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Quendrith Johnson's blog


Everything happening in film covered from LA


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What Has Keanu Reeves Been Up To? Quite a Lot, Actually & Makes It 'Rain' Soon

  by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   Everybody has their version of who Keanu Reeves is, that airhead guy from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure or the hero from Speed with Sandra Bullock or the enigmatic character in 47 Ronin released last year. And next he will star in and executive produce a TV series called "Rain." But wait, where has he been for the last few years? Noticeably on-and-off the Hollywood radar. Keanu, who turns 50 on Sept. 2, was ...

If You Loved Him in "Lucy", Korea's 'Robert De Niro' Choi Min-Sik Is "The Admiral" Next!

  by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   Though the nickname may be over the top, actor Choi Min-Sik is often called the 'Robert De Niro' of Korea, and with the villain he plays opposite Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson's box office smash LUCY, you can see why some people would say this of him. Okay, okay, he is much younger (52) and some say better looking than Robert De Niro, but audiences sometimes need a peg to appreciate an international actor. With hi...

Comedy’s Dark Day, 8/11, The Death of Robin Williams

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent Traditional obituaries are hard to write for comedians, especially legends like Robin Williams (July 21, 1951 - Aug. 11, 2014) who died today, because they have all died so many times. First they all die, then, if they are lucky like the late great fast-talker Robin Williams, they learn to “kill.”    But today 8/11 the giant killer, the phenomenon who was the heir to all the gifts of Lenny Bruce, Jonathan Winters, George ...

GET ON UP? James Brown & Sir Mick Jagger, A Likely Pair for a Movie

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent What do Sir Mick Jagger and the late-great Mr. James Brown have in common? They both have Soul Power, and they are Super-Bad, and after the Aug. 1, 2014 release of the soul singer’s biographical film GET ON UP, quite a lot more. Firstly that the estate of James Brown approached Sir Mick to do the biopic, and second, as the lore goes, a fumbling 20-year-old Jagger once met the Man’s World singer and muffed it, an “awkward moment...

How CGI Became the Main Character in Hollywood Movies & Do We Care?

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent In a Screenwriting Galaxy Far, Far, Away, the Writers Guild Foundation (https://www.wgfoundation.org) once held “Words Into Pictures,” a series of conferences that brightened the years 1997, 1999, and 2002, with debates about everything from character development to story-craft. Around about 1999, David Koepp (writer of Jurassic Park, director of Panic Room and more) and Stand By Me’s Rob Reiner got into it over VFX vs Storytel...

The Problem with “Life Itself?” Roger Ebert (Spoiler Alert) Goes to The Big Adios, For One Thing

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent When film critic turned TV personality Roger Ebert (1942-2013) penned “Life Itself,” a memoir published in 2011, the title struck a chord as a line lifted from The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). Dr. Frank N. Furter, or actor Tim Curry in full-corset drag on heels, shrieks with delight “I hold the key to life… ITSELF!”    Our Roger Ebert was a bit naughty, and clearly liked Rocky Horror. This much we ...

Who’s Betty Thomas? Michael Bay is #2, She is #98. Hello, Women Directors…

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   On July 7, Michael Bay dot com congratulated its director with this header: “Michael Bay Milestone.” The text reads, “This past weekend Michael Bay became the second-highest-grossing director of all time. Congratulations Michael.”  The figures are from Box Office Mojo, an industry insider site, that ranked him as having grossed $2,078.2 M USD as a career benchmark, pushed up the ladder by the recent release ...

Hard Day’s Night Comes Back Strong at 50 in July

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   Friday night, July 4th, A Hard Day’s Night, the 50th Anniversary release of The Beatles' seminal adolescent experiment with cinema from 1964, began limited screenings in 100 theaters. It is another US British Invasion of sorts. For the rest of us, the DVD/Blu-Ray reissue hits shelves today, July 6. Director Richard Lester has said in retrospect that George Harrison was “the best actor;” Paul McCartney “tried ...

In the Blink of His Eye: Walter Murch Makes It Look Easy, Film Editing’s Genius

By Quendrith Johnson   Sometimes you forget how intricate filmmaking is based on how easy it all appears on screen. And along comes someone like Oscar winning editor/sound-pioneer Walter Murch who throws light on every aspect that makes cinema loved worldwide. On the nuances of sound design, Murch off-handedly lays down the fundamentals of an art he actually helped shape.  “My mantra is: ‘clarity and density.’ If something in a film is too dense (too rich or intr...

There’s Only One Nikki Finke & She Doesn’t Share Power

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent Okay, so that headline is stolen from Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring” when Gandalf addresses Saruman, but it does relate to the current fracas between Deadline founder and Editor Emeritus Nikki Finke, her old employer Jay Penske (who also owns Variety), and the editorial team of Peter Bart and Mike Fleming in place at Finke’s former site since her ouster in late 2013. Without getting in th...

"The Moment"? Mix Jennifer Jason Leigh, Meat Loaf & Alia Shawkat - Credit Director Jane Weinstock

  by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   If you saw Margot at the Wedding (2007), you know Jennifer Jason Leigh has lately developed incredible charm and depth, but in director Jane Weinstock's new movie The Moment, she is outstanding. Her performance as Lee, the divorced war photographer who spirals into post-traumatic distress with psychotic aspects, is nothing short of clinically brilliant. When Leigh as Lee says "I can't trust what I am seeing," ...

James Thurber, New Yorker's Harold Ross & Paul Bowles - A Martini DVD Binge

By Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   What do John Updike and Fran Lebowitz have in common? They both discovered James Thurber, American humorist, at age 10. You will find this out by watching James Thurber: The Life and Hard Times, directed by Adam Van Doren, released June 17 on iTunes (also for sale as DVDs) from First Run Features. This visual non-guilty pleasure is teamed with co-incident releases, Top Hat & Tales: Harold Ross and the Making of The New Yorker (also ...

The Importance of Being MALEFICENT: Angelina Jolie Schools Us

  by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   So, ignore the horns and watch for spoiler alerts here: MALEFICENT is the role of a lifetime for Angelina Jolie. Yes, a lot of the credit goes to screenwriter Linda Woolverton (Lion King, Beauty & The Beast), who gets Angelina and wrote a touching life lesson disguised as a Disney movie. "We tried to bring you what you love about this story," Jolie says in the behind the scenes featurette (see it on http://screenma...

Sweetheart-Break: Why the "Hollywood Star" Model Never Worked for Women & Can It Be Fixed?

  by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   Most publications have obits written in advance, especially for high-risk stars like Lindsay Lohan who are firmly in the "dead pool," yet the fault is not in our Stars but in the Hollywood Star paradigm itself, where girls and women are concerned. Consider the first movie star, Canadian Florence Lawrence (1886-1938) who reigned on screen from about 1906 to 1912.  The zenith to the nadir of Florence Lawrence (whos...

Cannes Flashback: Year of The Talented Mr. Ripley from REDLIGHT, GREENLIGHT, LIMELIGHT

  by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   It was the Year of The Talented Mr. Ripley with Jude Law, Matt Damon, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. The Croisette sizzled as only a film festival can at the End of a Millenium. Goodbye Twentieth Century, even 20th Century Fox would have to change its logo. Meanwhile, at Hotel du Cap they partied like it was 1999 - because it was 1999. Published on May 5, 2014, REDLIGHT, GREENLIGHT, LIMELIGHT: Red Carpet Adventures & ...

TOM HARDY is LOCKE-d & Loaded Again, Surprised?

  by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   With the May release LOCKE, a veritable showcase for Tom Hardy's considerable talent, it is easy to overlook the long road to stardom. Not that LOCKE, written and directed by Steven Knight, is the star vehicle that put him on the map, but it shows how Hardy can carry a picture without enough supporting input from the ensemble. He plays Ivan Locke, who, in brief for various spoiler alert considerations, is a man with a concre...

Your Daring Dozen, Top 12 Character Actors in Hollywood Now (Arguably)

  by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   It has been 75 years since Gone With the Wind (1939) groundbreaker Hattie McDaniel won her Best Supporting Actor, but she remains the gold standard of character actors. That said, with Walter Brennan (1894-1974) and late great J. T. Walsh gone since 1998, here's a roster of the top dozen current heavyweight character actors.  But wait, there's more... Disqualified for semi-leading player potential are: John Hawkes ...

SPEAK THE MUSIC Extols Julliard String Quartet's Untamed Maestro Robert Mann & Opens May 2

  by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   Not since Amadeus (1984), has classical music had a rousing film to shake the old stereotypes; this might all change with Speak the Music: Robert Mann and the Mysteries of Chamber Music, a documentary about a legendary violinist, that will open its first run in New York on May 2. Shown from ages 13 to 93 on film, Mann painstakingly deconstructs his own influences, from an early stint with Edouard Hurlimann of the Portland Sympho...

Revisiting The Gore Vidal They Thought He Was: UNITED STATES OF AMNESIA

  by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   Gore Vidal's worst nightmare is the circumstances of this film review: he is dead, and "the lady reporter" gets to review a documentary said to be his "Last Word and Testimony."      If you haven't cracked a smile at that opener, you are lucky you never met the Old Lion. Gore had no sense of humor when it came to his legacy. Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia, directed by Nichol...

LAFF 2014 Serves Up Some Spring Cinema Freebies

  by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   Now you can escape to the movies this Spring courtesy of Film Independent and the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival during its 20th anniversary. Sometimes a press release is so good, it deserves to run by itself. That said... all the details below courtesy of Film Independent (the people who run this festival), LAFF 2014, The Los Angeles Times, and L.A. LIVE.   FILM INDEPENDENT ANNOUNCES EXCITING LINE-UP OF FREE COMMUNITY SC...

Quentin Tarantino's "The Hateful Eight" Table Reading Writes New Script for Handling a Leak

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   Saturday night, April 19, 2014, Quentin Tarantino will unleash his "'leaked" (and possibly "shelved") new screenplay "The Hateful Eight" in a staged table reading for charity. Hosted by Film Independent at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and sponsored by The New York Times,  the event was scheduled for the the 24th, but there was a venue change. Slated for The Bing Theater at LACMA, a last-...

Happy 77th Birthday Jack Nicholson, It's Been A Wild RIde

The photo here is said to be Anjelica Huston's favorite shot of their glory days together as featured from her collection. by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   When the legend turns 77 on April 22, Jack Nicholson will mark it in his new-found low-key way. But Nicholson's path from New York to Hollywood has been a wild ride. In fact, The Wild Ride (1960), the "B" exploitation racing movie with Georgianna Carter, still holds up. With the dark-haired lothari...

The New Box Office Trifecta: Shailene Woodley, Jennifer Lawrence, Kristen Stewart

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   If the rumors are true, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 reboot actually nixed Shailene Woodley's cameo, you have to wonder what they were thinking. She's on the cover of Marie Claire (read: "This is What a Badass Looks Like"), giving workout tips in People Magazine, and breaking big at the box office. In fact, Shailene Woodley, 22, went from George Clooney sidekick in The Descendants to fronting Divergent with bullets to ...

Movies vs TV: The "Game of Thrones Syndrome" as Season 4 Blows Up

  by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   Last week, New York's Barclay Center was the scene of 7,000 eager "Game of Thrones" viewers, many dressed up as lookalike characters from HBO's hit fantasy series which debuts its Season Four opener on April 6. Last year, GOT was the most illegally downloaded show, according to BitTorrent, with 5.9 million pirated copies, a higher number than its TV audience. So what is going on? The bigger issue here is tha...

LE WEEK-END: Antidote to Superhero Flicks? Aging, a Bold Special Effect, for Broadbent, Duncan & Jeff Goldblum

  by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   On March 14, catch up on LE WEEK-END; it's a cinematic flu shot. Because, instead of Caped Crusaders tasked with their Superhero schemes, this movie presents a human-sized dose of adult life. "People can change," Lindsay Duncan's character avers. As in, "they can get worse." Already an award winner for Linsday Duncan (BIFA), Jim Broadbent and writer Hanif Kureishi (My Beautiful Launderette), the film ...
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