Daniel Radcliffe on Swiss Army Man: 'People fixate on the farting'

From a recent The Guardian interview"

"You can’t give an accurate impression of Swiss Army Man in three minutes. And people fixate on the farting, which makes you want to go: “Yeah, but it’s also really beautiful and weird, and there’s nothing else like it.”

To tell you the truth, I completely forgot about the film since I first saw it back in Park City. It did end up getting a release date this summer and was met with lukewarm reviews. Take away and you still have a somewhat original concept, a talking corpse movie - but with not enough substance to truly warrant a directing award at Sundance. I met the directing team behind it, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinbert, quirky, cool guys that supposedly want to remake "White Chicks." By the way, I'm all for that idea.

Christopher Nolan is said to be getting $20 million upfront and 20% of the gross for World War II epic "Dunkirk"

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According to the Hollywood Reporter, Christopher Nolan's earnings for "Dunkirk": $20 million upfront and 20% of the gross. The most lucrative deal since Peter Jackson's equal earnings for "King Kong." Nolan has a very large and loyal fanbase, the biggest of any mainstream director I can think of. He also enormous power in terms of creative freedom, which could be a blessing and a curse at times, especially if you've seen his flawed, but fascinating 2014 Science Fiction opera "Interstellar."

Martin Scorsese's 39 essential foreign films

"This list is an absolute good. The list is life. All around its margins lies the gulf."

A look at Kristen Stewart in Olivier Assayas' "Personal Shopper"

I was hoping it'd come out this year, but, alas, we will have to wait until next spring it seems if my conversations with its publicist at TIFF are any indication. They have decided to, in his words, "follow the same plan as what what was done with Assayas' "Clouds of Sils Maria," which also starred Stewart.

In the meantime we have this just released trailer to wet our appetites a bit.

EDIT: one look at IMDB says it has an official release date of March 17th, 2017.

Excerpts from my Cannes review:

Nate Parker to appear on 60 Minutes

Thanks Jefferey Welles over at Hollywood-Elsewhere for the heads-up:

EDIT: It seems like he will not apologize in this interview. From a just released clip we have Parker saying that he got exonerated and found not guilty and doesn't need to apologize ...

So here's my history with Nate Parker's "The Birth of a Nation"
I reviewed it at Sundance this past January with very mixed feelings.

Capsule Reviews: "American Honey," "Deepwater Horizon," "Miss Peregrine's School For Peculiar Children," "Masterminds"

American Honey (R)

"Andrea Arnold’s American Honey will be a polarizing film. A 160 minute road trip to Americana hell, if you will. An "On the Road" for and about millennials. Cannes is not the last we’ll hear about this movie and I’m perfectly fine with that. No one should dismiss it, for it has so many great moments in its scattered running time that one might have to look through a bit of rambling incoherence to find them."

"Dark Night" tackles the Aurora shooting

Dark Night Movie

The 2012 Shooting in Aurora, Colorado - at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" - was a tragedy that will likely not be forgotten anytime soon. The gunman ended up killing 12 people and injuring 70. The remnants of that horrible act are still being felt to this day, but, just like most of the mass shootings we have witnessed this past decade, filmmakers have refused to tackle the topic. Are we ready to deal with this through art? I can't really tell you, but Paul Greengrass' "United 93" is proof that, when done right, art can truly transcend tragedy and put things into perspective. The best example being Gus Van Sant's prophetic "Elephant" which was released only a few years after its targedy, Columbine, occurred.

Underwhelming Cannes entry "Mean Dreams" gets a trailer

I saw "Mean Dreams" at Cannes as it was part of the Director's Fortnight. I can't really say I very much liked it. Most of it felt cliched and inauthentic. What did stand out was first-time Filmmaker Nathan Morlando's visual style which was very much influenced by, who else, Terrence Malick. Malick is really becoming a go-to name these days for many young filmmakers. I guess him coming back from retirement in 1998 for "The Thin Red Line" was something of a blessing for all of us as it really added his important and integral name back to the forefront of cinema. There have been cheap Malick ripoffs since then and, at times, "Mean Dreams" does feel like that. It's a teenagers on-the-run film that recalls Malick's "Badlands," but has none of the verve or audacity of that 1973 masterpiece. In the film Casey (Sophie Nelisse) and Jonas (Josh Wiggins), both part of separate broken homes, decide to make a run for it. Where are they going? They're not too sure, neither is director Morlando [C]

Has there been a better cinematic year than 1999?

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"Being John Malkovich," "American Beauty," "Magnolia," "Election," "The Sixth Sense," "Boy's Don't Cry," "Eyes Wide Shut," "Fight Club," "The Limey," "Three Kings," "The Iron Giant," "Toy Story 2," "Bringing Out the Dead," "The Talented Mr. Ripley," "The Insider," "The Matrix," "Summer of Sam," "Office Space," "South Park," "The Blair Witch Project," "The Dreamlife of Angels," "American Pie," "Bowfinger," "Payback," "Man on The Moon," "Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me," "All About My Mother," "Go," "Rosetta," "The Straight Story," "The Green Mile," "Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai," "Run Lola Run," "Dick."

EDIT, RogerEbert.com's Susan Wloszczynya and Joblo.com's Christopher Bumbray mentioned on Facebook the year 2007, and, I must agree, it gives 1999 a hell of an argument as an equal and, if not, better contender: 

"No Country For Old Men," "There Will Be Blood," "Zodiac," "The Assassination of Jesse James," "4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days," "The Lives of Others," "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," "Ratatouille," "Eastern Promises," "Michael Clayton," "Sweeney Todd," "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," "Superbad," "American Gangster," "The Darjeeling Limited," "Black Book," "Death Proof," "The Mist," "Knocked Up," "Lust Caution," "Rescue Dawn," "Into the Wild," "The Lookout," "Live Free or Die Hard," "The Simpsons Movie," "Breach," "A Mighty Heart," "Rescue Dawn," "Bug."

Paul Schrader's deliciously subversive "Dog Eat Dog"

I saw this one at Cannes and also interviewed its Director Paul Schrader and Writer Matthew Wilder. Interview can be found HERE. Excerpts from my Cannes review:

"The opening scene to "Dog Eat Dog," a little backstory about Willem Dafoe’s wildly erratic Mad Dog, is an open invitation for the audience to accept the nasty gravitas of this wholly terrifying and violent movie.  There were a few walkouts during my screening at Cannes, but director Paul Schrader and screenwriter Matthew Wilder wouldn’t want it any other way."
"Based on the novel by Eddie Bunker, “Dog Eat Dog” is Paul Schrader’s latest movie and it’s a doozy. The three main guys in the story, Troy (Nicolas Cage), Diesel (Christopher Matthew Cook), and Mad Dog (Willem Dafoe), have been released from prison and find themselves trying to adapt to everyday life. The California “three strike law” is very much on their minds, but they are hooked on the visceral aspect of violence. They claim one more hit, one more jackpot, that’s all they want, but we know their high is never-ending. "
"There isn’t an ounce of fat in Wilder’s wildly inventive screenplay. The film is an amalgam of everything that’s come before it in the gangster genre and yet it feels fresh, new and revitalized by stinging exuberance. Schrader’s direction is possessed - he hasn’t been this energized by a film since 2002’s great “Auto Focus.” It's a high-octane comeback for a filmmaking maverick that we badly need today in these dismal cinematic times"

Comparing Terrence Malick’s Two Different Versions Of Epic "Voyage Of Time" Passion Project

More or less a work in progress since years before "The Tree Of Life" was released back in 2011,Terrence Malick's much delayed "Voyage of Time: A Life's Journey" has been a near odyssey to reach the screen. Even years even before ‘Tree of Life’ masterwork, Malick had tried to develop a film about the origins of earth for Paramount in the 1970s entitled "Q." He eventually abandoned the project, but some of the footage, some of it shot nearly 40 years ago from "Q" is employed in "Voyage of Time."  But at least for ten years during the making of “Tree of Life,” Malick and cinematographer Paul Atkins have tried to achieve the impossible with this film: make a movie about the beginning, the middle, and the end of time. With such an ambitious concept, it’s not surprising “Voyage of Time” took forever to make and complete. What is surprising is that Malick finally ended up with a scant 90 minute running time for his movie, narrated by Cate Blanchett, and a 40 minute IMAX version, narrated by  Brad PittBoth versions are very different in terms of goal, scope and ambition and so we attempt to break them down here. Note: you can read our Venice solo review of "Voyage of Time: A Life's Journey" here.

Something feels off with Denzel Washington's "Fences"

Notes on "The Accountant" starring Ben Affleck

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The film is currently under embargo and, like all embargoed films, I can only be vague and abstract about my feelings for the film (which I caught this afternoon). A full review will have to come at a later date, most probably around its October 14th release date, but think of this as Affleck's action star movie, quite similar to Liam Neeson in "Taken" or Keanu Reeves in "John Wick." Affleck's film is really just an old-fashioned action movie with not much on its mind, but to entertain.

Courtesy of IMDB:

"Christian Wolff is a math savante with more affinity for numbers than people. Behind the cover of a small-town CPA office, he works as a freelance accountant for some of the world's most dangerous criminal organizations. With the Treasury Department's Crime Enforcement Division, run by Ray King, starting to close in, Christian takes on a legitimate client: a state-of-the-art robotics company where an accounting clerk has discovered a discrepancy involving millions of dollars. But as Christian uncooks the books and gets closer to the truth, it is the body count that starts to rise."

Scorsese's "Silence" coming out December 23rd

FINALLY. The savior has cometh to save the movie year! I REPORTED last week that the film would indeed be released this year and now we have an official release date: December 23rd, 2016.

I'm hearing it will get screened for press in November. Now, where's the trailer? I mean, this is too good to be true. We want actual footage of the damn thing. Variety has the whole story HERE.

Toughts on SXSW Winner "Tower"

Excerpt taken from my SXSW review:

"What Keith Maitland has created in "Tower" is a singular technical achievement, but also, for its first hour or so, a bracing indictment of quite possibly the very beginning of the mass shooting phenomenon that is still occurring to this very day in the United States. Maitland creatively combines still photos, 8mm footage from the tragedy, and rotoscopic animation, much like Linklater's "Waking Life" to create a fully fleshed-out depiction of that fateful day in 1966 when a lone gunmen rode an elevator to the 22nd floor in the University of Texas tower and started randomly shooting at innocent by-standing students and staff. It feels like the most visceral action movie in quite some time, but also showcases an immaculate example of true heroism. Although its last half hour doesn't come through as expected and the film changes its tune dramatically by looking at the aftermath of the event, the first hour is well worth a watch. "

Ava DuVernay tackles black incarceration in first footage of "The 13th"

Oh Ava, you can do no wrong. Here's a smart, articulate black woman that really cares about her own people.

I sadly won't be making the New York Film Festival this year. I've been to Cannes, Toronto and Sundance  so I have seen about 95% of the NYFF programming already, but there are 4 film premieres there that had me contemplating a trip to the "Big Apple": Ang Lee's "Billy Lynn's Long Half-Time Walk," James Gray's "The Lost City of Z," Mike Mill's "20th Century Women" and DuVernay's "The 13th" an in-depth look aat the country's incarceration system and specifically its target of African-Americans. Fascinating stuff, but also relevant stuff. So much so that I added it to my "What's Left" column for 2017. It's one of only 10 unscreened movies left in the year that I truly believe can leave a notably important artistic mark.

It will premiere on Netflix October 7th and get a limited release that same day. The trailer is now available and it does look like something that could really open up minds and cause change. DuVernay is a very important artist in the black community and outside it as well, so this is an important movie as well.

Terrence Malick will be making a rare public appearance in October

Malick is such a mysterious man, I've heard stories about him showing up at Cannes during the premiere of "Tree of Life" and just sitting in the back incognito. He is supposedly shy, socially awkward, not really a public kind of man. That's fine, I understand that, but what made him decide to finally appear next month, at Jersey's Princeton Garden Theater, to discuss Roberto Rossellini's seminal 1954 classic "Journey to Italy?" I still don't believe it's going to happen. He will cancel or just not show up. The man can't possibly be doing this? or is he really going through with it?

Courtesy of the A.V. Club:

"Tree Of Life" and "Badlands" director Terrence Malick is a notoriously hard man to catch in the wild: he doesn’t appear in making-of features for his own films, grant many interviews, or even allow photographs of himself to surface in the public realm. (To say nothing of his 20-year hiatus from film-making, between 1978’s Days Of Heaven and 1998’s The Thin Red Line.) Fans of the celebrated director (and Italian cinema) might want to make their way to New Jersey next month, though: Malick has apparently been scheduled to speak at the Princteon Garden Theater, as part of a discussion on Roberto Rossellini’s 1954 masterpiece Journey To Italy. According to the theater’s web site, the October 21 showing of the film will be followed by “a live conversation with acclaimed director Terrence Malick.” Tickets don’t appear to be on sale for the event at the moment, although it’s not clear if they’re not available yet, or if fanatical Malick fans—hoping to get a glimpse of their hero beyond the occasional on-set photo—have already scooped them up."

Full article can be found HERE

I know he has a small, almost invisible cameo in "Badlands." I don't think I've ever heard him speak to tell you the truth. His whereabouts unknown in the "making of" docs of his feature films. There's also this strange moment that happened  when he and Benicio Del Toro were walking out of a restaurant in L.A. - Check out the Malick's reaction when he sees the camera.

I have already written a review of "Voyage of Time" his latest film, this one about the beginning, middle and end of time. I dug it for the most part. Review should get posted in the coming week. I'll be comparing the differences between the 45 minute Brad Pitt narrated IMAX version and the 90 minute Cate Blanchett narrated feature-length version.

"The Magnificent Seven" opening #1 at the Box Office spells a forthcoming deluge of reboots/remakes

As predicted "The Magnificent Seven" has opened with a 35 million dollar weekend intake at the Box Office, overtaking "Sully" for the top spot. The latter movie starring Tom Hanks is close to the 100 million dollar mark and that's something to celebrate. It constitutes one of the few times in 2016 a smartly written, adult-oriented story has been this successful at the box office.

As for "The Magnificent Seven," I was not a fan of the film, my review can be found HERE. As for "The Magnificent Seven," I was not a fan of the film, my review can be found HERE. Also, what's the deal with a black cowboy riding around in the, primarily white, old west and no racial slurs or remarks ever being uttered towards him? That just wouldn't happen. Tarantino got it right in "Django Unchained" when Jamie Foxx's titular character rides into town with a horse and the whole town's jaws just drop ... of course there's that famous LINE.

This again proves the mainstream popularity Denzel has, I'm not complaining although him picking better movies would make things much easier to swallow. The success of "Magnificent" does also spell possible greenlight for many more remakes of classic films to come. To me, that's almost as bad as any terrible superhero movie. As reported last week Will Smith is already working on a "High Noon" remake. Also being remade "The Orphanage," "Rosemary`s Baby" "Starship Troopers"  "Scarface," "The Naked Gun," "Videodrome" and "The Harder They Come." YIKES. That's from not much research, I'm sure there are plenty more titles that I missed, but it's almost too pain-inducing to look for them.

EDIT: I gave in. Here are others that are about to begin shooting. Some personal favorites of mine which are about to get butchered include: "Akira," "A Prophet," "The Birds," "Cabin Fever," "Cube," "Das Boot," "Don't Look Now," "The Seven Samurai," and "The Fugitive."

"Bruuuuuuuce" The Boss calls Trump a "moron"

I saw Springsteen and the E Street Band's last show at Foxboro this month. He played for 4 hours and 3 minutes. Crazy, right? But not just that, he was all over the stage, this isn't like Sir Paul McCartney who just stands there and walks around from. The Boss was working it that night. Most of us were exhausted by the end of it. I did notice that he got a little political before singing an acoustic version of "Long Walk Home." 

 "So along with all of you, I've had to live through the election campaign, and I gotta say, it's gotta be one of the ugliest I've ever seen. And there was just a lot of speaking to our worst angels. You let those things out of the bottle, all that ugliness — the genie doesn't go back in the bottle so simple. Anyway, I'm going to do this with that in mind. This is 'Long Walk Home'


That's all fine and dandy, but still vague, which is unlike him. For years he has been very political even going out on the road supporting candidates like Barack Obama and John Kerry. This year nada. He's been very quiet, but he finally unleashed during a Rolling Stone INTERVIEW:
“The republic is under siege by a moron. Without overstating it, it’s a tragedy for our democracy“When you start talking about elections being rigged, you’re pushing people beyond democratic governance. And it’s a very, very dangerous thing to do.Once you let those genies out of the bottle, they don’t go back in so easy, if they go back in at all."

"The ideas he’s moving to the mainstream are all very dangerous ideas — white nationalism and the alt-right movement. The outrageous things that he’s done — not immediately disavowing David Duke? These are things that are obviously beyond the pale for any previous political candidate. [In another era] it would sink your candidacy immediately.”

OFFICIAL: Martin Scorsese's "Silence" getting a December release date!

A few good sources have hinted today at a December release date for Scorsese's latest opus. Will it crash the Oscars? Gold Derby's Chris Beachum stated today: "While that date is still not in stone, we have now had enough of a confirmation that it will indeed be released in December that the film is now available for you to predict for Oscars, Golden Globes, and SAG Awards nominations." The whole article can be found HERE.

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This automatically becomes the most anticipated movie of the year. The official running time clocks in at an astounding 3 hours and 15 minutes in length, which would make it the lengthiest Scorsese ever. That is if you don't cont his Bob Dylan and George Harrison documentaries.

Does that mean he's done dilly-dallying in the editing room with Thelma Schoonmaker his editor of almost 3 decades. Maybe it also means it might be the "surprise" screening at the New York Film Festival this coming October, which I will sadly not be attending.

IMDB describes the plot as: "In the seventeenth century, two jesuit priests face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor and propagate Christinaity."

The crusades. This is Scorsese attempting to depict a subject matter that not many people have dared tackle at the movies before. Are we pumped or what for this movie? Let's just hope it isn't another "Kundun" ... to this day the only Scorsese, and I've seen them all, that I deem to be almost unwatchable.

"The Magnificent Seven" lands into theaters

Antoine Fuqua's "The Magnificent Seven" comes out in theaters today and the overall consensus at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it premiered, was that it was an underwhelming romp that should have never been greenlit. Fine, I get that, the movie is in fact not very good. I gave it a C+ in my review, but what if it makes a ton of money this weekend? Which is what I'm predicting. Then the idea of remaking it won't be such a bad one and there will be a lot more to come. Imagine a remake of another classic western, "The Wild Bunch"? That was a film, just like "The Magnificent Seven," for and of its time. Oh wait a sec ... YIKES it is already happening. Check THIS out.

The following are excerpts from my 9.8.16 review of "The Magnificent Seven" :

"The question that must first be asked when discussing Antoine Fuqua's misbegotten "The Magnificent Seven is simple: why? Why remake the much celebrated original with its pristine Elmer Bernstein score and John Sturges' crisp direction. Sure Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt have charisma to burn and a loyal fanbase that will churn out hard earned dollars for anything new they release, but why even attempt to recreate the majesty of the 1960 original, no masterpiece by the way, and why hire Fuqua, a hack as far as I'm concerned, to direct? Has he done anything of value since "Training Day"? The answer is no,  but with that 2001 movie he scored two acting nominations for Ethan Hawke and Denzel Washington, who would end up winning and making history in front of Sidney Poitier as the first leading black man to win a coveted Oscar statuette."

"Those days are gone. Now Washington has some kind of genuine affection for Fuqua. "The Magnificent Seven" is their third partnership together, but it's also their worst one. The cast is starry: Denzel, Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Peter Sarsgaard and the action is relentlessly assaultive, but in some fashion satisfying and yet, the rest is abysmal and showcases Fuqua's lack of coherence in his pacing, shot selection and overall artfulness."

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"And what about Washington all scruff-ed up and badass. We first see his Chisolm entering an old west town full of white folks with a horse, it almost makes you think about "Django Unchained" and that famous line I will not utter.  There is not one mention in the movie about his skin color, which in fact should be an issue. Racial injustice in America at that time was brutal, yet when Chisolm struts into town he only gets stares, nothing else. Saving his wholesome public image? The film has no balls to tackle race."

"The classic story goes that seven gunmen come together to save a town from thieves that have invaded and taken ownership of it. You know where this is going. The opening hour has Washington's Chisolm rounding about the troops one by one. The setup is recognizable because it has been done many times at the movies. This is not new territory by any stretch of the imagination. It could work, but it doesn`t because Fuqua lacks the talent and the cinematic chops to pull it off. What he does lack in narrative he can almost make up in action sequences. There are two grandiose action set-pieces that work wonders. Just like he did in "Shooter," "Training Day" and "Southpaw" Fuqua gives us a visceral reminder of his knack for great shoot 'em up style cinema, but the substance is non-existent."

UPDATED Oscar Predix 9.23.16

I have decided to take out "Silence." All signs point to it not even coming out this year and if it did wouldn't you think Paramount would push the film a bit more for Awards season? We don`t have a trailer, no promotional events and barely a still. Do they even have fate in it?

"Lion" has been added after my TIFF screening. I am not a fan of the film, but its crowd-pleasing roots are irresistible for the mainstream.

Best Picture
(1) Billy Lynn's Long Half-Time Walk
(2) La La Land
(3) Manchester by The Sea
(4) Loving
(5) Sully
(6) Lion
(7) Arrival
(8) Patriot's Day
(9) Moonlight
(10) Hell or High Water

Best Actor
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Tom Hanks, Sully
Michael Keaton, The Founder
Joel Edgerton, Loving
Denzel Washington, Fences

Best Actress
Viola Davis, Fences
Ruth Negga, Loving
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Emma Stone, La La Land

Best Director
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Ang Lee, Billy Lynn's Long Half-Time Walk
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Damian Chazelle, La La Land
Cliny Eastwood, Sully

What's left?

Contenders that have yet to be seen by anyone. These films have yet to be screened, but have the potential to join 2016 masterworks "Krisha," "Manchester by the Sea," "Paterson" and "La La Land."

EDITED 11.6.16

"The Founder" (John Hancock)
"Live By Night" (Ben Affleck)
"Gold" (Stephen Gaghan)
"Silence" (Martin Scorsese)
"Patriots Day" (Peter Berg)
"Star Wars: Rogue One"

REVIEW: "Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children" & Tim Burton's flailing career

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While watching Tim Burton's "Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children" I couldn't help, but be reminded of Burton's better days as a director. Which is not to say that his new film, based on Ransom Riggs' ultra popular YA novel, is a total bomb. His knack for great visuals is still in tact, but this is not a story that Burton would have undertaken during his peak years. It's a paycheck.

That's the problem with his career. "Charlie and The Chocolate Factory" and "Alice in Wonderland" were steps back when they were supposed to be steps forward. He tried to get back to his glory days a few years ago with "Big Eyes" which barely missed the mark, but proved that he does still strive for artistic freedom.

"Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children" is a safe, moderately entertaining film that is meant to rake in the big bucks. You will likely not see his name in the advertisements for the film because there already is a specific fanbase for the film. The visuals are, in some circumstances, stunning, but the story is thin and the auteuristic stamp somewhat nonexistent.

So give me examples you ask? Burton's best films are untouchable: "Beetlejuice," "Batman," "Edward Scissorhands," "Batman Returns," "Ed Wood," "Mars Attacks" and "Sweeney Todd." Visionary stuff and Burton going by is own twisted muse. Here's hoping he gets his groove back, lord knows we need him right now with the studio system crumbling [C+]

RIP Curtis Hanson

I was saddened to hear about Curtis Hanson's death yesterday evening. I had heard he was battling Alzheimer's disease a few years back and made the decision of not publishing anything about it. His family wanted their own privacy and that is what they got. His final film was "Chasing Mavericks" in 2012, a rather underrated film that didn't get the fanbase it deserved, although its 7.2 IMDB rating might persuade more than a few people now to give it a shot on home video. I became a major fan around the time Hanson delivered "L.A. Confidential" which now stands as one of the great noirs of all-time. He followed that up with "Wonder Boys," which is one of the great stoner movies of all-time and he followed that up with "8 Mile" one of the great hip-hop movies of all-time. Just from that streak alone he stands a good chance of  being remembered as an important cinematic maverick. Was he on fire or what at that time? I never met him, but from all indications it seems like he was a very nice, amicable guy. My thoughts are with his loved ones at this given time.

Is "Passengers" seriously Oscar-bait?

This looks like a total mess, but that's just me. From the director of "The Imitation Game"? You serious? It does look a wee bit more interesting than than the Affleck flick, but this looks like a popcorn movie and I don't really mind that at all, as long as it doesn't take itself too seriously we might have a watchable movie, but this is going nowhere near critics top 10 lists by year's end. I do like the fact that you have two actors with endlessly great personalities: Pratt and Lawrence rock my world any day any time.

Sorry, but "Live By Night" - directed by Ben Affleck- does not look good

I know, I know. Ever since I have been doing this site I have pretty much been underwhelmed by what Affleck has done as a director. Not a fan of "Gone Baby Gone" and "Argo" I find those films not that visually exciting and Affleck almost parodying some of his influences. I will say that "The Town" features some great action, those heist sequences play like gangbusters, but at the end of the day he was influenced by Michael Mann's "Heat" and Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" with those and it really isn't his own voice.

Now it seems like he's gone the gangster route and, although this could turn out to be a pleasant surprise, the visual style is again a rehash of much of what we've seen in the past. I know someone that went to a test screening and came out underwhelmed by the film. Right now it is expected to com out late December, but this looks like the kind of film that would fit better with a spring 2017 release. "Gangster Squad" anyone?

Interview with "Blair Witch" director Adam Wingard

Full The Playlist interview can be found HERE

10 Memorable TIFF movies for 2016

For more coverage go to Awards Daily HERE

Having just wrapped up its 40th edition, the Toronto International Film Festival presented more than 296 films in its lineup this year. The festival is wide and vast in its embrace of world cinema, but every year the most buzzed-about titles are that will impact awards season. This year most of the big titles had already debuted in Venice and Telluride just a few weeks prior. There were no surprises or out-of-left-field contenders like last year’s “The Martian.” What we saw instead was the continued success of “La La Land” and “Moonlight” which became certified critical favorites, just as they were at Telluride. Here are ten titles that emerged as the biggest winners from this year’s selections.
1. La La Land
Winning the People’s Choice Award, Damien Chazelle’s film was a no-brainer. Everyone felt sure it was going to win even before the festival started. Starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, Chazelle’s film has moments of pure joy that make you feel punch-drunk in love at the movies again. The morning press screening burst into extended applause after the film’s final shot and that sealed the deal for the film’s eventual fate as a major Best Picture contender. Stone, a beauty of an actress, also turned heads for her performance as Mia, a struggling actress hoping to find her big break. Mia falls for Sebastian, a playful and charismatic Ryan Gosling, as they embark on a colorful and touching adventure filled with some of the best original songs ever conceived for the big screen. It’s quite possibly the best movie musical since Bob Fosse’s “All That Jazz.”
2. Moonlight
What can be said about Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” that hasn’t already been said? Set during three transformative periods in the life of an African-American  gay man, the film is not only a mesmerizing journey into the “African-American experience,” but it also shatters cinematic taboos that not many have dared touch before it. This was the first major film I can recall to feature two black men who kiss onscreen. Unheard of, but an incredibly important landmark moment and the very definition of a film that can change lives. Jenkins splits the film into three different time frames as he follows his protagonist Chiron’s struggle for self-identity in a society that refuses to acknowledge his sexual freedom. The three actors playing Chiron (Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes) were all revelatory and Jenkins (a former Telluride Film Festival volunteer) makes good on the promise of his first feature “Medicine for Melancholy.” His “Moonlight” deserves to be called a milestone.
3. Arrival
Toronto was a kind of homecoming for Canadian boy Denis Villeneuve whose “Arrival” had very successful showings at both Telluride and Venice just a week prior. Amy Adams plays Louise Banks, a linguist twho is recruited by the military after enormous Alien pods show up across the globe. Many countries are prepared for war, but Louise believes that the visitors might actually be on earth for non-violent reasons. Adams, in one of her very best performances, gives a touching and rewarding performance in a film that feels like a better version of Christopher Nolan’s well-known sci-fi blockbusters. The sentimentality is somewhat stripped down for a more concrete and profound look at the ties that bind us all on earth. It’s a thought-provoking adventure that isn’t about war, but communication instead. Villeneuve once again proves to be the real deal. The 49-year-old Quebecois filmmaker is building up a solid, loyal fan-base that could one day rival Nolan’s. The fact that his next movie is “Blade Runner 2” only gets us more excited about his future.
4. Nocturnal Animals
Tom Ford’s follow-up to 2009’s “A Single Man” turned out to be the love it or hate it movie of the fest. Heated debate raged post-screening, with the film’s champions touting it as a provocative depiction of 21st century masculinity, whereas the haters couldn’t look past what they saw as its lurid fiction-within-fiction B-movie plot device. Amy Adams, on fire this fest, plays art gallery owner Susan Morrow, a woman haunted by an old flame (Jake Gyllenhaal) who sends her his latest violent novel “Nocturnal Animals.” Something in the book touches a nerve in Susan and, through flashbacks recounting their failed relationship, we get to see why. To mention any plot points in Ford’s film would be to ruin a nastily satisfying thriller that refuses to balk away from conventions. This wasn’t an easy film to swallow for many, and some of the people I spoke to did in fact have real distaste for it. But it has just enough intrigue and artfulness to prove to the world that, yes, Tom Ford is an extraordinary filmmaker.
5. Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer
Getting lost in the shuffle of Telluride was Joseph Cedar’s English-language debut. After his impressive Israeli film “Footnote” made waves on the international circuit Cedar decided to make this film about New York “fixer” Norman, a crooked man who lies, sways and persuades numerous people of power for his own benefit. As played by Richard Gere, Norman ends up in deep trouble after “helping” an Israeli dignitary who three years later becomes the Israeli Prime Minister. This flawless balancing act of a film had Richard Gere giving an incredibly rich performance that is sly enough to feel fully fleshed out. The wheeling and dealing that the film presents to us is transfixing and feels like new, uncharted cinematic territory. Cedar makes it all work like a pro and the fact that the film, which has a sprawling ambitious plot, doesn’t feel like a mess at all, but instead like a work of art is a testament to its director’s talent.
6. Wakefield 
Wakefield would not be as fascinating if its central performance wasn’t as fully fleshed out as Cranston makes it. In the best performance of his career on the silver screen, it’s made even more impressive by the fact that he is mostly alone for the majority of the film, but what he does is never less than riveting. He infuses his character with humor, heartbreak, and scathing cynicism. His Howard Wakefield is not necessarily a man one is supposed to like and, in many ways, he represents a kind of anti-hero that not many actors could pull off. Swicord, mostly known for her screenplays such as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Little Women, shows a surprising amount of restraint as compared to her previous works. Here she makes a film stripped of artifice designed to ponder deep, humane questions about existence. With an ending meant to spark debate and cause both anger and provocation in its audience, Wakefield fights formula and creates its own unique cinematic language.
7. Lady Macbeth
Get ready for a star-in-the-making. Florence Pugh is mesmerizing in “Lady Macbeth,” first-time director Wiliam Oldroyd’s adaptation of Nikolai Leskov’s “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.” Pugh plays Lady Katherine, a young woman forced into marriage and who decides to take matters into her own hands. Katherine is a woman who defies conventions and will do almost anything to get the freedom she most desperately craves in a society that refuses to give it. Especially if you’re a woman. Her desires and needs are things that come naturally to women in today‘s society (freedom, true love, her own free will), but since this is a story set in Victorian London those things are taboo and punishable. She dares to break those conventions by doing unspeakable things, including murder. Oldroyd has reinvented the genre by injecting a much needed dosage of adrenaline. “Lady Macbeth” is a thriller masquerading as a period piece The critics were unanimous in their praise and Roadside quickly snatched it up not too long after. You’re in for a real treat.
8. Paris Can Wait
Eleanor Coppola, Francis Ford’s wife, isn’t well-known as a director. However, her documentary “Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse” about the tumultuous and depressing shoot of her husband’s “Apocalypse Now” stands as a great, important time capsule in film history. She has never really delved into narrative  fiction until now. With “Paris Can Wait,” another underseen Telluride gem, she has made one of the most enjoyably sexy road movies in quite some time. Casting Diane Lane as Anna, an unsatisfied wife whose Hollywood producer husband (Alec Baldwin) is always away on the road, was a stroke of genius. This spiked bonbon of a film has Lane playing Anne, left alone again by her husband this time at the Cannes Film Festival, which leads to her being playfully lured to go on a two-day road trip through the south of France with her Hubby’s business partner Jacques (Arnaud Viard). Jacques delights in showing her a good time, but also doesn’t shy away from telling her how beautiful she is. Their cat and mouse game makes for an intriguing romcom filled with substance.

9. The Edge of Seventeen
A new, unique female voice was discovered with "The Edge of Seventeen." Writer-director Kelly Fremon gave us an incisive look at female teenage-dom. Nadine, a never better Hailee Steinfeld, is already an awkward and isolated high-schooler when she finds out her best friend is dating her older brother, that sets up a chain events that feel both unexpectedly moving and hilarious. A geek kid boy in her class (Hayden Szeto) seems to be the escape she needs, although she isn't sure if she actually like likes him. The top-notch cast is rounded out by Kyra Sedgwick, playing Nadine's mom and Woody Harrelson as Nadine's History teacher, and mentor. The Edge of Seventeen is the most John Hughes-esque film to come around in quite some time. It feeds off of the awkwardness of its characters plights, but also humanizes them in ways that are so rare for the teen movie genre. You could tell Fremon brought some of her own persnal experiences to the table for the film, which is also the funniest movie I have seen so far in 2016.

10. Denial
There’s often a genuine dramatic pull to films in the courtroom drama genre, yet they’ve suffered the last few decades because of the conventional tropes that can come with it. How do you reinvent such a genre to become less predictable and less by-the-books? While Denial doesn’t do anything new on a technical side, it is fully aware of its gripping plot, one that welcomely avoids pushing its inherent clichés to the forefront of its story. The true story centers around the legal battle David Irving (Timothy Spall) and Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) questioning the historical validity of the holocaust. Yes, the story might sound oddly over-the-top, but it did happen. Irving, a man who considers himself a historian, believed the holocaust was a complete hoax. So much so that he decided to bring Lipstadt to court over her book Denying the Holocaust, which he deemed insulting and filled with lies. Lipstadt decided to hire a top-notch legal team, headed up by Richard Rampton (Tom Wilkinson), with the financial help of Steven Spielberg among many other celebrities, to prove that Irving was not just a fraud, but a racist man that was filled with hate and craved public attention.


There’s been no shortage of Lyndon B. Johnson depictions on film as of late, with Ava DuVernay capturing the 36th U.S. president as an arrogant man trying to diminish MLK in Selma (as played by Tom Wilkinson), Bryan Cranston getting an Emmy nomination as Johnson in All The Way and, now, Rob Reiner directing Woody Harrelson in the makeup-heavy historical drama LBJ.

REVIEW: "Blue Jay" #TIFF16

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Sometimes you just can’t escape the past. Moments that have shaped you and made you who you are today can happen at any time without you even knowing it. They could occur when you’re just a kid or even when you’re way past adulthood.

REVIEW: "Barry" #TIFF16

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During his college days in New York, Barack Obama used to be called “Barry.” At that point in time he hadn’t fully embraced his African American roots yet, but was headed towards a journey of self-discovery that would change him forever. That is at least what writer-director Vikram Gandhi tries to show us in compelling drama Barry, which captures the tumultuous first few college days of the future U.S. president at Columbia University.

REVIEW: "Denial" #TIFF16


There’s often a genuine dramatic pull to films in the courtroom drama genre, yet they’ve suffered the last few decades because of the conventional tropes that can come with it. How do you reinvent such a genre to become less predictable and less by-the-books? While Denial doesn’t do anything new on a technical side, it is fully aware of its gripping plot, one that welcomely avoids pushing its inherent clichés to the forefront of its story.

REVIEW: "Wakefield" #TIFF16

Bryan Cranston’s Howard Wakefield seems to have a great life. He is a successful New York City lawyer, is married to a loving wife, has two teenage girls, and owns the ideal house. However, problems do lurk beneath his psyche and, before we could even get to know him a little better, he decides to disappear from his own life. He hides in the attic, where his family never really cares to go, and observes how his loved ones deal with his disappearance.

"My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea" #TIFF16

Wildly bizarre and imaginatively alluring, if not occasionally slight, the animated movie, “My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea,” is an engaging surrealist take on the disaster movie. It’s a film steeped in metaphorical analogies, especially in its depiction of surviving high school and escaping it unharmed.

LBJ Tweet #TIFF16

Review: The Promise #TIFF16

Terry George‘s The Promise begins with a title card that appears on-screen stating that 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Turkish government during World War I. It’s a tragedy that has been depicted before in film, perhaps most notably in Atom Egoyan’s underwhelming Ararat, with ample room still made available to deliver the definitive version. Despite formidable talent on both sides of the camera, unfortunately we’ll have to wait longer for such a drama to arrive.
The film takes place on the brink of World War I in Turkey. Michael (Oscar Isaac), an intelligent, compassionate Armenian, decides to settle down and marry a girl (Angela Sarafyan) that he’s not completely smitten by, but claims that with time he will indeed love her. He lives in Armenia, but opts to journey to Turkey, without his wife, to study medicine at the Imperial Medical School and become a doctor within two to three years. He promises his wife he will be back. That promise will drive the core narrative of the film, but will also provide its one major flaw.
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Review: Lion #TIFF16


Garth Davis‘ directorial debut Lion is based on a true story. The film makes sure to tell us that at the very beginning of the movie — just to remind us that whatever we’re about to see in front of us were real events inspired by real people. We first see the main character of the film, Saroo, at all but five years old, wandering the streets of central India by helping out his mom, a rock carrier, and his brother, the man of the house. In a random, but realistic, turn of events Saroo ends up on runaway train and gets lost thousands of kilometers away in the streets Calcutta. The first half, all in Hindi and Bengali with English subtitles, is dynamite, encompassing an exotic world far away from us that nevertheless feels all too intimate and relatable. Saroo is a tiny fella and he ends up surviving many dilemmas by simply doing what he does best: running.

Review: Deepwater Horizon #TIFF16

Full The Film Stage review HERE
The 2010 oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico was a disaster beyond belief, not only causing the deaths of workers, but ecologically setting our planet back with the biggest oil spill in U.S. history. Many still haven’t fully grasped what it must have been like to be on the ship at the time of the tragedy. Enter a Lone Survivor reunion for Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg with Deepwater Horizon, a well-made attempt at revisiting the tragedy, giving an action-oriented cinematic face to what actually happened on that fateful day.
Wahlberg plays Mike Williams and Kurt Russell is Jimmy Harrell, a pair of frontmen whose job is ensuring their workers are safe. But money talks: their boss is Jimmy Vidrine (an excellent John Malkovich), a man who always asks for the bottom line and puts safety second, until it comes back to bite him in the behind.