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Archive for May, 2017

The movie podcast, Filmspotting recently ran a poll asking if you were to choose a film based purely on its star which would you choose.  For this they chose four actresses born in 1990: Jennifer Lawrence, Margot Robbie, Kristen Stewart and Emma Watson.  The results weren’t surprising.

  • Jennifer Lawrence 38.46%.
  • Kristen Stewart 37.67%.
  • Emma Watson 12.67%.
  • Margot Robbie 11.20%

Jennifer Lawrence: With an Oscar and three further nominations under her belt, as well as two massive franchises, X-Men and The Hunger Games, Lawrence is the biggest star on the list.  Winter’s Bone her breakthrough part and first Oscar nomination remain her best performance. Jennifer Lawrence

Kristen Stewart: Like most people, I first saw Stewart in  Panic Room.  He big break came with The Twilight Saga.  She made other films between the Twilight movies and made interesting choices including Adventureland and The Runaways.  The interesting movies continued after Twilight most significantly two Olivier Assayas movies: Clouds of Sils Maria and Personal Shopper. Kristen Stewart

Emma Watson: Watson had no screen credits prior to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.  She only made a couple of films during the Potter years.  Post potter her most interesting film is The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  She has ensured her ongoing fame thanks to a starring role in the live action version of Beauty and the Beast, the first movie to top $1billion this year.Emma Watson

Margot Robbie: I first saw Robbie in the short lived TV show Pan Am.  The program had enough of interest to deserve more than its single 14 episode series.  She next appeared in a small but significant part in The Wolf of Wall Street.  She proved her acting ability and comic timing in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, The Legend of Tarzan and Focus.  Her most significant role is that of Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad.  This is something of a double edged sword;  She was the best part of the film but was clearly objectified.  A star-making part that will require her work hard to avoid typecasting in future. margot robbie

My vote went to Kristen Stewart who continues to make interesting choices and excels in them.  

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A conversation about the recent movie Ghost in the Shell got me thinking about Robert Rodriguez’s adaptation of Yukito Kishiro’s manga; Battle Angel Alita that I heard about last year.  It appears we have more than a year to go until the release of Alita: Battle Angel next July.  I am intrigued by the idea of the master of low budget independent genre movies making a $200 million film produced by the king of excess James Cameron.  In checking on the release date for that movie I spotted a film directed by Rodriguez that I knew nothing about. Battle Angel Alita

Surprised that a Robert Rodriguez film had come out totally under my radar I checked the release information; released on 18 November 2015 and only in France, I did a double take, the release date was actually listed as 18 November 2115.  I looked further, the IMDB synopsis reads: “The content of this film is currently a secret, due to be revealed only when the title is released in 2115.”  The film is stored in a safe with a time lock set to open in 2015.100 years movie

It appears the film made in 2015 by Rodriguez was commissioned by Rémy Martin owner of the Louis XIII Cognac brand.  As mentioned above there is no clue about plot.  After a quick hunt around the internet, I have no idea what the film is about, how long it is how it is going to be preserved for 100 years.  Although nothing definitive there are a few clues. A line from an interview with star John Malkovich suggests it will be “a short film”.  There are three trailers, they however don’t actually show any footage from the film, just imagine how the world will look when the safe opens. The trailers suggest that it will be stored on film in a tin, the way many believe is still the best way to preserve film.  Although this could just be for the aesthetic of the trailer.

The somewhat mundane thing of how the film will be preserved and viewed is what interests me the most about the project.  If I wanted to ensure a classic film, lets for augments sake say Casablanca (not quite 100 years old, it actually celebrates its 75 anniversary, this year) is kept safe for future generations, how would I do it.  In the documentary Side by Side (2012) Martin Scorseese talks about film, whether it be old celluloid film or modern polyester film stock being the best way to preserve films.  As mentioned if you leave a hard drive un-booted for a prolonged period, it won’t work.  It is worth mentioning at this point, that Scorseese is the founder of The Film Foundation, an American based non-profit organization dedicated to film preservation as well as the exhibition of restored classic films.  As also mentioned in Side by Side, I believe diversity is the way to go.  If a film is stored on several types of film, including in print and negative form as well as digitally, it stands the best chance of survival.  As well as an archive that may hold prints or masters of Casablanca, it must be held in various formats by TV companies and distributers who have sold it in one format or another, as well as all the versions people have at home on VHS, Laser Disc, DVD and Bluray.  All this suggests the film will survive, it doesn’t answer the question, how do you preserve a film in a safe for 100 years.  Are there backup copies? Does Robert Rodriguez have a copy that he throws on for a secret screening when his friends come around? Martin Scorsese side by side

We don’t know who has seen it but we have an idea of who will see it; Rémy Martin have produced One thousand tickets/invitations, made of metal to ensure they survive the 100 years.  Recipients are encouraged to pass these tickets to their decedents.  It isn’t clear who these recipients are but they certainly include Malkovich and Rodriguez.  What will happen to the tickets, will people keep them and lovingly pass them on, or will they be forgotten.  Will it be the hottest ticket in France in 2015 with people auctioning their ticket to the highest bidder?   100 years tickets

How much will cinema have changed in 100 years.  It is impossible to say, but we can see how much or how little it has changed in the last 100.  Two significant films of 2015 are: The Birth of a Nation (1915) by D.W. Griffith and Les vampires (1915) by Louis Feuillade.  Two films both extremely dated and surprisingly modern in certain ways.

I am more intrigued wondering who has actually seen the film what it is actually about!  And if you are wondering, I won’t be drinking any Louis XIII cognac, I don’t particularly like brandy and there is the small matter of the £2,500 a bottle price tag. 

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Ten screenings in April resulted in a hugely varied month:

Raw: After her first taste of meat a vegetarian develops an unusual taste for meat.  More visceral than gory, it is one of the most uncomfortable to watch films I have ever seen.   In a strange way I really enjoyed it. Raw

Table 19: A group of interesting characters played by some great actors find themselves on the worst table at a wedding.  Anna Kendrick is always worth watching but the script just isn’t funny enough. table19

Fast and Furious 8: The most bonkers instalment of the franchise to date, very silly but great fun. Jason Statham is brilliant but Charlize Theron is wasted. The-Fate-of-the-Furious

The Handmaiden: Chan-wook Park’s adaptation of Sarah Waters novel Fingersmith.  The setting is moved from Victorian England to occupied Korea.  The film looks amazing and has a plot that twists and turns in a most satisfying way. The Handmaiden

I Am Not Your Negro: Samuel L. Jackson narrates the words on James Baldwin from an unfinished manuscript telling the story of race relations in America.   Particularly focussing on the killing of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr, it is powerful, thoughtful and informative movie. Author James Baldwin

The Belko Experiment: The employees of an American company based in Columbia are locked in their office block and told to kill each other.  Sold as social experiment asking the audience how they would react, the film is actually just a bloody horror thriller.    Enjoyable enough but totally disposable entry into the sub-genre, Battle Royale remains the high watermark. The Belko Experiment

Rules Don’t Apply: Warren Beatty’s first film in a very long time is a light comedy drama based on the middle years of Howard Hughes.  Told from the point of view of two of his employees played by Alden Ehrenreich and Lily Collins.  Charming if a little lightweight. Rules Don't Apply

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: The original Guardians of the Galaxy was the most fun movie in the MCU.  This first sequel has lost none of its fun but it has forgotten to include the simple matter of a plot.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

Their Finest: based on Lissa Evans novel Their Finest Hour and a Half about a the mating of a fictional British propaganda film during World War II.  The whose who of British talent is led by an excellent  Gemma Arterton. The film finds a perfect balance between comedy and drama and is always just the right side of sentimentality. Their Finest Hour and A Half Directed by Lone Sherfig

Mad Max: Fury Road – Black & Chrome:  Having already seen my favourite film of 2105 twice on the big screen, once in IMAX 3D and once in regular 2D. I went back to see it a third time, in black and white.  This monochrome edition is far more than just the regular movie with the colour setting on your TV turned down, this is a real black and white movie.  Is it better in colour or black and white?  I’m not sure, it somehow makes no difference, and is totally different, all at the same time.   It’s a great movie either way!Mad Max Fury Road Black & Chrome

Raw has made my shortlist for the best films of the year to date but misses out on the top spot, movie of the month is: The Handmaiden. The Handmaiden poster

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