Miss Underrated

Blogging, Entertainment, Popular Culture

Zero Dark Thirty,  The Hurt Locker, Point Break, K-19 Widowmaker all have a common thread running through them.  They would all be seen as quintessential moody dark thrillers that men love.

These films list off as the CV of Kathryn Bigleow. Quite possibly one of the best directors around today.  When it comes to thrillers few are better than Bigelow at it. You could argue the number would amount to less than one hand. There’s even a dispute at that.

Some directors play up the testerone, Macho style of their films to play to the mob like a Micheal Bay film.   Bigelow though take some a different tact. All her recent films down the years are male dominated, testosterone driven, Ego stand offs, bromances.

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The list can go, the point is Bigelow can bring in all characteristics of male culture. Unlike the likes of Bay and ex-husband Cameron, she isn’t loud when she does so.Her films are sophisticated and quite often are more ballsy than any male director would ever attempt or dream of making.

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The question then is why is she so underrated?  Quite often when high profile action thrillers or major blockbusters are made. The list is drawn up. Same names are drawn up despite their recent flops. Bigelow more often than not is left off this list.

Recently when studios went looking for directors for Wonder Woman. They turned to television to find female directors when Bigelow could have been a fascinating choice for the directors chair.

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A simple possibility could be that Bigelow may wish to keep a low profile and be picky about her projects.  Nevertheless Bigelow is a director that should be championed to wider audience.

Her CV shows that she is a director that can make a man’s film quite often better than her male colleagues.

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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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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.

Lundgren’s Logic

Blogging, Entertainment, Film, Popular Culture, Writing

Skin Trade

Skin Trade is a new film that is expected to be released on April 23rd 2015. The trailer does nothing but scream Taken all over once again.

To boil it down to it’s essence. The main character Nick played by Dolph Lundgren goes out for revenge once his daughter and wife is killed. Goes on to hunt Eastern European terrorists. They really don’t get a break there. At least the film is based in Bangkok.

Nevertheless it’s nothing original. Then again, the film is written by Lundgren himself.

You can somewhat understand Lundgren’s logic in pursuing this. It’s a formula that has worked for Neeson and Luc Besson, three times. As a ageing action star, it is a perfect vehicle for Lundgren. No doubt his fellow action star Sly told him it was a no-brainer.

Lundgren though is a highly educated man with degrees in Chemistry and Masters in Chemical engineering. Maybe it was naive hope that Lundgren might stray from his predictable role of action star and branch out into more serious territory.

Unfortunately for us though, Lundgren judging by this trailer wishes to stay in his comfort zone and follow the rapidly tiring Taken formula.

Reboot or Remake?

Blogging, Entertainment, Film, Popular Culture, Writing

Barely a few weeks ago, It was announced that Spider-man was once again was being rebooted. Not even a decade before being rebooted again previously.

Reboots are very much the trendy thing to do these days. As are remakes. Problem with remakes, is the aim quite often is to replicate the original success. Which 9/10 times doesn’t work.

In the information age, people can be notified instantly if a film is worth going to. The real question to be asked is why keep trying? the success rates of remakes aren’t pretty.

Surely a possible route to go is remake the failures! Yes on paper it sounds insane. But on further reflection, it could work. Think Waterworld. It was a failure, no debate. But it is an ample opportunity. You can walk in and tear up the original script and no-one is going to protest about it.

Why would they? it gives you the chance to twist the film to your likening. People will naturally say ” Waterworld was terrible.” The simple response is to say,” it can’t get worse” .

Everyone has talked about at length as to why it was bad.You know what to avoid as a result. Consult the original cast and crew. They will surely help you in order to help eradicate the original memories.

The original pushed to the back of the mind as the new one goes on to flourish. Win-win for all.  The original Judge Dredd was terrible with Sly. But the new one with Karl Urban was nothing short of fantastic. Let’s hope it’s start of a trend.

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.