Albert Finney

the burning frears

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career.  Many directors are embarrassed of their first film, especially if we count their student productions. That’s one of the reasons it’s so hard to find a lot of “short starts” for this column. As we saw recently with Ridley Scott’s debut, however, the British Film Institute is to be thanked for preserving a number of early works by filmmakers from across the pond. Stephen Frears, whose latest great feature, Philomena, is now in theaters, is another example. The funny thing is that he seems like he’d rather that his first film, made in 1968, was lost and forgotten. Most directors would kill to have started off with something as smart and well-shot as The Burning, yet he claims he was clueless while making it, that it was like “being a baby playing with its own shit.” Frears wasn’t a student when he made the short, and he’d already been gaining experience as an assistant director (or assistant to the director) for such prominent British filmmakers as Lindsay Anderson (who helped Frears edit his film) and Karel Reisz and actor Albert Finney, who co-produced The Burning. The screenplay for the 31-minute film is by author Roland Starke based on his own short story, and its plot concerns a native uprising in South Africa. Similar to Scott’s short start, this one also focuses on a young boy through which we experience […]

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Culture Warrior: James Bond

Warning: this post contains mild spoilers for Skyfall. At some point during the middle of the first decade of this century, it felt like the practice of rebooting franchises would not see an end anytime soon. A gritty, realist new Batman origin story was followed quickly by a new blonde James Bond who, supposedly modeled after the new spy paradigm of the Bourne series, seemed as messy as he was vulnerable.

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Skyfall

Skyfall feels, in many ways, like the last film in Daniel Craig‘s tenure as James Bond. It’s only his third go round as the British secret agent, but he’s already haggard, unshaven and tired of the back-stabbing, gun-toting rat race. When a list of MI6′s undercover agents is stolen (that’s right, it’s the old NOC list chestnut!) Bond and Agent Eve (Naomie Harris) are tasked with recovering it, but the mission goes awry and Bond is left for dead. He’s not, obviously, but he’s enjoying the peaceful anonymity and seaside screws too much to give a damn about anything else. But when MI6 is attacked back in London Bond rises from the dead and returns to duty. He tries to anyway, but injuries, indifference and a battered spirit threaten to keep him on the bench. It’s only when the stakes get personal for him and M (Judi Dench) that he musters the will needed to fight back. But will it be too late? Skyfall is big, beautiful entertainment that delivers the expected action set-pieces but adds truly artistic visuals and multiple odes to Bond films of the past fifty years. It’s never dull, occasionally surprising and unafraid to delve into Bond’s life more than any film since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Unfortunately (and unnecessarily), all of that comes at the price of gaping plot holes and staggering lapses in logic.

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One of this fall/winter’s more anticipated films for action junkies is the new James Bond movie, Skyfall. This time around, Bond’s 23rd to be exact, the titular agent is tasked with protecting M and looking cool while doing it. He may also get to slip in a quick shower or two with an attractive woman between all the shooting, running and falling out of things. The official synopsis is here: Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.” Sam Mendes directs Daniel Craig in his third go round as Bond, and they’re joined by Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw. Check below for the new Skyfall teaser that aired during last night’s Olympic Games opening ceremonies. It was a nice pairing with the Bond-themed video featuring Craig escorting the Queen to the games by helicopter before the duo skydived down to join the masses.

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The announcement that the Bourne franchise would continue without Matt Damon was met with skepticism by many, including myself, for several reasons. The most relevant? Matt Damon played Jason Bourne. How could the franchise continue without him and his character but still call itself a Bourne film? Would another actor step into his shoes a la James Bond, or would it simply be another case of an agent with amnesia going rogue? The answer turned out to be neither, and instead, rather ingeniously, The Bourne Legacy is a parallel story that begins during the third act chaos of The Bourne Ultimatum. Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is a top agent who finds himself caught up in the Bourne fallout when the agency attempts to cover their tracks by terminating his co-workers. He’s forced to go on the run alongside an agency scientist (Rachel Weisz) while trying to out maneuver new a executive-level baddie played by Edward Norton. Some familiar faces from the first three films crop up along the way to flesh out the connective tissues between films, but this is really an introduction to a brand new character… and possibly a brand new trilogy of films. Check out the trailer below, and tell me your not at least a little excited to see this.

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The Bourne Legacy is not only one of the most highly-anticipated films of the summer, it’s a unique chance to revisit the blockbuster franchise with a different star at the helm. Meanwhile, co-writer/director Tony Gilroy, one of the key creative voices behind the original trilogy, is preserving the series’ lore while giving its events a broader and more epic context. As the film’s trailer observes, “Jason Bourne was just the tip of the iceberg,” and Gilroy’s insights about the direction he took the franchise in, for the first time as both writer and director, suggest that this expansive view of the world of Bourne was part of his plan all along. But as if embodying the director’s perspective, Jeremy Renner’s character Aaron Cross isn’t an unknown entering a larger world, but an experienced agent who knows exactly who he is and what he’s meant to do. Speaking to the Academy Award nominated filmmaker recently, Gilroy talked about reviving the franchise via The Bourne Legacy, revealing how he paid tribute to longtime fans even as he looked to a broader horizon, and the organic approach he and cinematographer Robert Elswit approached the picture with.

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“There was never just one.” Well, that’s a nifty way to explain why Matt Damon isn’t in the latest installment of the Jason Bourne franchise, The Bourne Legacy. Damon’s out, and Jeremy Renner is in as another victim and/or participant in shady Project Treadstone. This first stylized trailer (complete with Inception-esque “brannngsss” and “brrahhhhmmms”) introduces us to Renner’s character – a bruiser from Reno who is on the run after showing some impressive stuff to all those government heavies who’ve gone through this already with Jason Bourne. Don’t you think Joan Allen‘s Pam Landy is just exhausted by now? Join the program and check out the trailer for The Bourne Legacy after the break.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column currently perpetrating a home invasion on yo’ behind. It’s going to tie you up and make you watch while it plays video games in your living room. Also, it will tell you the news… We begin with my favorite thing of the night, the Halloween special episode of Community, “Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps,” yet another brilliant display of the playful and unfathomably intelligent writing behind this show. Something broken down quite nicely in Todd VanDerWerff’s review at The AV Club. And for those of us with simpler tastes, there’s a Community BINGO drinking game now. Coming soon to Reject HQ…

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Seeing as it wasn’t able to bring back series star Matt Damon, the fourth film in the Bourne series is going to have to work hard to get people to accept its existence and not picket theaters. I mean, people can get pretty emotional about their Matt Damon. When it was announced that he wouldn’t be returning, the prevailing sentiment was that a fourth movie wouldn’t make sense, and that making one would be a cynical way to grub money from an unsuspecting public by exploiting the series’ name. But the producers have done everything they can to make The Bourne Legacy look like it fits in with its older brothers. First, they signed Tony Gilroy to write and direct. Seeing as he wrote the first three Bourne films as well, that should lend a nice bit of continuity to a fourth. Then they went and signed Jeremy Renner to star as the new lead character, who will decidedly not be Jason Bourne. That’s gotta take a lot of the sting out of the Damon departure. Renner is a fast rising star and pretty much the new Matt Damon anyways. Now a third step has been taken to legitimize the project, Variety is reporting that Gilroy is bringing some of the characters from the first films back, firmly setting this story in that same world.

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Every day, come rain or shine or internet tubes breaking, Film School Rejects showcases a trailer from the past. Movies are all about telling us to be nicer to nature and the environment and to hug a tree. It’s disgusting. But it’s not disgusting when we have to learn that lesson because a God-like terror wolf is slashing the flesh of corporate CEOs to violently pay for our crimes against Mother Earth. That’s the fun kind of lesson. But what are Albert Finney, Edward James Olmos, and Gregory Hines doing in flick? No idea. It’s not werewolves….it’s…. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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MWLBigFish

Will Bloom struggles to reconnect with his father Edward Bloom as Ed’s entire life is retold in epic, tall tale-style, and Tim Burton discovers primary colors.

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Have you ever heard of William Wilberforce? I hadn’t prior to seeing this film earlier this year.

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