Film Preview: Spielberg’s “Lincoln” receives praise from NYFF

Film Preview: Lincoln
by Matthew Durham

About a month has past since Lincoln had its trailer premiere through Google Hangout succeeded by a Q&A with director Steven Spielberg and actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt (playing Robert Todd Lincoln.) The trailer was received with mixed reaction from fans and critics alike.

What provoked this mixed reaction was the after-thought of his previous film War Horse which earned six Oscar nominations, but no wins. Reading reviews and processing the reactions of the trailer it can be deducted that War Horse can now be considered ‘under-rated.’


Film Breakdown: What We Learned from TIFF, Telluride, and Venice

For an up and coming publication that loves film, it is best if we sat down and talked about what has been going on at the Toronto International Film Festival, Telluride and Venice.

Earlier I posted an article about some Oscar hopefuls for the upcoming season, what are going to be the big movies of 2012?

The specific films I want to talk about are Argo, The Master, Cloud Atlas, Anna Karenina, Hyde Park on Hudson, Silver Linings Playbook, and To The Wonder.


Anticipation Preview: The Best Films of 2012 and Why.

It’s an odd hobby to have predicting award show outcomes, but it is an odd hobby I enjoy. This article however is not based toward the Oscars or any other award show. Well, kind of. This will be a list for anyone trying to predict the Best Films of 2012 and explain why they can be good, or how they could be bad.

As I have established before there are a lot of fantastic talented filmmakers putting out stuff this Award Season. So here’s a list of the Films you should watch out for.


Description: From what I’ve read the story revolves around music teachers in their eighties going through rough times, a lot of the descriptions I’ve read are pretty vaugue

Why Will It Be Good?
French filmmaker Michael Haneke is why. In 2009 he wrote and directed the critically acclaimed Foreign Oscar frontrunning film The White Ribbon. The film didn’t get the Oscar and a lot of people believed it was snubbed. Now he is back.

Why Could It Be Bad?
I doubt this movie will be bad but as we’ve seen from Pixar recently no one ever really keeps making good movies. As far as Award-Races foreign films are often shut out of any category other than their own. The White Ribbon got a cinematography nod, and sometimes Acting nods come into them, so it really depends on how good it is.

Anna Karenina

Description: A period piece taking place in the 19th century in Russian High society. Never knew Keira Knightley did period pieces…. sarcasm. But yes it’s about an affair.

Why Will It Be Good?
The trailer looked alright, the film has some great actors in it including Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Johnson, Kelly MacDonald. The Director is Joe Wright, I really enjoyed Atonement he did with Knightley and the Writer of the film is Tom Stoppard who won an Oscar for  Shakespeare in Love. 

Why Could It Be Bad?
Although Stoppard hasn’t had too many speed bumps in his writing career, director Joe Wright hit pretty low with The Soloist. Two other notable films he’s done is Hanna and Pride & Predjudice; another film in which he worked with Knightley. Also while the novel is older the premise seems to have been done multiple times and period films are usually hit or miss lately.


Description: During an Iranian Revolution and CIA specialist comes up with a plant to free six Americans who have found shelter at the home of the Canadian Ambassador.

Why Will It Be Good?
Ben Affleck has proven himself twice in a row now as a Director. As far as acting he did well under his own direction in The Town. There is an all-star cast in this film and with Affleck’s track record it could be the one that finally gets him in contention during award season.

Why Could It Be Bad?
There seems to be a lot going on in this movie. All the actors in it are extremely talented but in the trailer they all seemed to be playing working stiffs. Maybe it’s just that the trailer wasn’t that good. Also the screenwriter Chris Terrio is relatively new to writing having only worked on minor short films (info via IMDB.)

Cloud Atlas

Description: Hard to say. Pretty much about how peoples life’s and their actions impact one another in the past, present and future.

Why Will It Be Good?
The Wachowski Brothers are directing/writing and they did The Matrix which was good. A third director named Tom Tykwer directed Run Lola Run which had high critical praise. The trailer while portraying a convoluted storyline looked visually stunning and interesting. Also I have heard the book is excellent and complex.

Why Could It Be Bad?
Besides The Matrix trilogy we haven’t really seen much from the Wachowski’s. Can they pull a story off like this? With all these intricate layers and storylines. This film could literally be 50/50 either it will show us something we haven’t seen before and blow our minds with intelligent storylines or be boring, long and convoluted. The acting in it looked good, but Tom Hanks with the short brown hair was a little unrealistic.

Django Unchained

Description: A slave turned bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from an evil Mississippi plantation owner.

Why Will It Be Good?
Tarantino hasn’t ever really done a bad movie. So I doubt this film will be bad. It looks fun, cinematography looks good, acting looks good. Really everything looks well rounded out with it.

Why Could It Be Bad?
As said before I don’t think it will be bad. It could be like Kill Bill for example, good but not an Award winner like Inglourious Basterds or Pulp Fiction. Also the trailer wasn’t incredibly impressive.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Description:  Peter Jackson is back to the LOTR series this Christmas with the highly anticipated prequel about Bilbo Baggins.

Why Will It Be Good?
There’s a ton of hype surrounding the film and Peter Jackson has been slaving away at it for a long while now. The 48 fps is also going to be a very intriguing experiment. The actors are there and most importantly Jackson has the same screenwriters Fran Walsh and Phillippa Boynes that helped write the other LOTR films and King Kong with him.

Why Could It Be Bad?
King Kong and The Lovely Bones were not nearly as good as the LOTR series, but they weren’t bad at all, at least not in my opinion. A big turn off for me though is that they are turning this into a trilogy, I fear we might experience some long runtimes in these films that can hopefully entertain up the difference. Also the trailer was complete garbage.

Hyde Park on Hudson

Description: The story of the love affair between FDR and his distant cousin Margaret Stuckley, centered around the weekend in 1939 when the King and Queen of the United Kingdom visited upstate New York.

Why Will It Be Good?
Bill Murray looks absolutely amazing in the trailer, and looks like a major player come award season, that is unless the film is total garbage. The film concept is interesting too.

Why Could It Be Bad?
Roger Michell, the director has done films like Notting Hill and Morning Glory. That’s not a great track record, so why they hype for this film? Maybe it’s the writer Richard Nelson. Actually Nelson is a newcomer who has worked on some shorts and indies and when it comes to new screenwriters it’s like flipping a coin.

Les Miserables

Description: An adaptation of the successful stage musical based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel set in 19th-century France, in which a paroled prisoner named Jean Valjean seeks redemption.

Why Will It Be Good?
I’ve seen the musical and I cried like a baby. Best musical I’ve seen. High critical acclaim on Broadway. Tom Hooper is directing, I didn’t care for The King’s Speech but that doesn’t change the fact it got him a Best Director and Best Picture Oscar. Also Hooper did the acclaimed HBO John Adams series and since this takes place in the heart of the French Revolution and a period piece it is in his ball park. William Nicholson is adapting the script, his highest achievement being a co-writer for Gladiator. 

Why Could It Be Bad?
I don’t see much, I don’t believe it’s likely that Tom Hooper could dish out another Oscar winner so quick, but everything looks good from Acting to Production Design and Cinematography. Still anything is possible. Also we need a longer trailer, teaser is good but not enough.

Life of Pi

Description: The story of an Indian boy named Pi, a zookeeper’s son who finds himself in the company of a hyena, zebra, orangutan, and a Bengal tiger after a shipwreck sets them adrift in the Pacific Ocean.

Why Will It Be Good?
It’s been highly anticipated for awhile. The book is supposedly amazing and there are already some devout fans. The concept of the story is very original and intriguing which you don’t see much of today. Also the movie looks cinematically beautiful. The director is Ang Lee who won his Oscar for Brokeback Mountain. The adaptive screenwriter David Magee has only wrote a few things, one of which he was nominated for an Oscar for and it was Finding Neverland which shares similar magical traits as this film.

Why Could It Be Bad?
From the trailer some people complained that it simply looked too cheesy and that the CGI animals looked too fake. Personally I was impressed by the trailer and I would love to see it. We all also can’t forget while Ang Lee did Brokeback Mountain he also did the first Hulk movie.


Description: The sixteenth President of the United States guides the North to victory during the Civil War.

Why Will It Be Good?
Spielberg is Spielberg. He has created some of the greatest films of all time and he has created some alright films. More of the alright films have been happening lately. Daniel Day-Lewis looks picture perfect has Lincoln and screenwriter Tony Kushner has previously worked with Spielberg on critically acclaimed but underrated film Munich. 

Why Could It Be Bad?
We could have another War Horse scenario on our hands or Catch Me If You Can. Where the film is really good, but not a classic. We can’t expect Spielberg to ever release another ET or Jaws. He might someday, but no one should have that high of expectations looking at them. So it’s really up in the air, especially without a trailer. I wouldn’t be surprised if it got pushed to 2013 at this point.

The Master

Description: A 1950s-set drama centered on the relationship between a charismatic intellectual known as “the Master” whose faith-based organization begins to catch on in America, and a young drifter who becomes his right-hand man.

Why Will It Be Good?
Paul Thomas Anderson has had a variety of styles over the years, but he seems to be sticking with the grim emotions of There Will Be Blood with this one, which is not at all a bad thing. The concept is interesting, the acting looks incredible and it was recently shown secretly to some random viewers who praised the film.

Why Could It Be Bad?
It won’t be. The one negative thing the viewers who got to see it said was that it was a little long. It may not turn out to be the big Oscar winner people are expecting it to be this year, but it is very likely it will be in contention.

Silver Linings Playbook

Description: After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.

Why Will It Be Good?
The acting looks really good first of all. The premise sounds interesting and I’ve heard good things about the book it is based off of. The director is David O. Russell who was recently nominated for an Oscar for The Fighter he is a talented director and writer.

Why Could It Be Bad?
They could fall into a trap where the leads are too unlikable, but this film looks like it uses empathy to make the audience connect with the characters and their situations. I was impressed by the trailer, but as far as winnings Awards it could really go either way. It doesn’t really seem like a typical award film.

To the Wonder

Description: A romantic drama centered on a man who reconnects with a woman from his hometown after his marriage to a European woman falls apart.

Why Will It Be Good?
Terrence Malick is the writer/director who recently had some luck with The Tree of Life. There is a wide variety of good casting here as well.

Why Could It Be Bad?
I am seriously doubting this will be released this year, especially since Malick is notorious for pushing his films release dates back and we haven’t heard anything about this film, no trailer, screenshots nothing. Just the posterish photo above. So we’ll see.

Trouble with the Curve

Description: An ailing baseball scout in his twilight years takes his daughter along for one last recruiting trip.

Why Will It Be Good?
The performances look really good from the trailer, Eastwood is still doing his Eastwood things but he just does it so damn good. Amy Adams looks incredible, overall it looks like a charming heartwarming sports flick.

Why Could It Be Bad?
Robert Lorenz is making a directorial debut after working as an AD with Eastwood on movies such as Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby. This could be a good or bad thing. Randy Brown is also making a screenwriting debut. Parts of the trailer seemed like this would be a warm-hearted family melodrama. So I’m thinking doubtful for award season but I could be wrong.

Zero Dark Thirty

Description: The NAVY Seal Team 6 tracks down wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden.

Why Will It Be Good?
Kathyrn Bigelow has teamed up again with screenwriter Mark Boal (both are known for the Oscar winning movie The Hurt Locker) to cover familiar territory here. The cast also looks great for the film.

Why Could It Be Bad?
We all know what it’s about, but we don’t know what it’s REALLY about. Bigelow and Boal have been keeping the project pretty quiet so it’s hard to make speculation outside of past experiences from the actors and crew and who knows maybe Bigelow and Boal got lucky with The Hurt Locker. 

Well I hope you enjoyed these films, other films that have already been released that will be in Award contention are: Moonrise Kingdom, The Sessions, The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and Brave.

Classic Film Review: 28 Days Later



Classic Film Review: 28 Days Later


I was recently asked what some of my favorite horror movies of all-time were. It’s a rough genre to be done right, and even rougher to get a classic from. There are some obvious classic films like The Exorcist or Jaws. One of the films that ended up in my top 5 all-time favorite horror films was Danny Boyle’s beautiful zombie film 28 Days Later.

Before I lose geek credibility I know that they aren’t technically zombies in this film, they are “infected.” For those of you who don’t know the difference a zombie is “undead” this means they become that way by dying or having already been dead. Infected means they have the mannerisms of a zombie, but they are actually just suffering from a type of rabid and contagious sickness.  

The infected in this film are the scariest I have ever seen them done and re-watching it I realize that it’s not just the extra twitching or reddened eyes that made them scary, but they way the cinematography that causes the thrills and chills. There are a good deal of POV shots of the infected when they are introduced into the scene, there is also a manipulation of audio when they are introduced. Example, when the infected kid jumps down you don’t hear him move or land. This adds to the experience of the film and it is a genius way to scare the hell out of people. 

Without the beautiful and smart cinematography choices, this film might have not made my list. The story is good, but it’s nothing too original. Interesting characters definitely helps push the story along. The production design and cinematography are what really capture a realistic and grim environment  of what an infected apocalypse would look and feel like. Impressive original film manipulation tricks are what really make this film a classic to me, and I believe should be observed by film students everywhere. 

Final Score: 5/5