9 posts categorized "Cinema"

October 06, 2016




















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July 03, 2015

The Best Films of 2015 So Far

By Cole Smithey

It’s a stretch to call “Mad Max: Fury Road” a Hollywood picture but we'll pretend so the left coast isn’t utterly left out of contributing to the best films of 2015, so far.

5. Ex Machina

Ex-machinaScience fiction has been a dying film genre in recent years. Largely this is because there are too few screenwriters or filmmakers with the imaginations to create compelling futuristic stories. Alex Garland has been an exception to the rule.

Smart, sexy, and back-loaded with a terrific twist ending, “Ex Machina” is an elegant sci-fi movie that considers the possibilities of artificial intelligence in thought-provoking ways. The stark narrative is essentially a three-hander for actors Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, and Alicia Vikander to play out their diametrically opposed characters in an isolated “No Exit” game of winner-take-all.

4. Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad-max-fury-road“Mad Max Fury Road” makes up for what it lacks in storyline and character development with a groundbreaking blend of feminist politics and action-movie tropes in a broad physical spectacle featuring death-defying stunts atop and between a constantly moving canvas of motor-driven insanity. “Fury Road” is to cinema as the Ramones’s “Teenage Lobotomy” was to rock ‘n’ roll. The picture’s deceptive depth lies in its blistering backbeat of fast-paced action fulfilled by a cast of gnarly Wild West-inspired characters “living to die and dying to live.” A lack of water and oil has turned humanity into hordes of people living by their primal instincts.

Miller proudly announces the movie as a feminist think piece. Charlize Theron’s implacable bionic-armed heroine Imperator Furiosa leads the lion’s share of the action. The steely Furiosa turns a fuel-delivery (via the giant oil truck she drives) into a rescue mission to transport five “wives” to Immortan Joe (played by Hugh Keays-Byrne in a franchise return), the demonic despot who controls the flow of water to the starving masses. The Australian filmmaker balances the motherly power of femininity with tougher aspects of womanhood, namely a cold-blooded will to kick serious ass LAMF. Instant cult classic? You bet.

3. Amy

Amy_The must-see-documentary at this year’s Cannes Film Festival was Asif Kapadia’s ambitious biography of Amy Winehouse. It’s a devastating look at how some of the people closest to the singer/songwriter contributed to her untimely demise. By sticking with his voiceover-only narration (rather than taking the standard talking-head approach) Kapadia stays out of the way of his fascinating subject. The method is so much the better for rapt audiences to absorb Winehouse’s raw talent and sophisticated mastery of melody, songcraft, and delivery.

Most captivating are studio-recording sessions in which Winehouse delivers her unique voice and phrasing with a stark honesty that charms all. Watching her record her famous song “Back to Black” is nothing short of stunning. A duet recording session with her hero Tony Bennett reveals much about Winehouse’s craftsmanship as a singer and about the high standards to which she held herself. The instant rapport that she shares with a glowing Tony Bennett is a dreamlike moment of musical delight.

2. What Happened Miss Simone?

What_happened_simoneDirector Liz Garbus (“Bobby Fischer Against the World,” 2011) eloquently sets the film’s tone with an eerie quote from Maya Angelou.

“Miss Simone, you are idolized, even loved, by millions now. But what happened, Miss Simone?”

It proves to be a provocative question about a complex woman caught in a web of domestic and social abuse. Through dazzling archive performance and interview clips, and upfront contributions from the likes of Simone’s articulate daughter Lisa, Garbus hits every note in a biography that, like Nina Simone’s dynamic vocal range, goes from gravel to frosting. Intelligent audio interviews allow the outspoken singer to narrate in her own inimitable voice. Documentaries don't get much more intimate than this.

The rich narrative and musical material on display allows Garbus to work the audience into a compulsive lather of mixed emotions. The film flashes to modern day relevance over Simone’s scalding protest song “Mississippi Goddam,” a response to forty churches burned in Birmingham, Alabama.

Simone sings with a fury that explodes, “Alabama’s gotten me so upset, Tennessee made me lost my rest, And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam.“

From a political perspective, “What Happened Miss Simone” arrives at a key moment of crisis for Blacks in America, when the ongoing incremental genocide of Blacks is on the rise.

Nina Simone’s definition of freedom rings with the same truth as is found in her music.

“What is freedom? No fear.”

1. Girlhood

GirlhoodYou might read the title “Girlhood” and think that some ambitious (perhaps female) filmmaker is taking on Richard Linklater at his most recent game. Indeed, if you consider Céline Sciamma’s substantial pedigree, as the masterful writer-director behind such youth-centric LGBT triumphs as “Water Lilies” and “Tomboy,” you could arrive at the conclusion that Richard Linklater has been taking some notes from her.

When compared to her first two tour de force films, “Girlhood” reveals itself to be every bit as insightful and authentic a cinematic representation of a personal female coming-of-age experience in modern-day France. For the record, “Girlhood” stands up well opposite Linklater’s “Boyhood” as another essential filmic chapter in the global political, socioeconomic, and cultural challenges facing young people in the 21st century, albeit from vastly different cultural backgrounds. “Girlhood” is a stunner.


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May 13, 2015

CANNES 2015 — DAY 1

During the festival there are more exotic fast cars per square kilometer in Cannes than anywhere else in the world. Lamborghinis, Ferraris, McLarens, and Maseratis ostentatiously rev their engines through Cannes’s crowded narrow streets. Scooters and motorcycles somehow manage to slip past. Driven by brawny young men busy talking on cellphone headsets, or by statuesque women with big hair, the flashy cars embody all of the glamour, celebrity culture, and excess of Hollywood on the Rivera.

Cannes Day 1
It’s ironic then that the film that opened this year’s festival should be a reflection of France’s unsteady future in the face of rampant unemployment. Following the horrific Charlie Hebdo attacks, the festival heads made a conscious decision to deviate from its usual habit of giving the opening night slot to a piece of Hollywood tripe in favor of “La Tete Haute” (“Standing Tall”), a French social realist drama from director Emmanuelle Bercot. “Tete” avoids clichés as it digs into deep-seeded problems of psychological and social conditions. The powerhouse casting of Catherine Deneuve as a juvenile detention judge centers the film. Benoit Magimel more than pulls his weight as Yann, a counselor assigned to guide the rehabilitation process of Malony, a troubled victim of terrible parenting. The fiction that all mothers are innately good people is given a proper trouncing here.

Newcomer Rod Paradot is a revelation as Malony. His gut-wrenching naturalistic performance is as good as it gets. Paradot owns the movie with an instinctive portrayal that’s up there with Marlon Brando’s best work. If some critics recoil from “Standing Tall,” it says more about their inability to grapple with the genre than it does about the movie. “Standing Tall” is the kind of uncompromising film Ken Loach would love.

Cole with Peanuts
There were fireworks on the first night, but the cumulative emotional power of the films in this year’s festival promises to leave indelible memories and lessons far greater than burning bits of paper in a night sky.


February 23, 2015


2015 oscars

Best Supporting Actor:

Robert Duvall in The Judge
Ethan Hawke in Boyhood
Edward Norton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher
OSCAR WINNER — J.K. Simmons in Whiplash


Achievement in Costume Design:

OSCAR WINNER — The Grand Budapest Hotel, Milena Canonero
Inherent Vice, Mark Bridges
Into the Woods, Colleen Atwood
Maleficent, Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive 
Mr. Turner, Jacqueline Durran


​Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling:

Foxcatcher, Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard
OSCAR WINNER — The Grand Budapest Hotel, Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier
Guardians of the Galaxy, Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White


Best Foreign-Language Film:

OSCAR WINNER — Ida, Poland
Leviathan, Russia
Tangerines, Estonia
Timbuktu, Mauritania
Wild Tales, Argentina


Best Live Action Short Film:

Aya, Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis
Boogaloo and Graham, Michael Lennox and Ronan Blaney
Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak), Hu Wei and Julien Féret
Parvaneh, Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger
OSCAR WINNER — The Phone Call, Mat Kirkby and James Lucas


Best Documentary Short Subject:

OSCAR WINNER — Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1, Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry
Joanna, Aneta Kopacz
Our Curse, Tomasz Sliwinski and Maciej Slesicki
The Reaper (La Parka), Gabriel Serra Arguello
White Earth, J. Christian Jensen


Achievement in Sound Mixing:

American Sniper, John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, and Thomas Varga
Interstellar, Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker, and Mark Weingarten
Unbroken, Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, and David Lee
OSCAR WINNER — Whiplash, Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins, and Thomas Curley


Achievement in Sound Editing:

OSCAR WINNER — American Sniper, Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Martín Hernández and Aaron Glascock
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Brent Burge and Jason Canovas
Interstellar, Richard King
Unbroken, Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro


​Best Supporting Actress:

OSCAR WINNER — Patricia Arquette in Boyhood
Laura Dern in Wild
Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game
Emma Stone in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Meryl Streep in Into the Woods


Achievement in Visual Effects:

Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist
Guardians of the Galaxy, Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould
OSCAR WINNER — Interstellar, Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher
X-Men: Days of Future Past, Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer


Best Animated Short Film:

The Bigger Picture, Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees
The Dam Keeper, Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi
OSCAR WINNER — Feast, Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed
Me and My Moulton, Torill Kove
A Single Life, Joris Oprins


Best Animated Feature Film:

OSCAR WINNER — Big Hero 6, Don Hall, Chris Williams, and Roy Conli
The Boxtrolls, Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable, and Travis Knight
How to Train Your Dragon 2, Dean DeBlois, and Bonnie Arnold
Song of the Sea, Tomm Moore and Paul Young
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, Isao Takahata and Yoshiaki Nishimura


Achievement in Production Design:

OSCAR WINNER — The Grand Budapest Hotel: Adam Stockhausen Set Decoration Anna Pinnock
The Imitation Game, Production Design: Maria Djurkovic; Set Decoration: Tatiana Macdonald
Interstellar, Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis
Into the Woods, Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
Mr. Turner, Production Design: Suzie Davies; Set Decoration: Charlotte Watts


Achievement in Cinematography:

OSCAR WINNER — Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Emmanuel Lubezki
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Robert Yeoman
Ida, Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski
Mr. Turner, Dick Pope
Unbroken, Roger Deakins


OSCAR WINNER — Achievement in Film Editing:

American Sniper, Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach
Boyhood, Sandra Adair
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Barney Pilling
The Imitation Game, William Goldenberg
OSCAR WINNER — Whiplash, Tom Cross


Best Documentary Feature:

OSCAR WINNER — CitizenFour, Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy, and Dirk Wilutzky
Finding Vivian Maier, John Maloof and Charlie Siskel
Last Days in Vietnam, Rory Kennedy and Keven McAlester
The Salt of the Earth, Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, and David Rosier
Virunga, Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara


Best Original Song:

"Everything Is Awesome" from The Lego Movie, Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson
OSCAR WINNER — "Glory" from Selma, Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn
"Grateful" from Beyond the Lights, Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
"I'm Not Gonna Miss You" from Glen Campbell…I'll Be Me, Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond
"Lost Stars" from Begin Again, Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois


Best Original Score:

OSCAR WINNER — The Grand Budapest Hotel, Alexandre Desplat
The Imitation Game, Alexandre Desplat
Interstellar, Hans Zimmer
Mr. Turner, Gary Yershon
The Theory of Everything, Jóhann Jóhannsson


Best Original Screenplay:

OSCAR WINNER — Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo
Boyhood, Written by Richard Linklater
Foxcatcher, Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
The Grand Budapest Hotel,  Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
Nightcrawler, Written by Dan Gilroy


Best Adapted Screenplay:

American Sniper, Written by Jason Hall
OSCAR WINNER — The Imitation Game, Written by Graham Moore
Inherent Vice, Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson
The Theory of Everything, Screenplay by Anthony McCarten
Whiplash, Written by Damien Chazelle


​Best Directing:

OSCAR WINNER — Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Boyhood, Richard Linklater
Foxcatcher, Bennett Miller
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson
The Imitation Game, Morten Tyldum


​Best Actor:

Steve Carell in Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper in American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
OSCAR WINNER — Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything


Best Actress:

Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything
OSCAR WINNER — Julianne Moore in Still Alice
Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon in Wild


Best Picture:

American Sniper
OSCAR WINNER — Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

February 08, 2015

Notes From the New Beverly: Monday, December 22, 2014

By Cole Smithey

NewBev1The New Beverly cinema wasn’t on my radar until word that Quentin Tarantino was purchasing the property and taking the cinema over as his own.

I had the pleasure of meeting Tarantino during my first visit to the Cannes Film Festival. It was 1992 in the back halls of the Grand Palais, in front of the rows of little mail boxes that each journalist has his or her own box for receiving daily updates and press materials. I'd just seen the first public screening of "Reservoir Dogs" the night before. I gushed about how his movie had "kicked my ass." Tarantino replied, "That's just what I want to hear!"

But I digress.  

Having grown up in Richmond, Virginia during the ‘60s and ‘70s, I loved seeing movies at my neighborhood art house, The Biograph on West Grace Street, just a couple of blocks from my house. I’ll never forget using a fake high school ID to see “The Autobiography of a Flea,” an X-rated porno flick from 1976 starring the infamous John Holmes (a.k.a. Johnny Wadd). I saw my first Marx Brothers movies there, along with such instant classics as Philippe de Broca's "King of Hearts," Hal Ashby's “Harold and Maude” and Mel Brooks's “Young Frankenstein.”

When I moved to San Diego to major in Drama at San Diego State, the Ken cinema became my second home. Seeing "A Clockwork Orange," “Salo” and “200 Motels” at the Ken made big impressions on me. Later, San Francisco fed my art house addiction. The sadly now-closed Red Vic Movie House, and the still-operating Roxie Cinema allowed my to see films like Polanski’s “Repulsion” and Dusan Makavejev’s “Sweet Movie,” not to mention William Friedkin’s “Sorcerer” (at The Roxie) with Friedkin himself in attendance to chat with after the movie — what a thrill.

Newbeverly-tarantinoMy recent vacation to California brought me in striking distance to pay a visit to the New Beverly. My wife and I booked a hotel for a night (Monday, December 22) in L.A. with a plan to visit the La Brea Tar Pits, have a beer at Rosewood Tavern, and then walk over to the New Beverly for a 7:00 screening of “The Deep,” a film I hadn’t seen since its 1977 release. Katherine had read the book, but never seen the movie. Rumored to be a four-track mag print of “The Deep,” pulled straight from Tarantino’s personal collection of celluloid, the screening held more than a little allure. We were not disappointed.

Armed with our medium bag of popcorn, two sliders, and a couple of bottles of water (total cost: $9.50), we sat down in our choice back row seats. The medium sized cinema was spotless, the chairs comfortable, and every fixture looked brand-new. A 12 minute making-of-featurette for “The Poseidon Adventure” set the tone for our screening experience. Cheesy in the best possible of ways, the '70s era promo reel had Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, and Shelley Winters describing their experiences (direct-to-camera) about making the big budget Hollywood movie that would become one of the the decade's early blockbusters.

A Happy New Year short predicted that 1977 would be the best year yet. A trailer for the Marx Brothers’ “Duck Soup,” and we were '70s primed for “The Deep.”

If you’ve ever seen the movie you know that the first 15 minutes are all about Jacqueline Bisset’s breasts. Director Peter Yates labors over Bisset’s erect nipples that push at the thin cotton of her transparent t-shirt as she skin dives with Nick Nolte off the coast of Bermuda. It matters little that Nolte and Bisset don’t share an iota of screen chemistry as boyfriend/girlfriend. What's important is that the movie features Robert Shaw (fresh off the massive success of “Jaws”). Shaw’s character Romer Treece lives in a lighthouse that delivers on one of the film’s more explosive plot elements. Shaw tears up the screen with his trademark grit. Talk about a powerhouse actor; Robert Shaw is in full form as the salty treasure diver Treece. 

Of the sixty or so moviegoers in the audience, there were a handful of regular fiends happy to applaud or cheer when inspired. At $8.00 for a ticket good for the daily double feature, The New Beverly is a classy Los Angeles art house for real movie lovers. You can always head back over to Fairfax like we did for a couple more beers at Rosewood Tavern, and then a hot pastrami sandwich right across the street at Canters Deli.

All I know is I’ve got my favorite art house cinema in L.A. scoped out. Anytime I’m in L.A. I'll be back at the New Beverly — sliders, popcorn, and water in hand.


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February 07, 2015



 Without regard to my personal favorites or staunchly held opinions, here are my predictions in all 24 categories based on where I think the Academy will lean. I may make a few amendments as the Oscars approach on Sunday February 22.

American Sniper
Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper and Peter Morgan, Producers
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole, Producers

✪ Boyhood
Richard Linklater and Cathleen Sutherland, Producers

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson, Producers
The Imitation Game
Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman, Producers
Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Producers
The Theory of Everything
Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce and Anthony McCarten, Producers
Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook and David Lancaster, Producers


Steve Carell in Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper in American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game

✪ Michael Keaton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything


Robert Duvall in The Judge
Ethan Hawke in Boyhood
Edward Norton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher

✪ J.K. Simmons in Whiplash


Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything

✪ Julianne Moore in Still Alice

Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon in Wild



✪ Patricia Arquette in Boyhood

Laura Dern in Wild
Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game
Emma Stone in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Meryl Streep in Into the Woods


Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

✪ Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game


Big Hero 6
Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli
The Boxtrolls
Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable and Travis Knight

✪ How to Train Your Dragon 2
Dean DeBlois and Bonnie Arnold

Song of the Sea
Tomm Moore and Paul Young

The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya
Isao Takahata and Yoshiaki Nishimura



✪ Leviathan (Russia)

Ida (Poland)

Tangerines (Estonia)

Timbuktu (Mauritania)

Wild Tales (Argentina)


American Sniper
Written by Jason Hall

✪ The Imitation Game
Written by Graham Moore

Inherent Vice
Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson
The Theory of Everything
Screenplay by Anthony McCarten
Written by Damien Chazelle



✪ Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo

Written by Richard Linklater

Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness

Written by Dan Gilroy



✪ Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Emmanuel Lubezki

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Robert Yeoman

Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski

Mr. Turner
Dick Pope

Roger Deakins


The Grand Budapest Hotel
Milena Canonero

Inherent Vice
Mark Bridges

✪ Into The Woods
Colleen Atwood

Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive

Mr. Turner
Jacqueline Durran



✪ CitizenFour
Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky

Finding Vivian Maier
John Maloof and Charlie Siskel
Last Days in Vietnam
Rory Kennedy and Keven McAlester
The Salt of the Earth
Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and David Rosier
Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara



✪ Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry

Aneta Kopacz

Our Curse
Tomasz Sliwinski and Maciej Slesicki

The Reaper (La Parka)
Gabriel Serra Arguello

White Earth
J. Christian Jensen



✪ Boyhood
Sandra Adair

American Sniper
Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Barney Pilling

The Imitation Game
William Goldenberg

Tom Cross



✪ The Grand Budapest Hotel
Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier

Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard

Guardians of the Galaxy
Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White



✪ The Theory of Everything
Jóhann Jóhannsson

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alexandre Desplat

The Imitation Game
Alexandre Desplat

Hans Zimmer

Mr. Turner
Gary Yershon


“Everything Is Awesome” from The Lego Movie
Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson

✪ “Glory” from Selma
Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn

“Grateful” from Beyond the Lights
Music and Lyric by Diane Warren

“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me
Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond

“Lost Stars” from Begin Again
Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois


✪ The Grand Budapest Hotel
Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock

The Imitation Game
Production Design: Maria Djurkovic; Set Decoration: Tatiana Macdonald

Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis

Into the Woods
Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock

Mr. Turner
Production Design: Suzie Davies; Set Decoration: Charlotte Watts



✪ Feast
Patrick Osborne and Kristina Ree

The Bigger Picture
Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees

The Dam Keeper
Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi

Me and My Moulton
Torill Kove

A Single Life
Joris Oprins



✪ The Phone Call
Mat Kirkby and James Lucas
Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis

Boogaloo and Graham
Michael Lennox and Ronan Blaney

Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak)
Hu Wei and Julien Féret

Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger

American Sniper
Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Martín Hernández and Aaron Glascock

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Brent Burge and Jason Canovas

✪ Interstellar
Richard King

Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro



✪ American Sniper
John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga

Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten

Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee

Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley


Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist

Guardians of the Galaxy
Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould

✪ Interstellar
Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher

X-Men: Days of Future Past
Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer

January 10, 2015

The 21 Films I Look Forward to the Most In 2015 By Cole Smithey

Gaspar_Noe Love (No Release Date Yet)
Enfant terrible Gaspar Noé returns with his first feature since 2009’s earth-shattering film “Enter the Void.” “Love” is sexual melodrama about a boy and a girl and another girl. It's a love story that celebrates sex in a joyous way.


SarahI Smile Back (January 25)
All is not right in suburbia. Sarah Silverman plays Laney Brooks, a horny wife and mother on the edge, who has stopped taking her meds, substituting recreational drugs and the wrong men instead. Beneath the surface of her privileged and perfect life Laney is a prisoner of her demons and the same dark impulses that seem to have become a family tradition. With the destruction of her family looming, Laney makes a last, desperate attempt at redemption, but it's no easy road.






CarolCarol (No Release Date Yet)
Todd Haynes adapts Patricia Highsmith’s lesbian romance. Set in ‘50s era New York, Rooney Mara plays a department-store clerk who dreams of a better life falls for an older, married woman played by Cate Blanchett.


The Lobster (March 2015)
Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos (“Alps”) creates a meta love story set in a dystopian near future where single people are arrested and transferred to a creepy hotel. They must to find a mate within 45 days. If they fail, they are transformed into animals and released into the woods.


Far From the Maddening CrowdFar From the Maddening Crowd (No Release Date Yet)
In Victorian England, the independent and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer; Frank Troy, a reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood, a prosperous and mature bachelor. Juno Temple, Michael Sheen, Carey Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts star.



Our Brand Is Crisis (No Release Date Yet)
George Clooney produces this political comedy based on the documentary of the same title about American political campaign strategies in South America. Sandra Bullock stars as “Calamity” Jane Bodine, an American campaign director hired by a Bolivian presidential candidate. Billy Bob Thonton and Anthony Mackie also star.


Child 44Child 44 (April 17)
Set in Stalin-era Soviet Union, a disgraced MGB agent (Tom Hardy) is dispatched to investigate a series of child murders — a case that begins to connect with the very top of party leadership.




The Early Years (May 2015)
Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino returns after his 2013 stunner ‘The Great Beauty” to make his first English language film. Fred (Michael Caine) and Mick (Paul Dano) are two old friends on vacation in an elegant hotel at the foot of the Alps. Fred, a composer and conductor, is now retired. Mick, a film director, is still working. They look with curiosity and tenderness on their children's confused lives, Micks enthusiastic young writers, and the other hotel guests. While Mick scrambles to finish the screenplay for what he imagines will be his last important film, Fred has no intention of resuming his musical career. But someone wants at all costs to hear him conduct again.


GrimsbyGrimsby (July 31)
A new assignment forces a top spy to team up with his football hooligan brother. Writer-actor Sacha Baron Cohen and his wife Isla Fisher promise big laughs. Rebel Wilson, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, and Gabourey Sidibe star.









RickiRicki and the Flash (August 6)
Meryl Streep plays Ricki, an aging rocker attempting to reunite the family she abandoned years earlier in search of fame, with Streep’s real-life daughter Mamie Gummer plays Julie, one of Ricki’s children. Jonathan Demme directs Diablo Cody’s screenplay. Kevin Kline and Rick Springfield star.



Elle (No Release Date Yet)
Two words: Paul Verhoeven. When Michelle (Isabelle Huppert) is attacked in her home she refuses to let it alter her carefully ordered life. Michelle manages crises involving her elderly sex-kitten mother, her imprisoned mass-murderer father, her spoiled son, her ex-husband, and her lover, all with the same icy equanimity. She brings the same attitude to the situation when it appears that her assailant is not finished with her. While the mysterious stalker hovers in the shadows of her life Michelle cooly stalks him back. What emerges between Michelle and her stalker is a a game that spirals out of control. Bitchin’.


Mad Max Fury RoadMad Max: Fury Road (No Release Date Yet)
George Miller (director of the first “Mad Max” movies) adds another installment to his storied franchise. In a post-apocalyptic world, two rebels might be able to restore order. Max (Tom Hardy) seeks peace of mind following the loss of his family. Furiosa (Charlize Theron) is a woman of action who believes her path to survival might be achieved if she can make it across the desert back to her childhood homeland.





EverestEverest (October 2015)
Jake Gyllenhaal, Keira Knightly, and Sam Worthington play Everest climbers on a disastrous 1996 expedition. Robin Wright also stars.










Crimson PeakCrimson Peak (October 16)
Guillermo del Toro returns to directing horror. In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds...and remembers. Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Charlie Hunnam, and Jessica Chastain star.






Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight (November 13)

Quentin Tarantino’s long-awaited “Hateful Hate” has a release date. In post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunters try to find shelter during a blizzard but get involved in a plot of betrayal and deception. Who, if any, will survive?



The Martian (November 25)
Ridley Scott visits Mars where astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is trapped. Kate Mara, Kristen, Sean Bean, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and the ubiquitous Jessica Chastain star.




Sisters (December 18)

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler play two sisters who decide to throw one last house party before their parents sell their family home. Maya Rudolph, John Leguizamo, James Brolin, and Dianne Wiest star.





Flashmob (No Release Date Yet)
“Flashmob” is Michael Haneke’s first film since “Amour.” The movie A story that tracks a group of people who come together via the Internet to stage a flashmob.


ScientologyGoing Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (No Release Date Yet)
Alex Gibney’s new documentary, backed by HBO, promises to give Scientology the royal reaming it so richly deserves. Shit will hit fan.



Life (No Release Date Yet)
A photographer (Robert Pattinson) for Life Magazine is assigned to shoot pictures of James Dean (Dane DeHaan). Anton Corbijn (“Control”) directs.


Mission Impossible 5 (December 25)
“Jack Reacher” director Chris McQuarrie works with Tom Cruise again on the fifth and possibly final installment of the Cruise-led “Mission Impossible” franchise. The storyline is being kept under raps but we know that Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Alex Baldwin, Ving Rhames, and Jingchu Zhang all co-star.



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January 05, 2015


For Hollywood, 2014 was another year that wasn’t. But while tinsel town continues to sinks in its abyss of big-spectacle, sequels, and pre-pubescent obsession with comic book characters, the rest of cinema continues to run blinding circles around it.

Horror got a meaty surprise with Jennifer Kent’s moody indie effort The Babadook, and social satire lit a stick of dynamite with Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler.

Although I only have one documentary in the list, the genre continues to grow with impressive results. Chuck Workman’s Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles is a must-see for any lover of film. Jodorwsky’s Dune falls in the same category. If you saw Particle Fever or The Unknown Known you know what I mean. Joe Berlinger's "Whitey: United States of America V. James J. Bulger is as powerful as they come.

In any event, here are the top-ten films of 2014.

Fury10. Fury

The look of David Ayer’s World War II drama is utterly convincing. Every period detail of costume, production design, location, and battle action resonates with authenticity.

The film’s centerpiece sequence takes place inside a quiet German apartment where a mother and her teenaged daughter hide in justifiable fear.

This is the scene that explains why David Ayer made the film, and why “Fury” is a great movie.



Foxcatcher9. Foxcatcher

“Foxcatcher” presents a game-changing role for Steve Carell as John du Pont, the politically connected right wing patriarch of “America’s wealthiest family.”

Bennett Miller’s nuanced true-crime drama is sobering allegory for a ubiquitous sort of willfully ignorant, privileged, blueblood Republicans buying power in exchange for fleeting moments of futile glory.

The film functions on multiple levels to observe how the American elite use and abuse power toward the destruction of everything it touches. 

Citizenfour8. Citizenfour

Laura Poitras’s fascinating documentary, about the initial contact with and aftermath of whistleblower Edward Snowden’s earth-shattering revelations, provides a stark cinema vérité perspective on America’s biggest political scandal.

Snowden recognized early on that the Obama administration and the media would attempt to deflect the significance of his leaks by attacking his character in Nixonian fashion. For once the spooks got much more than they bargained for.

In his claustrophobic hotel room Snowden’s fearlessness is unmistakable: “You’re [the U.S. government] not going to bully me into silence like you have everyone else.”  

A_most_violent_year7. A Most Violent Year

As with “Margin Call” (2011) and “All is Lost” (2013), Chandor’s latest is a detailed study in complex characters responding to extreme pressures — personal, social, and physical.

Oscar Isaac’s bravura performance during the sequence, and throughout the film, smolders with resolute intent. There is no finer film actor working in the business.

“A Most Violent Year” is essential viewing for film-lovers and for the people least likely to see it.


Nymphomaniac II6. Nymphomaniac: Volume II

Provocative, droll, fearless, and cinematically sexual in unprecedented ways, “Nymphomaniac” (in its proper unedited form) is a four-hour movie with an unknown potential to alter reality.

Charlotte Gainsbourg’s sexually polymorphic character Joe represents an icon of the contradictions of modern day feminist ideologies.

That Joe’s sexually adventurous self-help therapy places her in the presence of an overeducated male exploiter (disguised as her rescuer) puts a sharp grace note that carries on and on and on.

Wetlands5. Wetlands

Challenging and provocative, co-writer/director David Wnendt’s nervy adaptation of Charlotte Roche’s long-presumed unfilmable popular novel breaks new cinematic ground.

Mapping out the terrain of cinema’s previously uncharted psychosexual possibilities, Wnendt opens up a wide range of Roche’s proto-feminist issues around Helen, an 18-year-old German girl with pressing bodily issues.

Here is a female force of nature that rejects religion and societally imposed rules of conduct, in favor of a DIY approach. Helen represents a different brand of one-percenter. The means and the end are evenly justified. 

Young & Beautiful4. Young and Beautiful

For his latest filmic exploration François Ozon addresses a complex mix of sexual, personal, social, familial, gender-based, and technological issues.

That he does so via a story about Isabelle (Marine Vacth), a beautiful bourgeoisie 17-year-old DIY prostitute, reflects the growth of one of France’s most consistent filmmakers.

Vacth portrays a force of unbridled feminine and intellectual nature. Isabelle has important lessons to teach, as well as to learn. You will never forget this truly mind-blowing film.  

Goodbye to Language3. Goodbye to Language

“Goodbye to Language” is a vibrant think piece about modern man’s constant state of fear of the Frankenstein culture of violence that governments and corporations have created.

“Is society willing to accept murder as a means to fight unemployment?” Godard provokes and dares the viewer to listen and think. Think for yourself.

Godard views the dichotomy between nature and industrial degradation with a sardonic eye. God couldn’t humble man, so he humiliates him. Absurdly visually abstract, the film keeps its audience on their toes. 

Boyhood2. Boyhood

Just when you thought there was nothing new under the sun, Richard Linklater goes and makes the most anti-Hollywood movie ever conceived.

Linklater instinctively de-emphasizes anything that might be construed as “dramatic“ while following the life trajectory of a boy named Mason (played by Ellar Coltrane) from age six to 18 growing up in Texas.

The invisible mechanics of “tempo, tone, mood, time, and place” that Linklater uses to flesh out his preplanned narrative form fit almost perfectly within the rules of a “Dogme 95” film.


Mr. Turner

1. Mr. Turner

Mike Leigh’s reputation as an unrivaled inventor of cinematic dramaturgy once again over-delivers on his promise.

J. M.W. Turner was a misunderstood artist during his lifetime, but with the help of Mike Leigh, Timothy Spall, and a cast of infinitely gifted actors, audiences can begin to comprehend the life, purpose, and experiences of that tremendously inspired soul.

It is worth noting that the stellar performances from Leigh’s stable of actresses such as Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey, and Ruth Sheen are all of an elevated quality rarely experienced by modern

Cole Framed

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July 18, 2014



Midnight Movies were initially considered a “craze” (a fad which during the '70s was code for a seasonal rotation of cheap commercial products, such as yo-yos, plastic skateboards, and image-emboldened T-shirts aimed at the youth culture). More accurately however, the drive-in and art-house-driven cinema movement known as Midnight Movies — films screened at 12 midnight — arrived as a response to the success of cheap grindhouse movies. It was a way to capitalize on the hippie drug culture that sought out anything weird enough to be considered “counterculture.” There was a huge audience of stoned kids looking for strange movies they could goof on while high. Showing the same film week after week allowed for word of mouth to spread toward the goal of building a cult audience.

Television played a part in laying the groundwork for the midnight movie tradition. Beginning in the late ‘50s, regional television stations in towns like Cleveland and Detroit ran their own version of late-night weekly horror movie programming compete with a snarky host dressed up in ghoulish attire. In 1970 Petersburg, Virginia had “Shock Theater,” wherein Bill Bowman (a.k.a. The Bowman Body) would throw his tennis-shoed foot over the edge of a coffin before rising out to introduce that week’s monster flick with sarcastic asides regarding the questionable quality of horror movies like Roger Corman’s “Tales of Terror.”

In December of 1970, the Elgin Theater in New York's Chelsea district began running Alejandro Jodorowsky’s surrealist gem “El Topo,” setting off a firestorm of cult attention thanks to the likes of celebrity audience members such as John Lennon. The Elgin began screening “El Topo” at midnight every night of the week except Fridays, when it screened at 1am. A year later Peter Bogdanovich’s 1968 serial-killer thriller “Targets” came into favor along with “Equinox,” “Viva la muerte,” “Night of the Living Dead,” and Tod Browning’s “Freaks” as appropriate midnight movie fare in New York where other venues (the St. Marks, the Waverly, the Bijou, and the Olympia) followed suit.

EraserheadWith its coprophilic climax, and other taboo-breaking scenes, John Waters’s second film “Pink Flamingos” seemed custom-made for the midnight movie market. Waters’s anti-establishment camp went hand-in-glove with the rebel reggae of “The Harder They Come,” starring Jimmy Cliff as an outlaw Jamaican singer based on a real-life character. Although Roger Corman’s distribution company marketed it as blaxploitation, it was clear there was more to “The Harder They Come” by way of its outstanding soundtrack of memorable songs.

By virtue of its urban late-night setting, the midnight movie atmosphere embraced taboo elements of pornography, illicit multi-cultural mixing, exploitation, gore, and LGBT influences. “Flesh Gordon” was a ribald nudity-filled spoof that received an X-rating endorsement from the MPAA. Ralph Bakshi’s 1972 adaptation of R. Crumb’s “Fritz the Cat” became the first X-rated animated film. Thanks to an extended run in the midnight movie circuit, “Fritz” also became the highest grossing independent animated movie up until that time. Take that, Disney.

Rocky Horror

If “Harold and Maude” (1971) seemed tame by comparison, the arrival of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” on April Fool’s Day 1976 dumped the contents of Pandora’s box all over the floor and kicked it like a scattered rug. Finally, midnight movie audiences had a movie they could interact with as Black audiences had been doing for years with blaxploitation flicks.

David Lynch’s “Eraserhead” (1977) took midnight movies into a darker realm that matched the mood of the concurrent Punk Rock music explosion that enveloped the UK and America. As with Punk, the midnight movie scene ran out of steam as the Eighties came around. “The Warriors” (1979), “The Gods Must Be Crazy” (1980), “The Evil Dead” (1981), “Heavy Metal” (1981), “Liquid Sky” (1982), and “Pink Floyd The Wall” (1982) helped blow out the candle on a cinematic zeitgeist that burned bright from both ends for just over a decade.


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