When I interviewed Denis Villeneuve in 2014



I don't think there is a funnier intro to a character scene this decade than Derek's family singing in "Step Brothers"

PHANTOM THREAD - Official Trailer & Poster, Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson



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Thoughts to come soon ....

I wrote a little somethin' for The Playlist about this [Read HERE]

The synopsis reads as follows:

"Set in the glamour of 1950s post-war London, renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) are at the center of British fashion, dressing royalty, movie stars, heiresses, socialites, debutants and dames with the distinct style of The House of Woodcock. Women come and go through Woodcock’s life, providing the confirmed bachelor with inspiration and companionship, until he comes across a young, strong-willed woman, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who soon becomes a fixture in his life as his muse and lover. Once controlled and planned, he finds his carefully tailored life disrupted by love. With his latest film, Paul Thomas Anderson paints an illuminating portrait both of an artist on a creative journey, and the women who keep his world running. Phantom Thread is Paul Thomas Anderson’s eighth movie, and his second collaboration with Daniel Day-Lewis."

“Phantom Thread” will be released on December 25th.

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"Lady Bird"



You’ve most likely already heard about Greta Gerwig’s semi-autobiographical “Lady Bird”. Funny, tender and heartbreaking, its premiere at Telluride made it the toast of the fest. Last night the film had its TIFF premiere at the Ryerson, where Gerwig’s film was thunderously received. It’s destined to become a coming-of-age classic and is powered by a performance from Saoirse Ronan that feels all too real and humane. 

Box Office: "Madea" Tops Weekend With $21.7 Million, "Geostorm" and "The Snowman" BOMB

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1. Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween — $21,650,000
2. Geostorm — $13,300,000
3. Happy Death Day — $9,375,000 ($40,683,365)
4. Blade Runner 2049 — $7,155,000 ($74,005,203)
5. Only The Brave — $6,010,000
6. The Foreigner — $5,450,000 ($22,844,253)
7. It — $3,500,000 ($320,234,616)
8. The Snowman — $3,442,000
9. American Made — $3,162,000 ($45,503,735)
10. Kingsman: The Golden Circle — $3,000,000 ($94,568,932)

Tomas Alfredson Says "The Snowman" Didn't Work Because "10-15% of the script wasn't filmed"



Tomas Alfredson's adaptation of Jo Nesbø's novel "The Snowman" landed on Friday with some of the worst reviews any movie has gotten this year, its Metacritic score of 24 even bested that of the critically reviled "The Book of Henry" (31) which all but cost its director, Colin Trevorrow, the "Star Wars" gig for Episode IX.  What "The Snowman" will do to Alfredson's career remains to be seen, but his filmography is a little more impressive than Trevorrow's, having helmed one of the very best horror movies of the last twenty years, "Let the Right One In," and quite possibly the best John Le Carré adaptation ever with "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy."

14 Directors that trashed their own movies

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Inspired by Tomas Alfredson dissing his own movie "The Snowman," as it is released this weekend, I did some research and found 14 intriguing instances where directors actually trashed their own movie. The most surprising of them all is Woody Allen dissing his own "Annie Hall" and "Hannah and Her Sisters," two of his very best movies. I guess you could say this is as a sequel to the much-popular "30 Actors That Trashed Their Own Movies."

Director Brett Morgen talks about his incredible documentary "Jane"

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I spoke to director Brett Morgen for The Playlist. He's doing the rounds promoting his triumph of a documentary "Jane." It was quite an incisive talk I had with him. If you happen to not know, the film is about Jane Goodall whose 55 years of work studying chimpanzees has been groundbreaking and made her legend in the sciences. Morgen took more than 140 hours of available footage, courtesy of National Geographic, to make this movie. The footage of a goldmine. Goodall was filmed by cameras in his fist excursion to Gombi in Africa. Nearly everything she did on a day to day basis was captured, which helped Morgen put together in the editing room a touching narrative structure that fully details Goodall's important journey in those very important few years of her life. This is a journey of self-discovery set in the 60s and it's all been filmed for us to finally see it more than 5 decades later.

Jackie Chan thought 'Rush Hour' was terrible when he first saw it

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I thought the first "Rush Hour" was a decent entertainment. There was nothing special within its screenplay, what made it work was the chemistry between Tucker and Chan. Same thing with Chan's other notewoorthy American film "Shanghai Noon," he and Owen Wilson were great together in that film. Not enough people talk about it either or its underrated sequel. Back to "Rush Hour," the sequels were horrendous.

After Chan wrapped Rush Hour, he told his manager he would never do another film like it again. “That’s a terrible movie,” Chan recounted saying. “They don’t allow me to do my own style [of action]. The English, I’m not good. Chris Tucker’s English, I don’t understand. Terrible movie!” He sat there dumbfounded as moviegoers laughed through the premiere. “Why are they laughing, I just don’t understand,” he thought.

Full Synopsis Revealed for Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Phantom Thread’



I wrote a little somethin' for The Playlist about this [Read HERE]

The synopsis reads as follows:

"Set in the glamour of 1950s post-war London, renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) are at the center of British fashion, dressing royalty, movie stars, heiresses, socialites, debutants and dames with the distinct style of The House of Woodcock. Women come and go through Woodcock’s life, providing the confirmed bachelor with inspiration and companionship, until he comes across a young, strong-willed woman, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who soon becomes a fixture in his life as his muse and lover. Once controlled and planned, he finds his carefully tailored life disrupted by love. With his latest film, Paul Thomas Anderson paints an illuminating portrait both of an artist on a creative journey, and the women who keep his world running. Phantom Thread is Paul Thomas Anderson’s eighth movie, and his second collaboration with Daniel Day-Lewis."

Mr. Woodcock, eh? The House of Woodcock? 

Darren Aronofsky says his favorite review of ‘mother!’ is Rex Reed proclaiming it "the worst movie of the century,”

Filmmaker Darren Aronofsky has most definitely become the most hunted man in movie culture this last week. His controversial “mother!” has caused a volcanic stir in the mainstream by bewildering, provoking and flat-out infuriating movie audiences nationwide (and some media to boot) with its non-conventional narrative, shocking images and a frustrating loop of a story. That’s fine, adventurous moviegoers have, at the very least, mostly appreciated what Aronofsky went for with this film; it’s hard for any of us to really complain about a studio movie taking the kind of risks “mother!” does even if you think it subjectively fails. 
Best of all the reviews, however, was Rex Reed's scathing pan of the movie, in which he proclaimed in his review for The Observer “I hesitate to label it the ‘Worst movie of the year’ when ‘Worst movie of the century’ fits it even better." Yikes. Sadly, that's a sentiment that many mainstream audiences I've spoken to, more or less, agree with Rex on. 

Darren Aronofsky has however proclaimed that Reed's review was his favorite to read, which tells you so much about the man and how open-minded he really is. He clearly wanted this kind of reaction to his film and it worked. He wanted to polarize the masses and have them screaming at the screen from their comfy seats, here he is talking about Rex:


I mean, my favorite on ‘mother!’ is Rex Reed called it the worst movie of the century,” Aronofsky said. “For me, [that] is a victory. I mean, finally I got to the top of the list. You know, he hated ‘Black Swan‘ [which] was an ugly duckling for him. I remember somebody telling me that. I don’t really read reviews. I try to avoid them. It’s very hard to avoid everything in this world. You hear the conversation because of all the different types of ways we get media in this world. But, I’m not that concerned about that stuff. The job of the filmmaker is to make the film, and put it out into the world the best way that is possible with the resources you have, and then whatever happens, happens. I don’t think you can ever predict, you know, for a long time, ‘The Fountain‘ was really, really hated and made fun of and stuff, and I think the fans of that one have been the biggest fans of any film that I have had. The passion that people feel for that film has been deeper than any feedback I ever get from just people I meet. So, you don’t know how things are going to work, and it definitely, you know, the story of films takes a long time, especially if the filmmaker has worked hard on them."

"Suburbicon"

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Suburbicon is George Clooney's latest attempt at directing and, at some point in the aughts, it seemed like he could really be a great director. His first two fillms ("Confessions of a Dangerous mind," and  "Good Night and Good Luck") seemed to indicate that he could be a natural-born director, but somewhere along the way he lost himself with a series of misfires ("Leatherheads," "The Monuments Men," "The Ides of March"). You can now add "Suburbicon" to that list of fails. It's not like Clooney has lost his knack for presenting us a vivid setup of  tone, story, and time, but the the film's promising start is then followed by a a problematic execution of comedy and drama.

Dan Gilroy & Denzel Washington trimmed and re-edited ‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’ after TIFF

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I dug Roman Israel, ESQ. I didn't expect it to have the mixed reviews it received at TIFF this past September. Yes, the movie is a mess, but I thought that was part of its charm [Full REVIEW] It's a messy ambitious account of a messy, ambitious man. Some, make that many, movies go back to the cutting room floor after a festival showing. I mean, it's common sense to feed off of the reactions from critics and audiences alike and better your movie, but what Gilroy and Washington seemed to have done here is a complete overhaul of the narrative structure and tone of the film. The fact that they "reordered" scenes says everything you need to know about what is going on here. They also cut off a subplot, there are a few so I'm not sure which specifically, and that's something that can also impact the film differently. Music cues were changed, but, here's the gimmer for me, 12 minutes were cut from the film. You hear some directors say they cut 2 or 3 minutes, such as what Ruben Ostlund told me he did with his Palme D'or winning "The Square" after having won the prize, but 12 minutes, that can really change a movie. I wasn't going to rewatch "Roman Israel, ESQ," I thought I was satsfied enough by what I saw last month, but now it's back on my must-see list. If it is indeed a better film than that which I saw at Toronto then I'll be very ecstatic about it.

Does "The Breakfast Club" Deserve Its Criterion Treatment?




“A movie about a bunch of stereotypes who complain that other people see them as stereotypes ... But all that this encounter-session movie actually does is strip a group of high-school kids down to their most banal longings to be accepted and liked. Its real emblem is that dreary, retro ribbon" - Pauline Kael [8 Apr 1985, p.123] 

David Fincher on the pressures of directing "Star Wars" movies

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"….I talked to [producer Kathleen Kennedy] about that and look, it’s a plum assignment. I don’t know what’s worse: being George Lucas on the set of the first one where everyone’s going, “Alderaan? What the hell is this?” Where everyone’s making fun, but I can’t imagine the kind of intestinal fortitude one has to have following up the success of these last two. That’s a whole other level. One is that you have to endure the withering abuse of Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, and the other is you have to live up to a billion or a billion-five, and that becomes its own kind of pressure. I think [The Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner] had the best job. He had a pretty great script and he had the middle story. He didn’t have to worry about where it started and he didn’t have to worry about where it ended. And he had the great reveal. You’d have to really clear your head, I think. You’d have to really be sure this is what you wanted to do because either way it’s two years of your life, 14 hours a day, seven days a week."

 [Collider]

"I, Tonya" has a trailer



Given the incredible word of mouth from TIFF, it’s a no-brainer decision to have Craig Gillespie’s I, Tonya released this year for potential awards, especially when it comes to Margot Robbie and Allison Janney's performances. I wasn't sure what to make of the film initially but then I re-watched it and then it grabbed me. This is not a film that will break new ground, it is an entertaining take on a wild true story and, in some twisted way, I see it as a sure-fire crowd-pleasure, despite the lack of any characters with redeemable traits. Hell, I think the most likable character in this film is probably Tonya.

What are some other examples of movies that have weird alternative titles in foreign markets?

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Here are a few nifty titles I uncovered courtesy of a Reddit thread that was started on this topic [HEREI'm sure there are thousands of other examples but these seem to be the clear winners for me, from what I've found at least:

"Professor Marston & the Wonder Woman"

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Yes, "Wonder Woman" was the surprise of the summer, no make that the year, but what might even be more surprising is the story of the heroine's original creator. Harvard-educated William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans), taught Psych at Radcliffe with his wife Elizabeth Holloway (Rebecca Hall), a no-nonsense kind of gal that was ahead of her time in terms of feminism and sexuality. Dominance and submission are what this eccentric couple were after and given that this was all happening in the 1920's, many timid minds were offended, to say the least.  Enter Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote), Marston's student and eventual muse in his educational endeavors. As an unadorned fan of Marston's Olive is ready to volunteer at any cost, and volunteer she does, participating in the professor's many tantalizing experiments. Holloway agrees but warns the young protegee to not sleep with her husband or else, "don't fuck my husband" she says in a dryly persuasive delivery. However, it's not with the professor that this young bright mind's main desires lie, it's actually Holloway herself and, as we learn, the feeling is mutual. Marston, Holloway, and Byrne eventually embark on a three-way relationship that doesn't just confuse their neighbors next door but the main perpetrators themselves, who have enough confused emotional investment in each other to blow the roof off of their beautiful suburban house. 

"Marshall"

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Marshall Thurgood was the first attorney for the NAACP. He won 29 of the 32 cases he argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, including one Brown v. Board of Education. In fact, in 1967 Thurgood became the first African-American to serve on the Supreme court. A feat that didn't go unnoticed given that 50 years later we finally have a Hollywood movie about the man.


David Fincher: "Now, movies are about saving the world from destruction."

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I have difficulty trying to see David Fincher as a good fit for "World War Z 2," but Fincher has surprised us more than once in his career. This film, to me, harkens me back to his directing debut: Alien 3. It's a similar genre which relies on a lot of jump scares. I sure hope Fincher gives us something fresh and inventive, but what's the potential for that to happen here? Fincher has stated in the past that he wants to make movies that a big audience will go to see, he wants his movies seen NOT forgotten. With that in mind, I completely understand why he would choose such a project, the original Z, directed by Marc Foster, was plagued with reshoots and controversy, but it was a mega-blockbuster.

‘Reviews’ on the poster for Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Kevin Feige: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ Will Kickstart Marvel’s Phase 4

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We all really want to know what's Marvel's plan, Post-Phase 3. I mean, REALLY want to know. There is so much demand that Marvel head Kevin Feige had to address the swirling rumors earlier this week by stating that there is no plan, at the moment, to unveil a new phase. However, I'm betting that, once we catch "Infinity War," next year stuff will become a little clearer and we'll be able to decipher what's next for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Ron Howard reveals Han Solo standalone is called "SOLO - A Star Wars Story"





Netflix Expects to Release Around 80 Original Films in 2018





And Netflix also plans to advertise about five of them ...Here's my beef with Netflix. Chances are that these movies will not go for any awards because Netflix refuses to market their original films, or, if they do, it's very minimal and you wouldn't even notice it, but they’ll be watched by their intended audience eventually as people will “discover” them just like they discovered the now classic mumblecore drama "Drinking Buddies," which had a whole new shelf life on the streaming service.

All this to say ... And YET, they’re still $20 billion in debt, intentionally they say, which begs us to ask the question: When are you going to start making money Netflix?

Here's Variety quoting Netflix president Ted Sarandos on the 2018 lineup:

"Netflix expects to release around 80 original films next year, as it looks to hit the kind of scale in movies that it’s achieved on the TV side, They range anywhere from the million-dollar Sundance hit, all the way up to something on a much larger scale,” like Will Smith-starrer “Bright,” Sarandos said in an investors’ interview Monday about Netflix’s third-quarter 2017 results."

Obviously many of the 80 films will be bought at various film festivals next year but, of the titles already acquired, these are the most exciting prospects:

The Irishman (Martin Scorsese)
The Land of Steady Habits (Nicole Holofcener)
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Joel Coen)
The Other Side of the Wind (Orson Welles)
Hold the Dark (Jeremy Saulnier)
Mute (Duncan Jones)
Apostle (Gareth Evans)

Box Office Week: Happy Death Day surprises at #1 with an excellent $26.5M, The Foreigner comes in at #3 with a solid $12.8M, and Professor Marston & The Wonder Women has a disasterous opening at #14 with $737K.

1."Happy Death Day," $26.5 million 
2."Blade Runner 2049," $15.1 million
3."The Foreigner," $12.8 million 
4."It," $6.1 million 
5."The Mountain Between Us," $5.7 million
6."American Made," $5.4 million 
7."Kingsman: The Golden Circle," $5.3 million
8."The Lego Ninjago Movie," $4.3 million 
9."My Little Pony: The Movie," $4 million 
10."Victoria and Abdul," $3.1 million 

David Fincher attacks Marvel movies

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“Look, there’s a very large talent pool of people who are- don’t feel there’s much for them in terms of sustenance working for Marvel,” said Fincher, prompting the listeners to laugh. “And I think that if we can make a playground for them that is thoughtful, adult, interesting, complex, challenging stories and figure out ways to pull them into it, there’s a chance at something that isn’t lassoed and hogtied by three acts. And there’s something else that doesn’t have to be 22-minute half hour or have a cliffhanger. I think it is an exciting time.”

[Comic Book]

"The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)"

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I initially saw Noah Baumbach's "The Meyerowitz Stories" this past May at the Cannes Film Festival. It was an underwhelming experience watching it with a mostly European crowd that, most likely, didn't understand half the New York jokes that were coming at you in a breathlessly effortles pace. I tweeted: "The Meyerowitz Stories isn't top-notch Baumbach. No edge to some of the scenes felt Woody Allen-lite." Suffice to say I was most probably going to watch it again closer to its release date.

Christopher Nolan's Top 15 Favourite Films




Michael Mann, Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuaron and Alexandre Desplat in Lumiere Festival Premiere in Lyon, France

Akira Kurosawa Receives an Honorary Award: 1990 Oscars



"George Lucas and Steven Spielberg presenting an Honorary Oscar to Akira Kurosawa for accomplishments that have inspired, delighted, enriched and entertained audiences and influenced filmmakers throughout the world, at the 62nd Academy Awards. Introduced by Jack Valenti."

It was more than 27 years ago today, on the 26th of March 1990, that Akira Kurosawa was given the honorary Academy Award “for cinematic accomplishments that have inspired, delighted, enriched and entertained worldwide audiences and influenced filmmakers throughout the world”.

In his brief acceptance speech, Kurosawa famously wondered if the award was deserved and looked forward to continuing with his career: “I’m a little worried because I don’t feel that I understand cinema yet. I really don’t feel that I have yet grasped the essence of cinema. Cinema is a marvellous thing, but to grasp its true essence is very, very difficult. But what I promise you is that from now on I will work as hard as I can at making movies, and maybe by following this path I will achieve an understanding of the true essence of cinema and earn this award.”

You can watch a seven-minute clip above, including a happy birthday song to the director who had only three days earlier turned 80 years old.

"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"


After months have passed, and a suspect still not in custody in her daughter’s murder case, lonely and isolated Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) decides, in a risky endeavor, to buy three signs leading into her town with a blatant message firmly directed at the town's police chief William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson). Enter second in-command and ticking time-bomb Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell) who decides to get involved. 

Martin McDonagh’s harrowingly comic film, which won the coveted People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, has narrative and tonal jumps that make for a challenging and engaging experience. Its reception bodes well for a interesting Oscar trajectory. It’s been more than 20 years since Frances McDormand won Best Actress for Fargo, and she’s back again in fine form as a serious contender. Playing Mildred, a woman who draws battle lines with a small town’s local police department by buying the aforementioned three billboards , she's desperately asking that the case to her raped and murdered daughter’s be reopened. McDormand is fiercely hilarious. Forget about Marvel’s heroes; she’s a legitimate Avenger. 

While British writer-director McDonagh, a theater-seasoned director, showed incredible promise with In Bruges and especially 2012’s underseen Seven Psychopaths, it’s safe to say that Three Billboards is his best movie yet. Going back and forth between comedy and drama, this is an unpredictable ride accompanied by some of the most complex characters you’ll see on-screen this movie year. Aside from the formidable McDormand, Sam Rockwell should be another Oscar contender, as the devious deputy sheriff of the town, ditto Woody Harellson as the well-meaning but filled with secrets Police chief. This is quite possibly the best ensemble of the year. Oh, and be prepared for one of the best endings of any movie this decade [A-]

Capsule Review: Novitiate

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Maggie Betts’ feature film debut, for the most part, does not feel like the work of an amateur. The shot selection, framing, and tone are all top-notch. Set in the early 1960s and during the era of the reform that would be known as Vatican II, a young lady, perfectly played by Diana Agron, decides to join the nunhood due to her unadorned love for God, but things get complicated. A changing, more progressive church, and sexual desire for her peers starts to interfere, leading her to question herself. Novitiate is a messy, sprawling 123 minute film that leaves you truly shaken by its final frame. "Novitiate" needs a heavy editing job but Melissa Leo, stunning as the conflicted nun from hell, is a particular standout and surely receive an Oscar nomination come next January.

Kevin Feige Praises DC Films: “They’ve Figured It Out”

What is going on with Paul Thomas Anderson's "Phantom Thread"?

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Is there a film that I am more looking forward to this season than Paul Thomas Anderson's "Phantom Thread"? The answer is, obviously, no. PTA is the current master of cinema, despite the mixed reaction his last movie, "Inherent Vice," received back in October of 2014. I dug it, for the most part, but "Phantom Thread" reteams him with, newly retired, "There Will Be Blood" star Daniel Day-Lewis. We can expect the usual Johnny Greenwood score, best in the biz alongside Trent Reznor as far as I'm concerned, but what we didn't see coming was that PTA was also going to serve as the film's principal cinematographer.

According to Indiewire Paul Thomas Anderson has decided to be his own cinematographer for his upcoming movie "Phantom Thread." PTA has been itching on being a DP for years, something he did regularly in hs music video days. The venerable director has always been creatively involved with his DP's in past films, even sometimes taking over photography duties for specific shots or scenes.


At the moment, there are are no stills and no trailers to the film. There are rumors the film is currently cut at a running time of 195 minutes and that the goal is to trim it down to 165 or so minutes. I recently spoke to someone close to production that said that this is the better, more mature and artful version of "Fifty Shades of Grey," to which I politely responded "WTF!?"


Some are speculating that the film won't even be released this year. Say it ain't so Joe. I'm fairly confident we will see the film before year's end, but all the secretive maneouevring on PTA and the studio's part is frustrating to say the least. 


The official synopsis is also scant and minimal -


"Continuing their creative collaboration following 2007’s There Will Be Blood, three-time Academy Award winner Daniel Day-Lewis stars in Phantom Thread from Paul Thomas Anderson. The writer/director will once again explore a distinctive milieu of the 20th century. The new movie is a drama set in the couture world of 1950s London. The story illuminates the life behind the curtain of an uncompromising dressmaker commissioned by royalty and high society."
“Phantom Thread” opens on December 25th.

Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler's "The House" is another critically panned comedy this decade ("MacGruber" anybody?) that is actually very funny

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I really liked The House. I never understood why the reviews were so scathing. I saw it again recently and it still made me laugh. I know A.O. Scott gave it a very positive review, and called it “a dark, startlingly bloody journey into the bitter, empty, broken heart of the American middle class.” But for the most part, critics HATED it. The Metacritic score it garnered was a 31. Its Rotten Tomatoes rating is 17%. Ouch.

At the time of its release, Warner Bros. refused to screen the film to critics. That's usually a terrible sign for a movie's quality. The critics that did review it bought a ticket, such as myself, although I ended up not writing a review or blurb until now because, well, the movie deserves all the backing it can receive on DVD/Blu-Ray.

Also, it pushed me even more to write something when Chance the Rapper recently tweeted about how surprisingly funny the film was and was left wondering why the critics were so hard on it.

He's right. Comedy has been a dirty word for critics. And yes, The House is indeed, in the words of the rapper, "Funny as fuck." 

Comedy is obviously a very subjective genre, but the more "normal people" I talk to about comedies the more I start to realize the dividing gap happening in terms of critic vs audience perception of the genre. 

ScreenCrush's Matt Singer wrote about the unfair treatment of "The House" vis-a-vis film critics, saying: "I’m with Chance. I want to read more film journalists who know a comedic delicacy when they see one, and who are willing to admit that they laugh when Amy Poehler pees outside. (I sure did!) Even if Warners didn’t show it to the press, The House deserved better. Don’t take the critics’ word for it. Take this critic’s word for it." The whole article can be found HERE. It's worth a read.

Of course, it's not a recent phenomenon, comedies being unfairly reviewed by critics been happening for years. It all probably started in the 80s, is Reagan to blame, when what we consider classics today were DESTROYED by film critics: "Vacation," "Caddyshack," "Meatballs," "Spaceballs," "Ghostbusters," "The Naked Gun," "Trading Places," "Coming to America," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "Weekend at Bernie's,""Stripes," "Porky's." They all received mostly negative reviews, if Rotten Tomatoes existed back then, their RT scores wouldn't be no more than 40%.

Want more? The 1990's saw future comedy classics panned by critics as well: "Dumb and Dumber," "Happy Gilmore," "Ace Ventura," "Tommy Boy," "Half Baked," "Home Alone," "Kingpin," "Friday" "Billy Madison," The Waterboy." All have less than 50% RT scores. Yikes. Have critics no sense of humor?

While we're at it, the 2000s had its fair share of mixed reviews for comedy classics such as "Anchorman," "Step Brothers," "Old School," "Pineapple Express," "Zoolander," "Harold and Kumar," "Grandma's Boy," "Super Troopers," and "Jackass: The Movie."

Which leaves us with this decade. We've already had a bunch of very funny movies panned by critics. Future classics? Who knows. But for my money "MacGruber," "That's My Boy," "Hot Tub Time Machine" and, yes, "The House," will most likely become comedy classics in years to come. 

The Harvey Weinstein Saga: "Everybody Knew"



I've waited a bit to tackle this topic, but I decided now's an ideal time given that this story won't really be slowing down anytime soon. Just yesterday another victim released a statement regarding Weinstein's aggression towards her and it was none other than Kate Beckinsale. The total is now 28 women.

What are my two cents on this whole Weinstein "saga"? Everyone in Hollywood knew about this. They may not have known the scope of Weinstein’s perversion, could anybody safe for maybe his aides grasp the systemic nature of this, but those fuckers KNEW A LOT. 
They all just felt it was the price of entrance to the ball, to Harvey’s party. Harvey was the biggest aand the meanest SOB around, and he could make or break you. So people capitulated, and rationalized, and dealt with the devil they knew. There’s a lot of dirty hands in Hollywood because this scam took many people to perpetuate.

The only reason why it's now a big deal is that a) his power has severely diminished over the last few years and b) because as was mentioned by Jeffrey Welles the other day, "there is a general journalistic hunger for revenge afoot right now."

Harvey’s day of reckoning is speeding toward him like a bullet train. He’s fixin’ to be a little-squashed penny. What's more interesting still is wondering who's going to win or lose the ongoing scramble of "Hollywood elite musical chairs" to see who will come out a "hero" (Rose McGowan, Ashley Judd?) and who will come out an "enabler" (Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Meryl Streep?).
It's tricky because every day, the rules change - can you still claim that you never knew about it? (Since every day, that excuse sounds more absurd.) When was the cutoff time for making a tweet of support that absolves you from your years of knowing about it but not saying anything? How many awards won under Harvey's mentoring make it impossible for you to be a "hero"? 
And then you have Ben Affleck that plays the "I'm shocked, shocked! to hear that such a thing would occur - this is unacceptable, we need to do better!" card - and only a few hours later he's accused of groping two women on two separate occasions. The sheer hypocrisy of this industry is in full display here folks and it will take a lot of months, maybe years, for Hollywood to recover from this.

We know that Matt Damon and Russell Crowe tried to bury the NYT story in 2004, I mean, essentially, they should be counted as accomplices, no? 

The fact that Asia Argento got the ball rolling and started the whole domino effect is an especially intriguing story. She is, after all, an outsider who left the studio system and all but went back to Italy. Her's is an especially complex and harrowing tale given that he orally raped her and then years later she was in a position where she had to take money from him and give him more sexual favors. This isn't the last we hear from this type of story, and I've decided to fully invest this site's time on the goings on because of how important and morally right it is to do so. Just know one thing, this is only the beginning of a domino effect that will be happening, a lot more is to come ....

    "Wonder Wheel"










    A new Woody Allen movie is always a hit or miss proposition. Especially, oh, I'd say the last 20 or so odd years. At least ever since 1998's misbegotten "Celebrity" he's kind of been all over the map and gone on his movie-per-year phase which should have been a gift to cinephiles worldwide but has had many nadirs in the process. From 2000-present he released some of the worst movies he's ever made ("Scoop," "Anything Else," "The Curse of the Jade Scorpion," "Cassandra's Dream," "Hollywood Ending," "Whatever Works," "Melinda and Melinda," "You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger," "To Rome With Love")

    And, yet, we have been accustomed to a golden nugget every so often. It happened in 2005 with the above average "Match Point," it happened again in 2011 with "Midnight in Paris," 2013 saw the emergence of the brilliant "Blue Jasmine" with an Oscar-winning performance from Cate Blanchett. All indications were that "Wonder Wheel" led by a performance from Kate Winslet would be the fourth worthy Woody of the last 17 or so years. The buzz was deafening for not only the movie but Kate's performance, and yet, the result ....

    Set in Coney Island in the 1950s, Justin Timerblake plays a lifeguard narrating the story of a carousel operator (Jim Belushi) and his unhappy, unfulfilled wife (Kate Winslet). The plot thickens when his unstable daughter (Juno Temple) shows up with gangsters on her trail. Timberlake feels very miscast here, there isn't a moment in the film where you don't remind yourself to the fact that "That's Justin Timberlake!" I do find that is a major problem for the film as his role is central to the film's dilemma. Temple and Winslet's characters are supposed to fall for him, but you just don't really see why or how they could fall for this guy. There's no draw to him. 

    "Wonder Wheel" is essentially Allen's version of "A Streetcar Named Desire," a theatrical-feeling joint that nevertheless creates sparks, no thanks to its fine cast and crew, especially Winslet, but even more so Temple. I hope this is a breakthrough role for the 28-year-old actress, so good in William Friedkin's "Killer Joe," whose been mostly waiting for that career-making break. We need more Juno at the movies and I hope "Wonder Wheel" sparks that domino effect I've been waiting for ever since catching her in the Friedkin film.

    Here's what I wrote to a friend a few days after seeing it, when the embargo was still on:
    “Yes, there’s a Kate Winslet meltdown scene that people seem to be talking about, It’s shot, if I remember correctly, in a single take and is just heart-wrenching. It proved to me that Woody still has a fair amount of cinematic juice left in him. It also upped the entire movie’s quality for me as well.
    Jim Belushi is fine. Not much of a well-sketched character if you ask me, but you do care for him. Juno Temple is better!
    “Overall Winslet is very solid, but she won’t win an Oscar for this. No way, no how. She doesn’t even come close to reaching Blanchett-level greatness. Possibly a fifth slot awaits her? The fact that she’s already won all but seals it for me. Plus her accent is quite strange here. I’m not sure what she was going for. She’s still a great actress, but some notes didn’t ring true. If people are expecting a Cate Blanchett-level performance, they’d best lower their expectations. She’s really good and deserves that fifth slot, but Winslet is not Blanchett.

    “The scenes involving the mob felt like a mix of comedy and violence. Reminded me of Bullets over Broadway. They feel a little bit distracting, mess up the tone, especially when the soul of the film is Winslet.”
    Now that we have that out of the way here's the primary reason why you should watch this film: Vitorio Storaro.
    Vittorio Storaro‘s cinematography is incredible.  There are some scenes where he uses the light in a given room so well, and in a way that’s very similar to the way he brought out colors to rooms in The Conformist. This is exceptional work from a true master of the form. As much as I hope Deakins wins that Oscar, Storaro deserves it way more. [B]
    And so, the embargo for reactions has lifted and reviews are far worse than I thought they would be. Too bad, this isn't a failed movie, it's just not a great one. We expected something very special but what we received instead was a familiar Justin Timberlake-narrated melodrama gorgeously shot and indelibly acted 

    NYFF: Joachim Trier Talks Making ‘Thelma’ & Rooting For Terrence Malick [Interview]


    I had an interesting conversation with "Thelma" director Joachim Trier which eventually deviated into the subject of Terrence Malick. I highly recommend you read it. His new movie "Thelma" also ain't too bad either, think "Carrie" but set in Scandinavia with an added mix of Lesbianism. How can you say no to that?

    Full interview can be found HERE

    Roger Deakins: Don't see 'Blade Runner 2049' in 3D

    Harrison Ford, Blade Runner 2049

    "I think I said previously that I oversaw the timing of all the versions of 'BR2049' including the HDR version," he wrote. My preferred version is the standard 2D widescreen version. A problem I have with some viewing systems is their use of silvered screens. The image projected on a silvered screen lacks saturation as well as density as it falls off from a hot spot in the center of vision. This may not be so apparent for someone sitting in the optimum viewing seat but it is a compromise in terms of image quality wherever you are seated, though it maybe a compromise worth accepting if you are a fan of 3D."---- Roger Deakins

    Here's what I wrote last week about Deakins' work as Cinematographer for "Blade Runner 2049":

    "Denis Villeneuve's "Blade Runner 2049" is a transportive visual feast for the eyes which has no less than a dozen, or so, of the best shots of the entire movie year. Legendary cinematographer and 13-time Oscar nominee Roger Deakins shoots the hell out of this visionary sequel. Why wouldn't he win that elusive Oscar?"

    I also had a feature of the best shots of his career which can be clicked on HERE

    First image of Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa in Martin Scorsese's 'The Irishman.'



    Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and shoes

    Here's what we wrote just last week:


























    "Oldfellas." If you read "I Heard You Paint Houses", you know this movie is right up Scorcese's alley. Pesci is going to be an incredible Ray Bufalino. 

    "Last month it was confirmed that Martin Scorsese's much-anticipated "The Irishman" would start shooting this year and that Netflix has officially greenlit the project for a tentative 2019 release. Well, it seems like it's already begun, just look at these glorious photos snapped up on the streets of NYC.

    It'll be a reunion of sorts for Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, one of the great actor/director partnerships in cinematic history, who haven't made a film together since 1995's "Casino." If that isn't enough, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel and Al Pacino are all taking part as well.

    Scribe-extraordinaire Steve Zaillian (Gangs Of New York,” “Schindler’s List,” “Moneyball,“ “The Night Of“), is helming the screenplay for this one, which is based on the book “I Heard You Paint Houses” by Charles Brandt. Zaillian is a hot commodity these days after writing and directing the best TV series of 2016, HBO's brilliant dissection of the justice system "The Night Of."


    Official Synopsis:

    "The Irishman"  tells the story of Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran — a hitman tied to the Bufalino crime family that was a high ranking officer in the international brotherhood of teamsters, was tied to a possible plot in the JFK assassination and who claimed, on his deathbed, to have murdered Teamster leader and iconic cold case Jimmy Hoffa."

    Director Dee Rees Talks 'Mudbound,' Shared History & Future Projects [Interview]



    I spoke with Dee Rees about her excellent new film "Mudbound." I was a big fan of her earlier film "Pariah," and, suffice to say, "Mudbound" did not disappoint in the least bit. It unique narrative structure is also something to behold. Rees is one of the few African-American female directors currently working in Hollywood. I can't think of many, that's for sure. Isn't that something to cheer for?

    You can read the whole interview HERE.

    Here are notes I wrote about the film at Sundance:

    "Dee Rees’ “Mudbound” is a complex and invigorating account of post-WWII racial tensions in 1940s Mississippi. The film addresses, with astute sensitivity, the timeless racial struggles still at play in America. Rees, whose “Pariah” remains one of the most underrated films of this decade, tells the story of two soldiers, one white and one black (Garrett Hedlund and Jason Mitchell), returning home to rural Mississippi, having seen the horrors of war and struggling to deal with racial injustices they must confront. They form a friendship that gets the townspeople talking. Neither man cares about the other’s skin color, they just need comfort in each other’s bruised souls, and Rees nails the touching friendship they build. “Mudbound” isn’t just one of the best movies of the year, it’s one of the most vitally important. It encompasses, with many brilliant brush strokes, the problems that lie in the American landscape, problems that still pertain to the political conversation today."

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