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“Detroit” is the best film of 2017 so far

Last week was probably the best week of the year for me yet, screening wise. Not only did I lay eyes on Dunkirk at last, but I also got a chance to see Kathryn Bigelow’s latest film. That film, in case you’re not aware, is Detroit and it quickly stood up next to Dunkirk as the class of 2017. In fact, I think Bigelow’s movie is slightly better, even. With the embargo having lifted yesterday in the late afternoon, I can now begin to rave about it. And believe me, it deserves to be raved about. Detroit is something special. Bigelow and Mark Boal have done it again.
This film is a docudrama about the 1967 Detroit Rebellion, also known as the 12th Street Riots. A central incident depicted is a police raid on the Algiers Motel. Known as the Algiers Motel incident, that fateful July 25th night in 1967 resulted in the deaths of three black men as well as the brutal beatings of nine other people, consisting of seven black men and two white women. We follow a number of characters before, during, and after the incident, namely security guard Melvin Dismukes (John Boyega), Police Officers Krauss (Will Poulter), Demens (Jack Reynor), and Flynn (Ben O’Toole), as well as prostitutes Karen (Kaitlyn Dever) and Julie (Hannah Murray). There’s also members of a Motown group called the Dramatics, including front man Larry Reed (Algee Smith). As we build up to that infamous yet largely unknown act of Police terrorism, the characters all come together, with devastating consequences. Bigelow directs a script from Boal once again, with return collaborations from cinematographer Barry Ackroyd and editor William Goldenberg as well. The score is by James Newton Howard. Other supporting players here include Las Alonzo, Nathan Davis Jr., Malcolm David Kelley, John Krasinski, Jacob Latimore, Anthony Mackie, Jason Mitchell, Jeremy Strong, and many more. Everyone is doing very strong work, to say the least.
There’s a case to be made that this is Bigelow’s best work to date. The movie is riveting and deeply upsetting. It’s almost unrelenting in its intensity. In particular, the extended hotel sequence in the middle of the film is absolute perfection. A combination horror movie and thriller in how chilling it is, the hair will stand up on the back of your neck. In terms of direction, this is Bigelow’s finest hour. While Boal’s screenplay perhaps is a tick […]

Posted on 24 July 2017 @ 10:54 am

Trailer drops for Guillermo del Toro’s latest “The Shape of Water”

Earlier this week, a Trailer hit the web for auteur Guillermo del Toro’s next film, the unique looking The Shape of Water. The filmmaker is one of the more singular storytellers in the business, never taking an obvious route. This hybrid creature feature/love story is unlike anything else out there in the winter months. What that means? Who knows? For now, it will hope to be an awards vehicle while also attempting to make some money. You’ll be able to see the Trailer later on in this piece, but first, we’ll be diving in to talk about just what this thing might be.
The movie is a fantasy, mixing science fiction and romantic drama. The description for this one is that it’s an other-worldly fairy tale, set in 1963 against the backdrop of the Cold War in America. Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is a woman trapped in a life of silence and isolation, spending her days working within a hidden high-security government laboratory. A lonely woman, Elisa’s life is changed forever when she and her co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment. That experiment is, well…you’ll see for yourself. Suffice to say, Elisa’s life will never be the same again. As mentioned above, del Toro directs, while also co-writing with Vanessa Taylor. The supporting players here include Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Shannon, Michael Stuhlbarg, and more. The ubiquitous Alexandre Desplat contributes the score, while cinematography is by Dan Laustsen.
Just going by this Trailer, this appears to be quirky yet somewhat classical at the same time. Hawkins seems to be in fine form, while Shannon looks to be having a real good time in this one. My hunch is that the flick will end up working as much as a love story as a creature feature. The former is what will set it apart from the crowd, as we’ve seen del Toro do the latter a number of times in his career. Nothing here blew me away, but I’m curious to see more. That’s somewhat of a win on its own, isn’t it?
Awards wise, The Shape of Water might be a tough sell for Oscar. Still, I’m sure the powers that be will try. Look for a campaign at least in Best Picture, Best Director (for del Toro), Best Actress (for Hawkins), Best Supporting Actor (for Jenkins, Jones, Shannong, and/or Stuhlbarg), Best Supporting Actress (for Spencer), Best Original Screenplay (for […]

Posted on 21 July 2017 @ 8:44 pm

“Dunkirk” is a towering achievement from Christopher Nolan

When it was announced that filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s next project was going to be a World War II epic, it was hard not to respond with some degree of snark that the director had finally gone all in on getting the Academy to notice him. Well, Oscar damn well might come calling this time for Nolan, since I’ve seen this film, and Dunkirk is a monumental work. In many ways it’s Nolan’s finest hour. Harrowing, impeccably made, and a must see in IMAX, it’s the best movie of 2017 so far. Awards will be coming Dunkirk’s way before all is said and done. This one not only lives up to the hype, it exceeds it. Opening Friday, it’s an absolute must see.
The film is an historical war drama about the famous evacuation of Dunkirk. Allied soldiers from Belgium, the Britain, and France were surrounded by the German forces and needed to be evacuated from the small French town that gives the film its name. Here, the focus is on the 400,000 British troops and their risky evacuation. On the land, we spend a week with troops just sitting on a beach, being picked off by the Germans. There, Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) and others attempt to survive and be rescued. In the sea, we spend a day with a civilian boat headed to Dunkirk to aid in the rescue. Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance) and his son Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney) are joined by Peter’s friend George (Barry Keoghan) in sailing from England to the beach for pickup, if that is, they survive. In the air, we spend an hour with RAF pilot Farrier (Tom Hardy) and his fellow airmen as they try to keep the skies free of the enemy and give the men on the ground a fighting chance for survival. Nolan writes and directs, with the large ensemble cast also including Aneurin Barnard, Kenneth Branagh, James D’Arcy, Jack Lowden, Cillian Murphy, Harry Styles, the voice of Michael Caine, and many more. Hans Zimmer contributes an iconic score, while the amazing visuals are courtesy of cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema. Elsewhere below the line, frequent Nolan collaborators Lee Smith (editor) and Nathan Crowley (production designer) are back once again.
This is a near perfect movie. Nolan has a master’s grasp on the material, showcasing it from start to finish. In many ways, this is an experimental film too, nearly silent, dialogue wise, […]

Posted on 20 July 2017 @ 5:41 pm

“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” offers a visually stimulating universe

The bigger the budget, the safer a film usually ends up playing things. It’s rare that anything approaching blockbuster status feels risky or revolutionary. Most of the time, big time summer fare especially feels as generic and safe as possible. Every so often though, a release hits that has a huge budget and yet also seems like a gigantic dare. This week, something of that sort hits screens in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. The movie hopes to create a brand new cinematic world, one that will capture your attention. Whether it does or not remains to be seen, but the ambition is certainly there. Science fiction fans may very well eat it up. Time will tell. At the very least, it’s a July release that will stand out from the pack, by and large.
The film is an adaptation of the French comic book Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (obviously). For this story, we follow the duo of Special Ops agents Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) as they investigate a threat to Alpha, a large space station metropolis that’s home to species from, you guessed it, a thousand different planets. Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the dark forces at hand and attempt to safeguard not just Alpha itself, but the very future of the universe. It’s beautiful to look at, even if occasionally the story doesn’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense. Luckily Besson adapts the comic and directs here, representing a passion project of sorts for him. The cast, in addition to DeHaan and Delevingne, include Elizabeth Debicki, Herbie Hancock, Rutger Hauer, Ethan Hawke, John Goodman, Mathieu Kassovitz, Clive Owen, Sam Spruell, and Kris Wu, plus Rihanna. Alexandre Desplat contributes the score, while cinematography is by Thierry Arbogast. The latter especially is partnering with Besson for some noteworthy work.
Without question, the visuals of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets are beyond reproach. Besson spares no expense in creating a whole unique universe, full of interesting creatures, planets, and environments. The action starts off pretty great but tails off in the second half, while the cast is kind of left to their own devices. That side of the film is just kind of ordinary, while the look of it is anything but. Visually, the movie is among the year’s best. As has usually been the […]

Posted on 19 July 2017 @ 4:31 pm

Teaser Trailer for “The Disaster Artist” suggests a laugh riot

Among modern day cult films, The Room stands tall. Not since The Rocky Horror Picture Show has a midnight movie captured audience adoration like Tommy Wiseau’s “masterpiece”. Even in Hollywood, it’s an iconic picture. As such, it was never a huge shock that a look at its inception was going to receive the cinematic treatment, especially after an acclaimed book about its making hit shelves. What’s surprising is that A-list talent has surrounded it from top to bottom, including A24 distributing. The Disaster Artist, as it’s known, made waves at SXSW and now has a Teaser Trailer to showcase, well in advance of its December release date. You can see the Teaser below, but first, a dive into Wiseau’s world!
For those of you who aren’t aware of the movie in any notable way, here’s a quick little primer. It’s a look at how an unlikely friendship bloomed between struggling actors Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) and Tommy Wiseau (James Franco). Their chance meeting in an acting class would allow Greg to observe the unique character that Tommy was, supremely untalented and perhaps the weirdest human being on the planet, but also wildly passionate about movies. It also would lead to Tommy casting Greg in a film he’d written, planned to direct, and also starred in. It was The Room, which has been called the Citizen Kane of bad movies and has usurped The Rocky Horror Picture Show in some ways as this generation’s midnight movie. The rest is history. The elder Franco directs an adaptation of Sestero’s book by scribes Scott Neustadter and Michael H Weber. Supporting players include Alison Brie, Zoey Deutch, Zac Efron, Ari Graynor, Melanie Griffith, Josh Hutcherson, Jason Mantzoukas, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Seth Rogen, Sharon Stone, Jacki Weaver, and many more. Only a handful show up in this tease, but the chemistry already looks strong.
From the looks of it, this is going to be absolutely hilarious. The Trailer is just a quick Teaser, showing the ineptitude of Wiseau and the struggle that making every moment of The Room was. It builds to a comedy crescendo that made me laugh out loud. Franco’s aesthetic behind the camera simulates the picture well, while it all gives off a nice little Ed Wood vibe. Without question, Neustadter and Weber’s adaptation of Sestero’s book appears spot on. As for Franco as the filmmaker, he seems incredibly committed. That may end up serving […]

Posted on 18 July 2017 @ 2:40 pm

R.I.P. Martin Landau and George A. Romero

Yesterday, the film world lost a pair of legends as reports came in that both Martin Landau and George A. Romero had passed away over the weekend. These two titans of the industry impacted Hollywood in very different ways, but both left an indelible mark on cinema, that’s for sure. One was an actor whose career spanned decades, including recent awards worthy work. The other was an independent filmmaker who revolutionized a whole genre, one he would tinker with for decades, creating a franchise that spanned his entire career. Both will be greatly missed. The film world is a lesser place for having lost them. Let us now celebrate Landau and Romero a bit with a small tribute to the two departed talents.
Landau (1928-2017) was a giant of acting. An Oscar winner for his supporting turn in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, he also had nominations to his credit for his work in Crimes and Misdemeanors as well as Tucker: The Man and His Dream. A three time nominee in Best Supporting Actor, the third time was the charm for him. The same was the case with the Golden Globes, so Burton was responsible for getting him over many finish lines, not just the Academy Award one. Beyond that, Landau worked with plenty of icons behind the camera. From Woody Allen to Alfred Hitchcock, and beyond, Landau collaborated with many of the big ones. He was 89 years old.
Romero (1940-2017), the father of the zombie movie, was one of the industry’s best indie filmmakers and genre creators. From the original Night of the Living Dead all through to his Land of the Dead, his franchise really put forward what the undead would look like on the silver screen. The social commentary of especially Dawn of the Dead, as well as Night of the Living Dead, will stand the test of time. Mixing scares with the issues of the day were his specialty. At 77 years old, Romero certainly had more to offer the industry, though his contributions already are among the greats in horror, and beyond.

Both men had slowed down in recent years, though neither had quit completely. Landau had a few movies still to come, including The Last Poker Game, plus some that had yet to be shot. Romero had moved towards somewhat of a godfather status, though recently he had announced a new “Dead” installment, one he would co-write, […]

Posted on 17 July 2017 @ 10:43 am

Updated Oscar predictions for July

As the weather gets hotter and hotter, thoughts of the Academy Awards begin percolating in my mind. It’s always there, of course, but now, officially in the second half of the year, it feels time to get down to business, as it were. Summer counter programming is out and hoping to catch the eye of voters as they enjoy the months before they get down to awards season business. All this is to say that predictions are in flux. There are always differences from month to month, but from here on out, there could be more than usual. That’s just the name of the game.
As you’ll see below, there’s some definite movement in my predictions. The big question mark for me right now is Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. Some have actually seen it, but no full reviews are out yet. That leads you to wonder where it stands in the Oscar race. At the very least, it’ll be a technical player, going by the bits of praise that have been allowed out into the world. Beyond that, we don’t know yet. The Academy will surely see it either way, but in my mind, it’s a real X factor. As such, I’ve moved it down some rankings, at least until I lay eyes on it in a couple of days. Pair that with Darkest Hour getting a Trailer yesterday and the World War II epics are starting to make their cases. Anyway, on to the update…
Here now are the newest Oscar predictions, tailor made for this month that is July:
BEST PICTURE
1. The Papers
2. Downsizing
3. Darkest Hour
4. Phantom Thread
5. Molly’s Game
6. Wonder Wheel
7. The Greatest Showman
8. Last Flag Flying
9. Dunkirk
10. The Disaster Artist
Next in line: 11. Suburbicon 12. Battle of the Sexes 13. Call Me By Your Name 14. Wonderstruck 15. Mother! 16. The Beguiled 17. Detroit 18. The Big Sick 19. Mudbound 20. Stronger 21. The Glass Castle 23. Wind River 23. Thank You For Your Service 24. Blade Runner 2049 25. The Hero 26. Star Wars: The Last Jedi 27. The Current War 28. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 29. The Florida Project 30. War for the Planet of the Apes
BEST DIRECTOR
1. Alexander Payne – Downsizing
2. Steven Spielberg – The Papers
3. Joe Wright – Darkest Hour
4. Paul Thomas Anderson – Phantom Thread
5. Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk
Next in line: 6. Woody Allen – Wonder Wheel 7. George Clooney – Suburbicon 8. Darren […]

Posted on 14 July 2017 @ 1:03 pm

People – United States

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Yahoo – United States

Jared Kushner sealed real estate deal with oligarch's firm cited in money-laundering case

Jared Kushner sealed real estate deal with oligarch's firm cited in money-laundering caseJared Kushner, the son-in-law of Donald Trump, who acts as his senior White House adviser, secured a multimillion-dollar Manhattan real estate deal with a Soviet-born oligarch whose company was cited in a major New York money laundering case now being probed by members of Congress. A Guardian investigation has established a series of overlapping ties and relationships involving alleged Russian money laundering, New York real estate deals and members of Trump’s inner circle.


Posted on 24 July 2017 @ 11:29 am

Report: German runaway girl in Iraq wants to go home

Report: German runaway girl in Iraq wants to go homeBERLIN (AP) — A teenage German girl who ran away after converting to Islam and was found by Iraqi troops in Mosul says she wants to go home, a German newspaper and broadcaster reported Monday.


Posted on 24 July 2017 @ 9:36 am

China says it wants to 'maintain stability' in disputed South China Sea

China says it wants to 'maintain stability' in disputed South China SeaBy Panu Wongcha-um BANGKOK (Reuters) – Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday Beijing wanted to maintain stability in the South China Sea as it seeks alliances in the region amid tensions in the disputed waters. The United States has criticized China for disregarding international law by the construction and militarization of artificial islands in the South China Sea, undermining regional stability. China claims most of the energy-rich sea through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.


Posted on 24 July 2017 @ 9:03 am

Hopes for future HIV cure revived as South African child becomes third in remission

Hopes for future HIV cure revived as South African child becomes third in remissionA South African child born with HIV has surprised experts by appearing to be effectively cured of the AIDS virus after just a year of treatment followed by eight and a half years drug-free. Patients with HIV would normally need to stay on antiretroviral (ART) drugs for the rest of their lives to keep AIDS at bay. But this child, still off treatment and now almost 10 years old, has no signs of the disease. This and other recent, isolated cases of remission have given additional hope to the 37 million people worldwide infected with the virus that causes AIDS. Yet experts urged caution, saying the case is extremely rare does not suggest a simple path to a cure. Prince Harry and Rihanna get tested for HIV 00:52 "It's a case that raises more questions than it necessarily answers," said Linda-Gail Bekker, president of the International AIDS Society (IAS), which is holding a conference in Paris this week. "It does raise the interesting notion that maybe treatment isn't for life. (But) it's clearly a rare phenomenon." The child, whose name and gender were not disclosed, was part of a clinical trial in which researchers were investigating the effect of treating HIV-positive babies in the first few weeks of life, and then stopping and starting the ART medicines whilst checking whether their HIV was being controlled. The United Nations HIV/AIDS agency said last week that 19.5 million people – more than half of the 37 million patients with HIV – are now on treatment. The vast majority of patients with HIV suffer an increase in the amount of the virus circulating in the body if they stop treatment, but this child was different, the South African researchers said. Naomi Campbell 'stands in solidarity' with millions of women on World AIDS day 00:27 "To our knowledge, this is the first case of sustained virological control from a randomized trial of ART interruption following early treatment of infants," they said in a summary of findings presented at the IAS conference on Monday. The baby contracted HIV from its mother. Treatment with ART started when it was almost nine weeks old but was interrupted at 40 weeks when the virus had been suppressed, and the child was monitored regularly for any signs of relapse. "At age 9.5 years, the child was clinically asymptomatic," the researchers said. Sharon Lewin, an HIV expert at the University of Melbourne and co-chair of the IAS's HIV Cure and Cancer forum, said the case threw up possible insights into how the human immune system can control HIV replication when treatment is interrupted. Yet in terms of the scientific search for a cure for HIV and AIDS, she told Reuters, it appeared only to confirm previous reports of similarly rare cases. "We know that very rarely, people who have had treatment and stopped it are then able to control the virus." The HIV/AIDS pandemic has killed around 35 million people worldwide since it began in the 1980s.


Posted on 24 July 2017 @ 8:34 am

California crews hold wildfire in check, let more residents go home

California crews hold wildfire in check, let more residents go homeCalifornia authorities battling a massive wildfire near Yosemite National Park lifted evacuation orders on Sunday for more residents but said firefighters may need almost two more weeks to fully contain the blaze. The Detwiler Fire was 45 percent contained, a slight improvement from Saturday, after burning 76,250 acres (30,857 hectares) and more than 130 structures, including 63 homes, since it broke out on Monday, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said. Evacuation orders were lifted by midday Sunday for much of the historic gold rush era town of Coulterville and nearby areas as firefighters completed firelines to contain the blaze, Cal Fire said in a statement.


Posted on 24 July 2017 @ 5:44 am

US student freed after week held in China over taxi dispute

US student freed after week held in China over taxi disputeBILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — An American university student is free following a weeklong detention in China for allegedly injuring a taxi driver who was roughing up his mother during a fare dispute, in a case that drew objections over the student's treatment from U.S. lawmakers.


Posted on 24 July 2017 @ 3:48 am

Thai dissident's lonely fight to keep history alive

Thai dissident's lonely fight to keep history aliveCarrying a bucket of cement and a heavy bronze plaque, Ekachai Hongkangwan set out across Bangkok’s heavily-policed Royal Plaza in late June to perform a solo act of DIY dissent. Instead he focuses on trying to reform the lese majeste law, which makes scrutiny of the family impossible and forces media to self-censor.


Posted on 24 July 2017 @ 2:39 am


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