It’s the blog. The Next Reel Film Podcast blog. And they said blogging was dead

This clip has been making the rounds recently.

And apparently he learned a lot from the questions he asked in the last segment in the clips below since these two starred in a film together in 2012.

Is Bradley Cooper the best student ever? A hard working actor that has worked his way into a successful career? What do you think?

courtesy of the LA Times

For those of you who have listened to us chat about Zero Dark Thirty already, you know we address the criticism regarding the film’s torture scenes.  Yesterday, in the LA Times, Kathryn Bigelow herself talked about the film and addressed the criticism it’s received.  Here’s a sample of what she had to say:

First of all: I support every American’s 1st Amendment right to create works of art and speak their conscience without government interference or harassment. As a lifelong pacifist, I support all protests against the use of torture, and, quite simply, inhumane treatment of any kind.

But I do wonder if some of the sentiments alternately expressed about the film might be more appropriately directed at those who instituted and ordered these U.S. policies, as opposed to a motion picture that brings the story to the screen.

Those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement. If it was, no artist would be able to paint inhumane practices, no author could write about them, and no filmmaker could delve into the thorny subjects of our time.


We talk about our opinions regarding both torture and the depiction of it in the show, but what are your thoughts?  We’d love to hear.  Let us know!

The final shot in a film is an opportunity for a filmmaker to leave you with an indelible image. Does that moment leave you wanting more? Some films end with an image that is not only memorable, but has become strongly associated with the film. For example, the final shot in Rocky, battered and embracing Adrian, is one of the most memorable images of the film. The other being Rocky with celebratory arms raised at the top of the flight of stairs. This is a case of filmmakers finding that final moment that captures the culmination of the journey that the audience has been taken on.

For films that have been awarded a Oscar for Best Picture, you might think that there is a high percentage of films that end with iconic or at least highly memorable images. I was surprised to find that this is not true. While watching this compilation of final shots I was able to identify some only because I remember the film really well, or could place it in chronological order, not because it was a powerful or memorable moment.

So many of these final moments, when taken in isolation, were nothing more than a moment from a film. Perhaps this is because, when taken out of context, the final scene isn’t carrying the emotional weight of the scenes that have come before it. In other cases I think it is because the strength of the film came from the journey taken, not the strength of the final moments alone.

While Monsters University may not look to be the best of Pixar’s upcoming films, this teaser they released recently sure takes the cake.  It’s designed like any number of commercials you’d see for your local college or university.  Except, well, this one is full of monsters.  It’s really fun on repeat viewings too to catch all the little nods to this alternate world full of monsters and monster-related things (check out the spikes on the roof in the image below for example).  Check it out!

As I mentioned during The Film Board’s review of You’re Next, I have just recently watched Shane Carruth’s  Upstream Color.  After watching it I felt like my brain had been hacked by Malickian brain worms. It’s a film where music, sound, and images combine to touch the deeper parts of the mind. It was a feeling I hadn’t had since watching The Tree of Life.


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This is your brain after Upstream Color.

There are some filmmakers, like Carruth and Malick, that can disorient their audience yet still keep them engaged and focused throughout the film. Why can a film that is putting intentional barriers before the audience be more engaging than one that attempts to be easily accessible to the audience?

I am reluctant to admit that I have endured Aeon Flux and Ultraviolet. Both are stories that are easy to understand, but neither kept my attention because they are the most boring action films I have ever seen. I didn’t have to work, or think much, and should have had an enjoyable experience. But I didn’t.

My viewing experience with Upstream Color was completely different. It should have been easy to be bored with this due to minimal dialogue, multiple story lines, and no effort to explain why these events are occurring. Yet I was intently focusing on the dialogue and the images to attempt to piece together how these characters are connecting to each other. I did a lot of work, which could have been a reason to turn it off. Instead, I found myself ruminating on my experience with the film and eager to give it a second viewing.

Why do we love movies that make us work so hard?

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Maps help us make meaning.

The map, please. 

I’ve always believed that you can either tell a complex story simply, or tell a simple story complexly. Some of the most critically acclaimed films have relied on the a simple story and complex structure as the method for story telling. Perhaps one the most commercially popular and successful is Pulp Fiction, the film that brought non-linear storytelling to mainstream audiences.

The films 21 Grams spends about the first 15 minutes introducing the three main characters, but not in any chronological order. What we do get is a sense of who they are and what their personal stories are. It’s not until later that we begin to see how their stories are interconnected with each other.

Films like these often result in fan-generated maps to help us piece together the events into a more familiar sequence of cause then effect, or beginning to end.  

With Memento, Christopher Nolan played around with the idea of the beginning and ending of a story by telling the story from the end to beginning, and wove in another story that may actually be the other half of Leonard’s story.

343px Visual Map of the Film Memento
Memento in a linear sequence from “start” to “finish”.

Primer is a film that requires more than one viewing to even begin starting to understand the multiple timelines. Yet, despite the amount of work that these films require from their viewers that have received critical praise and devoted fans. These are puzzles that we love to return to and discover different facets to our own personal experience with them.

Primer chart
It only takes 77 minutes to watch it once, but you need to see it 77 times to unravel everything that happens.

Where is my mind? 

Then there are those films where the audience must work to assemble meaning from the actions of the characters to understand the logic of the world we are presented with. In these stories common sense and logical responses are undermined through repetition and unconventional continuity, to create an experience that is not consistent with our understanding of the world. We are presented with a foreign formula that, which as we begin to build understanding of the internal consistency of the world, requires us to step away from our own assumptions and expectations of how reality functions and embrace this new world.

Films like The Machinist, Donnie Darko, and Upstream Color take place in a world that is similar enough to our own world to feel familiar, yet display differences that require our close attention. If we don’t pay attention to these differences we loose the ability to understand the journey we are on.

The Machinist, most remembered for Christian Bale’s extreme weight loss, is a slow trip into the darker side of guilt. It’s a challenging film to watch, but I was surprised at the payoff. What I thought was a film trying to be clever and mysterious for its own sake turned into an interesting tale of morality.

As for Donnie Darko …  

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Watching a movie with a rabbit named Frank is only the start of your troubles.

These demands on the audience, can either alienate the viewer or, as the result of carefully constructed craftsmanship, result in a unique filmgoing experience. Some may argue that the payoff is not worth the amount of work required.

I, for one, welcome the Malickian Brain Worms and the transformative power of challenging films. 

Don’t let the brainworms get you down.

In case you’re wondering how those voting members of the Academy think, here is a very interesting insight into how one voter decided what to vote.

Thanks heaps to the BFI for sharing this terrific piece of work on the effort of Paul Thomas Anderson’s seemingly effortless steadicam shots. Kevin B. Lee walks through the evolution of Anderson’s camera work from Hard Eight to There Will Be Blood

The contribution from Blood stands out to me:

This two-and-a-half-minute shot is one of the longest in There Will Be Blood, yet it only moves several feet. But within those few feet it is able to create four distinct compositions, a profile closeup of Eli Sunday entering Daniel Plainview’s office, an obstructed wide shot of Plainview at his desk, a medium three-shot of Plainview, Sunday and Fletcher, and a final closeup of Sunday. Each of these shifts changes the dramatic tenor of the scene and the dynamic between its characters, exploring and expositing the space between them.

One way that it does so is by providing multiple steady points of visual focus for the viewer, as demonstrated in this scientific study by the Dynamic Images and Eye Movement project, that tracked the eye movements of several viewers to see what they were looking at in the frame. This steady multiplicity of focal points is something radically different from Anderson’s earlier films, where one dominant point of focus takes our eyes through the shot.

In the past, we had opted to keep our series and movies hush-hush until the last minute so as to keep things a surprise. It only took us 2+ years to realize that if we made our list public, people could actually watch the movie before the show and be ready to listen to the show as soon as it aired!  What a concept!  So with that, presenting our list of films we’ll be watching in 2014 (plus 3 hangers-on from 2013 and a bonus series for 2015)!  

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For those of you counting, you will notice we’re a bit short of a year’s worth of episodes. We do have some not listed on here, and those are because they’re not decided yet. Those are:

  • 3 Listener’s Choice episodes, in which we will not only pick a suggestion from a listener but also let them intro the film, telling everyone why they picked that film as one for a discussion on The Next Reel. If you want to have a chance to pick one of these episodes, make sure you head over to iTunes and leave a review and rating of the show! This is the ONLY way to get in on the listener choice picks. 
  • 2 Guilty Pleasure episodes, in which we each pick one of our guilty pleasure films and surprise the other with it the week before the show. This is just a fun chance for us to make each other watch things we may not have on our radar or may not want to actually watch. This will be a fun experiment and we’re both rather excited about the opportunity to surprise/annoy each other.
  • 2 Holiday films for the end of the year. We’re still deliberating on our Christmas (or insert other end-of-year holiday) and New Year’s films. Any ideas? We do prefer the less obvious choices.

And there is one option on here that we’re not actually going to discuss — in our Found Footage series, both “[REC]” and “Quarantine” are listed.  Andy and Pete are only going to talk about one of those two. If you have any skin in the game, let us know to help us decide.

So with that, check it out and start watching so you can be ready for each episode! And let us know if you’re struggling figuring out what the various series are. We’ll let you try to guess otherwise.

We love Andy Serkis — he’s one of our best friends who hasn’t met us yet.  And not only is he a stellar actor but THE motion capture actor.  You want to create a realistic chimp who can think for itself and rise up?  Call Andy.  You want a creep creature who’s got a thing for rings?  He’s your guy.  You need a giant gorilla?  You guessed it.  And as amazing as Gollum is in The Hobbit, it’s still amazing to see him performing the role.  As we only can in production stills like these.  

Nothing in the near future will stop the Young Adult Lit acquisition train.  This summer sees the first in a possible trilogy, with the film adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s book The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones opening on August 23rd. And just in case it’s a hit, her prequel series, The Infernal Devices, has also been optioned. Is that all Cassandra Clare is up to? No, of course not. She is collaborating with another YA author,  Holly Black (co-author of The Spiderwick Chronicles) on a five book series. The first title in the series, The Iron Trail, is set for a fall 2014 release… and has already been optioned.

It seems that Ridley Scott always has three or four possible projects in the pipeline as either a director or producer. One of those is an adaptation of Hugh Howey’s novel WOOL, which is set in a subterranean city in a post-apocalyptic future. The book has a story worthy of film by itself. It began with a short story published through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service and over time his sales and fan base increased to the point where he now has signed a deal with Simon and Schuster to distribute Wool in the US and Canada. 

It may be a while before this project moves forward, but if Sir Ridley Scott sees potential in the story, it may be worth delving into. 

Hugh Jackman has been attached to an adaptation of Harlan Coben’s most recent novel Six Years.  The summary of the book provided on the author’s website states: 

Jake Fisher finds the love of his life, Natalie, and imagines their future together as husband and wife. Instead, she dumps him and a few days later then invites him to her wedding to a man she just met. Jake watches Natalie take her vows, and she tells him to leave her alone forever. For six years, he keeps that promise. But when he sees Natalie’s husband’s obituary, Jake decides to attend the funeral and comfort Natalie. He is stunned to discover that the man’s widow is not Natalie and that the church where he watched her marry has no record of the ceremony.

The book just recently hit the shelves, so you’ve got plenty of time to read this one before they start production on the film.

I’ll continue to keep our readers updated on the latest news of books being optioned and adapted into films. Over on facebook Pete shared this link for a great resource for Stephen King fans, or for those of you that have just dipped a toe into the pool and would like some assistance in navigating the vast world he has created. 

Until I have more to share about book news here’s one last YA novel adapted into a film. Stay gold, Ponyboy

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