Since Hayao Miyazaki announced in 2016 he was coming out of retirement to follow up The Wind Rises (2013) with How Do You Live?, Studio Ghibli producer and general manager Toshio Suzuki says a team of sixty animators finished thirty-six minutes of film, according to IndieWire. This is compared to Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro (1988), which took eight animators eight months to complete; Suzuki says at one minute of hand-drawn animation per month and twelve minutes’ worth of movie a year, How Do You Live? will be done in three years. It is an adaptation of Yoshino Genzaburo’s 1937 coming-of-age tale.
Lifetime unveiled this year’s “It’s a Wonderful Lifetime” holiday film lineup, which includes a movie starring a ninety-eight-year-old Betty White, according to CBS News. In the movie, White will play a character who “helps whip would-be Santas into shape, spreading the true meaning of Christmas,” which leads the rest of the cast to wonder if she’s secret Mrs. Claus. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the twenty-eight holiday pictures are all in various stages of production, with the first set to premiere October 25 – Marie Osmond, Kelly Rowland, Melissa Joan Hart, as well as Mario Lopez will also appear in their own titles.
Pamela Hutchinson, writing for The Guardian, reviewed Federico Fellini’s 8½ (1963) after seeing it for the first time. According to Hutchinson, Fellini’s surrealist comedy-drama about a creatively blocked filmmaker named Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni) is inspired by the director’s own… well… lack of inspiration and it is “an easy film to admire from the off… fluid and dreamlike.” However, Hutchinson takes issue with the film’s representation of Guido’s mistress, wife, and star, “mostly buxom and/or bothersome,” who appear in one of his fantasies as a harem of women who bathe him like an infant until he attacks them with a whip.
One of the greatest films of its year features this scene.
If you don’t know what to watch next, Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite (2018) is available on Amazon Prime. The period black comedy was nominated for ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. Olivia Colman won for Best Actress.
Set in 1704 England, Anne, Queen of Great Britain (Colman), is an invalid and incompetent monarch. Her “favourite,” Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (Best Supporting Actress nominee Rachel Weisz) – yes, that Churchill – is the de facto ruler of the empire.
But when Sarah’s younger, impoverished cousin, Abigail Hill (Best Supporting Actress nominee Emma Stone), shows up looking for a job, a bitter rivalry ensues between these two ambitious women for the queen’s “favour.”
Lanthimos is the leading absurdist of his craft, and The Favourite is his most commercial effort without losing any of his voice, which is how it was showered with such attention from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Compared to his The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017), this satire, though just as alienating to audiences on Rotten Tomatoes, is still more laugh-out-loud anachronistic than it is chuckle-to-yourself uncomfortable.
But it balances these more ridiculous themes against such subtextual social commentary as the desperation of the lower class to climb out of their plight as well as the blind eye the upper class turns to that plight so they can race ducks and lobsters instead.
And the auteur directs out of his three leading ladies equally tragicomic tours de force, but none more so than Colman. She caricaturizes Queen Anne hysterically, but also sensitively.
It would not come as a surprise to this critic if the performer studied up on borderline personality disorder in preparation for this role.
In addition, Robbie Ryan’s cinematography aestheticizes the film with its signature photography. The wide-angle lenses are like watching the subjects through a fishbowl.
Not only is it visually unique, but it is also artistically eloquent; time may distance us from this cast of characters, but we can still see their conflicts reflected back at us as if they are our own, even as history warps it.
While The Favourite does not presume to be historically accurate, its source material is still a character assassination. It is loosely based upon Sarah Churchill’s memoir, which is (understandably) biased against Queen Anne.
All parties involved are long dead, but still, is it ethical to knowingly and purposefully misrepresent historical figures?
Or maybe The Favourite is meant to be read as a parody of this hyperbolically bitter artifact of poison-pen revenge – either way, it is a treat for those who acquire the taste for it.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine took to Twitter on Tuesday to confirm that Tom Cruise will shoot his next action blockbuster on the International Space Station, according to Business Insider. Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which has been making strides toward sending private citizens to space (including the launch date for its first crewed mission to the station on May 27), will provide the flight, while NASA will charge a fee for independent astronauts to come aboard; Russia is the only country that can ship people to and from the station, where private citizen access will be granted to its facilities. No studio has officially greenlit the project as of yet.
Natasha Gregson Wagner, the filmmaker behind Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind (2020), was eleven years old when her mother drowned off the coast of Catalina Island on Thanksgiving weekend, 1981, according to The Guardian. Natalie Wood died at forty-three years old, but the movie star, born 1938 in San Francisco to Russian immigrant parents, began acting as a five-year-old before earning an Academy Award at fifteen for Nicholas Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause (1955). While her daughter’s documentary does confront the suspicious circumstances surrounding Wood’s drowning, Wagner’s goal is to celebrate the life and career which have been overshadowed by it.
Between the programming on Turner Classic Movies, the Columbia Noir series currently streaming on the Criterion Channel, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, film noir has found itself part of the contemporary critical conversation again, according to The New York Times. It is difficult, if not impossible, to define noir, if for no other reason than that it transcends genre, but critic Ben Kenigsberg says Nicholas Ray’s In a Lonely Place (1950), which is streaming on Criterion’s Columbia Noir series, is a “place for getting a handle on what noir is.” Kenigsberg writes, “It has elements of murder mystery, melodrama and Hollywood insider scoop.”