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Archive for February, 2014

Dom 5As the award season hots up, its time for the third annual groovers awards. All awards are chosen by me and the criteria for eligibility is decided by me. Most of the awards are self explanatory: Best Movie, Best Actor, Best Actor and Actress, Best Screenplay (original or adapted), Best Foreign Language Film. The Best Looking Movie is just as it sounds, the movie that looks best, a combination of design and photography. The Fandango Award; Fandango was writer/director Kevin Reynolds debut (and best) feature, and the first notable movie for star Kevin Costner. The Fandango award goes to a writer, director of star for a debut or breakthrough movie.

Best Movie: StokerStoker

Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón for GravityAlfonso Cuarón for Gravity

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett for Blue JasmineCate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine

Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers ClubMatthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club

Best Screenplay: Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke for Before Midnight Richard Linklater Julie Delpy Ethan Hawke for Before Midnight

Best Foreign Language Film: The Broken Circle BreakdownThe Broken Circle Breakdown

Best Looking Movie: GravityGRAVITY

Fandango Award:  The award goes to Jeremy Lovering and Alice Englert for In Fear. Although his debut movie, Jeremy Lovering has been directing for TV for 20 years. Although this is rising star Alice Englert third movie, it was actually shot before the other two. Jeremy Lovering and Alice Englert for In FearA special mention to Dustin Hoffman who at the age of 75 and after more than 50 years in the business decided to turn his hand to directing with Quartet but he didn’t win.Dom 5

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5th Birthday

Today is the Fifth birthday of Fandango Groovers Movie Blog. When I started it back in 2009 I had no idea if I would still be writing it by the end of the month, let alone five years later. It seems like a good time to look back at what has been happening in the movie world in the past five years:

In 2010, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director for The Hurt Locker. The film won another five Oscars including Best Motion Picture of the Year. James Bond celebrated his 50th and 60th birthdays (2012 was the 50th anniversary of the first Bond film Dr. No and 2013 was the 60th anniversary of Ian Fleming’s first novel, Casino Royale). Disney have taken over Marvel and Lucas Film and as well as continuing with the Avengers and it related properties have announced a series of Star Wars sequels. Bond

Matthew McConaughey is currently favourite to win the Best Actor Oscar next month. Stortly after I started the blog he starred in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009). I must admit I haven’t actually seen it but the poster tells me as much as I want to know about it:Matthew McConaughey leaning postersAfter a self imposed hiatus he has returned with an impressive run: The Lincoln Lawyer (2011) – Bernie (2011) – Killer Joe (2011) – The Paperboy (2012) – Mud (2012) – Magic Mike (2012) – Dallas Byers Club (2013) – The Wolf of Wall Street (2013). He is currently starring in the acclaimed TV show True Detective. Next up, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar.dallas_buyers_club

Television became strangely cinematic. Programs such as Game of Thrones (2011), Justified (2010), Boardwalk Empire (2010) and The Walking Dead (2010) are made by filmmakers and feature movie stars. They have photography and production quality that wouldn’t be out of places in cinemas but the real change is with storylines that run throughout a season and are not just limited to a single episode. This isn’t new but it is certainly becoming more common. Cinema is still my preferred medium but I can not deny the that television is in a very strong place.TV

We lost many people from the industry, some legends others young stars who left us too soon, they include: Brittany Murphy, Paul Walker, Philip Seymour Hoffman, James Gandolfini, Patrick Swayze, Peter O’Toole, John Barry, Roger Ebert, Elizabeth Taylor, Ernest Borgnine, Tony Curtis, Leslie Nielsen, Dennis Hopper, Dino De Laurentiis, Olivia de Havilland, Sidney Lumet, Tony ScottIn Memoriam

It seems that we are in the age of the franchise. The top grossing film from each year I have been blogging are: 2009: Avatar – $2,713,395,000 – 2010: Toy Story 3 – $1,063,171,911 – 2011: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – $1,341,511,219 – 2012: The Avengers – $1,511,757,910 – 2013: Iron Man 3 – $1,215,439,994. They are all sequels except Avatar that has three planned sequels. In fact all of the 17 films to gross over a billion dollars are part of a series or franchise. 11 of them have been released within the five years of this blogs existence.top grossing film from each year I have been blogging

For five years Oscar and BAFTA chosen the same film for their best picture: 2009: Slumdog Millionaire – 2010: The Hurt Locker – 2011: The King’s Speech – 2012: The Artist -2013: Argo. We will find out on 2nd March if 12 Years a Slave follows its BAFTA with an Oscar.oscaar and bafta best picture winners

Harry Potter (2001 – 2011) and The Twilight Saga (2008 – 2012) all came to an end, leaving a young adult size hole in the cinema schedule. Tomorrow when the War Began (2010), I am Number Four (2011), Beautiful Creatures (2013) and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013) all failed to perform or produce a sequel. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010) did okay and produced a lacklustre sequel: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013). But one series has filled the space; largely thanks to the perfect casting of Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games (2012) and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013). Mockingjay – Part 1 and Part 2 are due to follow this year and next year. This is also a new phenomenon. Both Harry Potter and Twilight split their final book into two parts. An idea that has been taken to an extreme by Peter Jackson who has turned little more than 300 pages of The Hobbit into a three film series that will run for about ten hours when complete.YA

The biggest change to cinema in the time I have been blogging is the way films are shot, cut and projected. It is a process that started a long time ago. With directors like George Lucas shooting digitally for over a decade before I started blogging. Avatar (2009) seemed to have been a tipping point as more and more films were shot and projected digitally. There are exceptions, Ken Loach still makes films the old fashioned way on film. The film is then edited by physically cutting film on a Steenbeck flatbed film editing suite. His latest film Jimmy’s Hall (due out later this year) could be last feature film made this way. Using some of the last available Fuji film stock they hit problem when they ran out of the edge-numbering tape used synch the picture and sound together. Help came from the most modern of places the digital pioneers Pixar FedExed their last 19 rolls 5000 miles from California. While Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) was shot on 35mm Kodak film, it was edited by Thelma Schoonmaker on an Avid system as she has been using since Casino (1995). However films are shot and cut, many cinemas including my local now uses digital projection nearly exclusively. Anyone interested in the subject should check out the documentaries: The Last Projectionist (2011) directed by Thomas Lawes (owner of The Electric Cinema in Birmingham) and Side by Side (2012) directed by Christopher Kenneally and hosted by Keanu Reeves.A Pixar illustration that accompanied their gift of editing tape to director Ken Loach

As much as I have talked about missing the warmth of film over the colder more clinical digital process it is becoming less important as the technology progresses. However there is a by-product of digital 3D. Sure 3D (or Stereoscopy to be more precise) is as old as cinema but since Avatar more and more films are released in 3D. More often than not this is totally pointless and the best thing I have to say after watching a film is that I forgot I was watching a 3D film. But then there are exceptions Gravity (2013) is the only film I have seen in 3D that benefited by the being shown in 3D, or was it the giant IMAX screen that made the difference? Either way, it may be that I was wrong and 3D does have a place. If it does, it is a small place and releasing every other movie in 3D in stupid and cynical.GRAVITY

The most notable change I have seen since I started this blog, is this blog. To be more precise, this blog and thousands like it. More and more people are finding out about films from people like me and not from the mainstream media. While my blog has remained a hobby to update when I have the time (less this month than normal) and inclination, many writers have gone beyond “Graffiti with Punctuation” and produced something far more professional than anyone could have dreamed of five years ago. What will the next five years bring, and will Fandango Groovers Movie Blog still be around to document it? Only time will tell.

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Full Circle?

Have we come full circle? During the golden age of cinema films stayed in cinemas for much longer than we would expect these days. Gone with the Wind was released in 1939 and stayed in cinemas for around four years selling a reported 60 million tickets. This was at a time during the war when TV didn’t exist in the way we know it now (and wasn’t broadcast in any form in the UK). It was re-releases eight times (in 1947, 1954, 1961, 1967, 1971, 1974, 1989, and 1998) six of those were before home video took off. The success of Gone with the Wind and the $3.3 billion (adjusted for inflation) that it is reported to have made is down to the amount of time it spent in cinemas and the TV sales in the 70’s. Amazingly its world television premiere took nearly forty years on HBO in 1976. Making up for lost time the network broadcast the movie fourteen times in three weeks. NBC paid $5 million for a one-off airing (the highest-rated television in American history) then two years later CBS purchased the broadcast rights for $35 million, a deal that stood until a new deal saw Turner Entertainment take over in the late 80’s. Forty-six years after its original release it debuted on video in March 1985.MSDGOWI EC001

It’s a Wonderful Life was a very different story, a commercial failure on its release in 1946 but a clerical error prevented the copyright from being renewed in the mid seventies and for the next decade it became a Christmas staple. Contrary to popular belief TV broadcasters were still required to pay royalties, they just didn’t need to worry about purchasing broadcast rights.It's a Wonderful Life

Although very different stories, they have something in common. Their success came through their accessibility. But then things changed. During the 80’s as mass consumerism exploded and VHS VCR’s became common in many homes ownership became more important to many people. Sure, video rental stores were commonplace but for any movie fan owning a copy of their favourite movies became as important as owning an album (or later CD). As VHS gave way to DVD prices fell and supermarkets now sell DVD’s (around six to nine months after their initial release) for about the same price it cost to rent a new release a decade ago.

So why do I say things have come full circle? Despite the falling cost of owning media people are turning to another way of watching movies. The big change, the internet. First you could download movies, then you could stream them to your computer. Now you can stream them to your TV via various devises. Not only has this revolutionised the way people watch movies but it changed attitudes, although the medium has changed access has once more become more important than ownership. Having said all of this, the best and still my favourite place to watch any film is in the cinema.

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January is a strange month for cinema. While American audiences are bemoaning the lack of decent new releases, here in the UK we are enjoying this years big Oscar contenders.

American Hustle: “some of this actually happened” the true-ish story of Abscam. The performances are phenomenal but the story is a little thin. (Nominated for 10 Oscars)American Hustle

12 Years a Slave: The true story of Solomon Northup, a free man who is sold into slavery. Suffers from a week sense of time and space but still an excellent film Chiwetel Ejiofor finally gets a part to live up to the promise he demonstrated in Dirty Pretty Things. (Nominated for 9 Oscars)12 Years a Slave

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom: The CliffsNotes of Nelson Mandela’s life. Idris Elba is excellent but the film lacks is too sporadic. It would have worked better as a mini series or a two part movie like Steven Soderbergh’s Che. (Nominated for 1 Oscar)Mandela Long Walk to Freedom

The Wolf of Wall Street: My fourth movie of the year, and the fourth based on a true story. Martin Scorsese’s take on Jordan Belfort makes Boiler Room (2000) look tame. Scorsese’s best movie in years and possibly Leonardo DiCaprio’s best performance. (Nominated for 4 Oscars)THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit: Lightweight but enjoyable reboot of Jack Ryan sees Chris Pine as the fourth incarnation of the the character. All the cast are good but Kevin Costner steels the show.Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit

August: Osage County: The third and most accessible but possibly weakest movie based on a Tracy Letts play. The fantastic cast is led by Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts who are both nominated for Oscars. (Nominated for 2 Oscars)AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY

Inside Llewyn Davis: A week in the life of fictional folk singer Llewyn Davis set in Greenwich Village folk in 1961. A film only the Coen Brothers could have made, and all the better for it! (Nominated for 2 Oscars)Inside Llewyn Davis

The Movie of the Month is:The Wolf of Wall Street poster

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