with "The Water Diviner," set after the Battle of Gallipoli, an Allied assault on Turkish forces that resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties during World War I. Crowe plays a father who lost his sons in the battle and now must find them. The Aussie epic also stars Olga Kurylenko, who dazzled last year in Malick's befuddling "To the Wonder," and rising heartthrob Jai Courtney of "Divergent." "The Water Diviner" hits Australian theaters on December 26 -- so when will we see this film in the Us? No word yet. »
- Ryan Lattanzio
It might be quite a while before we see some official footage from Zack Snyder's currently shooting Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, so for now check out this fan-made trailer. Zelenks isn't overly ambitious with the choice of footage (there's shots from the likes of To The Wonder, Now You See Me, Batman Begins and, of course, Man Of Steel) used, and that coupled with some very good editing makes for an effective couple of minutes. It would have been nice to see more Wonder Woman, but you can't have everything! Zack Snyder directs Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, which stars Henry Cavill as Superman/Clark Kent, Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, Diane Lane as Ma Kent, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, Ray Fisher as Cyborg and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince. the film hits theaters March 25th, »
Sneak Peek footage from Ben Affleck's past films, plus a trailer from his latest film "Gone Girl", to give you an idea of his ability to play 'Batman' in director Zack Snyder's "Man Of Steel" sequel, "Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice":
Film clips include "Runner Runner", "Argo", "The Town", "To The Wonder", "The Company Men", "Hollywoodland", "State Of Play", "He's Just Not That Into You", "Smokin' Aces", "Gigli", "The Third Wheel" and "Daredevil".
Click the images to enlarge and Sneak Peek Ben Affleck...
- Michael Stevens
Olga Kurylenko is becoming more than just a name to watch for. She is one hell of a good actress that also happens to be utterly gorgeous. She gave a stunning performance recently in Terrence Malick’s drama To The Wonder, and she was absolutely incredible in Neil Marshall’s Centurion. In her latest, The November Man, she stars opposite Pierce Brosnan and adds a ton of charm to her character Alice. Sitting across from Ms. Kurylenko is more than simply a pleasant »
Before Gal Gadot landed the coveted role of Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, two other names were in contention for the part – French actress Elodie Yung (G.I. Joe: Retaliation), and Ukranian actress and former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace, Oblivion).
For the first time, Kurylenko has spoken up about losing out on playing the iconic heroine, in an interview with Desde Hollywood at the red carpet premiere of The November Man. When asked for her thoughts, Kurylenko said:
“If I could have been [Wonder Woman]? Well, because, everyone was saying that it was a possibility. It did cross my mind. But it’s fine, you know. There are many other roles. I am very happy for the girl that’s got the part. I am looking forward to seeing it.”
A pretty gracious response for someone who lost an iconic role to someone with considerably less exeprience. »
- James Garcia
Of course we know that Fast And Furious actress Gal Gadot ultimately ended up with the role, but back when rumors were flying around left right and center as to who would play Wonder Woman in Batman V Superman, the far more experienced Olga Kurylenko was also on the shortlist (along with Elodie Yung). Kurylenko had previously starred in the likes of Hitman, To The Wonder, Centurion and most recently Oblivion alongside Tom Cruise, and seemed to be the fan-favorite for the role out of the actresses mentioned. When DesdeHollywood asked her about it, the Ukrainian beauty says it did "cross her mind", but that she's happy for Gadot, and looking forward to the movie. "If I could have been [Wonder Woman]..well, because, everyone was saying that it was a possibility. It did cross my mind. But it’s fine, you know. There are many other roles. I am very happy »
Damon Lindelof’s latest TV effort, The Leftovers on HBO (co-created by and adapted from the novel by Tom Perrotta) just hit the halfway mark through its first season on Sunday, and it’s easily the best new show to premiere this summer. This comes with two disclosures: 1. Summers are usually treated more like draughts than harvesting season for TV networks so 2. The competition is usually (and specifically this year) lackluster. For example, this year you have AMC’s disappointingly tone-deaf Halt and Catch Fire, while on FX you have Guillermo Del Toro’s The Strain struggling to decide if it’s good-bad or just bad-bad. Despite a lightweight competition, The Leftovers still holds its title of best new Summer show, a title that is earned despite the show winning it by default.
After each episode I look to recaps across the internet to further the discussion and interpretation of the show, »
- Dylan Griffin
Early Tuesday morning, the Toronto International Film Festival will announce its initial wave of films for the 2014 edition of the festival. As usual, there will be a slew of films that have played at either Cannes or Sundance, a number of star-filled projects looking for distribution, some broader studio films that may or may not be awards season fodder and then, of course, the potential Oscar players. Toronto has long had to juggle landing the best premieres with Venice, but more recently has found their thunder stolen by a little festival in Colorado that actually has Academy members in attendance: Telluride. Tiff has reportedly threatened less-prestigious galas or slots after Wednesday (gasp! not after Wednesday!), but for the most part, Hollywood's studios seem to have taken it all with a collective yawn. Toronto is important, yes. What's best for each individual film's release and publicity campaign is slightly more important. »
- Gregory Ellwood
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