Wally Pfister

Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar

Warning: this post contains spoilers for the movies Interstellar and Transcendence. The near-future setting of Christopher Nolan‘s Interstellar is unlike most we’ve seen lately. There are no smartphones, let alone ones with personalities to fall in love with. There aren’t even many computers, save for a laptop used by Matthew McConaughey‘s more tech-friendly character. Look at the emptiness of an administrator’s desk when he has a meeting at his kids’ school. In the same scene, a teacher spouts an exposition-laden belief that people of the 20th century were wasteful and excessive and spent too much money on “useless machines.” Given the dialogue and the apparent dependency on textbooks with a rewritten history of the (faked) Apollo program, we can assume there is no longer any Wikipedia, or any internet whatsoever. Outside of the secret NASA facility, it’s a fairly analog world, one in which almost everybody is a farmer. It’s also a world that’s awfully close to the one we’re left with at the end of Transcendence, a movie that Nolan produced and which was directed by his usual cinematographer, Wally Pfister. Also set in the near-future, Transcendence is about technology getting way out of hand. Johnny Depp plays a scientist specializing in artificial intelligence, and he eventually has his consciousness uploaded to a computer server, and subsequently the internet. His digital transcendence leads to the development of useful machines employing nanotechnology to help sick people far beyond even the MRIs that McConaughey’s character in Interstellar defends. But Depp’s computer-dwelling character […]

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Warner Bros.

If nothing else, Wally Pfister‘s directorial debut deserves points for trying to be big science fiction that’s utterly uninterested in robots, laser beams or future dystopian societies populated with spunky teenage girls. Instead, Transcendence wants to tackle ideas as grand as what it means to be human, the destructive (and redemptive) power of love and the ethical limits of technology. But wanting to do something and actually following through on those intentions are two very different things. Will Caster’s (Johnny Depp) research into artificial intelligence is on the cusp of a major breakthrough, but while his wife (Rebecca Hall), his best friend (Paul Bettany) and the subscribers of Wired magazine are excited by the possibilities, not everyone is as happy. The anti-technology movement acts with a decisive, multi-target attack leaving dozens of scientists and keyboard jockeys dead and Will barely clinging to life. The decision is made to “save” his life by uploading his brain to their quantum processor-powered super computer, but once there his unchecked power becomes a threat to all of mankind. Or something.

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Transcendence

The future is a bleak and terrifying place. It’s already been established in countless films that no matter what we do, we’re doomed, so we might as well just embrace it. There’s no hoverboards, okay? You’re not going to be cruising down the street like Marty McFly, drinking your crazy Pepsi in the far-off glamorous land of 2015. It’s far more likely that we’re either going to bow down to our ape overlords after resisting but ultimately giving up because resistance is futile, or witness the rise of the machines. The singularity is coming. The new trailer for Wally Pfister‘s Transcendence is spelling out exactly what that means for Johnny Depp and his fellow scientists clearer than ever (It’s destruction). The film follows a brilliant scientist only known at this point as Will (Depp), who is working toward building the singularity — a complex computer system advanced far beyond the knowledge of all other technology or mankind. He and his team have already made headway and are presenting their ideas at a TED-like conference when a group of anti-AI terrorists (led by Kate Mara) take on the dual task of his assassination and destroying his research.

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trailer transcendence

You may not recognize Wally Pfister‘s name, but you’ve most definitely seen his work. As cinematographer on all of Christopher Nolan’s films he’s been responsible for some of the most striking images to hit multiplexes and IMAX theaters over the past several years, but now he’s stepping out from behind the camera… so he can step behind it again in the role of director. His directorial debut, Transcendence, is a cautionary tale about scientists reaching for technological extremes and radical reactionaries who fear the eventual obsolescence of mankind. His film was already guaranteed to look incredible, but Pfister has gone ahead and stocked it with fantastic actors too including Rebecca Hall, Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, Paul Bettany, Cillian Murphy, Clifton Collins Jr, and others. Check out the first trailer for Transcendence below.

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Houseguest

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. First of all, let me disappoint everyone by clarifying that The Houseguest is not technically softcore pornography. It doesn’t even include nudity except for a man’s backside. But it is part of one of the anthologies put out by Playboy in the early 1990s called Inside Out, which are comprised of shorts that are predominantly of a a softcore nature. Alexander Payne, whose latest feature Nebraska is out in limited release today, directed three erotica shorts for the label. The earlier two were co-written by himself and regular collaborator Jim Taylor and one of them appears in the first video in the series while the other is lost or buried. The Houseguest, meanwhile, was scripted by Ken Rudman and appears on Inside Out III. But let’s come back to the film at hand in a moment. Technically, Payne’s short start is a 1985 student film titled Carmen, which is a silent, 18-minute take on Bizet’s opera of the same name updated and set in a gas station. You can find the whole thing on a British DVD from Cinema 16 compiling American shorts, including films by Tim Burton, Todd Solondz, George Lucas and D.A. Pennebaker. And you can watch a very brief clip from this short, showing a mentally challenged cashier being seduced by the title character, after the jump.

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news pfister nolan

Apparently, being Christopher Nolan is contagious. The director’s 2010 film Inception was a twisty-turny science fiction epic shrouded in secrecy, and now Nolan is hard at work on the similarly twisty-turny Interstellar that’s similarly shrouded in secrecy. Wally Pfister, Nolan’s longtime cinematographer, has apparently caught the Nolan bug. He too has a science fiction film coming out in 2014- Transcendence- and up until now there’s been very little word on what the film’s actually about. All we’ve had to go on was a brief summary that mentioned how Johnny Depp‘s character will be assassinated, then turned into some kind of artificial intelligence. Now, ScreenCrush has the official synopsis. Unfortunately, it doesn’t add a whole lot. Ready? Here it is:

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Garrett Hedlund

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting news roundup that was compiled today with the help of Daft Punk musical accompaniment. You may not remember much about TRON: Legacy’s story, because other than its glowing lights and its pumping soundtrack, that 2010 sequel to Disney’s cult classic TRON was pretty dull. So, let’s refresh your memory. The movie starred Garrett Hedlund as the son of Jeff Bridges’ character from the first film. He went into the computer world, found his dad, and then there was a big battle. Remember all this? Good, because Next Movie just confirmed that Hedlund will be back for whatever TRON 3 ends up being called. Disney apparently started getting a script together for a third film just last week. This, of course, means that we’ll all now be keeping our eyes open for the real news regarding this new sequel: whether or not Daft Punk is coming back to do another soundtrack.

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Bradley Cooper and American Sniper

What is Casting Couch? It’s a daily movie news column that that wants to make you a star, baby. Filmmaker Cameron Crowe hasn’t said much about his next project. We don’t yet have a title or a plot synopsis for it. But what we do know is that it’s said to be similar in tone to things like Almost Famous and Jerry Maguire, and it’s got Emma Stone playing a lead role (and it might just be a rewrite of his Deep Tiki script from years ago). So basically, expect something that lines up with Crowe’s best work and stars one of your favorite actresses. Sounds great. The new news regarding the project is that Crowe is reportedly close to finding his male lead. Deadline Hollywood says that he has his eye on Bradley Cooper, and he’s close to making a deal happen. Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone in a Cameron Crowe movie? Yeah, that should be enough to get the attention of every person of every gender and sexuality ever. Remember how we reported that Christopher Nolan’s regular DP, Wally Pfister, is going to be directing his first movie, it’s going to be called Transcendence, and it’s going to star Johnny Depp? Well, all of that stuff is still true, but the L.A. Times has dug up even more information. Turns out the film is actually going to have three leads, and Pfister is very game to get Christian Bale to sign on as number two of the three. Anyone out there want to see Johnny Depp […]

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Johnny Depp to Start in The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wally Pfister is a name that might not be known by everyone, but he’s certainly an artist whose work everyone has seen. Pfister has been working as a camera operator since the late ’80s, and has regularly been getting gigs as a Director of Photography since the early 2000s. He is, however, primarily known as the DP that Christopher Nolan uses on all his features. This is the guy who shot Memento, who got nominated for cinematography Oscars for Batman Begins, The Prestige, and The Dark Knight, and who finally won one for Inception. To say that he knows how to shoot a scene would be a bit of an understatement. But now he’s ready to take a more hands on approach to all of the other aspects of filmmaking, by taking his first crack at directing a feature. His first project, Transcendence, comes from a script by newcomer Jack Paglen and has been developed by Straight Up Films. Any details as to what the film is about are being kept tightly under wraps, but what isn’t being treated like a secret is the big name actor who they’ve snagged to star.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column dedicated to having a bit of fun before sending you off to bed. And we don’t care if you ate your vegetables, we’re always down for dessert. We begin this evening with a first image from Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, in which Tom Lenk and Nathan Fillion play Verges and Dogberry, respectively. It’s that film Whedon just sort of made. He does fun things when he’s not making the highest grossing movie of the year and all that.

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Culture Warrior

Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Dark Knight Rises (and other Christopher Nolan films). Christopher Nolan is the first director to make more than two Batman films. In the past, a second Batman film has provided a space for filmmakers to explore their excesses. In the case of Batman Returns, Tim Burton was able to further develop a vision of Gotham as an elaborate fairy tale. Batman & Robin was Joel Schumacher’s venue for exploring Batman as full-blown camp. For Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight manifested a mammoth vision of the summer superhero blockbuster by way of Jules Dassin and Michael Mann, where the Gotham setting gave way to an intricate, sprawling matrix of a metropolis that contains an eternal struggle between order, chaos, and every gray gradation in between. Until Nolan released The Dark Knight Rises, however, a Batman story reaching a third and final act was without precedent in the hero’s manifestations within the moving image. Not only has no previous director articulated a vision of the Caped Crusader in three parts, but no film, serial, or television show has attempted to bring a definitive end to their particular version of the superhero’s arc. The Batman of the moving image is one that largely exists in perpetuity. That Nolan has attempted a completist, closed vision of the Batman universe is relatively anomalous. Despite The Dark Knight Rises’s virtues and shortcomings (and the film has both of these in spades), perhaps the major reason for the film’s comparably […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column about things that you’ll probably enjoy. It likes to think that it knows you well enough to pick only the best ingredients. We begin this evening with a look at Dreamworks’ Turbo, which may not be entirely new but it’s new to me so deal with it. The story follows a Ryan Reynolds voiced snail who dreams of being a racer. The folks over at /Film have a few new looks at advertising art for this, as well as Blue Sky Animation’s Epic, which is about people who ride birds or something.

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Javier Bardem in Skyfall

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that usually has more to say. But it’s a little hung over from SXSW and a little out of practice, as it took most of last week off. That said, it’s keepin’ it weird. We begin this evening with a first look at Javier Bardem as a Bond villain. He’s looking pretty skeevy. Also sinister, very sinister.

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!Commentary Commentary weekly your to back Welcome See what I did there? This week, we’re hitting up one of the finest pieces of cinema in the last 15 years and hearing from the uber-intelligent man behind it. The film? Memento. The director? Christopher Nolan. In this commentary, you’ll uncover mysteries, technique, and styles the filmmaker put into one of his several masterworks. What you won’t be getting is any information on Dark Knight Rises. Sorry, but me just including that title here ensured 54 more hits. It’s a proven fact. So, without further ado, here is what I learned from listening to Christopher Nolan’s commentary track on Memento. In addition, I also learned a thing or two about my own short-term memory problems. Yeah, I have some trouble remembering things. Like that time I took a picture of Joe Pantoliano’s corpse. See what I did there? This week, we’re hitting up one of the finest pieces of…Oh, never mind!

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Editor’s Note: This article will be updated in real time as the winners come in during the Academy Awards broadcast. Please join us for our Live-Blog tonight (because we ask nicely), and while you wait for the winners, check out our Oscar Week Series, where you will find breakdowns and predictions for all of the major categories. Tonight’s the night! You find out if you will take top prize in your office pool, and, you know, you’ll get to see which fantastic films are most celebrated with little naked statues of gold. If you love the Oscars, hate them, or pretend to hate them while sitting riveted to the broadcast, one thing is clear: tonight is a night to celebrate the best in filmmaking. We love movies. So do you. Tonight we can all celebrate our favorites of 2010 even if they don’t win and even if they weren’t nominated. As for those in the running, they are all beautiful works of art, they’re all winners tonight, they went out on the field and gave 110%…and…yeah, yeah, yeah. Let’s get to the winning, right? And the Oscar goes to…

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The new champion of the people, cinematographer par example Wally Pfister is fresh off of Inception and ready to leap into action with the heaviest cameras possible for Batman 3. As a true champion of the people, he doesn’t want to do the film in 3D (most likely because it’s a gimmick that will die out of its current fad phase any year now (our words, not his)). However, Pfister did call 3D “phony” during a recent interview and went on to claim that he wants to do the entirety of Batman 3 in beautiful, soaring IMAX. Considering the limitations of the camera, this would be a great challenge for the crew, but with great challenges come great responsibility or something, and, Holy Hell, just do it already. The IMAX scenes from The Dark Knight are outstanding, and seeing a full movie that way would shove a glasses-less reality into audience’s faces. [Collider]

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Wally Pfister

In a world where Hollywood’s new default setting for how films should be seen is the more financially juicy world of 3D, there are still a few filmmakers out there with a choice. Filmmakers like Christopher Nolan and his long-time director of photographer Wally Pfister still have a choice.

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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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