Warcraft a problem movie? photo
Warcraft a problem movie?

Director Duncan Jones tweets about Warcraft being a "problem movie"

It's all in the timing
Sep 17
// Hubert Vigilla
Yesterday we reported that Universal feels Warcraft is a "problem movie." While The Hollywood Reporter didn't elaborate on what "problem movie" might mean, we speculated that it may be related to the long post-production...
Warcraft a problem movie? photo
Warcraft a problem movie?

Speculation: Universal feels Warcraft is a "problem movie"

Not bad but a problem, which may be bad
Sep 16
// Hubert Vigilla
Earlier we reported that Pacific Rim 2 has been delayed indefinitely and may not get made. This is the result of the testy relationship between Legendary Pictures and Universal, which The Hollywood Reporter has covered in a r...
Drama photo

Why that It remake isn't happening

Surprise! The studio wanted crap
Sep 03
// Matthew Razak
Cary Fukunaga may be one of the most creative directors working now. Sin Nombre is truly stunning and his work on True Detective made the first season fantastic. However, we still don't know how he'd handle a bigger...
Marvel photo

Kevin Feige now reports directly to Disney CEO

Soon to rule all of cinema
Sep 01
// Matthew Razak
I bet you thought that Kevin Feige, as the head of Marvel's movie studios, was pretty damn powerful. Well, not powerful enough. He use to report to the CEO of Marvel, Ike Perlmutter, but no more! In a big shake up Feige ...

It's a me, Mario! photo
It's a me, Mario!

Nintendo open to making movies again

Start the Hoskins4Mario petition
Aug 24
// Matthew Razak
Back in the 80s and early 90s Nintendo had quite a healthy stable of spin-off media. There were television shows based on Mario, Captain N and a whole host of other things. Then the Mario Bros. movie happened and it...
Fantastic 4 photo
Fantastic 4

Here's what went wrong behind the scenes of Fantastic 4

No one willingly makes a movie this bad
Aug 10
// Matthew Razak
If you were one of the few people to see Fantastic Four over the weekend we're sorry for you. I went to see it just to see how bad it was, but bought a ticket for Mission: Impossible just so I wouldn't fund it in an...
The Revenant: Living Hell photo
The Revenant: Living Hell

Art is Hard: Alejandro Inarritu's The Revenant $40 million over budget, production "a living hell"

Is there glory in difficult shoots?
Jul 23
// Hubert Vigilla
Earlier this week the trailer for The Revenant was released, the highly anticipated new film from Birdman director Alejandro González Iñárritu starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy. Set for a Christmas...

RIP The Dissolve (2013-2015)

Jul 08 // Hubert Vigilla
RIP The Dissolve photo
A great place for film writing is gone
The Dissolve was one of the best places on the internet for intelligent, funny, in-depth, and insightful film criticism and features. This morning, editor-in-chief Keith Phipps announced that The Dissolve would be shutting do...

Vertigo photo
This doesn't really affect you
Here's some big news that actually has no bearing on you at the moment. WB is shifting film's based on DC's Vertigo line of comics to sister studio New Line Cinemas. This means that the likes of the Sandman film and...

I Am Wrath photo
I Am Wrath

Saban Films picks up Travolta's I Am Wrath for NA

Rock that cut-off, Travolta
May 20
// Matthew Razak
If you're an older actor right now then you basically have to be making an action movie/revenge movie where you kick a lot of people's asses with your special skills of ass kicking. The latest to join the pack? John Travolta ...

American Sniper is the top grossing film of 2014

That's some prolific legs for any film
Mar 09
// Matthew Razak
I had a lot of problems with American Sniper as a movie about PTSD and veterans, but despite these issues it had a very good redeeming value of bringing Veteran issues to the forefront of the discussion in America. It se...
Industry Malarkey photo
Industry Malarkey

Movie theater attendance in 2014 was the lowest since 1995

But maybe we just need new metrics... or better movies
Jan 02
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
2014 is officially over. Celebration aside, this means that we can finally evaluate the year as a whole. The Hollywood Reporter has started us off right, with a breakdown of the box office numbers from the year. And... well, ...

Green Inferno on hold indefinitely

You'll have to get you Cannibal Holocaust fix elsewhere
Aug 11
// Matthew Razak
Sad news for those you like the boundary pushing of Eli Roth and the disturbing Cannibal Holocaust. His homage to that film, Green Inferno, has been put on hold indefinitely. It's not because of any controversy, surprisi...

NYAFF Review: Top Star

Jul 02 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]217958:41647:0[/embed] Top Star (톱스타)Director: Park Joong-HoonRating: NRCountry: Korea  Tae-Sik (Uhm Tae-woong) is the manager of South Korea's biggest movie star. Won-Joon (Kim Min-Jun) is your typical star: arrogant, good-lucking, and lucky with the ladies. He's not the most scrupulous guy, but then again, he's a professional liar. When it really comes down to it, he's not that bad of a guy. Even so, he is immediately positioned as the story's antagonist when he steals Tae-Sik's jokes and fake acceptance speech after winning yet another award., The tables turn once Tae-Sik takes the fall after Won-Joon gets into a drunken hit-and-run. Nobody's killed, but Tae-Sik offers himself up. In response, Won-Joon gives him a role in a major drama series. From there, Tae-Sik quickly rises to the top of the charts, surpassing Won-Joon as the "It" guy of South Korea. Cue industry infighting. It's the kind of story you'd expect from a movie star. This is the life he's lived and what he knows, and there are a lot of little scenes that take place during the production of the dramas and films that are fascinating. Seeing the sets and props and green screens and seeing how it all comes together behind the scenes is really cool. The high production values add to it, making the whole thing feel very signficiant.With a camera that sweeps and swoops and a pounding electronic soundtrack, Top Star looks and sounds great. But like the characters it portrays, the film lacks subtlety.  It takes less than 20 minutes for Tae-Sik to go from sympathetic to vile. And even before he shows his true colors, the film does a whole lot to hint at it. There's an entire character whose sole purpose is to go around and tell everyone and everything that they're "fake." "This script is fake!" "That smile is fake!" "You're not a good person." He's funny, because people who speak honestly like that are funny, but he's not typical comic relief. Nobody in the film finds him funny. In fact, pretty much everyone finds him downright obnoxious. He shows up, tells everyone they're fake, and then goes off to wherever he came from. A little levity is rarely a problem (and there's not much anywhere to be found else), but it wasn't clear how I was supposed to feel about the guy. And that's another problem with Top Star's characterization, because the characters aren't complex so much as they are unclear. Won-Joon goes back and forth between likable and not, and Tae-Shik is ostensibly the protagonist, but he's awful. Top Star also tells the story of fall from grace. But even though it's an inherently sad thing to see someone fail, you can't feel bad for the guy. I mean, he deserves everything bad that happens to him, and there's nothing really done to make him more sympathetic. The experience doesn't humble him or really make him change in any meaningful way. He apologizes to a longtime friend while he's in prison, but the words ring hollow. But the decision to have Tae-Shik as the protagonist made me think that was a mistake. Maybe I was supposed to root for Tae-Shik as he rose to power and then lament his subsequent failure. Perhaps I was supposed to overlook the fact that he was a completely useless human who stepped on everyone else to get what he wants. But how could I? I wanted him to fail. Watching his downfall felt like vindication. That makes sense for an antagonist. Not so much a protagonist. Even so, the film ends on a hopeful note, which I found both surprising and somewhat off-putting. At the Q&A session with director Park Joong-Hoon after the screening, someone commented, "It had more redemption than I would have expected from a Korean movie." The director replied that there had been a darker version but that he prefers films that make people feel happy. It was an odd thing to say, because Top Star is not a happy movie. Perhaps that's one of the things he wishes he'd changed.
Top Star Review photo
The faster they rise, the harder they fall
When one of NYAFF's programmers introduced Top Star, he said that it was surprising that this was Park Joong-hoon's directorial debut. Park has worked as an actor in the Korean film industry for 28 years, but this is his...

Book: Very Naughty Boys (HandMade Films)

Sep 24 // Hubert Vigilla
There may be no pairing as British as an ex-Beatle and Monty Python, and it's here that HandMade Films began. Unable to find money for The Life of Brian after the original backer pulled out last minute, it was the late George Harrison who put up millions of his own money to get the movie made. The reasons were simple: Harrison purportedly told Eric Idle at the time, "Well, you know, when The Beatles were breaking up, Python kept me sane, really, so I owe you one." The company's first three films -- The Life of Brian, The Long Good Friday, and Time Bandits -- distinguished HandMade as a place for independent spirit and a breath of fresh air for British cinema. Its lasting contributions to the UK film industry continue to be those three, as well as Mona Lisa, the cult classic Withnail and I, and possibly A Private Function. But there were many misfires along the way for HandMade, and one of the the most disastrous was 1986's Shanghai Surprise. The film starred Sean Penn and Madonna. Then husband and wife, the couple was on top of the celebrity world, and they seemed to look down on everyone else on the planet. While the making-of stories for HandMade's best films are fun reads, there's something extra enticing about the Shanghai Surprise chapter. (Sellers aptly names it "Shanghai Cock-Up.") It basically confirms everything I thought about Sean Penn at this early point of his career, i.e., he was an insufferable, snotty, unpleasant, arrogant prick. The late Richard Griffiths shares one especially ridiculous anecdote about Penn, ending it with a well-deserved, "So fuck Sean Penn." Throughout the book, there's a constant tussle between the various filmmakers and Harrison's business partner Denis O'Brien. O'Brien was a money man with expensive taste in living and bad taste in film. He was also a control freak. In nearly every chapter, there's mention of O'Brien trying to suggest script changes and even re-cut films in post-production against the wishes of the filmmakers. Harrison was almost entirely laissez-faire about HandMade, trusting the filmmakers to create and O'Brien to use his money wisely. [embed]216361:40693:0[/embed] Some creative friction can lead to wonderful things. Though the situation is a bit different, I remember that Gene Wilder fought Mel Brooks for the inclusion of the "Putting on the Ritz" scene in Young Frankenstein; Brooks said he was glad Wilder fought so hard for it because it was clear it was important and it's one of the most memorable scenes in the film. But at HandMade, this strife between creatives and money got so bad that Powwow Highway director Jonathan Wacks took his film home every night out of fear that O'Brien would hire a HandMade rep to seize the movie and tamper with it. Many times O'Brien wanted to remove the best bits of a picture. Gilliam puts it succinctly: "I began to feel after a while that Denis had this incredible unerring ability to go to the very core of the thing and rip its heart out. He was like some Aztec priest." Given the eventual fate of HandMade, Gilliam's assessment is right in more ways than one. The pattern of conflict and strange money matters leads to some real sadness when Sellers arrives at the fall of HandMade. Without saying too much, it's the ugly center of the money vs. the creatives conflict. The money often exploits the creatives, without regard for ethics or for friendships. There's a good reason why O'Brien is rarely painted in a positive light throughout Very Naughty Boys. It's a sour final note for a company that made careers and has created some enduring films; the book's original title seems bitterly appropriate. There are two landmark Bob Hoskins movies in HandMade's filmography: 1980's The Long Good Friday and 1986's Mona Lisa. Both are part of the The Criterion Collection, though Mona Lisa's now out of print. As Sellers points out in his postscript to Very Naughty Boys, both films are still highly regarded, The Long Good Friday in particular is ranked among the best British films of all time by both the British Film Institute and Empire. I haven't seen either, but having read about them, I now need to. [embed]216361:40694:0[/embed]
Very Naughty Boys Book photo
The unexpected rise and the ugly fall of HandMade Films
My knowledge of the British film industry is spotty at best. Beyond the requisite Hammer fandom, an admiration for classic Ealing comedies (e.g., Kind Hearts and Coronets), and adoration of the Free Cinema movement, I'm prett...


Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney hug it out and part ways

Sep 20
// Matthew Razak
For the past 20 years Disney has had a first-look option on Jerry Bruckheimer's films resulting in 27 movies, bajillions of dollars for both companies and a little franchise called Pirates of the Caribbean. Next year tha...

Steve McQueen and the mountains made out of molehills

Sep 12 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]216471:40657:0[/embed] I think what really undermines Brown's accusation is that he understands the root of McQueen's frustration: To be fair, a lot of McQueen's behaviour is in response to processes that I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy. People who ask questions at film festival Q&As do not, in my experience, have the widest frame of reference in terms of how films are made, and tend not to be interested in the kinds of things filmmakers are interested in, either. Add to that the questioners who are only interested in satisfying their own egos - the "this is more of a comment than a question" guys, or the people who stand up and cite fifteen examples of previous work before deigning to ask a question - plus the journalists at press conferences who must delve into the celebrity side of moviemaking to make copy, and the frustrations of McQueen and others like him become fairly relatable. We have all experienced this, whether at film festivals, author readings, comic conventions, and other kinds of public appearances. Press conferences and Q & As can be miserable, and there are bound to be some awful/dumb comments. I'll admit that I've asked dumb and/or rambling questions in the past, which is why I rarely pipe up these days unless I've got something succinct. The most awkward Q & A incident I can remember was at a midnight screening of David Lynch's Wild at Heart in LA. Grace Zabriskie was in attendance. A guy asked her what it was like to put lipstick all over her face. He had unknowingly mistaken Zabriskie for Diane Ladd. The rest of the audience simultaneously winced in embarrassment. I can't even remember the response anymore, only the sudden drop in the theater's barometric pressure. Sure, McQueen makes faces at some of the questions, but 1) maybe he's just got an expressive face and 2) good for him. I'm actually surprised more people don't make funny faces at bad questions. That takes a lot of restraint. Here are two from the TIFF press conference that seem especially dumb: "Why didn't [12 Years a Slave] go to Cannes or Venice before Toronto?" "Did [Brad Pitt] consider other roles [in 12 Years a Slave]?" (i.e., did Brad Pitt consider playing Michael Fassbender's part or Benedict Cumberbatch's part) McQueen's response to the Cannes/Venice question is that the film wasn't done at the time. That's all you can really say. Cannes is held in May, Toronto is held in September, and maybe Venice's slate was full before McQueen was finished. Duh. Now, to be fair, the film premiered at Telluride in late August rather than at Cannes, but having consulted several calendars, my research has found that August is still a month that comes after May but is relatively close to September. McQueen's response to the second question was that Pitt's role wasn't Pitt's to consider. This is a polite way of saying what I'm thinking: "Why the f**k would that decision be up to Brad Pitt? Steve McQueen's the director of the f**king movie." The worst thing about those two questions is that they are boring and of no interest to anyone. They aren't even cool inside-baseball kinds of questions, they're just plain uninteresting. McQueen also has some quizzical looks on his face as he addresses the broad introductory question about race and a later question about how being British may have affected his approach to depicting slavery in America. What I noticed in McQueen's responses was his reluctance to address complicated issues in sound bite form. He doesn't understand what conversation the film would inspire about race that isn't already happening, and he similarly doesn't want to view slavery along strict national or nationalistic lines. He's a thoughtful filmmaker, and he's probably wrestled with these ideas himself for some time and possibly finds the answers irreducible to something pat. Press conferences, by contrast, are about the reduction of complex ideas into simple, quotable lines; and we're not talking aphorisms but quaint pull quotes. That might be a bigger issue about the way people react during Q & As and press conferences. These things can feel so artificial, and sometimes it's hard to suffer fools gladly or answer the same questions over and over again. Even one-on-one interviews can be wearying for people, and at their worst they can feel like really bad dates. That's why good interviews read or sound like actual conversations rather than just some collection of regurgitated material that can be found in a press kit. There's a sense that the participants are alive and engaged. To some extent it's the filmmaker's job to promote his or her own film, but just because a filmmaker seems slightly peeved over a few questions is no justification for thinking that the filmmaker is a dick. I remember at the NYFF press conference for Holy Motors last year, director Leos Carax seemed like he didn't want to be there. He doesn't really like doing press, but that doesn't make him a dick. It makes him a filmmaker who doesn't like doing press. Brown tries to expand his piece into discussion about the way a director's personality may affect your perception of their work. That's a whole other conversation and one that's worth having (we did it on Flixist a while ago), but the fact that it stems from something so small seems odd to me. Steve McQueen is not doing press conferences to win friends and influence people. He's doing it to talk about the film he believes in. (You'll note that before the end of the TIFF press conference for 12 Years a Slave, it's McQueen who asks the moderator if an additional question can be asked.) He's not playing the "I'm going to make people like me" game because the game is childish and McQueen is an adult. There's nothing dickish about that. In fact, he's pretty personable in sections of the TIFF press conference, and you can see more of that personable side in other videos, at other Q & As, and other interviews. But if we accept Brown's premise that Steve McQueen is being a dick, let me be the first to say that the world sure could use more dicks like Steve McQueen.
Steve McQueen Not a Dick photo
Matt Brown is overreacting when he accuses the 12 Years a Slave director of being a dick
Yesterday over at Twitch, columnist Matt Brown published a piece about how he thinks filmmaker Steve McQueen is a dick. According to Brown, the director responsible for Shame and Hunger has been abrasive at press conferences ...


Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. split

Jun 25
// Logan Otremba
Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. have finally parted ways with one another. This isn't some cheesy romantic break-up between two studios, their contract with each other finally came to an end. Talks about renegotiating hav...

David Lynch says state of film industry "depressing"

Prospects of making a new film may be low
Jun 25
// Hubert Vigilla
You can add David Lynch to the list of directors lamenting the current state of film. (Previously we've heard Steven Soderbergh deliver a state of cinema speech and Steven Spielberg and George Lucas suggest industry implosion...

Regal Cinemas to raise their ticket prices 4%

Gotta learn to love boot soup if you wanna watch them Hobbit sequels
May 23
// Hubert Vigilla
Deadline reported that Regal ticket prices are expected to go up 3% to 4% this year, in keeping with patterns from previous years. This means that you'll need to take out a loan if you want to waste your money on World War Z ...

World War Z needs $400 million to break even

Things that won't happen
May 01
// Matthew Razak
Summer movie train wreck World War Z is looking to cause a world of hurt for Paramount when it releases if a recent Vanity Fair article is correct. Doing some quick math the article concludes that the film will have to b...

Before VFX: An apology to the Visual Effects community

Feb 27 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
One of my earliest features for Flixist was about my hatred of CGI, inspired by the underwhelming creatures that Rise of the Planet of the Apes so heavily relied on. It was a broader point about the need for visual consistency, and I lamented the fact that technology simply isn't in a place where things like CG apes can coexist with humans on camera and create a convincing effect. Neither The Avengers, despite having all of the money and talent in the world behind it, nor Life of Pi, which we have already mentioned, did much to change that. In fact, the closest CGI came to convincing me that an unreal object was actually present in 2012 was the eponymous bear in Ted. It's still an imperfect effect, but whereas the presence of humans in an otherwise CG world in The Avengers and Life of Pi continually broke the illusion, Ted didn't.  I don't really know why. But that's not why I'm apologizing, because Richard Parker may have looked like an extremely detailed CG tiger, but he sure as hell looked like a CG tiger. What I want to apologize for is everything else. In my old article, I pointed to Alien as an example of near-perfect world-building. In my mind, nothing could recapture that feeling of reality, but that was because even if animators still can't get carbon-based life forms right, I never understood just how well they were doing everything else.  As I looked through the Before VFX Tumblr, I was shocked by how many times I had just never considered the role of CG. With the knowledge that Christopher Nolan hates the use of CGI, I never even considered that parts of the final showdown with the Joker in The Dark Knight could have been fake. Well, don't I look silly now. This blog has convinced me that I was wrong, at least partially, and that sets and settings do not need to actually exist to be convincing. In certain (though still not all) cases, fakes can be every bit as convincing as the real thing. This makes me sad, even if it doesn't bring me to tears in the same way it did Sir Ian McKellen. It's a sad realization, because it cuts into my belief in the undefinable "movie magic" that is part of why I love cinema so much. I don't often watch Behind the Scenes footage or clips, as interesting as they are, and this is part of why. Seeing this is disheartening. I yearn for the days when sets needed to be built and people needed to don ridiculous costumes that required skillful lighting to hide the silliness of.  And you know what? That may be coming back. If you read some of those links I put in the introduction, you will see some not-so-thinly veiled threats. The comparison that Drew McWeeny over at HitFix made to the writer's strike is an interesting one. Hollywood didn't give in, and the writers were forced to relent. The quality of writing may have gone down during that period, but how many people seriously noticed? Not many. That strike did little to hurt Hollywood. If the VFX community were to go on strike, it would not only hurt Hollywood; it would completely destroy them. They are so reliant on fancy computer tricks that putting them in a world without those tricks would, at least for a moment, wreck their system.  I don't want anyone to lose their jobs for any reason, but I would love to see Hollywood brought to its knees (or cut off at the knees, whichever metaphor you prefer). Even if I don't like CGI and would prefer that filmmakers use ingenuity over computer effects, I think that the people who do the work deserve to keep working, and they deserve to be paid for their work. Even as a total outsider, I was horrified by Ang Lee's implication that VFX people (who are very clearly the reason he took home all of those Oscars) should work for lower wages, when the wages they are currently making are already putting them into bankruptcy. So, to the VFX Community: I am sorry I doubted your ability to create worlds, even if I'm not convinced of your ability to create life. I hope that whatever path you end up taking, things work out for you. For better or worse, you are an integral part of this system, and you shouldn't just be treated like cogs in a machine. Best of luck.
Apology to VFX community photo
Looking forward to Hollywood's CGI implosion
If you spend any significant amount of time on film- or tech-oriented websites, you've probably seen some coverage of the controversy surrounding the playing-off of Life of Pi's VFX supervisor, whose company is about to file ...


Flixclusive: Why Henson shelved Del Toro's Pinocchio

An inside source reveals the reasoning behind the Jim Henson Company's decision
Feb 01
// Hubert Vigilla
We just reported that Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio has been put on the back burner by the Jim Henson Company. The film's co-writer, Gris Grimly, tweeted that the box office numbers on Frankenweenie were partially to blame f...

Gore Verbinski to direct and produce Pyongyang

Adaptation of graphic novel with
Jan 30
// Matthew Razak
I'm not the comic book guy around these parts so my knowledge of the graphic novel Pyongyang is limited to cursory information, but it sounds like one of the most interesting graphic novels one could read. That's probabl...

The Evil Dead remake's first cut received an NC-17 rating

Little known fact: the NC is short for 'Not Cool Bro'
Jan 29
// Thor Latham
News that I'm sure will please fans of everything blood and gore, director Fede Alvarez recently Tweeted that his first cut of the Evil Dead remake that was submitted to the MPAA came back with an NC-17 rating. He said h...

Beasts of the Southern Wild to be re-released this week

Jan 17
// Liz Rugg
Beasts of the Southern Wild was this year's breakout independent movie, as favorite among the Flixist staff that have seen it, and also probably the longest review we have to date. In the light of the dark horse candidate's f...

Trey Parker and Matt Stone found studio

Creators of South Park do non-South Park stuff
Jan 15
// Matthew Razak
Those wacky guys from South Park are at it again. Well, they've really just be at it for a while now, but now all of Trey Parker and Matt Stones work will be made under their new studio, Important Studios. One assumes th...

Disney buys LucasFilm

Oct 30 // Maxwell Roahrig
Star Wars Episode VII coming 2015
Huge news today, as Disney has bought LucasFilm for $4 billion in cash and stocks. This acquisition includes all LucasFilm brands, including ILM, LucasArts, and Skywalker Sound. Also in the press release, Star Wars: Episode V...


China's Dalian Wanda Group buys AMC for $2.6 billion

Sep 05
// Hubert Vigilla
Dalian Wanda Group finalized its purchase of AMC Entertainment yesterday to the tune of $2.6 billion. Deadline notes that Wanda is China's largest investor in entertainment activities, and that this acquisition makes them the...

Eastern Promises 2 is dead, says Cronenberg

Aug 14
// Alex Katz
So much for that great header. Focus Features has dropped a proposed sequel to David Cronenberg's 2006 Eastern Promises, which would have reunited David Cronenberg with Vincent Cassel and Viggo Mortensen as their characters f...

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