Mar 23, 2018

"Isle Of Dogs" written by Gregory Mann


(Release Info London schedule; March 25th, 2018, Picturehouse Central, 30 Orange Street, 17:00)




"Isle Of Dogs"



"Isle Of Dogs",tells the story of Atari Kobayashi (Koyu Rankin), 12-year-old ward to corrupt Mayor Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura). When, by 'Executive Decree', all the canine pets of 'Megasaki City' are exiled to a vast garbage-dump, Atari sets off alone in a miniature Junior-Turbo Prop and flies to 'Trash Island' in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots. There, with the assistance of a pack of newly-found mongrel friends, he begins an epic journey that will decide the fate and future of 'The Entire Prefecture'.  

'Canine-Saturation' has reached epidemic proportions. An outbreak of 'Snout-Fever' rips through the city of Megasaki. 'Dog-Flu' threatens to cross the species threshold and enter the human disease pool. Mayor Kobayashi of 'Uni Prefecture' calls for a hasty quarantine; the expulsion and containment of all breeds, both stray and domesticated. By official decree, 'Trash Island' becomes an exile colony, 'The Isle Of Dogs'. Six months later, a tiny, single-engine, miniature airplane crash-lands onto the teeming waste-land. A pack of five starving but fierce abandoned dogs scrambles to the wreckage and discovers a twelve-year-old pilot staggering from the burning fuselage. Atari, orphan-ward to Mayor Kobayashi. With the assistance of his new canine friends, Atari begins a search for his lost dog, Spots (Liev Schreiber), and, in the process, exposes a conspiracy that threatens to destroy all the dogs of 'Megasaki City' forever.  

Atari is a heartbroken Japanese boy who makes a heroic flight to search for his lost dog. Mayor Kobayashi is the authoritarian who outlaws dogs from 'Megasaki City', though the consequences hit closer to home than he ever imagined. His greatest nemesis proves to be Tracy Walker (Greta Gerwig), a feisty young foreign exchange student and editor of 'The Megasaki Senior High Daily Manifesto'. It's a paper that stands for transparency and truth. And Tracy believes that’s what all newspapers and news outlets should stand for. Even though it’s a student publication, they hold themselves to a very high, rigorous standard. That standard pushes her to discover the truth about the dog virus and Atari’s trip to 'Trash Island', and perhaps also the first hints of a crush. Tracy just admires Atari’s bravery. And she thinks he has a nice face. He’s the only person standing up to the madness that’s going on in 'Megasaki City'. And he’s doing it on his own for the love of his dog, which she thinks is noble.

Each member of the conversationally gifted 'Trash Island" pack has a well-worn canine name suggesting they're once beloved as top dogs, which only serves to remind them of how much they miss their former human homes. Rex (Edward Norton) is a wiry, wire-haired mutt with spiky, mottled coat and the eyes of an Arctic sled-dog. His ribs stick out like a cast-iron radiator. He's a sleeping on a lamb’s wool beanbag next to an electric space heater. So, he’s not some rich man’s dog. He was probably comfortably middle-class, maybe upper middle-class. But he has a work ethic. He’s scrappy, willing to be resourceful and to fight for what he needs. At the same time, he has had a certain baseline of comfort and so psychologically 'Trash Island' is difficult for him. He can only take so much. King (Bob Balanon) is a graceful, red-haired mutt with a sable snout and a handlebar moustache. He's dappled with scabs, scars, scuffs, and scratches. Boss (Bill Murray) is a stout, liver-spotted mutt with black paws and a tail like a stubbed-out cigar. He wears a soiled, grimy, unraveling, striped, woolen dog-sweater with embroidered baseballs and the word Dragons scrolled across it in cursive. When there's the chance of a great success, you need a mascot, someone that’s going to be with you when things get tough, but someone that you’re really going to want to be there when things go well.  That’s Boss.  

Duke (Jeff Goldblum) is a bohemian mountain-dog. Slender face, sleek ears, and a ballet-dancer’s overly-nimble gait. He has seven missing teeth and a consumptive dry-cough. Chief (Bryan Cranston) is a coal-black hound with long legs, black nose, a boxer’s jaw, and floppy, black ears with white spots all over them. He has the sturdy frame of a middleweight, but the starved mass of a long distance-runner. Chief is the odd one out, but he also has a great nobility. He represents the idea that with hope can come second chances. Spots is a 'Short-Haired Oceanic Speckle-Eared Sport Hound', who was once the beloved assigned bodyguard to the Mayoral ward Atari, but is now lost to the winds on 'Trash Island'.  He's highly trained, highly sophisticated animal who's not only the constant companion to Atari but also protects him.  In many ways Spots embodies the ideals of loyalty, duty and honor. Spots also finds romance amid the ruins with the steadfast survivor Peppermint (Kara Hayward). Peppermint has been terribly mistreated and Spots goes from feeling bad for her to falling in love with her. He’s really a dog who cares about other dogs.  

Among the most enigmatic of 'Trash Island’s' dogs is Nutmeg (Scarlett Johansson), the coquettish show dog with her femme fatale persona and curiously spotless coat of fur. Nutmeg is incredibly resourceful. She keeps her fur clean by collecting garbage ash in an old coffee bean can. The she works the ash through her fur from root to tip. That’s a very important part of the process. You've to work the ash through from root to tip. And then she shakes off the remaining ash and collects it in the found coffee bean can. Which she then stores for next time. She knows what it’s like to lose something and come back stronger. She might be more civilized than Chief, but she recognizes in him a fighting spirit and a leadership quality she admires.  Plus, he has just the right amount of bite; and who doesn’t like a guy with bite? Jupiter (F. Murray Abraham) has chosen to live his life as though he’s given himself over to a Zen existence. He has a barrel of spirits around his neck. It's very wise because you never know when you might need a little shot, or when you’ll run into someone who could use one. And it’s a communal, convivial thing; we’re all going to drink from the same barrel; we’re all going to enjoy this together; and we’re going to find a way out of this mess. We would sure use Jupiter right about now in this poor old world of ours.

"Isle Of Dogs" is a grand adventure set in a near-future Japan in the grips of a canine crisis and mass anti-dog hysteria. Here, in a far-flung floating junktopia known only as 'Trash Island', a scrappy pack of exiled dogs who’ve banded together to survive makes an amazing discovery, the crash-landing of a little human pilot who will take them on a life-changing journey. The resulting journey is packed with humor, action and friendship. But on it's trek, it also pays homage to the epic scope and beauty of Japanese cinema, to the noble loyalty of canine companions, to the hopeful heroism of the small and the overlooked, to the rejection of intolerance and most of all to the unbreakable boy-dog bond that has launched countless escapades. The film is inspired by Japanese movies. It's a story with chatty canines, furred femmes fatales, a boy aviator, an intrepid school reporter, mutant viruses, mythical isle and step-by-step unraveling of a big human mistake. In fact, "Isle Of Dogs" may owe as much to the storytelling legacy of Akira Kurosawa as the history of stop-motion animation. The story’s invention expanded from a dreamlike spark to the spectacularly detailed creation of 'Megasaki City', the rubbish-geography of 'Trash Island', and a cast of misfit but hopeful characters, both fur-bearing and human.

An outsider (the little pilot) arriving in a new land (Trash Island), and an analogue of the timeless tale of, well, in this case literal underdogs striving against blinded oppressors. But the magic of it all sprang out of the details, from the charm and texture of each dog’s story, from the cluttered but artful architecture of 'Trash Island', from the idea that a child searching for his faithful pet might set off a world-altering chain of events. It just seemed the matching form for emotionally fluent, if down-and-out, dogs and a Japanese island lined with society’s strange, funny and downright calamitous discards. It’s a movie about talking dogs. Yet, it’s not a cartoon, it’s a movie. It pushes the boundary in terms of what people think can be done in this medium. In fact, stop motion animation’s century-long evolution has long been more creative than technical. Little has changed in the fundamentals. Though digital cameras and computers have smoothed the process, it’s still a matter of shooting the infinitesimally small movements of 3D objects frame-by-frame, in a painstaking process that nevertheless generates palpable life. So the biggest changes in the form have come in the content, in the kinds of stories one might tell, in pressing the limits of imagination.  

"Isle Of Dogs" is a worldbuilding story that by it's very nature breaks animation norms and brings together all the themes, shots, emotional intricacy and adventures. From the intricate puppets and micro-sets arises this living, breathing realm of cold-nosed questers whose plight is intimately relatable.  The feel is of a whimsical legend but the grounding is in the real concerns, big and small, of modern life; friendship, family, humanity’s future and coming together to clean up our messes. It's a story of disenfranchised dogs, but that's also a very real experience for human beings in every country and walk of life. The main characters might be dogs, but they exist in a zone between animals and humans. They've all the dog behaviors we know and recognize but we connect to them through their very human emotions, through their excitement, sadness, anger, hope and their love for one another and their friends. There are disenfranchised people, the throwaways. And the demagoguery of fear, the kind that leads all the dogs of 'Megasaki City' to be put on an island to fend for themselves, is something humans are dealing with as well. It's a very timely theme.

The music becomes another layer of a film that, not unlike 'Trash Island', is piled high with bits and pieces that, when combined, seem to alchemically forge a world that feels lived-in and alive in it's fantasia. If any single word seems to define the movie that word might be scale, both for the tiny scale of the intricate stop-motion work and the enormous scale of the story of how the 'Trash Island' pack unites in their trek towards freedom and to discover the potential in themselves. While the sheer number of individual moving pieces, physical and thematic, that make up "Isle Of Dogs" might be staggering, the paradox is that the prevailing core of the film is one of the most timelessly simple relationships on earth.  

The animation is wild and the amount of detail packed into every frame is astonishing. It's a beautiful fable that takes you into a world of it's own, a world no one else could have imagined. With it's semi-fictional Japanese setting, it's construction out of comic book-like chapters and it's intercut themes of nature, heroism, technology, rescue and honor, perhaps it's only natural that the film is also reverberate with echoes of Japanese pop culture and some of Japan’s greatest film directors, from Yasujiro Ozu to Kurosawa to Seijun Suzuki, as well as the Japanese monster films of the 50s and 60s, with their climactic disasters. It's as referring to a whole range of Japanese filmmakers and Japanese culture, but Kurosawa is the main movie influence. It’s hard to even quantify Kurosawa’s impact on cinema because he arced so gracefully through a huge pendulum of genres from noir, to Samurai, to Shakespeare, to melodrama. Each seems to transcend the dark side of the modern world with characters of the utmost honesty and humanity. And seen in each is the legendary Toshiro Mifune, whose expressive countenance inspires the look of Mayor Kobayashi.

Another branch of inspiration came from two 19th Century, Edo-period woodblock print masters; Hiroshige and Hokusai, whose emphasis on color and line deeply influenced European Impressionists. Their ukyio- artworks capture fleeting moments of pleasure focusing on natural landscapes, far-flung travels, flora and fauna, geishas and kabuki actors. The film collects a wide swath of woodblock print images and the storyboard artists trawled through the extensive collections at 'The Victoria And Albert Museum' in London. Then, by osmosis, the folkloric Japanese style began to merge with the tactile, handmade feel of stop-motion. The world of "Isle Of Dogs" is kind of an alternative reality. It looks and feels like Japan, but it's a slightly dreamier version. That's the beauty of setting the film in a make-up city, in a make-up time; you get a certain amount of artistic license. The blending of old and new is very common in Japan. There are scenes in the film that are very minimalist and wabi-sabi; but then you switch over to the city, which is maximalist and very intense. The film is a scope of Samurai movies and adventure. It's a big movie in every way, but with simple basic themes that anyone can relate to. 













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  • (Release Info London schedule; November 14th, 2019, Everyman Broadgate, Finsbury Ave, London EC2M 2PF, United Kingdom, 21:00 pm) "Le Mans '66" From James Mangold comes a film inspired by a true-life drama about a powerful friendship that forever changed racing history. In 1959, Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) is on top of the world after winning the most difficult race in all of motorsports, 'The 24 Hours Of Le Mans'. But his greatest triumph is followed quickly by a crushing blow, the fearless Texan is told by doctors that a grave heart condition will prevent him from ever racing again. Endlessly resourceful, Shelby reinvents himself as a car designer and salesman working out of a warehouse space in 'Venice Beach' with a team of engineers and mechanics that includes hot-tempered test driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale). A champion British race car driver and a devoted family man, Miles is brilliant behind the wheel, but he’s also blunt, arrogant and unwilling to compromise. After Shelby vehicles make a strong showing at 'Le Mans' against Italy’s venerable Enzo Ferrari (Remo Girone), 'Ford Motor Company' recruits the firebrand visionary to design the ultimate race car, a machine that can beat even 'Ferrari' on the unforgiving French track. Determined to succeed against overwhelming odds, Shelby, Miles and their ragtag crew battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to develop a revolutionary vehicle that will outshine every competitor. But their tireless efforts take a difficult toll; for these bold men, victory comes at a price. The film opens with Shelby’s victory at 'Le Mans' and his subsequent diagnosis, before moving forward in time to 1963, when 'Ford Motor Co.', once the industry leader, is trailing in sales behind 'U.S.' competitor 'General Motors'. 'Marketing Executive' Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal) suggests that if Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) wants to appeal to the young people of the day looking to buy their first cars, the company should focus on speed, if Ford has winning race cars, their consumer automobiles would become that much more attractive by association. Since no company produced faster or sexier cars than Enzo Ferrari, an acquisition of 'The European' carmaker seems like the answer. An envoy of top executives is dispatched to Ferrari headquarters to negotiate the purchase of 'The European' carmaker only to return to Michigan empty-handed. Outraged, Ford immediately places his right-hand man, senior vice president Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas), in charge of a new high-tech race car division, 'Ford Advanced Vehicles', tasked with quickly building a car that will beat Ferrari at their own game, defeating them at 'The Mount Everest Of Motor Racing', 'Fhe 24 Hours Of Le Mans'. 'The FAV' team builds the exciting-looking 'GT40 Mark I', but it's first outing at 'Le Mans' in 1964 ends miserably. All three models fail to finish the race while Ferrari’s place first, second, and third. Finishing fourth is the 'Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe', a fact that Ford II doesn’t fail to notice. Ford II hires Shelby to develop, test and ultimately oversee the corporation’s entire racing program, but Shelby’s lead test driver Ken Miles complicates the relationship. The outspoken Miles quickly makes an enemy of Beebe, who does his best to manipulate Shelby and box-out Miles at every turn. Still, against impossible odds and virtually non-stop corporate interference, Shelby and his team, which also includes chief engineer Phil Remington (Ray McKinnon), and young British mechanic Charlie Agapiou (Jack McMullen) build one of the greatest race cars ever produced; 'The Ford GT40 MKII'. The vehicle changed the perception of both Ford, and America itself, when it takes part in one of the most infamous racing showdowns in history, the 1966 running of 'Le Mans'. The most challenging sequence to capture by far is the restaging of the 1966 running of 'The 24 Hours At Le Mans' race. The last 40 minutes of the film is this race predominantly, and you really feel like you're hunkered down and living in the race. The film loves that idea of racing for 24 hours to start to dawn on you, to feel what that really would be like trying to drive faster than any man for longer than you ever can stay awake. The magic of that, of driving 200 miles per hour in the most cutting-edge race-car prototypes on a series of French country roads over and over again through day, night, rain, sleet, dawn, dusk, doing that for 24 straight hours in one vehicle seemed like the most powerful thing we could try to convey. The central drama turns on the heated relationship between renegades Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles. Like legendary car racer and sports car builder Carroll Shelby, whose creations included 'The Shelby Cobra' and 'Shelby Daytona', as well as modified race-worthy editions of Ford’s legendary 'Mustang' series, 'The Shelby Mustang' celebrity status stretches back decades. Shelby had been a great driver and had kind of hit the pinnacle of that. Because of this heart condition, he’d lost his great love. He does wear a cowboy hat, but he wears it selectively in key scenes where it intentionally is supposed to seem a bit over-the-top along with his crocodile cowboy boots. He's really on the cusp of fading into oblivion and just being another guy hustling trying to sell cars to people. This Ford opportunity is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for him. The stakes are incredibly huge for him as they're for Ken Miles. Miles drove tanks in 'World War II' before finding his way onto the race track. Shelby just feels Miles is indispensable to this mission, and Ken is known for not suffering fools. He's irascible and not afraid to speak his mind and did not want to just fall into step with everybody else. If he thinks an idea is stupid, he’d tell you, and he has very little political skill or diplomatic skill. In terms of costume, Miles spends much of his time wearing a racing suit and coveralls. They refer to him as a beatnik, even though he never dressed as a beatnick. And so he's a constant source of frustration to Shelby because he couldn’t get out of his own way. But Shelby really needed him to help build the car and to then subsequently drive it at 'Le Mans'. It's one of the most legendary tales in the history of motorsports. Carroll Shelby, working closely with his spirited test driver Ken Miles, develops a revolutionary car that bests a fleet of vehicles built by Italian racing legend Enzo Ferrari at the 1966 running of 'The 24 Hours Of LeMans'. This is the story of a group of unconventional thinkers who overcome incredible odds to achieve something extraordinary through sheer inventiveness, determination and force of will. The film offerers the opportunity to stage thrilling racing sequences that essentially puts the audience inside the cars with these fearless drivers, and the chance to chronicle the turbulent friendship between Shelby and Miles. Both had quite distinct, larger-than-life personalities, Shelby, tough yet eminently likable; Miles, prickly and unfiltered, but they're united by a passion for innovation and an abiding love for racing. Quite simply, Shelby and Miles are driven to excel, even if it means putting their lives on the line every time they got behind the wheel. They understand each other at the most profound level. When Shelby’s confronted with the fact that he can’t race anymore, he reinvents himself from a driver into a car salesman and designer, and Ken becomes a vessel for Shelby’s dreams. But Ken can’t quite filter himself or control himself in corporate situations or publicity situations. He just says whatever he thinks, so Shelby takes on this role of protector or spokesman for Ken. They've a very symbiotic relationship. One fills in where the other leaves off. Lee Iacocca, who, from his humble roots as the son of Italian immigrants in Allentown, Pennsylvania, becomes a legend in the automotive business, reviving 'U.S.' automaker 'Chrysler' during the 1980s. His strength comes from his intensity. It comes from his intellect. When he's at Ford, Iacocca has the presence of mind to understand that there's a whole generation of 17-year-olds with money in their pocket who are interested in rock ’n’ roll and sex and moving fast, and the stale, stagnant repetition of reproducing 1950s cars is failing Ford. Lee Iacocca is the flashiest exec on the team. He’s got a good shark skin suit, mohair suits, little slivery ties, ultra ’60s. Mollie Miles (Caitriona Balfe) is Ken’s wife, and mother to their young son, Peter (Noah Jupe). Even though she’s a stay-at-home mom in the film, she’s very much an equal partner in the relationship. She wears old 'Wranglers' from the 1960s and cotton sweaters or shirts. She's’s a little rough around the edges with his personality and his people skills may not be that great. But this is where their relationship is strong. She tells him when he needs to pull up his boot straps and to also encourage him. There’s this real sense that they’re a team who supports each other. Detroit auto legend Henry Ford II is 'The CEO Of Ford Motor Company' from 1960 to 1979. It’s a classic story of man versus machine, man versus man, and man versus himself. It touches upon a lot of the points of a sports story, but at the same time the historical story that’s being told here's a good one. A lot of the cars that we know now, and a lot of the advancements we’ve seen with technology, starts with this period. By contrast, they’re ample archival images of Henry Ford II available to create a full picture of the auto titan’s fashion style. The film outfits Ford himself in classic 'Brooks Brothers' suits. Old money, button-down shirts, blue blazer, it’s recreating what they really wore. And he always wore navy blue with plain navy blue ties. His clothes are very traditional. Leo Beebe, is 'The Ford Motors Company' executive who's given control over Ford’s racing program. He has a shadier color palette, a little bit darker, a little bit oiler. Like his father, Peter Miles is completely consumed with the sport of car racing. Peter is a happy boy, but he’s also a kid whose dad could die at any point in a race. From an early age, he’s been brought into the racing world and wants to be a racer when he’s older just like his dad. It’s all he’s ever known. Phil Remington is the chief engineer at 'Shelby American'. A technical genius who can fix or fabricate anything, Remington is a key partner to Carroll Shelby in helping develop 'The Ford GT40 MKII' that takes on Ferrari at 'Le Mans'. Charlie Agapiou works with Ken Miles at Miles foreign car repair shop in Hollywood before joining him at Shelby’s shop in Venice in early 1963. Ken is something of a father figure to young Charlie. The challenge is how to navigate this story so that audiences feel the love and camaraderie and energy of these drivers and designers and mechanics and pit crew, but it doesn’t depend upon a cliché kind of victory. Whereas the Ford executives are sort of cool, wearing blues, grays, silvers, the Ferrari people are more old world. Their wardrobe is primarily browns, creams, knit ties, vests. The film gets deep enough into these unique characters, the winning and the losing of the races is secondary to the winning and the losing of their lives. One can believe that they’re characters who represent the last of an old school, brave, humble, gracious, male prototype. This is an inflection point in both of their lives. The goal in an age of incredibly computer-enhanced action movies, is that there's something profoundly analog and real and gritty about the film and the sexiness of these beasts, the cars, their engines, the danger. These characters are riding in a thin aluminum shell at 200 miles an hour around a track. The miracle that's their daring and their survival under these circumstances is something that the film tries to convey. This film is about the epic rivalry between Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari and the scrappy team of upstarts that Ford hires to help him in his quest. Both the classic 1966 sports drama "Grand Prix" and Steve McQueen’s 1971 film "Le Mans" served as references. It's about characters striving for excellence, trying to push against the onset of corporate market-tested group-think. It’s an essential struggle in 'The 21st Century' in our country, the risk-taking and daring and leaps of instinct that are required to invent a lot of the things that define our country are things that we’re almost too frightened to do anymore. The film creates a naturalistic portrait of what life is like for Shelby and Miles. In a modern era when 'CG' spectacle has come to define many blockbuster films, it's critical to take a grounded approach to the action in "Le Mans ‘66" to both more accurately depict the 1960s and to help the audience understand what these drivers experienced as they're pushing themselves, and their cars, to the limit. This isn’t Carroll Shelby’s whole story or Ken Miles’ whole story. This is about a hugely defining moment in their lives that shaped all they're to be. People really connect with this idea of trying to do an excellent job at whatever your job is with the challenge of dealing with oversight and corporate management and the corporate tendency to round every corner that’s a little sharp and to soften any blow that could offend somebody. We all miss the world when it's just a little more raw and prone to taking a risk. The reason the story is so legendary is because these misfits challenged God and won, didn’t they? God was Ferrari. He was a monster, a Goliath of reputation and style, legendary in the racing community. And this little band of misfits, with Ford’s backing but in spite of Ford’s interference, they did it. This is an incredibly compelling film because it’s about the behind-the-scenes conflicts and choices of passionate, competitive, driven, larger-than-life people caught in the very moment the American landscape is changing from the optimism of the post war 1950s and early 1960s to the more cynical late 1960s and ’70s. The visual inspiration comes more from the films of the ’60s and ’70s, rather than contemporary interpretations of race car films, no exaggerated movement, keeping it intimate with the use of close-ups and always maintaining a character’s point-of-view. The film sticks to camera techniques of the period. The production design follows suit and is much in sync with realism and plausibility and keeping the audience in the magic trick of this world that has been created. You’re both hearing and seeing the bolts rattling in the chassis of the car. You’re feeling the vibration of the engine. You’re understanding how hard they’re pushing this vehicle and how close to exploding it's. Today, we've computer-aided design. We can postulate with much greater accuracy what’s going to work. There was no way with a pencil and an abacus you could know that. You just had to build the car and drive the car and see if it just blew up around you. It’s a big, emotional, distinctive theatrical experience that embraces all of the reasons we want to sit in a movie theater. We want to be invested. We want to be moved, to cry to laugh, to be inspired. This movie is all of that.
  • In Gotham City, mentally-troubled comedian Arthur Fleck embarks on a downward-spiral of social revolution and bloody crime. This path brings him face-to-face with his infamous alter-ego: "The Joker". “What do you get when you cross a mentally ill loner with a society that abandons him and treats him like trash? You get what you f****n’ deserve!” The big question asked by Todd Phillips’ Joker. The answer; an in-depth character study unveiling the myth behind one of pop culture’s most twisted creations. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this film upon its release. People state that it mishandles the representation of mental health and that it’s a dangerous film which could potentially insight violence. I believe Phoenix and Phillips handle Arthur’s descent into madness with great nuance and with masterful direction. The same controversy surrounded one of the film’s clear influences; Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. Robert DeNiro’s portrayal of Travis Bickle represented the disillusionment and PTSD of war veterans and how society abandoned them and people still regard it as a masterpiece and one of Scorsese’s finest films. The time and setting are irrelevant as the issues and society depicted in period-time Gotham wreak of Trump’s America which has been embodied by Thomas Wayne. This is an angry film with so much to say. One of the reasons why I loved this film is not only is it a great genre film (calling it a genre insults the quality) but a modern-day masterpiece which will be dissected for years to come. As for Joaquin Phoenix’s performance, it’s pretty much self-explanatory. It’s a masterclass in physical and emotional artistry, we truly see an actor pushing his body and mind to its limits. It does not overshadow the magnificent work achieved by the late Heath Ledger, but is in fact a deeper psychological study to the myth behind the character. The use of the unreliable narrator only adds to Arthur’s fragile state of mind and a masterstroke by Phillips. Overall, yes this film is controversial and yes this film is a commentary on today’s society but with Hildur Guônadóttir’s haunting and mesmerising score and an all-time, Oscar-winning performance from Phoenix and Phillips has crafted one of the best films of the past ten years.
  • Release Info London schedule; November 26th, 2019 (Picturehouse Central, Piccadilly Circus, Corner of Great Windmill Street and, Shaftesbury Ave, London W1D 7DH, UK, 18:20 pm) (Clapham Picturehouse, 76 Venn St, Clapham, London SW4 0AT, UK, 20:30 pm) "Lucy In The Sky" How does life change after such a transcendent experience? What would inspire such disturbing behavior, particularly from someone who’d been the image of space-worthy perfection? By 34, Lucy Cola (Natalie Portman) has achieved her every dream and has to find a new dream. None of this stuff is easy to navigate. And, you know, she spirals out a bit, which is human. Lucy is a strong woman whose determination and drive as an astronaut take her to space, where she’s deeply moved by the transcendent experience of seeing her life from afar. As astronaut Lucy floats alone in the vastness of space, the blue marble of 'Earth' reflecting in her eyes, she’s overcome with wonder and awe. Precious few ever behold the planet from this perspective. Lucy senses the majestic enormity and relative insignificance all at once. She's an astronaut whose penchant for excellence earns her a coveted spot in the tight-knit boy's club at 'NASA'. But after realizing her dream of going to space, Lucy’s everyday Earthly existence suddenly feels stiflingly small. Back home as Lucy’s world suddenly feels too small, her connection with reality slowly unravels. Laser-focused on training for her next mission, her life slowly falls apart as she loses touch with what’s real, and what’s really important. That adjustment of having gone up to see the celestial everything and then you come back and go to 'Applebee’s', it’s a very weird transition that seems really interesting. Studies show astronauts can experience personality changes and a feeling of disconnection, and even cellular changes, after spending time in space. For Lucy Cola, that mental unraveling leads her to frantically drive across the country to confront a former lover Drew Cola (Dan Stevens) and his new girlfriend Kate Mounier (Tig Notaro). It's a story of a brilliant and determined woman nearly undone by her own dreams. The film has three main settings; outer space, 'NASA' headquarters and Lucy’s Texas home. Deep blues and crisp whites denote space; a dash of vivid red and yellow set things apart at 'NASA'; while Lucy’s Earthly life is rich with natural hues of green and brown. As she begins to go a bit mad, the colors brighten. So that when the movie goes to a darker place emotionally, it doesn’t go to a darker place physically. At the beginning of the movie Lucy wants success, to be happy for the fact that she got to do this and to want her to go back to space. The script focuses on Lucy and how her life on 'Earth' changes after seeing the planet from afar. The story is told from the perspective of the protagonist, who believes he has psychic abilities but may also be suffering from a mental illness. The film uses experimental visual techniques to convey Lucy’s mental state. One example is treating aspect ratio as a storytelling device, shrinking the frame when Lucy is on 'Earth' and broadening it when she’s in space. When she’s in space, we’re in our widest aspect ratio. But when she comes down, her world shrinks. As she dreams of and trains for her return to space, she gradually loses her personal tethers. Butterworth uses elements of magical realism to show Lucy’s grip on reality slipping. You’re in these crazy places telling these stories, and then you go home and you’re doing the school route and it’s kind of back to normal. The film explores her emotional experience. It’s really to try to get inside her state of mind. She’s facing the biggest questions of life because of this experience of being exposed to the vast nothingness of space. She’s confronting her relationships, her desires and her own major flaws. When you've to look at yourself in the mirror like that, it’s kind of the rawest human experience you can havet, o face your own ugliness. And literally the film uses the screen as a tool. We go down to a smaller aspect ratio, so suddenly she’s in a box. The intention is to make Lucy’s perspective feel deeply personal, even as she makes illogical and impulsive decisions. We're deeply related to the plight of an overachiever like Lucy. The story’s in a box. The film takes a little license and aesthetic liberty in order to create the perspective from Lucy’s eyes. We're in full widescreen when we’re in space, then when we’re on Earth, we shrink the box. Now the movie is literally more claustrophobic, and she’s living in a world that’s physically smaller. It’s a way to very clearly show the audience what the feeling is. When she’s at her freest and most comfortable, the frame will open up to 240 widescreen. And when she’s feeling more constrained, it closes down to 4:3. The 5:1 aspect ratio is a device that the film uses to show her isolation from the world at large. It helps to feel the difference in Lucy’s emotional state. Another innovative visual technique the film creates is the 'Infinite Zoom' in which character and background appear to move independent. A tiling technique that appears to stretch images to impossible dimensions. The approach is conceived to reflect Lucy’s emotional state when she learns that her grandmother is in the hospital. You know when you've a really traumatic event and you've to go somewhere, and you can’t really remember how you got there because it's all such a blur? So she’ll actually travel from her house to the hospital throughout the 'Infinite Zoom', and the shot continues to take her into her grandmother’s room at the end. The three most prominent relationships in Lucy’s life undergo dramatic changes after she returns from space, and each contributes to her decline. She begins an affair with her colleague Mark Goodwin (Jon Hamms), leaves her loyal husband Drew Cola (Dan Stevens), then loses her grandmother Nana Holbrook (Ellen Burstyn), the stalwart maternal figure in her life. Mark Goodwin, is the strapping, recently divorced astronaut whose flirtation with Lucy becomes an affair. Much more than the story being about a love triangle or a relationship, it’s really more about how we, as human beings, and especially as people that have seen 'The Earth' from a different perspective; have to adapt to that in our daily lives and how difficult that's. Mark has firsthand experience with how space flight can change one’s worldview. He’s about to go back up into space and he has his fears and doubts about it? How many times can you ride the rocket and survive? So there’s a certain self-destructiveness that he’s going through as well. Mark embodies the quintessential pilot trope; a tremendously confident, take-charge guy. There’s that kind of swagger that comes not only with that but being from Texas, and truly having the pressure of having people’s lives in your hands and needing to get the job done. In contrast to the swaggering astronaut is Lucy’s endearingly devoted, ever-supportive husband, Drew Cola. Drew is a faithful man in every sense, to his wife, to 'NASA' and to doing what’s right. And when Lucy goes off the rails and leaves him, that fundamentally rocks Drew and the world of his belief. Drew is the guy who has this sort of leather 'BlackBerry' holster, you know, a mustache. The rock in Lucy’s life is her Nana, a hard-drinking, tough-minded woman. Nana raised Lucy to be hard-working, responsible and diligent. Lucy has an ingrained resilience and strength that's endowed from her grandmother. She's someone who's always told by her grandmother that she would have to work harder than everybody else. And she did, and it takes her to space. It’s kind of no-nonsense, no-frills. Get the job done. Lucy develops an unexpected connection with another female astronaut, Erin Eccles, (Zazie Beetz). The character is a role, sort of, in Lucy’s disintegration of self. Initially poised to be adversaries, the two women develop a more nuanced relationship throughout the film. There’s also a point of a deeper rivalry that can exist, too, if there’s a feeling that there can only be one of us and there are so few spots on upcoming missions. It's more of a mentorship than a catfight. Because we don’t need to see that, and it’s not really what this is about. Another key relationship in Lucy’s life is with her 16-year-old niece Blue Iris (Pearl Amanda Dickson), who serves as a grounding reality-check. As Lucy’s world falls apart, Blue Iris is dragged along on this adventure in a way that allows us to see her journey through somebody else’s eyes. We’re watching a little bit of a train wreck with what’s happening with Lucy, and Blue Iris has this beautiful observational quality about her. Magical realism is the subjective experience that Lucy goes through on her return to Earth. An otherworldly feel through narrative metaphors, like the chrysalis-to-butterfly theme throughout the film, along with experimental camerawork and subtle image shifts that correspond with Lucy’s emotional trajectory. The idea of magical realism is you've to create reality in a way that’s completely realistic and familiar to people. Then when you take these magical turns, these slightly surreal turns, they've real impact. Much of the magic in the magical realism comes through creative camera techniques, including two experimental approaches developed specifically for the film. It's important to bring together all of these technical elements of magical realism the audience is able to go into Lucy’s mind and experience her distorted reality as she does. It really helps us to understand, through metaphors, what she’s experiencing and the struggles she’s going through. When you spend a year in space, every single thing that you do demands constant focus, because if you don’t, you die or someone on your team dies or something catastrophic happens. You get home and you’re completely drained, and it takes a little while to kind of ramp back up into just living a normal life where you’re not hyper-focused. The human experience is kind of always searching; searching for meaning, searching for who you're, searching for relationships with other people. The transportation captain is a woman. We've a female grip! It’s a female-centric film. In a scenario where the guys with the right stuff, you know, typically have been really daring and done kind of crazy and courageous things, and that’s what makes them fit to be astronauts. And a woman with the same kind of behavior might be called erratic or crazy, where the guys get high-fived for it. It’s a story in which a woman ends up doing things that ordinary people might look down on or judge her for. Because it’s very easy to root for people when they’re making good choices. It’s harder when they’re making bad choices. But that’s exactly the moment when they need empathy the most. The film takes this sort of feminist road, as it explores how gender stereotypes may have affected personnel relations and opportunities at 'NASA'. 'The New York Times' recently reported about the particular challenges female astronauts face at 'NASA' even today as the organization prepares for another moon landing in 2024.