We have to reach into the world of hip hop to come up with an analysis of the films theatrically released in 2016. As Public Enemy would say “Don’t believe the hype.” At every major film festival, any many of the minor ones, a buzz starts about the “hot film” that’s a must see and a guaranteed award winner come end of the year. Everyone gets hot and bothered and starts repeating this statement which most likely originated with the publicist or sales agent. (I have been both and write mean ad copy for lazy journalists.)
In an excellent piece of storytelling, ADMIRAL brings to life Michiel de Ruyter (1607-1676), brilliant naval strategist, creator of the Dutch Marines, family man and stabilizing citizen of the recently created Republic of the Netherlands. With political and familial ties between the great houses of Europe threatening to tear apart the young Republic, Michiel de Ruyter (Frank Lammers) is asked to take over after Admiral Maarten Tromp (Rutger Hauer) is killed in battle by the English forces under King Charles II (Charles Dance). What pulls at de Ruyter is his neglected family, his desire to see his beloved Holland not be torn apart in a civil war between the Republicans and the Orangists under Prince Willem III (Egbert Jan Weeber) and to modernize the naval fleet to protect his homeland and their merchant fleet.
VAXXED: FROM COVER-UP TO CATASTROPHE is not an anti-vaccine film, but surprisingly, not a single mainstream newspaper, television or radio show will say that. The film actually supports true science that uses control groups and what studies have shown – that single dose vaccines are safer than combined vaccines. This has been the consistent view of its director Dr. Wakefield, and his expressed goal in the film to make vaccines better by doing more studies.
Many of us well remember those dry, pithy sketches from Monty Python’s Flying Circus on tv and film from the late 60’s to early 70’s. An easier and more accessible wit is woven through BOOM BUST BOOM, co-directed by former Python Terry Jones with his son Bill and Ben Timlett. Here an important message underscores the humor. Jones displays intent concern at how economics is taught and applied today as he walks through centuries of Boom and Bust scenarios examining how it all went down. Literally.
More films are being made, more “distributors” are launching and yet way too many films are not getting released in a way that avid, or even casual, moviegoers are able to watch them, let alone know they even exist. I…
Philippe Petit’s daring 1974 tightrope walk between the legendary Twin Towers as portrayed by a mostly French cast led by an American film crew and actor. When news of the construction of the World Trade Center’s signature Twin Towers reaches France, street performer Philippe Petit sees more than just a structural marvel. He sees an opportunity to make the coup of a lifetime by walking a tightrope the 140-foot distance between the towers, over 1,300 feet above the streets of New York City. His elaborate scheme requires meticulous planning, highly involved mechanical physics, and, of course, a team of equally subversive insurgents eager to ensure perfection in its execution just weeks after the buildings are opened to the public.
The annual Academy Awards celebrations are arguably the dullest shows on tv, given the insipid thank-you speeches that name that the audience knows or cares to know. That means there’s only one reason that people watch, and that’s to look at the clothing that the stars are wearing. Since men don only the traditional tux and bow tie, only the women are worth admiring for their taste in threads. And that’s where Christian Dior comes in.
More and more films are being sent to purgatory (aka VOD) so I’ve probably missed some of the gems I usually discover every year that would be on my annual Top 10 list. Many of the film festivals that are presented in New York City have seemed to have lost their way with respect to programming as they seem to rely more on the manufactured buzz of publicists and sales agents when it comes to their selections. Mumblecore is NOT a reincarnation of La Nouvelle Vague, just what happens when the cost of film production falls through the floor and everyone thinks they’re creative. On a serious note, with everyone shooting on digital, what is going to happen to film preservation down the road? 35mm is still the best archive format around. I started in this industry on the tail end of 2″ Quad, try finding a lab with the equipment to do a transfer from that format today.
Next time you go ballistic when the bartender waters down your drink or feel murderous when the tailor cuts your pants legs too short, think of how much better off you are than Louis Zamperini. Fighting in the Japanese theater in World War II, he has the misfortune to suffer a double engine loss on his aircraft, leaving him and two buddies on a rubber lifeboat in the middle of the ocean for forty-five days. Forget about the sharks that encircle the boat. Falling prey to one of them might be a blessing, considering the lack of food and water or living space, nor do the men have much hope of being rescued. Rescued by the good guys that is. When they are picked up by the Japanese navy, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that they’re on dry land. The bad news is that they are taken to one, and then another, prison camp, subjected to torments by guards who must think the Geneva Convention is a meeting of dental lab technicians in a Swiss hotel.
Most of the civilized world loved America in 1945. The U.S. was a prime force in liberating Europe from the Hun. Our soldiers gave out chewing gum to the kids on the Continent, soft toilet paper to the adults, and dished out money to bail the good guys out via the Marshall Plan. Given the rules of engagement in our current century, it’s unlikely that we can ever be the heroes abroad that we were then, evoking an unconditional surrender of our enemies in a war that lasted just six years (four years for our own guys), and not the murky condition of our battles in the Middle East since Shock and Awe, as the Taliban in Afghanistan retake some of the territory ceded to the moderates in a fragile victory.