Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"Men of Science Fiction Vol. 1" by Dennys Ilic to be released April 22

This coming Saturday April 22, Cinematic Pictures Publishing will launch their debut coffee table book, "Men of Science Fiction Vol. 1" by renowned celebrity photographer, Dennys Ilic.

The first volume in the "Men and Women of Science Fiction" series , which will have a red carpet launch in Hollywood this weekend, features 123 beautiful photos of some of the most famous and prolific stars of the science fiction genre today, including Edward James Olmos who graces the front cover.

Originally from Geelong in Victoria, Australia, Dennys Ilic says his new book series is a tribute to the genre he grew up admiring and being influenced by.

"Many of these role models have become dear friends and continue to inspire my pursuit and passion as a photographer. In "Men of Science Fiction", I wanted to create something beautiful that could touch the fans in a similar way" explains Ilic. "Something to be enjoyed by both aficionados of the science fiction as well as photography.”

"Men of Science Fiction Vol. 1" will feature exquisite photography from actors of sci-fi television shows and movies including "Battlestar Galactica", "Star Trek", "Hemlock Grove", "The Flash", "Arrow", "Stargate", "Supernatural", "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D", Avatar, "The Shannara Chronicles", "Sanctuary", World of Warcraft, "Falling Skies", "Caprica", Apollo 18, "Smallville", "Daredevil", Pacific Rim Uprising, Dirk Gently, Robot Overlords and I Am Number Four.

Attending the star-studded Hollywood launch on Saturday night will be Ilic himself, as well as Edward James Olmos (Blade Runner 2049, Blade Runner, Battlestar Galatica), executive producer Danny Cannon ("CSI: Crime Scene Investigation", "CSI: NY", "CSI: Miami", "Gotham"),  actor Christopher Heyerdahl (Twilight, "Van Helsing", Hell on Wheels), actor Colin Ferguson ("Eureka", The Opposite of Sex, "The Vampire Diaries"), director Steven S. DeKnight (Pacific Rim Uprising), actor Daniel Feuerriegel (Pacific Rim Uprising, "Spartacus: Blood and Sand", "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D", director T.J. Scott ("Gotham", "Orphan Black", "Bates Motel") and many more.

"Men of Science Fiction Vol. 1" is now available for pre-order here and is $59 +shipping.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Colossal (2017) film review

Year: 2017
Running Time: 110 minutes
Director/Writer: Nacho Vigalondo
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson

Colossal is now showing in cinemas everywhere and is distributed in Australia by Transmission Films.

Nacho Vigalondo's Colossal is a great success for what it represents and what is taking place behind the story as it unfolds on the screen. It is a genre-bending, original black comedy that is incredibly clever and challenges everything that it looks like it is at face value.

When Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is kicked out of her New York City apartment by her fed up boyfriend, Tim (Dan Stevens), she moves back to the quiet, uneventful town where she grew up. Things soon take an interesting turn when she is reunited with her childhood friend, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) and he offers her a job working in his bar. Even more interesting is when a Godzilla-like monster starts appearing, causing havoc and then quickly disappearing in South Korea...and even more intriguing is that this mysterious and catastrophic phenomenon seems to have something somehow to do with Gloria.

Colossal requires a complete suspension of disbelief for it to really work in the eye of the beholder due to the unrealistic nature of the story. Unfortunately, the screenplay is the enemy of the story as it is filled with holes and a whole load of unanswered questions remain at the end. Despite this sounding like all may well be lost with Colossal, it comes as a surprise that you can actually put these rather large faults aside and praise it for the things it gets so right.

On the surface, Colossal looks like just another apocalyptic monster film. Even though it has a rather mediocre execution thanks to the screenplay, it provides something different for the monster/sci-fi genre and it's originality is commendable. Nacho Vigalondo's story may have it's ridiculous moments, but it is ultimately entertaining, unpredictable and intriguing enough to captivate and keep you guessing. It is a quiet, indie film with underlying themes that plays alongside, but at the same time is removed from the blockbuster monster film. This contrast is completely unlike the typical formula we see in such a film and is a refreshing change. By creating this distance between the characters and the actual monster of the film, there is more freedom and opportunity to do something interesting and give the human protagonist more attention.

Colossal captures the nostalgic spirit of old school horror/monster films . These were the films that were set in picturesque small towns that hardly seem sinister to begin with and were as much about the human characters as they were the beast. This film is more about the human protagonists than the actual unnamed monster of the film.

Anne Hathaway, who very rarely puts in an uninspired performance these days, shines as Gloria, who undergoes a transformation during the film from being a broken woman to being extremely strong and capable of anything...clearly. At its core, Colossal is about bullying and how it can take effect on your life in the present and future. Hathaway's Gloria is not only a strong female presence, but the only female character (besides the younger version of herself played by Hannah Cheramy, who has a Drew Barrymore Firestarter moment) and without a doubt the most likable character in the film. She is surrounded by men who take advantage of her by abusing her while she is in her fragile state or are weak and are themselves unable to stand up to those who are bullying them.

Neither Jason Sudeikis nor Dan Stevens play particularly nice characters in Colossal and represent the original bully and the bully that Gloria allows into her life because of the first bully making her believe she doesn't deserve any better. The way the film progresses in regards to Gloria and Oscar is also surprising, as it does not take the usual turn that one would be expecting. When a male and female character meet in a film the way Gloria and Oscar do here in Colossal, it is expected it is to be part of the romantic subplot of the film. However, when it looks as though this is the direction things are heading in, the story is contorted so that it shocks everyone and takes on a completely new life. By the end of the film, the perfect quote that represents Gloria is that which is taken from William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream"......."Though she be but little, she is fierce"

Nacho Vigalondo has refused to abide by any of the rules of the Hollywood monster film genre with Colossal and it is glorious. It uses the genre only to tell an incredibly relevant human story and do so in a creative and thoroughly intriguing way.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Well done MTV...but are we ready for gender neutral awards?

On April 6, the nominations for the 2017 MTV Movie and TV Awards were announced with one glaring difference from other years and other award shows...the acting categories had gone gender neutral.

Both the Best Actor in a Movie and Best Actor in a Show categories this year contain both male and female nominees, a move that has not been seen before in major award shows (with the exception of the Grammys and Britain's National Television Awards). A split right down the middle occurred with the Film nominations with three male and three female actors in contention, while four females were nominated in the Television show category and two males. Although the MTV Awards do not carry the same prestige as other award shows (Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards, etc.), it is a move that certainly shows a move forward in gender equality in Hollywood and the entertainment business.

While this move for the MTV Movie & TV Awards is a very positive one, it makes one ponder whether the idea could catch on and other award shows follow suit. It would definitely be a strong stand for women and one many would embrace and celebrate. MTV can be commended for making such a strong statement and as the awards are voted for by the public, it would not be a surprise to see Emma Watson, Hailee Steinfeld or Taraji P. Henson voted for as the winner for this reason.

However, could this move by MTV encourage other award shows to become gender neutral?

The answer isn't is not yet.

This has nothing to do with the quality of male and female actors in the business. Talent wise both genders are without a doubt on par with one another. The problem lies with lack of substantial roles available to women in Hollywood, especially in film. This is not a new argument. Mary Pickford said in 1935 "It’s becoming a woman’s world, year by year, almost day by day". This still rings true, but more than 80 years later we are still fighting for gender equality in Hollywood in regards to the number of strong female roles among other issues. We have come a long way, but there is still a long way to go.

Believing that there should or should not be gender neutral acting categories when awards season rolls around has nothing to do with sexism or feminism, it has to do with fairness. While the quantity of these strong female roles is significantly less than that of males, it would make it a great deal harder for females to compete and win an Oscar or any other award with gender neutral categories.

For example, let's look at this years Oscars in the four acting categories. All four categories had wonderful performances by incredible actors, but the two male categories were seemingly more competitive than the female categories. Both the female categories had clear frontrunners for the majority of the awards season with the other eight nominees giving very good performances, but not strong enough to be competition. On the other hand, the male categories (especially Best Performance by an Actor in A Leading Role) went down to the line on the night as a result of the several incredible performances in strong and intense roles.

So this would have meant that this year Casey Affleck would have been directly competing with Emma Stone and Mahershala Ali with Viola Davis. These would have no doubt been intriguing and unpredictable competitions, but one would fear that the actual nomination fields would have consisted more of males than of females.

The good news is that things are changing in Hollywood as we speak....unfortunately just not as quickly as we would like. There may well be a chance in the future to combine the male and female acting categories at prestigious award shows, but that day is not today. If it was to happen, it would most definitely shorten the length of award shows, which would make many people happy. The other argument here is that many creatives prefer not to label themselves as male or female so eliminating gender specific categories is more politically and socially acceptable.

Without a doubt, it is a great move by MTV to make their awards gender neutral and they deserve praise for initiating a giant step towards gender equality in the film world. It may not be time for the bigger and more prestigious industry awards to do the same, but that day is coming.