After the New Jersey Legislature approved tax credits for film and television production and Governor Phil Murphy signed it into law in July 2018, industry revenue could double and local businesses could expect hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the Asbury Park Press. Todd Phillips’s Batman flick, Joker (2019), Alan Taylor’s prequel to HBO’s The Sopranos (1999-2007), The Many Saints of Newark (2020), and Steven Spielberg’s remake of the classic musical, West Side Story (2020), are all shooting in the state. Former Governor Chris Christie, in an effort to curb the budget, suspended the film and TV program in 2010 and allowed it to expire in 2015, blocking the 2009 incentive for MTV’s Jersey Shore (2009-2012).
Author: Hunter Goddard, MA, BA
Disney recruits top Netflix executive for new streaming service
Walt Disney announced Tuesday they had hired Matt Brodlie, the director of the original film division at Netflix, to lead international content development for their forthcoming family-friendly steaming service, Disney+, according to CNBC. Under Brodlie’s leadership, Netflix released Susan Johnson’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018) as well as Alex Richanbach’s Ibiza (2018), and it also picked up Academy Award darlings like Dee Rees’s Mudbound (2017) and Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma (2018). As part of his new position with Disney, Brodlie will arbitrate which properties need to be produced or acquired for Disney+ customers outside the United States.
How Tim Burton’s “Batman” (1989) saved Prince’s career
With the thirtieth anniversary of the release for Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) coming and going this month, Prince’s Batman LP still shapes creative partnerships between filmmakers and musicians today, according to Variety. After Albert Magnoli’s Purple Rain (1984), Prince overspent on production costs while touring for the soundtrack, until Batman producer Mark Canton reached out to the singer’s management team as part of the film’s saturation marketing strategy. Drawing from a rough cut of the film for inspiration, despite not knowing how to score a cinematic composition to the frame, Prince produced much-needed hits such as “Batdance,” “Partyman,” and “Scandalous.”
Hulu review: Darren Aronofsky’s “mother!” (2017)
A film that receives both boos and a standing ovation during its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, is a film that demands to be seen.
If you don’t know what to watch next, Darren Aronofsky’s mother! (2017) is available to stream on Hulu. Sixty-nine percent of the reviews aggregated on Rotten Tomatoes for the psychological horror film are positive, but audiences polled through CinemaScore graded it with an “F.”
Its opening weekend marked the worst debut for a Jennifer Lawrence vehicle in which she earned top billing.
A plot synopsis is not easy for a reviewer to put down in words. Suffice to say, the movie opens with an unnamed poet (Javier Bardem) and his wife (Lawrence) living in an idyllic country home evocative of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s magical realism.
When a man (Ed Harris) and a woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) come to stay as guests at their house, this paradise begins to fall apart.
Although not a narratively straightforward picture, mother! is an exercise in production value.
The performances of its four decorated stars are dramatic tours-de-force, and Matthew Libatique’s kinetic cinematography externalizes the surreal panic characterizing Lawrence’s titular “mother.”
Whispering alongside them is Johann Johannsson and Craig Henighan’s atmospheric sound design, echoing with the breathy non-diegesis of Aronofsky’s own Black Swan (2010) like chills running down your spine, and creaking with all the dread of the poet’s house.
The trailer misrepresents mother! as an homage to Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (1968), which arguably answers for much of the popular disappointment in the final product.
Indeed, the text can be interpreted as an allegory for Biblical creation, or the artistic process, or sociopolitical and environmental decay (or all three.. or something else).
It is an experimental release marketed as a mainstream scary movie about creepy neighbors, and it fails to meet its own expectations.
But even in its true, arthouse context, mother! can be self-indulgent and pretentious. Some of its metaphors are heavy-handed, and others try too hard to be “ambiguous,” instead coming off as “half-baked.”
The filmmaker wrote the screenplay in five days, and it shows. At its stylized, dreamlike best, that’s a compliment. At its forced, incomprehensible worst, it’s not.
Whether it gets you to cheer or jeer, mother! is sure to be unlike any other film you’ll ever see.
New tax credit for filmmakers to go into effect in Montana
The Montana Economic Industry Advancement Act goes into effect July 1, offering a production expenditure tax credit of up to thirty-five percent of filmmakers’ total base film production investment for films shot in the state, according to the Montana Standard. Filmmakers must incentivize the hiring of local crews, employ students, or film in impoverished counties, with a budget of at least $350,000, a Montana promotion featured in the final product, and a total claim for tax credits of less than ten million dollars a year. Fly-fishing tourists still visit Montana because of Robert Redford’s A River Runs Through It (1992), and filmmaking encourages economic stimulation for many communities through money spent on housing, food, and supplies.
Will Gluck’s “Easy A” (2010) will get a spin-off
A spinoff of Will Gluck’s Easy A (2010) is in the works, with screenwriter Bert Royal returning to draft the script as well as direct the film, which will also take place at Ojai North High School and will be about similar themes with a new cast of characters, according to /Film. With Easy A serving as a loose adaptation of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Royal was quoted in an interview as saying he planned to set similar interpretations of Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand and The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens in Ojai, California. The follow-up still has yet to be written, so no details are known yet as to whether Emma Stone, Thomas Haden Church, Lisa Kudrow, or Malcolm McDowell will reprise their parts, or when it will be released.
“Final Destination” star accuses Christian film actor of sexual misconduct
Filmmaker, actress, and progressive Haley Webb accused co-star Kevin Sorbo of sexually harassing her whilst filming Alejandro Itkin and Hunter Carson’s Single in South Beach (2015) on Thursday over Twitter, according to The Daily Dot. The thirty-three-year-old Webb alleges that the sixty-year-old Sorbo openly shamed her on set when she turned down his advances, then insisted on shooting a gratuitous sex scene between their two characters. Webb’s claim was a response to a tweet Sorbo posted Tuesday in defense of Sarah Huckabee Sanders; Sorbo, who has yet to reply to Webb, is a Christian film staple, starring in Harold Cronk’s God’s Not Dead (2014).
Thom Yorke to post a short film on Netflix the same day as new album
Director Paul Thomas Anderson will release a short musical film on Netflix and in select Imax theaters June 27, the same day long-time collaborator Thom Yorke is to drop his next album, ANIMA, according to Engadget. The one-reeler will feature three ANIMA songs, with Yorke both starring in as well as scoring the movie, and Netflix put out the trailer today, saying the “mind-bending visual piece” is best played loudly. Indeed, Yorke once uploaded an album online exclusively as a BitTorrent Bundle, and together with Radiohead, published a record through a hidden app that only worked on computers from the 1980s.
Netflix review: Brian De Palma’s “Carrie” (1976)
The year is 1976. Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) introduced the moviegoing public to the summer blockbuster the year before, and George Lucas’s Star Wars (1977) would go on to turn movie studios into toy factories the year after.
The same “film school generation” who pioneered the post-Golden Age renaissance that was New Hollywood, sold its soul to the highest bidder.
Brian De Palma’s Carrie (1976) is one of the last classics of its era. If you don’t know what to watch next, it’s available to stream on Netflix.
It is an adaptation of Stephen King’s debut novel, so early in his career, his name is misspelled as “Steven” in the opening credits.
It was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Actress for Sissy Spacek (the titular Carrie White), and Best Supporting Actress for Piper Laurie (Carrie’s religious fanatic mother, Margaret White).
The supernatural horror film begins in a high school locker room, where Carrie, an introverted social outcast, menstruates for the first time; because her puritanical mother never warned her about menstruation, Carrie panics, and the other girls laugh and throw tampons at her.
The saintly gym teacher, Miss Collins (Betty Buckley), punishes Carrie’s classmates, including Sue Snell (Amy Irving) and Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen), for their bullying, and with the advent of her puberty, Carrie discovers she possesses telekinetic powers.
Meanwhile, a remorseful Sue asks her boyfriend, Tommy Ross (William Katt), the most popular boy in school, to take Carrie to the prom, and a vengeful Chris plots with her abusive lover, Billy Nolan (John Travolta, in his first big screen role), to get back at Carrie.
Carrie is as tragic as it is horrifying, the Cinderella story from Hell, as only King could imagine it. It is a monster movie with many monsters, and the mass murderer with telekinesis is not only one of them, but one of the victims, too.
That Carrie is a sympathetic figure, is the scariest part about her.
De Palma’s filmmaking is at its strongest when he’s borrowing from other artists’ work, and his interpretation of King’s book is bursting with nods to his favorite source of inspiration, Sir Alfred Hitchcock.
Composer Pino Donaggio’s shrieking violins parallel Bernard Herrmann’s score for Psycho (1960), and so does the name change from “Ewen High School” on the page to “Bates High School” on the screen.
Carrie sometimes surpasses its source material. The written word portrays Carrie as an irredeemable psychopath, whereas almost all the people Carrie kills in the picture have it coming, sparking a hellish catharsis in the viewer.
Also, it feels like parts of King’s narrative are padded for length by an author learning how to write his first novel, since before the publication of Carrie, King was a short story writer.
De Palma’s prom set piece is a masterclass of suspense, as Donaggio’s soundtrack as well as editor Paul Hirsch’s split screens and montages of cuts thrust toward a bloody, fiery climax.
Even upon revisiting it, knowing how it ends, you will still find yourself it will somehow end differently, that Carrie will get the happily ever after she deserves, that her dreams will come true, despite the nightmare she was born into.
In King’s own words, though, Carrie is dated. The special effects have aged somewhat poorly, and the jump scare at the finale has been parodied so many times, it’s borderline laughable.
But as with Carrie herself, there is so much more to cinema than what it looks like, and there is so much more to horror than whether or not it makes you cover your eyes.
Carrie may not make you scream, but it might make you cry. It will make you know what it is to be in high school again, how happy you would be to win prom royalty, and what you would do to the people who ruin it in the worst possible way.
And that is the agelessness of its time.
Divisive filmmaker Franco Zeffirelli dead at 96
Franco Zeffirelli, the Academy Award-nominated director behind Romeo and Juliet (1968), died peacefully today at his home in Rome after what his son, Luciano, told the Associated Press was a prolonged illness, according to Variety. The filmmaker is known for his literary adaptations, such as The Taming of the Shrew (1967), Hamlet (1990), and Jane Eyre (1996), but his flamboyant opera and theater productions are perhaps his most lasting legacy. Zeffirelli was a controversial figure for becoming a Catholic zealot and Vatican apologist following a near-fatal car accident in 1969, and in 2018, Sparrow (1993) actor Jonathon Schaech accused him of sexual assault.