The Magnificent Seven
Rarely have so many charismatic actors been used in a film that feels quite as soulless as Antoine Fuqua’s update of The Magnificent Seven.
"A.C.L.U., Citing Bias Against Women, Wants Inquiry Into Hollywood's Hiring Practices": An essential piece from Cara Buckley at The New York Times. Related: Fortune's Erin Carlson reports on "outrageous sexism in Hollywood exposed in new blog."
“Grumblings that Hollywood is a man’s world have percolated for decades and are borne out in grim figures: Women directed only 4 percent of top-grossing films over the last dozen years. Now this apparent truism is being challenged as a violation of civil rights. On Tuesday the American Civil Liberties Union asked state and federal agencies to investigate the hiring practices of major Hollywood studios, networks and talent agencies for what the organization described as rampant and intentional gender discrimination in recruiting and hiring female directors. ‘Women directors aren’t working on an even playing field and aren’t getting a fair opportunity to succeed,’ said Melissa Goodman, director of the L.G.B.T., Gender and Reproductive Justice Project at the A.C.L.U. of Southern California. ‘Gender discrimination is illegal. And, really, Hollywood doesn’t get this free pass when it comes to civil rights and gender discrimination.’ What the A.C.L.U. is requesting has precedent. In the 1960s, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission held hearings about Hollywood and asked for the intervention of the Justice Department, which in turn found employment discrimination. A settlement was reached with the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers and several unions: Remedial measures included employment referrals for minorities, although not women specifically, and the A.C.L.U. said enforcement measures sputtered and ultimately failed.”
"Confessions of a location scout: why the New York beloved of the movies doesn't exist anymore": Writes film location scout Nick Carr at The Guardian.
“There is no other city one can know as completely from the movies and television as New York. Even if you’ve never set foot in Manhattan, there’s a good chance you can instantly picture a multitude of its neighbourhoods: Carrie Bradshaw’s favourite cupcake spot (the Village); the Ghostbusters’ firehouse (TriBeCa); the deli where Harry met Sally (Lower East Side). As a scout, it’s my job to find the real-world locations that best match the director’s vision of New York. The problem arises when that vision comes not from real life, but from the movies. Take alleyways, for example. From the movies, you’d think Manhattan to be riddled with dank, dangerous, trash-strewn back-alleys, complete with rusting fire escapes and crumbling, graffiti-covered brick walls. So it often comes as a total shock to most directors when we tell them that Manhattan actually has only three or four of these types of alleys (Cortlandt Alley, Great Jones Alley, Broadway Alley, Staple Street), and none are dangerous in the slightest. Will this cause a film-maker to rewrite the scene for a location that actually exists in modern-day, gentrified Manhattan and treat New York as a living, breathing world? Never, which is why you’ve seen these four alleyways used over and over again, perpetuating the same tired cliche. Similarly, the nonexistence of a ‘bad neighbourhood’ as described above didn’t stop that particular director from simply dressing down a random street to fit his desired look. This has not always been the case.”
"Cate Blanchett Opens the Closet Door with Lesbian Romance 'Carol'": Variety's Ramin Setoodeh conducts a revealing interview with the Oscar-winning actress.
“When asked if this is her first turn as a lesbian, Blanchett curls her lips into a smile. ‘On film — or in real life?’ she asks coyly. Pressed for details about whether she’s had past relationships with women, she responds: ‘Yes. Many times,’ but doesn’t elaborate. Like Carol, who never ‘comes out’ as a lesbian, Blanchett doesn’t necessarily rely on labels for sexual orientation. ‘I never thought about it,’ she says of how she envisioned the character. ‘I don’t think Carol thought about it.’ The actress studied the era by picking up banned erotic novels. ‘I read a lot of girl-on-girl books from the period,’ she says.The other book on Blanchett’s shelf was ‘The Private Life: Why We Remain in the Dark,’ by psychoanalyst Josh Cohen, which she found relevant on many levels. She describes Carol as ‘unknowable,’ but she could just as easily be talking about herself. Unlike many celebrities today, she treasures her privacy.For example, she says she’ll never join Twitter. ‘I think I’d end up in rehab,’ she jokes. ‘That stuff is addictive.’ She doesn’t Google herself either. She finds out she’s made headlines when she walks her kids to school and the crossing guard tells her, ‘What they said about you — that was terrible!’ Blanchett realizes we live in a society of snoops. ‘We need to get into people’s private lives now,’ she says. ‘If they are hiding something, they are dishonest.’”
"Uganda's Tarantino and his $200 action movies": BBC's Vibeke Venema explores the work of filmmaker Isaac Nabwana, and the New York fan, Alan Hofmanis, who was inspired to work for him.
“The volunteer cast and crew source props wherever they can. The green screen is a piece of cloth bought at the market, draped over a wall. The camera crane is made from spare tractor parts - Dauda Bissaso, one of the regular actors, is a mechanic and builds all the heavy gear and weapons. ‘He's just a genius with a blowtorch, he makes everything,’ says Hofmanis. Another key member of the team is Bruce U, a Bruce Lee fan who choreographs the fight scenes and runs a kung fu school for the children of Wakaliga. To recreate gunshot injuries, they use free condoms from the local health clinic, filled with fake blood - they burst quite realistically. They used to be filled with real animal blood, but when one of the actors got sick with brucellosis, a disease passed on from cows, they switched to food colouring. Fake blood is needed in vast quantities because the films are violent - but in a cartoonish way, and quite unlike the real violence Nabwana witnessed growing up during Uganda's 1981-86 civil war. ‘I don't put that in my movies, what I saw in the past,’ he says. ‘I include comedy - there was no comedy in the violence which I witnessed.’ His cinematic hero is Chuck Norris, although he also likes Rambo and The Expendables. Hofmanis, on the other hand, compares him to directors like Guillermo del Toro, Robert Rodriguez and Martin Scorsese - ‘in terms of creativity and what they're contributing to cinema.’”
"This Is How 'Mad Men' Will End": Brilliantly theorizes Jen Chaney at Esquire.
“After watching this week's episode, ‘The Milk and Honey Route,’ I think I know how ‘Mad Men’ is going to end in Sunday's finale episode. I feel certain of at least one plot development, and I can envision a couple of strong options for the final scene, and I'd be willing to bet at least $20—the going rate for procuring liquor from hotel con artists, apparently—on what the last, episode-closing song is going to be. I feel fairly secure in my theories, which I'll share shortly, because ‘The Milk and Honey Route’ teed us up so clearly for Don Draper's May 17 farewell. Like the Kodak carousel that it's always been, ‘Mad Men’ once again this week landed on a slide that we've seen before. That slide was the ‘Nixon vs. Kennedy’ episode, the twelfth episode of the first season and one that parallels last night's installment, the thirteenth episode of the seventh season, in significant ways. In ‘Nixon vs. Kennedy,’ Don Draper brought Duck Phillips into Sterling Cooper for the first time and made him head of account services, a job for which Pete Campbell had been campaigning. In ‘Nixon vs. Kennedy,’ the ambitious Pete threatened to reveal that Don Draper was actually Dick Whitman, fraud and military deserter, a blackmail attempt that, briefly, convinced Don to try to skip town with the then-still-alive Rachel Menken. In ‘Nixon vs. Kennedy,’ Pete ultimately did reveal Don's true identity to Bert Cooper—and ‘Mad Men’ finally revealed the backstory of how Don accidentally blew up the real Don in Korea—but Bert decided that information shouldn't change anything. ‘The Japanese have a saying,’ the advertising elder statesman told Pete back in November of 1960. ‘A man is whatever room he is in. And right now, Donald Draper is in this room.’’”
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
Writers at RogerEbert.com share their favorite "Star Trek" moments in honor of the original TV series' 50th anniversary.