Alfonso Cuaron

Newt Scamander in FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Last year’s news that the Harry Potter franchise isn’t over, not really, should have been music to the ears (perhaps played by The Weird Sisters?) to each and ever Potter fan on the planet. In September, word slipped out that author J.K. Rowling was hitting the page again to develop her Potter supplement “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” into a new, kinda-prequel to the Potter world we all love that would focus on magizoologist and fictitious author Newt Scamander. Earlier this year, that news was majorly beefed up by the news that Warner Bros. was looking to turn that single, forty-two page book into a trilogy of “megamovies” that zip the Potter-verse seventy years back in time to center on the escapades of the young Scamander in New York City. The latest news? Per Nikki Finke’s Twitter account (really?), director Alfonso Cuaron is in “deep talks” (ouch) to helm at least the first film in the new trilogy. Cuaron is, of course, no stranger to the Potter world — he previously helmed Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. As Finke tells it, that’s a “perfect pick,” and it really just might be, so why does it seem so hard to muster up any excitement for this new trilogy?  Just because we’re returning to the world of Harry Potter — or, you know, the world that Harry Potter will eventually be born into — doesn’t mean that only magic will be there, or that we even need it. It’s okay, you can still be a hardcore Harry Potter fan and […]

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Oscar Predictions 2014: Best Director

Best Director is a strange category, particularly because of its tenuous relationship to Best Picture. Does it refer to the best cohesive film, under the assumption that the director is responsible for overseeing nearly all aspects of how that film comes to be? Or does the award refer to a film’s most conspicuous control of visuals, tone, and style – the things that we most associate as evidence of a director’s guiding influence? The vague sense of what qualifies someone as worthy of honor in this category (we, of course, only assume what the director did by virtue of the finished product) is perfectly on display in one of this year’s most heated competitions: between Alfonso Cuarón’s enthralling real-time spectacle of a woman lost in orbit and Steve McQueen’s intricate, decade-long depiction of one man’s harrowing subjection. But let’s take a look at how the five nominees shake out, with my surprise predicted winner in red…

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gv-fp-0127r

It’s not definite that this year’s Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director will go to different movies. But it is very likely that Alfonso Cuaron is going to win the latter and that his movie, Gravity, is not going to be crowned the former. Odds in favor of Gravity for the top Academy Award are increasing of late, but I still see us having the first back-to-back split since 1953. Last year, of course, Picture went to Argo while Director went to Ang Lee (Argo‘s director, Ben Affleck, wasn’t nominated for the latter). This year the film that may trump Gravity for Best Picture is itself split between two contenders, American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave. Both of those movies won their respective Best Picture categories at the Golden Globes earlier this year. Hustle for comedy/musical and Slave for drama. Not that this means either has to follow with the Oscar (only 4 of the past 10 Oscar BPs were Globe BPs). Hustle also won the top award at the SAG Awards, that honor being for Outstanding Performance By a Cast in a Motion Picture. Not that this really means anything either (only 6 of the past 10 Oscar BPs were SAG Best Casts). Slave, meanwhile, tied for the top award at the PGA Awards — with Gravity. This is where it might mean something. The Producers Guild is currently six for six in predicting the Oscar BP, and in its history they’re 17 for 24. If they go […]

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Christian Bale;Jeremy Renner;Bradley Cooper

What makes a great director? Is it more about the technical visual achievement that we can see on screen? Is it about getting exceptional performances from the actors? For a great director, it’s both. For a Best Director of any given year, as so named by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, one or the other might do. This year, for instance, Alfonso Cuaron is the frontrunner for the Oscar, and his recognition is mostly based on the film being “an absolute technical marvel in every possible way,” as our own review from Kate Erbland puts it. Like James Cameron before him, Cuaron will be honored for work where the performances from the cast weren’t as much a priority as the performances from the camera and special effects. Yet also like Cameron, Cuaron has been paired with a Best Actress nomination for his leading lady. Sandra Bullock has won an Oscar in the past for her acting, but she still surprised many with her performance in Gravity. Do we have Cuaron to thank for that? It’s hard to tell. He’s never really gotten bad work from his actors before, but he’s certainly not thought of as an actor’s director in the way his four companions in the category are. This is his first instance of directing an Oscar nominated performance. Including this year’s additions, Martin Scorsese has 22 under his belt, David O. Russell has 11, Alexander Payne has 7 and Steve McQueen has 3 — of course, […]

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2013movieoftheyear.gravity

Back in November, Alfonso Cuaron was asked by Esquire about “unique experiences” in cinema. They’d framed the conversation as TV vs. Film, and Cuaron remarked that TV rarely produces brain-searing moments. Scenarios? Characters? Sure. But if you’re looking for a better batting average on memorable moments, cinema is holding the big stick. At least, as Cuaron amends, cinema outside the mainstream. For a filmmaker who’s delivered gargantuan imagery and scenic epinephrine, his go-to for a unique film experience this year is telling. “It depends on what you call a unique experience. I just saw the Woody Allen film [Blue Jasmine], and I thought it was just amazing. It’s not that it’s going to give you a roller coaster of a ride. It’s just an amazing film. But definitely there are directors, even in the mainstream cinema, in Hollywood, people like [David] Fincher and Wes Anderson and David O. Russell and Guillermo del Toro, who are doing really exciting mainstream cinema.” Gravity might be the polar opposite of Blue Jasmine. One is unrelenting high concept with a sprinkle of backstory, the other is a piercing dramedy with rounded characters. On the other hand, they both feature towering performances from focus-monopolizing actresses playing struggling women. They’ll also collide in some way on the road to Oscar, creating a convenient story of thematic similarities and structural antitheses to consider when we think about what movies we hold above others at the end of a calendar year.

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IntroGenre

By no means are directors expected to make the same movie over and over again – but they also don’t tend to fly genre to genre like some kind of bipolar carnival game either. Here are a few directors who – if they were to put on an autograph signing – would find themselves in the midst of a very polarized crowd of fans.

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Aningaaq

Why Watch? Meanwhile, on earth. Aningaaq is the companion to Gravity that fills in the visual space on the other end of Ryan Stone’s last-grasp radio call, and it breathes cold air into an isolated, unhappy story. Directed by Jonas Cuaron, it has the potential to be powerful, but probably not for anyone who hasn’t seen Alfonso Cuaron’s feature. Some have said that it should have been included in the movie — either at the very beginning or in real-time — but I just don’t see it. Part of what made Gravity so powerful was that we were never allowed to escape the environment. There was no safety release valve of flashing down to Houston to see what they were up to and no breather in the form of exposition from Stone’s past life. Including this short (or any shots on earth) would have broken the spell. Luckily we get to see it regardless. It’s also interesting that the team is submitting this short for Oscar consideration, meaning that it has a shot at making history alongside its all-but-guaranteed-a-nomination big brother. It’s a melancholy bit of storytelling with its own thoughtfulness and purpose, to be sure, but on the awards front there are plenty of other shorts that surpass it. Granted, I watch thousands of short films a year, but the buzz on this is coming purely from the depth of the feature film’s popularity. At any rate, it’s a beautiful bite of snow that also represents an encouraging shift in […]

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Speed Racer

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Into Silence Header

Captivity/survivor narratives are hardly unfamiliar to our movie screens, and such films tend to come in bunches. Three years ago, for instance, both Buried and 127 Hours boasted solo or near-solo performances from two rising Hollywood stars who spent the duration of their films as the solitary face we see. But last month brought a prominent and concentrated group of such films, all met with overwhelmingly good reviews, promising major performances from their leading survivor types, and coasting on significant awards buzz. While each film explores near misses, false moments of possible redemption, the necessary instance of despair, and ultimately an incredible optimism in the possibility for human beings to survive a conflagration of elements that work overwhelmingly against them, each of these films go about this differently. Yet the major factor connecting J.C. Chandor’s All is Lost, Paul Greengrass’ Captain Phillips, and Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity is that they all stage humans’ fraught relationship to nature through the problems and failures of human commerce and its attendant production of waste. Their respective fights with or on the landscape of nature, in other words, are inaugurated by the failure of humans to wield their own devices.

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Gravity

A weird thing happened on my way home from a matinee screening of Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity. I cried. Like, actual tears down my face, shortage of breath, no control crying. The pitiful kind of crying you hope nobody else sees. I’m pretty embarrassed to admit it – not because I see any shame in crying, even (or especially) over a film, but because for the life of me I couldn’t understand why on earth I was crying over this film. Gravity is no doubt an impressive technical achievement and an entertaining 90 minutes, but it hardly registered anywhere in the ballpark of emotional profundity for me. I found the trauma that Sandra Bullock’s character must overcome to be both forced and rudimentary, realized through some of the most on-the-nose thematic dialogue this side of Mad Men season 6. And don’t get me started on the 3D tears. I’m not trying to be cynical, but rather am attempting to illustrate the incredible gap I experienced between the character’s emotions onscreen and my belated visceral response to the film. I’ve seen many great films that have left me silent, even catatonic – films far “better” than Gravity that have asked me to walk away from them emotionally shattered or existentially crippled. But no film has ever elicited this type of reaction, and taken me so completely by surprise in doing so. I finally realized I wasn’t emptying myself over emotional resonance, character identification, or poignant thematics, but something a bit more abstract: […]

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GRAVITY

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Gravity - Rom-Com

George Clooney as a dashing pile of handsome, Sandra “Miss Congeniality” Bullock and a meet-cute that’s out of this world? You can’t tell us that Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity isn’t a romantic comedy. Weightless in Seattle. Or maybe Romancing the Moonstone. It’s in an unconventional location to be sure, but the vacuum of space can’t keep sparks from flying. Naturally, we turned to our old pal Sleepy Skunk to put together a trailer that sells the movie for what it really is. With a little help from Old Blue Eyes, he was up to the task:

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gravity

“Life in space is impossible.” Before we even hear a word from Alfonso Cuaron’s staggering Gravity, a thin line of text already tells us everything that’s going to happen within its slim, unrelenting ninety-minute runtime. Life in space is impossible. But is survival possible? It’s a normal day for the Explorer team, one that sees Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) working on his space walk time (he’s eager to break a previously-established record by another astronaut) while Shariff (Paul Sharma) tinkers outside the station and Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) attempts to repair some malfunctioning equipment so they can finish the upgrade they are tasked with completing. Things are relatively peaceful, the only hitch in an otherwise unremarkable excursion being Dr. Stone’s jumping stomach and her frustration at getting her work done – until the formerly relaxed Houston team suddenly demands an emergency evacuation. Not just for the three space walkers to go inside the station, but for them to get the hell out of their general location. A Russian satellite has exploded and its debris (moving around Earth at a pace faster than a speeding bullet) has begun knocking off other satellites, setting off a chain reaction of zinging space shrapnel that won’t just bust open a spacesuit, but an entire space station. The evacuation doesn’t happen.

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Gravity

Dear sweet lord it’s finally here. Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity hits theaters which is bad news for Sandra Bullock’s astronaut and great news for everyone else. Drew McWeeny joins us for a little Interrogation Reviewification where he explains the mind-evaporating nature of the movie without spoiling it. Plus we chat with Rob Hunter about the best of the best coming out of Fantastic Fest (and where you can find them), and I harangue Geoff with a brief history of banned books being adapted to film. You should follow Drew (@drewathitfix), Rob (@fakerobhunter),the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. And, as always, if you like the show (or hate it with seething fervor), please help us out with a review. Download Episode #36 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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GRAVITY

With less than a week left before Alfonso Cuaron‘s Gravity hits theaters, you’re likely to see an increase in the already heaping mound of raves claiming it’s the best original sci-fi film of the year, if not years. The problem is that this is not sci-fi. I’ve been having minor debate about this for weeks now, and there are numerous critics and non-critics, both people who have seen and haven’t seen the film yet, on each of the two sides of this argument. At the end of the day, you can say I’m being too stubbornly semantical. That the genre doesn’t even matter these days. But this is a movie involving science, and science itself deals a lot in classification and semantics, so I feel it perfectly appropriate to stand firm on genre categorization with this one. And I keep cringing every time I see the term sci-fi or words science fiction applied to this film. Gravity features no aliens, no interstellar space travel, no time travel, and it doesn’t take place in the future. In fact, given that it involves a space shuttle as its method of travel into space, it would seem to be set in a past. And while I don’t know all the technological accuracy evident on screen, I do know the production aimed for this to be a realistic film of the world and science that is or was existing. To me, that’s not sci-fi. Just like Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff, never mind their […]

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Gravity

In the early hours of last evening, just as the stars were starting to come out in various parts of the country, Warner Bros. unleashed the full trailer for Alfonso Cuaron’s upcoming space thriller Gravity. It’s perhaps the most intense 2-minutes you’re going to have today, assuming you don’t have a heart attack later. Or during the trailer, for that matter. See for yourself, because that’s what it’s going to take.

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Gravity - Bullock and Clooney

It’s tough to miss a film festival where a highly anticipated movie is playing, but it’s a lot easier to handle when the reaction bursting out of the theater is roundly positive. Excitedly positive. None of this, “It was okay, but…” nonsense clouding the expectations game for something we want to blow our minds. Enter Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity. With stratospheric hopes, the new partnership between the Children of Men director and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki lands in theaters in early October, but Venice Film Festival goers got an early look, and apparently their eyes are completely dilated.

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gravity

Don’t have enough tension and worry in your life? No problem, because the marketing of Children of Men director Alfonso Cuarón’s new space thriller, Gravity, seems intent on freaking us all out to the point where we’ll all be sent off to the nuthouse for some decompression before we ever even get a chance to see the movie. Just yesterday we posted a new trailer put together for the film subtitled “Detached,” which was a single-take shot, reminiscent of the most famous sequence from Children of Men, that put you right in the middle of the action of a space walk gone wrong. Was that closing image of Sandra Bullock drifting off into nothing enough to fuel your nightmares for the next few months on its own? Then maybe you won’t want to click through this one, because today we’ve got two more sequences from the film that are equally as likely to make your brain glitch and your body go numb with fear.

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Gravity - Bullock and Clooney

This is when the real panic sets in. Stunning in its execution, the new trailer for Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity does its duty in evoking Children of Men‘s most famous scene. The abject terror, the immediacy of profound danger, the single-take-ness. If you’re not standing and clapping by the time it’s over, it’s probably because you still can’t breath:

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Gravity

As the afternoon rolls on in San Diego, the Warner Bros. presentation has been the marquee event for the 120,000+ attendees of Comic-Con. With a great deal of announcements expected — some coming a bit early — about the future of DC Comics adaptations, WB has also been showing off movies that are not only announced, but will actually screen for audiences before the end of the calendar year. One such tale is Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, which hits theaters October 4. The Children of Men director took the stage in Hall H to provide attendees a first look at what it’s like to experience his 3D space thriller, explaining that he wants people to feel what it’s like to float in space. According to reports from the ground in San Diego, they are not only feeling the floating sensation, their nerves are being tested. We’ve culled together a group of some of the initial reactions to the footage shown. Warning: you are about to enter the hyperbole zone.

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