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 MonĂ¡e.   

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.







Friday, February 24, 2017

The Hollywood Reporters Roundtable: It's still very much a mans world.

Are you up for one more roundtable before the Oscars telecast this Sunday? THR’s directors roundtable features three of this year’s Oscar-nominated directors: Damiene Chazelle (La La Land), Mel Gibson, in a bit of a comeback for Hacksaw Ridge and Barry Jenkins for Moonlight. We also have Denzel Washington who both stars in and directed Fences, Oliver Stone (Snowden), and Mira Nair (Queen of Katwe), the sole woman. A painful reminder of women’s under-representation, this year women make up just 7% of directors, down 2% from last year. *

I would have loved to have heard from Best Director noms Denis Villeneuve for Arrival and Kenneth Lonergan for Manchester by the Sea, both being two of my personal faves of the year.



*According to a Women in Film/SDSU study: Women accounted for 7% of directors, down 2 percentage points from 9% in 2015 and 1998. Last year, 92% of films had no female directors. In other roles, women comprised 13% of writers, 17% of executive producers, 24% of producers, 17% of editors, and 5% of cinematographers.

Last year I went through the list of upcoming movies based on books and told you which ones were directed by women. Queen of Katwe directed by Mira Nair was on that list. Would you be interested in my doing that again this year? 
Are you looking for ways to be more supportive of women in film?


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Pop Goes the Oscar! Alternative posters for the Oscar Nominated Films



I found this alternative look at the Oscar nominated movies for Best Picture over at IndieWire so arresting I had to share it. Marking the 30th anniversary of Andy Warhol’s death, the designers at Shutterstock re-imagined the posters as part of their annual Oscar Pop! poster series. 

“Moonlight” (Artist Inspiration: Peter Blake)
“The film is split into three chapters in Chiron’s life, so I incorporated Peter Blake’s use of grids, as well as simplified imagery, to represent the forces that shaped his life.” — Kate Crotty.
Manchester by the Sea (Artist Inspiration: Ed Ruscha)
“The two Ruscha-like drawings represent Manchester by the Sea’s multiple timelines —the top illustrates the foreshadowing of the film’s climax and the lower portion reflects the quiet heartbreak of its aftermath.” — Eric Sams
Lion (Artist Inspiration: Bruce Gray)
“[The film’s] sense of chaos and fragmentation reminded me of Bruce Gray’s work. I matched the segmented circles from Gray’s paintings with a key element from Lion, the Jalebi, an Indian dessert that triggered memories of home for Saroo.” — Flo Lau
La La Land (Artist Inspiration: Eduardo Paolozzi)
“I felt the colorful collage work of Eduardo Paolozzi matched this feeling of old and
new. Just like the film, his work has a feeling of energy and fantasy with serious undertones.” — Abbey Katz
Hidden Figures (Artist Inspiration: Idelle Weber)
“[The film] made me think of another woman in the 1960s whose work went unrecognized because of discrimination – the artist Idelle Weber. I used her signature silhouette style to frame the characters in the film.” — Alice Li
Hell or High Water (Artist Inspiration: Robert Rauschenberg)
“Like Robert Rauschenberg’s“ combines,” the film has a strong undercurrent of political references and often makes unexpected comparisons between the socio-political climate of the past and present.” — Michael Wong
Hacksaw Ridge (Artist Inspiration: Richard Hamilton)
“Inspired by Richard Hamilton’s style, I gave each piece a cutout aesthetic and substituted the real soldiers for toys.” — Brandon Lee
Fences (Artist Inspiration: Andy Warhol)
“Watching ‘Fences,’ I was struck by the frequent presence of a tethered baseball; it seemed to act as a symbol for unfulfilled dreams and stunted potential. I recreated it in the style of Andy Warhol’s gun series. That series was a commentary on culture and mortality, which seemed like a good fit for this poignant film.” — Terrence Morash
Arrival (Artist Inspiration: Roy Lichtenstein)
“I love Lichtenstein’s comic style and bold colors, and I used it to bring a totally different perspective to ‘Arrival’ by adding a sense of fun. I made Amy Adams’ character into one of Lichtenstein’s heroines, trying to make sense of her extraordinary situation.” — Alice Lee

I’d love to see posters for Hollywood movies take on a more artistic stance. Wouldn’t you?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Will 12 time Costume Design Nominee Colleen Atwood win Oscar #4 for Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them?




She has been nominated a dozen times, including 2015’s Into the Woods which we covered extensively here. She’s won three times: for Alice in Wonderland, Memoirs of a Geisha and Chicago. This year she designed the costumes for two big splashy period fantasy films, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them. We took an extensive look at the costumes of Miss Peregrine’s Home earlier this year here and the birdlike clothes of Miss Peregrine, in particular—played by Eva Green—here. But it’s the latter for which she’s been nominated this year. 

Atwood spoke with IndieWire about her work on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them based on the Potteresque book by J.K. Rowling.
“New York was all about diversity, and [director] David Yates wanted [to express that]. There were people new to New York and there were people that had been there for a generation — and it was an open-minded time.” 
Speaking of Scamander, when it came to designing his costume, Atwood conjured an ill-fitting suit and a turquoise coat. “The color has the vibe of some of his fantastical creatures,” she said. “But also the shape wasn’t too big so Eddie could move around quickly from sitting to standing still. So I designed it a little shorter and made it longer in the back.” 
However, for Colin Farrell’s Percival Graves, president of the Magical Congress, Atwood studied footage of the legendary New York mayor, Jimmy Walker. “He was kind of my poster child for the character,” she added. “I thought it was an interesting take on the period and he was quite a dresser. He always looked smart and on the edge of style. He has a dark, flashier suit than the rest, and I gave him a coat that really pushed the period. It looks like Jimmy Walker meets Joan Crawford.” 
Kowalski, by contrast, was dressed very humbly. When he goes to the bank for a loan, he wears a suit that was borrowed from a couple of friends. “He doesn’t have a coat and that makes him look vulnerable, and his clothes have little mends and patches on them that you don’t see, so he had a ’20s comic look,” Atwood said.

Will Atwood take home the gold for the fourth time or will the prize go to one of Atwood’s fellow nominees?
ALLIED
Joanna Johnston
FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS
Consolata Boyle
JACKIE
Madeline Fontaine
LA LA LAND
Mary Zophres
It’s probably worth noting that at the Costume Designers Guild, where they break the categories down into contemporary, period and fantasy film, and where Colleen Atwood was nominated for both films in the fantasy catagory, Alexandre Byrne won for Doctor Strange. The other nominees were Kubo and the Two Strings, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.


In the CDG’s contemporary category, LaLa Land won where it was up against Absolutely Fabulous: The MovieCaptain Fantastic, Lion and Nocturnal Animals.

In the period film category Hidden Figures, not even among the Academy Award nominees, took home the prize. The competition included two of this year’s Oscar contenders Jackie and Florence Foster Jenkins, along with The Dressmaker and Hail, Caesar! 




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