Tag Archives: steven spielberg

Review: The Post

Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock over the last year is well aware that journalism has been under fire in this country. As a fan of journalism movies, I was extremely excited for Steven Spielberg’s new movie, The Post. Set in 1971 it tells the true story of the leaked documents detailing the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war and what the government knew and didn’t know as well as what they failed to tell the American people. The New York Times ran a story featuring based on information they received from the whistleblower. The struggling Washington Post then obtained all 4000 pages of the report and was stuck in a moral and legal dilemma as whether or not to release the information to the country. Feeling bound by their journalistic obligations they soon decided that releasing the documents was more important than the legal ramifications that could come their way.

The film has a true all-star cast led by Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep with great supporting roles at every turn. Tom Hanks plays the famous editor Ben Bradlee Sr. who was also played wonderfully by Jason Robards in the 1976 masterpiece, All The Presidents Men. Meryl Streep plays Fay Graham the owner of the paper who’s family has owned the paper for decades. Doing her best to keep the paper afloat all while trying to keep its integrity and relevance. She is on the verge of taking the paper public on the stock exchange when the documents find their way into the hands of the newsroom. After combing the damning documents the quick decision must be made ultimately by Graham as for whether or not to publish. she is conflicted because of not only the legal backlash but how it could ultimately be the end of the paper if mishandled in any way.

Spielberg has done a fine job capturing the quick pace that journalists work at as well as the enormous pressure they can be under in a time factor as well as morally. He shows the tension so well that we as the viewers can feel it at every level. As good as Hanks and Streep are, and they are great, the film is really carried by its supporting cast. The pace of the film is so quick it will be a movie that needs multiple viewings to absorb all the information that is given in rapid-fire succession.

Two years ago I reviewed the Oscar-winning film Spotlight (review can be found here) and I mentioned how the death of great journalism is slowly happening in this digital age. Once again a film shows the power of true journalism and how it can’t go away or be taken away no matter how ugly what is reported is. It is the last line of defense to hold ANYONE in power accountable, not just in government but in any daily situation. The Post talks about how newspapers fledgling and that is so much truer today, yet even in times like those, great things happened and they still can.

Spielberg pulls no punches and shows the truth behind everything that went into informing the public about the disaster that was Vietnam. As bad as everyone knew the war was for so many years, they had no idea how deeply and just how bad it really was. These papers tarnished legacies such as Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy just 11 years after his assassination. Richard Nixon undoubtedly took the brunt of the heat at the time leading him to wage war on the Washington Post (sound familiar?). The paper survived and ultimately took the president down a couple years later with the Watergate scandal.

There is no question that Spielberg had the current times on his mind while making the movie but he did not let that change the way the story was told. He didn’t have to change things to make a point about today. The story itself is the message of journalism and the power it has. There is a saying that the pen is mightier than the sword and when you realize that right to a free press was an amendment to the constitution before the right to bear arms, it shows that the founding fathers knew this well over 200 years ago. The Post will leave in awe as well as having you thinking deeply about today’s political climate. It will rank with great films such as Spotlight and All The Presidents Men and is one many people need to see.

Despite Famous Comments The Movie Industry Is Safe

th-5Recently Steven Spielberg and George Lucas made comments that may have been taken in the wrong way. Their comments centered around the declining movie industry and mentioned that studios and the industry is headed for a “massive implosion”. When reading over their comments I couldn’t help but think that they didn’t feel what they have done for their whole lives is in jeopardy, but the fact that they way they have done and seen things is headed for a massive change.

The movie industry is pulling in massive amounts of money of the last few years, even in the theaters. What the two storied and highly respected directors were driving at is that movie studios are limiting the massive amounts of money they will spread out. They will give movies like The Avengers more money than they would in the past as opposed to giving some of that movie to films more thought provoking or historically relevant films. That means lesser known actors will be put in bigger roles. I believe this to be the biggest boom of new talent discovery that may have ever occurred. th-6

As far as films and viewing goes, the studios couldn’t ask for more. With the internet and availability through cable and satellite networks like DirectTV and Time Warner with their movie demand and accessibility are the standard in the states. In the UK companies like Sky TV Broadband allow as much access as anyone. They offer all premium channels like HBO and Showtime as well as features like HBOGO which might be the best thing to happen to movie and TV fans in years.

As far as smaller more thought provoking films, fear not movie fans. Look for the independent film industry to absorb the films that major studio don’t deem budget worthy. This has been a growing area for films in years. And though they are tougher to find in theaters thats what the afore mentioned  areas are there for.

So in a bold move I have to strongly disagree with Mr. Spielberg and Mr. Lucas and tell you that good films are going nowhere.

Hollywood Has A Good Young Star In The King’s Of Summer’s Gabriel Basso

The-Kings-Of-Summer1For several years now, film festivals have proven to be breeding grounds for great unknown films, film makers and actors. This years Sundance Film Festival has produced one of those films and quite possibly one of those actors. The film is called The Kings Of Summer and it is the coming of age comedy about three teenage boys who decide to live the summer out from under their parents roof and under their own and by their own rules.

The highly acclaimed film is being compared to such movies as Superbad and Into The Wild. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts tackles his first feature length film and does so with first time writer Chris Galletta who left a job on the production staff of The Late Show With David Letterman to pursue his passion and write his first screenplay. The combination seems to have worked as the films was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and has really gained momentum since becoming highly anticipated for it’s May 31st release date.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with 18 year old Gabriel Basso who plays Patrick Keenan, one of the three young boys whom the film focuses on. You may recognize Gabriel from his regular role on the Showtime show The Big C starring Laura Linney and Oliver Platt. He was also featured in the J.J. Abrams directed and Steven Spielberg produced movie Super 8.TheKingsofSummer

How did the movie come to you and how did you know it was a project you wanted to work on?

“I originally got the script in it’s rawest form from Chris Galletta and it was amazing, I fell in love with it instantly. Rarely do I laugh out loud when I read scripts. But this one was just hilarious.I had never done a comedy before and I told my agents I wanted in on it.”

How did you find the independent film making experience versus the experience of working on a film with a large budget like Super 8?

“You know it’s really cool because you get to see both sides of the passion spectrum. J.J. has a huge passion and has been making films since he was a kid with his super 8 camera to the point he’s making films like he is now. Then you go and work with someone who has the passion like Jordan [Vogt-Roberts] and you get to see the pre-requisite to being someone on the level of J.J. Abrams.”

Having developed a palate for scripts at a fairly young age what keeps that passion inside you looking for the next breakthrough project?

Well it still hasn’t occurred to me that I’m going to be an actor but what keeps me searching for the next project and search for things that will mean a lot to me is time, I wanna spend my time doing things I enjoy and am passionate about and that will lead me to different experiences and better experiences. Thru acting I’ve been able to do that and meet a lot of amazing people and go to a lot of incredible places.”

Basso037Gabriel went on to talk about how his experience on The Big C and the love that all his cast members have for their work and doing good projects inspires his to want to find those same experiences whether thats in acting or in his other love which is the game of soccer. He mentioned that everyday on the set of the now finished series The Big C he was learning something new from someone and how he found that infectious.

Gabriel can be seen in The Kings of Summer in theaters May 31st and on The Big C on Showtime airing now. You can also follow Gabriel on Twitter @GabeBasso.

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*DVD/BluRay Release Re-Post* Daniel Day-Lewis Breathes Life Into Lincoln

Lincoln-2012-Movie-PosterSome of the best working directors tend to make a film every few years to further ensure they produce the best they have. Along these lines, Daniel Day-Lewis similarly takes on a role just every few years and rarely makes a movie twice in the same year. His commitment to the character and need for the right project are just a couple of the reasons for his long hiatus’ in between projects. Fortunately we have been graced with a Daniel Day-Lewis project this year and not surprisingly he has once again blown our minds.

Steven Spielberg is the director at the helm for the epic film, Lincoln focusing on the 16th president. The story focuses on the push to pass the 13th amendment to end slavery which ultimately would end the civil war. The war is in it’s 4th year and is exhausting the country of all it’s fine men, young and old. The whole country is suffering and president Lincoln can see this and understands the need for this to end quickly. Slavery being at the crux of the war, the 13th amendment would make slavery illegal and all but end the war.

The inside look at Lincoln’s struggles to pass the amendment can be an ugly one. Anyone who didn’t think politics was an ugly, dirty game, even for those considered to be the “good guys” like Lincoln has to be kidding themselves.xxx-lincoln-mov-jy-0529-4_3_r560

Much of the movie is different cabinet meetings with the president and discussions on what is needed to pass the amendment, which can give it a fairly slow tone. None the less it is Daniel Day-Lewis who truly breaths life into the film. A very fine supporting cast worthy of all the accolades give the film it’s authenticity but make no mistake Daniel Day-Lewis incredibly real and what I can only assume is a perfect portrayal of Abraham Lincoln is why I was glued to the seat for the entire 2 1/2 hours.

The acting effort brought forth by Mr. Day-Lewis is 100% worth the price of a ticket. To so intimately see Lincoln in live motion unlike ever before, not that it hasn’t been done several times, you have never felt so transported before when it comes to those films.

With all that praise said let me just say, this movie is  not for everyone. Many will find it boring and uninteresting. The target audience is one of those interested in history and the other group is those who love great acting and when someone puts there whole being into a role. This is truly a movie that will find it’s way into classrooms from now until the civil war and slavery is no longer taught about, which is another way of saying, forever. It is one the perfect historical films in history and will be regarded as so. As far as it’s awards and praise goes, thats a difficult area. It’s acting awards are more than deserved but as far as every other award I’m not sure it’s at that level. Nothing spectacular beyond acting and maybe costumes went into this movie. The script can be found in many history books and I don’t find much difficult in filming scenes in courtrooms or boardrooms, those scenes are all the actors doing and this isn’t much different. But don’t be surprised to see Lincoln covered in gold on Oscar night as it’s the kind of movie the Academy adores.

Oscar Predictions, Director and Best Picture

81st Academy Awards¨ Press Kit ImagesBefore we examine the final two of the major categories it should be noted that the best director category is in the midst of one of the biggest oversights in the history of the awards. Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow both are without nominations despite the overwhelming and immense praise, awards and nominations they have received  throughout the current award season.

The best director category is one of the most wide open and tightest races of the night. It would, upon first notice, appear to be Steven Spielberg’s to lose. However it truly could and SHOULD be the night of one of the lesser known directors on the nominee list. While it very well could go to Spielberg my prediction is that the young and first time nominee Behn Zeitlin will walk away with the award for the masterfully done, Beasts Of The Southern Wild. He managed to make a visually striking film with a marvelous story and direct the young star, Quvenzhane Wallis to the youngest leading acting nomination ever at the age of nine in her brilliant performance. With that said almost anyone else could very well walk away with Oscar. While it most certainly should be Ben Affleck’s night and award to win, we know that is not possible so I will be rooting for and predicting Ben Zeitlin.

This leads us to the big category of the night, Best Picture. With a list of ten nominees, very very worthy nominees, this has been one of the best lists of nominees in  quite a while. While early in the award season all signs were pointing towards two movies as the front runners in the form of Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty. However as the awrds started rolling in it has become very clear that this award almost certainly belongs to Afflecks phenomenal film, Argo. With what has been a near clean sweep of almost all awards it has been nominated for, it’s almost a certain lock that it will take the top prize Sunday night. There is no one more humbled and surprised by every win than Affleck and it has been fun to watch his reactions. With a career that was headed down a very disappointing path, when Affleck stepped behind the lens a whole new man and career was born and the fruits of his labors are being rewarded this season and rightfully so.

So there you have it. Those are my predictions for the six major award categories. I hope you enjoy all the nominees films and Oscar night as much as we will.

 

List Of Predictions

 

Best Picture: Argo

 

Best Director: Behn Zeitlin, Beasts Of The Southern Wild

 

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

 

Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook

 

Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables

 

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

 

Best Original Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained

 

Best Adapted Screenplay: David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

 

Best Animated Film: Frankenweenie

 

Best Documentary: Searching For Sugar Man

Top 5 Greatest Films Adapted From Novels

Since the dawn of motion pictures, the most obvious and most used source material has been the novel and books adapted to the film. Everything from short stories to the Bible has been turned into some of the best and worst movies of all time. To see our most beloved stories come to life in the most vivid way has kept audiences reading and watching for years and will continue to be. The following list is some of the most well known and most revered movies and books of all time. Some of the criteria for this list is that the movie has to be one of a kind, meaning no remakes allowed i.e. Dracula, Frankenstein etc. There are too many versions to have a definitive version. Another minor criteria is that the book needs to be as loved as the movie. This will leave this list open to much interpretation and much debate but here it is none the less.

 5. Jaws

Peter Benchley’s terrifying novel that did with words what the movie did with image is one of the most loved thriller stories of all time. It not only has kept audiences from going in the water for more than 35 years but has continued to find new fans every year. While it took years to get the book published it likewise took, what felt like years to the cast and crew, to make the film. It is quite possibly still the film most identified with it’s director, Steven Spielberg, despite his many iconic and highly regarded films. It’s adaptation of the meat of the story is still the perfect blockbuster film.

 

4. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy

While the films and books were eventually split into a trilogy, it was originally one large novel by famed imagination icon J.R.R. Tolkien. Peter Jackson and his crew and writing staff could not have more perfectly portrayed what has been in the minds of readers for nearly 60 years. his creation of Tolkiens fantasy land, Middle Earth, is nearly perfect. With an instant mass following and a desire for more, Jackson produced a trilogy in the exact way a film fan wants it done, quickly. One can only wonder if The Hobbit will make this list after it’s release in December.

 

3. Silence Of The Lambs

Thomas Harris second novel based around his creation of the canabalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter proved to be the most intriguing story and most well thought out. Ted Tally’s screenplay adaptation was nearly written for him in Harris’ book. Tally used a majority of dialogue and 90 percent of the book makes it on the screen. With performances that are to this day unparalleled. In the hands of a director clearly out of his comfort zone, Silence Of The Lambs struck fear in the minds of all who saw it and yet left everyone wanting more of Sir Anthony Hopkins chilling portrayal of Lecter.

 

2. The Godfather

The film and novel have likely become American institutions not unlike my number one choice. Mario Puzzo’s brilliant look inside the mafia has been described as so perfectly accurate that since it’s release many actual members of the mob use it as reference and refer to it often. While the film is not the most perfect adaptation it is none the less a piece of film icon. With performances that set the bar for all acting in film, it is quite possibly the most perfect film ever made and one of the most read novel to film adaptations of all time except for maybe one, our final film/book.

 1. Gone With The Wind

Margaret Mitchell’s take on the American Civil War from the view of the rich southern plantation owner is quite possibly the greatest American novel ever written and it’s film version is the most successful movie of all time. Having sold more theater tickets by far than any other movie (including Star Wars after 2 releases) Gone With The Wind is what classic Hollywood is all about. With classic lines to unforgettable scenes. No special effects will ever compete with the distant views of Sherman’s march through Atlanta. Mitchell’s house and spot of death (A location on Atlanta’s famed Peachtree Street) are historical sites along with the rare opportunity to see the film in the famed Fox theater. No film and novel have ever combined to be so revered in the history of this great combination.

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