With a hostless 91st Academy Awards about to be unveiled to us on February 24th, here comes the news that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, was approached to host the gig. Which only amplifies the obvious fact that the Academy is trying to turn the Oscars into the MTV movie awards, what with Kevin Hart/The Rock touted as hosts, the technical categories being announced during commercial break and the pathetic Best Popular Oscar category trying to adhere to the fanboy contingent of viewers.Read More
I remember being severely disappointed by Samuel L. Jackson’s remake of “Shaft” back in 2000, then again I’m not necessarily a fan of the 1972 Richard Roundtree-starring original, it’s all part of the silliness of Blaxploitation, give me “Superfly” any day of the week. But, count me as looking forward to this father and nephew duo sequel, along with Shaft III aka John Shaft Jr. aka JJ (played by Jessie Usher) in the upcoming, still, titled “Shaft.” Yup, three film with the same goddamn title. It was originally titled “Son of Shaft.”Read More
Steve McQueen's “Widows” begins with the wondrously set-up image of Viola Davis and Liam Neeson in bed together and passionately kissing. Some of the audience I saw the film with actually gasped at the scene and how, quite frankly, erotic the smooching was. Was it because Davis is an African-American woman and Liam Neeson is pure Irish white? Quite possibly. The reaction was telling; it showcased how some people are still in total denial that an interracial couple can have a passionate on-screen romance.Read More
Woody Allen will not go down without a fight.
After accusations of child molestation being brought back to the forefront last year, most notably by Ronan Farrow and Mia Farrow, the filmmaker, whose latest work “A Rainy Day in New York” seems to be in total limbo, has decided to sue Amazon for $68 millionRead More
Despite a population of close to 9 million, Mexico City’s government operates only 45 emergency ambulances. This shortage crisis has resulted in private paramedics becoming first responders to the critically injured. One of them is the Ochoas family, zigzagging through high-speed ambulance rides to care for the critically injured. Despite being unregistered, they are the underground lifeline for many. At first, you don’t know if what you’re watching is fiction or non-fiction. The masterful cinema vérité camerawork in Luke Lorentzen’s “Midnight Family” has a knack for sucking us into after-hours Mexico City and the fractured health care system at its disposal. From local competition to police bribes to patient’s unwillingness to pay their bills, the Ochoas have to navigate through all of that to make ends meet, then there’s the ethically questionable practice of making money off dying poor patients. This 81-minute masterpiece will change the way you look at documentaries forever; its style reads like an action movie, its themes like a socio-political drama, and, yet, it still is very much a work of non-fiction, with a camera always exactly positioned to capture a society on the brink of moral collapse. [A]
The bible belt of early 1960s rural Oklahoma wasn’t a great time and place in America for outsiders. And this god-fearing country is certainly no place for two girls that may be slowly falling in love and calling too much public attention to all the time they’re spending together. Director Martha Stephens (co-director of 2014 Sundance film “Land Ho!” with Aaron Katz) adapts Shannon Bradley-Colleary‘s screenplay on intolerance and class-warfare in pre-sexual revolution America into an artfully visual feast, but one that unfortunately plods along at an uneven pace into heavy-handedness as the drama intensifies. It’s a missed opportunity for something more poignant despite the wondrous black & white photography and a strong level of intimacy between the lead characters.
I, quite honestly, can’t help but think that for most of the Spring I’ll have to sit back, at the comfort of my own home, and catch up with a bunch of gems from the ‘40s and ‘50s. With the exception of J.C. Chandor’s “Triple Frontier” (March 13th) and Jordan Peele’s “Us” (March 21st) I have absolutely no excitement for the slate of studio films coming out between now until the end of April. I mean, unless you’re pumped for “Captain Marvel” (March 7th), “Dumbo” (March 29th) and “Avengers: Endgame” (April 26th), this is going to be a very stale season for cinephiles until Cannes kicks off in May. Maybe I should just go to SXSW.
David Fincher’s sequel to the 2013 zombie flick “World War Z” has been cancelled, The Playlist reports
Paramount is halting pre-production on the sequel due to “budgetary issues.” The sequel was supposed to start shooting this spring in Atlanta. There are no efforts to revitalize the film, at least as of this moment. This means Fincher is free as a bird to pick his next project. He has already wrapped up the second season of his Netflix show “Mindhunter” but hasn’t released a feature-length feature since 2014’s “Gone Girl.”
Martin Scorsese's “The Irishman” will be coming to Netflix this October. That is, at least, what I was told by a member of the cast/crew at Sundance last week. And which has been all but confirmed by star Sebastian Maniscalco on the Joe Rogan podcast, this afternoon by saying "It's coming out in October."
Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci will star in the gangster film, based on the book “I Hear You Paint Houses” by Charles Brandt and tells the tale of gangster/assassin Frank 'The Irishman' Sheeran.
The idea that we can modernize familiar narrative tropes is something that Hollywood always strives in achieving. After all, why change a formula that has been working so well, and making money, on audiences since the beginning of time when you could just freshen it up for contemporary audiences, whose sensibilities, let’s be frank haven’t changed all that much. Please keep in mind that in the millions of years the homosapien has lived on this planet, their DNA has barely changed, nor has their way of responding to triggers which prompt the usual emotional reactions.Read More
Aesthetics and substance are two entirely different things in cinema. You could have a film that is bracingly inventive in its visual approach but falls flat in the narrative drama. Ditto the reverse, a visually flat film with a well-realized narrative. The latter is usually worth a recommendation, but the former can be problematic, even when you have a film as visually accomplished as Joe Talbot’s “The Last Black Man in San Francisco.”Read More
When Senate staffer Daniel Jones (Adam Driver) was assigned to lead an investigation into the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program he did not know it would become his own personal "heart of darkness". In a way, Jones' painstaking analyzing of the extensive evidence at hand, his report turned out to be 6000 pages, revealed just how much our civil liberties were stripped by the Bush administration and, consequentially, the Obama administration, spearheaded by, then CIA director. John Brennan (Ted Levine).Read More
On Monday morning, Liam Neeson admitted that 40 years ago, when he was in his mid to late 20s, he walked the streets of black neighborhoods with a weapon around 40 years ago, hoping to look for the black man that raped a female friend of his. “After [learning of the rape] there were some nights I went out deliberately into black areas in the city looking to be set upon so that I could unleash physical violence,” he said. “And I did it for maybe four or five times until I caught myself on, and it really shocked me, this primal urge I had. It shocked me, and it hurt me. I did seek help.”Read More
When a director decides to venture into a well-worn genre, comparisons to far superior films are inevitable. And so, a film like Joe Penna‘s feature-length directorial debut, “Arctic,” a survival drama, will no doubt run the risk of being compared to its spiritual predecessors: Danny Boyle‘s “127 Hours,” J.C. Chandor‘s “All is Lost” and Joe Carnahan‘s “The Grey.” The correlation potentially weakens the film, but like all great art, if imitation can transcend or even equal its inspirations, then all the better.Read More
In two short years, America, has turned race, privilege, and class into incendiary topics while amplifying intolerance, and Julias Onah‘s powerfully constructed “Luce,” mixes all these socio-political subjects into a provocative Molotov cocktail that shatters, burns and leaves no easy answers.
“American Psycho” author Bret Easton Ellis is sharing my exact sentiments about “Black Panther” not deserving its Oscar nomination for Best Picture. In fact, he actually, shock., claims that Oscar voters are supporting it just for diversity, not because it’s good. Which is true.Read More
Rock documentaries generally skew towards humanizing musical icons and paint portraits of overcoming personal adversity. That’s just the kind of way they lean, complete with a rise and fall and redemption arcs. But the soulful and affecting “David Crosby: Remember My Name” is special nonetheless, managing to break through those tropes as it chronicles a similar architecture of ups and downs, successes and tragedies. Directed by A.J. Eaton, with the help of producer Cameron Crowe, who acts as Crosby’s interlocutor throughout, it’s almost impossible to not be taken by this brutally honest and emotionally vulnerable film about a famous musical icon, who’s also just a man who’s beginning to contemplate his last act in life. It’s moving stuff and regardless of whether you’re a fan or not, chances are this winning doc will hit you hard.
Before I reveal my best of the fest I need to mention the elephant in the room …
Throughout the fest I wanted journalists to be honest with me about why they thought this year's program was lackluster, at least in terms of the narrative features. Amost all of them mentioned the fact that Sundance's militant and adamant stance on inclusivity was to blame. Of course, you won't get these critics admitting that on print, but many personally confessed that was a problem.Read More
I still predict “Green Book” will take Best Picture. I do not believe Sasha Stone’s assessment that “Roma” will win due to preferential balloting. Fact of the matter is this; Many in the industry aren’t actually as smitten-ed by “Roma” as film critics are. They respect it, believe it to be a beautifully realized tone-poem about memory and despair, but, otherwise, the film that will win is the film that can strike a chord with the majority. An arthouse, almost plotless, movie about a Mexican Nanny rummaging in an existential crisis in Mexico cannot. Sorry.
Sasha Stone says: “I disagree with Zack Sharf‘s assessment. I think Roma creeps up the ballot out of guilt and obligation and appreciation for craft, even if people don’t love it. I think Roma‘s best chance of winning is actually on a preferential ballot, and yet the Best Picture race remains wide open at this point. The only movies that have won anything so far are Bohemian Rhapsody, Green Book and Black Panther, and none of them have Oscar nominations for Best Director. It’s a really crazy and unpredictable year.”