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Thread: Silver Screen, the General Movie Discussion

  1. #91
    From the LA Times ___

    The original 'Ghost in the Shell' was a watershed film in animation history

    Charles Solomon

    Mamoru Oshii's 1995 Japanese sci-fi epic "Ghost in the Shell" ranks as a watershed film in animation history.

    A moody, provocative adventure set in a dystopic future, "Ghost" defined cyberpunk, spawned a string of sequels and TV series, and influenced films on both sides of the Pacific. Last year, protests erupted when Paramount announced a live-action remake starring Scarlett Johansson as the crime-fighting cyborg, Maj. Motoko Kusanagi. That film opens Friday.

    An agent for Public Security Section 9 who suggests a cross between a Playboy centerfold and the Terminator, Maj. Kusanagi battles the hacker known only as "The Puppet Master." But her real quest is of self-discovery: Does her "Ghost," her essential being, reside in the organic brain within her largely prosthetic body or is it part of the Web? Which is more real: the physical world or the electronic one?

    Roland Kelts, the author of "Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S.," said the original "Ghost" "introduced American audiences to the philosophical risk-taking and literary sophistication of Japanese animation. The film is about defending against malicious hackers, and the fluidity of gender identities ? making it almost unbearably prescient two decades later."

    "Ghost" began as a manga - a Japanese graphic novel - by Masamune Shirow that was popular among animators.

    "I figured it would eventually be animated, and that I would likely end up directing the animated adaptation," Oshii said in a recent interview conducted via email. "I tried to make Shirow?s abstruse work as easy to understand as possible, but in spite of my efforts, it seems to have a reputation as a difficult film. It wasn?t very well received when it first hit theaters in Japan, so I was taken aback by its reception in the United States. Its ongoing popularity shocks me, frankly: I never thought of it as something audiences would keep watching for such a long time."

    He speculated on the reasons for that success: "Real and unreal worlds are a dramatic theme as old as time: Humans are by nature unable to live in anything but a virtual world, and it will never be possible to prove that one's own reality is the same as another person's."

    Many recent Japanese animated features deal with shifting identities and uncertain realities. But Oshii seemed skeptical about his work affecting other filmmakers. "Perhaps the influence is more about directorial aspects than about the ideas ['Ghost'] explores," he said. "People have told me about the similarities between my film and 'The Matrix' with annoying frequency, but that series is based on the Wachowskis' own worldview."

    "Ultimately, all movies begin as copies of others, and it's impossible to avoid consciously or unconsciously copying things from other works," he added. "Any film set in a near-future world is influenced to some degree by 'Blade Runner,' but I did my best to make ['Ghost'] different from it. In terms of the film's style, I drew more from 'hard-boiled' Hollywood movies."

    The casting of Johansson, a white actress, as a quintessentially Japanese character created a storm in social media about "whitewashing." (The name Kusanagi is taken from the sacred sword that is part of the Imperial Regalia of Japan.) An online petition calling on the studio to "reconsider casting Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell and select actors who are truer to the cast of the original film" garnered over 100,000 signatures.

    That controversy did not extend to Japan. "Asian Americans and anime fans outside of Japan yelped in anger and disbelief when Johansson was announced as the lead," Kelts said. "But in Japan, the casting choice is largely perceived as shrewd: She's a marquee name who may sell tickets; a bit funny, since she's about as Japanese as a Big Mac."

    Oshii said he's eager to see Johannson's interpretation of the character: "I'm a fan of hers, so I'm quite looking forward to seeing what kind of woman her Major will be. I think it's the best possible casting."
    Last edited by Joescoundrel; 03-29-2017 at 10:17 AM.

  2. #92
    From the LA Times ___

    Disney film executive delivers sobering message on changing cinema business

    Ryan Faughnder

    Hollywood's annual gathering of movie studios and theater owners in Las Vegas, known as CinemaCon, normally opens with a cheerleading speech for the movie business dominated by talk of box office records and global growth.

    But the event's opening remarks by Disney's film distribution head, Dave Hollis, took a slightly more sober look at the troubling trends affecting the film business, including long-term pressure on attendance because of digital media.

    In his remarks to cinema owners at Caesar's Palace, Hollis acknowledged stagnation in the actual number of tickets sold (1.32 billion last year, compared with 1.4 billion a decade ago). Moreover, he said, per capita attendance, the average number of times each person bought a movie ticket, is on the decline. Last year, per capita attendance fell by 1%.

    Those trends undercut some of the fanfare surrounding last year's record $11.4 billion in box office revenue in the U.S. and Canada. Box office is expected to remain relatively flat in the next several years, reaching $11.5 billion by 2020, Hollis said, citing analysts.

    Hollis, like many analysts, blamed the increasing amount of new digital entertainment options sucking up more of people's time. Movie attendance among young adults ages 18-39 is down significantly from five years ago, he noted.

    "It does feel like the changing lives of our consumers are having some impact," Hollis said. "The great news, obviously, is box office is up, but our goal has always been to stay ahead and look for new opportunities to drive it forward and keep it as healthy as it can be."

    Hollis gave some jaw-dropping numbers on the proliferation of social media use. The number of tweets sent per minute has grown from 98,000 per minute in 2011 to 430,000 last year, he told the crowd, joking, "albeit, most of it [coming] from our president," referring to President Trump's penchant for early-morning Twitter use.

    "This is disruption personified," Hollis said.

    But Hollis said theater companies' efforts to court millennials with improved theater amenities, coupled with studios' focus on must-see blockbuster movies, is working. Per capita attendance among 18- to 24-year-olds increased for the first time in five years in 2016, up 10% to an average 6.5 tickets sold.

    The picture is bleaker, however, among teenagers - the hoped-for next generation of moviegoers - whose attendance fell 16% last year to 6.1 on average, according to a recent report by the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

    Despite all the talk of digital disruption, Hollis was conspicuously silent on another hot-button issue. The major studios - with the exception of Disney - are putting pressure on cinema owners to allow earlier releases of movies as video on demand as the film companies' home entertainment profits deteriorate. Disney, the industry leader, has resisted the move because its movie business is built around the biggest superhero films, computer-animated pictures and "Star Wars" movies that people still want to see on the big screen.

    Having Hollis on the CinemaCon bill also was unusual. Usually Chris Dodd, the head of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, opens the ceremonies and champions the industry?s global growth.

    Yet Dodd, for the first time in recent memory, skipped the confab for a prior family commitment, a spokesman for the MPAA said.
    Last edited by Joescoundrel; 03-29-2017 at 10:28 AM.

  3. #93
    The 25 Best Movies Based on True Crimes

    You just can't make this stuff up

    By PAUL SCHRODT | Nov 14, 2017

    Crime movies have been popular as long as movies have been around, and the world keeps providing ever stranger real-life material for them to use. It'd be hard to invent the terrifying stories behind classics like Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, or more scuzzy works like the vacation-from-hell horror movie Wolf Creek—and they didn't. In recent years, the "based on a true story" conceit has become a tired Hollywood trope, but only because these movies so masterfully blended nonfiction with the wild imaginative possibilities of the big screen. Here are the best movie based on true crimes, ranked.

    American Hustle
    Despite what the trailer and posters might make you think, American Hustle is about more than Amy Adams' cleavage. The movie stylishly riffs on the FBI's 1970s ABSCAM sting operation, and is filled with as many twists and double-crossings as era-appropriate pop songs and swishy dance moves.

    Catch Me If You Can
    It's not Steven Spielberg's best, but Catch Me If You Can ranks among the director’s more entertaining movies. It tracks Frank Abagnale's rise as a wunderkind conman. Leonardo DiCaprio has never been more enjoyably charming and slimy.

    Zodiac wasn't necessarily the movie horror fans - or fans of David Fincher's previous Seven - expected. Instead, it's a process movie about the people who tried to unmask California's Zodiac Killer. Studiously researched and impeccably shot, Zodiac turns into something larger and more foreboding than a spate of murders.

    Memories of Murder
    Before South Korean director Bong Joon-ho made international thrillers like Snowpiercer and Okja, he crafted this gem of a murder mystery, based on Korea's first serial murders. He brings his signature pitch-black humor to the story of two detectives in over their heads trying to solve the puzzling killings.

    The Wolf of Wall Street
    The best and boldest thing about The Wolf of Wall Street, possibly Scorsese's most indulgent movie, is how fun it makes its crimes look. Scorsese and writer Terence Winter condense fraudulent stockbroker Jordan Belfort's memoir down to basically the most sensational parts, putting you in the headspace of a man who sees other people's money as his own playpen.

    Scorsese gets three movies on this list, and deserves all of them. Casino is an underrated '90s gangster effort living in Goodfellas' shadow. The cast—Robert De Niro as a low-level mobster making his way up the casino racket (based on Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal) and Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci as the wife and friend who threaten to tear it down—is entirely perfect.

    Summer of Sam
    An uncharacteristic movie for Spike Lee, Summer of Sam depicts the effect of the notorious murders of "Son of Sam" David Berkowitz on young men living in The Bronx in 1977. Lee seamlessly weaves the stories together, and John Leguizamo proves he's a real-deal actor.

    The twisted, trashy story of South Florida high schoolers who murdered a sadistic friend who had abused them, Bully is a hard one to stomach, but director Larry Clark (Kids) gives the script the no-bullshit delivery it deserves, and Brad Renfro's performance is quietly haunting.

    Dog Day Afternoon
    The movie inspired by a Brooklyn robbery solidified Al Pacino's legend, in all its spittle-filled, shouting glory.

    The French Connection
    The fictionalized account of New York City detectives who pursue a French drug smuggler is essentially one long, glorious chase scene. But Gene Hackman's performance and the sobering ending give it moral weight.

    All the President's Men
    Bless them, Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman made journalism sexy by embodying Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they followed trails that led them them to connect a Watergate burglary to President Nixon.

    Wolf Creek
    One of the great horror movies of the 21st century, Wolf Creek is also the main reason I'm scared to visit Australia. Fictionalizing two different Aussie backpack murderers, it follows three sexy tourists venturing into the Outback who meet a stranger and...well, you know the rest. What separates Wolf Creek from other slashers is its unflinching directness; not since Michael Myers has there been a depiction of a man made of such pure evil.

    While the assassination of John F. Kennedy remains officially solved, Oliver Stone's historical drama is such a persuasive conspiracy thriller that it will leave you convinced that something else was at work.

    Anatomy of a Murder
    Jimmy Stewart is as flawless as he ever was wavering between comic and dramatic in the Otto Preminger-directed courtroom drama, based on a novel written by a defense attorney and inspired by one of his cases. Few movies seem to grasp the moral ambiguity of the legal system while also being both realistic and tense.

    Spotlight could've been really boring. Not because the story itself—about the conspiracy to cover up child sex abuse by the Catholic Church in Boston—is boring. But the Best Picture-winner chooses to focus on the perspective of the journalists who unearthed that scandal by spending a lot of time at their desks calling people up. Remarkably, director Tom McCarthy's movie manages to improve on All the President's Men by not even attempting to sensationalise what these journalists do. It unravels in straightforward, stoic conversations that gradually build into almost unbearable catharsis.

    The Untouchables
    One of director Brian De Palma's best movies is also one of his most conventional: Kevin Costner plays federal agent Eliot Ness, who is trying to nab Al Capone (Robert De Niro). The staircase sequence, inspired by the silent movie Battleship Potemkin, is a mini-masterpiece of suspense.

    F for Fake
    Orson Welles's last, great movie is ostensibly a documentary about an art forger, but it quickly fractures into something else. Welles intrudes on his own narrative to raise questions about the nature of authenticity. It's his own amusing, exceptionally clever take on postmodernism.

    In the Realm of the Senses
    If you watched In the Realm of the Senses without background knowledge, you might wonder what sick nutjob wrote it. But it's based on a Japanese woman who became national myth—a Geisha in the 1930s who strangled her boss/lover in the heat of passion and then, uh, took a souvenir from his body. In the Realm of the Senses artfully abstracts that tale, unfolding in long, largely silent, and sexually explicit takes.

    Terrence Malick's stunning 1973 feature debut gives poetic shape to its inspiration, based on spree killer Charles Starkweather and his girlfriend. Sissy Spacek does justice to the dreamy, elliptical voiceover dialogue covering their courtship and crimes.

    Bonnie and Clyde
    Bonnie and Clyde is such a singular, monumental movie in American history that it's as famous as the couple it's about. Which is only right: Never before had a major movie in the United States addressed criminal and sexual themes so openly and without any heavy-handed judgment. The stark, bloody climax still feels revolutionary.

    Steven Spielberg clearly had a lot invested in Munich, his nearly three-hour telling of Israeli spies' revenge against Palestinian terrorists who murdered the country's Olympic athletes in 1972. It was sadly overlooked at the box office, but Spielberg not only brings his mastery of visuals and suspense to his political thriller, but also humanity and scope that sadly many such movies (looking at you, Argo) lack.

    The serial-killer genre owes all its debts to German director Fritz Lang's astounding 1931 movie, which draws on murders in the country around the time and a real Berlin criminal investigator. Portraying an underworld of criminals who are out to catch one of their own in murky black-and-white photography, it's as scary and thrilling as anything released since.

    A Man Escaped
    The classic by director Robert Bresson is about a criminal you can root for, since he's escaping a prison in Nazi-occupied France (it's based on the memoirs of Andr? Devigny). As in Bresson's other landmark works, it's awe-inspiring to watch how controlled the movie is while also seeming like it could be a documentary.

    The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
    Tobe Hooper's '70s grindhouse classic is loosely—very loosely—based on the crimes of Ed Gein. No, Leatherface never existed, which is almost too bad, because he would have made a hell of an America's Most Wanted episode. But Texas Chainsaw is on here because it gets its power from its faked, lo-fi sense of authenticity. It plays out like the most disturbing home video of all time, and was even promoted more or less as such, making a franchise out of the fear that there is always a monster lurking just around the corner of a country backroad.

    If it's not Martin Scorsese's best movie (and it might well be), then Goodfellas is at least the culmination of what he'd been working toward for years: a time-jumping, ego- and testosterone-filled gangster epic portraying Henry Hill's (Ray Liotta) life in the mafia. It's a movie no one else could have made, and one every other gangster flick will be compared to in the future.

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