Tag Archives: gravity

Film Review: Interstellar

 

Written by: Graeme Wood
17.11.14

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There’s more than one anomaly in Christopher Nolan’s ambitious space epic and it’s not the black hole that sits at the centre of the plot. Rather it’s the sheer scale of the idea and the way the co-writer/director has approached it. There is a potentially great movie sitting somewhere in theChristopher_Nolan almost three hours run time that Nolan delivers, however what we get is an oddly paced mix of interpretative science, parent angst and science fiction pulp that tends to overwhelm the viewer and sadly lacks clarity.

Former pilot (though it’s never made specific what he actually flew) Cooper lives on a corn growing farm, one of the few jobs left in a world drained of resources in a unspecified future time. Avoiding the words ‘climate change’ (The Guardian suggests such a description might offend American audiences) the drought, blight and increasing population growth are a clear analogy of where we interstellar_still3could be heading. However a secret NASA outpost is developing a last ditch attempt to colonise planets in another galaxy and within minutes of Cooper turning up on their doorstep they enlist him to fly the spaceship they’ve barely finished building. The plot relies on a sequence of coincidence, leaps of logic and unanswered questions that you hope will find resolution even as the questions mount up. Nolan’s films always develop over the entire run time and you accept what you see as you embark on a journey that sometimes seems as long as the two years duration depicted and that answers will eventually be forthcoming.

The first 45 minutes or so are excellent, Matthew McConaughey totally convinces in the role of Cooper, his everyman outlook a perfect fit and there are some naturalistic family scenes involving the always good John Lithgow as his father and Mackenzie Foy as the intelligent but clingy daughter Murph. The narrative suggests – as did the initial trailers – a tribute to the spirit of exploration that fired the world in the 1960s. A promising thread is established that schools have exercised the Apollo missions and lunar landings from their curriculum to focus on issues closer to the lives of ordinary people (a nice sequence but totally wasting the talents of David Oyelowo). It might have been a better film had they pursued this route and remained earthbound throughout. Imagine the intelligent drama that could be created from Cooper’s quest to reinstate the belief and zeal of exploration into a depressed nation. The Earth scenes never totally convince though as we are shown none of the global impact you would expect from this scenario, all we see are the corn farms and dust bowls of a depressed America.

An unlikely group of astronauts instead set off to journey through the black hole, a journey that is realised well with Nolan’s usual flair for in-camera effects, no matter how bad the science may be (or not, how would most of us know?). We’re soon immersed in a world of cryogenics, mathematics, interstellar_still6robots, thrusters and boosters. If it wasn’t for the light touches to the script which hone McConaughey’s ability to say anything convincingly and a sarcastic robot this would be quite a dull segment. Of the other crew members Anne Hathaway makes an unlikely addition as scientist/explorer/love interest Brand and we learn little about her character which might endear her to the audience. David Gyasi gives a convincing turn as scientist Romilly, particularly in the scenes where he is shown to have aged and you wish the character could have had more screen time. Wes Bentley as Doyle completes the crew but is so quickly dispatched that you hardly notice him. Back on Earth Jessica Chastain plays the older Murph well enough to make you believe she is the same person (though you wonder how her genius could have gone unnoticed) and there’s a strong turn from Michael Caine as NASA boffin Professor Brand.

While the space and black hole visuals impress on the IMAX screen for which they were designed homage’s’ to 2001 and Gravity amongst others mean it is little we haven’t seen before. Matters pick up when we land on the first of the alien worlds leading to one of the film’s best and exciting scenes in which an approaching tidal wave creates bags of tension. There are a few of these scenes punctuating the second half notably a shock moment, as the crew race back to their space station that outdoes Gravity. The crew’s emotions are explored via video messages from their family who are ageing in decades while the crew age in years, one scene involving McConaughey again is particularly poignant yet the script offers no real insight into how the explorers interact with each other. The crew’s human emotions are too often replaced by technical jargon and talk of theinterstellar_still8 ‘mission’. Just when you think the film ought to be turning a corner towards resolution along comes Matt Damon as the deranged scientist from one of the previous missions. Damon carries off the role well enough but the questions piling up become critical here as his Dr Mann sub-plot is filled with too many plot contrivances, flaws and unlikely logic. His motivations seem out of place in a hugely exciting segment as he tries to kill Cooper and leave the others behind. You’re then left incredulous as Cooper improbably manages to pull everything together in time and provide rescue for a last ditch attempt at survival.

There are moments when the clarity of dialogue is lost amongst an almost screeching sound score by Hans Zimmer but Nolan has defend this decision to drown scenes with sound telling the Hollywood Reporter; ‘Many of the filmmakers I’ve admired over the years have used sound in bold and adventurous ways. I don’t agree with the idea that you can only achieve clarity through dialogue. Clarity of story, clarity of emotions – I try to achieve that in a very layered way using all the different things at my disposal – picture and sound”.

By the time we near the conclusion the viewer will have already worked out the circular nature of the plot and there are no surprises only a slight disbelief at the Twilight Zone nature of the scenario. interstellar_still9You’re ready to scream along with Cooper towards the end as he miraculously survives to see mankind embark on its future among the stars. And then an even more unlikely scenario seems tagged onto the end as Cooper leaves it all behind to fly to an uncertain destination in the hope that the woman he lost and barely knows is waiting for him.

Interstellar is not a film to see if you’re after any insight into the issues it raises because the narrative relies on techno waffle or unbelievable human feats. Apparently the science is untenable but more importantly the story cannot convince despite some stand out cinematic moments. On the other hand if you just want to go for the roller-coaster ride and some hugely exciting sequences then you’ll likely enjoy it. ‘Flawed epic’ seems to be the most obvious description that one can apply to this film and it’s the one I’ll settle for too.

Watch the trailer in kushfilms.com New Release section Here

The Oscars – Kush Looks back

Written by Lamar Fergus-Palmer
12.03.14

The Oscars has long been the ‘centre piece’ of the awards season. Millions tune in from all over the world to watch the spectacle, and 2014 did not disappoint. Films are often judged and promoted based on how many nominations/wins they’ve received, so the evening itself is always full of shocks, surprises, emotion, and a huge amount of press.

The 2014 Oscars had arguably more talking points than the other Oscars in years gone by, and it was without a doubt the most talked about award show in recent memory. With that in mind, at Kush Films, we will take a look at the highlights of the 86th Academy Awards.

12 Years A Slave Wins Best Film
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Regardless of what happened, it only seems right to start with what will now be considered the best film of 2013/14 as the winner of both the BAFTA and Oscar for the Best Picture 12 Years A Slave.

Directed by 44 year old, British Steve McQueen, some thought that 12 Years A Slave may finish behind Gravity in the running, as it has taken almost seven times as much money at the box office. However, it was 12 Years A Slave that prevailed much to the delight of a star-studded producer and cast list, which included; Brad Pitt, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch and Lupita Nyong’o.

McQueen, who gave the acceptance speech, dedicated the award win to all those who suffered and still suffer slavery today. He said, “everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live,” in a very moving speech that eventually saw him jump into the arms of his cast and crew to celebrate.

Lupita Nyong’o wins best supporting actress for role in 12 Years a Slave
Nyong'o, best supporting actress winner for her role in "12 Years a Slave", racts on stage at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood

Following on from the above, Lupita Nyong’o took the Oscar for best supporting actress beating out strong competition, most notably from Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle). The Mexican born Kenyan had previously won 23 of the 31 ‘major’ awards she had been nominated for in her very first feature film role on 12 Years a Slave.

Lupita Nyong’o took the time to thank the real-life slave who guided her to shape her moving performance as Patsy, and she also thanked Steve McQueen, and fellow cast members, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender. She closed with the line “No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”

Gravity picks up seven academy awards

While the team involved with Gravity would have been disappointed that they did not pick up what could arguably be considered as the biggest awards, the movie did win the most awards of any film of the night, seven in total, including:

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Best Director – Alfonoso Cuaron

Achievement in Visual Effects

Achievement in Sound Mixing

Achievement in Cinematography

Achievement in Sound Editing

Achievement in Film Editing

Best Original Score

With seven Academy Award wins on the night Gravity now sits alongside other films like; Schindler’s List, Shakespeare in Love and Lawrence of Arabia who have also all won seven Oscars.

Dallas Buyers Club wins both major male awards

Dallas Buyers Club also had a night to remember, as it picked up the two main male awards; Matthew McConaughey won best actor, and Jared Leto picked up the award for best supporting actor.

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Both winners gave emotional speeches with McConaughey thanking his father, who passed away when he was just 23 years old and Leto, who praised those who had died from AIDS, as his character in Dallas Buyers Club had the condition.

The other antics
The Oscars are known just as much for the red carpet, presenting and skits as it is the awards now, and this year’s 43 million viewers (the most in a decade) were not disappointed with the entertainment.

The historical selfie that almost broke Twitter
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When Ellen Degeneres (the host) decided that it would be a good time to take, and post a selfie of her and several of Hollywood’s elite, including; Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Spacey, Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt she probably didn’t realise just how popular the post would be.

Until that post on her account, Barack Obama’s Victory Photo was the most re-tweeted tweet ever with over 750,000 retweets. In just a few hours the Ellen selfie surpassed one million, then two and now sits on 3.3 million re-tweets.

Jennifer Lawrence falls over again
After falling over on the way up the stairs to pick up her 2013 best actress Oscar, Jennifer Lawrence was hoping that 2014 wouldn’t bring the same fate. Well, while she avoided an on-stage fall, she did stumble on the red carpet, and it was caught by camera, much to her disappointment.

Leonardo Di Caprio – the man overlooked
With five personal Academy Award nominations and no wins, Leonardo Di Caprio (Wolf of Wall Street) put on a brave face as the best actor award was handed over to Matthew McConaughey. Of course, Twitter blew up with memes and statuses about how Di Caprio would seemingly never win a best actor Academy Award.

While he might have some way to go to overtake the late Peter O’Toole, who was nominated for best actor eight times without winning, those on social media did have some light-hearted fun with Di Caprio’s loss.

The pizza delivery guyellen-degeneres-serves-pizzWhen Ellen says she’s ordering pizza you better expect a few large boxes to turn up, regardless of the timing. Delivering the pizzas to some of Hollywood’s elite, Edgar Martirosyan, who WAS a real deliveryman from a local pizza establishment, seemingly had no idea that he would be delivering to some of the biggest stars in the world.

Martirosyan hand delivered the pizza to stars, including; Harrison Ford, Brad Pitt, Jared Leto and many others before making his way back to work, sans tip. Ellen collected for him and then gave him $1,000 the next day on her show. What a night for Edgar Martirosyan and Big Mama’s & Papa’s Pizzeria that experts say received up to $10,000,000 worth of free advertising because of their appearance.

The 2014 Oscars was action packed to say the least. Congratulations to all the winners, especially 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen and Lupita Nyong’o and commiserations to the runners up, as they say the show goes on – hopefully the line-up of films for the 2015 Academy Awards will be just as great as those in 2014.

© Kushfilms.com 2014

Two Winners at Producers Guild Association (PGA) – ‘Gravity’ & ’12 Years a Slave’

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First tie in PGA history

“Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave” have wound up in a dead heat as both won the Producers Guild of America’s Darryl F. Zanuck Award for top feature film — the first tie in the PGA’s 25-year history for the trophy.

Ben Affleck announced the awards Sunday night at the Beverly Hilton back-to-back — first to “Gravity” producers Alfonso Cuaron and David Heyman and then to “12 Years a Slave” producers Anthony Katagas, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen, Brad Pitt and Dede Gardner.

The PGA, which has 6,000 members, does not reveal its vote totals. The guild uses the preferential balloting system employed for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the Oscars.

Cuaron gave extended thanks and made fun of himself as the director of the cutting-edge space tale — “he can be stubborn, uncompromising.” He also singled out his son and co-writer Jonas Cuaron for energizing him through the film’s lengthy development process.

Brad Pitt said of the searing historical drama “12 Years” represented an opportunity “to contribute brad_pitt_03something to the yearly narrative, to culture, and that is fucking cool.”

An emotional McQueen, who also directed, said, “Thank you so much for opening your hearts and minds to this film.”

The PGA also selected “Frozen” as the top animated film and “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks” as the winner of its documentary prize. “Breaking Bad,” “Modern Family” and “Behind the Candelabra” won the key TV awards with “Modern Family” taking the comedy series trophy for the fourth year in a row.

“Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave” topped what was regarded as a highly competitive field — “American Hustle,” “Blue Jasmine,” “Captain Phillips,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Her,” “Nebraska,” “Saving Mr. Banks” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

The twin wins spread the wealth for the weekend award winners, which saw “American Hustle” win SAG cast ensemble award while “Dallas Buyers Club” took the two male acting awards and “Blue Jasmine” and “12 Years” won the female acting trophies. A week ago, “12 Years a Slave” won the Golden Globe for best drama and “American Hustle” won for best comedy.

The PGA’s Zanuck award has become a strong indicator of Oscar sentiment in recent years, matching the Oscar for best picture in 17 of its 24 years — including the last six, with “Argo,” “The Artist,” “The King’s Speech,” “The Hurt Locker,” “Slumdog Millionaire” and “No Country for Old Men.” The PGA winner last diverged from the Oscar best picture for the 2006 award when “Little Miss Sunshine” won while the Academy opted for “The Departed.”

Affleck, who won the award last year for “Argo” joked when he revealed that two films had won the Zanuck that it was “a legitimate mathematical numerical tie — but it was the producers who told me so.”

The producers branch of AMPAS constitutes about 8 percent of the AMPAS membership.

“Gravity” has grossed $677 million worldwide for Warner Bros. while Fox Searchlight’s “12 Years” has cumed $53 million.

The next major milestone in this year’s awards race comes Saturday when the Directors Guild of America presents its top feature film award. Both Cuaron and McQueen are up for the award along with Paul Greengrass for “Captain Phillips,” David O. Russell for “American Hustle” and Martin Scorsese for “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Kevin Spacey received the top laughs of the night with a dead-on impersonation of the late Johnny Carson before presenting “Modern Family” with its trophy. “Of all the awards shows, this is the one to be at because it’s not on TV,” he said.

“We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks” tracks the organization founded by Julian Assange, and people involved in the collection and distribution of secret information and media by whistleblowers. Alex Gibney wrote and directed the film, which debuted at Sundance and was released this summer by Focus with a $166,000 gross in the U.S.

Here is the list of PGA winners:

The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures:

“GRAVITY” (Warner Bros. Pictures) Producers: Alfonso Cuarón, David Heyman

“12 YEARS A SLAVE” (Fox Searchlight Pictures); Producers: Anthony Katagas, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen, Brad Pitt and Dede Gardner

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures:

“FROZEN” (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures); Producer: Peter Del Vecho WINNER

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures:

“WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS” (Focus Features); Producers: Alexis Bloom, Alex Gibney, Marc Shmuger

Television Programs:

The David L. Wolper Award for Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television:

“BEHIND THE CANDELABRA” (HBO); Producers: Susan Ekins, Gregory Jacobs, Michael Polaire, Jerry Weintraub

The Norman Felton Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama:

“BREAKING BAD” (AMC); Producers: Melissa Bernstein, Sam Catlin, Bryan Cranston, Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Mark Johnson, Stewart Lyons, Michelle MacLaren, George Mastras, Diane Mercer, Thomas Schnauz, Moira Walley-Beckett

The Danny Thomas Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Comedy:

“MODERN FAMILY” (ABC); Producers: Paul Corrigan, Abraham Higginbotham, Ben Karlin, Elaine Ko, Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Jeffrey Morton, Dan O’Shannon, Jeffrey Richman, Chris Smirnoff, Brad Walsh, Bill Wrubel, Danny Zuker

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television:

“ANTHONY BOURDAIN: PARTS UNKNOWN” (CNN); Producers: Anthony Bourdain, Christopher Collins, Lydia Tenaglia, Sandra Zweig

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Live Entertainment and Talk Television:

“THE COLBERT REPORT” (Comedy Central); Producers: Meredith Bennett, Stephen T. Colbert, Richard Dahm, Paul Dinello, Barry Julien, Matt Lappin, Emily Lazar, Tanya Michnevich Bracco, Tom Purcell, Jon Stewart

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Competition Television:

“THE VOICE” (NBC); Producers: Stijn Bakkers, Mark Burnett, John de Mol, Chad Hines, Lee Metzger, Audrey Morrissey, Jim Roush, Kyra Thompson, Nicolle Yaron, Mike Yurchuk, Amanda Zucker

The Award for Outstanding Sports Program:

“SPORTSCENTER” (ESPN) WINNER

The Award for Outstanding Children’s Program:

“SESAME STREET” (PBS)

The Award for Outstanding Digital Series:

“WIRED: WHAT’S INSIDE” (http://video.wired.com/series/what-s-inside)

In addition to the competitive awards, the Producers Guild presented special honours to Barbara Broccoli & Michael G. Wilson (David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures), Robert Iger (Milestone Award), Peter Jackson & Joe Letteri (Vanguard Award), Chuck Lorre (Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television), Chris Meledandri (Visionary Award) and FRUITVALE STATION (Stanley Kramer Award).

Courtesy Varity.com © 2014
http://variety.com/2014/film/awards/two-winners-at-pga-gravity-and-12-years-a-slave-1201065016/