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Tag: movie

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.


Current reading: I Am Pilgrim

Friday, 21 August, 2015 1 Comment

With Mad Max 2, Payback, Cliffhanger and Dead Calm among his credits, the Australian screenwriter Terry Hayes could rest on his laurels, but he’s not content with being put out to grass. I am Pilgrim I Am Pilgrim is his debut novel and it is an exceptionally fine thriller. The moving parts include a flawed hero in the form of a US intelligence agent codenamed The Pilgrim, working for a shadowy outfit called The Division, and a jihadi Saudi doctor codenamed The Saracen, who has created a smallpox variant with which he hopes to destroy the “far enemy”, namely the USA.

The action races from Manhattan to Moscow to London, the Hindu Kush, Bodrum and a Nazi death camp in Alsace. And that’s just a half dozen of the global settings. In between, Hayes peppers the story with wry observations about humanity, its habitats and its foibles. In an attempt to extract confidential customer records from an especially reptilian Swiss banker, the Pilgrim takes the man’s daughter hostage and threatens the worst. The banker is forced to choose between finance and family. This prompts the following observation:

“People say love is weak, but they’re wrong: love is strong. In nearly everyone it trumps all other things — patriotism and ambition, religion and upbringing. And of every kind of love — the epic and the small, the noble and the base — the one that a parent has for their child is the greatest of them all. That was the lesson I learned that day, and I’ll be forever grateful I did.”

I Am Pilgrim is a cut above the ordinary so it’s not surprising that MGM bought the rights and are said to be plotting a series of films, similar to the Bourne franchise.


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


Waiting for Blade Runner

Monday, 6 April, 2015 0 Comments

First, the bad news: The Blade Runner sequel won’t start filming until summer… that’s next year. Now, the good news: Harrison Ford will be reprising his role as Rick Deckard, and Ridley Scott, who directed the science fiction classic, will return as Executive Producer. Released in 1982, Blade Runner was critically-acclaimed for its cinematography, special effects, scoring and dystopian vision. The dialogue sizzled, too. Here’s Deckard interrogating Rachael, a NEXUS-6 model replicant, played by Sean Young:

Deckard: “You’re reading a magazine. You come across a full-page nude photo of a girl.”
Rachael: “Is this testing whether I’m a replicant or a lesbian, Mr. Deckard?”
Deckard: “Just answer the questions, please. You show it to your husband. He likes it so much he hangs it on your bedroom wall.”
Rachael: “I wouldn’t let him.”
Deckard: “Why not?”
Rachael: “I should be enough for him.”
Deckard: “One more question. You’re watching a stage play. A banquet is in progress. The guests are enjoying an appetizer of raw oysters. The entree consists of boiled dog.”

While we bide our time until the sequel is released, here’s Blade Runner Reality, an Instagram site crafted by Ryan Allen that’s “Dedicated to finding reality that looks like #BladeRunner.” The images come with appropriate dialogue: “That gibberish he talked was city-speak, guttertalk, a mishmash of Japanese, Spanish, German, what have you.”

Blade Runner