"Transcendence" is a serious science fiction movie filled with big ideas and powerful images, but it never quite coheres, and the end is a copout.
* This filmography is not intended to be a comprehensive list of this artist’s work. Instead it reflects the films this person has been involved with that have been reviewed on this site.
Actors with "A-list" name recognition continue to migrate to television. "True Detective" uses Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson to make great television.
We're counting down twelve great movie scenes set around Christmas. Here is the first batch, with #12 through #9.
Sheila writes: The glamorous days of air travel were already on their way out by the time I first stepped foot on an airplane (Aer Lingus, 1980) so I have always been fascinated by glimpses of what traveling by plane used to be like: the linens, the cocktail glasses, the curtains, the elegance! I came across a piece about a man, Anthony Toth, who had such a sense of nostalgia for those bygone days that he built a partial replica of a Pan Am 747 in a warehouse in Redondo Beach, where he lives. At first, the replica was in his garage, but then he realized he needed to build an upper level, so he moved the entire thing to a warehouse, where it still sits today. The local press picked up on the story, and it created such interest that you can now visit and have dinner, Pan Am style.
Marie writes: Welcome to "Good Books", an online bookseller based in New Zealand. Every time you buy a book through them, 100% of the retail profit goes directly to fund projects in partnership with Oxfam; projects which provide clean water, sanitation, develop sustainable agriculture and create access to education for communities in need. To increase awareness of Good Books' efforts to raise money for Oxfam, String Theory (New Zeland based agency) teamed up with collaborative design production comany "Buck" to create the first of three videos in a digital campaign called Good Books Great Writers. Behold the award winning animated Good Books Metamorphosis.
David Carr interviewed A.O. Scott on the subject of movie criticism in a "Sweet Spot" video posted on the New York Times' ArtsBeat blog last Friday. I urge you to follow that link, watch the seven-and-a-half-minute conversation and let me know what you make of it. Carr plays the clown, but I'm not sure how much of it is intentional because most of what he says is so ignorant, and he doesn't even attempt to support it or invest thought in the conversation. Scott, as you know if you read him regularly, is quite eloquent and calls bullshit on some of Carr's more outrageous fabrications.
To help pin down my own thoughts (following up on years of writing about this very subject, including a series of recent posts and comment threads -- "Avenge me! AVENGE ME!," "The Avengers & the Amazing 'Critic-Proof' Movie," "Continuing to argue for the irrelevance of my own opinions," "Cannes and Cannes-not: On being a movie geek"), I've tried to label the various formal and informal fallacies of logic at play here, and link to Wikipedia definitions of them. Of course there are so many (in the conversation and in the list on Wikipedia) that I may have mislabeled some, in which case please let me know.
So, it begins:
Marie writes: I love illustrators best in all the world. There's something so alive about the scratch and flow of pen & ink, the original medium of cheeky and subversive wit. And so when club member Sandy Kahn submitted links for famed British illustrator Ronald Searle and in the hopes others might find him interesting too, needless to say, I was quick to pounce; for before Ralph Steadman there was Ronald Searle... "The two people who have probably had the greatest influence onmy life are Lewis Carroll and Ronald Searle."-- John LennonVisit Kingly Books' Ronald Searle Gallery to view a sordid collection of wicked covers and view sample pages therein. (click to enlarge image.) And for yet more covers, visit Ronald Searle: From Prisoner of War to Prolific Illustrator at Abe Books.
Marie writes: Gone fishing...aka: in the past 48 hrs, Movable Type was down so I couldn't work, my friend Siri came over with belated birthday presents, and I built a custom mesh screen for my kitchen window in advance of expected hot weather. So this week's Newsletter is a bit lighter than usual.
Marie writes: you've all heard of Banksy. But do you know about JR...?(click to enlarge image)
From the Grand Poobah: Netflix is great, but they don't have everything and seem to be weak on silent films. Here's a pay site streaming a large and useful selection of high-quality films, world-wide....
Marie writes: when Roger told me about this place, I signed-up to see if I could watch one their free movies? Yup! I can stream MUBI in Canada; though content will vary depending on where you live (that's also case with Netflix Canada) and so nothing new there. And after looking through their current catalog, I can report that they do indeed have some rare movies - stuff I've never found anywhere else. I even read that Martin Scorcese is a member.
Some people are proposing a boycott of Newsweek because of a silly article that criticizes gay actors -- specifically on TV's "Glee" and in the Broadway revival of the Bacharach-David Musical "Promises, Promises" -- for acting too gay in straight roles. This strikes me as fundamentally hilarious for several reasons, the most obvious of which are:
1) I didn't know anyone needed additional incentive to not read Newsweek, since circulation figures indicate that lots and lots of people have been not reading it without making any concerted effort not to do so.
2) "Glee" and "Promises, Promises" are both Musicals, for god's sake. Where would the Musical be without the participation of gay actors? The movie version of "Paint Your Wagon" -- that's where. You Musical fans want to spend the rest of your lives watching and listening to Clint Eastwood singing "I Talk to the Trees"? Then go ahead and complain that gay performers are too gay to star in Musicals.
Q. So, how coincidental is this? “2001: A Space Odyssey” includes a character named Dr. Heywood Floyd. The new movie “Moon” evokes “2001” powerfully for you and is directed by someone whose birth name is Duncan Zowie Heywood Jones. Heywood isn’t exactly a common name. Maybe he was born to direct this movie.
Superheroes may have been born in comic books, but they were made for the movies. Defying the laws of physics, and occasionally the laws of society, they tend to be transgressors whose supernatural powers (or costumes and gadgets) enable them to surpass the abilities of mortals when it comes to maintaining stability and order -- or, at least, exacting revenge -- whether they act on behalf of themselves or society (or the cosmos) at large. "Truth, justice and the American Way," as the Man of Steel might put it.
CANNES, France – Woody Allen is back. He hasn’t exactly been away, but not many of his recent films have stirred up the kind of excitement inspired here Thursday by “Match Point,” which is a thriller involving tennis, shotguns and adultery.
Oliver Stone seems at the end of his rope, but then he always seems at the end of his rope. Here is a man who needs sleep. He has flown in from Paris, he's jet-lagged, he's talking in that rapid-fire way we use when we're so tired we don't have the strength to talk slowly. He is talking about "Alexander" (opening Wednesday), his 173-minute epic about "the most amazing life in history," and he describes him: "Already, at 26, he had the political leadership of the world." Switching thoughts: "We used to think young people could rule the world. Today, young people are a demographic, a market."
PARK CITY, Utah--"Do you consider yourself a photographer?" asked Tom Bernard. He is the co-honcho of Sony Classics. I held up my camera and shrugged.
PARK CITY, Utah -- Sundance has become the nation's most important film festival through an unbeatable combination: inconvenient location, lousy weather, overcrowded screening facilities, municipal hostility, and a 10-day lineup of films that in some cases will never be heard of again.
PARK CITY, Utah -- At most film festivals, 90 percent of the audience members are civilians and 10 percent are employed in the industry. At Sundance, the ratio is reversed. Screenings here consist of pitches, bids, dealmaking, business card exchanging and schmoozing, interrupted by movies.
Q. I think I'm the only American to have been bored by "You've Got Mail." I'd love to see a really good film about finding romance online (my wife and I met online about three years ago). I thought the whole "big corporation swallowing little bookseller" angle was dopey. Hey, it's a film about finding love online, so why doesn't Meg's character try to sell books online? That would have been a fun ending, and more relevant to the film's cyber-veneer: Meg keeps the bookstore and thrives, because she's getting customers from the entire planet, while Hanks' megastore only does so-so, because it's just getting people from the surrounding area. (Ed Driscoll, San Jose, CA)
Q. Friends in Toronto tell me David Cronenberg's "Crash (1997)" is the most challenging movie they have seen. I read on the Internet that Ted Turner doesn't like it and will not open it in America. It was scheduled for an October release, I heard, but has been pulled out of the schedule. True? (Susan Lake, Urbana, Ill).
Q. Help me settle something. If Writer A and Writer B both wrote their opinions on a film--both with diligence and pride in their work--what difference in the two pieces would identify Writer A as a Film Critic and Writer B as someone just offering an opinion? Take the weekly feature you see in some papers, where kids review films. At what point do they cross the line, and can be called Critics as opposed to Reviewers? Is there some sort of certification program, like taking the Sally Struthers correspondence course in gun repair? (Andy Ihnatko, Westwood, Mass.)
Q. I recently saw "The Client" on an United Airlines flight and noticed that the soundtrack had been dubbed to replace profanities with substitute words. I would assume that a bit of violence may also have been removed, for example during the suicide episode. My guess is that the resulting movie would be given a "PG" rating. There are many popular movies that I would love to rent for viewing with my family if only they were rated "G" or (maybe) "PG." Cleaning up the language, removing the sex, and toning down any graphic violence would make very little difference to the entertainment value for many people of the movies I'm talking about. Are "airline edits" available anywhere for rental? Have studios ever considered issuing "family" and "mature" versions of the same movie? (Jon Bale, San Jose, Calif.)
NEW YORK -- "Speechless" is a movie about two political consultants for different parties, who fall in love. So I'm talking with Michael Keaton, the star of the movie, and I say, "I gather this screenplay was written before Mary Matalin and James Carville became a couple."