Steven Soderbergh’s ‘High Flying Bird’ Set to Premiere at Slamdance

Image result for high flying bird soderbergh

A shocker announcement greeted us today courtesy of Slamdance, the lower-tier Park City festival, and Sundance rival, announced that not only will Steven Soderbergh be there to accept the annual Slamdance 2019 Founders Award, but will also world premiere his next movie “High Flying Bird.” 

Is ‘Black Panther' Worthy of a Best Picture Nomination? Of Course Not.

In the next few weeks you will no doubt see a real push by the media to present "Black Panther" as a worthy Best Picture contender. All for the sake of progress and a rabid Disney agenda that is expertly pushing this narrative. Don't bite.
Angel Bassett, who stared in 'Panther' has been quoted as saying "In my mind, it has the Oscar. I think it deserves it," she explained while promoting her upcoming Transformers film, "Bumblebee." Whereas, Collider's Adam Chitwood just wrote an op-ed pleading the case that 'Panther' is worthy of a Picture nomination.
No it's not.
I will first mention the positives that come with the film. Yes, "Black Panther" is a cultural groundbreaker that is as important as many movies released this year in America. I know how significant it is to have the most powerful film franchise, Marvel, finally deliver a superhero movie with an almost entirely black cast at the forefront. I do, I really do. This is a time when a film like "Black Panther" should exist. Think of all the young kids watching this movie who will see themselves as the heroes, capable of doing just about anything that they set their minds in doing. Just for that, I am glad it has become such a resounding billion-dollar success.
However, this film doesn't remotely come close to the tense or cinematic level of, say "The Winter Soldier," a film that drastically changed the mold for Marvel as first and foremost a film inspired by the '70s political thriller, or even "Logan," a movie that tried to distance itself from the banal, predictable narrative structure of the superhero genre by infusing Western-like sensibilities and -- shock -- adult-oriented moral dilemmas. The problem with "Black Panther" was that there simply wasn't all that much excitement to go around. Almost everything you expected in the narrative did happen.
There wasn't anything memorable, no moment that sent your pulse pounding, or your spine tingling. This is a straightforward telling of a story that on paper should not be straightforward at all, or at the very least, safe. Coogler's source material was Ta-Nehisi Coates' more recent "Black Panther" comics and to say he watered it down for the masses would be an understatement. Coates' comics were firmly rooted in Afrofuturism and had a Shakespearian-influence in scope and tone.

‘Solo’ Score Ineligible for Oscar Consideration Because Someone Forgot to Submit It

Image result for solo star wars\

Variety is reporting that the music for "Solo: A Star Wars Story," with a score from John Powell and themes by John Williams, is ineligible for Oscar consideration because someone, somewhere, missed the deadline to submit it. Yes, the November 15 deadline was not met when it comes to Solo's soundtrack, which was probably the best part of the movie, come to think of it. How and/or why did this happen? We're not really sure, but this just proves how forgettable the movie was, even to Disney bigwigs.

A24's Psychedelic-Horror ‘Climax' Receives March 1, 2019 Release Date

Gaspar Noe's "Climax" will no doubt cause a lot of heads to spin, in both good ways and bad. Many of the reviews have mentioned how it is his best movie, I would have to actually make a case for "Enter the Void" to be his crowning achievement, a film that will stand the test of time. Suffice to say, critics went gaga for it at La Croisette. I really liked it but felt the excess finally caught up to it in its final few moments. That's all fine and dandy. As far as I'm concerned Noe has never made a boring film in his career, although his previous film, the 3D explicit sex film "Love," started to feel pedantic and dull in its second hour, and "Climax" is anything but boring.

The Academy Reportedly Considering Having a Host-Less Oscar Ceremony

Image result for host-less oscars

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences is weighing on a potential host-less Oscars this year after comedian Kevin Hart quit amid a hell-storm of criticism over refusing to apologize for gay jokes he made back in 2009. 
According to the report, Academy leadership have been “scrambling” to find a replacement for Kevin Hart and have mulled the option of just not having a host at all this year. Variety’s Matt Donnelly reports, citing sources with first-hand knowledge of Academy board meetings, that the academy was “blindsided” by Hart’s resignation. One unnamed comedy agent told Variety that the award show’s producers were not prepared, with a backup plan, for Hart’s ouster, saying “They’re freaking out” at the Academy.

“I think it’s embarrassing,” Matthew Belloni, the editorial director of The Hollywood Reporter, said about the academy’s decision to pick Hart. “It shows that they either didn’t vet this host properly, or they did vet him and didn’t think this would be an issue. And both are a little troubling.”

“He checks all the boxes for a show like the Oscars,” Belloni said. “He’s a legitimate movie star. He’s a funny guy and can handle the stand-up element of the show. And he has a gigantic social following. And to the academy, that’s important. They want someone who can bring a new audience to the show.”
“Oscars host has become a not very desirable job in Hollywood. Very few people see an upside,” Belloni said. “You put a huge target on your back.”
If the Academy opts for a host-less event this year, it would mark the first time doing so since 1989.

Sight and Sound names ‘Roma' Best Film of 2018

Roma (2018)
I abide by Sight & Sound's newly unveiled list of the the best films of 2018. The annual film poll, unsurprisingly, came to the conclusion that Alfonso Cuaron's “Roma” was the best film of the year. The awards-season dominance of Cuaron's film has been unsurpassed, it has won the top prize with seven different critics groups thus far, including the prestigious New York Film Critics Circle and Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

Where are the next great American directors?

Image result for j.c chandor a most violent year

An interesting observation: The '80s and '90s saw a slew of brilliant American filmmakers making their debut. For example, we saw the likes of Spike Lee, Steven Soderbergh, Jim Jarmusch, Oliver Stone, Jonathan Demme, Michael Mann, John Sayles, Gus Van Sant, Tim Burton, Sam Raimi, Joel and Ethan Coen and Kathryn Bigelow, John Hughes and Barry Levinson. The 1990s were even better, due to the indie film movement blossoming into its peak, with the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Richard Linklater, Kevin Smith, Darren Aronofsky, Spike Jonze, Todd Solondz, Todd Haynes, Alexander Payne, David O Russell, Paul Thomas Anderson, David Fincher, Kelly Reichardt, and Brad Bird, among many others who made their first films that decade.

‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' is a visual groundbreaker [Review]

Image result for spider-man into the spider-verse

This was a very pleasant visual experience, to say the least. "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," an animated take on the Marvel superhero, is the closest a movie has coming to making a comic book spring to life. Telling the coming-of-age story of Miles Morales (voiced by Sameik Moore), teenage son to an African-American cop and a Puerto Rican nurse, who gets bitten by a radioactive spider and .. well you know the set-up. "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" uses a meta-universe of alternative Spideys to pull off  an unexpected deft and humane comic touch. However, if the story is what I would qualify as "OK," the visuals are the real sell, the eye-popping frames, concocted by directors Peter RamseyRobert Persichetti Jr, and Rodney Rothman and producers  Phil Lord and Chris Miller, has the feel of stepping inside a page-turner. At the end of the day, and no disrespect to the high-leveled CGI in MCU and DCEU films, animation is the best medium with which to honor the style of the comic book art. These aforementioned creatives have adapted 70-year-old techniques seen in comic artwork into the film's visual language. To capture the feel of comic book animation they had to concoct comic book techniques such as  "line work, painting and dots to make it look like it was created by hand, which has been described by them as "a living painting".This was achieved by artists taking rendered frames from the CGI animators and working on top of them in 2D. Lord described this style of animation as "totally revolutionary" and it is. Prepare to be impressed by this visually groundbreaking work. I can't wait to see it again.

First Look at J.C. Chandor's ‘Triple Frontier’

J.C. Chandor‘s "Triple Frontier" (Netflix) is most definitely on my must-see list for 2019. I mean, how can it not be? Chandor ("Margin Call," "All Is Lost," "A Most Violent Year") is a first-rate filmmaker that hasn't even hit the peak of his powers yet. He adapts a Mark Boal script here, and has some formidable actors to take the brunt of the work (Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam and Garrett Hedlund.)

Los Angeles Film Critics Association Names ‘Roma’ Best Picture of 2018

(L to R) Marco Graf as Pepe, Daniela Demesa as Sofi, Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, Marina De Tavira as Sofia, Diego Cortina Autrey as Toño, Carlos Peralta Jacobson as Paco in Roma, written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón. Photo by Carlos Somonte
Another week and another Best Picture prize for Alfonso Cuaron's "Roma." What can I say, the most deserving film is sweeping awards season, it has now won the top prize with critics groups in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, and Philadelphia. However, don't expect it to also win the Oscar, no siree. "Roma" is too artsy, too slow and ponder-some for Academy members to jump on that bandwagon. It is still very much a race between "Green Book" and "A Star is Born" as far as I'm concerned.

‘Avengers: Endgame’ Trailer Breaks Record With 289 Million Views in 24 Hours

The just-released trailer for “Avengers: Endgame” earned more 289 million views across streaming platforms in 24 hours, thus becoming the most viewed trailer in 24 hours in movie history. 

Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Plot Synopsis Revealed

New Jordan Peele Movie

After giving us the best movie of 2017 ("Get Out") we all were wondering what the next provocation from writer-director Jordan Peele would look like. Plot details for "Us" have been kept very hush-hush, but the plot synopsis has been uncovered [via /Film] courtesy of a few test screenings invites were sent out:

"A mother (Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o from Black Panther, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and 12 Years a Slave) and a father (Winston Duke from Black Panther) take their kids to their beach house expecting to unplug and unwind with friends (including Emmy winner Elizabeth Moss from TV series The Handmaid’s Tale). But as night descends, their serenity turns to tension and chaos when some shocking visitors arrive uninvited."

Nick Cannon calls out Hollywood’s “double standard" by posting old homophobic tweets by Schumer, Silverman, and Handler

Nick Cannon is not happy that his friend, Comedian Kevin Hart, was thrown under the bus by the Academy and Hollywood alike. He called out this double standard on Twitter, by zeroing on 3 white, female comedians. 

Director James Gray: Critics Are Bad at Judging Movies


Director James Gray ("Two Lovers," "The Immigrant"), currently serving as jury president at the 2018 Marrakech Film Festival, thinks critics should not be given as much power at film festivals to criticize movies because, quite frankly, they are bad judges of movie quality:

“The number one problem I have with this kind of festival situation is that there’s always this temptation to classify the movie immediately and if you look at it—and I’ve tried to warn my fellow jurors of this—directors and movie critics are the worst people to judge movies.” Gray told The Film Stage during an interview on his break time at Marrakech.

“Directors are always thinking, ‘I could do that,'” Gray continued. “Critics are always saying, ‘This part of the movie is like the 1947 version and this part…’ And it’s like, ‘Fuck! Just watch the movie and try and absorb it and not compare it to some other fucking movie and put it in a box!'”

“‘[The film] didn’t do this or that like I wanted’”—it’s not about that,” the director said. “It’s trying to absorb what [the movie is] trying to communicate. I let time be the judge” he says. 

Let's flashback to Cannes 2013 when Gray brought "The Immigrant" to the Croisette, the film was met with a divisive response. Which culminated with Gray telling Cannes critics to "go fuck themselves.

He still stands stands by those words.

I think most of the people that go to Cannes and watch movies, they’re full of shit,” Gray told The Film Stage. “I think that they’re there for some bullshit agenda. They don’t allow the movie to be absorbed emotionally…I think the problem is, with that festival in particular — again I’ve seen it first hand from the other side as well — they are the protectors of the status quo and in a way they don’t think they are, right? They think they are being bold.”

“Vice" is a sprawling and satirical look into the evil psyche of Dick Cheney [Review]

Image result for vice mckay

Forget about the physical transformation that Christian Bale had to make to become Dick Cheney in Adam McKay's "Vice," Yes, the 44-year-old Welsh actor gained 40 pounds to play Dubya's Vice Prez, we expect that from the legendary Welsh method actor. No, this role isn't just an impersonation, it's a genetic inheritance, a cloning, if you will. He carries McKay's film with a towering performance that will be talked about for ages.

Best Actor: Bale, Cooper, Mortensen, Hawke and Malek

It's safe to say that the Best Actor category is probably the easiest acting category to predict when it comes to this year's Oscar nominations. Unless Willem Dafoe's outstanding performance as Vincent Van Gogh in "At Eternity's Gate" does any damage, then we are left with five sure-thing nominees (Bale, Cooper, Mortensen, Hawke and Malek). Who will win is another story. I believe any of the five can nab that Oscar. A case can be made for all of them. Christian Bale's transformation in "Vice" is stunning; Bradley Cooper can be toasted as the "it-boy" of the industry for writing-directing-producing and starring in a the high-grossing movie "A Star is Born"; Viggo Mortensen is the heart and soul of "Green Book," a crowd-pleasing film that is already being touted as a serious Best Picture contender; Ethan Hawke, well-loved by everyone, has never won an Oscar and his career-best work performance in "First Reformed" could very-well be too irresistible for the Academy to ignore; Finally, Rami Malek's passionate performance as Freddie Mercury in "Bohemian Rhapsody" is the kind of work that launches a career to the stratosphere.