Avatar….Papyrus

If you haven’t seen this and need to laugh, do yourself a favor and watch. I must admit, the choice of papyrus on the official Avatar artwork always puzzled me, it appears Ryan Gosling feels the same way….. Enjoy

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40th Anniversary of Close Encounters

Today marks the 40th anniversary of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” Spielberg’s masterwork about UFO’s, obsession, and conspiracy. One of my favorite movies ever released. A theatrical release is also slated to start today through Wednesday, Sept 6!

So many interesting tidbits are coming to surface today regarding production, etc.

Here is one my favs from sci-fi 

“In the movie, the mothership lands, and then the little aliens start coming out. But as it was originally planned, they were supposed to come out and then sort of float around,” Alves says, still a bit bummed he couldn’t make the creatures fly around his massive set. “Flying all those kids would have been very, very difficult. And as it was, to begin with, the set was so big that we had 48 arcs up on that terrace and all these photo floodlights. It was just really, really complicated.”

The next idea was to have “little cuboids of light” fly all over the place. “The little cube things we had on wires, so there were little square lights flying by,” he recalls. “That became too much, so we killed that, too. Today we could do it with CGI. We would have flown the kids and gotten a green screen, put them in a layer and the same thing with the cubes.”

 

Unbelievable stuff. Please read the whole article though. If your interested in Close Encounters, its fantastic.

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

  • The “speaking from my heart” review:

Before I get all technical, I want talk about Desmond Doss for a sec. I couldn’t help watching him feeling a closeness to a way of thinking that is close to home. I couldn’t help the fact that myself and Doss are almost identical twins when it comes to violence and helping people. In many ways Hacksaw Ridge confirmed a lot for me. Its funny how sometimes the phrase “comfort in numbers” actually rings true. Even though Doss was one man, I felt a sense of  validity after experiencing his unbelievable and unquestionably courageous acts of bravery.

His gospel rang true to me. All too often people like to tag me as “soft”  when considering my stance on war and helping people. Doss and I are mirrored in our thoughts and is that different than the norm? Sure. But ask yourself this? Did he save 75 souls that after the fact could care less of his “softness.”

My point is we need to stop “tagging” people as whatever makes sense to us and throw them in a category jail. We need to start looking at people as exactly what they are: people. Diverse thinking, uniquely made individuals who maybe on their own exhibit an odd piece of the puzzle. But make no mistake about it, they are a piece to a puzzle. Usually an important piece at that.

Bottom line: If you think different than the average, you shouldn’t be ashamed in who you are, the ashamed should be the shamers.

  • The “obligated, technical” review:

After a decade long hiatus and no less amount of controversies, Mel Gibson makes his long-awaited return to the director’s chair and immediately lets his presence felt & relevance known to everyone,his latest is a biographical war drama that depicts the horror of warfare in all its unadulterated glory yet captures it in a fashion that highlights the film’s anti-war themes with clarity.

Hacksaw Ridge tells the story of Desmond Doss, a God-fearing pacifist who enlists in the army to serve as a medic and becomes the first conscientious objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honour despite never firing a shot. The plot covers the events that shape up his beliefs, and his service above & beyond the call of duty in the Battle of Okinawa.

Directed by Mel Gibson (best known for Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ & Apocalypto), the film opens with a brief preview of what’s waiting ahead for the viewers before taking a step back to pave the necessary groundwork but once the soldiers are on the battlefield, Gibson unleashes hell on screen with excellent use of his skill set to stage one of the most harrowing depictions of warfare in recent memory.

The technical aspects are ingeniously executed and really assist in enriching the whole experience. Production design team skilfully recreates the required timeline with its period-specific set pieces, Cinematography utilises the camera to great effect and is at its best during the combat sequences. Editing is brilliantly handled & steadily paces the plot but there are few scenes in the first half that it could’ve done without.

Performance wise, the film packs a capable cast in Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Vince Vaughn, Hugo Weaving & Teresa Palmer, with Garfield carrying the entire film on his shoulders. Despite coming off as a creepy nice guy in the first act, Garfield is able to finish things off on a high and his rendition of Desmond Doss may as well be his finest performance to date. Rest of the cast chip in with fine supporting work, with Vaughn getting to have the most fun.

On an overall scale, Hacksaw Ridge is one of the most vicious, violent & unrelenting exhibitions of war on the film canvas that presents its returning filmmaker in no-holds-barred mode and delivers a cinematic experience so raw & visceral that it will have its viewers gasping for breath & hiding for cover amidst all the mayhem & massacre that explodes on the screen in the final hour. One of the best films of 2016 that’s impressive enough to garner a spot amongst the greatest examples of its genre, Hacksaw Ridge is an instant classic that comes very highly recommended.

Dunkirk (2017)

Forgive me if I sound too positive on Dunkirk. Its late and I just recently arrived home from watching in full IMAX. So there’s that. Here are some initial, quick thoughts:

An eloquent, boldly structured portrait of the chaos and madness of war from roughly five perspectives; Dunkirk is a full blown, eye widening experience. Nolan’s reach as a director is beyond doubt and at this point its safe to bump him to the “greats.” Dunkirk is ambitious, not only in scope but also in construction, as this film weaves in and out of past or present, loosely tying together disparate events with mere visual recollection. Exposition is limited to perhaps two conversations and some brief text early in the film; Dunkirk is about basic survival instincts and how people react in the face of overwhelming odds.

But the key to me, the incredible feat Dunkirk pulls off, is that there is no blame cast, no preachy moralizing at all. Some of the heroes in Dunkirk face the odds with selflessness and bravery, some others with quite the opposite; fleeing from combat or putting their own survival before others. But if Dunkirk has a lesson, it’s to give pause before labeling anyone a coward, and to more readily hail others as heroes. The Germans are never glimpsed, even for a moment. I loved that. No reason to show them. The old Alfred Hitchcock quote kept coming to mind; “I don’t want to show you whats behind that door, your mind can do that just fine.” In Dunkirk, the enemy is an abstract fear, almost as demonized here as the circumstances that landed these 400,000 men on this beach, stranded without hope of escape.

I think its safe to state Dunkirk is one of the best war films period, and its easy to see why.  It’s a flawless, masterful exercise in immersion and spectacle, desperately searching for meaning and order in absolute chaos and carnage still unfathomable 77 years later. A search for the meaning of life surrounded by the utter meaninglessness of war. It’s an intimate, harrowing epic; a rare beast of a movie the likes of which I haven’t seen before.

Those fundamental contradictions are what make Dunkirk so fascinating, so stimulating both emotionally and intellectually. I don’t really have the words for this movie because of how recent I watched and hopefully I can unwrap a little more following a rewatch. But on my end, it’s safe to say Dunkirk is more than worth the price of admission to see in full 70mm.

Its hard to say Nolan and Dunkirk won’t be major contenders at the 2018 Oscars and rightfully so. Christopher Nolan has made one of those rare movies that reminds you of the heights great cinema and great artists can reach when pushing boundaries and exceeding expectations.

Go see Dunkirk in IMAX for the full experience. You won’t regret it.

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

I’ve been living in a Wes Anderson world lately. I rewatched Life Aquatic a few times for another project. By chance, caught The Darjeeling Limited on cable. I always keep The Royal Tenebaums and Rusmore in rotation and most recently viewed Grand Budapest again. Something struck me that I never actually wrote anything down on Moonrise Kingdom. I went on my Letterboxd account and sure enough. Nothing. So here’s some thoughts on it.

Wes Anderson makes his own version of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and sets it within the world of childhood angst: the orphaned Sam Shakusky and similarly introverted Suzy Bishop are in love; but the society around them forbids this romance. Set on an isolated island within New England otherwise known as New Penzance (made up world) – the setting alone gives an idea of what sort of state of life they are living within. They want a place away from others, in order to find themselves living at peace, because the world that they know has no other place for them. But it’s the perfect setup for Wes Anderson to use the quirk that we’ve all come to expect from his work, although in Moonrise Kingdom it has come to a point where it reflects feeling: among the most vital aspects to the success of Anderson’s output. It’s a quirky rom-com spin on Romeo and Juliet with kids he’s telling here, but the very experience provided is nothing short of rewarding.

Going back to the running theme of isolation in Moonrise Kingdom, there’s a greater success coming out on Wes Anderson’s end when it comes to how he captures the general awkwardness coming in regards to the feeling of being in love. The central romance in Moonrise Kingdom is indeed some of the most touching that Anderson has ever been able to achieve in his career, but at the same time we recognize there’s something so awkward about how it comes out at the hands of Anderson’s trademark quirkiness. It’s actually something rather beautiful because of this quirk, because it reflects upon the uncertainty of romance especially at a younger age: and Sam and Suzy are only discovering that feeling for the first time. They’re naive and innocent, and Anderson tells a story within this boundary in order to form a work that makes this awkwardness something more touching, because of the uncertainty regarding where their romance is set to go.

Typical of a Wes Anderson film there’s something more coming about from his usage of music in order to highlight a mood. Whether it be from Alexandre Desplat’s wonderful score or the use of Françoise Hardy’s “Le temps de l’amour” – it’s always wonderful just looking back upon how they also play in part with the quirkiness as a means of reflecting a certain mood for his films.

By nature, Moonrise Kingdom would be seen as a romantic comedy dealing with the innocence of childhood but when we see Sam and Suzy dancing to Françoise Hardy, there’s a reflection of their naivete at the state of their own freedom: at the time of love. And yet it’s so distinctively bizarre almost like a painting by the way it looks, though this only reflects the awkwardness of the first encounter even more perfectly in order to create something more melancholy deep down, just as the best of Wes Anderson would deliver.

This sort of experiment for Wes Anderson only signifies something more coming in marriage with all the quirkiness that anyone would come to recognize him for. At another point this quirkiness even manages to ring true, because of how it captures the general awkwardness and uncertainty of the naive impressions that love would bring upon  first try. That’s the beauty of what comes from what could easily have been just another innocent romantic comedy about children finding love for the first time. But, Anderson actually goes beyond that and subverts it into something more playful and melancholy just like a memory of this point in one’s life would be.

With Moonrise Kingdom,  Wes Anderson has managed to inspire smiles just as he also captures a feeling of escape from authority – he isn’t making an innocent romantic comedy. He’s making a film about the effect of authority upon innocence, and the results are visually stunning and infinitely thought provoking.