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Thompson on Hollywood

Immersed in Movies: J.J. Abrams Talks 'Star Wars,' Storytelling, Tech at PGA Conference

J.J. Abrams said at Saturday's PGA Produced By Conference that he's aiming for the same "deep feeling of infinite possibilities" with "Star Wars: Episode VII" that he got watching George Lucas' original blockbuster as a youngster. He told "Django Unchained" producer Reginald Hudlin that it's about "honoring but not revering the past" during their Q&A at Fox. But other than admitting that his boys aren't thrilled about moving to London next year to make "Star Wars" ("Fuck that -- I don't care what the movie is"), Abrams kept everything else about it close to the vest.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • June 9, 2013 3:46 PM
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Immersed in Movies: Shooting Whedon's 'Much Ado About Nothing' in Black-and-White (VIDEO)

Joss Whedon's marvelous Shakespeare house party in modern dress, "Much Ado About Nothing," is part of a mini black-and-white resurgence this year that also includes Noah Baumbach's screwball "Frances Ha," Alexander Payne's chilly "Nebraska," and Godfrey Reggio's counter-intuitive "Visitors." Maybe it's "The Artist" factor or maybe it's just time to go monochromatic again as a retro exercise in naturalism. For "Much Ado" cinematographer Jay Hunter (who previously worked with Whedon on the "Dollhouse" TV series), shooting in black-and-white was nirvana -- a mixture of film noir and the French New Wave.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • June 7, 2013 12:20 PM
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Immersed in Movies: 'Man of Steel' Set Visit: Making Superman Relevant Again (VIDEO)

There's no better metaphor for "Man of Steel" than the Faded Glory emblem on the side of the building behind Henry Cavill's Superman. Zack Snyder's existential reboot is all about returning the glory to DC's legendary superhero (which turned 75 this year), and making him stand tall again beside Batman in the 21st century. In fact, I asked Snyder about faded glory during a visit to the Smallville set two years ago in Plano, Illinois, outside of Chicago, where you could glimpse the wreckage of General Zod's attack on Clark Kent's hometown.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • May 30, 2013 1:00 PM
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Immersed in Movies: Craft-Talking David Fincher's Emmy-Contender 'House of Cards'

From the very first moment that Kevin Spacey broke the fourth wall as the devilishly charming House Majority Whip Frank Underwood in "House of Cards," Netflix's first original TV series, we knew that we were in for "Richard III" in D.C. It's so David Fincher, who signed on as exec producer and director of the first two episodes, while writer-showrunner Beau Willimon ("The Ides of March") plotted the political machinations with transcendent glee. No wonder it's induced binge viewing and attracted Emmy buzz.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • May 24, 2013 2:22 PM
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Immersed in Movies: VFX Retrofitting for Abrams' Hybrid Vision of Old and New in 'Star Trek Into Darkness'

Like "Skyfall," "Star Trek Into Darkness" is a hybrid of the old and the new in completing its rite of passage reboot. Except J.J. Abrams has the advantage of time travel, which he introduced in the first movie, for creating a parallel universe that allows him to break the rules of the beloved sci-fi franchise for the 21st century while still honoring its iconic spirit.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • May 17, 2013 2:36 PM
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Immersed in Movies: Designer Catherine Martin Talks 'Gatsby's' 3-D Glide and Lasting Appeal (TRAILER)

Like him or not, there's no denying that Baz Lurhmann is a talented showman who knows how to dazzle and get under our skin. With "The Great Gatsby," he's managed to capture the poetic spirit of F. Scott Fitzgerald like no other prior movie adaptation. And the secret was 3-D. In fact, like "Avatar," "Hugo," and "Life of Pi," "The Great Gatsby" is a movie about 3-D.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • May 10, 2013 2:35 PM
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Clipping Del Toro's 'Pacific Rim' (VIDEO)

Warner Bros. has released the WonderCon footage of "Pacific Rim" (July 12) and it’s the most exciting and extensive glimpse yet of Guillermo del Toro’s summer tentpole and VFX Oscar contender.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • May 3, 2013 2:40 PM
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Immersed in Movies: Shane Black and Kevin Feige Talk Going Over the Edge in 'Iron Man 3,' Stark's Demons, VFX

With "Iron Man 3" already smashing box-office records internationally ahead of its domestic release Friday, grabbing more than $300 million in nine days (including the highest opening ever in China), Marvel's post-"Avengers" Phase 2 plan is off to a smashing start. The trick apparently was giving Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark an existential crisis, and no one was better suited to the task than director Shane Black, who, like Downey, knows a thing or two about confronting personal demons, which is what "Iron Man 3" is all about.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • May 3, 2013 2:35 PM
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Immersed in Movies: Restored 'Shane' Celebrates 60th at TCM Classic Fest, with the Right Aspect Ratio! (TRAILER)

If it weren't for a recent aspect ratio brouhaha, "Shane" probably would sneak into the TCM Classic Film Festival on Saturday at the Chinese without much fanfare. Which would've been a shame considering that Technicolor has digitally revived its naturalistic sheen in honor of the 60th anniversary and an upcoming Warner Home Video Blu-ray on June 4. I asked the director's filmmaker son, George Stevens Jr., to clear up the confusion: "There's no controversy about aspect ratio," he replied by email. "We made a 1:37 transfer, color corrected and cleaned up. I also supervised a 1:66 in which we took care with every shot for optimum framing."
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • April 26, 2013 3:23 PM
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Immersed in Movies: 'Oblivion' Director Kosinski Talks Creating Original Sci-Fi Landscape Starring Cruise

With a looming summer season packed with post-apocalyptic sci-fi--from "After Earth" (June 7) and "World War Z" (June 21) to "Elysium" (August. 9)--it's a good thing that director Joseph Kosinski's "Oblivion" is first out of the gate. This Tom Cruise-starrer about a blue collar drone repairman haunted by dreams of a woman he's never met stands apart from the competition, mainly because architect and video game designer Kosinski's follow-up to "Tron: Legacy" is a passion project he's been developing for eight years that allows him to strut his visual stuff.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • April 19, 2013 2:25 PM
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  • 1 Comment

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