|STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKERTHE RISE OF SKYWALKERRISE OF SKYWALKERGENERATIONSGENERATIONSKYWALKERSTAR WARSFRIENDS|
There’s one particularly telling and effective moment in The Skywalker Legacy, the feature-lenght documentary that’s included on the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker home release that sums up much of the ambivalence and consternation that some had with J.J. Abrams’ return to the Star Wars universe. After showing the intricate construction of a giant, practical snake monster, the doc cuts back to footage of Jabba The Hutt, that old analogue beast that slithered its way into our hearts. The sentiment is clear – we’re making movies like we used to! A celebration of practical effects, the dripping of k-y jelly to give viscosity just like the old costume days, it’s all there. There’s excitement on set, everyone talking about how amazing it looks, how lifelike, how this is how you’re supposed to do movies like this.
Cut to Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett who shatters the myth, letting us know the creature was replaced by a CGI version in post.
Guyett’s resume is mighty. Having made his bones on groundbreaking films like Twister and Casper, he helped Spielberg bring the events of D-Day to screen in Saving Private Ryan, helped bring to life the best looking film in the Harry Potter series, Alfonso Cuarón’s Prisoner of Azkaban, and even made the theatrical version of Rent feel more than a stage production. Guyett has had many collaborations with Abrams – from the Star Trek Reboots through The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker he was even second unit director on the former, as well as working with George Lucas on Episode III to round off the prequels. He’s in a unique position to speak to these changing landscapes of epic filmmaking.
We spoke at length about the apparent contradictions and indulgences in making a Star Wars film, and he made the case for why nothing was wasted and all contributed to the final presentation. He was erudite and open to the discussion, making for a dream conversation with a man who quite literally has helped shape what amazes us on screen for decades.
The following has been edited for clarity and concision.
We see practical effects being championed as almost a marketing ploy with the “postquels” as a mix of nostalgia and an attempt to delineate from Lucas’ second trilogy. In some ways the love of the practically-realized snake undercuts the extraordinary CGI you and your team accomplished, and raises questions about why the need to fetishize the on-set inclusions when they’re replaced anyway. Could you talk about that ethos, that somehow doing stuff on a computer is a “cheat” while doing an effect practically is not?
I think at the end of the day we’re all trying to do the best that we can, trying to make the best, most dramatic or emotional movie we can visually. I’m coming from figuring out how do you get the most...
STX Entertainment has secured distribution rights in North America, Latin America, and China for a thriller called Gunpowder Milkshake.
Karen Gillan Guardians of the Galaxy, Jumanji sequels, Angela Bassett Black Panther, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Lena Headey Game of Thrones, 300, Michelle Yeoh Crazy Rich Asians; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Carla Gugino Sin City, Watchmen, and Chloe Coleman Big Little Lies, the upcoming comedy My Spy all star in a story about multiple generations of female assassins.
The Hollywood Reporter brings the news that STX Entertainment has paid at least $10 million in a deal with Studiocanal and UTA Independent Film Group at the European Film Market for key distribution rights to the brilliantly-titled Gunpowder Milkshake. Specific details about the plot remain scarce, but the movie will reportedly follow “three generations of female assassins who, over the course of a single night, fight to stop a cycle of violence.” Paul Giamatti 2002’s Thunderpants, please don’t look it up, you’ll instantly regret it is also on board as part of the ensemble cast.
Navot Papushado and Ehud Lavski, who co-directed the Israeli revenge film Big Bad Wolves which earned the public approval of Quentin Tarantino, are reuniting for this project. The duo co-wrote Gunpowder Milkshake together, and Papushado is directing it solo this time around; it will mark his English-language directing debut.
Studiocanal financed the movie, which was produced by The Picture Company The Commuter, Alpha, Leigh Whannell’s upcoming remake of Escape From New York, and Studiocanal will distribute the film across the rest of the world. THR says STX “is thought to be planning a wide theatrical release for the film in the U.S. and will go through the company’s existing partners in Canada and Latin America and through a partner distributor in China.” Those territories seem like a big “get” for STX – especially China, which, broadly speaking, seems to be receptive to American action thrillers. Of course, this purchase could backfire on STX Entertainment if the coronavirus isn’t contained soon in China, because we’ve already seen other studios cancel premieres there and even temporarily pull films from planned distribution because of the deadly disease. Obviously that’s the least important thing to consider when thousands of people are dying, but it’s worth mentioning as a potential risk.
Okay, I’m sorry: can we go back to Thunderpants for a second? Young Rupert Grint Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter films plays a scientist kid ? whose best friend has the ability to fart so intensely ?? that he can launch a spaceship with his flatulence ???. This trailer begins in progress, but even though the beginning...
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It’s difficult to place into words the impact Italian Neorealism has personally had on me. The genre speaks to me on a visceral level. The old Italian films, born out of desperation, still hold up against the blockbusters of today. In an age where authoritarianism is making a comeback, we are witnessing a subconscious reemergence of the formerly communist left-supported Italian Neorealism movement. A genre “reboot,” so-to-speak, passionately defiant of the Donald Trumps, the Boris Johnsons, the Kim Jong-Uns, the Rodrigo Dutertes, paralleling the recent wave of democratic socialism and a greater societal readiness to accept left politics.
In order to contextualize the circumstances surrounding its reemergence, one must revisit the circumstances out of which Italian Neorealism was born. By drawing modern parallels to classics of the genre with recent films such as Roma, The Florida Project, Tangerine, Support the Girls, Cold War, American Honey, and Winter’s Bone, the sociopolitical and stylistic similarities between Italian Neorealism’s “reboot” and its cinematic predecessor succinctly emerge.
In the early 1940s, the emergence of Italian cinema essentially represented the complete opposite of the glamorous dramatizations of American cinema in the form of Italian Neorealism. Italian citizens lived in fear under Benito Mussolini’s oppressive, fascist regime during World War II. Italy was a stomping ground during Hitler’s Third Reich. While American films became more propagated on escapism in the 1940s, Italian cinema carried the tradition of the Lumière Brothers’ actualités. Italian filmmakers that emerged during the war and post-war were not profit-driven, but rather, emerged from a humanist necessity to expose the harsh truths around them. The Italian Neorealism genre lasted until the early 1950s. Since its themes were specifically related to war-torn, poverty stricken Italy and the ill-effects of an authoritarian-leaning government during WWII, the genre dissolved after the war.
Italian Neorealism is regarded as the beginning of the Golden Era of Italian cinema. The film genre was inspired by the Verismo literally translating to “realism” literary movement a generation prior in the late 1800s and early 1900s, legitimatized by Giovanni Verga and Luigi Capuana. Capuana’s manifesto, “Giacinta,” is widely regarded as the fundamental structural integrity of the Neorealist movement. Other prominent voices of the Verismo movement included Federico de Roberto “I Viceré,” a novelistic “docudrama” exploring the blind pursuance of power at the expense of a just and equal society, Salvatore di Giacomo, and Grazia Deledda. Verismo would experience a...
Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Show: New Girl
Where You Can Stream It: Netflix
The Pitch: Charming weirdo Jess Zooey Deschanel moves into a new apartment with three male roommates after a devastating break-up. It turns out that her new roomies played by Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, and Lamorne Morris are also charming weirdos. Quirky friendship ensues and it is all very, very funny.
Why It’s Essential Quarantine Viewing: On paper, there is literally nothing special about New Girl, which ran on Fox from 2011 through 2018. In fact, it sounds downright hacky and tired: a quirky girl has three male roommates?! What is this, 1972? But while that concept may be a tough pitch in an age where television comedy has grown increasingly experimental and daring, New Girl has something you cannot fake or manufacture: lead actors with undeniable, unmistakable chemistry that works no matter which combination of characters share the screen in a given scene.
Honestly, it was that basic concept that kept me away from New Girl for a long time, even as my significant other insisted I watch it. And damn it, they were right. Now that the entire series is finished and streaming on Netflix, I’m hooked. While I certainly would’ve been hooked during another time, the show feels especially right for this given moment. During a literal pandemic where I cannot see any of my real friends, being able to hang out with Jess and Nick and Schmidt and Winston and Cece has genuinely cleansing for the soul. Sure, they’re not my real friends, but they are close enough for now. The show’s agreeable tone and chilled-out, laid-back, friendly vibe makes them welcome visitors in your living room.
At this point during my first time through the series I just completed the first season as I write this, New Girl‘s greatest strength remains its cast, which elevates the weaker episodes while super-charging the more inspired entries. Deschanel, Johnson, Greenfield, Morris and Hannah Simone as Jess’ best friend and eventual member of the group are talented, funny folks in a vacuum, but when put in the same room, the electricity between all of them could power a dozen lesser sitcoms. It’s a triumph of casting, acting, and character development, the kind of lightning in a bottle ensemble that every comedy series wishes it could taste.
I imagine New Girl will have its highs and lows as I watch it. I imagine there will be the rough patches and inspired streaks. But I know these are my new television friends and right now, I treasure them....