Posts Tagged ‘Leonardo DiCaprio’

Acting as Artifice

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Cast: Leonardo di Caprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Bruce Dern, Dakota Fanning, Maya Hawke, Timothy Olyphant, Austin Butler, Damian Lewis, Al Pacino, Kurt Russell, Margaret Qualley

Oscar winner for Best Original Screenplay for Pulp Fiction and Django Unchained, writer and director Quentin Tarantino returns to the big screen with his 9th feature film the brilliantly titled Once Upon a Time in Hollywood starring Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant) and Brad Pitt as buddies actor Rick Dalton and his stunt double Cliff Booth in a fictional tale set in Los Angeles in 1969.

1969 was the year that the real life film director Roman Polanski’s pregnant wife Sharon Tate was brutally murdered by the followers of the Charles Manson cult which shocked the American film industry to its rotten core.

Firstly two disclaimers: this is an extremely long film and secondly it’s really only aimed at serious movie buffs and serves as Tarantino’s ode to the end of Hollywood’s Golden Age before the film making industry got taken over by corporations, sequels, digitization and streaming.

Margot Robbie as actress Sharon Tate

Tarantino artfully pays homage to the act of buying a ticket and going to the cinema in a rather poignant scene when the young actress Sharon Tate superbly played by Oscar nominee Margot Robbie (I, Tonya) actually pays to watch a film she is starring in at a Westwood cinema.

The rest of this marvelously meandering film belongs to the two major stars, DiCaprio who is superb as the washed up TV actor Rick Dalton who is desperately trying to make a Big Screen comeback but lands up starring in a string of Spaghetti Westerns in Rome.

Oscar nominee Brad Pitt (12 Monkeys) is phenomenal as the stunt double past his prime Cliff Booth in one of his best onscreen performances yet especially the gorgeous scene when he takes his shirt off on the roof of Dalton’s Hollywood Hills mansion in the scorching Californian sun to fix the TV aerial.

Booth also inadvertently stumbles across the hippie cult followers of Charles Manson in an abandoned studio lot in Chatsworth, California featuring some great cameos by Dakota Fanning (Ocean’s 8, War of the Worlds) as Squeaky Fromme , Oscar nominee Bruce Dern (Nebraska) as George Spahn and Margaret Qualley (The Nice Guys) as the seductive hippie hitchhiker Pussycat.

Tarantino expertly captures the zeitgeist of Los Angeles in 1969 at the peak of the counter-culture movement with lurid production design by Barbara Ling and costumes by Oscar nominated costume designer Arianne Phillips (Walk the Line, A Single Man, Nocturnal Animals, W. E.).

With some expertly placed cameos including Oscar winner Al Pacino (Scent of a Woman) as hot shot producer Marvin Schwarz and Damian Lewis as real life star Steve McQueen.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is slowing moving in the first two acts of the film, while the third act is phenomenal especially the hippie flame throwing sequence.

Tarantino could have quickened the film’s pace in the beginning to actively propel the narrative forward but he is a notorious auteur and not interested in packaging films to please audience expectations.

Unbelievably, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood did get a standing ovation at its glittering film premiere at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival so Tarantino did something right.

This film gets a rating of 8 out of 10 and accurately portrays acting as artifice.

This is not Tarantino’s best work but written and directed in the vein of his crime thriller Jackie Brown, Once Upon a Time In Hollywood is strictly recommended for Tarantino fans and those that enjoyed Pulp Fiction, Django Unchanged and Inglourious Basterds.

88th Academy Awards

The 88th Academy Awards / The Oscars

Sunday 28th February 2016

OSCAR WINNERS AT THE 88TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS

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Best Picture: Spotlight

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Best Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu – The Revenant

Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant

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Best Actress: Brie LarsonRoom

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Best Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies

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Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl

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Best Original Screenplay – Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer – Spotlight

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Best Adapted Screenplay – Adam McKay & Charles Randolph – The Big Short from the book The Big Short written by Michael Lewis
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Best Foreign Language Film: Son of Saul (Hungary) directed by Laszlo Nemes

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki – The Revenant

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Best Costume Design: Jenny Beavan – Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Production Design: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Hair and Makeup: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Film Editing: Margaret Sixel – Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Sound Editing: Mark A. Mangini and David WhiteMad Max: Fury Road

Best Sound Mixing: Mad Max: Fury Road

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Best Animated Feature: Inside Out by Pete Doctor and Jonas Rivera

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Best Visual Effects: Ex Machina

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Best Documentary Feature: Amy directed by Asaf Kapadia and James Gay-Rees

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Best Original Score: Ennio Morricone – The Hateful Eight

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Best Original Song: The Writings on the Wall by Sam Smith – Spectre

Source: Oscars

 

69th BAFTA AWARDS

THE  69th BAFTA AWARDS /

THE BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS

Took place on Sunday 14th February 2016 in London

BAFTA WINNERS IN THE FILM CATEGORY:

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Best Film: The Revenant

Best Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant

Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant

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Best Actress: Brie Larson – Room

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Best Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies

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Best Supporting Actress: Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs

Rising Star Award: John Boyega

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Best British Film: Brooklyn directed by John Crawley

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Best Original Screenplay: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer – Spotlight

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Best Adapted Screenplay: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph – The Big Short

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Best Costume Design: Jenny Beavan – Mad Max Fury Road

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Best Foreign Language Film: Wild Tales directed by Damián Szifron (Argentina)

Source: 69TH BAFTA AWARDS

 

 

The Wild Ones

The Revenant

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Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck, Lukas Haas, Paul Anderson

According to the Oxford Dictionary, Revenant means a person who has returned supposedly from the dead.

According Oscar winning Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Revenant has a far deeper mythical connotation. After the success of Birdman, Inarritu follows up that whimsical taste of Broadway with a gruelling historical epic, The Revenant casting two of the best leading actors in contemporary cinema: Leonardo di Caprio and Tom Hardy.

The Revenant is a harsh masculine film, set in the American wilderness in 1823, the early years of settler exploration along the Missouri river near the Canadian border. Gorgeously shot by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant takes on a slightly Terence Malick feel in the first hour, but then the audience is thrust into a bitter tale of survival about a group of men who are not only attacked by roaming Pawnee Indians but by the neighbouring French.

DiCaprio plays a bearded and mostly silent yet skillful tracker Hugh Glass in one of his best performances for years. DiCaprio’s role is so grueling and utterly physical that is completely opposite to anything done by the actor before which makes it all the more engrossing to watch. His previous roles in The Great Gatsby and The Wolf of Wall Street focused on characters that were debauched and surrounded by lavish wealth and power.

In The Revenant, this is DiCaprio laid bare both physically and psychologically as he battles the most hostile terrain in the icy parts of North America. In probably the best scene of the film, Glass is viciously attacked by a grizzly bear and severely injured, the filming of this scene deserves an Oscar in itself. Glass is left for dead by the half-scalped hunter and dangerous John Fitzgerald, in a career best performance by Tom Hardy who manages to permeate all his scenes with the same chilling sense of menace as he did, playing Bane in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises and most recently as both the Kray twins in Legend.

The tension between the two men is palpable although Hardy is the one with the most lines, while Di Caprio expresses his pain with his eyes and body, an entirely physical ordeal, a gut-wrenching soul destroying battle for survival. The environment too has own character as these two men not only battle each other but also have to survive in a semi-explored icy landscape, where settlers and native American Indians are bartering and killing each other in a continuous bloodthirsty war over land, occupation and women.

Ethnographically, The Revenant is an important film, a vivid tale about the early American settlers who encounter the other, or the savages as the French call them. A primal battle which Inarritu elevates to myth, beautifully capturing the essence of the unforgiving yet stunning landscape, while emphasizes the terrain’s nefarious creatures and events, from vicious bears to avalanches.

At two and a half hours long The Revenant is not easy viewing and, the viewer does get a sense that the second act drags a little, yet the performances are so captivating and the sound editing so brilliant, that any minor criticisms can be forgiven. Warning: this is not an easy film to watch.

The Revenant is violent, gory and at times just plain cruel, but also sets the standard high for revenge themed adventure tales. Hardy and DiCaprio are both utterly terrific. The Revenant is a highly recommended and critically acclaimed film sure to attract a cult following.

Cinematically, The Revenant is nothing short of a masterpiece.

73rd Golden Globe Awards

73rd GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS

Took place on Sunday 10th  January 2016 hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

GOLDEN GLOBE WINNERS IN THE FILM CATEGORIES:

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Best Film Drama: The Revenant

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Best Film, M/C: The Martian

Best Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu – The Revenant

Best Actor Drama: Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant

Room_PosterBest Actress Drama: Brie Larson – Room

Best Actor M/C: Matt Damon – The Martian

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Best Actress M/C: Jennifer Lawrence – Joy

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Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone – Creed

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Best Supporting Actress: Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs

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Best Foreign Language Film: Son of Saul  directed by Laszlo Nemes (Hungary)

Source: 73rd Golden Globe Awards

71st Golden Globe Awards

71st Golden Globe Awards

Took place on Sunday 12th  January 2014 hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Golden Globe Winners in The Film Categories:

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Best Film Drama – 12 Years a Slave

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Best Film Musical or Comedy – American Hustle

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Best Actor Drama: Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club

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Best Actress Drama: Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine

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Best Actor Musical or Comedy: Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street

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Best Actress Musical or Comedy: Amy Adams – American Hustle

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

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Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle

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Best Director: Alphonso Cuaron – Gravity

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Best Foreign Language Film – The Great Beauty (Italy)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/71st_Golden_Globe_Awards

62nd Golden Globe Awards

62nd Golden Globe Awards

Took place on Sunday 16th January 2005 hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Golden Globe Winners in The Film Categories:

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Best Film Drama: The Aviator

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Best Film Musical or Comedy: Sideways

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Best Director: Clint Eastwood – Million Dollar Baby

Best Actor Drama: Leonardo DiCaprio – The Aviator

Best Actress Drama: Hilary Swank – Million Dollar Baby

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Best Actor Musical or Comedy: Jamie Foxx – Ray

Being Julia

Best Actress Musical or Comedy: Annette Bening – Being Julia

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Best Supporting Actor: Clive Owen – Closer

Best Supporting Actress: Natalie Portman – Closer

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Best Foreign Language Film – The Sea Inside (Spain)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/62nd_Golden_Globe_Awards

Scorsese’s Satyricon

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The Wolf of Wall Street

Director: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Kyle Chandler, Jean Dujardin, Joanna Lumley, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau, Shea Wingham

The much anticipated explosive new film about Wall Street Stock broker Jordan Belfort by acclaimed director Martin Scorsese is an orgy of drugs, hedonism and consumerism held tightly together by one of the best on screen performances that Leonardo DiCaprio (The Great Gatsby) has ever given. The Wolf of Wall Street can best be described as Oliver Stone’s Wall Street highballing on crack and speed with large amounts of sex, swearing and swindling thrown in.

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The three hour film about the rise and fall of one of Wall Street’s most notoriously decadent stockbrokers is fascinating, bizarre, crude and highly entertaining. The Wolf of Wall Street is Scorsese’s sleazy and salacious Satyricon, a drug fuelled  hedonistic journey into the heart of America’s consumerism, while ripping to shreds its number one bastion Rampant Capitalism. For according to Belfort there is no nobility in poverty.

Audiences meet Belfort when he is a young would be stockbroker as he arrives off the bus on Wall Street soon to be taken in by the foul-mouthed cocaine sniffing chest thumping mentor Mark Hanna an expertly played cameo by Matthew McConnaughey.

Belfort after the Stock Exchange crash of 1989, goes into penny shares in a two bit stock brokerage in Long Island, where he revolutionizes the bunch of weirdo pot selling brokers into a serious blue chip Wall Street company rebranding it as Stratton Oakmont. Soon Belfort motivates his entire team to sell penny shares (those companies that cannot afford to be listed on NASDAQ) to the very rich, and after much cavorting and convincing, earns huge amounts of cash where the brokerage becomes a literal madhouse of drugs, greed and absolute debauchery.

With the help of his wing man Donny, a brilliant performance by Jonah Hill of Moneyball fame, Belfort catapults Stratton Oakmont into a serious stock brokerage to rival Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and the late Lehman Brothers in New York whilst at the same time committing serious securities fraud with imaginary IPO’s.

At the heart of The Wolf of Wall Street is a story about corruption, unrelenting drug addiction, rampant sex and partying, a frenetically paced tour de force of the arc of an absolute sinner energetically played by DiCaprio who is in virtually every scene of the film. Memorable scenes include his blond wife Naomi (a wonderful turn by newcomer Margot Robbie of the TV series Pan Am) walking in on a gay orgy in their plush Manhattan apartment, a bizarre incident with Belfort driving his white Ferrari from the Country Club while literally dazed on sleeping pills, a luxury yacht riding massive Mediterranean waves en route to Monaco, a sex-crazed air hostess humping trip in first class to Switzerland and that’s just to name some of the few crazy episodes in The Wolf of Wall Street. Scorsese’s film is a sublime Satyricon meshing elements of Casino, Shutter Island and The Departed proving that he is a consummate director and cinematic visionary.

Belfort’s eventual downfall comes at the hand of  conservative securities agent Patrick Denham played by Kyle Chandler (Super 8) but not before he has moved large parts of his vast fortune off shore to a Swiss Bank account with the help of a slimy banker Saurel seductively played by Jean Dujardin of The Artist and Naomi’s British aunt Emma played by Ab Fab star Joanna Lumley who utters the immortal line “I have lived through the Sixties”.

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Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street is frenetic, shocking and superbly acted by DiCaprio along with an incisive script by Terence Winter, a tour-de-force of a film, a reason to love the art of cinema. A highly recommended montage on the destructive nature of greed and addiction, The Wolf is not for sensitive viewers, but packs a powerful punch held together by an Oscar worthy performance by DiCaprio whose rousing motivational trading floor speeches are the stuff of cinematic legends. After all if you can sell a pen, then you are a salesman…

Lavish, Lustful Long Island…

The Great Gatsby

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Director:  Baz Luhrmann

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Elizabeth Debicki, Isla Fisher, Joel Edgerton, Jason Clarke, Amitabh Bachchan

The much anticipated glitzy remake of the 1974 film, The Great Gatsby by Australian director, Baz Luhrmann is spectacular to watch, wonderful to marvel at, yet ultimately flawed much like its central character, Jay Gatsby.  Based upon the American classic novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby published in 1925, chronicling America and specifically New York’s Jazz Age, Prohibition and the excesses of wealth prior to the Great Depression in 1929, Luhrmann expertly captures the era with gorgeous costumes designed by Catherine Martin and supplied by the Italian Luxury Fashion House Prada along with suits by Brooks Brothers, the 21st century film version of Gatsby is brash, excessively long and gorgeous to look at, with fabulous over the top parties, superb music and lots of creative divergence as expected from the director of Moulin Rouge and Romeo and Juliet.

At the centre of the 21st century version of The Great Gatsby are three fine performances and that is the ménage trio of Jay Gatsby, played with a slightly Howard Hawks neurosis by Leonardo di Caprio, (The Aviator, Django Unchained, Romeo and Juliet), the Louisville heiress Daisy Buchanan played with a slight childish melancholy by the ever charming Carey Mulligan (Wall Street 2, Money Never Sleeps) and then her brutish, polo playing husband Tom Buchanan, an outstanding performance by screen newcomer Joel Edgerton (Warrior, Animal Kingdom).

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Luhrmann and costume designer Martin do a superb job of luring the audience into a decadent world of the bootlegging roaring 1920’s New York with the lavish excessive parties, the ensuing deviance that prohibition encouraged and naturally the modern jazz age. The film is told through the eyes of Nick Carraway, Daisy’s cousin and neighbour to the initially enigmatic Gatsby, played with the usual awe and wonder of Tobey Maguire, of the original Spiderman Trilogy, who facilitates a meeting between Daisy and Gatsby over tea in one of the film’s more memorable scenes with flowers and decadent cakes at his Long Island cottage.

The Long Island-Manhattan social scene becomes more intricate as Tom’s mistress Myrtle wonderfully played by Isla Fisher and first introduced at in a raucous party at a Manhattan apartment hinting at the excesses which the sexually ambivalent Nick Carraway is seduced by both in terms of drugs, alcohol and loose morals, yet it is really Carraway’s enchantment with Gatsby himself which really plays into the subtext of such a fascinating portrait of lust and decadence, that eventually leads him to later write the story of the huge influence Gatsby had on his now destroyed life. As Carraway is drawn into the opulent world of the super-rich and of the myriad possibilities, betrayals and affairs that this affluent society leads him to witness, it is Gatsby himself who leaves Carraway with an impressionable dream of “You can do anything if you set your mind to it”.

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Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is flawed and uneven, especially noticeable in the second half of the film as he goes beyond the spectacle of the age and grapples with the deceit and lies that his main characters are capable of. The infamous scene at the Plaza Hotel, where all is revealed is really expertly played by Joel Edgerton as the jilted yet scheming playboy husband, who treats all his possessions including his lovely wife with a sort of contemptible jealousy. Luhrmann’s directorial trademarks are evident in The Great Gatsby, but not nearly as tightly pulled together as his brilliant Moulin Rouge which saw stunning performances by Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, yet he still manages to recreate The Great Gatsby in a style any other film director could not have imagined.

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The Great Gatsby is recommended for the fantastic costumes and sumptuous production design, but not where literary traditionalists are concerned, the film is clearly aiming at a much younger glitzier and more diverse audience, notably succeeding in its lavish portrayal of excess. The only criticism is that more editing was required to cut The Great Gatsby into a perfect diamond and not as a sparkling flawed gem.  The film is a celebrated depiction and inventive homage to the Jazz Age, without much substance, but loads of style. Personally I would like to see Luhrmann tackle the rather more brilliant novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night, but that would see the director venturing too deeply into the complexity of human relationships without the added glamour.

Recommended for lovers of Gershwin music and for an aesthetic appreciation, Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is sure to divide and impress audiences simultaneously, much like he did with revisionist adaptation of Romeo and Juliet in 1997. Also starring Jason Clarke, Elizabeth Debicki and Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan as Meyer Wolfsheim.

Slave to the Rhythm

Django Unchained

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Director: Quentin Tarantino

Cast: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Don Johnson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Bruce Dern, Kerry Washington, Robert Carradine, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, James Russo

Django Unchained can be compared to a three act Southern Opera and whilst Tarantino’s distinctive style comes through, his real intention is to invert the Cowboy myth so associated with the American Wild West, channeling spaghetti Western Sergio Leone films and tackling a very prickly subject of slavery prior to the American Civil War without much sensitivity.

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Django Unchained, loosely based on the 1966 Sergio Corbucci Western Django, starts off in Texas in 1858, two years before the outbreak of the American Civil War and features the eloquent and unorthodox Dr King Schultz played with superb panache by Christoph Waltz, who won a Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for 2009’s Inglourious Basterds who frees Django from a chain gang as he needs him to identify three brothers which have a mortal bounty on their heads. Jamie Foxx (Collateral, Ray) is wonderfully cast as Django and throughout the two and a half hour film really displays his range as an actor complimenting the always competent Waltz as the German speaking bounty hunter.

Together Schultz and Django go in search of Django’s entrapped and estranged wife, oddly named Broomhilda, as she was bought as a slave by German immigrants. Broomhilda is now the possession of sadistic cotton plantation owner Calvin Candie, played with flourish by Leonardo di Caprio whose Mississippi plantation aptly named Candieland provides the final act in an utterly bizarre and bloody showdown between Django, Schultz and Candie.

For sheer originality, Tarantino’s films are always enjoyable and never dull, but like Inglourious Basterds and his most famous film Pulp Fiction, along with profanity there is a serious dose of vicious bloodshed. Django Unchained lacks some of the brilliance of the first two films, but the startling sound effects, outlandish scenes and revisionist plot is enough to make Django Unchained Oscar worthy especially the two central performances by Waltz and Foxx. Two criticisms’ of the film is the overuse of racist profanity which the plot revolves around especially being set in the Slave trade of the Deep South and also the film’s considerable length.

Django Unchained has some startling scenes but one got the sense that because of Tarantino’s previous successes, Harvey Weinstein has given Tarantino free reign. Free reign on the subject of the America’s Deep South from Texas to Mississippi and their sanctioning of slavery as a form of economically binding both master and slaves into a hideous socio-geograhic relationship of brutal proportions demonstrated in the cotton and tobacco plantations below the Mason-Dixon line.

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Django Unchained has a fantastic musical score and soundtrack along with brilliant sound effects and sound editing especially noticeable in the showdown at Candieland. Tarantino’s old favourite Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction) is wonderfully cast as Calvin Candie’s butler Stephen and look out for Don Johnson as Big Daddy and of course the versatile Kerry Washington (The Last King of Scotland) who undergoes all sorts of torture as enslaved Broomhilda, Django’s estranged wife. Watch out for a brief appearance by Jonah Hill (Moneyball) as part of inadequate group of Ku Klux Klan members.

Warning this film is not for sensitive viewers and Django Unchained could be Tarantino’s most controversial film to date especially as he recasts the mythical American cowboy as a sharp shooting freed slave from Texas. Yet Quentin Tarantino won the 2013 Golden Globe  and BAFTA Awards for Best Original Screenplay for Django Unchained so his talent is definitely acknowledged in both America and Britain.

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