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Posts tagged “Academy Award

Blade Runner 2049: A Time To Live

Revered cinematographer Roger Deakins has ‘never worked on a film with so many different sets and lighting challenges’ as ‘Blade Runner 2049.’

Denis Villeneuve’s sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 original film looks to be a jaw-dropping mix of visual feats that stay true to both the story and the technical innovation that made Blade Runner an instant classic. Villeneuve acknowledges this legacy, stating “I have massive respect for the world Ridley created. Blade Runner revolutionized the way we see science fiction.”

Villeneuve is likely the right man for the job, as he took science fiction down an entirely new road himself, ostensibly reinventing the hackneyed alien genre with 2016’s Arrival, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award in Directing.

Blade Runner 2049 indeed brings several heavy-hitters to the table to help ensure its success, including no less of a cinematographer than multiple Oscar-nominated Roger Deakins, who also shot for Villeneuve on 2015’s Sicario. No stranger to complex action movies (the James Bond hit Skyfall, for one), Deakins admits in the featurette, “I’ve never worked on a film with so many different sets and lighting challenges. Technically, it’s quite challenging.”

 


Wayward Pines

Based on a best-selling novel by Blake Crouch, and executive produced by M. Night Shyamalan… let’s hope this doesn’t end with a terrible ‘twist’ ending. Here’s the overly-long promotion blurb for the forthcoming TV series Wayward Pines.

Secret Service Agent ETHAN BURKE (Academy Award nominee Matt Dillon; Crash, City of Ghosts) drives to the bucolic town of Wayward Pines, ID, searching for two missing federal agents. Ethan is the logical choice for the mission. He’s one of the best Secret Service agents in the Seattle office. He’s also the man who knew missing agent KATE HEWSON (Carla Gugino; Watchmen, “Entourage”) better than anyone. They were partners. They were more than that. Their relationship nearly destroyed Ethan’s marriage.

Everything changes when a truck slams into his car and he wakes up in the Wayward Pines Hospital, with the intense and unpredictable NURSE PAM (Academy Award and Emmy Award winner Melissa Leo; The Fighter, “Treme”) at his bedside. It soon appears that Pam may be more interested in harming than healing. She and Ethan grow into deadly rivals, and her role in the town proves much deeper than anyone realizes.

As the mysteries within the town pile up and clash with his own version of recent events, Ethan starts to question his own sanity. He is confronted by the mysterious and charismatic DR. JENKINS (Emmy Award nominee Toby Jones; The Girl, the Harry Potter franchise, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), the psychiatrist who treats him at Wayward Pines Hospital. As he begins to meet some of the local residents, including toymaker HAROLD BALLINGER (Reed Diamond; “24,” Much Ado About Nothing), Ethan forms a bond with BEVERLY (Academy Award and Emmy Award nominee Juliette Lewis; Hysterical Blindness, Cape Fear), a bartender who doesn’t mince words and is as wary of Wayward Pines as he is.

Back home in Seattle, Ethan’s wife, THERESA BURKE (Shannyn Sossamon; 40 Days and 40 Nights, “How to Make It in America”), a former Secret Service Agent trainee, gets a call from Ethan’s boss, ADAM HASSLER (Tim Griffin; “Prime Suspect”). He informs her that early testing shows Ethan was never in the car that was recovered on the side of the road outside of Wayward Pines. They’re still investigating. But this isn’t enough for Theresa. Along with their teenage son, BEN (Charlie Tahan; The Harvest, Charlie St. Cloud), Theresa sets out on her own search for Ethan.

Meanwhile, Ethan is challenged at every turn by the town’s die-hard residents and especially the town’s sheriff, SHERIFF ARNOLD POPE (Academy Award nominee Terrence Howard; Crash, Hustle & Flow), who takes offense at a Secret Service agent showing up on his turf and telling him what to do. Ethan believes Pope is out of his mind and visa versa. Ethan’s continuing investigation only turns up more and more questions, and each one leads him to the most important question of all: What’s wrong with Wayward Pines?


Jake LaMotta – Raging Bull

Giacobbe LaMotta (born July 10, 1921), better known as Jake LaMotta, nicknamed “The Bronx Bull” and “The Raging Bull”, is an American former world middleweight champion boxer who was famously portrayed by Robert De Niro in the film Raging Bull.

LaMotta, who compiled a record of 83 wins, 19 losses and four draws, was the first man to beat the legendary Sugar Ray Robinson, considered by many to be the greatest pound-for-pound boxer ever. LaMotta knocked him down in the first round of their first fight and then outpointed him over the course of 10 rounds during the second fight of their legendary six-bout rivalry. After retirement, LaMotta owned and managed bars, and became a stage actor and stand-up comedian. He appeared in more than 15 films, including ‘The Hustler’ with Paul Newman, in which he had a cameo role as a bartender.

Robert De Niro read LaMotta’s 1970 memoir, ‘Raging Bull: My Story. DeNiro became fascinated by the character of LaMotta when he showed the book to Martin Scorsese on the set of ‘Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore’ (1974) as a means to hopefully consider the project. Scorsese repeatedly turned down DeNiro offers to take the director’s chair; then after nearly dying from a drug overdose, Scorsese agreed to make the film for De Niro’s sake, not only to save his own life but also to save what remained of his career. Scorsese knew that he could relate to the story of Jake LaMotta as a way to redeem himself; he saw the role being portrayed as an everyman for whom “the ring becomes an allegory of life,” making the project a very personal one for him.

The film, ‘Raging Bull’ (1980), was initially only a minor box office success, but eventually became a huge critical success both for director Martin Scorsese and actor Robert DeNiro, who famously gained about 60 pounds (27 kg) during the shooting of the film to play the older LaMotta in later scenes. The film depicts a violent and self-destructive LaMotta, who once goes as far as beating his own brother, manager Joey LaMotta Joe Pesci), while accusing him of having an affair with his (Jake’s) then wife, Vickie LaMotta (Cathy Moriarthy). In real life, this altercation was between LaMotta and his best friend Pete, not his brother Joey. The Joey character in the film is an amalgamation to simplify the narrative.

To accurately portray the younger LaMotta, De Niro trained with LaMotta until LaMotta felt he was ready to box professionally. The actor found that boxing came naturally to him; he entered as a middleweight boxer, winning two of his three fights in a Brooklyn ring dubbed “young LaMotta” by the commentator. According to Jake LaMotta, he felt that De Niro was one of his top 20 best middleweight boxers of all time.

De Niro then moved to Paris for three months, eating at the finest restaurants in order to gain sufficient weight to portray LaMotta after retirement. He said after that prothestics “never get the neck right” as his main reason for gaining the weight. De Niro won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance.

It was the first Scorsese/De Niro movie I’d ever seen on the big screen, at my college, it blew me away… topped only by seeing ‘Taxi Driver’ a few weeks later. What an exceptional intorduction to these guys work! The film is all De Niro, it’s impossible to take your eyes off him and he commands every scene he’s in. The rest of the cast are all exceptional, Joe Pesci in his first major role, Cathy Moriarty in her debut (what a wasted career she’s had since) and Frank Vincent. By the end of the 1980s, Raging Bull had cemented its reputation as a modern classic. It was voted the best film of the 1980s in numerous critics’ polls and is regularly pointed to as both Scorsese’s best film and one of the finest American movies ever made.


Meryl Streep

Considered by many movie reviewers to be the greatest living film actress, Meryl Streep has been nominated for the Academy Award an astonishing 16 times, and has won it twice. Born Mary Louise Streep 62 years ago in 1949 in Summit, New Jersey, Meryl’s early performing ambitions leaned toward the opera. She became interested in acting while a student at Vassar and upon graduation she enrolled in the Yale School of Drama. She gave an outstanding performance in her first film role, ‘Julia’ (1977), and the next year she was nominated for her first Oscar for her role in ‘The Deer Hunter’ (1978). She went on to win the Academy Award for her performances in ‘Kramer vs. Kramer’ (1979) and ‘Sophie’s Choice’ (1982), in which she gave a heart-wrenching portrayal of an inmate mother in a Nazi death camp.

A perfectionist in her craft and meticulous and painstaking in her preparation for her roles, Meryl turned out a string of highly acclaimed performances over the next 10 years in great films like ‘Silkwood’ (1983); ‘Out of Africa’ (1985); ‘Ironweed’ (1987); and ‘Evil Angels’ (1988). Her career declined slightly in the early 1990s as a result of her inability to find suitable parts, but she shot back to the top in 1995 with her performance as Clint Eastwood’s married lover in ‘The Bridges of madison County’ (1995) and as the prodigal daughter in ‘Marvins Room’ (1996). In 1998 she made her first venture into the area of producing, and was the executive producer for ‘…First Do No Harm’ (1997) (TV). Awesome in ‘The Hours’ (2002), ‘Angels in America’ (2003) (TV) and ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ (2006).

Talented, humble, beautiful and a realist, when she talks about her future years in film, she remarked that “…no matter what happens, my work will stand…”