Posts Tagged ‘steven spielberg’

Is AFI Missing Their Opportunities?

As everyone knows, each year for nearly four decades, the American Film Institute has awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award to a single individual. The honor is meant to reflect that person’s “lifetime contribution to enriching American culture through motion pictures and television.” When looking at the list of recipients over the years, it’s enough to fill the Kodak Theater several times over. Some of my personal favorites include Orson Welles in ’75, William Wyler in ’76, James Stewart in ’80, Steven Spielberg in ’95 and Al Pacino in ’07.

This year, the Institute has chosen to honor Morgan Freeman for his body of work as an actor. For sure, not an unusual choice for such an award. He received his first Oscar nomination in 1988 for “Street Smart” and has been captivating audiences, multiple times a year, ever since. For me, performances simply don’t get much better than his work in “The Shawshank Redemption.” The speech in his final parole hearing is the stuff that legends are made out of.

All in all, though, aside from a few great decisions, the AFI award seems kind of tainted and lazy, as of late. The whole picture seemed to change around the time that Tom Hanks won what many called his “mid-life” achievement award ten years ago. It seems that the award is being given more on account of how popular the recipient has been in recent years instead of, say thirty years ago. There are many, MANY performers, directors and producers who are much more deserving of the award than recent fare.

I’d much rather have seen men the likes of Gene Hackman, Robert Duvall, David Lynch, Francis Ford Coppola or, for crying out loud, Woody Allen receive distinction above the likes of George Lucas, Harrison Ford, Michael Douglas, Sean Connery or Morgan Freeman. The talent ratio is nearly incomparable. I mean, in terms of weight in Academy Award recognition is 49 nominations to 13 (Douglas, Ford and Connery only sharing 4 nominations between them).

What’s even more disturbing is the complete disregard to female contributions to cinema. In the last two decades, three women have received this award. Meryl Streep is completely understandable. Elizabeth Taylor cannot be argued with. Barbara Streisand…really? Meanwhile, the following women are still living and more than deserving of this award: Faye Dunaway, Vanessa Redgrave, Maggie Smith, Julie Christie, Sissy Spacek, Diane Keaton, Glenn Close, and Jessica Lange. Perhaps the most ridiculously passed over women are Ellen Burstyn and Jane Fonda who have delivered some of the most phenomenal performances Hollywood has ever seen and have been doing so for upwards of forty years.

The greats are passing away left and right. Paul Newman, Robert Altman, Marlon Brando and, of course, Sidney Lumet are the most recent to leave this world without receiving this prestigious honor. AFI needs to keep its eyes on the prize and award some of these more-deserving folk before it’s too late.

NEW “Super 8” Trailer

March 12, 2011 Leave a comment

I know I’m a couple of days behind the curve on posting this, but better late than never. J.J. Abrams’ new film “Super 8” has got to be one of the most highly anticipated and secretive projects of the year. This new trailer has given the greatest amount of information and clues into the film’s plot, characters and events.

J.J. Abrams has always been kind of a question mark for me. I’ve always thought that “Mission Impossible III” was a ridiculous piece of garbage. “Lost” was a great show, but I’m not sure how much credit I actually want to give Abrams, himself, for it. “Star Trek” was definitely an exciting and satisfying piece of cinema, so that has definitely improved his image, in my mind. However, I can remember all of the talk referring to this young hotshot as the next Steven Spielberg, and I’m not sure anything could convince me of that.

Until now. Not gonna lie, this movie has me stoked. If Abrams can successfully pull off this venture, than he will in no doubt be placed in the cream of the crop of young directors working to change the face of cinema for the better. With the threads of nostalgia that I’ve felt sewn into all of the spectacular action and suspense, I wouldn’t doubt it if this film becomes the “Inception” of the year, and ending up with a Best Picture nomination from the Oscars come January.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. With this trailer, the film has a LOT to live up to. We shall find out if it, and Abrams, are all they’re cracked up to be come July. In the meantime, watch the trailer, below. There are no HD versions available on Youtube, yet. Therefore, if you’re hungry for higher resolution, click the Twitter link below the embed.

One more note: how cool is it to see Spielberg producing under the Amblin Entertainment logo, again? This trailer is the mayor of nostalgia city.


HD Version from Twitter

First Look at Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse”

March 12, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s funny to pay attention to world-class director Steven Spielberg’s working schedule. The man has a habit of going on two to three year hiatuses without releasing any films. Then, suddenly he will compete against himself by releasing upwards of two films in a very short time frame. He performed this act in 2005 with “War of the Worlds” and “Munich,” in 2002 with “Catch Me If You Can” and “Minority Report,” in 1997 with “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” and “Amistad,” and, perhaps his most acclaimed and successful year, in 1993 with “Schindler’s List” and “Jurassic Park.”

Now, 2011 will become another such “year of Spielberg.” Will it be a good one? Who can tell at this point. Everyone has heard quite a bit about the auteur’s animated venture with Peter Jackson, “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.” I am personally not looking forward to this project at all, however, without a highly profile Pixar release this year (I consider the idea of a “Cars” sequel to be laughable), the Best Animated Feature category at the Oscars is really kind of wide open, this year. And how hilarious would it be to see Steven Spielberg accept and Academy Award for the animated medium?

Meanwhile, Spielberg’s other project, “War Horse” has been largely secretive in its production phase. The film is adapted from both a 1982 children’s novel and highly acclaimed stage play from the current decade. It tells the story of a teenage boy and his horse who share a very strong connection of friendship. However, that relationship is separated when the horse is conscripted into service in World War I. The film sounds to me like sentimental-city, but it is Spielberg paired up with a story of war, a subject he has definitely reached some level of expertise at directing.

Anyway, the first stills from the film have been released. One is above and the rest are below. The movie is currently entering the cutting room and is slated for a December release. I am highly anticipating it.

Best Super Bowl Movie Previews

February 6, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m not always a loyal Super Bowl watcher, but for this time around, I had an even greater sense of malaise towards it than normal. I live in Chicago and grew up in Cleveland. Therefore, seeing the arch rivals of both of my teams battle it out wasn’t exactly generating any huge interest in my mind. No matter who won, I would be pissed. Therefore, I found my refuge in the ads of the night, in particular, the film previews.

Aside from “Battle: Los Angeles” (which I’ve already posted quite a bit of footage for, already), there were three teasers that I had me pretty stoked. “Cowboys vs. Aliens” upped their amount of footage on display from the teaser released last year. Still looks as fun as ever. We also got our first look at J.J. Abrams incredibly secret project “Super 8.” The film literally looks like a direct crossover between “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” and “The Iron Giant,” and that’s not a bad get. Having Steven Spielberg’s name plastered on it didn’t alter that perception.

However, there was one teaser that absolutely stood above the rest. Unbelievably, and I mean UNBELIEVABLY, it is “Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon.” Let’s face it, that spot was awesome. Maybe it was the press release a few weeks back in which Michael Bay, himself, admitted that “Revenge of the Fallen” was a giant turd and he promised that this one would get it right. Maybe it’s the news that “The Dark Knight Rises” production might be pulling completely out of Chicago and it was amazing to see the second city featured so strongly in a film. Maybe it’s the fact that my girlfriend and about twenty of my friends worked on the film. Whatever it is, I have surprisingly, and possibly shamefully, become incredibly excited for this film. God help us all.

Check out the spots for all 3 films below:

Daniel Day Lewis is Abraham Lincoln…A Match Made in Heaven?

November 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Those who know me are aware that I am an unabashed Spielberg fanatic (a quality considered sinful among most film students). Therefore, I don’t think there is any project that I’ve followed with such veracity as his Lincoln biopic, which has been shelved in Hollywood limbo for nearly a decade.

For a long time all there was to this film was a script by “Munich” scribe Tony Kushner and a lead actor, Liam Neeson. However, shooting dates just kept getting pushed further and further back until Spielberg began to move on to other things. I began to worry that this extraordinary film concept would never come to be.

However, hours ago, Variety Magazine announced that new and quite promising news has surfaced about the epic biography. Two-time Academy Award-winning actor, and perhaps the greatest performer of his generation, Daniel Day Lewis will be taking on the role. Variety also listed that production is confirmed to begin in a year. The film is expected to cover the life of Lincoln throughout the Civil War, throughout his presidency, the freedom of the slaves and up to the man’s assassination.

While this might be a role that Daniel Day Lewis was made to play, as is anything, really, since there’s nothing that man cannot weave into gold, I really can’t help feeling regret that it won’t be Neeson playing the role. DDL probably better matches Lincoln in stature, especially when imagining his gangly form in “Gangs of New York.” However, Liam definitely has a more similar face. Also, it probably would have been an assured Oscar nomination for Neeson, his first in 20 years, possibly a win, not to mention another chance to work with Spielberg since creating their masterpiece together.

Yet, according to the article, Neeson “no longer expressed any interest in the part,” so I guess we roll with the punches and accept the wildly amazing performance that is to come from such a master craftsman like Day Lewis. Perhaps the funnest part about the waiting for this film will be learning of the other casting choices, including Lincoln’s cabinet, all the Civil War generals, and of course, John Wilkes Booth.

The film is slated to be released sometime in the fourth quarter of 2012, roughly 2 years from now. This means that there will be three Spielberg films released before this one even wraps shooting. There’s that ridiculous “Tin Tin” nonsense which I would have begged Steven not to take on….had I known him. That and the WWI drama “War Horse” will both be released in December of next year. Meanwhile, “Robopocalypse” (please God let them change that name) will be shot practically back to back with the Lincoln film. Hopefully, out of all that work, “Lincoln” will not be the one shelved again.

Read the whole Variety article HERE

“Cowboys and Aliens” Trailer

November 17, 2010 1 comment

I believe it was only a few days ago when I had said that I was loving the new resurgence of alien invasion-type movies. Now, we get the first trailer from Universal/Dreamworks’ insanely anticipated (by crazy sci fi and comic book fanatics anyway) film “Cowboys and Aliens” I think this flick might be a bit too silly for my taste, but it’s got a phenomenal cast and some great visuals. Good stuff.