Subject of Theodore Melfi’s “Hidden Figures” (2016) dead at 101

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Best Supporting Actress nominee Octavia Spencer co-stars as mathematician Dorothy Vaughn, and Janelle Monae, as engineer Mary Jackson. (Image Courtesy: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

NASA scientist Katherine Johnson, who was played by Taraji P. Henson in Theodore Melfi’s Hidden Figures (2016), has died at 101 years old, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. One of the first black women to work as a NASA scientist, almost no one outside of the agency knew who she was until the release of Hidden Figures, even though Johnson helped calculate the trajectory for spaceflights during the 1960s space race with Russia, including the moon landing. Hidden Figures was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and Johnson received a standing ovation when she appeared onstage with the cast.

President Trump condemns South Korean film’s history-making Academy Awards

At a campaign rally in Colorado Springs on Thursday night, United States President Donald Trump criticized this month’s Academy Awards, where Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite (2019) became the first non-English language film to win Best Picture, according to The Washington Post. Citing American trade disputes with South Korea, Trump asked, “Can we get Gone with the Wind back, please,” in reference to Victor Fleming’s 1939 Best Picture Oscar winner which has long since fallen out of favor in critical circles for its representation of black Americans. Trump would later go on to admit he doesn’t know whether Parasite is good or not.

Netflix review: Robert Altman’s “Gosford Park” (2001)

With all the British period drama trappings of Michael Engler’s Downton Abbey (2019) as well as the “whodunit” flare of Rian Johnson’s Knives Out (2019), Robert Altman’s Gosford Park (2001) is just as relevant to contemporary cinephiles as it was at the turn of the millennium.

If you don’t know what to watch next, Gosford Park is available to stream on Netflix.

The mystery black comedy social satire won Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay out of seven nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actress for Helen Mirren and Maggie Smith.

The auteur also co-produced the ensemble picture.

Set in November 1932 England, industrialist Sir William McCordle (Michael Gambon) invites his extended family over for a weekend shooting party at their country estate, Gosford Park. Everybody is a suspect when the loathsome Sir William is murdered.

Alternating between the perspectives of the wealthy guests and their impoverished servants, who all have secrets to hide, this comedy of manners is as much about its setting as it is its mystery.

Altman’s signature style is more auditory than it is visual, and Gosford Park ought to have been nominated for its sound design.

As with his MASH (1970), the cacophonous dialogue overlaps to a sometimes unintelligible degree, which is not only true to life (seldom do people wait for cues to take their turn speaking) but also externalizes the chaos of the setting.

For MASH, it’s wartime Korea; in Gosford Park, it’s the imperialist West.

The script deftly deconstructs postindustrial-capitalist classist themes through the microcosm of an Agatha Christie murder mystery. It is ethically written, too – victim and perpetrator alike get the justice they deserve in the end.

With billionaires like Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg running for President of the United States after buying the silence of women, Gosford Park is no less timely for its age or setting.

For its genre, though, the editing is less than ideal. At close to two and a half hours, the runtime runs counter to a genre that values tight pacing. Every scene in a thriller must lead into the next; Gosford Park was not recognized for its editing, and it shows.

But the scene-padding in Gosford Park develops its cast of characters literarily, and if it’s too much of anything, it’s too much of a good thing.

Rose McGowan criticizes Natalie Portman’s Academy Awards protest

In a Facebook post, Rose McGowan has condemned Natalie Portman for wearing a dress to the Academy Awards embroidered with the names of female filmmakers who were passed over for Best Director nominations, including Greta Gerwig and Lulu Wang, according to The Guardian. Calling Portman a “fraud,” McGowan says all activists should take offense at the Oscar winner’s “lip service,” even going so far as to accuse Portman of not working with enough female filmmakers or hiring them through her production company, Handsomecharlie Films. Portman responded to McGowan’s statement, saying, “I agree with Ms. McGowan that it is inaccurate to call me ‘brave.’”

A24 acquires North American distribution rights for new Claire Denis film

Claire Denis, the French filmmaker who directed Robert Pattinson in her English-language debut, High Life (2018), will be collaborating with Pattinson again for her romantic thriller, The Stars at Noon, according to IndieWire. An adaptation of the 1986 Denis Johnson novel, The Stars at Noon is set during the Nicaraguan Revolution in 1984, with Pattinson starring as an enigmatic English businessman who falls for an American journalist (Margaret Qualley) before being forced to try and flee the country. It will mark Pattinson’s return to the indie scene after Christopher Nolan’s Tenet (2020) and Matt Reeves’s The Batman (2021), as well as his fifth A24 feature overall.

Colorado Dragon Film Festival celebrates Asian cinema

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Johnny Ma’s To Live To Sing (2019) is the story of the manager of a small opera troupe and her quest to save their theater. (Image Courtesy: 5280).

Beginning February 20 and ending the 23, the Colorado Dragon Film Festival will screen more than a dozen Asian movies at the Sie Film Center, in addition to hosting panel discussions with the filmmakers, according to 5280. With Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite (2019) making history at the Oscars, Jon M. Chu’s Crazy Rich Asians (2018) becoming one of the highest-grossing romantic comedies ever, and Lulu Wang’s The Farewell (2019) garnering rave reviews, Asian cinema is dominating the conversation. Sara Moore, executive director of Dragon 5280 (the nonprofit that oversees the film festival), says wellness and community are this year’s themes.

April start date greenlit for new David O. Russell film

David O. Russell’s first films since Joy (2015) will begin production at New Regency in April, with Margot Robbie, Christian Bale, as well as Michael B. Jordan already signed to lead, and Michael Shannon, Mike Myers, and Robert De Niro in talks to co-star, according to IndieWire. Little is known about the new project, other than that Russell is directing from his own screenplay, and it is about a doctor and lawyer who form an unlikely partnership. Russell has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director three times in the past decade, and twice for his screenwriting.