May 22

"X-Men: Dark Phönix" written by Gregory Mann



(Release Info London schedule; June 5th, 2019, Odeon Luxe, 22-24 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7LQ, United Kingdom, 11:45 AM, 18:00 PM)



"X-Men: Dark Phönix"



From director Simon Kinberg comes the most radical 'X-Men' film ever made. "X-Men: Dark Phönix" tells the iconic story of Jean Grey’s (Sophie Turner) transformation from gifted mutant into the most powerful force in the universe. The culmination of a superhero saga nearly two decades in the making, the spectacular new blockbuster is part science-fiction thriller, part character-driven drama, posing intriguing questions about identity and destiny. During a life-threatening mission to outer space, Jean Grey is nearly killed when she absorbs a cosmic entity that leaves her with powers far beyond anything she or any other mutant has ever possessed. Once she returns home to Earth, she struggles with these near-godlike abilities, but the force inside her is too overwhelming to contain. Spiraling out of control, Jean hurts the ones she loves most. Her actions tear 'The X-Men' apart, and the heroes find themselves deeply compromised at a time when they must face their most dangerous enemy yet; one of their own. The emotional story of a divided hero, a divided family and a divided world.

When "X-Men: Dark Phönix" opens, it’s 1992. "The X-Men", now widely beloved superheroes who enjoy celebrity status, are called upon by 'The U.S. Government' to save imperiled astronauts whose mission has gone horribly wrong. Over the objections of Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), the team climbs into 'The X-Jet' and heads out on a life-threatening rescue mission. Among the stars, a mysterious cosmic entity targets Jean Grey, overwhelming her body and, at first, appearing to claim her life. When she does awaken, Jean initially feels strong, recharged. But back on Earth, she begins to realize that she’s attained powers beyond her understanding, or her control. As she uncovers long-held secrets about her past, truths kept from her by Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), she becomes increasingly destructive, lashing out at those closest to her in paroxysms of anger and despair. What happens with Jean when she comes back from space is that she has a power she can’t control inside of her, and it’s escalating and intensifying everything inside Jean, which can unleash or liberate aspects of her personality. That’s power, emotion and rage, and that’s passion. Desperate to help Jean regain her equilibrium, Raven reaches out to her as a mentor and friend. But Jean turns her fury on Raven, killing her. That shocking event rips apart 'The X-Men'; some of the mutants insist that they must go to any lengths to save their friend, while others believe they need to stop her before any more lives are lost.

At it's core, this is a tale of a woman struggling with her personal demons, and only the love of her family, 'The X-Men', can save her soul, and the world. The thing about the Jean Grey's story is that she’s not a villain, but she’s not a superhero who’s going to save the world and everything’s fine. She’s one of the few characters that’s very tormented and broken. There’s a realism to her, it’s painful and her experiences remind you of mental illness. It’s not too fantastical for people to comprehend. There’s no black or white with her, it’s a very gray area. It’s a struggle that’s very true to a lot of people and that’s why people love her. This film is a much more thorough investigation and much truer to Jean as a character. This feels very different, with a different tone and a different sense of cinematic style that's appropriately suited to the story. The character essentially becomes schizophrenic, starts to lose her identity and ultimately it coalesces into two identities, which is Jean, who’s getting smaller and weaker, and 'Phoenix', who’s becoming stronger and stronger.

Charles Xavier is the leader of 'The X-Men' and the inadvertent catalyst behind Jean’s transformation. When the film opens, Charles is relishing his privileged status as the leader of the mutants; something he enjoys, Raven rightly points out, even though he’s rarely the one on the frontlines. He’s a guy who lives in a mansion, who doesn’t leave that mansion and throws a whole lot of other people in harm’s way, many of them who are quite young. The film examines that and problematize that. There’s an ego attached to that and a very patriarchal, paternalistic quality to it. We live in an age now where that doesn’t go without notice, and it has gone without notice for decades of the comic book and for now two decades of the movies. Charles in this movie, he starts to believe his own hype. He’s on the cover of 'Time Magazine'. He's very much the public face of 'The X-Men', he’s congratulated for all their work. He’s the guy on the red carpets, shaking hands with presidents. He's very much like a father who loves his children and believes that they're capable of anything.

That all sounds positive, but the downside of it's that, if they don’t achieve everything, if they fall short of the very lofty expectations the world and Charles has put on his team, he feels that somehow reflects badly on him. When Charles ignores Raven’s misgivings about the interstellar rescue mission and sends the team into space, Jean’s fate is sealed. What’s more, when she learns that Charles has erected barriers in her mind to protect her from painful truths about her past, she feels deeply betrayed, further fueling her violent leanings. She comes back to Earth with a nagging curiosity and desire to find these missing parts of her life that Charles has hidden from her. When she realizes what he’s done, there’s a sentiment of justified righteous anger there; instead of allowing her to process a difficult childhood, Charles disrespected her by locking her memories away. When that trauma reemerges, it galvanizes that dark power within her. Those events lead directly to the confrontation that result in Raven’s demise.

Raven is the one who’s most willing to confront Charles and his belief system and peel away the veneer a little bit. Raven is the character who first seizes on that idea of his hubris, is the first to challenge him about it, and subsequently, she’s the one who’s sacrificed. Her very alarms are part of what propel her forward to reach out to Jean and that's part of what leads to her death. Losing Raven devastates Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), who turns against his mentor, Charles, and is determined to seek revenge. He’s lost his soulmate. That takes Hank to a very different place than we’ve ever seen him in any of the other movies. He’s filled with this rage and desire for revenge to kill Jean for what she did. It's crucial to telling 'The Dark Phönix' story properly and to set up the conflict between Charles and Hank and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender). Erik and Hank had both had romantic relationships with Raven. For Charles, she's like a sister to him. Killing her has the greatest impact emotionally on the most characters. What that does for the audience is indicate that anything can happen. Nobody is safe.

Smith (Jessica Chastain), an alien in human disguise who covets the force that has amplified Jean’s already extraordinary abilities, soon takes Jean under her wing, becoming a very different sort of mentor than either Raven or Charles ever were. She encourages Jean to act on her dark impulses, to subjugate the lesser beings around her. The character’s end goal? To rid the planet of human life, paving the way for her alien race to inhabit Earth as their new home. She’s 1,000 times smarter than anyone on this planet. She comes to the planet, explores mankind, realizes that, in her mind, they’re bacteria. They’re a cancer. Not only are they a harm to themselves, they’re a harm to the planet. They consume everything with greed. She realizes she needs to eliminate the bacteria. She doesn’t see it as malicious. It’s not something she does based on revenge. It’s something she does for the good, in her mind, of all. It's finally time for an' X-Men' movie to have a female lead. After nearly 20 years, "X-Men: Dark Phönix" is squarely focused on the journey of Jean Grey and the women who surround her including Raven and Smith, a villainous new presence who encourages Jean to abandon her humanity and give in to her darkest urges.

Jean goes back to the modest street to solve a mystery about her past, but the trip becomes the site of an explosive standoff between Jean and 'The X-Men', resulting in Raven’s untimely death. One of the favorite sets is Jean’s neighborhood. It’s six small houses with a little bend at the end and a rickety bridge. Each house has a different identity created for the people that live in it; there’s the fisherman, the truck driver, the angry married couple. The neighborhood street is constructed entirely from the ground up. The film creates a neighborhood that's very lower-middle class. There's a bridge to show that people drive by, but they don’t stop there. At the other end of it, there's a field of electrical devices with pylons and towers and wires. All the houses are prebuilt in the shop, and the film assembles them on site. 'The Community' is about an hour outside of downtown Montreal. It’s a refuge for mutants who don’t have anywhere else to go. It has a classic commune vibe; people living off the grid, being self-sufficient. That tranquility is interrupted when Jean arrives, seeking Erik’s counsel on how best to manage her newly acquired powers in the wake of Raven’s death.

'The Dark Phoenix' side of her is enjoying hurting people, enjoying this violence, and she thinks that Erik might feel some kinship to that. She comes to seek permission of a sort. But of course, Erik’s history is a lot different. He partakes in violence because of a vengefulness that’s in him. It’s not that he gets much satisfaction out of it. When the authorities trace Jean to 'Genosha', the refuge becomes the site of a battle of wills between Erik and Jean, and Erik is stunned to see the full range of Jean’s abilities. The sequence includes what's essentially a psychic tug of war over a military helicopter, much of which is staged practically. 'The Phoenix' effect shows up in many different forms and many different levels of intensity. The first little hints of 'The Phoenix' effect are quite subtle. Toward the end of the film, when 'The Phoenix' effect is in full force, it’s much, much bigger. It affects Jean's skin, it affects her eyes, it affects really all aspects of her emotions. It also affects the air around her quite considerably. There are shock wave-type components. There are particle components. There are smoke and fire and flames, almost an internal lava effect. There are a lot of pieces to it that come together to create 'The Final Phoenix' effect. But it’s all tied with Jean’s emotion.

As 'The X-Men' struggle to come to terms with what Jean’s done, with what she’s become, allegiances are fractured and new alliances formed. But in the end, to save both Jean Gray and the galaxy, 'The X-Men' must find a way to set aside their differences and work together for a common cause. "Dark Phönix" asks profound, primal questions; if you love someone, at what point do you let them go? Or do you hold onto them forever, at all costs, even at your own peril? There's something about the splitting apart, then the coming back together, of the family of 'The X-Men' that hopefully offers an optimistic message about our ability to survive and unify through the most extraordinary and shattering challenges. Whether it’s the surrogate families that we build in our lives or the real families we've in our lives, it’s the coming together that makes us strong. The goal is always to create a bolder, edgier, more intense, more emotional 'X-Men' film, one that's far more character-driven and deeply human than any that had come before.

What do you do when the person you love becomes the world’s greatest threat? It’s the question at the heart of one of the most enduring storylines in the decades-long history of 'The X-Men' comic books, 'The Dark Phoenix' saga. Written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by John Byrne in 1980, the story in many ways represents the ultimate 'X-Men' tale. Jean Grey is transformed into a force that not even her mutant family can comprehend. She becomes an outsider among outsiders, a being beyond the reach of even those closest to her. 'The Dark Phoenix' saga is one of the most beloved of 'The X-Men' series in it's long lineage, primarily because it’s not a story where you've heroes and villains, black and white. It's important to tell 'The Dark Phoenix' saga on the big screen in a way that truly do justice to it's distinguished legacy. The 2006 film included aspects of 'The Dark Phoenix' story, but more than 10 years on, the time is right for a darker, grittier, much more faithful adaptation that serves as a capstone to nearly two decades of superhero filmmaking. 2016’s "X-Men: Apocalypse" told a disaster story writ large with elaborate set pieces and eye-popping special effects, which left less time for exploring the ever-evolving relationships among the mutants. By that point, 'The X-Men Franchise' has progressed to a place where the series could easily accommodate something less stylized and more daring; comic book movies as a genre also has proved time and again that they could serve up substantive themes and compelling character work inside mass entertainments.

Who are we? Are we simply what others want us to be? Are we destined to a fate beyond our control? Or can we evolve, become something more? This movie’s very different from the previous 'X-Men' movies. The source material is different from the other 'X-Men' comics that we’ve drawn upon in the past. It’s more psychologically complex and emotionally volatile. The emotions it gets into are rawer than a lot of the other 'X-Men' comics. What's most intriguing and why this story has spoken to so many people is that on a very human level, it’s about someone you love starting to unravel psychologically. What happens when people lose themselves in real life is that their loved ones hold on and want to help or save them. Sometimes you get dragged down with them and there are others who, at a certain point, give up on them. This movie is about that question of, when do you let go and give up on someone you love. "Dark Phönix" crafts an adventure that would offer a much more nuanced depiction of good and evil appropriate to our turbulent times. The film emphasizes the duality that can exist within the same person, the darkness and the light.

Just as "X-Men: Dark Phönix" is thematically and tonally different from all the previous 'X-Men' films, the look of the movie is equally distinct. After almost twenty years of making a certain style of 'X-Men' film, it's time for a change. This 'X-Men' movie feels more real, more relatable hopefully to audiences. The film is darker, not as colorful as the previous films. To that end, the film includes a great deal of handheld camerawork, a first for any installment in 'The X-franchise'. In previous 'X-Men' movies; and this is true for a fair amount of large-scale Hollywood movies and comic-book movies, they tend to use very smooth photography, crane moves and dolly moves, everything’s slick. Here, instead of the camera being still and the characters being the motion, the characters are moving, but the camera is also moving a little bit. The action is where the audience feels it most, but even in dialogue scenes, you’ll feel a bit of breath around the characters.

We’ve gotten to a place where audiences are ready for a disruptive, radical story where a good guy goes bad, where a hero loses control and becomes destructive, even homicidal. Comics, and even comic book moves, tend to tread in good guys and bad guys, heroes and villains. When the hero does something villainous or when a good guy does something bad, it’s shocking. You’re not sure what you’re rooting for. Right now, we’re living in a world that's a little upside-down politically and socially. Everything’s not as binary as it used to be. There’s not a lot of unity. Everybody feels like they’re splitting apart. A story about a character who's herself splitting apart, and as a result of that, is splitting apart the family of 'The X-Men', it feels very relevant.























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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.