Love Actually, is actually going to have a sequel. Of sorts

Friday, 17 February, 2017

Love it, or hate it, and don’t try to tell me that it’s the latter, a sequel, of sorts, is on the way for New Zealand born director Richard Curtis’ 2003 rom-com drama, Love Actually. It won’t be a full-blown feature though, rather a ten minute short film, that seeks to discover what those from the original are up to now.

The film is being produced to support Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day fundraiser next month. Previous Red Nose Day specials have seen spinoffs of Mr Bean, The Vicar of Dibley and Blackadder. Curtis told Deadline he thought it would be a “fun idea” to do a short sketch based on one of his previous films while raising money for an important cause.

Most of the original cast have agreed to reprise their roles for the spin-off that will be broadcast on the BBC on 25 March. I’m sure you’re counting the days. Don’t try to tell you’re not.

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The trailer for Miss Sloane, starring Jessica Chastain

Thursday, 16 February, 2017

Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) is a hard nosed, formidable, and much sought after political lobbyist, working in Washington, D.C., in Miss Sloane, the latest feature from British director John Madden. It opens in Australian cinemas on 2 March 2017.

The trailer looks promising, and I can’t think of a film Chastain’s been in that I didn’t like. All going well, I’ll be going along to a preview screening next week, and all things permitting, will write a review before it opens.

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A new trailer for Ghost In The Shell, starring Scarlett Johansson

Wednesday, 15 February, 2017

A new trailer for Ghost In The Shell, starring Scarlett Johansson as a cyborg policewoman who is pursuing a computer hacker. Set about thirty years in the future, the film is based on the book of the same name, by Japanese manga artist Masamune Shirow.

The film opens in Australian cinemas on 30 March.

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A supercut of all Oscar best visual effects winners since 1927

Wednesday, 15 February, 2017

Rouge One, and Doctor Strange, are among nominees for the best visual effects Oscar this year. While we wait to hear who the winner is on Sunday 26 February, or the next day, Monday, as it will be in this part of the world, here is a supercut all previous winners of the award since 1927, put together by Burger Fiction.

Interestingly, the original three Star Wars movies all won the visual effects Oscar, but not the prequel films, nor Episode VII. On that basis, I’m tipping Rogue One for the win, since it is the Star Wars “follow up” film most closely linked to the originals. Chronologically anyway.

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Is winning a big prize in the lottery a ticket to happiness?

Monday, 13 February, 2017

This was a point touched on by the protagonists in Richard Linklater’s 2004 film, Before Sunset. Ethan Hawke’s character, Jesse, is discussing with Celine, portrayed by Julie Delpy, the findings of a study that had followed people who had either won the lottery, or become paraplegics.

Two different situations that are very definitely good or bad. In short, after about six months, once used to their new circumstances, study participants felt the same as they had originally. If someone was of a positive disposition, they remained upbeat, even if confined to a wheelchair.

Here, Nashville based art director and animator, Allen Laseter, looks at the question in regards to lottery winners, in this TED-Ed video clip. While individual character is part of the equation, it seems people who spent their winnings on others, rather than themselves, were happier.

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Moonlight, a better Oscar’s Best Picture contender than La La Land?

Tuesday, 7 February, 2017

How did I miss the fact that Moonlight, the second feature of US filmmaker Barry Jenkins, was nominated for eight Oscars? Probably because everyone was talking about the fourteen that La La Land collected.

Moonlight, trailer, tells the story of Chiron, played at various ages by Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes, as he grows up in a rough neighbourhood in 1990s Miami.

In the opinion of Paul Schrodt, writer for Business Insider, Moonlight deserves the Best Picture Oscar rather than La La Land. I’m not always sure that the actual best picture wins the Best Picture award, does it though?

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The Internet Movie Database forums are closing, where to now then?

Tuesday, 7 February, 2017

News that the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is closing its discussion forum, as of 20 February, will doubtless come as a disappointment to movie buffs. According to the statement announcing the closure, members are now more often using one of the IMDb’s social media channels to discuss movies, rather than the forum:

Increasingly, IMDb customers have migrated to IMDb’s social media accounts as the primary place they choose to post comments and communicate with IMDb’s editors and one another. IMDb’s Facebook page and official Twitter account have an audience of more than 10 million engaged fans. IMDb also maintains official accounts on Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube, and Tumblr.

IMDb also noted that the forum was “no longer providing a positive, useful experience” for the majority of its members. It’s a sentiment that will, unfortunately, resonant with anyone who has witnessed any of the less than cordial exchanges in some of the discussions there.

While discord on a discussion forum is by no means exclusive to IMDb, it was probably determined that the time and effort spent weeding out noxious comments could be put to better use elsewhere. And in this regard, IMDb is not alone in foregoing a forum, as Andrew Liptak, writing for The Verge, points out:

The decision appears to mark the latest website to question the value of forums and comments, which can require heavy moderation. Other major websites, such as National Public Radio and Popular Science, have closed their own commenting sections because patrolling them for toxic users became a costly and time-consuming chore.

The great thing though about the IMDb discussion boards, is the dedicated forum for every film, and the separate threads within each. This allows members to discuss whatever aspect of a title that they wish to. Want to ask different questions about, say, the school dance from Back to the Future, and Doc Brown’s 1950s residence?

Not a problem. Discussion of a particular movie remains in the one, easy to find, place. This is something that cannot really be replicated on platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. Even if separate pages, or accounts, were set up for each movie. Whether someone sees an opportunity here though, remains to be seen.

In the meantime, there are other places where you can go and talk about the films you’ve seen. The Digital Fix, Movie Forums, reddit, and of course Rotten Tomatoes, spring to mind. Again, you can’t quite discuss a movie as you can on IMDb, but you will among other fans of film.

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Live by Night

Tuesday, 31 January, 2017

2 and a half stars

At first glance, Live by Night, trailer, bears all the hallmarks of a great film. It is directed by accomplished US filmmaker Ben Affleck. His past features, including Argo, The Town, and Gone, Baby, Gone, were all well received. Further, the screenplay is based on US author Dennis Lehane’s 2012 novel of the same name.

Several of Lehane’s books, Mystic River, and Shutter Island, have also been adapted into acclaimed films. Together with the aforementioned Gone, Baby, Gone, which was also directed by Affleck. Then add to the mix gangsters, the roaring twenties, and prohibition rackets. Surely the recipe for a great flick, right?

Joe (Ben Affleck), finds himself displaced after returning to Boston at the end of the first world war. A life of crime – much to the chagrin of his father, Thomas (Brendan Gleeson), a police officer – seems to be the only tonic. After a stint in jail, following a botched bank robbery, Joe decides to relocate to Florida.

There he heads up a rum racketeering operation for Italian mobster Maso Pescatore (Remo Girone), along with Dion (Chris Messina). Joe also looks for a way to hit back at Albert White (Robert Glenister), a rival of Pescatore, who was also responsible for the death of his Irish girlfriend, Emma (Sienna Miller).

For all its promise though, “Live by Night” ends up sleep-walking from one scene to the next. Sure, it is beautifully filmed, and much care was taken in recreating the United States of the 1920s. But what’s missing is the essence of Affleck’s earlier works. The tension of “The Town”? The drama of “Argo”? All missing here, I’m afraid.

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Trailers, as the name suggests, used to screen at the end of a film

Monday, 30 January, 2017

Who knows how many film trailers I’ve posted here over the years, but never in that time have I given any thought as to why they’re called trailers. It’s all quite logical however, as once upon a time they used to follow, or be shown, at the conclusion of a feature, when they first appeared, a little over a century ago.

At first that seems like an absurd idea. Why try to a promote an upcoming release at the end of the show, when audience members are surely scrambling for the exits? As it happened though, the movie going experience of the early twentieth century was unlike that with which we’re accustomed to today:

You would pay your admission – usually just a couple of cents – and you could basically sit inside a movie house all day and watch whatever was playing, often a combination of feature-length movies, short films, and cartoons.

Doesn’t sound too bad at all. Especially on a rainy day, or the like. Pay a couple of cents, and stay all day. But I’m wondering how cinemas made money, if people stayed in their seats all day? Return custom was the answer. With trailers advertising upcoming new features, patrons were sure to come back.

I wonder if we could go back to the days of trailers being screened after a film, in return for being able to stay at the cinema all day?

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David Stratton: A Cinematic Life, a documentary by Sally Aitken

Wednesday, 25 January, 2017

Australian film critic David Stratton is the subject of a documentary about his life and work, in David Stratton: A Cinematic Life, written and directed by Sally Aitken.

Even though some of his reviews have left me baffled – how something like Red Hill could possibly be rated with four stars is beyond me – I’ve always been interested in his opinions. I’ve also been to a couple of events he has hosted in the past, at the Hayden Orpheum, in Sydney.

David Stratton: A Cinematic Life opens in Australian cinemas on 9 March 2017. Here’s the trailer.

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