Category Archives: Movies

Review: Nightcrawler

It didn’t take much of my first semester in college as a journalism major to realize why it’s so necessary to have entire courses dedicated to teaching journalists not to be jerks.

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It makes all the sense in the world that Journalism Ethics classes exist while courses dedicated to the ethics of crafts like painting, acting, and creative writing don’t exist. The incentives are wonky in journalism, putting reporters in an environment in which what’s going to make them the most money in the fastest amount of time is often against the public’s best interest. It’s much more efficient and economically-solvent to simply use interview subjects and events for selfish goals. Almost any injection of morality leads to less financial profit and more amounts of work. Nightcrawler, an Oscar-nominated film directed and written by Dan Gilroy, represents this in a fully accurate manner, delivering a thrilling tale anchored around its main character Lou Bloom who embodies the most ruthless and efficient kind of journalist.

From the outset it’s clear that Bloom is a shifty individual determined to be the best damn capitalist he can be despite his well-deserved status as an outcast. One night, he stumbles into a career of filming disaster footage of privileged people who fall victim to crime and serious accidents to sell to a desperate and money-grubbing local news station. Moving at a solid pace, the film catalogues Bloom’s rise from a roaming scrap-metal salesman to a powerful freelance provider of video footage who gets whatever he wants, which extends beyond the realm of cash.

Bloom is a fascinating character made absolutely riveting thanks to Jake Gyllenhaal’s stellar performance. He is an utter bastard with no actual regard for anyone but himself. He does show positively charming affection towards multiple other people throughout the movie, from the very first scene to the very last scene, but it’s all fake, all an uncaring means to a self-serving end. Bloom scours the internet to do research of an academic level, giving the character an elusive and mysterious aura. He keeps everything secret that he needs to be secret, and only lets anyone peek behind the curtain when it suits him: a look behind that curtains tends to frighten and intimidate people, which are things he can use.

Watching all of Gyllenhaal’s nuanced facial expressions and body language proves constantly intriguing. Every fake smile and fit of analysis is acted out with the utmost control. Bloom almost always has things under control, all according to a given plan. Occasionally, things veer a bit away from what he’d like, but it’s clear these detours aren’t a complete surprise to him. Even rarer are the few times his plans completely tank, which prove to be the movie’s most horrific moments. This guy is almost perfect when it comes to getting done what he wants to be done, and he knows that and seems to take a ton of pride in that; whenever anything happens that goes against his self-image, he explodes.

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To call Bloom’s actions as a journalist unethical is an understatement, from tampering with crime scenes solely to get a better shot to directly causing disastrous events just so he can film them. The environment he finds himself in is similarly vicious, first evident whenever a woman behind the scenes blatantly explains to Bloom that footage of white victims of minority criminals should be pursued because it brings in more viewers. It’s all believable, too, bringing the thrill to a whole new level. Bloom’s life gets progressively more luxurious as he keeps up with his unethical reporting practices, solidifying his motivations. The people he works for are characterized nicely as struggling local news providers, willing to sacrifice thoughts of ethics in order to get by.

Much the film takes place at night, and it all looks great. The darkly-tinted colors of the night pop before they fade away. The movie moves at a break-neck speed at many points with a camera that keeps up with a constantly well-framed view of the action. Bloom’s adventures take him on high-speed car rides and frantic on-field filming, all of which constantly exciting. Every major performance in this film gets the job done brilliantly, from the woman who finds herself as somewhat as a love interest to Bloom’s loud-mouthed competitor.

Nightcrawler is a big success, always managing to be thought-provoking and thrilling. While the movie always makes it clear that the main character isn’t on the right side of morality, he does indeed win in the end. Unlike many madmen in fiction, Bloom is smarter than everyone he has to deal with.

Lou Bloom is the reason why journalists like myself have to complete courses on ethics in journalism.

Check out Matt’s online portfolio here… 

Kingsman Holds on to Second. Big Hero 6 Holds Strong.

kingsman-the-secret-serviceIn what was considered a weak weekend at the box-office, Kingsman: The Secret Service held on to second place bringing in an estimated $11.75 million. The film has been in third place for all three weekends its been in theaters.

The film has earned $85.7 million domestically. It’s also earned $124.1 million in the foreign box-office to bring its total so far to $209.8 million. The movie’s estimated budget is $81 million, so it’s doing well, especially for a movie adapted from a pretty unknown comic series by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, and published by the Marvel Comics imprint Icon.

In its post Oscar win, Big Hero 6 continues to earn at the box-office bringing in an estimated $523,000. The film has earned $220.9 million domestically. Globally the film has earned $572.2 million after 17 weeks in the theater. It also had its blu-ray/dvd hit shelves this past week, but the film’s earning hasn’t dropped much compared to last week.

Alterna’s The Chair Wraps and Moves into Post-Production

Film production on The Chair, based on the graphic novel published by Alterna Comics, came to a close on February 24th, as the death row horror thriller takes the first steps into post-production.

Directed by Chad Ferrin and featuring an ensemble cast which stars Bill Oberst Jr., Tim Muskatell, Noah Hathaway, Zach Galligan, Naomi Grossman, Roddy Piper, Ezra Buzzington and many more – The Chair centers around Richard Sullivan, an innocent man on death row who witnesses the murders of his fellow inmates at the hands of the psychotic Warden. To survive, he must match the brutality in the prison, but in doing so he’s forced to come face to face with his own sanity and his own horrific past.

A successful crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter helped to provide pre-production and development costs. Another campaign, this time on Indiegogo, has been planned for mid-April as funds will be raised for post-production costs. An “all or nothing” fund-raising model will be used as opposed to Indiegogo’s traditional method of real-time funding.

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Scud: The Disposable Lego Movie Director

The_Lego_Movie_posterRob Schrab has been tapped to direct the sequel to Warner Bros.The LEGO Movie. This is his feature directorial debut, but he has helmed episodes of Community, Parks and Recreation, and The Mindy Project. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who directed the first film, will be writing and producing the movie along with Dan Lin and Roy Lee.

Schrab has a long and impressive history in entertainment where he wrote, directed, and produced for The Sarah Silverman Program, and earned a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for writing for the 81st Oscars. He directed six episodes of Community, four of The Mindy Project, 19 of The Sarah Silverman Program, and much more.

Schrab is also the creator of the comic book, Scud: The Disposable Assassin. He created the series in the 90s and featured a world where you could buy robot assassins out of vending machines. The series wrapped after 24 issues in 2007.

(via Deadline)

Grey Drops, While Kingsman Holds for Second

fifty shadesIt shouldn’t be a shock, but Fifty Shades of Grey dropped a lot in its second week of release, but still earned enough to stay on top of the box office. The film dropped almost 73%, but still brought in an estimated $23.2 million to bring its two week total to $130.1 million. The movie’s decline is the second highest for a film playing in more than 3,100 locations.

The first comic adaptation of the year, Kingsman: The Secret Service held on to second place, bringing in an estimated $17.5 million. The film so far as brought in $67.1 million. The film has also earned $86.4 million in foreign markets to bring its total to $153.5 million. The film’s estimated budget was $81 million.

Big Hero 6 continues to earn, bringing in an additional $553,000 in its 16th week. The film has earned $220.2 million domestically, and globally $546.2 million. The movie’s blu-ray/dvd release is this week, so it’ll be interesting to see if its earnings drop the following weekend.

Big Hero 6 Wins for Best Animated Film

big hero 6Disney and Marvel aught to be happy tonight, as Big Hero 6 won at the Oscars for “Best Animated Film.” The film had some decent competition including The Boxtrolls, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Song of the Sea, and The Tales of the Princess Kaguya.

The film is loosely based on a Marvel comic series created by the Man of Action team.

The category had some controversy as The Lego Movie was skipped in the category, though it was well reviewed and was one of the top grossing films of 2014.

Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson and Zoe Saldana presented the Oscar. Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli accepted the award — a first Oscar for each of the men — and thanked Disney’s John Lasseter, calling him the “best boss in the world.”

The film continues to earn, bringing in an additional $553,000 in its 16th week at the box office. The film has earned $220.2 million domestically, and globally $546.2 million. The movie’s blu-ray/dvd release is this week, so it’ll be interesting to see if its earnings drop the following weekend, or if Oscar gold will give it a boost.

 

 

Diagram for Delinquents Explores Fredric Wertham

Wertham coverSequart Organization has announced the DVD release of their Fredric Wertham documentary, Diagram for Delinquents.

In 1950, America was in a state of panic; many felt that juvenile delinquency was destroying the very fabric of society. In 1954, psychiatrist Dr. Fredric Wertham wrote a scathing indictment of comic books called Seduction of the Innocent. Its central premise was that comics were the leading contributing factor to juvenile delinquency. (At the time, 90% of all children were reading comic books.) That same year, Dr. Wertham testified at special hearings on comic books at the Senate Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency in the United States. Comic books were on trial!

Diagram for Delinquents captures the zeitgeist of late 1940s / early 1950s America and investigates how the funny books found themselves on the bonfire. Using expert interviews and never-seen-before historical photographs and films, Diagram goes further than any documentary to explore and understand the controversial figure at the center of this American tale: Fredric Wertham.

The DVD (as well as a digital download version) is now available for purchase at the Sequart Store.

Check out the trailer below.

Our first look at Jason Momoa as Aquaman

Zack Snyder tweeted out the first look of Jason Momoa made up as Aquaman. The picture had the text “There is only one true King. #unitetheseven” with it.

The “seven” is likely a reference to the seven kingdoms of Atlantis in the DC Comics Aquaman series. It recently became important (and introduced) during writer Geoff Johns’ run where the seven kingdoms are the Seven Seas as fractured kingdoms, where Atlantis is the major hub, Xebel is another comprised of foragers in and around the Bermuda Triangle, and the Trench is full of monsters that are ancient Atlanteans. The other kingdoms are thought to be New Atlantis, Lemuria, Venturia, Aurania, and Sub Diego. All of that is tied into a large Justice League story, Rise of the Seven Seas, which has yet to debut.

The Seven Seas can also be interpreted as seven Justice League members and Johns has teased that as well. Reasons this doesn’t quite fit is DC Comics’ announced movie plans includes Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, Shazam, Cyborg, and Green Lantern. That’d be eight individuals, unless one isn’t a member of the team (most likely Shazam). DC Comics’ movie plans will eventually lead into a movie featuring the Justice League whose first part is to land in 2017.

Speculate freely….

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From Gotham to Deadpool. And Bamfing into X-Men Apocalypse.

Morena_Baccarin_@_the_FlanventionTwo casting announcements hit the web yesterday, both for movies based on Marvel Comic characters.

The Hollywood Reporter has announced that Morena Baccarin has joined the cast of next year’s Deadpool film as the female lead. She’ll play the love interest to Ryan Reynold’s Deadpool. She joins the recently announced Gina Carano, and T.J. Miller on the film.

Baccarin is no stranger to comic properties, and especially not geek ones. She has one hell of a career including Inara Serra on Firefly, the voice of Black Canary/Dinah Lance and Edgar Mandragora in the Justice League animated series, Adria on Stargate SG-1, Anna in the 2011 V remake, the voice of Cheetah in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold television series, the voice of Talia al Ghul in Son of Batman, and most recently is the voice of Gideon in The CW’s The Flash, and is Dr. Leslie Thompkins on Fox’s Gotham. Fox is also behind Deadpool. Despite her impressive career and lots of comic related roles, this is her first Marvel one.

Director Bryan Singer has taken to Instagram to announce the latest addition to X-Men: Apocalypse. Kodi Smith-McPhee will be joining the film as Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler, a role last played by Alan Cumming in X2.

Smith-McPhee was seen in last year’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Excited to welcome @kodismitmcphee to the cast of #XmenApocalypse as young #Nightcrawler. @alexvaughanphoto

A photo posted by Bryan Singer (@bryanjaysinger) on

Grey Brings in Green. Kingsman Makes Bank. Jupiter Descends.

fifty shadesThe movie was savaged by critics and as of this writing has a 26% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but that didn’t stop folks from flocking to see Fifty Shades of Grey this past weekend. The film earned an estimated $81.67 million at the box office, which is almost more than the next three films combined.

The film’s success is most likely attributed to smart timing, having it open up on Valentine’s Day weekend, which surely upped the “date night” audience it saw. Men accounted for 32% of the audience at the movie, while they don’t come close to even 1% of the folks who like either the movie or the book on Facebook. Expect its earnings to drop this coming weekend.

The first “comic book” adaptation of the year, Kingsman: The Secret Service opened up this past weekend, earning an estimated $35.6 million. As of this writing the film was well received with a 71% approval on Rotten Tomatoes and B+ Cinemascore.

Jupiter Ascending continued to tank coming in fifth and earning $9.43 million.

Big Hero 6 continued to earn at the box office bringing in $694,000 and bringing its domestic total to $219.3 million.

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