Wednesday, June 1, 2011

...The Tree of Life (Cannes Champion).

The Tree of Life is an independent film screened at this years Cannes Film Festival. Winning the competition, it took home the Palme d'Or (highest award given at Cannes) and collected $488,920 this past weekend during its four theatre opening - impressive.

From what I've read about the film, the plot seems a bit complicated and visceral.
(which I like, by the way)

The film follows an eleven year old boy named Jack (Sean Pen) from birth to adulthood. Eventually, he sets out on an journey that leads him to question his faith while seeking the answers to life's most challenging questions. He begins to loose his innocence during his quest for the truth and simultaneously agitates his already turbulent relationship with his father (Brad Pitt).

I wish I could relay more information about this film because I am officially intrigued. I do, however, know that bigger theatre release is anticipated.

Written and directed by Terrence Malick, this appears to be a must see.

...New York Asian Film Festival (Everybody was Kung Foo fighting).

July 1-14 marks the return of the New York Asian Film Festival and I cannot wait for movies to be aired on IFC.

The only thing better than martial arts is fantasy martial arts and this film festival will encompass them all.

Asian films have a way of being gritty enough for the bullet flying, car exploding American movie watchers, while keeping the morale and plot necessary to make a movie classic.

Everything about Asian films are, welll…Asian and I not only escape into the story, but into the culture as well.

The fest will screen films from China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand.

There should be enough side kicking for the biggest fight enthusiast and if romance is what you’re after, they’ve got that too.

Check out for the line up.

...Waiting to Exhale: The Sequel (Best post-break-up film ever).

The sequal to Terry McMillan's Waiting to Exhale has been confirmed and everyone from the original cast is on board.

Angela Bassett, one of the staring cast members, leaked the news and said that Forest Whitaker will direct again.

The original 1995 film followed the lives of four completely different friends: Savannah (Whitney Houston), Berdie (Angela Bassett), Gloria (Loretta Devine) and Robin (Lela Rochon), as they tried to maintain or let go of their romantic relationships.

They support each other along the way, building stronger characters and even stronger bonds.

You will cry when they cry, yell when they yell and appreciate your own tumultuous crappy relationships, after seeing this film.

It’s for the career woman, the single mother, the middle-class stay at home mom and even the young pretty girl who still believes in prince charming.

It’s another film that is entirely about directing and the writing is phenominal. I sincerely hope that Whitaker does the second exhalation justice.

And, if good ole fashioned drama is what you’re all about, then this is a must see.

For me, it’s just another reason to spend time with my friends and eat butter pecan.

Thanks Whitney for recommending this blog. Girl’s night coming soon…

This is my favorite scene in the movie. It's almost four minutes long, but you'll get the point within two and a half minutes. The point being: Drama, Drama, Drama!

*Production dates have not been released.

Monday, May 30, 2011

...The Color Purple (OPRAHpalooza)!

As a loyal Oprah fanatic, I've decided to dedicate this blog to The Color Purple.

The Alice Walker novel turned film, primarily follows the journey of Celie (Whoopi Goldberg), a fourteen year old black girl during the 1930s in rural Georgia.

Celie, "the ugly one," is beaten, raped and impregnated by her stepfather, Pa (Leonard Jackson) and favored over her sister Nettie (Akosua Busia),"the pretty one." After giving birth to a child who is stolen by Pa, Celie is reluctantly married off to a man who she refers to in the film as Mister (Danny Glover).

Mister is not interested in Celie and would rather be with his first choice, Nettie. So, he makes up for his disappointment by continuing to abuse Celie while Nettie runs off to Africa to escape the insanity.

Harpo (Oprah spelled backwards and played by Willard Pugh), is Mister's son and Mrs. Sophia (Oprah Winfrey) is his wife.

Sophia is a no-nonsense kind of girl who has no problem tellin' you like it is. She isn't scared of anyone or anything and will fight to the death if need be; man or woman. This is one of the people who inspires Celie to stand up for herself. But, it comes after Celie advises Harpo to beat Sophia in order to keep her inline.

Mrs. Sophia puts Celie in check, while sporting the black eye that Harpo has given her. And, since this is Sophia we're talking about, Harpo has also been left black and blue.

In an episode of Master Class, Oprah said that this film literally changed her life because the story of Celie was her own and the journey to get the role of Mrs. Sophia taught her valuable life lessons.

This is certainly one of the most powerful films I have ever seen and probably my favorite Spielberg.

It is directing at its finest. Somehow, Spielberg is able to capture the essence of a people and the time in which they lived. He made you understand the heart of every character and told the story from the inside out.

It's not a period piece as much as it is a film about growth and understanding how our environment makes us who we are.

There's nothing fancy about this film - it is ALL about directing and the shot design is very deliberate. There is not a single frame that doesn't need to be there and you will be captivated the entire time.

"I think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple in a field and don't notice it." [character Shug Avery]

Saturday, May 28, 2011

...Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (I'm all gloom without Bloom).

The fourth installment of Walt Disney's mega hit Pirates of the Caribbean, has been a major box office success, grossing 400,095,287 big ones world wide (well, more like; so far).

Johnny Depp's pirate rendition of Keith Richards never gets old and is indeed the reason why his character Captain Jack Sparrow is so beloved. Yet, all of the drunken wobble walking, unsteady finger pointing and jive talking in the world couldn't make up for the void I felt from Will Turner's (Orlando Bloom) absence.

The two of them together provided great tension and comic relief throughout the other three films and I longed for the duo again. Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightley) also played hooky from the film causing Sparrow to turn his lusty desires toward Blackbeard's (Ian McShane) daughter, Angelica Malon (Penelope Cruz).

In the film, Sparrow is on a quest to find the Fountain of Youth - cliche plot indeed, however an anything but cliche journey. Former bad guys have gone good, somehow the Pearl finds itself in a bottle and vampire mermaids prove to be a bigger challenge than fighting off the Spaniards.

Did I enjoy this film? Yes.
Do I think it's better than it's predecessors? No.
 - Largely because the dynamic between Depp and the characters weren't as good as the dynamic he had with Bloom and Knightley. I also, think that the fountain of youth concept was too easy and lacked the interesting plot twists present in the other films.

The technical aspects, however, were flawless (as usual). As fantastical as this movie is, I never feel overwhelmed with fancy, over the top, computer generated hoopla. They have managed to maximize the basics: Make-up, costuming and set design and only enhance the film (graphically) wherever it is necessary.

Movie clip below: Sparrow meets Blackbeard.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

...Decktechs (There's nothing like a dead end job in space).

Dechtechs is a science fiction television series directed by David Kendall, a Film and Television student at the Savannah College of Art and Design

Along with technical director Stephen Withers who is also a SCAD graduate student, executive producer Carrie Lee Bland-Kendall (wife of David Kendall) and a  host of other students from SCAD, Armstrong Atlantic State University and Savannah State University, they have managed to independently fund and produce this amazing dramatic scifi-comedy.

Tagline: "There's nothing like a dead end job in space," references principle character Don, a blue collar worker on a space ship who is looking to advance his career. However, his zeal seems to exceed his talent.

Savannah's own Meddin Studios facilitated the production with an office space, dining area, music suite and green room/screen, with scad providing most of the gripping equipment. The entire pilot was shot on 5 and 7D cameras.

"This is the first time we've seen a [student] production of this magnitude shot here." [Meddin employee]

Traditionally, a TV pilot would be shot within a matter of hours, but Kendall chose to shoot it "film style," as it was also his thesis. So, a crew of about forty students worked an average of ten hours a day for fifteen days in order to pull off the forty-five paged, sixty-eight scene script.

Mrs. Bland-Kendall, an AASU alumnae,  is most proud of the fact they were able to bring together a community of students with different facets of talents from other surrounding universities. This type of effort from her expanded the networking potential of everyone on the project, which is something that is absolutely necessary to the industry.

Reece Thomas as Don.
Darwin Harris as James.
Erick Estaban as Albert.

Friday, May 20, 2011

...Snowtown (Murderer's down under).

IFC Films has just purchased the rights to Justin Kurzel's phsychological thriller Snowtown.

Snowtown, Kurzel's directorial debut, was written by Shaun Grant and is based on the true story of the Austrailian serial killer, John Bunting.

Sixteen year old Jamie (Lucas Pittaway) lives in a small cramped home with his mother and two brothers in the Snowtown suburb of Adelaide. Poor and surrounded by violence, his salvation arrived in the form of John (Daniel Henshall), a man who unexpectedly came to his aid. Slowly, Jamie found his world being threatened and his loyalty challenged by his newfound mentor.

The film was screened a this year's Cannes film festival and the Austrailian release date was May 19th. IFC and DVD releases have, yet to be announced.

Snowtown murders film selected for Cannes.