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Quendrith Johnson's blog


Everything happening in film covered from LA


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Award Speculation Begins: Rosamund Pike vs Julianne vs Shailene, Who Gets Nods from Oscar?

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent It is a little early for Julianne Moore to run away with Best Actress heat for Still Alice, but Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) and Shailene Woodley (The Fault in Our Stars) already have made traction in the Oscar race so far.  The festival noise from Still Alice is deafening, and will catch up with the buzz early next month, but even the anticipation at seeing an early November pre-screening is adrenaline rush enough. Keep in mind, Julianne Mo...

What is ‘The Zero Theorem’? Eye-Popping Christoph Waltz, Tilda Swinton, Star & Helmer Terry Gilliam Roars

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent Yesterday Christoph Waltz, a two-time Oscar winner, turned 58; and it’s a high probability that no one at his party told him he has made the most important movie of his career in The Zero Theorem, but he did. Anything Tilda Swinton is in, is usually great, this being no exception. Call it a Terry Gilliam magnum opus, once in a lifetime movie that proves all the math on the greatness of Brazil’s promise, but with extra gears both in i...

When Google Met Paramount, Or, Do We Have to Worry About ‘Multi-Platform’ Digital ‘Pacts’ Now?

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent That loud booming noise, which is actually silent and internal, is Hollywood waking up to the Digital Era with the help of its own Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan, who has just hopped on the Google Platform that is about to shake the foundations of Tinseltown. Nolan's latest movie, Interstellar - a widely hyped dystopian space flick, out Nov. 7, will indeed change the world, at least the "it's a small, small, world" of insiders i...

Picture Up, Roll Sound: Salute to John Williams’ 49 Noms, Movie Music’s 49 Best List & More

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent Last night LA Philharmonic opened the season with a Tribute to John Williams, featuring virtuoso violinist Itzhak Perlman and his greatest movie music moments from Indiana Jones to Star Wars, so this is a perfect time to examine the world of cinema’s renowned music composers.  While none can match the record-stealing 49 Oscar nominations of Williams, some credit should go to the amazing cast of characters (say 49, why not?) who have ...

What is ISIS? Legacy on Fire: Attorney Vincent Bugliosi Wants You to See His Documentary

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   We’ve seen the beheadings, most recently of the French hostage by ISIS, and now with planes in the air, the why’s, what’s and how’s seem moot in comparison to the spectacle of torture videos, brazen threats against the West, and general fear-mongering. But Vincent Bugliosi, whose documentary The Prosecution of an American President will be out on Oct. 7,  is not afraid to ask the tough questions. This is a ...

The ReBranding of Bill Murray, “St. Vincent” of Haha, His Own Day & A Birthday 9/21

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent It’s a lucky thing for us Bill Murray, whose new movie St. Vincent even came with its own “Bill Murray Day” yesterday (Sept. 5) at the Toronto International Film Festival, dropped out of Jesuit college in his misspent youth to focus on being a comedian. In Murray fashion, the unlucky thing for him was that he got busted for Marijuana not long afterwards. The Illinois-born funny man, who celebrates a birthday on Sept. 21, is al...

The Anatomy of Award Shows, Why They Matter… Or Don’t

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent With Award Season around the corner, here’s everything you need to know about how these shows work. Maybe not everything, but from November to February in the US, this is the time of year when everyone in Hollywood switches into high gear.  The Academy Awards is the sine qua non of any future classic movie, driven by approximately 6000 industry voting members who vote in 25 categories. Last year, host Ellen Degeneres “broke...

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...
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