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.

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.

Netflix review: Joel and Ethan Coen’s “No Country for Old Men” (2007)

Between Raising Arizona (1987), Barton Fink (1991), Fargo (1996), The Big Lebowski (1998), and The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001), the Coen Brothers are proprietors to a quirky filmography.

As blackly comedic as they are, one would not foresee their masterpiece to be one of the most nihilistic mainstream Hollywood releases of our time.

While some of their humorous proclivities are underpinned here, No Country for Old Men (2007), by and large, is as bleak a tragedy as you are ever to see on the silver screen.

And it is their penchant for playing by their own rules that sees them subvert generic expectations to anarchic effect here.

If you don’t know what to watch next, No Country for Old Men is available to stream on Netflix. Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award winners Joel and Ethan Coen also co-produced the neo-Western crime thriller.

The adaptation of the eponymous 2005 novel by Cormac McCarthy took home the Best Picture Oscar as well.

In 1980 Texas, pronghorn poacher Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) finds a briefcase full of two million dollars at a drug deal in the desert gone bad. When he takes the cash and runs, hitman Anton Chigurh (Best Supporting Actor Javier Bardem) is hired to pursue him.

Burned out Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) tries to get to Llewelyn before Anton does.

No Country for Old Men is infamous for its anticlimactic resolution, but those who dismiss it misunderstand what the Coens are saying about the subject matter at hand. The viewer’s sadistic desire to see Llewelyn or Anton killed makes us no better than Anton himself.

This ethically violent film literally punishes the audience for creating a world where Anton Chigurh can play death incarnate, which is the difference between tasteful, artistic onscreen violence versus that which is gratuitous and exploitative.

It is an ambiguous movie speaking with a voice you have to listen for in silence, rather than finding yourself deafened by it. Skip Lievsay was up for Best Sound Editing, and Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff, and Peter Kurland, Best Sound Mixing.

The film was robbed of both – it produces ear-splitting suspense with little to no music.

And this is thanks in no small part to Bardem’s iconic performance. Anton Chigurh is a force to be reckoned with, and the mere sight of him spells certain doom for all but every character to share a scene with him.

In fact, toward the latter part of the runtime, many of his killings occur offscreen because we don’t need to see them to know another one bites the dust; that’s how powerful his evil is.

But for all its philosophizing and social commentary, No Country for Old Men is better suited to literature than film. In its Golden Age, Classical Hollywood formulized the Fordist assembly line.

No Country for Old Men is dramatically unfulfilling, though thematically rich – the greatest pictures are the ones that can do both.

If you are possessed of the patience for an acquired taste, then No Country for Old Men will garner multiple viewings out of you. It will interrogate the Anton Chigurh within you, punish the Llewelyn Moss inside you, and depress the Ed Tom Bell in us all.

The only small comfort it offers is that the world isn’t getting worse, because it’s always been a hellscape.

The three films nominated for eight awards each at this year’s Razzies

 

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The one thousand members of the Golden Raspberry Foundation, based out of the U.S. and abroad, describe the Golden Raspberry Awards as “Tinseltown’s least coveted $4.97 statuette.” (Image Courtesy: BBC News).

Tom Hooper’s Cats (2019), Adrian Grunberg’s Rambo: Last Blood (2019), as well as Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral (2019), have each been nominated in eight categories at this year’s Golden Raspberry Awards, including worst film, according to BBC News. All four of the stars in Cats, including Dame Judi Dench and James Corden, have been nominated, while Perry was nominated for three out of the four roles he played in A Madea Family Funeral. Meanwhile, Todd Phillips’s Joker (2019), which is up for eleven Academy Awards, received a nod for worst reckless disregard for human life and public property.