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News Media (Week of 2/18/19)



 
Box Office Mojo - U.S. Domestic Weekend (2/18/19) ...

 
1) ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL - $28.25 (4 day total - $34.30)   2) THE LEGO MOVIE 2 - $21.03 ($27.33)  

  3) ISN'T IT ROMANTIC - $14.31 ($16.64)   4) WHAT MEN WANT - $10.69 ($12.37)  
  5) HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U - $9.52 ($11.01) 







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Episode #213: STRING THEORY - "PASSION x SOUL = MAGIC":
A CHAT WITH VIOLINIST / COMPOSER NATHALIE BONIN




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 Winter / 2019
"THE SANDLOT" MOVIE MAGAZINE


TUNEPLAY - FILM MUSIC:

"MARTIN"- IZING: MARTIN TILLMAN AND "SUPERHUMAN"-
A WELCOME RETURN TO THE LOST ART OF DISCOVERY
by CEJ




     While those outside music industry circles may not know his name, everyone knows the sound of Martin Tillman. That at times heartachingly quavering / at other times fringe-worthy super-cool vocalization of electric cello vividly remembered by audiences in film scores such as PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN, THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST and BLACK HAWK DOWN, and concert performances with everyone from Elton John, Sting and B.B. King, to Tracey Chapman, Elvis Costello and T. Bone Burnett. Making the leap to film composer with the acclaimed THE RING TWO and the recent A BELL FOR URSLI and LAST KNIGHTS (the later a medieval reworking of the story of the 47 RONIN starring Clive Owen and Morgan Freeman) he’d bring a noticeably salient energy to even his more darkly hued works. No surprise as the first impression one comes away with after conversing with Tillman is that of having been in the presence of a young child unleashed in a candy store filled with all manner of confections. And this is precisely what Tillman is - he over his career having worked with many of the music legends (among them Chicago, Toto, members of Pink Floyd and Air Supply) he admired as a student in his native Switzerland.

     Now comes the appropriately named SUPERHUMAN – a concept album paying homage to, and on par with!, the best of Tangerine Dream, Pink Floyd, Nino Rota and more. Launched as a tribute to his lovely wife Eva, in honor of her courageous battle against MS (multiple sclerosis), SUPERHUMAN is presently in the process of being transformed into an international multi-media concert tour experience. Our own (albeit much smaller scaled) multi-media combo "album review and Martin Tillman bio / retrospective" includes video, streamed music, transcribed excerpts from our MOVIE SNEAK podcast interview, links and more.                                                                                          

* Includes audio and video / film material





THE GRINDHOUSE REVIEWS: 
REVIVING ALITA - "ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL" - WHEN "YOU FIGHT
LIKE A GIRL" GOES FROM AN INSULT TO A THREAT!
MULTIMEDIA REVIEW, DISSECTION AND MORE   
by CEJ
     
    

     We're not fans of "role models" or "empowerment figures" when it comes to film heroes because there's something disturbing (and downright dangerous) in actively seeking such from a corporate entity. Now, creating a great three dimensional character - with both warts and "slap 'em on the back" admirable attributes - and with whom you fall in love because you recognize in them parts of what you'd like to overcome as well as the kind of person you'd like to be? Well, then meet the new kid on block. Gritty and violent beyond the imaginings of any pre-fab Disney princess, and with more genuine heart, soul and kick-ass brio than faux (so-called) action movie heroines like ÆON FLUX, PROUD MARY or ATOMIC BLONDE's "Lorraine", the film which introduces teen heroine ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL (from filmmakers James Cameron & Robert Rodriguez, and based upon the popular Japanese manga comic by Yukito Kishiro) is LITTLE WOMEN by way of ROBO-COP. It's THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS audiobook as read by William Gibson. And while it's spectacular setting may be reminiscent of earlier films (everything from ROLLERBALL to ELYSIUM and more), there's never been a character quite like young Alita - who ends up not being the cliched "action hero ... who just so happens to be a young woman". Uh, uh, ALITA isn't afraid to unleash a new force in the genre world who is a hero because she's a young woman - with all of the ups and downs and pros and cons that entails. Then again that's what it means to be human, ... even if technically they call you a cyborg.

     Our multimedia review, background and more on ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL incls. the trailer, film clips, cast and crew video interviews, excerpts from Tom Holkenborg's epic score and more. "Long live #99!". 

                                             
* Includes audio & video material




 

THE GRINDHOUSE REVIEWS: 
"SOLO" SHOOTS FIRST, ... AND GIVES REALLY GOOD HAN! -
(A NO SPOILERS REVIEW AND MORE)    
by CEJ
  
 
      

 

     Stuffing eight weeks worth of nail-chewing serial cliffhanger sequences into a just-over-two-hour package, and crammed to the brim with more colorful pirates, crime lords, smugglers and rebels than the first two original STAR WARS films combined, SOLO is a filmic rollercoaster ride which only the most jaded of moof milkers can come away from not feeling like a twelve year old who just scored his or her first Hot Wheels race set on Christmas morning

     While all of the STAR WARS films glean inspiration from classic westerns, SOLO actually more than any other is a western. In fact if you squint the eyes of your imagination and think "Civil War / Post Civil War" you may even see tonal and thematic vestiges of JOSEY WALES.  It’s surely the most  “naturalistic” film of the STAR WARS cinematic universe - where here the ultimate outcome of events is in no way determined, or even influenced, by The Force. In SOLO the fate of characters living in a Force-less (or at least “Force-agnostic“-like) existence rests completely within each individual’s hands, intellect, talents and resourcefulness alone. And that's a surprisingly clever "Joker in the deck" turn this time around, ... not unlike the character of 'ol Han Solo himself!    


                                                               * Includes audio and video / film material



                      
VIEWS ON FILM / VAULTED TREASURES:
  THE 0.001% SOLUTION AND RESURRECTION OF POSTMODERNISM
                          
"LONDON FIELDS": THE DIRECTOR'S CUT
by CEJ

       

     Forget the promo b.s. you’ve seen in the trailers and read in blurbs. LONDON FIELDS: THE DIRECTOR'S CUT really isn’t a “thriller”, “crime drama or “neo noir”. It's one of those kinds of films - an existential journey through the soul in the best old-school BLUE VELVET, BETTY BLUE kind of way where a confused part of you almost shamefully wonders while watching it “Good Lord, what the f**k did I stumble into?“ while the other part realizes you've struck perverse cinema gold. It's this misunderstanding (from a piss-poor ad campaign) which was largely responsible for Matthew Cullen’s sly and clever adaptation of Martin Amis’ popular 1989 novel to go down in the books of numerous critics as one of the “filmic dogs” of 2018. But it really isn't! Quite the contrary. Cullen's (admittedly difficult) but fascinating film is a throwback to the days of Bertolucci, Lindsay Anderson and David Lynch where the narrative mirrors the reason the film was made, and the characters (sometimes knowingly) find themselves pawns in an existential chess game of the gods - a duel of the fates attempting to pass itself off as a dark genre piece. After being pulled from the Toronto Film Festival because of a dispute between director and producers, LONDON FIELDS entered a three year legal quagmire; finally to emerge in two versions - a critically lambasted "Producer's Cut" and the little seen "Director's Cut". More than a review we deconstruct and dissect LONDON FIELDS, use video interview material and links to take a look at its origin and infamous history, then give our final verdict on where Cullen's "cosmic mystery yarn?" lands in the pantheon of postmodern cinema.                   

*Includes film and video material



                                                                        


VIEWS ON FILM:

24 FRAMES - WITH STEVE VERTLIEB - 
LOST HORIZONS, JADED AUDIENCES: WTF! ABOUT "THE BFG"?



     A sublimely lyrical adaptation of the popular children's novel by Roald Dahl (previously realized as an animated TV feature and as a stage play), summer 2016's THE BFG was to be the cinematic mash-up for which fans of fantasy and family films had long been waiting: a big screen team up between two names which individually had written the book on both genres - Steven Spielberg and Walt Disney Studios. But alas, it was not to be. Lauded by critics, but largely ignored by audiences, there were theories aplenty as to why the film failed to catch on - running the gamut from speculation that American audiences were turned off by the title, to (most egregiously) conjecture that, in today's fearful and cynical climate, the tale of an outsider who spirits away a young girl to a land of magic and adventure (a'la PETER PAN) bore too close a resemblance to pedophilia.

     Beginning as part film review / part thesis on the modern mindset, film historian / Rondo Hatton Award Hall Of Fame honoree Steve Vertlieb addresses these dark theories; then during the second half praises the Spielberg fantasy machine for maintaining it's sense of awe and wonder for nearly a half century, ... all the while intelligently pleading for contemporary audiences to do the same.   




                                                                      *Includes audio / video - film material

                                                                      
 
                                                                     



MUSINGS & RAMBLINGS:

HEY, ONE FILM WON'T CHANGE AN INDUSTRY
(But here are a few things we can definitely do ... )
by CEJ


     Ryan Coogler's BLACK PANTHER,  Patty Jenkins' WONDER WOMAN, and Jordan Peele's GET OUT are films the arrivals of which were long overdue, and to each of which the term "game changer" has been attached. While celebrating the success of such films is something long denied a significant segment of the cinema audience, we're old enough to have heard the "game changer" thing more than once before. And in this opinion piece we float the notion that in order for this time to be different and lasting, the oft spoken refrain of "Give us the opportunity to ..." needs to be trashed and replaced with a combination of not only industry accountability but also audience responsibility as well as expectation and action: action which entails more than waiting for someone else to make a film for us, then getting behind it.

     Starting with the comic book films (as they're the biggest elephants in the room right now) our examination of "diversity via audience self determination" expands into the groundbreaking "We'll make our own way" work of producer / creators such as Will Packer, Shonda Rhimes, Melissa McCarthy, Byron Allen, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and more. We take a hard look at those controversial comments regarding diversity made by James Cameron, Elizabeth Banks and Taraji P. Henson. And we wrap up on a lighter note with a rundown of mainstream Black, Latino, Female, and Gay and Lesbian comic book ass-kickers we bet you never even heard of - some of whom at one time or another were slated for films. We're certain not everyone will agree with our conclusions. But we're also pretty sure you'll come away with more than a little food for thought ... as well as action.      


                                              * Includes audio and video / film material






                                   

ARTICLES ARCHIVE:
                           THE 12 (well, ... 24 Alternate) DAYS OF CHRISTMAS: PT. 1 -
FOR THOSE WHO'VE HAD ENOUGH DAMNED GEORGE BAILEY,
BING CROSBY AND ALISTAIR SIM, ... FOR ONE YEAR ANYWAY!
 
by CEJ

 
 


     Not that we don't love our fair share of bonafied Christmas classics. Hell, THE BISHOP'S WIFE is one of our fave films of all time period. And the holiday season just doesn't exists until you've watched A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, those 'ol Heat and Cold Miser brothers, and THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY back to back on the same night. But sometimes you've just gotta change it up. So, for those looking for something a little off-center, we offer up a pine and cinnamon scented celluloid potpourri-like suggestion of two dozen holiday themed flicks. Well, okay, maybe not "themed", but at least taking place between Thanksgiving and New Years Day. From actioners like DIE HARD and THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT, to romantic comedies such as WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING and LOVE ACTUALLY, and even a classic or two a'la THE LION IN WINTER squeezed in for those choosing to play it more nice than naughty (sorry, no FRED CLAUS, SCROOGED or PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES - that's too damned easy), we've something on our list to fill everyone's cinematic stocking. Happy Holidays, ... and "Yippie Ki-Yay, mutha f#%kas!". 


* Includes audio material











Winter / 2019
LIBRARY;
FILM PRODUCTION


SCREENWRITING - THE WRITE STUFF:
"ALIEN" FINAL SHOOTING SCRIPT (JUNE, 1978) -
WATER HILL / DAVID GILER / DAN O'BANNON / RONALD SHUSETT





      One of the most popular films (and film franchises) in cinema history, ALIEN as a story began conceptually with it's now infamous "chest burster" sequence - inspired by screenwriter Dan O'Bannon's years long battle with the gastrointestinal disease "Crohn's Syndrome".  Returning penniless to America after the sudden cancellation of Jodorowsky's DUNE (on which O'Bannon was FX department head), he and fellow aspiring writer Ronald Shusett collaborated on what began as a low budget "B" film for Roger Corman, then (via involvement with "A" list filmmakers Walter Hill, David Giler, newcomer Ridley Scott, and emerging international artist / sculptor star H.R. Giger) rapidly became one of the most intense cinematic experiences since THE EXORCIST. 
 

 
      From the GullCottage archives we present for download the complete legendary Walter Hill / David Giler ALIEN final shooting script (PDF) based on O'Bannon & Shusett's original, along with video excerpts from the acclaimed 2002 Fox / Van Ness / AMC documentary THE ALIEN SAGA - narrated by John Hurt, behind the scenes stills, reproductions of H.R. Giger paintings and more.    



                                                                      * Includes video / film material



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CINEMATOGRAPHY / EDITING:
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY HASKELL WEXLER -
"WHO NEEDS SLEEP?" (2006)
 



      Most in the film business aren't rich superstars like those of "MTV Cribs", but rather electricians, set builders, etc. raising families, paying mortgages, and working hellishly long hard hours to do so.  A long proponent of fair on-set working conditions, Oscar winning cinematographer / documentarian Haskell Wexler (MEDIUM COOL,  ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST) was spurred to greater action upon the death of cameraman Brent Herschmann, who fell asleep at the wheel trying to make it home to his children after a 19 hr. shift on the film PLEASANTVILLE.   Wexler's 2006 WHO NEEDS SLEEP? features interviews with cinematographer / directors (incl. FIELD OF DREAMS' John Lindley and LETHAL WEAPON's Richard Donner) as well as commentary by Billy Crystal, Julia Roberts and others on the (still controversial) subject of safe industry conditions.  Watch it then ask, "When does the drive to be #1 become counterproductive?". 



*Includes video/film material


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FILM MUSIC - ON THE DOWNBEAT:
JERRY GOLDSMITH & MICHAEL CRICHTON:
A MATCH FROM THE GODS IN CINEMA HEAVEN


     Film is replete with artistic “marriages” - among them, composer / director collaborations such as Bernard Herrmann / Alfred Hitchcock (PSYCHO, NORTH BY NORTHWEST) and John Williams / Steven Spielberg.  Odd though that, even among film and music aficionados, one of the most prolific of pairings is one of the least lauded - the seven time "hook up" of legendary composer Jerry Goldsmith (CHINATOWN, THE OMEN) with equally legendary novelist / director  MICHAEL CRICHTON on films as diverse as COMA, THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY, RUNAWAY and CONGO.  We seek to right that with a detailed retrospective (including music and film clips) of their numerous creative "mash-ups" beginning with 1972's TV movie PURSUIT and concluding with the ill fated TIMELINE (2003) - their final collaboration shortly before the passing of both men.



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THE FILMMAKERS TALK:
"WATCH THE SKIES - SCIENCE FICTION, THE 1950s, AND US" (2005) -
WITH STEVEN SPIELBERG, GEORGE LUCAS, RIDLEY SCOTT & JAMES CAMERON




    
     Film critic, journalist, cinema historian & documentarian Richard Schickel queries four of the most successful genre film makers in history (Steven Spielberg - E.T., JURASSIC PARK;  Ridley Scott - ALIEN, BLADE RUNNER; George Lucas - the STAR WARS sextet; and James Cameron - THE TERMINATOR, AVATAR) as to how a handful of classic science fiction films influenced them from childhood into their present day work.  And not high brow epics like 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, mind you, but rather humble 1950s-era Saturday matinee / drive-in movie fodder such as THEM!, FORBIDDEN PLANET, THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN, INVADERS FROM MARS, DESTINATION MOON, ROCKETSHIP X-M and more.  Fire up the popcorn, kick back for an hour and enjoy a grand ride through film history for fanboys and general buffs alike.



*Includes video/film material
 

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GALLERIES:
MORPHEUS INCOGNITO: ARTIST WAYNE BARLOWE
AND HIS INFLUENCE ON THE MODERN FILM



     "Really good drugs or a really bad childhood?".  
Any creative individual who’s produced but one thing remotely construed as “dark”, has heard it; ... and few more than Wayne Barlowe.  World renowned for his elegant, lush (and yes! disturbing) series of "Hell World" paintings, Barlowe's imagination has not only for the past 20 years seized the imaginations of the art world, but that of film.  He's directly contributed to the concept designs of hits such as HELLBOY 2, BLADE 2, TITAN A.E., the HARRY POTTER series, and AVATAR.  But the "Barlowe aesthetic" has also been of great influence on PAN'S LABYRINTH, THE LORD OF THE RINGS, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN and many more.  Join us on a fascinating one of a kind trip through "Barlowe's Inferno" - a gallery collection of over two dozen of his most acclaimed original paintings and just as many film images inspired by them.  

      Enjoy accompanying suites of bloodcurdling film music by Javier Navarrete and Elliot Goldenthal, as well as the mini-doc presentation "AN INTERVIEW WITH WAYNE BARLOWE"     
 


                                                                        *
Includes audio/video material


 



Winter / 2019
LIBRARY;
FILM & VIDEO SCREENING ROOM

FREE MOVIES:
THE EVIL DEAD (1981)


     While the phrase "like a bat outta hell!" was coined over one hundred years ago, one suspects it was done so by a shaman or soothsayer who'd glanced into the future and caught a "sneak peek advanced screening" of an experimental 1981 low budget horror "opus" called THE EVIL DEAD.  Produced and filmed by a neophyte Michigan film maker - aided and abetted by a group of friends on (and with) an almost literal shoestring, the "little movie that could" (about a of group of Spring breakers who unwittingly unleash a cabal of demons into the secluded woods) would go on to make it's debut at the Cannes Film Festival where it would manage to impress and scare the livin' hell out of horror legend Stephen King.   It would become a worldwide financial success as well as the first "multi-platform" film release.  It would evolve into a bonafied franchise, spawning two popular and critically acclaimed sequels, a line of video games, a series of comic books, and a much anticipated 2013 remake.  It would go down in history as one of the most popular cult films of all time ... .   And oh yes, it would also launch the careers of writer / director Sam Raimi (DARKMAN, the original SPIDER-MAN trilogy, OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL), actor Bruce Campbell (THE ADVENTURES OF BRISCO COUNTRY JR., BUBBA HO-TEP, CARS 2), and even those ever ubiquitous Coen Bros. - Joel & Ethan.

     Before you head out to see the remake / reboot by Fede Alvarez - which was produced by Raimi and Campbell, by the way! - check out (or reacquaint yourself with) the original 1981 classic: a living cinematic fever dream if there ever was one!






VIDEO RETRO:
"WOLFEN" (1981): LEADING THE PACK AS
THE FIRST, BEST, AND ONLY TRUE
POLITICAL THRILLER




     The only narrative fiction film from documentary director Michael Wadleigh (WOODSTOCK),  WOLFEN roared from cinema screens in the summer of 1981, seized the jugular of a nation in the midst of a conservative political turn, and reminded it that, even as the economy appeared to be in an upswing, there were still many falling through the cracks and now being used as stepping stones for a smaller percentage of the privileged. 


     A clever "mash-up" of CSI police procedural and "jump out of your seat" horror,
WOLFEN follows the investigation of NYPD Homicide Detective Dewey Wilson (Albert Finney) as he attempts to unravel the mystery behind the slasher murder (perpetrated by man or supernatural animal / man being?) of a Donald Trump-esque real estate magnate - a killing with terrorist ramifications for the entire (pre 9/11) city of New York.  C
ouching it's treatise in an historical reminiscence of controversial U.S. / Native American relations, Wadleigh's film would find itself at the center of a media debate concerning it's "leftist" message as well as end up a chess piece in the immediate financial future of the recently minted (and in need of a hit) Orion Pictures film studio. 


     
                                                                
*Includes audio and video/film material







BY THE BOOK! / BUY THE BOOK? - REVIEWS:
"OLD WORLD POLITICS, NEW WORLD PROPHECY -
UNDERSTANDING DAVID LYNCH’S INLAND EMPIRE"

 

      Books (as well as documentaries or features) purporting to “reveal”, “explain” or “decipher” the meaning of another, engage in tricky business, as often a “nebulus” narrative (in film for example) will be intentionally so, deliberately leaving “space” wherein each member of the audience can “fill in the blanks” with material from the stewing soup of their own subconscious.  Then ... there are the later day "non-linear narrative" films of David Lynch - LOST HIGHWAY (1997), MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001) and INLAND EMPIRE (2006).  Deliberately cryptic and symbolic, cineastes have debated their meaning for years. 

      We inaugurate our "BY THE BOOK! BUY THE BOOK?" review section with a look at Michael T. Lidstone's 2010 e-book OLD WORLD POLITICS, NEW WORLD PROPHECY - UNDERSTANDING DAVID LYNCH'S INLAND EMPIRE.  As a bonus afterward we present the author's personal comments regarding our review.  Check it out then inaugurate your own discussion on our Facebook page.  
 
                                                                                                                            
*Includes video material.






"TIMEWASTERS"
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ONLINE FESTIVAL OF SHORT FILMS


ON THE FUNNY
- humorous shorts. ON THE FRINGE - important shorts from influential filmmakers. "100 GREATEST MOVIE INSULTS OF ALL TIME" compilation.  Andrew Thomas Huang's 2012 Award Winner, SOLIPSIST. The "urban robotics" of Carl Erik Rinsch. Early experimental shorts of Tim Burton, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH's Spike Jonze, and DISTRICT 9 CHAPPIE's Neill Blomkamp.
More ...







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