Showing posts with label Paramount Pictures. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paramount Pictures. Show all posts

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from Feb. 25th to 29th, 2024 - UPDATE #6

by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

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ENTERTAINMENT AND CULTURE NEWS:

TELEVISION - From Deadline:  Emmy-winner Eugene Levy will join Season 4 of Hulu's "Only Murders in the Building" as a recurring character.

BOX OFFICE - BoxOfficePro:  The winner of the 2/23/2024 to 2/25/2024 is Paramount Pictures' "Bob Marley: One Love" with an estimated take of 13.5 million dollars.

AWARDS - From Variety:   The winners at the 2024 / 30th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, "Oppenheimer" dominated, winning three: "Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture," "Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Lead Role" (Cillian Murphy), and "Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role" (Robert Downey, Jr.). Lily Gladstone won "Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Lead Role" for "Killers of the Flower Moon," become the first indigenous actor to do so.

From Variety:  The winners at the 2024 / 49th Cesar Awards, the French version of the Oscars, have been announced.  "Anatomy of a Fall" won six awards, including "Best Film."  The movie's director, Justine Triet, won "Best Director," only the second woman to do so. [The other is Tonie Marshall for "Venus Beauty Institute" (1999).]

MOVIES - From THR:  Actress Jenna Ortega confirms that the character she will play in the Beetlejuice sequel, "Beetlejuice Beetlejuice," is the daughter of Winona Ryder's character, "Lydia Deetz."

OBITS:

From Deadline:  Actor, writer, and stand-up comedian, Richard Lewis, has died at the age of 76, Tuesday, February 27, 2024.  His self-deprecating humor made him a beloved and revered figure over his five decades in stand-up comedy.  He played a version of himself in Larry David's long-running HBO sitcom, "Curb Your Enthusiasm," and David was longtime friend.  Lewis also starred for four seasons with Jamie Lee Curtis in the former ABC sitcom, "Anything But Love."  His notable film roles including appearances in Mel Brooks' "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" (1993), "Wagons East" (1994), and the Oscar-winning "Leaving Las Vegas" (1995).

From Deadline:  The film and television character actor, Charles Dierkop, has died at the age of 87, Sunday, February 25, 2024.  Movie audiences might not remember his name, but they will recall his memorable looks in such films as "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969), "The Sting" (1973), and the notorious "Silent Night, Deadly Night" (1984), in which he plays a spree killer who wears a "Santa Claus" suit.  His best known television work including his role on the police drama, "Police Woman" (1974-78), and appeared in the "Star Trek" episode, "Wolf in the Fold," as "Morla."

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AWARDS:

From THR:  Key award season dates leading up to the 2024 / 96th Academy Awards, which are Sunday, March 10th, 2024.

From Variety: The nominations for the 2024 / 96th Academy Awards have been announced.  "Oppenheimer" leads with 13 nominations, and "Poor Things" follows with 11.  The winners will be announced Sun., March 10th, 2024.

From Deadline:  The winners at the 2024 / 77th BAFTA Film Awards have been announced.  "Oppenheimer" wins seven awards, including "Best Film," "Best Director" (Christopher Nolan), and "Best Actor" (Cillian Murphy).

From THR:   The Directors Guild of America has announced the winners at the 2024 / 76th DGA Awards.  Christopher Nolan won the top category, "Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Theatrical Feature Film of 2023," for his work on his blockbuster film, "Oppenheimer."

From Deadline:  The winners at the 2024 / 51st Annie Awards have been announced.  "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse" won six, including "Best Feature."  Its predecessor, "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" also won six categories, including "Best Feature."

From AwardsWatch:  The NAACP has announced the nominees for the 2024 / 55th NAACP Image Awards.  By visiting www.naacpimageawards.net, the public can vote to determine the winners of the 55th NAACP Image Awards’ in select categories. Voting closes February 24th at 9:00 p.m. NAACP will also recognize winners in non–televised Image Awards categories March 11–14th, which will stream via naacpimageawards.net.  The winners will be revealed during the two–hour LIVE TV special, airing Saturday, March 16, 2024 at 8:00 PM ET/ PT on BET and CBS.

From THR:  The Art Directors Guild (IATSE Local 800) has announced the winners at the 28th Art Directors Guild Awards.  "Poor Things," "Oppenheimer," and "Saltburn" win top prizes.

From Deadline:  The nominations for the 2024 Writers Guild Awards have been announced. The winners will be announced on April 14th, more than a month after the Oscars.

From Variety:  The nominations for the 2024 / 77th EE BAFTA Film Awards have been announced.  "Oppenheimer" leads with 13 nominations, and "Poor Things" follows with 11 nominations.  The winners will be announced Feb. 18th.

From Variety:  The Producers Guild of America has announced the nominees for the 2024 / 35th annual Producers Guild Awards.  For the first time in the history of the awards, two international films, "Anatomy of a Fall" and "The Zone of Interest," have made been nominated in the PGA's top category, "Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures." The winners will be announced Feb. 25th.

From Variety:   The nominees for the 2024 / 51st Annie Awards have been announced.  Netflix's "Nimona" leads the features categories with nine nominations.  The winners will be announced Sat., Feb. 17th.

From Deadline:  The Screen Actors Guild nominations for the 2024 / 30th annual SAG Awards have announced. "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer" leads the film side of things with four nominations apiece.  The winners will be announced Saturday, Feb. 24th.

From AwardsWatch:  The Latino Entertainment Journalists Association has announced the 6th Annual LEJA Awards.  "Past Lives" won "Best Picture."  Actor Coleman Domingo won "Best Actor" for his role in "Rustin" and "Best Supporting Actor" for his role in "The Color Purple."

From AwardsWatch:  The Vancouver Film Critics Circle has announced its 2023 film awards.  "Anatomy of a Fall" won "Best Picture."

From Variety:  The Directors Guild of America has announced the nominations for the 2024 / 76th DGA Awards.  In the top category, "Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Theatrical Feature Film of 2023," the nominees are Greta Gerwig for "Barbie," Christopher Nolan for “Oppenheimer,” Martin Scorsese for “Killers of the Flower Moon,” Yorgos Lanthimos for “Poor Things,” and Alexander Payne for “The Holdovers.”  The winners will be announced Feb. 10th.

From AwardsWatch:  The London Critics Circle announced the winners of its 44th annual film awards. "The Zone of Interest" won three awards, including "Film of the Year" and "Best Director" (Jonathan Glazer).

From AwardsWatch:  The Kansas City Film Critics Circle (KCFCC) has won the 2023 film awards.  "Oppenheimer" won six awards, including "Best Picture," "Best Director" (Christopher Nolan), and "Best Actor" (Cillian Murphy tied with Paul Giamatti for "The Holdovers").

From Variety:  The American Cinema Editors has announced the nominees for the 2024 / 74th Annual ACE Eddie Awards.  The winners will be announced March 3rd, 2024.

From AwardsWatch:  The Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) has named its 2023 film awards. "Oppenheimer" won eight awards, including "Best Picture" and "Best Director" (Christopher Nolan).

From AwardsWatch:  The Houston Film Critics Society (HFCS) has announced its 2023 films awards.  "Poor Things" won three awards, including "Best Picture."

From AwardsWatch:  The Chicago Indie Critics (CIC) has announced its 2023 films awards.  "Oppenheimer" won seven awards, including "Best Studio Film." Celine Song's "Past Lives" won three, including "Best Independent Film."

From Variety:  The Motion Picture Sound Editors has revealed the nominations for the 71st annual MPSE Golden Reel Awards in categories spanning feature film, television, animation, computer entertainment and student productions.  The winners will be announced March 3rd.

From AwardsWatchThe Iowa Film Critics Association (IFCA) has announced its 2023 film awards.  Alexander Payne's "The Holdovers" won four awards, including "Best Picture."

From Variety:  The Visual Effects Society has announced the nominations for the 2024 / 22nd Annual VES Awards have been announced.  The winners will be announced Feb. 21st.

From AwardsWatch:  The North Dakota Film Society (NDFS) has announced its 2023 films awards.  "Oppenheimer" won nine awards, including "Best Picture," "Best Director" (Christopher Nolan), and "Best Actor" (Cillian Murphy).

From AwardsWatch:  The Music City Film Critics Association has announces it MCFCA 2023 Film Awards.  Oppenheimer won seven awards, including "Best Picture" and "Best Director" (Christopher Nolan).

From AwardsWatch:  The Portland Critics Association (PCA) has announced its 2023 films awards.  "Oppenheimer" won nine awards, including "Best Picture," "Best Director" (Christopher Nolan), and "Best Actor" (Cillian Murphy).

From Deadline:  The African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) announced the 15th annual African-Ameri an Film Critics Awards. "American Fiction" was voted the #1 film and won four awards, including "Best Comedy." Ava DuVernay's "Origin" was voted the #2 film and won three awards, including "Best Drama." 

From Deadline:  The winners of the 2024 / 29th Annual Critics Choice Awards have been announced.  "Oppenheimer" won eight awards, including "Best Picture" and "Best Director" (Christopher Nolan).

From AwardsWatch:  The Hawaii Film Critics Society (HFCS) has announced its 2023 films awards.  "Barbie" wins four awards, including "Best Picture."

From AwardsWatch:  The Denver Film Critics Society (DFCS) has announced the winners of its 2023 films awards.  "Oppenheimer" won four awards, including "Best Film," "Best Director" (Christopher Nolan), and "Best Actor" (Cillian Murphy).

From AwardsWatch:  The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) revealed the nominees for the "2024 / 38th Annual ASC Awards" with categories in feature film, documentary, television and music video categories.  The winners will be announced March 3rd, 2024.

From AwardsWatch:  The Austin Film Critics Association (AFCA) has announced its 2023 film awards.  "Killers of the Flower Moon" won "Best Picture."

From AwardsWatch:  The Seattle Film Critics Society (SFCS) announced the winners in 21 categories for the 2023 Seattle Film Critics Society Awards.  Director Celine Song’s "Past Lives" was named the "Best Picture of 2023."

From AwardsWatch:  The Cinema Audio Society (CAS) has announced the nominations for the 60th CAS Awards.  The winners will be announced March 2nd.

From AwardsWatch:  The Art Directors Guild (IATSE Local 800) has announced the nominations for the 28th Art Directors Guild Awards. The winners will be announced Feb. 10th.

From AwardsWatch:  The Hollywood Creative Alliance (HCA) has announced it 2024 ASTRA Film Awards.  "Barbie" won eight awards, including "Best Picture.

From AwardsWatch:  The Greater Western New York Film Critics Association (GWNYFCA) has announced its 2023 film awards.  "Past Lives" was named "Best Picture."

From NSFC:  The National Society of Film Critics announce its 58th annual NSFC Awards.  "Past Lives" was named "Best Picture of 2023."

From Deadline:  The 2024 / 81st Golden Globes Awards ceremony was held Sun. night, Jan. 7th, 2024.  "Oppenheimer" won five awards, including "Best Motion Picture-Drama," "Best Director" (Christopher Nolan), "Best Actor-Drama" (Cillian Murphy), and "Best Supporting Actor-Motion Pictures" (Robert Downey, Jr.). "Poor Things" won "Best Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy."

From Deadline:  NIGHT 2 of the 75th Creative Arts Emmys took place Sun., Jan. 7th, 2024.  (Former) President Barack Obama and Keke Palmer were among the winners.

From Deadline:  NIGHT 1 of the 75th Creative Arts Emmys took place Sat., Jan. 6th, 2024.  HBO's "The Last of Us" lead the night with 8 wins, including wins in both "Guest Actor in a Drama Series" categories: Nick Offerman (Guest Actor) and Storm Reid (Guest Actress).

From AwardsWatch:  The 5th annual DiscussingFilm Critics Awards were announced.  "Oppenheimer" won eight awards, including "Best Picture," "Best Director" (Christopher Nolan), and "Best Actor" (Cillian Murphy).

From AwardsWatch:   The Utah Film Critics Association (UFCA) has announced its 2023 film awards. "Past Lives" won three awards, including "Best Picture" and "Best Director" (Celine Song).

From AwardsWatch:  The Georgia Film Critics Association (GFCA) has announced its 2023 film awards.  "Oppenheimer" won seven honors, including "Best Picture," "Best Director" (Christopher Nolan), and "Best Actor" (Cillian Murphy).

From AwardsWatch:  The San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle (SFBAFCC) has announced its 2023 film awards.  "Oppenheimer" was named "Best Picture."

From AwardsWatch:  The Columbus Film Critics Association (COFCA) has announced its 2023 film awards.  "Killers of the Flower Moon" won six awards including "Best Film" and "Best Director" (Martin Scorsese).

From AwardsWatch:  The Costume Designers Guild (Local 892) announced the official nominees list for the 26th CDGA (Costume Designers Guild Awards). The annual CDGA ceremony will take place Wed., Feb. 21st, 2024.

From Variety:   The British Academy has unveiled the results of the first round of voting across all 24 categories for the 2024 / 77th BAFTA Film Awards.  These results are known as "the longlists."  "Barbie," "Killers of the Flower Moon," and "Oppenheimer" all appeared on the longlist of 15 categories.  The nominations will be announced Jan. 18th, and the winners will be announced Feb. 18th.

From AwardsWatch:  The Oklahoma Film Critics Circle (OFCC) has announced its 2023 film awards.  "Killers of the Flower Moon" won five awards, including "Best Film," "Best Director" (Martin Scorsese), and "Best Actress" (Lily Gladstone).

From AwardsWatch:  The Critics Association of Central Florida (CACF) has announced the winners of its 2023 films awards.  "Oppenheimer" won 10 awards, including "Best Picture" and "Best Director" (Christopher Nolan). 

From AwardsWatch:  U.K. Film Critics Association (UKFCA) has announced the winners of its 2023 films awards.  "Oppenheimer" won three awards: "Best Film," "Best Director" (Christopher Nolan), and "Best Actor" (Cillian Murphy).

From VarietyThe Make-Up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild (MUAHS, IATSE Local 706) has announced nominations for the 11th MUAHS Guild AwardsGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 led with five mentions in the film categories and ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" led with four in the television categories. The winners will be announced Sunday, February 18, 2024.

From AwardsWatch:  The Nevada Film Critics Society has announced its 2023 film awards.  "Oppenheimer" won five awards, including "Best Picture" and "Best Director" (Christopher Nolan).

From AwardsWatch:  Florida Film Critics Circle (FFCC) has announced its 2023 film awards.  Hayao's Miyazaki's anime film, "The Boy and the Heron" was named "Best Picture."

From AwardsWatch:  The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC) has announced its 2023 films awards.  "American Fiction" won six awards, including "Best Picture," "Best Director" (Cord Jefferson), and Best Actor (Jeffrey Wright).

From AwardsWatch:  The San Diego Film Critics Society (SDFCS) has announced its 2023 film awards.  Always trying to be difficult, it named "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret" the "Best Picture."  It named Martin Scorsese "Best Director" for "Killers of the Flower Moon."

From AwardsWatch:  The Dublin Film Critics Circle has announced its 2023 film awards.  "Past Lives" wins "Best Film" and "Best Director" (Celine Song)"

From AwardsWatch:  The North Texas Film Critics Association (NTFCA) has announced its 2023 films awards.  "Oppenheimer" wins five awards, including "Best Picture" and "Best Director" (Christopher Nolan).

From AwardsWatch:  The Southeaster Film Critics Association (SEFCA) has announces its 2023 films awards.  "Oppenheimer" won eight awards including "Best Picture," "Best Director" (Christopher Nolan), and "Best Actor" (Cillian Murphy).

From AwardsWatch:  The Indiana Film Journalists Association (IFJA) has announced its 2023 films awards.  "Poor Things" won six awards, including "Best Pictuere," "Best Director" (Yorgos Lanthmos), "Best Actress" (Emma Stone"), and "Best Supporting Actor" (Mark Ruffalo).

From AwardsWatch:  The Philadelphia Film Critics Circle (PFCC) has announced it 2023 film awards.  "Poor Things" won four awards, including "Best Picture," "Best Director" (Yorgos Lanthimos), and "Best Actress" (Emma Stone).

From AwardsWatch:  The St. Louis Film Critics Association (StLFCA) has announced its 2023 awards.  "Oppenheimer" won seven awards, including "Best Picture," "Best Director" (Christopher Nolan), and "Best Actor" (Cillian Murphy)

From AwardsWatch:  The Phoenix Film Critics Society (PFCS) has named its 2023 film awards.  "Killers of the Flower Moon" wins "Best Picture."  Oppenheimer wins six, including "Best Director" for Christopher Nolan.

From AwardsWatch:  The Dallas-Ft. Worth Film Critics Association (DFWFCA) has named its 2023 films awards.  "The Holdovers" wins "Best Picture."  "Oppenheimer" wins four, including "Best Director" for Christopher Nolan.

From AwardsWatch:  The Toronto Film Critics Association (TFCA) have announced their 2023 film awards.  "The Zone of Interest" wins "Best Picture" and "Best Director" (for Jonathan Glazer).

From AwardsWatch:  The 2023 Boston Online Film Critics Association (BOFCA) awards have been announced.  "Killers of the Flower Moon" wins "Best Picture," one of two awards its won.  "Oppenheimer" wins five, including a "Best Director" for Christopher Nolan.

From AwardsWatch:  The nominations for the 2024 / 24th annual Black Reel Awards have been announced.  "The Color Purple" leads with 19 nominations.  The winners will be announced Jan. 16th, 2024.

From AwardsWatch:  The Phoenix Critics Circle (PCC) has announced its 2023 film awards.  "Past Lives" wins "Best Picture."

From AwardsWatch:  The New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO) have named "Killers of the Flower Moon" the "Best Film" of 2023.  Christopher Nolan wins "Best Director" for "Oppenheimer."

From AwardsWatch:  The Las Vegas Film Critics Society have named "Oppenheimer" the "Best Picture" of 2023, with the film's director, Christopher Nolan, winning "Best Director."

From AwardsWatch:  The winners at the 2023 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards have been announced.  "Killers of the Flower Moon" wins "Best Picture," and Christopher Nolan wins "Best Director" for "Oppenheimer."

From THR:   The winners at the 2023 / 49th annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards have been announced.  The Holocaust historical drama, "The Zone of Interest," wins four awards, including "Best Picture," "Best Director" (Jonathan Glazer), and "Best Actress" (Sandra Huller).

From Deadline:  The nominations for the 2024 / 29th annual Critics Choice Awards have been announced. "Barbie" leads with 18 nominations.

From Deadline:  The nominations for the 2024 / 81st annual Golden Globe Awards have been announced.  The winners will be announced Jan. 7th, 2024 on CBS and Paramount Plus.

From AwardsWatch:  The Las Vegas Film Critics have announced their 2023 LVFC Awards nominations.  "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer" are the leading vote getters.  The winners will be announced Wed., Dec. 13th.

From THR:  The winners at the 2023 European Film Awards have been announced.  "Anatomy of a Fall" won five awards including for "Best Film," "Best Director" (Justine Triet), and "Best Actress" (Sandra Huller).

From AwardsWatch:  The 2023 National Board of Review film honors have been announced.  "Killers of the Flower Moon" won "Best Film," "Best Director" (Martin Scorsese), and "Best Actress" (Lily Gladstone).

From AwardsWatch:  The American Film Institute (AFI) names its top ten films: American Fiction, Barbie, The Holdovers, Killers of the Flower Moon, Maestro, May December, Oppenheimer, Past Lives, Poor Things, and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.  It also names its top ten television series: Abbott Elementary, The Bear, Beef, Jury Duty, The Last of Us, The Morning Show, Only Murders in the Building, Poker Face, Reservation Dogs, and Succession.

From AwardsWatch:  "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer" lead the nominations for "Astra Film & Creative Arts Awards," which are put on by the "Hollywood Creative Alliance" (formerly known as the Hollywood Critics Association).  The winners will be announced Jan. 6th, 2024 in Los Angeles.

From Deadline:  At the 2023 / 26th British Independent Film Awards, director Andrew Haigh's "All of Us Strangers" won seven awards, including "Best British Independent Film."

From Variety:  The winners at the 2023 / 89th New York Film Critics Circle Awards have been announced.  "Killers of the Flower Moon" (directed by Martin Scorsese) was named "Best Film of 2023."  Christopher Nolan won "Best Director" for his film, "Oppenheimer."

From Variety:  The winners at the 2023 / 33rd Annual Gotham Awards were announced Mon., Nov. 27th.  Writer-director Celine Song's South Korean romantic drama, "Past Lives" won the "Best Feature" award.

BEST PICTURE COUNT:
All of Us Strangers: 1
American Fiction: 2
Anatomy of a Fall: 2
Barbie: 2
The Boy and the Heron: 1
The Holdovers: 2
Killers of the Flower Moon: 9
Oppenheimer: 22
Past Lives: 9
Poor Things: 4
The Zone of Interest: 3

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Friday, July 14, 2023

Review: "MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - Dead Reckoning Part One" Embraces the Impossible

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 32 of 2023 (No. 1921) by Leroy Douresseaux

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (2023)
Running time: 163 minutes (2 hours, 43 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 intense sequences of violence and action, some language and suggestive material
DIRECTOR:  Christopher McQuarrie
WRITERS:  Christopher McQuarrie and Erik Jendresen (based upon the television series created by Bruce Geller)
PRODUCERS: Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Fraser Taggart (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Eddie Hamilton
COMPOSER: Loren Balfe

ACTION/ADVENTURE/SPY/THRILLER

Starring: Tom Cruise, Hayley Atwell, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby, Esai Morales, Pom Klementieff, Shea Whigham, Greg Tarzan Davis, Frederick Schmidt, Maria Garriga, Cary Elwes, and Henry Czerny

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is a 2023 action-thriller and espionage film directed by Christopher McQuarrie and starring Tom Cruise.  It is the seventh film in the Mission: Impossible film series, which is based on the American television series, “Mission: Impossible” (CBS, 1966-73), that was created by Bruce Geller.  In Dead Reckoning Part One, Ethan Hunt and his IMF team race to obtain half of a key that is connected to something that could be a doomsday device.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One opens in the Bering Sea.  Beneath the surface, an advanced Russian submarine, the “Sevastopol,” prepares to test a new AI (artificial intelligence) system.  But disaster strikes.

Later, Eugene Kittridge (Henry Czerny), the director of the IMF (Impossible Mission Force), offers IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) a new mission.  Should he accept, Hunt must retrieve half of a mysterious cruciform key.  It is currently in the possession of his ally, the former British agent, Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), who also has had a 50-million-dollar bounty placed on her.

Next, Hunt and his team – Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Luther Stickwell (Ving Rhames) – must trace the current holder of the second half of that cruciform key to a buyer.  However, the mission is complicated by the intercession of new players:  Grace (Hayley Atwell), a professional thief; Alanna Mitsopolis (Vanessa Kirby), a black-market arms dealers also known as the “White Widow;” and Paris (Pom Klementieff), a French assassin.  The most shocking new player is Paris' boss, Gabriel (Esai Morales), a powerful terrorist with an intimate connection to Ethan Hunt's past.  Ethan and his IMF team clash with these new people in a struggle for a key that is connected to something that could rule the world or destroy it, The Entity

I divide the six Mission: Impossible movies into two trilogies.  Mission: Impossible (1996), Mission: Impossible 2 (2000), and Mission: Impossible III (2006) make up the first trilogy.  Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011),  Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015), and Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018) form the second trilogy.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is something new.  It was originally meant to be the first part of a two-part send off for Ethan Hunt, but that has apparently changed.  Still, Dead Reckoning Part One feels like the beginning of the end.  It's as if Ethan is facing his ultimate test, a mission in which most of the potential resolutions can make things worse for the U.S. and the rest of the world.  Honestly, this feels like a mission in which Ethan should not survive.

That aside, should you choose to accept this mission, dear readers, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is a non-stop thrill machine full of heart-pounding races, car chases, standoffs, and Tom Cruise running more than he ever has.  I balked at the runtime of two hours and forty-three minutes, but the film doesn't feel that long.  It's always moving and grooving to a electrifying pace.  The plot is a bit thin, and even that thinness manages to be a bit convoluted, but Dead Reckoning Part One moves too much to allow you to think about any inconsistencies.  Why think about plot when the action and thrills are so mesmerizing and exhilarating?  I had seen several video clips of Ethan Hunt's motorcycle cliff dive, which is the super-big stunt in Dead Reckoning Part One, but seeing the entire thing on the big, silver screen still made me nervous.  That's the peak power of the extravagant action movie treats that this film offers.

Dead Reckoning Part One has beautiful cinematography and a hypnotic, pounding film score, and killer production values.  Everyone is dressed so nicely, and all the sets put the art in art direction.  The cast is amazing, and I couldn't get enough of Pom Klementieff's Paris.  But the stars here are true movie star, Tom Cruise, and director Christopher McQuarrie.  They wanted to give people a reason to come back to movie theaters, and they have.  Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is the kind of high-quality and breath-taking entertainment that demands to be seen in a darkened movie theater with a bunch of other people as equally thrilled as you or I are.

8 of 10
A
★★★★ out of 4 stars

Friday, July 15, 2023


The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Review: "MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2" is Still on Fire

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 31 of 2023 (No. 1920) by Leroy Douresseaux

Mission: Impossible 2 (2000)
Running time: 123 minutes (2 hours, 3 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense sequences of violent action and some sensuality
DIRECTOR:  John Woo
WRITERS:  Robert Towne; from a story by Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Barga (based upon the television series created by Bruce Geller)
PRODUCERS: Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jeffrey L. Kimball (D.o.P.)
EDITORS:  Steven Kemper and Christian Wagner
COMPOSER: Hans Zimmer

ACTION/ADVENTURE/SPY/THRILLER

Starring: Tom Cruise, Dougray Scott, Thandie Newton, Richard Roxburgh, John Polson, Brendan Gleeson, Rade Serbedzija, William Mapother, Dominic Purcell, Nicholas Bell, Kee Chan, Antonio Vargas, and Ving Rhames with Anthony Hopkins

Mission: Impossible 2 is a 2000 action-thriller and espionage film directed by John Woo and starring Tom Cruise.  It is a sequel to the 1996 film, Mission: Impossible, and is based on the American television series, “Mission: Impossible” (CBS, 1966-73), that was created by Bruce Geller.  In Mission: Impossible 2 (also known as M:I-2), Ethan Hunt battles a rogue fellow agent in a bid to obtain a genetically modified virus.

Mission: Impossible 2 opens in a lab at Australia's Biocyte Pharmaceuticals.  There, Dr. Vladimir Nekhorvich (Rade Serbedzija), a bio-genetics scientist, sends a message to his old friend, “Dimitri,” which is the cover name for Impossible Mission Force (IMF) agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise).  Nekhorvich's employer, Biocyte Pharmaceuticals, has forced him to create a biological weapon, which he calls “Chimera,” and a cure for it, which he names “Bellerophon.”  Biocyte's CEO, John C. McCloy (Brendan Gleeson), plans to profit from Bellerophon as cure for Chimera after the virus is released into the unsuspecting world.

Nekhorvich injects himself with Chimera and carries Bellerophon with him and heads to the U.S., where he hopes to meet “Dimitri.”  However, he is intercepted by IMF agent Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott), who is, in some ways, Ethan Hunt's equal and opposite.  Ambrose and his men steal Bellerophon and begin their hunt to obtain Chimera, not knowing that it was inside Nekhorvich.

IMF Mission Commander Swanbeck (Anthony Hopkins) orders Hunt to lead his team – computer hacker, IMF agent Luther Stickwell (Ving Rhames), and helicopter pilot, William “Billy” Baird (John Polson), on a mission to get Chimera before Ambrose does.  Swanbeck also orders Hunt to add to his team a professional thief named Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Thandie Newton), who was, until recently, Ambrose's girlfriend.  Can Ethan trust Nyah, or has he gotten to close to her?  And is Ambrose more than a match for Ethan?

I divide the six Mission: Impossible movies into two trilogies.  Mission: Impossible (1996), Mission: Impossible 2 (2000), and Mission: Impossible III (2006) make up the first trilogy.  Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011),  Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015), and Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018) form the second trilogy.

That's just my personal thing.  M:I-2 is its own thing.  Directed by Hong Kong auteur, John Woo, the film features the hallmarks of Woo's directorial style, including his “bullet ballet” action sequences, stylized imagery, slow motion action and character drama scenes, Mexican standoffs, and fight sequences that recall the Chinese martial arts sub-genres “wuxia” and “wire-fu.”  However, the film doesn't really kick into high gear with some of Woo's best flourishes until its second half.

The first half of the film focuses on Ethan Hunt's obsession with Nyah Nordoff-Hall, which mirrors Sean Ambrose's obsession with her.  This “love triangle” allows Woo and his screenwriters to build tension between Hunt and Ambrose that explodes with jealousy and rage and eventually leads to a fight to the death.  M:I-2 may be the film in this franchise in which Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt shares the most screen time with other characters, especially Newton's Nyah and Scott's Ambrose.

Anyway, the film really begins to rumble in the second half.  The last half-hour or so is a masterpiece of directing, film editing, cinematography, and stunt coordinators and stuntmen.  My high rating is mainly because of this exhilarating last act, which makes me want to see this movie again.

Tom Cruise was in his late 30s when Mission: Impossible 2 began filming, yet he looks much younger onscreen, about a decade or so (at least to me).  His long hair, that boyish grin, his immature and petulant anger and jealousy would be largely gone 19 months later when his trippy drama, Vanilla Sky (2001), arrived in December 2001.  So for me, Mission: Impossible 2 is a good-bye to the Mission: Impossible film franchise's beginnings.  The series would rapidly begin to morph with the third entry, and boyish Tom Cruise would finally give way to adult Tom Cruise.  At least, I now remember why I loved this film so much 23 years ago, and now, I want to see it again.

8 of 10
A
★★★★ out of 4 stars

Tuesday, July 11, 2023


NOTES:
2001 Image Awards (NAACP):  2 nominations: “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture” (Ving Rhames) and “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture” (Thandie Newton)


The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

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Thursday, June 29, 2023

Review: "INDIANA JONES and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" is a Nice Coda

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 27 (of 2008) by Leroy Douresseaux

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Running time:  126 minutes (2 hours, 6 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for adventure violence and scary images
DIRECTOR:  Steven Spielberg
WRITERS:  David Koepp; from a story by George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson
PRODUCER:  Frank Marshall
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Janusz Kaminski (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Michael Kahn, A.C.E.
COMPOSER:  John Williams

ACTION/ADVENTURE

Starring:  Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent, and Shia LaBeouf

There is that old saying, “you can’t go home again,” but you can.  It is simply that the present does not have the cherished golden glow of cherished memories of an idealized past.  With that in mind, in 2008, we saw the return of Indiana Jones to the big screen for the first time in 19 years.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is an action-adventure film from director Steven Spielberg.  It is the fourth entry in the “Indiana Jones” film franchise that began with the 1981 film, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).  Kingdom of the Crystal Skull finds Indiana Jones fighting a Soviet plot to uncover the secret behind mysterious artifacts known as the “Crystal Skulls.”

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull begins in the desert Southwest in 1957 at the height of the Cold War.  There, Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr. (Harrison Ford) and his sidekick, George “Mac” McHale (Ray Winstone), encounter the icy cold Soviet beauty, Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), and her elite military unit on a remote airfield.  The Soviets want something from Indy, but in the end, he barely escapes the nefarious Soviets.

Afterwards, Indy returns to Marshall College, where he is known as “Professor Jones,” and finds that things have gone from bad to worse.  The government is suspicious of Indy’s recent activities and forced Jones’ close friend and dean of the college, Dean Charles Stanforth (Jim Broadbent), to fire him.  On his way out of town, Indy meets the rebellious young biker, Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), who asks Indy for his help in a deeply personal mission.  If he helps Mutt, Indy could very well make one of the most spectacular archaeological finds in history – the Crystal Skull of Akator, a legendary object of fascination and superstition.

As Indy and Mutt comb the most remote corners of Peru, Spalko and the Soviet agents are also hot on the trail of the Crystal Skull, which they believe can help the Soviets dominate the world, if they can unlock its secrets.  Peru, however, is not only the home of the Crystal Skull, it is also the place where Indiana Jones makes a surprise reunion and learns an even more shocking secret, as he and his friends desperately battle to protect the powerful Crystal Skull.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull lacks the old school, B-movie serial charm of the original Raiders of the Lost Ark.  It doesn’t have the gleefully and deliberately gruesome spirit of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), nor the comic charm of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).

What Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull does have is entertainment value by the truckload.  This pleasing popcorn movie has a mix of action, adventure, and nostalgia that turns it into the perfect summer romp for an afternoon at the movie theater.

Why keep pretending!?  Karen Allen, as the original Indiana Jones heroine, Marion Ravenwood, is back, and that makes this somewhat inferior Indiana Jones sequel even more enjoyable.  Throw in another secret, and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a must-see for Indy fans.  Obviously many fans had questions and concerns coming into this new film.  Chief among them would be the use of CGI.  Between the time that The Last Crusade appeared and now, CGI has, for the most part, replaced practical and physical special effects in mainstream Hollywood films.

No, the use of CGI (which the filmmakers claimed was only used on 30% of the film) to create lush jungles, impossible fight scenes (like the sword duel between Mutt and Irina, most of it on top of moving vehicles), and exotic locales doesn’t ruin Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, although this flick lacks the grit and tough guy spirit of the other films.  But let’s face it; Harrison Ford is no longer a spring chicken, so this film needs CGI slickness to give the action a manic video game feel to it.  Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a modern action movie, and all the quiet, dramatic moments are used to merely prepare us for the next death-defying chase, whereas they existed for themselves in the early films.  Still, the modern touches work.

Set in 1957, the film drops many 1950’s cultural and pop culture tropes: Elvin Presley, B-movie sci-fi, aliens, Communism, bikers, etc.  The fear of being turned into the other or being forced into a like or hive mind is prevalent, as is Steven Spielberg’s familiar motif that knowledge only robs reality of its sense of wonder (OK…).  However, the age of their star Harrison Ford required the driving force behind Indiana Jones, Spielberg and George Lucas, to accept that it’s sometimes okay to grow up.

That’s why Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is ultimately less a sequel than it is a coda or epilogue to Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, which is likely the reason that Karen Allen/Marion Ravenwood, the most beloved woman in Indy’s life, is back.  It’s time to grow up and movie on, and what a silly and fun send off this is.  Flaws and all, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a good old American summer movie blockbuster.  As the credits rolled on the film’s happy finale, I realized that Indy and I were going our separate ways, but with wonderful memories as parting gifts.

6 of 10
B
★★★ out of 4 stars

NOTES:
2009 BAFTA Awards:  1 nomination: “Best Special Visual Effects” (Pablo Helman, Marshall Richard Krasserm and Steve Rawlins)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Edited:  Saturday, November 5, 2022

You can purchase the "INDIANA JONES 4-Movie Collection" Blu-ray or DVD here at AMAZON.

The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site or blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Review: "INDIANA JONES and the Last Crusade" Stills Feels Like a True Ending

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 28 of 2023 (No. 1917) by Leroy Douresseaux

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Running time:  127 minutes (2 hours, 7 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13
DIRECTOR:  Steven Spielberg
WRITERS:  Jeffrey Boam; from a story by George Lucas and Menno Meyjes (based on characters created by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman)
PRODUCER:  Robert Watts
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Douglas Slocombe (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Michael Kahn, A.C.E.
COMPOSER:  John Williams
Academy Award winner

ADVENTURE/ACTION/FANTASY

Starring:  Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Alison Doody, Denholm Elliot, John Rhys-Davies, Julian Glover, River Phoenix, Michael Byrne, Kevork Malikyan, Robert Eddison, Richard Young, and Michael Sheard

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is a 1989 action-adventure film from director Steven Spielberg.  It is the third entry in the “Indiana Jones” film franchise that began with the 1981 film, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).  The Last Crusade finds Indiana Jones searching for his father, who along with the Nazis, are search for the Holy Grail.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade opens in Utah, 1912.  It is there that teenage Henry Jones, Jr. (River Phoenix) has his first experiences with raiders of an archaeological site.

Over a quarter-century later, in 1938, Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr. (Harrison Ford) recovers the treasure he lost as a teenager.  Jones returns to teaching (apparently at Barnett College in Fairfield, New York) when one of the college's wealthy patrons approaches him about a special mission.  Walter Donovan (Julian Glover) wants Jones to help him locate the Holy Grail.

Jones informs him that his father, Professor Henry Jones, Sr. (Sean Connery), is the expert on the Holy Grail and the one whom Donovan should seek.  Donovan shocks Jones by informing him that he had hired his father to find the Grail, but the senior Jones has disappeared.  Jones and his colleague, Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliot), race to Venice, his father's last known location.  Waiting for them is Dr. Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody), who was working with the elder Jones in Venice as he sought to find more clues about the Grail's location.

Before long, Indiana Jones and Henry Jones Sr. are racing for their lives, staying one step ahead of the Nazis, who also want the Grail, and the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword, who want to protect it.  Reunited with his old friend, Sallah (John Rhys-Davies), the Jones boys get closer to the Holy Grail, but the secret of the Grail is that it offers both eternal life and total destruction.

In preparation for the upcoming fifth film in the series, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, I decided to see the one Indiana Jones film that I have not watched in its entirety since the 1990s, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  I have seen the first film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, countless times, and I rewatched its follow-up, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), in November of last year (2022).  I have watched the fourth film in the series, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), many times since its release.

I have long considered Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade the true end of the Indiana Jones film series because it was the third film in the original trilogy and because it felt like the end of something.  The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull felt like a “coda,” in the sense that it was both an addition to the three-film series that ran from 1981 to 1989 and a final piece added to the ending of The Last Crusade's tale of family and friends out for one last adventure.

Seeing The Last Crusade in its entirety for the first time in decades, I still feel like I'm watching the end of trilogy.  If there was going to be another film after it, that ceased to be when River Phoenix, the actor who played teen Henry Jones, Jr. in this film, died in 1993 at the age of 23.  Actor Denholm Elliot, who played Marcus Brody in the original film and in The Last Crusade, died at the age of 70, a year earlier in 1992.  Henry Jones Sr., actor Sean Connery, only recently died (2020) at the age of 90.  So, you see, dear readers, because of the passing of a number of cast members, more and more, I associate Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade with endings.

The Last Crusade is my least favorite film of the original trilogy.  I know that some audiences prefer it to the darker Temple of Doom, and apparently, director Steven Spielberg made The Last Crusade the way he did to offer a lighter film in response to the criticism of the Temple of Doom's violence and exotic mysticism.  However, I find Temple of Doom to be wildly inventive, darkly imaginative, and a roller coaster ride.  If Raiders of the Lost Ark is an original, in a way, Temple of Doom still seems determined to be something very different from its predecessor.

Honestly, I find The Last Crusade to be only mildly entertaining until the film's last 45 minutes.  Then, it explodes and really finds itself with lots of Nazi-punching and killing and also with a spine-tingling jaunt to the Holy Grail.  Besides, Indiana Jones is always at his best when he's beating Nazis.  Honestly, I think it is important that audiences who have not seen the original films watch them all before moving on to the new film.  By the time they get to the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, many newbies may finally understand what Indiana Jones meant to American cinema once upon a time, and why, over four decades after the release of the first film, there is a new one.


7 of 10
B+
★★★½ out of 4 stars

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

You can purchase the "INDIANA JONES 4-Movie Collection" Blu-ray or DVD here at AMAZON.

NOTES:
1990 Academy Awards, USA:  1 win: “Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing” (Ben Burtt and Richard Hymns); 2 nominations: “Best Sound” (Ben Burtt, Gary Summers, Shawn Murphy, and Tony Dawe), and “Best Music, Original Score” (John Williams)

1990 BAFTA Awards:  3 nominations: “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” (Sean Connery), “Best Sound” (Richard Hymns, Tony Dawe, Ben Burtt, Gary Summers, and Shawn Murphy), and “Best Special Effects” (George Gibbs, Michael J. McAlister, Mark Sullivan, and John Ellis)

1990 Golden Globes, USA:  1 nomination: “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Sean Connery)


The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site or blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

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Friday, June 9, 2023

Review: "TRANSFORMERS: Rise of the Beasts" is the Best Transformers Movie That I'VE Seen

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 24 of 2023 (No. 1913) by Leroy Douresseaux

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (2023)
Running time:  127 minutes (2 hours, 7 minutes)
MPA – PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and language
DIRECTOR:  Steven Caple, Jr.
WRITERS:  Joby Harold, Darnell Metayer, Josh Peters, Erich Hoeber, and Jon Hoeber; from a story by Joby Harold (based on Hasbro’s Transformers Action Figures)
PRODUCERS:  Don Murphy, Tom DeSanto, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Michael Bay, Duncan Henderson, and Mark Vahradian
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Enrique Chediak
EDITORS:  William Goldenberg and Joel Negron
COMPOSER: Jongnic Bontemps

SCI-FI/ACTION

Starring:  Anthony Ramos, Dominique Fishback, Luna Lauren Velez, Dean Scott Vazquez, Tobe Nwigwe, and Sarah Stiles; (voices) Peter Cullen, Pete Davidson, Ron Perlman, Peter Dinklage, Liza Koshy, Michelle Yeoh, Cristo Fernandez, Michaela Jae Rodriguez, John DiMaggio,Tongayi Chirisa, David Sobolov, and Colman Domingo

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is a 2023 science fiction action film.  It is based on Hasbro's Transformers toy line, and it is the seventh movie in the Transformers live-action film series.  The film serves a standalone sequel to the sixth film, Bumblebee (2018), and also as a prequel to the first film in the series, Transformers (2007).  Set during the 1990s, Rise of the Beasts sees a new faction of Transformers join the Autobots as allies in a battle to save Earth from a planet-eating threat.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts opens thousands of years in the past.  There, the planet-eating dark god, Unicron (voice of Colman Domingo), devours a planet inhabited by the Transformers known as the “Maximals.”  Unicron had sent his servant, Scourge (voice of Peter Dinklage), and the Terrorcons to steal the Maximals' greatest piece of technology, “the Transwarp Key,” which can open portals through space and time.  Optimus Primal (voice of Ron Perlman) and the Maximals:  Airazon (voice of Michelle Yeoh), Cheetor (voice of Tongayi Chirisa) and Rhinox (voice of David Sobolov), escape to Earth with the Transwarp Key.

Moving forward to Brooklyn, 1994: the story introduces two humans that are about to get caught up in the Transformers' drama.  The first is Noah Diaz (Anthony Ramos), an ex-military electronics expert who struggles to find a job to support his family, his mother, Breanna Diaz (Luna Lauren Velez), and his younger brother, Kris (Dean Scott Vazquez), who suffers from sickle cell.

The second is Elena Wallace (Dominique Fishback).  She is an intern at a museum and an artifact researcher who doesn't get the credit for how her knowledge benefits the museum.  She has discovered that an artifact which her museum recently obtained has what turns to be a Maximal symbol on it.  Soon, Noah and Elena will find themselves in the company of the AutobotsOptimus Prime (voice of Peter Cullen), Mirage (Pete Davidson), and Arcee (voice of Liza Koshy) and caught in a battle to protect the Transwarp Key from falling into the clutches of Scourge in service of Unicron.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is the best Transformers movie that I have seen, although I have only seen three of the previous six.  I liked the first film, Transformers, and its sequel, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), but after the second sequel, Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), I'd had enough.  I didn't bother with Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), and I tried to watch Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) on television and found it unwatchable.  I have never gotten around to watching the first prequel film, Bumblebee (2018), although I had planned on doing it.

There are several things that make Rise of the Beasts stand out from the earlier films.  First, there is some genuine human drama.  Noah's dedication to his family, especially his little brother, Kris, resonates, and Noah's determination to help his family financially makes his decisions seem logical.  Honestly, I really identified with Elena, whose boss, Jillian (Sarah Stiles), keeps taking credit for her work, a situation I have dealt with on and off for four decades (!).  I give the filmmakers a lot of credit for choosing non-white actors as the leads, and the screenwriters even more credit for being willing to depict the slights, micro-aggressions, and job discrimination that talented people of color put up with from mediocre white people.

Also, Rise of the Beasts has excellent visual special effects and eye-popping computer-generated imagery.  The transformational process the robots go through still looks really cool and sometimes mind-bending.  The robot fight scenes rival and probably surpass anything audiences would find in Star Wars movies.  This time, however, it means something and isn't just one long slog of creatures of metal slamming into each other.  There is a real sense of peril for both human and Autobots.  They might die or be destroyed, and the Earth might be devoured.  Plus, Unicron is a deliciously evil villain who is equally god and monster.  I hope he returns in future movies because as much as he scared me, he also fascinated me.

Director Steven Caple, Jr. has delivered a Transformers movie that is both visually busy and also dramatically hefty with genuine melodrama.  Yes, the third act is a bit tedious, but...  I'm shocked to say this.  I heartily recommend Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.

[Transformers: Rise of the Beasts has an extra scene that appears just after the credits begin and also a mid-credits scene.]

7 of 10
A-
★★★½ out of 4 stars

Friday, June 9, 2023


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Sunday, April 30, 2023

Review: Mesmerizing "BABYLON" Sings and F**ks in the Rain

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 18 of 2023 (No. 1907) by Leroy Douresseaux

Babylon (2022)
Running time:  189 minutes (3 hours, 9 minutes)
MPA – R for strong and crude sexual content, graphic nudity, bloody violence, drug use, and pervasive language.
WRITER/DIRECTOR:  Damien Chazelle
PRODUCERS:  Olivia Hamilton, Marc Platt, and Matthew Plouffe
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Linus Sandgren (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Tom Cross
COMPOSER:  Justin Hurwitz
Academy Award nominee

DRAMA/HISTORICAL

Starring:  Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Diego Calva, Jovan Adepo, Jean Smart, Li Jun Li, Olivia Wilde, Telvin Griffin, Flea, Eric Roberts, Max Minghella, Jeff Garlin, Ethan Suplee, and Tobey Maguire

Babylon is a 2022 period film, drama, and black comedy from writer-director Damien Chazelle.  The film chronicles the rise and fall of several Hollywood characters as the film industry transitions from silent films to sound films in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Babylon opens in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, 1926Manuel “Manny” Torres (Diego Calva), a Mexican immigrant, helps transport an elephant.  It's destination is a debauched bacchanal (party) at the lavish mansion of Don Wallach (Jeff Garlin), chief of Hollywood's Kinoscope Studios, which produces silent films.  It is there that Manny meets a young woman who has given herself the name, Nellie LaRoy (Margot Robbie).  She is brash, ambitious, and declares that she is a “star” from New Jersey, and Manny is quickly smitten with her.

Manny and Nellie soon cross paths with the party's other colorful attendees, including the Chinese-American, lesbian, cabaret singer, Lady Fay Zhu (Li Jun Li), and the Black American jazz trumpeter, Sidney Palmer (Jovan Adepo).  All four of them are going to find a place in the ecosystem of Hollywood, playing an important part in making silent films.  None of them will be as big as one of Hollywood's greatest silent film stars, Jack Conrad (Brad Pitt), who seems to be married as often as he is starring in a new silent film epic.

But just a year later, in 1927, the first sound film, The Jazz Singer, arrives, and everything begins to change – rapidly.  A world of out-sized ambition and outrageous excess starts pretending to be a tad bit more conservative.  So will any of the stars of silent film transition to the new world of sound film, also known as “talkies?”  Will Jack Conrad remain a star?  Is there still a place for Fay Zhu?  And what of the newcomers, Nellie, Manny, and Sidney? 

For me, Babylon is the film that delivers the way I was told Damien Chazelle's earlier film, La La Land (2016), would, but did not.  What some critics saw as overwhelming in Babylon, I see as exhilarating spectacle.  In a way, Babylon isn't so much about the end of the silent film era and the beginning of sound films as it is a celebration of Hollywood's glitz and glamour, which has enthralled audiences around the world for over a century.  Chazelle treats Hollywood's excess as a wonderful, magical thing.  Debauchery is loud, proud, and colorful.  Why be conservative and safe when the audience for Hollywood's films want the opposite.  Even as silence gives way to sound, films remain weird, wild, and wonderful, even if the people behind them pretend to have cleaned up their act and grown up.

The film's production values:  cinematography, costume and production design, sound, lighting, and editing play up the fun part – the hedonism and the revelry.  Babylon is one of the best-looking films of this still young century, and when I currently think of the word “cinematic,” I think of it.

The film has a number of good performances, but I will fault Chazelle for a screenplay that doesn't really immerse itself into the characters.  This film isn't into the characters the way it dives into the spectacle and the darkness behind the Hollywood film industry and the lifestyle of the people in front of and behind the cameras.  As much as they try, Brad Pitt and especially Margot Robbie and Diego Calva cannot really raise their characters above the sound and fury of Babylon.  Speaking of sound and fury, Justin Hurwitz's score for Babylon is a thing of magic; it never lets Babylon's narrative, drama, or action fall.

I know that Babylon is a polarizing film among film critics, movie reviewers and audiences.  I see it, however, as the work of a highly skilled writer-director, Damien Chazelle, who can do great things in movies.  But will he?  As far as I'm concerned, he has delivered with Babylon.

9 of 10
A+
★★★★+ out of 4 stars

Sunday, April 30, 2023


NOTES:
2023 Academy Awards, USA:  3 nominations: “Best Achievement in Production Design” (Florencia Martin and Anthony Carlino), “Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures-Original Score (Justin Hurwitz), and “Best Achievement in Costume Design: (Mary Zophres)

2023 BAFTA Awards:  1 win: “Best Production Design” (Florencia Martin and Anthony Carlino); 2 nominations: “Best Costume Design” (Mary Zophres), and “Original Score” (Justin Hurwitz)

2023 Golden Globes, USA:  1 win: “Best Original Score – Motion Picture” (Justin Hurwitz); 4 nominations: “Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy,” “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture” (Brad Pitt), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy” (Diego Calva), and “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy” (Margot Robbie)


The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved.  Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

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Saturday, April 8, 2023

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from April 1st to 8th, 2023 - Update #19

by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

You can support Leroy via Paypal or on Patreon:

ENTERTAINMENT AND CULTURE NEWS:

STREAMING - From Deadline:  Damson Idris, star of FX's "Snowfall," has been chosen to co-star with Brad Pitt in Apple Studios, Joseph Kosinki, and Jerry Bruckheimer's F1 racing movie.

STAR WARS - From THR:  Disney announces new "Star Wars" films, including one starring Daisy Ridley and directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.

MOVIES - From THR:  The film critics at "The Hollywood Reporter" pick the "50 Best Films of the 21st Century (So Far)."

SCANDAL - From DeadlineIrving Cartagena, the drug dealer who sold actor Michael K. Williams the drugs that killed him in 2021, has pleaded guilty to “one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl analogue, fentanyl, and heroin.”  He will serve a mandatory minimum of five years and up to 40 years.

MOVIES - From Variety:  Emmy-winner Donald Glover has revealed that Malia Obama, the elder daughter of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, is developing a short film via  his production company, "Gilga."

DISNEY - From DeadlineDisney+ has unveiled "Pauline," a German original about a teenager who falls in love with the devil from the team behind Netflix’s "How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast)."

TRUMP - From Truthout:  Today, Tuesday, April 4, 2023, former President Donald Trump was formally arraigned by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office in New York City, making him the first former president to be indicted in United States history.

From ManhattanDA:  Read the full indictment of Donald J. Trump in PDF form from the Manhanttan District Attorney's website.

From Truthout:  Former President Donald Trump and his ratchet campaign are leveraging misinformation and anti-Jewish conspiracy theories to turn the media circus around his indictment in New York into a cash cow. 

MOVIES - From Deadline:  Warner Bros. has unleashed "Barbie" movie posters.  The Greta Gerwig-directed film stars Margot Robbie as "Barbie" and Ryan Gosling as "Ken" and is due July 21, 2023.

MOVIES - From Deadline:  Recent Oscar-nominee, Austin Butler ("Elvis"), will play crime boss, "Danny Ryan," in Sony 3000 Pictures' film adaptation of Don Winslow's 2022 novel, "City on Fire."

MOVIES - From Deadline:  Director Michael Mann is considering "Heat 2," as his next film. It would be a sequel to his 1995 classic, "Heat."  Mann is currently in post-production on his current film, "Ferrari," which stars Adam Driver, the possible lead in "Heat 2"

DISNEY - From VarietyDisney is set to make a live-action remake of its 2016 animated film, "Moana."  Dwayne Johnson, who made the announcement and performed a voice role in the original, is set to return for the remake.

BOX OFFICE - From BoxOfficePro:  The winner of the 3/31 to 4/2/2023 weekend box office is Paramount Pictures' "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" with an estimated gross of 38.5 million dollars.

From Variety:  "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" opens with 33 millions dollars at the international box office.

TELEVISION - From Deadline:  The BBC is cancelling its hit comedy, "Ghosts," after its upcoming fifth season.  The series was remade as CBS' hit comedy, "Ghosts."

OBITS:

From Variety:  Japanese composer and record producer, Ryuichi Sakamoto, has died at the age of 71, Tuesday, March 28, 2023.  He won an Oscar with David Byrne and Cong Su for composing the music for the film, "The Last Emperor" (1987). His film music also won him a two Golden Globes, a BAFTA, and a Grammy Award.  He also composed the music for such films as "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence," "The Sheltering Sky" (1990), "Little Buddha" (1993), and "The Revenant" (2015).  With his band, "Yellow Magic Orchestra," he was a pioneer in several electronic music genres.

From THR:  Television producer, N'Neka Garland, has died at the age of 49, Monday, March 27, 2023.  She was best known for her 22-year association with the daytime TV soap opera, "General Hospital."  She began as an assistant to veteran producer, Jill Farren Phelps, but she eventually worked her way up to series producer.  In 2021, she shared a Daytime Emmy award win for "Outstanding Drama Series," after being nominated in that category the previous two years.  Garland was also the half-sister of the late hip-hop and rap legend, Tupac Shakur.

From THR:  Animator and animation filmmaker, Leo D. Sullivan, has died at the age of 82, Saturday, March 25, 2023.  Sullivan was a groundbreaking African-American animator and a pioneer in Black animation.  Sullivan also was a writer, producer, director, layout artist and storyboard artist at studios including Hanna-Barbera, Warner Bros., Filmation, DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, DIC Entertainment and Marvel Productions.  He worked on TV series featuring such characters as Scooby-Doo, Fat Albert, and the Animanicas, to name a few.  Sullivan also helped animated the original locomotive and graphics for the syndicated music series, "Soul Train."  Sullivan co-founded the first Black-owned animation production company, Vignette Films.