After all, it's just a ride….

Current Affairs

The Other Side Of The Wind (1977) Trailer?

Well. wow. Reverberations are thundering around the cinephile world with this extraordinary news, especially given the connections between old and new media and all that such umbilical links could signal for the future. Here is some exhaustive context, and here is a glimpse of what’s in store;


Malick Muses…..

Apologies for the quality but I think you fellow cinephiles will understand, that we are definitely in the midst of an end times scerario. I expect to see Pynchon on Fox news next week;


Five Came Back (2017) Trailer

Beyond happy that they have produced a documentary of this fantastic book which I read a couple of years ago. It’s an apt reminder of what cinema can do in difficult times, and the influence the experience had upon the five when they returned to the industry is fascinating as a historical and artistic document – their work and the world they operated in was never the same;


RIP Bill Paxton (1955 – 2017)

Well, I think I can speak for us all by stating this is a bit of a shock – he was on WTF only a week ago and came across a thoroughly down to earth, cool guy, particularly when joking about this. A terrific, reliable character actor, immortalised in Aliens, and the only dude to have been slain by a Predator, a Terminator and an Alien. There are too many great appearances to list here, but I will cite the brilliant Raimi A Simple Plan and this Menagerie favourite;


The Language of Propaganda

Given the coverage a certain speech is getting today, this seems like an apt moment to post this;


Boogie Nights (1997) Commentary

OK you fucking mooks, OK, I feel bad about this, I’m feeling especially guilty and useless at not posting anything concerning my Scorsese blitzkrieg over the past few weeks. Truth be told I have six or seven full reviews in the pipeline, but wider considerations have fumbled my intent, and it has proved difficult to find the effort or inspiration to continue this increasingly monumental effort – real life can sometime intrude. Nevertheless I’ve only got one more full movie to see in the season which on a whole has been a revelatory season, there is just one more of the classics to finally see on the big screen, so I keep telling myself to wait until that is absorbed until I get chained to the keyboard. Until then here is some more adjunct material which is fascinating, one of the core figures in recent Amercian cinema whom would not exist, as we known it, without Marty;


John Hurt RIP (1940 – 2017)

I think this says it all;


Academy Award Nominations 2017

oscar2017Yes, it’s that time of the year again. I must admit to finding it difficult to muster any genuine enthusiasm for this years announcements, I have made a concerted effort in seeing some of the inevitable nominees this month, with Jackie still to see when it opens toward the end of the week, and Moonlight soon after which I’m really looking forward to given the exemplary feedback. For my sins I’ve been toying with going to see Hacksaw Ridge despite the rather eyeball rolling trailers, I’m also not sure I wish to contribute to the coffers of Mel Gibson even with the rudimentary pennies that would be allocated through my Cineworld Card, but I’ve heard that the action sequences are equivalent in power and brutality to Saving Private Ryan, so being a weird sort of cruelty junkie that has piqued my interest. As it stands I’ve never, in now a venerable ten years of conducting this ridiculous and infinitely pointless exercise (in public) managed more than a 60% or 65% accuracy rate with my predictions, but we live in hope and its just a piece of pointless frivolity to while away the endless days until we all die. So as always the rules are to bold the films I’ve seen, italic the films I think should win, and underline those I think will win, with the everlasting caveat that I haven’t seen everything, so am having to make some choices based on compromised information.

osc201Amusingly, as I write this I am catching up on a few of last years blockbusters, namely In dependence Day 2 and X-Men Apocalypse, both of which, as expected, are total gash. this industry really needs to start rethinking itself along these high exposure, high visibility lines, as some of the rumours I’ve heard coming out of the disgruntled technicians and junior players are growing increasingly depressed with their products, as the studio executives and senior producers simply not caring about plot inconsistencies, illogical scripts – they are literally telling them not to worry as the audience don’t care, and the spectacle and energy of the films are enough to play in China and other developing international markets – depressing. More positively the ceremony has already caused history, as La La Land enters the exalted trio of films with the most nominations in history – 14 – joining All About Eve and Titanic, even Gone With The End only managed a paltry 13 nods. Looking through the nominees I note that we now have to go and see Lion  which didn’t exactly grab my attention from the trailer but I’m willing to be surprised, but I draw the line at Fantastic Beasts in the SFX category which I have absolute zero interest in. It’s good to see Arrival warping into so many nominations, but  lets face it La La Land is going to obliterate this years ceremony – completely. We are in dire need of some simple, unadulterated colourful escapism right now, not to mention the slightly more worrying prospect of a temperature in the culture of yearning for an allegedly simpler, more prosperous earlier time, no matter how warped and unglued from reality that nostalgia may be.  It’s not a criticism per se of the movie, but for a Los Angeles set film it is spectacularly Caucasian, innocent and defiantly individualistic, where even human relationships and warmth are sacrificed on the altar of unimpeded commercial success and wealth;

Best Picture

la3

Only nine nominees eh? Strange number, but here we are. Not having seen Moonlight this is a difficult one to judge, I think we can assume that Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Lion and Hidden Figures are the outliers. La La Land will take it down to Chinatown, however….

Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight

Best Director

hack

No Kelly Reichardt for Certain Women? What a travesty, but it looks like the rehabilitation of Mel is complete, right? Well, out of those I’ve seen both Lonergan and Villeneuve conduct exemplary work at either end of the scale – one a tiny, modest, performance scoped drama, the other a major technical blockbuster with empathic and narrative fracturing elements. Jenkins for Moonlight is a long shot but you never know, but I still think Chazelle is gonna win…….

Arrival – Denis Villeneuve
Hacksaw Ridge – Mel Gibson
La La Land – Damien Chazelle
Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan
Moonlight – Barry Jenkins

Best Actor

casey

Not wishing to prejudice my full Manchester By The Sea review this might be one of the upsets for La La Land – Gosling was fine in that but not exactly best actor nominee levels of achievement and richly deserved it is to as Affleck is astounding, although some of those allegations surrounding his conduct may prove difficult. Garfield is having a fairly spectacular career post Spiderman isn’t he? I’ve got Captain Fantastic on my priority Lovefilm list so should catch that over the next week or so, but this and perhaps screenplay will be Manchester’s only achievements…..

Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling – La La Land
Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington – Fences

Best Actress

jackie

No Amy Adams for Arrival? Damn, well, it wouldn’t be the Oscars if Meryl didn’t get nominated for something, right? I wonder if she would get a nod even if she took a year off, just..because? I’ve got nothing against her you understand, I was in appreciative awe of her putting her head about the parapet during her Golden Globes speech, but c’mon. I’ve just seen Jackie and as I’d heard Pablo Larraín has coaxed out a very different sort of performance from Portman, a punt which actually takes some time to acclimatise to during the course of the film, so I think she’ll take it as a somewhat less controversial choice than the other front runner Elle.

Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Ruth Negga – Loving
Natalie Portman – Jackie
Emma Stone – La La Land
Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins

Best Supporting Actor

nocturnal

Fantastic to see Lucas Hedges here which is probably the biggest surprise, he holds his own against far more experienced colleagues so it’s good to see him nominated. Bridges is great but maybe a little too obvious, Patel is the best I’ve seen him in Lion, and I can’t comment on Moonlight – yet. So let’s go with Shannon, because, well, he’s Michael fucking Shannon…..

Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges –  Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel – Lion
Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals

Best Supporting Actress

fences

“Seven of the 20 nominees in acting categories for 2017 Academy Awards are non-white” notes the Daily Mail, in accurate reporting accident’ tweeted Sight & Sound editor Nick James after the announcement, which made me chuckle. As much as I love Michelle Williams to be perfectly blunt she is barely in her film, sure she has one pivotal scene but apart from that little more than a few transitional moments, so I can’t in good conscience elect her as a favourite. So for now, until I see more of the nominees, I’ll go with Viola Davis as she’s always great;

Viola Davis – Fences
Naomi Harris – Moonlight
Nicole Kidman – Lion
Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

Best Adapted Screenplay

lion2

A roll of the dice, until I see Moonlight. Arrival was quite revolutionary but again the Academy is resistant to awarding SF out of the technical categories, which leaves us with the entire arc of Hidden Fences which can be detected from the trailer – it looks worthy but not following the usual ‘triumph over adversity’ path. In a similar way so does Lion but seems to evade any clichés, so for now I’ll go with that;

Arrival
Fences
Hidden Figures
Lion
Moonlight

Best Original Screenplay

manch

No Nocturnal Animals nod? Well, that is odd given the previous form, but I can’t say I disagree. I did see the film last year but couldn’t find the appetite to craft a review, the framing structure of a film within in film is curious and could have been utilised to great effect, but the rest of the film was cluttered and quite unsure of itself. So, back to the actual nominees and I’m going to have to go with Manchester By The Sea as one of those almost consolation prizes, unless La La Land begins to look like a clean sweep on the night….

Hell or High Water
La La Land
The Lobster
Manchester by the Sea
20th Century Women

Best Animated Feature Film

moana

Not exactly my specialised area, and I’ve heard great things about all of these but lets go with Moana as a Disneyfied guess.

Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life as a Zucchini
Zootopia
The Red Turtle

Best Cinematography

silence

As always a strong field, again until I see Moonlight which I’ve heard has some ravishing moments this is difficult to call. Silence was a beautiful film if an ideologically troubling one, but I think the La La Land juggernaut will continue, especially that magic hour & crayola colour schema.

Arrival
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Silence

Best Documentary Feature

oj

This is a slam-dunk, having powered through the five and a half hour O.J. Simpson epic over Xmas I can vouch for its brilliance, drawing in issues and observations far in orbit of that horrendous event.

Fire at Sea
I am Not Your Negro
Life, Animated
O.J. Made in America
13th Hour

Best Documentary Short Subject

Extremis
4.1 Miles
Joe’s Violin
Watani: My Homeland
The White Helmets

Best Original Score

lala.png

Should they even bother opening the envelope? Strange to see Passengers on here, there is a beautiful piano leitmotif in Lion which is worthy of an award, and it’s a shame that Arrival missed out here;

Jackie
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Passengers

Best Original Song

la-la-5

As above;

“Audition” – La La Land
“Can’t Stop the Feeling” – Trolls
“City of Stars” – La La Land
“The Empty Chair” – Jim: The James Foley Story
“How Far I’ll Go” – Moana

Best Foreign Language Film

edrmann

Goddamn it. It’s always the same, isn’t it? I arrogantly assume I have kept my finger on the pulse of international cinema, following the antics of the major film festivals, and while I may not have seen everything due to distribution patterns I’m at least aware of the general population of International Cinema. Apparently not as not only have I not seen four of the five nominees, I’ve never even heard of them. Completely oblivious. Not a peep about these pictures, not through my Sight & Sound subscription, not through the scattering of film websites I visit almost daily, not through the two dozen or so weekly podcasts I am subscribed to. Just who is sending the Academy these films to see and getting them nominated? Well, of course the exception is Toni Erdmann which has been justifiably cresting the wave of breakthrough popularity and audience affection, which surely has to take this one back to Berlin.

Land of Mine
A Man Called Ove
The Salesman
Tanna
Toni Erdmann

Best Animated Short Film

Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider & Cigarettes
Pearl
Piper

Best Live Action Short Film

Ennemis Interieurs
La Femme et le TGV
Silent Nights
Sing
Timecode

Best Costume Design

jacks

I think Jackie might offer an upset and it certainly looked amazing to me, but my sartorial skills are questionable;

Allied
Fantastic Beasts
Jackie
La La Land

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

suic

Well, that’s a surprise, with Suicide Squad, one of the most maligned films of last year, getting a nomination. I’ve never heard of A Man Called Ove so let’s guess with Star Trek;

A Man Called Ove
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad

Best Sound Editing

human

I’m going out on a limb with Arrival as a final offering of support;

Arrival
Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Sully

Best Sound Mixing

hack

Action and combat films usually do well in this category, so lets go with the Ridge;

Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
14 hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Best Film Editing

arrival

Crikey these all seem proficient to say the least, but again Arrival had that fractured timeline to master. Nevertheless La La will prevail;

Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Moonlight
La La Land

Best Production Design

hail

Whilst I think Arrival should take the top set SF never wins production design awards, which closes down the odds somewhat. Normally I’d go with Hail Caesar for the old-school Hollywood vibe, but I think this might be a case of the vote for everything for the same picture syndrome for those Academy members who haven’t seen all the films…

Arrival
Fantastic Beasts
Hail, Caesar!
La La Land
Passengers

Best Visual Effects

deep1

Having seen The Jungle Book recently I must admit I was very impressed, it was the best rendering of anthropomorphic animals I’ve seen on screen, and whilst it didn’t always convince the blending and rendering was exquisite. Still, I’m going for Dr. Strange as those folding hexagonal headspace scrambling was almost unique on screen, as opposed to the text book designs and execution of Rogue One.

Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story


Get Out (2017) Trailer

Yes, I know, more trailer filler, but this has just been revealed at a midnight Sundance screening and it got punters very excited, managing that almost impossible mix of deft comedy and disturbing horror which is exceptionally rare outside of An American Werewolf In London and the Evil Dead franchise;


The Purge – Inauguration (2017)

friday‘Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning. Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.’ Well, ‘deserve’ being the operative word in that synopsis of the last few decades, which alongside the utter incompetence of my countries political ‘leaders’ has brought us to the events of today and the final triumph of the neoliberal ideology, one of the saddest days of my life. No, I’m not American but the inauguration of this….thing, this corrupt, sexual assault boasting, racist, disabled mocking, draft dodging, veteran insulting, tax-dodging, treasonous, lying, incompetent – remember he couldn’t even make a fucking casino, the most lucrative mechanism in human history profitable – selfish psychopaths is still beyond comprehension. It still feels like we have slipped into some alternate reality where great swathes of fellow humans have been revealed as the venal, ignorant hate bloated leeches that wouldn’t be alien to some 1980’s B movie, and thats increasingly arising in Europe as much as North America. Now, this is a film blog of course but I had to put a marker down for this day in some appropriately mediocre fashion, lots of people have been going with Chaplin, others with Ahnoldt, especially given the 2017 setting and notion of a dystopian future where a reality TV star manipulates the psyche of the masses. It’s a dark, dark day with worse to come, but you have to laugh when the real slogan of this goose-stepping, ascendant movement completely unironically utilises the same slogan as this prophetic series;

You have to laugh when entertaining but undeniable B movie schlock turns out to be the most accurate barometer of political and social developments, don’t ya? One of those high-pitched, gibbering laughing fits which gets more shrill and higher pitched before degenerating into screams……Now you may have seen the the incandescent fury generated by the alt-right – sorry, that the fucking fascists – appropriating Carpenters 1988 now prescient masterpiece for their own pathetic propaganda, for which Carpenter immediately bitch-slapped them down. Their intellectual idiocy and rhetoric is just beyond parody, but at least they seem to be falling into civil war among themselves which is a small mercy…….

Naturally, in order to embellish this grim marker of this dark day I have to go with the Kubrick in order to accompany the parade of incompetent, spectacularly unqualified and raging sycophants already toadying to the throne, if the president elect wasn’t bad enough the individuals this regime has surrounded itself with is just, simply…it just…..well, words fail me as usual. In this period of unequivocal proven man made climate change, well, if in some political movie script you appointed the CEO of fucking Exxon as the Secretary Of State you’d be laughed out of every pitch meeting in California, yet here we are, as the world slowly burns. So finally here’s a little prophetic clip of the US President calling his boss friend in the Kremlin, as we also see the resurgence of a destabilising, fiscally annihilating global nuclear arms race – so cheer up, if the climate doesn’t get us, or rather your children and grandchildren, then the lunatics will;