Tag: film

Bob Dylan: Young at Heart

Tuesday, 24 May, 2016 0 Comments

The greatest singer-songwriter of the past half century is 75 years old today. A generation ago, Bob Dylan sang that The Times They Are A-Changin, but he appears to be Forever Young after a lifetime in the music business. He’s just released a new album, Fallen Angels, and he’s planning an extensive summer tour which kicks off in June.

Back in 1953. Johnny Richards wrote the music and Carolyn Leigh penned the lyrics for the song that’s the opening track on Fallen Angels. Frank Sinatra was the first singer to record Young at Heart and it was such a hit that a film he was making at the time with Doris Day was renamed after the song. The sentiments are fitting today:

“And if you should survive to a hundred and five
Look at all you’ll derive out of bein’ alive
And here is the best part, you have a head start
If you are among the very young at heart

Don’t you know that it’s worth
Every treasure on earth to be young at heart
For as rich as you are
It’s much better by far to be young at heart.”

Bob Dylan

Happy Birthday, Bob. Onward to “a hundred and five”!


Pelé in Tribeca

Friday, 22 April, 2016 0 Comments

Highlight of tomorrow’s Tribeca Film Festival will be the screening of Pelé: Birth of a Legend, a biopic about the rise of the great footballer, who led Brazil to three World Cup wins. It is written and directed by Jeff and Michael Zimbalist, who made The Two Escobars, a superb film about the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar and the Colombian footballer Andres Escobar. Jeff Zimblast also co-directed Favela Rising, which focuses on the work of Anderson Sá, a former drug trafficker who established the AfroReggae movement in one of Rio de Janeiro’s worst slums, Vigario Geral.


Dilma & Hillary, Thelma & Louise

Friday, 22 April, 2016 0 Comments

Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-in-Chief of the Economist, is offering readers two covers this week. Latin America gets “The great betrayal,” which is about the economic crisis in Brazil and the upcoming impeachment of its president, Dilma Rousseff. The country is in a state of despair as it fights its worst recession since the 1930s, and the real should stop at Ms Rousseff’s desk, but the Economist is magnanimous: “The failure is not only of Ms Rousseff’s making. The entire political class has let the country down through a mix of negligence and corruption.”

For the rest of the world, the Economist cover features Hillary Clinton. “Could she fix it?” America, that is. It’s a lukewarm leader, peppered with reservations such as “Mrs Clinton’s solutions too often seem feeble,” and “her policies are fiddly.” As she rolls up her sleeves to retune the USA’s rusty engine, the lack of enthusiasm is startling: “Yet, rather than thrilling to the promise of taking the White House or of electing America’s first woman president, many Democrats seem joyless.”

The Economist Latin America The Economist Clinton

It’s been 25 years since Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis hit the highway in Thelma & Louise, Ridley Scott’s road movie that put women in the driver’s seat, finally. The film kept them at the wheel all the way to the vivid end as they flew into the blue yonder above the Grand Canyon in a green Thunderbird convertible. In Paste Monthly, Amanda Schurr remains transformed by it all. Snippet:

“… their flight from Oklahoma to Mexico is urgent, telling and inimitably American. Leave it to Ridley Scott, taking visual inspiration from Terrence Malick’s Badlands, and the sweeping flyovers of fellow Brit cinematographer Adrian Biddle to capture the promise and danger of the scorched West — the film was shot largely in California and Utah, and it’s never looked more stunning, nor strangely unsentimental and unforgiving.”

A bit like the electorates in Brazil and the USA, “unsentimental and unforgiving.”


Oscar ex machina

Monday, 29 February, 2016 0 Comments

Congratulations to the Ex Machina team for bagging the 2016 Oscar for Best Visual Effects. A relatively low-key film about AI (Artificial Intelligence), it was overshadowed at the Academy Awards by Star Wars, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, and The Revenant, but the bigger budgets and more spectacular visuals of the more famous names came up short.

The cliché rules when it comes to AI, so we should be grateful that Alex Garland’s film is more imaginative and less lazy about the subject. In the movie, Google becomes Bluebook, a nod to Wittgenstein’s notes on language games. Bluebook was founded by a tech genius called Nathan (Oscar Isaac), who retreats from Silicon Valley to create Ava (Alicia Vikander), a consciously erotic humanoid robot. The drama begins when Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), a young Bluebook programmer, arrives after having won a company lottery, and it’s his job to subject Ava to the Turing test. Thanks to the hot London visual effects company, Double Negative, Garland’s humanoids are irresistible and it’s only a matter of time before love and hate and murder are in the air. But there’s humour, too. This is one of our favourite scenes.

Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander was superb in Ex Machina and her acting was rewarded last night when she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Tom Hooper’s transgender drama The Danish Girl.


Werner Herzog’s Reveries Of The Connected World

Thursday, 21 January, 2016 0 Comments

Born in Munich in 1942, amid falling Allied bombs, Werner Stipetić was taken for safety by his mother to the remote Bavarian village of Sachrang in the Alps. They moved back to Munich in 1954 and Werner adopted his absconded father’s surname Herzog (German for “duke”), which he felt sounded more impressive for a would-be filmmaker.

Today, Werner Herzog is considered one of the great figures of the New German Cinema, along with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Wim Wenders, Volker Schlöndorff and Margarethe von Trotta. In 1996, he moved to Los Angeles, where he lives with the photographer Elena Pisetski, now Lena Herzog.

At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, which kicks off today beneath the snow-capped mountains of Park City in Utah, Herzog’s latest work, Lo And Behold: Reveries of the Connected World, will be premeiered.

Blurb: “Society depends on the Internet for nearly everything but rarely do we step back and recognize its endless intricacies and unsettling omnipotence. From the brilliant mind of Werner Herzog comes his newest vehicle for exploration, a playful yet chilling examination of our rapidly interconnecting online lives.

Herzog documents a treasure trove of interviews of strange and beguiling individuals — ranging from Internet pioneers to victims of wireless radiation, whose anecdotes and reflections weave together a complex portrait of our brave new world. Herzog describes the Internet as ‘one of the biggest revolutions we as humans are experiencing,’ and yet he tempers this enthusiasm with horror stories from victims of online harassment and Internet addiction.

For all of its detailed analysis, this documentary also wrestles with profound and intangible questions regarding the Internet’s future. Will it dream, as humans do, of its own existence? Can it discover the fundamentals of morality, or perhaps one day understand the meaning of love? Or will it soon cause us — if it hasn’t already — more harm than good?”


And the Oscar goes to…

Thursday, 7 January, 2016 0 Comments

… the landscape. Sorry, Leonardo DiCaprio, your performance is compelling, but there’s more to acting than being attacked by a bear. The Revenant is a feast for the eyes, but not so much for the ears. The score by Ryuichi Sakamoto, in collaboration with Bryce Dessner and Alva Noto, is appropriately chilling but it lacks all traces of humanity. The other pain-in-the-ear is the accent of the dastard John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). “I’m talkin’ to you,” he says in one scene, and it’s about the only understandable thing he utters and mutters throughout. Dave Schilling in the Guardian nails it:

“Fitzgerald is supposed to be from the south or some other rural area and has plans to go back to Texas to re-enlist in the army once he receives a fat payday. This affords Hardy the chance to sink his teeth into yet another dialect and boy, does he chew away at that thing. Again, Hardy’s accent seems to ride in and out on the wind, appearing when necessary and getting usurped by a generic, Star Trek: Nemesis-esque growl when he can get away with it.”

With The Revenant, director Alejandro G. Iñárritu has made a unique visual statement about survival in the face of almost impossible odds and viewers are treated to some memorable graphic moments, but the film has no soul. Worse, it is littered with the inevitable PC sops that must be offered these days to the “victims” of history, but they are too clumsy and transparent to be anything but cliché. When the dust settles after the 88th Academy Awards ceremony on 28 February at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, The Revenant will be remembered mostly for reviving a 19th century word for someone who returns from a long absence. The noun comes from the French revenant, the present participle of the verb revenir (“to return”).

Prediction: The Revenant will win an Oscar: Best Cinematography for the magnificent camerawork of Emmanuel Lubezki. He creates a truly imposing wild West from a variety of scenes shot in Canada, Argentina and the United States.


Film of the Year

Sunday, 20 December, 2015 0 Comments

On the outer edge of desolate Highland battlefield, a trio of witches predict that the Thane of Glamis will one day become the King of Scotland. Inspired by their prophecy and goaded into action by his wife, Macbeth murders the monarch and takes the crown for himself. What follows is classic Shakespearean tragedy.

This year’s screen adaptation by Australian filmmaker Justin Kurzel of the 400-year-old work wins the Rainy Day Film of the Year award. Kurzel’s interpretation revolves around a pair of truly powerful performances by Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. Her fair is an ideal match for his foul and the film captures perfectly their intimate treachery as they plot to take the throne and keep it.

Justin Kurzel is equally good at depicting the psychological consequences of their crimes. When Macbeth confesses to his wife, after the murder of King Duncan, that his mind is “full of scorpions,” one can empathize with the director’s theory that this Macbeth is suffering from some kind of post-traumatic stress disorder. Were those witches a hallucination? What about the fact that he can’t get any sleep? When he begins to talk to Banquo’s ghost, Lady Macbeth tries to calm the frightened nobles at the feast: Don’t worry. He’s had these turns before, she says. It doesn’t work, though, and the guests depart.

Macbeth is about power and the evil that people will do to get it, keep it and bequeath it. But all the cruelty of Mr and Mrs Macbeth begs a critical question: What’s the point in brutally grabbing a crown if you’re going to lose it within a generation? Tragedy.

Macbeth

Tomorrow, here, the Rainy Day Post of the Year award.


Printing, not plastics, young person

Tuesday, 8 December, 2015 0 Comments

This is a post about Industry 4.0, the next Industrial Revolution, in which everything from toasters to thermostats will be connected to the internet. But first, The Graduate, a 1967 film directed by Mike Nichols that tells the story of Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), an aimless young graduate, who is seduced by an older woman, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), and then falls in love with her daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross). With its air of rebellion and a soundtrack by Simon & Garfunkel, The Graduate captured the counter-culture of the Sixties and is now regarded as a classic. At one point, during a party, this exchange takes place between Benjamin and Mr. McGuire, a businessman, who embodies mainstream society:

Mr. McGuire: “I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.”
Benjamin: “Yes, sir.”
Mr. McGuire: “Are you listening?”
Benjamin: “Yes, I am.”
Mr. McGuire: “Plastics.”
Benjamin: “Exactly how do you mean?”
Mr. McGuire: “There’s a great future in plastics.”

Now, back to Industry 4.0. For Jaime Marijuán Castro, a consultant in the electronics industry, printing is the new plastics. More precisely, 3D printing. In a recent post for IBM’s Insights on Business blog, he placed a wager on 3D scanning and printing:

“This is my favorite and the one I am betting on. It is going to radically change the way products are built and marketed. Imagine 3D print vending machines at your nearby convenience store you can use to produce your own designs in a matter of minutes, or the ability to provide remote maintenance services and delivering a replacement part without shipping it. Some factories are already producing plastic parts with 3D printers but I still think this technology is slow and very limited. It will not reach economic viability before the next 10 years. Modularity, interoperability, virtualization and service orientation are brought in by the 3D tech and — like the autonomous vehicle — you don’t want to be the last exploring its potential.”

Is it a bet worth making? Right on cue, Fortune is reporting that a patent application submitted by Apple shows the company is thinking about 3D printing. Make of note of it. It might be the new plastics.


Porto

Saturday, 8 August, 2015 0 Comments

“After walking camino in spain , i went to porto for having a break time in portugal. And then, i fell in love with its scenery, people, colors and so on. I decided to capture its beauty and stay more than i expected.” So writes Lee Hang Gab, a South Korean film/design artist with an eye for beauty and an ability to capture it.


Dissolved

Thursday, 9 July, 2015 0 Comments

“The film almost completely falls apart in a second half in which Reese and Sarah have to run through 2017 San Francisco to stop the launch of Genisys, an operating system designed to link everyone’s information and devices to a single, powerful system. (In a line that typifies Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier’s clunker-filled script, one character refers to it as “the ultimate killer app.” Heh.)”

A snippet there from a review of Terminator Genisys by Keith Phipps that appeared in The Dissolve on 30 June. Yesterday, it fell to the lot of Phipps to announce, out of the blue, the dissolve of The Dissolve: “For the past two years — well, two years this Friday — it’s been our pleasure to put up this site, a site founded on and driven by a love for movies, alongside a company with passion and talent for creating thoughtful, important work. Sadly, because of the various challenges inherent in launching a freestanding website in a crowded publishing environment, financial and otherwise, today is the last day we will be doing that.”

This is dispiriting as the critiques were superb. The list of Dissolve reviews is lengthy and each showcases fine writing and informed opinion so let’s hope that the archive will be preserved. The Terminator trundles on and on into an embarrassing future, but The Dissolve, unhappily, is no more:

“Terminator Genisys then becomes as loud as it is tedious, and cutesy touches like J.K. Simmons’ essentially pointless appearance as a drunk cop who believes in time travel don’t help. A montage in which Sarah, Reese, and Pops get arrested, set to Inner Circle’s ‘Bad Boys,’ made famous as the theme to Cops, plays like the series finding its nadir. Or, more accurately, the nadir of the nadir. Unavoidably, Genisys has Schwarzenegger’s T-800 promise ‘I’ll be back.’ Fine. But it’s probably time to shut down the lurching, brainless machine this franchise has become.”

The End


The fish story at 40

Tuesday, 23 June, 2015 0 Comments

The film didn’t have a website, a Twitter feed, a Facebook page or trailers on YouTube. What it did have was a budget of $7 million and Steven Spielberg as its director. Since its premiere in June 1975, Jaws has earned $470 million and, for better or worse, it established the summer blockbuster trend. This was Spielberg’s second feature film and it could have ended the 27-year-old’s career, but his clever use of fear (we’re vulnerable when we leave dry land) and terror (we’re more scared of what we can’t see than what we can) thrilled people into queuing around the block all summer long 40 years ago.

Spielberg was aided by Peter Benchley, who wrote the novel, John Williams, who scored the anxiety-inducing music, and, especially, Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfus, who played their roles to perfection.

Jaws