Jackson taking the same route as Lucas?

Entertainment, Film, Opinion, Popular Culture, Uncategorized

It is becoming increasingly obvious that Peter Jackson is beginning to take the same path as George Lucas had before him.

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Viggo mortensen in an interview with the Telegraph gives his spin on Peter Jackson’s dependance to technology. “In the first movie, yes, there’s Rivendell, and Mordor, but there’s sort of an organic quality to it, actors acting with each other, and real landscapes; it’s grittier. The second movie already started ballooning, for my taste, and then by the third one, there were a lot of special effects. It was grandiose, and all that, but whatever was subtle, in the first movie, gradually got lost in the second and third. Now with The Hobbit, one and two, it’s like that to the power of 10.”

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Mortensen is not wrong like gollum and his precious, Jackson similarly has fallen in love with technology to an extreme extent. There was a huge practical element to his Lord of the Rings series. Jackson like Ridley Scott at first was seen to be a world builder. Epic sets built for epic scale on the one hand.

On another hand, his original techniques were similar to Lucas. Many of his sets were this model scale. Little beautifully detailed scale models on a table. Then filmed and used practically for the film.

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It takes longer and much more manpower has to be invested in these projects. That is an obvious stumbling block. But Lucas and Jackson moved away from their practical pioneering roots to a more CGI driven future. The attraction was obvious to see. The payoff has not.

The similar storyline of Lucas starting with a franchise. Been held up as a pioneer. Only to tarnish his legacy by depending too much on CGI to prop up his films.

Why did Jackson make the same mistake?

The link between the two starts at Rick McCallum. He was the producer for Lucas originally before he lent his expertise to Peter Jackson. He showed him how the new prequel trilogy was made.

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Jackson similar to Lucas one could argue bought into the idea of being seen as a pioneer. As a result, could see themselves as the ones to push the boundaries and not the ones to lean on old practical values.

Jackson pushed for the higher frame rate of 48 fps. It helps builds beautiful worlds. But his characters end up lost. Similar to Lucas’s films.

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The world of green screen simply can’t replicate the practical reality. Consider Ridley Scott. Like Lucas he is a world builder for decades like Lucas. Yet he manages a balance between pratical and CGI. He is one of the few that still builds sets. They help a world actors can exist in instead of imagining in.

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Same can be said for J.J. Abrams. On his appointment of director of the Force Awakens, Abrams made clear he favoured a more balanced practical / CGI world for Star Wars. It was welcomed by fans and it paid off in the film.

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Special effects shouldn’t be dismissed. They offer many distinct advantages that clearly Jackson and Lucas could see. But it isn’t a one size fits all solution. A careful combination of special effects and practical effects should still be favoured.

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Heir to the throne

Blogging, Entertainment, Film, Opinion, Popular Culture

Meryl Steep is undeniably the undisputed Queen of Hollywood. Arguably the greatest actress of all time. At least of her generation. Helen Mirren and Judi Dench are outstanding actress but few have the resume of Meryl Steep.

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Could anyone ever achieve the same heights as Streep? Maintain her consistency decade after decade.  It’s possible. There are many actresses capable now.  Powerhouses like Julia Roberts and Cate Blanchett could be brought into the conversation along with Nicole Kidman.

There are others like Kate Winslet who had to rake up several nominations before she eventually got her Oscar. Winslet one could argue who could reach the heights of Streep. She would be an obvious candidate.

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Natalie Portman could be in line for her second Oscar next year with her performance in Jackie. Another candidate could be Amy Adams. Adams has not yet achieved an Oscar win. She has captured two Golden globes. She has 5 Oscar and Bafta nominations. To her name. Few today could rival such a resume.

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Adams has worked with Streep and worked well together on the film Doubt. It earned Adams a second Oscar nomination for best supporting actress. Her first nomination Junebug was the performance that launched her career. In addition, her performance was voted 6th best performance of the decade in Paste Magazine.

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5 nominations and no wins is a frustrating streak to have. Winslet endured the same fate and a former co star Leo Dicaprio endured the same fate. Nevertheless, it shows she is in good company. Will she win an Oscar soon? Consider her work rate and film choices. It is highly likely she will join DiCaprio and Winslet in breaking her streak.

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In the bigger picture, though unlike many of her peers her age. She is a lot more prolific than many other actresses her age. One could debate that is down to her chasing her first Oscar win.  However, many actors/actresses as they get older work less and take far less roles.

Adams is the opposite. She works constantly delivering film after film. Nocturnal Animals and Arrival will surely once again put her in the frame for an Oscar. Few actresses have her range from sweet innocence of Catch if you can to musical voice in Enchanted. Move to dominating roles like the Master. She more than rivalled Phillip Seymour Hoffman in the film. She duly got an nomination for it.  Add in her darker roles like Nocturnal animals.  She has the range, work rate, savvy in film choices to put herself in the frame to repeat Streep’s legacy.

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The man with the mic.

Entertainment, Film, Opinion

Nobody probably saw it coming. But Nick Cannon in a bizarre twist in the #Oscarssowhite madness came across as the voice of reason in not wanting Chris Rock to step aside. He rightly pointed “Hell yeah I’m going to watch that ceremony where they let a black man be a master for at least two hours. Don’t waste your voice.”

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Cannon used his talents. Instead of simply releasing a statement. He released a critical poem online. He stood out amongst a crowded field of dissenting voices. He used his skillset to the best of his ability and called on Chris Rock to do likewise.  Others like Tyrese Gibson and 50 Cent rashly called for Chris Rock to boycott the Oscars.  It was wise to ignore Gibson’s request. How many times has a black man overseen the Oscars?

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One could probably count it on one hand. A black man with a microphone and the world as his audience at a critical moment in film history. Last two black men who had that power were Barack Obama and Martin Luther King. Their voices were definitely heard and listened to.

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At a critical moment in the academy’s history and black acting community are both blessed that Chris Rock is taking the stage for the all-important night. For the academy they managed to get one of the sharpest comedians alive. For the black acting community, they got one of the most respected black comedians hold the microphone. Rock is a win-win for all parties involved.

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Rumours are rife that Rock has thrown out his original monologue and is rewriting it. That may be true or not. But what is true is Chris Rock is in rare company. There are very few comedians like Chris Rock.

Rock can make you laugh but get manage to get you to think. Rock won’t simply rant on the night, but will address the issues that plague the system but manage to present the issues in a manner very few can replicate.

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Dave Chappelle, Jon Stewart along with Steve Colbert, Louis. C.K and Larry Whitmore would be some of an elite few that can do what Rock does. But again very few of that group again are black.

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Therefore, it is truly baffling Tyrese Gibson would call on Rock to step aside. At this critical moment, you truly couldn’t ask for a more suited individual to step onto the world stage and tackle the major issue at hand.  Add in that Rock has presented at the awards before. He has been there and done it. He is used to the pressure. He knows how it works. There won’t be first time jitters. Nobody is better suited than Chris Rock to step up at this moment. The world is watching.

 

► 10:02

 

A solid star

Blogging, Film, Opinion, Writing

In the last few weeks, there has been outcry over the lack of diversity at the Oscars. Black people quite rightly are aggrieved with the situation at present. But in a time of negativity, one bright moment has been swallowed up by the Oscar crisis. That bright moment being Denzel Washington winning the Cecil B. DeMille award at the Golden Globes.

It wasn’t the Oscars but nevertheless very few actors achieve the Cecil B. DeMille award. As Tom Hanks noted in his speech when presenting the award, the list of great actors to achieve this award are finite. Possibly aside from Sir Sidney Poitier, Washington is the only other black actor to receive this accolade. In the company of De Niro and Al Pacino, Hoffman.

Washington is just as deserving as the others. Add in the fact that compared to some of the previous winners on the list, Washington has maintained a high performance throughout his career. Compared to the likes of De Niro who goes through highs and lows. It is hard to point out one bad performance by Washington. but he is in the minority. He should have been celebrated more in the aftermath. Instead negative headlines dominated the news.

Washington compared to the likes of Will Smith, Jamie Foxx or any major block buster black actor, may not draw in the same box office figures. However, undeniably if a survey was carried out, Washington would surely be seen as the most reliable, respected and consistent of the major black figures in Hollywood today. At a time when outrage dominates the headlines. A possible alternative is push to Washington forward and use him as a shining example. A black actor who has achieved all the top accolades. Promote him as the champion of black film community.

Add in the reality is that there is not enough films and opportunities being made with black actors/actresses. For a black actor/actress to win, they have to deliver not a great performance, but quite simply an exceptional one in order to stand a chance. Washington has beaten those odds time and time again. The black acting community should look to him to guide them forward.

The reason he possibly hasn’t spoken out yet could be down to him not wanting to be seen as hypocritical. When he has just won the Cecil B. DeMille award. Nevertheless, he should be encouraged to add his voice to the debate. His voice like his performances will not be one of rash, ill-judged move. But one of considered, well-thought opinion. He truly is a solid star that stands out. One that should be celebrated more and should be listened to.

Mo-Cap_ A New world

Blogging, Film, Opinion, Uncategorized

When one mentions motion capture, most people’s minds think of Andy Serkis. No other actor in recent history has done more to promote than Andy Serkis. Films like LOTR, Planet of the apes, King Kong along with Tintin are several samples of Serkis doing Motion Capture. He will be forever linked to motion capture no matter what he does for the rest of his career. Both a blessing and a curse. Nevertheless, if a list of motion capture performers was conducted tomorrow. Serkis’s body of work would put him far out in front.

However, his lonely existence is quickly evaporating. Zoe Saldana delivered such a performance in Avatar there was calls for her to be nominated for an Oscar. Bradley Cooper showed he could deliver as well as Racoon in Guardians of the Galaxy. A role many can’t wait for him to reprise in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Vin Diesel showed another side of himself by playing Groot in the same film. The main point being that world of motion capture is opening up due to pioneers like Serkis. Eventually we may even see a category for motion capture performance at award seasons. Saldana may even get belated recognition and Serkis be seen as the godfather of motion capture performance.

Another interesting aspect is that of being seen as a motion capture specialist. Serkis being the obvious example. But one possibly not imagined going forward was Lupita Nyong’ O.  Nyong’O received an academy award for Best supporting actress in 12 years a slave. She had the world at her feet. She was the darling of the Oscars. Everybody waited with baited breath to see what her next move was. Many previous winners of similar award Best actress had dips after their wins. Halle Berry after her win had a few flops. Reese Witherspoon had a few lean years before she came back into contention. Charlize Theron had a similar story. The point being That Lupita had a lot of capital in her corner, she had more options than she ever had before.

Her first step was to do the film Non-Stop with Liam Neeson. The film did ok, But Nyong’ o had a small role and struggled as a result to make an impression. She seemed destined to lose that Oscar momentum. Everything went quiet until rumours swirled she was in contention for Star Wars. It quickly transpired not for a main role like originally expected. Instead for a motion capture role. Consider that her Oscar momentum was fading. It was great to get a role in Star Wars. But not a role that easily could be similar Non-stop.

Instead, her role of Maz Kanata was one of the major talking points of the new Star Wars film. Her performance was one of the strong points of the film. Interestingly, instead of going back to mainstream acting, she moved to voiceover for the role of Rakcha, a mother wolf to Mowgli in 2016 version of the Jungle Book. She will then reprise her role for Maz Kanata in the sequel to 7th episode of Star Wars. Nyong’o instead of playing it safe when choosing roles after her Oscar success. Instead has gone bold and has been handsomely rewarded. She isn’t there yet. But overtime she could be mentioned in the same conversation as Andy Serkis for her motion capture performances. Along with Saldana, to some she may be remembered overtime for her motion capture performances. For others, it will still be her Oscar performance as Patsy in 12 years a Slave. Either way, her career slows no signs of suffering any dips in the near future.

Blomkamp’s Bluff.

Blogging, Entertainment, Film, Opinion, Popular Culture, Writing

Blomkamp interview

Halo short film : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BaVb2TlWb0

When Blomkamp made District 9, like the rest of world I saw it as innovative and really exciting. His short film on Halo only added to that excitement. The combination of Blomkamp as director and Peter Jackson as producer was a mouthwatering prospect.

Alas, it never came to be. Blomkamp in the meantime has delivered Elysium and Chappie. Visually both beautiful films, but that’s where the praise stops. Characters in both films felt underdeveloped. Plots and stories felt disjointed.

This has created a worrying trend. District 9 is a clear career high. But ever since, Blomkamp is struggling to match that. A recent interview with Total film revealed a lot about his thinking.

Blomkamp in the interview stressed how much he loves illustrations and concepts. But he wasn’t interested in reading stories at all. Stories meant nothing to him.

George R.R. Martin in a interview with the Sunday Times a few months back stressed anyone can come up with an idea, it’s the execution that marks people out.

That’s Blomkamp’s weakness. He has wonderful ideas and concepts. Elysium screamed potential, but the execution just wasn’t there to match the potential. Blomkamp has a brilliant mind, but he needs a serious scriptwriter that will bring balance to his concepts.

He can go to be a one of the top Sci-fi directors of all time. Potential is there. However, if he doesn’t match his concepts with solid stories. His vision for a new Alien film will flop despite serious promise with his illustrations.

Otherwise, he will be on borrowed time and will only be able to point back at early promise of District 9. There is only so long he can do that.

Good Outcome

Film, Opinion

The Interview wasn’t a great film. It wasn’t a good film. But it was a film that didn’t go unnoticed. For a bizarre moment Sony were threatened by unspecified groups to not release the film or have cinemas blown up. Sony naturally didn’t want to take chances.

After public outcry, Sony came around to the idea of giving a limited release. According to BBC news report on 29th December 2014, the film made back 15 million dollars out of 44 million dollar in the space of four days. Part of the limited release was limited cinema. But another part was releasing it online. It became one of the most downloadable films of all time in such a limited time space. It just begs the question. Is this the way forward?

Studios complain that pirating is wrecking the film industry. But this is unexpected success for Sony shows there is another avenue. People will always flock to the cinemas for the major films. Hunger Games, Avengers, Batman. But for the smaller comedies like The Interview. Studios could release online and if there is a pickup, proceed to a broader release in the cinemas. Instead of a broad release and fighting for leftovers from the blockbusters and Oscar hunters. This avenue could be a dry-run for the smaller films. The interview being a mediocre film probably would have fallen flat on broad release. Instead it has done better, admittedly not a whole lot better.

We should be thankful to the North Koreans for stumbling across this, sorry the “unspecified groups” we should thank for this.