RSS

Category Archives: Plot

Life Imitates Art – Rush

Two movies with similar plots are produced nearly 50 years apart. The first, Grand Prix in 1966, directed by John Frankenheimer. The second, Rush in 2013, directed by Ron Howard.
2017-09-21 13.38.47

When you watch these two films, if you were somehow unaware of their chronological order, you would think, Grand Prix is a movie patterned after real people and events, of course with artistic license. In reality, Grand Prix is filmed a decade earlier than the events and people portrayed in Rush.

Why the comparison? Here’s a quote in Rotten Tomatoes about the plot of Grand Prix; “There’s a few million dollars’ worth of star power and a nickel’s worth of plot in the lavish race-car melodrama Grand Prix.” Grand Prix was intended to be as true to motor-sports as possible, which it was recognized for at that time. It was prescient as well, when compared to the real life rivals, Niki Lauda & James Hunt.

Each movie tells a story in its own terms. The earlier movie, was as much a human story played by some of the best actors of the era, as well as unequalled cinematography. The theme music, although beautiful in its own right, was altered and used repeatedly, and after a while wore a hole in the story fabric.

Grand Prix was a movie that by today’s standards dragged, punctuated by on track racing with visuals so gorgeous, you could hug the techs & cinematographers. It’s 3 hour run time included an intermission. There’s no way contemporary movie-goers would sit still for that long. Grand_Prix_movie_poster_1966Ron Howard is a director at home with making biographies compelling. Think – Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man.  Rush is more mainstream Howard. You could almost visualize him doing a version of this without the authenticity of these two race drivers. My only criticism is he often gets lost in telling this 1976 race season without any of the cine artistry that Frankheimer applied almost 50 years before.

It’s worth seeing both of these movies. I would recommend viewing Grand Prix first, and within a reasonable time frame of each other, so you can compare.


Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 21/09/2017 in Director, Entertainment, Movies, Plot

 

State of Cinema

Can you recall any picture in the last 3 years that was wildly popular that didn’t include things getting smashed or blown to bits?

Have you gone to a movie or rented one that featured clever or charming dialog, let’s say in the past 24 months?

It’s OK, I can wait for your answer . . .

NO?

la-la-land-poster-small

Click for video

Surprise, I can think of one! La La Land which did – Worldwide: $439,020,154 (£424.7m)

That’s nothing compared to the Faster & the Even More Furious, OK, real title – The Fate of the Furious. Worldwide: $532,481,640 That’s just in the first (opening) weekend. It broke the previous record of $529m (£421.8m) taken in by Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

That kind of money gets attention, which means the type of films I might find more interesting, or have longevity, are not likely to be made in the foreseeable future. That’s kind of shame, because the independent films are constantly trying to break into a market that is walled off from the public.

Why is the Fast & Furious franchise so popular?

fate_of_the_furious_opening_box_office

BBC Entertainment & Arts

That’s a question which seems easy to answer, at least on the surface. Some may say it has universal appeal to young & old, because people like to see escape fantasies of things destroyed. The protagonists and antagonists are people over the top, escaping doom or creating disasters on a grand scale with seemingly little consequence.  Have you ever picked up a sledge-hammer to help demolish a car for charity? Imagine 100’s of times greater smash, with none of the work but all of the fun.

There are other reason(s), I believe which increase its appeal. The actors in the film, identify well with an audience. Paul Walker was one of those people who seemed universally liked. Actors, Tyrese Gibson, Nathalie Emmanuel, Vin Diesel and Ludacris, all have large followings. Dwayne Johnson has starred in four of this franchise movies, and he’s brought new energy to it. Still, they’re not adverse to bringing in other major names, and stirring the pot.

Kurt Russel has been a big action adventure star for years. This time he even has a name that most of us can relate to…  Mr. Nobody.

The Fate of the Furious won’t be a movie I will pay to see, but the next film Kurt Russell will be in, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, is going to be at the top of my screening list. If I’m not there opening day, I will be soon thereafter. The last Guardians of the Galaxy anticipated their audience, adding humor to an imaginative story that grabbed a lot of eyes. This one looks to be every bit the right follow on, in one I’m least familiar as a published graphics novel.


 

New Film in the Works

Set in a world so dark even villains can be heroes . . 

black_russian_chris_barfoot_film

Black Russian is a film set to begin in the summer of 2017

The latest film project announced by Chris Barfoot, Black Russian launched on February 18, 2017.

Incarcerated for fifteen years- Frank leaves prison to discover that his boss Marco is no longer cock of the walk. He must infiltrate the new Russian mob and steal the largest natural diamond in the world
‘The Black Russian’…

This is a stylish and gritty British crime thriller. It is a contemporary tale of love, deception, murder and retribution- set against a universe so dark- that ‘even villains can be heroes…’

East meets West… in this clash of the gangsters!

[Click on the image above to find out more]

 
Comments Off on New Film in the Works

Posted by on 19/02/2017 in Action, Director, Entertainment, Movies, Plot

 

The Last Hurrah – Castle End

Castle lined up with 12th Precinct detectives

Castle with the 12th Precinct detectives.

Lets start out with a warning to anyone that watches and enjoys the TV show Castle, but hasn’t seen the last episode. Spoiler Alert! Warning! Don’t read past this point if you’re still planning on seeing the last episode and don’t want to know anything about it – including the end.

Now that’s out-of-the-way, I have to assume you want to continue to read my observations & comments. If you’re already a member of WordPress, you can add your comments below. WordPress wants to know who you are, even if you’re hiding behind an alias. No, spies don’t come here to gain access to the latest government secrets, but some Castle fans do…

Castle & Beckett disarming a bomb in NY together

Castle & Beckett disarmed a bomb in NY

Overall, last nights episode did bring some closure to the series. I must say, as a fan I was more than a little disappointed by the abbreviated ending. Clearly the last few seconds of episode 22, season 8, were rushed. It was a way of creating an ending which should have developed in several more episodes of Castle. It appeared to me they had a cliffhanger final in mind, then had to tack on the final seconds showing Beckett, Castle and children, all smiling perhaps even laughing at a dinner table together.

Castle a chill goes through her veins

Beckett & Castle working together

The season 8 writers were up against three intractable challenges. The first problem was the entire eighth season story arc revolved around a powerful shadow organization, secretly behind a prior longer story arc about the death of Kate Beckett’s mother which ran for 6 seasons. By creating this all-encompassing theme from the beginning, it obligated them to continue with it, and form a conclusion for that plot line. What they couldn’t plan on was the second big problem. Problem number two was the announcement by ABC studios, that Stana Katic and Tamala Jones wouldn’t be returning to Castle if there was a ninth season. This meant they had to write an episode explaining to the audience the reason(s) why Kate Beckett and everyone’s favorite Medical Examiner were no longer around. What could they do?

  1. Have Kate Beckett resign and leave Castle?
  2. Have a need for Kate to take time off and temporarily be away from Castle? (They sorta did that already)
  3. Have Kate Beckett appear to die in the last episode, leaving an opening for Castle to continue without her?

Beckett_sticking_her_tongue_outThere just didn’t seem to be a satisfactory way to remove Kate Beckett from the series without severe repercussions and this brings us to the final challenge. The network under a lot of pressure from the fans, announced last Thursday, May 12th, there wouldn’t be a ninth season. Do I believe the fans influenced this decision? Does the Pope reside in the Vatican? The Twitter feeds were tweeting faster and louder than Angry Birds on steroids. They were tweeting, “No Stana – No Castle!“, A petition was created to cancel the show at the end of season 8, and instructions were published throughout social media as to who should be contacted along with their business address.

Shock & Awe - faceFor a few weeks Castle fans were doing the American public a favor. They created a fire storm and were calling attention to a media phenomenon other than the U.S. Presidential bake-off. No need to thank us America, just doing our part to create a distraction from election news.

ABC had a PR nightmare on their hands which might have rolled over to other properties. The only thing at this point which they could have done to make it worse, end season 8 with Kate Beckett killed and have her on the M.E.’s table in season 9. Oh wait… they couldn’t have done that because they were getting rid of  Dr. Lanie Parish too.

If ever script writers were on the horns of a dilemma, this was that time. The writers were given 1 more hour to create an ending for the show wrapping up, LokSat and what happens to Caskett. C’mon, 1 hour?!  Well, that’s what they did. For that hour we had at least 3 episodes compressed into 1.

Beckett: I need a miracle, guys.
Ryan: Okay, you got it.
Esposito: One miracle coming up.

The episodes I’m referring to were; In the Belly of the Beast, Veritas and The Time of Our Lives. Each of them had dramatic stories with pivotal outcome.

  • In the Belly of the Beast – Beckett is recruited for a dangerous undercover operation with the aim of stopping a near-mythical drug baron.
  • Veritas – Beckett carries out an off-the-books investigation attempting to connect drug baron Vulcan Simmons to presidential candidate William Bracken
  • Time of Our Lives – Beckett and Castle marry in the Hamptons.

 

Castle_Beckett_together_dream_ABC_TV

But it was a Hollywood promise; not worth a damn. ~ Rick Castle

These were the problems in a nutshell, which the writers of this last episode of Castle needed to package together in a satisfactory bundle.

Were they successful? In my opinion, they did about as good of a job as you can ask for in approximately 43 minutes of normal run time. I have to say, I’m happy overall with what they did, but the last-minute of the show was so hurried, I’m not sure if I was looking at a dream sequence, a thought compression for the next set of books, or did they really get the happy ending we thought we saw?

What do you think?

Castle_Beckett_wedding_ABC-TV

Some moments we loved during Castle – all rights by owner (not me)

 

Once More Into the Breech…

Not since the time when the MDA fired Jerry Lewis and killed the Labor Day Telethon, have we seen the golden goose so badly drawn & quartered. This is what ABC Television has done to Castle, a much beloved by fans series, now in its eighth season.castle_finale_2

The episodic romance between Richard & Kate, kept people watching Castle. The perpetual watching, waiting, hoping, they will finally understand the chemistry between each other, kept viewers coming back to a clever, well acted dramedy. It took a crisis before Kate realized what was valuable in her life. The relationship needed to progress or they needed to end it. This is exactly where we are today in Season 8.

castle_beckett_better_days

By now the relationship, according to the way things were written in Season 7, should be moving toward the expansion of her public reputation, leading to possible political overtures, and maybe their first pregnancy. There was a direction and a place to increase the fan base with this story base-line already in motion. Instead, the wheels came off the chariot, and we’re left with the repetitive story of a secret criminal element, even more powerful than what drove her to find her mother’s killer(s). LokSat, seems almost a code for the writers; we’ve LOCKED our key characters into a GOING NOWHERE PLOT, and sat this one out, leaving the fan base in confusion. This announcement will require some type of drama, which many fans are concerned that it means they will kill off Kate, if there is to be a season 9.

Now, comes the backhand slap announcement before this season ends, to all of the fans of this masterfully created television program. The ABC executives declared, ‘THE SHOW MUST NOT GO ON!’ Too many people were enjoying it for at least the first 7 seasons. We haven’t quite killed it yet, so we’ll eliminate the leading co-star and important support character actors, (Stana & Tamala). The official story is, we’re letting them go, because we can’t afford to keep the most popular people in our show. Please stay tuned however, until we get our collective heads out of our lower alimentary tract and decide if we end ‘Castle’ at season 8, or limp on into season 9, with a modified version of Castle. We may keep some of the actors, but why tell them at this juncture whether they’re going to be included?

You couldn’t write a worse way to destroy a popular TV series. It was hemorrhaging fans during season 8, but now it’s almost as though it’s committing TV suicide. If this is what constitutes thoughtful executive deliberation, than they truly deserve being left with mindless comedies and reality TV entertainment with the resultant loss of a huge segment of viewers.

castle-season-rick-kate-gone

Castle on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Richard Cartwright) Nathan Fillion

Choosing to call the series Castle was in name only. This isn’t Batman & Robin. If anything, Kate is Batman and Rick is Robin. Detective Kate Beckett (now Captain) was not just a co-star, she was integral to the entire premise of the series as was originally described by ABC.

After a serial killer imitates the plots of his novels, successful mystery novelist Richard “Rick” Castle receives permission from the Mayor of New York City to tag along with NYPD homicide detective Kate Beckett, and her investigation team, for research purposes.

This description has been rewritten so as to appear as if her role wasn’t as important as his. This is another huge miscalculation by ABC.

The really clever writing will now be, how to properly write Kate Beckett (Stana Katic & Tamala Jones), out of the end of Season 8, and transition / position for a Season 9.

REFERENCE LINKS

 
Comments Off on Once More Into the Breech…

Posted by on 24/04/2016 in Actors, Choice, Comedy, Crime Drama, Entertainment, Humor, Plot, Rom-com, Romance, Stories, Television, Writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Biting the Hand That Feeds You

STANA KATIC, NATHAN FILLION

The announcement from ABC TV yesterday sent fans of the TV show, Castle, into hyperventilation. The TV crime, drama, romance, comedy series is in it’s 8th season and has enjoyed strong viewership until this season’s challenging plot miscues.

Kate Beckett has been a beloved character on our hit series ‘Castle’ for the past eight years. We are grateful for Stana Katic’s talent and dedication to the series and we hope to continue our relationship,” read a statement from the network. “Tamala Jones has also been an integral part of the series and we are grateful she was a part of ‘Castle.

The start of season 8 created a big stir among loyal fans who strongly objected to the separate on screen presence of either Nathan Fillion (Richard Castle) or Stana Katic (Capt. Kate Beckett). The official explanation is the story developers wanted to shake things up a bit, rather than pursue repetitious patterns. Behind the scenes rumors suggested it was due to the off camera rift between Fillion & Katic, whose only chemistry was on screen.

castle_lead_terminated

** RELEASED STATEMENTS **

In a statement, Stana Katic said: “Rather then distract from what was an amazing experience, I would just like to say that I’m very grateful to ABC for giving me the opportunity to be a part of a much beloved show.”

E Online states –
“Kate Beckett has been a beloved character on our hit series Castle for the past 8 years. We are grateful for Stana Katic’s talent and dedication to the series and we hope to continue our relationship. Tamala Jones has also been an integral part of the series and we are grateful she was a part of Castle,” ABC said in a statement.

Deadline TV –
Nathan Fillion is expected to return as Richard Castle for a shortened ninth season, Deadline reports. Fillion and Katic previously signed one-year contracts for the eighth season. According to Deadline, it was ABC’s decision not to have Katic and Jones return for season nine.

Castle has yet to be renewed, but sagging ratings and contract negotiations made it a long shot for renewal. ABC declined to comment on the prospect of a shorter season since the show has yet to officially be renewed.

—–
SpoilerTV –
While the studio started making overtures to Fillion for a new deal months ago and has been in on- and off- talks with him since the beginning of the year, I hear Katic was never approached to re-up her contract and was not offered an opportunity to continue on the show. Instead, I hear she, as well as Jones, were informed late last week that for budgetary reasons, they won’t be asked to come back for Season 9.

—–
Molly Quinn –

Early Tuesday, the actress took to Twitter to lament the departure of Stana Katic as well as fellow co-star Tamala Jones. “Yesterday was a horrible day,” she conceded. “I work[ed] with [Stana and Tamala] for 8 yrs. I love them. I’m heartbroken.”

—–
Nathan Fillion –

“Stana has been my partner all this time, and I thank her for creating the character of Beckett,” the actor shared in a message posted to Twitter. “I wish her well, and have no doubt she will succeed in everything she pursues. She will be missed.”

—–
Tamala Jones –

“I’ve had so much fun playing the wonderful and unfiltered ‘Lanie’ over the past eight seasons. I will greatly miss the cast and crew — it’s been a privilege getting to work with this incredibly hard working group of people. Thank you to ABC for this opportunity and to the fans for their unwavering support. It’s been an incredible journey and I can’t wait for what lies ahead!”


Castle_Becket_promo_pix_abc_network_b

Stana_Katic_not_being_asked_back_ABC

Castle_Becket_promo_pix_abc_network

“Castle” stars Nathan Fillion as a mystery novelist who teams up with NYPD homicide detective Kate Beckett, played by Katic, to solve crimes. It premiered in 2009. The show has not yet been renewed for a ninth season.

 


Castle loses its better half

Heloise Appourchaux, TV Blogger

Monday doesn’t taste the same today for the Castle fandom. While the fans were going to enjoy a new episode tonight of the (former) hit-show, the show was a trending topic for a very sad reason….

 
Comments Off on Biting the Hand That Feeds You

Posted by on 19/04/2016 in Actors, Choice, Crime Drama, Entertainment, Plot, Rom-com, Television, Writing

 

Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice – review

Kal-El-symbolI’m going to start this by explaining about any review you read of a film, don’t take anyone’s word for it. There’s only going to be the slightest hint of spoilage in this review. I’m going to try and explain my opinion without revealing too much detail.

The critics of this latest DC film have been all over it, like vultures on a carcass. Well, I’m not a vulture, and the latest film directed by Zack Snyder, isn’t an old dead carcass. It’s far from that, and if you insist these iconic comic characters must conform to an older style of behavior, you’re going to be disappointed. They may resemble and look vaguely like what you remember from comics or older movies, but as suggested in this movie, this isn’t 1938.

From the moment this film starts, you’re shown images, ever so briefly of a familiar Batman childhood traumatic experience. If you saw the others, dating back to Tim Burton’s film, you know the story. This is there for a reason, and if you’re quick to criticize why it’s included, then you’re missing a larger point. I’ll explain that later. Just know this about this particular film, it’s not your Tim Burton or Christopher Nolan version of Batman. It’s also not your Richard Donner or Bryan Singer Superman movie. This is a movie that stands on it’s own, whether you like it or not, this is a solid story with bold themes and excellent cinematography. What Zack Snyder does with this movie is eschew the chains of past actors and authors. As good as Christopher Reeve was, Henry Cavill has crafted an image which he now owns. He’s not just the red – white – blue boyscout set out for truth, justice, yada-yada-yada.

After those brief introductory moments of a childhood Bruce Wayne, there’s a lot going to happen and you better set down the popcorn, and strap yourself in, because this is not only a fast journey, it’s also intense. Here’s where I really have to give credit to Zack Snyder, because he’s taken a big risk in telling a set of stories, condensed, modified, and brought together to create highly developed imagery backed by an equally intense musical score from Hans Zimmer. I’ve read the criticism, which I shouldn’t have before I saw the film; they say he combined too many story elements. This could also be viewed as part of its strength. Each of the film’s participants contributed in a meaningful way.  It’s not  a Sean Connery 007, it’s more like a Daniel Craig film.

BVS_confrontation_smallZack Snyder wants you to understand this film on several levels. Sure, there’s the obvious titled physical confrontation between Batman and Superman, but he’s introducing us to the idea there’s a lot more to this world than just one or two exceptional people. Batman being the least among equals, possessing no super powers, his role is a subset of the entire movie. An excellent subset I might add, because Ben Affleck nails his dual role.

The introduction of Wonder Woman in this movie, isn’t news to the audience, or a way just to introduce another meta-human. She’s integral to the plot, and if you look at these players, as individuals, not just a timed screen presence, you can see the most interesting aspects of this drama.

Allow me to step back for a writers moment. Just accept this as a way of explaining how well crafted this film is when you look at it in the context of graphic novels (comics). I was one of those youth who read and possessed many of the 1st Marvel Comics dating back to the early 60’s. They were imaginative and drawn in colorful action poses for the era. What attracted myself and many other young people to Marvel at that time, was the introduction of the characters having real personal problems. I’m not talking about acne or dating, they had serious character flaws, and these imperfections showed frailties and a sense of reality for the reader. DC Comics, continued to turn out strong characters, but they were barely two-dimensional. For this reason alone, I think that explains the success of the Batman TV show of the 1960’s. Even young people saw this show as stupid, cartoon characters. I think the creators saw comics as serial nonsense and decided to make fun of it through campy behavior.

For a number of decades afterwards, it seemed no created TV or film could adapt the comics essential fantasy, drama, and core plot lines, without looking plain stupid. Hats off to Richard Donner and Tim Burton for making a strong popular showing, but aside from a lack of today’s technology, they failed to transcend simple child like stories. I think the big break came when Sam Raimi introduced us to his version of Spiderman (2002). That was soon followed by Jon Favreau directing Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man (2008). Audiences went to these films in vast numbers, and for the most part, the follow up films were successful. Then, almost everyone explained frustration with the 2007 release of Spiderman 3. No longer was there a story with singular continuity of a villain. Now there were several villains, and the biggest faux pas, the brief but silly Peter Parker dance moves. Sony dropped Raimi and after a pause, rebooted that franchise. Frankly I’m more exhausted from the reboots.

Gal_Gadot_Wonder_Woman_BVS.jpg

Zack Snyder and company have developed a complex drama, and taking a page out the early Marvel handbook, given us extraordinary insight on how these main characters think. Unlike simpler, earlier, graphic novels brought to film, he’s assuming there’s enough for younger people and the older comic book fan. He’s allowed the writing and fast pace imaging to weave an intelligent story. All people, no matter if they’re “super heroes” or villains have a background story. There’s recognition of the emotional complexity and the trauma of former conflicts for both protagonists. The casualties are real, not brushed away or watered down as if they don’t matter. Any active combat military veteran recognizes they don’t know all the reasons why they’re in the conflict. Each one has their own purpose for their presence in the confrontation. Even their reactions afterwards, aren’t the same. The film helps the viewer see some of that inner turmoil from each persons perspective.

Two people can share the same experience but have an entirely different reaction and memory of the events. Examining the individuals past experience, especially in their formative years, coupled with present time, gives each person a unique perspective. When you know Bruce Wayne suffers from a traumatic & turbulent childhood, Clark Kent comes from a stable Midwestern background, and Diana Prince is a much older and perhaps wiser soul, then the multiple stories coming together shared through each person’s eyes, becomes much more flavorful and interesting.

Speaking of flavorful, I’ve seen a lot of criticism of Lex Luthor as portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg, and frankly I went in with the idea this is going to be another Jim Carey (Ridler) act. Wrong! Why? Once again we’re reminded of Zack Snyders revision of a very well known and established villain. This is somlex_corp_logo_signeone who is intelligent, willing to use that intelligence to intimidate and be disarming. We see the beginning of a young psychopath, with all of the money to back up his quest to humble those he feels have too much power. Oddly enough, in his own twisted mind, he can never acquire too much for himself.  If people insist on wanting a young person to play the same role the way it’s been done before, get over it, this isn’t your grandfather’s Buick.

The final confrontation is through a creation of Lex Luthor, in a last ditch effort to gain the upper hand over Superman and anyone else bold enough to get in his way. This not only creates another conflict, it opens the door to what each of these super heroes begin to realize, there are many battles which lay ahead. This is where we see Wonder Woman in her full regalia, and the theater audience cheered when she joined in. Her back story is of someone much older than either Batman & Superman, and we see snippets of how her experience has taught her to remain in the background, avoid conflict when possible, find a way to cooperate. This is another example of the sophisticated underpinnings infused throughout this film.

I give this film a 9 out of 10 stars, because of it’s sophisticated, multiple complex stories woven well together and a critical examination into the psyche of each of the main players. This isn’t your casual, short attention span film. Watch carefully and enjoy! I know I will have to go back a second time just to see how much more I can pick up from the various things hinted, as well as the main story. wonder_woman_icon.jpg

 
Comments Off on Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice – review

Posted by on 27/03/2016 in Action, Actors, Aliens, Box Office, Director, Emotional Awareness, Entertainment, Fantasy, Hollywood, Icons, Movies, Plot, Popular Culture, Soundtrack, Stories, Writing

 
 
%d bloggers like this: