|Posted by Gerald Wright on July 21, 2017 at 5:00 PM||comments (0)|
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Running time: 106 minutes in English, French, and German
Release date: July 21, 2017
Genre: Drama, Action, and History
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13
The production development of this film is much of the hype as the release of the film. Filmmaker Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Rises and Batman Begins - among many other big name movies) wrote the 76 page screenplay (his shortest to date). This was written with a precise mathematical structure, requiring the basis of the characters to be fictionalized rather than taken from actual eyewitness accounts. Nolan decided to make the film as a triptych, told from three perspectives; the air (planes), the land (on the beach), and the sea (the evacuation by the navy) cited by IMDB interviews.
Dunkirk's cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema shot the film on IMAX 65mm and 65mm large format film stock with the extensive use practical effects such as employing 6,00 extras, assembling boats that had participated in the real Dunkirk evacuation, and using geniune era-appropriate planes for aerial sequences containing little dialogue and creating soley supense through details.
However, the storyline dismisses the prelude historical fact of the how and why The Battle of Dunkirk was a disasterous failure. It focuses on the Dunkirk evacuation, code-named Operation Dynamo or the Miracle of Dunkirk. This is the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk. In the north of France, between May 26 and May 27, 1940, during World War II, the British, French, Belgian, and Canadians troops were cut off and surrounded by German troops during the Battle of France. With 400,00 Allied troops retreated to the beach, they were prey for execution by the German land and air assaults.
As the film depicts the story of survival by the Allies, it also relies on the heroic rescue sequences by a hastily assembled fleet of boats that the troops were able to embark from the harbor's protective mole onto British destroyers of the Royal Navy and civilian merchant ships, while others had to wade out from the beaches, waiting for hours in the shoulder-deep water. Some were ferried from the beaches to the larger ships by what came to be known as the little ships of Dunkirk, a flotilla of hundred of merchant marine boats, fishing boats, pleasure crafts, yachts, and lifeboats.
The characters in the film are not given actual separate lead or supportive parts, but more as an ensemble. Fionn Whitehead as Tommy, a British Army private is given more screen time than everyone else. He is the focus of one man's plight to survive the chaotic military retreat. Other known actors such as Tom Hardy, James D'Arcy, and Kenneth Branagh hit their marks to enhance the lackless character-driven narrative. Yet, the aerial dogfigh sequences are engagingly and add a thrill to the film.
Dunkirk is a movie best experience in a 70mm or an IMAX format. Technically, this exceptional epic historical film is a period-piece movie that covers a large expanse of time set against a vast, panoramic backdrop. It's extravagant setting and lavish costumes, accompanied by granduer and spectacle, dramatic scope, and high production values does not compensate for the lack of a good character and/or plot-driven narrative presentation. The lack of this narrative diminishes the overall production. This film could be a better production as a docu-drama, using authentic factual characters relating to their lives during this period in history.
FILM RATING (C+)
|Posted by Gerald Wright on July 14, 2017 at 8:50 PM||comments (0)|
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Running time: 139 minutes
Release date: July 14, 2017
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Sequel, Reboot, and Suggestive Adaptation
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
MPAA Rating: PG-13
In this dystopian science fiction film directed by Matt Reeves and written by Mark Bomback and Reeves is the sequel to the 2014 film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. It is the third installment in the Planet of the Apes reboot series.
The film stars Andy Serkis as Caesar, a noble and intelligent common chimpanzee who is King to a tribe of genically enhanced apes; Woody Harrelson as Colonel McCullough, an iron-fisted human soldier obsessed with wiping out Caesar and his tribe to defend his people from destruction; Steve Zahn as Bad Ape, a common chimpanzee who lived formerly in a zoo before the simian Flu outbreak; Amiah Miller as Nova, a bold and kind non-speach young human female war orphan whom Maurice adopts as his daughter; Karin Konoval as Maurice, a wise and benevolent Bornean orangutan who is Caesar's advisor; Judy Greer as Cornelia, Caesar's wife and Queen; and Terry Notary as Rocket, a common chimpanzee who is Caesar's brother figure.
The picks up two years after the events of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Caesar and his apes have been embroiled in a war against humans. As the ape population decreases, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts in order to avenge his fallen companions. The encounter with the apes and humans puts them into the ultimate confrontation, to determine the fate of the Earth.
In War for the Planet of the Apes, the third chapter of the critically acclaimed blockbuster franchise, Caesar (Serkis) and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless Colonel McCullough (Harrelson). In a epic costume drama paired with a highly adventurous action film, this high energy big-budget movie pulls out all of the stops when it comes to physical stunts and chases with rescues, battles, fights, escapes, non-stop motion, spectacular rhytm and pacing, and often two-dimensional 'good guy' heroes battling 'bad guys' - all designed for pure audience escapism. It's another great outing for Woody Harrelson.
With a great supporting cast consisting of Max Lloyd-Jones as Blues Eyes, Caesar and Cornelia's oldest son; Devyn Dalton as Cornelius, Caesar and Cornelia's youngest son; Ty Olsson as Rex, a Western lowland gorilla traitor who was once a follower of Koba and now serves Colonel McCollough to defeat Caesar; Michael Adamthwaite as Luca, a Western lowland gorilla in Caesar's tribe; Aleks Paunovic as Winter, an albino Western lowland gorilla in Caesar's tribe; Alessandro Juliani as Spear, a common chimpanzee in Caesar's tribe; and Gabriel Chavarria as Preacher, a human soldier - all hit their marks to make this a great addition to the franchise series.
While using action as its basis, this film uses philosophical sequences to shadow the well structured storyline, as Caesar and Colonel McCullough are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both their species and the future of the planet. This is the best summer film of 2017 (so far). *Spoiler alert* You'll enjoy the final exodus scenes.
FILM RATING (A)
|Posted by Gerald Wright on June 28, 2017 at 9:25 PM||comments (0)|
Directed by: Bong Joon Ho
Running time: 1 hour 58 minutes
Release date: June 28, 2017
Genre: Drama, Action/Adventure, Science Fiction, and Comedy
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
This is a film that stars an ensemble cast headed by South Korean child actress Ahn Seo-hyun alongside Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Giancarlo Esposito, and Jake Gyllenhaal. It 's a story about a young girl named Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun) who risks everything to prevent a powerful, multi-national company, Mirando Corporation, headed by a power hungry insecure Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) looking to make a profit off of a biologically enhanced pig called Okja.
Okja, is a multi-layered dark comedy narrative that offers a primary plot of Mija the young farmgirl who takes care of Okja from a little piglet to a massive animal. Her story is a coming of age scenario centered around her young life on the verege of some maturation processing. Her decisioning brings the outcome of which will have a significant shaping impact on her and Okja's lives.
On the other hand, another story is implemented about Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton), whose Mirando Corporation internationally markets the biological enhancement of pigs. With assistance from a zany egotistical Dr. Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaal), a zealous zoologist, along with a deceitful Frank Dawson (Giancarlo Esposito) to guide Lucy into cornering the pork market.
For ten idyllic years, young Mija has been caretaker and constant companion to Okja the massive animal and an even bigger friend at her home in the mountains of South Korea. But that changes when a family-owned multinational conglomerate Mirando takes Okja for themselves and transports her to New York, where images obsessed and self-promoting CEO Lucy Mirando has plans for Mija's dearest friend and pet.
However, Paul Dano plays Jay, the leader of an animal-rights activist gang, consisting of "K" (Steven Yeun), Red (Lily Collins) and others to bring down Mirando Corporation. With no particular plan but single-minded in intent, Mija sets out on a rescue mission, but her already daunting journey quickly becomes more complicated when she crosses paths with disparate groups of capitalists, demonstrations and consumers, each battling to control the fate of Okja...while all Mija wants to do is bring her friend home.
The black comedy performances by the ensemble employs a form of humor that is to make light of serious and often taboo subject matter thus provoking discomfort and serious thought as well as as amusement in the audience. The narrative retains its serious tone and balances satire.
In a press conference with the cast, I was able to get questions answered about the production. Tilda Swinton spoke of how it is to work with filmmmaker Bong Joon-ho by saying, "it is a very relax business working with Bong. He is a very good leader and invites me to bring something creative. We decided to find villains in capitalism and food exploration. When I saw the story, Bong and I knew we could build on the character and other characters." Bong contributed with his comments, "my young lead actress Ahn was very experienced and has a lot of energy. She is amazing and hilarious because she would comment about the catering and snacks on set." He also said, "I am drawn to creature films and it seems to interact with social issues. The fact that this large pig is a pet, it is also a food to be exploited. My characters are to contradict protangonists and antogonists, but to have them as foolish people making mistakes....my villains are not pure villains. I was so happy with the creature (Okja) on screen. It was not cartoonish, but real. I was impressed with the fresh product on screen." Child actress Ahn simply replied to Bong's comment by saying, "Bong helped me maximize my performance." While Giancarlo added, "we are in a situation with society where absurdity is relevent...but the point is to be rational. As for my part, it is unknown his true purpose. This was a return to a sweet story. It was a loss of innocence tale."
Deftly blending genres, humor, poignancy, and drama, Bong Joon Ho (Snowpiercing, The Host) begins with the gentlest of premises - and then bond between man and animal - and ultimately creates a distinct and layered vision of the world that addresses the animal inside us all by use of a great leading cast and supporting members Byun Heebong, Yoon Je Moon, Shirley Henderson, Daniel Henshall, DevonBostick, and Woo Shik Choi.
FILM RATING (B)
|Posted by Gerald Wright on June 23, 2017 at 7:20 PM||comments (0)|
Directed by: Michael Showalter
Running time: 119 minutes
Release date: June 23, 2017 (limited) & July 14, 2017 (wide)
Genre: Drama, Romance, and Comedy
Distributor: Lionsgate/Amazon Sudios
MPAA Rating: R
Based on the real-life courtship between Pakistani-American stand-up comedian, actor, writer, and co-podcast host Kumail Nanjiani, and American writer, producer and other co-podcast host Emily V. Gordon, comes the humorously romantic, yet often dramatic biopic they penned for the screen.
Kumail (plays himself) an aspring comedian connects with grad student Emily (Zoe Kazan) after one of his stand-up sets. However, what they thought would be just a one-night stand blossoms into the real thing, which complicates the life that is expected of Kumail by his traditional Muslim parents Azmat (Anupam Kher) and Naveed (Adeel Akhtar) who are set on a fixed marriage for him, as single Muslim women are paraded in front of him at regular dinner occasions. This does not help matters as Kumail hides this fact from Emily along with her parents Terry (Ray Romano) and Beth (Holly Hunter).
As a biopic it is certainly true in its basics, but does not prevent information to be told thoroughly truthfully, in order, or completely. As this talented cast of actors and writers in their own right, they contribute an art in the production for marketing values. The whole impetus of this romantic comedy is to create perspective on the world these two people (Kumail and Emily) live. The cultural differences, yet bigotted and racist environment, the contemporary society dictates sets the tone of the film. However, plot driven presentation, portraying realistic characters, settings, life situations, and individual stories involving intense character development and interaction, brings to life an affair of the heart that is centered on passion, emotion, honesty, and romance.
Although, Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan are the lead characters in this film, the supporting cast of Holly Hunter and Ray Romano portraying Emily's parents Terry and Beth, as well as Anupam Kher and Adeel Shroff as Kumail's parents Azmat and Naveed complete a superb script with brilliant performances. They bring individual magnitude to the production when Emily (Zoe Kazan) is beset with a mystery illness, it forces Kumail to navigate the medical crisis with her parents, Beth and Terry whom he's never met, while deaing with the emotional tug-of-war between his family and his heart.
In a press conferences with the partial cast questions were ask about the production. American film producer Barry Mendel who worked with Bill Murray on Rushmore, followed by The Sixth Sense and The Happening with M. Night Shyamalan. Barry Mendel's producing credits are also along with famed directors Wes Anderson, Steven Spielberg, and Judd Apatow, as he mentioned that "at SWS Festival Kumail came to me and Judd Apatow with his story and we loved it. It was a great challenge to take a real life situation and market it a success on screen. Listening to Kumail tell it, we knew this along with his humor it would work." I asked Barry Mendel, "what makes your collaboration with Judd Apatow so successful after working Spielberg and others?" He replied, "working with Judd is great, he is like making jazz....he is lightning in a bottle....he touches every detail." Zoe Kazan added, "they are (Judd Apatow and Barry Mendel) so detailed and knowledgable...every part of the film has their touch." Zoe Kazan an American actress and playwright, granddaughter of Elia Kazan, was also asked about her playwright experience contributing to the production. She replied, "I had a creative aspect of my character, but what drew me in was the script. I was able to amke it my own, rather than the real Emily be a monitor on the set." Holly Hunter added, "we had ideas and it was an open arms process on the script. Act 2 of the film excited me because it is another love story amongst the series of serious medical scenes." Ray Romano mentioned, "I wrote a little on a backstory for my character." Veteran Indian actor Anupam Kher, who made this his 500th film, stated "without reading the script I accepted because of the idea of working with Kumail." Kumail and Emily exchangingly spoke about their working as a pair. Their combined quotes as a couple is, "when everyone added things, we felt that we could separate from the characters, script, and reality. On the writing parts we had conflicts but when we go on the set everything worked out."
The Big Sick, with the fabulous one-liners, excellent ensemble, is touching and emotionally enhancing. This is a well structured life journey film and a must see.
FILM RATING (A)
|Posted by Gerald Wright on June 16, 2017 at 3:40 PM||comments (0)|
Directed by: Brian Fee
Running time: 109 minutes in 2D and 3D
Release date: June 16, 2017
Genre: Animation, Comedy, and Family
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
MPAA Rating: G
As PIXAR Animation Studios reigns as the leader in animation production, it brings a 2D and 3D animated comedy to the big screen. It is the eighteenth PIXAR feature film and the third installment in the Cars film franchise, following Cars 2 (2011). Director Brian Fee, who was once the storyboard artist on the original Cars (2006) and Cars 2, brings back the voices of Owen Wilson as Lightning McQueen, Larry the Cable Guy as Mater, Bonnie Hunt as Sally Carrera, Chris Cooper as Smokey, Tony Shalhoub as Luigi, and Guido Quaroni as Guido. This edition brings inArmie Hammer as Jackson Storm, McQueen's new racing rival, Cristela Alonzo as Cruz Ramires, McQueen's trainer and racing technician, and Kerry Washington as Natalie Certain the statistical analyst. Additonally, several real life drivers and other racing related personalities from NASCAR have cameos, including Chae Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Darrell Waltrip, Shannon Spake, Humpy Wheeler, Jeff Gordon, Daniel Suarez, Kyle Petty, Mike Joy, Ray Everman and as well as the legendary Richard Petty's return as Strip "The King" Weathers, who now acts as Cal Weaathers' (his nephew) crew chief.
The story picks up after McQueen loses his racing title to Jackson Storm, the face of the new high tech and next generation racers. With the new generation of high tech racers, many question if the famous Lightning McQueen, the legendary Piston Cup veteran, will retire after he endures a terrible crash. McQueen's sponsor Rus-eze, bought by Sterling (Nathan Fillion), who wants to turn him into a racing brand for auto parts. However, McQueen asks for a chance to race in the Florida 500 and begins to train with race technician Cruz Ramirez, who always had dreams of racing. The clash of the new and the old (McQueen and Cruz) is the essence of most of this plot. It is difficult for McQueen to accept that change is inevitable, and Cruz finds out certain things are fundamentally stable.
Interestingly, this film delves into the history of the car racing world. It highlights the facts that Stock Car and Formula Car racing origins, from the years of the Prohibition Act (1919 - 1933) inacted after WWI, when moonshine (white lightning, mountain dew, and corn liquor) was illigally hauled by fast running cars. The word "moonshine" is believed to be derived from the term "moonrakers" used in English smugglers and the clandestine nature of operations of the unlawful Applalachian distillers who produced and distributed whiskey by moonlight driving (without cars lights) to avoid the revenue agents. The gave American stock car racing its birth by the likes of legendary Raymond Parks who won the inagural NASCAR championship in 1949. It also, gave the origin to the single-seater series of car racing known as, Formula One (Grand Prix).
As an animated action adventure family film, it central plot is the struggle that plays out mainly through a clash of physical forces and encounters with new ideas. The small amount of comedy delights and the essential aspect goes beyond the ordinary. The whole range of comic tactics are from absurdity to mockery, to sarcasm to irony, each to disturb, disrupt, alter and change things from what is expected. The film is mostly fast pace, but relies on sentimental sequences to raise emotions. This edition may not be the best of the franchise, but the work of PIXAR is captivating.
LOU (Short film)
Directed by: Dave Mullins
Running time: 6 minutes in 2D and 3D
Release date: June 16, 2017
Genre: Animated, Family, Fantasy, and Short film
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
MPAA Rating: G
With the attitude of how to deal with bullies being relevant, Lou examines a red hoodie-covered fantasy creature with eyes and how it interrupts a young boy's mischievous behavior during school and recess. The fantasy creature with eyes of baseballs and buttons grinning from inside a school's Lost & Found bin, reprimands a young boy who finds fun in rediculing and tormenting his class peers. The moral is an honest and important message sent to the younger viewers.
Cars 3 FILM RATING (C+)
Lou FILM RATING (B)
|Posted by Gerald Wright on June 9, 2017 at 10:40 PM||comments (0)|
THE 2017 HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH FILM FESTIVAL
Co-presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and IFC Center
June 9- 18, 2017
The Human Rights Watch Film Festival will be presented with 21 films and discussions showcasing courageous activists exposing topical and provocative feature documentaries during challenging times. In an era of global advances by far-right forces into the political mainstream, assaults on the free press, and the rise of "citizen journalism", festival organizers hope that the films in this year's program can serve as an inspiration and motivation for the audience, from seasoned activists to those searching for a role in local and global movements.
Now in its 28th edition, the Human Rights Watch Film Festival is co-presented by the Film Society O lincoln Center and IFC Center. All screenings will be followed by indepth discussions with filmmakers, film subjects, Human Rights Watch researchers, and special guests.
NOWHERE TO HIDE
Directed by: Zaradasht Ahmed
Running time: 86 minutes
Release date: June 23, 2017
Genre: Documentary in Arabic, Norwegian, Portugese, and Swedish with English subtitles.
Distributor: East Viilage Entertainment release in association with Ryan Bruce Levey Film Distribution.
Director and photographer Zaradasht Ahmed is a Kurdsih/Norwegian filmmaker. He was born and raised in Northern Iraq. He states, "My ambition is to let the audience reflect on the human consequences of a brutal reality where all taboos are violated. With Nowhere to Hide I want to show that we are all part of this reality - war, explosions, victims, terrorism, they affect us globally, and we are all responsible, despite our geographical whereabouts. Meanwhile, I want to show the human resistance that is growing among these survivors; to show the hope of rebuilding after the breakdown of civilization. In the end, as humans, the only thing that can help us survive is to believe that the will to build will always be stronger than the desire to destroy."
Nowhere to Hide follows male nurse Nori Sharif through five years of dramatic change, providing unique access into one of the world's most dangerous and inaccessible areas - the "triangle of death" in central Iraq. Initially filming stories of survivors and the hope of a better future as American and Coalition troops retreat from Iraq in 2011, conflicts continue with Iraqi militias, and the population flees accompanied by most of the hospital staff.
Nori, his wife, and four children find their lives of somewhat normality turned around during 2011. As a member of a local medical emergency room, working regular hours, and returning home to help raise a family with his wife, now finds himself dealing with the collateral damage from the U.S. invasion against ISIS and suicide bombers. As ISIS pushes into their region and take control of central Iraq, Nori steps his work to act as a doctor, as the real doctors flee from the hospital. At home bullets fly randomly from ISIS snipers, and 2014 Nori and his family leave their home in Jalawla. As Nori and his family travel the region in their vehicle seeking refuge, they witness the destruction. The attitude of themselves and others to this carnage becomes numb, but his will to help others prevail. He sets up temporary medical centers to care for the people he confronts and lives with.
What was Nori's original home project of filmming his hospital, family and communty over a five year period, drastically turns into a filmage of himself dealing with war. It all comes full circle as he and a couple of others return to their hospital, only to find devastation. This film touches on the refugee issue and the unsettle challenges of war's aftermath, in a first-person's account.
FILM RATING (A+)
500 YEARS: Life in Resistance
Directed by: Pamela Yates
Running time: 105 minutes
Release date: July 12, 2017
Documentarian Pamela Yates has formed a Resistance Saga, cinematically designed to galvanize audiences to fight back when society is faced with authoritarianism and deagogues. It is long term courageous and strategic film resistance against daunting odds, with a powerful example being focused on the Mayan people (Indigenous tribes of Guatemala).
The Resistance Saga Trilogy began with When the Mountains Tremble (1982) which introduced indigenous rights leader Rigoberta Menchu as the storyteller in her role to expose repression during Guatemala's brutal armed conflict. The in her sequel film, Granito: How to Nail a Dictator (2011), the poltical thriller detailing international efforts to build a genocide case against Guatemalan General Efrain Rios Montt, with actual filmed forensic case evidence in his prosecution. In this third film 500 Years: Life in Resistance (2017), it picks right up from Granito, providing insight access to the first trial in the history of the Americas to prosecute the genocide of indigenous people. It is an epic story that led Guatemala to a tipping point in their history, from the genocide trial of General Efrain Rios Montt to the popular movement that toppled sitting President Otto Perez Molina.
The Guatemalan genocide or "Silent Holocaust" refers to the massacre of Maya civilians during the Guatemalan military government's counterinsurgency operations. Massacres, forced disappearances, torture, and summary executions of guerrillas and especially civilian collaborators at the hands of U.S. backed security forces. The terror apparatus has benn in existence since the early Spaniard explorations, conquering, and settling colonial rule in South Americas. However, the repression in the 20th century, specifically in the 1960s and 1970s under the Zacapa program and the Arana presidency, recorded the genocide stages of the Massacre at Panzos, genocide under Lucas Garcia, General Benedicto Lucas, and Rios Montt are the most acknowledged. It is reported that the deaths are approximately 200,000 Maya peoples and 50,000 Ladino in this 50 to 60 year period.
The film is strained by repitition of protest scenes, but the focus on universal themes of justice, racism, power, and corruption is very relevent. Yet, the documentary tells the story from the perspective of the majority indigenous Mayan population in Guatemala, and explores their struggles in the country's growing fight against impunity.
FILM RATING (B)
|Posted by Gerald Wright on June 3, 2017 at 12:35 AM||comments (0)|
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes in 2D, 3D, and IMAX
Release date: June 2, 2017
Genre: Drama, Action-Adventure, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Adaptation
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Taking statements from Sharon Gosling's 2017 book "Wonder Woman: The Art and Making of the Film" she determines, Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman sees the hero brought to the big screen for the first time in her own movie, and fully realizes the breathtaking wonder, strength, and grace of such an historistic character. Sharon Gosling expands that this groundbreaking film will take fans on a voyage of discovery through the world of Wonder Woman.
For the ones who are vague on the Wonder Woman character, (cited bio by wikipedia and public information) she is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. The character is a founding member of the Justice League, demigoddess, warrior princess, and Ambassador-at-Large of the female Amazonian people. In her homeland, her official title is Diana the Princess of Themyscira (daughter of Hippolyta). The Wonder Woman character was created by the American psychologist and writer William Moulton Marston, and artist Harry G. Peter. Marston and his wife Elizabeth's cohabitant, Olive Byrne, is credited as being his inspiration for the character's appearance. Marston drew a great deal of inspiration from early feminists, and especially from birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger. The character first appeared in All Star Comics # 8 in October 1941 and first cover-dated on Sensation Comics #1, January 1942. The Wonder Woman title has been pblished by DC Comics almost continuously except for a brief hiatus in 1986.
This film is adapted from fictional drama, and based on the original idea. It follows the original theme and does not neglect the cinematic opportunities of the story. The film depicts young Wonder Woman's (age 8 - Lilly Aspell, and age 12 - Emily Carey) origins as it relates that she was scultured from clay by her mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and given life by Aprodite, along with superhuman powers as gifts by the Greek Gods. Her Amazonian training by her aunt General Antiope (Robin Wright) and instructor Philippus (Ann Ogbomo) helped to develop a wide range of extraordinary skills in tactics, hunting, and combat.
Adult Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) takes the reigns as the protagonist. But when an American pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes off the shores of the Amazonian sheltered island located in the Bermuda Triangle and tells of a massive conflict of World War II in the outside world, and Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. The epic plot displays female empowerment with extraordinary powers and abilities, as she exerts a strong moral code with a secret identity. The story sets the tone as a backstory with the flashback scenio as the basis of the narrative. It shows the contemporary Diana as employee of the Wayne Industries (as in Bruce Wayne aka Batman). With non-stop motion, spectacular rhythm and pacing, and adventurous high energy physical stunts and chases, Gal Gadot an Israeli actress, martial artist, and model is perfectly cast for the Wonder Woman character as she combats the German invasion and mystical villians. Of course this will set up possible sequels and additions to the new franchise.
As an epic production, this film covers a large expanse of time set against a vast panoramic backdrop. The elements are elaborate and add an extravagant setting and lavish costumes, accompanied by grandeur and spectacle, dramatic scope, high production values, along with an overlap of science fiction and fantasy - all designed for pure audience escapism.
It's a great, fun-filled, action packed summer movie. Go 'woman power' !!
FILM RATING (A-)
|Posted by Gerald Wright on May 26, 2017 at 2:25 PM||comments (0)|
Directed by: Joanchim Ronning and Espen Sandberg
Running time: 129 mins. in Conventional, Disney Digital 3-D, RealD 3-D, and IMAX 3D formats
Release date: May 26, 2017
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Reboot, and Adaptation
Distributor: Walt Disney Motion Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13
In the fifth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, this film serves as a soft reboot of the franchise. The filmmakers cited the first installment, The Curse of the Black Pearl, as inspiration for the script and tone of the film. Johnny Depp, Kevin McNally, and Geoffrey Rush reprise their roles as Jack Sparrow, Joshamee Gibbs, and Hector Barbossa, respectively. The film also stars Javier Bardem as Armando Salazar, Brenton Thwaites as Henry Turner, and Kaya Scodelario as Carina Smyth. The film also features the returns of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly as Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann respectively, following their absence from the fourth installment, On Stranger Tides.
Swashbuckling movies have always been exciting going back to the silent era Douglas Fairbanks films of the early 20th century. This contemporary film is no different when it comes to excitement as Captain Jack Sparrow is pursued by an old nemesis, Armando Salazar, who along with his Spanish Navy ghost crew who has escaped from the Devil's Triangle and is determined to kill every pirate at sea. Jack, aided by a new ally Carina, must seek the Trident of Poseidon, a powerful, a powerful artifact that grants its possessor total control over the seas, in order to defeat Salazar. At the same time, he comes across Henry Turner, the son of his former crew member Will Turner. Henry wants to free his father from the curse of the Flying Dutchman so he can reunite his parents, Will and Elizabeth Swann.
As the film is structured in a prequel format, it also uses the present tense to incorporate the narrative. It is a high energy big budget tale with non-stop motion, spectacular rhythm and pacing, and adventurous, often two-dimensional 'good guy' heroes and heroines battling 'bad guys' in the traditional swashbucklers on searches and expeditions for lost lands, treasures, and the unknown.
Johnny Depp plays the eccentric but noble pirate captain of the Black Pearl on the hunt for the Trident of Poseidon. Javier Bardem as Captain Armando Salazar, a powerful and maniacal undead pirate hunter of the Spanish Navy, who was trapped in the Devil's Triangle. After escaping, he seeks the Trident of Posedon to wipe out all piracy and exact revenge on his old enemy, Captain Jack Sparrow. Meanwhile, Brenton Thwaites as Hery Turner tries to reconnect with his father Will Turner, as he struggles to break a curse that is preventing him from doing so. Kaya Scodelario portrays Carina Smyth, a feisty, altruistic astronomer who has a diary with clues that leads her own her journey looking for the Trident of Posedon. There is also the reprising character Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), the one-legged pirate captain of the Queen Anne's Revenge, former captain of the Black Pearl, and Captain Jack Sparrow's former rival-turned-ally.
Perhaps, this film is more of an overdone romp, but it is mystical and causes great enthusiasm, while being thrilling and exhilarating. It is excessive in its attitude of producing intensity because of the many elements involved. It is an elaborate adventure fantasy film that covers a large expanse of time set against a vast panoramic backdrop, and adds an extravagant setting and lavish costumes, accompanied by grandeur and spectacle, dramatic scope, lively comedy, and high production values of special effects. Yet, the fantasy aspect takes the audience to another dimension and netherworld places with elements of magic, myth, wonder, and the extraordinary that transcends reality.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales will appeal to both childen and adults.
FILM RATING (B)
|Posted by Gerald Wright on May 15, 2017 at 5:10 AM||comments (0)|
Directed by: Guy Richie
Running time: 2 hours 6 minutes
Release date: May 12, 2017
Genre: Drama, Action, Adventure, and Fantasy
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13
In a very loosely based tale on King Arthur legends, the legendary British leader who, according to medieval histories and romances, led the defense of Britain against Saxon invaders in the late 5th and early 6th centuries A.D. comes a dynamic style epic prequel only acclaimed filmmaker Guy Richie could imagine. Starring Charlie Hunnam in the title role, the film is an iconoclassic take on the classic Excalibur myth, tracing Arthur's journey from his royalty birth, cast off to the streets, and back to the throne.
If by chance you don't know of King Arthur, his Knights of the Roundtable, Excalibur Sword, his wife Guineviere, or Wizard Merlin the Magician, the details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of British folklore and literary invention. His historical existence is debated and disputed by modern historians, but the sparse historical background of Arthur is gleamed from various sources, including the Annales Cambriae, the Historia Brittonum, and the writings of Gildas. Although the themes, events and characters of the Arthurian legend varied widely from text to text, and there is no one canonical version, Geoffrey's Historia (completed in 1138 A.D.), which was adapted from such earlier unknown sources, often served as the starting point for later stories of Camelot.
However, this epic costume drama filled with CGI and special effect medieval romps and fantasy monsters that include big-budget physical stunts and chases with rescues, battless, fights, escapes, destuctive crises (floods, explosions, (un)natural disasters, fires, etc., is a far-out take on the myth. This film takes off when the 2 year old child Arthur's (Zac Barker) father Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) and mother is murdered, and Vortigern (Jude Law), Arthur's uncle, seizes the crown. Young Arthur, escapes by being smuggled aboard a small sea vessel that winds up on the shores of the back alleys in the city of Londinium. As Arthur (now Oliver Zac Barker) is forced to make his way as a thief and beggar on the hard streets, he is taken in by a prostitute in a brothel.
Once a annual challenge to pulling the Excalibur Sword from the stone, that it is solidly secured in and only released by the rightful heir to the throne, young adult Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) does so. Instantly confronted by the sword's influence, he is forced to make up his mind to either join the rebellion with a shadowy young woman named Geinevere (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) assisted by Sir Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou) or remain a street hustler. As the tyranny led by Vortigern becomes intolerable, agrees to join the resistance, but he must learn to master the sword, face down his demons, and unite the people to defeat the tyrant Vortigern along with his fantastical montrous demon army - who murdered his parents and stole his crown to become king.
The fantasy scenes takes the audience to netherworld places (another dimension) where events are ulikely to occur in real life - they transcend the bounds of human possibilities and physical laws. It is a film that have an element of magic, myth, wonder, and extraordinary, appealing to both teenage children and adults.
KING ARTHUR: Legend of the Sword is a period piece spectacular that includes high production values accompanied by granduer.
FILM RATING (B)
|Posted by Gerald Wright on April 21, 2017 at 10:50 PM||comments (0)|
TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL 2017
April 19 - 30, 2017
The Tribeca Film Festival was founded in 2002 by Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro and Craig Hatkoff, in respnse to the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the consequent loss of vitality in the lower Manhattan neighborhoods.
Over the 16 years, the Festival received over 10,000 film submissions and held 2000 plus screenings. The Festival's program line-up includes a variety of independent films including documentaries, narrative features and shorts, as well as a program of family-friendly and student films. The Festival also features panel discussions with personalities in the entertainment world.
Recently, James Dolan's Madison Square Garden Company has entered the film festival business with its newly acquired stake in the film company founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff. In 2014, Tribeca Film Festival has sold 50% stake to the Madison Square Garden Company. Among the properties owned by the MSG Company are Radio City Music Hall and the Beacon Theatre. This offering the opening night event screening of documentary to the public of, Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives, and performances by legendary talents Aretha Franklin, Barry Manilow and others to be held at Radio City Music Hall. This year has been about dramatically increasing the programming breadth. Focusing more on relevance and revenue with the closing night film dealing with retrospective, The Godfather & The Godfather Part 2.
CLIVE DAVIS: THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES
Directed by: Chris Perkel
Running time: 123 minutes
Release date: April 19, 2017
Chris Perkel's riveting profile of legendary music mogul Clive Davis spans a remarkable five-decade career, providing an incredible tour of the msot sensational music of the cultural revolution, from the 1960s to the rise of hip-hop. Bruse Springsteen, Whitney Houston, Santana, Aretha Franklin, Barry Manilow, Patti Smith, Alicia Keys, Sean "Puffy" Combs, and a great many more artists to Davis. This amazing film is definitive, fascinating and ceaselessly entertaining proof.
This film examines the life of Clive Jay Davis, born in Brooklyn, New York. It begins with his birth in 1932 and how he related to his young domestic life. As a young adult he enters Harvard Law School on a full scholarship and graduated 1956. Four years later, he arrives at Columbia Recors as an attorney. In 1965, he was promoted to administrative vice president of the label without having any knowledge of popular music. Soon after in 1967, he became vice president and general manager, then the label's president.
In this capacity he pushed the company full speed into rock music, with artists such as Janis Joplin and Carlos Santana leading the pack. He guided Columbia Records to tremendous success until 1973, when he was fired after being accused of tax evasion and misusing company funds (related to payola). However, with a reputation as a maker of musical talent, in 1974 he took over the record division Columbia Pictures and launched his own music label, Arista, famous for such acts as Barry Manilow and Whitney Houston.
It brings the audience to Clive Davis' 2008 move to Chief Creative Officer at Sony BMG, after a government investigation of the record industry, where he was fired as president of CBS Records. Yet, he was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1501 Vine Street in Hollywood, California.
Filmmaker Perkel structures his documentary in a bias biographical sense of an amiable man, but in the industry that is "cut-throat" in nature, the portrait is not totally true. Interviews with various competitors of the music industry, paint a different picture of him. While amused in their interview shots, these same people see him as a cunning and often ruthless man. These cutaway scenes are more of story telling shots, whereas the actual "chill footage" with the musical artists give more honesty. Perkel mixes Lean-in footage with Lean-back footage to help change the Modality of the Experience for the viewer.
The film highlights Davis' annual music bash where every musical talent is invited. The documentary is a major tribute to an 80 year old man whose successful career spans over 50 years in the music industry.
FILM RATING (A-)
Directed by: Philippe Falardeau
Running time: 98 minutes
Release date: May 5, 2017
Genre: Drama, Sports, and Biography
Distributor: IFC Films
MPAA Rating: R
The story behind the making of Chuck is a narrative on its own merit. Screenwriters Mike Tollin and Jeff Feuerzieg acquired the rights to Charles "Chuck" Wepner's life story a decade ago and soon after, prolific film, stage, and television producer/actor Liev Achreiber was approached about the project. Schreiber, a lifelong aficionado of the 'sweet science', realized his dream of playing Chuck Wepner (known to some as the Bayonne Bleeder), the New Jersey liquor salesman and heavyweight prize fighter who, at age 35, got a chance to fight Heavyweight Champion Mohammed Ali right after he shocked the world by regaining his title against a seemingly invincible George Forman in "The Rumble in the Jungle" bout in Zaire.
Chuck is as much about Wepner trying to deal with sudden fame as the ultimate underdog as it is about the epic fight 40 years ago when a journeyman brawler, against all odds, shocked the world by staying in the ring for almost the entire fight (15 rounds). It is not just a boxing movie, but a true story of the rise, fall, and redemption story defying our expectations.
This biograpraphical character study plot-driven production portraying realistic characters, settings, life situations, and stories involving intense character development and interaction examines this American former professional heavyweight boxer's life, whose professional record of 51 fights was; 35 wins, 17 by winning knockouts, 14 losses, and 2 draws.
The film gives insight as to Wepner's early life as he was born in 1939 in New York City, son of Delores and Charles William Wepner who relocated to Bayonne, New Jersey. He learned to fight on the streets of Bayonne, known for the hardness of people who worked the civilian docks and U.S. Navy Yard. As a youth he was always an avid player of sports. With limited options for his future that included working as a longshoreman or joing the military, he opted for the latter, joing the U.S. Marines, where he became a member of the boxing team, developing a reputation for being able to withstand punches and becoming a military boxing champion at one of the airbases.
Played with flair and pathos, Liev Schreiber portrays Chuck Wepner, a married man with a young daughter who takes a job selling liquor to the local bars and stores in New Jersey. Yet, he finds time to take local prize fighting bouts with the Northeast's Club Boxing circuit and earned the title of New Jersey State Heavyweight Boxing Champion during the period of 1974-75. His epic life shows how his sudden celebrity status of fighting boxing greats such as Ali, Randy Neumann, and Ernie Terrell, gained him recognition by actor Sylvester Stallone (Morgan Spector) to write the script, Rocky. Along with the newfound status, Wepner succumbs to a detrimental life of drugs, booze, and wild women, while struggling to maintain the only true relationship he's known with his no-nonsense wife Phyliss (Elisabeth Moss) and a straight-talking local bartender Linda (Naomi Watts) with whom he has an undeniable immediate spark (whom he later in life marries).
With a supporting cast of Ron Perlman as Al Braverman, Michael Rapaport as older brother Don Wepner, Pooch Hall as Mohammed Ali, and others, the performances secure a complete successful biopic.
Chuck is an entertaining chronicle of the rise and fall of this larger-than-life legend.
FILM RATING (B+)
Directed by: Julian Rosefeldt
Running time: 95 mins.
Release date: May 10, 2017
MPAA Rating: Not rated
From acclaimed visual artist Julian Rosefeldt, Manifesto features two-time Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett in 13 distinct vignettes that incorporate timeless manifestos from 20th century art movements to futuristic genres.
The narratives draws on writings of Futurists, Dadaists, Fluxux artists, Suprematists, Situationists, and other artist groups, as well as the musing of individual artists, architects, dancers and filmmakers. Filmmaker Rosefeldt edits and reassembles these artists' manifestos into 13 brilliant collages, while merging the ideas of Claes Oldenburg, Yvonne Rainer, Kazimir Malevich, Andre Breton, Sturtevant, Sol LeWit, Jim Jarmusch, and many more.
The characters and settings are from an achorwoman to a hmeless man, from Pop Art to Dogma 95, as the chameleonic Blanchett gives a tour-de-force performance as she transforms herself like never before. The settitngs weave together history's most impassionate artistic statements in this stunning and comtemporary call to action.
Cate Blanchett performs these "new" manifestos while inhabiting 13 personas, among them a school teacher, a puppeteer, and a factory worker. Her performances pays homage to the moving image and tradition of artists' personalities while imbuing new dramatic life into these artists' words.
These manifestos are not only text which were intended to turn art - and eventually the whole world - upside down and revolutionalize it; at the same time they are testimonials about the search for identity. With a series of striking monologues, this arthouse drama ultimately turns lines of conventional story exploring to intentional artistic cinematic expression.
Manifesto is emerging in depts by the talent of Cate Blanchett's profound performance and twelve different accents in each of the characters along with the different physical milieus.
FILM RATING (B)
TOM OF FINLAND
Directed by: Dome Karukoski
Running time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Release date: 2017
Genre: Drama and Biography
Distributor: Kino Lorber
MPAA Rating: Not rated
This biopic of Touko Valio Laaksonen, a Finnish (died 7 November 1991) artist known by his pseudonym Tom of Finland, is a detailed story of man who stylized highly masculized homoerotic fetish art. His influence on the late 20th century gay culture garnered him the title of the"most influential creator of gay pornographic images".
The film takes off during Finland's Winter War of World War II with the USSR. Lasaksonen (Pekka Strang) serves as a decorated anti-aircraft officer, holding the rank of second lieutenant. While serving on his tour of military duty he engages in hidden gay relationships with other gay personnel, with the fear of being caught and the threat of being imprisoned or executed. After the war, he returns home to study.
However, in his early life, depicted in a short backstory, tells of his middle-class life, raised b scholl teacher parens. Living in Helsinki, in his spare time secretly started drawing erotic images for his own pleasure. Later on in his life he created a unique style that lack of dramatic composition, self-assertive poses, muscular male bodies depicting Nazi, Biker, and Lumberjack style uniformed leather images.
Still living under the fear of his homosexuality in a post-war Finnish government that threatens his existence, he begins his career in 1956 when he submits his drawings to the influential American magazine Physique Pictorial, which premiered the images in the 1957 Spring issue under the pseudonym Tom, and having coined the credit Tom of Finland. With the U.S. censorship codes of the 1950s and early 1960s Laaksonen was rendering private commissions, that focused the primary market of gay men with erotic comic books and making inroads to the mainstream art world.
The film gives insight into the pressure during peace-time Helsinki rampant with persecution of the homosexual and the men around him even being pressured to marry women and have children. But once he leaves Finland and relocates in California, among the gay community, he can openly be who he is.
This historical drama is plot-driven and portrays realistic characters, settings, and life situations. The performances are highly engaging with intense character development and interactions by supporting cast members Jakob Oftebro, Werner Daehn, Jessica Grabowsky, and Jan Bome, along with others, make this a sensitive, yet impactful narrative.
FILM RATING (A)
*More reviews to be posted*