Each year, social media and online film communities spend an inordinate amount of time trying to predict the Oscars, from which film will take home Best Picture, to obscure categories like Best Documentary Short and everything in between. Naturally here at Fernby Films we also like to throw the dice onto the craps table of Academy glory, so without further ado, here’s our selection on who’ll win what in today’s ceremony.
One of the most unedifying phrases used by modern critics in their attempts to belittle cinematic blockbusters these days is “fan-fiction”. Most recently used to describe JJ Abrams’ The Force Awakens: “it was little more than big-budget fan-fiction”, et al, the phrase has become about as useless an epithet to write as it is to listen to, and if you sit and think about it, it’s hideously disingenuous.
This week, film website Flickering Myth published an article by Anghus Houvouras entitled “Can We All Just Admit Star Wars: The Force Awakens Was Kinda Terrible?” and, reading it several times, can we all just admit that that article was all kinds of terrible? It’s the kind of clickbait headline sensationalism designed to grab views and provide a “heated” discussion about the flaws and successes of JJ Abrams reboot of the Star Wars universe post-Lucas. In it, Mr Houvouras claims Awakens to be a “passionless, unoriginal mess” and while I’m usually loathe to dissect another person’s views about a cultural behemoth such as Star Wars, the article angered me so much due largely to faulty, facetious reasoning, in what appears at first blush to be some kind of against the grain hatred of anything that succeeds.
This article is written as a sidebar to, and companion piece for, Max Covill’s excellent treatise on the new Star Wars film, Rogue One, set to debut in cinemas this December. In his article, which you can read over on FilmSchoolRejects, Max breaks down the possible troubles the film may have finding an audience, not the least of which is audience unfamiliarity with the core characters (this isn’t a Skywalker film, and is set between Revenge Of The Sith and A New Hope, when the few remaining Jedi were all in hiding), as well as director Gareth Edwards’ potentially problematic directorial style with one of Disney’s highest profile IP’s.
One of the great truisms in all things cultural – music, television, literature or film – is to always leave your audience wanting more. Starting From Now creator, director and writer Julie Kalceff has achieved just that: the final season of her acclaimed and award winning lesbian-themed web series ends with a resounding high, giving closure to the ups-and-downs of the four central characters’ arcs and providing a nice send-off for fans. And there’s a lot of fans.
If you’re a serious film fan you’ll have noticed during the week the announcement by Lionsgate, the studio behind the Young Adult franchise Divergent, that the fifth and final film in the saga, Ascendant, would skip the planned 2017 cinematic release and become either a television movie/series, or at best a Direct-To-DVD release. Keep in mind, the first film in the Divergent series raked in nearly $300m in US box office off the back of an $85m budget, not bad for a film series in which nobody actually knows what the hell is going on. Embarrassingly for Lionsgate, the dwindling interest in the Divergent franchise, and its subsequent stumble into the less prestigious arena of television (hah), indicates a malaise not just with that series of films but the Young Adult genre overall.
Last fall we learned that Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese would be teaming up once again to create a film that will no doubt be the talk of Hollywood when it’s finally released. This time around it’s Devil In The White City, an adaptation of Erik Larson’s novel about the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and the infamous serial killer who plagued it. DiCaprio will reportedly be assuming the role of Dr. H. H. Holmes (the serial killer) in what could be one of his most fascinating character projects yet.
Most agree by this point that DiCaprio is among the more talented and accomplished actors in Hollywood, and it’s probably both a cause and a result of this that’s led him to play an amazing array of characters over the years. Those who have read Larson’s work will be expecting a villain for the ages when this next film surfaces, but in the meantime let’s take a look back. Not necessarily at Leo’s best performances, but at the most amazing people he’s played when he’s delved into history and literature.
2016 has dealt us all some pretty brutal news for the first half, specifically relating to the untimely passing of many a cinema or musical celebrity. I write this piece off the back of Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin, who, at only 27 and with a full career of terrific movies ahead of him, was crushed to death by his own vehicle in the driveway of his home in one of the year’s most tragic and unexpected losses.
Throughout the history of motion pictures, films have lived or died by their performance at the box-office. Only in relatively recent times, with the advent of the home movie market, has Hollywood tapped into a goldmine of marketing opportunities and fandom-based niche elements. Perhaps none moreso than the ubiquitous “Director’s Cut”: a version of a popular film featuring another pass by the director and, usually, adding more footage to expand on narrative elements otherwise missing from the version screened in cinemas – the theatrical version.