Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Handmaid's Tale featurette: "Better never means better for everyone."


After last night’s performance by the president in his address to congress, with talking heads giving him kudos for sounding reasonable while he works to defund Planned Parenthood and readies to re-issue a travel ban, this mini featurette The Handmaid’s Tale seems fitting. 




“Adapted from the classic novel by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale is the story of life in the dystopia of Gilead, a totalitarian society in what was formerly the United States. Facing environmental disasters and a plunging birthrate, Gilead is ruled by a twisted fundamentalism in its militarized 'return to traditional values.' As one of the few remaining fertile women, Offred (Elisabeth Moss) is a Handmaid in the Commander's household, one of the caste of women forced into sexual servitude as a last desperate attempt to repopulate the world. In this terrifying society, Offred must navigate between Commanders, their cruel Wives, domestic Marthas, and her fellow Handmaids – where anyone could be a spy for Gilead – all with one goal: to survive and find the daughter that was taken from her.’’

 The Handmaid’s Tale comes to Hulu on Wednesday, April 26th.

Interested in supporting Women in Film? 
The first three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale are helmed by one of those rare female directors, Reed Morano. 
Morano also directed the pilot episode of Divorce starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Haden Church and Molly Shannon, also well worth watching.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

From Nothing Comes a King: With a little help from Led Zeppelin


Somewhere during the past week, a new trailer for King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was released. The film stars Charlie Hunnam as King Arthur with Jude Law as Vortigern and Djimon Hounsou as Sir Bedivere.

Directed by Guy Ritchie, the film is a fresh, stylized, battle-heavy, bloody take on the story of the sword in the stone, more than helped along by Led Zeppelin’s “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”.  It’s an exciting addition as the driving force of the trailer, hard to tell whether that same sensibility will be at play in the entire film. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is set for release on May 12.

Here’s the official synopsis from Warner Brothers
“When the child Arthur’s father is murdered, Vortigern (Jude Law), Arthur’s uncle, seizes the crown. Robbed of his birthright and with no idea who he truly is, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, his life is turned upside down and he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy…whether he likes it or not.”



Great-looking and arresting visually but based on this trailer, a little too violent for me. Will you be watching?

Charlie Hunnam also headlines the upcoming The Lost City of Z  and the remake of the Dustin Hoffman, Steve McQueen classic Papillon. That’s one I’m eager to see.

Books Coming to a Screen in 2017

Monday, February 27, 2017

OSCARS 2017 And the winner is La La Land, er ... Moonlight?


What a night! Jimmy Kimmel was funny throughout, giving us the best Oscar night in ages.  And then those final moments when chaos reigned supreme. 

For one brief shining moment La La Land was the winner and suddenly it was over, declared fake news and Moonlight came up to bite it in the butt. A not unexpected outcome EXCEPT in the way that it happened. 

Ryan Gosling wasn’t the least bit perturbed, finding the whole mess up resoundingly funny. 

The wrong card was passed out, but how could that happen? The conspiracy theories began before the cameras clicked away. As I tweeted jokingly last night ...



For me the fiasco cements my wacky idea that the Oscars should be one big celebration of the top 5 or 10 films of the year. I know that can’t happen because we live in way too competitive a world but I’d still love to see an evening like that.

One of my favorite gifs from the night was this one below with Jimmy Kimmel and Warren Beatty both trying to explain what happened, the La La Land producer shaking his head while in the background we see Ryan Gosling striding across the stage, applauding, heading over to congratulate the Moonlight cast, with Emma Stone following.



And this one, showing the shock and happy disbelief on the faces of Moonlight directer Barry Jenkins and producer Adele Romanski.


That being said ... here's the complete list of winners. The winners are in bold type.

BEST PICTURE
Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight
BEST ACTRESS
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
BEST ACTOR
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences
BEST DIRECTOR
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Arrival
Fences
Hidden Figures
Lion
Moonlight
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Hell or High Water
La La Land
The Lobster
Manchester by the Sea
20th Century Women
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” La La Land
“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Trolls
“City of Stars,” La La Land
“The Empty Chair,” Jim: The James Foley Story
“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Jackie
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Passengers
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Arrival
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Silence
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
Ennemis Entreniers
La Femme et le TGV
Silent Nights
Sing
Timecode
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
Extremis
4.1 Miles
Joe's Violin
Watani: My Homeland
The White Helmets
BEST FILM EDITING
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Moonlight
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Arrival
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hail, Caesar!
La La Land
Passengers
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle
Zootopia
BEST ANIMATED SHORT
Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider and Cigarettes
Pearl
Piper
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Land of Mine
A Man Called Ove
The Salesman
Tanna
Toni Erdmann
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
BEST SOUND MIXING
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
BEST SOUND EDITING
Arrival
Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Sully
BEST DOCUMENTARY
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life, Animated
O.J.: Made in America
13th
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Allied
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
Jackie
La La Land
BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
A Man Called Ove
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel, Lion
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Why I'll be Watching the Oscars: The Female Nominees—22 Women in Film Who Persisted

I won’t be participating in the #OscarsSoMale boycott. I will be watching and honoring the women that are nominated. In the non-acting category (and excluding documentaries) there are just twenty two women nominated for Oscars this year. Twenty two women who, like the real life characters in Hidden Figures, work in a male-dominated industry, twenty two women who are far outnumbered by their male counterparts, twenty two women who persisted, twenty two women who rise.

Because hiring choices begin at the top, at the producer level, let’s start there. It is the producers who get to go onstage, take the mic and make the speech when the Best Picture winner is announced.


Carla Hacken & Julie Yorn 

Hell or High Water: Best Motion Picture of the Year (producers)

Donna Gigliotti

Hidden Figures: Best Motion Picture of the Year 
 (With Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, Pharrell Williams and Theodore Melfi, Producers)

Angie Fielder

Lion: Best Motion Picture of the Year 
(With Emile Sherman and Iain Canning, Producers)

Lauren Beck & Kimberly Steward  

Manchester by The Sea: Best Motion Picture of the Year
(With Matt Damon, Chris Moore and Kevin J. Walsh, Producers)


Dede Gardner & Adele Romanski 

Moonlight: Best Motion Picture of the Year
(with Jeremy Kleiner, Producers)


Allison Schroeder

Hidden FiguresBest Adapted Screenplay 
[Shared with Theodore Melfi] 



Joi McMillion

Moonlight: Best Achievement in Film Editing
Moonlight 
[Shared with Nat Sanders]

Mica

Jackie: Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)


Mildred Iatrou Morgan & Aing Lee

La La Land: Best Achievement in Sound Editing


Aing Lee

La La Land: Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
[Shared with Andy Nelson & Steven Morrow]

 Arianne Sutner


Kubo and the Two Strings: Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
[Shared with Travis Knight]



While Set Decorators do not receive their nominations separately but are recognized as being key partners within the Production Design team, these are the female Set Decorators nominated this year.

Anna Pinnock

Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them: Best Achievement in Production Design as Set Decorator
Stuart Craig (production design) 


Nancy Haigh (with Gonchor)

Hail Caesar: Best Achievement in Production Design as Set Decorator
Jess Gonchor (production design) 


Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

La La Land: Best Achievement in Production Design as Set Decorator
David Wasco (production design) 




This year the Costume Design Category—while always a female dominated category—is entirely made up of women nominees.

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Joanna Johnston

ALLIED


Colleen Atwood


FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Consolata Boyle

FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS

Madeline Fontaine

JACKIE

Mary Zophres

LA LA LAND

Congratulations to all the nominees, especially the twenty two women but also the many, many men. I am old enough to know you’re not all sexist pigs. Most of you, in fact, are not. But while you may not deliberately hurt the progress of women, a lot of you guys don’t speak up, don’t help. I’m in favor of an unofficial affirmative action plan—you must think beyond your box. We know Hollywood is an industry where friends hire friends, people they are comfortable working with. It’s time to get comfortable with working with women though, don’t you think? So that your daughters, your wives, your sisters, your women friends, your female classmates all get the same chance you and your bros do.

I am old enough to have marched for Equal Rights back in the 1970’s. Yes, we’ve come a long way baby, but obviously, not far enough. 

If you really want to support women in film, rather than boycott a tv show, I suggest you do so with your time and your pocketbook. You can start by checking out films directed by women. 

For my part, I hope you’ll check out the list of this year’s upcoming movies based on books. I’ve placed an * next to the films directed by women. It’s a start.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Hidden Figures starring Taraji P. Henson: My take on the movie

updated: 2/25/2017
With the Oscars fast approaching, I wanted to repost my take on Hidden Figures, one of the films that has a real chance of winning the top spot. While it didn't sweep me off my feet like La La Land did, I loved this movie. 

Hidden Figures had the honor of shoving Rogue One off of the number one spot on its’ opening weekend. I suspect it’s doing so well because it’s such a good picture. Based on the true story of three black women who worked at NASA in Virginia during the space war with Russia in the 1960’s, Hidden Figures stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe.   

When the NASA director Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) is frustrated that Russia is winning the space race he calls for a hunt to find someone who can do the more complicated math the mission needs. 



Enter Katherine Johnson, the pivotal role played by Taraji P. Henson. Johnson was a mathematical genius so advanced that she graduated from college at age 18. Johnson is one of the black women at NASA who do most of the mathematical calculations in the West Bldg, where the “colored’’ women work. Octavia Spencer is the supervisor—doing the work without the title or the extra money a supervisor is supposed to earn—who recommends Johnson for the mission. And it turns out Johnson is the only one who can do the critical math where all the white mathematicians, mostly men, have failed. 



It would be unbelievable except that it’s not, it’s all real. Getting recognition for her skills from her white colleagues isn’t easy in an era where segregation is still the order of the day. When schools and libraries, lunch counters, drinking fountains and bathrooms are still segregated. 

Luckily Harrison sees her worth. At NASA there is no “colored bathroom’’ in the building where Katherine now works so she has to run a half mile back to the “colored building’’ just to pee. When Costner, who, along with John Glenn, comes off as one of the few open-minded, non-racist people at NASA, barks because he’s frustrated at the length of Johnson’s breaks, Henson delivers one of the most powerful speeches in the film, an emotional and angry response to the racism she lives with on a daily basis. In response, Harrison goes on a tirade tearing down the racial barriers. Another powerful and moving moment.

The film is at once both funny and moving, illuminating and inspiring, as Johnson and her two closest friends go on to break down color barriers in their respective areas of expertise. Octavia Spencer’s real life equivalent (Dorothy Vaughan) masters computer code and goes on to supervise not just a “colored’’ section in the computer department but an integrated group of both black and white women. Their friend and colleague Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) is the first black woman not only to attend an all white school, but to achieve an advanced engineering degree. None of these achievements came overnight or easily.

The cast includes Mahershala Ali as Johnson’s love interest, Jim Parsons and Kirsten Dunst take on the more thankless roles of whites not exactly eagerly embracing their black colleagues. Glen Powell portrays the handsome and heroic John Glenn.

Here’s the trailer. Based on Margot Lee Shatterly’s biography of the same name, Hidden Figures is in theatres now. It’s definitely a go see.







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