Martin Scorsese approaches Hugo, his delightfully inventive adaptation of Brian Selznick’s elaborately illustrated children’s novel, with a profound sense of wonder, and the feeling is contagious.
Here, in the bittersweet saga of a clockmaker’s orphaned son who reconnects with his father through the earliest machinery of cinema, we find one of the director’s most personal stories to date, a love letter not only to his craft, but also to one of its earliest innovators, Georges Méliès.
Summer is slowly winding down, giving Hollywood just a few more weeks to unload the last of its annual sequels, prequels and remakes before Oscar season begins in earnest. The bad news, for some: School will be back in session soon. The good news: August packs a promising lineup of big-screen spectacles, including:
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Aug. 5)
The primates: James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Andy Serkis
Hailed by MovieMaker magazine as one of America’s coolest celebrations of fearless (and often underfunded) filmmaking, the Disposable Film Festival returns to San Francisco on Thursday for four days of screenings, featuring video captured by cell phones, pocket cameras and other everyday devices significantly less expensive than James Cameron’s 3-D technology.
Founded in 2007 by Emmy-nominated Bay Area filmmaker Eric Slatkin and independent producer Carlton Evans, the festival’s fourth go-round will draw from more than 1,000 entries worldwide, highlighting the very best films recorded using the latest cutting-edge gadgets, including the iPhone 4 and the Xbox 360’s Kinect.
The International Asian American Film Festival heads south to San Jose through March 20, paving the way for next week's return of the Disposable Film Festival, a four-day celebration of do-it-yourself filmmaking kicking off at the Castro on Thursday. Looking for more immediate gratification? Try tonight's debut of The Lincoln Lawyer – a must-see for fans of law, order and Matthew McConaughey's down-home Southern drawl – at the Sundance Kabuki.
1. The Disposable Film Festival's Competitive Shorts Night
Sam Worthington can’t compare his latest effects-heavy blockbuster, a bruising, 3-D remake of stop-motion innovator Ray Harryhausen’s Clash of the Titans (1981), to the one that made him the star of the biggest movie of all time – James Cameron’s Avatar. But playing Perseus, the fearless Greek warrior charged with saving humanity from the wrath of vengeful gods, presented its own set of challenges.
“Nothing compares to Avatar, and you can see that at the box office,” says the English-born actor, 33, who spent his formative years in Western Australia. “It is its own beast, its own juggernaut. For all I know, filming hasn’t stopped. James is probably still working on it.
Nominations for the 82nd annual Academy Awards were announced this morning at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, and though there were few surprises in the major categories – one notable exception being The Blind Side, a surprise contender for Best Picture in this year's expanded category – the races should be tighter and less predictable than in years past. The following is a list of the nominees, with the presumed favorite denoted by an asterisk. Conventional wisdom can change in a hurry, though – just ask Brokeback Mountain director Ang Lee, whose movie was erroneously considered a shoo-in for the top prize that went to Crash in 2006 – before the ceremony's official telecast on Sunday, March 7.
No discussion of Avatar would be complete without mentioning its $230 million budget and the 15 years James Cameron devoted to making it. Fairly or not, such investments raise expectations: For Cameron, who directed The Terminator (1984) and Aliens (1986), and anointed himself “King of the World” upon winning 11 Oscars for 1997’s Titanic, anything less than a masterpiece might be branded a failure.
By now, the story of Avatar is well known: James Cameron, who, along with George Lucas, has done more to revolutionize the moviegoing experience than any other filmmaker during the past quarter-century, began writing the sci-fi epic in 1994 and has been developing the photo-realistic 3-D technology necessary to realize his ambitious vision since the 1997 release of Titanic. After postponing the $200 million project on several occasions, his much-anticipated tale of human imperialism on an alien moon is due Dec. 18.
Sony Pictures announced yesterday that Michael Jackson’s This Is It would be released exclusively for a limited two-week engagement worldwide on Wednesday, Oct. 28. Tickets will go on sale in San Francisco beginning Sunday, Sept. 27.
Separately, the film’s producers have announced that Kenny Ortega has been tapped to direct. The Emmy Award-winning director was previously responsible for visualizing Disney’s High School Musical movies, as well as directing the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. He will begin work on the long-rumored remake of Footloose this fall.