Category Archives: Feature Film

SHERILYN FENN, ALAN POWELL, NICHOLAS TURTURRO AND CATHY MORIARTY FILM “SHOOTING HEROIN” PIVOTS TO VOD/SVOD/EST RELEASE APRIL 3

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Note: We present this piece of film and entertainment news with deep respect to the media and individual concerns surrounding the country’s COVID-19 Crisis. We have heard media tell us they want to hear how filmmakers are coping with film releases during this time. We hope it is not perceived as impertinent or inappropriate. Thank you.

Opioid Drama, Originally Slated to Open in More Than Two Dozen Cities and at Three Festivals, Goes Day-And Date

Los Angeles, CA, March 20, 2020–Los Angeles, CA, March 20, 2020—SHOOTING HEROIN, one of the first narrative feature films on the current opioid epidemic in America, will debut on all VOD, SVOD and EST platforms on Friday, April 3. The film was originally set for an initial limited national release in two dozen cities and about 100 screens on Friday, April 3rd but quickly made the move to video-on-demand and pay-per-view platforms following the shutdown of almost all movie theatres nationally during the COVID-19 crisis. The film had also been set to premiere at three film festivals in Northern New Jersey, Dallas, and Los Angeles, all of which were canceled.

EST platforms and services will go live on April 3, including, on cable: InDemand and MSOs; Vubiquity; Verizon Fios; ATT U-Verse; DirecTV; Dish Network-IPVOD/EST; and Sling, and on transactional digital including iTunes; Amazon; GooglePlay; Microsoft X-Box; Vimeo; Sony PSN; Fandango; and Vudu.

Director

Director and producer Spencer Folmar, himself a small theatre chain operator and distributor through his company Veritas Films, says, “Like every other filmmaker, we’ve hit a wall with theatrical distribution in these turbulent times, which puts our little indie film on the same footing as Disney as we work to find our audience. And of course that audience is the home viewing audience, hundreds of millions of people who are searching for education and issues-oriented entertainment. We consider ourselves lucky to have VOD distribution of SHOOTING HEROIN in place to offer the public, and hope the media pivots along with us to let the public know we’re out there.” Folmar hopes for theatrical exhibition of the film in the future, and in the meantime is looking at booking the film at some of America’s several hundred drive-in theatres still operating.

Shooting Heroin

SHOOTING HEROIN tells the story of a small-town community that comes together to fight back against the spread of drugs “by any means necessary”—a story of a group of vigilante townsfolk who take justice into their own hands to fight for the heart of America, and save the next generation from overdosing and dying.

The film features Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks), Alan Powell (Quantico), Garry Pastore (HBO’s The Deuce), Nicholas Turturro (SVU), Cathy Moriarty (RAGING BULL), and Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs (Cooley High), among others. Before being programmed in three March film festivals in California, Texas and New Jersey, the film most recently claimed the Best Film, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor (Pastore) prizes at the Hell’s Kitchen Film Festival in New York City last October. SHOOTING HEROIN is being distributed digitally on VOD/SVOD by Stone Cutter Media.

 

The film is written and directed by Spencer T. Folmar (GENERATIONAL SINS). Since Folmar’s last film premiered nationally, he has pursued new ventures in distributing independent films, including WARNING SHOT, starring David Spade, Bruce Dern, and James Earl Jones, and creating a partnership with his own Veritas Theatres chain in major cities. Folmar is undeterred by the current crisis, which he views as temporary, and is confident Americans will return to movie theatres when it has passed. His first movie theatre was in the Pittsburgh, PA region called the Guthrie Theatre (a 600 seat, the single-screen historic theatre now featuring live entertainment, community theatre and a steakhouse in connection with the screening venue). He had also acquired two theatres in the Dallas region and still hopes to purchase and build theatres in Orlando, Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles later in 2020 into 2021. Folmar is building his own theatre chain to give transparency and integrity for indie filmmakers to enjoy their films on the big screen across the country—when it’s safe to do so. All of his theatres are currently shuttered.

Folmar concludes, “Even though it’s being eclipsed by the COVID-19 pandemic, opioid abuse remains a national public health crisis and claims over 100 American lives per day. With a strong cast and a compelling story ripped from daily headlines, we hope SHOOTING HEROIN will shed light on and give hope to those millions affected by it.”

Heroin

SHOOTING HEROIN (Drama): Release Date: Thursday, April 3, 2020
Starring: Sherilyn Fenn; Alan Powell; Garry Pastore; Nicholas Turturro; Cathy Moriarty; and Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs
Producers: Spencer T. Folmar, p.g.a., Mark Joseph
Director: Spencer T. Folmar
Writer: Spencer T. Folmar
Cinematographer: John Honoré
Composer: Mike Newport
Running Time: 90 minutes
Rating: R

*Note: We present this piece of film and entertainment news with deep respect to the media and individual concerns surrounding the country’s COVID-19 Crisis. We have heard media tell us they want to hear how filmmakers are coping with film releases during this time. We hope it is not perceived as impertinent or inappropriate. Thank you.

(Source: Press release presented by Henry Eshelman and Media Platform Group)

 

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BLOODSHOT with Vin Diesel opens Thursday

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Based on the bestselling comic book, Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) is an elite soldier recently killed in action, brought back to life as the superhero Bloodshot by the RST corporation. With an army of nanotechnology in his veins he’s an unstoppable force – the strongest warrior the corporation has ever created – and able to heal instantly. But in upgrading his body, the company is also manipulating his mind and memories. As he begins to remember his past life, Ray isn’t sure what’s real and what’s not – but he’s determined to take back control.

Bloodshot

Directed By:
David S.F. Wilson
Story by:
Jeff Wadlow
Screenplay by:
Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer
Based on:
The Valiant Comic Book
Produced by:
Neal H. Moritz
Toby Jaffe
Dinesh Shamdasani
Vin Diesel
Executive Producers:
Dan Mintz
Louis G. Friedman
Yu Dong
Jeffrey Chan
Rita LeBlanc
Buddy Patrick
Matthew Vaughn
Cast:
Vin Diesel
Eiza Gonzalez
Sam Heughan
Toby Kebbell
and Guy Pearce
Columbia Pictures’ BLOODSHOT photo call, Los Angeles, USA - 06 March 2020
LOS ANGELES – March 6, 2020: Eiza González, Vin Diesel, Lamorne Morris and Sam Heughan at the Junket Photo Call for Columbia Pictures’ BLOODSHOT at The London West Hollywood. (Photo credit: Eric Charbonneau)

Bloodshot has been rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association for intense sequences of violence, some suggestive material, and language. The film will be released in theaters nationwide on March 13, 2020.

Orion Pictures BAD TRIP In Theaters Everywhere on April 17, 2020

Posted by Larry Gleeson

From a producer of JACKASS and BAD GRANDPA, this hidden camera comedy follows two best friends as they go on a cross-country road trip full of hilarious, inventive pranks, pulling its real-life audience into the mayhem.

Bad Trip stars Eric André, Lil Rel Howery, Tiffany Haddish and Michaela Conlin. The film is directed by Kitao Sakurai from the minds of Dan Curry, Kitao Sakurai, and André – and produced by André, Jeff Tremaine, David Bernad, and Ruben Fleischer.

Bad Trip

BAD TRIP 

Release: April 17, 2020

Genre: Comedy

Starring: Eric André, Lil Rel Howery, Tiffany Haddish, Michaela Conlin

Directed by: Kitao Sakurai

Produced by: Eric André, Jeff Tremaine, David Bernad, Ruben Fleischer

SHERILYN FENN, ALAN POWELL, NICHOLAS, TURTURRO AND CATHY MORIARTY FILM “SHOOTING HEROIN” OPENS IN LIMITED RELEASE APRIL 3

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Opioid Drama to Open in More Than Two Dozen Cities

Los Angeles, CA, February 3, 2020SHOOTING HEROIN, the first narrative feature film on the current opioid epidemic in America, is set to release nationally on Friday, April 3. The film tells the story of a small-town community that comes together to fight back against the spread of drugs “by any means necessary”—a story of a group of vigilante townsfolk who take justice into their own hands to fight for the heart of America, and save the next generation from overdosing and dying.

The film features Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks), Alan Powell (Quantico), Garry Pastore (HBO’s The Deuce), Nicholas Turturro (SVU), Cathy Moriarty (RAGING BULL), and Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs (Cooley High), among others. The film most recently won the Best Film, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor (Pastore) at the Hell’s Kitchen Film Festival in New York City in October. SHOOTING HEROIN is being distributed theatrically by Veritas Films, and digitally on VOD/SVOD by Stone Cutter Media.

SHOOTING HEROIN release cities beginning April 3 include but are not limited to: Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, New York City, Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville, Washington DC, Eugene, OR, Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Colorado Springs, Denver, Detroit, Chicago, Charlotte, Atlanta, Phoenix, Minnesota, Newark, Buffalo, Clearfield, State College, Phillipsburg, and more too be announced.

The film is written and directed by Hard Faith founder Spencer T. Folmar (GENERATIONAL SINS). Since Folmar’s last film premiered nationally, he has pursued new ventures in distributing independent films, including WARNING SHOT, starring David Spade, Bruce Dern, and James Earl Jones, and creating a partnership with his own Veritas Theatres chain in major cities.

His first movie theatre was in the Pittsburgh, PA region called the Guthrie Theatre (a 600 seat, the single-screen historic theatre now featuring live entertainment and community theatre with a new Cinema Grille steakhouse in connection with the screening venue). He has also acquired two theatres in the Dallas region and is looking to purchase and build theatres in Orlando, Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles by the end of 2020.

Folmar said, “I’m motivated by the lack of reputable and compelling options for independent filmmakers to have a proper theatrical distribution with a distribution partner. It’s akin to that old Remington ad when the chairman said he wanted a good shave so he bought the company.” Folmar is building his own theatre chain to give transparency and integrity for indie filmmakers to enjoy their films on the big screen across the country.

SHOOTING HEROIN is set to premiere theatrically in x cities and y screens starting April 3, followed by a release on all major digital platforms, VOD and SVOD.  Folmar concludes, “With a strong cast and a compelling story ripped from daily headlines, we hope SHOOTING HEROIN will shed light on and give hope to those millions affected by our nation’s exploding opioid crisis.”

Shooting heroin release

SHOOTING HEROIN (Drama): Theatrical Release Date: Thursday, April 3, 2020

Starring: Sherilyn Fenn; Alan Powell; Garry Pastore; Nicholas Turturro; Cathy Moriarty; and Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs

Producers: Spencer T. Folmar, p.g.a., Mark Joseph

Director: Spencer T. Folmar

Writer: Spencer T. Folmar

Cinematographer: John Honoré

Composer: Mike Newport

Running Time: 90 minutes

Rating: R

 

 

 

FILM REVIEW: Gutterbee (Ulrich Thomsen, 2019), Denmark

Posted by Larry Gleeson

First film I see for the 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) sponsored by UGG, packs an unexpected, invisible wallop to the sensibilities. Making its US Premiere at SBIFF following its World Premiere at the São Paulo International Film GutterbeeFestival, Gutterbee, a character-driven, “social satire about the nexus of identity fear, where religion becomes an intellectual cul-de-sac, and racism, homophobia and intolerance reign supreme,”  provides, at a minimum, a snapshot of what life in small town, rural America looks like from an international perspective. It also reveals a solution on how to forge an elevated pathway into a better, more inclusive existence without forgetting who we are and where we came from.

Writer/director/producer Ulrich Thomsen encases his deeply felt messaging inside two dreamers who set out to open the “ultimate German Sausage restaurant: The Gourmet House of Refuge.” Anthony Starr (The Boys) portrays Mike Dankworth McCoid, a good-hearted bloke who has just been granted a prison release, while Ewen Bremner (Trainspotting) portrays Edward Hofler, a German sausage zealot. The two complement and play off one another as well as American film comedy duo, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

Gutterbee opens with a simple black and white title frame coupled with non-diegetic, Western music. With noir-style composition, Thomsen immediately begins exposing the dark aspects of rural life and culture spouting throughout the Americana landscape with a voice-over narrative of the town sheriff, played by Chance Kelly. Deftly, he reveals current topics of discussion including gender conversion therapy, greed disguised in the form of wealth gospel preachers, racism, xenophobia, bestiality, superstitions, and bullying, and how these behaviors continue to thrive.

Gutterbee is, by choice, not a major film studio production. It is a filmmaker’s truth. Thomsen derived the material and created his art from his experience including many years working in the United States, his monitoring of presidential tweets, and historical trivia on the art of sausage-making. Nevertheless, it is a professionally orchestrated production.

Oscar-winner Anthony Dod Mantle’s cinematography [Best Achievement in Cinematography Slumdog Millionaire (2008)] is stellar. The cast is strong with authentic performances from W. Earl Brown (Preacher, Deadwood: The Movie), Pia Mechler, Joshua Harto, Clark Middleton, and Gareth Williams. Scott Christopher Clark’s art direction, via the mise-en-scene, keeps the viewer wary and engaged. The costuming, designed by Suzanne Barnes, is spot on. And, the music from George Kallis, Breakthrough Composer of the Year 2018, International Film Music Critics Award, captivates.

In addition to the very noirish low key lighting and dramatic use of shadows, Gutterbee employs high key lighting, augmenting a plethora of comedic relief juxtaposed against the garishness of the depicted rural culture. Savvy writing allows for a natural and rhythmic flow adroitly addressing social concerns. The editing from Soren B Ebbe is expertly carried out and the use of jump cuts, a verified comedic device, is nicely woven into the film’s fabric.

Thomsen’s artistic snapshot of Americana in Gutterbee left me dumbfounded. In a brilliantly executed film, a message of hope is revealed amidst the human condition of rural Americans. Important to note, the majority of rural dwellers in the United States are of Germanic descent. Having grown up in a German-American community, I appreciated the inclusion of Germanic cultural artifacts including, but not limited to, lederhosen and the St. Pauli Girl-style costuming. Seemingly, the hope for the future of America lies within their rich, cultural hands. Ask, or in the case of Gutterbee, knock, and it shall be opened. Highly recommended film and wildly entertaining!

 

GRAVITAS VENTURES ACQUIRES MAKING APES: THE ARTISTS WHO CHANGED FILM

Posted by Larry Gleeson

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

GRAVITAS VENTURES ACQUIRES MAKING APES: THE ARTISTS WHO CHANGED FILM

Making Apes will be available on-demand Q1 2020.

CLEVELAND (November 19, 2019) — Gravitas Ventures, a Red Arrow Studios company, has acquired North American rights to the documentary feature MAKING APES: THE ARTISTS WHO CHANGED FILM. The film, which premiered at the 2019 Santa Barbara International Film Festival, will be available on-demand January 2020.

MAKING APES: THE ARTISTS WHO CHANGED FILM is an epic 50-year story of the make-up artists who created the iconic simians featured in the original science fiction masterpiece Planet of the Apes (1968) and subsequently defined special effects for generations to come.

This fascinating, poignant, funny and heartfelt story is told through the eyes of make-up
legend Thomas R. Burman, who along with Academy Award-winning artist John Chambers helmed the creation of Planet of the Apes’ now-famous make-up design.
Interviews include Guillermo del Toro, Richard Donner, John Landis, Joe Dante, Rick Baker, VeNeill, Greg Nicotero, Leonard Maltin, Bobby Porter and numerous other award-winning filmmakers and make-up artists.

The film details the history of special make-up effects from the earliest days to modern
effects, framed by the creation of the Planet of the Apes simians. A highlight moment is
an original Planet of the Apes actor Lou Wagner being transformed back into his character 50 years later by Thomas R. Burman, Bari Dreiband-Burman and Vincent Van Dyke.

“I am honored to know that this incredible journey is finally being told. John Chambers,
myself and an incredible team of artists came together, many of us for the first time, and
broke ground in Hollywood.” Burman says. “We changed film forever, and it’s fantastic to know that audiences will finally experience our story.”

Brett Rogalsky, Acquisitions Coordinator for Gravitas Ventures is quoted as saying “Making Apes is an exceptional look at the groundbreaking work that went into one of the biggest movies of all time. If you’re a fan of the franchise, or of movies in general, this is a must-watch.”

MAKING APES: THE ARTISTS WHO CHANGED FILM is Executive Produced by Thomas R. Burman & Bari Dreiband-Burman (Academy Award Nominees – Best Make-Up Effects), Directed by William Conlin, Produced by Harlene Conlin, features Cinematography by Gary L. Conlin, an original score by Shawn Patterson (Academy Award Nominee – Best Original Song), edited by Micah Stuart, Post Production Supervisor Maxx Burman and Sound Mixing/Editing by Ellis Burman III.

About Gravitas Ventures
Gravitas Ventures, a Red Arrow Studios company, is a leading all rights distributor of
independent feature films and documentaries. Founded in 2006, Gravitas connects
independent filmmakers and producers with distribution opportunities across the
globe. Working with talented directors and producers, Gravitas Ventures has
distributed thousands of films into over a hundred million homes in North America –
over one billion homes worldwide. Recent releases include Armstrong, directed by
David Fairhead; Above the Shadows starring Olivia Thirlby, Megan Fox and Jim
Gaffigan; The River and the Wall, directed by Ben Masters; Score: A Film Music
Documentary; California Typewriter; Legion of Brothers; Katie Holmes’ feature
directorial debut; All We Had, Colin Hanks’ All Things Must Pass; and Being Evel from
Academy Award-winning director Daniel Junge and producer Johnny Knoxville.
For more information, please visit gravitasventures.com, and follow @GravitasVOD on
Twitter and @gravitasventures on Instagram.

About Red Arrow Studios
Red Arrow Studios is one of the world’s leading creators and distributors of
entertainment content. Red Arrow Studios is comprised of 20 production companies in
seven territories, including 10 companies based in the United States; world-leading
multi-platform digital network Studio71, based in six countries; and global film and TV
distributors Red Arrow Studios International and Gravitas Ventures.

The group’s significant output includes scripted, non-scripted and formatted content and IP, from TV and film to short-form and branded content, made for an array of global networks and platforms.

Red Arrow Studios is part of ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE, one of Europe’s leading media
groups. For more information, please visit: https://redarrowstudios.com/

Media Inquiries

MaryKate McHugh / (440) 781-4473 / MaryKate@GravitasVentures.com

 

BEN AFFLECK TO STAR IN HYPNOTIC, DIRECTED BY ROBERT RODRIGUEZ

Posted by Larry Gleeson

First Green Lit Picture Under Studio 8 and Solstice Strategic Partnership

LOS ANGELES (November 6, 2019) Academy Award® winner Ben Affleck will star in Robert Rodriguez’s mind-bending action thriller Hypnotic. Production is scheduled to start in April. This is the first greenlit film under Studio 8 and Solstice Studios strategic partnership.

Hypnotic is an action thriller directed by Robert Rodriguez (Alita: Battle Angel, Sin City) and written by Rodriguez and Max Borenstein (Godzilla franchise, Kong: Skull Island). The film follows a detective (Affleck) who becomes entangled in a mystery involving his missing daughter and a secret government program–while investigating a string of impossible high-end heists. Rodriguez, Studio 8 CEO Jeff Robinov and his colleagues Guy Danella & John Graham will produce the film with Solstice, which will spearhead US distribution and international sales beginning at the AFM this week.

“Working with Ben on his award-winning projects, including Argo and The Town, I have seen how his versatility and creativity have made him one of the most talented filmmakers both in front of and behind the camera,” said Robinov. “It’s very meaningful to be collaborating with Ben again on this uniquely riveting suspense thriller, and I know he and Robert will make a terrific film together.”

BEN AFFLECK credit John Russo
Ben Affleck (Credit: John Russo)

Affleck is a multiple award-winning actor, director, producer, and screenwriter. He has won two Academy Awards as well as multiple Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Screen Actors Guild Awards. He’s best known for his work directing and starring in the Warner Bros. Best Picture Academy Award ® winner Argo and The Town in which he starred, directed and co-wrote. Previous leading roles include Justice League, The Accountant, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Gone Girl and State of Play. He directed Gone Baby Gone and starred in and co-wrote Good Will Hunting. Affleck is represented by William Morris Endeavor (WME).

 ABOUT STUDIO 8

STUDIO 8 is a filmmaker-driven company focused on building longstanding relationships with filmmakers in order to develop, produce and acquire both potential tentpoles and prestige pictures. STUDIO 8 partners with filmmakers and talent to make possible their unique creative vision and deliver that vision to audiences globally. STUDIO 8 founder and CEO, Jeff Robinov, previously served as an executive at Warner Bros., climbing the ranks to serve as President of Warner Bros. Pictures Group.

ABOUT SOLSTICE STUDIOS

Solstice Studios is an independent movie company based in Los Angeles, founded in October 2018. The studio develops, fully finances, produces, sells internationally and distributes feature films in the U.S. on a wide-release basis.  Solstice plans to produce 3-5 movies per year for a global audience—generally in the $20-80M budget range.  It also plans to co-finance or acquire another 1-2 films per year for wide US distribution.  The company has a partnership with Ingenious Media.  Solstice recently completed production of its first feature film, Unhinged starring Russell Crowe and Caren Pistorius opening August 28, 2020.

The Solstice team has a $5 billion production track record and is expected to grow to 65 people. The company’s senior team includes President & CEO Mark Gill, Head of Production Lisa Ellzey, Co-Production Head Guy Botham, Marketing/Strategy Head Vincent Bruzzese, Acquisitions & International Head Crystal Bourbeau, Business & Legal Affairs Head Karen Barna, Chief Financial Officer Shaun Williams and Head of US Distribution Shari Hardison.

 

FILM REVIEW: The Lighthouse (Eggers, 2019)

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The Lighthouse Poster

Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe star as two lightkeepers, Ephraim Winslow and Thomas Wake, trying to survive and maintain their sanity on a mysterious island while living at a remote, New England lighthouse in the 1890s, in The Lighthouse, directed by Robert Eggers (The Witch). Evoking such seafaring literary classics by Herman Mehlville (Moby Dick) and Ernest Hemingway (Old Man and the Sea) as the film opens with an almost square aspect ratio (1.19:1) harkening back to early cinema. The effect is at once claustrophobic and mysteriously out of place.

In a traditional narrative fashion, the characters are introduced and established. Winslow, a strapping, mysterious, young man of few words and who appears to have a troubled past claiming a work history as a Canadian lumberjack is the hired help (wickie) under contract for four weeks with hopes of moving up the ladder and someday hoping to become a lighthouse operator like his housemate Wake, a salty, crusty archetypal seaman. Wake comes across as an experienced sea hand with knowledge of sailor life and mythology who has the inexplicable behavior of farting loudly much to Winlow’s chagrin. Moreover, Wake treats Winslow harshly despite Winlsow’s unswerving dedication to carrying out the chores, emptying chamber pots and swabbing the floor repeatedly to Wake’s unending condemnation.

The two work together, sleep together and eat together. Winslow refrains from alcohol until a storm begins pounding the lighthouse. Together the two imbibe, dance, sing and became Marry. Soon, however, a darkness creeps in and the two men vie for control of the lighthouse. Also, Wake refuses Winslow access to the lantern room atop the lighthouse. Intrigued a jealous Winslow begins spying on Wake’s ritualistic time in front of the massive light bulb and becomes infatuated with Wake’s unearthly obsession. The two lighthouse keepers engage in an escalating battle of wills in a tension-fed, trapped scenario with mysterious forces, real or imagined, looming while a seemingly never-ending storm rages outside, leaving the men stranded.

Eggers uses several crew members from The Witch including cinematographer Jarin Blaschke, production designer Craig Lathrop, costume designer Linda Muir, composer Mark Korven, and editor, Louise Ford, to transport the audience into a realm of terrifying unknown. The cinematography is nothing short of spectacular as the lighting and framing create a sense of the paranormal. And, the production design along with the costuming transports the viewer, via the suspension of disbelief, into the time of the 1890s capturing the harshness of the film’s setting. Furthermore, Pattinson and DaFoe play off of each other very well. But, in my opinion, the attention to detail with the sound design including foghorn, seagulls, waves, machinery, and furnace, lend strong credence to the film’s reality.

The stormy night is when the film goes into warp drive and provides a catalyst for all the odd and unusual behavior to come alive and take over the film’s consciousness. Eggers’s use of black and white allows for the utmost effect in facial lines and scene shadowing. These scenes have a supernatural, expressionistic appearance as the film delves into insanity. What emerges is a tragic Greek myth (it begins with a capital P). Highly recommended!

 

FILM REVIEW: The Current War Director’s Cut

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison and Michael Shannon as George Westinghouse, The Current War is the story of the rivalry between the greatest inventors of the industrial age over whose electrical system would power the country’s economic engine in the coming century. Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) and written by playwright Michael Mitnick (Sex Lives of our Parents), The Current War also stars Katherine Waterston as Margurite Westinghouse, Nicholas Hoult as Nikola Tesla, Tom Holland as Samuel Insull (Edison’s personal secretary), Matthew Macfadyen as J.P. Morgan and Tuppence Middleton as Mary Edison. The acting is as good as any I’ve seen this year. An easy comparison is an upcoming film December 20th, 2019 release date), The Aeronauts, with Oscar-winner, Eddie Redmayne, and Felicity Jones as the leads, in a fun, entertaining historical drama about hot-air ballooning in the 1880’s. Moreover, after seeing The Current War, I’m looking forward to the “in-production” biographical work, Tesla, starring Ethan Hawke.

Current War Bulb
Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison in The Current War. (Photo Credit: Dean Rogers)

But, first, let’s return to the electrical Current War. Backed by J.P. Morgan, Thomas Edison dazzles the world by lighting Manhattan with his patented bulb. Westinghouse and Tesla light the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, sparking the infamous war of currents. Westinghouse and Tesla bet everything on what Edison called “risky and dangerous” alternating current. Edison plotted to poison the public’s mind by associating Westinghouse with a new form of humane capital punishment – death by electrocution – powered by Westinghouse Electric. More on that, later. Astonishingly, Benedict Cumberbatch channels Edison with such grace and ease, I found my self suspending disbelief. Cumberbatch’s performance reminded me of his captivating impersonation of Sherlock Holmes in the TV Series, Sherlock (2010, 15 episodes).

DSC02993.ARW
Tom Holland, left, as Edison’s personal secretary, Samuel Insull, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison in The Current War. (Photo Credit: Dean Rogers)
DSC04360.ARW
Michael Shannon as George Westinghouse in The Current War. (Photo Credit: Dean Rogers)

While Edison loses out to Westinghouse in the end, Edison simply moves on to his next project – motion pictures! Meanwhile, Michael Shannon’s formidable impersonation of George Westinghouse is nothing short of spectacular. Shannon returns to form that garnered an Oscar nomination (Nocturnal Animals) as Westinghouse, who  despite his intimidating presence simply wanted to create something that would benefit the public saying, “If someday they say of me that in my work I have contributed something to the welfare and happiness of my fellow man, I shall be satisfied.” With his back against the wall, Westinghouse is forced to reveal Edison’s attempt to discredit the Westinghouse and the superiority of alternating current as opposed to Edison’s direct current.

DSC03190.ARW
Katherine Waterston as Marguerite Westinghouse, left, with Michael Shannon as George Westinghouse in The Current War. (Photo Credit: Dean Rogers)

While the two don’t appear on screen together very often ( I believe it’s twice), the connection between Edison and Westinghouse is undeniable. Each backing his own current of electricity. To me, this is the artistic essence of the film. Gomez-Rejon melds the human and electrical stories into one in a seamless fashion. It is remarkable. The Current War is highly entertaining, informative, and polished with a compelling narrative. The costuming and makeup speak for themselves – delectable. The ensemble cast is exquisite. The production design is excellent. The lighting and sound add a powerful context and a balanced emotional heft. And, the mise-en-scene is captivating. Very, very warmly recommended!

*Featured photo: Nicholas Hoult as Nikola Tesla in The Current War. (Photo Credit: Dean Rogers)

FILM REVIEW: The Laundromat (Soderbergh, 2019) USA

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Erin Brokovich, Magic Mike) reunites with writer/producer, Scott Z Burns (The Informant, The Report) in The Laundromat, starring three-time Oscar-winner, Meryl Streep, as Ellen Martin. Martin is enjoying a wistful vacation with her husband when a tragic boating accident on Lake George happens. Martin is bereft yet manages to keep a positive outlook as she engages in meetings with her lawyer to discuss her financial options regarding her husband’s life insurance and wrongful death settlement.  Martin plans to use the settlement money for a down payment on a condominium overlooking the Las Vegas strip. Actress Sharon Stone makes a cameo as a pent-up, high strung, real estate agent who delivers a searing blow to Martin’s plans. Bewildered and befuddled, Martin sets out to discover whom and what is behind these financial shenanigans she’s encountering. All roads eventually lead to a Panama City law firm, Mossack Fonseca, and two lawyers, Jurgen Mossack, played by Oscar-winner Gary Oldman, and Ramon Fonseca, portrayed by Golden Globe nominee, Antonio Banderas.

The film is adapted from Secrecy World by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter
Jake Bernstein and is based on true events emanating from a 2016 journalistic whistleblower release of 11.5 million documents, known as the Panama Papers, containing pages of dubious and nefarious transactions designed to protect and enhance the wealth of the world’s richest people. Hats off to Soderbergh and Burns in taking a very dark subject and turning it into comedy. Allowing Oldman and Banderas to portray Mossack and Fonseca in comedic characters enables the subject matter an easier digestion.

Oldman and Banderas provide an abundance of comic relief with voice-over narrations and appearing on-screen as the dapperly-dressed legal counselors. The duo attempt to justify their actions as they hilarious provide background information on how our financial system came to into existence and what all people have in common – money. Their explanations as to why they did what they did involve vignettes in China, Africa, Mexico, the Caribbean Islands and wind up ending in Panama as they ultimately reveal the various and sundry illicit and absurd actions such as bribery, murder, and tax evasions the super-wealthy engage themselves in to support the world’s financial system and protect themselves from losing wealth. Streep delivers an exceptionally solid performance as Ellen Martin and manages to deliver the finest moment in the film without missing a beat.

THE LAUNDROMAT

The Laundromat follows a number of films dealing comedically with the dark matter of our current financial system. Adam McKay’s 2015 Oscar-winner The Big Short (Best Adapted Screenplay) and Martin Scorsese’s 2013 AFI Movie of the Year, The Wolf of Wall Street readily come to mind. Yet, Soderbergh captures a moment in time without most audience members realizing what is taking place on-screen. And, like Scorsese and McKay’s work, The Laundromat artfully and skillfully provides an exquisite commentary on more than just the current state of our world’s financial system. Hint: It’s in the details. One of the year’s most important films. Highly recommended.