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Steven Spielberg


Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One trailer drops at San Diego Comic Con

Gunters got game.
Jul 22
// Rick Lash
Ready Player One should be taught in schools across America because it's about video games, virtual reality, pop culture, and Americans getting fat asses. You know, reality. But until national and state by state curriculums g...

Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One has first look image

Wade Watts is supposed to be fat
Jul 14
// Rick Lash
Now, in our continued round-the-clock coverage of the forthcoming Steven Spielberg adaption of novel Ready Player One, by Ernst Cline, we have breaking news! EW revealed an exclusive first look image from the highly anticipat...

Complete List of Nominees for the 2016 Academy Awards

Jan 14 // Hubert Vigilla
Best PictureThe Big ShortBridge of SpiesBrooklynMad Max: Fury RoadThe MartianThe RevenantRoomSpotlight Best DirectorAdam McKay, The Big ShortGeorge Miller, Mad Max: Fury RoadAlejandro Inarritu, The RevenantLenny Abrahamson, RoomTom McCarthy, Spotlight Best ActorBryan Cranston, TrumboMatt Damon, The MartianLeonardo DiCaprio, The RevenantMichael Fassbender, Steve JobsEddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl Best ActressCate Blanchett, CarolBrie Larson, RoomJennifer Lawrence, JoyCharlotte Rampling, 45 YearsSaoirse Ronan, Brooklyn Best Supporting ActorChristian Bale, The Big ShortTom Hardy, The RevenantMark Ruffalo, SpotlightMark Rylance, The Bridge of SpiesSylvester Stallone, Creed Best Supporting ActressJennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful EightRooney Mara, CarolRachel McAdams, SpotlightAlicia Vikander, The Danish GirlKate Winslet, Steve Jobs Best Adapted ScreenplayThe Big Short, Screenplay by Charles Randolph and Adam McKayBrooklyn, Screenplay by Nick HornbyCarol, Screenplay by Phyllis NagyThe Martian, Screenplay by Drew GoddardRoom, Screenplay by Emma DonoghueBest Original ScreenplayBridge of Spies, Written by Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel CoenEx Machina, Written by Alex GarlandInside Out, Screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; Original story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del CarmenSpotlight, Written by Josh Singer & Tom McCarthyStraight Outta Compton, Screenplay by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff; Story by S. Leigh Savidge & Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff Best Documentary FeatureAmy, Asif Kapadia and James Gay-ReesCartel Land, Matthew Heineman and Tom YellinThe Look of Silence, Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge SørensenWhat Happened, Miss Simone?, Liz Garbus, Amy Hobby and Justin WilkesWinter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom, Evgeny Afineevsky and Den TolmorBest Documentary Short SubjectBody Team 12, David Darg and Bryn MooserChau, beyond the Lines, Courtney Marsh and Jerry FranckClaude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah, Adam BenzineA Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, Sharmeen Obaid-ChinoyLast Day of Freedom, Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi TalismanAchievement in Film EditingThe Big Short, Hank CorwinMad Max: Fury Road, Margaret SixelThe Revenant, Stephen MirrioneSpotlight, Tom McArdleStar Wars: The Force Awakens, Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey Best CinematographyCarol, Ed LachmanThe Hateful Eight, Robert RichardsonMad Max: Fury Road, John SealeThe Revenant, Emmanuel LubezkiSicarioi, Roger Deakins Best Foreign Language Film of the YearEmbrace of the Serpent, ColombiaMustang, FranceSon of Saul, HungaryTheeb, JordanA War, DenmarkAchievement in Makeup and HairstylingMad Max: Fury Road, Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian MartinThe 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared, Love Larson and Eva von BahrThe Revenant, Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman and Robert PandiniBest Original ScoreBridge of Spies, Thomas NewmanCarol, Carter BurwellThe Hateful Eight, Ennio MorriconeSicario, Jóhann JóhannssonStar Wars: The Force Awakens, John WilliamsBest Original Song“Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey, Music and Lyric by Abel Tesfaye, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Daheala Quenneville and Stephan Moccio“Manta Ray” from Racing Extinction, Music by J. Ralph and Lyric by Antony Hegarty“Simple Song #3” from Youth, Music and Lyric by David Lang“Til It Happens To You” from The Hunting Ground, Music and Lyric by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga“Writing’s On The Wall” from Spectre, Music and Lyric by Jimmy Napes and Sam SmithAchievement in Production DesignBridge of Spies, Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo and Bernhard HenrichThe Danish Girl, Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Michael StandishMad Max: Fury Road, Production Design: Colin Gibson; Set Decoration: Lisa ThompsonThe Martian, Production Design: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Celia BobakThe Revenant, Production Design: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Hamish Purdy Achievement in Costume DesignCarol, Sandy PowellCinderella, Sandy PowellThe Danish Girl, Paco DelgadoMad Max: Fury Road, Jenny BeavanThe Revenant, Jacqueline West Best Animated Short Film“Bear Story” Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala“Prologue” Richard Williams and Imogen Sutton“Sanjay’s Super Team” Sanjay Patel and Nicole Grindle“We Can’t Live without Cosmos” Konstantin Bronzit“World of Tomorrow” Don HertzfeldtBest Live Action Short Film“Ave Maria” Basil Khalil and Eric Dupont“Day One” Henry Hughes“Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)” Patrick Vollrath“Shok” Jamie Donoughue“Stutterer” Benjamin Cleary and Serena ArmitageAchievement in Sound EditingMad Max: Fury Road, Mark Mangini and David WhiteThe Martian, Oliver TarneyThe Revenant, Martin Hernandez and Lon BenderSicario, Alan Robert MurrayStar Wars: The Force Awakens, Matthew Wood and David AcordAchievement in Sound MixingBridge of Spies, Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Drew KuninMad Max: Fury Road, Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben OsmoThe Martian, Paul Massey, Mark Taylor and Mac RuthThe Revenant, Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom and Chris DuesterdiekStar Wars: The Force Awakens, Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart WilsonAchievement in Visual EffectsEx Machina, Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara BennettMad Max: Fury Road, Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy WilliamsThe Martian, Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence and Steven WarnerThe Revenant, Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway, Jason Smith and Cameron WaldbauerStar Wars: The Force Awakens, Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould
2016 Academy Awards photo
Mad Max: Fury Road goes big
The nominees for the 88th Academy Awards were just announced. Here is a full list based on the tweets sent out by The Academy and from The Hollywood Reporter. The Revenant leads the field with 12 nominations, including Best P...

Review: Bridge of Spies

Oct 15 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]219841:42639:0[/embed] Bridge of SpiesDirector: Steven SpielbergRating: PG-13Release Date: October 16, 2015 Based on a true story, Bridge of Spies centers on James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks), a lawyer in Brooklyn who's asked to defend Colonel Abel (Mark Rylance). Abel is a suspected Russian spy, and the film opens on him as he goes about his daily routine. He's a good artist, though he uses his talents as subterfuge in order to get around the city and receive messages from his superiors. The opening minutes of the film are without dialogue, and showcase some nice bits of spycraft. Rylance remains stonefaced but vigilant. Donovan's expected to deliver a mere token defense for Abel. He's a speed bump en route to a commie's execution. Donovan's a principled litigator, however, and he wants to extend Constitutional protections to the captured spy. Donovan even urges the judge to avoid the death penalty. A spy of Abel's caliber--Donovan constantly refers to him as "a good soldier"--would be a worthwhile bargaining chip if the US ever had to negotiate with the Soviets. Donovan's neighbors and colleagues begin to turn on him for taking a stand. Casting Tom Hanks as Donovan is a given. There's an innate trustworthiness about Hanks' screen presence, and he exudes the kind of everyman likability you'd expect out of your favorite friend or neighbor. At a party, people may ask when Tom's showing up. Since the early 90s, Hanks has become the go-to common-man good-guy in the mold of Jimmy Stewart; if Bridge of Spies were made decades ago, Stewart would probably play Donovan. (Okay, maybe not. If it were made decades ago the entire crew would be blacklisted and seated before a HUAC hearing.) Then there's Mark Rylance as Colonel Abel. His performance is all about the poker face. Colonel Abel's low-key and could pass as a plain old man, but to the intelligence community, they know what's up. He plays so dumb that he's obviously got a lot secrets. There's a lot to read into Hanks' and Rylance's performances when they share the screen together--what's being said and not said, what they're saying with looks--but there's also a kind of mutual respect; not just something lawyer-client based but an admiration for such staunch resoluteness. Bridge of Spies switches from a courtroom drama to small-scale espionage movie for the last half or two-thirds. US government sends Donovan to negotiate the release of a US soldier named Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell) who's being held by the Soviets. Good thing Donovan fought so hard to keep his chip from the chair. And so we go from Brooklyn to Berlin, where the wall has just gone up and a clash between Soviet and East German interests might complicate the deal that Donovan has been sent to broker. Bridge of Spies tries to braid in two additional threads of narrative over the Donovan-driven and Abel-driven dramas. It's here that some seams become visible--it's easy to spot seams in an otherwise handsome film. Powers' mission helps get across the amount of spying going on between the US and Russia, and it culminates in a daring set piece involving a spy plane, but it doesn't quite flow with the legal drama unfolding on the ground. At least it has some creative smash cuts and cross cuts. The film gets much clunkier as we introduce the other thread involving an economics student named Frederic Pryor (Will Rogers), who's suspected of being an American spy in East Germany. It's introduced and dropped as a narrative expedient--a story for the main story but not a story on its own. It's almost like a stray movie lost in the bigger one, and some of the brief drama involving Pryor and his girlfriend are never touched on again. Even with the seams and loose threads, Bridge of Spies is steadily carried by Hanks' amiability and Spielberg and his craft. Once we're back with Donovan, the film regains its footing (and handsomeness). I sense some audiences might be put off by the film's high-mindedness. Conservatives in particular may take issue with Donovan's heroic idealism even if it's so earnestly American. There's one speech Donovan makes before the Supreme Court that's Capraesque bordering on cloying. Even if taken directly from a transcript, the speech seems like it's directed at a contemporary audience rather than the Justices of the 1950s. Donovan speaks about the heart of the country and the fundaments of the Constitution and how it ought to be applied even to America's enemies. The contemporary read is not about Soviets but soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq who are detained in Guantanamo. Spielberg even seems to offer an indictment of prisoner abuse by contrasting Powers in a Soviet prison with Abel in an American one. The appeal is clear and you don't even have to look that hard--we're Americans, and we should be good even to our enemies. This kind of black-and-white appeal to good old-fashioned American decency works in movies since it's about an abstraction of Jimmy Stewart America or Gregory Peck America--a kind of aspirational Platonic form of what people in America can strive to be. (Ronald Reagan's America is probably more pervasive. Make of that what you will.) In that way, Bridge of Spies shares some Constitutional connective tissue with Amistad and Lincoln, while also being a kind of post-war counterpart to Saving Private Ryan--it's a mission to bring our boys home. It's hokey, but the takeaway is to be the best the country has to offer, or at least to try. If that corny idealism isn't good old-fashioned American decency, I don't know what is.
Review: Bridge of Spies photo
When Spielbergian goes Capraesque
Watching Bridge of Spies, I realized almost immediately the difference between a beautiful film and a handsome film. Steven Spielberg's latest movie is handsome. It's cleanly shot, polished, glossy, with impeccable acting in ...

Bridge of Spies photo
Bridge of Spies

First trailer for Bridge of Spies

Spielberg, the Coens and Hanks
Jun 08
// Per Morten Mjolkeraaen
Bridge of Spies is directed by Steven Spielberg, written by Joel and Ethan Coen (and Matt Charman) and it stars Tom Hanks. Names most everyone knows and respects to a certain degree, which means it is automatically positioned...

Steven Spielberg to direct Ready Player One

The legendary director will tackle the sci-fi adaptation
Mar 26
// Matt Liparota
The Warner Bros./Village Roadshow adaptation of Ernie Cline's sci-fi novel Ready Player One just got a huge boost in credibility and visibility. Legendary director Steven Spielberg has signed on to helm the video-game fueled ...
American Sniper  photo
American Sniper

Steven Spielberg's version of American Sniper sounds a bit better

Jan 22
// Nick Valdez
When it comes to American Sniper, I've found over the last few days that it's better to tread water when criticizing. It's a shame, but I've been hit by quite a few slurs from folks that are taking the film to heart. But desp...

Spielberg will direct a Big Friendly Giant movie

The best book-to-movie news you'll hear from me today
Apr 30
// Mike Cosimano
You ever hear one of those ideas that just sounds like a real slam dunk from top to bottom? Well, here's another one of those. Steven Spielberg (one of the great American filmmakers) is bringing Roald Dahl's (one of the all-t...

Spielberg and Lucas discuss the film industry's implosion

Jun 14 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[Photo via The Verge] It starts off innocent enough, the insanity. "“You’re going to end up with fewer theaters," he said. "Bigger theaters with a lot of nice things," he said. Sounds reasonable enough, right? Fewer theatrical releases would all but require the consolidation of spaces, and to make a theater experience more inviting, the venues will be forced to upgrade. Perhaps the beautiful venues at Lincoln Center will become the rule rather than the exception. I don't know that I'd go that far, but it doesn't sound so outlandish. But then things get weird. Going to the movies will cost 50 bucks or 100 or 150 bucks, like what Broadway costs today, or a football game. It’ll be an expensive thing. … (The movies) will sit  in the theaters for a year, like a Broadway show does. That will be called the ‘movie’ business.”" And with a simple sentence, George Lucas reveals a fascinating disconnection from reality. I want to believe that the man is being facetious or hyperbolic, but I don't. Instead, I'm left to believe that Lucas is equating the theatrical experience of seeing a film, which requires only a projectionist (who doesn't even need to be paying attention now that film reels don't need to be changed) to a Broadway performance, each one of which requires the work of dozens of people both in front of and behind the curtain. It's ludicrous. The two cannot be compared. While a film can cost incredible amounts of money up front, even playing in two theaters simultaneously makes it easier for that film to make back its budget. Even in this bizarro future, presumably these films would eventually hit VOD and whatever media format exists and can make more money there. Broadway shows, on the other hand, still cost millions of dollars to produce and they have only one place to recoup those costs. Their continued performances also costs money, making it even harder to break even. The cost isn't just the theater and the rights to project it; it's everything. It's absurd to claim otherwise. And it's absurd to believe that moviegoers wouldn't understand that and would accept theater prices that high. Ticket prices will continue to rise, but if the ticket to a regular non-IMAX, non-3D showing ever breaks $25 (or if a fancier ticket breaks $35), I will be truly shocked and appalled. I'll probably also eat something indigestible. But honestly, that's not the weirdest thing Lucas said. Much stranger was his vision of our lucid dreaming future: The next step is to be able to control your dreams. You’ll just tap into a different part of your brain. You’re just going to put a hat on or plug into the computer and create your own world. … We’ll be able to do the dream thing 10, 15 years from now. It’s not some pie-in-the-sky thing. Spielberg, for his part, was more level-headed about what will happen after cinema's implosion. He sees a world where films hit VOD the same day they hit theaters (something we are most certainly heading towards) and the implementation of variable pricing, something that should have happened by now. He said: There's going to be eventually day and date with movies, and eventually there's going to be a price variance. You're going to have to pay $25 to see the next Iron Man. And you're probably only going to have to pay $7 to see Lincoln. Note that while I stand by my previous statement that I don't believe regular tickets for even the biggest of blockbusters will get that high, the concept that as ticket prices rise there will be tiers based on potential popularity of a film and also the cost of production doesn't seem too farfetched. It could certainly convince people to see more independent films, as three Lincoln tickets would be cheaper than a single Iron Man X ticket in this hypothetical future. There was a lot more at the panel, including thoughts about the future of television and the internet as well as videogames (Lucas' comments about dream control were in reference to future of games, but I really couldn't not mention it), and I recommend digging deeper. The two men, some of the most successful the film industry have ever seen, think it's in an untenable position, and that's important. Even if he's gone crazy, George Lucas is still someone worth listening to, and even if he isn't, Steven Spielberg certainly is. None of us really know what the future of entertainment is, but I think everyone realizes things are going to change in a big way. Only time will tell if these two men are right about how those changes will manifest themselves. No matter what happens, I'm looking forward to it.
Film Industry's Implosion photo
Also, George Lucas is crazy
With E3 waning, a lot of eyes have been on the gaming industry and specifically Microsoft and Sony as they fight for relevance in an every changing media landscape. And watching these monoliths fight as the AAA gaming industr...

Stanley Kubrick's unmade historical epic is now Steven Spielberg's project
Napoleon was supposed to be Stanley Kubrick's follow-up to 2001: A Space Odyssey. The movie almost happened. Extensive research was done, costumes were made, the screenplay was written, locations were scouted, names were thro...


Lincoln passes the 13th amendment. Again. Sort of.

Feb 19
// Nathan Hardisty
This is history. It's not reporting on set about Megan Fox's tits or new photos from Channing Tatum's butthole salon, but this is important. Steven Spielberg's Lincoln apparently caused Mississippi to finally ratify the ...

Mankind is safe, Robopocalypse postponed indefinitely

Jan 10
// Logan Otremba
Director Steven Spielberg’s newest project, Robopocalypse, has been postponed indefinitely until further notice. This is after it has been already delayed from a 2013 release to that of a 2014 release. Spielberg’s...

Jurassic Park 3D re-release in IMAX for one week only

Jan 09
// Logan Otremba
Universal Pictures and IMAX have announced today that they will have a one-week run of director Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park in IMAX 3D starting April 5th. This will coincide with Jurassic Park 3D wide release also ...

Peter Jackson working on Tintin sequel for 2015

Dec 13
// Hubert Vigilla
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey comes out tomorrow, but Peter Jackson isn't ready to slow down. He's already shooting a new movie next year: a sequel to Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin. Jackson served as co...

Anne Hathaway enters the Robopocalypse

Which of the following would you most prefer? A: a puppy, B: a pretty flower from your sweetie, or C: a large, properly formatted data file?
Nov 12
// Xander Markham
Anne Hathaway is soon to grace our screens as Fantine in Les Misérables, while Steven Spielberg's biopic Lincoln is currently partying on, dudes, in New York and LA cinemas ahead of its nationwide release this Friday. ...

Trailer: Jurassic Park 3-D

Hold onto your butts
Nov 08
// Thor Latham
Yesterday we were given the poster, and today we get the trailer. I probably find all of this irrationally exciting considering that the promos are for a movie that's twenty years old, but I really am genuinely&nbs...

New Lincoln TV spot aired during Presidential debate

Oct 04
// Thor Latham
For those of us who missed the Presidential debate last night, it looks like we also missed out on a new TV spot for Steven Spielberg's upcoming epic Lincoln. It consists mostly of footage from the previously released traile...

Book: Jaws: Memories from Martha's Vineyard

Sep 28 // Hubert Vigilla
Quint's last stand, and above it, young Steven Spielberg rides the shark. Jaws was the movie that created the blockbuster, and it was the film that launched Spielberg's career. Had Jaws bombed, the young captain would sink his future with his big dumb shark. The production was months behind schedule and millions over budget, and the 25-foot mechanical great white (Bruce) always broke down because of the salt water. Somehow the studio didn't pull the plug. Prior to Jaws, Spielberg's only other credits were some TV movies (notably Duel) and a mostly ignored feature debut, The Sugarland Express starring Goldie Hawn. Jaws: Memories from Martha's Vineyard includes a March 1974 clipping from the Vineyard Gazette that heralds the coming of the film production. A typo sums up Spielberg's low profile at the time: he's referred to as "Stephen Stielberg." That's one of the fascinating things about the book. No one who lived in or around Martha's Vineyard had any idea that the movie shooting on location or the young director (only 26 or 27) would change the cinematic landscape. For them, it was a job, and it was just another movie that had to abide by zoning regulations, noise ordinances, and preserving the local habitat. One anecdote in the book recounts the film crews being especially careful about protecting the native seagrass even though locals were oblivious to the stuff and would tear it up all the time. While many people in the area were helpful, there's a fair amount of material about annoyed locals and embittered crew members. The latter makes sense since the movie dragged on and on well into September. (They started shooting in May and wanted to finish by the end of June.) John Alley, an extra in the film, recounts storming off the film in a huff because things were taking so long, and this was back in May. "You're not paying me enough money, and it's a boring, pain-in-the-ass job." Alley still made the final cut of the film. The Selectmen in town weren't too pleased with the slow production either, and on at least two occasions, locals had placed dead sharks at the front door to the Universal Studios office in town. Even after principal photography had ended, Spielberg did guerrilla shoots during the editing process. These added bits (shot roughly in October) were done in pools and driveways with equipment smuggled out of the studio. Taylor likens it to the "backyard filmmaking techniques of [Spielberg's] Arizona youth," which was all about ingenuity and creativity on a small scale. It makes sense. I remember watching a featurette about Saving Private Ryan where Spielberg talked about an ingenious no-budget method of simulating a grenade explosion. This may give you a sense of the book's size. It's approximately two Aquamans, which is a standard unit of nautical measurement. Some of the people interviewed in Jaws: Memories from Martha's Vineyard include Kevin Pike (effects man), Edith Blake (a local journalist), Lee Fierro (slapper of Chief Brody), Lynn Murphy (a marine mechanic), Sarah Murphy (Lynn's wife and assistant), and Joe Alves (production designer). There are plenty of others, even people who didn't make the final cut of the film. One scene features Quint making fun of a boy playing clarinet, and that boy (Paul Goulart) gets to share his brief story about getting cast on the spot by Spielberg and acting with Robert Shaw. Taylor provides his own text, but a majority of the book relies on anecdotes from the people themselves, which gives a greater sense of voice to the community and to the production. Pike's story might give the best sense of how a local life could be altered by the film. He was working as a waiter in Martha's Vineyard, living at a boarding house, just barely making ends meet. (He says he was surviving off a bag of chocolate chip cookies he still had from his drive up from Florida.) After a chance run-in with Alves and other members of the film's set and construction crew, he landed a job. First he did construction on sets, then, when not making screen print Jaws shirts for the crew, he was taken under the wings of the effects crew. Since Jaws, Pike's worked as a special effects supervisor on more than 160 projects, including Return of the Jedi, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and Fight Club. He might be best known for creating Doc Brown's time-traveling DeLorean in Back to the Future. Lynn Murphy is particularly important to the film. Not only did he help get Bruce to work, but he also served as one of the models for Robert Shaw's portrayal of Quint. Shaw was doing his best to mimic the speech patterns of Yankee fishermen, picking up little turns of phrase and mannerisms from the seamen and locals he met while shooting. The main model for Quint, however, was Craig Kingsbury, a local hero. Kingsbury was a larger-than-life figure who stood 6'3" and was known for never wearing shoes. Of his many colorful adventures (rum-running, blacksmithing, prizefighting, fishing), Taylor shares the following: It was in 1941, after marrying for the third (and final) time and settling into family life on the Vineyard Haven farm he would call home for the remainder of his life that Kingsbury would commit his most famous infraction -- drunk-driving an oxcart through the streets of Vineyard Haven, explaining to the arresting officer that while he had indeed been drinking, his cows, Bucky and Lion, were perfectly sober. An illustration of the sea sled shark rig by Paul McPhee. When I looked at Joel W. Finler's book Hollywood Movie Stills, I really enjoyed the dazzle and glamour of the well-posed, well-crafted publicity still. There's a kind of allure that says everything you need to know about the myth-making nature of Old Hollywood. That composed, meticulously staged sense doesn't fit with what was happening with the American New Wave, however. I think the spontaneity and grit of the photos in Jaws: Memories from Martha's Vineyard winds up capturing a certain kind of energy of that time -- New Hollywood, still kicking and kicking hard, right before the start of the Hollywood blockbuster machine. Jaws was a small picture that went big, and these photos have the same sort of quality. The harness that dragged the shark's first victim (Denise Cheshire) around is just a pair of jean shorts rigged for cable; the control box for the mechanical shark is only a pair of toggles. It's astounding because, like the box office success of the film, it's unexpected. Also unexpected was the blasé reception the film received when it was finally screened in Martha's Vineyard for the first time. Maybe some of the people were just sick of the shark and the crews that had been there awhile. When you've had a visitor crash for longer than expected, it probably tempers your opinion somehow. There's so much more in this book that I could go over, but that'd sap the fun from it. The little details come into focus, like kids trying to look at topless chicks when they're supposed to be panicked, or the crew altering the Avis logo with duct tape to say "Jaws." There's also a great sign to keep people from snooping on the mechanical shark while it was stored on dry land: "Warning: genital devouring fungo bats." To be honest, I feel like I haven't even scratched the surface. I blasted through Jaws: Memories from Martha's Vineyard, but I feel like reading the book and looking at the pictures should be like the film production itself -- you should take a long time because it'll be rewarding in the end. One last bit of local color, though. August 2nd, 1974. A weekly Monday night lecture series held at a Methodist Church in Martha's Vineyard was dedicated to the making of Jaws. Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw were there, and probably happy to be away from that malfunctioning shark at sea. With Joe Alves and others, they shared 80 slides from the making of the film as well as storyboards and other art. Edith Blake's write-up in the Vineyard Gazette ends: "Next week, Johnny Cassel will again present his wild and wonderful combo playing good stimulating ragtime, which in the Methodist Church, with its great acoustics, will resound that full-bodied rhythm throughout the Island."
The local color behind Steven Spielberg's landmark film
This week, Titan Books released a paperback edition of Jaws: Memories from Martha's Vineyard by Matt Taylor, a beautiful coffee table book about the making of Jaws. I'd intended to write about it earlier, but it took me a whi...

Trailer: Lincoln

Sep 13 // Alex Katz

You hear that sound? Yep, I'm pretty sure that was Daniel Day-Lewis's Oscar win for his performance as Abraham Lincoln reaching back through time to say "YEAH BOYEEE." Indeed, it's the first trailer ever for Steven Spielberg...


To celebrate E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (one of the most redundant names ever)'s 30th anniversary Blu-ray release, Fathom Events, Turner Classic Movies, and Universal Pictures are showing the digital remastered version ...


[UPDATE: The following statement was given by Steven Spielberg's spokesman Marvin Levy: "Neither Steven Spielberg, DreamWorks Studios, or DreamWorks Television will be optioning Mark Owen's book No Easy Day." Well, that's the...


I'm gonna learn you about this Lincoln poster, boy

Aug 22
// Alex Katz
Ok, on Twitter I said I was going to write this with a bad Confederate affectation, but screw you, I'm tired. This is the first poster for Spielberg's Lincoln starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln. As we can see from this...

Jurassic Park IV could be in theaters in 2014

Jul 23
// Thor Latham
I love dinosaurs. LOVE 'EM! So even though the last Jurassic Park film was, let's say, disappointing (needed more Jeff Goldblum), I'm always willing to give it another go if only for the sake of the dinosaurs. So to that end,...

Steven Spielberg wants Robopocalyse

Jul 20
// Nick Valdez
When Steven Spielberg first announced that he was adapting Daniel H. Wilson's Robopocalypse, my excitement was a bit tempered granted I didn't read the novel yet. After reading the novel, the film can't come soon enough. Ever...

GWAR does not care for War Horse

Dec 22
// Alex Katz
I was never terribly into War Horse, and I'm certainly less so after the scholar'd gentlemen Oderus Urungus and Balsac the Jaws of Death from music consortium GWAR decreed their ultimate review for the film. No other review is necessary now. [Via Next Movie]

Review: The Adventures Of Tintin

Dec 21 // Xander Markham
[embed]205401:37331[/embed] The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The UnicornDirector: Steven SpielbergRelease Date: Dec 21st 2011 Purists may wish to know that the film isn't exactly faithful to its source material, in narrative terms at least. The first third of the film is lifted from the album which gives the film its name, the middle act moving into Crab With The Golden Claws as a means of explaining how Tintin came to meet his best friend, the sozzled sea-dog Captain Haddock, and the conclusion almost entirely made up, but for the final scene. Those discordant origins are tied together fairly well, although why Spielberg didn't make Crab With The Golden Claws, which is probably the story he draws upon most heavily, is a little confusing, especially since the film's ending is rendered somewhat incomplete due to the Unicorn album being the first of a two-parter. It is left neither completely open for a sequel - Red Rackham's Treasure is not the most action-packed of adventures, so is unlikely to be the basis for Tintin's second big screen outing - nor completely concluded. We are left assuming that Tintin and Haddock will complete the rest of the adventure on their own. Up until that last stumble, though, Spielberg keeps the story ticking over at a nice pace and mercifully makes no attempt at modernising Hergé's timeless world or adding sharper edges to its charming innocence. (A single joke about 'animal husbandry' breaks this rule and feels very out of place). Tintin is still entirely chaste - his landlady says he is strict about not receiving visitors after bedtime - and despite plenty the plethora of shooting and fistfights, there isn't a drop of blood spilt and villains' fates lie in gaol rather than death. References to previous adventures are fun, if perhaps a tad too blunt at times and may limit potential sequels given how it is suggested that several of Tintin's adventures have already happened by the point we meet him. While all good-spirited fun, the film certainly doesn't shirk on the action. It is significantly more comedically inclined than Indiana Jones, but features some set-pieces that are as exciting and superbly shot as anything Spielberg has ever done before - and though I'm not a big fan of his generally, he fully deserves his reputation as one of the all-time great directors of action. The first of these set-pieces is a pirate sea-battle taking place in flashback and which puts everything in the creatively bankrupt Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise to shame. Every inch of the screen is packed with activity, from roaring cannon fire and crashing waves to the two captains fighting to the death as their ships burn and sink beneath their feet. Although it is obvious how much fun Spielberg is having - witness the fantastically inventive transitions between past and present - the master's discipline is still very much in effect. The second sequence is a show-stopping chase through a Middle Eastern town as it is engulfed in the flood of a collapsing dam. All captured in a single take and ridiculous in its scale, vibrancy and action, Spielberg keeps a flawless sense of geography even amidst the rapidly escalating havoc. There is never a second's confusion as to where anyone is or how they get to the places they need to be. Even as an animated film, it is one of the most thrilling pieces of sustained action that Spielberg has put on screen in his entire career, even if it ends up putting a dampener on the needlessly extended ending which follows and cannot possibly compare. Visually, the environments and animation are top notch, treading a balanced line between faithfulness to Hergé's designs and a semi-realistic style. The characters take some time to get used to, with their eyes never conveying emotion to anywhere near the same extent as those old black dots, but are a decent fit for a film that treats adult action with a comic, youthful sensitivity. If anything, the 'realistic' characters are more immediately engaging than the stylised ones: some of the strangely shaped noses, in particular, can be jarring. As personalities, the characters stick to the templates laid out in the albums, which is fine for the main cast, but the underdeveloped nature of Hergé's villains makes them a bland bunch, defined by nothing more than their cunning plans. The voicework assigns its strengths and weaknesses in similar places: Jamie Bell is an ideal choice for Tintin, mixing young enthusiasm with gritty determination, while Andy Serkis is good fun as Haddock. Snowy doesn't get any lines, thankfully, but is animated with enough expression to compensate. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are endearingly pompous as Thomson and Thompson, getting a number of good laughs despite their only real purpose being to satisfy fans and bring some slapstick absurdity to proceedings. Less positive is Daniel Craig, completely miscast as the villainous Sakharine. He isn't helped by the character lacking any great personality, but his deep and distinctive voice sounds wrong coming from a man more waspishly devious than physically strong. John Williams' score, for once, also hits the wrong tone, going for comic jauntiness where more gravitas is needed. Tintin's adventures are more comedic than grown-up equivalents, but they are exciting because they are delivered with a straight face. Williams' opening theme (over a twee Catch Me If You Can-style credits sequence) is too bouncy and disposable, infinitely moreso when compared to the this magnificent track by Ray Parker, Jim Morgan and Tom Szczesniak, which most long time Tintin fans will associate with the character's animated adventures in the early '90s. Regardless, The Secret Of The Unicorn is a significantly better film than many fans will have been expecting, staying just true enough to Hergé while adding a layer of superbly-staged bombast that suggests Spielberg may have reignited the old spark which Kingdoms Of The Crystal Skull seemed to find extinguished. It may not be up to the high standards of classic Indy or Star Wars, but as a family-friend slice of high adventure, it will be a great gateway for parent geeks to transition their short rounds and padawans (padawen?) into Harrison Ford's capable company. Fingers crossed for Cigars Of The Pharaoh next! Alex Katz: I never expected to be so completely enraptured by a performance capture film, but the initial uncanny valley-ness that I feared would bug me throughout the film was gone in an instant. The character design brilliantly harnesses the essence of each character, though still lacking the charm of the original Hergé work. There's a lot of heart and a lot of old school, original Indiana Jones Spielberg on display here, a welcome sight from his other more maudlin picture for the holiday season. The major league action set piece, the aforementioned chase sequence amidst a collapsing dam, is well worth the price of admission in 3D alone, though the film putters along to an oddly-toned conclusion after the climax and the resolution of the plot. I'm eagerly waiting Peter Jackson's companion film in a couple of years. 85 - Spectacular Maxwell Roahrig: I've never been a fan of performance capture. Since I saw the first trailer for The Polar Express all those years ago, I wrote it off as a lazy way of doing animation. But The Adventures of Tintin has kind of sold me on the idea. It's something that this movie has that other performance capture flicks don't have: style. It's like the first time you booted up Team Fortress 2 after playing nothing but Halo and Call of Duty for three years. Immediately, you fall in love with the character design, and the world crafted before your eyes. But it's not just the performance capture that has me smitten on this movie. The score, the action, the characters, it's all classic Spielberg. You know, that crazy kid that thought Raiders of the Lost Ark was a good idea. It should also say something that Tintin is the most Indiana Jones-like movie since The Last Crusade. My dream is that The Adventures of Tintin leads the way for more classic adventure movies to come out. God knows Indiana Jones isn't doing that anymore. 80 - Great

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