Tag Archives: Jane Campion

The Power Of The Dog – Today’s AFI Movie Club Pick

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Today’s AFI Movie Club pick is the Benedict Cumberbatch-led, The Power of the Dog, written and directed by Jane Campion.



THE POWER OF THE DOG looks to the hills for secrets unseen – and finds them in powerful, poetic images that transport audiences with a modern look back at the American West. This landmark work proves Jane Campion’s unparalleled ability to capture a world of breathless beauty and breathtaking brutality, both wrapped tight as a rope. This slow-burn tale is a brilliant exercise in suspense and release – masterfully manifested by a brilliant cast and an unforgettably complex performance by Benedict Cumberbatch.” -The American Film Institute, AFI AWARDS 2021



The Power of the Dog is based on Thomas Savage’s novel of the same name and is currently streaming on Netflix.  In addition, Campion became the first woman ever nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director twice. Campion was previously nominated in 1993 for The Piano, for which she earned an Oscar for Best Screenplay. The Power of the Dog was recently showered with twelve Oscar nominations, including Cumberbatch as Best Actor and Campion for Screenwriting and Directing.


About AFI Movie Club

AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. As a non-profit, AFI Movie Club is a member-powered organization, dependent upon the support of its movie fans. To support AFI Movie Club please consider becoming a member or donating.

AFI Movie Club was launched as a free program to raise the nation’s spirits by bringing artists and audiences together. AFI shines a spotlight on an iconic movie each day. Audiences can “gather” at AFI.com/MovieClub to find out how to watch the featured movie of the day with the use of their preexisting streaming service credentials.


(Source: AFI News Release)


Posted by Larry Gleeson



Kenneth Branagh, Jane Campion, Bradley Cooper, Brian Cox, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ariana DeBose, Guillermo del Toro, Siân Heder, Jung Ho-yeon, Lee Jung-jae, Marlee Matlin, Rita Moreno, Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep and Denis Villeneuve Among Guests

Morgan Freeman Delivers Benediction


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Los Angeles, CA, March 11, 2022 – Today, the American Film Institute (AFI) celebrated the 2021 AFI AWARDS honorees with a star-studded invite-only luncheon in Beverly Hills. AFI also revealed its official rationales (below) for all 23 honorees, providing the cultural and artistic context to mark these outstanding creative endeavors as the year’s notable milestones.

Celebrating film and television arts’ collaborative nature, AFI AWARDS is the only national program that honors creative teams as a whole, recognizing those in front of and behind the camera. All the honored works advance the art of the moving image, inspire audiences and artists alike, and enhance the rich cultural heritage of America’s art form.

At the close of the event, Morgan Freeman delivered the annual benediction in celebration of the honorees’ remarkable achievements. He also honored the legendary Oscar®-winning actor, director, activist, and champion of civil rights – and AFI’s Founding Vice Chair – Sidney Poitier, who passed away earlier this year. “Sidney was my compass showing me the way, my one bright light who illuminated the path for me to walk upon,” said Freeman. “And even though Sidney is no longer with us, his light will never dim. And no matter where you are from or who you are, he was, is, and always will be an inspiration.”

Guests in attendance at the AFI AWARDS luncheon include: Paul Thomas Anderson, Caitríona Balfe, Murray Bartlett, Ashley Nicole Black, Casey Bloys, Kenneth Branagh, Nicholas Braun, Connie Britton, Dove Cameron, Jane Campion, Kristin Chenoweth, Tim Cook, Bradley Cooper, Brian Cox, Kieran Culkin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alexandra Daddario, Ariana DeBose, Michael De Luca, Guillermo del Toro, Eugenio Derbez, Hwang Dong-hyuk, Daniel Durant,  Aunjanue Ellis, Toby Emmerich, Andrew Garfield, Reinaldo Marcus Green, Matthew Greenfield, Kathryn Hahn, Sterlin Harjo, William Jackson Harper, Siân Heder, Cooper Hoffman, Jung Ho-yeon, Paula Huidobro, Brad Ingelsby, Devery Jacobs, Lisa Jackson, Barry Jenkins, Lee Jung-jae, Keegan-Michael Key, Troy Kotsur, Tony Kushner, John Landgraf, Donna Langley, Andie MacDowell, Leonard Maltin, Marlee Matlin, Thuso Mbedu, Kevin Messick, Molly Smith Metzler, Rita Moreno, Rob Morgan, Julianne Nicholson, Sarah Niles, Evan Peters, Brittany O’Grady, Margaret Qualley, Frank Rich, Ann Sarnoff, Ted Sarandos, Jac Schaeffer, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton, J. Smith-Cameron, Sarah Snook, Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, Jeremy Strong, Scott Stuber, Sean Patrick Thomas, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Denis Villeneuve, Dana Walden, Ari Wegner, John Wells, among others.

AFI’s global Movie Club program will showcase the official selections beginning on March 12, with new and exclusive content released daily on AFI.com and its social media platforms.


CODA signs a proud rallying cry for voices rarely seen on screen. Siân Heder’s powerful story of choosing life’s path resonates beyond the screen and into our hearts – a celebration of rising above challenges to create our own futures. Emilia Jones, Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur, and Daniel Durant embody the bond between family, the determination to pave a new path to the American dream, and the joy of finding your voice – spoken or unspoken.


DON’T LOOK UP rockets into the stratosphere of hilariously dark satires, entering the orbit of DR. STRANGELOVE and other American classics. Illuminated by a stellar cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, and Meryl Streep, Adam McKay annihilates modern-day tribalism, a complicit media, and willful American ignorance by infusing belly laughs to transform this disaster film into a screamingly funny action film that, ultimately, demands action.


DUNE transports audiences to new worlds and immerses them in a vision so pure that the power of art is forever proven. This epic vision is painted with the brush of a master, Denis Villeneuve, whose exquisite adaptation mines its rich source material to reimagine one of pop culture’s sacred texts as an experience that is transporting, intoxicating – and entirely cinematic. Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, and an incandescent ensemble are a testament to the intimacy of performance that inspires fantasy to become reality.


KING RICHARD ascends the throne of America’s most inspiring movies in this story of Venus and Serena Williams’ rise to become the greatest tennis players in history. Reinaldo Marcus Green’s sure hand charts this journey by focusing on family and the eternal, paternal drive that not only ensures opportunity but insists on it. Will Smith’s landmark performance as the man with the plan has audiences rising to their feet to prove that in a sport where “love” means “zero” – here, love means everything.


LICORICE PIZZA offers a slice of life from the past that serves as a soaring reminder for the present – that joy lives each day in the eternal quest to “come of age.” Paul Thomas Anderson invites us back to his ’70s San Fernando Valley with the assurance of America’s greatest auteurs. His commitment to image, music, and story creates a masterwork of nostalgic humanity – one embodied by two relative newcomers in Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman, whose chemistry is undimmed by the brilliant talent that surrounds them amidst the vast sparkling lights of the valley.


NIGHTMARE ALLEY leads us down a path paved by American classics and emerges anew as a modern miracle. Guillermo del Toro’s funhouse of filmdom expertly refracts humanity is warped, distorted mirrors – and invites us to enjoy the ride. Bradley Cooper’s transformative turn reaffirms his place as a leading man looking for more; he and an all-star cast lure us into an inescapable, immersive world of smoke-filled rooms, amber whiskeys, and blood-red lipstick that expand our worldview to remind us of the humor and the horror of life’s journey.


THE POWER OF THE DOG looks to the hills for secrets unseen – and finds them in powerful, poetic images that transport audiences with a modern look back at the American West. This landmark work proves Jane Campion’s unparalleled ability to capture a world of breathless beauty and breathtaking brutality, both wrapped tight as a rope. This slow-burn tale is a brilliant exercise in suspense and release – masterfully manifested by a brilliant cast and an unforgettably complex performance by Benedict Cumberbatch.


tick, tick… BOOM! earns its exclamation point – and explosive testament to the driving powers of inspiration, aspiration, and determination. Lin-Manuel Miranda soars to new heights with this enduring valentine to Jonathan Larson by exploring not just what it means to write, to direct, to produce…but to create. This high-energy, high-drama musical is driven forward with force by the unflinching artistry of Andrew Garfield, who brings Larson to life in a virtuoso performance that stands among the year’s finest.


THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH burns and bubbles with power and passion – a stark cinematic rendering of William Shakespeare’s immortal work. Joel Coen richly imagines this bloody tale of hubris as a gothic fever dream where “fair is foul and foul is fair”– a monumental achievement, and one in which only titans as towering as Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand could stir the material from transcendent text into timelessness.


WEST SIDE STORY leaps into American film history a complete original – while standing tall upon stories foundational to the human experience. Steven Spielberg leads with love and forges his position as our greatest modern master, seeking out and soaring above new challenges and assembling a creative ensemble that speaks to the genius of both past and present – from Tony Kushner and Rita Moreno to Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. For all who wish to embrace art in modern-day, this film is a rapturous celebration of America’s vast and varied voices, and at the same moment, a stinging question of what it will take to become “one hand, one heart.”




BELFAST stands as a monument to the power of childhood memory – where hope lives on despite the view from behind the barbed wire. Set inside the war zone of The Troubles in Northern Ireland, Kenneth Branagh’s tenderly crafted cinematic memoir is a loving look at the ones who left, the ones who stayed, and the ones who were lost along the way. Jude Hill’s performance as young Buddy radiates with light and promise, and Caitríona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, and Ciarán Hinds embody the ties that bind in a work that rises above autobiography to ask why we divide ourselves and when will we stop.


SUMMER OF SOUL (…OR, WHEN THE REVOLUTION COULD NOT BE TELEVISED) takes the stage at a time when its message matters most. Transporting audiences back to the Harlem Cultural Festival of 1969, with footage previously thought lost to history, Questlove turns back time and welcomes all into the embrace of a joyful, life-affirming event. This sublime and urgently necessary documentary blends music, memory, culture, community, and, ultimately, the vibrant amplification of Black voices – beamed from the past to serve as catalysts for those who look to the future today.




HACKS upends the world of stand-up comedy one savage joke at a time. Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs, and Jen Statsky’s wickedly funny series place a brilliant spotlight on Jean Smart’s turn as a legendary performer who finds herself both in need of and at war with Hannah Einbinder’s Gen Z up-and-comer. Together, they battle for laughs as they break barriers, ultimately finding there is nothing funnier than the truth.


MAID sweeps audiences away in a story of strength, resolve, and undying dreams. Molly Smith Metzler’s series is a joy to watch despite the hardships endured by Alex, portrayed with revelatory restraint by Margaret Qualley. As she embraces the challenges of motherhood, an abusive ex-boyfriend, and an unsupportive family to find a future, each episode is a testament to the resilience and a rich commentary on the humanity of a class that society too often chooses not to see.


MARE OF EAST TOWN calls upon all the powers of storytelling to solve a relentlessly suspenseful whodunit amidst the hardscrabble people of its Pennsylvania small-town setting. With an unyielding eye and ear toward authenticity and mastery of pastoral gothic, Brad Ingelsby marshals this investigation of the secrets and lies amongst family and friends. Kate Winslet’s transformational performance is a tour de force, as she wades through the darkness to confront the pain of her past.


RESERVATION DOGS pulls focus to find those often ignored both on-screen and off. Following four Indigenous teenagers who inhabit the world of an Oklahoma reservation but dream of a future in California, Sterlin Harjo, and Taika Waititi’s series blows in like a strong, fresh wind. A new generation of young stars gives these stories their soul, and their characters’ adventures and misadventures resonate with humor, heart, and, most importantly, empathy – the key role of art in driving culture forward.


SCHMIGADOON! explodes with joy and music and laughter – and contemporary cynicism. This candy-colored cocktail is hand-crafted by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, who have created an ebullient valentine to musicals by inviting even the most sardonic to see the world beyond the fog of Brigadoon. Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key light up a glittering marquee of Broadway talent that power an insight into personal change through clever homage, catchy songs, and bravura, show-stopping choreography.


SUCCESSION sits tall on a castle in the clouds – with a foundation built upon the allure of power and the acknowledgment of its absurdity. This third year of Jesse Armstrong’s gimlet-eyed portrait of American hubris remains quintessentially – and uncomfortably – apt for this moment in our nation’s history. There is also joy in knowing that Brian Cox and the all-star ensemble continue to walk the razor’s edge of drama vs. satire, delivering each line as if from the stage of the Globe.


TED LASSO makes us believe – in goodness, in each other, and in the power of television. Bill Lawrence, Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt, and Joe Kelly’s irrepressibly empathetic series has reached even higher goals in its second year. Deeper, darker character development for the ensemble has added a rich shade of complexity to the life lessons and laughs delivered by Ted’s homespun wisdom and homemade biscuits.


THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD emerges from the fog of America’s past as a hauntingly triumphant monument to those who strived to live in a land where “all men are created equal.” Adapted from the novel by Colson Whitehead, Barry Jenkins and his extraordinary creative ensemble unlock the powers of both horror and fantasy to paint an unflinching look at the hellscape of the nation’s foundation, and in the process, ride this epic masterwork into television history.


WANDAVISION changes the channel on the superhero narrative. Brilliantly stitching emotional themes into the cape-and-tights conventions of Marvel’s cinematic universe, Jac Schaeffer’s visionary storytelling utilizes nostalgia as a smokescreen for a rich investigation of loss and grief. Impeccably embodying avatars across TV history, Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany summon acting powers beyond what is human – and do so at the risk of each scene being stolen by Kathryn Hahn.


THE WHITE LOTUS blooms to reveal the unbearable whiteness of being – unmasking the superficialities of privilege in the capitalist class with the half-wink of a Botoxed eye. Set against a backdrop of paradise lost, Mike White’s searing social satire unfolds at a vacation’s pace, allowing room for each of its epically excellent ensemble to incriminate themselves through action or inaction – and entitlement.




SQUID GAME surged onto screens a global phenomenon. This saga of survival is – at once – a heart-filled drama about those down on their luck, a heart-pounding thriller, and a damning critique of capitalism. Hwang Dong-hyuk’s unmatched achievement is the story’s power to smash cultural and geographic boundaries – to connect us as humans – all playing the violent game of life, surprised to learn how it will end.


About the American Film Institute (AFI)

The American Film Institute (AFI) is a nonprofit organization with a mandate to champion the moving image as an art form. Established in 1967, AFI launched the first comprehensive history of American film and sparked the movement for film preservation in the United States. In 1969, AFI opened the doors of the AFI Conservatory, a graduate-level program to train narrative filmmakers. AFI’s enduring traditions include the AFI Life Achievement Award, which honors the masters for work that has stood the test of time; AFI AWARDS, which celebrates the creative ensembles of the most outstanding screen stories of the year; and scholarly efforts such as the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and the AFI Archive that preserve film history for future generations. AFI exhibition programs include AFI FESTAFI DOCS and year-round exhibition at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Maryland. Other pioneering programs include workshops aimed at increasing diversity in the storytelling community, including AFI DWW and the AFI Cinematography Intensive for Women. AFI’s newest program is AFI Movie Club, a daily global engagement for those who love the movies. Read about all of these programs and more at AFI.com and follow us on social media at Facebook.com/AmericanFilmInstitute, YouTube.com/AFI, Twitter.com/AmericanFilm and Instagram.com/AmericanFilmInstitute

(Press release from AFI Press Office, Stacy Adamski)


Posted by Larry Gleeson



SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 02: Santa Barbara Mayor Randy Rowse speaks onstage at the Opening Night Film “The Phantom of the Open” during the 37th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on March 2, 2022, in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)


SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (March 2, 2022) – Last night the 37th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival, presented by UGG®, returned in person and opened with the world premiere of The Phantom of the Open.


SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 02: Santa Barbara Mayor Randy Rowse speaks onstage at the Opening Night Film “The Phantom of the Open” during the 37th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on March 2, 2022 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF)

Moviegoers watched on as Santa Barbara Mayor Randy Rowse took to the stage to welcome attendees from all over the world to Santa Barbara.


SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 02: SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling speaks onstage at the Opening Night Film “The Phantom of the Open” during the 37th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on March 2, 2022 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for SBIFF)


The festival’s Executive Director Roger Durling then introduced the film and said, “While tonight is a celebration, we’re at the same time holding a place in our hearts for the people of Ukraine…Art has the power to bring us together…It’s essential that we started the festival with something positive, a crowd-pleaser, and something uplifting.”



THE PHANTOM OF THE OPEN, a heartwarming British comedy starring Oscar winners Sally Hawkins and Mark Rylance. The film is based on the true story of Maurice Flitcroft, who entered the 1976 British Open despite never having played a round of golf before. He shot the worst round in Open history and drew the ire of the golfing elite, but he ultimately became a folk hero. More importantly, he showed his family the importance of pursuing your dreams.

This year’s festival will feature a full lineup of films including 48 world premieres and 95 US premieres from 54 countries – up 59 more films than last year! As a festival with such diverse leadership, and a particularly strong Latino presence, it was of utmost importance to the team to have films from all over the world be represented, including Nordic/Dutch, Eastern European, Middle Eastern/Israeli, and of course, Spanish and Latin American Cinema.

The funds raised through the festival and affiliated events are vital to the community, providing direct support for SBIFF’s plethora of free programs that serve over 14,000 people annually and reach some of the most vulnerable members of society – including at-risk and underserved youth, low-income families and their children, cancer patients, and transit-dependent senior citizens. SBIFF screens Academy fare in the Arthouse theater throughout the year, even throughout the pandemic, to encourage people to come back to the theater in a safe way.

Upcoming tributes will include live presentations to Kristen Stewart, Will Smith, Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, Aunjanue Ellis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciarán Hinds, Caitriona Balfe, Ariana DeBose, Alana Haim, Emilia Jones, Troy Kotsur, Simon Rex, Saniyya Sidney, and many more.



The 37th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, presented by UGG®, will take place IN-PERSON on March 2 through March 12, 2022. 200+ films, filmmaker Q&As, industry panels, and celebrity tributes, will be held throughout Santa Barbara, including at the historic Arlington Theatre. This year’s lineup is available on SBIFF’s mobile app. For additional information or to buy passes, visit sbiff.org.

About the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and educational organization dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema. Over the past 36 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 100,000+ attendees and offering 11 days of 200+ films, tributes and symposiums, fulfilling their mission to engage, enrich, and inspire the Santa Barbara community through film. In 2016, SBIFF entered a new era with the acquisition of the historic and beloved Riviera Theatre. After a capital campaign and renovation, the theatre is now SBIFF’s new state-of-the-art, year-round home, showing new international and independent films every day. In 2019, SBIFF opened its own Education Center in downtown Santa Barbara on State Street to serve as a home for its many educational programs and a place for creativity and learning.


(*Featured photo credit: Trina Hobson/Getty Images for SBIFF)

(Press release courtesy of Sunshine Sachs, Michelle Tarangelo)

FILM REVIEW: Jane Campion’s The Power Of The Dog

Posted by Larry Gleeson



Jane Campion’s latest work, The Power of the Dog, screened as part of a Red Carpet Premiere at the historic Chinese Theatre in Hollywood California, during the American Film Institute’s  AFI FEST 2021, on Thursday, November 11th. Campion is a New Zealand screenwriter, producer, and director. She is the second of seven women ever nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director and the first female filmmaker to receive the Palme d’Or; both of these achievements came for The Piano (1993).



The Power of the Dog,  written and directed by Campion, is set in 1925 Montana and circles around two well-off brothers who own an influential ranching operation. The Burbank brothers, played by Jesse Plemons and Benedict Cumberbatch, come across as polar opposites. Phil Burbank, played by Cumberbatch, is an infamous Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale University who prefers the daily grind of working the ranch with the hired hands. Cumberbatch brings a deep dark presence to the character in what might be his best performance to date. Plemmons plays Gordon Burbank,  the slower, mild-mannered younger brother, embodying a ranch gentleman with grace and style. Kirsten Dunst portrays Rose Gordon, a compelling love interest as a saloon-style restaurant owner who serves dinners to the locals with her son, Peter, portrayed by Kodi Smith-McPhee in a breakout performance.

While The Power of the Dog is set in Montana, the actual film location is New Zealand – adding a surreal quality. And, Campion’s writing matches it full force. The twists and turns in the dramatic, psychological, roller-coaster ride narrative combined with Cumberbatch’s powerful, dark character portrayal set the audience on the edge of their seats and their eyes fixed on the big screen. Undoubtedly, Campion is in the mix for her second Oscar for screenwriting and appears to be in the mix for a directorial nod as well.


Q & A, on November 11th, 2021, following the screening of The Power of the Dog, inside Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)


Following the screening, a fun-filled Q & A unfolded as the film’s actors, editor, cinematographer, and director sparred, cajoled, and informed under the watchful eye of moderator Hahn as she effectively marshaled the energies of The Power of the Dog conversation. The Power of the Dog, set for a December 1st, 2021, release date,  is a magnificent and majestic work tantalizing and titillating – a bonafide Oscar contender for now – in multiple categories! Highly recommended. One of the year’s best films!


Benedict Cumberbatch as Phil Gordon in Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, set for a December 1st, 2021 release. (Photo Cr. KIRSTY GRIFFIN/NETFLIX © 2021 Cross City Films Limited/Courtesy of Netflix)

Until next time, I’ll see you at the movies!