Getting More Immersed with Indiewire

  The Penske Media purchase of Indiewire has resulted in an expansion of my role as crafts and awards season contributor.  Beginning this week, I begin Emmy coverage of below-the-line contenders along with my usual Oscar season crafts reporting, working closely

Immersed in Blu-ray: Hitchcock and Bogart

The WB Archive Collection gets Hitch and Bogie on Blu-ray and they've never looked better for home viewing. In Kent Jones' indispensable doc, Hitchcock/Truffaut, he reminds us that Truffaut was on a mission to correct misconceptions about Hitch as a lightweight

Immersed in Books: Farber on Film

For the first time, the complete writings of film critic Manny Farber is available from Library of America, edited by Robert Polito (Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson). Manny Farber (1917-2008) was the first modernist film critic to write like a modernist.

Knight to Direct Samurai Kubo for Laika

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Annies, Below the Line, Blu-ray, Events, Home Entertainment, Movies, previs, stop-motion, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

Laika goes samurai for its fourth stop-motion feature with Focus Features, Kubo and the Two Strings, marking the directorial debut of studio head Travis Knight (Aug. 19, 2016).

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Talking Oscar-Nominated Costumes for Invisible Woman

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Costume, Movies, Oscar, Tech, Trailers | Leave a comment

Oscar-winning costume designer Michael O’ Connor (The Duchess) may be an expert at period pieces, but he was a Charles Dickens novice along with actor-director Ralph Fiennes before making The Invisible Woman. And in this year’s battle of the period pieces (American Hustle, The Great Gatsby, The Grandmaster, 12 Years a Slave), O’Connor is somewhat of a surprise nominee for this biopic about the secret affair between the middle-aged Dickens (Ralph Fiennes) and a teenage actress, Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones). Read more

New Skyfall Photo Gallery

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Clips, James Bond, Movies, Tech | Leave a comment

Coinciding with recent Skyfall set visits at London’s legendary Pinewood, we have a slew of new images from the 23rd James Bond film. Thanks to Comingsoon, Hitflix, Just Jared, and Dark Horizons. Also, offered a video of onset interviews with Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, and Bérénice Marlohe.

“He’s in a good place — he’s being Bond and doing his thing but we throw into the mix this sort of super villain in Javier Bardem,” Craig explained. “And so the world turns upside down and he’s got to address his relationships…. He comes up against it. It’s not just about him; it’s about all the other people we’re introducing in the film as well.”

Craig additionally told MTV News that Bond’s “much nicer and softer now” during his adventure in the field with M. His relationship with Bardem’s Silva also “gives the film a richer content.”

“This is very exciting for a Spanish actor,” added Bardem in the video interview. “Everything is very powerful so beyond being a James Bond movie, it’s a great movie to belong to. And also it’s a movie that’s going to be celebrating the 50th anniversary, so it’s a great honor.”

“It’s completely unique for movies to last so long,” suggested Marlohe, who plays Severine.”So now that I get to know the family around this movie and how wonderful human beings they are, I feel completely moved that this is really a specific position I have now, here, belonging to this 50th anniversary.”

Skyfall Image Reveals Most Grizzled Bond Ever

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Blu-ray, Home Entertainment, James Bond, Movies | Leave a comment

Forget the poolside image snapped up by Empire — this is the first official Skyfall image of Daniel Craig in his third outing as James Bond. In the franchise’s 23rd film, directed by Sam Mendes, the focus shifts to Judi Dench’s M for the first time when MI6 is attacked and she’s to blame because of her mysterious past coming back to haunt her. Bond is pressed into action to stop the threat and redeem his boss. Naomie Harris (field agent Eve) and Bérénice Marlohe (Sévérine) are the co-Bond girls; Javier Bardem is the villain, Ralph Fiennes is a government official, and Albert Finney plays an as yet unidentified character.

We can read a lot in this fusion of old and new, with a Walther-wielding, grizzled Bond poised for danger inside an ultra-modern, neon-lit Shanghai club. He is truly “the most dangerous Bond ever,” which is how they described Timothy Dalton 25 years ago in The Living Daylights. Or at least since Sean Connery. Skyfall opens Oct. 26 in the UK and Nov. 9 in the US. Happy 50th, 007.

Bond 23 is Skyfall

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Books, Cinematography, Costume, Editing, Events, James Bond, Movies, Production Design, VFX | Leave a comment

Better get used to the title Skyfall for the 23rd Bond film (Nov. 9, 2012). Like Quantum of Solace, it apparently refers to Bond’s troubled state of mind. “It has emotional context which will be revealed in the film,” promises producer Barbara Broccoli.

But there was precious little revealed at today’s London press conference, amid speculation about the return of Blofeld and the possibility of M’s shocking demise. Fittingly, today also coincides with Sean Connery’s announcement as Bond 50 years ago.

Yes, Javier Bardem plays the super baddie, no doubt a new breed of grounded Bond villain; Berenice Marlohe plays the seductive and enigmatic Bond girl, Severin; but Naomie Harries plays a field agent named Eve, not Moneypenny; and Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney have not yet been confirmed as friend or foe (although it has been suggested that Finney plays M’s boss).

Speaking of M, according to the official announcement, Skyfall is about how “Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her.  As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.”

Meanwhile, director Sam Mendes (who was first approached for Die Another Day, but it understandably wasn’t the right fit) suggested that Skyfall will offer a return to classic Bond action and is first and foremost an audience film and not a high-brow experience, as 007 travels to Istanbul, Shanghai, and Scotland (his ancestral home). How ironic that both Mendes and Craig first got hooked on Bond through Live and Let Die, and that their association on Road to Perdition has serendipitously taken them down this road to Bond’s maturity.

Make no mistake: Skyfall is our first glimpse of Craig’s fully-formed Bond and will likely define his legacy as 007. Speaking of Craig, he came to the press conference with very short hair and some stubble on his face. All he had to say was this was going to be “Bond with a capital B.”

The crew includes director of photography Roger Deakins (Jarhead and Revolutionary Road, who will be using the Alexa); production designer Dennis Gassner (Quantum of Solace, Road to Perdition, and Jarhead); editor Stuart Baird (Casino Royale); costume designer Jany Temime (Harry Potter); second unit director Alexander Witt; stunt co-ordinator Gary Powell; SFX supervisor Chris Corbould; and VFX supervisor Steve Begg.

Finney Tagged for Bond 23

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Books, James Bond, Movies | Leave a comment

A week before the official Bond 23 press conference at Pinewood in London, Bazz Bamigboye of the Mail gets a scoop that Albert Finney has joined the illustrious cast of Bond 23 (or Skyfall, as it will likely be confirmed). Bamigboye already broke the signing of Naomie Harris as Miss Moneypenny. Not only that but Finney made a surprise visit to the rehearsals this week. He will apparently play “a Foreign Office mandarin” above MI6, meaning M’s (Judi Dench) superior. The casting of the legendary Finney, 75, who is in remission from prostate cancer, not only provides a curious link to the kitchen sink dramas of the ’60s (Saturday Night and Sunday Morning), but also the current spy tradition (The Bourne Ultimatum and the upcoming Bourne Legacy). We could be witnessing a new hybrid of Fleming, Le Carre, and the hyper real cinematic world of Bond.

We will just have to wait until next week to sort some of this out, what with rumors flying of Blofeld returning and perhaps even the shocking death of a major character. At least we now have a better idea that producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson are trying to distance themselves from father Cubby Broccoli, and that they’ve upped the prestige factor with the hiring of director Sam Mendes and the casting of Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, and now Finney. Daniel Craig and Dench are certainly in great company in honor of next year’s 50th anniversary of the franchise. Bond 23 opens in North America on Nov. 9, 2012.

A Quantum of Bond 23 Casting

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, James Bond, Movies, VFX | Leave a comment

The supper baddie dream cast of Javier Bardem and Ralph Fiennes appears to be on track for Bond 23, according to the Mail, along with the introduction of Naomie Harris (Pirates of the Caribbean) as the flirty Miss Moneypenny. Nothing official yet from EON, MGM, or Sony.

But that would mean that director Sam Mendes’ darker vision is also on track (scripted by John Logan and Bond regulars Neal Purvis & Robert Wade), “where the characters are modern, mature, and challenging,” according to an earlier report from the Mail.

The mind reels with the possibilities of going deeper up the SPECTRE-like Quantum chain to discover whether Bardem or Fiennes is the post 9/11 version of Blofeld: a slow-burning, charismatic, alter ego to Craig’s conflicted 007. With the other baddie softening Bond up for the real cat-and-mouse.

As for Harris, her presence is sure to be an alluring one as Moneypenny: defusing office tension with M while being Bond’s enabler.

The still untitled Bond 23, scheduled to begin production in November for North American release Nov. 9, 2012, has already tapped naturalistic cinematographer phenom Roger Deakins (True Grit), who plans on shooting digitally on the Alexa with an optical viewfinder.

Still confirming if Mendes collaborators Dennis Gassner (Quantum of Solace) and Tariq Anwar sign on as production designer and editor, respectively, along with VFX supervisor Steven Begg (Casino Royale).