FILM PREVIEW OF COCO (Opening November 2017)

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

cocoCoco follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel who sets off a chain of events relating to a century-old mystery, leading to an extraordinary family reunion.

Directors: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina
Writers: Adrian Molina, Lee Unkrich (based on an original idea by)
Stars: Alanna Ubach, Benjamin Bratt, Gael García Bernal

Review by Gilbert Seah

This morning (Friday 23rd June, 2017) at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, film critics were treated to a delicious breakfast and presentation preview of Disney Pixar’s latest animated feature COCO to open coming November.

Coco is a 3D computer-animated fantasy adventure film based on an original idea by Lee Unkrich. The film is directed by Unkrich, and co-directed and written by Adrian Molina.

The plot involves a 12-year old Miguel (voiced by newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) whose family has banned music as his great, great grandfather had left his family to become a great musician. Despite his family’s generation-old ban on music, Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the Land of the Dead. The Festival of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico for the time when the dead crosses the border to be with the living. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) and together they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.

The presentation was supposed to be presented by the film’s two directors and Academy Award-winning producer Darla K. Anderson. But Lee Unkrich had to stay behind to finish the film, so co-director Molina and Anderson were left, but they did deliver an awesome presentation.

The presentation began by showing the first 10 minutes of COCO’s opening, where the history of his family and the ban of music originated. The last part of the piece is still not coloured and shown in storyboard form. But one cannot mistake the magic of Disney, present throughout the 10 minutes. The finished product will undoubtedly be something unforgettable.

Other clips include Coco at the singing competition and another with Coco and his pal, Hector in the Land of the Dead. The common thread in all of these is the magnificent colour palette that makes COCO standout among other Pixar features.

Besides clips from the film, there is a clip that showed Disney staff surprising Anthony Gonzalez that he got the part for voicing Miguel. This clip shows the family atmosphere of Disney that makes the Studio great.

Co-director Molina’s mother is Mexican, so he bring a lot of his own heritage into the film. A troupe of COCO’s filmmakers also travelled and stayed in Mexico for a time, according to what was said during he presentation.

The presentation concluded with a Question and Answer section with the critics – nothing to write home about, since us critics are not the most imaginative people alive, questions or what not.

COCO opens in November and is certainly going to be an event to watch out for. Do click on the link below to watch the trailer for COCO.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlnPHQ3TLX8

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
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Film Review: BABY DRIVER (USA 2017) *** 1/2

Festival Reviews

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baby driver.jpgAfter being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.

Director: Edgar Wright
Writer: Edgar Wright
Stars: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James

Review by Gilbert Seah
 
The most ambitious and most expensive of the Edgar Wright movies (SHAUN OF THE DEAD, HOT FUZZ) , BABY DRIVER sees the Brit director working in a big budget Hollywood movie for the first time. The film is a car chase comedy crime caper with romance tied in for good measure.

The title derives from the name of the getaway car driver – Baby. A young and talented getaway driver named Baby (Ansel Elgort) relies on the personal beat of his preferred soundtrack, to be the best in the world of crime, as music heightens his…

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Film Review: BABY DRIVER (USA 2017) *** 1/2

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

baby driver.jpgAfter being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.

Director: Edgar Wright
Writer: Edgar Wright
Stars: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James

Review by Gilbert Seah
 
The most ambitious and most expensive of the Edgar Wright movies (SHAUN OF THE DEAD, HOT FUZZ) , BABY DRIVER sees the Brit director working in a big budget Hollywood movie for the first time. The film is a car chase comedy crime caper with romance tied in for good measure.

The title derives from the name of the getaway car driver – Baby. A young and talented getaway driver named Baby (Ansel Elgort) relies on the personal beat of his preferred soundtrack, to be the best in the world of crime, as music heightens his focus and reflexes to extreme levels. A car accident as a child killed both his parents, and left him with permanent tinnitus, which he blocks out using music. He is preferred as a getaway driver by Doc (Kevin Spacey), a mastermind organizer of bank robberies and other high-earning heists.

Baby’s love interest is Debora (Lily James). Baby’s foster father is black and wheel chair ridden. These two people in Baby’s life are targets when Baby refuses in any way to comply with Doc or his crime partners. His main crime partners are Buddy (Jon Hamm), his girlfriend, Darling (Eiza Gonzalez) and Bats (Jamie Foxx). Baby has no problem performing the heists unless a killing is involved.

The car chases have to be good in a film about a getaway car driver. The audience is shown a sample of these in the opening scene. There are a total of three main car chases and these are expertly edited by Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss. One of the most important components of a car chase on screen is its continuity. This is what made Peter Yates’ BULLITT (with Steve McQueen) and William Friedkin’s THE FRENCH CONNECTION two films best remembered for their car chases. Thankfully, Wright’s film falls into this category, him relying less on computer graphics than the real thing.

Ansel Elgort, young and looking fresh for this movie is good as the dancing driver. Kevin Spacey delivers a straight-face performance reminiscent of his Oscar winning performance in AMERICAN BEAUTY. Of the cast. Joe Hamm is also memorable, being cast against type as a hardened criminal ready to kill for revenge.

As Baby relies on listening to is preferred songs on his iPod, the film also requires a good soundtrack of equivalent songs that should drive the audience. Surprisingly, Wright only offers the audience samples. The audiences is for example, told of Baby’s song by Queen when driving for the final heist, but they never get to listen to the full song. Similarly for the segments when Baby is dancing to music, the music is silent and baby is shown with his dance moves to no music. It can be argued as a case of less leading the audience to wanting more.

I am not a true Edgar Wright fan. Though I have enjoyed his films, I think SHAUN OF THE DEAD and HOT FUZZ, are over-rated and I did not like THE WORLD’S END that had sloppy writing with inaccuracy in details. This makes BABY DRIVER Wright’s best movie.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2z857RSfhk

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

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Film Review: 47 METRES DOWN (UK 2017) ***1/2

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

47 meters downTwo sisters vacationing in Mexico are trapped in a shark cage at the bottom of the ocean. With less than an hour of oxygen left and great white sharks circling nearby, they must fight to survive.

Director: Johannes Roberts
Writers: Johannes Roberts, Ernest Riera
Stars: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Matthew Modine

Review by Gilbert Seah

47 METRES DOWN, directed by Johannes Roberts and written by Roberts and Ernest Riera is a British horror thriller adventure about two sisters stuck in a shark cage 47 metres under the sea. There is nothing British about the film that can be noticed. The lead actor, Mandy Moore is American and her sister is played by Australian Claire Holt losing her Aussie accent. The only hint at British is the film’s title or it would be called 47 (or the equivalent in conversion) Feet Down.

The story follows sisters Lisa (Moore) and Kate (Holt) on vacation in Mexico. Lisa’s boyfriend has broken up with her because “she made the relationship boring”. While drinking and dancing at 1:00 a.m, they meet up with some local men who tell them about cage diving with sharks. Lisa is reluctant but Kate convinces her to come along. The men arrive and talk to Captain Taylor (Matthew Modine). The girls follow and both lie about being experienced divers even though only Kate knows how to dive. While under water, the winch breaks and the cage plummets below. Their oxygen slowly runs out while they fight against time and the sharks to be rescued with a spare winch.

Moore and Holt keep their characters in focus – balancing humour and terror. Matthew Modine, now in his fifties, still looks charming as Captain Taylor.
Roberts keeps his film exciting from start to finish with a solid pace that never lets up. The first time the full body of a shark is seen is when it suddenly appears a third through the film, swallowing the camera the girl dropped from the cage. The ending contains a twist that will surprise. The film is never short of scary set-ups. After the broken winch is fixed, the rope breaks. Roberts also knows how scary it can be in a dark scary sea where one cannot see the light from the surface or the ocean floor. Being lost underwater is much scarier than being lost in space. The film’s best and scariest scene is Kate swimming with a flashlight in the dark waters with nothing in sight but darkness.

The lean script omits details. Nothing is known of the sisters’ background, where they work or which American city they come from, except for mention of Lisa’s never seen boyfriend.

Why would two girls want to under extreme danger in a shark cage? The script spends time explaining the reason. One is that Lisa needs to prove to herself that she is not as boring as her boyfriend. The second is Kate insisting that they have a good time together and the third is the attraction of seeing sharks up close. The fascination is heightened in a scene where sharks go on a feeding frenzy devouring a bucket full of bloody fish parts.

The film is sufficiently cheesy to be fun. The skimpy costumes, the stereotyped locals and the clear ocean waters and white beaches are what can be expected
On the business side, the $5 million lean production has already grossed more than $13 million after the first week of release.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddYSGGJAKOk
 

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
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Film Review: NOWHERE TO HIDE (Sweden/Norway/Iraq 2016) ***

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

nowhere to hide.jpg“Nowhere to Hide” follows a man – the medic and father Nori Sharif – through 5 years of dramatic change in the war-torn Diyala-province.

Director: Zaradasht Ahmed
Writer: Zaradasht Ahmed
Stars: Abu Fallah, Hans Husum, Mudhafar

Review by Gilbert Seah

At the start of the film the director films Nori Sharif, a 13-year veteran male nurse working at the Central Iraqi hospital. Nori is offered a camera to shoot what life among his people are like after the Americans have left Iraq (in 2011), and the people left to rule themselves.

Despite Nori Sharif’s first time behind the camera, what unfolds is a very disturbing yet true picture of the sufferings of his people.

NOWHERE TO HIDE follows the medic and father Nori Sharif – through 5 years of dramatic change in the war-torn Diyala-province; one of the most dangerous provinces in the middle of Iraq. From the time of the American retreat to the fall of Nori’s home town, the audience learn stories of survivors. In a world trapped between ISIS and the different Iraqi Militias, his integrity and humanitarian vision is the only thing that drives him to continue against all odds. All this occur in one of the worlds most dangerous and inaccessible areas – the “triangle of death” in Central Iraq. The triangle of death was made famous in the Jonah Hill film WAR DOGS.

The Americans have invaded Iraq. The Americans have left Iraq. Yet there is always a war going on and people blown up and injured. The big question being asked as the film rolls on is what the war or wars are all about – who is fighting whom and how did it all get started. It is obvious from the film that the people, especially the ones featured here in Central Iraq suffer much more since the Americans have left. The question is finally posed one third through the film with Nori and a white medic talking about it. The answer is clearly that no one knows. All they can say is that it is always one tribe fighting another and the fighting tribes change very year or so. Without finding the source of the fighting, no solution can be easily sought.

One disturbing scene is the aftermath of a car bomb. The car is burnt to bits with the camera showing every burnt section it. This is done by a sticky bomb, the audience learns, the size of a cell phone that was placed behind the driver’s seat. Fortunately the driver saw it thus saving his own and children’s lives. Another scene has a surviving suicide bomber brought to the hospital without limbs, after blown away by the bomb.

NOWHERE TO HIDE is as the title implies, the dilemma of the Iraqis as they have nowhere to go. It only underlines the fact of how fortunate most of are to be living in a peaceful country like Canada, while making us wonder what we can do to help the situation of these people.

The film has so far a good number of awards around the world like the – Best Feature Documentary at IDFA and the Best Documentary at One World Human Rights Film Festival.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/190076830

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
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Film Review: THE BEGUILED (USA 2017) ***1/2

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

the beguiled.jpgAt a girls’ school in Virginia during the Civil War, where the young women have been sheltered from the outside world, a wounded Union soldier is taken in. Soon, the house is taken over with sexual tension, rivalries, and an unexpected turn of events.

Director: Sofia Coppola
Writers: Sofia Coppola (written for the screen by), Thomas Cullinan (novel)
Stars: Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning

Review by Gilbert Seah

THE BEGUILED is the new 2017 American period drama remake of the well-known 1971 Clint Eastwood Don Siegel collaboration. Written and directed now by a woman Sofia Coppola (daughter of Francis Ford Coppola) famous for her strong female films like THE VIRGIN SUICIDES and LOST IN TRANSLATION, the film arrives with lots of accolades since winning her the Best Director Prize at Cannes this year, making her the second woman director ever to win the prestigious award.

Cineastes and film critics would definitely be very eager to watch this film. Three main reasons for can be sited. The first is that THE BEGUILED is a new film by Sofia Coppola who is a definite presence in current film. Her new work is always something to look forward to. As the Don Siegel directed original was very all received critically, it would be very interesting to compare the differences between the two films, differences attributed to one film made with a strong feminine value and the original directed by a top action director with his top actions star (Eastwood). The new version also updates the political correctness. Thirdly, the new film boasts an impressive cast that includes Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Colin Farrell, the latter complete with full Irish accent in the Eastwood role.

THE BEGUILED is based on the novel The Beguiled (originally published as A Painted Devil) by Thomas P. Cullinan. Coppola’s film holds the same story though it removes the character of Haille, present in the 1971 version. Haille is a black slave that was taken to the soldier’s fascination. Set during the middle of the American Civil War 1860’s, injured Union soldier John McBurney (Colin Farrell) is rescued from the verge of death by 12 year-old Amy (Oona Lawrence), a student at an all-girl boarding school in the south, the Miss Martha Farnsworth Seminary for Young Ladies. Martha (Nicole Kidman) reluctantly agrees to take him in until he has built up his health, under the condition that he is locked in the music room and kept under watch. Both Edwina (Dunst), the schoolteacher, takes an immediate liking to John, as does Carol (Fanning), a teenage student. Female jealousies are aroused leading to a terrible climax.

Siegel was an action director and his film is more violent than Coppola’s. When McBurney’s leg is amputated, he is given wine in Siegel’s film while given chloroform in Coppola’s. The former is almost brutally unwatachable. Also in Siegel’s film, McBurney is hit by a candlestick before falling down the stairs while McBurney is pushed down the stairs in the latter.

In Coppola’s film, the soldier is not the main character trying to survive but now become the object of the females fantasies while the females become the main characters in the story. The outcome of the soldier remains the same.
THE BEGUILED is rich in period atmosphere with an authentic feel of the confusion of the civil war. Coppola’s updated version is absorbing, terrifying and well-directed piece of work deserving her of the Best Director’s prize at Cannes.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBoLK5z_FHo
 

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

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Film Review: LADY MACBETH (UK 2016) ***

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

lady macbeth.jpgSet in 19th century rural England, young bride who has been sold into marriage to a middle-aged man discovers an unstoppable desire within herself as she enters into an affair with a worker on her estate.

Director: William Oldroyd
Writers: Nikolai Leskov (based on the novel by), Alice Birch (screenplay)
Stars: Florence Pugh, Christopher Fairbank, Cosmo Jarvis

Review by Gilbert Seah

LADY MACBETH is not based on the Shakespearean play. It is a 2016 British drama film based on the novel “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District” by Nikolai Leskov.

The setting is the year 1865 in rural England, when a young woman, Catherine (Florence Pugh), is in a loveless marriage to an older man, Alexander. They live with Alexander’s father, Boris (Christopher Fairbank), and Catherine is forced to maintain a strict schedule and prevented from leaving the house. Boris scolds Catherine for not carrying out her conjugal duties but Alexander (Paul Hilton) shows no physical interest in her. As Alexander tells Catherine at one point in the film: “My father bought you along with the piece of land not fit for a cow to graze upon.”

One day both Boris and Alexander have to leave the estate for separate business matters, and Catherine is left alone with the housemaid, Anna (Naomi Ackie), and is free to explore the area to alleviate her boredom. One day she discovers Anna being suspended from the ground in an outhouse by the men who work on the land. She is attracted to one of them, Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis), and the next day deliberately encounters him on the land. The affair that begins causes Catherine to take matters into her own hands for her own good.

The idea of mistreated wife, especially by her in-laws during an arranged marriage has always been favourite film fodder, (my fondest film on the subject being Deepa Metha’s HEAVEN ON EARTH). In LADY MACBETH, matters are made worse when she
falls in love with one of her husband’s workers at the estate and the father-in-law finds out.
One of the most satisfying things about the film is watching Catherine’s personality change from tied abused wife to Lady of the House to the ultimate devil. Once her husband and father-in-law are away and she left alone, her true nature slowly emerges. The scene where this occurs when she makes her stance against her workers shirking their duties is one of the film’s best segments. But the film is not without other prized set-ups.

Cruelty prevails in the rich estate in rural England. Catherine’s lover is flogged and locked up. Class structure is prevalent. Catherine is bound by duty and class. Only when her sexual desires are aroused that she is able to break free from the imposed prison set up by the society and structure of the times.

Director is playful with the relationship between Catherine and her black maid. When brushing her hair, the maid Anna does in extremely hard causing Catherine pain, as Anna also does when pulling her girdle tight or scrubbing her back in the bath. What are Anna’s motives? Is Anna getting back at her mistress or is she somehow trying to show some power over her mistress? At times, Anna smiles kindly at her mistress and at other times, Catherine has to ask her: “What is wrong with you?”
LADY MACBETH premiered last year at the Toronto International Film Festival. It has so far garnered favourable reviews, this one included. A deliciously enjoyable wicked period piece that even males will enjoy when watching the fairer sex dominate.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Z0N8ULhuUA

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com