Thursday, December 29, 2011

Essential Magazine Covers: 2011

He produced and directed a documentary (Saturday Night), smooched Sean Penn in Gus Van Sant's Milk (2008), wrote fiction (Palo Alto), dabbled in hosting (twice for "Saturday Night Live" and once for the Academy Awards), took an MFA in Columbia University's writing program, and capped 2010 by posing as a transvestite for photographer Terry Richardson on the cover of Candy—a fashion magazine for transsexuals. 

A fearless subject, a maverick, and a photographer's darling,  he was featured in several magazine covers. The most notorious is the one he did for Flaunt, a progressive magazine known for its dual covers. Scroll down for a preview. 

Before doing so, check out some of this year's most memorable magazine covers.

. 1 .
Alexander Skarsgard 
Interview, June 2011

. 2 .
Penélope Cruz
V, July 2011

 . 3 .
Robert Pattinson
Vanity Fair, April 2011

. 4 .
The New Yorker, 17 January 2011

. 5 .
Granta, summer 2011

. 6 .
Alexander Skarsgård
Out, November 2011

. 7 .
Freida Pinto
Interview, August 2011

. 8 .
James Franco
Flaunt, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Essential Trailers: 2011

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy's trailer is everything a trailer should be—short, thrilling and surprisingly engaging. It's hard to warm up to a spy movie populated by senior, aging actors (Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, John Hurt), but the trailer's tight editing and superb music (Danny Elfman's Wolf Suite Pt 1) assert that this movie will easily hold up against any wham-bang, big movie out there. You hear that, Mr. Tom  Mission-Impossible-Ghost-Protocol Cruise?

Here are five standout trailers from 2011. The other one's unofficial, but who cares right?

. 2 .

. 4 .

. 5 .
(unofficial trailer)

Essential Track: 2011

The Chromatics' addictive, techno thumpin' track, "Tick Of The Clock," sets the tone of Drive to a tee.

Time to boogie, Mr. Gosling.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Venice Film Festival 2011

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (UK/France) 
Director Tomas Alfredson Cast Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy Plot An agent is forced out of retirement when a Soviet mole is discovered in the MI6. Why watch? Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is directed by Swedish filmmaker Tomas Alfredson, the guy behind the artsy vampire flick, Let the Right One In (2008). First impression Impeccable. First rate thriller for the thinking man.  

Shame (UK) 
Director Steve McQueen Cast Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, Nicole Beharie Plot A rabid nympho goes bonkers when his rebel sister shows up. First Impression Dark. Disturbing. Edgy. Expect a seamless screenplay by McQueen and stirring images by frequent collaborator, Sean Bobbitt (Hunger).

Carnage (US/France) 
Director Roman Polanski Cast Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz Plot Sparks fly when two sets of parents do a meet and greet. What's the 411? The film is based on Yasmina Reza's play, God of CarnageX-factor Kate Winslet. This woman has spunk. Memorable line "I'm glad our son kicked the shit out of your son! I wipe my ass with your human rights!" First impression A fine balance of good direction and superb acting; memorable

Alps (Greece) 
Director Yorgos Lanthimos Cast Aris Servetalis, Johnny Vekris, Aggeliki Papoulia Plot While Dogtooth (2009) is about deception through fabrication, Alps is its antithesis. Go figure. What's the 411? The script wasn't followed rigidly during filming. New scenes were added and actors improvised occasionally. Why watch? It's been two long years since Dogtooth. We want a Yorgos Lanthimos movie. Now. First impression Right balance of quirk, humor and art cred; sly and disarming 

Wuthering Heights (UK)
Director Andrea Arnold Cast Kaya Scodelario, Nichola Burley, James Howson Plot A retelling of Emily Brontë's classic novel of love gone wrong. Why watch? It's not everyday that we see a gritty, contemporary filmmaker do a romantic period drama. What's the 411? Michael Fassbender and Ed Westwick were among the actors considered for the role of Heathcliff. Arnold eventually broke conventions by settling for a colored actor (James Howson). First impression It looks believable, "real" and unrehearsed. It is never too sentimental. Thank God.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Anne Hathaway in Interview, September 2011

"Not living up to the expectations of the director is pretty terrifying. Being exposed as a fraud, that's pretty terrifying." 

"I may not be the best [actress] in the world, but I love my craft more than anything." 

"Marrying your best friend is the new fairy tale."

"Whatever you are made of, be the best of that."

**Quotes: Anne Hathaway, photographs: Marcus Piggott & Mert Alas

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Film Preview: September 2011


Release date 09.16.2011 (U.S.) Director Nicolas Winding Refn Cast Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston Plot If 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) only had substance, this is how it would look like. What's the 411? Gosling was given his choice of director when he signed up for Drive. He chose Nicolas Winding Refn, a Danish filmmaker best known for Bronson (2008). Buckle up. Kudos Although it didn't win the Palme d'Or in this year's Cannes, Drive clinched the Prix de la mise en scène for Refn. First impression Drive is a gearhead's wet dream fully realized. Adrenaline will be oozing down their nostrils.

Release date 09.09.2011 (U.S.) Director Steven Soderbergh Cast Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law Plot A viral epidemic sets a team of doctors scampering for a cure. Star wattage As if Damon, Winslet and Law are not enough, Contagion also features Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard and Laurence Fishburne. It's more than your regular burger: it's a Big Mac. First Impression Wolfgang Petersen's Outbreak (1995) and M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening (2008) drove people away from the cineplex and got critics gagging. They want a reenactment for 2011 with Contagion.

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975
Release date 09.09.2011 (U.S.) Director Göran Olsson Cast Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael, Bobby Seale Plot Swedish filmmaker Göran Olsson strings together various footage of the Black Power Movement into a well-crafted documentary. What's the 411? Footages used in the movie were taken from the spools of film discovered by Olsson in the dusty basement of a television building in Sweden. First impression Trippy. An eye-opener. You'll like.

Release date 09.30.2011 (U.S.) Director Jonathan Levine Cast Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick Plot Twenty-seven-year-old Adam doesn't smoke, he doesn't drink and he recycles, so life decides to throw him a curveball: he gets cancer. What's the 411? James McAvoy was originally set to play Adam. The role eventually went to Gordon-Levitt. McAvoy must be grinning right now. Annoying factor Seth Rogen and his big voice Saving grace Bryce Dallas Howard, Anjelica Huston and Philip Baker Hall provide a much needed respite from Rogen's vexing vibe. First impression Looks anemic and sappy. Call 911.

Release date 09.23.2011 (U.S.) Director Bennett Miller Cast Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman Plot Held back by lack of funds, Oakland's general manager resorts to non-traditional means of scouting players for his baseball team. Why should we care? Moneyball is Miller's first movie after he directed Hoffman in his breakthrough movie, Capote, six years ago. Level of predictability High. Watch the trailer. Saving grace Philip Seymour Hoffman First impression Moneyball is this year's Jerry Maguire. Like we need another Jerry Maguire?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Essential Movie Posters: August 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Tag line "Evolution becomes revolution" Designed by Art Machine Why it matters Clever use of light and shadows. Intense. What the poster is trying to tell us It's going to be dark. It's going to be serious. Prepare to go ape-shit.

A Good Old Fashioned Orgy
Tag line "A comedy about old friends in new positions" Designed by cold open Why it matters It doesn't have an overblown face in it. Why? Because none of the cast are Hollywood crowd-drawers, that's why. What the poster is trying to tell us Expect sex. Lots of sex.

Griff the Invisible
Tag line "He's a dreamer... stuck in the real world." Designed by cold open Why it matters Clever twist on the superhero, dual identity schtick; shows how the real intersects with the unreal in a flat, two-dimensional world What the poster is trying to tell us The dude's a schizo.

One Day
Tag line "Twenty years. Two people..." Designed by Mojo Why it matters Uncanny sense of urgency. Fleeting and temporal, as if everything will change in a nano second What the poster is trying to tell us PDA is making a comeback. Word.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Daniel Craig in Esquire, August 2011

"All of [a] sudden I'm getting magazine covers when I got nothing for ten years."

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tilda Swinton in W, August 2011

"When I brought my Oscar home and showed the children, nobody knew what it was. The thing sat on the kitchen table for two weeks."

"It’s every pregnant woman’s nightmare to give birth to the devil."

"I don’t think I’m courageous. One man’s courage is another man’s comfort zone."

"There’s no preparation for having children."

"The Greeks speak about the violence of the real. I want to get at something real."

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Zombadings: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington

An irrevocable curse, a laser-zapping serial killer and zombies — gay zombies. Who wouldn't be interested in a movie like Zombadings: Patayin sa shokot si Remington?

Jade Castro's gay themed horror film closed this year's Cinemalaya, attracting a bevy of eager moviegoers.

In the movie, Remington (played by acting dynamo Mart Escudero) overcomes his prejudice when he experiences first hand what it's like to be gay.

Just like Remington, most of the gay characters in the movie are stereotypes — cardboard cutouts of people made for the silver screen. They walk, speak and act the same way.

Pigeonholes, together with the movie's blunt humor, give the movie an air of crudeness and inconsideration. People with strong opinions about gender issues: steer clear.

Because Zombadings is a parody of the gay/horror movie genre, watch it with a grain of salt. Suppress your inner Roger Ebert and avoid over analyzing the movie's sociological significance. Accept it for what it is and enjoy Mart Escudero's acting chops. This kid’s bursting with talent.

There’s a new Eugene Domingo in the house, and he’s male.

Release date August 31, 2011 (Philippines) Director Jade Castro Cast Mart Escudero, Janice de Belen, Eugene Domingo Scene-stealer Roderick Paulate. Stellar as always. Essential Onscreen Weaponry The serial killer's laser gun slash gaydar Verdict Nonstop laughs and witty banter from the talented ensemble make Zombadings worth watching.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cinemalaya 2011

Ang Babae sa Septic Tank
Category New Breed (in competition) Director Marlon Rivera Cast Eugene Domingo, JM de Guzman, Kean Cipriano Plot A parody of independent filmmaking in the Philippines Essential actress The goddess has landed. Eugene Domingo shows tyros how it's done. Scene-stealer None, Eugene slayed them all. Verdict Next to Zombadings, it's the most commercially viable film in the festival.

Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa
Category New Breed (in competition) Director Alvin Yapan Cast Jean Garcia, Paulo Avelino, Rocco Nacino Plot Love made more poignant by dance and poetry Verdict Notable for cinematographer Arvin Viola's heartbreaking images, Sayaw is visually engaging.

Category New Breed (in competition) Director Loy Arcenas Cast Fides Cuyugan Asensio, Shamaine Buencamino, Tony Mabesa Plot Family members bicker and grudges resurface when the patriarch of the house suffers from a stroke. Memorable scene The dinner confronatation sequence (can of worms is an understatement) Scene-stealer Actor Joaquin Valdez's Reinhard is a scorcher. Verdict Strong contender for Best Picture

Category New Breed (in competition) Director Joseph Isarel Laban Cast Maria Isabel Lopez, Simon Ibarra, Paolo Rivero Plot A night in the life of novice drug mules Shock value High. Full frontal? Check. Drugs? Check. Okra as a lubricant? Check. Verdict Riveting, but the ending feels rushed

Category Directors Showcase (in competition) Director Jeffrey Jeturian Cast Tirso Cruz III, Raquel Villavicencio, Julia Clarete Plot A family unravels as wounds open and grudges resurface on Christmas eve. Scene-stealer Julia Clarete shines in a role that fits her like second skin. Verdict Tight editing and good ensemble acting make it worthwhile.

Category Directors Showcase (in competition) Director Auraeus Solito Cast Alessandra de Rossi, Clifford Bañagale, Dax Alejandro Plot Four tales of death and rebirth interweave seamlessly in Palawan. What's the 411? The first of a planned trilogy, Busong is Solito's most personal movie yet. Verdict Inspired, lyrical and technically accomplished; one of the year's most relevant films

Category NETPAC (in competition) Director Benito Bautista Cast Ronnie Lazaro, Raymond Bagatsing, Edwin Pamanian Plot A night in the life of a cabbie and the passenger that changed his life Essential actor Raymond Bagatsing shines, but it's Ronnie Lazaro who brings the house down. Verdict The festival's must-watch movie

Category NETPAC (in competition) Director Alvin Yapan Cast Mercedes Cabral, Kalil Almonte Plot A girl's affection for the village sacristan is tested by faith and circumstance. What's the 411? Made on a shoestring budget, Gayuma is Alvin Yapan's ode to his roots. Memorable scene Delfin (Kalil Almonte) fleeing from a floating, talking Sto. Niño Verdict Bad acting and jerky camera movements ruin an otherwise unique, interesting movie.

Paglipad ng Anghel
Category Special Screening (out of competition) Director Clodualdo Del Mundo Jr. Cast Sid Lucero, LJ Moreno, Christian Vasquez Plot After helping an elderly, angel wings grow on the back of a young man. Acting revelation Sid Lucero whips up a storm as a man in doubt. Verdict Far from perfect, but charming nonetheless.

Zombadings: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington
Category Closing film (out of competition) Director Jade Castro Cast Mart Escudero, Janice de Belen, Eugene Domingo Plot A gay themed zombie flick with a twist Essential actor Mart Escudero gives a career-defining performance as Remington, a hapless boy on the verge of gaydom. Verdict A blockbuster in the making. Insanely funny.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Essential Photography: 2009

Actor Andrew Garfield and model Lily Cole

Inspired by the Metropolitan Opera's production of Hänsel und Gretel, Vogue Creative Director Grace Coddington and photographer Annie Leibovitz give the classic fairy tale a sublime twist. Hansel and Gretel are no longer children, but adults. The wicked witch, likewise, ages backwards.

These photographs were published in Vogue's December 2009 issue, the year Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was released. Two of Imaginarium's young stars — the eternally boyish Andrew Garfield and the doll-like model, Lily Cole — were cast as Hansel and Gretel.

As for the wicked witch, they got a feisty lady named Lady Gaga. Good choice.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Essential Movies: 2009

Agrarian Utopia (Thailand)
Director Uruphong Raksasad Won UNESCO Award (Asia Pacific Screen Awards) Plot A rural farmer loses his job, forcing him to look for work in the big city Beauty Shots Cinematographer Uruphong Raksasad's lingering takes of rural landscape and gorgeous sunsets Extreme Gastronomy Insects? Check. Dogs? Check. Snakes? Double check.

In the Loop (UK)
Director Armando Iannucci Won Best Screenplay (New York Film Critics Circle Awards) Plot A fictionalized version of events that lead to the 2003 invasion of Iraq Golden Line "You sure you're working as hard as I am? I'm sweating spinal fluid here!" What's the 411? The role of Malcolm Tucker, sharp tongue and all, is allegedly based on Tony Blair's former director of communications and strategy, Alastair Campbell. Scene Stealer Peter Capaldi. 'Nuff said.

Mother (South Korea)
Director Joon-ho Bong Won Best Actress (Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards) Plot A whodunit crime flick involving a mentally unstable young man and his stubborn, iron-willed mother Indelible Scene Actress Hye-ja Kim's surprise dance sequence. She's no John Travolta, but she definitely has the moves down pat.

Eyes Wide Open (Israel)
Director Haim Tabakman Won Grand Prix (Ghent International Film Festival) Plot A Jewish man's affair with a young male drifter results in social estrangement and isolation. Essential Actors Ran Danker is the perfect foil to Zohar Shtrauss. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain don't even measure up.
The Breath (Turkey)
Director Levent Semerci Won Best Film (Yeşilçam Awards) Plot A small group of dedicated soldiers defends a relay station against terrorists. What's the 411? The film is based on the 1992 PKK terrorist attack. Twenty-two soldiers died.

Moon (USA)
Director Duncan Jones Won Outstanding Debut by a British Director (BAFTA Awards) Plot A family man yearns for home after being stationed in the Moon for three straight years. Indelible Scene Sam Rockwell dancing. Forget Travolta. When it comes to swing-till-you-drop moves, Sam's the man.

A Serious Man (USA)
Directors Ethan Coen and Joel Coen Won Best Original Screenplay (National Board of Review) Plot A Jewish man's faith in God and in himself is tested as his professional and domestic life go down the drain. Essential Actor A Serious Man wouldn't be as good as it is without theater pro Michael Stuhlbarg. .

Boy (Philippines)
Director Auraeus Solito Plot A young boy falls for a male hustler. Essential Scene On New Year's eve, Aeious goes to bed with Aries. Afterwards, his mother bangs on his door and shouts,"Bilisan niyo! Putukan na!" What's the 411? Although invited to compete in the Silver Screen Awards, the film was banned by Singapore's Board of Film Censors (BFC). Surprise, surprise.

The Limits of Control (USA)
Director Jim Jarmusch Plot A solitary assassin tracks his target, following leads from strangers prone to discussing philosophy, cinema and the metaphysical. Essential Actor Isaach De Bankolé's face is a landscape of restraint and immobility. Sheer brilliance. Beauty Shots Every scene, every angle is achingly beautiful. Kudos to Cinematographer Christopher Doyle.